Taking it Easy

We have had stay-at-home weather since Saturday, and except for the necessary trip to the shops I was happy to oblige. My holiday is almost over and I cannot believe that I will be back at work on Friday. For the next few days I plan to take it easy and do as little as possible outside the home. I am still trying to clean up the flat, clean up my desktop computer and transfer the good and important files to the laptop. Eventually I will sell the big machine and experience full mobility with the laptop.

Under the drizzle we managed to get out to the shops today. I bought a 2 gigabyte flash memory drive for R100.  Would you believe that three years ago I bought a 128 megabyte flash drive for around R 300 ? The progress of technology is really scary.  The flash drive will minimize the time it takes me to transfer files between the two machines, and eliminate the need for creating multiple CD ROMS unnecessarily. If I was really technologically savvy I would just buy a network cable and build a network of the two machines, but I do not want to go there. My desktop machine is really iffy and may get unstable if I change too many settings.

The next thing I bought today was Christmas Pudding. I have been feasting on Christmas goodies and cooking easy but fancy meals.  The Christmas Pudding was something that I could added to my menu, but its price last week was prohibitive. Now that Christmas is over, the shops are putting all the goodies out at half price, so we can have the goodies for New Year.

I plan to have a quiet New Year celebration. Reflect on the difficult year that was and make a plan for the year coming. Last year at this time I was still a part of a family, and I thought it was going to last forever. Now it is just me and my little son,  a smaller family unit, with the difficulties resting squarely on my shoulders. I will be able to handle it, no problem, but sometimes the sheer magnitude of the task gets daunting.

I cannot help remembering that at the start of 2008, my ex was fond of saying: “2008 will be great”. His prediction turned out to be a fallacy, and the only great thing about 2008 for me was the disappoinment of my marriage. So this year I will not make lofty predictions, I will predict that in 2009, we will be just fine.

Unbelievable?.. Believe It !

Good Morning !

And this is the pretty sight that greeted my half awake eyes, as I wanted to put away the cups into the cupboard. I looked stupefied as slowly my brain comprehended what my eyes focused on; my “lost” wallet.. WTF ? And how on earth has it ended up there, among cups and bowls? Please do not ask me.

Is it the onset of old age? early Alzheimer? I have no idea. All I know is that I succeeded in hiding it so well that it took me over 48 hours to find it again.  I should perhaps blame Lucy for not cleaning properly, but I doubt it would have made any difference, because I immediately canceled all the cards. Later I found out that the stop on the credit and debit cards is permanent and cannot be reversed, so I just incurred charges for nothing.  Well, the good thing is that I do not need to buy another wallet and I do not need to reissue my bookshop membership card. I still need to get a new driver’s license and a new library card though, or perhaps I should go to the police station before that and ask whether somebody handed in my other wallet, who knows? I mean with my strange luck it might be even sitting there .

Today I also got an answer from work about my schedule. Apparently I have signed myself into the flexible shift option by mistake. Again, I am mystified at how this happened. I have to watch myself very carefully, it seems like I am losing it slowly.

Books, Catfood, Reading lamp and Radio, Conveniently on One Shelf

Today I took my flu-ridden body to the doctor, and she gave me only two days of bed rest.  So unfortunately I will still have to put in two working days before being off for two weeks. I really cannot wait to have some holiday, set up our Christmas tree and try to organize this chaotic existence. I am still living mostly out of boxes and have very little storage space, and this contributes hugely to my problem of losing things (see below).

Disorganised is an Understatement
Disorganized is an Understatement

In other news: This is the first post I am writing from my new laptop, which I am slowly setting up. First I got rid of Windows Vista and downgraded to old trusted Windows XP Professional, now I am setting up all the drivers and the programs. Working with a laptop is way less clutter than a PC, especially handyman’s special PCs which are a result of components randomly placed together by semi competent technicians. Not that I have anything to complain about the after-sale support of my PC Salesman, who recovered my PC many times up into its third year of service, but I digress.  My new laptop is a SONY VAIO VGN-BZ15GN, and it was a considerable investment, because I wanted it as a desktop replacement so it is not one of the lighter variety. The reviews place this machine in the fair to good category with criticism leveled at its display resolution, but after looking at a CRT for ten years this TFT display looks like the greatest thing ever.  The salesman warned me that this is not a powerful gaming notebook,  but gaming is the least interesting function for me. The most important thing is a good keyboard, a built-in camera, good processor speed, and reliability; I believe I will be getting all of that from my new machine.  Soon I will be able to retire and sell my old noisy machine and enjoy the wonderful liberty of working, anywhere anytime, by marrying the notebook technology with my mobile 3g modem; life is great.

