Posts Tagged ‘sign language’

Omens, visas and impossible life decisions

September 29, 2015

So, the world’s being weird to me. So weird it’s spooky.

Not quite the dream I had in mind.

Not quite the dream I had in mind.

Those who know me know I call myself an atheist. As in, I don’t believe in a godhead. The idea of a human figure running things is preposterous to me. Any spiritual force able to control and link all the world’s creatures is surely more ambiguous and more complicated than the dude in any of the books.

That doesn’t mean I don’t experience what other people call a spiritual life (I’ve seen a ghost), or enjoy religious rituals occasionally, particularly when it comes to the part where you eat and drink feel gratitude for the good things you have.

Being an atheist also doesn’t mean I don’t believe in forces beyond my control. Recently, I’ve been reminded that I have no choice but to do so, because I’ve felt like the world has been trying to tap me on the shoulder and tell me that I’m nobody. I’m nothing. I’m at the mercy of “It”, whatever “It” is.

I don’t know. I’m probably a pretty shitty atheist.

See, while I was trying to depart the USA for South Africa via the UK, first my sandles broke. Odd, timing wise, but no biggie. Then my other sandles broke, too. Then my car broke. But I found my way to the airport.

LAX Departures International

So close, and yet so very far.

Then, they didn’t let me on the plane because I lacked a UK transit visa. And then, just coincidentally, the UK visa site was down, so I couldn’t apply for a transit visa.

As a young twasa and soon to be sangoma who approached me uninvited in a bar once told me, you ignore messages from the spirit world at your peril. Two days ago, I decided to listen to what I think the world is saying. I was going to get a new apartment in Cali, and see how that went for a year or so. If I didn’t, I feared that the next thing “It” would do is break my legs to keep me here.

Of course, I didn’t get the apartment because they don’t take freelancers and I don’t have six months rent to advance the landlord – not after everything I’ve had to deal with recently. That’s the one landlord that replied to me at all. Most just let me twist in the wind.

So I’m back to nowheresville, limboing from day to day, wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do now. The world and people around me seem unreal, and I’m never sure where I’m waking up until I open my eyes and look around me.

this shit is bananas

This Shit is Bananas. No kidding.

lifes_full_of_bumps

Life’s full of bumps. Yes. And oddly, all the images on this post were snapped in the last 48 hours – as if some all powerful force feels the need to state the bleeding obvious every time I round a street corner.

I know things could be worse, so I’m trying to stay grateful, but I feel physically tired and heavy and very afraid right now.

I wrote about UK Visas and Human Kindness  (hint: they’re opposing forces) in my News24 column this week.

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Homelessness… could never happen to me?

August 28, 2015

(Scroll down if you just want to see the pictures)

The subject of a screenplay I’m writing said something in answer to an interview question: that before she went to America, she imagined it being this perfect world, this wonderland free of prejudice and poverty. Having seen the USA with her own eyes and worked there a month, she returned to South Africa with a new appreciation for her homeland.

This is the truth. South Africans visiting Europe tend not to encounter real life there. But, take the train a few miles out of Barcelona’s quaint center, and you’ll see where how most people really eke out a living, in high-rise apartments. Maybe it’s better than where they came from. Maybe it’s not, but they’re in love with the dream.

America is both worse than I ever imagined and better than I ever dreamed. And yes, I’m staying, on what’s charmingly called an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability” visa. I must love it here, or I wouldn’t have gone through the trauma of the tough and bank-balance-erasing application process, just to complete a few projects!

But it’s no easy ride. Recently I’ve been reminded of how easy it is to fall off the wagon in America, and how hard it can be to get back on once you’re off.

You see people living under bridge and you think: “Well, that would never happen to me.

I work hard! I don’t suffer from PTSD. Any psychological conditions I suffer from (like radical liberalism) are manageable. I’ve got some sources of income to fall back on. I never sign up for new credit cards, no matter how many offers those snakes at American Express, Capital One, Chase and the other banks send me without my consent, to an address they shouldn’t have in the first place… “

But because I’m home to South Africa for a while, I had to give up my apartment. It’s rent controlled, which means it only cost me $800 a month when I moved in. I gave notice a month ago. Last week, I saw my apartment advertised at $1025 a month – because rent control only lasts until a new tenant moves in. I’m going to have to find about 20% more rent money when I return, to live in one of LA’s cheapest neighborhoods!

And that got me thinking: What if I went away to Iraq for two years to fight a war, came back damaged and with a missing leg, serious PTSD, and a drinking problem? How would I ever find my way back home, then?

The truth is, very few people do.

Hence this rather fiery NEWS24 COLUMN.

The tunnel. Is there any way out of this?

The tunnel. Is there any way out of this?

The resident. He kisses pigeons. His nickname is “Birdman”.

