Thursday, September 29, 2011

Old Ladies and Why They Are Annoying

I feel the need to point out to Jodie Stokes that I have a serious writing streak going this week, and it is all because of her. Of course, she may find none of my posts entertaining in the slightest, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is the fourth blog that I am writing in 3 days. Go me!

So, what is today's topic then? Well, I was thinking along the lines of old ladies. Most specifically how I love them despite their annoying tendencies. Even more specifically, those living in Cross Street.

This morning, I was sitting at work. Doing, well, work of course. What else would I be doing at work? Play games you suggest? Pfft... clearly you don't know me at all. Or know me all too well ;). Anyway, there I was, working, when a phonecall comes in. Usually there is a scurry for the phones, a race to get there first so that the  call can count towards our call count at the end of the week, winning us a box of chocolates/cookies depending on what's on offer. Unfortunately, this one didn't get through to my line, and Gary answered it, only to pass it through to me. Leaving me one count short for this week. Thanks Gary!!

Anyway, I digress. On the other end of the line was Marion. Marion was one of my neighbours in Cross Street, and is also a client of my company's, so of course she always tends to contact me at work instead of calling me on my cell. No matter. I answered and we chatted for a few minutes before she asked me if I could do her a favour. Could I come over to take a picture of the scarecrow that she had built with friends whose department was imminent. How much would I charge? Knowing that this would be a 5 minute job and not being too concerned about charging for a quick shoot for an old friend, I told her that I would do it for free and would shoot down there during my lunch hour.

Lunch time came, and off I went to the familiar courtyard that was essentially my garden for two years. I knew that Marion would be there, but I also suspected that some of my other old neighbours might be hanging around, and I wasn't disappointed. Hillary was standing by the watch the quick shoot as well and have a chat while I worked my magic. This is where the slightly annoying bit comes in, because while younger people may realise that you have a job to get back to and things that need to be done and are in a slight rush to get going, old ladies tend to forget this fact in lieu of catching up. And so we chatted about me and my job and my house and my boyfriend and my cat and my parents and my car and Michael, one of my former housemates. Michael, of course, was one of the subjects of discussion that they were most interested in. While I was friendly with the ladies next door when I stayed in Cross Street, Michael was their saviour, constantly offering to cook, garden and offer company, and the lack of Michael in their lives seems to have had an adverse effect. They miss him terribly and wanted to know all about everything that is happening in his life. As he is currently living with my parents, I was the go-to-girl for knowledge, and unfortunately did not have much of it to give, since I myself have not heard from Michael in a long while. Michael, if you are reading this, you need to tell people that you are alive!

Once I had managed to get a few shots, I was ready to head off when Marion stopped me in my tracks. "Can you help me with something else?" Sure, I thought. As long as it's quick. See, another one of the ladies on Cross Street, Rosemary, who I do not know quite as well as she was not one of the neighbours in my courtyard, recently inherited a laptop. She came into the office about a month ago and one of my colleagues, Andrew, helped her set up a Gmail account to receive emails and installed Firefox on her machine. He made it really easy for her, adding a link to Gmail at the top of her browser and showing her that all she needed to do was click it and she would get her emails. Apparently this was too much for Rosemary, and she couldn't handle the complication, so had decided to give up on this email idea altogether. Marion didn't want this to happen, so she passed Rosemary's machine on to me and asked me to do something about it. Something. Anything. She didn't specify what aside from suggesting perhaps adding another email address to her account, a solution that was in fact no solution at all. What really needed to be done was to setup Microsoft Outlook on Rosemary's machine and have it pop up as soon as she opens her computer. That would be ideal. Of course, Microsoft Outlook is a lot harder to use than Gmail, but at least Marion knows how to use it, so we will have to see what happens.

And so, I have now setup a laptop with Microsoft Outlook, a task that took a lot longer than the expected favour of a few photos. But that is possibly the most annoying thing about old ladies - it is so darned difficult to say no to them! It feels like it should be a crime!! And so, I endure endless conversation and favours that take ages in order to please these women that I call friends. And you know what, it feels a lot more rewarding because they are insanely grateful for it. As opposed to most of the clients that I help over the phone.

