Friday, August 31, 2012

Weather and a secret addiction

Anybody who has read more than two posts on this blog will know that I have a great love of The Weatherman and am fascinated by weather reports and have not-so-secret crushes on all the TV weather people. I could go into the pros and cons of each, but I shan't bore you. I'll slip in there that Paul Monare is my favourite.

The reason I'm bringing up the weather is because it directly influences my desire to put pen to paper. Give me a grey, weathery day and I want to hole up and write. Today is one of those, pleasantly coinciding with Friday, allowing me to cocoon inside, while outside The Weatherman is wreaking havoc. The wind is howling and making The House in The Middle of the Street's bones creak, the rain is beating out a lullaby on the tin roof and The Big-Boned Cat is greedily pushing herself between me and the computer, purring loudly and demanding attention and warming hands.

It's just lovely. Then I say it makes me want to write, and it does, but I have a terrible confession to make: I have become most ridiculously addicted to playing Scrabble on Facebook. I. Can. Not. Stop. I've always played it, having various games on the go all the time, making a move every couple of days, but I've now discovered something new and sinister...

Two Minute Scrabble. Each player has two minutes for each move which, in essence, means approximately half-hour Scrabble games. Addictive? Hell yes. I've taken to starting three games at once and playing SuperSpeed Scrabble. Great fun, but the minutes slip into hours, which slip into days, as the Things That Need To Be Done gather dust in the corner. You see? Like I said - sinister. Like it was sent directly by the devil.

The funniest thing, though, is the number of men playing Scrabble on Facebook who are using it as a means to hook up. The number of "U're sexy" and "Nice tits" (I kid you not) that I've had is astounding. Then again, even more astounding is the fact that they know I have nice tits from the 1cm x 1cm picture of only my face that shows up next to the board. Funny, in a vaguely disturbing way. I'd have thought there were better places on the internet to go looking for such things but who am I, a self-confessed Scrabble junkie, to judge? And there was the rather seedy tale of Scrabble Boy.

Excuse me, I must away. I have things to attend to. Ahem.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


We lowered the age category of the restaurant by about twenty years and, let's not kid, we're not youngsters anymore. As always, I was fascinated by the conversations around us, especially by the non-stop gossip of the table of four seventy-plus ladies at the table right next to us. Who wouldn't be when one hears this:

Very grey-haired Old Lady One: They've been together for fifty years.
Very grey-haired Old Lady Two: Is it really that long already? How time flies.
Very grey-haired Old Lady Two: Yes. You should know, she's your sister. There must be something more to it. I think they must have great sex (tittering giggles.)
Very grey-haired Old Lay Two: My sister? (Incredulous expression) Carol?

I had to take a big gulp of my most delicious chanpagne cocktail and then smile at the elderly man next to me to stop myself from guffawing loudly.

Conversations, I love them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Enormous sky beckons

Whinge, whine, moan, groan. Good grief. Enough already Shiny. Enough. I'm stopping now.

In much happier news... My plans for escaping into the Karoo, to the place that makes my heart swell, are coming along. There was a slight hiccup a couple of weeks ago that, momentarily, looked like it might upset the whole apple cart and not allow it to happen but, in the manner of a pitbull, I refused to let go, and it now looks like I'll be going for six weeks.

Six weeks.

Fresh air, open sky, nothing to do but contemplate the fresh air, the open sky. Bliss. I'm also hoping to give the trashy novel I wrote last year during NaNoWriMo a good working through to see if I can make it readable and, perhaps, publishable. I also have wisps of another story flitting about in my head and am contemplating doing NaNoWriMo again this year to try and capture those wisps.

It seems silly not to, when I'll be out there, in the fresh air, under the enormous sky, in the place where inspiration flaps around me...

Oh, I am SO excited. I've been waiting months to write this post, the one where the dream, finally, is forming into reality.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I guess it happens all the time, to everyone. Sometimes we see it happen, other times it happens without us even knowing. Brushes with death. When we notice it, it's a wake up call, a reminder of the fragility of it all. When we don't notice... well... I don't know, maybe we realise somewhere, way deep down in our psyches and we draw a breath in, surprising ourselves, but not really knowing why.

