Forcing Drama on a Story

5 09 2011

Glimpse has re-published my first piece that was earlier featured on Matador.  Day to day in Riempi: Life in a South African township.  Same essay, different name.

Additionally, my editor from Glimpse has chosen that essay about living in Riemvasmaak for her column detailing the editorial process.

Check out the Glimpse Editorial Blog.

It’s a bit embarrassing to have a first draft published with mistakes highlighted and discussed, but it is indicative of the struggle I went through with this piece, and Sarah’s perspective on the other side.  She has invited me to post a response, which I hope to do in the near future…





“Notes from RVO 337” published at Matador

22 03 2011

I don’t use Twitter, so maybe this happens to everybody, all the time.  To me, however, it is unique: I have never been tweeted about (at least that I know of), or done anything of note that someone felt must be known–at 140 words or less–immediately.  I’ve never had twitter significance…er…twitter-ifigance .  Until today.

@Dahveed_Miller:

writing from places ppl romanticize or ignore, anything but having the balls to go live: Notes from RVO 337 http://t.co/OkU7TxG

The editor of Matador, an online magazine for independent travel writing, just published one of my pieces.  And I learned about it from a tweet.  I feel uber-hip.

Click here for the story…

Special thanks to my Dad for final editing.





My new home

14 09 2010

I spent yesterday afternoon meeting with the Community Committee of Riemvasmaak, my new neighborhood in Port Elizabeth.  It is a four year old informal settlement, meaning that the occupants lack title and deed to the land, but are working diligently to receive it.   The name, Riemvasmaak, means “to tighten your belt,” signifying a knack for survival that one can immediately see in each member of the committee.

As I sat on a couch at the home of the man they call “Pastor,” enjoying pineapple Fanta (tastes like a lifesaver), I laughed jovially with everyone else as the committee considered my situation in a combination of Afrikaans, Xhosa, and English.  Everyone I met was the epitome of caring and supportive; they seem as excited to have me in their community as I am to be there.

After subtle twists and turns of conversations and gestures, I was informed that I would be staying “under,” which apparently meant down the hill on the far side of the community.  (Far is relative, there are only about 1500 people in Riemvasmaak; it’s probably a 5 minute walk).  A young man entered the room and introduced himself as Thabiso, my new housemate.

Thabiso built the shack himself.  It consists of one room, wallpapered with old newspaper, very convenient if you can’t sleep at night.  The floor was a sturdy plastic and supported two pieces of furniture, a full-size (?) bed and a small couch.  There are two outhouses with a unique, minimalist twist: three walls and no roof.  Water is from a tap a few minutes down the road.

I officially move in to my new digs this afternoon.  My current emotions are the standard ones: excited and apprehensive, just like anyone making a move to a new living situation with new people and new challenges.

More will follow, but probably very slowly, as I’ll be lacking electricity, much less internet access.  Thanks for your thoughts and prayers…