Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Do It, Rockapella

It's been a hectic week of frantically transcribing interviews, putting together law school applications, and working on the book - and then today, it finally hit me that I leave for my roadtrip tomorrow. Oops.

I think it's a good time for vacation - for a variety of reasons, I've been on a very unsatisfying Type A bender that mostly involves being self-critical and pushing myself too hard for no apparent reason. This is exactly when it becomes a good idea to go sit in the Namib and hang out with yourself for a week or two until you can behave again.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Adventures in Currency Exchange

I spent 45 minutes this morning at ABSA getting US dollars for my trip through Zimbabwe. I had to go to a special branch, bring my passport and airline ticket, fill out forms with my addresses in the US and South Africa, withdraw cash from an ABSA ATM and bring the receipt for the money along with the money to the teller, sign a receipt, and then go out to the ATM another time because they also need a receipt for the money used to pay the commission and fee.

In the US, it takes less work than this to get a gun. (I thought about mentioning this to the teller, but thought better of it.)

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

There Was Something in the Air That Night, The Stars Were Bright, Tumelo

I know I shouldn't be spending any more money ahead of my roadtrip through Southern Africa, but yesterday, I bought a ticket to Mamma Mia! - mostly, because it's supposedly a "proudly South African" take on the musical, from the sets to the costumes to the performers. I can't tell you how embarrassingly excited for this. It has everything I love - Swedes, camp, reappropriation, and absolutely no plot whatsoever. I live for things like this.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

525,600 Minutes, or Something

I was planning to hunker down and work on a couple of projects yesterday. Instead, I agreed to roadtrip through the wine country with Roxanne and a couple of her friends and start drinking immediately after breakfast.

By the end of the day, I had accidentally tossed back like twenty half-glasses of wine, eaten what had to be like two dozen pieces of sushi in Obs, agreed to go on two fieldtrips (to take salsa lessons and get baptized as an Anglican), and unexpectedly gone to a documentary about game parks and the eviction of the Masaai at the Labia, which is obviously now my favorite theater. I transcribed zero minutes of interviews and made zero changes to my CV. I'm not good at math, but those things somehow balance out to a successful day.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Are You There, God? It's Me, Ryan.

Yesterday, Ma and Anna were both out of the apartment, making it the first night I had been entrusted to take care of the place alone. I thought I did a really good job - I fed the cats, watered the plants, gathered and washed the dishes, made myself dinner, swept the kitchen, and put in laundry. And then I read a few journal articles, rewarded myself with Borges, and fell asleep.

So you can imagine how terrifying it was to wake up to something crashing downstairs and the cats freaking out at 3am. As this happened, a series of thoughts rapidly flashed through my head, beginning with the thought that I really don't want to die in a burglary. I realized that all of my pants were in the laundry. I realized that there are bars preventing me from escaping from pretty much any door or window in the apartment. I realized that I don't know what the equivalent of 911 is in South Africa. (I do now, because I looked it up over breakfast this morning.)

I'm not much of a praying person, but God, if you're listening, all I ask is that if I go downstairs at 3am, there are only the number of cats that there are supposed to be, rather than every stray cat in the neighborhood fornicating with slash murdering each other all over the living room. That's all.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Embarrassing Moment

Okay, so this is only embarrassing because I never get homesick - I attribute this to a couple of things, including the fact that I haven't lived in one place continually for more than nine months in the past seven years, or the fact that I've never lost a friend or family member and still think of the universe as a place where everybody is around when you finally make your way back to them. I can psychoanalyze this to bits.

I can also psychoanalyze the fact that I just heard "Any Dream Will Do" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and became cripplingly homesick for the first time that I can remember. Like, why am I here, and why would I ever give up those Tuesdays singing with Brady at Marie's kind of homesick. It's a scary feeling when you think you're immune to it. And I hate that of all the things in my life that could make me feel that way, it was Andrew Lloyd Webber who did it.

Photos from Kirstenbosch

I'll put more of these on Facebook, but this is why I love botanical gardens:

Monday, 9 August 2010


Today is Women's Day, so I don't have to go into work - and because I didn't leave the house yesterday and am starting to go stir-crazy, I paid an obscene amount of money to take a cab to Kirstenbosch today to run around and play and take a ridiculous number of photographs of trails and flowers.

