I was at the pinnacle of my acting career, on a meteoric rise to stardom, in 1987, when I was offered my dream role. The lead in the 500-year celebration play of Bartholemew Diaz. Although I was a young girl, I was not only a limitlessly talented actress, but also had the presence of mind to know that playing a man would stretch my acting skills to the sinew, possibly earning me an Oscar (I, obviously, had a premonition of what would happen to Hillary Swank years later). And, it included a solo aria, something I knew I could do.
So I took it, and rehearsed and rehearsed, burning the midnight oil, perfecting my pitch, embracing the emotion of being a Portugueseexplorer discovering Africa - the highs, the lows, the drama of scurvy. I read all the books to really 'get into' my part, spending days 'in character'. Until it was perfect.
Opening night arrived, and I meditated out of nerves, shutting myself in my dressing room to ready myself for the packed house I'd be playing to. My supporting cast and I took our places behind the velvet curtains, listening to the sounds of the people in the audience taking their places, feeling the thrill. The place was packed, the stalls filled with important people. The house-lights dimmed and the audience subsided into whispers, the anticipation palpable.
The curtains opened, the stage lights came up and I was Bartholomew Dias for an hour and a half. The audience were stunned into silence by my talent, my voice reducing many to tears. The play ended and the audience jumped from their seats, yelling with wild abandon, a standing ovation to beat any other. The stage filled with roses as I returned for my second encore and the press cameras flashed.
It was 1989, small-town South Africa, at my small town South African primary school. It was also the 500-year anniversary of Bartholomew Diaz's rounding our shores so what better story to use for the end-of-year play? But who to cast in the role of the man himself? No normal auditions for this school, nosiree. They just picked Shiny. Why? Because she has a nice little bob hairstyle, as all good explorers of the 1400's had. Oh, and she sings in the choir so she'll be okay to sing one verse of "Guide me, Oh thou Great Jehovah" on her own, before being joined by the chorus.
We practiced for at least two weeks before, on a Monday and Wednesday, during the half-hour period that should've been Health or RE (Religious Education - this was the '80's), I can't remember which.
The end of year concert night arrived and my mother fed us early dinner of fish fingers after blow-drying my bob into perfect 1400-explorer style. We all bundled into the car for the two minute drive to the school and I rushed off to Mr van Niekerk's class (our very sweet, vaguely alcoholic, Maths teacher who had a knack of recognising extraordinary children for their extraordinariness, something that was not common those days, in a conservative small town) which was closest to the school hall, and was thus the Dressing Room for the evening.
It was filled with twittering, over-excited 12-year olds like myself and we worked ourselves up into bursting excitable nervousness while Kerry's mom (the local beautician) 'did' our make-up (read: gave us mascara and some eye pencil and, in my case, a moustache drawn on with said eye pencil). And then we trooped off to the school hall which was packed to capacity with familiar faces.
It was filled with our families and friends, people we'd grown up with in this small town, people who knew our names and, many of whom knew our birthdays, shoe sizes and best friends. The seats were filled, the floor between the stage and seats was overflowing with the smaller kids, cross-legged, and chewing on rustling packets of Simba chips. A mad hum of chatting filled the hall.
The hall lights were switched off and there was sudden darkness, except for the stage lights and we began. Our 20-minute tale of a brave Portuguese sailor charting unknown waters, played by a pre-adolescent Shiny, singing her heart out for the first verse and then joining the choir.
I can't remember if there was actually a standing ovation (probably though, small towns are, well, very community-orientated and supportive) but there was definitely applause, and plenty of "Woohooo, Shiny" and "Woohoo, Peter" and "Woohoo, Gabi". You get the picture. Our families loved us.
And there really were press flashes. Two. We were in the next week's Herald, on page 3, all 25 of us on stage, bravely looking 1400-explorer-ish.
I'm confused. While I realise that this is not exactly odd when it comes to me, I still think I need to get this out. Why is it that my blog posts publish the day before I've written them? I fear I might be stuck in some whirring, whizzing time machine thing where I'm writing stuff in my past and seeing it in my future. Or am I writing stuff in my future and seeing it in my past? You see? Confused.
Basically, I just think I'd like to hang around here, in the present a bit. Like all those self-help books seem to spew at people. I speak under correction, though, because I am ever-so-proud to say: I have never, ever, read a self-help book. I'm just going on what other people have told me.
The whole self-help book thing has never appealed. As far as I'm concerned, books are there to take you away from this world, to far away places you'd never normally go, with characters who you can fall in love with, or despise, or relate to, or not. They're not there to preach to you on how you should live.
