March 2008 Archives

Heartbreak

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Redsaid's resident web goddess Dee is experiencing some major heartbreak and loss today.

Her fabulous feline companion of the past 14 months died this morning when he was struck by a car in the street outside her apartment.

Now, it's no secret that I am far more partial to dogs than to cats, but I have to tell you, through Dee's hilarious descriptions, photographs and even a video of Chino, even I fell for him. He was one of the few cats who managed to utterly charm me and burrow his way deep into the almost-exclusively-reserved-for-pets-of-the-canine-pursuasion club located in my heart.

I know his human mama Dee adored him, despite the fact that he gave her many sleepless nights. Do yourselves a favour and go and read that post. I nearly raptured an internal organ when I read it out loud to Roommate Kate. Since I read it to her in the middle of the night, causing both of us to howl and laugh like a pair of hyenas, Chino even managed to keep some Stellenbosch residents awake! That's no mean feat for a cat who resided on the other side of the world in Australia and who never in his short life set a paw on South African soil. If that doesn't make a feline famous, I don't know what would! A leading part in a major motion picture? Well, his mom DID film him (as can be seen in that particular post), so...

I know we can never really say that we know exactly what someone else is experiencing, but since I have very recently also lost a dog (something that was so painful to deal with, I couldn't even write about it until about two weeks ago when I e-mailed another friend about it), I can sincerely say that I know her grief is very real and that she needn't feel embarrassed about being heartbroken. How could anyone NOT be after sharing space with such a delightful and spunky creature?

I hate that she is going through it and I really wish that she could have had some more time with 'the best roommate she's ever had'.

Here's to Chino and all the other wonderful fur-balls, large and small, who make our human lives brighter and more complete.

I must be getting swept up in the spirit of the season, because suddenly? I have a very large craving for...



Before I subject you to it, a bit of background info: I wrote this late one night in the span of two hours in order to meet a competition deadline. Its hasty formation is going to be sadly evident when you read the story. (If you dare.)

The name of the story is The Vigil, and yes, it's every bit as cheerful as the title suggests. During that time, I was attending a bedside vigil for a loved one who has since passed away, so my thoughts were inevitably about mortality.

But apart from the fact that my unfortunate protagonist bears an uncanny physical resemblance to me, the rest of it is all fiction.

Here goes:

The Vigil


It is shortly before midnight on a Saturday.

 

But instead of being out on the prowl as any young, single woman ought to be, I am at a bedside vigil. I know it sounds callous and terribly selfish, but I can’t help but be angry about being here, in this semi-dark room, when every loud tick-tock emitted by the grandfather clock in the corridor is a taunting reminder that my youth and my life are slowly fading away.

 

Oh, all right. Thirty-three is not that young, I suppose. This becomes evident whenever my age is brought up, because that’s when people – especially other women – openly look at my hands. The action of their eyes darting down to my hands is so involuntarily, it’s like a reflex. And when their eyes fall on my fingers, so naked and devoid of any type of ring, their faces assume an expression of embarrassed sympathy. Almost as if they had caught me doing something illicit. Some of them even look a bit gleeful and superior when they establish that no, I have never even been married yet. Others even have the audacity to quickly, nervously reach for their husbands. Almost as if they think that a taken man around a single woman in my age bracket should be treated like protected game.

 

My standard one-liner: “I am so commitment phobic, I can’t even live with myself,” does nothing to diffuse the awkwardness of the situation. Oh, make no mistake, the husbands laugh! But the women? Humourless cows.

 

I pretend that it doesn’t bother me, but deep down, it does chafe, because I know full well that I am no oil painting in the looks department. I have genuinely begun to wonder if I don’t perhaps give off an air of quiet desperation? If I do, I’ll blame it on the Sarah Jessica Parker perfume I’ve been wearing. (Don’t judge. I bought the stuff on an ill-conceived whim, mistakenly believing that her Manolo-strutting Sex and the City persona would somehow rub off on me every time I envelop my body in a cloud of its seductive scent.)

 

But the only thing I’m desperate about at this moment is about getting out of this depressing room in my mother’s house, where death is already palpable and lurking in the shadows.

 

I won’t dare to complain though. This is a family affair and we are all present. Even my dad is here, which is an enormous milestone. He has not been able to tolerate being in the same 100 kilometre vicinity as my mother since their bitter divorce a decade ago, but hell, if even he was man enough to show up for her sake, then I suppose I have no right to moan.

