Tuesday, January 20, 2009

WHAT Credit Crunch?

Craig had to ref a football match ('soccer' is tantamount to a swear word here: don't use it!) on Saturday somewhere in the nether regions of Milton Keynes with his under 9s roughing it out in the sub-zero afternoon against another larny private school --- while it was suggested I head off to IKEA to see what they had on my "Get That Nursery Finished!!" list.

Parking was a trial for me as I waited and waited for a parking space, my baby girl bouncing vindictively on my poor bladder and my blood sugar screaming out for an orange juice - ANYTHING!!! Rushing inside, I felt a bit Liliputian and lost -- so many people scrambling and hovering around, escalators chock-full, no trolleys, screaming kids, ice-cream eaters. Stepping behind another pregnant female, her eyes as glazed over as mine with nesting hormones, the escalator deposited me in a chaotic vestible where I had too many choices where to go. My stomach decided for me: an expensive but deliciously and incredibly dimuntive bottle of orange juice and an as dear fruit muffin later and I was as ready as I was going to be for a whizz round IKEA with 25GBP to spend on things for Layla Rose's little bedroom.

Through a process of elimination (more putting things back than putting things IN my temptingly spacious trolley) I was able to cross off enough things on my list to make me feel as though I'd achieved a minor miracle! But while I was contemplating the rattan storage boxes, muslin squares for burping and 5 bibs for 1 pound, I couldn't help but feel as if I was drowning in a selfish whirlpool of buy, buy, buy. Fellow customers pushed ahead without so much as a thought for the person trying to get past them in the narrow aisle - the body language like brainwashed automatons: 'buy this and you will feel better'. I had a little aeroplane flying a glaring red banner round and round my head, saying: 'WHAT Credit Crunch?!' It seems as if the gloom and anxiety created by this recession has had the very opposite effect on people's spending habits. Perhaps people aren't buying houses and cars - but they sure as heck don't seem to be curbing their other sorts of spending -- that desperate craving to fill their emptinesses with 'stuff'. (My friend, Andrea, had a post on her blog awhile back on 'BE MORE, DON'T BUY MORE'. I scribbled it on a now curling yellow Post-It to remind me when I sit on the loo (sad but true AND effective!) that it buying stuff is not the answer at all to filling that need for beauty and truth and peace and contentment...

Layla Rose's nursery is testament to this new commandment: there is NOTHING there that is not absolutely necessary. I ask myself: they had babies two hundred years ago without this - so do you really need it, or are you falling for First Time Mommy consumerist ploys? I just wish I had a camera so I could take photos for you to see the transformation from desolate guest room to cosy nursery! But my favourite things in it are the handmade quilt, the beech cot we bought second had for an absolute song - and the antique cupboard I've spent weeks laboriously but lovingly stripping now just needs a lick of pretty paint!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Mother City

Homesickness. (Do I really feel like writing about it? I said I would the last time I wrote.) Oh bugger! I better. But just quickly, mind you.
What I've noticed about homesickness is its mutability: how it affects people to differing degrees and in different ways. And, radical generalisation: it affects women more profoundly than men; though perhaps men are more able to compartmentalise their homesickness: i.e. box it, tape it up, and shove it to the back for later contemplation. Whereas in women, it seems to bleed out into every part of daily life and consciousness, steeping everything with its relentless, heavy, dark stain.

When I lived in the UK before (2003 - 2006) my homesickness was caused by two things: my living situation was such that I was told we'd never return to South Africa, as well as the fact that I was so deeply hurting, lonely and unhappy that I became physically ill for years from this desperate hopelessness. (I cured it by booking a plane ticket to Cape Town and never looking back! Ha!)

But now, my homesickness cannot be blamed on an unhappy relationship, because I am treasured, adored and incredibly cherished: and I can't help but be amazed, day after day, by this kind, gentle, strong and patient man who I fall more deeply in love each day. So ya - cross that one out. However, I can definitely blame the acuteness of my homesickness on being pregnant. Since I was a little girl, I always imagined my pregnancy to be a sort of family affair, involving my sisters, my Mommy, endless cups of tea, hours of sentimentally sweet shopping for little white babygrows... The closest we've managed to get that fantasy to match my English reality is getting both parties set up with a webcam. e.g. my mom'll hold up a cute, stripey baby vest to the webcam or I'll fill the screen with my naked, swollen-with-baby belly! THANKFULLY, my darling mom has worked her poor backside off to be able to buy a ticket over here for the birth and to help with the initial stages of settling in with Layla Rose. (What would the world be without mothers?)

