Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Monday, 31 July 2006

I am not my Mother's mother!

I have been wondering recently if everyone has screwed up mothers, or if it is just me (and DH) ...?

My whole life I have heard about these (possibly fictitious?) wonderful mothers in movies, books, during Oscar acceptance speeches, in celeb interviews etc etc. And well my mother wasn't - and still isn't. She did not make me feel loved, wanted, accepted, needed, cared for or nurtured, I never felt good enough, and yes that sucked, a lot....

Imagine at 6 years old being left outside your school for hours at a time, because she couldn’t be bothered to come and collect you on time. Once not being collected at all. By my second year of school I had already learned to lie about the time I needed to be collected, to stand a better chance of it being within an hour of school finishing. I also walked (around 2.5km or so) if we lived in walking distance from where I was - although then I'd arrive to find an empty locked house most of the time.

But you know what? I grew up, moved on and got on with my own life. What else could I do? Early on I vowed that I would use the experience to make me different, and if anything I would learn how to NOT be from it.

As a result I am unerringly punctual, prompt, independent, reliable, organised, capable, responsible, accountable, and decisive - all the things she wasn't. Since having my kids I have had to make a point of being warm and loving with them, and actually had to *teach* myself to spontaneously hug, kiss and touch them and to remember to tell them that I love them - often. Those things did not come 100% naturally to me, because they were not taught to me.

So, I am not close to my mother and haven't been for a long time, if ever. I do not think about her much and don't see or speak to her often, and when I do it is only out of a sense of obligation rather than love or affection. She has become a huge emotional burden to me in the last few years; as she gets older, more unstable, less likeable and frankly pathetic.

She is a perennial victim and blames everything on her tough times as a child - and granted she did have some bad experiences. She was an only child. Her dad was an irresponsible drop-out, her mom, while reportedly very sweet was unstable and was institutionalized when my mom was 13, and died when she was 21.

With her dad not caring for her adequately, she got herself sent to Durban in the hopes that an Uncle would look after her. She dropped out of school at 16 and had to support herself until she met my dad and married him at 19, having her first child 10 months later. She went on to have 4 children, which she was neither prepared for nor capable of parenting adequately. So not ideal, but other people have had bad luck and hard times too and have triumphed and made something of themselves, either despite, or because of it. She chooses to wallow in it and use it as an excuse to cop out.

Her second husband died last year in February and she went completely off the rails after that. She hasn't worked for years, and seems to expect the world just to support her. I tried to help out, telling her she needs to organise her life and make a plan, and even offering assistance - but I won’t do it for her, she needs to make the plans herself. She hasn't done anything really. She is still in the flat, which her step-son now owns and wants to sell, but she has done nothing.... and I am sick of hearing the same pointless stories.

I have a very strong feeling that since she was not a mother to me, why should I now be HER mother? It may sound mean, but it's how I feel, and it stems from my feelings of never having had a mother myself. My priority now is to protect and nurture my own family, which I have created.

It was her 60th birthday on Friday. So I decided, it would be nice to take her out for a special lunch on Saturday to celebrate. The meal was lovely; spending time with her was awful.

We had arranged to meet at 12:30. She arrived at 14:00. Typical! Of course the kids were starving by then.

After being seated for 10 minutes she started on her usual topics:
1) How terrible all men are
2) How terrible my father is
3) How terrible her second husband was
4) How terrible her step-son is
5) What a hard life she has had.

I have even started getting rude and cheeky about this and shouting 'Bingo' while she talks, and telling her that I play conversation bingo with her, and I see how quickly I can tick off her usual conversation topics. Yes, I am horrible, but the only way I can deal with it is to make a joke out of it.

Things got a bit confrontational at one point when Richard tried to point out to her that we had taken her out for a pleasant lunch and it may be nice if she behaved normally instead of showing off and being a spectacle. She could have asked about the children, our jobs or our lives rather than just alternately moaning about her life, or boasting about times when she had done men in when they had bought her crayfishes etc and had NOT got what they were after.


I only hope that as they grow up and I age that I am not an embarrassment to my children.

I hope that they always know and feel that I love, accept, admire and support them no matter what. I will do what I can to ensure that they do, and that they feel good enough.

I vow that I will never make myself a burden to them.

If you have a good mother, be grateful.

Friday, 28 July 2006

On finding old friends in strange places.

In standard 4 & 5 (grade 6 & 7). My best friend was a girl called Lindy.