 

It is just so damn quiet. Too quiet, especially for our family. I wish someone would turn on the radio. Isn’t death supposed to be a celebration of life, after all? And if it is, shouldn’t it be a reflection of our lives together as a family?

 

Then this moment is entirely wrong, because we were never this quiet. Even if no one was chattering or arguing, there was always at least music playing in the background. Now, not even the television is on. I fear that this oppressive, sombre silence is enough to kill us all…

 

At least someone had the foresight to open a window earlier, alleviating some of the stuffiness. The fresh air from outside whispers into the room, stirring the lace curtains and carrying the lingering fragrance of the lavender growing in Mom’s garden.

 

The night is surprisingly cool for the time of year. If I had known that global warming wasn’t going to mean eternal summers, I might have made a better effort to recycle. I quietly wonder for the umpteenth time if we have buggered up the climate so much that the seasons will become mixed up.

 

Will we here in the Southern Hemisphere get white Christmases, while people in New York and Paris barbecue their Christmas dinners on balmy summer nights? I wish I could ask my big brother, the underachieving genius. This is exactly the kind of useless information that he seems to absorb through sheer osmosis (and compulsive reading) while he slogs through mind-numbing, minimum-wage type jobs, which he alternates with long bouts of unemployment. Needless to say, he kicks arse at Trivial Pursuit.

 

He is slumped forward in a chair (carried in from the dining room), resting his head in his hands. He has never been one to share his emotions, and I am so shocked to see the grief openly wracking his body, violently shaking his shoulders, that I completely forget to be embarrassed by it.

 

Much to my relief, everyone else seems too wrapped up in their own misery to have noticed his.

 

Our younger sister still looks infuriatingly graceful, even while grieving. Her elegance and grace are occupational hazards. She is a professional ballerina with a troupe that has already achieved minor international fame. We don’t know who to blame for her extraordinary good looks, because sadly, Mom and I and the rest of the female cousins and aunts do not possess her flawless complexion, silky hair and delicate features. We are more squat and stocky. And in my case, hopelessly clumsy. Yes, I told you I am no oil painting!

 

I used to relentlessly poke fun at my sister’s duck-footed walk, but I was really jealous of her shapely legs and of the fact that she has always been everyone’s undisputed darling: from teacher’s pet right across to being both Mom and Dad’s hands-down favourite child. (Not that they ever admitted it, of course.) I have never blamed her though, because despite all of the attention she has been lavished with all of her life, she has never been a brat, which makes it impossible to resent her. It wasn’t her fault that I was born into the attention-starved position of middle child.

 

Dad is sitting on the other side of the bed. For the second time tonight, I am shocked at an emotional display by a male member of my family. This time it is because he is holding Mom’s hand in the most intimate of ways: with their fingers intertwined. This after he had angrily vowed during the divorce to never in his life touch her again with a ten-foot pole! That particular outburst had happened in court, when mom’s lawyer had threatened to get a restraining order against him – after he had continuously broken into the house, always under the pretence of picking up a forgotten item or two. I’ve always suspected that he had done it simply because he was unable to let Mom go. Even though she had been the culprit who had so carelessly shattered almost 26 years of marriage by having a rather blatant and indiscreet affair.  

 

And just look at them now. If I had known that grief would be the glue that would reattach our broken family unit, I would have made my half-hearted attempt at committing suicide much sooner.

 

Ironically, it was while I was in hospital following my rather melodramatic cry for help (what, surely you don’t think that I had really wanted to die a spinster, did you?), that the cancer was diagnosed.

 

Which is why my family is gathered at this vigil on what is quite possibly the very last Saturday night of my life.

 

At least I can show you something. Look, there on my hand. Can you see the sparkle, or is it too dark in here? Yes, of course it is a real diamond, but unfortunately, it isn’t what you might think… I wish I could tell you that my oncologist was handsome and single and fell madly in love with me while successfully saving my life. Instead, the sad truth is that my oncologist was much older than my father and my life was beyond saving.

 

The ring then? It was a deathbed gift from the only adoring men in my life, my father and my brother.  

 

It is really strange, this dying business. There is certainly nothing like it to give one perspective, because now that the final credits are rolling on what I had always considered to be my very bleak existence, I can finally see all the love that has been illuminating my life all along.


We have officially entered the homestretch.

