Tuesday, January 20, 2009

are you sitting comfortably?

I've been interviewed by Julie from Moments of Perfect Clarity- great questions Julie!

1. you've only just started back to work after having #1 child and now you're contemplating #2. how will this impact your career possibilities in the long term if at all? (what i'm meaning to ask is how it's seen in south african society--the whole question of maternity leave and such.)

Oooo, kicking it off with the big ones. This question made me examine Career and Child#2 - neither of which are simple issues for me...

Firstly, in some ways I'm starting to think of Child#2 as the Duty Sibling. Obviously there's lots of excitement and anticipation about having another child, but I do feel utterly exhausted at the thought and so it's sometimes handy to think of this next one as an obligation, rather than a fun exercise. How's that for a hard-hearted callous view? Take that Earth Mothers! But seriously, our motivation to have another child is for Frieda to have a sibling, and for the joy of watching them grow up together, so it makes sense to try for a reasonable, but close-ish gap, and therefore to do it sooner rather than later.

Career? What career? I've been examining my somewhat ambivalent feelings about my 'career' as such for some time now. I've tried to do an honest assessment of why I don't feel more strongly about it, am I lazy? Unambitious? A friend and I have had long conversations about how our parents did us a great disservice bringing us up to believe 'we can be whatever we want to be', 'cos now we believe them and don't really feel the need to prove this to ourselves or anyone else.

Rocket scientist? Yeah, I could do it. Yawn.

But the realisation I've come to on this is two-fold. 1. I haven't found my 'thing' and 2. my sense of self isn't really related to what I do. My work doesn't define me and I think that's maybe not such a bad thing in this sometimes career-obsessed world. Maybe finding something which totally rocks my world will change this, but in the meantime... maybe I'll just breed some more.

But just to get serious for a mo, obviously I still have to earn something, sometime, and I've been really lucky in that the work that I do is fairly specialised. This doesn't make it particularly well paid, but it does mean I've got a bit of a big fish in a small pond thing happening for me, and have been lucky enough, so far, to stay in the loop and stay in demand even while breast-feeding.

Formal maternity leave in SA is 4 months, paid or unpaid depending on your contract. I obviously didn't have this benefit not being employed full-time, but was extremely privileged to be able to essentially take a year off with Frieda. I don't think I'll have the luxury of taking as much time with Child#2. But then I won't need to, 'cos he/she will be so busy playing with his/her big sister right?

2. you have a thing about chairs. show/tell us about some of your favorites (i know you have links on the right, but i want more) and why you covet them. 

And so we come to why I must earn - ha ha ha, if only it were that simple.

I really don't know what it is about chairs, maybe my liking of them is another sign of essential slothfulness? It all started with a Red Velvet Rocker (which I still own). My parents used to do fund-raising for a children's charity in our home town and this beauty was donated to the local children's home. I didn't have the cash to buy it (I was 12 or something), but I persuaded my Mum to let me swop the perfectly serviceable and somewhat ugly chair in my bedroom for it, arguing that the orphans wouldn't appreciate its Red Velvet deliciousness. 

The love affair has run its course since then; I once forced a friend to pull over to pick up an abandoned kitchen chair with a broken leg off the pavement in one of CT's upmarket suburbs - I liked the look of it and it lived in our shed, still broken, for years until Husband forced me to chuck it. I have a collection of red kitchen chairs, in perfect nick, in storage for one day when I have space for them. I once clung to a phenomenally ugly pink fabric chair for years 'cos I liked it's wooden form, even painting it black with fabric paint to try and redeem it - I think Husband made me turf that one in one of our moves too. My biggest regret is allowing my parents to get rid of the beautiful, but uncomfortable, brown velvet sofa we had when I was a kid. My mother-in-law has two chairs which are apparently to come to us one day which I'm already excited about and have picked out fabric samples to have them re-covered - which is admittedly a little morbid, and premature...

Of all the chairs I covet the Zulu Mama chair is, for me, the most exquisite. I love that it's modelled on the old 70's style wire garden furniture (of which we have a set rusting away in the back yard), but with such a modern South African twist. But more realistically -budget wise- and more practical, I would seriously donate a small finger or toe for a set of Nguni chairs for the Dining Room of the Future. I have a long standing love for Nguni cattle (which I won't get into here), and these chairs have so exquisitely captured the graceful form of their horns.

3. what's the best thing about living in cape town? the worst?

Easy one.

The best: it's beautiful here. In Cape Town you can see beauty everywhere you turn, every single day

Heath Nash Coat Rack

The worst: it's frikkin' far away from anywhere! Southernmost tip of Africa. Think on that(ok, ok sticklers, it's not the actual southernmost tip, but we're close enough to claim it for all intents and purposes)

4. south african politics seem to be nearly as messed up as US politics (tho' hopefully that's going to straighten out on tuesday), what do you make of it all and does it have an impact on your day-to-day life?

Gosh, there's so much to say one this one - it's such a complex, multi-layered, historically weighty and culturally sensitive issue. Oh wait, that's 'cos it's politics see, no matter where in the world it's playing out.

But I'll try to be brief. Yes, it has an impact on my day-to-day life. It's near impossible to ignore what with it being so exciting and all! In SA the drama hasn't stopped since 1994, we've one of the most dynamic and complex political histories in the world, and it ain't showing any sign of slowing down in the near future!

This does make it unsettling at times, and we've had recent spates of very real concern for the future, but if there's one thing we're learning its that a young democracy is a force to be reckoned with, and an unpredictable force at that. We're writing our history here, day to day, and while that's never going to be a particularly stable place to be, it's never boring!

Obviously there's a part of one which wishes you could tell what the future will hold, for one's children and for one's self as you get older, but if you get too obsessed with that then you'll never be happy in the moment - and I think this applies to anywhere in the world. If you live in a place in which momentous things (good and bad momentous things) happen every day, you will only find happiness if you acknowledge this, and relish it.

The very real concerns of crime, the AIDS pandemic, corruption, xenophobia, those are all the by-products of our politics which worry me, which make me an occasional insomniac, make me sad - but as we face a general election this year which is already looking so incredibly (as in, I'm incredulous) different to how we thought it would play out 6 months ago, I can honestly say: I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the world!

5. what made you start blogging and what do you feel it gives you?

It's not a new story. My dear Husband got concerned about how much time I was spending reading other people's blogs and encouraged me to start my own. I did, posted 3 times or something and then got blogger's block. I got intimidated by the idea of others reading my words. I lurked some more. I coined the phrase 'blog like nobody's reading' and started again 6 months later. I started it to do something for me. I've never looked back.

My favourite thing about blogging is that it gives me a reason to write. To experiment with different styles and maybe eventually find my own, or gain confidence in my own.

My least favourite thing about blogging is that I don't have the time to do it as much as I'd like to do. But maybe that's also a good thing!

6. bonus frivolous question: when are you going to get that pool boy? ;-)

I'm sorry, I can't answer this one 'cos it just makes me think of this, which makes me laugh too hard to type! ; )

Oh and here are Very Important Rules Which Must be Included, and adhered to if you'd like to be interviewed by me.
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me." 
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions). 
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.  
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. 
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. 

This was fun!


julochka said...

loved it!!! and you even answered my non-question on camping in the previous post!

now do me!! :-)

Meri said...

Fun post to read, especially the angst and questioning about child # 2. It was so hard for me to have kids that they were widely spaced, as miscarriages and preemie deaths intervened between successes, so the whole concept of being able to actually plan closely space siblings is exquisite.

julochka said...

my interview is up. :-)