There’s Too Much Salt In My Tea.

It’s been a really, really rough few weeks. And as I type this I can imagine a few eye rolls, because given the greater issues that millions of people face in our country every day, this may all seem relatively trivial, but like anything, when stuff starts to add up and compound, it can all feel like a little bit too much.

If someone had to make you a cup of tea, and sneak one small grain of salt into it, you would drink the tea and think it was lovely. The next day, should that person add 2 grains of salt, you probably still wouldn’t notice a difference. But slowly, if the amount of salt added to your tea increased, then very soon your tea would be soured and undrinkable.

My teacup has too much salt.

About a month ago my husband went through some really ugly stuff with work. And that’s pretty much all I can say. But it was enough to really put a dampener on our spirits and set a rather sad foundation for the situation. At that same time, we had to rush him to hospital where he needed an emergency appendectomy. The surgery went fine and he’s recovered well from his 1/3 C section (which I like to remind him of daily). A week after that though, we had some exciting news – our long-awaited house renovations were finally starting. Much excitement as windows got knocked away and ground got broken. But less than 12 hours after, we were woken at 3 am to the sounds of intruders in or on our roof. It’s funny, nothing happened and no one got in our home (apart from half a security guard who fell through the ceiling when on the hunt for these criminals) but I felt terribly afraid. Suddenly a break-in was more than just a threat to Barry and me, it was a threat to our two-year-son who lay in bed with me while strange mean ran along our roof, asking what the noise was.

Violated, but unharmed, life went on, until 3 days later when we arrived home to find out that our electricity had been accidentally cut off. On the coldest day of the year. This was 5 days ago and we have still not been reconnected. Again, thousands of people in or country live without electricity every single day, but it has just been one little blow, one small grain of sand, after the other, and I am exhausted. This also means we have lost all power to our beams, alarm system, gate and fridge. We are bathing over pots of water and lying wide-awake listening for more feet on the roof and more sounds in the garden. The alarm is trickle charging on the generator for a few hours every night and dies early hours of every morning. We have a ritual of a midnight trek to the garden – I stand waving a solar powered jar looking for baddies while Barry pours Valpre bottles of petrol into the generator. He then lies in the lounge listening for sounds while I attempt another 2 hours of sleep. There has been only one night since Monday where a siren hasn’t triggered, where we haven’t had a security guard knocking on our window and where we haven’t lain awake for hours on end wondering if tonight is the night someone actually gets in to the house.

I am sick and tired of it. I am tired of being a good person and paying my bills and living responsibly only to have incompetent government and municipal institutions carry on with their inefficient ways. There is no accountability. I’m tired of spending our hard earned renovation money on CCTV and electric fencing upgrades and UPS systems instead of taps and tiles and paint. I’m tired of wondering how I am every going to explain this to my son. I’m tired of arriving home to a black hole in my suburb, not knowing what lies in or around. I am tired of everything always being a fight. I am so tired of salty tea.

And I know, when the power does eventually get restored and life returns to ‘normal’ that this will be forgotten, and life will carry on, but for now? I’m angry and cross. Not just for me but for our whole country – a country who is subject to archaic, sulky and incompetent processes and governance.

 

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I'm Feeling A Little Glum

Someone last night said to me they had recently stumbled upon my blog, and now dedicate Fridays to reading it for their weekly laugh. That made my day. But Bron, I’m sorry, today is not going to be one of those days.

You see, I’m feeling pretty glum. It could be the late night and lack of sleep, it could be the preggy hormones, or it could be that for the first time my rose tinted view of South Africa is less rosy, and more realistic.

Last night we went to go watch Alan Committie at the Pieter Torien theatre at Montecasino. If you haven’t watched him live, do yourself a favour and buy a ticket- he is true comic gold.

As with all South African comedy shows, the majority of the fodder is always based on real life events in SA – load shedding, Zuma, crime and the ANC. We go there to laugh, because the state of affairs in this country make it so much easier to do so – we as South Africans are forced to find the humour in what is becoming a rapidly deteriorating country. At one point Alan turned to the audience and said “But despite it all, we truly have one of the most beautiful countries in the world, right?” and the audience cheered and cheered. Normally I would have joined in, louder than them all, but last night, I couldn’t.

Have you driven up and down our roads lately? Have you seen the rubbish, the mess, the weeds, the derelict buildings and the taxi ranks? Unless you travel by helicopter, you too would have been stuck for hours on end during load shedding, wondering why the robots weren’t solar powered (it’s a crime issues you see). You, like me, may have also seen pedestrians get knocked over, motorbike accidents and car accidents ranging from irritating bumper bashings to body bags. When you finally reach your destination you too may have had to use a bottle of water to wash your hands and rely on a generator or gas stove to cook your food.

In December we drove to Port Alfred. The carnage on our roads has me debilitated to such a point that for 11 and a half hours I could not close my eyes – even as a passenger – because I had the irrational thought that unless there were 2 sets of eyes on the road at all times, something dreadful would happen.

Coupled with this, our recent incident has left me paralysed with fear when driving home, and pulling in to my own driveway is now a mute-radio,unclip-seatbelt-watch-gate-close-whiles-keeping-an-eye-out-for-suspicious-activity process. And that’s during daylight! I wont even go to gym or out at night unless I’m driving with my husband. This weekend I’m home alone and I’ve already planned to be locked up indoors by 6pm.

