Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Weird things I've seen on my way to work

Seeing my office is literally about 3 km from home, you'd think that there wouldn't be much to see on my way to work in the mornings. But you'd be wrong.

  • A businessman in his suit, standing next to his shiny BMW and taking photos of the road. I have no clue why. Maybe he has a pothole fetish. If so, he'll be blissfully happy in Johannesburg.

  • One of those huge trucks that has ramps on the back and transports a bunch of cars at once, which got stuck in the cul de sac where we live this morning. It was empty of cars, but I have idea why it came down our little dead end. And I have no idea how it will get out again. It's probably still there.

  • An incredibly fat man who I see trying to jog down the road every morning, his stomach bouncing against his legs as he runs. I want to cheer him on - I think it's awesome that he's so dedicated. You go, guy!

  • The granny power-walking club, all wearing their luminous yellow bibs, who weave along the main road, hips swaying and arms pumping. It's so cute!

  • A bunch of guys in orange suits sweeping the exact same spot of the road every day. Either it gets really dirty overnight or they're actually secret agents scoping out the dodgy looking business across the road. These are the stories I make up to amuse myself in the bumper to bumper traffic.

Funnily enough, I never seem to see weird stuff on my way home. I guess all the nutjobs only come out in the mornings ;-)

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

I will NOT get sick

Woke up this morning with a slight headache, blocked nose and very sore throat. I am choosing to blame this on the cold weather because I can't be getting sick. I just flat out refuse.

In other news, forgive me please if I have been slack at reading and commenting on your blogs lately. There are multiple reasons for this. Firstly, I am seriously lacking in spare time. Secondly, my PC is a nastypants that is having a bad week and is refusing to let me open more than three internet windows / tabs at once. For someone who normally has about nine open at any given time, this is very irritating. Thirdly, I am going through a typical patch of boredom with my own blog, which means that instead of opening Blogger as I get into the office, I'm only getting around to it at midday, which leaves me little time for browsing.

But know that I still love you all. And your briliant blogs. And as soon as my life moves out of this stagnant pool of... ummm... gross stuff... I vill be back. As the governator once said.

Have a good Tuesday (is it only Tuesday?! Feels like it should be Friday). I leave you with on eof my favorite cartoons from Being Five (you may have seen this strip running at the bottom of my blog):

Monday, 23 March 2009

Getting off to a screaming start...

This weekend was fairly uneventful. TSC is miserably sick, and I do believe it's more than a mere man cold. He is achy, feverish and slimy, and I have relegated him to the bed for today. He is not-so-secretly relieved to be bossed about and made to stay home from varsity.

Today is my brother's birthday. He is turning 20, so I have told him that he is no longer allowed to act like a bratty teenager as of today. We'll see how that goes. Not holding my breath ;-)

We went for an early celebratory lunch with the birthday boy, my folks and my gran at Mythos in Design Quarter yesterday, before my mom and gran jetted off to Kuwait to visit my infamous uncle.

Lunch was yummy! But I reckon sitting in the cool breeze pushed poor TSC from slightly sniffly to properly sick. Anyway... that was the extent of our excitement this weekend. Until 4.30 this morning.

(Prologue to 4.30am action sequence:)
I have mentioned before that my cats are "indoor cats". Having lived in small Cape Town flats for their formative (cat) years, they were used to this lifestyle. When we moved to Jozi we started to let them outside into the communal garden while we were home, which they thoroughly enjoyed. Since we've been in the new house we've let them roam as they please during the day, and only kept them inside at night.

But last night we decided to leave the windows open and let them have total freedom. I sincerely hope they enjoyed it, becuase it will never happen again.

The story...
I had managed to fall asleep against the backdrop of TSC's wheezy snoring, and we were both deep in dreamland when we were rudely awoken by a LOUD screech. In our bedroom.

Please imagine how you would react to this. Being woken by a loud noise is scary. Being woken by a screech is scarier. The screech being in your bedroom is pretty damn terrifying.

We both jumped out of bed, hearts racing, blood pumping in our ears. TSC snapped the lights on while I crouched next the bed like the wuss I am. There was nothing there. "Was that a cat?" I asked, shakily.
"Yup." he said, sounding way less freaked out than he later admitted he felt. He promptly disappeared down the stairs to find the guilty screecher creature and possibly rescue our pansy of a cat, Marble.

Our other cat, Sapphire, was cowering in the corner of our bedroom under a chair and wouldn't budge. As I managed to get her into my arms, I saw a flash of ginger fur head downstairs, followed by Marble, his fur standing on end. They'd been in the spare room across from our room.

I yelled to TSC that the cat had come down. The poor sick man had gone out to the garden in the cold to look for Marble. He said the ginger cat came rushing out of the house and he took off his shoe and threw it at the cat (aiming to miss) to scare it off. Instead, the animal (obviously also terrified) turned around and ran back into the house.