An additional anecdote: It turns out that I am a closet SONY fan. In addition to my notebook there is my (almost lost) Sony Ericcson K810 cell phone, and my SONY Radio, Casette, CD, MP3 Player.

So Much Happening

It seems so much is happening I can hardly keep up. I got my computer yesterday. The good computer guru delivered it to my work, and one of my colleagues offered to give me a lift home, which saved me from calling a cab.  So I got my computer home in the rain (again) and had to wait until today to fire it up for fear of shorting one of its sensitive circuits. Today it started and looks that I haven’t lost anything, thank god.  I still need many hours to put back all my applications and little programs back.

In the meantime things are slowly getting organized at home, a few days ago I came home to find a lighting fixture has been hung up in the inside sleeping area, and the landlord sent a carpenter to measure for a sliding door. It would be great if this door is done before I go on holiday because in this rain the French doors have swollen and cracked and I cannot close them anymore. Lucy usually jams it closed with a piece of newspaper, and I have taken to doing the same thing.

I have almost lost track of Robert’s development in all this rushing. A few days ago he cut another upper tooth, and started serious communication. He now points at the things he wants and says about half a dozen words (one of them is cat of course). Sometimes he starts babbling long sentences that are only understandable to him. He is also showing some emotions finally, and blowing kisses to Lucy when she says goodbye.

In the next few days I will be even busier if I want to make my surprise visit to my parents overseas. This plan started long ago, and it is taking very long to take shape.  I still haven’t made any serious steps to obtain a visa, but I am used to getting everything done at the last minute.

With a Little Help from Friends

Jenny was supposed to come join us for breakfast so I baked scones for the occasion, but she never showed up and when I called her at around nine she was still sleeping. Of course she still needed to wake up and have a shower and we ended up arriving a little late for the appointment.

Robert got his hepatitis vaccine and measurements. He still hasn’t cracked the 10kg yet, weighing at 9.94 kg and measuring 77 cm in length.  During the first nine months he was almost on the average 50 percentile graph, now he is starting to go a little lower than the average, of course this makes me wonder -as any other parent- what I am doing wrong.

After the immunization I deliverd my ill PC to my friendly computer guru, and Jen had to drop us off at home, we did not have much time to visit because she had to go to work afterwards and I was to follow later.  For her effort I got her a scone and some of the stew I cooked yesterday. I would be in a terrible state if it was not for helpful friends.

Somehow I still got to go to the shops before I got to work and I had  a feeling that I should go past Jackie’s place to check if there was post for me, and sure enough I collected the police clearance certificates I applied for many weeks ago, it was stuck to the gate and not dropped in the mailbox.

The Saga Continues.. Repeat EVERYTHING

I bought bags and bags of things for the flat yesterday, but I am still missing everything…

Where do you start ? I need a curtain, every possible kitchen utensil and crockery, in addition to cleaning supplies and tool, and I haven’t even started yet on furniture and storage units. My ex gave me back my pots and pans and a few other things that were good enough for him to take into our new home when we got back together in 2006, but there are no cutlery, baking stuff or non-stick frying pan among those. My one dinner set is conspicuously missing its dinner plates, and I must have got rid of them to please him when we moved from my former flat, because he thought they were too heavy and ugly.. Many things I bought for that flat I gave away or recycled for what is now his rental apartment, and I try not to think how much they would have come in handy today where I have absolutely nothing. My ex, perhaps feeling some guilt at this, contributed some cutlery.. two of each (why be too generous and break the bank).

I cannot complain about his generosity too much, though, not where Robert is concerned, because he finally bought him a car seat, appropriate for his age. It was one useful birthday present.

My ex made himself useful today by picking up Robert and looking after him while I took more trips to the shops. I bought curtains and more kitchen utensils. I do not know why I bought baking trays, muffin tins and cake molds. These felt suddenly very vital to my home-making process. I carried tons of stuff over to his place where he was kind enough to give me and Robert a lift back. Britt, who lives around the corner from the place saw me and I think I was a very sorry sight.

Later in the afternoon I left Robert in Lucy’s care and went to work. Late in the evening I returned to my happy little child, already at home in the new environment. I felt I was coming home, especially that Lucy did her magic and put things in order – as much as possible under the circumstances of clutter and boxes.

