Mind the gap.

i stumbled across an article, “the shame of poor teeth in a rich world”,  someone posted on my Facebook timeline and i was surprised by the response in me. here’s a link to the article and this is an expanded version of what i wrote:

http://aeon.co/magazine/health/the-shame-of-poor-teeth-in-a-rich-world/

“I learnt early and often that one doesn’t leave a place, class or culture and enter another, but rather holds the privilege and burden of many narratives simultaneously.”

Sometimes people formulate words in such a way that they leap from the page or the screen and punch one in the gut. Seemingly inert words alchemically transform and evoke  an almost visceral, physical reaction.

It’s not essentially what the article is about, but I AM this quote.

I resonate so much with what this article articulates. In my extended family there is one doctor (well done, Dr  Natalie Fielies). Most everyone else works at some kind of “manual” labor, some section of the economy that did not require years of study at some tertiary institution. There, but for the grace… My destiny could have been so different. I could be a cleaning lady, like my grandmother was, or be working in one of those Franschhoek gift shops, like one of my many cousins. And I might be, if it wasn’t for the foresight of my visionary mother, who when I insisted on working for a year before I went to university, put her foot down and insisted that I would not be a shop assistant, but a student. My education, I will always insist, opened the world to me and gave me access to a life I could never have imagined. (No, that arts degree didn’t translate into some fantastic financial gain, but it exposed me to other ways of thinking and in the life of the mind, I am rich). However, I am as much from that world of shop assistants, as I am from the world of books  and international travel – they have both formed me and inform who I am. Even with 2 passports,  I am as parochial, as cosmopolitan.

Also, having recently had a crown fall out and having to have new, expensive dental work which I cannot currently afford, I can relate to the discussion on “Poor teeth in a rich world”.

The one leftover from my marriage and my life in the U.S., are the gapless, relatively straight teeth I have from 18 months of braces when I was in my 30’s. When you look at pics of me from before, you’ll notice the gap between my front teeth and the gap on the side (which bothered me more) where a tooth didn’t grow in. There was no thought of, or money for braces when I was growing up.

Now, without the (expert) dental care, or cover,  I had in the states, I struggle to maintain that hard-earned gaplessness. I wear my no longer perfectly fitting retainers to stop my teeth from reverting, to stop that gap from opening back up. But on mornings, after being careless and not wearing my overnight hardware, I spy in the mirror, the dark sliver that opens between my now no longer quite so pearly whites, and threatens to become a yawning chasm. And I long for my former unlimited dental coverage and I appreciate that once I had it.

Because man, that gap, at the same time so small, is yet so big.

reverie

introspection/reverie   written september 6, 2015

I am being

held together

by invisible strands

a fragile shell

held in place

by some glue i cannot see

is it really me

this wisp of blue

ready to explode

implode

erode all i imagine i might be

it’s hard to stay

still

just be

when all i want to do

is flee

the confines of my brain

this pain

brings dreams of flight

but it’s not a

pleasant reverie

this desire

to escape this now

this being

me

word. play.

i woke up this morning all sorts of out of sorts.

short of sort of.

seeking,

not sought after.

short of laughter.

proverbially hanging from the rafters.

i think i might be in need of crafting

a new life.

striving to be seen,

to thrive,

to arrive living on the other side

of this uphill climb

despite sore limbs and aches,

feeling broken and borked.

it’s work

this looking in the mirror of my soul

and sorting out the mis-shapen mess

of all sorts.

out of shorts.

sort of.

sought after.

ought.

before.

aft.

this is daft.

i think it’s best i laugh

at myself,

stop crying in my cups,

abort this line of thought

and pull myself up.

here’s the long and the short of it:

this false evidence appearing real –

it’s bullshit.

cease delay.

carpe the fucking diem!

sieze the day.

word up, sister.

tear up your list of woes and put your sass on display.

now get up off your ass.

go outside.

play.

it’s all greek to me!

wow!!! what an eventful few months!

ironically, just as i got my fingers back on the keyboard, life conspired to get me busy doing the other thing i do really well, actually, the thing i do best. acting.

