Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: small furries (Page 1 of 12)

Bits and Pieces

One of the really cool things I did from 30 March to 5 April, all while in lockdown, was an online memoir style writing course with my long time friend and brilliant writer Melinda Ferguson. It was pretty intense, and took us all to some real pain spots. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though; some of the stuff we wrote about was hilarious, if not seriously bleak and dark.

I now have a small body of work created in that time and I thought it might be fun to share some of it here. It’s not like it’s destined for anywhere else, and I love this blog space, even though it is weathered and a bit neglected.

I thought I would start with this fun exercise, where we wrote about lockdown diaries day 10, and then day 100.

Corona diaries Day 10

It is only because I am lying on the floor on my Pilates mat that I notice it. Corona Zoom Pilates has become a thing, and my mat, usually squeezed between my cupboard and the wall and used for emergencies (I don’t know what kind, I haven’t actually needed a Pilates mat in an emergency), is now always in the lounge.

Linus, my boy dog, dog of my heart, IBD sufferer, Hobbit hairy foot, stinky breath, spatchcock lying down boy, is lying near me, waiting to see what I am going to do next. That’s how it has been in the house since lockdown. The dogs don’t trust me anymore. Anyway, I am staring at Linus’s body and I see that he has a weird, scaly, flaky, lumpy growth on his elbow. It is huge, and gross. What the fuck has happened, and how did I not notice this before? Well, that part is easy. Linus’s fur hides a universe of weird things.

I jump up, banging my knee on the furniture I have moved so I can paint the skirting boards, and go and take a closer look. The Game of Thrones scale disease has found its way onto Linus’s elbow (do dogs have elbows?).

I am hysterical. I call the vet. It takes an age for someone to answer. “Look, look, I know this isn’t an emergency emergency, but Linus has a sci-fi growth, fungus, goitre thing going on! I need to bring him in!”

She tells me to take photos and WhatsApp George (I am deeply in love with George. Have been for two generations of dogs and three generations of cats).

I squeeze Linus between my knees and photograph the flaking abomination. I send the pictures to George and wait.

George the saviour, the calm and thorough, the dog whisperer, messages back. “Common in dogs who have spent the summer lying on cool cement floors. Put Bactroban on. For 4 days. Then once or twice a week.”

And then…

Corona Diaries day 100

Friday 3 July (this is fiction! I am changing names to protect the real people)

We meet secretly at the top of the road. It is freezing. Only 7am and still dark in the middle of Cape Town winter. The dogs, now completely used to never leaving the house, are silhouetted by the stoep light as they wait for me, ears pricked.

Fikkie from the corner house and I have gone into business, desperado style. I have two packets to bring him today, and he has a small wad of cash for me.

Marion appears on her stoep with her cup of coffee and gives us the stank eye. She is religious and doesn’t approve of our little arrangement. Also, she is the unofficial street compliance officer and Fikkie and I really don’t want her to call the police. Really.

I smile at Marion and wave. Fikkie follows suit. I turn my back to her, and hand Fikkie the Checkers packets stuffed with the leaves, ready to be oven dried, cleaned, shredded and rolled.

It was an accident, I swear. On day 10 of lockdown I had found some fruit and vegetable seeds and planted what I had thought was cabbage and coriander. Instead the healthiest tobacco plants had speed grown and flourished – I have had all the time in the world to care for them – and I had approached Fikkie, a Woodstock hanger abouter, on WhatsApp to ask if he could help me. He had jumped at the chance.

So now I grow the stuff in my back courtyard, and he processes it, home grown style. Luckily he has a stash of rizla paper, stockpiled in the early days of cigarette banning.

Now we sell Fikkie’s Entjies, five a pack, loosely bound with elastic bands, totally organic and without harmful chemicals, to the neighbourhood. We can’t keep up with the demand.

Today I’ll be able to order much needed dog food.

