Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Off to the Karoo

I’m so excited that I can hardly breathe. Tomorrow we set off in The Silver-Winged Unicorn to the vast expanse of The Karoo, one of my favourite places in the world. Two of my favourite people in the world, and I. We will stay in Nieu Bethesda where the air is clear, my heart squeezes in pleasure and the stars are sprinkled liberally in the night skies. A place where donkeys amble about on the dusty streets and there is no petrol station, no grocery store, no ATM. Bliss.

I hope to be inspired, to write.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Writing Prompt One: Melting ice

I’ve decided to do a thing, due to my blocked writing channels. A couple of years ago I wrote a month of 100 words – basically 100 words exactly, every day, for a month, it’s a fabulous website and documented a very beautiful time in my life and I really enjoyed it so I've decided it's time for something like that again.

A while ago I downloaded a list of thirteen writing prompts from a website somewhere and I’m now going to do them. Some of my blogs will be stories I’ve made up, using the prompts. They’re quite cool, and a bit difficult, but I need a challenge. I’ll tell you the prompt after each story. Here’s the first:

The walls of the flat are thin, and it’s a hot evening so the balcony doors are open to let in what I hoped would be some cool air. In fact it is only letting in more of the hot, still breaths of the sweating city and the noise from the next door flat. The air fills with the shrieking that one expects to hear when something really bad happens. It’s followed by some ineffectual interjections from a lower voice, one of those overly calm kinds that would certainly make me shriek louder.

I step onto the balcony in search of the non-existent breeze and because I’m a voyeur and can’t hear properly, the thin walls muffling the noise. As I settle into the canvas chair on my balcony and put my glass of wine filled with ice-fighting-for-its-life-in-the-heat, I see a flurry of letters being thrust from the next door balcony and I smell a tiny whiff of cheap perfume from the papers that flutter lazily downwards. Someone’s history, left to fend for itself on the hot city pavement below.

Contemplating running down the stairs to gather them up and read them but too hot to move, I sip on my wine. The ghosts of the melted ice form condensation on the side of the glass and cool my lips momentarily. The shrieking continues but moves further away, finally punctuated with the slam of a door. I take another sip and watch a black cat hunting a chip packet on the other side of the street.

Prompt 1: Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man’s friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.

I’m not sure that I got it quite right but I had fun doing it so that’s okay, right?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Computer geek conversations

My one CD-drive on my computer at Real Work suddenly decided not to work yesterday afternoon. It was a wet and grey day here. You may think I’m losing the plot and flitting from computers to weather illogically. There is method to my madness. The link will soon be made clear (well, sort-of.)

I work at one of the largest tertiary educational institutions down at the foot of Africa so one expects the pimply youths running our IT department to be of an extremely high grade. This was the conversation I had. I’ll let you decide:

IT Geek: IT Helpdesk, Pimply Youth speaking, how can I help?
Shiny: Hi Pimply Youth, it’s Shiny, from up here in The Ivory Tower. My CD drive… blah blah blah…
IT Geek: Ah, yes, hmmm, um. Have you tried switching your machine off?
Shiny: Yes. Twice.
IT Geek: Ah, yes, hmmm, um. Can I connect remotely to your machine and I’ll see what I can do.
Shiny: Sure, go ahead.
IT Geek: Ah, yes, hmmm, um.


More silence.

Shiny: Hello? Pimply Youth?
IT Geek: Ah, yes, hmmm, um. The network is a bit slow. I’m just waiting for remote access.
Shiny: Ah, okay. Slow? Yes. I’ve noticed.
IT Geek: It’s cloudy you see.
Shiny: Yes, I’ve noticed that too. What does that have to do with remote access?
IT Geek: Well, you know when a woman has a caesarean section?
Shiny: Urm, yes?
IT Geek: Well, when they’ve had one, and it’s cloudy and grey, they get moody and slow.
Shiny: (completely stumped silence)
IT Geek: Network access and, therefore, remote access are the same.

