Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Breaking the radio silence

“You think that just because it’s already happened, the past is finished and unchangeable? Oh no, the past is cloaked in multicolored taffeta and every time we look at it we see a different hue.” - Milan Kundera

I think it's time we part. My long radio silence has had one root: lack of progress on the master's. As I suspected when I started blogging, it is difficult to keep saying: I've made no progress. The time of silence has also taught me something important - it sometimes helps to just stop and rest. Your brain will start offering you small gifts of remembrance. As far as my master's was concerned, I'd forgotten a small, niggly detail. It came back when I started to relax and started getting well again (will blog more about that later). I remembered the day I stopped working on my master's. It was about three years ago.

I remember enjoying my topic. I was sitting in front of my old PC in my room that overlooked the garden. My phone rang. The call came from my father's phone. At the time, I thought he was trying to call me. He had a habit of upsetting me to the point where I'd get in bed and wait for the waves of nausea to subside so I could get on with my life. The life I'd refused to let them ruin. (Like everyone else, I have my sad story.) I didn't know at the time that he would never call me again. I ignored a few calls that morning, including one from my eldest half-brother. I assumed that there was some kind of family fight, after all, that's the only time when more than one of the Steyns would call me. I only heard that my father had died after my mother answered the house phone. She told me he died while I was trying to write about comedy. I just couldn't bring myself to write again.

Perhaps, one day, I'll find a new topic. For now, I'm living my life.

PS. Got my licence, still losing weight and getting fit.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Unearned privileges

I'm back in the big city with all the lovely pollen from all the beautiful flowers. I've also acquired a neti pot in an attempt to fight hay fever. It offers instant relief, but I haven't used it since I got back from my writing retreat last week. I'll keep you updated on how well it works in the long term.

I missed three things while I was in the teeny tiny house in the middle of nowhere. I didn't think of these things as privileges before the visit.

Trees and greenery
Apparently I struggle to live without trees. I especially like trees that are taller than me. It's not so much to ask in my opinion. I'm a shorty. From the little prefabricated houses you can't really see trees.You just see more little boxes. I was lucky to see a beautiful sunset at a guest house after I begged my friend to take me somewhere, anywhere to save me from cabin fever.

A beautiful sunset, but no big trees

Clean water
At home I just toddle over to the tap when I'm thirsty. Naturally the water tastes better (and is probably better for you) if you boil it first and then put it in the fridge to cool down, but it's perfectly possible to drink it. A little miscalculation in the amount of water at the beginning of the visit lead me to really appreciate being able to drink water whenever you feel like it since I felt I had to ration myself. The other water privilege only became apparent after a few showers. Little scratches became little sores. I can't imagine what it would be like to have to treat a serious injury there.

I didn't expect to have to add this to the list. The cliché of the quiet little village is a lie. Up to a point anyway. It's true that you don't hear the roar of city traffic, ambulance sirens or gunshots. The environment is quite quiet. This means that the doef-doef or the bass of noisy music carries beautifully; the houses are quite close together.

Little boxes

If you're like me, all the talk of little boxes will have made you remember the song. So I've added a link so you can listen to it. The first verse holds true, but unfortunately the people here don't all go to university. Some don't even finish school.

I remember seeing or reading about the downsides of rehab for addictions somewhere. Some people believe that rehab doesn't work since the people are taken away from temptation and weaned from using substances in an isolated environment. This does not necessarily help when they are returned to their ordinary environment. The same applies to the Biggest Loser programme. Many participants gain at least some of the weight back. It was easier to write when I had to face little temptation or irritation.

Project 36
Eating plan

Fun fact: eating food with a high fat content will make you gain weight

It's obvious, really. Since I've started visiting Marthie Leach I've eaten a low-fat diet. In the beginning I was a bit tragic about some foods that had to be moved to the only-eat-as-a-free-meal category, but my body has adapted. The week of eating snacks and "normal" food left me feeling fat.

Enter the dragon scale. The first weigh-in showed 2 kg more than when I left home. After eating my ordinary food and two days at home, it dropped to a 1 kg gain. Marthie Leach advocates a common sense approach to this - if you visit friends you will stray from your eating plan. Just remember to eat every two to three hours so that your body doesn't feel the need to hoard all the fat you're feeding it.

I haven't been there in a while. Must. Go. Back.