Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

A New Beginning

January 14, 2016
2015-12-28 14.07.52.jpg

Fuck you, Santa, invention of the Coca-Cola company… And here’s why.

After everything that’s gone down – previous posts have more than enough detail for public life – I’m here in LA. I stayed. I found a place that I fell in love with, and a landlord that would trust a freelancer who hadn’t worked for a month, and just enough work to pay my rent, while I write, and dream, and pray that my space in this place opens up, soon.

dawn at my house

Nothing can describe the feeling of having a home again, after two months of depending on the kindness of my boyfriend (who thought he was shot of me) and my friends. I woke up at dawn to an unfamiliar sound on one of my first nights here, feeling full of gratitude and snapped this before I cuddled back up again to sleep more.

At first, it was bliss. And then there was Christmas. Like a monster from hell.


I thought I might never see these trees lit up in Koreatown again. But here they are. I survived another year in LA.

With Christmas came the agonizing sensation that I was supposed to be somewhere else. Something about holidays makes you long for unconditional love, and nothing else is enough, and so I missed my mother, and the plans we had for long swims in Cape Town’s cold, sharky, gorgeous seas, and the chance to see my friends’ new babies and growing children before it was too late, and everybody forgot about me.

I also began to hate my female form, and all the limitations it imposes. As my ex got remarried and began posting honeymoon and wedding photos on facebook for our former mutual friends to “like”, I drowned in self pity, imagining how, next, he would have the babies he took from me, with his new, younger, fertile bride. I would never have a family. I would be alone in this world, without that love, after my mother and father were dead.

The bitterness and neediness engulfed me.


I was sure the answer to this question was “nothing”. I heard on the radio about how old Chinese people who have no families just starve to death. I thought, that’ll be me. I’ll be digging in the trash when I’m 75…


But then I survived Christmas, and New Year came and went, and finally, men from the government began to take down the signs and symbols of my social failure. The bells of joy began ringing again as everybody went back to work.

So, eventually, the holidays ended, and with it, my gloom lifted. Now, I work, and I feel like I’m whole again. I no longer lack what everybody else has. The doors of marriage and kids slamming in my face may be limitations, but they allow me to focus on my art, my writing, and on a last-minute future that means that even if I am left rotting somewhere when I’m 70, tens, hundreds and thousands and maybe even millions of people will have read, watched, or cried over a story I wrote or directed. At least, that’s my dream.

So, what do I mean, in this world? I don’t quite know.

Sure, what we really, really want to mean, is love. Unconditional love. Only this gives our lives meaning, really, and money and fame can’t compensate. We want love, love that would overcome its fears to claim or save us. But if that never comes my way, success of some other kind will have to get me through the night.

And it will get me through the night. So go ahead. Boast of your joy. Post all the engagements, wedding photos, baby pics, back to school pics and relationship status updates you like. One day, when you’re sitting opening Christmas gifts with your grandchildren, I’ll be alone in a hotel room, somewhere far, far away, answering fan mail and weeping with self pity.

But that will only last until about Jan 5th, and then I’ll be fine again.



Signs of Christmas in Cape Town

December 24, 2011

After the overbearing religiosity of America’s (undeniably charming at times) celebration of Christmas, even a trip to Southern Suburbs’ anglo-saxon shrine, Cavendish Square Shopping Centre, is an exercise in tolerance and shared values. Well okay, calculated moneymaking. But if, as one of my most argumentative and favorite commentators on this blog claims, South Africa is almost as Christian as the US, then this is even more significant as an act of accommodation at least *.

LOVE , JOY, REINDEER... Christmas for me has always been a weird combo of images of the North Pole experienced in mid-summer heat and roaring South-Easters. Christmas, to me, smells like sea salt and chlorine.

The fact that they don't take it for granted is nice, although Christmas is very much a shared holiday, since it's a public holiday. They have the same sort of notice up around Ramadahn and Eid and Rosh Hashanah and Divali though - in many stores and malls. After all, all the festivals have the same pagan sources, and all the shops have the same post-pagan motivation: profit.

Frightening, is all I'll say. Look out, The competition has arrived, and its name is "holidaymakers in Cape Town".

Free Range Chicken - the real thing - about $3-$5 each. The best deal I can get in the USA is $14 at Trader Joe's, and I swear, even their free range chicken is deformed. The best thing is that I took this photo in the Spar, and saw the same thing in Pick 'n Pay.

Table Mountain... well a bit of it. I'll get you the rest soon.

