Monday, June 21, 2010

Don’t look back, all you’ll ever get is the dust from the steps before*

It’s no secret that I have mixed feelings abut the past. On one hand I love thinking back and seeing how the past has shaped who I am. On the other hand I am so so glad to be away from a lot of it and I try and focus forward as much as possible.

Anyway a bit of a L. M. Montgomery obsession when I was younger inspired me (I think it was from the Emily series but I could be wrong) to write letters every birthday to myself, to be opened 10 years later.

I put them in a box and put the box on a bookshelf and pretty much completely forgot about them except every few years when I’d stumble across it and read through the letters I’d missed. Which I did again yesterday.

Mostly they’re actually a bit disappointing. I learned that my handwriting and general language has improved, that my aims and ambitions in life are vastly different to what they were in early adolescence and that what seemed important at the time is much less important now. And I learned that I was a really angry teenager.

Oddly enough three of them really stood out: one from my 15-year-old self where in barely legible handwriting it says “You’d better be happy, if I have to survive adolescence for you you’d better enjoy adulthood for me!” Another that I wrote when I started my PhD to check on general progress and re-motivate (I was quite the pep-talker at 21) and one that I wrote while I was still an undergrad at university.

I think I wrote it having realised that my teenage self had very little of value to say and so I wrote a letter for five years later before I stopped writing them altogether. I read it this morning (a year later than it was intended for but moving on) and I found it quite entertaining, so I thought I would share. It makes me cringe a little bit, but it makes me smile more.

It’s so hard to write to someone I know so little about. Four and a half years is a long time. I just read the letter I wrote when I was 14 to be opened when I was 18. It sounds so exuberant, expecting great things. It scares me that I may have lost that.

I want to change the world, to really make a difference. This world isn’t what it’s meant to be. I want a job I love. i feel like I  MAY have found it here, I know for the first time ever my holidays have a countdown to going back (37 days and counting, for the record).

this is your life, are you who you want to be?

Anyway I’m writing this partly as a reminder – I want you to sit and think: is what you’re doing good enough? Is it REALLY what you wanted all along? Do you wake up in the morning morning excited to go to work? Is it the first thing you think about in the morning and the last at night? Do you discuss it over cappuccinos (and PLEASE tell me you still clean your spoon first!).

If this is not the case get out. Leave. Quit. You’d be better off selling dogfood again, even busking or selling mangoes at the side of the road like mom used to threaten. Don’t get trapped where you aren’t happy.

Are you who you want to be?

Now for the fun stuff!

Last 10 messages on my phone:

1-4 whining from ______ Did she EVER stop? It’s not that these things only happen to her, it’s that other people shut up about it. And saying ‘oh poo!’ and ‘vomit’ I mean REALLY. Grow up!

5. S telling me I forgot E’s birthday. oops.

6, 7. _______ ditto

8. Brother’s girlfriend organising a church thing.

9. ________ ditto

10. CR, organising new years photos

Cards in my wallet: drivers license, movie card, bank card, Mugg & Bean card, student card, Scuba Diver and Advanced diver card, Exclusive books card, Videostore card, Gym card, Organ Donor card, Blood donor card

Last movie: Oceans 12, ________ whined the whole way through.

Currently reading: Garden of Beasts by Jeffrey Deaver

Number of ‘what are you doing with your life?’ talks this week?  Once so far but it’s still Sunday…

Anyway that’s about it. I’d ask questions but that’s a bit stupid considering you can’t answer them unless technology REALLY improves in the next few years. Which I doubt.

I hope you’re still diving and you still love the sea.

Did you ever get a chance to go in a submersible? I think that’s so amazing! I want to do mid-oceanic ridge biology research someday. Just a thought. Don’t tell mom.

Keep being more than just fine!

H (09/01/2005)

P.S. Your drivers license is about to expire, and I’d check my passport and ID if I were you..

So that was me at 19. Even then I appreciated that I’d probably forget to renew my passport…

*from the new She & Him album. Isn’t it awesome when the song stuck in your head fits in with life in general?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Out from under the covers

It is FREEZING at the moment! I’ve been very tempted to call in sick and hide in bed for a few days until it gets bearable. Plus my bed is right by a window that for some reason lets in a draught. I’m thinking of duct-taping any possible gaps before I wake up with a sore throat again…

I’ve been kind of absent this week as I finally got some lab equipment that I ordered in February (yes, FEBRUARY) so I dusted off my lab coat and got to work. I actually chose the world’s worst time to work with frozen samples as I think my hands actually turned purple.

