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On being 36 and childless

On being 36 and childless

I finally tackled the dishes in the kitchen this morning. It was a pitiful pile. Nothing more than a few side plates with toast crumbs on, the remnants of a solo eater’s culinary adventures these last few days while the other half is playing away in a golf tournament. As I scraped the crumbs off the third little plate, I was gripped by a deep sense of loss so sudden that I felt like I was falling into a void that I hadn’t realised until that moment was even there. I didn’t want to be scraping toast crumbs off lone side plates anymore! I wanted to be cleaning out platters of food that I’d fed my family the previous night. Out of nowhere, I felt like there was supposed to be a little girl there watching me do this as she ate her corn flakes for breakfast, kicking the table leg while she told me what she wanted to do on this beautiful Sunday. My little girl. Our little girl. The one we haven’t had.

I don’t want to have children. I have never wanted to have children. I would have those words tattooed on my forehead in an attempt to stop all the questions if not Read the rest of this entry

On Shanghai’s bird & insect market & the plight of China’s animals

On Shanghai’s bird & insect market & the plight of China’s animals

Please note: This post is not at all in keeping with the usual tone of this blog. It contains upsetting images and information which, although not new to anyone, is a blow to the gut every time you hear it again. Click on the “more” button at your own discretion and please note that some of the links provided contain disturbing graphics. Read the rest of this entry

Following the madding crowd

Following the madding crowd

Bush Man and I spent the weekend in Shanghai. (Yes, we’re technically in Shanghai, but it’s so far from the center that we can actually say we’re going to the city. The way farm folk do.). It was taxing to say the least. But it was my own fault. I somehow got the insane idea that a trip to the bird and insect market would be a great idea. It wasn’t. There weren’t just birds and insects. There were kittens sleeping in their dirty litter trays and puppies that looked like they have never known happiness. Do you know how sad you have to be to be a PUPPY and look like you’ve never known happiness? Truth be told, even the grasshoppers managed to look sad in their little woven baskets. It was heartbreaking. We got there when most people had already packed up, so I should probably go back and get the story out, but I’m not sure I have the constitution or the emotional stability to handle that. Added to that was the usual dodging of feces and globs of spit. Don’t ever, under any circumstances, wear a dress to the city that touches the ground. That hem has seen things. Horrible, horrible things. Things that cannot be unseen.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot that I love about this city. The sights, most of the smells, some of the people. But every now and then I need to just lock myself in my hotel room for a day or two and pretend like I’m not here. And then I get bored. Today was one of those days. So in an attempt to amuse myself, I created a Facebook page for this blog. Just like everyone else. You can follow it here.

Now here’s photo of a sad kitten on a rubbish heap. When I do Monday blue I do it right!

Maybe he's one of the lucky ones?

Maybe he’s one of the lucky ones?

How do you say “Get me the hell out of here?”

How do you say “Get me the hell out of here?”

Well this is demoralizing. One month later and I haven’t written a damn thing. This has been so much tougher than I expected. I did 6 months in Poland when Facebook was still a twinkle in Zuckerberg’s eye, I didn’t even own a laptop and whatsapp was how old people erroneously pronounce the latest catch phrase and I was happy there for crying out loud! Surely China would be a breeze with all the options available to me to stay in touch with home and with what is going on in the rest of the world? But nothing prepared me for this. I am feeling increasingly disconnected from the life and people I have left behind, but I have not managed to connect to the life I have here now. I don’t think I have ever felt quite so alone. This is a concept more foreign to me than the country I find myself in. I’ve always loved being alone! But it turns out that was when I knew a friend was just five minutes away with the bottle opener poised over the Diemersfontein Pinotage if need be. It’s very different when you really need someone to talk to and you know everyone’s on the other side of the world and deep into their REM phases. Read the rest of this entry

On Faltering Follicles

On Faltering Follicles

I found my first grey hair today. I glanced up unsuspectingly and there it was, mocking me from a mirror that is not my own, in a hotel room that is rented by the month, in a country where I, try as I might, cannot communicate enough with the locals through grunts, sign language or Google Translate to ask in which isle they keep the Nice & Easy.

If you had told me ten years ago that I would get my first grey hair before having my first child, I would have smiled knowingly and smugly looked away. Not only because the Krugers are born with exceptionally strong follicles, but because I had it all planned. Finish my Masters degree (check), marry The One by 27 (check), move to one of the most beautiful parts of the world (check), settle down with two dogs (check) a cat (okay, we had three, so I slightly overdid that one) and a veggie patch (erm…) and start a family once we’re all nice and cosy and ready for the logical next step. How hard can it be, really? I mean, everyone does it. Even drunk teenagers get it right completely by accident. It’s the path your life has to follow so that you fit in with the norm. Love. Marriage. Kids. Retire. Death. Easy. But we were never the norm. My husband’s work took him away from home often so, besides not being overly keen on getting intimate with a turkey baster when there wasn’t ‘t even someone there to hold my hand,  we never seemed to get to the next, logical step. There was never the security of a whole family, complete but for the pitter-patter of little feet. The only thing I felt that was missing from my life most of the time was more of him. So I dealt with the “When are you?”’s and “Why haven’t you?”’s as best I could, often having to field the questions on my own and wondering why that alone wasn’t enough to tip off the questioner. I don’t think people are cruel on purpose. Most probably they’re just making small talk and don’t know what else to say. Or they’re just so completely and utterly in love with their new bundles of joy that, being the caring friends that they are, they want that for you too and they’re convinced your life won’t have any real meaning until that bit is sorted. The same amnesia that sets in after childbirth and ensures that women all over the world think what the hell, let’s push something the size of watermelon out THERE again, also makes them forget how being childless makes you feel like you no longer belong with the very people who used to be your mirror. They forget how you start wondering whether you can do enough with your life to make up for the fact that you are not a mother. Whether it matters that you have your own successful company, have ridden Space Mountain, can make homemade croissants from scratch and once improv’d on stage on a cruise ship, if you have failed at the most basic of female purposes. Or maybe it’s just me. Erm. Where was I? Oh yes. The best laid plans. So the kids hadn’t happened yet. But we weren’t worried. 2012 would be The Year of the Kid. I didn’t even tell my husband that this was my thinking. Rather under promise and over deliver right? Just in case. I am 35. A number biologically more important than Fibonacci’s sequence. Whatever happened, we had to make it work. We would grow my business and my husband would give up his contract work. We would finally have a stable home environment and we would not spend months apart ever again. Sure, financially it would be a little scary, but we had a plan. Or so we thought. Then, overnight, it all changed. As much victims of the current economic climate as of the type of unscrupulous people your mother warned you about, my business would no longer support us and we had no choice but to pack up our lives, say goodbye to our friends, family, home and animals and head for China. Read the rest of this entry

On Cry babies

On Cry babies

So I’ve been watching Masterchef USA (how massively disappointing) and we just got to the one with the three food critics. What I want to know is, why are food critics always so miserable? If I got paid to eat food, I would be the happiest person on the planet. Yet somehow each and every one of them looks like they stuck a carrot up their bum instead of tasting it.