Perhaps I should start working at an old age home teaching the elderly how to use computers. Or take photographs. Or write. I like this idea! Any takers?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I feel like I have aged over the last two weeks. There has been so much going on, not necessarily in my life, but in proximity to my life that is making me feel older than I actually am. Of course, there are factors that influence this - instead of being surprised to hear that I am as old as 23, as people used to be, they are now surprised to hear that I am as young as 23. That more than anything makes me feel like I am getting older, at least in the looks department. My style has certainly changed (at least during the week) in that I no longer wear a t-shirt and jeans to work, or if I do it is at least a sharp looking shirt or a t-shirt with smarter pants or a skirt. I have also taken to wearing dresses a lot more often, possibly because they are fitting me better than my t-shirts at the moment. A story for another day.

No, the reason why I feel like I have aged is that life is moving forward for those around me in both good and bad ways. There are some things that I am going to discuss that may feel very personal, and I apologise to my friends about that and will not use their real names to ensure their anonymity, but feel like I need to talk about the things that are on my mind.

It feels like there has been a lot of death recently. Some of the deaths are people that I have no connection to but affect me because of the pure sadness of the situation. One example of this is the death of Jamey Rodemeyer. I don't know how I came across his story, but it stuck out and is something that I have been thinking of a lot recently. A few months before his suicide, Jamey had taken part in the "It Gets Better" campaign, a campaign in support of LGBT teenagers that was formed due to the large numbers of suicides in America over the last few years. He spoke about how he truly believed that it gets better, that the support of family and friends overcomes the bullying that is experienced, that being proud of who you are will give you the strength to overcome the obstacles. I watched his video knowing the outcome, and it just absolutely broke my heart. The video can be seen here, and a tribute that was performed for Jamey by his idol, Lady Gaga, can be found here.

Then there are the deaths that have been slightly closer to home, like finding out on Tuesday that a friend's boyfriend had been murdered, brutally, in what was seen to be a hate crime. He was found naked, bound and gagged in his home, and even though my friend had only been dating him for a short amount of time, it really hit home just how horrifying the situation is. There is no doubt that, had I read about the incident without knowing someone involved, I would have been disgusted,  appalled and horrified, but it made it so much worse that my friend was suffering through the situation on his own, and most of all that I couldn't be with him in his time of need.

Still reeling from this knowledge, I found out later in the week that a friend's mother had passed away. I was utterly shocked to hear about it, to hear that it had been from a disease (an e-coli infection) that I recently had and that it had affected her so badly. And what struck me even more is that life goes on. It seems amazingly obvious, and yet, if I was in the same situation, I don't know how I would react. I don't know what I would be feeling, or experiencing, or thinking. But life goes on. You do keep feeling and thinking and experiencing and you have to get out and do the same things as you always did. You go on with your life, trying to remember that person who passed away as best as you can and in the best light that you can and you move on. Whether that takes weeks or months or years, I don't know. But it happens.

And in the midst of all the bad comes the good. There are weddings and celebrations of love. There are new years to bring in and good wishes to be sent to every family member and friend. New life is being brought into this world by those same beloved family members. And you have to remember that, while there is so much sadness in this world, there is also so much joy, and while you should remember those people that have passed, while you should feel sorrow and pain and sympathy, you should also celebrate every joyful opportunity that comes your way. And I intend to do just that.

So, while my deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends who are going through tough times, my heartfelt joy is going out to those with celebrations on the horizon and lives that are just beginning in all senses of the word.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A quick book review

I have been informed that I am not writing nearly enough. There is a reason for this, but there is no good excuse for neglecting my blogging duties, and so I thought that I would kick off what will hopefully be a writing streak this week with a book review.

That's right, those of you who have been urging me to read the book that has been sitting on my bookshelf for eons and on my sister's for even longer. I have finally read and finished The Wizard's First Rule.

I had eyed the book for ages on Cherie's shelf, but it had always seemed daunting, being long and frustrating and not something that I had actually heard of. That was until the Legend of the Seeker series came out and I found out that it was based on the book. Not wanting to watch the series and ruin the book for myself, I decided that it was about time that I got around to reading it.