South Africa is beautiful because it’s less developed, and the food is cheaper because most people are staggeringly poor. But I’m not. I’m middle class. I’m one of the lucky ones. And I know it. I do know it. And I’m loving the clean air, the fresh tasting tap water, the unspoiled sea and even the summer winds. I’m loving living like a king for less than I do as a student in the USA. I sort of feel bad. I am having trouble with my happy holiday. I sometimes feel awkwardly grateful and faintly white-guilty. Sometimes I feel completely revolted, like when the dude selling “Funny Money”, a photocopied zine packed with dumb racist jokes, acted all “dumb af” in an attempt to sell it to me. I’m not sure if I was angry because this act works on other white people, or because he thought I was one of them. Both, I suppose.

La Boheme in Sea Point. R90 (about $13) buys you a 3 course meal - a great, bistro-style, three course feast.

I also miss California, which has become home, the urgency of the movie making buzz there. It feels like I’ve fallen into a delicious lull here… a sun-soaked inertia. I’m happy to wait an hour in a restaurant for my food to arrive. I can stand in a supermarket queue while the guy in front of me pays in 5c pieces and not even bother to switch to a new line.

The only place South Africans appear to be in any hurry right now, is on the roads. I’ll try post something about that before one of them runs me over.

* Sharon, I’d disagree that this is the case. Our politicians aren’t required to prove they’re Christian to qualify for the race. Our (admittedly, crazy) president recently accused Christians of creating orphanages and stuff and said that African religions never allowed them to exist. This may be true, although i think it’s bullshit, but imagine an American president saying that? They’d get more than a 500 word article on page 3 of a daily paper in return.

All the trippy people on the train say “hi”

December 26, 2010

This Amtrack Train would make a great moving set. It’s hilarious. I’ve never been to a place with so many rules – there are even more rules on a train than there are on an aeroplane. Wear your shoes. No singing. No using the tables between meals. No laptops in the cafe cart. No arriving for dinner at your pre-booked time. The dining room lady will inform you when she feels that it’s 5.15pm – at a time of her choosing. In the middle of the night, the police were called aboard at a stop to eject some passengers who weren’t behaving. So I’m keeping a low profile and encouraging my mother to do the same.

I love trains. Sleeping on one is twice as expensive as a plane to the same place, 30 times slower, and a million times more entertaining. The Coast Starlight is a sort of down-home version of the blue train - priced around the same as Eurail, if you consider that meals are included.

And the staff are a real motley crew. The woman in charge of the lounge car – Veronica – is the coolest. She has a genuine sense of humour, and the best Spanish accent ever. She’s being heavily courted by a hip hop guy in a big yellow jacket, who I think gave up and got off the train in Portland. Then there’s Henry, who tells the kids jokes and placates the passengers who have been told off by the woman who runs the dining cart. And Bryan who waits in that cart and seems to play good cop to her “schoolmarm cop”. And there’s the woman who runs the dining area for coach passengers, who announces in a seductive voice that she has “Coffee, tea, juice, jalepeno burger… or (whispering) a snickers bar… come see me”. I had to go see her. She’s a little old lady with grey hair who looks like she should be next to a fire, knitting.

And there’s Julio, who nobody’s ever seen, but who gets told where to be all the time. For some reason, they haven’t discovered the joys of cellular or walkie talkie communication, so all internal staff communications are broadcast throughout every single cabin on the intercom. As I write this, Julio’s last known location was the Dining Car.

And that’s just the staff. The passengers get pretty weird too. Like the reborn Christian evangelist who spent an hour lecturing some poor old man whose wife had died about how he needed to move on, then left… she was carrying a goldfish in a tupperware. And the dude who sat carving his lighter up with a flick knife, while making strange grunting noises. And this lawyer from California who followed me around and sat and stared at me wherever I went, and eventually gave me this poem, which I’d seen him carrying around specially printed out since we all got on the train in the morning.

Merry Christmas to you too.

As you can imagine, I’m having an awesome time. This is screenwriter heaven.

Mom wanted me to send my brother a picture of us together, to show I was looking after her nicely. Here's me doing as I'm told.

Christmas lights up behind the Orange Curtain, California

December 24, 2010

After all, My mom did arrive. My house feels different. Facebook is quiet. We’re going to Seattle in the morning. So since we’ll be on a train all of Christmas, we had a kind of Christmas dinner tonight at an Italian place near my apartment. I drank some Chianti out of a half litre caraffe. The food was average and over priced but the vibe was awesome.

Wine is cheaper than therapy, says the sign by the bar.

All I want for Christmas. And I got it.

Some of my friends made me these amazing hand made cards. My friend Rosie’s son Sam even made me a special flower. I think it’s the best flower a boy’s ever given me. And the first in a while, too.

Nice red petals to mtach the pimple on my forehead.

People go mad decorating here.

On a random lawn in Orange. Almost every house is covered in sparkling stars, weird Santa Clauses, reindeer and nativity scenes. It's kinda awesome.

Don't hold yourself back

Joy to the world. Or Edison Electrical Company in any case. So pretty.