Dogs


Frieda (featured as the header of this blog) is beautiful and wise. She is also very funny, and adores affection. When we are at home, that is. At home she will lie really close to me on the bed or on the couch and sometimes use her nose to prod me for love. She is a snuggler, and even cuddles with Chassie the cat, who adores her with a face licking passion. He seeks her out to lie next to. She knows words; biscuit and breakfast and supper and walk. When we say them her eats prick up and she bounces around, digging up the couch and throwing the cushions everywhere. At the park though she tolerates any public displays of affection grudgingly and runs away to do her own thing as fast as she can. She likes stealing found toys, and will play ball occasionally; totally on her own terms. Frieda is sensitive to loud bangs. She will steal things off the kitchen table when we are out and leave them on the spare bed. We will know she has done this if she doesn’t come running, toy zebra in her mouth, to greet us on our return. I love Frieda the most.

I love Linus the most. He is Frieda’s black brother and he is the best boy dog ever. He is round where Frieda is skinny. He is clumsy where she is agile. He bounds in slow motion. Linus is the friendliest, happiest dog when he is well. Sometimes he doesn’t feel too good, because he has IBD and is allergic to most protein and he has to be on a special diet. Sometimes he eats cat poo which makes him feel really terrible. Linus lies with his back feet posed back and out on the kitchen floor. Linus has the longest hair growing from his Hobbit feet. He will not even acknowledge me, or the ball, when I throw it. Linus loves jumping on the bed and sleeping with me in the morning when I lie in a drink coffee. He lies on his back with his whole tummy exposed.

Frieda and Linus are my perfect furry companions, the dogs of my heart and soul, and the gentle daemons of my spirit.

Taking it Personally

In the fight against one’s internalised racism (or any superiority complex; gender, religion, class) the greatest stumbling block is not being able to get over being called the name that identifies you as part of that group. This is why people respond louder and more defensively to being called a racist than witnessing racism and doing something.

The best example. The #menaretrash story is the absolutely best example of the total disconnect between understanding what women are saying about how they are treated by men, and men being completely hysterical about being called trash. Like we were skinning them alive. With no actual space in the hysteria for what women were saying. That was not important. Rape was not important. Domestic violence was not the issue. Men were being called TRASH! This is the best example for me, a white woman, to understand anything remotely similar (and even then the scale of the difference is beyond measuring) to unconscious racism. No matter what I did or said the #notallmen were more offended about the name than about the reason for the name. #menaretrash equalled #idontseecolour.

A wonderfully accurate check point question for me, mostly in conversations about whiteness, is “Do I take that personally?” If I do then I am the one who needs to go away and unpack that. Usually, if I am honest with myself, it will reveal an unconscious bias or droplet of ingrained superiority. Usually, that discovery will be accompanied by a wave of intense shame. I believe those moments of shame are also the perfect learning moments. The trick is to lean into the shame, do the acknowledging, and stay in the humility of always being on a learning curve. Knowing that those thoughts can be shifted, and must be worked on. Then, in a similar situation, when it comes up again, I am ready to not take it personally. And I will know that I have moved, shifted and am less racist or biased or superior.

A personal place that has become an ongoing challenge is my veganism. I have been confronted about my veganism being elitist, privileged and white. It has been said that the way I feel about animals and the lives of animals is racist. And I am having to work on this in an unflinching and personal way. It is complicated. I have blindspots with people who are ok with the suffering and abuse of animals. I have serious problems with those that justify the slaughter of animals for cultural and religious reasons. I get overwhelmed and depressed at the thought that being a vegan is a choice that only the privileged can make. I don’t think that is true. I am working on it.

Dog Love

An open letter in the form of a poem to two dogs who can’t read

Hot breath tells me you’re lying next to me

When I wake up and it’s cold and dark

Gentle snores comfort me

When thoughts of the world keep me awake

No greater joy than you, Linus, throwing your black head back

And bouncing away over the grass, still looking at me,

“Look Megan, look at my happiness now.”

No greater pride, Frieda, than you catching popcorn every time,

Chasing squirrels, and being all independent in public

But defining love in private as you slide up for a snuggle.

I love telling everyone who comments on your beauty

And softness and prettiness and kindness

How we found you at the SPCA and saved you, you being rescues.

But I always know it was you who did the saving

Of me.

Shamed on Social Media

I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to come back here, but I guess it is like riding a bike: Fall off, climb back on again. I am not sure that if your legs are broken it is even possible, but, given time, even with broken but mending legs, it is said to be the best medicine. Right now I probably need this medicine. I am doing this with my heart in my mouth.

When is the right time to respond? Is it too soon? Is it too late? Will I be accused of starting it up again?

