Sunny Days.. Rainy Days

Last week we had the rains and the whole Western Cape turned into a disaster area, with many people displaced and some villages in the mountains rendered inaccessible by road. This was followed by a cold snap, and snow was seen on the mountains in the surrounding areas. The snow had some entertainment value for South Africans, who rarely see it, but the rain, you get sick of it after a while. For us, long spells of rain are a problem because there isn’t enough time for my washing to dry, and Robert only has so many changes of clothes. I did wash some of his clothes and hung them to dry in the bathroom but they did not smell fresh. In fact, last Sunday my ex had the audacity to complain that Robert stank so bad and he had to bath him early in the morning. The laundy did not see any sun last week, and perhaps that is why they picked up quickly the smell of the dirty nappy, but they were clean. When I pointed this out to my ex he said he did not want to hear complaining, and he wanted Robert to be well groomed when he visited with him. His acid comments grated on me badly. I am doing the best that I can under the circumstances. I wash our clothes by hand, while he has the luxury of the washing machine. I keep my sense of humor when baby and cat act up and find it hard to cope with their changed circumstances. I walk behind the little one, patiently straightening the things he messes up, time and time again, and try to play referee between my cat and Jackie’s. It is a hard life though, I am starting to get fed up.

For one Robert is getting more demanding and active, and Jackie’s place is full of clutter. I am the last person to judge, because I am not Miss Order myself, but the fact remains that it is a house that isn’t used to little people walking underfoot. It has too many knick knacks strewn around, and many dangerous bigger ones lurking at every corner. Right by the door there is an African sculpture; it is roughly the same size as Robert and three times as heavy, and it balances on a small base. I cringe to think of the consequences if it ever toppled over while he was close by. There is also the puzzle of the electrical wiring in this old old place. An annoying example is the burglar alarm connected to an adapter with loose and exposed wiring connectors. This faulty adapter is plugged into a power bar, which in turn plugs into the wall socket. The power bar itself resides on the floor unsecured and it is the only electrical point in my room where I can plug my cell phone and tooth brush charger. This strange arrangement makes the burglar alarm susceptible every time I charge my cell phone, or every time Robert or the cat moves in the surrounding area; the loose connections in the adapter disconnect and the burglar alarm starts beeping because it lost power. It happens at least once every other day, and Jackie barges into the room to fix the connection. I bite my tongue every time, but I had this same problem when I lived here three years ago, and that was minus cat and baby. I always thought that this bad connection should be addressed. In addition the general living arrangement are not great for me, Robert and I (and now Petey) are crammed into a small room, and we have very little cupboard space. We do not have many things, but whether I like it or not, baby paraphernalia takes up a lot of space, and makes a huge mess. I find myself constantly tripping over toys, books, and various pieces of accessories and clothing. Most of Robert’s toys have nowhere to put away, so they are constantly floating around, and I try in vain to keep them in order, or even to keep track of them when they try to disappear amongst all the clutter.

On the up side, I really cannot complain. Jackie has allowed us to overflow into other parts of the house. The toys are often lying around in the lounge. Baby strollers ( the old monster that my ex bought and the new lightweight buggy) and also the baby car seat reside in the second lounge, along with a number of my boxes. My computer sits in Jackie’s office area, and although my part of the desk is horribly cramped, it is still adequate. I have successfully delivered my first small project from this very corner, and consider myself blessed to have this little space with its connection to the internet. The connection was down for a few days while I was doing the project and it was a huge inconvenience to work offline without the benefit of references and then go out late at night to mail translations from a nearby internet cafe. One should be glad for the small blessings in life.

Another thing to smile about is that after a week of rain the sun is shining again, and I am feeling a strong current of hope. The project is finished and I feel elated, the same feeling I used to get after writing an exam, where I know that I have done well. My washing is hanging out in the sun to dry and a delicious pasta sauce is simmering on the stove. Life has its small challenges but overall things are starting to look up.

Counting the Pennies

I think I am paying too much rent, among my other many problems. When I mentioned an ad hock amount to my friend, I was still in a generous mood, and calculated on the base of an all inclusive rate. Now it comes out that I have to subsidize half of the water and electricity as well. I am already paying for my son’s babysitting and contributing my half share towards the cleaning. My generosity and tolerance are slowly reaching their limits as my limited resources dry up.
I collected my payslip from work today, and I was dismayed again at how little I get paid working part time. My deduction have skyrocketed since my company is trying to recover the salary they paid me by mistake when I was supposed to be on unpaid leave.

