Liminality

A few years ago I started a personal project called Alienation, where I wanted to explore how we distance ourselves from various matters. Our health, our work, other people, ourselves and nature.

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Since then the project has evolved into a more personal journey, brought about by the upheaval of moving from one continent to another and trying to find my feet and my ‘murican tribe.  The challenges are on a visceral level and is just a smidge more than what I anticipated.

I am compelled to go scratch in places that I didn’t even know I had and to confront latent feelings with a raw honesty that scares the bejeesus out of me. All the time, trying not to judge myself too harshly.

Alienation_Lost 8x10Yup. I’m climbing that Mount Everest without oxygen. In fact, most days I feel that I forgot to put on the damn parka and that my Sherpa is lying drunk in his tent back at base camp.

Slowly but surely and with a healthy dose of courage, I’ve stopped teeter-tottering and found my footing.  My designated social position started changing and I managed to jump the liminal stage and went straight to acceptance status. In Monopoly terms, I vroomed pass go and absolutely collected those friendship-dollars.

And then BAM! Hello Corona.

Fuck.

Whether you are tsk-tsk-ing at the extreme measures being taken across the world or whether you are laying in the fetal position reading the book Panic 101, we all have the same thing in common at the moment: Our lives are in a holding pattern.

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I feel that my modest personal project is very apt at this stage and I do find comfort in that. Will it progress into something else yet again? Or is this a culmination of the two evolutions?

Where there was an almost unconscious acceptance in distancing ourselves from so many issues pre-virus, we are now forced to do so. I think it is a fantastic opportunity to (again…..) reassess the way I live my life and the impact I have on everything around me.

Alienation_Perception Deception 8x10It will be tough going for a while, nonetheless, I am dusting off my big girl panties (even though they are fucking uncomfortable) and attempt to address everything that is off-kilter in my little world.

No, I didn’t try and make the virus thing about me at all. But it does give one pause for a bit of self-reflection, not so?

Stay safe and practice that social distance like a mofo.

Heart and Home

I am not politically inclined at all and avoid CNN, BBC, newspapers, etc. at every turn. If it’s not on Facebook I know sweet-nothing that goes on in the world and we all know that if it is on social media it must be true….cough, cough.

The recent spate of gun violence in the states though and the ongoing day to day murder in South Africa has had me thinking. Here I am in the states, my nether regions hanging somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic cause my heart is here but my home is in South Africa, fighting the need to compare the two very different worlds. It is a pointless exercise for me and I can’t see a positive outcome of the analogy.

I just finished watching Years and Years and in the last episode, the grandmother says something that really hit home for me. I can’t remember the exact words but what I took away was that we are ALL responsible for what happens in the world. If we stand by and do nothing or say nothing, we are complicit to whatever the outcome is. One of the examples that she used was self-checkout counters. We no longer have to ‘deal’ with the human factor when paying for our groceries. We no longer have to make eye contact. We no longer have to show compassion for a person doing an unpretentious job. We no longer have to care. A simple thing these self-checkout counters, right? Mmmmm…or was it another little nudge down the slippery slope of disconnect?

The other thing that jumps to mind is Pitbull Terriers. A whole breed of dog has been vilified and are not welcome in most areas of the world. It was never the breed and has always been the people training them or hurting them that caused them to lash-out. Yet, I did absolutely nothing, except feeling sorry for these dogs, in the comfort of my own home. If the label of killer-dog was hung on say, Labradors, would more people start caring? It’s a question of “Oh well, it’s not my poodle that’s got the bad rap, so I’m not going to get involved.” What if, in 2 year’s time, that label gets slapped on Puffy-the-Poodle? Would we only care then? Would I only get up from my judgmental arse and actually do something to break the stigma?

I was in Washington DC this past weekend and visited the Holocaust Museum. I dripped and leaked with compassion and empathy while walking through the space and was nauseated by the cruelty these people had to suffer. It’s beyond my little brain to comprehend all that they had to face and endure. The slogan that I saw over and over again on the posters at the museum, said ‘Never Again’. And when I left, I though how ironic that slogan was. Because is something similar not happening right now? I know about the camps on the Mexican border but I’m sure it is happening all over the world in all countries where displaced people, immigrants, etc. are not wanted? Like I said, I avoid the news so am assuming here, but atrocities are not secular.