I have said it before, but over the last couple of months I have been struggling to get through books. It's not that I don't enjoy them, it's not that I don't get into the storyline, it's just that I struggle to read for long periods of time without my brain shutting down and not wanting me to go any further. This was still the case with the Wizard's First Rule, but less so than with other books that I have been reading recently. I was, in fact, quite surprised at the speed with which I made my way through the novel, finishing it in under a month when even a 200 pager has been taking me 2 weeks recently.

So what is this wondrous book about? It revolves around Richard, a recently orphaned woods guide who finds himself in the midst of an epic battle of good and evil revolving around magic. And by midst, I really do mean that he is in the middle of it, the only one who can save humanity from death or a fate worse than it. There is adventure, there is romance, there is magic and there is betrayal. It is one of those epic fantasy novels that cannot be put down once it has been opened, and cannot be forgotten.

There are a couple of moments in the novel where I was reminded of other epic fantasy novels. Some people would say that the book has too many of these to be original in its own right, but I would have to disagree with those people. Even though there were moments when I was reminded of Lord of the Rings, something would come along to differentiate it completely. Though the writing is not the best and not the most original, it is the kind that keeps me reading and doesn't put me to sleep. It is the kind that pulls me into the novel and keeps me there rather than pushing me away.

Basically, if you are looking for a good fantasy novel, nothing award winning, but certainly something entertaining and engaging, I would highly recommend the Wizard's First Rule. I know that I am going to be reading the next book in the series very very soon!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Today has been a bad day. In fact, bad seems like an understatement considering the way that I am feeling right now.

It started off around 2am when I woke up in the middle of the storm that was raging through Grahamstown feeling like I had been stabbed in the stomach. I couldn't figure out what the pain was, and it refused to go away. I tossed and turned for hours waiting for the pain to subside and hoping that it wasn't appendicitis! Eventually, Grant felt so bad for me that he offered me some of his pain killers, which I took gladly despite my aversion to taking pills (what with my terrible gag reflex and all) and a while later, the pain was gone and I managed to get to sleep.

A few hours later, I woke up to my alarm going off. It was time to get up and get ready for work. I took a look at my phone and noticed that I had received an email in the middle of the night. Curious as to what it was, I opened the mail, only to find a message from a "friend" that I cut all ties with last year. Over the last few months this "friend" has liked posts that I wrote on mutual friends' walls on Facebook, as well as liking my photography page, has somehow managed to get my number and message me on my birthday as well as missed call me at 2am randomly and now has sent me an email. I am starting to get incredibly freaked out, and with few hours of sleep, this was the last thing that I wanted. I didn't know how to respond or if I even should, since what I really wanted to say was "Bugger off you creepy stalker", but in a nice way. I decided to leave that alone for the moment and just deal with the rest of the day of half-awakeness as it came.

I arrived at work and settled in answering emails, dealing with clients and all of their issues and trying to ignore my own. It was going pretty well until halfway through the morning when I got a call from Paul Mills. You see, I am doing my first wedding shoot on Friday, and after visiting the wedding venue this weekend, I was feeling very nervous. I had already known that I was going to need to borrow a wide angle lens, a wedding photography necessity. But what I hadn't realised is that I would also need to borrow and off-camera flash. I am not used to flash photography and it is not something that I enjoy doing. I find that, particularly with an on-camera flash, everything becomes far too harsh. But unfortunately the wedding venue does not have too much lighting, and a flash is definitely going to be needed. And so, I dropped Paul a message asking if I could borrow a lens and an off-camera flash. Paul has been my saviour so often, and was my last hope for this request. And he got back to me this morning telling me that he couldn't spare them, as he has a shoot on Saturday morning. I held back the tears as long as I could while I got through the phone call, but when it ended, I was a wreck. What was I thinking taking on a wedding when I don't have the gear for it, nevermind the experience!

I crumbled around 1pm, becoming a shaking wreck of a person as Grant drove me from photography store to photography store trying to find somewhere I could rent a lens and a flash to no avail. The woman at Fujifilm was lovely, trying her best to find someone who might be able to help me out, but Kodak was absolutely useless and I wonder how they've stayed in business as long as they have when they don't offer the services or the customer care that other Kodak's around the country do and that even Fujifilm in Grahamstown does.