Now I am calculating and recalculating again my budget and wondering how the heck my son and I are supposed to manage on around R 900.00 a month for our groceries and supplies. I already suspect that we would pay much less if we were living on our own. I am not a cheapskate but I am very frugal and careful in my use of resources. I do not waste toilet paper, toothpaste, electricity or water. My house mistress on the other hand has grown up in a wealthy household and does not bother watching things like that. Now it is up to me to shoulder part of her extravagance.  Buying groceries is yet another matter. I am always intensely aware of what I buy and consume and never touch what is not mine. My house mistress in contrast is forgetful and digs in into my groceries, assuming they are hers, and forgetting that she used up whatever she bought last week. I try to avoid confusion by buying different brands than hers, but it is difficult when both of us regularly hunt for store specials. My focus at the moment is my son’s health and wellbeing. I do not skimp on his formula and cereal. As for me, I now look for the cheapest brands in the shop, I hardly ever buy meat and when I do I cook it into huge bowls of soup to make it go farther.

I am sure Mr. Negativity doesn’t have such concerns. He always was a carnivore of note, cooking a portion of meat every single day to support his monster metabolism. I am resorting to the humble potatoes, beans, and lentils. Luckily during winter time such foods are acceptable. By summertime I hope we will be in our own place.

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The Daily Routine

I am slowly getting used to new rules and my new housemate. She is definitely not as demanding as Mr. Negativity, and simply lets me experience my freedom. The first few days were tough, I drove myself nuts trying to find my things, and kept losing every item after a few seconds of putting it down somewhere. I was trying to find spots for my stuff, in the fridge, in the pantry, in the cupboards and on the bathroom shelves. It is difficult to move into someone else’s space, and I have to keep reminding myself that my baby and I are simply paying house-guests here, and we need to adjust to this house’s rules. Still, it is far easier to be myself here than it was with Mr. Negativity.

I spent my first weekend in years without going outside the front door. This was unheard of in my marriage where one needs to get out for some exercise or fresh air. I am now eating generous helpings of food, after years of watching my portions. I always ate behind the man’s back just to spare myself his scathing comments about how much I eat. It doesn’t help pointing out my slim figure, or the calories I need as a breastfeeding mother. Now I can indulge my craving for chocolate without being asked whether I need it or not, and as the weather turns cooler I have a tin of hot chocolate close at hand,  not hidden in some inaccessible corner of the kitchen cupboard.  In short, life is getting back to normal for me. I am living -mostly- by my own rules.

The price though is considerable. I hand-wash our clothes every other day. I walk to the shops to buy things and carry the groceries home. I bargain hunt, and count our pennies. Worst of all, I have to tell my sorry story to the people at work in order to get suitable shifts, and working hours. I hate the notoriety of walking in and out of the floor at odd hours, and having to endure the questioning or the pitying look. It is especially humiliating since some people know that this is my second trip to breakup land (with the same man). I know that even some of my closest friends think that I landed into this predicament because of my rare stupidity. But, believe me, it is easy to be fooled by someone you love (or someone you want to love). We give those we love the power to fool us because we want to believe them. Regardless of what brought me here, I will get over it. I will survive my foolishness and carry on.

My little one and I survived the first few weeks. He had his first fever last week, and I had to miss work for two days because of that.  The next few weeks we endured the long walks back and forth to his father’s. Dropping him off before I went to work in the early morning, and picking him up after I finished. Baby is also getting used to Nanny. She will look after him three afternoons a week, when I am at work. Nanny brought up her fair share of young ones including my housemate. This arrangement means that I only need Mr. Negativity to babysit every other Sunday. This suits me fine, and I do not want to ask him for any more.  He has already metioned several times that is helping me babysit this month for free. Yes, he is the baby’s father, although sometimes I really wish it wasn’t so. I hope and pray my boy does not take after his sire.

Out

Well, the day has come and I am moving out. I am taking my baby, and my cat but the computer will be staying here for a little while until I sort out my connectivity at the new premises.

We are moving in with a friend, who has a sunny house in a quiet street of Sea Point. One part of me is perversely joyous, another is infinitely sad. I am closing a chapter of my life that has gone on for the last ten years. This is the tenth time I moved in this last decade, and I am not even done yet. Who knows where my son and I will end up.

Mr. Negativity will not take pity on my cat. He will not allow it to stay on in this (HIS) apartment until he moves out. He wants all of us OUT, out of his hair. Now I have to take my poor abused cat into the territory of another female cat, who is the favourite little girl of my landlady. My cat is worried and knows there is something afoot. Boxes and bags are moved about. Cupboards and drawers are being emptied. He is old enough not to trust such developments, but he has no idea what is coming. My landlady already told me, that if her cat gets upset, then my scrawny one has to go. I can’t blame her, we are moving into her territory and have to respect the rules.

So, the next few days will be full of challenges. I might be unable to update this blog for a week or so, but I will try to be back online as soon as possible.