Tuesday, February 26, 2008

time bombed

Well goodness me and golly gosh, where does the time go?!

I'd say I spent the last week as follows:
Work: 50%
Sleep: 40%
Housework: 3%
Shopping: 2%
Watching TV: 3%
Email / Blogging, etc: 1%
Getting my hair done: 1%

A couple of things to note here:
1 - Only about half the shopping was boring old groceries. Cinderella and I went shopping just for fun on Saturday and bought some clothes for ourselves just for fun. It was my kind of shopping: cheap stuff that I don't expect to last more than 5 washes but that's OK 'cos at that price I get to go shopping again soon to replace it.

2 - On the Hair thing: I forgot to mention that we went out for dinner with friends on Saturday night in honour of my new haircut. I HATED the last cut and it had finally grown out to point where it could be fixed so I decided to celebrate. Well I had to have some excuse for going out, didn't I?

So what was the point of this little exercise? Well I'm not 100% sure, mostly because I'm too bloody tired from working so hard to even think straight. This post could, in fact, have started life as a rant about work but I just don't have the energy.

It ties in well with what I'm really trying to say, though: 1% on email AND blogging (etc[1])?! That's just not good enough. I'm supposed to fancy myself as an amateur writer of sorts... like a hobby that maybe might one day turn into something I could retire to do full-time. Blogging is a great way to keep the writing juices flowing. On those days when you don't have time to work on that story you've been writing, you write up a quick post for your blog, just to keep in practice.
Having half an hour a week to write is just not cutting the mustard! It's been bugging me... but I've been too weary to do anything about it.

It's really annoying.

Having said that, I did manage to do a little bit of creative writing over the weekend, late on Sunday afternoon. My friend Jason Evans is hosting a little Short Fiction contest over at The Clarity of Night, you see, and the photograph he posted for it did it's job well and inspired me to pick up a pen (figuratively speaking, of course - nobody uses pens anymore!) and add my contribution.
You may read the fruits of my labour here.
It's not exactly my finest literary masterpiece but it's better than what I've been writing lately which is pretty much, um, nothing.

Thank you, Jason, for spurring me out of my slump for an afternoon.

Now, if everyone could just spare me 10 minutes of free time over the next few days, maybe I'll finally get to spend some more time with you guys in Blogland. For now, sleep beckons....


[1] The "etc" is the dreaded "F" word - Facebook. It just seems rude not to poke people back y'know?

Monday, February 18, 2008

a day in the life...

07:00 Wake up 'cos Hubby has to get up to go to work. Thank the universe that I'm on late shift so can sleep another 15 minutes. Roll over, shove head under Hubby's pillow and sprawl comfortably. Snore a bit.

07:15 Pandemonium wakes me - phone is throwing a fit with alarm going off. Phone is not next to bed where it should be. Hubby charges out of bathroom to dig in my handbag, finds phone and hands it to me to switch off. Am now completely awake. Get up, shower, etc at leisure... after all, am on late shift this week; no need to rush.

07:55 Check the letter in my rucksack to confirm I have to be at hospital for blood test at 09:301. Oh sh*t! Appointment is actually for 08:30. Panic a bit then gobble down half a bowl of cereal and leave house for first time in about 20 years without first having coffee.

08:20 Turn off motoway to follow big blue H sign to the hospital.

08:30 Stuck in traffic and not at all sure I'm going in the right direction.

08:40 Spy another big blue H sign down road on the right and thank universe for red traffic lights.

08:50 Stop in the hospital parking lot, remove helmet, balaclava, gloves and rucksack. Dig in rucksack for phone and ring the bloody lab to find out where I'm supposed to go.

09:00 Announce myself at the window, take a number and wait.

09:55 Blood test is done, using special test tube to outsmart clumping platelets. Have arrived at work after following naught but my impeccable sense of direction to find my way to work through an area I don't know at all. Pat self on back, change into working clothes and saunter up to desk.

10:05 Arrive at desk to find new young colleague looking pale and panicked and lots of managers looking worried and talking in hushed voices. Pick up info from garbled rumours that air-conditioning failed or pipe burst or something and Comms Room is under an inch of water. Still haven't had coffee. This is not good.

10:10 Establish that nothing has actually failed... yet. Boss arrives and takes over worrying. I get to have a cup of coffee at last.

