October 13, 2012
by Robin
1 Comment

Muppets Getting Married

There are TWO, count ‘em: TWO weddings happening in my immediate circle of so-close-we’re-family friends, which we refer to as The Muppets for ease (and because we are actually more or less a ragtag gang of unpredictable cabaret performers).

I know I’ve shared this video before, and I’m guessing I’ll share it again. DEAL!

First up, literally moments ago in Edinburgh, Scotland, my dear friend Regina married her love Bob. If you missed how adorable they are, check out the special episode of the HitchDieds in Cape Town Podcast they joined me in recording.

Between the smallness, distance, and coincidental timing of Regina’s wedding, none of the Muppets could be there to celebrate with Reg and Bob, so we made them a “we’re thinking of you and love you” wedding present from afar. And it’s pretty fucking amazing:

Abby Fudor, one of my partners in Frankly Scarlett crime and general life awesomeness, conceptualized, organized the compilation of, and busted her ass to edit this video. As you can see, she got friends old and new from around the world to lip dub their love for Regina and their congratulations to Bob for landing such a fantastic lady. There are a million inside jokes in there, obviously, but I’m pretty sure that it transcends them and is just a flat out amazing celebration of love and friendship.

Then, on Sunday, my friend Ben will marry his long-time love Lauren. You may remember Ben and Lauren from the guest post Ben wrote about his freaking amazing proposal story (also featuring a video edited by Abby Fudor! She’s like Martin Scorsese over here).

Photo by Ben’s Best Man, Lou Stein

I remember Ben from ten years of having a funny, fun, caring, wise, and wickedly smart friend. Ben taught me how to drive a car. Ben helped me survive law school (and CORRECTLY AND WISELY told me to not go in the first place). Ben is my big brother. And Lauren is the person who has made him the happiest in all the time I’ve known him. (And as I’ve drunkenly told her at a million parties, she’s just THE BEST and I’d probably want to be her friend even if she weren’t dating one of my BFFs, which goes TRIPLE DOUBLE for Collin, who used to zero in on Lauren at parties so they could talk science and academia and get a break from the rest of us weirdos.)

I am lucky enough to be able to attend Ben and Lauren’s wedding, and honored to be co-delivering one of the seven blessings in traditional Jewish ceremonies. I can’t wait to send those two off to a lifetime of eternal bliss. In fact, I can’t wait, I am getting picked up in 25 minutes to help haul centerpieces to the venue.

So in summary: HAPPY WEDDING to Regina and Bob and Ben and Lauren. My heart is overflowing with joy for you guys.

October 8, 2012
by Robin
1 Comment

HitchDieds in Cape Town Podcast Episode 18

This week’s episode runs a little shorter than normal because I’m too busy getting ready to go back to America (I leave tomorrow!!!) to a) have interesting things to talk about b) talk about non-interesting things.

00:00 Intro
00:30 Getting ready for Robin’s trip back to the US
02:20 Discussion of South African pizza, which is delicious, although I’m definitely looking forward to eating good old fashioned American pizza next week
03:08 Date night marred by a broken beer glass

06:20 This discussion of the extent to which Damon Wayanses Sr. and Jr. resemble each other is the kind of boring crap I normally edit out, but this episode ran short, so enjoy it!
07:41 We returned to the Bay Harbour Market at Hout Bay, which was deserted because who goes to an indoor marketplace on a beautiful day?
08:44 Collin was able to actually join his gym without any discussion of his religious beliefs
09:26 Worrying about missing each other when we’re apart for the next three weeks
09:52 But you don’t have to worry about missing this podcast, because we have some special episodes ready for you
10:58 Preview of one of those special episodes!!
11:11 Outro
11:40 EXTRA BIT!

October 4, 2012
by Robin

Squirrel Proof that Marriage Changes You

When I couldn’t sleep as a child, my dad would tell me to “pretend to be a squirrel.” The thinking was that squirrels have such boring lives that I’d fall asleep by the sixth or seventh acorn. He was right. Even after I saw The Sword in the Stone, my imagination couldn’t cook up too much about being a squirrel that was worth staying up for.

The other night, Collin and I both woke up in the middle of the night (maybe there was an earthquake or something) and couldn’t fall back asleep for hours. I told him about the squirrel trick. And he RUINED IT.

Collin, you see, loves animals. Even squirrels. So when he started imagining being a squirrel, Collin got REALLY EXCITED.

“Oh my god, I would get those little nuts, what are those called, the ones with the little hats on them? I would get a bunch of them and hide them all in one place. But I would eat some of them too. Or maybe I would eat an apple and spin it around really fast when I chew on it. I saw a squirrel doing that when I was in undergrad and it was super cutie.”

“Collin, this is not how this game works.”

