Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: February 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Too Much For You

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 5.44.37 AMArnold waited for the splashing, sloshing sounds to die down. His mother always fell asleep in the bath and he wanted to be confident she was out of it before he started. The Stilnox he had thrown into her glass of red box-wine had helped, and speeded it up.

He listened. Nothing except the rhythmic barking of Rex, locked outside and settling in to his single barked shout every two seconds. This would later be punctuated by the ‘shut the fuck up’ from Stan next door. The evening sounds of Queen Street.

Arnold turned on his computer. The light in his bedroom changed, swirling with the blues of start up. He typed in his password, wishing he had wiped his hands first; the Steers barbecue sauce he had smothered his chips with had made his fingers sticky and they spread over the letters, making his password wrong three times before finally getting it right. He went straight to his internet browser and straight to google.

He had everything ready. Slowly, he typed Russian Bride into the search box. The first one that came up was highlighted purple. That was the one he had been to before. Good. He clicked. Yes, that looked familiar. Now to find her.

The pictures of the sexy blonde girls had changed. “Your Russian Doll” wasn’t third from the left in the top row anymore. Arnold panicked. He had already made his choice. He didn’t want to have to start all over again. No, wait, there she was. He had just miscounted.

He clicked on her image. He remembered now. Belarus Beauty. Was Belarus even in Russia?, he thought. He read through her profile again. The funny feeling in his tummy started. It spread to his crotch and down his legs.

He clicked onto the order form. He remembered it too. He remembered where he had to type in everything. He only stopped once, to take his mother’s credit card out of his back pocket. He had to stand up to get it, and he almost knocked his Coke onto the keyboard. Imagine if that had happened, he thought.

He was ordering a whole person in the post. A mail order bride. How would she come? In a box? He typed in the credit card details, wondering what dollars would be in Rands. He was good at maths. It was quite a lot, he thought. But, was it too much for you, Belarus Beauty?

He came to his personal details. He knew that this was the one lie he would need to type. Instead of his real age, twelve, he typed twenty four. Double he thought. But not too much for you.

PS. This is the third tandem blog post in the series. 7 writers have all written on the same topic. To check out the next one, go to Ashley Visagie http://www.madeformore.co.za/2016/02/23/too-much-for-you/

Personal ramblings, ad castings, and hair removal

Photo on 2016-02-17 at 1.59 PMThose of you who know me well have seen my body hair. I have hairy armpits, hairy (but not terribly) legs, and I haven’t shampooed my hair in at least 4 years.

At the beginning of the year I told my agent that I would be available for castings again, after a very long hiatus. I’ve been to four odd castings so far, and I have enjoyed myself immensely. You can’t take this stuff seriously, and as long as you aren’t over invested which causes a certain tight faced desperation that cameras pick up on, it can be such fun.

Request castings are cool because your agents put you forward and then the casting company asks to see you; better than a thousand hungry people waiting for days in stinky casting corridors.

So yesterday afternoon I got sent a brief for a deodorant ad. I said sure I’ll go. And then I saw that there was no story in the brief but they wanted to see interesting people (I am interesting) of a certain age that I fall smack in the middle of. Cool.

I woke up this morning panicking. A deodorant ad. What if I have to show my armpits?

I put a desperate message on the Woodstock group on Facebum. I needed a beautician before 1130am. I found one. I had my armpits waxed. You know the deal.

Fully prepared, I arrived at the casting studio.  I had stuck on a smudge of make-up and I was wearing a top that showed my underarms if I lifted my arms even a little bit.

I had a look around. Where the hell was I? It looked like every single homeless white person of a certain age had been dragged though fields of thorns, plate glass windows, cigarette factories and second hand clothes shops, and those that had not died had been dumped at the casting. Most people didn’t have teeth, let alone body hair. The guy before me, a huge, fat, red faced man, was sweating so badly his t-shirt was two distinct colours; wet khaki and dry khaki. More wet than dry.

Three of us went in together. The sweaty guy of a certain age, a young tattooed and pierced ‘hipster’ and me. We had to stand and wait, then watch someone walk past behind the camera and smile. No underarm action at all.

I got back into my car and thanked my life for aircon. Three of the ‘homeless’ people were sitting on the kerb behind my car. The man with the ZZ-top beard stood up to direct me. My armpits started itching. I looked at one underarm in the rear view mirror. Sensitive spots were appearing. Angry, red blobs. Next time I will get the damn brief. Next time.

behind the tree

wintry-wood-epping-forest-e1356721602980I was watching this movie tonight. It was a movie by Laurie Anderson. It was called Heart of A Dog, and it is kind of about her dog Lolabelle, and it is about the death of her mother and her friend and America as well, and mostly it is about death because it is a movie dedicated to Lou Reed, who was Laurie’s long time big love who died.

The thing about this movie is it isn’t the usual kind, with a beginning, middle and end. It has strands of stories, and some even fizzle out and come back later, with different pictures, and even different words, and some stories have two endings, and others stop in the middle, or before they even get started. They are a philosophy story moment.

