Tuesday, 21 December 2010
The World Cup was a bigger part of my life than I thought it could possibly be. I was proud of South Africa, I was proud of what we achieved, and I loved the tangible atmosphere of excitement that lasted for a full month. We were in France for the final, and it was only the fact that we were at my best friend's wedding that made that ok.
Changing jobs was far more stressful than I thought it would be. However, I'm really glad I did it. I am much happier where I am, I enjoy the people, I feel challenged, and I feel valued. In spite of all the drama with the Stupid People in HR and my daily swearing at the antiquated technology we use, I am glad I moved.
I was heartbroken when friends of ours died in a fire in July. I didn't realise how heartbroken until I fell to pieces at the most unexpected times. Through the process, I learned that it's ok to be angry, that in a situation like that, there is no normal response to such an abnormal situation. I learned that there are no wrong feelings, that suppressing feelings and responses is simply a bad idea. I've learned to articulate my feelings more, and Brett doesn't have to drag my thoughts out of me kicking and screaming any more. I can drive past the property without dwelling on the details that did my head in, but I still think of them, so often. No more melting into little puddles of tears though. Or big ones.
I have been disappointed in friends, for different reasons. I know that I have probably also disappointed two of them. Something I still have to figure out is how to be a better friend, because this irony is not lost on me: the friends that I keep in touch with the most, that I trust and 'talk' to the most, all live in different cities to the one I do.
I have learned to pick my battles. Or my crusades, for that matter. Brett's half brother (12) moved onto our property at the beginning of the year with his dad, and for a while, I made the situation my problem. Difficult not to take responsibility for a troubled 12 year old who eats meals in your home, and who is idolised by your own children. But the thing is - you can only help someone who wants to be helped. He didn't, his father didn't, and who was I anyway to try to interfere. So l let go...
Growing vegetables is a great idea, but there's something I'm missing - I haven't yet been able to grow enough to cut back on how many I buy. But it's lots of fun, and the boys love picking the fruit and eating veggies straight off the plant. The simple things are the good things. A lesson that should be applied in all sorts of situations I guess...
It's not a new lesson, but something I've been aware of all year. I am blessed, very blessed indeed. I have a husband who loves me, and who I love. I have two magnificent amazing boys. I have a beautiful home. I have a great support structure. I have a loving and incredible mom, and a great mom-in-law. I am healthy. We live a comfortable lifestyle. There are so many people around us who are struggling with so many things. I am blessed in so many ways, and for these I am so grateful.
Thursday, 2 December 2010
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Monday, 13 September 2010
You know when you become a mom that there are going to be times when you have to deal with the really difficult stuff with your child – the stuff of life, and of death – because both of these can be really hard, and both of these are inevitable.
I first published this piece on JoziKids.
You see, that's the thing about our events. Not only will you leave with that good warm-hearted feeling that you've given a bit of time and a bit of cash to help someone else out - you're likely to leave with a gift or a purchase that will make you downright glad that you took the time out of your busy schedule to help us give back to our community.
So, if you were wondering whether or not you should join us on the 13th of October, here are a few more reasons (apart from the feel-good ones) that you should:
- Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and the Valley Lodge have sponsored getaway prizes for the lady and gentleman who wear the funkiest shoes on the night.
- Eliza Kentridge, sister of William and no artistic slouch herself, has donated a work currently in progress for us to auction.
- Jonathan Shapiro, aka Zapiro, has donated some signed limited edition cartoons, in line with the theme of the evening, for auction.
- Clarins has very kindly sponsored some Thierry Mugler men's fragrance gift sets for table giveaways.
And there's still more in the pipeline!
So... have you booked your ticket yet?! :-)
If you haven't, contact Helen on email@example.com to book your place. Tickets are R500 per person, and the event will take place at the Indaba in Fourways.
See you there?
Thursday, 26 August 2010
So when I saw that the restaurant had changed to Munch, I took a deep breath and arranged to meet my friend and her grandlets there on Saturday afternoon. What a pleasant surprise!
The covered patio now goes around two sides of the building, and the décor is mostly white with touches of lilac. All very elegant, and very Parktown North. The menu is much smaller, but I think that allows the chef to be more focused. The hamburgers are still to die for, the roasted butternut and beetroot salad special was hearty and tasty, and my friend’s fish and chips looked outstanding. They still have the pizza oven, and although pizzas are not on the menu, it seems that they have pizza specials each day according to inspiration or available ingredients.
