An honest scrapper

Many thanks to the delightful Grad for this award, which requires me to tell you 10 things about myself.

1. I’ve recently started another romantic relationship and while we both don’t know where this is heading, we’re enjoying the journey. As a result, I’m struggling with what’s apparently known as “muis-neste” (mouse nests) which means my brain is like swiss cheese. I thought perhaps that I had the flu, which is rampant in Cape Town at the moment. But no. It’s the mouse nests.

2. Today for example I have the day off and so I made a list of ten things to do. This has now grown to fifteen things, which includes the reminder to shave and to pay my bills. I’m currently struggling to get past item three, which is to read and comment on five blogs today. Why would I need reminding of such a pleasant task, you might wonder? Well, if I don’t actually make time for this, I will end up spending countless hours on item four, which is to organise all (or at least some of) the papers in my study.

3. At school I was labelled a bit of a ‘loskop” (a loose-head). This is not to be confused with being a loosehead prop in rugby, which would require me to have shoulders the size of small bulls, to weigh 120kgs and to have an almost boundless appetite for violence. No, no and no.

4. I am way behind when it comes to memes. I still haven’t worked out what my bookshelves are saying about me other than that I am disorganised and that I like a wide variety of books. Today I rearranged two bookshelves to put most of the unread books together. Of the twenty-five or so titles there I am leaning towards the following: Jonny Steinberg (on HIV), Somerset Maugham, Garrison Keillor, Joan Didion, Natalie Angier and maybe volume two of the Paris Review Interviews. But then I’ve just started Kate Atkinson’s When will there be good news? as well as The Kitchen Shrink by Natalie Savona. This last one promises “food and recipes for a healthy mind” and has a cover drawing of a carrot reclining on the couch. It’s already telling me that I eat too much sugar and not enough low-GI food. Litlove would approve since caffeine and sugar are definitely frowned upon except in small doses.

5. I need to prepare a talk on Positive Psychology for two weeks’ time and so I listened to Martin Seligman and some other guy with an unpronounceable name who was talking about Flow. Flow is definitely a good thing. All about losing yourself in the activity of the moment so that time seems to stand still. But where I’m struggling a bit with Positive Psychology is in deciding whether it’s a process of denial to focus too much on the positive or rather part of acquiring a healthy balance. I’ll post some more on this soon.

6. I’m really hoping that my copy of Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood arrives soon so that I can participate in the Slaves of Golconda discussion at the end of May. It is the end of May, isn’t it?

7. At the DVD store yesterday we had a choice between My Sister’s Keeper (based on the novel by Jodi Picoult), Scenes of a Sexual Nature (which sounds quite risqué but is basically about love and sex on Hampstead Heath, and stars Ewan McGregor) and then The Ugly Truth, which is a romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl of Grey’s Anatomy fame. We chose My Sister’s Keeper, which is apparently not as good as the book but is still gripping. An 11-year old girl (Abigail Breslin) decides to sue her parents for ‘medical emancipation’ so that she doesn’t have to give a kidney to save her older sister who is dying from leukaemia. L was tearless throughout the film (perhaps because she deals with cancer on a daily basis) but I was misty-eyed and then also grateful for the moments of comic relief involving the hotshot lawyer Alec Baldwin’s dog called Judge. The other judge, played by Joan Cusack, was suitably horrified at this and I was also half-expecting Joan’s brother John to appear at any moment, which would have derailed the plot completely since he is always the Leading Man.

8. L and I also watched The Last Station which details the end of Tolstoy’s life. Helen Mirren plays Countess Tolstoy and what a histrionic wife she turned out to be. This seemed more soap opera than literary biography but L and I both enjoyed it.

9. As South Africans we are daily reminded of the countdown to the Fifa™ Soccer World Cup which starts in approximately 48 days’ time. I don’t have a ticket to a single game but am still expecting to be riveted by the football and the atmosphere surrounding it. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to live through the world’s biggest sporting event.

10. You get an idea of how poor South Africa’s chances are of progressing past the first round when you hear that it’s quite possible that the host nation will not score a single goal in their opening three matches! After that, it will be about picking a team to support. Brazil, England, Spain, Ghana, Portugal, Germany and even Italy will all be popular. Basically anyone other than the French.

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19 Responses to An honest scrapper

  1. litlove says:

    Looking forward immensely to your thoughts on positive psychology, and yay!! come and read along with the Slaves (most definitely, yes, end of May). I cry from start to finish on films and wish I didn’t (my son peers at me: you’re not crying AGAIN are you?). And I laughed to get a namecheck on the low GI index. Alas, I have to do it, but I do bake a fairly constant stream of cakes and puddings for the menfolk who chomp through sugar at an amazing rate. So it’s ok, have another cookie if you want. 🙂

    • Pete says:

      Thanks Litlove. My sweet tooth very rarely says no to a cookie or three. And yay re the Slaves discussion here too since my copy of Bad Blood arrived today.