We met when she moved up to Johannesburg, from Cape Town, when her father was transfered. I befriended her and we got along really well. She often spoke of her Cape Town friend Claire, who had been her best friend in Cape Town.

As luck would have it Claire's family also moved to Johannesburg shortly thereafter and she ended up in the same school. So the 3 of us were friends. I don't recall that there was any jealousy between us regarding old friend vs. new friend or anything silly like that, we just all got along and had fun.

After standard 5 ended I was shipped off to an all girls' school (because that was where my sister had chosen to go) while Lindy, Claire and about 98% of the class of +-100 went to the same senior school. Although we had wanted to keep in touch I think I wrote to Lindy a handful of times and only saw her once or twice after that. Our lives simply diverged. Not long after that my parents were divorced and I moved away to Pretoria, and lost contact with almost all my Johannesburg friends altogether.

I think I have changed a fair amount since I was in school, and as a result have a whole new group of friends and acquaintences, and don't really have any life-long friends. In fact the friends I have now are proably the closest friends I have, and I have shared the most with them.... but I digress.
The point was I have not kept in contact with any of my old primary school friends, until I found Claire teaching at the nursery school Griffin now goes to when the boys started there 18 months ago. I am ashamed to say that although I have chatted a fair amount to her, when I have bumped into her at the school and at various school functions, we have yet to actually get together properly without disctractions, and really CATCH UP. She did tell me that she was still friends with and in contact with Lindy, but having just started at Canonical I wasn't really in a position to make a bunch of new social commitments, and I kind of forgot about it.

Until last week Friday when I was looking up the results of the race I ran in Tokai recently... low and behold who was listed as finishing 2 places behind me? None other than Lindy!
I couldn't ignore that, so I looked her up and saw that she is a very active runner. Anyway I mailed her and we have been e-mailing back and forth all week.

She is going to be at the race I am doing this week-end too. So I will get to see her properly and talk to her. I am also going to suggest that her, Claire and I get together for that drink and chat really soon.

Serendipity is nice.

Thursday, 27 July 2006

Update on my car

Well although my collision seemed not that bad, and I didn't think the damage was extreme at all. It turns out that it is going to cost R16 500 to repair it! YIKES!!

Thank goodness for insurance. I will have to pay R3 200 of that (my excess), but that is not too horrendous. However I am sure my monthly insurance premuim will be increased now. DANG.

I was actually lookng at some bumper bashings as I passed them this week - I have seen several, it's a pretty common occurance in Cape Town. Each time I was thinking wow mine wasn't bad at all - there was no broken glass, no real mangling, in fact my car looks mostly normal, just subtly bent, with the bonnet not fitting down perfectly and the head lamps a bit loose and one indicator missing.

My car is still completely drivable, even the radiator is fine, which is right in the front, and the headlamps and remaining indicator still work. The side wings (fenders?) are undamaged. So it's only the front panel, bumper and bonnet which are affected...

The car only cost R80 000 2 years ago, so I am not sure how they calaculate the repair costs?

Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Smashing Sunday

So on Sunday I crashed my car!

I have not collided with anything since my 'Famous Pineapple Pudding Incident' of 1995, which involved a pole. Remember that Dave?

But since I had the gall the other day to think about how I have now had my driver's license for over 10 years, and am in my 30's and have not had any accident related claims ever I am (was) in a very low-risk profile.... Then I went and screwed it up just days later by rear-ending someone... Yay - NOT!!!

Picture the scene. Sunday evening at dusk, we were driving back from a friend's son's second birthday party. (and no, no alcohol was involved).

It was getting dark and was misty and drizzling. I was relaxed and driving normally and was in no great hurry. The road in question, Prince George's Drive has a lot of speeding cameras on it, so I was not speeding either.

Richard the boys and I were chatting as we were driving....

I approached the big t-junction intersection at Hyde Road. As I got there the traffic light changed to Amber. For a split second I considered going through and then decided it wasn't worth the risk with the mass of cameras there - even though there may have been time. Note here that on virtually every other occasion where this has happened and I have made the decision to go, thinking I was being a bit daring, at least one, and usually 2 other cars proceed through behind me!

Anyway, so I had already decided to stop and was slowing down, when the car in front suddenly decided to stop! I am very thankful that I was not actually accelerating to get through! As things would have turned out much worse then.

