You’ve already read them, of course, but I’m so excited to see that the Cape Chameleon is up and running online. Straight from the internets, here are my old articles in all their glory:
Not necessary reading material (because it’s just an infograph), but something worth looking at to prove that I’m not entirely insane: Suburbanization of Poverty
Wet and cold (at least I was), we headed home from last Monday night’s Bronco game via public transportation. Mike and I found ourselves at Colfax and Broadway at half past midnight, seated on a wet and cold park bench.
That bus stop is always busy, and half past midnight on an early Tuesday morning is no different. As we sat, people surrounded us, all talking about the game. But what caught my attention was the fact that they hadn’t gone to the game as spectators, they had gone as employees. Kettle corn, beer, other food-service.
The commonality was football statistics; the man behind me knows more about football than I ever will; the crazy man pacing knows much less.
I felt guilty, shamed by my spectator-status as they discussed what had gone on behind the scenes and counted out their tips. One guy had a fistful of one-dollar bills. I was tempted to tell him to shove them back in his pocket, lest someone steal them. (Cape Town really got that in my brain. Last Saturday when I was out, I found that I had stashed $42 in my bra, just in case.)
The bus was not coming. I was grumpy.
I listened to the girl a few seats down start talking about where she was staying (Mississippi and Sable) and how long it was going to take her to get home (forever) – but then I got the impression that she was still in high school. And possibly homeless.
The guy next to her was also headed out to Aurora.
To my great relief, the bus finally came and we squished on. (For the record, people in Denver have no idea what a crowded bus is – they were balking at the prospect of having to move back and squeeze in, claiming that the bus was “full.” Not full at all, but I wasn’t in the mood to get stern.)
As the bus lumbered up Colfax, it stopped at nearly every stop to add more people. You’d think, perhaps, that as the bus left the city center, it would slowly empty rather than filling. No. It seemed that everyone was headed east. What’s east? First of all, the Colorado Blvd connection (and the #40 bus), but second, and more importantly, Aurora.
Whenever I bemoan my situation (as I so love to do), I’m absolutely overlooking the fact that I have a support system. That I have transportation, that I have Simon.
I’m overlooking the fact that, like the girl seated a few seats away, there are varying degrees of homelessness in our city. Not everyone who’s technically homeless has a cardboard sign and wants your money. They’re sleeping on people’s couches; they’re crashing at a friend’s place; they’re staying awake all night; they’re riding the bus around until they get somewhere. That’s how people manage not to freeze during winters in Chicago – they ride the train until the end of the line and then turn around and do it all over again.
I’m overlooking the fact that I don’t have an hour-long commute each way. I don’t have to be dependent on the bus, something that can add hours to any commute, anywhere. I don’t have to get on the bus with my arms loaded with groceries.
Unlike the woman with at least three, possibly four, kids and two strollers, I don’t have to rely on the kindness of others to get my family safely off the bus. The kids reminded us of the township creches. They were cute, polite, but desperately needed clean clothes and baths. And a decent bedtime.
In Cape Town, the suburbs hold populations that fall into varying classifications of income levels, from the rich (Camps Bay) to the poor (Steenberg) to the poorer (Lavender Hill) to the townships (Vrygrond) to the informal settlements (Village Heights). As you go further down the income ladder, you find that the population density increases exponentially, as does the crime rate. But what falls at an equal rate is access to transportation.
Poorer neighborhoods are further from access to trains. Instead, they have to take a minibus from their neighborhood, probably to another minibus, then eventually to the train. This adds to their commute and can be a determining factor in their employment status.
Vrygrond was strategically placed away from train lines. The white Cape Townians didn’t want the colored and black populations to have access to the transportation, but instead, wanted them to remain in their designated neighborhoods.
Minibuses, the other transportation alternative to trains, are dangerous. I’ve never been so harassed as I was on the trains and minibuses in Cape Town. It’s the touching that really gets you. You’re either about to be groped or robbed, and neither are pleasant. But people have to do that every day. Sitting on top of strangers, next to strangers, pushed up against them.
It’s funny because just as the transportation effectively cuts off the poorest, it also secludes the richest. You can’t take public transportation to Camps Bay, the wealthy, white side of Table Mountain. You have to take a cab.