TSC came running back in and the pathetic Marble ran out. So TSC went back out, got Marble in, and starting hunting for the ginger cat. I "looked around" upstairs, but I knew it hadn't come back up. To tell the truth, I was still trembling from the fright and was too scared to go downstairs in case the cat jumped out at me in the dark. I'm such a loser, I know. Luckily for me, my husband has some balls.

Eventually we decided that the cat must have escaped out the kitchen window. TSC closed all the downstairs windows and we got back into bed, both half-expecting the screeching to start up again.

As the adrenaline started to wear off, nausea set in. We seriously struggled to get back to sleep. Both cats came and slept on the bed with us until I got up for work.

So tonight we will return to form and make sure that the cats are inside before we go to bed and that all the windows are closed. Bugger total feline freedom - our peaceful sleep is more important!

Friday, 20 March 2009


Last night's dinner was much better (in case you care) ;-) I am actually a pretty decent cook, if I do say so myself, which is why meal failures freak me out to the max - they don't usually happen to me. I fail in many other areas instead!

Work is still a bit weird. Boss is here but is still acting like DK will be around forever. We seriously need to organise client handovers - DK leaves in a week's time!

My client is also driving me mental. I am working hard on their account and trying to be proactive about it, but it's like banging my head against a wall. I've suggested loads of stories, sent through profile questions for the Exco, written countless press releases that just don't get approved and sent back to me (one has been waiting 2 months for them to sit down and read it) and generally tried to do something I hate (account managing) reasonably well.

We're due for a status meeting with client on Monday morning at 9am, and I have a feeling I'm going to get told off for not getting them any coverage. Which I haven't done, but not for lack of trying. It's just really difficult to convince media to place clients when you have next to no information about what they do, who they do it for and why it's worth talking about.

Some days I'm tempted to make it all up and concoct a fabulous story that will definitely draw attention. But obviously I can't do that.

So glad it's Friday! I'll probably work a lot of this weekend, but it will be nice to be out of the office and away from the madness. TSC has the deadly Man Cold, so probably won't get up to much.

It's Earth Hour next week Saturday at 8.30 pm, so if you haven't signed up to spend an hour in the dark, click the widget at the top right of this page and do so at once! Please?

Have a fabulous weekend, all. I leave you with this (gotta love C&H):

Thursday, 19 March 2009

You know when...

...You've had a rough day, and then everything looks like it's going to turn out just peachy, and then it doesn't, and then in the end it does?


Sorry... I know, that was a long and complicated sentence. Let me start over:

Yesterday was one of those days where I just couldn't seem to get it all together. I forgot about a telephonic interview I'd scheduled for a magazine feature I'm writing (way to go on the professionalism, Tamara), although the interviewee was very nice about it and agreed to chat a bit later when I recovered at least some part of my brain. Thankfully!

I then got in a rush job from a new freelance client that needed to take precedence over my other work, which I knew I'd have to fit in later. It was interesting though - I haven't done advertising copy since I was first out of varsity, and I'd forgotten how different the writing style is to straight journalism. I struggled quite a bit, but client seems happy, so that's ok.

Things are still weird at the office. In short, boss hasn't been around since about last Thursday. She pops in occasionally, but we haven't had our weekly status meeting with her and things are feeling a bit like we're in limbo. She also hasn't acknowledged the fact that the most experienced employee of our bunch, DK, has resigned, which is making things a bit surreal. DK needs to arrange client hand-overs, but boss is pretending that nothing has happened. She's dealing with the death of a friend, and it's almost like she's forgotten about everything else, including her business.

I feel like we're living in one of those books that don't make any sense (the ones that get turned into Oscar-winning movies). She's talking to DK again (was ignoring her last week), but like nothing's going on. DK finds this totally bizarre, as does the new girl (let's call her Shakira, seeing most people get her name wrong and call her that). I think she's (understandably) a bit freaked out by the vibe at the moment. Poor thing. She seems sweet.

I have so much work to do, but no motivation for my PR stuff. I just want to do my freelance jobs. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position where I can do that, but I need boss's input on the PR stuff, so I'm sort of stuck there anyway. Limbo. Or purgatory. Somewhere inbetween.

I was also supposed to prepare for last night's life group - we were going to talk about Buddhism and Hinduism. I had found some info and was going to take it home to summarise when I started getting messages from a few of our members to say that they wouldn't be able to make it to the meeting. Apparently, everyone else is busy, stressed and not getting everything together either. This made me feel better somehow. Less alone in my ineptitude and procrastination.

TSC and I talked to them all and we decided to cancel the meeting this week. I was actually quite relieved - it would give me time to collect myself and get some work done at home. And hopefully a chance to spend time with TSC.

So I picked an interesting recipe from one of those "quick, cheap and easy"-type recipe books (I call them my slutty cookbooks) to make for supper. It was for Thai-style fish-sticks. And there the fun began.

What a waste of time, energy, money and tuna! Honestly! You're supposed to make this mixture from the fish, the spices, beaten egg and mashed potato, form it into little fish-cake-thingeys and thread them onto kebab sticks. You then brush them lightly with egg, dust with flour and fry on all sides until golden. Serve with lemon slices and sweet chili sauce. Sounded great.

