Recently, a video has gone viral worldwide of a South African police officer driving recklessly in what is believed to be an inebriated state with his gun on his lap. Shocked? You should be, these are the men and women that are responsible for keeping you safe. They are responsible for protecting you and those you love and they are there to enforce the laws of the land put in place to enable you to live the safest possible life. For many South Africans, the sad reality is that these men and women appointed as the law enforcers of the country are merely criminals in uniform who they would be safer without. Most of them are criminal or could not be bothered, as seen in this video showing a mob beating where the police decided it was easier to stand by and watch instead.

This evening my husband went to fetch my daughter from the One Direction concert. He was there a little earlier than intended and of course was being given seven kinds of hell for wanting to park where he was not supposed to because he was there early. Eventually he found a darkened spot under a lamp post where he thought it safest to hide and wait, out of the sight of the security guards but sitting targets for the wonderful police force. The officer walked up to my husband’s window and without beating around the bush asked straight out ‘How much is this parking worth to you?’. Not wanting to go through the hassle of driving around any further, he counted out his R13 in change and told the policeman that was all he had, the officer took the change and walked onto the next row of 10 or so cars where the same scenario ensued window to window. My husband was an enabler, but the truth is that he is not alone – The country has become a nation of enablers. The sad reality is that not metres from my husband’s vehicle were a group of girls, someone’s daughter’s, swigging from a brown bag and spread eagle curb side looking no older than 10 or 12 and the policeman was more concerned about making his nightly bribe than assisting these girls.

Living in South Africa, everyone knows someone that has been the victim of police intimidation. I am not saying that all police men or women are bad but to be honest, for every 1 legitimate police officer there are 20 criminals in government paid for vehicles with disco lights. The stories are shocking, from something small (what we would consider small anyway) like being pulled over and being breathalized by force even though you haven’t had a drink – this has happened to my husband – and then being asked for a bribe to make it ‘go away’ to being thrown in the back of a police vehicle and taken on a joyride around the country being left road side battered and bruised. We teach our children in schools that men and women in uniform are to be trusted, they are there to help you and 10111 is the number to dial when you are in trouble but then the next day we read an article in the paper about a car of policemen raping a lone women in her own driveway after a night out.

I get asked fairly often about South Africa and if the horror stories they hear overseas are true – While I do not want to dog the country, I also cannot lie or I would still be there wouldn’t I? The statistics are real and the truth sucks  – in 2013 a study revealed that 83% of South African police officers were corrupt with South Africa coming in within the top 36 countries for the most corrupt law enforcement. Households are choosing armed response security companies over the South African police force for home protection – There is something wrong with that picture! I have travelled all over the world and in no other country I have been to, do the police walk around so entitled, demanding respect and bribe money instead of being in the field for the love of protection. Ask many kids in SA what they would want to be when they grow up, innocently many will turn around and say police officer – Truth is, they have the right idea. They get paid to do nothing, get fancy paid-for cars and earn money on the side for bribery. The true heroes are the police reservists who do that job voluntarily, for the love of justice, not because they are expecting a pay day. Social media has made it difficult to trust the SAPS when videos and stories are being thrown out there of abuse, corruption, intimidation and bribery and the sad truth is that this 84% are making the good cops look bad.

It is not a subject that should be pussy footed around, as a nation it is imperative that this corruption is no longer enabled – Paying a bribe to a metro cop who pulls you over for speeding means you are evading the law and making it easy for them to be criminal. Paying R13 for a parking space is bad form (Sorry babe). Letting police officers standby while criminal activity is underway is just not acceptable. After all, these are the men and women you are raising the younger generation to look up to… To the men and women who do the job of police officer for true and honest reasons, I salute you and I am sorry that your name is soiled because of those around you. Continue to do what you do so that the boys and girls who look up to law enforcement turn out to be like you rather than the police in these above mentioned videos.

Close your eyes, open wide and take a bite. Now listen. That sound that you hear, crunching in your ear? That’s the sound that drives me to a madness I am certain I need a diagnosis for and its only one of many annoyances that push me to the brink of insanity day in and day out.

I am no psychiatrist but I am certain that I need to see one, you see I am pretty sure that I suffer from a condition called ‘Misophonia’. No, I don’t hate all sounds… only most of them. I don’t complain about your noises because I want to irritate you, I complain about them because they genuinely are the reason that people like me want to injure other people. It is an almost uncontrollable rage that creeps over me and all that I can do is plug my ears and hope it will end soon, before I do or say something I regret.