All this while Zuma makes a mockery of what used to be my favourite place in the entire world, Robert Mugabe memes and load shedding schedules flood my Facebook feed and I pee in the office bathrooms with a torch because we have no power.

I suppose my entire view has shifted because it’s no longer just about me. In 100 days or less I am having a baby, and that baby is going to be born into an environment where I don’t know if I can fetch him from creche on time because I may or may not be stuck behind a dead traffic light. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to heat his room in winter or protect him from a taxi playing chicken at a 4-way stop. I don’t know if I will be able to walk him in his pram in my street without holding my breath, and I don’t know if I will find him a school we can afford where textbooks aren’t burnt and the teachers aren’t on strike.

So excuse me friends, for I am feeling fucking glum. I hope it lifts and I hope my fleeting thoughts of emigration fade very quickly. Because if there is one thing worse than the way I’m feeling today, it’s the thought of moving to a place where I don’t have my family and friends by my side.

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But Still, Bumblee Remains.

At the beginning of my triathlon career, my husband bought me a shiny fancy new road bike. It was yellow and black and we called her ‘Bumblebee”. Being a complete novice cyclist I had no idea if she was a good bike or a bad bike. All I knew was that she didn’t weigh nearly as much as my prehistoric concrete mountain bike, she had thin fancy wheels and clip in pedals. I mean, could you get anything more professional?

Bumblebee saw me through many races, including Half Iron Man, without so much as a puncture. She was super.

It was only later when I learnt more about bicycles that I realised she was by no means the most expensive bike on the block, nor was she the most fancy or sought after. But I loved her and her no-drama attitude.

Robbery 1

About a year after we got Bumblebee we were broken in to. It happened one night when we were both fast asleep and we only woke up to the guards at our complex telling us that our front door was wide open. At that stage we lived in a ‘security estate’. They stole a whole bunch of stuff, except Bumbleebee.

The next day we bought a terribly ferocious guard dog by the name of Rupert.

I mean, how scary?
I mean, how scary?

Robbery 2

Fast forward to Christmas 2013 and we were broken into yet again. This time they hit the garage and literally cleaned us out. We only noticed a few days later on Boxing Day when I happened to go into the garage to look for the vacuum cleaner (Side note – the reason I never went in to the garage was because I’m married to a triathlete, and every woman married to a triathlete knows that cars sleep outside, and bikes sleep inside).

When I say they literally cleaned us out, I mean they took pretty much every single thing in the garage. Except Bumblebee. There she lay, mounted to the walls, between empty spaces that used to be her much bigger, better and more expensive bike cousins (husbands bikes).

We laughed the robbery off (bitterly) patted ourselves on the back and said the usual “at-least we weren’t home/hurt”, submitted yet another insurance claim and laughed (bitterly) at the irony that we LIVED.IN.A.SECURITY.ESTATE.

A few days later I turned round to my husband and said to him. Fuck this, If we keep getting nailed in a complex, let’s move.

We moved. To our glorious house in the ‘burbs.

At this point, ferocious guard dog 2 – Bella – had entered the mix

Super scary dog.
Super scary dog.

Robbery 3

(Are you sensing a trend here, dear reader?)

This one happened 3 days after we moved in to our new house in the ‘burbs. They managed to take a lot of stuff before our security company arrived on the scene and/or the alarm scared them off. We were both at work and laughed (bitterly) about our luck, but also reminding ourselves just how lucky we were we weren’t home. Garden beams and CCTV were added to the mix, we claimed from insurance again and kept looking forward.

Bumblebee, if you’re wondering, was safe.

Robbery 4

Yesterday as I was packing up to leave the office my phone rang. It was our security company notifying me that a panic had gone off and would I like them to go check it out. Yes please, I would like that very much. I immediately called my husband to find out if he had set it off accidentally, and when I got no reply I popped him a Whatsapp asking if everything was alright.

I jumped in my car and left the office.

5 minutes late I got a phone call that left me cold. My husband had arrived home at 4 pm and let himself into the gate and then garage. 30 seconds after parking he walked back in to the garage to hang up some washing (it was raining). In our garage he was confronted by a man with a gun to his face who made him lie down. There were others too, although at this point not visible to my husband. Luckily, he had his gate remote on him and he activated the panic button. Unluckily the alarm went off (not silently as it should have). The frightened thieves punched him in the face, grabbed his keys and left on 3 bicycles.

Almost 6 months pregnant and stuck in bumper to bumper traffic I was unable to get home and felt utterly helpless. Luckily my best friend and her hubby raced over to be with Barry until I could get home.

When I got home I was met with what felt like hundreds of cars, police, armed response and neighborhood watch. Our house was a hive of activity. My husband was (thanks a million stars) OK and the situation under control.

Fast forward to a day later and I am angry and sad and shocked and tired and so upset that this keeps happening. I’m devastated that there was a weapon involved. I’m apalled at our armed response for taking 20 minutes to arrive and I’m absolutely appalled that they phoned me when they should have gone straight through. I’m tired of hearing about crime riddled areas and how one can arm oneself to the hilt, but if these guys want in, they will get in. I’m relieved my husband is OK and I’m desperately emotional at the though that perhaps the only way to avoid living like this all the time is to leave my country.

I’ve also come to realise that riding expensive bikes is a very dangerous sport. Because all our bikes were stolen, except Bumblebee who still hangs on the wall, now very much alone.

Tonight, I’m convincing my husband to take up golf.

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