Anyway, not all is lost. I have found a flash to borrow, and I have decided that not having a wide angle will not be the disaster that I have imagined. I also have a visit from Ashlea to look forward to this evening, so my day has been picking up slightly, but I still have the weight of the wedding on my shoulders and a stomach and headache that refuse to end. Here's hoping that tomorrow will be better!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Injection vs Pill

I have mentioned it before in the blog, and I am likely to mention in many more times in the future. I am utterly terrified, horrified by needles. And yet, not only do I have to be stabbed at least once every 3-6 months, but I choose to get stabbed twice. So I thought that I would write up a quick blog about the injection and why I chose to get on it.

When I was 17 going on 18, I went off to University. Before I left, my mom and I had a very brief chat in the car one day where she told me in no uncertain terms that if I was going to have sex, I should be on the pill. Shortly after starting University, I met Grant, and shortly after that I started on the pill. Not because I was having sex, actually, but simply because I wanted to be prepared for when I would start.

In the beginning, keeping up with the routine of taking them was difficult. Having to remember to take a pill at precisely the same time everyday is not something that comes easily, and no matter how many alarms I set, I still found myself forgetting. And at that stage, it wasn't so much of an issue! There was no sex, there were no risks. It was just something that I needed to get used to, and in time I did. In time it came to the point where, whenever my alarm went off, even if I was half awake and it was, oh, say 5pm, I would take a pill. It happened more than once where I woke up after a mid-afternoon nap and popped one  of my pills before realising that I had already taken one that morning.

When I started taking my thyroid medication, it fit in nicely. I could take all of the pills together, and it meant that I wouldn't forget. It was of no inconvenience to me any longer to be taking pills in the mornings, and even if I were to go off the contraceptive pill, I would still have to take my Eltroxin whenever the alarm went off in the morning.

And then, in my second year, we found out that my sister had a brain tumor. She was really lucky. It was benign and in a spot that was easy enough to remove, and though she lost her sense of smell, her sense of taste is still intact, so the doctors are sure that her sense of smell is merely in hiding and not, you know, dead. Anyway, a couple of months after we found out and after my sister's operation had been a complete success and she had returned to working on the cruise ships, I was home for a vacation and came across a needle in my mother's car. It freaked me out a little, what with my needle phobia. And then my mom explained how the doctor had insisted the my sister get off the pill, since he was worried that the oestrogen in pills helped the tumor along. Considering that he also thought that the tumor was genetic, the thought of this freaked me out more than the needle itself. Not enough for me to go on the injection at that time, but enough for me to  know that I would have to at some point.

I stayed on the pill for a good 3 years after the incident. I was trying to avoid injections as much as possible. I jumped between different Nordette and Triphasil to try and switch from an oestrogen based pill to a progesterone based one. It didn't help my mental block much. And yet, my fear of needles kept me far away from the injection until earlier this year, when I finally gave in. You see, I am the age now that my sister was when her tumor was found. The thought of this freaks me out a lot. Whenever I get a headache, I can't help thinking, even if it's just for a moment, what if... And so I made the switch earlier this year.

Now, the injection has a number of side effects, some of which I was aware of, some of which I was not. And if you are in the stage of making the choice between the pill and the injection, you should know what you are in for. The pill also has a number of side effects, including (in my experience, and depending on the pills that you are taking) increased bladder infections, moodiness and menstrual pain. You also need to keep in mind that if you are kept on the pill for a number of years, there are side effects. Many doctors will tell you that you should not stay on the pill for more than 5 year consecutively. Women over 30 are also encouraged to go off the pill because of the health risks involved and the threat  of tumors and cancer.