Over time, I have learnt to block out some of the sounds but it is impossible to block them all out. I am human after all and my hearing is one of my senses that is still near perfect, to my own detriment. Add my unexplained hatred for noise to my obsessive compulsive disorder and we have a healthy combination of crazy in a crusty bucket.

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Snoring

Ask anyone that I have ever shared a bed or a room with just how much I can handle a snorer. Simply put, I can’t. I grew up sharing a room with my sister, most of that time in a bunk bed, many a night spent kicking her in the back through the chipboard to wake her up so I could sleep. It was not uncommon for her to wake up with her nose inches from a pillow that I was contemplating suffocating her with (I am not actually going to admit to trying to suffocate her here). Ask my husband about our nightly ritual and it will always involve me going to bed and falling into a deep sleep before he is even permitted to lay down – Heaven help him if we watch a movie or something on the laptop in bed and he dozes off. I have been known to pinch his nose closed, throw water on him and sometimes get out the threatening pillow. (Again, not going to admit to any suffocation).

Breathing

I really wish people did not have to breathe. (No, that is not the reason for my pillow suffocation antics – not that I have ever suffocated anyone). I have tried to explain to too many people that we have noses through which to breathe in and mouths with which to breathe out – Alas, some people have never mastered that co-ordination and breathe in and out of their mouths alone thus allowing for an awfully loud huffing sound with every breath bound to try drive me nuts. I don’t think I would have a problem with mouth breathing if it could be done quietly but every oral inhalation is generally accompanied by a raspy throaty noise that cannot be explained as anything other than gross. I get that you need your mouth to breathe when your nose is blocked but there is no need to do it in my ear, on top of me, in my face where I can neither run nor hide.

Sniffing

And if you are going to breathe through your mouth because your nose is blocked and you are ill, I suggest you avoid sniffing and sputtering at the same time. The thing about Misophones is that we see sound, which probably explains why we hate it so much. The sound of your sniff gives me visions or mucus travelling its path from your nose to your stomach – If that sentence did not just make you want to be ill, I don’t know what will. Don’t sniff. Just don’t. It is unattractive, unhealthy and unintelligent anywhere near me and a pillow.

Swallowing

If you are not swallowing your snot, I commend you. That, however, is not license to turn your oesophagus into a drain. It is possible to drink or sip quietly and swallow sweetly without pain and injury. Walking around listening to people swig liquids like they’re auditioning to be a roto rooter drain cleaner is hardly my idea of a good time.

Nail biting

The sound of silence is beautiful, silence or some really good music through my earphones. Seeing you munching on your talons is a sure way to kill my sound of serenity. I don’t even have to physically hear you chewing or biting your nails to get annoyed because if I see you doing it I am already imagining the sounds… the sounds of the teeth on nail, grinding and gnawing away. Not only am I now hearing that unnatural crunch, I am imagining you swallowing those talons and feel sick all over again.

Hand rubbing

I appreciate it if you are not biting your nails in my presence but that doesn’t mean that you should be rubbing your hands together instead. Why do people even do this? The only time a hand rubbing is effective is when Gargomel in The Smurfs does it and that is because he is EVIL and wants to kill Smurfs. Are you evil? Do you want to kill Smurfs? No? Then WHY are you rubbing your hands together. If you are rubbing your hands furiously like you are trying to start a fire, perhaps you should consider moisturiser. Only dry hands sound like scratching sandpaper.

And of course, chewing.

There is no sound worse than the sound of someone eating. Other people, myself, pets, babies. You name it, I cannot hear it. Every meal of the day is eaten while trying to block out the sounds of gnawing and squishing and squelching and crunching. At one point, this irritation was so bad that I had to eat a meal in a different room from my husband and children altogether because the sound of them eating would cause me to snap. Most of the time I have learned to deal with this irritation but after a long stressful day, even the softest sound can set me off and eating is bound to be one of those sounds. I have been at such a point of desperation that I have used a pillow on myself to try and drown out the sound of the chewing but alas, this is near impossible.

Now that I have successfully worked myself up by replaying all the sounds that annoy me most in my mind, it is time for dinner – Wish me luck.

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How does that saying go, if the shoe fits then wear it? What if it never does.

