Z is for Ziraleet – An expression of joy for all the good people

Peggy Moran, Constance Moore and Anne Nagal

I got paid today. From the good people.

Not the bad people who still haven’t paid me for three months.

good badWhen I was growing up TV and the movies made good and bad very simple.

Bad guys wore black and had no redeeming features.

Also, it was the Cold War and Apartheid so they were either Russian or South African.

These days it seems much more fuzzy.

The bad guys seems to wear white Panama suits and the good guys wear black leather.

This post is on honour of the good people, or the good things people do without realising they are doing them or expecting anything in return.

jackie-chan-untitled-projectI think that we tend to take the good people for granted.

The chap who will give you two bucks to help you get out the parking, when the machine keeps spitting your paper note back at you like some horrible toddler pulling a tongue.

The guy who lets you cut in front of him on the off-ramp because you got sidetracked debating the relative merits of Jackie Chan versus Bruce Lee.

We just wave thank you, smile and bugger off. That’s that.

If the tables are turned and no-one will lend you the coins at the parking meter or won’t let you in through the traffic we’ll curse a blue streak and condemn them to suffer warts on their nether regions.

Then we’ll tweet, Facebook and blog the hell out of their inconsiderate behaviour.

bright sideIt seems a bit unbalanced to me and I’m hardly known as the optimist.

In fact I am often forced to defend my stance of being realistic versus being pessimistic.

My pessimism has even crossed into the afterlife.

Apparently my grandmother and my great-grandmother both think I am Miss Negativity and need to look on the bright side more often.

They also think I need to take more time for myself. I don’t deny that. But it is easy to give advice from beyond the veil when you’re dealing with paying bills, looming deadlines and three small children.

My answer back was if they wanted me to take some time for myself they’d organise a free spa voucher.

Good people deserve to be recognised.

Good manners should be acknowledged.

God knows common courtesy is not all that common these days anyway.

doorSo, if a gentleman opens the door for you, say thank you.

He is not trying to make some sexist challenge about your ability to open doors yourself.

He is just being nice. Maybe next time, you can hold the door open.

If someone says good morning, say it back.

If the child in the car in front waves to you, it won’t harm your dignity to wave back.

cinderellaWhen I arrived home this afternoon with a splitting migraine, my small daughter saw me across the garden and you would have thought I’d ridden in on Cinderella’s carriage.

Her face lit up and she flung herself into my arms.

My headache was forgotten.

That moment everyday is the best part of the whole day.

My mother tells a story of when I was about 6 and we were off on a road trip. In those dark days of Apartheid car stonings were a regular occurrence.

Some teenagers at the side of the road held their rocks up to throw and I (who had no clue, I thought they were waving at me).

KNightI smiled and waved maniacally.

They dropped the rocks and waved back.

Years later my mother told me she thought I may have saved our lives that day. I didn’t know.

Small actions make big things happen.

A smile. A comment. An open door.

A frown. A brush off. A rude remark.

It won’t hurt you to practice one random act of kindness every day.

Give it a shot.

scotlandAnd I couldn’t resist putting this in for Shaun at Praying For One Day...

 

O is for Oops I almost missed it

Lauren Beukes

Well, I did yesterday when I was meant to attend a book launch and then got busy on WordPress looked at the clock and saw I’d missed it.

No need to panic, I went to the next one tonight at Exclusives in Melrose Arch. The poor girl arranging it had a massive panic attack and the guy who took over made in infinitely worse by telling everyone about it.

The launch in question was for Lauren Beukes’s new novel, The Shining Girls.

 “A time-traveling serial killer is impossible to trace – until one of his victims survives. In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras, leaving anachronistic clues on their bodies, until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back.”

And it is truly amazing.

Many years and some incarnations ago Lauren and I attended the same school. She has always been quietly (and not so quietly) brilliant. One thing she has never lost is her wonderment at her incredible talent and, I think, some awe of far it has carried her.

She had the study across from mine and the walls were papered with stories. Utterly terrifying, blood curdling, nightmare inducing horror. Steven King could have taken lessons. These were utterly addictive and we would sneak in and read them avidly, knowing that tomorrow there’d be new installments.

maverick by lauren beukesWandering vaguely, as one does, through the book store in search of something that appeals, I found a copy of Maverick. Lauren’s first book, a non-fiction account of famous and infamous South African women.

It is sadly now out of print, but she give an often very humourous insight into the women who have in their own ways shaped our history (and not the women you might expect either).

moxyland_cover1-240x368Then I am ashamed to admit, I didn’t read her following novels until quite recently. I felt, strangely, that it was going to be too intimate, too uncomfortable to read the work of someone I actually knew. I realised how stupid this was a few months ago and snatched back my copy of Moxyland from a colleague who’d nicked it.

