And then there were two

This weekend, a quick visit to the Elgin Valley’s Pink Festival changed my life completely. The flyers for the Festival read: “Drink yourself Pink” (in reference to Rosé, the areas best-known wine, not to encourage irresponsible drinking) and unfortunately for me, the combination of drinking rose in the warm spring sun did result in well a rather pink complexion that I can only describe as “unflattering”.

Some people get a cute rosy glow when they drink, I go more of a deep red, and it’s not only on the “apples of my cheeks”, but ALL over. I look like a middle-aged rugby fan who’s had one too many at the game. Charming, I know. But don’t think it’s because I drink ridiculous amounts or down a whole bottle in one go, there’s just something in some wines that doesn’t quite agree with me. I’ve known this about red wine for quite some time and now unfortunately I’ll have to add Rose to the “Can’t drink” list… my how the list grows.

Red-faced embarrassment is hardly life-changing though and this festival changed my life in another way altogether. You see going to this festival presented us with a great opportunity to pop into the farm where our dear Kika grew up and see what’s happening down in Poodle haven. We had decided earlier in the week to get another dog (a friend for our little darling), but the puppies wouldn’t be born for another week or so, meaning they would only be ready for collection in November. Right.

When we arrived at the farm, we were shown around once again, and as always I was fascinated by the amount of beautiful poodles just running around. They really are magnificent, in all shapes, sizes and colours. One of my personal favourites, a little grey hairless one called Nutmeg, is the result of breeding together the wrong bloodlines… scary, but cute nonetheless!

So anyway to make a long story short we saw a number of males, a few females and then… the cutest, fattest little puppy you have ever seen! I remember when saw Kika for the first time I couldn’t believe how tiny she was, yet there I was holding this massive boy. He had the saddest little eyes and a look of such worry on his face and we instantly fell in love with him. He only had to open his mouth for one little puppy-breath kiss and the deal was sealed.

Kika: "And that's how you do a profile shot, Leo."

We took him home with us and he’s been our baby boy ever since. It’s amazing to see how very different their personalities are and I am having the best time just watching them play. I was very apprehensive of getting a new puppy at first, since I didn’t think I would be able to handle the responsibility of another one. As soon as we got him though I couldn’t believe we didn’t get another one sooner. He is such a little warrior and even though he is still only 8 weeks old, he has no trouble sorting out his “older sister”. He has the biggest paws I have ever seen on a puppy and he really does look like a little lion, which is why we named him Leo.

Maybe one day we’ll shave him like this and people will see me walk my “lion” around the Sea Point promenade…

The most feared dog in Brakpan

I’m just kidding, I could never do that to him! It would be little weird, considering his full-grown size is only about 30cm high. Oh well. He’s still my little Leo and I can’t wait to see how his personality grows.

So this weekend I had to say goodbye to my old friend Rosé, and in return I got the best chubby puppy in the world. I think it’s a fair trade.

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Hey! Where’d the elephant go?

So it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything and really I have no excuse. I’d attribute this to a combination of laziness, apathy and mind mush. I haven’t had much to say, so I kept quiet. I think that makes sense.

But today, on a miserably rainy Cape Town morning, I think it’s time to get back to blogging. You see lately I’ve been talking to a lot of people about this thing we call ‘blogging’, and having not written anything myself in so long, I started to feel like a bit of a fraud. Kind of like the fat kid telling people to go to the gym. Was that mean? Sorry.

Now you’ll remember that my last post was about the little widget I’d added to the right, urging (without pressuring) people to nominate my blog for the 2010 SA Blog Awards. You’ll also remember that I was sort of conflicted on whether I should place it there or not. Well seems like some it wasn’t all that useless, as some people actually did click on the link (yes, Blog Stats tells you these kinds of things), but I found that ever since I placed it there I haven’t written anything new. Coincidence? I think not. It seems like the elephant on my blog did more than make a single post awkward for me, it made the whole process of blogging, well weird.

