Thursday, May 28, 2009

Long passages

Yesterday, I somehow managed to stumble upon something I'm not sure I really wanted to stumble upon. The blog of somebody from a long ago time. A boy I loved deeply and, possibly very youth-tintedly many, many moons ago. Someone I have not had contact with for years (not purposefully, it just worked out like that). I felt a little voyeuristic, like I was reading his diary while he was out of his bedroom.

It just happened. I wasn't looking for it, it was just suddenly there. Obviously it didn't just appear on my screen but, like I said, I stumbled upon it and, being the curious thing I am, there was no way that I couldn't click on the link. Of course not! So I wandered through the back corridors of time and The Ether. You know the ones - they're long and sometimes dark, sometimes lit by a candle attached to the wall, and there are literally hundreds of doors through which one can hear familiar sounds - voices that comfort, laughter sometimes, crying other times and behind some doors, a strange hush. It is along those corridors that you walk and stop to listen, itching to open the doors, but knowing you probably shouldn't.

Anyway, I digress. The whole thing freaked me out a bit because, as I've whinged repeatedly (see here, and here), I am so very unsure of the whole availability of this blog thing and it's lack of privacy. I do realise that that's the whole point and that it is, intrinsically, why I am forcing myself to do this, but... It just reiterated that, as I can easily stumble onto other people's blogs, so can they, onto mine. Thus my keeping my name off this, even though all three of you who read this know who I am anyway.

I really am waffling aren't I? (Mmm, waffles, yum). I think my point is, um, okay, I don't have one. I just needed to write about that. You see, there is a whole story here, in fact probably a few, but the privacy thing makes me not want to write it. God forbid I feel exposed. Oh, blegh.

In other news, I received the most hysterical e-mail from Stalkbook this morning. It deserves it's own post though so I'll get onto it later hopefully. It's raining so, logically, that means I should write more. Don't question my logic. It's just the way it is.

I wonder if they make waffles at the canteen at Real Work?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just a few calls, and another letter

It happened again! I got an e-mail offering me something I really (really!) don't need. For a mere R600, I can attend a morning seminar presented by Dr Blude (a doctor? of?) on how to use a telephone effectively. Wrong target audience my friend, if there's one thing I'm an expert in, it's how to use a telephone. Not only is it a big part of my Real Job, but on a personal level, let's just say I pass Cum Laude. Maybe I could become Dr Shiny, telephonist extraordinaire and be Dr Jude's sidekick, for a small fee.

It warranted, of course, a letter:

My Dear Dr Blude,

Thank you so much for your kind offer to teach me how to use my telephone effectively for such a small amount of money. You must struggle to make ends meet charging R600 to, what... fifty people at a time for a three-and-a-half hour session. It seems very charitable of you. However, I think somebody gave you my e-mail address in error as I am, completely and utterly, NOT your target group.

My relationship with my telephone is highly effective, and efficient too (I know you business types and your 'efficiency this, efficacy that'). I shall try to explain to you why this is so, as I would hate to hurt your feelings unnecessesarily. Let me use yesterday as an example.

During the day, at Real Work, I spoke to twenty seven (give or take one or two) health professionals regarding (give or take) thirty different questions. Some I spoke to and gave information immediately, others I called back. At no stage during any of these interactions did I struggle to answer, speak or dial, luckily as it would have been most unprofessional. Between these calls, I also spoke to my sister (She's having twins you know, it's terribly exciting) and my mother. I had no trouble with those either, except a small disagreement with my mother about a lasagne recipe, but I think I can put that down to mother-daughter dynamics, rather than a lack of telephone skills.

After Real Work and doing a couple of things, I received a call from H in London who regaled some fabulous stories involving the couple of boys who are admiring her presently and a heavy-breathing phone call she'd received (perhaps I should forward on your e-mail to him). We laughed a lot, but again I didn't struggle. Then I got a call from L in Worcester who has just returned from Australia and is agonising over a big decision she needs to make. No problems with my phone skills there, just a problem with a certain someone which, really has nothing to do with telephones at all.

