Friday, 28 October 2011

Long-distance birthday licks

I was in Holland for my birthday this month, and my neighbour looked after my dogs. I missed them enormously, but was very cheered up when I got this picture via email. (Thanks, T, for risking your white floors for the cheerful red paw prints!) From left: Sara, Balu, Lucy and Max.

(More about Holland in posts to come...)

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tanya turned 40

I finished my contract.
There were dogs.
And earth, air, water and fire.
And friends.

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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

What I’ve learnt from 5 weeks of working in the city

At the beginning of September I was torn from my quiet country life into the turmoil of fulltime big-city office work. New Media in Cape Town was contracted by City Press to put out their new Sunday magazine, ‘i’, and I was contracted as the launch editor.

I used to do spans of this kind of work when I was younger and hungrier (and lived in the city), but I'm not mad about it. As much as I’d like to be, I’m not a fabulous supervisor of people; and, although 20 years of raising children without benefit of anything even vaguely resembling a memory has turned me into an excellent organiser (I Do Lists), I dislike managing stuff.

Still, it was an interesting experience. It taught me several things and reminded me of others, some being:
• Life is better in pajamas
• If you have dogs and other animals, you need to be with them for longer than a few hours a day (and their devastated expression when you leave them in the morning can bring you close to tears)
• Sleeping only 5 hours a night makes you dizzy
• Walking your dogs in the early-morning dark can cause you to fall into holes
• Weekends are really necessary - all work and no play makes Jill excessively grumpy
• Working 9 to 4 with 2 hours driving on either side (ie, 7 to 6) means you can’t get to the shops, the bank, the vet, the chemist, etc – and there’s a circle of hell that closely resembles Shoprite Checkers on a Saturday morning
• Indulging your love of cooking/TV addiction/blogging fetish/need for an afternoon snooze/desire to work at 2am if the spirit moves you isn’t possible when you have a fulltime job
• And don’t even think about joining your friends on a midweek bender
• Sealed windows plus airconditioning is a bad combination, particularly if the aircon doesn’t work
• Alarm clocks are evil fuckers
• As are the Sunday Blues
• Driving for 4 hours a day is bad for your spine, your wallet, your nerves and the environment
and
• There’s no place like home.

On the plus side, there were:
• Cape Town Food Market
• The solar-powered traffic signboards, which warn you of what lies ahead (my favourite: ‘congestion on elvated freeways expect delays’)
• Reconnecting with people who’ve been in publishing for 20 years and really know how to get things done
• Connecting with smart youngsters who are keen and talented (like Julia)
• Producing an excellent product in an impossibly short time with a great team
• Coming home in the evenings to my dogs, cats and chickens, who go crazy when they see me (although mainly, in the case of the chickens, because they want food – but that’s ok!)

And, my god, Cape Town drivers!
I travelled the route between Riebeek Kasteel and Cape Town daily both ways: 20km to and through Malmesbury, including a tortuously slow detour because they’re apparently simultaneously re-tarring every single road in the town; about 50km on the hell-run that is the N7; then about 10km on the N1 into the city, including daily congestion that can add up to 40 minutes to the trip. Every day, I’ve been held up by an accident – but the fact that it’s only one accident amazes me. Most people drive like they’ve checked their brains at the door, and I can’t count the number of times:
* some arsehole has tried to overtake 10 cars and a slow-moving lorry on a blind rise, and missed oncoming traffic by millimetres, and often then only because the oncoming car has moved onto the shoulder to avoid a head-on collision (hey, nitwits – if you cause an accident, the rest of us will be involved in it too!);
* 3 snail-pace trucks have slow-motion diced each other up one of only 2 double-lanes on the entire inland route, infuriating the long line of cars behind them who could get moving if only the trucks would get the bloody hell out of the way;
* cars going at 60kph have refused to move over (and often drive, inexplicably, practically in the middle of the road, making it difficult to see past them), creating irritating logjams that make people do dangerous things to pass them;
* drivers doing 160kph have tailgated me and then every car they’ve leapfrogged ahead of me, creating incredibly dangerous road conditions, only to be stuck in the same traffic jam as all of us as we neared the city;
* people have treated the N7 onramp onto the N1 as a stop street, causing a hazardous backlog for absolutely no reason;
* accidents have attracted bizarre numbers of ‘emergency vehicles’ (in one case, a fire truck, 4 police cars and 7 (SEVEN!) ambulances), which have served only to create more havoc and congestion (are private ambulances the new tow-trucks?!); and
* huge traffic jams have been caused by municipal grass-cutting on the road verges (everyone stops to look; and by the time everyone has stopped to look, the backlog takes 40 minutes to clear – hey, municipality, maybe you shouldn’t do this in peak traffic time?).

My contract finishes tomorrow, and after work I’ll be heading straight to Ceres to join my friends on a midweek getaway (something you can’t do if you work fulltime!), stopping in Riebeek Kasteel only to fetch the dogs and a bottle of peach mampoer, which I plan to drink while lying on my back in a meadow with a mountain somewhere in full view. And no alarm clock anywhere within a 100-kilometre radius.

To my colleagues in the office: a luta continua!


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