On this, my family’s last night in South Africa after a 10-month stay, I’m offering this self-indulgent post telling just a few of the things I will miss most about this wonderful country. People switching languages multiple times in a single sentence. Going jogging with dogs that are never on leashes. Mist rising out of … [Read more]
Searching through old files on my computer, I discovered this post I had written over a year ago while on a vacation and never posted. Enjoy. “Time for fun should be part of family living. And it should be jealously preserved. The attitude of levity is extremely important to the psychological health of the family.” … [Read more]
I just read this description of a scientist doing field research in the 1800s: “Wallace plunged into the jungles along the Rio Negro and spent the next four years doggedly collecting specimens. The challenges he faced were numberless. Insects made his life a torment. He broke his glasses, on which he was highly dependent, during … [Read more]
As I live in South Africa, perhaps the most race-aware country in the world, hearing bits of Ferguson-talk from a distance, I can’t help hoping that perhaps, on the bright side of all this, race is actually a gift if we learn read its lesson. The whole idea of “race” is an invention, one of … [Read more]
For the last four months, I’ve sat with dozens of underemployed South Africans talking about work. We talk about the work they dream of doing and the way the world works to keep them from getting that work. I am ever more aware of the very privileged position I have when it comes to work. … [Read more]
Doing life badly, like swimming badly, hurts badly. But it’s easier to check out than fix what causes the hurt.
Last week, as part of my research, I watched over ten hours of Zulu television. In one Idol-style talent show, a young woman sang a remake of a South African song, “I’m Your Weekend Special.” As she smoothed her hands provocatively over her tight dress, declaring herself a “weekend special” without irony, I felt the … [Read more]
This weekend we went to an art festival with booths selling thousands of works of art. I bought a potholder for $2. When I handed the vendor the money, she said quietly, “Thank you. It really helps.” We were there in the closing hours of the festival, and I watched artists packing up their wares: … [Read more]