Huh! First-off, I would like to say that I SUCK at following recipes, so I usually amend them slightly. Or more than slightly. This time, however, I decided to stick to every little step and every little measurement and to be totally and completely exact in following this damn recipe.

So why, I would love to know, would my mixture not stick together? I made the little fish-sticks, shaping them around the bloody kebabs, and as soon as I tried to "brush lightly with beaten egg", the stupid things fell apart in my hands. They would NOT stick. I even tried popping them in the freezer for 20 min to see if they'd firm up a bit.

And then, how the heck are you supposed to fry the things if they have a big kebab stick through them that won't fit into any normal-sized frying pan? I ended up taking them back off the sticks and frying them on their own. *Rolls eyes*

They then actually started to look good and smell good (although, being covered from head to toe in flaked tuna and mashed potato by this point, anything else would've smelt good). Problem was, they tasted rubbish.

It's always such a let-down to smell and see something yummy, only to pop it in your mouth and discover that it tastes like crispy-on-the-outside-cold-and-squidgy-on-the-inside-tuna-and-mash-mix... Gross.

So my quick, cheap and easy meal turned into a protracted tuna and mash mixing and frying marathon nightmare that left me both smelly and still hungry. Poor TSC resorted to squashing a few of the revolting fish cakes onto two slices of bread with some sweet chili sauce, cheese and mayo, and making a snackwich of them, which made them slightly more palatable. But never have I seen him enjoy my side salad so much.

That will teach me to follow a recipe.

By the time we had finally rescued our dinner, we might as well have had life group. Grumpy and disheartened, I showered off my pungent meal remains (how does the stuff get under my fingernails?!?!) and felt much better.

And, after I managed to get around to hemming my jeans (been trying to do that for over a month), fixing the curtains and hanging them in our breakfast nook and collating my freelance info for the feature article, I could agree that the day did indeed turn out ok in the end. Especially when I could lie in bed with TSC and cuddle, and the cats actually deigned to join us and keep my feet warm (meaning that last night must've been quite chilly - they don't sleep on the bed unless it'd really cold).

Here's hoping that today is ok too. And that's there's no fish or potatoes involved. Have a good Thursday, all. And stay away from slutty cookbooks.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

If today had a taste...

...It would taste like lettuce.

On that random note, if you still haven't voted, please go and give your favourite South African blogs some love at (yes, the deadline has been extended).

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The circle of life?

Yesterday saw one resignation and one newbie joining the company.

Interesting times. But then again, in the world of marketing and communications, drama is the norm, no?

Have a fabulous Chewsday... Like Toby ;-)

Monday, 16 March 2009

Weekend happenings

In bullet-points, here they are:
  • Went to the Fashion TV Cafe in the Irene Village Mall in Pretoria for supper on Friday night. We asked for a table in the non-smoking area. The people on both sides of us started smoking. We called the manager and asked for a solution. None was forthcoming. We left. I don't mind if people smoke - many of my friends do. But I don't like to taste secondhand smoke while I eat, and as far as I'm concerned, if I'm sitting in the specifically non-smoking area, there shouldn't be people smoking in it. But I have had this fallout with a few restaurants over the past year. And I am always regarded as the villain in the situation, by the restaurant manager and the smokers. That pisses on my battery.
  • Went to the Irene Country Market on Saturday with my mom. Spent too much money, but had great fun. Came back with various home and garden things and my mom bought me a cute bird feeder to hang in the tree. Will try to remember to take pics of my market loot.
  • Had a housewarming / birthday party that was quite random. Met up with a few old friends there and after we'd hung around for a couple of hours, we all left together and the boys watched rugby while the girls had a LONG chat. Fabulous catch-up session! The only not so awesome bit was all the pregnancy chatter (one of the girls is 6 months pregnant). I can't escape it ;-)
  • Watched Juno again with TSC and cuddled on the couch. I heart that movie. So odd and so awesome.
  • Ate Oatso-Easy porridge for supper. Just because.
  • Ruby came to church with us. Our pastor has been away for a few weeks and had been desperately wanting to get back and deliver last night's sermon, which was... fiery. He is passionate about Christian men standing up and being real men, not pansy wannabe men. It was an awesome message from Ruth about Boaz - the businessman, believer and Romeo - and it was so cool to have Ruby visit. I'm loving getting to know her better IRL. She's a legend.
  • Made a card from everyone at the company for the new girl who's starting today. She is going to work part-time while she finished studying, so on Monday and Friday she will only come in at 1pm. As such, I have yet to meet her.

What did you get up to this weekend?

Friday, 13 March 2009

The doctor(s) and me

*Overshare warning on this post*

I am not a fan of doctors. I know that a lot of people say that, but my reason is not a bizarre paranoia (I reserve that for ants), but the fact that I am not used to them.

My mom is a GP and as children she saw to most of my brother and my medical needs, apart from times where it went beyond her expertise (like the time I helped my brother to swallow a 50c coin and it got stuck in his stomach and had to be suctioned out). Now it is said that the shoemaker's son is never shod, and in my experience, the doctor's child is usually considered a hypochondriac by its medical parent.

