Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Catch-ups again

I've been planning to blog every day, but something gets in the way, whether it's power failures, rush jobs, clients who behave badly or just the inability to remember hat I wanted to say.

So here's a quick run-down of what I planned to post about:

The weekend, which was sublime. It was our turn to host supper club on Friday and I was pretty chuffed with my menu. B is pregnant (SO happy for her - they've been trying for ages) and her favourite food is Chinese, so I decided in celebration to do a vaguely Asian menu.

As snacks I had set out a plate of chips and a selection of biscuits with three dips - humus, cream cheese topped with sweet chili sauce and red onion marmalade. Then for starters I did a spicy sweetcorn and bean sprout soup. For mains we had a big green salad (with avo, fresh lettuce and pak choi from the garden, baby corn, tomatoes, green apple, cheese, spring onions and pepper croutons) with spicy roast chicken, sticky jasmine rice and black bean vegetable stirfry. Dessert was a cream cheese tart topped with passion fruit pulp, fresh raspberries and gooseberries. I should post the recipe. It's quite nice. Later we had filter coffee with some dinky little chocolate Easter eggs.

We get along so well with the two couples and we really enjoyed the evening. TSC hadn't felt like entertaining beforehand, but when we fell into bed after midnight, he said how glad he was that we have such great friends.

On Saturday, after his optometrist appointment, we spent the day with my folks. We had lunch at Grand Central Cafe at Melrose Arch (divine bacon and avo burger!) and then the matinee show of Mummenschanz, which was just magical. I love theatre.

On Sunday it was the Chinese Grand Prix and there wasn't a single lap without intense action. My nerves! It was a stunning race and the fact that my favourite driver, Lewis Hanilton, finished first, just made it even better.

We also went to see Just Go With It. I'm not really an Adam Sandler fan. I was surprised by how many laugh-out-loud really funny bits there were, but there was still too much far-fetched nonsense and joking about pooh and fat people for my liking.

My passport

We're supposed to be heading off this Thursday to visit my in-laws on their farm in Namibia. I quickly checked my passport on Friday night, only to discover that it expired in January. SO Monday was spent at the Department of Home Affairs in Randburg, trying to apply for a new passport and get a temporary one in time to travel this week.

What a pain.

I arrived there at 10am. The power was out, so there was nothing they could help me with. Most people in the queue, including me, decided to wait it out. Thankfully the electricity came back on after about 20min. Then I waited to submit my application. I was surprised by how quickly the queue moved. Next I queued to pay for my passport (R400) and temporary passport (R180). So bleak that I didn't renew my passport last year - it would have cost me far less with the 2010 fees (R180 for a passport) and without the need for a temporary one.

Then I got my fingerprints done. Then I got the live capture image done. All of this took about 2hr 15min. THEN... The stupid woman in the live capture section put my application forms in the wrong pile. She did the same with the guy in front of me and the guy behind me in the queue. We waited 1hr 15min for our temporary passports to be processed, whereas people who arrived an hour later than us whose forms were put in the right box (while stupid lady was on lunch) received theirs within about 15min.

We kept asking why it was taking so long and were given the usual attitude of "I'm a government bureaucrat and I'll take as long as I want". Thankfully there was one sensible woman there who saw us waiting and waiting. She went and found out what was going on and pushed for them to hurry up.

Eventually, after three and a half hours, I had my passport. Phew!

There was more, but this post is too long already. Another time then.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Some navel-gazing

I think my dad reckons I'm a total idealist. And my best friend thinks I'm a sad, jaded cynic. Honestly, I would say I'm a mix of both. I think a lot of South Africans are, actually.

This schism between my two personalities is never more evident than in the period leading up to elections. 2011 is local election year in SA and as the campaigning kicks in, the uglies come out.

I oscillate between a firm hope for the future of South Africa, awe and respect for diversity and a deep pride in my beloved country and, on the other hand, an intense frustration at a nation that seems to prefer to engage in petty squabbling rather than making any effort to move forward, my disappointment in systems, parties and people that continue to fail us, and fear that South Africa will never grow up and grow out of its stroppy 17-year old teenaged-democracy mindset.

I see the potential and I see the problems. I hope for better days and I worry about worse ones. I meet people of all cultures who are passionate about this country and ready to help "make it a better place" (in the famous words of MJ). And I meet people who are judgmental, fatalistic and scornful of SA and its politics and people.

The things is that I find myself looking at my country every day from both sides. I believe we can put the past behind us and overcome doubts and differences. I also believe that sometimes it feels impossible to do.

I understand that I can't begin to understand the hurts of our different peoples. I get that trying to lift yourself out of the only mindset you know is unlikely. I know that there are no easy solutions - no magic fixes for this mess.

I used to read comments on News24 articles and want to vomit. I don't read the comments anymore because I am just too saddened at the judgmental, small-minded, mean things that South Africans of all colours, creeds and ages can say to each other. Every day.

I read blog posts like the one I'm trying to write at this moment and I feel a sense of empathy and at the same time I feel irritated that we're still talking about this stuff. We've heard it all before. We're stuck on a hamster wheel*. Round and round. Seeming to make no progress.

