Thursday, February 17, 2011

Letters to the Advertisers

I was watching television the other night. This, however, is not news. I do that regularly, because I like TV. Even the schmaltzy, badly scripted soaps amuse me. Whether this makes me an airhead or not is debatable – a debate we can have another day because it’s not what I want to talk about today. And it’s my blog, so I get to choose. It’s the ads. They have prompted a letter writing flurry. I haven’t written any for ages, so here goes:

Dear Self-Squirting Room Air Freshener People,

Firstly, I am amazed that you actually sell enough to pay for such elaborate ads. I cannot fathom why anybody would want their lounge to smell like toilet spray every 10/20/30 minutes. It’s just weird. Even if you are an elephant who has a teenage caterpillar son who plays football and has many, many stinky football shoes. I’d make him store them in the garden shed, but that’s just me.

While we’re on that, though… an elephant with a caterpillar for a child? The logistics of that have kept me awake night after night. It worried me so, that someone in the coupling that resulted in that child was in severe discomfort. It’s okay, though, after eight sleepless nights I finally realised. The child is adopted. Good on you for promoting families other than the nuclear stereotype. My nephews have two mothers. Nuclear families are so yesterday.

I just have one question. Despite my dislike for so-called ‘aromatic’ sprays, I am most tempted to get some, purely to have pretty little flowers float happily out of my house all the time and up into the sky, as they do in the advert. What a lovely thing. I thought I’d get my neighbours to get it too, so we can have an extravaganza of flowers wafting about in our street. I just wanted to check, though, can one choose which flowers?

Shiny x

Dear Slimming Cereal People,

Just a quick question, please, before I go out and buy your ‘delicious, yet slimming’ cereal. The red carpet that will roll out before me wherever I go once I start eating it… does it come with a person to vacuum the carpet too? I worry that it’ll get dirty, especially when it rolls out along the pavement outside, as I saw it do in your advert.

Shiny x

Dear Feminine Hygeine Product People,

It’s just plain irritating when you say “Have a happy period.” And no, I’m not pre-menstrual. This is my non-pre-menstrual response. You don’t want to see the pre-menstrual one. I may then use language which could hurt delicate ears/eyes, which you may well have. So stop it, please.

Shiny x

There are more, but I must stop. Real Work calls.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I just received an indignant mail from G saying: “You didn’t mention the pudding.” And she’s right, I didn’t. Forgive me, because it was worth mentioning. There under the hot night sky, we made ourselves fatter, just like the moon, while I listened in to the plastic-surgeried-to-the-hilt lady at the next table going on-and-on-and-on about healthy lifestyle choices and self actualisation. She ordered a burger. When it arrived she threw her arms up, put her hands to her cheeks and exclaimed: “Chips!” What did she expect? Twit. She then scoffed them down at great speed.

Across at our table, the pudding was delicious. Vanilla Swiss Roll with chocolate sauce, espresso ice-cream and a good whallop of cream. We shared it, because pudding, in my opinion, should always be shared. It just tastes nicer that way.

Warm nights with Black Swan

Black Swan. The movie, with Natalie Portman, who outdoes herself playing a severely psychologically screwy ballerina. It’s not my kind of movie normally, it being termed a ‘psychosexual thriller’ or some such movie jargon, but I’m being wild (rowr) and branching out. I did need to close my eyes in certain parts because, well, I’m a sissy. I’m glad I went to watch it, though. Firstly because of the unrelenting heat we’re having and the contradictory morgue-like temperature of the cinema and secondly because watching acting talent like Natalie Portman’s is a treat.

The first reason – the coolth bit- was reinforced by the fact that it was shown in the old cinema here in The City Beneath the Mountain. I love it there. They show art movies and the cinema is huge and airy and has uncomfortable old seats and the sound isn’t brilliant but you can buy a cold beer and drink it in the movie and the (bad) sound isn’t all muffled and airless like the new (and amazing too) wall-to-wall-to-ceiling carpeted surround-sound new types.

