Category Archives: Thoughts, quandaries and general rambling.

‘I can’t go back to yesterday – because I was a different person then.’ – Lewis Carroll

I know it’s been a while; my last posted Reception Report will vouch for that. Though I have continued to send them out in the morning, the idea of it lost its sparkle when somewhere along the line the pressure took out the pleasure. I intend on making up for my lack of blogging with an update on my Emerald Isle adventures and this… a little reflection on the journey thus far.

Last week I took a look at the calendar – Wednesday, 11 May 2011. My one year anniversary. Queue chinking champagne flutes. On one hand I believe it completely, so much has happened since that wintery Monday morning in May 2010. On the other hand, I can’t believe an entire year has passed already and I’m nowhere near ready for this marvellous voyage of self-discovery to end.

I remember lumbering my backpack into the back of my dad’s car and sitting in the front seat on the way to airport with my head in my hands. ‘What am I doing?’ I gurgled at him, the result of a sleepless night worrying about whether I’d packed enough socks. His response resembled something along the lines of ‘I don’t know, what are you doing?’. This question I’d surmise was the result of a parent watching his eldest child feck off for the second time in 5 years for an indeterminate amount of time, knowing full well she was likely to return homeless, with 25kg more shite and a maxed out credit card.

I could continue down my cliché padded route and tell you what followed was a life changing 12 months, but that would sort of be like shoving a polished diamond in your face and telling you it’s beautiful. So here in no particular order is just a list- my lessons, my memories and my ‘OMG’ moments of the last 365 days.

1. Do not back 5 pairs of shoes, 4 bottles of perfume, 15 pairs of earrings, 10 bangles and 23 kilograms of worth of clothing into a backpack and expect to be able to walk from the terminals to the tube at Heathrow Airport with it strapped to your back.

2. Said backpack was not functional at said weight, therefore multiple return journeys over the last year to Basingstoke were required (dictated mainly by seasonal wardrobe swaps), where a kind friend offered to house what I could not carry. In her attic. In a box twice the size of my bag. How I brought it all to Europe in the first place remains a logistic enigma.

3. Edinburgh. It blew my mind. I fell in love; on a spring day in May by myself I walked up and down the city with my mouth slightly agape. If you get the chance, go there. It’s worth it.

4. The Island. My summer in Greece was without a doubt the most amazing three months of my life to date. I was forced (sometimes gently, sometimes ferociously and at all times without my express consent) to take everything I knew about myself, throw it all up into the air at the same time and then catch. The things I caught are the things about me that make me who I am; the things I dropped are those that attached themselves by way of relationships, circumstance and lifestyle. Surplus. So whilst I left Santorini with an amazing tan, phenomenal new and old friends and a borderline alcoholic – I left as the rawest version of myself.*
* I will endeavour to make all further points sound less like a sequel to ‘Eat, Drink, Spew’.

5. Jumping off that cliff. We jumped four times in total Liv and I. Too prove something to ourselves, to each other and for the adrenaline rush.

6. ‘Sotto il cielo di Roma’. I spent a week re-exploring Rome, walking down every tiny alleyway I could find, flirting with Nonno’s that served me caffѐ and gelato and then ten days in Lake Como on a faux-honeymoon with Kellie reigniting my intense infatuation with the world’s greatest lover. Italy – you are on my list, I’m coming back for you.

7. Las Ramblas in Barcelona. All of the tacky shit aside, the place is alive. It pulsates under your feet. It makes you want to drink sangria on balmy nights and dance in the streets in red dresses. The clubs in Barcelona however, just make you want to hold your hand over your drink for fear of being roofied.

8. It’s Not Easy. Getting to Dublin alone, starting from scratch in a country in so much debt I’m thinking about renaming it ‘Ireece’ was hard. It was lonely. It was scary. It was fucking freezing.

9. The snow. Ireland experienced more snowfall and lower temperatures than it had for the previous 36 years. I bought a reindeer shaped waterbottle. It was so cold in my house I would have to get dressed in the bathroom and get back into my bed to do my makeup. A small part of my soul died that winter.