I know I find myself in a minority (or do I?) here, but really, I'm blessed to have great friends who give me any amount of advice I need, and me to them, whenever needed, fully-personalised. Sometimes we get it oh-so-wrong but, mostly, we know each other well enough to get it just right. No flowing-clothed-humming-cross-legged-guru-speak necessary. Gosh, I almost sound angry. Perhaps I should put this angry energy into a bubble, and blow it away, while visualising a field filled with daisies, with two lambkins jumping around each other joyously. Oh, wait, is that the farmer's wife coming in from centre left, with chopping knife in hand? Best I leave the bubble-blowing and pick some mint for mint sauce.
Hmm, I fear I've been reading too many serial killer stories... Again, I blame the BFF. I didn't get the book, he did.
I completely strayed off the topic there. All I really was wondering was how on earth to get my blog to live in the present?
P.S. As proof, I'm posting this at 2:11pm, on the 27th of February.
I was nervous to come out of my house this morning. Very. I peered cautiously around each corner before turning and grinned maniacally at anyone who happened to look in my direction. Just in case. I thought about baking a batch of cupcakes before work to carry in a little basket with me, a-la-Little Red Riding Hood, to hand out willy-nilly to everyone I stumbled upon, but I didn't have time.
Why? Because it was sweltering last night. In the sticky, I-can't-sleep way. I actually went to sleep with my fan on. This is unheard of. My fan is the cleverest fan in the world because it has a timer. It went off an hour later. And I woke up, hot. And put it on again, for another hour. You get the picture. In between - hot, sticky dreams (and, of course, my new best friends, The Monstrous Mosquitoes). And a fair amount of wakefulness.
It was during this wakefulness that I realised that probably a large proportion of my fellow city dwellers would've had the same not-so-good night's sleep and would, probably, be a bit overtired and maybe short of humour today (everyone is like me, surely?). Thus, my nervousness.
However, I was hugely buoyed by a fabulous dinner with the girls last night. These are people from varsity. People who know me, well. We've seen each other grow and change and cried and laughed. We've all been through stuff with each other. And now we find ourselves in the same city again and are making this a monthly thing. At least. These are occassions where we all leave with a vague tummy cramp, from laughing so much. It's just wonderful. And we had a new girl join us last night. And she's wonderful too. Gush gush. Just one more thing - white chocolate martinis. These are the future. I swear.
I wonder if it's okay to drink white chocolate martinis for tea at work?
So, the BFF came over, we gorged ourselves on spagetti bolognaise and milk stout (my new favourite drink, it takes me back to varsity), and then settled in to watch the Oscars last night. As far as I'm concerned, there is no point in watching award ceremonies on your own. Unless you're one of those people who talk to themselves. I'm not. I'm not averse to my own company but stop short of actually striking up a conversation with myself. What if we didn't get on?
I'm not sure the BFF agrees that you can't watch them alone, but he listened patiently as I chitter-chattered in his ear, probably only to about 50% of my comments but, well, ja.
It was a good one, I think. I haven't watched for a couple of years because, really, they do become a bit dull, but this one had some funny bits, some very gorgeous shiny, twinkley, sparkley dresses and jewels and some beautifully sad moments... Read: Heath Ledger's family accepting his award. They got it just right. So human, which I think must be the hardest (and most heart-wrenching) thing to do in the plastic drama, media circus of Hollywood. They were there simply as his family. Who loved him. And miss him. Two fat, hot tears from me. Just two. Unusual for me, but it was just so perfectly simple.
And, of course, the fact that Slumdog Millionaire, a baby budget, developing country movie swept the awards up is fabulous. Makes me grin and instills a new sense of faith in humankind. That faith often gets bruised and bashed in me when watching Hollywood movies. But I think we'll be okay.
A few more comments on dresses, put-on comedy by presenters and singing-dancing antics, and we were bored. Flick, flick and the channel was changed, leaving the plastic glitz and put-on smiles in it's wake. We ate lammingtons soaked in sherry, with custard. And were joined by a tiny baby lizard on my bedroom wall. I love that.
I wonder how long it takes to lose your grasp on reality in Hollywood?
It’s been one of those days. I should’ve known it was going to be, because I had one of those nights. I slept badly (no full moon, no period – great, the insomnia’s spreading). I now know where the expression ‘slept fitfully’ comes from, except that mine was more ‘dreamt fitfully’. It was a night of being in that middle space, between sleep and wakefulness. That space where the dark seems sinister, the branches blowing against the roof seem dangerous and your thoughts wander close to the abyss, without their leashes.