I guess it's because doctors have seen so much worse than your scraped knee or bruised arm that they have a hard time taking little childish oopsies seriously. I remember clearly on one occasion having speared my finger with a knife when I was about nine. I ran into the house crying as only kids can do - big heavy sobs with huge tears running down red cheeks - shouting, "Mommmeeeeeee.... I'm bleeeeeeding." And, calm as anything, her voice called down the stairs, "You know where the band-aids are."

A few years ago, I realised that it's probably a good idea for me to find a GP of my own who will see me more objectively than my mom (although my poor mother still gets calls from me wanting a diagnosis over the phone. This hacks her off royally. And understandably). I also have not yet learnt to trust my GP and feel compelled to check her diagnosis with mom, who inevitably argues with it ;-)

This long-winded introduction is all to explain why I am a bit nervous of visiting doctors. I just feel like they're going to sense my inexperience. Or something. I dunno. Maybe it is an irrational paranoia after all.

But I went to the doctor on Wednesday. Not my usual doctor, mind you. I've been suffering from a cyclical, very specific pain for more than a year now, and my other GP seems to be my mom's (older and definitely not as friendly) twin. In other words, while she scares the living daylights out of me (to the point that she is always convinced that I have a really high resting heartrate because my heart is galloping by the time I sit down in her office), she tends to think I'm overreacting. I've spoken to her about this pain three times, and she keeps telling me that I must stick with the meds she's given me, exercise and eat healthily and it should go away. But it hasn't.

I've been meaning to find me a new doctor for awhile. But I am full of it and will only see female medical practitioners (whether they're gynaes, psychologists or GPs, I can't seem to trust men). And there are not many in the area where I live. And I wanted to try a new one when I had something non-embarrassing problem. Like a head cold or something.

BUT... After the last Bloggirls, where everyone was discussing all their friends who'd accidentally fallen pregnant while using strict contraceptive methods, and after ANOTHER person in my life found out she was expecting, when my cycle was a week late, I became uber-paranoid that I was pregnant. My recurring pain was also in full swing, I still had a sore throat after two weeks, and I decided that I needed to get my butt into gear and see a doctor and sort everything out at once.

I called our local medical centre and asked if there was a female GP on duty. Yes, Dr M. Fine. Off I went to see Dr M.

I began our appointment with the same sort of prefaace I used for this post, trying to explain that I don't really know the protocol for how to behave in a doctor's appointment. Dr M was very funny. She told me her daughter is a doctor and she refuses to treat her because her daughter always argues the diagnosis and won't comply with her recommendations. I nearly fell off my chair laughing when she said, "I told her very simply... I have one piece of advice for you: I have 20 years experienc, now f*** off!"

After I'd finished giggling, I launched into an in-depth personal medical history. Dr M listened and nodded and scribbled illegible doctor's notes before examining me, which always freaks me out, even though in this instance I didn't even have to undress.

She then told me right off that my previous doctor's diagnosis sounded a bit dodgy, prescribed me some new meds and gave me the number of a specialist. She stood up to show me out, and I managed to squeak (blushing furiously), "But what about a pregnancy test?"

She handed me one of those pee cup things and sent me to the bathroom, telling me that a nurse would assist me with the test once I was done. Now here's the embarrassing bit. I really cannot pee on command. Seriously. Every time I have to do a urine sample, I end up hanging around for hours waiting for my bladder to oblige.

Which is exactly what happened. I spent my first 15 minutes in the loo, which is a single stall in the middle of the passage of procedure rooms. You can hear everyone walking up and down and talking, and I just couldn't make myself pee - what if someone could hear me?

Eventually, someone knocked on the door and I sheepishly exited - it was the nurse. A MALE nurse, wanting my sample. I explained that I couldn't pee and asked if I could have 15 minutes to go and get something to drink and wait awhile.

I joined poor TSC in the foyer, who was waiting for me after having been for an eye test in a different section of the centre. 15 minutes later, with a bottle of water in me, I went to try again.

I sat in that cubicle for 45 minutes. I can tell you exactly where the cracks in the lino floor are, what colour the ceiling is, and every other detail. I ran the water, tried to relax and thought of waterfalls, but nothing helped. Eventually, my bladder felt like it would burst, but I still couldn't fill my sample cup.

I ducked out and explained my situation to the Russian receptionist and asked if there was a loo somewhere a bit more private. She laughed loudly and said so that everyone could hear, "Zey should have given you beer to help you vee-vee in ze cup."

Cringe! Thankfully, she pointed out a loo far away from all the hustle and bustle. I set TSC outside as a sentry, and within 5 minutes, I was able to relieve my bladder. I then had to carry my cup through the reception and waiting areas, through the doctors section and to the male nurse in the procedure rooms area.

"Finally!" he said. He then ran a test on my sample, printed out a little slip of paper and handed to me. "Here you go". There were a bunch of chemicals and numbers listed.

"Ummm... what does this mean?" I asked.
"Clear." he said. "Normal."
"But am I pregnant?" I asked.