10. Family. My long awaited journey back to Cape Town this year served as a well-timed reminder that my family still exists. I have second cousins, third cousins, grandparents and even more family related by love rather than blood. 2011 also opened a new chapter for my immediate family. A chapter with reconciliation, understanding and perhaps even one day unity.

11. Surprising Liv in Münster for her 26th birthday and proceeding to dance around her kitchen belting out ‘C’est la vie’ with a room of people willingly doing the same.

12. Hating and then loving and then hating Brussels. Unlikely to ever return again. Despite the wonderful waffles and beautiful beers.

13. Ireland. The countryside is what it says on the tin. Its blue skies (I kid) and rolling green hills. It’s sheep for Africa and cows a ’plenty. It’s stunning.

14. In the hope of putting a halt (or at least an exception) to the wildly accepted theory out there that Irish men are amazing, in my humble experiences I have unfortunately come across few Irish men that are not:
a. Repressed
b. Mammy’s boys
c. Average looking.

15. ‘The craic’. It’s still not a phrase I’m completely comfortable using, but it describes IT -the craic that is- down to the last c. It explains why I have made fierce and firm friends and why my liver will never fully recover from my 8 month stint as a Dubliner.

16. Life without cake, is no life at all. Don’t go to London and expect not to drink beer and guzzle plates of fish and chips. Don’t go to Greece and expect not to lather yourself in tzatziki and gyros. Don’t go to Italy and not attempt to stuff gelato, pasta and pizza in your mouth all at the same time. Try going to Spain and not living on litres of sangria and cured ham. Imagine going to Ireland and convincing yourself you’re not going to drink pints of Guinness for dinner. Ok you get it. Travel comes hand in hand with jeans that no longer fit and the substitution of clothes for muumuus. All I’m saying is that it’s worth it. Every sip, every mouthful and every goddam extra kilogram.

My giant arse and I send our sincere thanks for your company over the last year. And raise our glasses to the next chapter.

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“But we put VEGEMITE on our toast!!!”

I yelled at my unsuspecting flatmate whilst pointing at the offending TV set. My passionate outburst (as expected of a Saffa) was in response to a newly aired UK advertisement for butter, where a gaggle of girls ‘out on the town’ all return home, get into their Pj’s and enjoy a slice of toast smothered in… butter. Yup. Just butter. My friends and I back home enjoy VEGEMITE toast when drunkenly recalling the 21 year old we’ve just pashed. Not butter toast.

The last week or so has seen my fever rise with a little case of ‘homesickness’. Now I’m not talking about the kind of homesickness that would make me book a flight back to Sydney. Or the type that leaves me crying myself to sleep at night over the fact that I can’t hang out with my cat Toby. In fact after a little bit of a rocky start in Dublin, 2011 is proving to be a much better time of things. The philosophy that is ‘The Year of Saying Yes’ firmly under my belt at all times, giving both Dublin and myself the chance they deserved seems to be proving a wise decision. My social circle is widening, albeit slowly and painfully at times, I don’t feel as ‘saddo with no life’ as I did in the earlier stages. Time you might say was the obvious answer to such a situation. But let me tell you folks sitting comfortably nestled in the armpit of your guaranteed weekend plans – cracking a social life in a corporate environment amongst people who have firmly established lives and social circles has been fucking hard work.

Regardless, here I am in Dublin with a dose of the ‘I wishes…’. I wish I was sitting on the patio of my best friends house drinking wine in the sun, I wish I was supping on cocktails at Cruisebar watching the water, I wish I was still at the Institute speaking IFRS, I wish I had my car back, I wish Ireland had invested in Fitness First and the sun, I wish I was sweating on a crowded Cityrail train … etc. Now on an average week, I miss all of these things but the odd early morning txt to a besty, my weekly call from Mum or a good belting out of Delta’s first album leaves me satiated. Content to go on enjoying and living in the ‘now’. And I think that’s essentially what happens when I get homesick, that while I’m still operating in the present, I’m existing somewhere more familiar.

That said, here I was thinking after my bold (and public) declarations of less than 2 weeks ago of being blessed to be able to have multiple homes all over the world and still be content that I was giant hypocrite for being homesick. For missing Sydney and the people and things in it. Until a good friend, lets call her Mane, offered in comfort the golden nugget that was… “Being homesick is a part of you, because you have pieces of you all over the world. It’s okay.” Turns out letting myself off the ‘I chose to travel, therefore I chose the consequences’ hook and acknowledge my melancholy for what it was, was all I needed. A little bit of self understanding. And so for now, as I’m conscious of my gradual reappearance in my reality I’m going to go eat some toast. With vegemite.