There are only three way less than two days 24 hours left in which you, my most beloved imaginary readers (and your very real friends, relatives and colleagues) can cast your votes for me in the 2008 South African Blog Awards (for which the likes of me, in what could only have been a gross oversight or serious glitch in the time/space continuum, has miraculously been nominated for in three (yes THREE!) different categories), and well... desperate times, I think you'd agree, call for the most desperate of measures.

Which leaves me with little choice but to pull out the big guns. Now, this could either mean whipping out my spectacular DDD boobs... (which would mean having that, so... that's a no then), or resorting to tears a la Hillary Clinton did back in January before the New Hampshire Primaries... and trust me, on me? That would be FAR scarier.

OR? I could simply follow the example of most African politicians and resort to good, old-fashioned bribery and exploitation.

I've chosen the latter.

The bribed: That would be you, your friends, your relatives, your colleagues, and your pets. No seriously... no need for opposable thumbs to vote. At this point we don't discriminate or pay heed to minor technicalities like that. As long as Fluffy, Rover, Tinkerbell and Meatball have e-mail addresses of their own. Only one vote per e-mail address, but luckily, nowadays, people (and animals?) have many secondary e-mail addresses. See how great that is for this particular exercise? (And here you thought you would never again find a use for that other old hotmail address that has been overtaken by spam...)

The exploited: That would be my very, very sweet and attractive roommate.

Confused?

Don't worry, she is too. But no! I assure you: I DO have her permission for this. Well, if we use the term permission loosely...

As if living within close proximity to me and my coffee-at-3a.m. habit isn't... um... challenging enough on anyone's senses and sensibilities, the saintly girl also puts up with my incessant chattering, my off-key-yet-enthusiastic singing in the shower and my ability to almost hourly, shed the equivalent of the amount of hair that can be found in Amy W(h)inehouse's beehive weave.

And now? I am totally, completely, utterly and shamelessly exploiting her beauty (which she has more than enough of to go around, so really, it's only fair that she should pay for it in this way then) and her youth by launching the following desperate campaign (which makes even the dirtiest antics among American presidential candidates seem childish and amateurish):

Vote for Redsaid in the 2008 South African Blog Awards, and You Could Win a Date With Roommate Kate!

We're still ironing out the logistics... which is challenging, to say the least, since I don't know how to either iron or be logical. At all.

Ah, how do I even begin to describe your prize? She is fair, Roommate Kate is. She is delicate, yet tall, tanned, twenty-one, with long, flowing dark-blond hair, streaked with natural, sun-kissed highlights. Her smile is wide and quick, her disposition sweet and her limbs long and lean. She is a student, so there won't be long, awkward silences during your Date With Roommate Kate, because as if all aforementioned traits aren't more than enough, she just HAD to have a BRAIN AS WELL.

So yes, as you can see then... she is absolutely, unfairly fair...

Speaking of which: In the name of fairness (so that no one can accuse us of cheating unfairly!), the contest is open to everyone. Everyone except your average psychopath, serial killer or stalker type, that is. We don't want any harm to come to beautiful Roommate Kate. But yes, this Win a Date With Roommate Kate contest is open to all, even to you international folks, because well, Roommate Kate has a passport and is perfectly willing to travel. With me, and my very large, very strong and very Italian brother-in-law (he has connections to the Motherland, if you know what I'm sayin'...) as chaperones. (Which we will be even if the date ends up being local.)

In order to enter, you need to obviously vote for me by clicking on the beautiful SA Blog Awards 08 widget in the upper left side of this blog. The neat thing is, when you vote that way, you are taken straight to the SA Blog Awards voting site, speedily and via police escort, and all you need to do once you arrive there is scroll down to the very bottom of the page and enter your e-mail address and the little code to show them that you are indeed not a spammer. Really, because when you vote thusly, the marks would have already been magically ticked off next to my name in all the appropriate (or in this case, highly inappropriate) categories.

After that, a confirmation of your vote will be sent to the e-mail address you have entered. Then you just need click on that link (or copy and paste it into your browser)... When you've done all that, kindly e-mail me your voting confirmation after receiving it to be entered into the draw.

Brownie points will be given to those who use their own blogs/sites to further pimp my desperate campaign.

WhadoyouMEAN it is way too labour intensive?!? Just look at how long the voting process in the United States lasts?!