On seeing the car in front stop, I knew I had to stop, and damn fast too. I hit the brakes, and immediately started skidding in the rain. I said 'Oh shit', and checked the lanes on either side, but both had cars in them. I realised there was nothing I could do, and even said, 'Sorry guys!' as we skidded and then hit the car in front. The collision was firm, but not that bad at all. In fact I always imagined a collision would be much worse, but I guess we really weren't going fast at all by then, I just couldn't get the car to come to a STOP that quickly.

Having never been in the situation before I never reacted immediately, and wasn't even sure what to do for a few seconds. Richard got out and spoke to the girl in front and agreed to pull out of the dangerous intersection, in the bad weather, and off the road so that we could exchange details and assess the damage.

Her car is fine, mine is quite dinged :/ , and since I opted for a lower monthly policy and higher excess I will be paying R3250 to fix it all.

I am very thankful that the accident was not worse though and that everyone is fine.

There goes my perfect record....

Wednesday, 19 July 2006

Monkey Work

Due to the current massive work volumes and deadlines of our staff on the tariff testing team, I have been asked to help out with the tariff testing. To get them on track and back on schedule.

This has been an interesting experience for me.

I have been given 2x pay as you go 3G sims each loaded with R500, and a list of calls/SMS to make, specifying number/network type, peak vs off-peak and call duration tolerances. I am free to select the numbers themselves...

If you have received a strange, or unexplained call or SMS today it is very likely from me - sorry! The explanations were getting difficult:

"Hi, it's me. ... Yes, JANE... No I don't have a new cell number.... No, I am testing, I need to make calls, to check that the billing is correct. No.... Never mind, just talk to me for no less than 90 secs and no more than 120 secs. OK? Huh. Ok time's up. BYE!"

Interesting facts:
  • I still remember my first phone number I ever knew (678-6008), from when I was 6 years old in Johannesburg. I dialed it, and it is now a fax line.
  • Phoning Vietnam from here is damn expensive! Around R30 per minute.
  • But phoning Australia or Brazil is relatively cheap... R7 and R10 per minute respectively.*shrug*
  • Phoning a land line across the country - even 1200km away- from a cell phone, costs the same as phoning your own home land line from your cell in your own house.
  • 80% of South Africans have complied with the tax return deadline last week. A big increase from last year. (I phoned the newsline) ;)
  • The cellular phone companies are making a LOT of money.
  • I ordered Butler's delivery pizza tonight, using the company phone - it tasted better :P
  • I got 6x free energy-saving lightbulbs with my order. Weird! This is the state of electricity in Cape Town, they are handng out lower energy light bulbs.
  • I have had to work tonight to do all the off-peak testing that was needed. At least I can do it from home.
  • Today was interesting, but after a few days, this will cease to be fun.
That's it. I am tired. Good night.

Monday, 17 July 2006

Active Week-end

After a week of sedentary since returning home I made up for it over the week-end, but not before warming up with some good excess on Friday night.

A friend invited the boys to sleep over on Friday night. We suddenly realised that the result was a night alone for Richard and I, so we quickly made plans to go out.

We went into town and had a Thai dinner at Simply Asia (we had a 105 Pla-muk Taud and 508 Pasta Khi-Mao Nua to share). After that we went to see a show called Two to Tango at On Broadway. It was very good, definitely worth watching, and at only R65 per ticket a very reasonable theatre experience. The script, production and acting were all pretty faultless.

It turns out On Broadway is a dinner-theatre and the dinners looked and smelled good. So next time we will eat there. As we had already eaten we ordered drinks (I had a yummy Yellow Bird cocktail, and got extra cherries and Creme De Banana), and then we had red wine and dessert (Brandy Pudding and whipped cream, because you simply can't go through a Cape winter without indulging in baked puddings!).

After the show we decided to stay on in town for a bit so we went to Po Na Na Souk bar in Heritage Square. It is a Moroccan themed bar, very nice decor and uber trendy. To complete my decadent-indulgence I ordered a Dom Pedro.

On Saturday morning I decided I would have to go to gym. This I did, and dutifully completed 7km on the treadmill, before meeting my friend and all the kids at Tokai forest where I was to 'baby'sit, while she ran a cross-country off-road race in the forest. Due to several mix-ups the race she had wanted to run (12km) was hours later than she thought, and clashed with her work shift, so she opted to do the short race (4km) and after discussion with her hubby it was agreed that I would run the course with her, instead of him. As it was a ladies-only race.

So I donned my sweaty and smelly gym clothes again and off we went. It was a bit of a slog for me after already doing 7km and a weights circuit and not being used to running on loose sand and tree roots etc, but I completed the 4km in 24.5 minutes which I thought was not TOO bad, all things considered...

