Doors

I started writing a post in November about the doors we bought for our house. Because when we first moved in, the whole place had been stripped of its interior doors.

There’s been a lot of drama around the doors. You’d be surprised at how important they actually are, on so many levels.

Aside from the way that a lack of doors can make an entire house feel completely bare, even when it’s full of your family and furniture and you’ve finished unpacking all your boxes, it takes away so much from ordinary, every day things you wouldn’t otherwise think about.

Without a bedroom door, for example there’s no escaping yelling kids and needy cats, no quiet time spent catching up with each other, sharing intimate moments or arguing differences of opinion out of earshot of the offspring. (There’s no stalking off and slamming anything when you’re not winning the argument, either.)

No bathroom door means never feeling comfortable enough to poop in your own toilet.

And no doors on the kids’ rooms means that even when you want to, you can’t turn a blind eye to the mess they insist on making of all their toys and clothes and books and school stuff… You can’t just close off their bedrooms when visitors stop by and see the state they’re in. And so you worry about more than whether your guest prefers Earl Grey or normal tea. No, your anxiety levels shoot right up because now you’re also painfully aware of how they’re judging you for your poor parenting skills…

Doors are important, people!

So, I had this whole post half drafted about how the seller we purchased our house from had promised us doors as part of the sale agreement but it all went horribly south. I went to great pains not to refer to the seller as anything else. More specifically, I made a conscious effort not to refer to the seller in terms that I would not use in the presence of a prospective employer or client. Which is more than said seller deserves, but okay…

Anyway, I was interrupted while writing the post and then just never found enough time to get back to it and do it justice, so you never got to read about the doors we got after the doors we got from the seller were a complete disaster.

Instead, you got the watered-down, PG version, because for all of my big talk about reclaiming my writing voice and bringing old-school back, I’m still afraid of the bogey man and the swear word police. And all of that just to let you know that we now have doors. Because, as was established earlier, they’re really, really important.

 

Not a Blogger

It’ll be twelve years in March this year, since I first started writing online. Back then, I was afraid to call myself a blogger, because I was still so new at it. Because I didn’t know all the technical stuff.  Because we were far away from everything we knew, in a new and foreign place and I was just me, writing my personal rants and journal-style stuff, and no-one actually read it.

And yet, what I was doing was keeping a web log of my life. A blog. I wrote almost every day, and had loads to say about all sorts of things. And it turns out someone, somewhere,  did start reading it. And after a little while, that someone became maybe three someones. Eventually, my three readers became five or six. And as I found my voice and kept on writing, a few more people started stopping by to read my posts. By the time we moved back to South Africa, I’d made contact with a few other South African bloggers and we started meeting up every so often, to share offline what we didn’t necessarily share online.

Brands started taking note of blogs as a potential marketing tool and, by some fluke, I somehow landed on a couple of media lists and started receiving invitations to cool events.

And then everything changed. Blogging as a thing and blogging in South Africa in particular grew up and got serious.

Suddenly, it wasn’t enough anymore just to have an opinion on something and to write about it. Now we were comparing ourselves to other bloggers, installing site counters (remember those?!) and keeping track of how many comments we received on each post. Within what seemed like moments, there was a massive evolution and various metric and analytics tools started showing up everywhere.

Intimidated by how much I didn’t know, I let myself get left behind and started blogging less and less frequently. Concerns around my family’s privacy started becoming an issue and I started blogging even less. Until, eventually, managing to throw together a single post per month became an achievement.

And still, life, family commitments, laziness, fear of failure – all these things – caused me to hold myself back from learning about and using all these new tools of the blogging trade.

Meanwhile, braver souls who had embraced these things started really going places with their blogs, while I stopped writing at all, sometimes for months at a time. Because I was either too busy, too blocked or just too damn tired. Of what, I can’t honestly say…

I started doing a blog makeover toward the end of last year and got as far as a header & logo after having booked and paid for an hour session with a consultant. And when I look at it now, I’m not even sure I like what I’ve done all that much.

Maybe it’s because proper blogging and all that that entails costs money these days. I definitely don’t feel I can justify spending money on my blog, when there’s so much I still haven’t taken the time to learn how to do for free…

Maybe I was just never that into it in the first place. I find that a little hard to swallow, but the statistics speak for themselves, don’t they?

Whatever the reasons, justifications, explanations or excuses, I think it’s safe to say I can’t really call myself a blogger anymore. Certainly not in the most current sense of the word.

I’m almost relieved to have reached this point, actually. No more feeling guilty for the things I haven’t learned how to do; no more pressure on myself to meet unrealistic goals; no more interrupted posts sitting in my drafts folder forever because the moment is gone. No more fooling myself that I have the time or inclination to ingratiate myself with brands or with anyone else, or writing out of a sense of obligation rather than desire.