The experience was further improved by the daughter of the lady working there (aged 3) spending a very long time pushing all the seats down, row-by-row, before the movie started. We helped her find her (very pink) shoes that she’d shed with wild abandon when her mother came to fetch her before the definitely not suitable for 3-year olds movie started.

And then Wild Swan, a grittily filmed, bone-chilling (or maybe that was the air con?) account of the search for perfection of a ballerina, motivated by her mother’s failings as one, and resulting in horror of the highest degree. It wriggled down into me and made me think. A stick-thin, sinewed Natalie Portman portrayed her with a brilliance that shone. It left me feeling a little raw.

Then a plate of pasta and a glass of wine at a restaurant outside. The warm Summer night defrosted us from our cinema-induced chill and I wished on the first star way up there next to the fattening moon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

So it was that schmaltzy, red-and-pink-bedecked, money-making holiday yesterday. The one that got us excited as high school girls when we’d spray perfume on paper and send red enveloped letters to the boys, hopingwishinghoping to get one back. I think I eventually got one in my final year, when I (finally) had my first boyfriend. Luckily Valentine’s Day was before I found out he’d kissed my best friend’s sister at a party we were both at, causing wild throes of fury and teenage angst and a rapid end to our budding affair.

I don’t think I was all that perturbed, really. I remember kissing him in his bedroom while looking around his room and thinking that his choice in posters was poor. It was never meant to be. We became good friends after and he married a lovely girl and had two sweet children and then died of colon cancer way, way too young. I stray.

Valentine’s Day at The All Girl’s Boarding School was A Big Thing. The dining room was decorated by the Std 9’s and breakfast consisted of everything pink – milk, rice crispies, French Toast. With the amount of red colouring used, my stomach is probably still a deeper shade of red than it should be. Then, at break time, roses were handed out, in front of everybody, from the boys at our brother school, down the road. Mortifying for some, glorious for others. Me? I was on the non-receiving, but only partially-mortified side. Of course I’d have loved to get an enormous bunch of them. What 16-year old wouldn’t?

And now? Nope, no pink milk, no bated breath waiting for my name to be called in the quad, just (age-induced?) cynicism at the commercialism of it all. I almost wore my red shirt yesterday and then realised, in the nick of time, and put on a white one instead.

BUT… I had lovely drinks near the sea in the muggy heat of last night beneath the pink-lit ferris wheel with two dear friends, while we watched happy, loving, couples, some in co-ordinated clothing (seriously! Snigger) and pondered over all sorts of things, old and new. When I got home I should’ve bated my breath. Because there I found a well-timed (but non-Valentine) parcel from overseas. Thank you Angela! A little fluffy donkey and a bag of gum sweets shaped like sharks. Just perfect for Valentine’s Day.

So today I am wearing my red shirt, and my wooden heart bead necklace and my breath is bated with what’s to come next.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Facebook Whingers

Honestly, I love Stalkbook Facebook. Never before have voyeurs, such as myself, had such free reign to tune into other people's lives, whether or not we're close friends. I mean this in a completely non-freaky way though. Yes, I will flick through your photos (and those of your friends, even the ones I don't know) but I won't then stalk you or send you wierd mails or have envelopes filled with notes made up of letters cut from magazines delivered to your office.

No, I'm more of a social voyeur. The type that just looks, laughs and occassionally judges (honestly, who doesn't?), as I'm assuming, people do with me. I did, however, change my privacy options to stop people other than those I know from looking at my pictures because I know what people (read: me) are like. Not that I mind Friends of Friends seeing what I'm up to, it's the Friends of Friends of theirs I worry about. Snigger. Which brings me to my point: two bugbears, big, fat ones.

Firstly, the people who keep whining on in their status updates about Facebook and their privacy. For heaven's sake people, did you not notice, on signing up, that it was Facebook? You were not signing in to your secure bank account, it's Facebook. Read the name, work the concept through your tiny mind. That's the point - putting your entire life out there, for the world to see.