Munch also has a kiddies’ menu, with classics like toasted sarmies, fish fingers and baby pizzas (which looked big enough to satisfy my appetite) – basic food, but the kind of food that little people love.
The staff are interested, attentive and friendly, although it took a lot of waving to attract enough attention to get the bill.
Main courses for adults are between R50 and R70 per plate on average, while the children’s food is around R30 per portion.
The good: The playground has been updated a bit, and is still a huge hit with the littlies.
The bad: There isn’t a bad – we had a great time, ate good food, and look forward to going back.
The ugly: The loos are still dingy, dark and far away from the restaurant, and there are still no changing facilities to cater for littlies with junk in their trunk.
* I have since learned that the toilets belong to the nursery, which refuses to upgrade them. Shame on them! Have you got any ideas on how the restaurant can get around this? My thought is for them to find a nook and set up a changing station with a changing mat, wet-wipes and handwash for moms, somewhere in the restaurant. Not sure how that would sit with the health guys though - but it's worth investigating. If you've got any ideas, post them below, I'll forward them on.
** This review was originally written for JoziKids
In our time, we've raised funds for Habitat for Humanity (two houses worth, actually), the LEAP School for Maths and Science Excellence for pupils from Alexandra, the Tsolofelo Baby Sanctuary on the West Rand, and various other schools, creches and children's homes, on a smaller scale. We've done it through hosting events with appealing speakers, from futurist Graeme Codrington to Ruda Landman, Debora Patta and Deshun Deysel, South Africa's leading female mountain climber.
When we raise funds for a charity, we give them every penny of profit once the costs (such as catering) have been paid. Nothing disappears into the 'admin' that is the black hole of so many worthy causes. And our leader used to be the Head of Treasury at Nedbank - so she knows how to do things right.
We beg, borrow but definitely don't steal to get amazing sponsorships for prizes to say thank you to our guests. We've been sponsored by Bill Harrop, Lion Sands, Clarins, Clico Guest House, Ina Paarman and numerous others (who I hope won't be offended that I'm not listing them all for fear of making this post too long).
This year, we decided to go BIG. We're hosting a dinner event at the Indaba Hotel on 13 October, and our speaker is Gill Marcus. Yes, the Gill Marcus that's the Governor of the Reserve Bank, the one that's been at the helm of ABSA, the one that was one of the leading lights in South Africa's struggle against apartheid. She's talking about the shoes that she's filled in her career, because the charity that we're supporting this year is the Big Shoes Foundation, of whom Judge Edwin Cameron is a patron. (He was going to be joining us, but rather inconveniently has to attend the St Mary's Valedictory Service that evening).
Here's where the shameless promotion comes in. We've got 450 tickets to sell, at R500 per ticket. That gets you an evening with one of South Africa's brightest woman achievers, a three course meal, an opportunity to network with some pretty amazing people, and the chance to contribute to a charity that is making a difference in the lives of children who don't have anyone to stand up for them.
We'd love you to come. We'd love your whole family to come. We'd love you to ask your company to take a table (or two or three) of 10, to say thank you to you for a job well done this year - and to show that they care about the future of some very special children. We've got some great prizes for lucky draws, and we've got some wonderful items up for auction.
So. Click right here firstname.lastname@example.org to tell Helen how many seats you want to book. She'll get back to you with more details.
C'mon. You know you wanna!
Monday, 9 August 2010
If we met in real life:
- You'd see just how much I love my boys, and how proud I am of my husband.
- You'd find that it takes me a while to come up with smart things to say. Much easier to do so when you can plot your 140 characters before you blurt them out!
- You'd see my flashing my nails. My very not-real nails that really make me feel like a lady, but that are just so not tough enough to be at the fingertips of my life.
- You'd understand that family is so important to me.
- You might find that I'm bitterly angry about a couple of things at the moment. Some things that were total accidents, some things where the Stupid People just don't seem to get it.
- You would get a lengthy explanation of the tragedy of not being able to choose your in-laws. One of mine is great. The other one? How long have you got?
- You'll see that I'm a jeans-and-Tshirt kind of girl. But I do love stilettos and dressing like a smart, sassy woman.
- You'll learn that I don't do war movies, or slapstick comedy.