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What my bottom line is after musing this over, is that there are no US and THEM. We have all played a part in fucked-up things happening. We are also all responsible for the good things that happen and even though it feels some days that they are few and far between, there is still good, happy and positive things that occur on a daily basis. If we can stop pointing fingers and stop blaming and start taking responsibility for our actions, our thoughts, our judgement and our attitude towards other people, maybe, just maybe the killing will stop. Call me naïve. Call me idealistic. I’ll gladly wear those labels if it will bring about progressive change.

Nothing what I’ve said is new or terribly enlightened. The penny just hit my head so hard that it left a bruise.

I’ll keep on pondering my role in all of this world’s mayhem and I’ll keep on taking pictures, sometimes thought provoking, occasionally pretty but always demonstrative.

Road Trip June 2019: Kansas

While I did hope for just a teeny-tiny funnel cloud waayyyyyy off in the distance (cause I’ll most definitely soil my undergarments if one pops up within touching distance), I was rewarded with dramatic clouds instead. Much more civilized.

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Kansas is flat. Superduper flat-flat. It felt like it took us weeks to cross from east to west. One day was all it took. But it was one of the longest travel-days I’ve experienced.

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Who said corn fields are not romantic, huh?

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Above is probably my favourite Kansas-shot. Although I was sucked dry by the mozzies while leopard-crawling on the ground…..woke up the next morning and resembled a Klingon….

Stayed the night in a charming little town called Oakley and yes, we did the proper thing and slept in the Annie Oakley Motel after having a burger and beer at Buffalo Bill’s Bar and Grill.

Assimilation is a work in progress 😉

Killin’ Time

It was not ever on my bucket list to be awaken at 12 in the morning by The Husband with a wild look in his eyes. Mmmmm.
Actually, that sounds like it could be fun and a girl can live in hope….but this was not quite the scenario last night. What I should add is that while he was shaking me awake, he was serenaded by tornado sirens. That sort of dampens any lascivious thoughts.

A piece of advice I don’t mind parting with, is that if there is a prediction of tornados in your immediate vicinity, maybe consider sleeping without earplugs and with clothes that night. You’ll be able to save precious minutes before climbing into the bathtub (safest place if you don’t have a basement) not looking for something situation-appropriate to wear when the sirens start bleating. Or you could be like me and say fuck-it, roll over, secure the earplugs and fall asleep again. At least I had The Husband on duty and I’m sure he would have woken me up again if the roof blew off.

Coming from deep dark Africa (cough, cough) I have somehow survived all these years without being nibbled on by lions, licked by a snake, hit by lighting or contracting a deadly disease from vicious insects. In the almost 3 months that I’m calling the US home, apart from the extreme weather, I’ve had to dodge mosquitos that apparently carries the Nile virus and had to be on the lookout for crazed honey bees. Both of which come from my continent of origin. You see the pattern here, right?

The biggest threat I can recall ever facing from animals/insects/nature was having to avoid malaria on one or two occasions. Now all of a sudden, I have to evade a swarm of bees while dodging tornados and falling debris caused by strong winds because the houses are build out of twigs, all the while trying to not be sucked dry by a virus carrying mozzie that survived golf-ball-hail.

The long weekend extreme weather excitement started on Saturday for me. We took a trip through Pennsylvania to West Virginia and on the way back, my phone vibrated like a forgotten sex-toy with a tornado alert in the area which we were driving through. TAKE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY is not really something you want to consider while driving hell for leather on the interstate. I was hoping that I could see something in the distance but apart from dark ominous sky to the right and impressive cumulonimbus clouds in front, no funnel. Just rain. And lots of it. Oh and a rainbow! And Tilly The Tank kept us safe from killer bees and other deadly insects.

I would love to see a tornado and be able to capture the staggering cloud formations and the incredible almost other-worldly light.  But from a safe distance pretty please. And preferably during day-light hours. Although at night, I’ll be safe from the bees.

Exciting times.

 

Into a fold

Three lifetimes ago, I was on a road trip from Cape Town to Augrabies Falls and one of my most vivid memories from that trip, was the people waving at us as we drove through their little towns. It always struck me, a city chick, as an incredible endearing gesture and without fail, would cause a little tightness in the throat.

Fast forward a few decades and I find myself in the northern hemisphere and in a very strange land. Low and behold, same waving-thing happened to me the other day with just a few minor (!!!!!) variances:

  1. I was not driving anyplace that can even be remotely called rural unless you squint really hard and blur out the strip malls, billboards and cars milling about.
  2. I was most certainly not confident on where I was going.
  3. I was on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and on the opposite side of the car of what I’m used to.
  4. And lastly, I was driving as if I was gently rolling over Faberge eggs.