13:24 Panic is over, water is gone (mostly) thanks to long-suffering Hoover. Ask universe if perhaps I should have stayed home today? Try to remember what I started doing before I was interrupted by an interruption of an interruption of an interruption 2 hours ago. Check today's canteen menu online.

15:35 Is it just me or is it really hot in the office today? Ah, no it's not just me. The air-conditioning is faulty (again) and the temperature is around 29°C (84°F) at my desk. I know this 'cos one of my colleagues has a thermometer at her desk. According to my Accuweather Info Bar in Firefox, it is currently 7°C (45°F) outside. We're debating who to nominate to go demand free ice cream from the boss.

15:42 The guy behind me discovered that Ryanair now charges €4 to check in at the airport. Much muttering and head shaking abounds.

16:46 Interrupt myself to change picture on my PC desktop. Now staring wistfully at photo of Montreux, remembering how nice it was there and how much fun biking 'round Europe was.

17:01 Reviewed weekend in head. Think personal emotional crisis is past. Wonder if going to Salsa club with Hubby and step-children + step-daughter's friend on Saturday night is normal. What's the opposite of dysfunctional?

17:07 Very painful sneeze due to putting neck out while sleeping last night. OUCH!!! Thank universe I don't sneeze very often. Wonder just what I was up to in sleep to cause neck to go out.

17:08 Will this day ever end??

17:15 Wonder how to allocate blogging on today's timesheet. Oh bollocks! More work to do...

17:25 Only 45 minutes to go. Sneak login to Blogger to post this rubbish... oops boss is back. Scratch that.

19:28 Home at last. Had great (if chilly) ride home on motorbike :-)

20:27 Tummy full. Hubby made supper, yay! Kids cleaned up afterwards, double yay! "Heroes" is on in an hour, yay and woohoo!

I guess not all Mondays that start out bad end up that way, eh?


Apparently I have clumped platelets1.1 so my doc sent me direct to the lab as they have to order in a special tube. Just part of a regular checkup, so don't panic.

Seriously... "Clumping Platelets"??? WTF??!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

you may want to get some kleenex...

I have a friend, a very close friend. Our parents were mates from before we were born and so we've been playing together since I was maybe two years old, when we moved from my hometown of Port Elizabeth to what was then the Transvaal. Her family was there already and although we lived in different towns we would get together as families regularly throughout my childhood. If memory serves, it would start as a lunchtime Braai that would last the whole day and result in a sleepover, no doubt due to the amount of Lagers consumed by the adults. As a kid I was oblivious to the why's and wherefore's, though. It was just fun to stay over and spend time playing.

After my father passed away - I was 7 - we moved away, back to Port Elizabeth. And that was when I first got into letter-writing. Thirty-four years later, my friend and I are as close as ever, though the letter-writing has been replaced by email and SMS. Even though we have never lived in the same town (except for 2 months when I was 23 when we lived in the same house, never mind city), my friend and I have been through everything together. First kisses (..etc), heartbreaks, fears, marriages, divorces, births... mostly through letter and telephone.

We are so different from each other. I was always the shy one, a follower, cautious. She was always larger than life, brash, unafraid. I think she likes that I make her laugh. I love that she takes no shit from anyone. It's an odd mix, but it works. We may not be blood relatives but she is as much a sister to me as those I share parents with.

This past week my dear friend's husband passed away suddenly. And every time I think about it I cry because I'm not there with her, my friend, who holds a very dear part of my heart in hers. My heart is breaking because hers is, I feel her loss almost as my own.
I very nearly made the 12-hour flight to be with her, but after calming down and thinking about it I changed my mind. Her parents are with her and if I think about it practically, she probably doesn't need too many people around her now. I would imagine she needs time to absorb what has happened and adjust her life accordingly. In a little while, once the shock has passed, I will think again about making the trip... in fact I think I've already decided I will, because I know that a time will come where perhaps I will be able to do more for her by being there than I would right now. I could hear in her voice on the phone that she appreciated just hearing my voice. We sat in silence for a few minutes on the phone the day it happened, there was nothing to say, I just wanted to be there with her.

You know, I became aware during my period of getting my head right a while back that I have a tendency to make other peoples' problems my own; that when someone I love is in trouble I take it into myself as if it were happening to me. This is not a good thing to do and I have learned to distance myself, to do what I can if I can and then let it go. It's a much healthier way of living and I think I have made this change of mindset rather well. The point is I can see where some might think I am taking this bereavement personally... and I do feel bereaved;
Although I didn't know her husband all that well, it was still a shock.
But I don't think my heartache is because I am taking someone else's pain personally. I don't think I am going through this as she is. And I don't think the pain I am feeling is because what has happened to my friend is the very thing I fear most in life.