And despite the gorgeous house we rent (relatively cheaply) in a sought-after location in a pretty little village nestled among verdant, sheep-dotted farms -- I still long for the life I had in Cape Town where I had seemingly less financially. Walks along whichever stretch of beach I desired (a 5 minute drive from home or work), sundowners on the beach (toes buried deep in the cooling sand) or in a slightly seedy but wonderfully exotic little beachside bar... Craig would often arrive home with St Elmo's pizza, a bottle of wine and roses. AT LEAST once a week! Seeing Table Mountain (one of my favourite things in the world) in the blushing sunrise or at ANY time of the day, from my big bathroom window. Popping over to my parents for a braai whenever the fancy took us. Long, lazy evenings at Lemon Butta drinking too much red wine and succumbing to the earthly delights of the freshest, most artfully prepared sushi, sashimi and nigiri on the planet... Saturday morning rummagings around the seafront liquor depot for excellent bottles of red wine and paying only R16 a bottle... Sitting out on the little stoepie near midnight, sipping Jack-on-the-rocks, being utterly and receptively still to the velvety black night air, the tumbling, glittering stars, ... the South Easter! lol

You see - it is only when you are unable to experience these things that once you left unnamed, that you realise what 'home' means to you. And with the terrible, apocalyptic gloom over here in the UK blamed on The Credit Crunch tainting everyone's attitude, how bad then can what people call 'South Africa's crime and government' be? Truly, each country has its very own uglinesses and 'issues' - but I have come to the point where I would rather put up with my own country's rather than this one's. It's like tolerating a loved but annoying sister. Better the devil you know...

Hence why we are making serious, practical plans to get our African asses back home as soon as we can! Our biggest hurdle is - of course, money. But hey, money is something that putting your nose to the grindstone can readily guarantee -- so it's not an insurmountable hurdle. And until we can return home, we shall indulge in 2 months at home every year - and though we're 'missing the English summer' all I can say to that is: 'So I'm going to miss out on 3 days of windless perfection and 60 rainy, muddy days?' BIG ****ING DEAL (wink)

PS. Click on the pic to make it bigger!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Telly and the Cow

Confession: I am one of those wretched, painful people who don't really like TV - and, this is the part I am most ashamed about: I don't actually approve of it. Admittedly, there are evenings when I'll plonk myself down in front of the TV and mindlessly let whatever's on wash over in a numbing wave of colour, movement, noise and questionable information. I'll watch things like 'America's Got Talent' and 'The X Factor' for the early rounds of auditions, but lose interest once things supposedly 'get serious'. Sometimes a documentary will catch my attention - but even then, it is so often a disappointment: it never delivers enough information to sink my teeth into! And then, of course, there's Jamie Oliver and that sweetly scraggly guy from the River Cottage which I enjoy for their almost perfect package of information, personalities, visuals.

But where is all this leading, Lisa? Well, in our house we have a disparity of opinion regarding television. Craig can watch TV from the minute he walks through the front door. It's his way of unwinding. Where I can watch maybe an hour's worth before needing to do something 'more constructive' (you can see my snotty bias, huh?), Craig can spend the entire evening soaking whatever may be on - even content to randomly switch between channels, mid-programme. THIS infuriates me beyond reason - usually throwing him a glare of such hot indignation very quickly has him hunting for the channel we were on before!

I want to know that a programme starts at 8pm -- then I'll settle in to watch it from beginning to end. Not so the man of our house! But, truth be told, I think it's really me who is the problem. I'm the one who's potentially anally retentive/ eccentric - where Craig is probably the most normal and well-balanced. And, to combat my need for TV that is stimulating and satisfying for me, Craig joined Lovefilm.com so I could at least get my weekly dosage of nourishing television!

Last night, we watched 'Atonement' and 'Brick Lane'. 'Atonement' was beautifully filmed and layered in meaning and iconography - speaking of love, mature and immature - as well as truth, betrayal, time lost, forgiveness and, naturally, atonement/penance. (My mom, a dress designer in Cape Town, had to make a replica of Keira Knightly's green silk dress for a client. Throughout the entire film, I found myself being distracted by how the dress managed to stay on --- did she need double-sided tape to keep the dress glued to her willowy, flat chest?!)

'Brick Lane', also mostly set in London, was filmed with the most exquisitely sensual attention to detail, and especially colour and light. The story reminded me so much of my friend, Pakshi, who was forced to marry an older, Indian man in London - exiled from her cherished sister and the land of her heart to live in the crowded grime of alien London. Slow-moving, like a languid poem, the story unfolds like a fading sari until the very end is reached... (of which I can say nothing about - but for Soutpiels living in the UK, it will surely surprise you!)

Our domestic television habits aside, I must also tell you that my homesickness reached such a devastating low, that it has taken weeks of building myself up again with hope and keeping busy. But this is a conversation for another day...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Did I kill my blog?

Did I kill my blog?

With working, I got so completely out of the swing of writing, that getting back into it feels quite overwhelming, as if I've forgotten how to write. For me, writing is a daily habit, which once immersed in, is like breathing - second-nature, essential! But, throw in a double skewball (like working fulltime when exhaustingly pregnant) and writing becomes only a mere memory, a distant longing. And now with baby Layla Rose on the way, I can only imagine how my writing will be affected... But I've tried to make a sort of promise to myself: that I won't lose my self in the role of motherhood - that the one thing I will cling to tenaciously will be my daily writing. Even if all I can manage is my long-hand journal writing... (Or is this all just wishful thinking?)

This is all for today. I'll write again tomorrow - and hopefully with more VOOMA!

PS. This is Layla at her 28 week scan but measuring like that of a 30 week old!!! Is she waving frantically to get out - or am I already beginning to project my own thoughts onto my daughter? Heh heh...