Quietly Proud Club Member

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I've never belonged to any clubs in my life.

Well, unless you count this one time when I was around six or seven and I belonged to the Afrikaans version of the Girl Scouts (without the door-to-door cookie sales).

My membership to this particular club was rather brief, because it didn't take the club's leaders very long to figure out that I was never going to be able to hoist or squeeze or push my round body over or through or under the obstacle courses. And unfortunately for both me and the leaders, those very same obstacle courses made up a large part of the club's "team-building" activities. In fact, one could even say that the manoeuvring of one's not-at-all-aerodynamic body over or under or - most dreadfully - through those torturous obstacle courses, was at the very heart of the club's mission statement.

Now that I think about it, those obstacle courses may well have been the sole reason for the club's being!

Oh, and then there was the time when I belonged to a country club. But before you roll your eyes and mutter about what an insufferable snob I must be: I was only a member by association. And again, before you start to mutter about the snobs I associate with: They paid me to associate with them. (Wow, that makes me sound... well, I don't know quite how that makes me sound. Expensive?)

Before I talk myself deeper into the marshlands of misunderstanding (it's a gift I have, these miscommunication skills), let me explain: I was a nanny for a family who belonged to a suburban D.C. country club. I had to take the kids there during the humid summer months, to lounge by the pool (what a tough job!); and during the long, cold and dark months of winter, to ice skate and sip large cups of hot chocolate. (As I've said, it was a tough job!)

But silly me, instead of spending my country club days productively by snagging myself a strapping young member of the preppy set, I wasted my time by scribbling furiously in my notebook all the insights (if one can call it that) and observations I had of American life. Oooh, boy, and if you think I write drivel NOW..!

I felt most comfortable in the country club setting when I got to mingle with my own kind. So when I wasn't engrossed in the task of filling up my notebook, I struck up friendships with various country club employees and other nannies. We all shared the common bond of being "the help," a bond strengthened even further by the fact that we were all aliens in a strange land.

Oh, and apart from a few book clubs and a brief time in high school when I founded a foreign film club (it wasn't wildly successful, because I showed films so obscure that on the whole of planet earth, apparently only I wanted to see it), that then concludes my brief club member history.

Until last week, when I, thanks to the boy, joined another club.

You see, the boy and I have finally emerged from the Dark Ages of dial-up to a high speed modern day DSL modem. I haven't been offline since we installed it a few days ago. (A fact which hasn't been reflected in the activity on this blog, I know.) The SPEED of it all! It's amazing! It's making my head spin. (And the pages STILL download faster than the dizzying speed at which my head is rotating as it tries to wrap my mind around it!)

Oh, and let's not forget that I can now speak on the phone AND SURF THE INTERNET AT THE SAME TIME!!!!! What a fantastic concept!

This DSL connection has opened corners of the World Wide Web, which, as a dial-upper (wouldn't dial-downer be a more apt description though?) have been out of my reach until now. Like STREAMING VIDEO! And RADIO (without buffering every 2 seconds for 60 seconds at a time) and opening some of my favourite arty blogs in a snap AND then being able to see all the pictures!

So since I'm now able to stream video and radio, the boy did something exceptional for me. He subscribed me to this amazing service which allows me to watch SOUTH AFRICAN TELEVISION!!!

This is remarkable, because there is no way to beam South African television this far into the Northern Hemisphere. Believe me, I've pleaded with Direct TV to at least TRY, but alas, I've been assured that it's impossible. "And no, missy," the Direct TV guy said when I asked him if it's because their dishes are too small, "It really has NOTHING to do with the size of the dish!"

So with a membership to this Kudu Club, for a mere $9.95/month (I'm not sure how much it costs in other parts of the world), one gets unlimited access to HOURS of content in the form of movies, various television shows, variety shows, news programmes, etc.

And it's worth every penny, because the service also includes access to several South African radio stations and newspapers. Also, new content is added almost daily. It's obviously not live (call me crazy, but the main reason why this bothers me is because after so many years of being away, I'd really like to see some South African commercials again. Our ads are REALLY good!), but as far as I can tell, some shows are made available on the same day they air in South Africa.