It started last Monday, fairly innocuously, but I was pre-menstrual at the time and terribly emotionally fragile, so I was struck down with a terrible sadness that made me want to sob. It was a floating upside-down fish in a fish tank at a fish restaurant, being removed most carefully into a plastic bag. He was being taken home to the restaurant family owner's son's (and our waiter) tank, hopefully to be revived from whatever goldfishy ailment had turned his world, literally, upside-down. It all seemed too much. Remember... I was awfully PMSsey.

The next morning, I narrowly missed 'walking into' a crime scene. See post before this, or before that one. It made me want to devise some kind of filming set-up that filmed a minute ahead of me, and a minute after. Wouldn't that be fascinating? Or maybe just give one more to worry about.

And then, last night, the third (and hopefully last... come on Old Wive's, prove you're right with that 'Bad luck comes in threes' thing. Please.) This, truly, was a proper eye-opener, not a hormone-induced sob-fest.

They'd unwisely brought some of the fire they'd made outside into their completely closed room. Her mother had done it when they lived in the Transkei, in a hut with windows which had no glass and a door that opened onto the beautiful Kei hills. She didn't think that it'd suck the oxygen from their lungs and fill the room with god-knows-what noxious gases. It did.

I heard her screaming to her sister, her son as they, all three of them - two grown women and one 7-year old came into the house and literally fell into my room looking as if they'd all been drinking. He was crying quietly and squirming in his mother's arms. Her sister fell onto my bed, sliding down onto the floor where I could hear her breathing heavily as I simultaneously tried to get the story out of her, calm them all down and call an ambulance, my father, anyone.

It seemed like hours before they all descended on the house, as I thanked my lucky stars for family, friends, paramedics. An hour later and all had been examined and given the all-okay, her sister up off the floor, standing up, breathing normally, her oxygen levels back to normal.

And me - a swirling, bubbling, confused mixture of sheer anxiety, fear, claustrophobia, sadness and anger. I just feel like I need a good, hard, and possibly loud, cry. The fragility of us all, the momentariness, the fact that death really is always just there, waiting, it all just seems too much.

We're all alive though. For now.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Coffee shop observations

Meeting there seemed wise, she knew that nobody would suspect anything if they saw her meeting him in that kind of place. Affairs are not conducted in coffee shops. If she met him there, people would think she was having a business meeting, nobody would suspect a thing, as long as he didn't stare at her longingly, like he had the other night, when they'd met at an edge-of-town motel, all affair-like, while she told her husband she was going to a PTA meeting. Her husband had a 'late meeting' - his most unoriginal euphamism for 'a date with my secretary, who I've been shagging for three years.'

She couldn't do another motel meeting, it had made her feel seedy and dishonest, rather like she was having an affair or something. She worried, too, that she'd bump into her husband and said secretary. That would just be awkward. So, yes, a coffee shop was a better option. They wouldn't be able to touch, but at least she could see him, and talk to him, and try and quell the fierce missing that they both felt.

What she hadn't taken into consideration was that love and passion can't be hidden by the aroma of coffee and baking muffins. Holding hands or not, the lady sitting waiting for her friend in the corner having a glass of wine can see it shining off her. It's alright, though, she has made up a story in her head and will keep mum. You deserve some happiness.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Admin, boring bloody admin

I have things to do. Lots of them. Tax submission admin, looking for writing work so I can keep Freelance Fridays going, some editing for someone who's kindly done a whole lot for me, fighting with the medical aid... boring, boring, yawn. All the admin I want to be doing is making proper plans for my Karoo trip, but that is fraught with hanging on other people's decisions. I'm not even sure that sentence makes sense. I just wanted to throw 'fraught' in the mix.

With all this admin glaring at me disconsolately in the corner, I find myself sticking to my guns and blogging regularly. Now you know why.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When bad timing goes good

"Will it be ready soon?" I asked, my foot wanting desperately to tap out an impatient tune against the slightly scuffed desk behind which she sat, watching her printer single-mindedly as if, in doing so, it’d hurry up and print the authorisation.

I’d been there waiting since before eight. I watched them all arrive, unlock, turn on the lights, moving around inside the shop windows like a live TV show. I was there to see how age had affected my eyes in the past two years, and to get new glasses to replace the current pair that look… well… well-used.

Optometrist appointments make me nervous. I’m never sure if I’m getting the answers right for which option is clearer and I always think I’m going to give myself the wrong prescription because I don’t do it right. “Which is clearer, the green or the red?” in my head sounds like “Get this wrong and you’ll be the recipient of lifelong blurry vision and, possibly, headaches too.” It makes my blood pressure rise and my palms sweat. Okay, maybe I’m getting a little over-dramatic.