I have never been able to just ‘purchase a pair of boots’ and I am certain I cannot be alone in this battle.  The struggle is real, not only for our more feminine friends but for the tom boys as well.

Boot shopping for me is an all day event which usually ends in me going home empty handed or with another pair of casual shoes to make up for the loss of the boots I never owned. While I know I am a little more plus sized than the socially accepted norm, I never thought I would categorize my own calves as plus size – I did not even know that plus sized for calves existed! Because of my ‘socially unacceptable’ calves, I have resorted to ankle boots (The UK phenomenon). Something I swore I would never do.

I decided (3 months ago) that I needed a new pair of flat, knee high, work appropriate, flat boots. I wanted to find a pair of boots that would see me through winter that I could wear to work and could comfortably cover my calf tattoo (New job so the work attire must be up to scratch). I had ordered a pair of boots online after discovering that in the UK, your items actually get delivered to your door, but when they arrived realised that they were mid calf boots. I was not upset, instead I thought that I would go on a hunt for some boots for myself and spent what felt like an entire day out looking for unicorn footwear… but alas, no success. I then went the online route again, this time ensuring that the look, size and feel of the boot was exactly what I wanted but when they arrived they barely zipped up my ankle – let alone up to my knees! Disgruntled and disheartened, I returned the boots and after a few more searches I gave up on ever owning a pair of boots that would fit my dancing calves again.

I have since seen some desirable boots by trolling the interwebs and have been recommended various boot outfitters by friends, but to be fair, I will not be ordering boots online knowing that my success rate is nil for 2. I had some time to kill over the weekend so decided to brave the sales at my local shopping centre and see what I would be able to find (if anything) in the hopes that I would fulfil my boot desires months old. Boy, was I mistaken.

For those of you that know The Oracle in Reading, it is safe to say that I entered every single boot selling shop inside the mall and tried on almost every single size 8 pair of boots I could possibly find. There is the first problem, I wear a size 8 shoe. The most beautiful boots are made to a size 7 (Docs excluded of course) and thereafter the dregs of the factory floor have been sewn by a small slave child to create a shoe bigger than they are.

In and out of store after store I pursued this quest and repeatedly failed. Here is why.

1. Size 8 shoes should not be made without a zip to the knee. The retarded little zip at the ankle that is created to allow space for your foot to go into the shoe does not work. Not only does it NOT create any space, it looks daft when the top of the boot doesn’t go past mid calf – That is IF you can even get your foot in, which I cannot. Ever.

2. XXX / EEE / XXL / XL fit or whatever the shop would like to name or brand it is a load of bollocks. Just because you have sewn in a small square of elasticated fabric at the back of the boot does not make said boot  WIDE fit. Also, boots should not be made with a toughened material in the front and elasticated material behind, it looks daft.

3. If I manage to get my apparently obese foot into your midget made shoe, it is an even bigger task to get my foot out again. In many a shop I could be seen yanking, tugging and even blowing into the boot to get it off again – I am starting to wonder if I have grown a shoe size?

4. Hey – Let’s sell boots and shoes and pretty things but if they want to try them on, it is tough. We have no space for chairs. Well, when I am sat on your store floor trying to get boots on / off, don’t bother helping me up again when they don’t fit.

5. Ok so I see what you did there – You really did make the calf of this boot a WIDE FIT – The problem is that this boot looks like Barbie. Big boobs, no waist. Big calves, tiny ankles. It is all very well I can fit my calf into your boot but that is not going to make my ankle feel any better about itself.

6. Screw it – I will buy these cute Wellingtons instead. Oh wait… no size 8’s.

***

In the end I went home with nothing but shoe envy that day. I have not found any boots that fit my description to date and sadly, stumbled upon a different pair of casual boots that have now been added to the ‘Calves need to lose weight to fit into’ category. I will continue wearing ankle boots in the meantime and hope that my calf muscles are not opposed to some cardio… apparently they need it.

How do you direct your thoughts onto something far less selfish when all that occupies your mind is what is currently happening to you? And by ‘to you’ I mean to me and by ‘currently happening’ I mean separation from my family. The truth is, you just don’t. When what you feel like you are experiencing is all encompassing and rules everything you say and do, there is no room for thoughts of anything else. This may make me boring, selfish, self-centred or reclusive even but to be fair, I cannot be bothered what people think it makes me. I am fixed onto one thought, one goal, one light in sight – Being reunited with my husband and my children, the reason that all this was put into motion.