However, what you put out there is your choice. You don't sign on and little suckers come flying out of your screen, attaching to your brain and offering your every thought, conversation, soul-kept secret as your status updates (thank god). You choose what to put there, you choose the pictures you put there, are tagged on, allow people to see. Honestly, if you don't like it, use the privacy features or stop whinging and whining and delete your profile.

Secondly, more on the whining. I so wish there could be a dislike button for all the revoltingly whiny status updates. Stop moaning about the trvialities that make up life, we all have them. I am truly sorry that your milk is sour, but I'm not sure it's worthy of Stalkbook. And especially stop moaning vaguely, causing ripples of responses to your update saying "Moana is unimpressed" to ask what's wrong. Suck it up. As my mother says: "If you've got nothing nice to say, don't say it." I'd like to make her the moderator for Facebook, just for a day.

Shoo, look at me ranting and whinging. As I said, I love Facebook, and I love hearing even the minutiae of my friend's lives (even the sour milk now and again) but it's the constant whining I don't like. It's not that they all have to be happy. Hell, mine aren't. It's just that there's a difference between sad, dissappointed, tragic and... Moaning. Reading back, I realise this is aimed at two or three of my Facebook "Friends", people I honestly didn't know very well twenty years ago when we lived in the same town. Perhaps I should put a lid on it and take my own advice and use all those Facebook buttons and delete them.

Problem is: I feel so bad deleting people even though they won't even know. It just seems so, well, mean. I have a whole list of Friend Requests that have been sitting for months because they're all people who I wasn't even really friends with at school. I just can't bring myself to click Ignore.

A stream-of-conciousness blog post. Still a bit rambling, isn't it?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ramble, ramble

I think a lot in the early morning hours. I wake up before it is really time to get up. Who makes up those rules anyway? The ones about when wake up time is and stand up time is? Oh, wait, I’m a grown-up now… I do. Oh my god. I’m a grown-up? Surely not? But yes, somewhere along the way I got qualified, got a job, bought a house, pay taxes, pay people, own a dog and two cats, turned 36 years old and I guess that all qualifies me as a grown-up. Pity I feel like I’m 15 still.

Where was I? I was thinking, in the early hours, while the birds wake up outside and the sun creeps in. Thinking all manner of things from what I'm doing to what's happening in the world to how wireless headphones work. My mind flits from thought to thought, settling on one thing only long enough to bring up more questions. The answers float around listlessly, not quite awake yet and, mostly, out of reach.

And stories, stories float out of me and flit about like the giant mosquitoes buzzing about in my bedroom. And then? Then, unfortunately, they flit out of the window and down the driveway and over the hedge and away. To wherever stories in your head go. I imagine it's a fabulous place full of talking paper clips, cats with six legs and eyelashes longer than you've ever seen and clouds made of candy floss.

Waffle, waffle, warble, squawk... this is possibly the most rambling post I've ever written, and you know I'm an excellent rambler! I shall think of something sufficiently exciting/controversial/beautiful/inspirational for the next one. Or, at least, I'll try.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Imogen Heap

It’s the kind of place you expect to look up and see little flitterings of light as fairies frolic in the leaves of the enormous ghost gums. In the bottom of the amphitheatre, the stage had a see-through grand piano sitting beneath an old tree which was suspended and strung with fairy lights – in honour of the fairies in the trees I guess. I saw them dancing amongst the lights when she sang a couple of the songs.

I didn’t expect her to sound as she does on her CDs because they all sound very ‘studio’. But she did sound exactly like she does on them. Imogen Heap. I’ve loved her music for years and I couldn’t believe it when I heard she was coming and where she was playing. In a forest, to a tiny audience, indescribable really, but I’ll try.

