So… we are back in Johannesburg after 7 fabulous months in Cape Town, 2 months of road-tripping around the United States… and 6 weeks of roaming the Karoo, Hoedspruit and the Garden Route.

We’re back in Joburg for work:  namely – Nick’s latest film… which requires him to be here… in this city… for 3 months.  And we are all here with him because… as much as we love Cape Town (and other beautiful places)… we love Nick more… and being away from him (while he commuted on the past film) was difficult for the kids and I.

Here’s a round-up of the good and the bad news of the past 3 weeks:

The Bad News:

  • I’m suffering Cape Town withdrawal symptoms.  Actually no…  I think I’m just suffering from general travel-&-explore withdrawal symptoms.  I really hate having to return to the Sameness of Joburg.  It’s achingly familiar… and I don’t find familiarity and sameness comforting.  I find it limiting, boring and frustrating.  Yes, I could probably do with an attitude adjustment – but right now, I’m finding it tough.
  • I’ve been sick for 3 weeks with a wheezy chest cold that has only just started easing.  I don’t know what brought it on… (perhaps submerging myself into Joburg’s smoggy pollution after enjoying 7 months of fresh sea air!).  I visited the doctor… who prescribed antibiotics and other pills… which did nothing for me – except bring on horrendous depression and (this is a first for me) a full-blown anxiety attack.  I don’t know whether the depression and anxiety was as a result of moving back to the dull routine of Joburg… or whether it was because I was feeling physically sick… or whether it was because of the dodgy meds… or a combination of all of the above.  But nonetheless, I have been feeling VERY unlike myself of late.  And I don’t like this feeling.  At all.
  • I’ve also been feeling like a bit of a hypochondriac (also very unlike me).  I’ve been having all these dark, doom-brooder thoughts about how I’m going to end up dying before I’ve truly LIVED.  And every ache… pain… or bruise on my body… leads me to instantly think things like “Cancer!”… “Heart disease!”… “Fatal affliction!!!”… “Death-coming-soon!!!”…  I mean, WTF???  This is (so!) not like me!!!  What is Joburg doing to my head??
  • All 4 are of are currently squashed in to the tiny garden cottage of our old Joburg home (which is currently rented out to the awesome geeks of Dee-Twenty).  It is not an ideal situation.  I would be able to manage the garden cottage situation if we just *lived* here…  but Nick needs to work here too!  And productivity is impossible when all of us are home…  so I need to make sure that the kids and I leave the cottage every day so that Nick is able to work.  And – of course – it’s not like Joburg has the…. options… that Cape Town has (for curious, energetic kids!).  It’s not like Joburg has beaches… and wine farms… and mountain trails… and a gazillion things to do.
  • We were planning to rent a furnished apartment in Joburg… for the 3 months (and Nick would continue living in the cottage).  But finding a furnished cottage…  (with landlords prepared to sign a 3 month lease – and no more) has been harder than what I anticipated.  Joburg doesn’t have a lot of short-term, furnished accommodation options… and the stuff they do have – called “Executive Apartments” – is outrageously expensive.  Just on principle – I flatly refuse to pay the same amount of money for a small, shitty apartment with shiny floor tiles, fake bullrushes in urns and orange chintz scatter-cushions…  I refuse to pay the same amount (for that) as what we paid for the Misty Cliffs Beach House.  Beautiful… beautiful… Misty Cliffs 3 bedroomed beach house with pool… for the same amount of money for a bling’esque Sandton apartment?  No!  I refuse!  I’d rather stay squashed in our garden cottage.

Here’s some garden-cottage pictures:

Our weeny-weeny kitchen...

Our weeny-weeny kitchen…

Looking through the kitchen serving-hatch onto the lounge / TV room / living room / Nick's studio space...

Looking through the kitchen serving-hatch onto the lounge / TV room / living room / Nick’s studio space…

The bedroom… where all 4 of us are currently sleeping...

The bedroom… where all 4 of us are currently sleeping…

The Good News:

  • The main bit of good news about Joburg (which will always be the thing I love most) – is that it’s close to our family and very dear friends.  I have loved catch-up time.  I’m really not nuts about Joburg itself…  but… the people in Joburg are another matter entirely.
  • More good news is that… in spite of the compressed discomfort of the cottage… what it means is this:  It saves us money!  And where do we plan to invest this saved money?  Why, another road trip, of course!   (December & January… country to be confirmed… but probably in Europe).  The December road trip is currently my light at the end of the tunnel.  Whenever the dark clouds of depression come rolling in, I just keep thinking:  “Keep your eyes on the Road Trip, Heather!  Keep your eyes on the travel!”
  • More good news is that I’ve just scooped a really big illustration job for a big international client.  Best of all – the illustrations themselves are on the subject of things I feel passionate about (i.e.: I’m not rolling turds in glitter).
  • And… more good news… is that I’ve discovered an awesome Learning Centre (a mere 10 minute drive away from our cramped-cottage).  It’s run by a group of people passionate about encouraging children to discover their talents and strengths… and to discover (without forcing or coercion) what they’re genuinely passionate about and interested in.  For a monthly fee, I can drop Morgan and Joah at the Learning Centre… whenever I want – and there’s loads of things for them to do:  art classes, music lessons, book club, maths club, robotics club, soccer club, jewellery-making, swimming, Ec0-Warriors club, drama classes (and so much more)…  plus endless recourses which they can choose to use (or not).  Books, games, art materials, computers & games, outdoor jungle gym… etc.  Oh – and a wide range of children (of all ages and from all backgrounds).  Homeschoolers go… unschoolers go… and children (from local schools) also attend after school for help with homework or for specific tutoring.  It’s a gem of a find for us.  The kids have been attending for 2 weeks now – and they love it.  So – for now – it’s a nice arrangement and change of pace (for the kids) for the next 3 months.

As I type this, I’m sitting in a lovely little coffee shop called Petits Fours.  I’m working on a few illustrations and Nick is back at the cottage, editing.  The kids are at their cousins for the weekend.  Last night was Cousin Danni’s “Disco Party” for her 7th birthday – and the kids stuffed their faces with cupcakes, danced the night away, enjoyed a night-picnic… and sang karaoke.  Happy kidlets.

Nick and I enjoyed a rare date-night last night… just the two of us… and managed to squash in a dinner, a theatre production (starring our friend, James), after-show chat with James… AND… dessert at the Haagen Dazs shop… AND a late night movie (all good news)…  followed by feelings of inexplicable misery (bad news)… and all sorts of out-of-the-blue, completely irrational fears that “Something Bad” was going to happen (more bad news)…

I fell asleep next to Nick… feeling uneasy and offish… and just… very NOT like my (usually optimistic) self.

I hate feeling like that.  I hate not feeling in control of my head!!!

A few posts back – I mentioned my personalities.  Well…  it feels like the Doom Brooder has escaped her cage in the attic…. and taken over my head.

The rest of us are working hard to gain control again.

Okay.  Random, strange post done.  I’m going to order a freshly squeezed carrot, apple & ginger juice.  And draw.