Monday, 25 February 2008

50 things you didn't know about me

So I made the mistake of commenting on Caz's list, and now I apparently have to write my own. Not that I mind, actually. It means I don't have to think of something to post about and that I get to talk about me :) So here goes:

1. I am really bad at finishing things. I get all psyched to start a project, but lose momentum and motivation half way through (take my latest venture into making handbags out of plastic shopping bags as a prime example - I did the first half three weeks ago and haven't touched it since). I used to start writing novels. At around page 40 I'd lose all patience with my characters and kill them all off. I reckon I should stick to short stories.

2. My favourite drink is kola tonic and lemonade. And I'm a snob - I can tell if it's not the Roses brand or if the lemonade has been substituted with Sprite.

3. I am one of those customers that complains if something is not up to standard. I'm never rude (I've found that you get further with an attitude of disappointment than with one of anger), but I will speak to the manager, write a letter or visit and post a complaint if there's a problem. And it works. I've had meals on the house, been reimbursed for faulty products and had personal phonecalls from top management. Besides, if I don't complain, it will just happen to the next person. I get this from my mother, although her angle is usually rage.

4. I love hot water. I could happily park a deckchair in the shower and chill there for ages. On my mission to be greener, this is the hardest thing to conquer.

5. One of my pet hates is the sound of someone sneezing. It infuriates me for no good reason. Even though I know the person sneezing is not doing it on purpose, it still drives me mad. And my husband suffers from hayfever, poor man. Not only does he have horrible allergies, but he has to deal with a cross wife too.

6. I studied film at varisty, so I'm supposed to have acquired some taste, but I can't stand a lot of the movies I'm supposed to admire (think Requiem for a Dream, which was hideously depressing; Thin Red Line; Badlands and Pulp Fiction).

7. Equally hard to admit is the fact that I love movies that serious cinophiles (cinema obsessives) deem pathetic... Michael Bay movies, for example (The Island and Transformers).

8. I have secret fantasies about taking on our office fax machine, which is 11 years old and held together with a clamp, with a baseball bat (a la the copy machine in Office Space).

9. I shop by texture. I walk through clothing stores fingering fabric until I find something that feels good. If it happens to look good too, I consider trying it on.

10. Until I got to varsity, I honestly believed that the phrase inter alia was the name of the Italian national airline. For someone who studied English, that's a bit of a shocker.

11. I love dressing up in costume. Give me a themed birthday party any day!

12. Another of of my pet peeves is things that rhyme. I hate it when companies have rhyming slogans (read the 'Wimpy promise' and weep) or when pastors try to fit as much rhyme into a sermon as possible. I like the word orange, which doesn't truly rhyme with anything.

13. I get severe Sunday-night blues. Much as I enjoy my job (usually), I still hate having to ackowledge that the weekend is over.

14. I love yellow flowers - sunflowers, daffodils, yellow roses and day lilies. They're just so happy.
15. I prefer cooking to baking. This is probably because I absolutely cannot stick to a recipe, and this tends to matter more when it comes to baking that it does with cooking. You can always add something to a stew to make it tastier, but once your muffins are in the oven, there's nothing you can do.

16. I love libraries. There's something magical about the quietness and the smell of so many books read by so many people all in one place.

17. On that note, I notice smell a lot. I won't eat something new unless I've smelled it first, and I buy hair products based on their smell.

18. I hate talking on the phone. The only people that I don't get nervous with on the phone are my folks and hubby. As a journalist who needs to conduct telephonic interviews, this is often a problem.

19. I have just exchanged my first car (Ziggy, a gorgeous little Ford Fiesta 1.6i Sport) for my second (Ella, a Honda Jazz, named after jazz legend Ella Fitsgerald). I have loved Ziggy with my whole heart for the past four and a half years, and I find myself feeling guilty and traitorous for enjoying Ella's power steering so much.

20. I suffer from accute post-interview paranoia. No matter how well my interview went and whether the person I've interviewed was a famous musician or sweet little old lady, give me 20min and I'll have convinced myself that I came across like a complete idiot and that he/she/they hated my style.

21. The smell of hospitals makes me ill.

22. I am terrified of ants. Not ants singular, but ants en masse. I believe this is due to an unfortunate childhood experience that involved two-year old me discovering an anthill full of those mean red biters.

