People have been wondering what happened to my blog. I did indeed fall off the wagon and I apologize.
Every time someone asks me what happened to my blog, I promise to begin again and then, confronted with explaining why I quit writing and filling in the missing time with my activities over this recent (southern) winter I get overwhelmed. So, I will skip the excuses and just start in again.
Briefly, I returned to America in April to sell our house in Virginia. Once back in South Africa, I went back to work on my book (a self-coaching guide to starting a new business) with the goal of finishing by August of this year. It is not done yet and now I hope for a date of “early next year”. Good things take time.
Many people ask me about our retirement plans and I have little new information to add despite all the time that has passed.
Steve has a tentative end date of April of 2015 but hedges his bet by saying, “We will see how things are going.” The real question we need to answer is not “When?” but “What’s next?” and our thinking on that is still very fluid.
In the News
Oscar’s trial was a long running soap opera and I know people who watched it all, days and days of legal proceedings, on television. They themselves called their interest an addiction.
Oscar is now sentenced to 5 years in a South African prison and generally people are outraged that the sentence isn’t long enough. Apparently in back in 2010 a hip-hop singer from Soweto (a large black township with a complicated Apartheid history) plowed into six high school students while drag racing high on drugs down a narrow city street. Four of the students died, two were left brain damaged. At the end of that celebrity trial Jub Jub, as he was called, was sentenced to 10 years for culpable homicide. According the talk-radio reaction here, racism and its sister, social privilege, played a part in the disparate sentences.
Personally, I don’t think so. The crimes are significantly different, but I am a white person, and a foreigner. My opinion only brands me as a person blinded by my white American privilege. To avoid offering an opinion, I tell them the story of OJ Simpson. In America our black, celebrity athlete got off completely. What does that prove about race and class? No one knows. No one changes their opinion.
The dynamic of our social life has changed over the winter. I no longer see much of the young women attached to the young men Steve works with. The team in general has less of a we-are-all-in-together vibe and more of a this-is-my-life-and-I-need-to-make-it-work attitude. The young people apparently party less these days as they hover around their 30th birthdays.
Steve’s participation in the choir has given some substance to our activities. He preforms in concerts about once a month. His most recent extravaganza in Cape Town justified an entire long weekend away. While he rehearsed, I took a walking tour of Cape Town’s city center and learned that the building Steve was singing in is the same building where Nelson Mandela addressed a crowd of 50,000 people on the day he was released from prison.
Last weekend we joined a group of mostly South Africans for a weekend on the Vaal River. We canoed a bit, hiked a bit (the weather was stormy) and shared meals with the group which is very much like what we most enjoyed doing at home in Virginia. The only difference is, we don’t really know these people. I am happy to have recreated a facsimile of my old life but I do miss the long shared history and easy comfort of my old friends.
On the other hand, these new friends correct my mispronunciation of Afrikaans words and answer my many questions about the things I don’t understand about this country and this society. That is good.
I consider it a milestone of expatriate adjustment for me to make local friends. Making local friends requires an effort to step out – and stay out – of my comfort zone.
I also associate with other Americans here. I find it is more natural for me to be with American. After all we share the same expat experience and I get sympathy for my expat frustrations. With Americans we talk about visa issues, the cultural idiosyncrasies we notice (and judge) and the things we miss: corn tortillas, roast turkey, television movies made post 1989.
So, I suppose the reason I haven’t blogged recently is, I have work to do, occasional out of town guest and a full social life. Sounds like I am settled in doesn’t it?
I will close with a still photo video or our travels when the kids were here in late July and August. July and August is a cold time of year here, but we managed to have a fine trip. We saw most of the best parts of this country with very few mishaps.