“Oh, and when people walked up to me, I would do THIS.” (He spreads his arms out, stiffens up, and darts his eyes back and forth.) “Squirrels LOVE that move.”

“You’re destroying my childhood.”

“I don’t understand how this helped you sleep.”

“Because squirrels are boring to me! Run down a power line, jump to a tree, eat a nut. Repeat.”

“Maybe Hitchcock squirrels. Diedrich squirrels have cutie little squirrel adventures. Like maybe while the squirrel was sitting up in a tree the tree gets chopped down by a lumberjack and he has to try out being a flying squirrel to survive…”

Several hours later, without the help of imagined squirreldom, I finally fell asleep again.

Last night, I was in a sour mood. Collin asked what he could do to help, “Chocolate? Squeezes? Cute pictures of baby squirrels?”


“Hitchcocks say squirrels help you sleep; Diedrichs say squirrels make you happy.” Then he showed me this picture:

And I admit, it made me smile.

“Can you think of any baby animal cuter than THAT?”

“Challenge accepted” I said.

This turned into a game of one-upsmanship, attempting ever-escalating cuteness in Google Image search results.  Collin refused to accept the harsh truth that mammals have the advantage in this game, but pulled out some upset victories:

And what do you know, a few baby animals later my bad mood was completely vanquished.  Let me say this again: cute animals made me feel happier.

Marriage changes you.

October 1, 2012
by Robin

HitchDieds in Cape Town Podcast Episode 17

00:00 Intro
00:23 We didn’t do much during the week because it took us a while to recover from Braai Day.
00:45 We went to our new friend September’s “Fancy Dress” Party, and suffered much angst about the appropriate attire.

05:00 As it turns out, it’s not that big a deal to not wear a costume to a costume party in South Africa.
05:50 We crack up over something that is not very funny.
07:35 We give props to September and Ross’s brilliant-though-probably-unsanitary strategy of giving all their guests a straw necklace so we could drink straight from the punch jugs.
09:01 Discovering box cocktail “Mojito” that tasted exactly like Ecto Cooler, aka, DELICIOUS DANGER
10:12 We conquered Lion’s Head on our second try climbing it.

12:25 Incident at the Eastern Food Bazaar
13:45 You should listen to our friend Addi’s new podcast Add It Up!
14:08 We’re still looking for listener questions to answer for a special edition podcast to help us get through the time I’m in the States later this month
15:03 Sign-off & homework assignment
15:31 Extra bit

September 25, 2012
by Robin

HitchDieds in Cape Town Podcast Episode 16

Thanks for waiting guys, here’s your Special Heritage Day edition of the podcast!

00:00 Intro
00:30 Just in case this isn’t OBVIOUS: we were drunk when we recorded this.
01:04 Collin whines about missing his cats. Admittedly, there are pretty cuun:

01:22 Long tangent about 1980s horror/scifi.
02:44 Wilford Brimley is still with us, don’t worry.
03:30 I have become addicted to Blogilates videos.
04:40 Sorry, family, for this information.
05:26 We went to San Julian, which is apparently the only “real” Mexican restaurant in Cape Town. It was TOP NOTCH, but we’re so homesick and longing for Mexican food we’d drink the sand.
06:53 I think “Chevy Chase is an asshole” is like the opposite of Godwin’s Law.
07:34 A beergarita is achieved by adding a shot of tequila and some margarita mix (or lime juice in a pinch) to a glass of beer. It is DELICIOUS. But it results in this kind of nonsense, so proceed with caution.
08:40 I had a wacky experience at the local art house movie theater, the Labia (tee hee).
10:54 The reason all my phrases sound like questions here is because I’m so drunk I am worried I’m using the wrong words to describe things.
12:27 I went to a women’s writing workshop run by Jen Thorpe. Check out her amazing project, My First Time SA! I get really sappy about it.
15:09 We say we’re going to wrap it up five minutes before the podcast actually ends.
15:24 Collin had a wacky experience trying to join a gym, and he almost coherently explains it, to my surprise.
18:10 Finally, the sign-off.
18:23 EXTRA BIT! God help us, it’s just a catchy tune.

September 24, 2012
by Robin

Unpacking Heritage Day

There’s not going to be a new edition of the podcast today because it is a three-day weekend here in South Africa. [Don't worry, there will be a special holiday (read: intoxicated) edition of the podcast recorded later today and put up sometime on Tuesday!]