In Cape Town, when I was finding jobs for the unemployed, many of the ads stipulated that people be from certain areas only. For a country that has come so far from Apartheid, it’s disheartening to see such blatant discrimination.
Is that what we want here? A segregated workforce? But more importantly than that, is that what we’re eventually going to have? Are we becoming a more diverse population or a more segregated one as time passes?
As someone who usually has access to transportation, it’s a wake-up call to realize how much your life can be affected by the inability to commute. Mobility is a key to success. By continuing to eliminate entire populations of workers by simply making it difficult for them to access transportation, we’re effectively ensuring that only a select portion of people will be able to apply for, and eventually obtain, those jobs.
We need to focus on building effective transportation systems that are easily accessible, by everyone. We need more trains. We need more bus-only lanes. We need a swifter boarding process. We need to be able to get to the Denver airport via train. We need to be quick about it.
It’s been a year since the epic adventure that was Cape Town began…
I’ve not got the words at the moment, so here’s the music video for the song that I most closely associate with our time there.
When I got there, that very first night, my German roommate Svenja and my host mom Priscilla (Mama P, affectionately) played this song and we danced to it.
I got an email from Mama P this morning. You’ll remember Priscilla, my absolutely insanely wonderful host mother in South Africa.
Her emails are always short and to the point. They never say much, but I’m grateful for them. Today she said that the weather is turning cold, and to say hello to Mike and James Dean for her. I laughed out loud when I read the last bit; I had completely forgotten about that. So here’s how it goes:
The night that James was coming to pick me up for our first date, I realized I had no idea what his name was. I knew it was either James or Dean. So we had all just referred to him as James Dean the entire week. I realized that this was eventually going to present a problem, so I called him, and luckily, he didn’t answer his phone. Voicemail clued me in on his real name and that was that. But we still called James Dean.
It’s amazing how much I miss that place. I know it will never be the same, but it will always have a beautiful place in my heart. I want to get back there, to stand at Muizenberg Beach and feel the waves crash against my feet and fight my way onto the train and off again.
However, my life here is growing daily. While I like that I’m learning a lot at my current job, I’m not satisfied with the compensation and have taken on babysitting to make extra cash. (This supports my lifestyle, which you may be surprised to hear isn’t quite as wild as you might think.) Anyway, I’ve got four families in the rotation and the balancing act is getting a bit hectic.
This week, for example, I will be working all seven days. And twice this week I had to go straight from work to babysit. The other nights I went directly home and was in bed relatively early. It’s all fine and well, but I’m not getting any decompression time and am beginning to get a bit stressed.
Hopefully this week will provide ample opportunity for sleep as I’m not scheduled to work any week days.
Alas, today brings more babysitting, volunteering at a choir concert that one of my co-workers is singing in, and then date night. And tomorrow brings babysitting.
I really love the families that I’m sitting for this weekend – I find it much easier to babysit when I’m actually enjoying myself as well. One family has three little girls, and then, of course, there are the twins. I find myself hoping the symphony season won’t end!
Last night, Jacob and I went to see a production of Macbeth at UCD. Jacob was personally invested – he did the music for the show. I went because I waffle back and forth on my hate/love of Shakespeare. This play was pretty well done. The costuming choices were interesting – mostly just corsets – and the cast was tiny, but the leads delivered their lines really well.
After that, we went to an art gallery where they were serving pancakes and alcohol (strange combination, but hey, whatever). After paying $5 to get in and being told that drinks were free – we ended up having to pay $4 for a small cup. Ridiculous. The gallery was cute, but it was trying too hard to replicate the scene in New York. There were topless models being spraypainted (when done properly, it’s actually really beautiful), but it just felt like an afterthought, especially as the crowd began to diminish. After meeting up with our friend Claire and her girlfriend and wandering around looking at some art, we bailed to go dancing.
And so we danced. The night drew to a close, and I was grateful, because the tired had begun creeping through my bones. I went home, said hello to Carlos and Mike, and was asleep nearly immediately. I woke up tired – I didn’t get nearly enough sleep. I’m hoping for a nap while I do my laundry.
