Through the Looking Glass

P1010840This post describes probably one of the most stressful days of my life. This all happened on Monday, 5th February 2007, I call it black Monday.

Before I launch into it, I want to make it clear that I am fine, mentally, physically and emotionally. I am taking care of myself. I also want to explain that it does seem as though I am making myself out to be a martyr here. Sometimes it feels that way, but really all I am trying to do is to do the “right thing”. Exactly what the “right thing” entails is complex and ever-changing.

Stephen spent the weekend with his parents so that he could spend time with his aunt & uncle who had come down for a visit. I met his relatives too, that’s a story in and of itself. That Monday morning I went to work with a fully charged phone, just in case things went wrong. I sent Stephen an encouraging text message, because I was worried about him, and settled in to work.

Continue reading Through the Looking Glass

Twelve Steps

12stepsI think I may have mentioned that Stephen is a writer. It’s his only passion in life and the only thing he currently seems to have any motivation to do. He recently finished a short story and self-published it online using a service called “Lulu”. It’s a dark story, based on Stephen’s actual life story. If you ever get a chance to read it, the bits that seem so outrageous, so scary that they must be fiction are most likely true, it’s the mundane things that he embellished.

You can get a preview of the first chapter here. If you want a copy and you’re in New Zealand, you don’t need to get a physical copy, you can get a downloaded copy for just a few bucks. It’s not the sort of book I would usually read, it’s too dark for me, it smacks of fight club in that it deals with mental illness, among other things.

It’s both interesting and scary that the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech shootings was an English major and also wrote dark stories. The difference is, Cho Seung-Hui simply wasn’t treated.

Tornado Warning

Hail ProtectionOk, I have a confession to make: I love storms. One of the things I miss the most about South Africa is the extravagant lightning storms we were treated to. The full black clouds hanging ominously overhead, while fork lightning strikes the ground to the dissonant rapport of the thunder. I also love the sound of wind and rain, especially if I am cuddled up warm in bed.

Imagine my delight, then, when Mark from a few doors down ran out of his apartment and yelled at me: tornado warning for here, right now, best get inside!

What was I doing outside in the first place? Well, I was taping blankets and foam onto my beautiful car so as to prevent hail stones from damaging the exterior, of course!

Continue reading Tornado Warning

South Africa Taxi Wars

South African Taxi

This post is about South Africa. I tell many stories of the 18 years I lived in South Africa, most of which is true. Possibly one of the most bizarre tales I have to tell is of the South African taxis.

A “Taxi” is not really a taxi in the traditional sense of the word. It’s actually a hi-ace kombi van, designed to seat about 15 people, plus the driver. South African taxi drivers are well renowned for their selective application of the road code and their proclivity for dangerously overloading their taxis. It’s not uncommon to see a broken down beat-up old vehicle with almost no suspension, tailgate scraping on the tarmac and the door opening automatically, not due to any clever electronics, but courtesy of the fact that it is tied on with rope (I have seen this).
The image above is borrowed with permission from Mike Gerhardt (flickr).

Continue reading South Africa Taxi Wars


TimberlawnThis happened on Friday, February 2nd 2007.

This is a continuation from Triage.

We awoke at 7:30am on Friday and I drove Stephen in to Timberlawn in Mesquite. As luck would have it, this place was across the road from Stephen’s mental health clinic, the MHMR (mental health, mental retardation) clinic of Mesquite. We were planning on going there anyway to talk to his case worker and pick up his new prescription.

I guess at this time I was thinking: “yes, these are the professionals, they can fix him. They will know what’s wrong with him and fix him, just like a car.”

Continue reading DeathSTAR


Sonic Fast food restaurantWell, you may remember how much I enthused about America’s infatuation with their cars. The fact remains, they have rubbish bins specially designed so you can throw stuff out of your car as you drive by. They have drive-through ATMs, where you can not only do ATM banking but service all your other banking needs from the air-conditioned convenience of your automobile.

I recently experienced yet another aspect of this car-ridden culture. A cultural icon in its own right: Sonic. Continue reading Sonic


Medical BraceletThis happened on 1st February 2007.

This is a continuation of madness takes its toll.

I met with a drowsy Stephen and his mother when they pulled up to their house. I was obviously buzzing at a hundred miles an hour. I wanted to take him straight to his psychiatrist and get him checked out. Like a car I guess. He was broken and he needed to be fixed… right away!

His mother was not so sure. As I have mentioned before, she was more comfortable with pretending there was no problem at all than dealing with it. At my insistence, Stephen called the clinic but didn’t get through. His mother called and she spoke to a nurse.

Continue reading Triage