He hadn't realised I'd wanted a pregancy test, so he took out a little test stick. I asked if those were the same as the store-bought home pregnancy tests. "Pretty much," was the reply. I told him I'd done two of those, both of which were negative, but that my friend, AF, had done three that came out negative before discovering she was actually six weeks pregnant through a blood test. He told me that happens quite often (way to reassure me, guy), but that the one he was using was quite accurate. I let myself believe it, and let out a huge sigh of relief when it turned out negative.

I fetched TSC, paid my account, and more than two and a half hours after we'd arrived, left the medical centre. The Russian receptionist waved at us as we fled. "Ah! I see you vere able to vee-vee in ze cup!" she called. Thanks, chick, for making sure the world knows.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Till tomorrow.

Thanks for all the comments on yesterday's post about corporate teambuilding. The funny thing is... I think you guys feel more strongly about it than I do ;-)

Serious crap going down at the office today. Not fun.

Best put my head down and do some work. Will post properly tomorrow, probably about my antics at the doctor's office yesterday afternoon, seeing any info on how I embarrass myself always seems to be welcome.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

My thoughts on corporate team spirit

Before I embark on this enitrely unprompted rant, please let it be known that it has nothing to do with the company I work for specifically, but is directed at HR people and directors across the world who insist on corporate teambuilding or "company bonding" sessions... I'm just moaning becuase I feel like it, savvy?

From obstacle courses to drumming circles and company braais (BBQs), teambuilding activities have become big business. Companies vie to outdo each other on their so-called social events and HR people are positively drooling over the new torture devices available to them for reducing staff to a cowering state of submission.

Seriously... Do you enjoy your company teambuilding activities? Aside from Angel, whose company takes her to the shooting range (hell, I'd enjoy that too), I can't think of many people whose faces light up at the mention of a company teambuilding day. Or is it just me being sad and jaded again?

I can't understand what would make people want to strap themselves into a harness to conquer their fear of heights in front of a bunch of work colleagues (some of whom may be hoping for the harness to break). Or having to come into the office for a "family day" on a Saturday.

I mean, really - if I chose to conquer a fear I'd do it somewhere that wouldn't put me at risk of embarrassing myself in front of the people I have to see all day every day at work. And if I want a family day, I'll spend it with my family. Don't people who work together see enough of each other during the week? Most of us see more of the person one cubicle over than we do of our spouse, for goodness sake. Why would we want to drag our families along to sit with a group of people who are probably all thinking the same thing we are: "I wonder if the boss will notice if I slip out after just one drink?"

As far as I'm concerned, your company has you for a vast amount of time. You're there five or six days a week, from morning till late afternoon / early evening. So if they can't engender a team spirit in you during office hours, they are bloody unlikely to do it outside of them.

Yes, I know. There are companies who do teambuilding tastefully. I once worked at a business where we were treated to a day at the spa together instead of having a Christmas party. That's awesome, IMO.

But then there are the rest. And they (as seems to be the norm with twits) are in the vast majority. From drunken themed dinners at the local conference centre (Oscars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Medieval are just a few I can think of off the top of my head) to exuberant games of paintball, they've got teambuilding down to a fine (Salvador Dali-like) art. They throw words like "employee engagement" and "high impact company learning experiences" around as they tell competitors of their brilliance and bask in the glow of their own haloes. Hah!

Have you noticed how many of the activities they pick to supoosedly build team spirit actually pit colleagues against each other? Think about it... Sport tournaments, paintball, the amazing race (a current favourite), "fun runs" (that's an oxymoron in my book), raft building and various other "entertaining" games all end up with people facing off and trying to beat each other.

I know it's supposed to be a lighthearted and enjoyable game, but if you've ever seen TSC (or me, actually) lose at anything, whether it's Monopoly, tennis or something else, you'll know that some people are just bad losers and will not be encouraged to an attitude of team spirit through daft corporate games. Unless they win, that is. Then I will smile at you, pat you on the head (if I can reach, which if you've met me you'll know is unlikely) and tell you how nice it is to work with you.

Obviously, work is a good place to meet people, and I have nothing against friendships that begin at work and blossom beyond. But... surely we are capable of finding our own natural friendships without being forced to endure a day of sweating next to Garlic Gary from accounts while you both pretend you're having fun doing three-legged races and wheelbarrows?

There are some people who are not natural athletes and object to being forced into physical competitions where they're bound to be seen as a loser. There are those who just plain suck at anything to do with rhythm and are understandably not keen to participate in the corporate drumming circle you've planned. And there are those who just don't like people and resist having to emerge from the bowels of the offices (where they chose to work for a reason) to join a discussion on "what we learnt this week".

As they say, you can't please everyone. My response, with regards to company teambuilding, is simple: Don't bother trying. Give it a skip altogether and we are more likely to be happy with that. Or I am, at least.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A million things on my mind...

...But not many to blog about. I'm busy, busy, busy with freelance stuff at the moment, which is great, if challenging. And seeing I don't have much time, I thought I'd just share my thoughts on two movies I've seen in the past week, and ask for your opinions on them too.

