We Sat Next to Each Other in Fourth Grade

You’ve got each other’s numbers, you live in the same sleepy-hollow little town, yet you never see each other… Sounds familiar to many of you, I’m sure.

Chanté and I have known each other since fourth grade I think – her memory on this is slightly better than mine.  I went to her 21st birthday party, and her wedding, but when she told her husband she was having coffee with me, he had no idea who I was.  I don’t blame him – despite being quite extroverted around people who really know me, I am a wallflower where crowds are involved.  She told him all he needs to know is that when she and her family moved here, I was the first person she sat next to at school.

Shortly after tying the knot, she and her hubby went overseas and while we were connected in Facebook-Land, we lost touch in the real world.  When they moved back a few years ago, I saw her for coffee twice, but we didn’t really reconnect.  Whether it was timing, or that we were at different phases in our lives, I’m not sure, but something was a little (for lack of a better word) “off”.

I’ll admit, she’s been way better at touching base than I have, sending me the odd motivational/inspirational message, that always seems to come through at the perfect time.  On Monday though, I felt the need to see her, if nothing more than just to say a proper thank you in person.

So, we got together at a local franchise restaurant last night, originally intent on a quick coffee.  We got talking and the conversation flowed, as if no time had passed – whatever had been “off” before was definitely “on” now!

Two lattés, and hours later, we’d covered a myriad of topics, including how women in general seldom take time for themselves because they’re tending to someone else’s needs – whether parents, husband or kids – before their own.  With that in mind, when we eventually left to go home, we undertook to do a coffee-catch-up at least once a month.

I’m glad we got together – it was good, and it was needed.

A long-standing friendship rekindled is a true gem; and by that token, if you’re reading this, Chanté – you’re a diamond, and of course…

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Emotions Running High…

Nikita and I drove to work amidst the sound of chants & sirens, the smell of smoke and what might have been shots being fired.  You see, yesterday a group of angry residents of one of the local informal settlements decided to protest about the apparent lack of service delivery in the area.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you squat, you can’t expect to have services delivered because there is no damn infrastructure in place for said services to be delivered.

Look, it’s not that I am totally unfeeling towards the people – I too have things I am not happy about, but they are small in comparison to the conditions these people must live in daily.  I live in a fairly safe area, far removed from the blue lights, rubber bullets and tear gas, but I am not unaware, nor do I not comprehend that their issues need addressing.  I do feel though that if common sense is a flower that grows in your garden (which it clearly doesn’t with everyone), you would either wait for your state-funded-residence, as so many before you have, and you’d join the ranks of the rest of society that pays (regardless of the amount) for their services.

I am angry though.  Angry that they feel it is okay to damage public property with their tyre burning escapades and torching private dwellings.

Photos from Citizen.co.za and eNCA

Yes, you read right – these criminals razed other peoples’ homes to the ground because they’re not happy about the state of affairs at their own.  I wish I could find these cruel idiots and shake some sense into them, asking them how YOU would feel if someone did this to you, or someone you cared about?!  Where is the logic?  Just this morning we heard from a colleague that had to travel through the hot-zone that a minibus carrying innocent school children had a brick tossed through its window.  Sure, there is a visible police presence, but I think the laws of this country allow the criminals to rape, pillage and plunder while the police have to stand with their hands tied, trying to appear fierce and forceful.  I would even wager that down the line the community may take matters into their own hands because they are also starting to get gatvol.

During the drive, Nikita and I were talking mainly about the fact that we have a compassionate employer, one that empathises with the situation many of the staff find themselves in because of the barbaric acts taking place close to them.  I have a few friends, also employed by local business people and am totally disgusted how they are told “You will come to work or face disciplinary action” or “Fine, stay at home, but just remember, no work, no pay”.  Have these people no compassion whatsoever? Would a better approach to the situation not be “Yes, I know the situation is volatile, but let’s assess it in a few hours, maybe you can come in then?”

Their employees, people I know are often hardworking and sometimes exploited because they are desperate for the pittances they receive as remuneration are now in need, yet understanding from their employers is not forthcoming; these poor souls are not even heard out.  I find myself wondering how such business owners sleep at night.  Is their revenue for the day more important than the life of one of their employees?  In many instances, it appears so.