House, phase I

House, phase I. Just a drawing on a wall, with the owner sleeping in front. This is back in December 2014 – note the Christmas Tree and snowman.

homeless before

House, phase II, after a few weeks of habitation.

Current house, with “Stunning Mountain Views” courtesy Skidrobot.

Homeless people are everywhere in California. It's not the America you see on TV, that's for sure.

Homeless people are everywhere in California. It’s not the America you see on TV, that’s for sure.

Pug Barker. Not the dog. The top dawg.

October 3, 2011

My father. A mess (not a mass, although he’s 6’2”) of complications got nicknamed “Pug” by my younger brother Danny on the way back from a journo freebee in KZN in a museum when a dog kinda reminded Danny of our at the time, a little grumpy father. Since then, it’s become a term of love.

He emailed this to me tonight. Caption: "On Wall in Paris Metro".

“Please be considerate and flash the toilet”

June 25, 2011

Kinda hard to avoid?

Of course, they really mean “please be considerate and FLUSH the toilet”… which is almost as hilarious. Surely you shouldn’t have to tell people? Mind you, most of America’s public toilets seem to be equipped with automatic flushers, and I can’t help wondering if there’s some sordid reason for that.

This proves that spell checkers are not all-powerful and should come with a WARNING: USE IN CONJUNCTION WITH BRAIN FOR BEST RESULTS.

Oh, okay then... If the toilet wants that, I guess...

Photo (note clever placement of flash spot) taken by my friend Jinty (read her blog, it’s crazy stuff – her phone just got tapped!) in Nelspruit, probably while going to the dentist, the doctor, or the supermarket in South Africa. People who live in Swaziland – and who can afford to leave – tend to cross the border to do stuff like that now and then. Well, to do that, and to make private phone calls.

Sleepless blogpost of photos I didn’t take in public toilets

March 30, 2011

I have no idea what these pictures are of. That didn’t stop me offering my opinion.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know exactly where my fellow student and cinematographer Alex Griffin was when he took these photos. Maybe you can tell him? (Here’s all the detail he supplied: “The first bunch are actually in a bathroom. Very odd. Had a sign asking not to take anything down.”)

Somewhere in California, I suppose.

1000 pictures are worth no wait... would you mind doing the math?

Decor designed to defeat pee-&-flee instincts that ensure survival of the male toilet environment.

How is this different to 90% of art? Oh right. This is the stuff most of us never look at. It it doesn't move, explode or take its clothes off? Forget it. Not interested.

Sarah Palin will be attending, dressed as a young, attractive Maggie Thatcher.

My Little Pissed Off Horny Pony of Hades

Tye die mutherf*&*er 'n the mutherf*k*&' hoodie. I blame the angry church of the latter-day hippies for this one.

Thanks, Alex. If anyone else wants to send me photos of signs to blog about, feel free. I’m keen. You may not be!

Nude ladies, “Friends”, pool, karaoke and hamburgers at Barney’s Beanery, West Hollywood

March 24, 2011

Do I have to blog about it every time I go to Los Angeles? Well, probably, until it stops seeming like a place of magic and dreams; everything I expected of it and more.

Traffic. Rain. 35 Miles in three hours. Thank God for CD changers and conversation.

Been going to LA a lot at the moment because the Writer’s Guild is holding a weekly interview / screening / discussion series with famous TV writers – last week was an amazing session with Steve Levitan of Modern Family. Today I got roped in to checking out Friends‘ Marta Kauffman and David Crane. And I didn’t expect it to be half as amazing as it was. I loved it so much that I now… briefly wanted to watch the whole 10 episodes of the series for (believe this or not) the first time. I doubt I’ll actually go through with it though, don’t worry.

The original pitch and treatment. Check it out - it seems Friends was originally titled "Bleeker Street" (like in the sad Simon & Garfunkel song) and later the slightly cheerier "Insomnia Cafe".

Anyhow, we wound up at Barney’s Beanery afterwards. It is awesome – and proof that America will turn anything – ANYTHING, NO MATTER HOW ALTERNATIVE – into a commercial undertaking. The place is basically a collection of all the USA’s rock ‘n roll glorification, thrown together in a faux dive bar atmosphere, with a technology coulis.

Great burgers, better mash, and a beer list that made me very happy. A 10pm happy hour too. And all the healthy options and mild food choices that keep All-Americans and Hollywood types content.

Of course, you want it to seem “real”, right?

This picture of a sexy lady pasted on the booth wall, the slightly worn leather seats, and the Wednesday night karaoke all contribute to the pleasant illusion that you might be somewhere in the real world.

EXT. HEAVEN – ETERNAL SUNSHINY DAY

March 9, 2011

GOD, a wo/man of indeterminate age and ethnicity lies exhausted on a cloud, sleeping, fitfully, despite the syrupy din of violinists playing Amy Grant Muzak (TM).

