Up and Down. Repeat.
I’m inappropriately proud of myself for getting three kids to school alive and dressed. I was determined to reach this goal and I’m on my way there! First milestone down. If Kai (7) was me, he would say ‘yeah baby! Shake your bum bum!’
I pull into the parking lot next to a group of ladies in high heels and evening wear. Prostitution at home affairs I wonder? In Africa anything is possible, that’s why I love it so much. I get out and blink into the morning sun in disbelief as I stare down the Great Wall of China. Suddenly one of the ladies are in my face. She is an African transvestite with orange hair. Make up well done and manicured hands. That hair though, I think. Orange and combed back into a strange pointy back. She looks like a parakeet wearing one of those helmets the Olympic bobsled teams wear. She is on the orange team, clearly. I did not know it then, but I would be punished for that evil thought…
Her lips are moving. “Huh?” I say, as I blink a few times more. A transvestite in front of a line of people as long as the Great Wall of China, wtf.
“I said… (dramatic pause), you will never get in today darling.” She talks with her hands. “But I can get you in right now for R250”. I feel like a criminal for even considering it, like this is some shady drug deal in a (very badly designed) parking lot. “You can call me Elani and the ATM is right there she says,” pointing in some general direction towards the city.
“No thank you” I say, as I start my trek to the end of the queue. “OK darling” She gives me a very knowing look that is very unnerving. “Come here so that I can gel that hair in the back into a more decent shape” I think. Unknowingly just attracting more bad karma.
I’m so honest, look at me. ‘Shake your bum bum baby!.’ Winning at life because of my superior morals.
I join the back of the very back of the back and start re-designing the parking lot in my head. I really have a thing about badly designed parking lots and space that is not cleverly used in general. For ten minutes I try to distract myself from Elani’s offer by comparing this parking lot with the one at the Ilala Ridge Centre (Durban). The parking lot by the Woolworths opposite from the old Kensington Centre also comes to mind. That one was built for elves on tricycles; every time I have to park there I break out in an a nervous sweat. Why and how are incompetent idiots allowed to design parking lots? When we can’t even get this right then surely civilisation is in a slow decline with little hope for us all?
I get off my very high horse of superior morality and begin the trek back to Elani, who is patiently waiting for me by my car, filing her nails. “Let’s go I say” and hand over the money.
“Follow that lady with the ‘doek’.” Said lady with pink doek on her head is already at the entrance negotiating with the guard. This is a very well run operation. I could stand in a parking lot chatting with my lady friends all day and make R250 out of every sucker who did not join the queue at 4am, I think to myself. Career choices….
Inside it is also like a well oiled machine. Everything is very old and run down but there is a military looking lady who reminds me of the police woman in the movie ‘Madagascar’. The one who tries to catch the lion. We are all equally scared of, and grateful towards her. When a number gets called and you don’t lift your bum from that seat to move to the next chair fast enough she shouts at you. It’s one helluva exercise as we snake through row after row of squeaky chairs.
People chat as they do during a two hour upper leg bum lifting exercise session. Everyone around me is SO relieved that they’re doing both their passport and ID card at the same time. It’s just flippen amazing! Saves them a second trip and saving them hours and hours as well as probably lengthening their general life span by ten years. My feeling is that they can all just fuck off. Because I have three very loud kids who eat all the money I make and draw on my furniture and hang onto my clothes shouting random stuff that I block out. On a rational level I know this has nothing to do with anything. I’m just bitter, as I only have just enough cash for my passport application.
I decide to trust in humanity and the universe because really, I need a break. I turn to the lady behind me and feel incredibly lucky about how my day has turned itself around as she hands me the extra money I need. (If you, kind lady, ever happen to read this, please send me your bank details. I messaged you but I never heard back).
Finally, two and a half hours of chair hopping later my number gets called. I enter the photo booth and it briefly cross my mind that I was in such a rush with homework and lunches and finding shoes and cleaning nappies and being a bouncer, that I did not even look at myself in any mirror before I left the house. “It’s ok” I reassure myself. My hair only recently grew back so it’s still very short, although faaarking curly. The lady behind the camera tells me not to smile and to sit very still.
Shoooz! The blinding flash of the camera hits me and as my eyesight slowly returns I stare in disbelief for the second time today. Disbelief and shock fucking horror.
“Please can we take another one?” I ask, perhaps a bit too desperate sounding.
“Already called the next number, sorry” she says in a flat monotone voice.”
Oh to wield such power and abuse it in such evil ways! I imagine them on their tea-break discussing and comparing how many really bad photos they each could take that day. “I got someone with snot in their nose.” “That’s nothing! I got one of those sad panda looking ladies with her mascara on the wrong end of her eyes” “You Guys, I beat all of you!” I imagine my lady saying. “I got one that looked like an overweight angry parakeet!” And ‘hahahahaha’ they all would laugh as they climb back onto their little thrones in their little booths.
