Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Resolved in September

After a hiatus due to thatthingthatshallnotbenamed and then a stunning 6 weeks away, updates on this year's resolutions are BACK! Yeah baby!

  1. Done! Admittedly, not for July or August, but I was a tad busy.
  2. 27.6%. Much lower - last time around was 28.2%. This is mostly due to the extremely hard work put in during July for thatthing, but bizarre, having not done any real exercise for eight weeks or so. Definitely need to get back on that - in fact, just got off the phone with a gym regarding membership and trying it out. BEEFCAKE AGAIN!
  3. No dancing, at all. Rather pathetic. We also barely danced while away - just on the last night with Barry, this old lounge singer, singing Ne-Yo. It is hard to explain just how surreal that was. Need dancing!
  4. Classic movies... well, we're off to the Film Forum tonight to see an Eisenstein classic, Alexsandr Nevskiy. And it's less than 2 hrs long - bonza! On the various plane travels I also managed to fit in two Woody Allen classics, Manhattan and Annie Hall, so felt good about that, and not quite so guilty for watching What Happens in Vegas. But still guilty, obviously.
  5. Readingwise, it was very good while travelling - Doris Lessing's The Grass Is Singing (wonderful, menacing, inspiring), Pulitzer-prize winning Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (needs re-reading, I feel, because I just didn't... care, which was odd, after loving A Room of One's Own), and a couple of modern stars in The World According to Garp and Choke. I also read something often heralded as a 20th Century Classic, Lanark by Alasdair Gray. It was... stylistically at odds with what I like to read, and parts of it were just a nightmare. Bits of it were very funny, very clever, and it will stick with me. I just wish it hadn't taken up so much of my bleeding time! Currently working my way through The Terror Dream by Susan Faludi, which is excellent. I also have stacks of books from the library to get through - hurrah!
  6. No flowers.
  7. Cooking-wise, we've at least varied things a little by doing more tortilla wraps in the evening - it's easy enough to chuck some spices on chicken and eat it with salad and a wrap. Still, nothing too adventurous lately - we've just not been home to plan and prepare. The closest we got was a sea-bass dish with a gorgeous salsa - that was nice.
  8. Culture... not bad, actually. Went to see my friend's production of An Enemy of the People, which was an extremely interesting look at whether people want to hear the truth or not. Particularly interesting in election season. We also saw my friend's documentary, All of Us, which is an excellent look at HIV/AIDS in the African-American community, portrayed as women's inability to control their sexual and romantic relationships due to power imbalance between the genders. I think there are certainly other factors at play, but it was powerful stuff.

So there we go -not a bad month for my resolutions, not bad at all.

Now to resolve to do some work.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I am, it turns out, a total coward. I am refusing to watch any election coverage that isn't by The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert. I know, pathetic. But I can't bear it. It's just excruciating.

However, I am justifying this to myself by arguing that I am "being a grown up." You see, I'm sick of being angry all the time. If I watch it, I'll be furious. Furious as to the lie-peddling, the childishness, and the sheer insult that is Sarah Palin's nomination. And I'm really, really, really bored of being angry at everything. So it's no more blogs, no debates (other than the VP one - which, I imagine from this clip, will be a little like watching a car crash - macabre, but you can't pull your eyes away.)

Today, however, I'm just too tired for anger - for anything. Work is... exhausting, and yet, talking to everyone who is also working, I am definitely getting off lightly. I'm also, of course, sad at the passing of Paul Newman. I know very little about him, other than his movies, salad dressings, and the famous "steak" quote about his famously monogamous and happy marriage. He seemed like a good bloke. And his utterly staggering beauty was, of course, a bit of a bonus. So, it's off to juggle with the Netflix queue, and get us out the classics.

Oh, and if he wasn't a nice guy - I don't want to know, kids. Just warning you.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Yesterday was my Tigers debut for the season.

Today I am having trouble walking. Thighs, knees, they twinge and ache. One of the strangest things, that I have become accustomed to, is how much my ribs and sides kill me after a match. Yesterday we got battered around, and it struck me just how small our team is. We're incredibly physically mismatched with many of the teams we play, but the one yesterday is huge - twice the height and width. They weren't out of shape by any means - just bigger than us. And we put up a fantastic fight, played brilliantly in the first half, and then they scored three excellent goals in order to beat us. So it could have been worse.

However, what really made me happy was we have invigorated our old Tigers spirit of new people - and when I say new, I mean new to football. We've all improved so much, but particularly the many women who really hadn't played football much or at all before. My favourite moment yesterday was when a friend tackled two players and then went past them - and this is a friend who before last week had never played before, yet the move was an amazing piece of individual skill that I'd not manage to pull off, particularly against such tough opposition. As a team, we've got better and better and got good results, so it's wonderful to be reminded of the spirit of Tigers and not get ahead of ourselves - it's about fun, improvement and friendship. And when we win, that's even better, obviously. I'm so happy she enjoys it and gets to share in the joy of sport - because when it's good, it really is good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Working Girl

Lame, I know, but that's what I am.