I couldn’t make this shit up. He did, however, after this gem of wisdom, fix the problem so I guess I should just be grateful.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another letter I should send: Women's Day

Remember last year’s Women’s Day treat that was organised by Real Work? The talk on post-partum depression? Well, this year, they outdid themselves, inspiring (yet another) Letter I should Send. In order to celebrate women, which is the point of Women’s Day. We were invited to a talk and ‘light refreshments’. The topic this year: “Alcohol Abuse: Do we care?” Seriously.

Dear Real Work Party Planning Committee,

Thank you, again, for thinking of us and rewarding us with a little treat to celebrate Women’s Day. Unfortunately, “Alcohol Abuse – Do we care?” is honestly the most awful topic I’ve ever heard of. I didn’t think you could beat last year’s awful topic, but you seem to have managed. I’m amazed, but in horrified way.

Why on god’s green earth would you think that we’d like to celebrate our womanliness discussing such a depressing topic, with the added assumption in the title of the talk that we don’t care about it? Next year you could go for something more upbeat, perhaps “Toenail infections – when to seek medical help” or something like that?

I do want to say, though, thanks again for organising lunch snacks. You sure know how to make a lady feel good on Women’s Day. Thank you, too, for putting in the effort to plan the celebration. How does one get onto the committee? Just a question… I’m not planning on ousting you all or anything, really.

With love,
Shiny x


Monday, August 22, 2011

Turmoils of thought

I want to write, and I've started about four gazillion (give or take) blogs and lost momentum. They're piling up over there, on the other side of my desk, past the Ferrero Rocher wrapper (empty, unfortunately). I have so much to say, my mind is bouncing between the darkest depths and knowing stuff needs to be outed and complete inertia.

See? Completely turmoiled, my head is.I really do have lots to say. Hell, I haven't even begun with all the Spain stories and we've been back for, what, three months? Ai. How does time fly so? The Spain stories are going dull at the edges, losing their distinct lines, they must be written quick, before they curl up like Autumn leaves and fall off the tree into nooks and crannies that I can't reach.

So here I am, waffling, in an attempt to get the momentum going. Enough already. Hopefully you'll see me again tomorrow. I can't promise intelligable writing - is that even a word? - but I will, at least, try to write. Before the thoughts in my head devour me alive.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The mist

There’s something about mist that is lovely. Perhaps only for those of us who don’t have to experience it too often, though, I’d think. It just feels to me like a hug from The Weatherman, albeit a slightly damp hug.

It seems to me that in thick mist, like that that fell over The City Beneath the Mountain this morning, the trees and plants get away with doing things they can’t (or won’t?) normally do. Like jumping up and down, or wiggling their trunks, or dancing a little. They know, that, if we humans notice, we’ll shake our little heads and blame it on a trick of the mist on our eyes.

There is the most beautiful huge old Wild Fig tree down there, on the other side of the river. It’s so big that it’d take about six tree-hugging hippies, depending on how long their arms are, to hug it. It stretches into the sky with its branches waving very much toward the direction in which the wind blows, like a wild hairstyle. Today, as I looked across when we drove past on the way to The Ivory Tower, I swear I saw it, through the mist, wave one of its ancient tree hands at me.

I waved back, in the hope that a human response might encourage it to wave again, even when its not misty.

Monday, August 1, 2011

In memorium

She thought that if she carefully opened up her chest and took her heart out it might help. She did it gently, knowing the fragility of it all and wrapped it in layer upon layer of the softest, reddest satin and put it in a beautiful engraved wooden box that her grandmother had given her as a child. She’d said it was a magic box and could be used quite safely to hold secrets and valuable things.

Carefully she placed the box in her bedside cupboard and whispered some unintelligible words as she closed it and lay down on her bed. It didn’t help, though, the box couldn’t protect her heart. Her despair leaked out of her, a gush of red, a waterfall of disillusionment, into a puddle of hopelessness. And her heart gently stopped beating in its beautiful red satin outfit. She sighed and was peaceful at last.