Then I got a call from M, regarding drinks after work tomorrow. Again, just a venue issue, no telephone skill problems. And I realise, at this point, you may be saying: "Well, yes, we can see you can effectively receive calls, but can you make them?" Luckily, I did, at that point call I, in The Big Smoke, and had a lovely, long chat with him, no problems. While it took me two times to get through - my phone dialled and then went quiet the first two times - I have a feeling this was a network problem, and nothing to do with my phone skills.

So, yes, I think I've probably got my point across that, while I'm grateful for your kind offer, I have to decline. Should you need some expert input, though, I could probably make myself available (at a fee, I guess, you being a business-type and all. I hear offering help in the business world for free diminishes your value - WTF? - but I shan't bore you with my views on that as I'm sure you're a terribly busy man and I seem to have written a very long letter already).

Oh, but before I go, just a small suggestion - the design of your e-mail is not terribly exciting. I know a great designer who could help you out with that - it may increase your readership - just a thought. If you'd like his details, let me know.

With love,
Shiny x

I may even have left out a couple of other calls I made during the day. Good grief, perhaps I need a course on using my phone less effectively?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Counting and travelling

I have one of those little counter thingamies on this blog, and a live feed thingamy. The live feed thingamy fascinates me completely - it tells you where people who stumble onto your blog come from. And it's amazing to see. I am, admittedly, very much a Geography girl - always loved it, it's genetic. But, also, it fills me with curiosity. Who are they?

Like, there's a regular visitor from Harrismith. I don't know anyone in Harrismith. I love that. And it is, of course, a huge ego boost to see that Harrismith comes to visit fairly regularly. It's that human desire for resassurance I guess, shining through in little anonymous Blogland.

But also, I'm a Google Girl. In fact, I may even go so far as to claim to being The Google Girl or, at least, a poster girl for Google. I love it. And now, in combination with my live feed thingamy, and my fascination with geography, I'm finding all sorts of places I'd never heard of before. Like Klaipeda - a Lithuanian city situated at the mouth of the Curonian Lagoon, where it flows into the Baltic Sea. The Teutonic knights built a castle there. Teutonic knights? Dudes who got together to help the Christians on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to establish hospitals to care for the sick and injured. And so on - then I get lost in a web of Googling.

How the person in Klaipeda found my blog, however, remains a mystery but does, of course, make me itch with curiosity. Point being, I love these little internet tools, and my counter thingamy turned 1000 yesterday so I thought it worth a little mention.

Excuse me though, I need to go and see where the Curonian Lagoon is...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Birthday balloons and another letter

So, it's my friend, C's, birthday today. She lives around the corner from me. Well, to be precise - down the road, around the corner, past the kid's school with the animals painted kiddilly on the wall (I love the lion - rowr!), around another corner, some more steps, then another corner, over the stop street, and you're there, at her front door. Important information, that.

Not that that has anything to do with my story, it’s just setting the scene really. The point is, it’s her birthday and she gets a bit stressy about birthdays. Winnie the Pooh once said, very wisely: “Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.”

And it is for that, exact reason (I am a Winnie-the-Poohist), that I found myself in the car watching the neighbours peer through their window, watching me watch them, in the dark at 6:10am this morning, while a balloon got tied to her gate. Keep in mind that this is South Africa, and there tends to be a certain amount of suspicion due to a slightly worrying crime rate. I decided it deserved a letter.

Dear C’s Neighbour (the boy one, not the girl one),

While I can completely understand that possibly a strange car parked outside your house at 6am in the morning when the stars are still bright, may elicit a startled response in you, can I make one small suggestion? Two words: dressing gown.

There are some really nice dressing gowns, at a number of stores at The Big Shopping Mall down the road (I saw them while baby-shopping for my sister last week - she's having twins - I'll be a double aunty! Let me not stray from the point, though). Alternatively, there are even cheaper ones at the factory shops in the other direction – I can completely understand not wanting to waste well-earned cash on such frivolities. But do get one. Your girlfriend/wife/girl-you-brought-home-last-night’s two piece pyjama set is really sweet, but your outfit of ill-fitting shorts and NOTHING ELSE was a little too much for me at 6am.

It’s just that I think you’d look very fetching in a lovely dressing gown. I’d even be happy to come with you to pick one out. You know, just in case somebody parks outside your house in the dark at 6am to tie a red balloon to one of your neighbour’s gates again and you wish to pull back your curtain to peer out. These things do happen, apparently.