I thought that my life had started its steady progress towards normal. Last night I set up my computer and used the internet over my cell phone. My connectivity was vital during the next few days because I was going to work on a new translation assignment with an agency in Pretoria. I tried to start up my computer for my nightly dose of work, but it was as dead as a brick. This crash was so ill timed I could have cried. The agency was using me for the very first time, and I already haggled with them about deadlines due to moving and then my planned leave at the end of the month. More excuses will sound unprofessional and untruthful, and so my worries and problems are bound to continue, and repeat themselves.

Back on Track

Some rough weeks are behind us. Baby and I are both recovering from the flu, and I am out of a severe depression that hit me in the past weeks.

When I moved here over a month ago, my house-mate kindly offered me the use of her computer for my daily email checking. I did a few blog posts as well using her machine but it was quickly getting on my nerves with its lagging slowness. The whole point of blogging is to write without really thinking about it, and just let the fingers fly over the keyboard, and words rush to the screen. With her machine you have to wait for the letters to show up well after the fingers have typed. Worse still if I needed to backtrack on a couple of words, holding down the backspace key often led to disastrous results, leaving me a couple of paragraphs short, when I only want to delete a sentence. On one such venture to this blog, I also noticed that my header went out the window and I had no way of replacing it, since I was working on a strange machine.

I thought I will forget everything as soon as my machine was happily set up in its new corner, but I was in for another unpleasant surprise. The crash of my trusty computer was the last straw, and it really hit me hard. At stake were almost three years’ worth of work data, painstakingly downloaded and collected software, e-books, craft patterns, emails, and most painfully my beloved boy’s pictures from birth until the day before I moved out. I was inconsolable at this terrible loss on top of everything else.

I wasn’t doing well either on other fronts. Baby was sickly and irritable because of teething. I succumbed to moral pressure and bought a music CD; a present I couldn’t afford for my house-mate. Soon afterwards I discovered that my choice was a terrible, and the CD not exchangeable. My cellphone charger decided to quit on me, only a month after switching to pre-paid.  I was ready to crawl into the nearest cave, and just hibernate for the rest of the year.

In the midst of my desperation, a friend took pity on me and invited me to spend an evening with her family. Baby and I went and had a great time. For me, it was a great privilege to spend time with normal people, because I was getting sick of hanging around with misfits like me. It is a great comfort to know and see that there are people out there who make their relationships work, and not everyone is recovering from a broken relationship or looking for a new one.

The dose of love, caring and normalcy I got from my dear friend gave me the courage to seek help for my damaged computer. Another friend came to the rescue and my valuable history was saved. Now I am sifting through my electronic files to restore the software I worked with and put back all the knickknacks I am partial to using. It will take some time before everything is back to its old order, but at least I am halfway there.

Baby has two little teeth, they were his first Mother’s Day present for me. I fixed my problem with my cell phone charger. My experience with my unsuitable present taught me a lesson, and for my other friends I will either give a handmade present or a voucher.  For my own birthday I want NOTHING. Life is too short to keep collecting and passing on unwanted gifts.

Settling into a Routine

Today my computer arrived safely. Jackie helped carry it to and back from rehab at my favorite computer technician at the moment. I haven’t lost ANYTHING and to me this is a miracle. From here on my life will start to get some semblance of normalcy. I set up my computer workstation -again with Jackie’s help. It now occupies a corner of her desk, it is kind of cramped, but I cannot complain. I mean she could have easily said, she doesn’t want me using her work space, therefore I am eternally grateful. Living with Jackie is relatively easy. She does have her own set of rules, but they are nothing compared to the regimented style I was used to with my ex. The only problem we have is the limited space, and the need to find innovative ways of storing our things, while keeping them accessible at the same time. Some of my beloved book boxes ended up in the top shelf of the cupboard, where I need a step ladder to reach them, but there are plenty of books still on the ground, where I can easily get to them. My dictionaries are also close by ready for action when I finally get the elusive work I am half-heartedly looking for. I say that because I am still not all here, and reeling with the effects of my separation. It will take time until I am in a really productive frame of mind. In the meantime there are things to write about, feelings to deal with and finances to consider.
At the beginning of the month I received a date for my divorce case, and it is scheduled for Monday the 26th. This is the final nail in the coffin of my marriage, and I try not to dwell on it too much. Ron wanted me and Robert out of his hair, and I wanted to make the separation final and legal because I recognized -and he spelled it out to me- that he no longer wants to be with me. I see no point in staying married in name only, when there is absolutely no hope in reconciliation. I believe I did the right thing, and I will get used to the outcome.