I knew it was not a good sign when I was woken moments after I’d nodded off by my phone ringing. I always panic when my phone rings in the night (I’m a natural worrier, lucky me). It was obviously a wrong number but the guy wanted to chat. Wierdo.
I should’ve worked out that it was really not good when I was awoken by one of the monstrous mosquitoes, sucking blood from just above my eyebrow (I have an itchy bite to prove it). What made me finally get it, however, was the fact that the monstrous mosquito woke me from a dream of rugby.
Rugby. WTF? Now, while I am not averse to gathering in a pub to patriotically drink beer (while other people watch rugby) for an international game, the fact is that I’m not a rugby girl. I am, however, a beer-drinking girl. I don’t like stocky men with short (or no) necks, wearing little shorts to show off their stocky legs. I especially don’t like them when they’re running around on a field following an oblong ball, looking for excuses to give each other wedgies, or worse, blood noses.
I vaguely went back to sleep after contemplating what on earth it could mean, my dreaming of watching a rugby match. At the stadium. Live. The mind boggles. I placated myself with the knowledge that, in the dream, I was whinging about being bored. Maybe it was the lack of beer.
But my sleep was filled with barbed dreams that prickled in my mind. I woke up feeling like I’d been microwaved. At 4:45am. I’ll leave it at that. I then managed to have a lot of trouble getting my driveway gate to open to let me out to get to work. At work, I looked down to discover I’d spilt toothpaste all down my top. And in larger scale news, our mountains are burning. Again. While this created a beautiful, glowing crimson sun this morning, I worry so about the little tortoises.
I wonder if rugby is listed in dream analysis books?
So, where were we? The lanky 16-year old Shiny had received her first, fumbling kiss in a smoky bar amidst St Patrick's Day glasses of green beer and many, many people. (Kissing Chronicles, Part One)
The setting of my next foray into the delights of teen romance was beautiful, and befitting of the best romance novel out there. It was Easter, so the moon was full and round, hanging fatly in the sky amongst swathes of stars above the fever trees on the banks of the Limpopo River. Hippos wallowed and splashed and grunted upstream. It was post-flood, so the river was full to bursting, it's muddy waters glistening as it rushed by in the moonlight.
The boy - a very beautiful, red-haired, Irish twin. He was younger than me too (I warned you, there are definite themes to this long tale). I fear the only reason that I was the target of his affections was because he'd already kissed all the other girls who were there (except his sister, this is not the Jerry Springer Show), but we'll ignore that detail due to the beautiful setting and the need for me, at that stage (or always, I guess), to gather experience.
So, yes, there we were, beneath the fever tree, moon shining on us, talking arbitrarily (you remember that teen chat, just filling the space, before The Moment?) when he moved in and kissed me. It was a far more beautiful, gentle kiss, and I'd like to put this forward as my First Kiss, it just seems so much more romantic than the first fumblings.
However, a couple of minutes into our clinch, things heated up slightly as he slipped his hands INTO the back of my pants and felt my never-before-felt bum. I was incensed! I jumped back in horror, removing his hands swiftly, protecting my innocence. Whether this was due to pure shock and fear of inexperience, or actally piety, I'm not sure. Okay, again, I lie. It was definitely not piety. I can't even pretend to be pious.
I bolted, leaving the poor boy hot under the collar, my buttocks still warm from the touch of his hands, my stomach plaited, my heart aflutter (I really should try to write for Mills & Boon, maybe I missed my calling). I spent the rest of the weekend avoiding his gazes. Ah yes, the folly of youth. How differently that would've turned out, had it been a few years on.
And then there were a few more fumblings with random boys on holidays at the sea, you know the stuff. And then came my First Boyfriend. Of sorts. He was The Brother, from The All Boy's School. Also a twin, his sister and I shared a dorm, at The All Girl's School. It was New Year's Eve, 1990 (or was it '91?), a hot, sweaty Transvaal night. A parent's party, with lots of kids attached. A swimming pool into which we all (obviously) landed, and then we were cold and were all in the pump room (snigger) where it was warm, and even sweatier.
He pulled me toward him and kissed my neck from behind and I was his. Okay, so it was only for a couple of month's, but it was fun. I can't really remember having any kind of meaningful conversation, it was more just some illicit kissing behind his closed bedroom door and many letters with inane details of school life backing and forthing between The All Girl's School and The All Boy's School (the Victorian postal system, as previously mentioned... Seriously, it was a guy on a bicycle who ferried letters daily between the schools.) I still have those letters somewhere. Then he kissed my friend's sister at a party and it was over.