BRAD (4eva5) a cherub with plump nipples and an adoring expression floats up from under the cloud wearing nothing but a loincloth, flaps his wings as he taps God on the shoulder. God stirs fitfully.

GOD
(mumbling)
No… Find your own parking space you lazy bitch.

BRAD
God! God! God! Wake up! There’s been a sign!

God sighs and props himself/herself up on his/her elbow.

GOD
It’s not America again? Is it? What do they want NOW? I just gave them Spring? And Obama was struggling, so he got that thing in Libya… gets to… Brad?

Brad’s glum expression tells God everything s/he needs to hear.

If I were God, I'd be, like, "Are you talking to me? Are you talking to ME? Again?" When is God supposed to get some rest? And "Who's in charge, here? I'll bless when I feel like it! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!"

LA: How is this is not as good as it gets?

March 3, 2011

I drove to LA for a meeting yesterday morning. I felt like a real screenwriter. You know, driving to LA with a pitch to meet a director in a coffeeshop. On too little sleep. Let’s just say it – it felt real and unreal.

I feel a rising excitement as I get closer to LA, as the grafitti and wall art gets more sophisticated, as the drivers get ruder and the smog gets thicker.

The thrill is still not quite gone.


And sure, it might not work out (thought the meeting went well) but I’m just enjoying this. This is the time when, even if I’m consumed by panic, there’s still time to dream. Everything could still be perfect. And LA is a wonderful place to dream because in LA, a dreamer is never alone, although not every dreamer can afford the coffee.

"I promise you are not just a waitress" - a poster stuck to an electricity box opposite a french bistro staffed by suspiciously attractive waitrons who are probably, actually, actors.

I sat next to two old guys. They were discussing something one of them had written. On the left, two women gave each other notes on a screenplay. A few tables down, two Americans had an intelligent political discussion about Libya. Then went back to discussing a movie they’d like to make. Dreams, dreams, dreams, everywhere here.

If I’ve learned anything in the last four years is that nothing – no matter how wonderful or how terrible – is impossible. I could… find love? Maybe when I’m not looking for it, cause like, I need it like I need a hole in the head. Another hole in the head. It’s possible.

My fellow-blogger Dorothy Black (acaseofnerves.blogspot.com) collects pictures of "random hearts". Here's one I photographed. Spotted on the floor of a coffeeshop in Vermont Ave., Hollywood.

Or I could wind up a struggling screenwriter, working somewhere, writing something, living in a small but beautiful apartment in an area with really good fish tacos within walking distance.

I could live here. I'm a single.

Or they might send me home to South Africa, where I could… write that movie nobody here ever sees. Or that movie that wins a foreign movie Oscar. Same thing really – except then South Africans won’t watch it either.

Or... they say the sky's the limit. What was once in that building that's now leased as storage? Who's the latest porno superstar at Adultcon? And where are all these cars going to? What new building is that orange cement mixing truck mixing cement for?

I guess I hung around for a while. I bought three different colors of nail laquer so that I could paint all my nails different colours. Then I left. And on the way, I passed this writing on the wall: THIS IS NOT AS GOOD AS IT GETS.

Right now, just being near this alleyway leading to a dumpster excites me.

Jesus loves Amusement parks

February 21, 2011

I’ve discovered Adrenaline – the miracle drug that has remarkably few side effects, unless a slightly stiff neck or the odd bruise counts. In the last few weeks I’ve been to Disney, Skiing, and to Six Flags, where the rollercoasters stretch for a mile.

Those things stuck to the pole are gum. I thought they were beautiful.


These places are so artificial they make Venice look like a real city. But often they’re exactly what I need.

A joke? Took me a whle to realise it was. On Disney's Monstor's Inc. ride.

This ride - the Pinnocchio ride - cures paralysis. Get up and walk! We nicknamed it the "Jesus Ride"

Damn! If only I'd known it was as easy as this, I'd never have wasted all that time thinking.

Tee-heee...

A very funny restaurant naming #fail

December 15, 2010

Ah, finals week. The more stressed I get, the more vulnerable I am to sillyiness. I find myself surfing sites like Texts from Last Night and People of Wallmart. I click on every youtube link a facebook friend posts. I reply to discussions that I should really stay out of, exposing my ignorance of American culture. What’s next – enjoying Christmas music? Let’s hope I don’t lose it that completely…

Anyhow, this perfectly suited my mood. Posted by @orangecountygal, someone I follow on twitter, but have never met. Add her if you haven’t already.

What were they thinking? It's in Garden Grove. One of the hilarious results of non-english speakers trying to sound American, I'm guessing. Or someone with the same kind of sense of humour that led to a South African book chain being named CUM Bookstores. Christian Something, Something. But I can never remember! And neither could you.