What I do see, with unusual clarity, is that the loss I am feeling is my own. It is the fact that I feel an almost primal instinct to be with my friend but I'm so far away that I can't be, not from a practical point of view... it's everything I feel about being away from my homeland all gathered into one single identifiable point. Having it all spread out like it normally is, is manageable; the odd moment of homesickness, or missing my mom, a my friend, or a sister; the occasional feeling of anxiety - what if something happens to someone and I'm not there? But this, this thing that has happened, this monstrous tragedy has brought it all into one single lump of grief in my heart that is terribly hard to bear.

She will be OK, this friend of mine. She is strong and has been through enough in this life to be able to pick up the pieces and carry on. I know this because of what she said to me a couple of days ago, that at least she got to have a few years with him, a few years where he made her happy.
I only wish that she'd had a few more...

+ Rest in Peace, Andy +

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Who's been a naughty Dictator then..?

I overslept this morning. Not because I was tired, although I was tired but that's not why I overslept. No, I overslept because I was in the middle of a conversation with a Russian dictator when my alarm went off and it was a Very Important Conversation, which I felt it important to finish. So I killed my alarm and continued with what I was doing.

He wasn't actually Russian, to be perfectly accurate. He comes from one of those small countries on the border between America and Russia - you know, where their borders meet over the top of the globe, where the ice cap isn't. The name of the country on the map is somewhere between the names 'Monrovia' and 'Armenia', I forget what it was exactly. I got there because I was looking at the map and I jabbed a pencil at it and the next thing I was there, surrounded by what I can only assume was some sort of peace-keeping force, judging by the beige jeeps and army tents, but lack of weapons.
I often travel to places in this manner at night.

So we were looking around the place, in this big warehouse full of artifacts and treasures from this Dictator's reign, safe in the knowledge that he was far away somewhere in hiding. But then when I stepped into the bathroom to change my clothes (no, I don't know why, I just knew I was the only woman there so I needed to change behind closed doors), well there, trying to keep as quiet as possible, was this Dictator. He was afraid of being found and not at all scary, contrary to his reputation. He explained that he just wanted his son back, and if America gave his son back (which it couldn't, really, since his son was there of his own free will, studying at a university so it wasn't actually their place to give him back) then he would stop being a Dictator. I tried to explain all this to him, and that he was only hurting his people and his country by being a Dictator, but the silly man wouldn't listen.
So I just turned my back on him and ate my hotdog, which was really nice; all filled with tomato & onion relish that was dripping down the sides.
And when I'd finished my hotdog, I woke up.

After all, I really needed to get moving if I wanted to get to work on time.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Another week done

I seriously have to figure out a way to NOT have to work for a living. This is killing me. The day we flew back from New York I had these weird itchy red bumps on the palms of both hands that I am loath to call Hives but that seem to appear in times of severe stress. (The first time I had them was right before I got married.)
I couldn't figure out what I was worried about - I had had a really relaxing week and there was nothing huge on my mind. Work was going well, in fact life was pretty much smooth sailing all around.

But I think I've figured it out - the thing that was worrying me subconsciously has come to pass.
I have once again been sucked into the gray monotony that is the life of a thirty-something working professional woman / wife / (step-)mother. Wake up. Shower. Eat. Got to work. Smoke at 11. Lunch at 1. Smoke at 3. Home. Dinner. Laundry. TV. Bed.
Granted, I sometimes get a bit of a rush on the bike on the motorway coming home - if it's not blowing gales or p*ssing rain outside.

I was happy when January ended. The days are starting to get longer, the daffodils are beginning to make an appearance. Yesterday it actually felt warm at around 10 degrees C.
I got a promotion this week - and an increase and a bonus. I was really pleased about all three; I've been with the company 51/2 years and I've worked really hard so I feel I deserve the recognition.

At the same time... I've been working there 5 1/2 years!!! The same place, the same faces, for five and a half years.

If it weren't for the trips we take I think I would go stark raving mad or simply expire, becoming nothing more than another speck in the gray mush of the daily grind.

Is anyone prepared to sponsor me to travel the world? Please? In return I can tell you all about it - I can take pictures too!

Happy Friday, everyone.