It's... odd, to say the least. My office is nicer than last year - lighter, brighter, nice and quiet still. Unfortunately I'm on the kitchen floor, which is going to make it terribly easy to head there to see if there are leftovers; I managed to resist a little when I was two floors down. I'm slowly easing into things, and it's pretty enjoyable. Obviously, the massive crisis facing the economy is scaring me a little - I am worried about how much work we'll have, which piles on the pressure regarding what work I produce.

But it's nice, thus far; familiar, and people are so friendly and I'm enjoying it, sort of. It's all just a bit real, really. And the best news I've had is that bagel fridays are not just for summers, but all year round. That really did make my day. Tragic.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Greeted by two mammoth cats who appear to be very pleased to see me, and a gorgeously clean apartment. I smell dreadful, as is to be expected from the combination of 24 hours of travelling and someone as sweaty as me. I'm working on uploading photos, unpacking and working out just what it is I cannot find. Thus far, simcard for phone and beautiful bookmark given to me by TOH's parents. Dammit. Why is it that I never lose socks, or horrible pants, or stupid pieces of paper that I don't need? Hope that I'll find them is fading rapidly, sadly.

Still, excited about the mountainous amount of sport on tv and number of episodes of The Soup to catch up on. Huzzah! And still avoiding thinking about work.

Friday, September 12, 2008


So, we're packing up and getting ready to go, and am doing a final email session and internet before completing the packing. I was scribbling in the diary this morning, thinking about just how long we've been away - not that long really, but it feels it. When we left, we were in escapist mode, just wanting to get the hell out of NYC; we have been in slow recovery mode ever since, relaxing more and more and getting more out of the experience of being here. It's so hard to sum things up that I'm not going to. Evaluation is also impossible right now - everything was so different in each place we stopped, that a 'best of' isn't possible except probably next week when I'll be in a whirlwind of culture shock and jetlag. Needless to say, however, it has been utterly amazing. I wish it could go on.

Work, instead, beckons. Ugh.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

P-P-P-Pick up a Penguin

That's not what I'm going to do today, obviously, although I desperately want to have a penguin after reading this book. But I realise it might not be realistic - I think the cats might be a tad upset. Today we're off to Simons Town, down on the Indian Ocean coast (False Bay) for a couple of days of plodding round harbours, hopefully spotting some whales, and buying ridiculous antiques that we'll get home and realise are horribly ugly and don't suit our teeny NYC apartment.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Mountains beyond Mountains

Well, obviously we came down off our high a little, as the townships outside Joburg and miles of shacks put together with corrugated iron, cardboard or whatever people could manage filled our view last night from the train. As did the fact that our train was almost exclusively white, as black South Africans tend to take the cheaper sitter trains. It was really stark, and reminded us of the horrendous inequalities that take place on a daily basis here.


The train ride was a mixture of utterly boring and utterly glorious. It was freezing when we woke up this morning - you could see your breath - but when we got to the dining car at around 8, we saw snow-capped mountains, lush greenery everywhere, and it took ones breath away. We were in a very flat centre of the valley that was lined with mountains, and was gorgeous; that view alone made the trip worthwhile, rather than the plane. Heavenly.

Cape Town itself is simply gorgeous. The bay is beautiful, and the town curves around mountains in the middle, with Table Mountain veering up behind them. I cannot wait to explore it - I'd never really wanted to come here, but now I cannot possibly think why. It's amazing. Shame there's no cricket on - Newlands would be a real treat.

Our guesthouse is also the most sophisticated, gorgeous place; makes our attempts at home decor look incredibly pathetic. Something to aspire to, I suppose.

Right, time now to shower off 26 hours of train journey.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Everybody's Free To Feel Good!

Apparently Rozalla - who sang that - was actually Namibian, but we'll ignore that as it was about Mandela's release, the rebirth of South Africa, which is highly suitable as I'm typing this from my b&b in Joburg.

It was honestly like stepping forward 80 or so years having gone from Mozambique to Joburg. In a way that observation is unfair, as we weren't in Maputo at any point, which is the most developed and modern part of the country. Wimbi is particularly undeveloped - so hard to get to from almost anywhere, despite six flights a week from Maputo. But, nonetheless, it was a real culture shock to be somewhere with computers running everything, including immigration, with fantastic roads.

I can't really go into too much detail now because I really, sadly, don't have the time, but the nature of race relations, of the attitudes and cultures here are going to be with me for a long time yet. The best part of Joburg - even better than hot water with a lot of water pressure - is seeing black Africans getting on with their lives and not living in relation to white people's demands, to serve them by washing their cars, bringing their food. Mozambique was wonderful, so chilled, but the relationship between black and white is nowhere near equal; it's utterly regressive. One person actually said they liked it because it was more colonial, which was just... crushing. The telltale word is "they," which is automatic shorthand for the locals i.e. Black Africans.

Anyway, enough to say that Joburg is a world apart from where we've been for the last two weeks, despite being next door.

We're off to Cape Town by train tomorrow - cannot wait!