Alphabet Soup: July 2005 Archives

My sordid past

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A few years before I had this blog, I had a taste of online publishing when a fellow South African employed me to write a weekly column for an online newsletter.

Don't be too impressed! (Oh, right. You weren't.) Anyway, he only picked me because nobody with actual writing talent and ability was willing to do the work for free.

Our intended audience was other expat South Africans living in various locales around the globe, but since we didn't have a comments feature on the site, I didn't know if anyone ever actually read it!

But readers or not, I found that I really enjoyed writing columns and miraculously, I managed to come up with a new one almost every week for two years.

Sadly, the newsletter (and my little column) eventually became part of the world wide cobweb when our editor/webmaster ran out of the energy and enthusiasm to keep the site going.

And so my career as an amateur columnist came to a rather abrupt halt. I briefly mourned it, missed it a surprising amount for a while, and then, eventually, moved it to the most hidden corners of my memory, only dusting it off and recalling it whenever I needed to milk my past for anything remotely resembling productivity to put on a resumé.

Until recently, when my column-writing past caught up with me rather unexpectedly and in a most surprising way.

In addition to his full-time career as a creative type, the boy also sings in a local a cappella group. They are very good, and this isn't just my biased opinion. People actually pay them rather good money to perform all across the United States!

At one such gig, an audience member approached the group during their break to talk about their music, buy a CD, etc. He told them that he had driven especially to see their show from quite far out of state. They were very flattered and asked him how he had learned about them.

"Oh, a South African columnist wrote an online article about you some time ago, and ever since reading it, I've always wanted to attend one of your shows."

Imagine that! I had an actual READER!! And never mind that my lone reader wasn't even a South African. You see, we had rather hoped that our readers would be fellow expat South Africans, but really, with my horrible hand-eye coordination, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that I didn't hit the intended target audience!

Target or not, since finding out that I had AN ACTUAL READER (forgive the ALL-CAPS, it's just that I still can't believe it), I've been overcome by curiosity to see what exactly it might've been that inspired him to read my words. Who knows? Maybe I can apply whatever it was that he had found so compelling - or, then, compelling enough - and apply it to my blog composition?

You see, I couldn't even remember writing about the boy's a cappella group! So who knows what else I'd written? For all I know, I could've been so desperate for material that I may have simply written down our address and phone number!

So last night, I opened up the binder containing print-outs of all my old columns. In many ways, it was like reading an old, almost forgotten journal. All these memories came rushing back, and in many instances, I remembered exactly where I was when I wrote a particular column.

I'm afraid I still don't know why I even managed to have one reader, though. Some of the writing really made me cringe! I think this must be what actors feel like whenever a talk show host plays unearthed clips of their earliest work!

But I've decided to let you be the judge. Here's something I wrote for my column a few summers ago. (Read it, quick! Before I change my mind!)


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Today's cheerful subject is tombstones, and it is brought to us courtesy of him who has brought to my attention this website where you too can create an epitaph (or two, or... if you're like me, a few) of your very own!

Apart from my collection of how-to books (and my itty-bitty booklight), I really have no earthly possessions of worth to leave behind, so I've decided to leave some ideas for my epitaph instead. After all, that's the least I can do! And yes, that way I'd still be able to have the final word!

One day, when Red is dead
Bury her on her head
Write a witty epitaph
To make the mourners laugh

Or, if you lack inspiration and find yourself suffering from tomb-writer's block, I'd like you to use one of these instead:

... To let you know that yes, indeed, I'm still alive.

I haven't moved from this chair in about a week and a half, so my behind is sore and my eyes are bleary and my hand is all cramped up from gripping and obsessively clicking the mouse to watch yet another South African television show, but I'm alive.

(Please don't look so openly disappointed.)

And I AM still working on my travelogue. That is, if you can define adding approximately one word a day to it as "working on it."

Okay, but at least I'm feeling guilty about still not having it completed. And besides, I'm being put to even further shame by her. She went on her trip about a month after I returned from mine, and she's already shared most of her travel tales with us. (Go read it. It's irresistible: Filled with sheep and castles and rabbit doo.)

Luckily you've come to expect nothing more of me! I'm sooo glad that my bad blogging habits and my terrible writing skills have come to be so useful!

So all ye younge bloggers oute there, here is some free, unsolicited advice (but be grateful, young brats. I could emulate my immigration lawyer and charge you a few thousand dollars for it anyway, unsolicited or not! What? I sound bitter you say? Me? NEVER!)... Anyway, where were we?

Oh yes. Unsolicited advice to the young'uns: If you are planning to be the Second Laziest Blogger Ever (sorry, slot of the laziest is already, leisurely, filled by me), then by George! Do NOT write on your blog every day! If you do (and even if you do it badly with lots of overused parentheses (or even parentheses WITHIN parentheses!)), your three readers will come to expect having something new to read every day when they come to your blog, and with every new ping, they'll start salivating like Pavlov's dogs so famously did whenever they heard his bell ring, and then, when the pings stop coming one day, they will revolt and start spamming you with e-mails to see where you are and then they will eat each other and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT for setting such high standards (like blogging every day) in the first place!

But if you do it correctly by being a bad blogger from the beginning, then no one will notice if you don't blog for seven months, and no one will clog your inbox with concerned e-mails to check on your well-being. (Trust me, you don't want that. Really. It may SOUND pleasant, but think about it: Receiving and then having to open e-mails and... such horror... READING it is just SO strenuous! Especially if you could be doing something productive, like taking a nap.)

Instead, the people will see that you've updated your blog for the second time in a year and show only mild interest. "Oh, yeah. Whats-her/his-name has updated. I wonder what they sai... Oh, LOOK! A ping from one of the EAGER EVERY DAY BLOGGERS!"

And clickety-click, just like that they'll navigate away from your blog and leave you to fester away in a dark, unnoticed corner of the internet, the corner where all ignored, neglected, dying or dead sites end up... The World Wide Cobweb...

Mr. Mice has decided that, instead of just giving me a Green Card vote for free, he was going to make me work for it. So he put me to the test to see how much I know about these United States.

Boy, and did he ever put me through the wringer! Immigration should recruit him to design their quizzes, because I can safely say that his is far more difficult than theirs!

Here's what he asked me (Please note all the sports-related questions! I nearly died.):

This is for Red. Please try not to look up any of these answers. Answer from memory as much as possible.

1. Name the faces on Mount Rushmore

2. How many innings in a Baseball game.

3. Six flags have flown over Texas. Name them.

4. Who was the President during the Civil War?

5. What animal emblazons the Gadsden flag? What is the motto on the same?

6. Two baseball teams have moved from New York to California. Which Califonia baseball team did not move from New York?

7. What is the US National Anthem and what is its major drawback as an anthem?

8. What are the 5 US Armed Forces?

9. What Italian explorer is North America named for? Why?

10. What month is the Superbowl played in?

(If you wish to play, then answer in the comments before opening the extended entry to read my answers and his comments (in bold) on my answers.)

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!)


  • 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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