- You'll figure out that I'm not nearly as tech literate as you might think I am. I kind of get the tech by osmosis from my resident Alpha Geek, and I play with the toys, but asking me about the really hardcore stuff? You'll get a blank look from me, followed by "You should ask Brett".
- If you get to taste my cooking or baking, you'll learn that I'm pretty good at it. I don't do recipes much, and although I have all the Jamie Oliver books, I hardly use them. Unless it's for a bit of inspiration.
- You'll learn that my best friends are guys, and that they're now scattered to the four winds. One of them passed away nearly six years ago, and I still miss him.
- You'll get smartly told that no, we will not be trying for a girl next. See: Two arms - one for each boy. If you can figure out how to give me a third arm, I'll consider a third child. Maybe.
- You'll be told that I should have been writing an iPad review for @ExMi instead of writing this. Sorry, @ExMi!
Thursday, 29 July 2010
This has hit me far harder than I thought it would. I still choke up in tears at random times, and while I want to print out pictures from the birthday party for Shane and the family, I can't bring myself to go into that section in my photo library.
I have spent some time contemplating grief today. I have only had a handful encounters with death, and they have all been very different.
My grandfather died of cancer when I was 16. He was ill for a long time, and my greatest regret that my last attempt to show him that I was there by squeezing his hand turned out to be extremely painful for him. He was gone the next morning.
My dad died five weeks after our wedding, after a brief but grim illness with cancer of the pancreas. My dad was my counsel, my foundation, the person I turned to for advice, the person who I could trust no matter what (along with my mom), and the person who surprised me with spots of spontaneity in his very measured and accounted for life. We spent his last day with him in hospital, even though he was unconscious, caught between the stark reality that he was never going to wake up, that those ice-blue eyes were never going to twinkle again, and relief that his suffering was over. I miss my dad every day, I wish he was here to know my boys, but he was sick and in pain and he was old and it was the way of life that he be released from that. My heart doesn't ache for him, it treasures his memory.
Andrew was my best friend at varsity. For a while I was in love with him, but I soon saw the folly of that, and we went back to being buddies. A successful law practice, a huge inheritance and a failed marriage later, he was a drug addict and an alcoholic. I watched him destroy all that he had created, I and others tried to intervene, but we learned the hard way that no-one can fix an addict unless they want to fix themselves. After some particularly harrowing encounters, I remember driving to work one morning sobbing my heart out, because I believed that it was a matter of days before someone found him dead of an overdose. As it turns out, he semigrated to Cape Town, disconnected from everyone he knew in Joburg, cleaned up, and became a pretty awesome photographer. A month short of being clean for a year, he died in a kloofing accident. It felt like I'd already mourned losing him, like his death came as no surprise. We'd seen him the month before when he was here to photograph a friend's wedding, and he told me the root of his addiction. It was an intense and shocking conversation that started about 10 minutes before I had to leave for work, and we never finished it. My mourning for Andrew is more about the conversations I wish I'd had, the apology for judging him when I had no right to. It's about missing the sunsets on atop his roof, and how he challenged me to push limits. It was with him that I drove a Porsche at 256kph, and with him that I climbed to the top of the water tower at Knockando. He knew how to pique my defiance, and I miss that. Besides, now I'm all responsible and stuff, being a mom.
And now Monica, Rogan and Milla. Three beautiful people, young, precious, gentle, so full of potential. Taken in the most cruel and dreadful way. I cry for what could have been, for them, for their husband and father, for her parents, the children's grandparents. I drive past that house every day on my school run, and I can't help but be reminded of the detail. It's some comfort that they didn't even know what happened, but we do, and we can guess just how little was left by the time the fire was extinguished. The raw tragedy strikes me at odd moments. I'm the tough one, the calm one, the one that just deals with stuff. And even though these three souls were not a big part of my life, they were ripped from it in the most brutal way, and I am grieving for them and for Shane's loss, for his future that was torn from him. It catches me when I least expect it, and my heart aches, and I become overwhelmed with a sense of grieving that I'm not quite sure how to deal with.
Perhaps I need to keep it simple and embrace Daniel's take on what happened. We had a psychologist come and explain what had happened to the children at his school, all of whom were fond of Rogan - he was destined to be Popular. She told them that Rogan and Milla had been in an accident, and that they would not be coming back to school. That the children were not to worry about them, because they were safe now, and happy. Daniel's a smart kid, and he's figured out that the fire he saw all over the front page of The Star was Rogan's house burning.