Tilly the Tank and I (the Jeep had to have a name, you see) were on our way to the shops and after the 3rd fellow Jeep road user gave me the two-finger-resting-on-steering-wheel-wave, I realized that I’ve been accepted in an exclusive little sub-society that I was blissfully unaware even existed. Regardless whether I might be a complete psychotic asshole, I was acknowledged and sorta-kinda accepted into the Jeep Wrangler fold, purely based on what car I was driving.

What would the reaction be if I wave back with less restrain than I have seen from my fellow Jeep-drivers? Instead of the very civil Jeep-wave, really go overboard and wave my arms in the air with a huge grin on my face, possibly even sneak one of my hands outside the car and give them a thumbs-up. Would they contact each other and send out a warning to steer clear of the overtly friendly silver Jeep driver?

The tightness in my throat still happens when I see that two finger wave. Now though, for a completely different reason.

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Tilly the Tank and me on a windy day

Baby Steps

Right.
Note to self: Stop asking people stuff.

Question: What is that bird?
Answer: It’s a black bird.

Question: What is that tree?
Answer: It’s a purple tree.

Yup. Information in the Northern hemisphere is on a need to know basis obviously! I should really invest in a book or three on the plants, birds and wildlife in Ohio….or possibly make friends with people who are interested in the same things I am. What a novel thought!

At least I know a sinister, abandoned barn when I see one!

Central European Road Trip 2016 Part 7: The City of a Thousand Spires

 

A little bit of advice I don’t mind sharing: When you stop for a wee-wee and a spot of lunch, whilst on a road trip in the Czech Republic, or in fact anyplace where you can’t speak the language, please refrain from ordering a glass of wine. It will save you a world of pain. You will also not offend the not-so-friendly wait staff, by attempting to explain your discontent with the aforementioned beverage, by pulling faces, sticking out your tongue and making gagging noises, all the while pointing at the offending liquid. So much for my success rate at playing charades….back to beer we go.

So even though the wine was brown vinegar and was probably opened in1976, the beef broth with liver dumplings sounded promising. Let’s just say that I have had better road food and leave it at that. The Husband, most certainly, hit the gastronomic jackpot this round with his standard order of Schnitzel and beer. Dammit!

Onwards to Sedlec Ossuary, also known as The Bone Church, a small chapel located in Sedlec, in the suburbs of Kutna Hora. If Prague is your base, this is easy enough to visit and should definitely be on your to-do list. Kutna Hora is about an hour’s travel from Prague.

From the outside the church looks pretty mundane. Step through the doors and let the magic happen. The interior of the church is entirely decorated by more than 40,000 human skeletons. You would expect this to be quite creepy, but the bones and skulls are so intricately and artistically arranged that there is an incredible beauty and almost vulnerability to it. A truly magnificent place that will leave you feeling slightly stuck, between shock and awe.

Our home for the following 3 nights was the Vintage Design Hotel Sax in Prague. A quirky decorated hotel with lovely big rooms, a veranda on the top floor where you can inhale your tobacco and very centrally located to all the splendour the city has on offer.  And the view from our room was delectable.

For dinner we took ourselves to Lokál U Bílé kuželky, a vibey place just around the corner from Charles Bridge. We first mingled (hah!!) with the ‘locals’ outside, sipping on the now standard beer and was lucky enough to grab a table in the cellar. The place is really popular and was packed. We gorged ourselves on traditional cheese curds, fried cheese, cucumber salad (more like a cold soup) and The Husband’s now obligatory, Schnitzel. This time, he was completely out of control and had Pork Leg Schnitzel. We thoroughly enjoyed Lokál and our cheeky waiter made it all the more fun. You can find the place at Míšeňská 12, if you’re in the mood for     a good night out without too much debauchery.

The next morning we got up at the crack of dawn to miss the masses on Charles Bridge. It was blissful strolling across this magnificent bridge and taking in all the sights without being jostled. By 9am we were on the other side of the bridge on our way to the Dancing House, also known as Fred & Ginger.

From there we made our way to the head of Franz Kafka….mmm…could have skipped that, and then had a walkabout on the Old Town Square or if you’re local, Staroměstské náměstí.

Most of the shops that I had on my list either closed down or moved, a bit disappointed on that front. However, I did manage to ensure that the plastic was still in working order at Boheme. The shop is managed by a delightful lady that does not speak a word of English and her equally entertaining side kick, a scruffy Jack Russell. The store stocks both a local Czech designer and a Swedish label. Stunning stuff.  This time, playing charades was immense fun and no gagging was required.