IMO, this is Angelina Jolie at her best. Playing a 1920s mum, she is not her usual slick leather-clad, gorgeous self. As Christine Collins, mother to Walter, she is soft and reserved and definitely lacking in kick-ass in the beginning of the film. When Walter disappears, however, Christine is distraught and moves into action to involve the Los Angeles police in trying to locate her son.
Eventually, they find a child that fits his description and a grand reunion is planned for mother and son. The trouble is, Christine is convinced that the boy is not her Walter. The LAPD are sure he is. So sure, in fact, that they believe Christine has gone mad.

What ensues is a gripping story of murder, mother love, corruption and agony as Christine fights for her son and dares to question the actions of the police - soemthing not generally done, and definitely not approved of by the society of the time.
It's a long movie and it's not a happy, feel-good flick, but the performances from Angelina Jolie, creepy old John Malkovich (actually playing a good guy for a change) and Jeffrey Donovan are excellent. I'm glad I saw it.

Now, to any of you who've seen it... What did you think?

Movie number two...

I am always wary of movies that get gazillions of awards. They are often, IMO, daft and pointless. In fact, I reckon that people just vote for them because they think that they look deep and meaningful and that if they vote for them, they'll look smart and like they understand a lot.

Right, vent over.

Slumdog Millionaire, with its oodles of Oscars and bushels of British film awards, was a movie that I reckoned would disappoint me. But I was wrong. I am a sucker for well made feel-good movies and this film captured my heart and melted it into a big pile of mush from the very first minute.

Danny Boyle, who directed the film, has a varied bunch of movies under his belt. From the chilling Shallow Grave (if you haven't seen this and love nail-biting flicks that will haunt you for weeks, see it) to the groundbreaking Trainspotting and the weird (no, make that truly bizarre) Alien Love Triangle, Boyle has bounced all over the show.

Slumdog Millionaire tells the tale of Jamal, an 18-year old boy from the slums of Mumbai who has made it onto the popular TV show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and is one question away from winning 20 million Rupee when he is accused of cheating and arrested. As he is questioned by the police, his life is told in a series of flashbacks and we learn how he knew each of the answers to the questions asked on the show.

I honestly didn't think Dev Patel, who plays Jamal at 18, was great. But the kids who played him during the stages of his younger years (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar especially) and those who played the other main characters Salim and Latika as children made the movie for me.

It's not the greatest movie ever made, but to me it was pretty damn good. Why? The sense of rhythm, the soundtrack, the clever editing and the use of little mise en scene clues (like the fact that Latika always wears yellow in scenes where she and Jamal are happy together) appeal to me. There are moments where you guffaw with laughter and those where I quietly shed a tear, or felt my hand go to my throat in horror.

In short, it moved me. What did it do for you?

Friday, 6 March 2009

Thoughts on a Friday

Thanks for all your comments on yesterday's post. TM is doing ok. I saw him briefly to drop his wallet and licence off, and he said he was meeting up with one of the senior guys in our church for a counselling session in the evening. He's handling everything well, although he's obviously upset that the pedestrian died on the way to the hospital.

For some reason that upset me too. I didn't know the man - I didn't even see his face at the scene (I stayed away from the huddle of paramedics around him). I couldn't figure out why it had upset me to the point that I was teary all day until I clicked... It's because this man died without dignity.

The last people to see him alive were the paramedics, the police and the tow truck drivers. He lay there in a puddle of his own blood, with no family or friends, letting go of life as the men around him (the tow truck drivers, actually) smoked and joked around.

That was truly sad. May his soul rest in peace.

I'm very glad that it's weekend. The week was rough even before the accident, although that really helped put things into perspective. My GHD breaking, being told by the guy who sold me my phone that he can't actually activate my contract for six months and the fact that our business lost a client this week suddenly don't seem like the end of the world anymore.

Wishing you all a weekend of appreciating the little things in life, celebrating beauty in the ordinary and being close (whether physically or in thought) to those you love.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

The blink of an eye

Today is a serious post. And it's long. But I need to write this out for me. You don't have to read it.

Last night we had our church small group at our house as usual. We finished up at about 9.30pm and off everyone went. I was busy cleaning up at about 10pm when we got a phone call from TM, one of the guys in my group. He had been to Tony's in the Lonehill Shopping Centre to pick up a pizza, and was making his way home along William Nicol Drive when he was in an accident - he had hit a pedestrian and asked that we join him at the scene so he wouldn't be alone.

Thankfully, we were only five minutes away, so we could be there almost immediately. The poor man was totally strung out, understandably. The street lights were not working on that section of the road and the pedestrian was wearing dark clothes. TM had seen a shape moving towards his car out of the corner of his eye and had swerved violently in an attempt to miss him, but the guy ran straight into the side of his car (driver side, in the front), taking the side mirror off, smashing the windscreen and landing in the road. TM stopped, as did the car behind him. He couldn't open his door (where the guy had hit it), so he climbed out the passenger-side.

