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.

laser peel recovery – day II & III

friday mid-morning, after my micro-laser peel the night before, i head back over to the CENSORED for a check-up with doctor CENSORED.

i am not feeling good. i think i’m taken by surprise by the amount of pain i’m experiencing. i look terrible. i attempt to wear a hat, but it chafes my fore-head and the vaseline i’ve been told to slather on my face sticks to everything. i opt for a scarf loosely tossed over my head.

the doctor says it’s looking good, so this must be normal (and i do recall 2 rather scary-looking patients the night before). he puts some yellow powder around my eyes which he says will absorb some of the moisture. i look even scarier. halloween has come early and my gruesome burn victim mask takes first prize. as i pay my not-insubstantial bill, i start to feel a little light-headed (not just because of the feats required by my credit card) and have to go take a seat in the waiting room. CENSORED, the very sweet receptionist, gets me some powerade. dr. CENSORED asks if i want to lie down, but i opt to stay where i am (i’m sure i’m not being a very good advertisement right now for the other clients in the waiting room). they very kindly order me a sandwich as i think my wooziness might be as a result of skipping breakfast, combined with the flu and the stress on my system.

i can feel that all the blood has drained from my face. my body seems to be in shock. another client very kindly offers to drive me home, but i gratefully decline and slowly make my way back. i spend the rest of the day on the couch, my face simultaneously shiny and crusty, watching the opening of the olympics which is pretty awe-inspiring and provides at least a little bit of distraction, though i am in pain.

during the course of saturday morning, after i’ve washed off the crusty yellow powder with the (not inexpensive product i bought from the doctor), the pain and swelling begin to subside. i’m beginning to feel better.

however, i still have to prepare for the fire-gig i’ve agreed to. i spend the day getting my costume and tools together and choosing music for the performance. putting on make-up, though, is far more interesting than i’d like. i’m still very crusty and it’s hard to cover that. i also feel like my face is cracking under the make-up. i end up covering my eye area in a huge ring of black cream-based kryolan and end up looking like the corpse bride.

we get to the venue (which is breathtakingly beautiful – stone buildings nestled up against the koppies) and set up. i’ve been ignoring the fact that i have the flu, but by now i’m beginning to lose my voice, my lungs hurt and my face, now that i’ve got make-up on, feels like it’s splitting open. i get through the 2 sets, dismally it seems to me, for the level i’m used to performing at, but it goes over well. only problem is that i have to wear goggles for the fire set, just to protect my eyes, but instead it winds up chafing off the skin around my eyes. i wash off the make-up in the ladies room immediately after and have very interesting conversations with women coming in and out to use the facilities (especially the ones disappearing into the stalls in pairs – not necessarily to relieve themselves, though definitely to powder their noses).

it’s a strange experience. i get home feeling like i’m done being the entertainment. i used to love fire performing, but on this night, when i’ve performed mainly to honor my word, seeing that i have the flu and my face is on fire, it is interesting to see how my highly distinctive make-up and costume, make me invisible. to the people who don’t know me, i am the hired help, somehow beneath them. it is not a feeling i enjoy. it interesting to see the change in response when i take my make-up off and they actually talk to me and some realize that they’ve seen me on tv. the irony is that apparently there’s a lot of interest in booking me, but i don’t know whether i’m any longer interested in spinning for anything but fun.

(to be continued)