I accidentally ended up on a hiking trail, which is typically how I end up on hiking trails. (Once, I climbed Devil's Peak in a polo and khakis, alone, with a bag full of books and a muffin but no water, map, or cell phone, because I decided to do it and then my taxi came while I was in the bathroom. Another time, I got lost in the woods in Germany for almost four hours because I couldn't read the signs and I was going to a chapel that was hours away, until I was found by a kindly jogger. I wandered through a Filipino rainforest for two hours because I wanted to hike from Sabang to the Underground River, and was like, I can definitely handle the Jungle Trail, and the Monkey Trail is for losers, and I ended up scrambling through a ravine, falling down a hill, and fording a river. In most of these cases, the thought of my own death crossed my mind.) This time, it put me high above Kirstenbosch, looking down on the basin of irrigation water, going the wrong way around the edge of Table Mountain, and realizing that I was now on a mud trail that may or may not have been a real trail. So I turned back, found what did appear to be a trail, and spent a little under two hours traipsing around along the base of Table Mountain on the Silvertree Trail.

I have a propensity when I'm trying to stay alive to talk to myself. I did this for most of the Silvertree Trail, until I realized that just ahead of me, there were two British hikers, who could probably hear everything that I was saying. I remember saying "I think I smell a gorge!" at one point, and realized they were ahead of me right after a bird made this loud noise and I shouted back, "you shut up, I'm going as fast as I can!" When bored, I sang Poker Face a la Leslie Knope. I think I also told Robert Frost to go to hell at one point. And then they laughed at me when I passed them, probably because I was blushing very, very intensely. Hiking is no fun when other people are actually around.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Date Night

Tonight, I went out with my high school girlfriend, who's now an anthropologist here in Cape Town and who I haven't seen in about seven years. I rushed out of work just after five, slightly late for our meeting and disheveled from a day of meetings and editing, and she saw me and broke into a smile. "You look pretty much exactly the same," she said. "That's because my haircut makes me look like a teenager," I replied. And she said that we're getting to the age where now that's a compliment, and we laughed like old people.

We sat down and got mojitos, took turns doing the obligatory summary of the past seven years of our lives, and then talked about the friends we'd stayed in touch with or lost track of over the years, about barefoot anthropology, about sex panics, sewage, and witchcraft, about how much we love shitty television - I was like, "I watch Gossip Girl" and she was like, "I watch Merlin, on the CW," and I was like, whoa, you win - and then we had breakfast for dinner at a vegetarian cafe and talked about how bad we were at constructing sandwiches from a menu. I didn't realize until afterwards that we had talked non-stop for over five hours.

I feel weird saying this for a variety of reasons, but it was probably one of the best dates of my life.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Waiting for Godot

I missed Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot when I was in Oxford and it was playing in the West End, and then I missed it when I was living in Hell's Kitchen and it was playing on Broadway, and then I got to Cape Town and it was playing at the Fugard, and I went last night and got a student ticket in the third row for $20. (Sometimes, being terrible at life is just being awesome at life in disguise.)

If you're in Cape Town, you should definitely see it - it's a good production, and the Fugard is beautiful. At the end, Ian McKellen was really close to the front row bowing, looking pretty much directly at me, and I was like, oh my God, I'm staring directly into the face of Magneto. When I was six, this totally would have made me wet my pants.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Licence to Kill

I remembered yesterday that eTV is showing Bond films every Sunday at 8pm, which brings back all sorts of wonderful memories of Bond marathons being aired by TBS pretty much every Sunday of my young adult life. Yesterday, I rewatched License To Kill, which I love because Timothy Dalton is about the least suave James Bond there has ever been. When he dives out of airplanes, he flaps like a bird. He frequently lands on things with a dull thud. When he says really bad one liners, he says them awkwardly, like he is embarrassed to be reading them. He gets sweaty a lot and yells at people, and regularly hurts the feelings of his androgyne sidekick. He's a man of his time, in that he's sort of a cross between Roger Moore and Gerald Ford.

It's also generally a good movie to watch with people and laugh at. A young Benicio del Toro plays the slimy henchman, and if you watch the credits, someone named Sheila Goldfinger did the jewelry. I've already blocked off my schedule this weekend to watch Goldeneye for the seventh or eighth time. (When we saw Alan Cumming at the National Equality March, I wanted to be like, "I loved you as Boris Grishenko!" but was torn between that and "your role on the L Word routinely made me uncomfortable!" and I ended up being quiet and behaving myself.)