Thursday, July 17, 2008

the things that didn't kill me but made me stronger

Its been quite a week. I am quite weak. Character building, they used to say. On long car journeys when you grit your teeth (literally) against dust and jolting. Its character building. I come from the grin-and-bear-it school of childraising. 'If there's no blood don't cry,' my grandfather used to say.
This week's little triumphs will scaffold my character in all the places it may have had damp or rot or borer beetle.
We won the rugby! Exuberance took me down the stairs too fast. Cat underfoot I skipped a step, foot turned hard. I have a purple ankle now. A partially torn ligament. It hurts like character building.
K's party. K has a drinking problem, she's the first to admit it. She has weak wrists. She a gulper. A glugger. She also has a heart expansive as the karoo. Friends' dilemma: mostly we avoid those kinds of situations with her now. We see her in the morning, for tea. Or go for a walk. But once a year its her birthday and it all hangs out. We her friends gather for a braai (barbeque) in her garden which is lush even in winter (greenfingered lass). We take her abuse, we reassure her that we love her, we try to reason with her (we never learn) and we succumb to the can't beat em join em trickle that becomes a flow down our thirsty throats. K lives down the road from me. She has befriended the entire neighbourhood: crazy Nigerian dealers, barmen and cops wives. She set up a pool in her garden this summer and 15 neighbourhood kids had a place to splash and play constructively. She took in a homeless pregnant woman, an exploited Malawian economic refugee. She tried to rescue a woman who was being attacked and this brazen act meant that she had to have stitches in her head.

Her party is a hilarious collection of die hard friends who've seen her through hospital visits and more 'i've been fired' mondays than we care to remember, as well as new friends from the pub and the street. Neighbourhood kids end up chopping firewood under the direction of a loud whiteman in shorts who later lines them up and makes them sing "shonsholonza" as he calls it. While the stern-looking lady in the beret mutters about how lazy the youth of today are, and that's why they chase foreigners. Or something. Turns out she's from the police barracks down the road ("my husband is a cop. That's why I drink") Meanwhile shorts man barks, "Ok, now sing Nkhosi Sikilayla" (sic). Aaah, die nuwe SA. Whats not to love.

I survive the party. We leave congratulating each other drunkenly on how good its been this year. How contained she has been. Pacing herself. She didn't cry or hit anyone this year. Arrive home to bloody paw prints and unbearably huge gash in the beloved cat, from shoulder to flank. Clean cold cope mode of phone calls and isolating him etc.

The vet. Writing job, deadline, meeting. I am getting a contract for a quick book on Unicef in Malawi. Hoorah! Income at last.
Drive to Boksburg to pick up Freya from hotel. Survive Boksburg - don't have my soul sucked into the megamalls of Tile warehouses and mattress discounters. Squeeze in another quick freelance writing job, smack on deadline.
Take F to airport, rush back to see the gorgeous cousins who are here all the way from Lamu. First - go pay obscene amounts of money to the vet and pick up bandaged forlorn cat. I feel as if my own gullet is shredded. Can't bear it I'm in a foam of anxiety. On the way to vet (which is just around the corner) I sit in 20 minutes of motionless hooting traffic, because there was an armed robbery down the road and there have been shoot-outs and police chasing runaway robbers.
Find the girls in the dark cinema coz I am 20 minutes late for movie. Its Wall E. Has anyone else seen this? Does anyone else have issues with this whole end of the world thing for children? Is this character building or plain distressing, regardless of the fact that the robots get to kiss at the end?
Meetings, more driving with a sprained foot in an ailing car. (If my car was a horse they'd shoot it)
Exhausted, exhausted when I get home. Make delicious yellow food (dahl and tumeric potatoes. Try feeding cat variety of cat's favourite foods. Cat still refuses. Cat in basket on floor. Leave cat in room for ten minutes. Dishes. New dishwasher flooded, not draining. Can this be?
Finally, finally, we drag ourselves off to the sweet promise of well earned sleep. Aaaah, bed. Where is cat? Hmmm. Cat has managed to climb onto, into bed. Pull back covers, aah, at last. Bed.

oh. no.

Cat has pissed in bed.
Cat has pissed on brand new expensive mattress.
The smell of cat piss will definitely make me stronger.


Dumdad said...

Crikey, life's never dull there. And you must be a helluva strong woman after all these things that ain't killing you!

(I "enjoyed" your story of hamster surviving two weeks alone against cats only to drown in bowl of water. How do-gooders accidentally do bad).

Janelle said...

ah baaaaaabes....take it easy...!? stay at home with cat for the week-end..make cousins come to you....aaargh..sounds hideous. but love love love all round and of course to mimes ruby and sandy...and always to You! XXX janelle

Chimera said...

Wonderful post about Jo'burg me dear and ta very much for the tagging! So sorry for Mr. Burroughs. A cat in a vest not a hat eh? Poor thing. Am thinking of you this evening and glad to be back with you again in this strange but loving bloggy ether.
T xx

tam said...

Dumdad, thanks for popping by. It was an exceptional week, and yes, never a dull moment in this crazy city!