As the sun set, the sky turned dark blue and the trees stretched above into the starry night. The lights twinkled in the tree above her and she reeled me in. I was transfixed, entranced by her music, her voice went through me, straight into my heart, which clenched at the beauty of it. Sublime, ethereal, and at the same time she’s real, full of stories, funny.

She sings, plays the piano, makes noises with her voice which she replays and sings with, has cymbals, microphones on her wrists, an mbira, a cellist… the list goes on. And she turns it all into music that’ll make the fairies dance.

Now that’s what I call a music concert, all senses prickle and you don’t want it to end. I’m going to be hard-pressed to see a performer that comes close to Imogen Heap. What a pleasure and priviledge to see her perform in such a spectacular setting.

See? Didn’t I say I’m the luckiest girl in the world?

Friday, February 4, 2011

What a lucky girl I am

So, yes, what've I done in the last two days? Bullet form today, because I am feeling super-organised, and I feel like splashing some little dotty bullets about the place:
  • Visited Pop twice, once on Wednesday, once yesterday, and seen her turn from pale, horribly sore, unhappy, looking-so-small Pop into slightly rosier, less sore, still-looking-so-small Pop. I've just spoken to her and she's being discharged. This has made me dance a little jig of joy. Of course I want her to be quick-quick back to rosy, pain-free, back-to-normal-size (which is small, but in a different way) Pop, but she's on that road and I'm so glad. She was ever-so-brave and they found nothing 'untoward' in her lymph nodes which is wonderful news. Now she just needs to recover fully.
  • I turned 36 years old, making my blogname even more ridiculous than, well, the day before the day before yesterday (otherwise known as Tuesday.)
  • I breakfasted on said birthday with my parents and their best friends who have known me since I was born. It made me realise how incredibly lucky I am to have them all within walking distance of The House in the Middle of the Street. They gave me beautiful roses too.
  • I suppered on said birthday with wonderful, old friends at a pavement restaurant in the City Beneath the Mountain. The concrete sizzled in the heat and the bins smelt rank from around the corner and down the alley in the furnace-like temperatures, as we all listened in on the internet date at the next table. The smell dissolved in the good company and the couple next door seemed well-suited. They must've breathed a sigh of relief when we left, with our twenty waggling ears between us.
  • I stayed outside as a thunderstorm passed over causing steam to rise from my driveway after the even hotter heat of yesterday - 39 degrees celcius. Too hot to breathe. We don't often get thunderstorms (or rain) in Summer here on the tip of Africa, that happens always further North where I grew up. It was wonderful. The smell of rain on hot dust is indesrcibable, so I won't try.
  • I got into bed, my hair filled with raindrops, my body cooled and lay in the air of the fan, contemplating what a very lucky girl I am to love and be loved as I am.

Hmm, not so sure about the bullet form... will go back to paragraphs next time, okay?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Big Day

Everything seems insignificant on Big Days. You know the kind. The days when Big Things happen. Like today. When people walking around, dropping their kids at school, buying milk, getting on with, well, life, all seems weird. I expect everybody to feel how I do today: anxious, worried, teary.

You see, my lovely friend Pop goes in to have both breasts removed and reconstructed today. Although they only found cancer in one breast she decided to take both off in case. Very wise I think. She’s been so very brave throughout the chemo, lost her hair and looks beautiful for it, had ‘chemo brain’, finished it all off and now it’s time for the op. Today.

Her partner, Shuzie, has been incredible. She’s the kind of person you’d want around if something like this happened (God forbid.) She got on with it. They changed their (already healthy) eating habits, they kept fit and healthy, they did all the things you’re supposed to, while still doing the fun things and the naughty things and things that you’re ‘not supposed to’. And the main thing – the love they share. Hell, it’s not perfect, and I’m sure there are cracks just as in any relationship but from the outside looking in… it’s all-encompassing, comforting, present.

So today my bloggy readers, just today, I will ask a favour of you: to pray to whoever your god is, that it all goes as it should and that her recovery is as quick and painless as possible. It’s my birthday tomorrow and that’s all I want for it. Please.