Tag Archives: school days

Made up

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When my mother puts on make-up, she says she is putting on her face. I usually find it easier just to go with whatever face I happen to wake up in, but sometimes that doesn’t feel quite … enough.

So when I was packing for the road trip Himself and I are currently enjoying, I crammed my supply of face paint into a small bag and shoved it into my suitcase. Day 2 found us rolling into Reno just barely in time for the start of the Hubbit’s 50th school reunion festivities. Getting there was good – a leisurely two days with an overnight stop at a comfortable Best Western. And while Nevada appears to be mainly a whole helluva lot of not a whole helluva lot, it has a certain stark visual appeal.

Arriving was a whole other matter. Tell this South African girl she’s staying at a “resort”, and she expects to see trees, grass, some chalets scattered around a rustic but luxurious lodge, a pool, maybe a miniature golf course – you get the idea. Quite apart from the fact that it hadn’t occurred to me that we were going to a casino (yeah, I know, call me stupid) the word “resort” had me expecting some sort of desert oasis. The reality of a high rise city center hotel, with a crowded lobby that was all marble and mirrors leading to bleak little rooms failed to enchant.

This is how we do casino resorts in South Africa

This is how we do casino resorts in South Africa.

As for the casino, it was creepy and depressing. A (presumably fake but I think full scale) mine headgear loomed in the gloomy arch of the domed ceiling. Arrayed around it were machines lit in lurid colors, silently waiting to swallow your money – and, with it, your hopes and dreams – but the alleys between the machines were dark. The hotel surrounding the gambling area was loud with voices and piped music, but the casino seemed clouded in a dull hush. It used to be fun to play the fruit machines – you carried your money in a paper cup and fumbled it out to push it into the coin slot, and after a while your arm would ache from pulling the lever, but you kept pulling because the sound of money clattering into the catch tray when you won was so seductive you had to keep trying for more, until you were left with nothing but the stink of money on your hands, and an empty cup, and sleepy daydreams of what might have been if you’d stopped just 15 minutes sooner. But now it’s all done with smart cards and buttons. Bells don’t ring, lights don’t flash, and winnings don’t clatter. I don’t know why anyone would bother.

So anyway, we checked in with just minutes to spare, and the Hubbit was all antsy to get upstairs to reconnect with the Good Old Days Of Yore, and I was rattled and discombobulated by finding myself in a crowded and alien world. I yanked my make-up bag (actually it’s a small linen bag that pillowcases came in and that I kept because I was sure it would come in handy some day – I don’t actually own a make-up bag) out of my suitcase, peered into the mirror, thought “Stuff it”, splashed cold water on my face, and followed Himself up to the hospitality suite.

It was full of happy old people clutching alcoholic drinks. I didn’t know anyone. Himself introduced me to Bob and reminded me that we’d met. (Poor Hubbit had no idea that Bob and I had been conspiring for weeks via email to make him feel conspicuous on his birthday, which happened to be the next day.) Bob called his wife over, and although

Apparently I don't remind anyone of Juliette Binoche.

Apparently I don’t remind anyone of Juliette Binoche.

she clearly had no idea who I was and no memory of ever having met me, she informed me that I did indeed look familiar because I reminded her of an actress, only she couldn’t remember which one. I snaffled a bottle of water and snuck away into a corner. People introduced themselves and told me where they were from and asked me where I was from, and at intervals Bob’s wife wandered past and said she was still trying to remember which actress it was, but my smile definitely reminded her of someone. Eventually everyone decided to go out to dinner together, and as we were leaving Bob’s wife found me again and apologized, because she’d realized I didn’t remind her of an actress, but rather of one of Bob’s cousins, who was a very sweet woman.

Alrighty then.

The next evening was The First Dinner (the one on Tuesday didn’t count because it was spontaneous). I blinged up a bit, peered into my makeup bag, and said “Stuff it” again. Earrings and a malachite bead necklace was as far as I felt able to go. And it was just fine, because no one was paying attention to me while Himself got royally roasted (two bottles of “viagra” – Bob’s wife told me she had to eat her way through a terrifyingly large number of M&Ms to find enough blue ones – and a gift certificate for a Happy Ending, whatever that might be – pretty much what I expected after telling one of the Hubbit’s peers to “be as juvenile as you like” in celebrating his birthday).