Rather, I’m getting back to just being me, writing my personal thoughts, experiences and other life stuff, without guilt and without fear. I’m bringing back the old-school blog and there’s space on this bus for two or three someones…

 

A Long Overdue Catch-up

Can I ask a serious question?

HOW do all of the other bloggers manage to find the time, not only to write blog posts but to figure out all the “pro” stuff like creating awesome looking photographs and graphics and do the necessary blog maintenance?

I can barely throw together a post per month these days and my “grand blog makeover” has stopped short at a new header and logo. Beyond that, I simply don’t know what next, or when I’m ever going to find the time to explore all the different themes, or read up and figure out how to take beautiful photos, or to play around with design tools like Canva and the like. Seriously, when everyone else also has a job, kids, life stuff, how do they also manage to do the blog stuff? Do they pay other people to help them do it? Do they know something about something that I have just completely missed? Do they work harder than I do to fit everything in?

Sigh.

And on that note, let’s take a look at all the stuff I wanted to blog about over the last two months:

First, there was the Jacaranda FM/Discovery Spring Walk. I mentioned the pre-event activation in my last post, I think. The event itself took place at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens on 10 September and D and I were treated to VIP entry, parking and hospitality… And at the end of it all, I was gifted my very own Fitbit Charge HR!! I could not be more thrilled – this is something I’ve wanted for absolute aaaaages but have always felt I could not justify buying for myself when there’s always something we need for the house or one of the kids…

Then, I meant to do a follow up on the Argan Oil giveaway I did in August. I think I may actually take this one up in a separate post, as there were some lessons learned here.

Another awesome event I got to go to with my little boys was the Secret Life of Pets event at the Mall of Africa – we were treated to Krispy Kreme donuts, face painting, balloon animals, some fun photo snaps and we got to see the movie, which my boys really enjoyed.

In between all of this, I received my first proper Blogger drop, even though I pulled out of attending the event at the last minute due to work obligations. I am definitely going to pick up on this one in the near future – PediaSure has changed my life!

And then I also finally got around to trying out Uber for the first time and I really wanted to document my experience and thoughts on the service… Perhaps I’ll find a few moments to squeeze in a post about this at some point in the not too distant future, too.

Clearly, I have no shortage of blogging material, so that’s not the issue. The issue is that I don’t want to write these half-arsed mentions of things instead of proper posts. But I simply don’t have hours – even half hours! – to spend blogging.

Common sense tells me that I should stop worrying too much about my blog’s look and just focus on the writing. But in my heart, after so many years, I feel like my little corner on the line should at least *look* as though I’ve been keeping up to speed…

Still, I guess that just sitting down to post this is something. I’ve also created a Facebook page for my blog, but I am still figuring that out, too. I’ll get there eventually, I suppose. In the meantime, tips and suggestions are welcome.

 

Sprung

How is it already the end of September? I thought I was getting into this blogging groove thing but it’s already been more than a month since my last post!

That said, I’ve done a lot more thinking about posting than I usually do, and even drafted some notes on my phone, with the intention of doing some scheduled posts. I know that many of the bigger bloggers out there use scheduled posts to make their lives easier. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m wondering whether it’s worth the bother in my case, because, scheduled or otherwise, there’s still the issue of having to find the time to actually write the posts. (Those of you who have this down, some tips would be welcome!)

As you will have guessed by the title of this post, I’m doing my Spring thing today – half-arsed and late to the party, as always. I must be honest, though, and tell you that I’ve had some really cool things happen since my last post, not least of which was being invited by Jacaranda FM and Discovery to participate in a blogger activation in anticipation of the Jacaranda FM & Discovery Spring Walk 2016, which took place on 25 August at the gorgeous Planet Fitness Platinum health club in Sandton.

Upon arrival, bloggers were treated to refreshing drinks and delicious smoothies, during which we exchanged Twitter handles, greeted familiar faces and tweeted the obligatory selfie or two. Next we had a bit of a warm-up stretching session with a semi-sadistic fitness coach, interspersed with frequent water breaks and fuelled by some delicious wraps, juices and other edible treats. Because you can’t exercise properly without being appropriately plied with food, right?

Suitably stretched and refreshed, we made our way to the club’s fabulous indoor running track, where we split into teams and it was fastest feet first for some amazing prizes. This part of the day’s fun brought me to the shocking realisation that, having not run all winter, I am extremely unfit! Luckily, through sheer luck and the kindness of better athletes, I walked away with the best prize of the day: A complimentary 6-month Premium membership to Planet Fitness, which I intend to put to very good use, regaining some semblance of fitness and (hopefully) toning up for the coming summer! You can catch a glimpse of me coming in 6th or 7th place, here:

(I’m the one in the light blue crop top! 😛 )

Because happiness is healthy-ness, right?