With much neighbourhood love,

So, yes. I was very glad to be up so early though, as The Weatherman provided a spectacular breakfast show this morning – lightening and thunder, served up with the most beautiful, brilliant pink sky and clouds as the sun rose over the mountains on the other side across Cape Town which I got to see from my perch up here on the fifth floor. Incredible.

And then I have a fabulous, Mexican, birthday celebration to look forward to, to celebrate with C this evening. Life is good when one has the prospect of frozen margarita's and lots of friends celebrating a birthday after work.

Should dressing gowns be made law I wonder?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shopping for babies

I went baby shopping on Saturday. That sounds wrong. I didn't go shopping for babies, but for very tiny clothes that you put on babies. Although there did seem to be a lot of babies around - on peoples hips, in little prams, toddling around on the floor. I don't think they were for sale though... they each seemed to be attached to an adult of some kind (honestly though, some of the adults looked very young). So, yes, I went looking for tiny articles of clothing to put on little beings. Because, as I've mentioned before, I am to be a double aunty soon and it's terribly exciting!

I thought it'd be simple. I was wrong - it's confusing. I was amazed by the whole thing - did you know that buying clothes for tiny babies is an exceedingly complicated process? Who'd have thought? Certainly not me. I had a list of things from my sister, I even printed it out, in case (thank god). It had things like body vests, sleep suits and rompers on it. I paid it little attention until I got into the shop filled with rows and rows of tiny articles of clothing.

I'll just use the body vests as an example. Bodyvests, said the list, the one's that close with press studs between the legs. Okay, sounded simple. I'd just go to the newborn section and take four off the rack. Well, not so - bodyvests are divided, firstly into long- or short-sleeved. Easy enough - babies born in July need long-sleeved. So I reached for those. But wait! Some have legs, other's are shorties. Again, July - long-legged. Right, we're on the money now. Nope - green, white, pink, yellow, little aliens or little cars? Good grief.

And then - rompers and sleep suits - what? There's a difference? Needless to say, I oohed and aahed at the cuteness of everything and bought a whole little clothing line basically, including socks which look like finger puppets they're so small (and I mean finger puppets for children-sized fingers). I left the shop fully expecting to have bags and bags of stuff. It all fitted in one - it's incredible to think that there will be two little enough creatures to fit into them. Amazing.

And that was just the first shop.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Good grief, I am such a bundle of joy, aren't I? Melancholy came over to visit and invaded ALL my space. And by that, I mean that she took it so far as to push herself into my ears and up my nose and even insisted on flowing in under my bathroom door while I showered. There was no escaping her. She's not gone either, she's like a bulldog this one. But I'm choosing to acknowledge her and have banished her to a corner for now. She's glowering at me from there. I'm hoping if I ignore her for long enough she'll slink away to hang with her friends elsewhere.

I mean, really, when did inviting Melancholy in for a drink and a slice of cake ever do anyone any good?


So, say you were sitting inside a completely empty milk truck, and someone was throwing stones at the truck. That sound that you’d hear each time a stone hit the outer shell of the truck… that’s the sound you’d hear if you made a noise into my ear, any noise. And the problem is, it's locked from the outside. Really, really tightly.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A story

I am still wading through that squelchy, confused mud, but am trying to be a good girl and write regularly. After all, this is my practice pad, and what's a practice pad's point if you don't practice on it? It doesn't have one. And I'd hate for my very own practice pad to feel pointless. But my brain is befuddled and not-so-bemused, and is dwelling on the transience of it all, after hearing some news last night that I'm not ready to write about yet so, instead, I will write a story about a girl watching her shadow on the beach.

She sat above the shoreline with her knees against her chest and her arms wrapped around her legs. There was a slight breeze but it is was surprisingly warm considering the time of year. She breathed deeply, inhaling the smell of the ocean - seaweed, salt, mermaid's breath. As the sun set behind her, she watched her shadow lengthen across the sand until it reached the wet sand where the waves washed up.

She lifted her arms and saw her Dr Seuss-like shadow fingers reach into the lacy foam at the edge of the sea, then watched as it rushed up the shore, eating her head, neck and then shoulders. There it stopped and withdrew, dropping her shadow back onto the sand as it receded.