Last night was the Big Event. We have left Reno and are now in Vallejo, and last night’s banquet was hosted by an Admiral, no less. (The Hubbit is a Cal Maritime Academy boy.) Getting myself ready, I blinged to the max, and dumped my supply of warpaint on the sink counter.

Now to give some background to all this … My friend Wonder Woman decided, for my birthday in February, to make a woman of me, and she took me shopping for Face Stuff. Ignoring my mutters, winces and rolling eyes, she selected some kind of tinted face cream (for covering wrinkled and freckles), face powder (for covering the cream), eyebrow pencil (for revealing brows that might have vanished under a layer of cream and powder), brown eye shadow, and lipstick. And I used it faithfully every day for weeks, right up until Argos ate my lipstick and I ran out of tinted face cream.

Well, as part of preparing for this road trip, I betook myself to Walgreens and replenished my supply. I couldn’t remember what she’d bought, but how hard could it be to buy lipstick and face cream?

Yeah … maybe I need to put more work into this process… It turns out that Jergens Natural Glow is not so much a tinted moisturizer as a fake tanning lotion. I’d already covered my face before it occurred to me to read the directions. Then I hastily scrubbed it off … slathered on cold cream that I got at the Dollar Store … patted powder over that … touched up eyelids (brown), eyebrows (browner), and lipstick (brownish). I have no idea how it turned out, because I suspect that when I look in the mirror I don’t see what the rest of the world sees – and the Hubbit is no help, since he doesn’t ever comment on my appearance and, for all I know, doesn’t notice whether I look like a clown or a queen.

I dunno … I guess I’m just not that good at being a girl, y’all. On the other hand, I’m not bad at happy endings…

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Omigosh – I got my first award!

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Dang it, I feel so … so … appreciated! First 100 followers, and now this. This little blog has come of age just in time for Christmas! And yeah, I know that when I’m a real grownup I’ll just smile graciously and say, “Oh how nice!” – or maybe even have a sign up saying, “Thank you, but this is an Award-Free Blog”. But face it, I’m just not that much of a grown-up – or, come to think of it, that much of a snot.

So thank you Tim, aka Battlewagon (I have no idea why but would be fascinated to learn), at Flying Here In The Middle Of Somewhere, for nominating me a “Very Inspiring Blogger” and thereby simultaneously giving my ego a huge boost and providing the topic for this post! Go check out Tim’s blog, guys. He will inspire you in all sorts of unexpected and entertaining ways.

For instance, I am now inspired to tell you about my past award-winning experiences. Like the race I ran in about third grade. I came in FIRST! Yes indeed, I was right at the head of the pack! Okay, so the race I won was the one that started after the race I was actually running in, but what the hey – a win is a win, right?

Sure looks like a winner to me! (Pic from DPC)

Sure looks like a winner to me! (Pic from DPC)

And then there was the eisteddfod I sang in when I was about 12. Oh, wait, I didn’t actually win that. But I bet I would have if I hadn’t accidentally sung the choir piece instead of my solo! Well, half of it, anyway. I stopped with a sort of squawking noise when I noticed the dismayed expressions of my fellow choir members. You’d think eisteddfod judges would be used to overlooking the odd little squawk or two!

Back in those days, we didn't give microphones to kids performing on stage.

Back in those days, we didn’t give microphones to kids performing on stage. (Pic from DPC)

And of course there was the time I got voted onto the Student Representative Council at my university, when I was only a first year student. How’s that for huge political success? Well, yes, there were only five delegates running for five seats on the SRC … and after I got elected they changed the rules so that people had to get some minimum number of votes in order to be elected. But I would almost certainly have got more votes if the buttons of my blouse hadn’t all popped open while I was in the middle of a stirring speech to the largest of the men’s residences. Or … on consideration … maybe fewer votes. Ja, let’s not think too hard about that one. The point is, I was elected, and consequently, in an era when women’s residences were locked at 8PM every night except Saturday, when the curfew was 10PM, I – as a designated Highly Responsible Person – received a back door key.

But enough of past glories; it’s time to focus on the present. Here are the rules of the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

1. Thank the person who nominated you by linking his/her blog and display the award logo.  – Done, sort of … For the life of me I can’t figure out how to get the image to stick to my widget area. Oh well! Here it is, just in case you don’t believe I actually did in fact manage to inspire someone.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Proof that I’m inspiring! You saw it on the internet, so obviously it’s true!