2010…The year that was.

I hate New Years. For the record. I know I’m not alone. It’s that ridiculously overrated, anticlimactic night of the year that is crushed under the pressure of an entire population gagging to forget its predecessor. I’ve seldom, in fact, I’ve probably never had a NYE that I’d classify as decent night. Let alone a ‘cracking’ night. Please regale me with your stories of amazing New Years Eve celebrations should you have them as I’d welcome my turn off the soap box. (Unless of course said story includes ‘popping of questions’, in which case the only thing I have to say to you is – grow an imagination.)

The 31st December 2009 started off as a scorching afternoon perched on a balcony with the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in the background, nursing cold a Peroni’s and discussing the ways of the world with my closest gal pals. The night ended up a clusterfuck of events with Sydney’s worst traffic jam, crashing a party full of drunk Baby Boomers dancing to Michael Bolton and 2.5 hours of vomiting care of a foray into cointreau and lemonade. In short I woke up on the 1st January with the sinking feeling that 2010 was going to be a year that would punch me in the gut and kick me in the balls, all whilst Rihanna’s latest hit single played in the background.

To my surprise and enjoyment what actually eventuated was more like a hand shake and a pat on the back, with the occasional kick in the shins…all whilst Rihanna’s latest hit single played in the background.

Goodbye’s

I spent the first part of the year celebrating mine and my friends’ journey into the much feared and speculated ‘25 – 30’ territory. As we basked in the remnants of the Sydney summer, we drank copious bottles of crisp Australian Sauv Blanc to come to terms with our time at our quarter of a century. ‘Is life over? Is it just beginning? Will we ever know? Do we give a fuck? Pass the wine. Hand me the brie.’
I spent 6 months in a job that finally felt like me. I didn’t have that ‘OMG I want to be a surgeon moment’, but I had the coming together of my skillset, with my interests and my personality. What felt like could be a ‘career path’ *GASP*. Then of course I did the sensible thing.

I said goodbye. I said goodbye to family, to friends, to security, to routine, to familiarity, to my car, my pets, to ShittyRail, to bad influences, to temptation, to heartbreak, to the Institute, to good coffee, to Sydney, to the sun, to Australia.

Yassas

After a couple of weeks catching up with old friends in the UK and falling in love with Scotland and its hairy coo’s, I shipped off to the craziest place I’ve ever been.

I’ve no need to shit on about Santorini, I’ve done that already *here*. But those three months changed my life. Swallowed up by the sun dazzled Greek Island, I lost my mind, I gained friendships, I let go, I loved, I laughed and oh my god did I live.

Safe home

And so with tender steps across the Irish Sea, I landed in Dublin, Ireland. Where things happen slowly, where it snows, where I wear wellingtons, not gumboots. I have had to call on all my 25 years of resilience and determination. To wade around in the dark, happy to find a fekking match, let alone a light switch. For Christmas this year I will be back on South African soil for the first time in 9 years. 9 years too many.

2010 has been a whirlwind, a slow motion scene and a dance party. By the time it is over I will have been to 8 countries, 18 cities, I have collected 5 different mobile phone numbers and I have had 6 jobs.

In 16 days it’ll be 2011. And I have no expectations. I’m back to ‘one day at a time’ – the best thing my mum ever taught me. Perhaps there will be more Guten Tag and fewer Hellos. I don’t know. I don’t want to know. But I’ll be brave enough to say – Bring it the fuck on.


You can’t run before you can walk…

And I want to dammit. I want to run and jump and leap like I normally would. Like I normally do. But before I can reenact my desire to make like the cheetah and run through the wild I’ve got to limp like a baby giraffe (whats with the animal simile’s?) I’ve got to find my new, long (I wish) legs by taking stumbly, clumsy little steps.

So that’s what I’m doing. As of this evening I have been in Dublin for 5 weeks. And I have taken some significant baby steps (I think).

