Nowhere to hide

That first picture? What I did capture of the fairy tale/computer game colours the other morning.
Oh and because there have been quite a couple questions about this I want to clarify: 1) the new job is in Cape Town and 2) we just need to get the work permit transferred to the new employer. Not an ‘issue’ so much as a ‘to-do.’
I don’t really believe in superstition; and that’s a good thing. I’ll admit to some annoyance at circumstances from time to time. My gym bag got stolen out of my car a few days ago, which is such a hassle and sadly, the stuff in there is surely worth way more to me than any resale value, but more than that: I get annoyed with myself when I get annoyed at other things. It’s a vicious cycle. But every cloud does have a silver lining: I’m going back to the States soon so I get to pick between new Nike and Adidas lifting shoes. Life could be worse.  
I just need to slow the hell down sometimes. Haste makes waste. Moving too fast leads to sloppy thinking and/or sloppy execution.
Monday’s lunch at Loading Bay hammered this one home: you don’t make big mistakes twice (hopefully). And the value of some good lessons is sometimes only learned in retrospect. Joe Gagnon kept yammering on at Exit41 about finding a “niche in an ecosystem.” At Babson, they described this as figuring out where you fit in the value chain. Figure out you’re core business, outsource & partner for the rest. Yup.
I feel like I’m standing in the corner of a dark room and I know I need to assemble a 3D puzzle but I can’t see all the pieces, or even how big the room is. But, I’m starting to be able to feel the light switch. It’s an odd feeling whenever you switch jobs; where you are so consciously incompetent that it’s frustrating. You want to make a difference NOW, but you know that you don’t know enough to.
The outpouring of love and support from all my various friends & acquaintances has been amazing, and you can tell it’s genuine by the looks on people’s faces when I tell them what I’m up to next. I think quite a few of them go through the same mental gymnastics I did. My first response was something along the lines of: “You want me to WHAT? Huh. Ok, yeah, sure. Sounds like fun.” We all know that I have a twisted idea of fun though. It’s fun that it came just in time for my birthday, too. Flowers, chocolates, and a heck of a lot of responsibility. Well, oh well, I signed up for this and I’m already having a blast!
Saturday was a lesson in contrasts as in the space of one day I had two extremes of experience, at two places I had never been. The first was the taxi rank above Cape Town train station. I was walking through, which was a first in my over two years in Cape Town. I mean … I have money, and a car, so why on earth would I go there?
I got one of those electric shocks like ‘this is totally something out of a dystopian movie.’ Except that I am, of course, the protagonist in my own life and I live on the right side of the tracks. But for one split second I had a glimpse of what my life would be like had I been born on the wrong side: this is where you queue to crowd in with a zillion other people to return home to the shacks where you all live. The smell of poverty? Urine, mixed with pheromones, and not of the romantic variety.
The second was that night at Orphanage Cocktail Emporium, a place I’d driven by a ton of times when coming home from the martial arts studio (not the time you really want to stop into a bar for a quick one!!). It was Justin Stanford’s birthday, and a black & white 1920s themed party at that. So I got to play dress-up. The best part was trying to do classic flapper-style makeup. But, I did get a compliment from the birthday boy on my outfit. Love love LOVE Justin … I mean, he was drinking champagne from the bottle with a straw.
Met some interesting people too, from a buyer at Pick’n’Pay to the infamous metabolic testing startup that I keep hearing about with great interest. I will say this; Justin could have picked better weather for his party. Damn; even at the Biscuit Mill people were running for cover! It went from pouring cats & dogs to sunny back to pouring.
Again, one of those odd ‘Is this really my life? How did I get to Cape Town, with all these people with strange accents, and I’m now doing WHAT?’ The best was when someone was relaying a funny story and the story was English but the dialog was probably 50% English, 20% Xhosa, and 30% Afrikaans, and I was able to catch almost all of it. I have been here a while and as much as I do feel like a foreigner sometimes, I suppose I’m becoming a bit of a local in a way. I don’t like to go out in winter any more, and I am starting to think of Stellenbosch as being ‘far.’
I suppose I was, and am still, having a bit of what-have-I-done-it is, mixed with just a sense of digging in, maybe. It’s all fun & games until it’s not and with this new job I’m no longer kidding when I joke that I’m not going anywhere. It has also shifted my priorities in that all of a sudden, my complete ineptitude at kipping handstand pushups suddenly seems much less important in the grand scheme of things.