There her shadow being was again, on the smooth wet sand, her neck, like a Modigliani woman, even longer now, as the sun sunk lower behind her. A welk made it's way through her shadow ear, down her neck and toward her breast.

She stood up, stretched her neck, and walked down the beach, her shadow hurrying behind her, glancing at the sun nervously, knowing it's time on this beach was limited.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pea Soup

You know that soup that’s made with the little round green things, all mushed up together, quite often with ham? That’s what is in my head today. That soup. I’m not entirely sure why. It is the most beautiful day here in the city below the mountain, something that would normally electrify my being and make me grin. But not today.

Today I feel like I’m stuck in some very gooey mud and my Pea Soup Brain is not helping with trying to work out how to unsquelsh myself. There are some things happening this week that are making me angsty and edgey, a state of being I am not fond of. It is making my head swirl stodgily, it’s soup sloshing lazily.

And the thing is, I should still be floating in amongst the clouds, being all happy and fluffy, because I spent the weekend out in the country in the most beautiful spot where I watched the clouds melt off the mountains to reveal a vast blue sky and the sun shine on the very beautiful Nguni cows in the paddock next to the house, and ate delicious food and drank champagne and played games with lovely friends… ahhh.

Perhaps that’s part of it – I wish to be back there, on that wraparound stoep, with my glass of champagne, book, and a view to forever.

Why-oh-why do I have to be a Real World Worker?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Revenge of the mosquito

It is Winter. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will remember my monster mosquito problems and their stopping me from getting a good night's rest and then my not-so-clever attempts at getting rid of them in the Summer. Yes, that's what I said: In. The. Summer. The Summer, of course, being a perfectly reasonable time for monstrous mosquitoes to be flitting about your head, buzzing wildly, and sucking the life blood from your body.

However, it is Winter here (haven't you noticed my whinging?) therefore it is completely unacceptable that I was awoken last night by one of those very same monster mosquitoes buzzing around my head. The only parts of me sticking out of my lovely warm blankets were my forehead and one ear (the left, to be precise) because, like I said, it's Winter!

So where did the little guy go? He buzzed (and buzzed and buzzed) around my exposed ear. And then... the little fucker bit me on my exposed forehead, leaving an itchy bite above my left eyebrow. Lovely.

And did I mention... it's Winter! I told you these are anabolic-steroid super-mosquitoes, I wasn't exaggerating after all.

Am I destined to mosquito choir practice in Winter too?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Treats Box

There is a heirarchy in my home.

I have a Treats Box. Everybody who comes into my house knows about it within about half an hour of being there. I'm not sure how, the news just spreads. I think people take newcomers surreptitiously into corners of the house and whisper to them. Or maybe they know already, and that's why they come.

The Treats Box is a cardboard box which lives in the cupboard next to The Fridge. It contains, obviously, treats. These range from chocolate (bars mainly, sometimes boxes if anybody in the house gets gifts... at Christmas there are always Ferrero Rochers) to sweeties (jube jubes, jelly babies, Sugus, Fizzers standard, various others intermittently) to biscuits (chocolate and savoury, sometimes pretzels too) and chips. It gets requests too (popcorn for The Pond, Sugus for SJ, sour worms for Nini, anything for The BFF - I have had occassions where I've had to soothe sulks from people not finding what they're looking for in there. Invariably, though, there's always something for everyone.) Sometimes it's full to overflowing, sometimes it's a little less but it is never, ever, empty.

The Treats Box enjoys a status similar to the other members of the household. Sometimes, I fear, it even enjoys top spot in the heirarchy. As in, it gets greeted with as much enthusiasm as the rest of us (that being me, Big Black Dog, the Siamese Princess and, of course, The Pond. I exclude the inadequately named Babycat purely because she lives outside and is generally not greeted by those coming through the front - long story.)

So, yes, depending on who you are, and three people stand out as shining examples of this, namely one of my favourite people in the world (SJ), Nini, and The BFF, the order can change of the greetings. These three love me, the Big Black Dog, and The Treats Box almost equally (she says cautiously, suddenly doubting herself). All three will always say hello to the Big Black Dog first, generally because she bounds at them before they've even made it through the front door. Nini and SJ will roll around on the lounge floor with her for, well... until I make loud whinging noises about being ignored and start mumbling things like "I swear you love that dog more than me." Then they come through for hugs and kisses from me, and then... Treats Box. Immediately, without fail.

