A personal taste of Nelson de Gouveia

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Best Moments of 2019

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So I've been having trouble trying to write about the best moments of 2019 for myself and my family.

Not because there haven't been any. There's been quite a few I've enjoyed and cherished. I've been proud of the goals I achieved, the people I met and the love I've shared.

Of every other year, this one ended the hardest.

  1. I survived 3 rounds in a boxing match.
  2. We travelled on my honeymoon.
  3. I appeared in a commercial.
  4. I performed my first one-man comedy special.
  5. We got a dog.
  6. I got a guitar.
  7. I got a vasectomy.
  8. I lost my job.
  9. I lost my dad.

1. I survived 3 rounds in a boxing match.

I know that this should be at number two and my honeymoon with my wife should take priority. I believe that to be an amazing husband though, you need to make yourself happy.

I am at my happiest when I've reached a goal, and surviving three rounds in a boxing match qualifies. I trained soon after Christmas, working 9-5 and heading to the gym every evening. It drove Samantha mad with worry.

In March, I stepped into the ring with a fantastic fighter. He was super fit despite being older, and gave me my biggest physical challenge ever. By the end of round 2, we were both exhausted.

On the third round and the final bell rang, I sank to my knees. My lungs were bursting, my muscles screamed and I felt the wave of relief wash over me. It was sensational.

It isn't a challenge I'll take up again, but the lessons I've learnt are life-changing. The focus, the mental discipline and the support received by wonderful people will forever remain with me.

If you'd like to take up training without the machismo attitude, I would recommend The Armoury Boxing Gym in Woodstock. 

2. We travelled on our honeymoon.

I won't lie, I had my doubts about the trip. Seven days on a gulet yacht seemed strange and beyond my threshold of comfort. How wrong I'm glad I was.

If our budget was higher, we would've received a crew with at least minimal English skills. Instead, we had a few quiet deck-hands and a grumpy Turkish captain. He pointed at the map before smoking a cigarette at the tiller, mumbling to himself. Straight out of a story.

If we could've, we would've sailed in a luxury yacht with a spacious room and soft beds. Instead, it was a small cabin, hard mattresses and a wet room. Roughing it.

Had we the luck, we would've been completely alone. Instead, we sailed with the crew, a South African couple and a large group of older Germans. They ate and drank like tomorrow was a distant memory. Conversation fodder.

The waters were blue and warm, the food plentiful and the experience memorable. It could've been better, but it definitely could've been FAR WORSE.

3. I appeared in a commercial.

 Now, this was an exciting goal ticked off from my bucket list. I joined a casting agency at the beginning of the year. I wanted to know if I would be good enough to feature in a commercial, and I was.

The backstory, yet, is funnier.

The morning after the boxing match, I was hungover as sin. I lurched into the casting studios in Loop Street, expecting to say a line and walk out. I had attended a few castings before with no progression, so this one was doomed to failure.

I paired with a younger male, and we acted as if we were pals. We got into our swimming trunks and dived into an imaginary pool. After eating a few chocolates, we moved on.

Don't forget, I was hungover and I just survived a boxing match.

Cue a week later, I'm called in for what they name a "callback" and I am the only gentlemen of 11 that arrive. I am also the only one that got his part and had to spend 2 hours auditioning with the other 10.

In our underwear, we ran across the studio like we were buddies jumping into a pool. It was surreal having to act like "buds" with 5 sets of guys wearing nothing but Woolworths "manties". 

It was a generational piece, friends growing up together through the ages. And I played the "natural" guy versus the business and the family men. At the end of the commercial, we enticed our friend to jump into the pool one last time.

A feat that took 8 hours to film in a Constantia home. So much fun.

4. I performed my first one-man comedy special.

It had to happen. After a decade of performing, I needed to pull out whether I could sustain a decent hour special.

Firstly, credit again goes to Sam for bearing with me. She bore the brunt of my emotional roller-coaster as I developed the show. She endured the hours spent practicing in the office. Hearing the same jokes as before. And our friends came too, they were legends.

Secondly, credit to Kaulana Lynn Williams. What a great director. A graduate from Stellenbosch University, she's risking it all to become a theatre powerhouse. I met her at a talk and asked her to helm my show.

She was a guiding light, giving me insight into my content and my craft. Once I have the patience, confidence and time again to perform it, I wouldn't ask for anybody else.

The show wasn't 100% for me. The venue was the Station on Bree, it had no lighting and the manager enjoyed some friends over. They were loud and boisterous, and it threw me off so much I lost my focus on my material.

What made it worse was people walked out mid-set, and I discovered Kaulana invited a major player in the TV comedy world. What bad luck that the person that left was one of them, but she explained they had to relieve the babysitter. The feedback was positive.

I haven't done the show since. I've felt so disillusioned with the comedy scene here that I cannot fight the uphill battle. You're either well-liked by your peers, your audience or both.

If you have neither, you might as well stay at home.