Meanwhile, we’re trying to sort out how to feel about Heritage Day, with South Africa celebrates today, other than, “yay! Day off!” It’s a pretty loaded day off. The following summary is cobbled together from Wikipedia entries and scattered South African blog posts:

In the Bad Old Days of South African history, the homeland KwaZulu celebrated 24 September (that’s how you write dates here, which confuses me every time I have to give my date of birth at the pharmacy) as Shaka Day. When the government reformed after Apartheid, Shaka Day was not on the list of public holidays, which upset some Zulu members of parliament. The compromise was to mark the 24th of September as “Heritage Day”, where all South Africans could celebrate their personal backgrounds that contribute to this “Rainbow Nation.”

Trouble is, nowadays “Heritage Day” is more commonly known as “Braai Day”, meaning a day to grill food. Which seems… more than a little gauche:

I think this is what those crazed Fox News commentators are always going on about with the “War on Christmas”? Having a meaningful holiday reduced to something as silly as meat cooked on fire is pretty insulting.

Regardless, we’re going to have a braai today, probably with some “American Hot Dog Sausages” which I guess celebrates our heritage. In the meantime, for my handful of South African readers, I’d love to hear what you think about Heritage Day/Braai Day!

I wonder if immigrants to the US are this confused on Columbus Day.

September 17, 2012
by Robin

HitchDieds in Cape Town Podcast Episode 15

Here’s the breakdown of what we yammer on about this week:

00:00 Intro
00:30 I was cooped up in the apartment recovering from my foot injury and lost my mind.
00:46 We watched a lot of bad movies, including Resident Evil 1–4.
01:26 I speak ill of Cool Runnings and Collin objects.
2:05 While we record we have Rightfully Forgotten Patrick Swayze vehicle Next of Kin on mute.
02:36 We went to a dinner party for expats and met a lot of cool people.
03:48 Including a woman who works for Amazon who was thrilled to finally talk to people who understand the greatness of Amazon.com.
04:52 We pause to figure out what is going on in Next of Kin after Helen Hunt gets hit in the face with a tomato.
05:47 Listen to Collin try to say “arrabiata.”
05:58 Date night at the Royale Eatery, which isn’t as good as Salma Hayek says it is.

07:35 In Oregon and several other US states servers have to be paid a minimum wage, so don’t feel terribly guilty if you tip them less than 20%.
08:03 You also can’t pump your own gas in Oregon, or Cape Town for that matter.
8:30 Unexpectedly smooth segue to talking about the weather which is FINALLY WARM
08:48 Collin bad mouths Fahrenheit and I divorce him.
09:20 We took a long walk through Green Point and Sea Point.
09:39 Where we admired the variety of security fences around houses:

10:43 And try to resist the urge to touch the electric fences.
11:40 Shout-outs!
13:04 Sign-off.
13:26 EXTRA BIT!


ALSO! For an upcoming podcast we would like to answer listener questions about our lives in Cape Town.  So if there’s something specific (or general) you’d like to hear us discuss, please sound off in the comments!

September 14, 2012
by Robin

I Haven’t Traveled the World

Last night Collin and I went to a dinner for expats living in Cape Town. This was the first specifically-for-expats event I’ve attended, but it’s far from the first time that I’ve been surrounded by other expats at a social event. I think expats have a tendency to glom together anywhere, grasping at the fake commonality of their otherness. And Cape Town is not a city wanting for transplants.

Last night something struck me that really emphasizes how atypical Collin and I are as Cape Town expats: all of these people have done this before. Conversations kept turning to “well when I was living in Turkey…” or “my semester in Sydney” or “my tour of southeast Asia.” These are all people who LIKE and LIVE world travel instead of suddenly living in Africa for two years when they never thought they’d leave their home country for more than a couple of weeks.

Part of that is because of intercontinental differences. First, Europeans seem to have a far lower threshold for how bougie one needs to be to start feeling compelled to be “well-traveled.” I grew up privileged and we went to the same damn (AWESOME AND PERFECT) lake in Vermont every summer. I always thought of international travel as something for “the rich.” Not so in Europe, especially not in those pesky semi-socialist countries where people have mad vacation days.

It also helps that in Europe, there’s like fifteen countries within spitting distance of any given point (SHUT UP UKRAINE, I’M BEING HYPERBOLIC FOR COMEDIC EFFECT). I’ve been to 36 of the United States! I’ve covered over 5,000 unique miles of American road!


But my affinity for domestic travel is not just because of America’s gigantosity or my personal life goal to visit all 50 states. It’s because America is easy. America stays pretty much the same. The worst thing you have to deal with is navigating the boundaries of the McDonald’s mustard zone. (Craters of the Moon National Monument, SEE ABOVE MESSAGE TO UKRAINE).

I just don’t have the travel bug. I enjoy traveling when I do it, but I have to be pushed to do it. I have to make life goals that encourage me to explore the world. I had to force myself out of the Amsterdam airport when I had a ten-hour layover there. It seems like your average expat purposefully plans their trip to have a ten-hour layover so they can put another pushpin in their world map (Although let’s be honest: if I had one of those on the reals, I would travel more, just for the satisfaction of PUSHING PINS).