4 months ago (16 weeks and 2 days to be exact) I landed in the UK with only my suitcases in tow and a dream that I was prepared to sacrifice everything for to achieve. People disagreed with my decisions, disapproved of my methods and judged my choices and yet despite all of this, with the support of my closest friends and family I persevered. I put myself into a lonely situation for which there was no alternative and the desired result? That my family would join me as soon as possible.

When the conversation between my husband and I took place and we discussed our move to the UK, we knew the sacrifices that would have to be made. We did every investigation possible and based on our individual circumstance, at the confirmation of various experts, the only way that I was going to be able to move my family was for me to go first without them and build a life here ready for their arrival. I came under fire many times for this, for the fact that as a mother and a wife I could desert my husband and my children and throw our lives into utter disarray for my own selfish desires… to those naysayers I say up yours. Extended time without my children beside me is most certainly not what I wanted but it was the only way that our future could be forged, ‘small’ sacrifice for a grand ambition.

We knew it would be difficult, we knew that the girls being without their mother was not the best idea. We anticipated that our relationship could take a knock or two with a prolonged marital separation and I knew that being away from my family was going to kill me…  Kill me? I did not know, understand or realise the half of it. If I thought what I would endure would ‘kill me’ then I am in fact feline and have died multiple times since I have been here. I cry for my children every night that they are not with me and every morning I wake to my empty, quiet house is another day in self-made hell that I have only myself to blame for. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for this change and our move but without my family it is worth nothing. It means nothing. It will continue to mean nothing until they are here.

16 weeks later and here I sit alone, still. Each day we wait on the visa a new torture for us to endure. I find myself checking on the visa tracking almost hourly and requesting constant updates from my husband that I know haven’t come. While we thought that we had gone through the worst of the waiting, it was impossible to anticipate these last few weeks that have been nothing short of unbearable. Each day drags. Each night endless. Each minute silent. I try to throw myself into work, into a hobby, into writing (which has come to an almost standstill) and yet all I can think about is what they are doing, who they are with, what they are wearing and try to prompt myself to remember what they smell like. We thought that modern technology would aid in our communication but due to travelling, working hours and a horrible 2 hour time difference, that has barely been possible. In fact once a week is probably all I get, along with the various pictures that are sent to me sporadically. It is expected that the visa should only take a ‘few more days’ but that was said almost 2 weeks ago so I guess we are back on South African time, waiting while the paperwork gathers dust on the desk of an underpaid administrative clerk.

I have never been more ready for them to arrive. Everything that we have done for the past 4 months and more is about to culminate into a glorious reuniting. A very tearful but long awaited meet that I hope will happen this week, UK visa office permitting. Then this pretty awesome life I have already started working towards for us in a new country can finally begin… We have a beautiful (albeit small) little house, we have food, we have warmth and most importantly we will have each other. My children will know a life in a world not plagued by constant troubles of crime and basic utilities – which I have chosen no longer to voice my opinion about on social media due to being chastised by the very people living in SA and posting these updates. For all its faults, South Africa was home and is the birth place of my children but I am ready for them to know stability, I am ready for them to know the difference between privilege and right. I am ready for them to receive the world and everything I have sacrificed is so that that can happen… none of this has been for me. All who dare to question my motives and my reasons for leaving can go and do one.

So yes, my Facebook updates may be annoying because all that they appear to be is updates on the visa. Yes, my Instagram pictures are full of photo collages of my daughters who I miss as if I had had my limbs removed. Indeed, I sit at home most nights (weekdays and weekends) because first and foremost, finances do not currently permit a social life and secondly, I cannot bare to be false and to be out and about and pretend as if I am not going through the most painful experience of my life. I am sorry if this worries or offends people, this is just how I am dealing with it. Unfortunately the only other person who has even the slightest idea of what I am going through is the one person who has to appear to be the strongest, for the children and especially for me.

Do I think we made a mistake? No. I know that the life that I am making possible for my family is the best life for us. I know that the choices we made, however debilitating, were the right ones and I have no hesitation about the advantages of such a drastic change for our family.

I gave up almost everything I owned.

I sacrificed time I will never get back.

I left a forged career and reputation.

I walked away from lifelong friendships.

I waved goodbye to family…

The hardest part of all is about to come to an end and while everything else will remain just as difficult, as with any family who relocates countries, at least I will have my life partner and my little best friends here to endure it with me.