There is something slightly mystical about a person who can make you confront social issues and political agendas in such a way you don’t even realise you are doing it.

Zoo CityZoo City was even better and won her the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

I tend to find stories set in my home town unbearably depressing, but strangely enough this made me see it in a whole new light.

I have a feeling my spirit animal would be a fat, lazy, sleepy ginger cat with an unerring ability to find a sunny spot to nap in.

 

I think one of the best things about attending tonight, was watching how many people see Lauren as a role model. Good ones are hard to find and she has to be one of the best.

She answered questions with utter humility, humour and endless patience.

No-one deserves her success more.

beukusprofileSo, do yourself a favour.

If you live Johannesburg or Cape Town pop into www.laurenbeukes.com and fit a launch event this week and next into your schedule or at least buy yourself a copy of The Shining Girls.

If you live in the US check her website for the dates of her tour.

If don’t trust me, link to the latest copy of Obrigado or buy The Citizen on Thursday morning, this interview on Geeks Unleashed or another WordPress blog, the Bizarre Assemblage.

The most sage advice for productivity she gave tonight was to download an app called Freedom. It blocks you out of the Internet for a set period of time so you cannot get distracted by new blog posts.

So, there you go.
Now I have to get some work done tonight so I can read my new book.

Follow Lauren on Facebook

Or visit her website to find links to Twitter, Tumblr etc.

 

B is for Bloody Hell the Internet is Dead!

Card-Catalog-e1276063277226

Nothing, and I mean nothing, is as irritating as my Internet access dying.

I suppose I have the parastatal behemoth of Telkom to thank. Thanks Telkom, you really know how to make a girl’s day.

I got the Internet in 1994. It was necessary because my boyfriend was moving to another country and I would just die without being able to email him. I had a dial-up modem, used Pegasus Mail and searched using something called a worm.

Since then, it has become more necessary to me than a mobile phone (which I can happily dispense with).

Nowadays people don’t even know what the Dewy Decimal System is, let alone know how to find something in an index card file system.

In fact, I have my doubts most kids even know what a library is.

Now that is a fact I find terribly sad. When I had a school project my mother dropped me off at the Johannesburg Reference Library. She showed me to the door and said, “Everything you need to know is in here.” And then she left.

As a result I can find a needle in a haystack, even on Google.

The answers you find are all in how you phrase the question.

It is a metaphor for life really. How profound. I should copyright that.

Not having access to the Internet now feels as though I have lost my right arm.

Even my ability to think seems to slow.

A fast beat of panic rises like bile in my throat.

What if someone sends me an email?

What if someone tags me on Facebook?

What if one of the bloggers I follow posts a new article?

Will my carefully constructed virtual world begins to crumble around my ears?

It sounds as silly as it is, but my real world has become increasingly small. Family, work and maybe a tiny fragment carved out for friends. Sadly, most of the latter are spread across the world and have lives as frantic as mine, so our friendships are reliant on the Internet and time zones.

The Internet has introduced me to friends I have never even met, but probably know better than many of the people I see face-to-face every day. It has made my insular world a little less insular.

To throw down the gauntlet and be perfectly honest, I suffer from social phobia. Don’t get me wrong I love people, I love meeting them and chatting to them, I just don’t like lots of them in an environment totally out of my control.

I also have crippling anxiety attacks in supermarkets, restaurants and shopping malls. Online shopping was invented for me. If only it was a little better in my neck of the woods.

The Internet for all its foibles, psychopaths and weirdos is just a mirror image of our society. If you don’t like it online, have a look around you. What you dislike may be a little harder to see in your nice suburb, but it is still there.

Damn, now it occurs to me that I can’t post this article and will have to save it on a flash drive and take it to work with me tomorrow.

How very droll.

Friendly words of wisdom

I’m always searching for quotes from “famous” types to make my writing seem more serious and as a way to get out of writing sentiments that other people have said better anyway.

Trolling through my Facebook page I realised something quite incredible.

My friends have some fabulous quotes that should be preserved for posterity.

So here are a few from today:

Bongi quoteMongezi2 mongezi1 mongezi3frank2 frank1Drew1 Andrew Pearson Jerm on pregnancy Jerm on per second billing Jerm

Find Jerm here

20 years on…

“20 years on, when afar and asunder

Parted are those who are singing today,

When you look back, and forgetfully wonder

What you were like in your work and your play,

Then, it may be, there will often come o’er you,

Glimpses of notes like the catch of a song –

Visions of school days shall float them before you,

Echoes of dreamland shall bear them along”

 

It’s my twenty year reunion tomorrow.

