Operation Oysterhood: 5 February

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

I am calling it the Zondo Depression. Every day we hear more depressing/shocking testimonies from the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture and it is hard not to despair. Add pandemic, corruption, incompetence, loadshedding and tea with Zuma, who is blatantly in the middle of it all and refuses to take any kind of responsibility, and you start wondering how anyone is getting up from bed in the morning (if they still have a bed, that is).

I managed eventually at around eight, made coffee, read, and started work. Just before noon, I finished one assignment I’d planned for today and had a decent swim. Somewhere in the middle of it, I decided to gather all the books I have published as either author or (co)editor – I desperately needed tangible evidence that I can do these things. (There is nothing logical about doubt.) When I posted a picture of the books on Twitter, Pumla Dineo Gqola kindly replied, saying, ‘I do sometimes wonder whether you have a clone under your bed, Karina.’ And then it hit me: my clone is AWOL. I wrote in response: ‘Thank you, Pumla! You have identified the source of my identity crisis: Karinaclone has had enough & abandoned me – that is why I’m struggling all alone now, wearing too many hats at the same time & sometimes forgetting that in the deepest corners of my heart I am a writer.’

I run an independent press, a literary trust and a local literary award (watch out for the announcement of this year’s winner tomorrow!); I am one of the board directors and the business manager for a literary magazine and a board member for an African literary prize; I constantly edit other people’s work for all kinds of projects, including Karavan Press, of course. Yes, I do write. Every day. But not always as much as I want to and not always what is burning inside me. And I think that maybe that is what is weighing so heavily on me. And it doesn’t always help to remind myself that what I do is extremely rewarding (even if totally underpaid) and I couldn’t ask for a better mission in life (because money, as we know, does not guarantee happiness, but books DO).

I am tired. I have been tired for a long time.

The good news is that a friend wrote last night to say that, if all goes well, she will be in Cape Town next year and just the idea of her being here makes me smile. Today was another dear friend’s birthday – she lost her home during the lockdown, but has found a new one and will be all right.

And, despite everything, I am gradually wrapping up a few projects (I am behind deadlines, but people are being patient and kind); there is light at the end of the professional tunnel. I got a lot done today.

And my love and I are discovering UCOOK. Tonight, Icooked vegetarian tacos. They were also easy to make and delicious. (But I think I prefer mince to quinoa in my tacos.)

Tacos bring back a lot of memories from the time my family and I still lived in the States. It was so long ago and yet, every time I bite into a taco, I am transported back in time. And it feels good to indulge in positive connotations in relation to the US. It is astounding what a difference two weeks of decent people working in the White House can do for the ease of mind of the rest of the world (generally, I mean – former KGB foreign intelligence officers might be of a different opinion).

Yet, who knows who the Tangerine Troll is having tea with …

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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