What can we do? Vote for a different party? There's no perfect political party. They're all flawed, one way or another.

Move to Australia? I balk at the thought. I love this country. I want to live here. And how will saffers movng out of SA benefit the country? It's not a solution for me. It would be a cop-out**.

Get involved in politics? I think I would die of frustration. (It might work for others though. We need politicians. Just not short red-headed bad-tempered ones who may fly into a homicidal rage at any minute.)

What then can we do?

Hope, pray, love. Corny as it sounds and impossible as it seems, be the change we want to see in the world. Don't leave nasty comments on News24 articles. Try to see the best in everyone. Resist the urge to have constant pity parties. Vote. For whichever flawed party you choose to support. Stop complaining once in a while. Get to know someone who remembers the past. Get to know someone from a totally different culture who remembers the past. Keep trying.

Keep calm and carry on.

Remember that every country on God's green earth has its problems. Keep the faith.

K, I'm done. Needed to get it out my system. Haters, don't be hating. This is just my opinion / feeling. You're free to have your own.

*It does all come down to hamsters then, Po.

** Not judging anyone who has left SA. I don't know you or your motives. I know me and my motives. Me leaving would be me running away because things are complicated here sometimes.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

I should not be allowed out in winter

We've had three cold days and my brain has frozen. And it's only going to get worse.


If you could listen to my thoughts, this is what you'd hear today:

It's cold. It's so cold. Why is it so cold? Must quote that new client. Open quote template, Tamara. Insert client name: Sue.
Souuuuuuuup... Must have soup. FOCUS! Hmmm.... what was I doing? Quote.
Quote, quote, quote... What a weird word! Quote. Quooote. Quote rhymes with boat. Float. Moat. Goat. Note.

Ooh! Ooh! Must not forget to call that interviewee tomorrow morning at nine! Make a note.
Sun's peeping through the clouds. YAY!!!
Damnit, it's gone again.
Cold. Miserably cold. Mope.

And on and on, in a continuous loop. It's crazy up there.

A friend who works in recruitment just sent me a list of the funny things she's found in CVs sent to her company. They are hilarious. A few of the best:

  • I was very popular under the staff
  • am able to multituskand pay attantion to every little detail
  • Reason for leaving : the grass is greener everywhere.
  • Dependants Tree
  • Location: Horneydew, South Africa (Gauteng)
  • I was regarded as feared and respected learner since STD 3
  • It has come to my attention that I would like to be part of your organisation.
  • I HAVE :
  • Attending to various clients at various levels of drunken aggression
Seriously, these are honest-to-goodness examples she's cut and paste from real people's CVs.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

This about explains it...

Deadlines are tight right now, folks. But obviously not tight enough yet if I'm still blogging, right?

Off to a meeting with a prospective client now. Should be reading up on their company, not pasting silly graphs.

The Queen of Procrastination is still on her throne. Long live the Queen.


Monday, 4 April 2011

Peanut butter and picnics

Such a good weekend was had. A proper weekend, if you know what I mean - enough rest and socialising. Balanced, for a change.

On Friday night TSC and I finally got to try Gourmet Garage's peanut butter burgers. Yum! I understand now why they're famous. I love, love, love peanut butter. It goes with anything (except toothpaste and avocado. Trust me on this - you don't need to try it). We're definitely going back to try the peanut butter shake next time. Mmmm...

Saturday was a lovely, lazy day. We only ventured out for brunch at The Tearoom at Crabtree & Evelyn, where we had lovely English breakfasts and played Scrabble. That's what I love about The Tearoom - it's quaint, quiet and they have board games :-)

Other than that, we chilled at home, did little things we never get around to doing (for me, this is always painting my toe nails - never seem to have the time or inclination) and even had a blissful afternoon nap.

Sunday was busier - pilates and then a picnic at Lonehill Park, organised by our church small group. We asked everyone who came along to bring something off the needs list for Oasis Haven, the organisation our church supports. We all seemed to have the same idea - three people brought kettles! And lots of sugar. But it was fun. Then it was off to church and home to catch It's Complicated, which made me smile the first time we saw it. I enjoyed it just as much last night. Meryl Streep really is brilliant.

Today it's back to work. Just finished that website copy, now I must draw up some quotes, do some admin (blergh), try to get hold of people I'm supposed to be interviewing for the magazine articles and not let my attention get side-tracked by everything on the internet!

In other news, I discovered why my dates have been confusing me SO much lately! I've been switching between wearing two watches and the one watch was set to the incorrect date.

Silly girl.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Updates on a Friday

Remember I was having issues with my colleagues / business partners? Well, it's all sorted. One decided that the other's business is not really in her business interests, so they are parting ways, leaving me to work with each of them separately in peace. So, lots of emotional emails and tears later, it all sorts itself out. Yay for answered prayers.

In the past week I've had a website, two magazine articles, two clients with combinations of various communications needs, a little ad copy and a PR account come into my little business, plus some other opportunities that have yet to be finalised.

Awesome to be in demand. Scary that I have no idea how I'm going to fit all of this in. Off to write an entire website by Monday.

*double eep*

Finally, hoping Kulula never get hold of this and get ideas! Have a fabulous weekend, lovely people in my computer.