Since some people have already met with all of the above-mentioned criteria, even without the promise of a date with the delectable Roommate Kate dangled in front of their noses like carrots in front of a donkey, we already have a few unwitting front-runners.

These guys for not only pimping me on their site, but for DIGGing me too! Muchas brownie points, cowboys!

Her for turning me into a marquee! A MARQUEE! How cool is that?!? (In order to spot it, view the top of her F is For Fit entry.) That marquee is certainly the closest I've ever come to having my name in lights...

And lastly... him for luring the rest of Australia into voting for me AND FOR ACKNOWLEDGING MY VERY OFFICIAL TITLE!
I'm sitting here trying to cook up a brilliant scheme on how to entice all of my millions (nay, BILLIONS) of imaginary readers to get their very real friends, and relatives, and colleagues, and colleagues' friends, relatives and colleagues... to vote for me in the 2008 SA Blog Awards. (Yes, yes... I agree... it was a grossly negligent oversight on their part to have nominated the likes of me, but shhh, I won't point it out to them if you don't, okay?)

And well, you all know how I suck at cooking... so needless to say, none of the schemes I've dreamed up thus far seems very... well... palatable. Or tasteful. Or well-done. Or even medium rare...

So as I go back to the drawing board (another skill I lack, but hey... I'm running out of alternative ways to say 'make a plan'), I have actually been tagged in a meme a while ago by this lovely creature. (Who is of course solely to blame for subjecting you all to this). Which I shall now resort to. As a last resort.

In order to participate in this particular Meme, the rules of engagement are:

  • Link to the person who tagged you (Done!)
  • Post the rules here (Doing!)
  • Share 7 random or weird facts about yourself (Uh... ONLY A MEASLY SEVEN? I mean, it's hard to pick if one's very existence is centred upon the sad fact that one is weird in possession of a few quirks.)
  • Tag 7 random people at the end of the post, linking to them (Will do!)
  • Leave a comment on their blog so that they know they've been tagged (not anonymously!!) (Okay, enough with the homework already! And here I used to think that Memes were just a lazy way to blog...)
1. One of the most important things I've learned in my 33 years on earth so far, is that it's absolutely astounding how many people will believe you when you tell them that your birthday is on the 30th of February.

2. My sister and I use the same IT guys here in Stellenbosch (and no, you can't have them... we keep them VERY busy), and after me killing one and a half laptops (don't ask), and after my sister's PC began smoking (yes! SMOKING!) one day, the guys sat us both down and said that it really hurts them to see how we kill electronic devices, and that we should please consider using pen and paper from now on... And then they hooked us up to machines to see if they could get to the bottom of what exactly it is about our genetic makeup that inspires all things electronic to have such vehement reactions when we come near them... And then those machines that they had hooked us up to? Promptly exploded!

3. Since I've never in my 33 years had the pleasure of possessing cheekbones, I would very much one day like to have the following engraved on my tomb stone:
    Chisel it in stone
    And let it be known
    Red has finally located
    Her funny bone
    (Posthumourously)

4. The only reason why I'm not a more driven person, is because I can't find a chauffeur anywhere who would take the gig for free. (Well, maybe this dude would consider it! So tell me, after exactly how many miles does a test drive turn into full-on grand theft auto?)

5. The one (okay, the only) awesome thing about generally not being fit for human consumption, as I am? Is that it  greatly diminishes one's risk of being approached by cannibals.

6. And speaking of being human (or not... such as the case may be): The human condition is insufferable. Which is why it is such a relief that it's terminal!

7. After years and years of intently watching and studying the show (strictly for research purposes... and okay, in the hopes of sometimes seeing puppies), I have formed an intricate conspiracy theory regarding Oprah Winfrey and the celebrity couples who appear on her show.

Tag, you are it. And you, you, you, you, you and you!
What does it take to pluck a blog from the murky, despairing, solitary depths of the worldwide cobweb... that creepy, perpetually dim corner of the Internet where largely ignored and highly obscure websites dwell? And which, coincidentally (or not), has happened to be the sole domain of this little blog for the last... well... many, many months?

You employ the likes of THIS girl genius! (Henceforth to be known as my lucky charm... she'll find out why in a bit. And it doesn't JUST have to do with the fact that this blog is being forced down the throats of unsuspecting feed readers well-fed again!) She prodded and poked me with a stick, and then did all sorts of web genius things to get me operational again...

And so here I am and able to say: Hello my scores of imaginary readers! It really is delightful to be back among your feeds!