So friends and family, I ask that you bear with me just a little while longer – It is almost over and regular ‘Shevy’ programming will resume as soon as humanly possible. Thanks for sticking by us, for being our rocks and for lifting us up when getting out of bed has been a challenge in itself.

Xxx

Dark blankets shadow the night

A moon, ever glowing, ever white

Hidden and removed from my sight

Lost to me, sadness, my only light

Sinking, swallowing, feeling alone

Tired of listening, hearing me moan

No ring, no message, no telephone

The sound of silence, the lingering drone

No one around to see me weep

No human touch, my hand to keep

Tangled emotion locked away deep

From pit to pillar, my love does leap

Away from them, myself I did shove

Thought of my actions only for love

Hurting, aching, longing to see their face

Smell their hair, feel their embrace

So difficult on my own it has been

Many aches, many nights, my tears unseen

So it draws near, the end that is nigh

Each dragging day, ending with a sigh

So close you are, so far away

Why does tomorrow always feel like today?

And yet soon I’ll wake up and so it shall be

Finally, you here with me

My daughter does not have an invisible friend. Instead, she has an armada of invisible cartoon characters and fictional creatures of whom Walt Disney and his cohorts would have been proud. While other children can take this extraordinary friendship to almost uncontrollable levels where parents are required to set additional places at the table, my daughter has limited her remarkable imagination to the confines of the garden and bedroom. While her companions may not join us for tea, they most certainly watch television with us and keep her occupied when she is frolicking around the garden with a wand in hand. After all, what would a 3 year old’s back yard tomfoolery be without a unicorn in tow?

So who are these imaginary friends and why do they make a sporadic appearance in the lives and worlds of imaginative babes whose minds know no bounds?

My first logical reaction to D’s new found magical playmates is that perhaps she is lonely. In recent weeks she has been separated from her older sister for some time, not to mention almost all of her toys that are now here in the UK and is forced to spend most of her time with Daddy. No matter what he does, tutu or not, he will just never really be Clarabelle the invisible fairy who loves all the same movies as D does. It is funny how she really did not enjoy watching ‘How to train your dragon’ and had this irrational fear of Toothless (I think he is gorgeous) but magically, when Clarabelle is with her, she will watch the movie. The truth is that the logical reaction is not my first one. I am whimsical first, I am a parent second. Let me explain.

When Daddy stubbed his toe this morning, it was my daughter’s instant and rational response to heal his wound with her wand. When Daddy did not play along and told her his toe was still sore, she went outside in true Malucia style to steal magic from the unicorn to heal daddy’s foot. My worry here was not that she was looking for a unicorn (Apparently I found that part acceptable), it was that she was trying to steal from someone else and be the evil thief Malucia from yet another Barbie movie. I realized I did not give her enough credit because after running around the garden for some time looking for her magical creature friends hiding in various garden crevices, she came back to tell Daddy that she would give the magic back to her friends as soon as his toe had healed because she is not naughty like Malucia is.

Fair play D, fair play.

As someone who loves reading and writing, I often wonder if I too am exposed to the likes of imaginary friends in the recesses of my author brain. While I have not yet written a book (Despite starting a few times) , the characters that I want to use in these unfinished novels live quite comfortably next to the cranial cabinet marked File 13… not quite ready to be packed away for an eternity, but living close enough to the edge that I do not appear a loon. These characters are after all mostly fictional, despite being loosely based on personal experience and sub conscious memories, who’ve been imagined many a time doing super human feats with Macgyver like ambition. Who are these make believe, fanciful beings but a reincarnation of my own child like attributes made manifest? If it is acceptable for JK Rowling to breathe life to a dementor, it should be more than acceptable for a child’s best friend to be invisible as well as invincible.

I have done my fair share of internet exploration on the subject and sadly every website or page you come across has the intention of making you believe there is a hidden, more serious meaning behind having an imaginary friend. Most articles accept the existence of imaginary friends, but however ‘normal’ they are made to sound, there is some psychologist somewhere looking for a reason for their existence. I refuse to accept this and instead I am happy to acknowledge D’s magical friends for what they are – IMAGINARY FRIENDS. A friend she has imagined.

Because she can.

Because she has an imagination.

Because she is not held ransom to unnecessary ideals of realism.

***

2014 in review

Posted: December 30, 2014 in Random

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.