That said, I am quite proud of myself for using the public holiday on Wednesday to get my samples sorted and packed in order which made Thursday in the lab a whole lot faster (what usually takes about 6 hours I had done in two because I’d got so much pre-prep done the day before). It also (hold thumbs) looks like things worked out ok this time which is a huge relief since last time they didn’t (hence the redo).

And I’m sure my mother is glad for the extra freezer space now that a third of the blood samples are gone!

Wednesday was also a day for rediscovering the joys of a north-facing room as I finished work, took a shower and then curled up in the patch of sun on my bed and spent the rest of the afternoon only moving to follow the warmth, until I was woken up by P1 who kindly brought me coffee and found me a spot by a fire to keep warm.

I will say a few things about the soccer:

  • I can totally get a noise out of a kuduzela now! It’s tricky, although my vuvuzelaing skills are still somewhat inconsistent.
  • I felt for Bafana Bafana, playing out in the freezing cold and for the amount of pressure they must be under. They did their best and I’m still proud of them.
  • I don’t understand soccer enough to complain about the refs decisions although that red card is not going to be easy for the team to come back from. That said, after watching Italy and Paraguay the other night where after a tackle one of the players from one team helped up the player from the other team and they carried on, I felt like Uruguay has a bunch of prima-donna players. Seriously, if you’re afraid of getting hurt go and play croquet. A foul is a foul, but seriously.

Anyway I’m off to find pancake toppings and have the Oracle to visit. And then go looking for a fathers day present… any ideas?

Monday, June 14, 2010


What will I do when I run out of world-cup slang?

First things first, I would like to point your attention to this article which says everything I’d like to, but so much better than I ever could. Particlulary this bit:

Of course I have only lived in Johannesburg, city of terror and dread, virtually all my life, so don’t have the in-depth knowledge of say, an English broadsheet journalist who has been in the country for the weekend, but nevertheless I will share some of my observations gleaned over the years.

So Bafana Bafana made us all very proud on Friday. Unlucky that shot that bounced off the goalpost and yay for the offsides rule which i think I actually might semi-sort-of-no-not-really understand now! it was a lot of fun to watch it, once the opening ceremony started and suddenly the crazy traffic evaporated and the chorus of vuvzelas went silent until 4pm when every TV set as surrounded by fans and the vibe was absolutely electric.

We were planning on trying the fanpark near my house but gave up when it got so crowded that people driving there just turned their cars off in the middle of the road and walked. Talk about gridlock! And the vuvuzelas weren’t packed away afterwards, we went out alter and people had taken them along and would randomly blow them between mouthfuls of pizza or on the dance floor.

Sunday we went off to the airport to drop someone off and look around. And WOW, I’m so impressed by the revamped O.R. Thambo, particularly since my dad has always travelled a lot and I spent a lot of my early childhood sitting around the ugly concrete slab with brown and green tiles that used to serve as the departure area. Now it’s spacious and light and pretty and has a cool cool ceiling with wavyness. The Gautrain station looks pretty cool and I’m excited to go one day and take a ride on it.

And I learned the Diski Dance on Saturday. CG was most disapproving but hey, laughing at exuberant patriotism is totally not Ayoba.

Either way it was a really nice weekend of just enjoying the country that I live in. I love South Africa and always have, but something you just forget about where you are a little bit, or else spend more time thinking about the faults. So for me, despite all the new experiences and stuff that this world cup is bringing, I think what I’ll get out of it is a flag on my car (it’s pretty) and rediscovering how much I love this place.

Waka waka :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ke Nako!

I’m totally loving being South African right now. Not that I don’t always love South Africa, but at the moment the feeling of unity and excitement is unbelievable. It’s also strangely normal. I mean I’m used to listening to the sounds of traffic nearby, nowadays it’s traffic+vuvuzela as people lean out of passenger windows trumpeting away.

I took my car for a service this morning and got stuck several times as people offloading from taxis broke into spontaneous diski-dancing and random people on the street rushed over to join them, vuvuzelaing the whole way. It’s kind of hard to believe how grinchy I felt about all this just a few days ago.

Anyway last night P1 and I went off to a talk that my mother had organised (it was very interesting and totally another story entirely. I’m going to attempt to stay on one topic for a few minutes – for once) and then we headed off to Melrose Arch because I'd promised to get P1 a teapot.

For those of you who don’t know, Melrose arch is about a school away from being a fully self-sufficient little district. It’s kind of european-vibed with restaurants opening out to cobbled streets, apartments over the restaurants and shops squished in-between. A lot of businesses are based there too and it’s somewhere I’d love to live one day when I’m a multimillionaire.