 

Beauty Blogger Argan Oil Draw

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted on the South African Bloggers’ Facebook page that I was looking for beauty bloggers to review and give away samples of organic Moroccan Argan Oil.

Well, tonight, I finally got around to roping in my boys to help me select five of the 32 ladies who responded to my Facebook post.

I’m not even going to pretend I have a clue as to what I’m doing with a camera or filming anything, so let’s just get the disclaimers out of the way:

The video below is purely for the purpose of showing that the draw process was as fair as I was able to make it. (It was also kind of fun getting my kids involved – I have never asked them to participate in anything to do with my blog before!)  🙂

I am sending each of the five ladies whose names were drawn 2 bottles – one each for their own use and review, and one each to give away on their blogs. (If you are one of the recipients, please share your blog giveaway link with me!)

I will contact each of the five selected bloggers on Facebook to get their details so that I can arrange for delivery of the samples.

Thanks so much once again to everyone who responded – I hope that this first “giveaway” on my blog marks the beginning of something fun that I will be able to continue doing (and will hopefully get better at!) in time.

And so, you can view the video here:

 

 

 

 

Funny Story

No, not really.

I’m pretty embarrassed to admit this but I’m afraid that, despite having started blogging more than 10 years ago, I am pretty much an imbecile when it comes to the technical bits.

That’s why, although I have finally gotten around to drawing the names of the five Beauty Bloggers to whom I’ll be sending those Moroccan Argan Oil samples to review & give away, I have not uploaded the draw video as promised. I’m in the process of figuring out how to put the video online so that I can either link to it or embed it in the blog post (in my drafts folder) that it will accompany…

In the meantime, I’ll notify each of the five ladies in question on Facebook, in the comments on my original post about this.

If you’re one of the 32 ladies who commented on that post, thank you for your patience!

 

Fluff Stuff

D and I got a pair of complimentary tickets to see the new Jason Bourne movie last night.

Because D’s been so busy lately, we ended up being late and missing the beginning but we saw enough to follow the story.

I have to admit to being a bit disappointed, not because the movie didn’t deliver – I mean, let’s face it, the fifth in a series is hardly going to be groundbreaking stuff – but because the cinematography was awful!

I would have really enjoyed the story, old and done-to-death or not, if I’d been able to look at the screen without getting vertigo! I don’t know if this is some new style of filming or if it’s because we sat quite close to the screen (again, being late means you don’t get great seats – that’ll teach us!) but probably 80% of the film was just a blur!

That said, the two of us rarely get to slip out and see a movie, so it was really good to take a little break!

I also really wanted to thank Sharon Naidoo and UIP (United International Pictures) for the opportunity – and for the complimentary drinks & popcorn; Movies just aren’t the same without them!

Lanced

I have this thing where I feel like I have to make each new post follow at least vaguely on the last one. It’s kind of annoying. So I’m just going to stop it, because I can, damnit.

For someone who’s a supposed writer, I have very little to write, I’ve realised. I’m not even going to try to figure it out or come up with reasons why.

I saw a post in a bloggers’ forum on Facebook today in which some guy tells us all how whiny and boring we are. I was instantly offended but couldn’t really counter what he was saying. At least, not as far as it concerns me personally. I only ever really blog when I need to vomit up my ugly stuff (and then I do it under strict censorship anyway), or when something big has happened. (And then I just give you the basic bones of it, afraid either to put too much out there or too lazy to go into any significant detail.)

I’m a bad blogger. And I don’t mean in the “I-don’t-post-as-often-as-I-should” way. I mean in the “my-blog-is-shit” way.

But you know what?

I don’t care.

There. I said it. Who gives a shit whether my blog is boring? Who even bothers reading it? I’m obviously not making a living off this thing, or I’d be starving. And the few people who stop by whenever I bother to share that I’ve posted something are people I’d tell this stuff to if I saw them in person anyway. Mostly.

HahAAAA! That dude is right! And I don’t give a fuck!

On another note, I’m feeling much better. Maybe still a bit raw after exposing myself somewhat more than usual. But certainly better for having let out some of the built-up stuff.

So that’s something.

More on that another time.

 

 

Voer Die Wit Hond

The following is a post I started writing in December last year:

I cried in the car on the way to work this morning.

You’d think I’d be singing and dancing instead, right? I should be. The folks at work have been nothing but kind and welcoming. And the prospect of a decent, regular income is nothing to cry about.

Yet, here I am, coming apart at the seams.

It’s been happening at random intervals over the past week or two and after giving it some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m depressed.

Apart from half-whispered utterances to my husband in moments of exhaustion, I haven’t used those words to describe my mental state in many years.