The other confusing thing about this movie is that everything in it is true, from a story point of view, but not necessarily from a true point of view. So, you spend time in your head saying, “that is incredible, but did it really happen? Really? In real life?” And you don’t really know. And it’s so important and not important at exactly the same time. “Is that really, really where she lives?” “Is that really, really where Lolabelle came from?” “Is there really a Goya painting that is just gold ‘stuff’ with a tiny dog head at the bottom?” “Did she really almost drown, and then save, her twin baby brothers?” And while you are asking yourself these questions you are also understanding that truth is a feeling, and sometimes it is the wrong question, and a thing doesn’t need to be true to be real, in story time, because everything is about meaning.

In one ‘scene’ there are these awesome bare trees, moving in the snow. Everything is black and white, with tons of swirling snow falling, and black branches waving in the wind and snow. I became interested in one tree, because if you looked at it long enough it seemed to have a personality different from the others somehow. It seemed to move a little less, in a slower time to the others. Picture this; Laurie Anderson’s amazing, lyrical voice, saying things about dogs and death, her haunting music, and trees in the snow. And I am sure there was a ghost there behind that tree. A ghost short enough to be a dog, on all fours, behind the tree. And if I were a ghost, any ghost, waiting to move on, or forever earthbound somehow, I would choose that tree to be behind while I waited, for the next thing.

In the movie she suggests we come back to this, or another, world as another life. If I could choose, in that time of waiting, I would choose to be a dog, behind a tree, or a tree, in front of a dog.

This movie broke my heart a lot. It’s a huge responsibility of a movie. I loved it and it made me cry. And I came home and spoke words to my dogs, forgiving them for not being artistic, like Lolabelle. I don’t need them to be anything other than receivers of our love. 6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f519c826970b-pi

This blog post is part of a tandem blog post. 7 writers have been inspired by the same topic, Behind the Tree. Go here to read the next one. Candice D’arcy  http://cldg2278.wix.com/findingmeinmelbourne

The Imagined Child – my review of an audiobook

I have just finished listening to my first audiobook ever, and I am so lucky it was such an extraordinary introduction to the medium. I am an avid and fast reader, so an audiobook did seem like it was going to be a bit tedious. I was so totally wrong.

Audioshelf has produced The Imagined Child, written by Jo-Anne Richards and narrated by Terry Lloyd-Roberts, and it is a wonderful, intense and rich production. I couldn’t stop listening, and had to stop doing other stuff instead (I am a poor multi-tasker).

The Imagined Child tells the story of Odette, who at the start of the book has just relocated to a tiny town Nagelaten in the Free State from Johannesburg. We get to know her state of mind, and more about the town from her daily reflections and weekly trips back to Johannesburg, for therapy and for work; she writes for a local soap opera.

The story is told in first person via Odette’s reluctant journal entries, and in third person in the body of the story.  Odette is an edgy, blunt and difficult protagonist, who helps weave an intricate tale of failed relationships, children, South African politics, small town characters and conflicts, deep dark secrets, all while keeping Johannesburg totally alive and contemporary.

It is set just before the 2010 world cup, giving an amazing tapestry of South Africa to play on.

There is so much that is rich and layered about this book, with keen observations, detailed characters who manage to avoid the usual stereotyping, and an astounding and complicated personal story that left me reeling and in tatters at the very end. I went through the gamut of emotions; from irritation to being deeply moved, and even laughing out loud at some of the typical South Africanisms dotted through the narrative.

What made it even more haunting, intimate and stirring was having it read to me by Terry Lloyd-Roberts. Her voice is such a pleasure to listen to, and it adds colour, texture and integrity to the experience.

The Imagined Child is a deeply original, truly South African personal odyssey and it will stay with me for a very long time. I am so glad I listened to it.

To listen to a snippet go here http://audioshelf.co.za/shop/product/the-imagined-child/

Oh, and watch this space. My own audiobook of Green Margie and The Starlight, read by me will be available on Audioshelf very soon.

Invasion

Every now and then I get completely absorbed by a tiny natural drama, and there is one playing out in my house at the moment. I am morbidly fascinated, and revolted and intrigued.

I hate flies. Summer, five animals that live in our house, and cat and dog food means a lot of flies. I hate fly spray though. But I have one of those electric shock tennis racquets and I have become quite good at fly murder (even though I am famous for having had my tennis career cut short after my first 1/2 hour lesson, at age eight, when the coach told my mother that she was most definitely wasting her money and I shouldn’t be brought again).

Even though I love my racquet of death, I (sis, I know) leave the little dead bodies lying on the floor. I hope that the other flies will see them and stay away. (Yeah, right).