In terms of the injection, the most commonly discussed side effect is weight gain. That is not all that there is to it, however. Though your periods will eventually end when you are on the injection, you should expect to experience spot bleeding, stomach cramps and tiredness. The tiredness and the weight gain can be helped with good exercise, and the spot bleeding and cramps will eventually fade, but you need to stick with the injection long enough for your system to get used to it, and particularly when you already have a hormone deficiency like hypothyroidism, you may find that your body takes  longer to adjust. There are also long-term side effects to be considered with the injection, of course. Many women experience  long periods after being on the injection for a number of months or years where they struggle to fall pregnant. Others experience no menstrual periods even after being off the injection for a number of months.

There are things that you definitely need to consider when deciding which contraception to use. Of course, some will choose neither of these options and opt for condoms or abstinence. This was the route that I decided to take with my life, and I just thought I would explain some  of the decisions that I made along the way and the reasons for them on the off chance that someone else may be thinking about these questions too. I hope that, if someone does stumble across this blog post and find this article, it will at the very least give them something to think about.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jennifer's Body

I'm not sure why, but I have been wanting to watch a lot of suspense filled movies recently. Actions, thrillers, horrors, anything that isn't comedy or romantic. I tend to follow them up with a rom com if I am watching them at night, just to put my mind at ease before I go to sleep. This is something that I have done since I was a teenager, and it has been a habit that I have found hard to outgrow even though I no longer expect to have nightmares after watching a horror. In any case, tonight was no different, and I felt the need to watch something a little scary and suspenseful. I started looking through my stash of movies and found a couple of good prospects. And yet, my eye immediately fell on Jennifer's Body.

Now, I remember when this movie came out. It was shortly after Transformers and Megan Fox was the it girl of the decade. Amanda Seyfried had also risen to semi-fame the year before after starring in Mamma Mia, a role that turned out to make her more than her role in Mean Girls did. Clearly both of these actresses were trying to set themselves apart slightly from the roles that they had made for themselves by starring in a horror rather than an action/comedy/romance/drama. Clearly they weren't trying very hard.

Fox, whose role in Transformer was based around the fact that she was hot (and happened to know a bit about technologies and falls for the geek) takes on another high school sex symbol role. Only this time, it is one with a bit of a twist. This high school sex symbol is also a man eating demon. Surprise! Seyfried tries to step out of the stupid role that she played in Mean Girls and away from the innocent role that she played in Mamma Mia, and finds herself mixing the two by playing an innocent high school girl, the best friend of Fox, who finds out about her demonic side and tries to stop her.

The movie is classified as a horror comedy. I didn't find it to be particularly funny, and while there were certainly some horror moments, they were really badly done. The effects in the movie were almost as terrible as the lines like (after being run through with the sharpened end of a pool net) Fox asking Seyfried if she has a tampon. The movie is trying too hard to be funny, trying too hard to be something that  it isn't. It is easy to see, and actually pointed out more than once in the movie, that this is supposed to be a play on high school life and how evil the people on top can be. But really? It just feels like Mean Girls gone horribly, horribly wrong.

So, who would I recommend this movie to? Absolutely no one. I wish that i could unwatch it to be honest. I am not left horrified as I often am by horror movies, but just stumped as to why I sat through the whole thing without turning it off. Say no to Jennifer, and her body!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


My finger lingers above the keyboard as I consider for a moment whether I really want to do this. Do I really want to type what it is that I'm thinking, what it is that I really want to say?

What will happen if I did? Would there be looks of horror tomorrow morning; muffled whispers as I walked down the corridor? Would there be pats on the back and “hear hear”s and a steady stream of support and understanding? Or would there be nothing? Would silence greet me in the way that it does every day, tomorrow no different from today or the day before? Would anything be different? Would I realise the sad and lonely reality of things, that no one cares or reads or listens?

And what would happen if I didn't? How long would my finger hover above the keyboard before my mind moved on to something more pressing like what's on TV? How long before my mind settles on another subject and allows my heart to stop beating in my chest, sending my blood pounding around my body in a manner that I find most uncomfortable? Me, the supposedly calm one, the supposedly quiet one, the one who never speaks out for herself and just goes with the flow. I don't like the feeling that is coursing through me. How long before it ends? What can I do to make it stop?

My finger lingers above the keyboard and I stare at it, willing it to start typing away, to start what I can't bring myself to. I will it to write what is in my head so that it will be gone and I can stop thinking about it. Once it is out and in the world, there is nothing more to think about. It is up to others to think about then. It won't be my burden anymore.