23. I am not scared of heights. I love heights. I've done the whole abseiling/rap-jumping/bridge-swinging/rock climbing thing, but...

24. ... I won't bungee jump. The thought of falling is great; it's that bounce-back, neck-snapping bit that I'm scared of.

25. I'm worried that I may not want to have kids. I know I'm only 23 and that if you give me five years I might say otherwise, but right now the thought of that responsibility terrifies me (almost as much as the thought of pregnancy and having something/someone else controlling my body).

26. I miss studying and worry that I'l forget everything I learnt. My French is almost gone, my maths went a long time ago, and I really worry that my English will soon desert me too as I fall into the evils of SMS abbreviations.

27. Nevertheless, I remain obessive when it comes to correct punctuation and spelling in the public domain. I have to hold myself back from carrying a permanet marker in my handbag to correct billboards and the like. I find this ironic, seeing my pathetic typing means that I often inadvertently miss-spell words in my posts.

28. I am the ultimate bleeding heart. Beggars, strays and lost causes flock to me in droves because I cannot say no. This means that I have been conned on numerous occasions. Yet I still firmly believe that "It is better to be occasionally conned that permanently suspicious". I don't know who said that, but I believe it.

29. I adore my cats, Marble (because he's two colours) and Sapphire (who came with the name Sapphus, which we didn't like). I love them more than I thought it would be possible to love two little furry creatures that seem intent on eating me out of house and home.

30. I don't like hamburgers. Never have, never will.

31. I am a die-hard Formula One fan. But those of yuo who know me prbably knew that. McLaren forever!

32. I am also a die-hard (cheesy joke I know) Bruce Willis fan. Well, I don't really like him, but I like a lot of the movies he's been in, especially 12 Monkeys and The Fifth Element. Crazy stuff.

33. I love going to theatre, even if it's just the Barnyard. I often wish that life was a musical where people would randomly start singing and dancing in the street (and everyone else would know the words and steps and join in).

34. I miss acting. When I was at school, I was part of a drama academy for seven years. I still think that being in the wings, about to come on stage, is one of the best feelings in the world.

35. One of the worst feelings in the world is needing to sneeze and not being able to. I have issues around sneezing (see no. 5).

36. I hate shoe shopping. You would too if you wore a size three shoe.

37. I don't show my stress. It manifests in my body - I'll get back pain, headaches and come down with the 'flu.

38. Being late stresses me out, yet I am always late. I blame this on spending four years in Cape Town, where if you were on time, you would be the only one around.

39. I am the black sheep in my family. My dad's an engineer, my brother's studying to be an engineer, and my mother is a doctor. They are all left-brained, analytical, scientific people, who can't understand where this right-brained, creative, (and I quote) "arty-farty, bohemian" person came from. Which explains why...

40. ... As a child, I was absolutely convinced that I was adopted. I read and reread orphan tales like Anne of Green Gables, The Little Princess and Daddy Longlegs, feeling grateful that I'd been chosen by such a nic efamly, but wondering whether my real parents had been famous movie stars or royalty. Such are the fantasies of a nine-year old.

41. I love my family, and find that I get along far better with them now that I'm married. Weird, but true.

42. I don't believe that every person only has one soulmate. What if yours gets hit by a bus? I've seen my grandfather, married to his first wife for over 40 years, find a new love a few years after her death, and remarry at age 73. He and his second wife have now been happily married for nearly eight years.

43. One of the things that I love most about my husband is that he is willing to stand up for me and be my protector. He lets me know that he thinks I'm worth fighting for.

44. One of the things that I have had to get used to is letting hubby help me. I'm incredibly independent and always feel the need to prove that I can do things myself. It took me ages to realise that helping me and doing things for me is one of his ways of loving me, and that by not letting him do it, I am rejecting that love. Deep, hey? This and lots of other insights from one of my best-ever books, Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman.

45. I love taking photos. Photos capture memories. When I have my own house, it will be filled with photos.

46. I really want my own house. I am tired of renting other people's houses. I would love to be able to paint the walls whatever colour I like and put nails in them for hanging pictures, without having to worry about filling the holes when we leave. We're working towards buying a place, but it is a lengthy process or saving and (arguing about the best neighbourhood).

47. I really want my own garden. There's nothing quite as satisfying as getting your hands into the soil and watching your plants grow.