I have agreed to do another race with her in 2 weeks. I should have a bit more fitness then, as I:
- won't have gone out over-eating and drinking the night before,
- won't eat a meal 30 mins before the run (I got a stitch during this race, which normally never happens to me),
- won't have gone to gym just before the race
- won't spend the week before doing nothing.
I am thinking of entering the 8km event. I'll let you know how it goes.

Yesterday I went to gym again. I was meeting the same friend, but she was late. By the time she arrived I had done 6km on the treadmill and some weights. I stayed on to chat to her on the treadmill and did another 5km. So that makes 11km on Saturday and 11km on Sunday.

I am impressed with myself. Go self!

To celebrate the kids and I went to see Cars, and munched on Smarties and a Kit-kat while we watched. It was really good and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I was amazed at how well the cars were personified, and Mater the hill-billy tow truck was by far my favorite character, and my favorite part of the movie was the Tractor tipping, ala Cow tipping.

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Back to the grindstone

We are back from our fabulous holiday.

It was a fantastic 10 days off and we all had a lovely time. The weather in Durban was stunning. We rested relaxed, ate a lot and often, and saw friends and family and did fun things. We drove around in our rental car and just spent time together as a family and it was really nice.

Notable things, mostly for the boys, some are from my perspective:
- Flying in the plane. Both the boys were both very good on both flights, sitting still and quietly the entire time.
- Spending time with their cousin Jessica (17), including sleeping in her big double bed and watching cartoons on DSTV.
- Playing with their baby cousin Alastair (1). Especially bathing with him, and pulling him around in a wagon. Even opting not to come out to dinner with us, and rather staying home with him.
- uShaka Marine World's Water Park! What a fun place. We spent all day their, and I went all nearly all the rides too, even though the water was pretty cold, being mid-winter and all.
- Swimming in the warm Durban ocean. Much warmer than Cape Town's frigid waters! I swam out pretty far. I was wallowing and enjoying bobbing arond in the warm water, when then suddenly remembered about sharks so I retreated again quickly! ;)
- The bird show at Umgeni Bird Park. They have a really fun and informative show, with performing birds. It was exciting. Especially when the vulture named Griffin came out. Griffin was thrilled! One funny incident though was when our Griffin wanted a snack half-way through the show and Jessica told him he'd need to wait - as there was an owl swooping scarily closely overhead, who would be distracted by a rustling packet and most likely make a dive for it. In a loud stage whisper he said, 'OK, when the advert come I'll have it..' Something tells me he watches too much TV!
- Eating Bunny Chows on a hill over looking Pietermaritzburg. The boys got a less intense Roti and ate it happily.
- The Play Station at the friends which we visited - they were hooked in seconds.
- The H.U.G.E dog at the same place. It is a Grate Dane (I think) called Rodney, who weighs 80+kgs!!!
The awesome family who live at the same place. It is the brother of a good friend of Richards, and the 2 brothers are SO similar it's unbelievable. They are a wonderful relaxed and welcoming family with the 2 coolest kids you can imagine. Boys of 15 & 16. We spent a night with them.
- The Lion Cubs we played with at Moreson Game Farm. So cute and cuddly! We also saw an Impala carcass being tossed to 3 full-grown Lions. They were pretty savage with it. Nicely illustrating to the boys why we don't go near animals in the wild!
- Making a Teddy Bear type puppy for Jessica, at The Junction, a trading post with a restaurant, curio shops, play area etc, it is part of the Midlands Meander.
- The baby miniature pigs and bunnies and goats at a tea garden in Newcastle.
- Going for runs (sometimes walks) in new places. Around La Lucia/Durban North, Winston Park/Hillcrest, Lidgetton & Newcastle. It was almost too warm and humid to run in La Lucia, especially with the steep hills. Then in Newcastle I went out in only a vest and shorts (it was sunny and *looked* warm) to discover thick frost everywhere, after an hour I was still not warm and my hands were frozen stiff!
- Chatting to my sister. I love spending time with her.
- It was also great to see my father-in-law (not so much my mother-in-law though)... :/

More pictures of our holiday are here

It was great to be completely PC free for a full *10 days*. I haven't done that since going to Thailand in April 2004, and even then we went to internet cafes to e-mail and copy photos etc.

I am back at work today, but not too much is going on yet, I will move over to the client soon, and then things will get busy!