I have moved out of my generous second family’s home and into a beautiful suburb called Rathmines in Dublin 6. I have my own room. I have unpacked my ridiculously heavy suitcase into my normal sized cupboard making it look ridiculously empty. I went on an awesome trip to Ikea to buy some bed linen, a wall unit, a plant and a candle – gross under exaggeration but my parents might be reading -to give the place a ‘homey’ feel. I printed out approximately 100 pictures of my friends, family and my unforgettable summer and have since plastered them all over my wall. I have a hot water bottle. Shaped like a reindeer.

I have booked a ticket back to the motherland for Christmas. I am migrating home for the winter, giving myself something to look forward to, to see my family. I have friends coming to visit me and my little home in Dublin. I have weekend trips to London planned.

I have found temporary work, the contract was for 2 weeks and they’ve asked me to stay until Christmas. I have joined the gym. I have a bank account. I have a mobile phone contract. I have a tax number. I have figured out which is the quickest way to work, what the difference between the Luas (the tram) and the Dart (the train) is and that the bus timetables were obviously designed by inept males that have never actually BEEN on a bus before. I know where the North Side is versus the South Side. I know where Grafton, O’Connell and Dame Street are. I can hang out in the Trinity College grounds if I want to.

And so 35 days in, these are the things I have to revel in. Not the sneaking sense of dissolution and loneliness that creeps in on a Friday night when you know you’re going home to your reindeer water bottle instead of getting drunk on $5 Vodka’s at the Slip Inn with your work mates who are just as glad its the weekend as you are. It’s knowing that these things take time. Reminding myself that my support network create a human shaped safety net that spans one side of the globe to the other.

It’s remembering that I am here because I love to run, that I have run before, that I will run again. But for now it’s knowing that I cannot run before I can walk.

I couldn't find one walking. But this guy is hella cute.


In the meantime…

There are gaps in my itinerary, I’ll warn you now I have yet to tell you about Lake Como and the epic road trip that was Spain. And it will come. I promise. But between now and then, I’m going to indulge in that thing that bloggers do (apparently), write stuff down on a page. Stuff that people may or may not read, because it makes me (the blogger) feel better to get it out in the open than keep it to themselves. Are my senseless ramblings, non travel writings going to add any value to YOUR life? Well I’d surmise for the most part… perhaps not. I’ll try to keep it interesting, but for right now, I’m going to write because it makes me feel better, connected, a little bit more a part of the world I’m daring to live in.

On that note. I’d like to state for the record (hear that world, I’m putting this down in writing on THE RECORD FOR YOU TO REFER BACK TO WHEN I’M DRUNK AND HIGH ON LIFE)…that this is hard.
Right, so what is this I hear you asking your screen as though it might respond. Well this is this, it’s sitting at a friend’s computer screen in Dublin, because you don’t have your own. Its clutching a glass of chardonnay for dear life while you apply for jobs you’re crossing every single one of your limbs that you might just get CONSIDERED for, let alone interviewed for. It’s looking into the corridor and seeing your life in a giant overflowing suitcase surrounded by Primark bags and a newly purchase Ikea quilt. It’s knowing that despite the love and amazing hospitality (without which I would be homeless and freezing) from a family you met less than 6 months ago, and despite the support of your best friends just across the ocean in Germany, London and Sydney that I am actually doing this by MYSELF.

It’s hard. It’s scary. It’s very very scary. It’s uncertain, I’m on shaky, unfinanced ground. Without a job, vegemite, my car, my shoe collection…my family. Here I am though. Showing the universe my open palms, my willingness to learn, to let it teach me. A sophomore at a brand new school, I’m going to have to take this all in (again). I’m going to have to trust my instincts, have some faith and grip my destiny in my two little hands.

So there it is. I’ve told you that this is hard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not without its rewards and its magical ‘oh my god, this is amazing’ moments… I guess that’s why we do it…this is just that honest look at the reality of how it feels sometimes. Shite. Lonely. Terrifying.

I’ll let you know how it goes…what happens next, the new faces, places, moments and once in a lifetime opportunities that God willing follow the fear.

Until then, I’m pouring myself another chardonnay, applying for another job, listening to the Script (culture immersion) and readjusting the balls I had to do this in the first place.