Just over a week ago I made a hideous mistake based on a completely knee-jerk reaction about a goat that I perceived was in distress. Coupled with my reaction was an idiotic post I made on a Facebook group that I am part of, asking for help. After I saw what had happened, and how the thing had spiralled down into hideous, racist, Islamophobic assumptions by idiots commenting on my post, I rushed to make a very public apology, so fast I even messed that up, and then apologised again, and then again. The family who I hurt accepted, and then later questioned and rejected my apology.

I will be very surprised if you, my readers, have not seen the resulting fallout from #goatgate, on social media, in the newspapers and on the radio. I was made fun of, threatened, trolled, called names. I was sent private messages of the most filthy abuse. My blog was targeted, my apology rejected, my personal details distributed, screen grabs (not including my apology) shared, my work threatened, my name ridiculed, my past discredited, my politics rejected. I was made fun of by South Africa’s comedians, I was given lessons in what I should have done, I was threatened and silenced and warned that my actions were indefensible. I was vilified by actresses in the industry; some who know me and some who don’t.

Three articles featured prominently on IOL, M&G and Cape Times. These were shared like holiday sweets on Facebook and Twitter. One of the articles was written by a Facebook friend. Not once was I asked for my side of the story, or even to comment. With all my contact information totally accessible to anyone (for abuse), I was not contacted by the ‘journalists’ even though I was quoted by them, when they lifted what I had written on Facebook. The only media outlet that made contact with me was Radio Islam who asked if I would come onto their morning show to give my side of the story. Of course I said yes. They were the only ones ever who asked.

Alongside the deep shame and humiliation I felt about this horrible thing was the powerless sense of my silence. I understood the temperature of the room and realised that anything I said was fuel to the fire and I had to keep quiet, get off social media and only invest in one-on-one interactions. It was clear that my apology didn’t support the narrative and was mostly left out of any further portrayals of me, the racist, hater, whitesplainer. Two people asked to meet with me, to hear what I had to say, of the hundreds who sent messages of abuse and name calling. Two people who were very offended by what I had done; one publicly and one privately schooling me and putting me in my place. These meetings have not happened yet.

The fallout has extended further into my world of work. I have always understood that I have a public profile that lends itself to controversy. I don’t do myself any favours by writing about theatre, here on meganshead and for Weekend Special. I saw two plays last week and couldn’t write about them. I knew that people would be looking at the ‘who’ of the review instead of the ‘what’, and that everybody would suffer.

When I think about it with a bit of distance the one thing that is funny is that I am always desperate for publicity for my work. I struggle to get media attention for my plays; always begging friends and colleagues for airtime and press. I haven’t been on the radio talking about my plays in years. I have to rely on my own small publicity machine on social media for any exposure. But all over all media, Megan Furniss – well known theatre maker, actress, director, famous in South African theatre circles, made headlines.

I still feel sick about this. I still feel silenced and ashamed. I still wish I could turn back the clock and take it all back. And yet, I know, in a world more gentle, and kind, my real concern for an animal in distress (regardless of it being part of a petting zoo at a children’s birthday party) would have been just that. Me. Super sensitive about an animal tied to a pole.

Why having both cats and dogs is necessary

Both Big Friendly and I have been under the weather, with a looming lurgy that hasn’t fully realised but has been simmering; not bad enough to take us to bed, but horrible enough to make the daily grind more grindy.

Jasmine, the old Florence Purringale of the house has kicked into action, following us around, sleeping hard up against us and purring her head off. Chassie has been joining me in the bathroom, rubbing his head on my feet while I sit on the toilet (very disconcerting but well meaning), and the dogs Frieda and Linus are a tag team of love and devotion. It is only Jonesie, the part time cat, who has not picked up on our needs, and continues with his irrational demands to be let in and out again whenever he screamingly calls for it.

Linus offers soft love, of the lolling about sort, while Frieda follows me from bed, to table to couch. She is a deep and close snuggler. Chassie looks for Big Friendly and attaches to his legs when he sits down on the couch. Often, neither of us can move because we are being pinned down by an animal who would be terribly disturbed if we did. The spin-off of being looked after by cats and dogs is that they huddle closer to each other too, which is seriously good for my heart.

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