  2. I’m also looking forward to hearing what you think about positive psychology. I have the same questions.

    • Pete says:

      Oh good, I need some gentle reminders to actually do the talk so if I have a good question to answer then that should do the trick.

  3. sshaver says:

    Muis-neste? Really? What is that, French for mouse-nest(s?), and it means a state of mental confusion? I want to pick that one up….

  4. Emily Barton says:

    Bob and I have been talking about watching The Last Station but never seem to get around to it. Glad to hear someone I know enjoyed it. Oh, and I think I have permanent mouse nests, no reason. They’re just there.

    • Pete says:

      Emily – I enjoyed a lot of it but the melodrama did get a bit much after a while. And glad to hear I’m not alone with the mouse nests.

  5. Harriet says:

    No one likes the french, right? As for Flow, I read the book. It made sense, but it seemed like an awful lot of research for something that is basically common sense. Lots going on in your life right now – good for you!

    • Pete says:

      Harriet – Well the funny thing is that I do like the French and have supported them in previous World Cups. But not this time. They cheated by scoring a goal after a blatant handball so no support from me. As for Flow, yes I suppose it is common sense, isn’t it. But still helpful to study I imagine. I’d like to know how to get more of those experiences and less of the “just getting through the day” experiences. I imagine I would need to change job-locations for a start.

  6. doctordi says:

    You know, Pete, sometimes I have to wonder if there’s any connection between today’s spiking health/food issues and more people reading the proliferating books about health/food issues… I have to say, the only food books I ever read are recipe books, plain and simple. I don’t spend any time worrying or wondering about my food because I know enough about nutrition to know I have a balanced diet. It just frees me up for enjoying food instead of fretting about it, and I just worry that it’s all going too far. Sorry for the mini-rant!

    I’m glad things are progressing well on the relationship front, too. I’ll also be interested in the positive psychology post.

    • Pete says:

      Di – Yes, I can sort of understand the rant since if your diet is working for you, why meddle with it by reading extra stuff on food and mood? I imagine that reading too much about nutrition might make me anxious about the food I eat, which sort of defeats the purpose. At least when I read a cookbook then I get hungry (and get good ideas). But I was interested to read about slow-release foods and quick-release ones and that when we’re stressed we tend to opt for the quick-release ones. Every now and then I keep a food journal for a day or two and then it becomes far too much work.

      • doctordi says:

        ‘I imagine that reading too much about nutrition might make me anxious about the food I eat, which sort of defeats the purpose’ – EXACTLY, Pete!!! I think this is precisely what happens to people. And it’s just not that hard – think back to the nutrition pyramid of primary school – everything we need to know is there, and nothing has changed. Like, nothing. Same with the slow-release, fast-release stuff – just different types of energy by their old name. Oh, so we’re stressed out at work and hit the lolly jar or vending machine for a sugar hit? No kidding! I think I had a food diary for a couple of days as a teenager of about 13 or 14 – found it a totally crap way to live, as you can probably tell…!!!!

  7. Fugitive Pieces says:

    I’m guessing you heard Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (he wrote ‘Flow’), and kudos to him for succeeding despite a name not designed to trip off the tongue (unless of course you’re Hungarian, and wrestling consonants hold no fear for you). You might also be interested in Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book ‘Smile or Die’, about the hold that positive thinking has acquired in Western culture, and why it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
    Sorry, it sounds like your bookshelves are in the same state as mine – mouse nests in there, as well as in my brain – so the last thing you need is MORE book recommendations! Have another biscuit while you contemplate the problem. I can assure you, Litlove would indeed be pressing more sweet goodies on you; she’s hospitable that way, while remaining admirably sugar-free herself…

    • Pete says:

      Fugitive Pieces – Kudos to you for spelling that name right in the first place! It certainly doesn’t flow off the tongue. And thanks for the recommendation re “Smile or Die”. That would be perfect for my reading right now. But I’ll have to hold off on the book-ordering until my credit card recovers.

      Alas, I’m having a sugar-free day and not loving it. Brain is definitely crying out for some comfort food today.

      • Fugitive Pieces says:

        Csikszentmihalyi? Cut’n’paste, Pete. Believe me, cut’n’paste.
        And please, eat some sugar. There is no benefit to this cleansing malarkey. There is only the sound of your neurons whimpering in the sugarless dark. Litlove will tell you different, but I think her mind is practically a higher power anyway…

  8. effendi says:

    Hey, I feel cheated. Number 10 tells us nothing about yourself. Tell us another thing about yourself to make up for it.

    • Pete says:

      Effendi – Perhaps No 10 says that I’m generally anxious about things such as SA’s chances of scoring a goal in the World Cup. I think there’s also reverse psychology at work there since if I prepare myself for the worst then I will be pleasantly suprised if Bafana do actually manage to score. 36 days to go. Should be fun.

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