i booked a role in a german movie which was shooting in cape town and from one week to the next, i had to organize a house/dog-sitter and haul ass down to the sea.

flashback 30 or so years:

i meet Wolfgang who becomes my first boyfriend, then i meet my terrible twin, sylvia – both germans. soon we are all hanging out ALL the time and they’re speaking ze cherman around me and almost by osmosis i’m beginning to understand a lot of it. so i decide to do german intensive during my third year at uct. i didn’t do spectacularly, but having been exposed to two native speakers, my german accent is really not bad and i lied, it’s not entirely greek to me.

over the years that smattering of german has stood me in really good stead. well, not that often, but it was there when i needed it. like in moscow circa 1991, seeing that i basically understood “spasiba”, “dobra utra”, “dasvadanya” and as most russians  spoke no english back then in the ice-age😉, for any kind of communication, we had to fall back on our common second-language: german! next came budapest in 1997 and once again my little knowledge of german helped to get me around the city and in the general direction of where i needed to be.

a few years later: i’m cast in another german movie and once the lead actress hears me speaking german, that’s it. she insists that i act in german and that they not dub me. (a little aside here: on these movies the german actors all do their dialogue in german and the local cast speaks either english or afrikaans and are then dubbed, at great expense, back in germany. apparently german voice-over artists are some of the highest-paid performers in the country! it’s a peculiar thing, this acting in different languages – invariably, language which to the other person is as incomprehensible as the gibberish spoken between baby twins in those viral you-tube videos. it really takes some doing.

flash forward to mid-november: i get cast in this latest movie and i (overconfidently) tell the director and producer that i will attempt the dialogue in german. this before i read the script. before i realize  just how big the part is and how many monologues i will have to master! suffice to say that it was one of the most challenging things i’ve had to do in a long time. normally, i do my prep for a day’s shoot, but i never really learn the words till i finally get to run the dialogue with the other actors. that way the performance stays fresh and much more believable. it feels that way for me, at least. well, this time around, unless i put in endless-nights-in-my-hotel-room-worth of prep-time, there was no way i would be able to get through the scenes. my brain did gymnastics. my tongue twisted. all while i was slathered in layers of fake-tan, make-up, a lace-front wig and stilettos to die for (and good as they looked, i sure felt like i was dying after each day’s shoot – of back-pain )!

it was scary and exhilirating and mind-expanding and it’s making me explore going to the goethe institute here in johannesburg this year and taking some more lessons so i can finally master this infernal language, instead of being it’s sub.

IMG_6350

we were fooling around on set and in that outfit i just had to do a kim k impersonation!🙂

so, that was some of my experience with the germans. lots more transpired these last few months, but i’ve been so verbose,  it’ll have to wait till next time.

oh, and happy new year!!!🙂

uber and out

seems like i wasn’t the only one who had issues with uber this past weekend – in the states they were charging 9x the usual rate at peak times on halloween – and some people who were a tad inebriated when they summoned their ride, got a shock the next morning.

one man paid $539 for an 18 mile ride (that’s about R6000 for under 30km) and one resourceful young woman crowd funded her $362 uber fare.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/uber-customer-outraged-billed-539-18-mile-ride-article-1.1997960

the reality is that you have to accept the rate before you can even order a ride, but here’s the crap part: so you decide to be responsible and knowing you’ll have a big night, you decide to use uber. at party’s end, even if you’re stone-cold-sober, you’re carless. all you want is to get home and horizontal and suddenly it feels like your ride is holding you to ransom. i understand a surcharge, 2x, 3x more, yes, but 9x!!! yikes. i think that’s something that’ll make me think twice about using the service if i know i’ll be needing it at peak times. admittedly, i had the choice of using one of the regular cabs who were available, but the whole point of my night, was that i’d be able to get to and from my destination and not have to worry about paying cash.

jenty commented on my previous blog on twitter and added @uber_joburg to the conversation and i must say that they followed up. my issue wasn’t so much the surge pricing, but the fact that the first driver cancelled on me after i’d been waiting for a while and that the second driver parked on the side of the road and made me, a woman on her own, walk 2 blocks at 1:30am in order to find him. the person who handles their support desk wrote me to explain that this was not acceptable and offered me a R45 credit to my account as an apology.