2. Nominate 15 other blogs (more or less). Link their blogs and inform them about the nomination. –  See the list below. These are all blogs I enjoy and recommend.

3.  Mention three things that inspired you the most this week (you can talk about last week’s inspiration too). – Ja, well … I’m taking a different approach to that question. Because I can!

My nominations for the award, in no significant order, are:

1. Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, whose passion for living with integrity, and particularly with regard to her stand against slavery, has forced me to check many of my own values and choices.
2. The Maven of Mayhem, who at present focuses mainly on the challenges and joys of raising a transgender child. She has opened my eyes to a world I had never imagined.
3. The Green Study, which regularly forces me to rethink my own lifestyle choices and priorities, especially with regard to writing.
4. Verbal Dreaming, where Liz shares concise and always insightful thoughts about her writing process. I rarely read one of her posts without feeling challenged.
5. The Monster in your Closet, where Deborah’s discussions about racism – both as it appears on the national stage and within her own small multiracial family – have forced me to rethink many of my assumptions.
6. Notes from the UK, a reliably good read that has reawakened my desire to visit England, plus she’s a published (!!!) author who has just brought out a new book!
7. Raptitude is a live-life-better self-improvement self-awareness blog, a genre I normally avoid … except this one makes sense.
8. Hacker, Ninja, Hooker, Spy is guaranteed to inspire a laugh, plus when I realize how much I enjoy reading about Aussa’s crazy life I can believe others might want to read my own strange stories too.
9. I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog is funny and smart and always readable, and in between making me laugh Katherine quite often inspires me to think about things and wish, quite seriously, for a do-over so I can make the world – or at least myself – better.
10. Amayzing Graces offers a daily reminder of what it means to follow Christ in the small things of life.
11.  You’re Doing It Wrong is more good reading. Therese O’Neill bounces through life without, apparently, paying too much attention to accepted boundaries, and then she writes about what happens. It’s funny and quite often poignant.
12. Do Not Get Sick In The Sink Please inspires me to have sex in various interesting places and ways. (Note to self: Share with Himself.)
13. Mother Hen Diaries is warm, happy writing by a warm, happy woman, and reading her blog just makes me feel good. Plus it’s quite often funny. And she inspires me to take better care of my chickens.
14. One Cool Site is an invaluable resource for bloggers, with a vast collection of tips and suggestions. It’ll inspire you to do great things with your blog!
15. If all else fails…use a hammer makes me laugh, makes me kick my butt to get back to writing, and sometimes makes me homesick. And, yes, all that is inspiring!

And that is quite enough from me. I don’t have to list “three things that inspired me this week” because at least three of these bloggers posted something – and, as explained above, they all inspire me. That applies even to those who will ignore this award because they are hugely successful and don’t need my piddling endorsement. I’ve listed them because I want to share them with you, my loyal readers!

And, of course, there’s the friend I wrote about in my last post. She has inspired me to be a better person. You could read about her too, if you haven’t already done so.

A Day in the Life of a Wannabe Writer … or, NaNo Ate My Brain

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Yes, I am procrastinating. I am also, by writing down whatever random thoughts happen to free-associate within my wrinkled brain, getting those old creative juices flowing in preparation for doing some serious work on The Novel. (Note: wrinkles are widely regarded as desirable in a brain.)

It occurs to me that the novel-writing process is a bit like knitting a sweater. And when I say that I am referring very specifically to the sweater (aka “jersey”, because this happened in South Africa) I knitted attempted to knit when I was in seventh grade (aka Standard Five, because that’s what we called it 44 years ago … Good grief, how did that happen? That was in Historical Times, y’all!)

Back then, Home Economics (aka Domestic Science) was compulsory for all girls. We learned essential skills like how to bathe a baby, sew a layette, maintain a sewing machine, set a table for a formal dinner, and prepare the simpler elements of such a dinner.

I totally sucked at all of it. I desperately wanted to be with the boys, learning woodwork and car maintenance, but back in the early Seventies in South Africa that was absolutely not an option. (I need to explain this to Himself. He is regularly baffled by my inability to remember the significance of fluids vis-a-vis a vehicle engine. I must tell him that it’s Not My Fault! I wanted to learn that stuff, but the system was against me!)