He met the girl who he would marry about a year later. I saw them occassionally on visits home from varsity. They seemed really happy. Like they had not only the illicit kissing behind closed doors, but meaningful conversation, and more. They married and had two children. He died of cancer, two years ago, aged 32. Inexplicably sad.
I hate leaving things on a sad note, but it also seems impossible to return to my usual glibness at this point in the story. I might have to find those letters again. I do miss real, written letters. And the fresh, new, innocence of those first fumblngs. Oh, look, now I've made myself all nostalgic. More to follow, at a later stage.
So there I was, sat in my kitchen, listening to my Rice Crispies snap, crackle, and pop as all good Rice Crispies should, when I realised I was staring vaguely at a book of short stories, about to get enthralled and be late for work. On serial killers. Now, while I am the first to admit that I’m not a very good morning person on school mornings, I did give myself a double-take (can you do that? I did, somehow, this morning).
Let’s track back a bit, I’m getting ahead of myself. I am a bit of a girly-girl when it comes to books, movies and TV series’. I’m not a huge crime genre fan. At all. And show me a horror movie and you’ll see me curling into the foetal position and grabbing onto whoever is closest’s hand, eyes wide with fear. My friends call me a ninny. I like to think of myself as discerning. I did once try to ween myself into scary movies by starting with one of those silly teen scream horrors but half an hour in I thought my heart rate was reaching dangerous highs so I had to stop. It was for health reasons.
Anyway, I have been known to get hooked on any silly, giggling-teen filled trash series and I’m proud (look at me, I even have a BFF for heaven's sake, although I do stop short of thinking anything to do with Paris Hilton is even vaguely watchable. Standards. I have them, I do). I have, with age, become able to get hooked on pretty much any series if I am to be completely honest, but not the crime/detective/skop skiet en donner kind. Until Dexter. My BFF brought Season 1 over. He said he thought I’d like it.
We didn’t move from the TV for 12 solid hours (ok, so I’m prone to a bit of exaggeration). I was enthralled. I fell in love with him in the “I will stalk you and find you” way. He’s a serial killer cop. But he only kills baddies so it’s okay. Really, it is. My friend, The Pond, has much to say about this – TV enticing violence, romanticising murder… blah blah. I refuse to see her point. He’s gorgeous and funny and dark. So he kills a few people on the way…
It was an addiction like no other. We searched out Season 2, lapped it up, but more slowly this time, knowing we were in for a Dexter desert once we reached the end. We began talking of retractable saws, my mind wandered to thoughts of him when I woke up in the mornings. And then it was done. Our world's were empty shells.
But, I found Season 3 on the internet and, like heroin junkies, we got them weekly, savouring each one. My addiction had led me to a life of crime. I donned my peg leg and eye patch and started calling people "Matey". Ok, I'll stop, this story is getting ridiculous.
Needless to say, my Dexter addiction has led to me and the BFF finding all sorts of other (addictive, but not Dexter-class addictive) series'. And to me reading short stories on serial killers while eating my breakfast. I blame him. Completely. He brought the book over last night. I'd never have picked it myself. I swear.
Is it really so bad to have serial killers with your cereal?
I am very lucky to live in a house with few creepy-crawlies of the "Oh-my-god-get-it-away-from-me" kind. I do have some four-legged, furry versions who are snuggly and sweet and lovely and, well, a bit eccentric, but endearing in their eccentricities.
However, after saying that, I've probably spoken too soon and, as we speak, the Cockroach Circus are trailing their little cockroach-sized trailers down my driveway, setting up their cockroach-sized Big Top in one of my kitchen cupboards, while the bearded cockroach lady chats up the three-armed strongman cockroach behind the popcorn stand... I digress.
I am, however, blessed with mosquitoes. These are not any normal mosquitoes though. They are magnificently enormous mosquitoes. Like in rat-sized. Seriously. These things have been on steroids they bought illicitly at the gym since they were born. In fact, their mother's were on the steroids at the time of conception. They flap around my head (and it's breezy when they flap, being so huge and all - my hair blows around), flexing their little mosquito muscles, and singing. Boy, do these guys like to sing. At the tops of their little mosquito voices.