My lack of natural interest in traveling is a problem not only because it gives me less to talk about with other expats trading backpacking anecdotes, but because I think it underlies a lot of the emotional problems I’ve been having since we arrived in Cape Town. (Heck, since we decided to move to Cape Town). Everyone says, “Oh it’s such an adventure” and of course there are times when it feels that way. When we climbed Devil’s Peak, I stopped and looked around at the vegetation along the trail and said, “I never thought I would be anywhere like this” and had a genuine moment of pure “well isn’t life a wonderful adventure of mystery?”1 satisfaction.

But most of the time it doesn’t feel like an adventure, it just feels like life, life minus all the comforts of home. And that makes me feel like I have the worst attitude in the world, and I start feeling guilty, and I start thinking about all the South Africans whose home is here and short on “comfort” because it is made out of scrap wood and metal, and I feel even more guilty, and how did I get into this particular pit of despair and shame from my original point of feeling INADEQUATELY BOUGIE?

Maybe because if I were a proper globe-trotter like all my fellow expats I would have engaged in enough poverty tourism at this point to be desensitized. Ugh, the world sucks. So why travel it?

Do you have the travel bug? Do you have a way to fake it? Or perhaps a map to get me out of my poor little rich girl shame spiral?

1Can’t take credit for that phrase, it’s my brother-in-law Matt’s probably facetious quotation of some Christian skater punks he saw on TV that we agreed perfectly summed up our mother-in-law Viki’s basic worldview.

September 10, 2012
by Robin
1 Comment

HitchDieds in Cape Town Podcast Episode 14

00:00 Intro
00:43 “Boy Meat”, “Man kisses,” and a preview of the rest of the content of this week’s podcast
01:10 Cape Malay dinner at Bo-Kaap Kombuis
03:08 Before dinner, I had a bad experience with a beggar and Collin gave him a piece of his mind/dinner, because Collin is a mensch.
09:04 It’s really hard to find a nice formal dress in Cape Town.
10:30 Collin and I have opposite opinions on online shopping, but somehow, our marriage works.
10:40 BOY MEAT
10:57 Or rather, BYOMeat. And our failure to do so.
12:09 Beer-for-Dinner Robin hurt her foot leaving the party and jumped in the pool in her favorite dress when she got home.
13:10 Drobin also talked about how great Collin is at embarrassing length.
14:37 Recap of the lessons of this episode of the podcast.
15:25 Sign-off

September 7, 2012
by Robin
1 Comment

What’s a Chad?

When Collin and I decided to temporarily move out of the United States, we both agreed that our timing was fantastic as we’d avoid the drama and nonsense of a presidential election. As much as I love America, and believe that the bedrock of its greatness is its democratic system, I’ve been burned out on politics ever since [OVERT STATEMENT OF POLITICAL BELIEFS WARNING] George W. Bush got reelected despite demonstrated gross incompetence. I vote every election, even the primaries, but I just can’t get too keyed up about this stuff anymore. In my defense, I started being active in politics before I could even vote, and by time I was 20 years old, every candidate I’d ever worked for had lost, and I was just DONE. I’ll vote for you, I’ll make some paltry donations, but you can’t have my time or my enthusiasm just because you are NOT the candidate who thinks I’m not really a human being because I have a uterus. And as long as one of the major parties refuses to acknowledge my status as a real human being, it’s not like I have to waste any time paying attention to the issues to know who to vote for, so why. effing. bother.[/OVERT STATEMENT OF POLITICAL BELIEFS]

So anyway, not being in the States for this election cycle? Definitely a bonus of our crazy cross-planetary move. [Disregarding the fact that I will be in the US for most of October, when election craziness peaks]. All I really have to do to be in an election-free zen mode is scroll past 100 Facebook updates about politics and 50 Facebook updates asking people to stop using Facebook about politics and then 200 Facebook updates defending the use of Facebook to talk about politics.

The only drawback? Feeling like I’m missing out on cultural unifiers. My dear friend Regina lived in Japan during the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election, and one time in college someone made a joke about a “hanging chad” and we all had a good dated laugh, and she innocently asked, “What’s a chad?” I don’t want this to be me.

So I tried to not entirely shut out the news coming from the conventions. Here’s what I picked up on that might have a lasting impact on pop culture:

  • Clint Eastwood yelled at a chair
  • Tampa, Florida is taking some of the heat from New Jersey as “butt of all jokes”
  • Paul Ryan lied about his marathon time
  • Michele Obama is the classiest and most graceful person on the planet
  • Bill Clinton is still alive

Did I miss anything important?