Meanwhile life goes on. I try to go with Robert to the park on sunny days. The walk to the park is now much longer, but we both enjoy chilling there which makes it worth the effort. Here Robert also gets to socialize with some little friends. I like especially the little tomboy Nina, who loves playing in the dirt, and must be a handful to her patient nanny. I let Robert crawl around in the park and get down and dirty sometimes; this is vital to the learning process. Another thing that I want him to learn is interacting with animals. Jackie’s cat loves playing with him, and tolerates his rough handling – up to a point of course. He already received a swipe or two from her claw when he tugged too hard on her fur. Most of the time though they play or dance around each other, which is quite funny. Robert is starting to cruise; he walks from one side of the sofa to the other while holding on to its edge. He can also stand by himself for a few seconds. The interaction he has with me, Jackie, the cat and everyone else is much more lively and animated. Lucy enjoys being with him and he very comfortable around her. The few negatives that come to mind are a light episode of the flu, and some negative attitudes from Robert’s dad, but we will get over these in time.

Happy Mother’s Day

I would like to think that my first mother’s day present from Robert was his first pair of teeth. He will now get a little break from teething pain, and I have a rest for a while from washing poopy mattresses. I would have loved to spend the day with my little boy, but unfortunately I had to work, which meant that I had to face Robert’s dad. The experience is rarely pleasant as we tend to argue whenever we meet.

I am still troubled, but the sadness is lifting slowly and giving way to hope. Yesterday I called my computer expert and next week Jackie will help take the computer to him. I am hoping for some good news then; maybe my photos will not be lost after all.

I received many greetings for mother’s day from friends. A duty managed declared that he sympathized with me for working on my first mother’s day. The hardest thing to face however was a greeting card from my mom, where she congratulated me (us) on being a family. It made my anger against Ron erupt again. In my mind he is still responsible for this breakup and because of him I had to write a long and sad letter to my mom. In the meantime I tried to prepare my parents for the bad news.

With all this happening, I am a little bit in a reflective mood today. The blogs I read were full of Mother’s Day anecdotes, and they helped me -again- appreciate the blessings of motherhood. I liked this blog post from The Keyboard Biologist Knits. This mother’s experience resonated with me and made me smile:

This year will be my first “real” Mother’s Day. Last year, I was about 7 months pregnant and waiting for the arrival of the baby that I had worried would never be a part of my life. Although I was…View Original Article

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Craving Normal

I reached the point where I am just too sick of being a misfit and a failure. I am still devastated by the crash of my computer, and in my desolation I do not have the courage or the drive to pick up the phone and ask someone for help. Perhaps the data on my computer can still be saved but I am too tired and heartsick to investigate.

The series of failures did not stop there. The present I chose for Jackie turned out to be a total dud. What I thought a bouncy CD of dance tracks turned out to be a compilation of lackluster cover tracks. If I had paid only a little bit more I would have bought a decent new release, but I am so out of touch with Jackie’s musical taste; I do not know what is hot, because I hardly listened to the radio in the past few years. In addition to all this, I had to buy a new cell phone charger when mine broke a few days ago. By the end of this remarkable week I decided that I would have been better off without 21st century technology. Heck I would have happily traded this modern existence for the simplicity of stone age lifestyle.

I could not face Jackie’s birthday today and her elaborate party plans. She had a friend over at lunchtime and I escaped to the damp and cold park. A phone call from my friend Britt rescued the day for me, when she invited me over for dinner. It was great to sit in front of a fire, sip some wine and enjoy the warmth of a normal family. Britt and I went through the routine of bathing all three children, and then tucking them into separate cots and beds. Robert took over Demi’s cot and went quickly to sleep without a problem. Britt’s older girl Mia kept us company for a little bit over a delicious dinner of chicken curry. Soon everyone’s eyes started to get heavy, thanks to the warm fire and the wine. Britt gave us a lift home around ten. As I unpacked Robert’s bag later I found another present for Robert, in addition to the many little toys she gave us during the course of the afternoon. I am so lucky to have such a great friend.