I think perhaps that they have chosen my bedroom as the perfect spot for choir practice. I can understand that - my room is cool and purple and quiet... Except for a rather disturbing buzz from the TV, when it's off. Hold on. Could that be it? They're not coming to choir practice, they're responding to the mating call of my very-much-off-TV. Good grief. There I was, worrying about the effects that buzz was having on my sleeping psyche (do psyche's sleep?) when, in fact, I should be worrying more about my causing hundreds of monstrously large mosquitoes sexual frustration. Poor things, buzzing around searching frantically for the gorgeous girl mosquito with the beautiful voice. But never finding her.
There are those things in the world that just seem to happen, but if you stop and think about them seriously, they just seem too wonderous to comprehend. Those kinds of things are happening in my world at the moment. The thing is, they’re things that seem too intimate, too special, too wonderous to put on this (public) sphere. This is problematic.
I need to work out in my head what this space is to me, how much I can divulge here, how sacred it is. I was discussing with a friend that I may need to have two blog personas – one completely unknown to anyone I know, and this one. I’m not going to though. I’m going (to try my hardest) to climb out of my own head, get over myself and expose myself (and not in a rude way, get your minds out of the gutter!).
I wonder if I’m convincing myself?
P.S. I have much to tell of a great weekend with fabulous people, a White Trash Party celebrating oh-so-many wonderous things, much blue eyshadow, and a blonde wig. At some point someone asked me if it was true that blondes have more fun. My answer was: "My hair colour makes no difference. I always have fun." This was a completely honest, at-that-moment answer. I couldn't have not had fun, even if I'd tried. My grin was too big.
We went for the celebratory birthday to the very smart restaurant at the terribly elegant hotel. It was one of those places where everyone looks like they've just walked out of the pages of a magazine. I felt underdressed, even though I’d especially put in earrings and be-mascara-ed myself for the occasion. You know those places: Where the staff are obviously hired not only for their waitering talents but also for how good they look in their black waitering outfits (ours was gorgeous. More on him later); where there is music, but it’s that subtle kind, in the background, tinkling away, almost as if there’s a dude in the rafters above playing his piano. The kind of place that just oozes, well, subtlety. I always feel a bit like a bull in a china shop in them. It was lovely though.
The wineglasses were huge. It was like drinking out of a fishbowl. Luckily without the fish. My father is a connoisseur of wine. I’m a pleb. I can tell the difference between red and white (and so proud! Don’t blindfold me though). Anyway, Papa duly ordered some delicious wine to pour into the bottom of our fishbowls.
The menu. Well, it’s what they call Asian fusion I think. Everything sounded mouthwateringly delicious. But the menu has no punctuation. Whatsoever. An example:
Hard to work out really, what you’re getting. I had scallops to start, with a crunchy deep-fried seafood specimen on top, served in some seafoody tasting bisque. It was good. I’d only had scallops once before. They had stuffed this version with some fragrantly delicious red stuff. Then I had rib eye steak, vacuum-cooked (?) for two hours, served on garlic mash. Yum. The others had various things, some of which we could discern what was what, others, well, just tasted good. We may never taste those tastes again. It’s difficult to recreate the taste of something when you don’t what it is. We're the pass-around-the-table-so-everyone-tastes variety (as are the neighbours (my parent's neighbours who are like family and actually have a gate between their houses so their kids can come and go freely and swim in their pool), luckily). A smorgasbord of tastes.
The waiter looked like a grown-up cherub. We were a table of six and he payed me lots of attention. I like that. In fact he payed me so much attention that I thought perhaps he might (mistakenly) think I was paying the bill. This was odd, considering the paternalistic (is that the right word?) society we were in (the hotel was one of those Old School kind of places) and I was a younger woman at a table which had amongst it’s guests, two older men. We'll not get into that feminist debate thing. At least not here, now.
Anyhow, I’m going on a bit, let’s leave it at: The food was beautiful, the company great, the hired help delicious and the violet flavoured marshmallows sublime.
When making violet marshmallow do you think they actually crush the petals into the mixture?
It's my mother's birthday today. Due to cuircumstances, she is currently staying at my house (short-term). She normally lives, with my father, at their house, which just happens to be about ten blocks down the road which is perfect. But she's helping me out so has kindly come to stay, hopefully just for this week.
Don't get me wrong... I adore my mother, am eternally grateful for all the things she and my father still do for me and even more grateful to them for how they brought us up. We were lucky to grow up in a love-filled environment being taught to have limitless imaginations, huge dreams and fierce independence. Helplessness is not a Shiny family trait. And we had fairies in the garden. And a treehouse. And a foofy slide - you get the picture.