In the last couple of days I have noticed dead fly bodies in the shower, of all places. And then I noticed a line of ants marching up the shower wall towards a tiny fissure between the ceiling and the lintel. And then I noticed little fly bodies being carried up the wall by the damn ants. Now the fissure is far too small for the fly bodies to fit through, so I think the ants are dismembering them and taking them through, tiny piece by tiny piece. It’s so grim. Sometimes the ants lose the fight with gravity, a vertical wall, the sheer size of the fly body in question, and they drop them. More than one has landed on the soap.

I shower surrounded by dead fly bodies and a line of ants marching them up the wall. This is the tiny drama of my life right now.

The Missing Voice

the_missing_voice_by_jax102-d6272d4This post is my first in this series of tandem blog posts with other bloggers. Brett Anderson gave seven of us this title about a week ago, and I have had a million distracting ideas about stories I wanted to write, moments I thought could be this post, things that happened to me that reminded me of the title (including losing my voice at a strange moment), but all of this has been my way of avoiding a deeply personal/political conversation I want to try and articulate here. I want to write about The Missing Voice in South Africa – How Blame has taken the space of Accountability. So, here goes.

One thing I have learned when running improv workshops in the corporate environment, with school kids or other learners, or even just with ordinary folk, is how difficult it is for people to say the words “it’s my fault”. There is a silly warm-up game called that, where people throw a plastic bottle around and if the bottle hits the floor the thrower and person who missed the catch have to lie down and shout “it’s my fault” before getting up and continuing the game. It is a no-risk, no-consequence game and still, people choke up. They struggle to say it. Into that gap comes everybody else, pointing fingers of blame and completely at ease with shouting, “Lie down. Say it. It’s your fault”. We always spend ages analysing this game after we play it. It’s ridiculous.

We live in a culture of blame. Social media is full of it; designed for it. We blame everything on everybody. It’s Kanye’s fault. It’s the Oscars. It’s Tim Noakes’ fault we thought he wanted that mother to feed her baby animal fat. It’s the plastic surgeons’ fault that people who have multiple plastic surgeries look like freaks. On Twitter you can play the blame game in 140 characters.

Our politicians (all politicians, regardless of party) deny all, blame all, point fingers, accuse. It is unheard of for anyone, ever to say “It’s my fault. I did it. I take responsibility.” I am amazed at how many committees, investigations, inquiries, commissions and reports have to be established, held, postponed and then appealed before someone is forced to be found guilty, responsible, accountable. Apologies always come only after there is total, undeniable proof that cannot be gotten away from. Apologies that look like last ditch excuses because there is nobody else on the list left to blame.

There are holocaust denialists, apartheid denialists, rape denialists, murder denialists. There are corporate denialists and NGO denialists. It is vile. And it is dangerous and immature and self-serving and time wasting. Everybody needs to get out of the terrible habit of defaulting to “it wasn’t me!”

Media is as foul a culprit as the politicians it reports on, particularly when they get it glaringly, horribly wrong. They are almost unable to say so. Take this latest M&G joke of a lead story ‘accusing’ Mmusi Maimane of taking president lessons from FW de Klerk. It’s moronic. And yet it was defended so passionately by the editor. Why? Because she was utterly incapable of saying, “I made a horrible mistake.”

We witnessed some of the worst of this behaviour from Oscar Pistorius. At every step of his miserable and pathetic journey he looked for a way to absolve himself from all blame and responsibility. Instead he had a list of people he blamed. And the rest of South Africa bayed for his blood, screaming from the rooftops, “it’s him, he did it, he is to blame”, instead of acknowledging, or taking responsibility for, the monster we had all created; the hero/cripple who, because he was able to get away with other crimes so regularly, thought it would be possible, and likely he would get away with murder.

Our president is another example. He has been accused of so much, and is so used to getting away with things just by saying, “it wasn’t me,” or “I didn’t do it”, from being accused of rape and corruption in the arms deal before he even took office, to the legendary (and ongoing) Nkandla debacle, the unforgivable Marikana massacre, and the “it-wasn’t-the-reason-the-economy-plummeted” excuse for his terrible finance minister replacement scandal. This man seems to have never taken responsibility for anything, ever.

There is another terrible cousin to the “it wasn’t me” cry, that follows its heels, showing off its snotty nose and its bloody wounds to anyone who looks. It is the voice of offended victim. This is a cultivated voice. This is a different voice from the genuine victim. This is the voice of the Israeli government making the excuses for killing an unarmed granny, or defenceless children because of the threat they posed. This is the voice of offended whites who complain that they are being discriminated against and can’t get jobs. This is the voice of corporations whose profit margins decrease and are then ‘forced’ to pay people less than a living wage. And this voice can only exist in the world where blame is the currency and accountability is avoided at all cost.

We have to get used to the sound of our own voices owning up, taking responsibility, being accountable. We have to start this ourselves. It is hard. We need to be brave. We need to shift. It is the missing voice.

There are eight fantastic writers all writing on this topic this week. I am sure each post will be totally, outrageously different. Check out Trevor Black   swartdonkey.blogspot.com/ for his, and then he will have a link to the next person. Read as many as you can, and let us know what you think.

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