Again, yes, I get that this protest action is screwing with our already junk-status-economy but being a royal doos to your employees who actually want to be at work but can’t because they fear for their lives tells me you don’t have much wealth in the brain-, or compassion bank.  You should take a leaf out of Richard Branson’s book:

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Soul-Recharching Sunday

So, I did what I said I was going to with my previous post and relaxed.

I had a decent lie-in until after nine, a lazy hot shower at ten and made a decision to go somewhere sunny.  At first I thought of going to the local farmers’ market, but the idea of people put me off.

Armed with my phone (for photo taking purposes only – the data was off so nobody could bug me) I ventured down to the Riviera Hotel, close to my house where I spent some time in the sun, reading Humans, Bow Down by one of my favourite authors, James Patterson.  For a long while I was the only soul there and it was bliss to hear the tranquil ripple of the pool and the river and the ocassional cheep of the wagtails.

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Given that the meds I’m on are somewhat potent, the doctor warned against using alcohol with them, so I opted for a Lime ‘n Soda, because for all anyone else knows, it could have been a vodka 😉

I heard the seagulls squawking, but not overhead.  Turns out, they were having a Mexican stand-off with a cormorant close by.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a seagull just sitting on the water like that.

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The sun got hotter, as did the bergwind, so I moved into the shade, thinking to myself, “You should have brought your bathing costume.” How inviting doesn’t the pool look?

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Hours passed before hunger struck.  I went a little overboard, but when I saw prawns and steak, I knew I just had to order the surf and turf.  It didn’t disappoint!  I’ll definitely be having it again sometime, with a glass of wine!

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Today though, is Monday, and not a regular one… it started with protest action 😦  Every one is on edge and yesterday’s R&R seems like a distant memory already 😦  The only way to rectify that, is to have another Me-Time Sunday, and soon!

Chesty Stressy Misfit

So, I have a condition called costochondritis. It sounds scary, but in actual fact all it is is inflammation in the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breast bone.

 

I had no idea that inflammation in cartilage was an actual thing, but after having spent a small fortune, I’ve discovered it is. What’s more, the medication the doctor prescribed apparently has a “drowsiness” side effect. In my case it’s more like exhausted. I sleep at least ten hours after taking the evening dose, but during the day I am praying for my half-hour lunch break, so I can nap in the car. I am on day three of the minimal five-day regime (it may be extended with another five days if the pain isn’t alleviated soon).

I did a bit of reading up on the condition – it stems from either heavy lifting, or a blow to the chest, or a coughy-sneezy-condition, or stress. Yes, I rejoined the gym in June, but quite frankly I haven’t been there as often as I’d like and I’m not remotely close to the strength level I was when I left, so heavy lifting isn’t the cause, unless you count my handbag, which rivals that of Mary Poppins some days. I haven’t had a blow to the chest, because I don’t have the skills required to even shadow-box and I haven’t been a snot-factory for a long time, so that leaves stress.

I’ll concede, the last few months have been stressful due to certain things happening at work, and while I almost always appear unfazed, I was taking strain. The issues are still there and as time marches on, they will become a reality, but the stress is less as there is a clearer picture of what lies ahead.
Then of course, I add to the stress-shovel by deciding to have some kind of shindig for my birthday (which is still two months away). There are plans that need to be set into motion, a cake to be planned (I’m leaving the task to someone else way more capable than I am), canapés to be made (although Carmen says I should have everyone bring a plate and have a prize for the best one), bubbly to be bought, a costume to be sourced and whatever else goes into a fun night with good friends. The creative gods fortunately grabbed me earlier this week, so the ‘save the date’ and e-invitations are finalized.

Harriet and I were talking last night, and she made a very valid point – that I am constantly busy with people around me – if it’s not my bi-weekly nail appointment, it’s a catch-up with someone, weekends with my parents, quiz night (which was last night). Her exact words were, “You’re always around people.” Her observation is valid, I don’t deny it; I am a social person, but my circle is small, having shrunk exponentially in the last three years or so.

As I’ve got older I’ve realized that there are people who thrive on drama, others who are around when the weather’s fair (and I’m not talking about the sun shining outdoors), and those who judge. Others have just fallen by the wayside because their (or my-) priorities have changed and we don’t fit into each other’s moulds anymore, or merely because I got tired of putting in the effort all the time.