However, in one's thirties, I think parents are best served after breakfast. Contrary to her misguided thoughts, I can actually work out whether or not to take a jersey to work. Her excuse, of course, is that she's my mother and always will be. True, but why do I find it SO hard not to revert back to my stroppy 15-year old self when she does these things?
As we know though, the moon is still full, I still have my period (overshare, again... I'm just being honest and open) so I am suffering under a pall of not-enough-sleep which, as we know too, results in Grumpy-Shiny-with-No-Sense-of-Humour. It's not pretty, and is no fun for anyone. Especially before breakfast.
I did try to be better this morning. It's her birthday for heaven's sake. And she's my very beloved mother. I'm not sure how well I did though. So I've organised a big bunch of lillies from us all for a birthday delivery. And we're going for dinner at a fabulously decadent place (can't claim that as mine though, it was my dad).
Do lillies cancel out unnecessary silly-teen-behaviour, I wonder?
I am not good on too little sleep. This has always been so. I am a 6 to 8 hour a night kind of girl, if not more. Without that I lose my sense of humour and become growly and grumpy. It's just how it is.
Two things affect my sleeping (okay, LOTS of things affect my sleeping, but two main ones that are there like clockwork) - the full moon and my period (overshare?). They keep me awake. Wide awake. One happy thing I can report in this post, though, is that my body has been oh-so-clever and organised that the two coincide. Whether this leaves me doubly insomniac at full moon, I'm still assessing. I'll let you know. So, yes, it's full moon. So I'm growly and grumpy. No happy Pollyanna stories today I'm afraid.
And there are other influences keeping me awake at night. Nightly goings-on that are frustratingly necessary but into which I don't wish to delve too deeply. It makes me anxious, it makes me guilty, it sounds exciting, but it's not. It's a day-to-day living thing that I cannot change. And I wish I could.
Although, on a (literally) brighter side. My insomniacal hours were spent swimming in a shower of that beautiful pale silvery light that the moon gives off (I have light curtains) and the cool night air floating through my windows was a welcome relief from the suffocating heat that we've been having. I can see a little bite of the mountain through my bedroom window and it too was bathed in moonlight, making me feel like I was privvy to all sorts of wonderful fairy parties going on on the mountainside.
I've just finished reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. I struggled a bit with it. His writing is beautiful, and poetic, but I didn't find it an easy read. There was one scene, though, that I loved, and was so apt to my night awakenings last night. A beautiful scene where the young May Kasahara wakes in the night and strips off to basically 'wash' every part of her body in moonlight. You need to read that bit, I'm not prosaic like him.
I wonder if I'm cleansed by it too, or just overtired?
I got into the office this morning and, as usual, went through my morningly routine of turning on my computer, and delving into my mailbox, wading through and deleting spam (and I get plenty of it), reading the nice ones... you know, workly morning things. And then my eyes fell on one subject line: "You Do Not Want To Miss This". How exciting I thought, something I don't want to miss! Could it be a party? Someone's wedding? An invitation to the naming of a new cruise ship? (This is something I've always wanted to go to for some unknown reason, I get seasick for heaven's sake! I did once meet an English sailor in a dodgy bar who offered to show me his ship but I thought better of taking up on that particular offer, despite his being a very nice sailor).
Anyhow, back to the e-mail. Excitedly I opened it, shutting my eyes for effect (I really wanted to be surprised). I opened one eye... a picture of four people excitedly throwing their arms in the air with their mouths indicating that they were shouting "Yey!" at the time the picture was taken. This was looking good. I opened my other eye. Aarrgghh. There it was, the headline: You do not want to miss this opportunity to become a top sales performer. It's an advert for "The World's Shortest Sales Course". Hmph. I'm not even in sales. And never wish to be. I'd be atrocious at it.
Were I to send one, this would be my reply:
While I do appreciate your contacting me personally for your "World's Shortest Sales Course", and I do realise that possibly I would need to do such a course if I were ever to think of going into anything remotely related to sales, I have to be completely honest with you and say that this is something I most definitely do want to miss. Oh, yes, I do. I can't really think of anything worse than attending an entire day of sales stuff. I'd rather cut off my left foot really.
I am very fond of kissing, and have had some rather funny experiences in this regard in the past couple of months (okay, forever, but the most recent ones are, obviously, freshest in my mind). I do fear sometimes that I exist purely to provide amusing stories to my friends but, really, I think that I'm just getting through the frogs, waiting for my prince. And I'm sticking to that story. The fact that my frog pile would keep a good, very busy, French restaurant going for, well, a year at least, is beside the point.