I drop my finger onto the keyboard. It doesn't matter where it lands. Wherever it is, whatever letter starts the torrent, it has begun and nothing can hold it in now.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I have been focussing on my photography blog a lot recently, so I thought that I would take a moment to write a blog about the nothingness really that is going on in my life.

As I mentioned awhile ago, I gave up booze and chocolate for a month. Of course, that month that I give up booze and chocolate would be the month that I feel the need to turn to both of them more than ever. The day after giving up on these luxuries, all hell broke loose at work and after two weeks of clients shouting at me down the end of phone lines and making promises that we didn't really have too much faith in, I was feeling utterly exhausted. I actually started reveling in the calls for African Bank (we get around 50 of these a day, as our number is very similar to theirs) as it meant that the call was not from an irate client demanding money and explanations. However, after two weeks, the crisis was over and there were fewer phone calls to deal with. Of course, this was also the point where I started getting horribly ill.

I am not the best at coping with stress, as some or many of you will know, and what tends to happen when I stress is that, after calming down, I get sick. I have noticed a trend in this and feel that the two are somehow connected. However, I could not have expected this specific illness. I still have no idea what it was, since at the point that it came around I was too scantily monied to head to the doctor, but it left me with my stomach in knots, not being able to lie on either of my sides and feeling the constant need to hurl, since it didn't feel like any of my food was going down.

In any case, the illness eventually passed and it was back to work and answering phone calls and emails for me. Over the weekends, I tried as hard as I could to relax, spending most of my time in bed and not seeing too many visitors or doing to many things in general. I tried to get some reading done and, contrary to my high expectations of reading 5 books in one month, only managed to get through one and a half. Fair enough, the half book is an 800 pager, but I still feel a little ashamed at my lack of reading speed. I somehow need to pick myself up and get back in the reading game! I played a little WoW here and there, but nothing too substantial. I rewatched a season of Criminal Minds with Grant and just generally appreciated the fact that he was around to watch shows with.

At some point during the month, we managed to find ourselves a place to live next year, an accomplishment which relieved a lot of stress in itself, as I was starting to worry that we were never going to find a place at all. I spent quite a bit of time phoning moving companies to get quotes for moving furniture from Cape Town to Grahamstown, as my parents have some spare furniture that they expect to get rid of before we move in, but alas, that is not to be as the cheapest moving company I could find quoted me R4500 for the move. At that price, we could likely buy a brand new lounge suite!

Overall, this month has been a bit of a tough one and a bit of a busy one, though now that I look back on it, it certainly felt busier living through it than describing it to other people. Whatever the case may be, however, whether it was a long one or a short one, and easy or a rough one, the month of no booze or chocolate is over, and we celebrated this fact on Friday by tasting wine for Mike and Vicky's upcoming wedding and pairing it with a selection of chocolates. Delish!! Needless to say, we were all feeling more than a little tipsy by the end of the evening, and slightly rough around the edges on Saturday morning. This was nothing compared to some of my nights in Korea, but it certainly feels like a much more sophisticated evening of drinking to excess.

So what did I miss the most about not being able to eat chocolate or drink alcohol? In terms of chocolate, it was mostly the things that were put in front of me that I had to avoid eating - chocolate brownies and cake at work on peoples birthdays, ice cream with chocolate sauce and hazelnut chocolate wafter biscuits which Grant bought for dessert, that kind of thing. In terms of alcohol, I missed having a drink on occasion when I'd had a long day and I missed having a cocktail with the girls on occasion. I'm also glad that I didn't go to the movies last month, else I would have missed out on my usual Astro-popcorn mix, and that would have been sorely disappointing.

I expect to be having a cocktail evening soon soon to remedy the lack of cocktails in my life over the last month, so if anyone in Grahamstown is  up for it, please please let me know and we will make a plan to be at Yellow House and some point in the very near future. Or, possibly, to make cocktails of our very own. And now it is sleep for me and dreams of the sugary goodness that  is Nachtmusik that await. Have a great evening everyone!