"Don't worry, Nana." he said, when she drove past the house, previously unaware of where it was. "Rogan is safe with God in Heaven."
Oupa, Dad, Andrew, Monica, Rogan, Milla. You're safe, and you're happy. But I still miss you, each in your own way.
Monday, 19 July 2010
My sons' friends, aged 2 and 4, and their mother, died when their house burned down last night. Their father and husband survived - he has lost his wife, his children and his home. My children spent the afternoon at their home on Friday last week. I sat and drank tea with Monica while our children played and built jigsaw puzzles. Now, they are gone having died a terrible death, their house is a burnt out shell, and a good, kind, loving, young man has lost his world.
What possible higher purpose explanation could there be for this? How could there be any need for this man to learn any lessons that are THIS hard to start with? Why does my son have to lose his innocence about life and death at such a young age? Why do we all have to deal with images of how these three precious people died - in print and in our minds' eyes?
What possible higher purpose could there be out of this?
Saturday, 17 July 2010
1 An Airbus A380 is a very very big plane. It freaked me out totally that SO many people and their luggage could fit on one aircraft, that it could get up in the air and then stay there. For 10 hours. And then land in one piece. Although the landing in Paris was a bit hectic. More like the pilot was throwing the plane at the ground. A bit scary when you're in it...
2 Air France is pretty cool. Well, they weren't when their suggestion connection between Charles de Gaulle and Orly totally failed because of traffic through Paris... but they put us on a later flight at no extra charge. I guess because it was their stuff up, but when we wanted to change our flight from Bordeaux, they also did it for free.
3 France may be one of the big economic powerhouses, but they have windscreen washers at robots, and shacks occupied by squatters too. The windscreen washers were gypsey ladies, and they made the guys on Grayston Drive look like pussy cats. And the architecture of shacks is universally desperate.
4 The houses in the French countryside are very basic on the outside - just raw brick or stone. Apparently, way back when, you were taxed on how rich you looked, and the postman decided that. So, nobody did anything to the exterior of their home - they just decorate inside. The houses are all very simple, decorated outside with geraniums and other very pretty flowers. If it wasn't so far away from home, I'd have moved there in a heartbeat.
5 The only boy to ever break my heart (a very long time ago) was at the wedding, and we saw him and his wife every day. I learned that time takes away the awkwardness, and that, just as I thought, he and Brett would get on really well, once the awkwardness was done and dusted.
6 Much as I love my boys to total distraction, and I missed them while we were away, it really was totally awesome to have a grownup weekend away with Brett. I am blessed to have my mom so close, and grateful that she's so ready and willing to babysit for us.
7 Paris might be the city of romance. It is very clear that an afternoon there is not long enough. But I think we figured out that it's the city of romance if you have a LOT of Euros in your pocket. Like, a LOT. And you probably have to have a cold too. Because a blocked nose would help you deal with the appalling smell in the Metro.
8 Just because a person is not afraid to overshare on their blog, doesn't mean that they're not afraid to overshare in public. I didn't mean to offend, really I didn't! Even if it's in a fun way. Next time, I'll stick to fridge magnets all round as holiday gifts... or perhaps even a toaster... :-)
9 Laughing Cow cheese is cheap at the price, when it's R15,99 in Pick n Pay (I've always refused to pay more than R12,99). It was more than two Euros in a local supermarket we visited.
10 Travelling is fun. Lots of fun. But there's no feeling more awesome than coming home, and getting the biggest hug in the history of ever, from your boys. That is, until the next hug comes!
Thursday, 15 July 2010
The wedding was at Chateau Rigaud, about 45 minutes out of Bordeaux, in between a couple villages. It's beautiful. Totally. Think 11th century (and younger) chateau, done up like a boutique hotel. Filled with cool people for the weekend...
We arrived on the Friday, and had (lots of) French champagne and canapes (not snacks). I learned a valuable lesson: French champagne doesn't give you a hangover...
On the Saturday, we visited Saint-Emilion, a medieval village perched on a hill in the middle of some wine estates.
Before and after lunch in the village, we visited wine estates. Learned that in France, an estate only makes one wine per year, unlike in South Africa, where the estates are much bigger, but they make a variety. Herewith, the obligatory gratuitous chin touch pic...