I was good though; didn’t stay out too late. I had broken my training fast earlier in the day which felt nice, and more of the same on Sunday. It is SO cool to be able to lift without noticing my back at all. I was even doing some moderately heavy deadlifts [carefully]. Monday morning I took a friend to CrossFit and I was happy that firstly I hit a new front squat max (2kgs only) but it wasn’t even a max because I was afraid to go heavier than a heavy safe lift lest I strain my back. Good news? I didn’t strain my back in the slightest. Bad news? I obviously should have gone heavier.
An anecdote that will amuse my CrossFit friends: I had been training on the weekend but only strength stuff; so when I got to the gym Monday morning that was my first proper CrossFit-style workout for about two weeks. It was ¼ Angie: 25 pullups 25 pushups 25 situps 25 air squats. When Coach Andrew turned on the clock for the 10 second countdown I literally let out a squeal of excitement. Apparently I like training THAT much.
Not sure I felt the same on the second workout of my birthday when somehow I was missing wall ball reps and wanted to quit the workout in round #2 (out of 5). Seriously, that issue I was having a few months back of not pushing myself at least very close to the limit each workout? Not having that problem any more.
Monday: a kind of wild morning, catch up lunch that turned into a potential for business development (cuz that’s Cape Town, baby), and then another awesome meeting with Greenpop in the afternoon. I love those guys, and I’m super happy with the discussions that we’re having and work that we’re doing. I’m happy to be helping catalyse the discussions but also help with deliverables.
My birthday was my unofficial first day on the new job but I didn’t go into the office yet, and instead did some admin, remote offsite work, and had a meeting with one of the people I’ll be working with. It was good to see that my plans of where I wanted to spend my time (and where I do not) aligned with her thinking. That evening after the dreadful workout that made me want to curl up and die I went to &Union to watch the solo debut of Motheo Moleko.
What a great birthday gift for me, to see someone perform really well at something he clearly loves? And to have a bunch of my best friends come and join me that evening for some gluten-free chocolate cake? Usually I don’t like birthdays but this one I felt overwhelming love and it’s a good feeling right about now. I also met some interesting new people, as is pretty much always the case at &Union. It’s like the Cheers of Cape Town in that it’s impossible to go there without seeing someone you know, but the chances of meeting some new interesting people are also quite high. In this case, it involved a guy who was trying to persuade me that I was a semi-pro CrossFitter sponsored by Reebok (we got onto the subject by talking about deadlifts), and it’s not every day that you can talk circles around me. But he was cheating a little bit as an ex-Springbok sevens player. Not fair. But, these things make me smile.
Finally booked my tickets back to the U.S.; I leave on 29 September (arrive in New York laaaate on 30 September), and return 22 October (again depart NYC late on the 20th). The exact schedule in between I am not yet sure.  
In other news, it’s still DAMNED cold, but you can see that spring is coming. The light is changing, and the trees are starting to bud out. Which is cool and all …. But I’m almost more mentally preparing for my U.S. trip and autumn. I am not sure the next time I’ll go back; it’s going to be a bit harder to up and leave Cape Town for extended stretches after this. But I’m also really looking forward to what I have planned for this trip.
The problem with expectations? The same as with attachment. Sometimes you get disappointed. But I was thinking about it recently; if you don’t form attachments you don’t regret loss. But if you don’t form attachments, what do you really have to hold onto?
And, related: is it a good thing or a bad thing to have strong attachments to people who are far away from you? In some ways it’s hard, but it beats the alternative. Right? Longing, nostalgia …. Those are autumn emotions. What are autumn emotions? Football emotions. What are football emotions? Love, excitement in the pit of your stomach, air that stings your nose with cold when you breathe in.
Ok, if you haven’t figured it out by now: I’m ready for some football.  
  • “Welcome to the family.” – Justin
  • “80% of them fail that test.” – Keet
  • “When I feel like I’m about to pass out is probably a good time to stop training.” – Dale
  • “When you take a really big bite, and you don’t think you might choke, you’re probably not paying attention.” – Amy
  • “There’s nowhere to hide.” – Amy
  • “Oh, so you like to figure out how things are going to work.” – Jess
  • “The biggest hindrance I think is hierarchy of needs.” – Jeremy
  • “I don’t know how some people talk so much!” – woman in Virgin Active
  • “I think I’m going to throw up.” “Happy birthday, Ellie!” – Ellie & Coach Chris


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