Karma is a bitch.
The military looking lady is coming our way and I have no time to negotiate. I lift my bum and leave all my dignity behind in the booth as I join the queue for processing.
I send Kev a photo of my hair. “What the actual fuck is that shit on the side??!” I say. Shortly after I send him another photo of a bird sitting on a piano and I type “I look like this bird! Just fatter and not on a piano.”
This will be the me in my passport and on my ID card, for a good many years to come. They probably won’t even let me into Portugal! I look like Daisy de Melker on a bad day (the lady with the weird hair who killed several husbands and her own son with rat poison).
I google photos of parakeets and of well designed parking lots to calm myself down.
I call my trusted hairdresser and ask if I may please drive straight from home affairs to him. “Your Hair is still too short to cut into a decent style” he says. “Look, either you cut it today or you’re no longer my hairdresser!” My response.
5 and a half hours later I get to blow that joint. The sun outside is bright, it feels like coming out of prison. I wave at Elani and her lady gang, I’ve made peace with that photo. I’m sure I could enter some ‘worst of…’ competition or show and easily win first, second and third prize.
Two days later I need a biopsy on my leg. Waiting for the Dr to call is the shittiest thing ever.
It’s clear! I have 4 stitches in the front of my leg and it’s literally like a dent, but hey, another tattoo opportunity? Whatever, it tells a story right?
Later that very same week Tom does a diving-into-the-crowd move from the couch. Without a crowd. Three stitches. Kev traveling.
Holy shit! He was actually born with rockstar skills. It’s amazing. Perhaps he channels Jimi Hendrix. As we get home from the ER he does a rolly poly and takes out a stitch. Blood fucking everywhere. I’m too tired and too much over it to care. I pour myself a glass of wine, make a half assed effort of cleaning the blood out of the carpet and put a plaster where the stitch used to be. Removing the plaster is another day’s problem…
Since a lot of lymph nodes were removed from my right arm, I develop lymphodema. I can’t hold a pen, my hand is so swollen. It’s cold but I can’t wear a jacket as my right arm won’t fit into it. Thank god for hot flushes as it keeps me warm. And red. And sweaty. I’m just super attractive and stunning right now. The fucking 40’s is so not what I thought it would be.
My fat arm gets all strapped up by my Physio. Every time I collect Tom from school the kids stare in awe! I have a robot arm they say!! By default Tom is also super cool. I have a fan club and I’m loving it! No bigger compliment than having groupies aged 4-7.
Tom learns to say “fuckit”
He says it in a pommie accent and in a deep voice. Very funny, but we do have some work to do as parents…
End of that week I collapse, as most end-of-weeks. I’m officially the one boobed lady with weird hair, a hole in her leg and one very fat arm. At least I’m not Daisy.
The above, dear reader, is one week in my life. I swear the strangest things happen to me, and I really do embrace and lean into it. I appreciate the humor. I don’t always get the fucking lesson though, thank you very much, but it is entertaining at least. Even my GP gets excited when I make an appointment. She tells me that I bring her joy as it’s never a boring cold or cough or headache. This is true, for example, I’m the only person I know whose been bitten by a spider on the forehead twice. Twice. And the two incidents happened a year apart. The first time I looked like an alien. I’ll never forget the kids’ faces when they saw me that morning. One eye completely swollen shut, swollen forehead (think about this for a second), swollen jaw, just bizarre. The second time I looked like a unicorn with a terrible hangover. You might think I’m exaggerating; here are a few random examples of weirdness just to prove my point; I had a cat who once rode (clung in terror?) on the roof of my car all the way to the nearest petrol station (his name was Shakespeare and the guy working at the petrol station was blown away, as was I). Another random one; I drove to University (TUKS) in a car of which the doors would not open. I always tried to find the furthest away parking as I had to get in and out through my boot. Meeting guys was super awkward and that probably explains why I did not date a lot. It was for the best though, as books, painting and wine were my first loves. Oh! I had an actual retarded cat, he would climb into the sandbox facing the sand and pooh just right outside the box, bum hanging off the wrong side. We only later learned that he could see very little and that, he was, genuinely brain damaged (I only do rescue cats). The list goes on and on….can’t really remember much right now as I’m severely sleep deprived. Perhaps one day I’ll write a book.
I tell you some things about my cancer (fuck you George), but please do not feel pity for me! It’s just part of the amazing and wonderful strangeness and weirdness that you probably also have. And honestly chemo was the most guilt free rest I’ve had in 7 years (since having kids). It was truly so relaxing. And to tell the rude truth, you could be hit by a bus tomorrow, so stop stressing about cancer. A quick shout out to my co-zoo-keeper who is in this adventure with me. Loud kids, little sleep, weird wife, loudness. You are still here! Although on a daily basis I fear you would get in your car and drive and drive and drive. And I would not blame you.
Last word: any pity posts and you will be unfriended.