Smoke gets in your eyes

I think there are many smokers who don’t want to give up smoking because they think that they will be boring people. This might be true – I concede that I may have been a tad wearisome myself ever since I kicked the habit. I do that terrible thing of frowning at smokers, I wave away wafting smoke, I move away and so on. All very uppity and anti-social.

I am not sure why I was thinking about these things this evening. I think I was thinking (first) about the fact that I feel like a very dull person at the moment. We (the girls and I) are writing and editing a M&E report (monitoring and evaluation, I had to find out what that was after the first meeting) for a company that, well, is involved in HIV/AIDS on some level or the other. They produce an annual report for one of the larger municipalities about what is being done, who is doing it, and what is the state of HIV/AIDS generally in the city.

The spending of money on organisations and companies who mostly monitor the use of aid money by other organisations and companies I find completely senseless. You know what somebody should do a report on? The amount of aid money that is spent on writing reports about how aid money is spent. Really. That is what it amounts to. In all areas: education, Aids, development. You name it. But hey, I am a girl with a bond to pay, and I’ll have my slice of the PEPFAR pie, thank you very much.

So we are writing this report. Now, when it comes to HIV/AIDS, there are many, many figures involved. Numbers, calculations, estimates, projections. And very often they are wrong, or they don’t make sense, or they are simply not updated for three or four years, which makes it frustrating as hell to write an annual report – when there is little evidence of change or progress since the last annual report. You know what I mean?

I am going to leave that there. There is no point in discussing it, really. It is what it is, almost like a CSN song. For variety, and to forget about the fact that I am already a whole day behind my schedule, and because I promised a friend I would write a story for him, I went to the Dive Expo at the Northgate dome this afternoon. I swear, I have not seen so many white people and big bakkies together in one place since, well, since we had that all-day relay race at school and we all got those blue drizabone windbreakers and “She’s Got Bette Davis Eyes” was on the top twenty on Springbok radio. Yes, I know that was a very long time ago. It was BEFORE Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize, and that is all I am going to say about when that was.

But I had a beer and talked to a few people about learning to dive (I think I am actually going to do a course, and then write another story). I asked the guys why there were no black people around. I am not kidding. There were more than, I dunno, two thousand people, (Gray said six thousand, but I doubt it) and in the three hours I wandered about, I saw two black guys who worked there, two couples, and one guy hurrying down the corridor with a pamphlet in his hand. Some exceedingly ambitious teenager asked him if he was a diver, and he just shook his head and hurried along. There were no real answers. One guy said that it was not a “visible” sport – implying that if it’s not bling, it’s not in. Another one said he thought black people were generally afraid of water. This borders, of course, on saying that blacks cannot swim. It was a bit of a time-warp situation. Even the cleaners, he said, keep a safe distance from the pool. Whatever the story, the dome was packed with boats, jetski’s, wake- and boogie boards, and more than two thousand people, and the situation was, to put it mildly, non-representative.

There was a company that sponsors 20 instructors’ courses for “previously disadvantaged” people annually.  But  I don’t know if that means anything, as such.

Anyway. So there was the dome full of white people and boats on a Sunday afternoon, and aid money being spent on checking how the aid money was being spent. You could read this stuff in the papers, but sometimes you have to drive north for half an hour and see for yourself that the world is a crazy place.

Shit. It’s APRIL again already.

I am beginning to notice that I my preoccupation with time is more than just the average, casual unease of a woman who has turned forty without making millions or marrying a millionaire. Being neither in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease nor peri-menopausal (that word is so new it does not even exist in my Office 2007 spell check) the panic that the minutes in the day inspire in me whenever I must make a decision on how to spend them is inexplicable. In the back of my mind there is something vastly more important and lucrative to do in any given moment, and I can never quite remember what it is.

The fact is that since I have given up working for a weekly fee to pitch my lot in with freelance writers and other poor people, the fiscal value of 60 seconds has acquired new meaning. And it is agonizing. I hardly start doing something without thinking that I should be doing something else. Except when I am working on my masters, which I will return to as soon as I have finished writing 700 words for no money whatsoever. I think of my masters as a weird form of  punishment for resigning from a real job, and for the moment, not as something to improve my credit rating.

The past year has been one of both struggle and success. 

I managed to get stories published without the editor in question being a member of my circle or friends or my alma mater, but learnt that it is impossible to actually make a living writing as a freelance journalist for websites, newspapers and magazines. You also have to do some copy editing, some teaching, and slide back into the odd TV job just to keep yourself in Crabtree and Evelyn body butter.

I discovered that the adult WASP male is unadventurous in bed and both surprised and ridiculously pleased when a woman doesn’t just lie there.

Most importantly Continue reading

Dinner

“I suppose running a restaurant is not the same as retiring and never having to work again,” Ruth said. “No, too much work,” I replied. We sipped our wine. I could see that we were going to order some food soon.

“I think winning the lottery… the Euro Millions, means never having to work again,” I said then. I don’t even think that winning the Lotto, even if it was at like R7million, would mean never having to work again. Ruth had that look on her face. I had to revise. “Ok, but one would have to live carefully. I mean, we are going to live for another, like forty to fifty years.”

We ordered and talked about other things.