Tonight, once my obligations are over, I’ve got a wild night planned (as usual). The guy that I guess I’m dating (I don’t know – we eat dinner together sometimes. He made me waffles. I think that counts as sort of edging toward dating?) is going to come down from Boulder (and maybe bring his adorable dog!) and we’re going to go see Claire’s band play and then (depending on how tired I am or how bored he is) head to a weird art gallery/warehouse for a space party ordeal.
Jacob is super into the electronic scene, which means I find myself at a lot of events. I joking called it a “space cult” based on the theme of the first party he invited me to. Now, we call them space parties. They’re not really – just a bunch of people in a room listening to really good (or really bad, depending) music and maybe drinking.
And yes, we may have to relocate Carlos for the evening. Jacob is more than happy to babysit and Carlos has been itching to get out and explore.
Click on the words below for links to the individual stories.
Two posts in a day, be sure to scroll down for pictures of the Mustache Bash bar crawl from Saturday.
I’ve been getting back into fiction lately. I went to the local library (where I’m not yet banned and don’t owe them large sums of money. Going to miss that small freedom once I get back to Denver) and got some books last week. Ah, the oppressive stacks of the cramped space reminded me of my youth, when I was quite a bit smaller and not as tall. I made an effort to look at the titles near the floor, but it was impossible to do. But I ended up picking out four hardcover books. Hardcover to remind myself what literature really is. The crinkle of that plastic wrap is a magical, comforting sound to my over-auto-tune-subjected ears. Two murder mysteries (um, because that is what I do best), a book by John Connelly called The Gates, and then Clinton Kelly’s fabulous etiquette book. Thus far, I’ve consumed The Gates and the fabulous book about being fabulous, which I enjoyed, but was thoroughly relieved I’d not spent any actual money on it. I enjoyed The Gates immensely. It was light-hearted, even though it was about Hell.
But it’s been making me realize that I should be writing. Seriously. I need to up the English levels on my blog. I need to stop writing such melodramatic trash so that you’re convinced you’re not following some sort of soap opera. Instead, I shall focus on social issues that I care about and whatever else I can drum up. Hence the teen pregnancy allusion in the last post. I will get to it. And when I do, you will come away astounded. (Not by teen pregnancy, hopefully. There’s really not much about it that might astound.) But I’m going to be a real (and by real, I mean completely amateur, un-official, writing from my apartment) journalist about this and do some research. You know, get the real facts before I spout off about stuff that no one really needs to know.
I finally took the cover off of my laptop because I’m convinced it’s scratching my laptop more than it would be scratched had it remained uncovered. I’m in the market for a new case as of tomorrow, so perhaps a stop off at the Apple store is in order. I’d also like to check out the iPad, in case we do end up going to South Africa.
Um, did I mention the applications and deposits have been submitted? WE ARE GOING TO SOUTH AFRICA (most likely)! I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m terrified, obviously, as I am about to embark on a mission deep into the unknown, however, I think that when it’s all said and done, my life will have been irrevocably changed. For the better, hopefully. Unless I’m not. But we can deal with that at some later point. But The Economist seems to be on my side. My mailbox today was full of a fourteen-page special report on South Africa, which I will read on the train tomorrow and report back on. I enjoy their coverage. I am keeping my subscription to their magazine, partially because I think the British spellings are cute.
Also, it’s not “for all intensive purposes.” It’s “for all intents and purposes.” I feel like an idiot. I want to issue an open apology to anyone I may have grammatically offended over the years. Just so you know.
The title of this post is in reference to a song, if it can be called that, sung by an over-privileged woman from New York (she’s on the Real Housewives, a show I can’t get enough of). It’s a horrible mess of song but it’s hilarious and catchy but not in a good way. Catchy in that it’ll be stuck in your head all day and you’ll be wishing for anything else. Even a Rickroll would be nice about now.
And on that note: a really bad song sung by a really annoying woman
I’ve realized that one of the things I love about my cat is the way he sighs. It’s so adorable. One thing I wildly disapprove of is his need to go bolting out the front door when I open it. Lame. Chasing him down the stairs seems to be his favorite game.