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:


“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.

word. play.

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

short of sort of.


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.




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.



yes, can you believe it, it’s me! or according to the grammar nazi version of me, it is i!

i’ve written exactly 7 posts on this blog since the beginning of january 2013. yes, i counted. it’s like the words dried up, or at least they stayed mostly quarantined in my head. and despite my best intentions to return to what has always been my core identity – someone who writes. a writer. a poet. a smithy of words – something has blocked me. till now.

this past weekend i had the priviledge of attending The Artery – a creative immersion led by my friend verity maud at melody hills retreat in the magaliesberg.

it was one of the best things i didn’t know i needed. we wrote, danced like mad dervishes, photographed, meditated, swam, walked, had intense conversations and i got to dust off some cobwebs which have been accumulating in so many areas of my life.

i know i’m creative. after all, i’m known as a maker of things! but i’ve been in a very long limbo, in something of a creative slump and this week-end helped to blow me wide open, both physically and emotionally. and i want to stay that way. the past 3 days helped me determine to get proactive and start my creative juices flowing again.

so this my friends, is me. i mean, i. 😉

i’m back.


Saturday 22 March, 3:35am


Words have always been my friends. Under the anonymous, invisible cloak of night, when the monsters crawl from the corners, from under the bed, from the scary depths of my being, I have found my safety in words. Words have been my steadfast companions. Sometimes truncated and parsed. Sometimes poetic. But always steadfast. Always at my side – always at hand. Not always rolling from my tongue, but scrolling from my pen to the page, always.
Words: My reliable, sometimes relentless, companions.
And yet. For the last year or so, they seem to have deserted me. Seem to have slunk away to skulk in some corner, sulking. Like a self-imposed time-out. I guess a part of me has felt abandoned, whereas another part has let it be. “If you love something, set it free”. But I’ve realized that I miss my erstwhile companions. After a lifetime of seemingly inextricable entanglement, I feel quite lost without. I’m hoping that they’ve chosen to go walkabout, but only on a long leash, or are boats, bobbing merely beyond the harbour, ready on the right tide, to come floating back to my bay. But if they’re birds, flown up into the blue, I’m hoping, I really am, that they’ll be back to nestle in the tangled trees of my brain, and that they’ll once more sing their songs to me.
Please. Please come back my sirens (I am waiting here in this dark night with the black dog at my side).
Again seduce me. 

in sight

may i state for the record, with as much eloquence as i can muster, that migraines suck ass?!

it seems that lately i’ve become prone to monthly cycles of what feels like attempts to poke my eye out from the inside. if you hadn’t guessed it, it’s not pleasant. though maybe it has something to do with my very crap, and very likely, worsening vision.

when i was growing up, the library was my baby-sitter. i would spend hours surrounded by row upon row of words; visas and passports to a wonderful escape from what happened when the lights went out at night. at the time, my library cards were probably my most prized possessions. i would finish at least one book while at the library and then devour the one i took home with me even before the library closed for the day. sometimes i would beg my mom to let me go back and get another one and she’d say,

“no, you’ve had your book for the day!”.

she’d send me to make the bed or do some mundane task and half an hour later she’d call to ask if i was done yet. invariably my reply would be,

“uhm, almost…” as i instead turned the page, eager for another paragraph, unable to release myself from the spell of the words creating other worlds right here under my gaze . to me, books are like a journey i embark on and once i’ve taken that first step, i’m unavailable till that journey ends at the very last word on the very last page.

no wonder i required glasses by the time i was 12. i remember a series called “petrocelli” which was showing here in south africa at the time. imagine my shock the first time i saw it after i got my glasses. the actor playing the lead had suddenly acquired an obvious scar under his eye which he’d never had before! made me wonder what else i’d been missing!

now i’m getting to that age where my arms are no longer long enough and my contact lenses no longer deal too well with my astigmatic take on the world. i’ve (gasp) acquired my very first set of (mumble) “readers” – which i now need when i read. yet i’m slowly watching the world fade again. i usually have my eyes checked on my annual trip back to l.a., but i went to india instead this past year, so that didn’t happen.

now nothing is ever entirely clear. at night lights refract and reflect and i feel a little like i’m in one of those video driving games. things shift. edges transmute. and no, it’s been a while since i indulged in any recreational self-medication, so it’s not that. maybe it has something to do with the fact that shortly after my return to south africa 4 years ago, while driving down the road, i had a chance encounter with a stray shot gun pellet. a statistic once more. said pellet, all these years later, is still lodged mere millimetres from my right eye. it’s left me with permanent damage to one quadrant of my retina and subsequently, impaired vision.

and as i’m writing this, i realize that the migraines i have now, started sometime shortly after.

hmn… i need some time to digest that realization.

riding shotgun

riding shotgun

so ok, that’s it folks! here ends today’s tour through my head.

here’s the last.



i’ve run out of words.

i think. haven’t written a word the last week. no poems. nothing. it’s as if i’ve finally climbed out of my head and into the world.

i am. being. i think india does that to one. and i’m loving it. hooping on the beach, being cradled in the arms of a warm goan ocean, playing, sharing my skills with others,  letting life flow me from one perfect moment to the next.

i’m following my bliss.blissfully.

taking my leave…

i was doing some website maintenance on my very first website yesterday and i came across this poem written almost 10 years ago and strangely apt yet again.


It’s beautiful here – 
cold, but clear, 
crisp, like the leaves floating, 
to the ground at this time of year. 
I watch their detached descent – 
such sensuous nonchalance. 

One day I shall learn 
to let go 
the way leaves fall – 
it’s autumn and I ought to, 
but for now 
I wear my coat against the cold 
(the woman in my mirror grows older) 
and I marvel at the leaves, 
how they manage to move on 
with such indifference, 
no smoldering passion 
or wasted grief. 

Unlike me, 
they’ve mastered the art of parting 
and when it’s time to go, 

they leave. 

i’m getting so bored with myself. i wish i could simply gallumph off into my future like a stampeding pachyderm instead of tiptoeing over egg-shell memories; it’s circus trained, tutu’ed counterpart, desperately, with inelegant grace trying to find balance on a life turned bucket-upside down… trying to let go of dreams i never even knew i had…


though watching an episode i’d pvr’d of “tell me you love me” (the controversial HBO show about 3 very dysfunctional couples with intimacy issues), was a great reminder of how everything had gone so terribly awry in the end. the show is so realistic, it left me with quite a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

last night while incoming email and phone messages kept me awake with words roiling round my brain,  i came up with this.


ode – dec 02.08

i’m done with odes,
these endless odes to what bode not well.
i emote and emote
and almost by rote
words  croak from my throat like
grim frogs
destined never to be prince.
all simply so much bull.
i make myself wince.
and so I’m done with odes.
at least until the next cacophony
i have, it seems, no choice,
aloud, but to unload,
i’m done with odes.


famous last words, i know….