I’m pleased to say that my left eye is pulling the middle finger at age and hasn’t got worse. The right eye is slightly worse. The puff of air in the pupils, the oh-so-close-up-I-can-see-your-irises-optometrist-lady measurements, all done and dusted. Then the final hurdle – frame choosing. Again – palpitations, sweaty palms etc.

Well, I thought that was the final hurdle. Turned out the admin was the actual final hurdle. Filling in forms, sending off medical aid authorisation, waiting, waiting, waiting. I had another appointment, I needed to get going. Being of a normally patient disposition I did wait, marvelling at the industrial roof and listening to the conversation between the two secretaries who were discussing the pros and cons of flesh-coloured stockings. Important stuff. After fifteen minutes of being patient, though, fifteen minutes that would make me twenty minutes late for my next appointment (I hadn’t planned all that well to start with), I told them they’d have to fax it to me, I had to go.

I was, indeed, closer to half-an-hour late for my next appointment, at a shop located in a less-than-salubrious area of the city. Luckily. I arrived with the police, who had been called following a robbery that had occurred at the shop, some half hour before.

Somewhere, someone is looking out for me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The bridge ladies, a story

Her lipstick was just a little too red, her eyeshadow a little too dark, her skirt a little too short. At least, according to their very exact, and much gossiped about standards. The room became murky amidst a cloud of judgement from the other women in the room, their lipstick slightly duller, eyeshadow less dark, skirts slightly longer. She swept through the room, her high heels catching ever-so-slightly on the thick carpet, her hips swinging provocatively, keeping her gaze on the door leading out to the patio.

They'd been playing bridge all morning. None of them really knew how to play properly, it was just an excuse to get together and twitter. Not in the new-fandangled Twitter internet way, no. This was twittering of the slightly nastier version. That one where affairs, divorces, in fact anything a little bad newsy, was regarded as highly interesting and very talkworthy. Especially if it involved people outside their bridge circle. They'd been known to make ladies cry. Ladies who didn't conform to their exacting standards, their dour, boring, existences.

They stopped twittering as she walked through. As she felt their eyes on her, sixteen of them, taking in her provocation, her lipstick, her short skirt. Turning to them as she opened the door onto the patio, the young man outside standing, ready to greet her, she smiled at them, her too red lips stretching across her face, her eyes lighting up beneath the too dark eye shadow, and they all looked down, fiddling with their cards.

She greated the man outside, hugging him and leaving a blood red imprint of her lips on his stubbled cheek where she kissed him. Sitting down, she ordered a Singapore Sling, with two cherries.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Relationship versus friendship

After hearing a few remarks on my post yesterday and a quick re-read, I got to thinking. Most of my gazillions of two readers quite understandably took it as a little prose in celebration of an anniversary, which it is. The thing is, though, that it's a 'friend' anniversary, as opposed to a 'significant other' anniversary. This is what got me thinking.

In this day and age, where so many of us are not doing the nuclear family thing, it seems like a good idea to celebrate the friends that, essentially, are our families. Why the focus only on celebrating the anniversaries of 'significant others'?

While I realise it's just socially inbred in us to to take note and remember the date that we met/first kissed/first slept with our significant others (I love that everybody starts counting from different points. I, myself, have often blurred the edges of these so-called significant points in relationships, but that's another story, for another day...), why don't we do it with our friends?

The particular friend I was talking of and I met on another friend's birthday so, admittedly, it's an easy enough one to remember but I'm thinking, maybe, we should just celebrate them everyday - our friends. I know I'm blessed with a group of fabulous ones, the one mentioned yesterday, and others.

Essentially, the  little piece I wrote yesterday differs between our friends and our significant others - be they boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives - only in the last sentence of the second paragragh, really. Someone who you feel like you've known forever, someone you will, now, know forever. Sadly, this often doesn't apply to the significant others. Hearts break, emotions get bruised, people part, and often the 'knowing forever' bit falls by the wayside. (Again, my history with this blurs... yet another story, for yet another day.)

I suppose that sometimes happens with friends, too. Writing this has reminded me what a lucky girl I am. Here's to fabulous friends. And more shared homemade chocolate ice cream. Hell, let's throw in a glass of champagne too. Or a bottle.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Three years

It's not something you can anticipate. Not something you ever expect. Not something that happens very often. When it does, though, it's like finding a pearl in an oyster or eating an enormous bowl of homemade chocolate ice cream. With chocolate sauce made from melted Bar Ones.