I loved this graveyard (weird, I know). Was intrigued to notice that most are crypts above ground, and that not all of them face East. There's something in Revelations about Christ returning from the East, I believe, which is why most Christian gravestones face the East. And criminals' gravestones, like the Robber's Grave in Pilgrim's Rest, don't.
Monday was mostly recovery time, and then Brett and I spent the afternoon in Paris. Which is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. It was hot, crowded, dirty, and all the cool sites were messed up by preparations for the Bastille Day parade set to take place the next day.
The Metro was efficient, but was literally a hole. However, the architecture was beautiful. Beautiful enough that I can understand why the peasants revolted against the nobility. I would have revolted too, I guess.
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
I know every mom thinks her boys are the best, but just so you know, mine really are.
I think today Daniel finally finished celebrating his birthday - his birthday which was on 17 June, nearly two weeks ago. He had his birthday ring at school today, which I am now devastated I didn't attend (it would have been worth going to Samrand and back twice in one day). They seem to have a whole big birthday ritual - something far bigger than I would have expected from his somewhat reserved teacher.
They get to choose a song for the group to sing, one for each year. So he got to choose five songs. The first song he chose? Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika. His second song? Waving the Flag - the K'Naan song for the World Cup.
I baked cupcakes, and he got to give the five cakes with candles to his five best friends. His first choice? His little brother, who is attending his school for the holidays (and thereby hangs a very long tale).
Matthew, on the other hand, paid his brother the biggest form of Matthew compliment. Each of Daniel's friends got to make him a wish for his birthday, and Matthew wished him a lion, complete with big growl. Gotta love brother love...
I would love to list all their awesomenesses - in fact I probably should somewhere, so that I don't forget these moments when they're all grown up and I need to make a speech at a wedding or a 21st. But I will tell you now, that I know of no other five year old who knows what the word 'suffocate' means, and how to use it, or any other child who loves and understands the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky - and has done since he was three. I know of no other two year old that eats with a knife and fork, and resists any attempt to help him do it. This is the child that we thought would be our thug but he's just as soft as his big brother, although far more independent, and unrelenting once he has decided what he wants to wear for the day. They are both so very affectionate, and although sometimes I feel like I've been mistaken for a jungle gym, there is nothing that comes close to being loved by your two totally amazing sons.
I love my boys, so very, very much. More than words could possibly say - and I'm not one to run out of words...
Monday, 28 June 2010
This post is to offer a bouquet to SAA and to ACSA, although I might just have to take the ACSA one back as soon as I've dished it out.
My mom dropped us off at the airport - me, a toddler, a suitcase, and a car seat. Having no idea which level we were supposed to come out on, I was wondering around a little aimlessly looking remarkably like a tourist. A few people even asked me where I was from - that's how dof I looked. I didn't want to do the escalator-trolley thing with Matthew perched on top, and was looking for a lift or something, I'm not sure what. Anyway, next thing, a porter comes up to me, and offers to do the trolley-escalator thing - which he did all the way from the parking garage to the check-in desk. No tip asked for or expected.
Then, when we checked in with our Voyager Miles-purchased tickets, they upgraded us to business class, sommer off their own bat. My son, the two-year old, and his first flying experience was business class... Don't think the business people were too impressed, but the FIFA referees that surrounded us thought he was very cute.
Anyway, on landing in Port Elizabeth, I waited and waited and waited for the car seat to come through. All the other fragile luggage had already been and gone, and eventually I went to the baggage queries desk. Where I suppose I should have gone earlier, instead of standing around like a fool for half an hour. Anyway, I digress.
The woman behind the counter was friendly and patient with the non-English-speaking travellers ahead of me, and she treated me with the same grace and respect. She looked up my luggage slips, and took a detailed description of the car seat. While I and Brett (in varying degrees) were stressing about not being able to strap Matthew into a proper car seat for the more than hour-long trip to St Francis.
Next thing - out comes a car seat, FAR nicer than ours, for us to use until ours came to light. No charge, no papers to sign, just a request to return it to our departure airport when we were done with it.
She took our address in St Francis and by 9h00 the next morning, our own carseat was delivered, and the SAA one collected. Was quite sad to see it go, actually...