What she didn’t say, but what I heard was “you need some me-time” and she’s right. This condition is one of the ways that my body is telling me to take a time out and rest. Alone. Whether it’s a relaxing walk on the beach, or taking a drive to the point to feed the pigeons and the gulls, or a movie night complete with popcorn, chocolates and ginger beer, it needs doing and it needs doing with me, myself and I.

So, I’m heeding her advice – and going home tomorrow afternoon (the first time in ages I won’t be with my folks the entire weekend) and I’m going to have some special Misfit-time, and even possibly a few analogue hours on Sunday, I’ll see. One thing’s certain though, this Misfit wants to get back to normal because as benign as costochondritis is, the chest pain that goes with it is dreadful. I’m trusting that the R&R will aid a speedy recovery.

Have a good weekend y’all!

Inspiration to Travel Down Memory Lane

Last night I was reading The Brain Bleacher, the final short story in the second Sticky Fingers anthology by JT Lawrence, with whom I was at school with for a short time before moving to Mossel Bay.

I was chatting with Charlie after I’d finished the book, and said to him that one day I will write like that – as in short stories, because while I know I have a writing gift, I do not possess the mad skills to weave a tale in a limited amount of words that grabs you from the word go.  JTL just has it.

One quote in the story above really resonated with me: “While a memory is a mental snapshot of a moment, it carries with it layers of emotion and texture and scent.

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It reminded me of quite a few mental snapshots and something my colleague, Carla and I discussed when we spent a girls’ night away at a local lodge about three years ago one November weekend.  She said when she looks back in time,  she doesn’t necessary remember the things that were around her at a time, but she does remember the smell of the air, or the warmth of the sun on her skin, or the song in the breeze; most importantly she remembers how she felt in that moment. Thinking about that outing, I remember being stretched out on a long wooden deck chair, with a book listening to the trickle of the stream nearby.  While I don’t remember the title of the book, I remember the feel of the parchment between my fingers and the smell of the ink.  I remember feeling completely content, even if only for a few fleeting moments.

Another memory that popped into my mind was our visits to Mossel Bay when I was a child.  The Bean and I would catch the train from Johannesburg and travel to visit my matriarchal grandparents and all the aunts, uncles and cousins.  The one olfactory memory I have of these journeys is pulling into the station and smelling the oceanic saltiness in the air – a world removed from the Johannesburg smog that enveloped us during our time in that concrete jungle.  I remember loving the feel of the sea sand between my toes and being bribed out of the freezing cold water with what was probably an even colder ice-cream cone.

I recalled other memories too – and with focus on the emotions, texture and scent, I was transported back to those moments in time, and it felt as if I was there again.

In one, I felt the gooseflesh rise at the receipt of a gentle touch in a tender moment, even though my heart was racing with uncertainty and angst and flaming desire at the same time.

In another, I felt the dread and horrific realization induced by the smell of burnt chicken (I won’t live it down either, I promise!)

In another I was warmed by the soft heat of a gas heater with the fairy-tale lights of a Cape Town Waterfront Christmas display to illuminate my friend, Andrew’s face as we caught up five years’ worth of news over a chocolate-berry-spiced red wine and lekker South African fare.  I also remember the indigestion that followed shortly after seeing the bill.

In another I remember sitting against the trunk of a tree, after a particularly trying parkrun.  My hair was plastered to my forehead with glue-au-de-perspiration and my breathing was laboured, so much so I’m sure I could have given The Big Bad Wolf a run for his money (bacon, anyone?). A woman approached me asking about Herbalife (yes, I was branded for the walk – not my finest advertising moment) and we got chatting.  Eighteen months later, that woman, Harriet, is one of my closest friends.  I haven’t been able to do our routed parkrun since though because of my bum knee.

I could reminisce like this for hours, and I think each day I shall get in my time machine and take myself back to at least one happy (or funny) memory – where I can relieve the sensation, feel the grain, and inhale the fragrance of times gone by.  And sure, sometimes it’s necessary to revisit the sad and bad memories, to remind oneself how far you’ve come, but for the most part, I want to simply revisit the happy times, filled with laughter, hope, friendship, family and most importantly the love that surrounds all those things.

So, here’s to joyous recollections, all inspired by a single line, from an incredible book.