48. I have a thing about people's accents. If I'm talking to someone with an accent, I start to pick up on it and speak like him or her. It's really embarrassing, because people tend to think I'm mocking them. I can't help it though. My favourite accent must be Irish.

49. I hate being cynical and wish that I could return to the way I viewed the world as a child. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could all believe that anything was possible and that good would beat evil every time?

50. I loathe political speech... round and round in circles, taking 20 minutes to say nothing. I must go an do one of those interviews now. Joy.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Fly-by sunset

Taken from my car window on a highway in Pretoria/Tshwane.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Post-valentine poem

On 14 Feb the world turns red
With hearts and ruby wine.
Come 15 Feb the rumpled bed
Bared of sweet Valentine.

One day a year the florists cheer,
The gift shops make their play,
So men can leer and shed no tear
As they have the girls their way.

Bought for a bit of heart-shaped sweet,
A candle or a frame,
The silly girls, like fresh-cut meat
Join in this silly game.

And when, at last, they wake to shame,
Conveniently they lay the blame.

This poem has absolutely nothing to do with my Valentine's Day. Hubby and I had a lovely champagne and sushi picnic, perfect and relaxed. But I do remember back to highschool days, when we'd send roses to the boys' school and vice versa. The boys just wanted to hook up and the girls just wanted to not be alone on Valentine's day. I wrote this poem thinking about how grateful I am that I'm not still in that cycle!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Global Warming in my back garden

The Commentator notes that I have more chance of fixing media bias than global warming. I wish I could argue this point, but alas, it is true.

I have been trying to 'do my bit' here in SA; recycling my glass bottles and paper, turning off the geyser when we're not home, unplugging cell phone chargers when they're not in use and so on. But my eco-friendly activities are quite limited.

I live in the country that holds the dubious honour of having the world's highest murder rate, so walking or cycling to work is not safe. Hubby works in the opposite direction, 45 minutes' drive away, so we can't even share a ride. I work in a three-person company that operates out of a home office, so my boss lives at work and my other colleague also lives in the opposite direction to me. My carbon footprint worries me as I climb in my car at least twice a day and hit the gas.

At least I can (safely) walk to the shops from my place, as well as the gym. I do as many of my interviews telephonically as possible to avoid belching carbon monoxide out my little car's exhaust pipes into the atmosphere, and I have replaced my light bulbs with more eco-friendly options. We try to but local, organic produce where possible, and I grow my own organic herbs. South Africa doesn't offer a huge range of 'green' products, and ethical trade is still a relatively unknown term here.

I feel like I need to do more! Does anyone have ideas or suggestions that are possible to implement in South Africa that will save energy and make our lives a little greener?

I know that Eskom is doing its bit by shutting off our power at every chance. If the state-owned entities are going green, the private sector should jack up and do so too!

Friday, 8 February 2008

Blame it on the media

Everything is the media's fault. This we all know. Whether it's biased pre-election reporting or driving celebs to suicide, making teenage boys into violent killers or just getting your name spelled wrong in an article, media are held accountable for all of society's ills.

I'm a journalist, which means I'm part of the media, and while I write mainly business and tourism stuff for small publishing houses that nobody much cares about, I still find myself playing the object of wrath in day-to-day situations.

Sometimes it's the frantic PA that snaps because the journo has called 20 million times to try to get an interview out of her useless boss that his company has paid for but he's not interested in. Usually, the bright marketing spark who booked the profile for the publication forgets to inform the interviewee that (s)he will need to be interviewed, which, of course, makes everything the journo's fault.

Editors get mad when you ask for extensions to your deadlines because of your sources' availability (or should I say lack thereof), then sources get mad when you try to explain your deadlines to them because as far as they're concerned, your job revolves around what they have to say (which truth be told it does).

I love to write. I love words and the ways they can fit together and how punctuation can totally alter meaning (Compare: A woman without her man is nothing. A woman: without her, man is nothing).

What I don't love is all the stuff that gets in the way of writing - the terse phonecalls, the unpleasant following up, the threatening letters, the lawsuits... you know, the norm.

As such, I think I'm going to start a petition calling for free therapy for all media. Think about it... job creation for shrinks, happier journos that write happier news, no more violent teenage boy killers... The world would be a smiling place. What do you think?

Now if we can just fix climate change and global warming, everything will be toasty. I mean... not.