i certainly didn’t write my previous post in order to get financial compensation, and i give them an A for following up and responding, but i’m just going to shake my head and smile at that R45.

more:
uber riders caught off guard

uber’s defence

an über balkan halloween

i’m somewhat behind the curve here, but i tried uber for the first time last night when i was heading out to join my friends for a party. after two days of over-indulgence, i wasn’t in the mood to drink, but i definitely didn’t want to struggle with finding parking and walking the streets of newtown at 11pm. also, i had some unused credits from when i’d signed up, so i thought i’d give it a go.

it’s pretty damned cool, i gotta tell you. you fire up the app, click on uberx or uberblack which costs more (though why you’d want to pay more just to drive in a mercedes or an audi, i don’t know), you enter your starting point and destination and then you can even get an estimate of what your journey will cost you.

there was a bit of confusion at first, when i got two different texts to tell me my driver was on his way. a minute later there was another one to cancel one of them and about 15 minutes later my ride was at the door. the guy was chatty and friendly and even more so when i told him that this was my first uber ride. 15 minutes later we were at my destination and with my discovery card discount, it cost me a mere R60.

btw, my destination was the huge balkanology halloween party at carfax and the place was packed with people who had gone to great lengths with their halloween outfits. there were lots of painted faces and fake blood, etc and my friends and i who love cosplay and dressing up were pleasantly surprised at everyone’s commitment. 5 years ago, this would have been unheard of. halloween is obviously taking hold in south africa.
one of my favourite outfits of the night, was the woman dressed as the girl from that sia video.

anyway, i must be getting old, because as i walked onto the dance floor, the music was so loud i thought my ears would start bleeding – and it didn’t get better. most people didn’t seem bothered by it. it was fun to hang out with my friends (some of whom are at least 20 yrs younger than me!), but after a while the packed dance-floor and people stumbling around me while i was sober, made me decide to rather head home.

this is where uber turned out to be not so great. as i logged on, i got a message to say that because of heavy demand, the rate was now 1.5 times what it usually was. it also said that the rate was valid for 2 minutes. when i logged on 2 minutes later, the rate had jumped to 2x the usual. i clicked to accept the rate, as i was standing outside in the cold and by now all i wanted to do was get home. i was instructed that the car would be there in 13 minutes. 20 minutes later, i got a message to say that the driver had to cancel and i now had to request another ride. by this time, though, the rate had dropped back down to 1.2 times the usual and once again, i got a notification to expect a car in 13 minutes. another 20 minutes and 2 phone calls to the driver later, i had to walk 2 blocks to find the car where the driver had parked on the side of the road. needless to say, i was not impressed. it seems that the gps is not as accurate as it should be, which meant the driver could not find me – and i wound up having to walk the streets of newtown at 1:30 in the morning in any case.

all in all, i think uber is a great idea. seems like there are still kinks to be ironed out, but studies have shown that in the states, drinking and driving arrests are down since the service started.

pu-za* thursday!

the silly, social season seems to have begun and being gainfully un- i mean self-employed at the moment, gives me great lee-way to get myself in trouble. i don’t have to be up at 5am or have some pressing business to attend to, so suffice to say that after going to visit with good friends whom i haven’t seen in months, i stumbled home at 7am, barefoot…

why barefoot? because the dog ate my shoe, miss… s’trues bob! guess that’s what happens when you take your shoes off around a rambunctious puppy!

at least the stumble home wasn’t a walk of shame. well, not that kind.

and i didn’t drink and drive!🙂

p.s. i recently discovered that both santam and fnb have a drive-home service for their clients which can be used 6 times a year. so, if you’ve been drinking, need to get home without breaking the law or endangering others, and are a client of either, use them! or there’s always that uber-app on your phone.
santam – 086 0505911
fnb take me home service – 011-991 8679
uber
don’t drink and drive. stay alive.

*in south africa puza means drunk and puza thursday, when people lubricate themselves into the weekend, has become an institution.