We also stocked up on souvenirs at the Blue Shop, definitely the better of the myriad of souvenir shops.

We finally stopped for lunch and a well-deserved beer at a microbrewery called U Medvídků.  For a starter snack we shared the Bear Claws. Delicious. I had the roasted barley with fried onion as a main dish – also very tasty. even though I was going to pay the bloat-price a little later (but when you’re married for 10 years somethings, although not completely accepted, are tolerated). The Husband really pulled out all the stops and indulged in a plate of Goulash with bread dumplings.

Side note regarding the food until this point:
All the restaurants that I researched and that made it to my list, served traditional food of that specific country or region. What was I thinking? There is no way on earth the locals eat like that every day. Yeah, maybe in winter when is minus-ridiculous-degrees or they’re big burly men doing manual labour. But come on. City dwellers? No way.
Thank goodness we walked our little toochies off every day!

For the remainder of the day we ambled about with no real plan or agenda and rested at the hotel in the afternoon. And guess what? There was wine in the mini-bar!!!! Oh joy!! I immediately quaffed the teensy tiny little bottle. Mother’s milk after all the beer that I had to force down.

We dined just down the road from the hotel that evening. The weather finally was getting cooler and glorious rain serenaded us while we were stuffing our faces, yet again. This time we went more cosmopolitan and ate at an Italian restaurant….although sausage and sauerkraut really does not roll off the tongue that well in Italian. And I had some more wonderful fermented grape juice. Went to bed a happy lady.

Day number two in Prague dawned overcast and blessedly cool. A perfect day for sightseeing. Our first stop was at Prague Castle just up the hill from the hotel. The view from up there over the whole city is breath-taking and I finally understood why Prague is called the city of a thousand spires.

On our way to Petrin Hill, we walked through Nový svět or New World, the most picturesque quarter in Prague. Remember to look up while you’re ambling through this neighbourhood filled with small houses. Indeed very pretty.

After we stopped for a while at the top of Petrin Hill, we took the funicular down and made our way to the Lennon Wall. Imagine The Husband’s surprise when the wall filled with graffiti had nothing to do with Lenin but was named after Lennon. My bad.

The baroque backstreets of Mala Strana is filled with beautiful little shops, traditional pubs and restaurants and includes some fabulous views of the river. Once you’ve ooohed and aaahed enough, try and find Vrtbovská zahrada back towards the main drag. We walked past it twice before we finally spotted the entrance. It is truly a magnificent, baroque garden, completely hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The views from there are gorgeous and it is a popular spot for wedding photography. We gawked to our hearts’ content.

So one of the things that every person and guide book tells you, you must do in Prague, is eat a Pork Knuckle. And like a good little soldier, that is exactly what I had for lunch. Well, I use the word ‘had’ in a very loose way here, of course. The beast definitely got the better of me. How on earth do you eat this monster without looking like a Neanderthal? People literally stopped and stared while I was wrestling my way around the knuckle. I’m probably captured on film by half the western world, chomping like a mad woman my way through this thing. And if that was not enough to scare the living crap out you, the side dish was a truly ginormous portion of potatoes with the standard parsley…I really do not like parsley. To make matters worse, The Husband was delicately eating his two tiny stuffed peppers while I was sweating my way through half a pig.

Needless to say after all that food, I was in no mood for further walking around. Unless somebody could carry my now extra stomach. Plus, Charles Bridge looked like an ant nest with the queen on the move and that amount of people freak me out in a second flat. But it was our last day here and we still wanted to see more and smell more and experience more. Plan B was to jump (read crawl) into a beautiful old car and take a scenic route like proper middle aged tourists through the city. Bliss.

Dinner for our last night in Prague, consisted of Trdelnik (try and say that 3 times) dusted with cinnamon. A messy affair to eat indeed and do not laugh while it’s on its way to your mouth…I managed to sprinkle everything in a 5 meter radius with cinnamon. Trdelnik is a very common pastry that you’ll find on the streets, made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick and then grilled. It basically looks like it sounds: twirley. The toppings normally are cinnamon, sugar or a walnut mix.

We got up really early the next morning and while we sipped our coffee on the upstairs terrace, we listened to the birds on Petrin Hill. Best time of the day for me and a wonderful way to say goodbye to this stunningly beautiful city.

Next stop: Budapest!!!

Love & Light
xx

PS. I post pictures in the next post. Promise.