Now - why do I want to withdraw the ACSA bouquet? On returning to Jozi via George, we were told our luggage was on Carousel 8. So the whole flight stood there for about half an hour, waiting like fools watching the same two bags go around and around. Then one bright spark took a look over to a few of the other carousels - and saw our luggage, having a pleasant trip around Carousel 3 - clearly marked for the Bloemfontein flight. And our confusion didn't even make it to the announcements, which were discussing a similar confusion with two other carousels!
So - shot to SAA for being truly world class - just like most of the rest of the World Cup stuff I've seen. Pity ACSA can't keep up with them...
PS What really tickled me was that EVERY SAA aircraft had "GO BAFANA" stencilled onto the body of the aircraft, just under the cockpit. Cool, hey?
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Last night, I attended the South African premiere of Sex and the City 2, courtesy of HP, who are one of the sponsors of the movie. They and their co-sponsors did an awesome job of transforming Hyde Park into a New York vibe, although us plebs were decidedly miffed that only the fashionably fabulous folk got into the Moet lounge... but let's not be petty here, it was a free movie.
I'll maybe blog about the event itself later, but for now, here are my thoughts on the movie.
I've been a Sarah Jessica Parker fan since LA Story (which is still one of my favourite movies in the history of ever), and although I didn't watch every episode of the Sex and the City TV series, I really enjoyed the ones that I did see. The first movie was a chick flick of note, but it was still fun, and oh my word, that Vivienne Westwood dress...
But the second movie is proof that too much of a good thing is, well, really appalling. The movie drags on for close on two hours and 45 minutes - it might have been more bearable if they'd contained themselves to an hour and 20. But clearly Abu Dhabi threw billions at them to create a suitably glamourous ad for the emirate, so they needed to stretch it out. A lot. Every time I thought it might be heading for a wrap, it sashayed off into another extended orgy of self-indulgence... or should that be sponsor-indulgence?
The plot line was more diaphanous than Carrie's curious outfit that she wore to sing karaoke (yes, apparently karaoke is tired in New York, but it's alive and well in Abu Dhabi), but what was strong all the way through was the American disdain for cultures other than theirs. It's no wonder Islam has such a problem with our friends across the water - judging by the oohs and ahs from the young women in the audience, these careless ignorant creatures are role models for an impressionable audience.
The Samantha character is really longer in the tooth than anything I've ever seen, although to give the scriptwriters credit, they do point this out a few times. She really is everything that I aspire not to be in a woman, and then some. Describing her as a slut isn't strong enough, and I'm sure respectable whores are offended by her behaviour - so I think you get my meaning?
What the movie does excel at, is at providing a showcase for a vast array of fashion and fabulous shoes. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the parts of the movie that weren't dragged out to show off Abu Dhabi, were dragged out purely to give the four friends more opportunities to wear different clothes - or the fashion houses more time to show off their wares. The fashions were interesting, colourful, exciting and intriguing, and there was probably a wardrobe full of clothes that I would happily embraced.
I totally get that this kind of movie is all about escapism, about seeing how the rich and (in)famous live. I get that fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry, and that women need role models to follow, icons to inspire them.
However, Samantha is the furthest thing from a role model that there is, Charlotte is pathetic, Miranda is clearly only there to show off the clothes that no-one else will wear, and Carrie really should get it that she's onto a good thing with Big.
As an entertainment experience, it left me stone cold, and wishing there was enough light to read my new books from Exclusives Books that were huddling in sheer horror, under my chair.
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
So a while ago I started following a prolific tweeter on Twitter: @MelanieMinnaar. She always has interesting things to say, or funny things, or really thought provoking things. One day, I'd really like to meet the person behind the avatar... and the Twitter Blanket Drive, or #TBD is just one of those reasons.
She started a Thing, it seems, in the #TBD - South Africa's first national tweet-up, which is all about the people in South Africa's twitterverse meeting up to chat, and to give something warm over to charity.
I know the logistics that go into organising a coffee date for a few people who you've known for years- so you can imagine the logistics that go into planning a nationwide event for a bunch of people you've never met... And one doesn't usually get media partners for a coffee date...
She's had some great help from all sorts of people - just another instance that makes me proud to be South African: when there's something good to be done, the good folks just get up and do it, and they make it happen. Big ups to all of you.