WhadoyouMEAN you didn't realise that I was even gone?!? Thanks... I know it's been a few days weeks months, but you have to admit... that's a long stretch, even for me, the World's Laziest Blogger. I've lazily held onto that title for five years in a row, I'll have you know. And that's rather remarkable... especially if one considers that I have only been blogging for three and a half years!

Speaking of years... Wow, what a year 2008 has been so far!

Frankly, I was really really glad to see 2007 go. And normally, I'm so sentimental, I can hardly stand to leave a room! Let alone huge chunks of time (like years), or certain countries, or let go of my ever expanding collection of How-to books.

2007 lived up to its last three numbers since it REALLY kicked my arse. That's probably why I didn't have too many qualms to kick it on ITS puny little behind when the time came! In fact, had it been up to me? 2007 could have ended a year ago already...

2008 started off with a rather literal bang. And I'm not just talking about the fireworks which probably severed a few of its detonators' limbs (is 'detonator' even the correct word to call a drunken amateur who lights and sets off fireworks?) at the beach in Gansbaai where I was, scaring dogs and children and endlessly amusing inebriated adults for kilometres around (and yes, that last bit - the scaring dogs and children part? I'm totally talking about myself and not about the fireworks... sadly I don't think I was the one amusing the drunk adults...)!

No, the literal bang refers to the next morning, when my first act upon waking up was to slam my enormous noggin' against the bottom of the top bunk bed (of COURSE the youngest daughter is assigned the kiddie room at the beach house, didn't you know?).

And no, of COURSE no one believed that my ensuing headache was the result of that rude awakening and had NOTHING to do with what I may or may not have consumed the night before!

Okay, so that was basically all you missed until January 1st 2008. Riveting, 'eh?

See why I haven't been blogging?!?

(So as a dinosaur veteran , I would just like to take it upon myself to give the novice bloggers out there some advice: When you start a blog? It's a good idea to have a bit of a life first that you can write about. Or, if not? Then at least a HELL of an imagination!)

But my sad lack of a life and imagination are really not the only reasons why I haven't blogged. Even though I'm sure you'll agree that they are all very valid reasons.

I'll spare you the rather gory details (exploding computers, for one...), but let's just say that me not writing? Well, it has paid off in spades.

You see, the South African blogging community has been soooo grateful at not having to be subjected to my feeble attempts in a while, THEY HAVE NOMINATED ME FOR THE 2008 SOUTH AFRICAN BLOG AWARDS!!!!

No, I can't believe it either... and if you (or they) or anyone else were to look closely at the three (THREE!!!) categories I am nominated in (and no, smart arses, they do NOT have categories called Worst Writing and Most Boring Blog On Earth, Let Alone in South Africa), you'll see that it had to just be a major oversight... a gross mistake!

But will what is clearly a huge mistake prevent me from shamelessly begging for your votes or resort to downright bribery to get it out of you? Well... no. Of course not.

So please clickety-click on that there fancy SA Blog Awards 2008 widget so beautifully embedded by Miss Dee in the left hand column (a.k.a. the sidebar) of this blog and vote for me?

If you don't, you might just leave me no choice but to do something awful... like BLOG EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!

Miss Redsaid Regrets

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She's not able to lunch today.

Madam.

Actually this is Deeleea playing around inside Red's blog... did your atom feed update???

Please leave comments to advise...



















about
is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

online


comments
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Terra: YES! Wait... you didn't think that I would be this possessed to post for NO REASON, did ya???... [go]
  • Terra.Shield : OH! ... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: Be a bit like serving drinks at AA?... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: I personally think it is a mindset that has been cultivated over the years, and one, if not stemmed,... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Ms. Crazy Cat Lady Pants!!! Squeeeee! Sooo good to see you! (I thought NO ONE was bothering to read ... [go]
  • Ms. Pants : Kitties don't get enough credit sometimes. (All times, if you ask me, but I'm a Crazy Cat Lady.)... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Hey Tamara! I know, right?? That is a tough act to follow indeed. I adored that dentist. He used to ... [go]
  • Tamara Tipton : Well, I am not sure how any dentist could live up to that standard! LOL! I hope your appointment was... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: I'm really really glad that I'm not the only one, Po! Sometimes I drive myself mad with all the what... [go]
  • Po : Those questions run through my heads for various times in my life too, that is for sure!... [go]
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