When we arrived (less than ten minutes after the accident) the ambulance and paramedics were already on the scene, trying to stop the man's bleeding. I didn't look the scene. TSC and I prayed with TM and tried to comfort him. There were plain-clothes policemen all over the place. TM explained that they said they'd been chasing the pedestrian who had apparently been involved in a smash and grab crime. There were also a few towtruck drivers, all trying to convince the distressed TM to let them tow his mangled car away. Vultures.

It was really cold, so I went home quickly to fetch jackets for all of us and a Coke for TM to get a bit of sugar into him. The police took TM's report of the story down. They reassured him that it wasn't his fault and that he wouldn't be charged. He was more concerned about the pedestrian.

After about 30 to 45 minutes of working on the pedestrian, the paramedics put him into the ambulance and took him to the Johannesburg General Hospital. This is much further than the closest hospital, which was about 4km away, but because it was a private hospital they couldn't take this John Doe there. That saddens me - he was in critical condition and it would've surely given him more of a chance to get into hospital as quickly as possible. We don't know yet if he made it or not. The police and paramedics were not optimistic.

The police (SAPS - South African Police Services) told us we had to wait at the scene for the Metro Police (JMPD - Johannesburg Metro Police Department) to arrive. If TM left the scene, he might be charged. An hour after the accident happened, they still hadn't arrived on the scene. Eventually the plain clothes officers got tired of waiting on the side of the road (and realised that we were not interested in their stories of their own accidents. Seriously - three of them tried to brag about a high-speed car wreck they'd been in. Not helpful). They said they'd escort us to the Douglasdale Police Station nearby instead. I took TM in my car and TSC somehow managed to drive TM's car with it's shattered windscreen and the police officer as passenger.

When we got to the police station, the plain clothes cop told us we could wait for Metro there. So we waited. "I'm going to stand outside," the undercover cop said. "But I'll still be here, so don't worry - I'm not leaving."

But he did. They all left. Without giving us their badge numbers, their names or any information. They also didn't tell us how long Metro would be. So we waited. TM just sat with his head in his hands, saying, "I can't believe this is happening" over and over. Just before midnight, I asked TSC if the Metro police were actually coming.

He asked the Douglasdale police. They didn't know. So we asked them if they had the Metro police's phone number. They searched for awhile and then told TM they'd give it to him and he could call on his cell phone. So this traumatised man had to call up the JMPD and try to get through to someone who knew what he was talkign about. Eventually, the person he found (four people later) asked to speak to the inspector on duty. He also had the sense to ask for the police station phone number so that TM didn't have to keep funding the call on his mobile (South African mobile rates are ridiculous).

JMPD eventually convinced the SAPS to let us fill in an accident report at the station. That took forever on its own - as soon as TM pulled out his Zimbabwean driver's licence and international licence, the young lady who was assisting him got confused. She wasn't very experienced and kept haviong to call her supervisor, who was busy trying to deal with an emotional young woman who'd been arrested for drunk driving.

TM asked about how he could find out what had happened to the pedestrian. They didn't know. He asked what would happen next. They said he must take the accident report number to his insurance company. They kept asking daft questions like, "did the pedestrian take a breathalyser test" (um, no - he was unconscious) and "well, why didn't you stop at the crossing?" (because there wasn't one - it was an open stretch of road). TM must have explained the situation about 20 times.

Finally, they allowed us to leave. TSC drove TM's car again, and I drove TM in mine. We made our way slowly back to his apartment in Sandton. On the way we passed by the accident scene. The Metro police were there. Walking around and shining their torches on the blood stains in the road. I asked TM if he wanted to stop. He shook his head - I don't think he could handle anymore.

We dropped him off at his flat and drove home. When we arrived, we realised he'd left his wallet and all his documentation in the pocket of the jacket we'd leant him. We called him and I promised to drop it all off today after work. I don;t think he took in a word of it.

I think we all got to bed sometime before 2am. Tired as I was, I couldn't help thinking about what I would have done in TM's shoes. I would've called TSC. If I couldn't reach him, I'd get my folks on the line. But TM doesn't have a significant other, and all of his family are in Zim. One of the first things he said to us when we got to the scene was, "I'm sorry to call you. Thanks for coming - I just felt so alone."

My heart broke for him. He is such a decent guy. While everyone else was trying to assure him that the insurance would sort his car out and that he wouldn't go to jail, all TM could think of was the injured pedestrian. Was he going to make it?

I also wondered... was the guy really a criminal? Did he have a family waiting for him at home? If he did commit the crime of theft, was it to try to support himself of maybe even a wife and kids? Why couldn't he have run across the road 500 metres earlier, where the street lights were all working? Or why couldn't he have stayed home last night?

I called our church this morning and asked one of the leaders to set up a trauma bebriefing for TM or some form of counselling. I hope he's ok. the whole situation has made me wake up a bit and realise how precious life is. And how lucky I am to have TSC and my family here.