So anyway, one of our projects was to knit a sweater jersey. I chose the prettiest shade of soft, pale pink wool, and my mother cast on for me (yeah, I know, but good parenting is about compromise), and at the end of the term in which we “learned to knit” she sent me to stay with my grandmother, who kept me knitting out on the stoep while we listened to the radio. For hour upon hour. Because there was a deadline, you see – I had to be able to wear the bloody thing in time for my first Domestic Science class of the next term.

This might have been what I was aiming for.  (Pic lifted from LL Bean website)

This might have been what I was aiming for.
(Pic lifted from LL Bean website)

I don’t remember how long the visit lasted, but I suspect my granny finally gave up and sent me home. Or maybe the month-long July (winter!) school vacation holiday ended. All I really remember is that after approximately seven years of knitting and unraveling and reknitting, it was the night before the Fashion Show, when all the girls in my Domestic Science class were to model their jerseys.

I had maybe six inches of used-to-be-pink-but-now-badly-needs-a-wash knitted matter … which my mother cast off and stitched into place around a wooden coat-hanger, while I made two very artistic and beautiful pompoms to attach below the hook.

Coat hanger cover

Like the one second from the bottom, only with grime and pompoms. (Pic found on Pinterest. Can you believe these are still a Thing???)

Hey – if I’d been allowed to make a birdhouse like the boys, I would totally have rocked it!

Anyway, that’s kind of how this whole NaNo thing has been going for me. I’m progressing stits and farts, as my dear Marmeee has been known to say in less demure moments. Take today.

First off, Himself woke at some non-existent hour and needed to read himself back to sleep. While he was doing this, various dogs needed out. Himself being contentedly oblivious to their need, I stumbled out of bed to take care of them. I don’t open my eyes when I do this, being convinced that as long as my eyes are shut I am still experiencing shut-eye regardless of what the rest of my body is doing, and can therefore hope to be reasonably functional when daylight strikes. Unfortunately, because my eyes were shut, I failed to notice that all the dogs had come back in while I sat waiting for them, shivering gently and planning Himself’s demise.

Eventually pried eyes open and wandered through the house, counting dogs. After counting to six three times I was able to believe that everyone was safe inside and not in any imminent danger of becoming a pupsicle, so I climbed back into bed, just as Himself turned his light off and snuggled, still contentedly, under the covers.

By now I was wide awake and too pissed to sleep, so I flipped open my laptop and churned out about 600 words of the most ghastly drivel, before deciding that “Henrietta Gurdy’s Lost and Found” was the single most boring, pointless book ever not to be written, and pulled a pillow over my face went back to sleep.

Woke late, and spent the day gnashing my teeth over my hopeless future as a writer-to-be-taken-seriously.

Decided to take myself and my laptop off to Barnes and Noble and immerse myself in latte fumes and works of brilliance and stay there until I had figured out what was wrong with the damn book and fixed it.

Went out to feed the chickens before leaving, and noticed that one hen was sick. Spent 25 minutes trying to catch her. Tottered into the house clutching her, faintly clucking, to my heaving bosom with one hand, while fending the dogs off with the other, just as Himself headed through the door to pick up something or other he found on Craigslist.

Said, “Screw this,” and dumped chicken inside large dog crate in bedroom, with food and water and blanket slung over the top. So fine, our bedroom now smells like a chicken. Read my lips: I Do Not Care!

Realized that, with Himself gone, (a) the house is quiet, and (b) there is no one here to comment on my decision to fuel my creative urge with the whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia I found in the freezer. (Come on, those tubs are small!) Plus it was getting dark. And it’s friggin’ cold. And anyway, somehow in the course of all the frothing and fuming I’d been doing – or maybe it was A Gift From The Chicken – I’d figured out what I wanted to do about Henrietta Gurdy. So I got myself all set up in a corner of the living room…

Aaand ... GO!

Aaand … GO!

… and I sat down and wrote this blog post.

I can always rely on Argos for help...

I can always rely on Argos for help…

And then Himself came home and started making weird beeping noises on his computer … and pretty soon the dogs will want to be fed.

I wonder whether I can count these words toward my NaNo tally? Because I have only 10,067 down, guys, and only 12 days in which to churn out the balance of the 50,000!

Oh well. At least I know how to fix the darn thing now. So there’s that.