But the fact of it is, they fit.

Of course, I know that these feelings don’t just come out of nowhere. They build up and escalate over a period of time, often unnoticed until it all crescendoes into an enormous, dramatic mess.

I’ve been lucky this time in that I picked up on a few clues recently.

On Friday, we had the end of year party at work (I know – how cool are these guys for including me, when I’ve only been working with them for a week, right?). We were thoroughly spoilt as the company treated us to a matinee at Madame Zingara – a big favourite for me! The food was amazing, as always, as was the Merlot I washed my meal down with.

And then I went home and slept all weekend.

And that’s as far as I got with that post.

I cried in the car on my way to work again a few days ago. Apparently, it’s a thing for me.

I don’t plan it. I’ll be driving along like a normal person and, suddenly, my eyes just fill up and spill over while Tony Blewitt talks through mouthfuls of biscuit on the radio and I can’t stop it. So I blink lots to clear away as much blur as I can while I drive and I try to avoid getting tears in my mouth.

Those of you who’ve read my blog since the early days will know I’ve had run-ins with the black dog many times. I always live to tell the tale.

I don’t know why I’ve been feeling this way, so I’m not sure how to fix it. For the moment, I’m just telling people. I tell them that I’m not feeling myself and I don’t know why. I tell them I’m sad about nothing in particular. I tell them that the voice in my head is saying mean things to me. (Okay, maybe I don’t say that bit out loud.)

I talk because putting it out there makes me accountable for how I deal with it. Or, at least, for dealing with it at all. And that’s how I’m getting myself out of bed every day; I remind myself that checking out would be such a pathetic cliche.

I’m not running. Or baking. Or washing my hair as often as I probably should. I’m not bothering with make-up or looking like much. But I’m getting through every day having done enough to pass for functional and, right now, that’s good enough.

 

 

 

 

 

We bought a house.

The building next door to the house we’ve lived in for just over 5 years now once belonged to the Mayor of Johannesburg. You could tell, looking at what remained of the original house when we first moved here, that this house had been a grande dame in her heyday.

But several decades, a nightclub and a fast-food joint (both of which failed) later, the house is no longer the grand old home it once was. And then, a little over a year ago, things started happening there. There was talk for a short while of the house being restored, which made me happy. But then we learned to our horror toward the end of last year that this beautiful old landmark is to become a KFC instead, complete with drive-through ramp and window overlooking our garden and living room.

And so, after 5 1/2 years (the longest stretch we’ve spent in any one house), the time had come to find a new home.

The decision to buy rather than rent was made quite quickly, although not lightly. And we told ourselves we’d take our time and not settle for something we could live with, but that we’d hold on for the perfect place; one that lies within a particular little pocket of the neighbourhood, has VERY little work to be done and came at the right price.

I felt oh, so very adulty, looking over the options, inspecting every tiny detail and debating the merits of each house we viewed with my husband. We came really, really close to putting in an offer on a particularly pretty place, until we went to see it for the third time and discovered some very nasty, VERY expensive issues. The seller (according to the agent, at least) refused to negotiate on the price, though, so that was a bust. There was just something off for us about that particular agent… And so I mentioned to D that there was a particular house I’d looked at a couple of years ago, that had recently come back on the market. We chatted with the agent, who put us in touch with a bond originator and we started looking at whether or not we’d be able to swing the bond on this place. But by the time we’d gotten a pre-approval figure back from the bond originator, the house had been sold.

Still, we met up with the agent, gave her our list of requirements, price range, etc. and she set up a few appointments for us. And then, after four or five houses, she suggested we take a look at a particular house that had been up for sale for a while. She said she knew it wasn’t what we’d said we wanted but I guess she must have just had a feeling about us and about this house.

Let me begin by saying that the house is pink. Not a subtle, pale kind of pink that could almost pass for a warm, creamy colour. No. It’s a deep (albeit sun-faded), bright, just-this-side-of-salmon kind of pink.

Of course, my first comment was that it would have to be painted immediately.

It is also enormous, filling the bulk of a steeply sloped, 1300m2 stand with its 4 levels (5, if you count the triple garage at the very bottom).

The garden is a ghost of its once glorious, terraced self, overgrown with weeds and home to all kinds of rubbish left behind by tenants who did a real number on the place.

We put in an OTP within an hour of having seen it once.

By 5pm, the seller had accepted.

That was on 15 April.

We are now approximately 2 weeks away from moving into our very own home for the first time. There is a huge amount of work to be done to make it the home we want, but it’s ours, which makes all the scrubbing, painting, fixing, weeding, sealing and other stuff worth doing.

I plan to document the transformation of the house as we go, so watch this space!

 

 

 

Moseying in Jozi