It's also made me realise that if this happened to me, I wouldn't know where to start - I don't have the number for the paramedics stored on my phone. I have our general emergency number (10111), but my experience with using that line is that reaction times are too slow and follow-up is non-existent. I need to do a refresher first-aid course and check that my car's first-aid kit is in order. I'm going to save the emergency numbers on my phone and put one on speed dial. Please will you do so too? It could save a life.

Added at 13.16pm: The pedestrian died. Just found out.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Tamara embarrasses herself...

No, I'm not talking about my shameless plea for votes yesterday. This is worse.

We have some difficult clients. And we often joke about how difficult they are becuase it makes us laugh instead of cry. Yesterday, I received a press release I'd written back from client with changes marked. But the person who made them was obviously not English-speaking. But he or she reckoned that they had to change (I kid you not) EVERY single sentence in the release. And 90 % of the changes made no sense. Of course, I was irritated because it would take me more time to try to fix the release than it had to write it. So, assuming that it was my colleague, the account executive, who had forwarded the changes to me, I replied:

"These people would make Mother Theresa consider mass homicide."

Of course, you've guessed by now that it wasn't my colleague I'd sent it to, but the client.


I'm still blushing at the memory. Thankfully, the robot woman on the other end (she seriously has not demonstrated any sign of personality until now) seems to have developed a sense of humour overnight. She responded:

"Welcome to my world!"

Phew! So I then wrote back saying,"Hehehe… Hope they’re ok with the changes coming through. I’ve tried to tie everyone’s amendments together and make it flow nicely ;-) You’re doing a good job, *name* – at least we get clean copy in the end."

But still...

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Vote for me, please!

Before I bombard you with my pleas for votes, let me preface this post with a funny to get you in a good mood (it's all about strategy):

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book.
Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, 'Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?'
'Reading a book,' she replies, (thinking, 'Isn't that obvious?')
'You're in a Restricted Fishing Area,' he informs her.
'I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading'
'Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up.'
'For reading a book?' she replies.
'You're in a Restricted Fishing Area,' he informs her again.
'I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading.'
'Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up.'
'If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault,' says the woman.
'But I haven't even touched you,' says the game warden.
'That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment.' 'Have a nice day ma'am,' and he left.
MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Hope you're smiling... Now for my request...

Phillygirl has kindly nominated me for the 2009 South African Blog Awards in the Best Post on a South African Blog category for this post. Please, please (I am not above begging) head over there by clicking on the widget on the right side of my blog and vote for me in one or more (or all. Keeeeding!) of the categories. I will be eternally grateful.

I've nominated a bunch of people too, in various categories, so if you're looking for a fab read written by an awesome South African, try:

Monday, 2 March 2009

Of monsoons and Mondays

You know those six-word story memes? Mine today would be:

On Mondays, motivation is definitely minimal.

The weekend was cool though. Friday night we ordered Ghazal's take-out. I heart Ghazal's! My chicken Makhnie was super-yummy. We watched Pineapple Express, which was... a typical random stoner movie. It had some hysterical moments though and TSC thought it was brilliant.

Saturday morning we went to China City where I discovered an awesome bead shop. *sigh* This explains how my money is already less than it should be a mere three days after payday. After that, we headed home and got everything ready for the Bloggirls braai (housewarming number 2 for us).

Everyone, and by that I mean EVERYONE, was late. Fashionably, of course ;-) But despite the rain attemping to upstage the event by depositing a mini monsoon on my lawn, I had a great time seeing Phillygirl and Varen, Louisa, Ruby, Arkwife and hubby, Laura and her gorgeous kids, Angel and Damien and ExMi. I got special permission to make Tom an honourary bloggirl for the day (I figured seeing he carries a manbag he asked for it), so he joined us for awhile, and dear Glug also made an appearance after having spent the afternoon being rained on at the rugby.

I enjoy these girls (and guys) so much, even when they insist on talking about babies and pregnancy for hours on end and freaking me out totally (I am terrified of falling pregnant - so not ready to go there yet). Other topics that were up for discussion were pets, the gender of Phillygirl's bunnies, whether it's good or bad to have a TV in the bedroom, white chocolate versus Lindt chili chocolate, how blogging your secrets is easier than sharing them with your family and (believe it or not) sports. Actually, that last one was mainly Angel and I talking Formula One.

I'd met everyone before apart from Tom and Laura. Tom is exactly how I imagined he'd be and Laura was totally different from how I'd imagined her. They are both fabulous, and Laura's kids are just beautiful! I'm so glad I've met another two of my fave bloggers IRL.

TSC and I were chuffed at our presents (we weren't expecting any, which made it so much cooler). We got some beautiful potplants (must remember to take pics), some yummy wine and a really generous gift voucher (thanks Angel and Glug). I felt so spoilt!

When everyone eventually left, TSC and I fell into bed, so Sunday was spent tidying up. We also sorted out a new cell phone for me and ordered DSL from Telkom. So that's two big admin issues ticked off my to-do list. And after church last night, I enjoyed a long, hot shower with ExMi's amazing Body Thrills body polish... Yum!

All in all, an awesome weekend. Only one complaint - why can't those be longer?