It crept on me like a thief in the night.

I didn’t react well.

First of all I didn’t tell my husband until yesterday.

He didn’t take it very well, but has reacted exactly like I thought he would and is having a whale of a time teasing me.

From the reactions of my classmates on Facebook, I am not alone.

From a few tentative posts on what was happening, no-one jumped up to take responsibility of organising anything.

Where the hell is a head girl when you need one – in another country – that’s where.

Eventually out of sheer desperation one fabulous woman has arranged drinks tonight.

All I have to do is pitch.

Except…

I have nothing to wear.

I forgot to go on a crash diet.

I haven’t been to the gym in God knows how long.

After all, you don’t want to go to a reunion looking like what you are – a middle-aged mother of three fighting a losing battle against gravity.

Think Romi and Michelle’s High School Reunion or probably more apt, Grosse Pointe Blank – only without John Cusack (I went to a girls only school).

I wonder if I can learn to be something interesting like an assassin in 24 hours?

 

So, I went shopping yesterday. I bought form shaping Spanx, hit the sales and am now the proud owner of an exquisite pair of blue shoes from San Marino.

Thus armed, I swaggered into work this morning filled with false confidence, all of which got shot to hell as my colleagues began asking, “So, how many of them have had Botox? Or a boob job?”

Botox?

Boob jobs?

I don’t have time for liposuction and a face lift.

The reunion is tomorrow.

I can’t get an appointment for professional tooth whitening and a Hollywood smile.

But, maybe I can wrangle a manicure from the lady down the hall…

So armed with nothing but a fountain pen, some gorgeous blue shoes, Spanx and some Dorothy Parkeresque acerbic wit I shall walk into the breach and hope for the best.

Damn those sweet little kittens

I admit it. Underneath my prickly exterior I am a marshmallow. Or an Eskimo pie.

You see today I had to go the licensing department to renew my driver’s licence.

Each time I go I make a sort of karmic promise that if, by some miracle, I achieve what I came for I’ll pop into the SPCA next door and donate fifty bucks.

Wonder of wonders I did get what I came for and in record time.

I also took insane pleasure in being uncharacteristically nice to the sullen inhabitants of the bureau of motor vehicles.

I smiled.

I asked about their plans for the long weekend and I completely took them off guard.

It was most satisfying. Almost as much as making an outbound call centre insurance agent weep.

So, I duly drove into the SPCA to fulfill my deal with God. I had planned to just pop in hand over the cash and leave, but as luck would have it a gentleman was asking about kittens.

Kittens.

What woman could resist?

Of course I went down to the kitten run.

So would you.

Unless you are allergic, in which case you would run very fast in the opposite direction.

I am a sucker for that look.

The look that Puss in Boots uses against Shrek?

Yeah, that’s the one.

They climbed up my legs (very painful) and purred like little Corvette Stingrays (very comforting).

I resisted (with great difficulty) the desire to take them all home with me, but was almost swayed by the tale of Shower, the little ginger tom.

Shower was found by one of the staff hiding in a communal shower in the location. She obviously adores the little chap and has made it her personal mission to find him a home.

The SPCA has introduced a new homing policy that happily circumvents the impulse adoption. You have to wait a week for your home to be vetted (ha ha) and your pet sterilised before you introduce him or her to the family.

Over the years I have adopted quite a few dogs and cats from the SPCA.

There was Geoffrey the psychotic German Pointer and most recently my Bonny Prince Charlie – a beagle cross bloodhound with questionable IQ.

The volunteers at the SPCA do a remarkable job with little financial support. The animals homed there are well looked after, socialised and have the best medical care.

Sadly, they do have to put many of their charges down. This isn’t an action they take lightly. It breaks their hearts each and every time.

The Alexandra Project

The lack of financial support meant they have had to cut back on much of the community work they do in Alexandra Township providing vet care and sterilisation services.

Happily they now have a new mobile clinic, but it is much like throwing starfish back in the sea.

They desperately need all the help they can get, even if it is as simple as cuddling a kitten for a few minutes or throwing a ball to an odd-looking puppy I think may be a Bouvier slash dachshund.

Sandton SPCA Kitten for AdoptionNow I have lost my heart to a little 7 week old kitten I have name Chevy for her purr.

All I have to do is convince my husband (the kids are a done deal) that our two pampered and overly superior house cats need a partner with some street smarts.

Preferably one that doesn’t treat my dogs as beneath her contempt.