Anyway - the short and skinny of it is that the first #TBD national tweet-up is this Saturday, 29 May 2010. We're going away this weekend, to a fishing lodge thaaaaat side of Machadodorp, so I won't be attending (much to my disappointment), but if you're keen to participate, here is more information about the #TBD. And no, you don't have to be active on Twitter to participate - you just need to want to meet some interesting people, and to want to warm up someone less fortunate than you.
*For those not on Twitter - don't be alarmed at phrases like twitterverse and tweet-up. I too think they're corny, but in a pat-on-the-head-it-s-cute kind of way...
Monday, 24 May 2010
(For the record, I am not by nature an angry person. I'm usually one of those irritatingly glass-half-full people, even when there's no wine on the table to make the glass full, and not half-full).
- There's a lot to be said for bonding with your new team mates over a good lunch and a glass of wine. Well, a half glass. I seem to have become a cheap date.
- There's a rather significant measure of satisfaction to be had from standing your ground in a verbal war with a very very big company... and winning.
- Things are never as simple as they seem. I am learning a lot about the science behind fires. Not because we've had one, but because some of our products are sold on the basis that they limit the spreading of fires.
- On the days that the freeway is uneventful, it's great. Last Thursday, it was vile. Completely, totally vile. I took an unplanned for, unasked for and unenjoyable trip through Buccleugh and various other suburbs, in a futile attempt to ratrun around the shmangle on the freeway.
- I miss Dorothy and her regular supply of beverages.
- It's really great having people around to chat to.
- Not having to account for every hour actually means that I get more work done. Strange, I know - but the whole timesheet vibe just freaked me out totally.
- The corporate vibe seems to be more about finding reasons why things can't be done, than why they can be. Especially if you work in the IT department, and you're STILL holding onto the excuse that bandwidth is the problem. No. It is the solution...
- Working for a company that's big enough to create a vibe about an event like the World Cup is great. Working for a very small company in an area that doesn't allow signage on the road means that you don't get to commission any public displays of affection for your flag (we're doing a 30m one along the N1...)
- When applying for and accepting a new job offer, don't let the lazy HR person fob you off with vagueness in any form. I have learned this the hard way (the same hard way that we bought our house, but that's a blogpost for another day), and will never fall for this one again.
So, each day I hop onto the freeway, and look forward to the stuff I'm going to be doing that day. Because although I am angry about the way I've been treated on entering the company, I can see that there's great opportunity here for me to achieve some great stuff. Although I'm not even going to TRY and tackle the revolting IT department (their lords and masters are in Paris) about the ridiculousness of us using Office 2003...
Thursday, 13 May 2010
I’m always the one who smiles sweetly, asks for things politely, and understands when people can’t make it for a meeting. I’m always the gentle one who smoothes things over, calms things down, and that blindly accepts that there are greater forces out there.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Thursday, 6 May 2010
Monday, 3 May 2010
Monday, 26 April 2010
He died on Easter Saturday. On Good Friday, he was still at home, but was in pain, was vomiting, was extremely uncomfortable. Late that afternoon, my mom, Brett and I took him to the Linksfield Clinic, where we hoped that he would be able to find some relief. The staff there hooked him up to morphine and I don't know what else. By the time we left that evening, he was awake, reasonably alert, and not in so much pain.
When Brett and I found my mom there the next morning, she'd had a brief conversation with him, before he fell asleep. That was sleep that turned out to be unconsciousness, and he did not wake up again. The three of us sat with him in that room the whole day, knowing that we were watching him die. The nurses explained that his organs were shutting down, and that the cries he was making were morphine nightmares. Those stopped too.
By early evening, we were exhausted, and agreed to go home, get some clothes so that Brett and I could stay with my mom, and that we'd have some supper at home, and then go back to the hospital. As Brett and I pulled up into our driveway, my mom phoned to say that the hospital had called. My dad had died about 10 minutes after we had left. The nurse apparently said that it happens often, that terminal patients almost seem to 'wait' for their family to leave, so that death doesn't happen while they're there, so that they don't witness that flatline moment, as happens in just about every hospital death scene produced by Hollywood.
I coped. I dealt with it. I'm still amazed that I could keep calm when the hospital called me to ask what to do with my dad's body. I didn't cry during the funeral, I just held onto my mom and Brett very very tightly. I dealt with it. And have done so for the last six years.