Cheers to you JTL!  I aspire to be an author like you.  You are a creative genius and an absolute legend.

Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

I like to cook.  And bake.  BUT, I must really be in the mood to do so.  Like yesterday – when I finally tried out a recipe I received in one of the daily newsletters to which I subscribe.  The recipe was originally published on Cupcakes & Couscous – a food blog by Teresa Ulyate

I’ve shared the final image with a few friends who’ve asked for the recipe, so here it is, in full, with the photos being my own.  I halved it as it was only for The Toppie, The Bean and I.

Vegan recipe for Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

Ingredients
16 large tomatoes
4 red peppers
olive oil for drizzling
3 tbsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper
1 punnet (20g) fresh basil
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, drained
4 tbsp tomato purée
1.2 litres vegetable stock (or water)
2 tbsp tamari

How to
Preheat your oven to 190ºC and lightly grease two baking trays.

Quarter the tomatoes and cut the red peppers into thick strips (discard the seeds).

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Arrange the tomatoes and peppers on the trays. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the mixed herbs on top and season with salt and pepper.

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Bake for 30 minutes.

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Allow the tomatoes and peppers to cool slightly. Place in a blender with the basil, beans, tomato purée, veggie stock and tamari.

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Blend until smooth.

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Transfer the soup to a pot and heat. Check the seasoning, then serve with toasted bread.

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It may have been a simple meal, but it left me feeling like an absolute Masterchef!  Honestly, I’m not sure when the urge to cook or bake will strike again, but when it does, I sincerely hope I can replicate the feeling I got from making this soup.

Subconcious Manifestations of Conscious Truths? Indeed…

Tickey, Patch Adams, Tobo, Bozo, Laffy … Cathy even had her own one according to the Everly Brothers… If you’re still not sure what I’m talking about, maybe Pennywise will ring a bell with you, although It isn’t a happy one.  If you haven’t got the at least one of the references as yet, I’d like to know what planet you’re from.

One of my fondest childhood memories was visiting the circus.  Yes, now that I’m older, I do understand that in some instances the animals are ill-treated, but when I was a starry-eyed innocent, knee-high to a grasshopper, the circus was nothing more than a big magical tent of happiness, awe and laughter.

I seldom remember my dreams, but when I do, they haunt me.  Last night I had not one, but two, vivid HD dreams, both of which I remember.  The first one was about the letter I wrote to my sixteen-year-old-self and the other about me being a clown of all things.  The most vivid part of the vision was how I meticulously applied the make-up, creating the perfect alter-ego.

My first thought upon waking up this morning, with salty residue on my cheeks was Robin Williams, one of the most versatile, legendary actors that the world has ever seen.  I have seen almost every movie in which he appeared, with Mrs Doubtfire, Dead Poets’ Society and Patch Adams ranking as my top three.

540df624a3657There is an exponential amount of ways to interpret dreams, and just a quick Google search gave a few examples.

According to Dream Moods dot Com:

“To see a clown in your dream symbolizes absurdity, light-heartedness, and a childish side to your own character. … Alternatively, a clown is an indication of your thoughtless or insincere actions. If you have a fear or phobia of clowns, the clown may represent a mysterious person in your life who mean you harm.”

According to Dream Meaning dot Net

Dream About Clown Makeup
“Dreams of putting own clown makeup, suggests that you are putting up temporary façade or smiling faces towards situations that you may not particularly like. You are trying to make people believe that everything is okay and you are enjoying your life, however deep down you may feel depressed and sad.”

According to the media, it was no secret that Robin Williams was depressed when he died in 2014.  It’s also no secret, although I’m not sure if there is any medical research to back this up, that the saddest people are generally the biggest clowns; the ones that are able to get the largest laughs out of their peers are the ones that are in the darkest pits of their own minds.  It’s tragic irony.

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I’m not going to deny that I’m sad at the moment – there is a lot happening that is causing unease within me.  I’m not going to spill my guts here as to what, because the nature of the situations is sensitive, and in some instances, quite personal.

Suffice to say though, despite everything that is going on right now, these gloomy trances that disrupt my rest, will be a thing of the past.

In the meantime, I will keep my eye on good things I know are coming and spend time with the people I love, laughing with them.  After all, that is the best medicine.

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