You can follow the Sandton SPCA on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/SandtonSPCA

Or visit their website here: http://www.sandtonspca.org.za/news.php

Or donate something towards they amazing work they do for South Africa’s animals here: http://www.sandtonspca.org.za/donate.php

Account Holder: Sandton SPCA
Bank: First National Bank (RSA)
Branch: Wierda Valley
Branch Code: 260950
Account Number: 62256139629
Reference: Website donation: Name and email/tel
SWIFT: FIRNZAJJ

My Brave Face

I’ve lost my brave face
I can’t find it anyplace
I really need it on today
I need to hear my father say
“Chin up, stout fella, it’ll be okay”

I need eyedrops made by appointment to the Queen
To give my eyes that shiny, sparkly sheen
I need some expensive make-up base
To wipe away the streaks the tears have traced
I need some long-lasting lipstick to paint on a smile
I need someplace to curl up and sleep for a while
So if you happen to find it lying around somewhere
You can find me sitting right here

Why the deep pit of self inflicted misery?
The loss of my usual misplaced bravery?
I woke up this morning to a cold realization
That my best friend will no longer be in this nation
And totally selfish though it may be
I feel suddenly bereft and lonely
Email and Facebook will still connect us
But a pool table will stand empty at Bohemians
No more glasses of cheap red wine
I might sink into a deep decline

No matter, it’s just a passing phase
It’ll only last a couple of days
I’m suffering complete hormonal overload
Which means that I’m bound to explode
Over the smallest, stupidest thing
Not really filled with the joys of spring
The worst thing about this malady
Is that it hurts the people close to me
I’m writing here my heartfelt apology
For my totally screwed up psychology
So please don’t look too closely at me
You’ll only see the screaming banshee
Who has staged a pretty well-orchestrated escape
And assumed my face, my voice and shape

I’m feeling the effects of nostalgic memories
For the friendly faces that once surrounded me
Nighttime ghosts of girls I knew
Who lived every moment brave and strong and true
Whose days down here were numbered on some celestial board
Who stuffed in every single experience that they could
No more nights in Morris Minors or hanging out with bands
Now I see them in my dreams in some other far off land
There are other faces captured in fading photographs
Of some or other time when we shared a few loud laughs
When all the world lay before us as an oyster at our feet
And we had yet to sample the bitter taste of defeat
We’ve grown up to be wise
A few more wrinkles around the eyes
I hope that somewhere in there safely stored inside
Is a little bit of innocence, a little remnant of the child

I’m gonna shoot the whole day down!

How best to start a Monday morning

Then by running a tub and jumping in without warning

To a bath filled with melt water from some Artic glacier

You know what? I’m going back to bed, I’ll call you later

There are only two ways this day could go

It could get better or it could just blow

Scott’s making stuff purple ‘cause he can

I’m logging onto to Facebook to find a hit man

I’ve only got access between one and two

Man, oh man, you haven’t got a clue

Just how irritating it can be

When you’re then interrupted by your CD

I’ve got another one of those briefs you know

The type that make you grunt and groan

To write a call to entry for some competition or other

God knows how you enter, ask your mother

You may will a prize of some sort or not

I haven’t a clue, but you’ve missed a full stop

Stop! Stop! Stop! I’m losing my head

I knew I should’ve stayed in bed.

Theo’s had enough, he’s gone home with the flu

Christina should really be doing that too

She lost her MAC – been essentially downgraded

Bitter and twisted she’s feeling quite jaded

Marc sent me a pic of a wee little house

For a sweet little lady and her sweet little spouse

It’s cute – maybe a little bit twee

Not so sure if it’s really me

I get where they’re going and it’s pretty cool

If you toned down the pink and added a pool

It’s a tad overpriced in my estimation

But a nice little spot for a family vacation

Is my meeting tomorrow at 1?

Or Wednesday at 3 when I’m on the run?

It depends who you talk to

If its false or if its true

Well babyshoes, I’m leaving it up to you!

Marais is having a complete breakdown

Approval processes are getting him down

Timing schedules the stuff of nightmares

We don’t have time to start splitting hairs

Just sort something out and get out of here!

I must update you on our proud peacock

Today he got one hell of a shock

You see the company cat has illusions of grandeur

If I spoke cat I might have tried to warn her

That taking on a bird of that size

Is really quite frankly not all that wise

Then again the bird is perfectly dense

And he flew right into the electric fence

Now I’ve written some utterly fabulous rules

If they can’t figure them out they’re a royal bunch of fools

I’ve done my very very best

And now I’m taking a well-earned rest

Having a smoke and a cup of tea

Basically, what I’m saying is… That’s me!