The nominations phase is now closed and I didn’t make the top 10 (shocker!), so I wonder: Was the whole month of complete silence worth the few nominations? Um, yes. You see not only do I think it’s great that some people went to the trouble to click on the link (muchas gracias amigos), but I also got a bit of a break from blogging, which put things into perspective for me. At the time I didn’t know I needed it, but having the nomination thingy there made me realise that I was starting to write for other people, instead of just writing for myself (which was why I started this thing in the first place). I also realised that writing for other people is much harder than I thought, because you actually think about the little things way too much and end up writing a lot of junk without ever hitting the “Publish” button. Be thankful, I spared you a lot of rubbish.

But now I’m back and ready to get back to doing what I love. No not that. The other thing. Writing. In order to do that however, I’m getting rid of a little something on the right that’s been bothering me for so long now…

"Sorry Dumbo. It's not you, it's me."

And just like that, it’s gone.

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The elephant on my blog

For a little while now, I’ve been facing the same moral dilemma I had when I first started the blog. You may or may not have noticed a little addition to my blog (a little to the right… now a tiny squish down…there). It’s a widget that allows you to nominate me for the South African Blog Awards and it took me about a week to decide whether I should add it or not. I mean on the one hand it would be awesome to be nominated, but on the other hand I feel a little weird asking my friends (and random blog readers) to nominate me. So like I said, for about a week I’ve been pondering… Should I or shouldn’t I?

So I decided to just add the widget, say nothing about and just let it be. But now it keeps staring at me and I feel like it’s just rude not to mention it. So I’m acknowledging it. And I’m admitting that I put it there. And if you feel like you would like to nominate me for um, I don’t know say “Best New Blog” (I haven’t been around all that long, you know?) then feel free to click on it and see where it takes you. If you don’t feel like it, well don’t. Simple right? Click or don’t click.  No pressure.

Phew, I’m glad I got that off my chest…

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Working Holiday

So we all know that ‘working holiday’ is basically code for a large amount of time spent in a foreign country with a visa gained on the pretence of doing actual work in that country. Well that’s not what this is about. This is about another kind of holiday and in particular, the one I will be taking tomorrow.

Even though my job allows me to go on holiday whenever I want, I’m very aware of the fact that other people may not be as lucky. I’ve recently discovered with a shock that most people in South Africa are only allowed to take about 15 working days i.e. 3 weeks holiday a year. That’s madness! How can one be expected to be alert and on the ball all the time when there is never any time to take a break and just relax?

I read a little debate about this a while ago (yes, while blog-surfing, although I can’t for the life of me remember which blog it was on) and was quite astonished to see how South African holiday times compared to those of other countries. For instance in most Western European countries you get between 25 and 30 days mandatory holiday per year (and that’s EXCLUDING public holidays, sick days and personal days). On the other hand the poor Canadians are only entitled to 10 days per year and while the Americans have no mandatory minimum, they tend to get around 15 days per year. Wait, what? So the genius who wrote our country’s labour laws thought it was a good idea to just do what the Americans did? Why not follow Canada’s lead and only allow 10 days off per year? Oh right, because we want people to work hard, but not too hard. We want them to be rested, but not 2-months-spent-in–the-sun-on-the-French–Riviera-rested.

The reason for my unreasonable holiday rant is the fact that tomorrow someone very dear to me is finally getting some time off and we’re going on a weeklong holiday. He completely deserves it, I don’t. I’m not even remotely stressed or worn out. I don’t need a holiday. I also don’t want to spend the whole holiday feeling guilty for taking one, so I’ve found the solution. To soothe my conscience I’ve packed my laptop and some work and I’ve told myself that at any point during this week, should any client (new or existing) require me to do any sort of work for them I would not hesitate to do it. I will be on call. I will also relax. And that will be my working holiday.

*This post was actually written just over a week ago, but I completely forgot to post it before leaving, so I thought I’d add it now. 🙂

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Illiterate Alliteration

So a little earlier I was writing and email to a friend of mine about the new love of my life (my darling Kika) when I noticed my poor paragraph was just littered with alliteration. It went a little something like this: “I’m trying to teach my puppy to pee and poo outside, instead of leaving poodle puddles all over the house.”