Anyway it started badly when my favourite place (upstairs couches) were closed off and everywhere was crowded, until we realised what was going on. It was the official World-Cup opening concert being shown on giant TV screens everywhere. And wherever there was an open space hordes of people had gathered. it was really funny considering that Bafana Bafana is playing Mexico tonight and we ended up as the only South Africans in a huge crowd of Mexicans at one stage (they even had sombrero decorations), we also hung out with the Brazilians and the South Africans at different points.

What amazed me was how the vuvuzela has stopped being exclusively ours – everyone had vuvuzelas and clapper-on-a-stick things and weird outfits and cameras swinging around necks openly (that one might not end too well, as I’m sure ‘camera shopping’ will take on a new meaning. Just sayin’…). It was also incredible to feel the excitement from everyone. Nobody cared who supported which team it was just fun and exciting to all be there together.

And the moment that got me the most – more than the five hundred goosebump moments over the course of a few hours: we were sitting in a restaurant watching the concert. It wasn’t too crowded anymore, the tourists with young kids had all left and the people haivng dinner had gone back out the the parties in the street, but there was still a decent crowd. Anyway a Brazilian family and a Mexican family started waving their vuvuzelas around and one of the waiters got his vuvuzela and started making a noise. I’m not sure what happened, but the vuvuzelas started getting passed around from table to table with everyone wiping the mouthpieces discreetly and then trying to make a noise.

And it wasn’t just that – if someone got it right the whole restaurant would whistle and clap and get all excited.

And I totally got a sound out of a vuvuzela for the first time ever, and it felt AWESOME!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Building up to the big one!

So yesterday a gazillion soccer supporters basically took over the country. Even at almost 7pm, you could hear the vuvuzelas going on campus. It’s a weird nose, that kind of goes right through your skull even from several hundred metres away.

Which was quite annoying as I went off to dinner with a friend, and while the setting was fantastic, sitting by the fire with really good food and chatting away, it was kind of ruined by the girl at the next table in her massive sunglasses blowing away at her big purple vuvuzela.

The weekend away was a lot of fun, where there was no stress, almost no planning, and the most strenuous activity involved a slightly energetic round of charades, or getting competitive in boy vs girl teamed board games (we played all kind of games and divided teams in all kinds of groupings, but the boys vs girls games always got very tense). As always I had my camera with me most of the time, and came home with well over 300 photographs of us being sill, and one or two of a cool spider.

Anyway it’s been a week of much introspection, even more tea and a fair amount of sleep.

And I’m getting so excited for the world cup! I guess it’s almost overdue but I kind of find myself wanting random flags on my car, humming along to waka waka and wondering if I’ll make it home in time to go join a gazillion people watching the soccer at the nearest fan park.

South Africa rocks!

Although why we used Shakira instead of a local artist still has me confused. Freshly-grounds 1 line is better than moving along before I get angry…

and of course:

This song  still gives me goosebumps! I like this version better than the official video:

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


I stole adopted this from Ashwini today because, as much as we may whine about these things, we all love a decent meme (or an indecent one I think).

1. Mood: A bit apathetic, and wanting to stop trying to work and go back to bed where it’s warm.

2. What do you do for a living? Mooch off the parents? I work at a vet and I teach to stay as self-sufficient as possible. My real ‘job’ is doing my PhD and stuff…

3. Who’s in your posse? I have a posse? AWESOME! It kind of depends on the situation. I have a few very close friends and a few groups of friends that I do different things with. They all rock.

4. What projects are you currently working on? Finishing the PhD, decluttering (I am such a hoarder it’s ridiculous) and running 10km (I can get to 7 at the moment, but that was before I got all fluey).

5. If one were to open your bedroom closet, what would they find? Clutter. A lot of black cardigans (I’m thinking they breed when I’m not looking or something), scarves and hats.

6. Where do you find inspiration? From music, friends, keeping my eyes open and seeing interesting things happen around me.

7. When you aren’t working, how do you like to unwind? I’m pretty insanely busy most of the time, but when I’m not I like to drink tea and watch movies, listen to music and find new bands, generally talk rubbish with my friends and basically do as little as possible. Alternatively there are hats…

8. Where are you right now? In the lab. I just had a minor alteration with the Russian and needed a break.

9. Outfit: As many layers as I could wear while maintaining joint-flexibility. So 2 pairs of socks, tights, jeans, 2 shirts, pullover, jacket, scarf. I get cold really easily when I’m sick and the flu is setting in nicely at the moment.

10. Your weekly goals: I’m working on a few things research-wise at the moment, so that’s first priority. Otherwise I’m going away this weekend and need to pack and get my camera batteries charged and ready to go, book my car service and all kinds of little things like that. And get better of course.


And a photo of me hiking, just because I can! I thin getting away this weekend is exactly what I need at the moment!