My Home My Castle.. where are you now?

Another erratic week has passed, with rain and floods in the Cape. My life is no less flooded with news, worries and small irritations.

It started last week Monday when Robert had a fever again while at school. He was sleepy and lethargic, and appeared to have problems swallowing. The fever did not break on the next day and I was forced to phone work and simply tell the truth : My child is sick and I cannot take him to day care and therefore cannot come to work.  Before resorting to this I tried Robert’s father but obviously his work is much more important and critical than mine,  so I just have to take whatever management deals me for this since I have no sick days or family days left – or so I believed at the time.

Robert improved ever so slightly on the next day, mercifully an off day from work for me,  and I decided that we tough it out this time and do not run to the doctor, which proved to be the correct decision in this case since he was well enough for school on Thursday, although I took precaution and gave him a dose of fever medicine before school on the day.

My troubles for the week though were not over because last week I also received notice to vacate my flat, by latest August 31st. This came as unwelcome shock for me, even though I hate many things about my current place, mainly its dilapidated general state, filthy carpet, pealing paint and leaking plumbing, but I am the kind of person who puts up with a lot of inconvenience and I do not particularly care for major changes and upheavals in my life. No, I am not a mover and a shaker and I HATE moving with a passion. This will be the fifth time I move since I came to Cape Town in 2005, and that is too much for anyone.  It is even too much for me because I only moved a dozen times in my adult life.

Small consolation for me is that the whole block has been served notice, on the pretext of major renovation to the building. The place does look shabby even on the outside and there is no denying the need for a major facelift, and some serious maintenance, but the timing is very unfortunate, for me that is. For the landlord it is probably just right to get the whole place done up and ready to be rented out during the World Cup.

I am starting to think that this whole World Cup thing is a curse for us bottom feeders, and regular citizens.  Everyone with a little stake in this city thinks that the World Cup will be their chance to make a fortune.  Not only landlords are licking their lips, taxi drivers are also starting to flex their muscles, unhappy about the public transport system which will start running in 2010, since they expect that it will take a chunk out of their profits. Workers Unions are exploiting the opportunity as well, and pressurizing construction workers into a strike that has hampered the construction work at the Green Point Stadium. Of course the workers are normally unwilling participants in such actions, but do not dare to go against the unions and the threats from more belligerent members.

I was euphoric many years ago when South Africa won the bid for hosting this World Cup, but now I am beginning to think that the best thing that can happen to me personally is for this spectacle to move elsewhere.  The properties will be selling like crazy, rents will be cheap, transport will not increase in price and my city will be my own again. Now I feel like I am being squeezed out for some wealthy foreigner who will take my apartment, and maybe even sleep in my bed when I am on the streets. Yes, this is over-dramatizing the situation, but I am a wee bit paranoid about being homeless.

Ah well, tomorrow I am going on my first -probably of many- flat-viewing errands, I hope that this time Robert and I will get to stay in the same place for two years at least. I want to move as soon as possible and will not wait until the end of next month if I can help it, because I do not want Robert to spend another birthday in the chaos of moving.

On a happier note, today is Bastille Day, my father’s birthday : Happy Birthday Dad, and thank you for being a great father and role model. I am trying to emulate you as best as I can.


No matter how hard I work I do not seem to be getting ahead.  This does not only relate to small domestic chores and projects, but I am beginning to detect a certain futility in my attempts at getting out of the rut in general. Getting ahead in life and recovering from the setback posed by divorce.

At one point when I was married we owned the place where we lived and we saved our income for something more,  now I am just working to pay the bills. I am luckier than most people, for one I am debt-free, I pay off my credit card every single month, and do not have to procrastinate in payment of rent or school fees.  I can say very proudly that I am doing that without having to rely on the token child support I get from my ex, because that money goes straight into my son’s bank account,  a 30-day account which I am planning to grow into a significant long-term investment for his education.  Given all this, I should be proud of myself and of the astute management of my finances, but sometimes I get mad and resentful against my son’s father, because I know that I let him off the hook easily and he owes me much more that just this measly monthly payment.

I am in a rut because my job and the bank interests are paying off the bills, but there is no growth in sight. The salary will not increase in the foreseeable future as our management blatantly told us – we should actually be glad for having our job and tighten our belts (so that the giant multi-national could recover from making less of a killing than they made last year).  And even if I only spend the interest and preserve the nominal value of my capital, the falling Rand and the inflation is surely shrinking its actual value. I am observing that year-on-year as the price of staples, rent, school fees increase.  The salary which has not been increased will surely shrink in 2010 when deductions for medical aid go up by their usual 10%.

Also, since I am using the interest on my capital to pay my living expenses, I cannot actually afford to put it all as a payment for an apartment.  I have only two obvious solutions: either I buy a really cheap place using half my capital or work full-time for a decent market related salary. There is also the solution of the desperate : Throw in the towel,  pack up everything and go someplace where there is help.

There is no help here, that is for sure. I have arrived to a point where I could not care less about my ex.. I really don’t. But sometimes his lack of sympathy and his attitude of  ” deal with your problems I have enough of mine” makes me want to kick his teeth in.  I always feel that if I had the resources and finances that he has at his disposal I would have at least a plan or a schedule for getting out of the rut.  Instead I am reduced to just waiting for an opportunity to knock me on the head, and this is something that does not happen very often.

In fact I might have missed such a rare opportunity because I allowed myself to be affected by his lack of vision. An apartment was sold in the same block where he has his furnished unit, and it went for exactly half its market price.. exactly half the money I have in the bank. I saw the notice of sale and was tempted to go check it out, but instead I asked my intelligent ex about it. He did not sound too keen, and I let it go. The next time he spoke to me he was berating himself about a lost opportunity, and telling me about the price it went for.

I have calmed down some since my initial intense frustration. Sales in Execution are tricky, and a purchaser has to register before bidding and there are certain procedures. So, there was little or no chance that I could have bought the place on my first foray there, but still. Knowing that these things exist, a window of opportunity for people with a little bit of market savvy. And here is little me trying to get hold of such an opportunity -however passively. While my ex with all his oversees assets sits here, content to work as “project manager” for a solar heating outfit, and paying child support to two households, such a loser.  And to think that I was fooled by the airs he put on for almost ten years.