But let me attempt to begin right at the beginning. I'm not very good at keeping timelines going and stuff in my writing, but I'm practicing. So, let's throw ourselves back some years. To a lanky, unsure, teenage Shiny. Let's just say I was not an early-starter when it came to boys and all the bits involved with them. I came from an all-girl household (except for my poor hen-pecked father, even our dog, cat, mice and the chicken who I reared when I was 11 and loved were girls. Okay, I lie, the chicken turned out to be a boy and was sent off to live with my aunt on her farm when he started waking up in my room (we were very close) to herald in the morning. Loudly. In fact, the poor guy landed up on the Sunday lunch table after he developed a rather nasty habit of trying to peck my 2-year-old-at-the-time cousin. I was devastated. And it couldn't have had anything to do with his coddled upbringing... (Chicken, not cousin).)
I digress. Back to the summer of my 16th year. I went to an All Girls Boarding School too, so my only intertwinings with boys really consisted of intermittent run-ins with boy cousins or friends of my parent's sons or summer holiday friendships that faded as we drove out of the summer holiday village (ok, there's more to that story too... but it must wait). So, yes, 16, never-been-kissed, beginning to think that maybe I was destined to a life in an abbey. Luckily, I wasn't, because, although I can sing a song, I don't think I'd be good at belting out "The Hills are Alive" on a mountain top. Oh, wait, she turned out not to be abbey-destined either, didn't she?
Thank god for theme-parkey Irish pubs serving green beer on St Patrick's Day in The Big Smoke. Only when you're 16 though. The All Girls Boarding School was in a small, conservative university town an hour or two away from The Big Smoke (I came from a small, conservative mining town between the two). Lots of the Girls came from The Big Smoke so, every now and again, we would pursuade our parents that it was a good idea to spend a weekend there. This one, however, we pursuaded a friends' parents to take us to said bar. She had a Brother at the All Boys Boarding School down the road. And her Brother had Friends. Although, there's a story with her Brother too. Later though.
And so, I found myself, sat on a bar counter, green beer beside me (apt due to my extreme fondness of Cream Soda, to lose one's first little bit of innocence supping on the slightly-more-adult version of it), in a crammed bar in front of, oh, approximately 200 people, receiving my very first 'real' kiss from a boy who had the dubious nickname of Fungus (thankfully, I never did find out why). He was about half a foot shorter than me (not hard, I'm a tall girl), and a year younger. While I didn't realise it at the time, all these things were signs of things to come - the crowd of people, his height, his age... I loved the kiss though and decided then and there that this was a habit I would like to pursue. So I did.
He was sweet, he wrote me a couple of letters via our very Victorian Inter-All Girls Boarding School/All Boys Boarding School postal system. But, I fear, it was not meant to be. My 16-year-old heart was ecstatic just to get that hurdle out of the way. I was glad he wrote though. It was important at that stage. I think I'd have been devastated had he not. I hope I was nice back, I can't actally recall.
I have to admit though, that possibly that first kiss doesn't stand out in the way that various others have. I suppose it doesn't for most people really. It's a fumbley, vaguely uncomfortable I-hope-I'm-doing-this-right thing. Then you kiss the person that makes you realise it's not like that. A kiss is just the most natural thing in the world and requires no thought whatsoever. It just flows like mercury... beautiful, silvery and unfettered by anything.
And that's Part One. I'm quite impressed with myself for (mostly) keeping to a topic.
I still wonder though, when I'll reach the end of my frog list?
It's hot. Like in really, really hot. Like in I've put my head under the tap and have the fan blowing behind me kind of hot. I like to think that it makes me look like a movie star driving down a country road in a convertible, my scarf blowing elegantly behind me, my hair blowing ever-so-sexily around. In truth, I can't think of anything worse than having a scarf anywhere near me, and my hair is looking limp above my hot face. Or so says my BFF, who is sitting opposite me. He also just looks hot.
At this point, all I can say is: Thank god for the guy who invented fans. How very clever he was/is. I love him. Seriously. I'd do pretty much anything for him. Oh, yes, and, despite my whinging, I am ever-grateful that I'm in this heat in Africa and not in a cold place. I can hear the sounds of us as children, screaming in delight while running through the spray, midnight naked swims in our Portapool set up in the courtyard. We'd wake up, strip off our nighties and swim in the hot stillness of those Free State nights. Heaven.
I need to send fanmail to the inventor of the fan. Snigger.