So I've been glued to this computer screen every second since the boy has signed me up for this club, and although I'm starting to develop aches in unusual body parts, it's been a marvelous experience. Never mind that the garden has shriveled up and died (but not to worry, because several new things are growing in the refrigerator), I just can't bring myself to... well... do anything else!

Thus I've spent the past few days weeping at the drama, laughing at a very silly tabloid show called Voorblad (Front Page) and I've winced at some of the revelations made on an investigative journalism show called Carte Blanche.

I've managed to spread the joy by getting the boy hooked on this riveting South African drama series called Snitch (yes, it's in Eengleeesh, so he understands) and I'm all warm and fuzzy with pride to see how impressed he is with the high quality of the plot and the acting. (Or perhaps he is more impressed with the fact that I went to school with one of the lead actresses? She is utterly gorgeous and she plays a stripper, so the boy has plenty of opportunity to sample her gorgeousness. All I can say is: When I went to school with her, I had NO IDEA that she was so flexible!)

The epitome of my joy, however, is seeing Afrikaans television again. I've just spent a marathon session watching a thirteen-episode (of one hour each) Afrikaans drama. (And here you've been thinking all along that I'm not sporty!)

The boy thinks I should pace myself and occasionally take a break to do something constructive like say... writing? But I argued with him that, if I should take a break to work, then that wouldn't really be "taking a break" at all, now would it?

But despite his grumblings about my lack of productivity, I think he is grateful. Because apart from the soft hum of the computer and the Afrikaans voices coming from the speakers, this house has been as quiet as a monastery where the monks have taken a vow of silence.

No one has been chatting his ear off when he gets home. No one has been telling him in great detail about who or what was on Oprah today, because no one has even glanced at Oprah (or at any American television apart from Jeopardy!) since last week. As I've said, this house has been the picture of peace and (almost) quiet.

That's right. I have not said anything more than "You're home already?", "Watch this!", "Coffee please!" and "You're going to work already?"

But surely that wouldn't have been the reason why he signed me up for this club, right?

RIGHT?!?

P.S. In case you haven't yet, and you feel so inclined, please sign my Green Card Petition! To all of you who have already signed it, THANK YOU!

5 Comments

Red Dahling,
Let me be the first to congratulate you on FINALLY getting DSL. I am also happy that you can stay in contact with television from South Africa. I'm quite sure that Oprah understands too. Hey maybe we should contact the Divine Miss O about your pink & green card. She grants wishes all the time.

Onanymous said:

I think my sister actually mentioned that foreign film club to me once. (She is finally getting married by the way)

It's great that you are able to see some good old SA tv once again. I agree that we have some of the best ads out there.
Which Afrikaans drama did you get to see? Was it 'Song for Katryn' or were you lucky enough to get 'Amalia'?

kim said:

it's amazing how one can get excited about anything from home after being away for a while. i remember watching the most boring shows on "Deutsche Welle TV" over there when i was an aupair just because it was in german and i got to see german houses, busses, licence-plates, stores and mailboxes... home sweet home. and congrats to the speed! i want DSL at home, too. maybe that would keep me from getting in trouble for surfing the www at work... ;o)

Michelle said:

SUCH a pity you're only picking up MNet! :) You're missing out on such SABC gems as 7de Laan and Top Billing! Ah well....

Boertjie said:

Hallo daar. Het jy toe Amalia gekyk? Ek het dit nogal geniet. Kan amper nie glo 'n mens kan internet kry wat vinnig genoeg is om TV programme mee op te vang nie - WOW!

Terloops dankie vir jou bydrae op my werfie ook. Groetnis en hou die blink kant bo!

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is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

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comments
  • Boertjie : Hallo daar. Het jy toe Amalia gekyk? Ek het dit nogal geniet. Kan amper nie glo 'n mens kan inter... [go]
  • Michelle : SUCH a pity you're only picking up MNet! :) You're missing out on such SABC gems as 7de Laan and To... [go]
  • kim : it's amazing how one can get excited about anything from home after being away for a while. i rememb... [go]
  • Onanymous : I think my sister actually mentioned that foreign film club to me once. (She is finally getting marr... [go]
  • bookstorediva : Red Dahling, Let me be the first to congratulate you on FINALLY getting DSL. I am also happy that y... [go]
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