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Major Setback

A month after I moved in with Jackie, I finally got the chance to set up my computer on a corner of her desk in the spare room. After time consuming gymnastics, where we moved the desk around and tried to get the wiring in some semblance of order I was faced with the reality that my computer had turned into an electronic brick. My hard drive has completely crashed and I fear that I lost my whole history of work and life in the past two years. Unfortunately this came at a very critical point of my existence. I am just battling to keep my head over water personally and financially. I am trying hard not to get the resentment against my boy’s father get the better of me, but today I lost the battle and I experienced a complete meltdown. I am ashamed to say that I called Ron to dump my misery on him.

Ron told me that he has his own blog. I am sure he will have plenty of time and space to spin the story of his victimhood online, but I do not have this luxury. I don’t have the time to keep dwelling on his negative personality traits and the ways he ruined my life with his stingy and self-centered approach to life.

In the end I only got myself to blame. The realities of the person stared me in the face for seven years, until I could take it no more. Three years ago I left him and came to Cape Town with nothing but a suitcase and a few crates of books. But even then he still had the power over me. He spun a tale that my heart believed and I could not break free, not completely. My mind wanted to, but my heart couldn’t. To be honest I wanted to believe, I made excuses for him, to explain why he left his first wife and two children. I turned a blind eye when he complained about the few cents of child support he paid them. I pray for forgiveness every day, because I was indirectly party to this. I never told anyone that when I went ahead with marrying him, he was still technically married to his first wife. I briefly met the woman once, and it wasn’t pleasant. She gave him a piece of her mind, calling him a coward, because he was uncomfortable visiting his children. At the time I just brushed the outburst aside as the ramblings of a foul-mouthed, bitter and jealous female. Now I am thinking otherwise.

Financially perhaps, the first wife had a better deal than me. She had the support of her family, she made a home for her children in a first world country and I do not think she needed to work to make ends meet. For me, things are hard at the moment; I rent a room at a friend’s house and my salary from part-time work just pays for babysitting. Ron’s “generous” maintenance does not cover my other expenses. My computer was my livelihood, it earned me some very good money in the past two years. I invested most of it good naturedly in what I thought was my “reborn” marriage. I will get some of it back later. But whatever I invested in the first seven years is water under the bridge, of course. That includes the salaries I earned working at the garage, which went into my husband’s personal account. He says they paid for the house that I will end up getting, but I doubt that this is the way things work in a divorce. A wife who does not financially contribute ANYTHING is still entitled to half a share. But now I came at leaner times, when the stingy man’s wealth has diminished, and he doesn’t have the promise of a cushy expat retirement in his future anymore. I have to bear the consequences. In time things will improve, I will get money out of the divorce settlement and the sale of our assets. Financially, I will never be rich or even comfortable, but my life as a mom is so much richer and more rewarding.

Ron bargained with me long on the settlement of our divorce. Almost everyone I know tells me that I let him off easy, but I have no desire to waste my time, and sue him for every cent he owes me. I can walk away from the bitter feud, and spend my energies on my little one. Robert made me touch my deepest resources of love and commitment, while the demands of raising him exposed the critical flaws in his father’s soul. He simply isn’t father material. My own fortunate childhood has brought me here, I suppose. Because I was unable to understand that some parents have no qualms in putting their needs first. I did not think for one moment that Ron will turn his back on the chance to be a parent for a second time, because I believed that he regretted doing so in his first marriage.
My life has fallen apart completely, but I can still find strength and purpose in my son. Although at the moment I don’t know how this will be possible, I will turn my life around, for my son. I will give him the life and the childhood he deserves.
His dad can go on with his social life, live for the sole purpose of finding his solitary happiness. He was never happy, and I won’t be surprised if he never gets there. He may go on into a new relationship, but he will keep his egocentric priorities. I will teach myself to stop hurting, and stop caring for his fate. The only part of him that I care about resides in the same room with me.

One day I will re-read the early entries of this blog, where I never stopped singing the praises of a transformed and changed Ron, and I will forgive my gullible stupidity. As I write this I question the wisdom of keeping myself open to him and his family through this blog, when as early as January he started to close up on me, confide with close family and hang out with a constellation of “friends” I know nothing about. Then again I tell myself, I have nothing to hide.

I only ever had one face to show to the world, it is my true face, and my true colours. He is the one who keeps trying to play a part, convince himself that he is somebody brilliant, somebody misunderstood, and just a little bit down on his luck. Some other poor soul will take pity on him, as I did, and this person will be blinded into believing that he hasn’t diserved to reap what he had sown. He can go on doing this, indefinetely if he wants. As for me, I will keep my wounds open to the wind. Better for them to heal, and for the bleeding to stop. In fact, it already has.