The BFF does similar, but he finds it hard to ignore the pull of the Treats Box (and The Fridge) so spends a little less time with the Big Black Dog initially (he always goes back though). As for me... if he trips over me on the way to the Treats Box, I get my kiss then, otherwise I'm after.

Okay, so I may have over-exaggerated that slightly but it's in my nature to do so. You get the idea though. That the Treats Box enjoys a status up there with the rest of us in the house. And rightly so. As far as I'm concerned, a house is not a home without one.

Now why did I not get dark chocolate the last time I Treats Box-shopped?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Second Lift Phenomen

So I have spoken about the irritating-multiple-button-pushing-lift-freaks previously. There's another Lift Phenomenon I need to get out. It's also to do with human nature, I think, and is (in my mind at least), equally as intriguing. It's the phenomenon of In Lift Behaviour.

There seems to be something about being in a lift that makes people go all quiet and squirmy. And look up, at that little lit up box that would, in normal lifts, say G, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 but, in our, slightly eccentric and very old lifts, says E, F, G, H, J, K. There's another wonder - why do our floors have letters, instead of numbers? And, why did they skip out I? Initially I thought maybe they had something against vowels but then I (rather embarassingly) realised that E is a vowel too... I'd also like to do a survey to see how many people, per day, get out on G (aka 2) thinking it's the ground floor, and wander around aimlessly looking for the door outside. It could be dangerous you know - someone could walk out onto a balcony, not paying attention, and tumble over, thinking they're on the ground floor. Perhaps I should write to somebody about it...

I digress - so I came up with a theory this morning, as to why people in lifts seem only able to mumble unintelligably at each other, look at their watches, dig in their bags, watch the little screen etc. I think it's because they're in a small tin box, hurtling into the sky above (okay, maybe I've read too much Roald Dahl), and it feels like there is only a certain amount of air in there, so it's probably wise not to use too much of it up doing things like, say, exchanging pleasantries with the woman you've shared this very same lift with fairly regularly. For over ten years. God forbid that you should profer up anything more than a mumbled "morning" to my cheerful greeting this time - we might run out of air.

Ooo, did you see how my general musings whittled their way down to a very specific personal encounter? It just amazes me really. The way I think (and I'm starting to realise, finally, that perhaps it isn't how everybody else thinks, after all, despite my mother's reassurances when I was a child), that I should, by this stage, know all my fellow lift partner's names, kid's names and ages and where they're going on their next holiday. If they knew the wild stories I've made up in my head about their lives, they might be more ready to spill the truthful beans on our shared lift rides into the sky.

Maybe I'm just too curious?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Backed into a corner

I backed myself into a corner, all of a sudden. I don’t know how it happened, it just did. One minute I was sitting at the table by the fire, drinking wine, reminiscing about our youthful folly, and catching up on the new, not-as-youthful folly (yes, we struggle not to be follyful, still now). And the next minute, the deadline loomed up big behind me and then it was there, next to me, and then it had passed me and I watched it’s lithe bottom streak ahead of me. Oh shit.

Reading that back, perhaps I do know how it happened – wine, reminiscing, folly, all in one sentence. So that’s where it went. It was worth it though.

Excuse me for a minute while I chase after it… it really does look cute in it’s little Deadline Running Shorts. And I'm sure its thirsty, I must give it some water to drink.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Winter seeps into me

I have my first winter fire roaring in the hearth. It is grey and rainy outside. The Siamese Princess just came in from outside, damp and cold, complaining in her yowly-not-so-pleasant siamese voice, jumping onto my lap, demanding that I stroke the dampness and cold away. I love that she does that.

The Winter brings with her, in her many bags, a sadness for me. The greyness seeps under my skin. Days like today make my heart contract more when sad songs play - it's almost sore. It makes me struggle to breathe. As if the air is thick with globules of that melancholy. There is something beautiful in it too. My writing skills don't allow me to explain properly. I want to write beautiful words that are strung together in a way that does that heart squeezing thing. They're there, in my head - a vast sky above a stark landscape, letters raining down from huge columns of cloud, landing higgeldy-piggeldy in puddles that make no sense.

Why-oh-why is it so inexplicable when I can see it in my head?