I seem to just have so very many words in my head that want to tumble out now. It's great. I was really worried there for a while (many months). I thought I'd lost my Writing Voice. But now, it’s back, and the words are jumbling and stumbling and queuing to get out and I can’t get them out quick enough. So many things I want to write about and so many dreary-everyday things getting in the way.
Like work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work (mostly) and feel like I do a very little bit of something that may help the world to be a better place, but, sometimes, just sometimes, I’d like to be in the middle of the Karoo, surrounded only by vast space, sky and air, alone with my thoughts and allowing them to just flow out. You know, to get rid of that queue in my head. They’re impatient those words, they’re crowding my mind, and the jostling is making me tired. In a good way though.
I need to write a post about the movies playing on the backs of my eyelids… I need to know if it’s only me that has their own drive-in cinema, installed in their head (I just can’t find the popcorn stand but, fear not, I won’t stop looking). I have things to say about childhood aromas – the smell of my grandparents… that kind of smell that invokes the feeling of being completely cosy. You know what I mean? When you are in bed in exactly the right comfy position, exactly the right temperature, perfectly fed, not thirsty, tomorrow is Saturday and you know you are loved… that feeling.
Before I start, I must put it out there that this is definitely a case of The New Broom Sweeping Clean. I am the New Broom. And I'm Sweeping Clean. Or, at least, doing some light dusting in the corners. It. May. Not. Last.
I noticed this morning that my blog missed out 2008. Completely. I could've sworn I started it in 2008 but, no, there on the blog page, clear as day, it shows on my blog, or, I guess, doesn't show, that there just weren't any entries for 2008. Hmmm, now that I think about it, maybe it's not just my blog that skipped 2008, maybe it was ME! Where did it go? Is it hiding, should I be careful when going around corners in case its waiting for me? Nah, surely not.
Some days are just good. And, the older (and more twisted I guess, or is a better word for it 'experienced?) I get, the less time I seem to have to dwell on those good days. I'm going to change that now and dwell away.
It was my birthday you see, and I got fabulous news from one of my best friends on my Birthday Eve and then more fabulous news on my birthday. And beside all the newses, I have fantastic friends and I got spoilt and just felt, well, wrapped in so much love. I know, it's gooey, it's mushy. It's true. I might be the luckiest girl alive.
My friends D and B, and their amazing 2-year old M moved back to this wild land last year. I haven't lived in the same place as D since varsity. It is fabulous to have her back and she's brought an even fabulouser husband back with her and a doubly fabulous daughter, M. It couldn't be better. So they were at my birthday dinner. Old friends, comfortable, like your favourite t-shirt.
And my dinner was filled with other friends too, ones from long ago who have seen me through my worst (and best) times and newer ones who feel like I've known them forever (and a couple who, if I believed in reincarnation - my jury is still out on it, I'd swear I'd known for lifetimes). It was that kind of dinner, just "The Core" people. Fuzzy-feeling-inducing. Only slight sadness was the missing few, those ones flung across the globe who you try and try, and close your eyes and wish as hard as you can to be there, but they're just not.
And then, the fact that it is summer and we could sit outside and I could look up and see the beautiful half-moon growing fatter and, and, and... let me stop gushing because that's what I seem to be doing! And I should work. I guess. Bleergh.
Ok, so I knew at the beginning that the name of this blog was a poor choice. Here I am, 33 and 364 days old, writing a blog post on a blog called "AlmostThirtyThree". How silly. But it's too late to change it I guess, so it'll stay. It's quite apt really, because I am prone to being silly.
It's also rather silly that I have left such a large gap between writings. I promise to try to be better (Note: I said try...) I made a New Years resolution to get back into writing. I have been slack. I lost my writing mojo. I had to delve deep and wrack my brains to find inspiration for updating my Facebook status. It was that bad. Seriously. So now I'm going to use this dusty little corner to ramble away and try and get some of the words in my head to come tumbling out. Forgive the jumble. It's bound to be a whole lot of crap. My mission is to make it honest, and real.
In the meantime, I have been reading other people's blogs religiously. I am a voyeur of the first order. I pull my middle finger to those people who vociferously claim that Facebook is the work of the devil. Come on, we all know we love it. We're not allowed to climb into people's heads and read their thoughts and we'd all love to. It's the humanness of us. It's intrinsic. And Facebook is the closest we can get. And blogs. I am continually astounded by the writing talents of people. Astounded and intimidated. Such beautiful, prosaic, clear writing. Inspirational.
So, without having caught you up to where I am, having rambled at you, a month past the due date in my head, hopefully this is me, back in the blogosphere, mumbling to myself, being amazed and putting my words on a screen.