5. We got a dog.

I won't forget the day Sam sent me a message stating that a dog was up for adoption. She was eager to adopt and wanted to try and foster a rescue dog before committing.

We were lucky that the first on the list kept pee-ing everywhere, as the second arrived. He sat in our lounge, lay on a soft duvet we set out for him...and hasn't moved since.

Odo (renamed from Westley) has been such a delight and captured many hearts. He's healthy, got a great coat and is so damn quiet people didn't expect him in our home at all. He makes himself known when visitors arrive and he dashes out like a bullet, sniffing out all the cat-poop in the garden.

6. I got a guitar

Sam is, without a doubt, the best human being I have ever laid eyes on. Due to the patience she has for how I behave and act. And she is so generous and giving, I always fear I haven't lived up to it yet.

When she got me a guitar for my birthday, I was awestruck. She didn't just get any guitar, she got a beautiful wood piece that was also hand-tested by a musician friend. He verified it by playing it and recording the sound.

I'm nowhere near being that good.

But, it has been a friendly distraction now and again when trying to sort through my head. I connect to Yousician, an automated web app that hears your performance through the computer's microphone. You then follow along to their sessions and they let you know when you're bad.

Quite nifty and I'm learning a lot. Best. Wife. Ever.

7. I got a vasectomy

For every person I've ever been involved with, none of them gave me a good reason to be a father.

I've even coerced at times, to reveal my feelings about the concept. And sometimes I had to fawn platitudes just to keep the peace. But after seeing how my siblings turned out and how my own father dealt with children, I knew.

Granted, I know I'd be an amazing dad. When I'm loyal, it is always to a fault. You will have me there tooth and nail, and the same would go for any child I could've had.

Instead, I'm way too selfish with my time and money, preferring to spend it on myself and my wife. And we sorted that 

What shocked me was the fallout. My dearest friends in London expressed shock. Imran even sent a heartfelt message conveying his sorrow that we were denying the world amazing people. That we would've produced beautiful children


8. I became self-employed

It was heart-breaking. I left the office leaving amazing, talented and generous people. But, to be honest, the writing was on the wall. 

And once I signed the agreement to leave, a great pressure left me.

I spoke to Sam at length about how to proceed, her dealing with working the agency the only source of income we had. Do I apply for new positions in the same field to sustain us?

Or do I chase the dream?

I'm not sure what that dream is, but I understand now that it is more creative than administrative. I attend castings, offer my services as a studio director and even edit a Youtube channel that is growing strong. 

I even met a director that showed interest in my scripts and wants to write a movie. So far, we've written the treatment for an idea to exercise our partnership and the flow is exciting.

Now, if I can just turn these opportunities into cash...

9. I lost my dad

No doubt a small amount of you scrolled straight to this point to read why I included my father's death as a "best moment of 2019". Were you hoping to roid-rage against my arrogance and dismissiveness? Did you think I was going to laugh it off as a "finally" moment?

If you did, go fuck yourself. If you didn't, read on.

I wasn't there enough for my dad, for reasons I will not explain on this post. I visited often, sat by his side and listened to my mother talk while he stared at his feet.

He died from complications related to the gangrene in his foot. A condition related to his diabetes and health. The doctor had prescribed to amputate, but my father refused.

We talked when we could, argued about values and life, and never quite got each other. He was regretful of his past, couldn't see the value in his life and was unable to find joy.

He felt small, useless and in the way. He wanted to die so much, he begged for it once in the Emergency room while I stood over him. And I looked at him, pitying this once proud man brought down by the unceasing tide of age.

And by his own cowardice.

But when he felt good, he was great. I was lucky being the youngest to have a father that stayed at home during my childhood. In small moments, I remember wrestling with his hand while we watched television. And he rolled his tongue out in concentration while giving a giggle at the effort.

He was funny, with a sharp wit denied by his fear of ridicule amongst most family members.

Sam once asked him, "Carlos, how do you say 'whiskey' in Portuguese?" He replied, "That's easy...Johnny Walker, Jack Daniels..."

In another conversation, she described me once as a "naughty little shit", and with a deadpan look he piped, "Really? He's a naughty little shit?

"So...you like shit, huh?"

So why is his death a "best moment"? Well, there's value in the finality of the relationship. I looked on as I saw the older version of myself come to his own end, and I've drawn lessons from it.

I see what mistakes he made, how his own values drove the decisions he took and the relationships he kept. Albeit in business, love and health, all that he did I observed. His death drew to a close his own journey through life and how I accompanied it. 

You begin a road-trip with someone you don't know. You both begin to discover each other's traits, strengths and weaknesses. You discuss life, politics and wealth.

By the end of the trip, the driver drops you off in the corner with your bag and a couple of bucks. And that is how I've seen my relationship with my father. A man that kept quiet while driving, but ever once in a while pointed something out.

So now I'm left on the side of the road while he drives on. And because of him, I'm a lot closer to my destination than he ever was. For that, I'm grateful.

He procrastinates like crazy, has little friends and a blog with no traffic. All in all, he's doing well if he's at least breathing.

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