And then a sodding episode of Grey's Anatomy undid it all last night. We watched an episode called "Suicide doesn't hurt". I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but it came crashing in (although it's been there all along, not causing any drama) that we left my dad to die alone. We didn't intend for that to happen, we had been sitting with him all day. But when it was his time to let go, time for his face to relax into the peace of being pain-free, we weren't there.
And it broke my heart, into a million tiny pieces, six years later.
I still miss him, every day. I wish that he had the opportunity to know my gorgeous boys. I know that there is no way that I would wish him back, if he had to carry on suffering the way he was. But I really wish that we had just stayed there for a little longer, to witness his freedom from pain.
Saturday, 24 April 2010
So, last night at the request of a really good friend (a REALLY good friend), I went to the Doors in Edenvale last night. It may or may not surprise you to find out that I spent every Friday night there, for about three years. We even went one Christmas night - THAT's how much we loved it there. Every Friday night, Zelda, Jamie, Gavin and Lionel and I would be at the upstairs bar, and sometimes Jamie's brother Andrew. Gavin would drink until everyone thought he would fall over, and then he'd drink some more. Jamie would find someone and play pool with them all night, and Lionel, Zelda, Gavin and I would chat at length about all sorts from the looming spectre of picket fences to the details of our romances, and everyone else's.
I even dressed the part - head to toe black, high platform boots, a long skirt with a thigh-slit slit revealing fishnet tights... I even did arty things with black eyeliner...
We'd people-watch, point and laugh (not too conspicuously) and crack ourselves up at our witticisms - and although I'm biased, we were really very witty. And then, the DJ would play Closer or Temple of Love, and we'd troop down to the dancefloor and jig around wildly for hours on end.
And then life happened. Jamie and Zelda moved to Cape Town. Lionel got involved with someone who didn't like the Doors. Andrew died in a hiking accident. Gavin met a girl, married her, divorced her and married another one. Brett and I got married, and then the boys arrived - when you're sleep deprived already, you don't want to be out jigging around in The Dark Place until the wee hours.
I've been back a few times in the last few years, and every time I go, I swear it will be the last time. Without the glow of that circle, I can see the place for the hole it really is. The cleanest nightclub I have ever been to, from the dancefloor to the toilets and everywhere between, but it's a hole. With angry music and very angry people. You must be angry at life, and your own self, to pierce yourself all over your face, in my opinion!
Anyway... back to last night. Lionel is going through a bit of a rough time, we had babysitters anyway, so agreed to meet him there. Here are some things I learned, in my return to the Doors:
- The lady cleaning the toilet has got to have the worst job in the world, but she does it brilliantly. Her job is only slightly worse than the people picking up bottles and stompies - although I can't think how much they must hate the very very loud music.
- The Doors has changed its music style. They were playing WEDDING music last night: Life is Life, and THE YMCA - and what freaked me out the most: everyone on the stage DOING THE ACTIONS!!!
- The drinks are cheap, and they taste that way.
- Even the Doors has caught up with social media - it has a Facebook Fan Page
- In spite of the fact that the place looks like a hole, the bouncers keep it safe.
- I listened to some of the lyrics properly for the first time last night. (Yes, I know. We talked a lot, ok?). Some pretty scary stuff in there.
- It still is the only nightclub I've ever been where people really don't care about what you're wearing. They're more interested in the person you are, and they're the friendliest scary people I've ever met.
- It's also the only nightclub I've ever been to where you can dance EXACTLY as you want to, and nobody stares. Lionel 'hatches', he doesn't dance. This soothes my Standard 4 soul, which was irreparably damaged when I didn't dance the 'right' way on school tour.
- There's even a class divide at the Doors now - part of the upstairs bar is segregated, I know not what for.
- The birds are still tweeting - after all these years, they still haven't figured that there's got to be somewhere quieter to catch a few z's.
- Even though we're nearly 40 (eep), jigging around wildly to music that makes your heart thump and your soul soar is still a great way to work through a rough week.
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
I'm not entirely sure why, but friends keep on referring their friends who want to start freelancing to me for advice. Rather than write the same email over and over again, I've decided to turn it into a blog post - see below.
My best advice: Deliver on-topic clean copy, on time (or even better, ahead of time). Editors will love you, and use you again and again.
Disclaimer: I certainly do not claim to know everything about freelancing. But these thoughts are based on my experiences.