It took me a while to realise how ridiculous (but strangely fascinating) that sounds and then (unfortunately) I had an idea. It was like this tiny little energy-efficient light bulb just went off in my very dim head and I thought: ”What could be more fun than compiling paragraph upon paragraph of insane, nonsensical alliteration?” Nothing came to mind, except maybe reading paragraph upon paragraph of insane, nonsensical alliteration, so it was decided. I’ll write a whole bunch of them, starting with B (starting with A would constitute assonance if my third grade English memory serves me correctly) and working my way down to Z. And that I think is quite a cool idea for a children’s book. Uh-oh, did I just give myself ANOTHER project? Oh well, here goes…

We had a bad day at the beach because the bluebottles burned big bloody blisters on our bottoms…

Um yeah, maybe not quite as much fun as I thought.

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Office hours

I’ve decided to get over the whole inspiration thing and just start writing. I’m not sure where I’ll end up but hey, it’s worth a shot. The journey might be bumpy and I might put forward a whole heap of rubbish, but at least I’ll get it out of my system and hopefully make some space for a bit of literary brilliance (one can hope). If not, well: “It’s better to have written crap than to have written nothing at all”, that’s what I say.

The reason that I am so adamant to start writing again is quite simple. Since I’ve made the choice to be a full-time freelance writer, my livelihood sort of depends on it and there will be no more lazing about, doing nothing. Just because I don’t have an office, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have office hours, so from now on, 9-5 (minus 1 hour for lunch) will be my working hours, or what I like to refer to as my time”. This is not be confused with “me time”, where women generally spend a certain amount of time alone, generally relaxing and pampering themselves (I think it’s pretty clear from my previous post that the recent addition to the family will leave very little time for that for a while). No, “my time” is a little different and dare I say less self-absorbed than “me time”.

So what exactly is “my time”? It’s the time I would’ve had to spend at the office every day, had I not decided to work as a freelancer. The time I would have spent doing whatever the creative director or account executive wanted me to (“Maybe we should change that word to an ever so slightly more sophisticated synonym, no wait, change it back. Wouldn’t that one be better?”). The 8 hours I would inevitably have wasted on facebook, urban dictionary or Google, because there simply wasn’t any real work to do. I have on occasion killed many hours by blog-surfing and in in doing so  have stumbled upon some real gems, but come on. That’s hardly a productive way to spend a day.

Now, instead of following orders or worse, doing nothing, I spend that same amount of time, doing work that I actually need (and more importantly, want) to do. I have so many unfinished projects that I just didn’t get to while studying and I figured now is the perfect time to tackle them. I want to rewrite, edit and finish a novel, rework and compile a whole bunch of short stories, finish the film script I started, make a film from the script I actually finished, rethink and improve basically every ad campaign I worked on… the list is endless. Oh and then of course there is the time spent marketing myself (which is starting to become a little less awkward) and actually doing work for clients.

Yes, freelancing definitely comes with a few uncertainties and some pitfalls, but there is one major benefit. I get to work on my own time, at my own pace. Oh and did I mention no time sheets?

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Instant inspiration. Or maybe not.

So about 2 weeks ago I set out to find inspiration and I am extremely pleased to say that I did. The problem is what inspires me at the moment is also what keeps me from turning that inspiration into actual work. Confused? Let me put it this way: My gorgeous new puppy, who I absolutely love and adore is demanding just about every minute of my time, which sort of leaves well, very little time for work.

So now, I’ve done the unthinkable and put my little baby in a box (relax Peta, it’s a big box with lots of toys and a comfy blanket) with the hope of finally getting some things done. For the first five minutes it was absolutely heartbreaking to hear her tiny little moans as she tried to scratch her way out of the box, all the while staring at me with her big teary eyes (no really, there were actual tears), but now she’s sleeping like an angel and I can finally get down to some writing.

Oh right, so what do I write about? Since all my attention and thoughts are currently focused on a 9week old toy poodle I thought I might as well write about that. But the problem is, no one wants to read about how well her house training is going or listen to me gushing over what cute new thing she did today. Even though staring at her can occupy me for hours I am very aware of the fact that other people are not all that interested in my precious new pet. So once again I’m sort of stuck. And once again I’ll resort to that thing I do when I just can’t figure out what to say. Yes, I’ll post photos. Of what? Of my darling Kika of course. I know that directly contradicts what I just said, but look at it this way: By posting the pictures, I’ve effectively spared you 4 000 words of puppy talk.

I really do hope this writer’s block comes to a speedy end. For everyone’s sake.

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