Meeting a kindred spirit. Someone who gets you, who you get. Someone who likes the same things, and other things, things you'd never thought of liking, but realise, perhaps, you could like them too. Or not. It doesn't matter. Someone who makes you think, makes you laugh, makes you want to do stuff. Someone who you feel like you've known forever, someone you will, now, know forever.

It's a lovely thing that, meeting kindred spirits, and it deserves celebration. And a shared bowl of homemade chocolate ice cream with melted Bar One sauce.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


It’s weathery here on the tip of Africa. I do not use the term ‘weathery’ lightly, either. The winds gust and howl as the heavens open, showering down huge drops of rain and even some hail. The clouds are dark and heavy, leaking onto earth, obscuring the mountains, giving everything a feeling of dampness and a pervading sense of melancholy.

It’s the type of weather that makes me want to stay home, light a fire in the hearth, and write. Yes, write! Woohoo. It’s been a while since I had that urge. If only I could magically transform into a trust fund kid and didn’t have to come to Real Work, then I could feed the urge.

Instead, here I sit in The Ivory Tower, staring out across the Cape Flats, watching the hadedas flap against the wind and rain while I deal with the rigours and tragedies that are my Real Job.

Tomorrow, though, I shall stay home and pretend to be that trust fund kid.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Catfish, the documentary

I watched Catfish last night, a documentary made by two brothers and their friend. Basically, one brother is a photographer in New York and he gets sent a painting of a photo he's taken, supposedly painted by Abby, an 8-year old girl in Michigan. The film follows his 'cyber' (Facebook) friendship with her and her mother, father, brother and then his blooming relationship with Megan, her older sister, first on Facebook, then over the phone. Further paintings follow.

Over eight months he falls in love with her, becoming friends with her friends on Facebook, looking at pictures, spending hours chatting. Then she sends him a song she says she wrote and sang for him. He Googles it, and they find the song, written and performed by someone else. At this point it all falls apart and they decide to go to the small town where they all supposedly live.

Basically it turns out that, while there is a daughter, Megan, and an Abby, the mother is the painter; the 'Megan' that's he talked to, fallen in love with, divulged all his energy into; the friends; the brother. She has created all their Facebook profiles, talked to him over the phone late into the night. Her awe of him is palpable. His confusion and disappointment obvious.

It is heartbreaking to see as he confronts her, a woman who does not look as she (Abby) has portrayed herself in paintings. She is mortified, sad. At one point she says each of the characters she'd created were a part of her that she longed to be, that she couldn't be, because that's just how life turned out for her.

In reality, she is a woman, living with a husband in small town America (he seemed a bit wanting), looking after his severely retarded, grown-up twin boys from a previous marriage and their daughter, Abby, estranged from her elder daughter, Megan. An artist and story-teller stuck in a life she didn't think she'd be stuck in.

It's fascinating and I'm writing this before I go and do some internet investigation because, as the story unfolds, it becomes hard to believe that it actually, really, happened. It's also fascinating to realise how the world we live in is so stuck on looks. The Megan she created was blonde, buxom, beautiful in the pics (she'd taken pics from some model) which, obviously, helped our young lad to fall for her but, essentially, he'd fallen for her actual being, having not met her 'physically.'

This is a documentary that asks all sorts of questions and exposes many truths. Facebook is a minefield. Human nature is fragile. We all, essentially, just want to be loved.

The movie left me feeling incredibly raw and a bit sad.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting back into it

I am starting today. I know, I know – I keep saying this. I keep promising myself I’ll write more regularly, I’ll write every day, or every second day, or twice a week. And then I don’t. I must, though, to recover some modicum of sanity, to practice, to get myself going. I just must.

Various Real Life, admin stuff has messed with my escaping the city for two months plan. I’m fighting for it, though, making other plans, getting the ducks in a row. At this stage I’m looking at a month, maybe a little over that. I have to rely on various other people, which makes it frustrating. Luckily, I’m blessed with lovely ‘other people’, making it a little less frustrating.

So, in the meantime, I need to get into a rhythm of writing. Hopefully I’ll be here again tomorrow, with something more interesting than a Me-Me-Me Pep Rally.