Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm alive

This is just a little note to say that I have every intention of carrying on with this blog, but the last few weeks have been insanely busy - if all goes well I'll probably have something up in a few days.

So, just to keep the ball rolling: if you were to pick a theme song to play whenever you walked into the room, what would it be? I gave into my non-goth goth side and picked Nightwish: Chest of Wonders. I know it's a bit hectic but I figured it's adventurous (total going on a quest music), dramatic and totally written for guitar hero!

So what would yours be?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

do I LOOK like a people person?

I was at the gym the other night (the only thing keeping me sane right now) for the first time in a few days as I was pretty sick last weekend and i was enjoying myself. It was quite weird, I had expected it to be horrible, but evidently some degree of fitness had stuck and I was doing more than usual without feeling too tired.

I go at roughly the same time most days and so I've got to know the people who do the same. I don't know too much about them except the names I've allocated to them (The BFFs, old headband guy, rugby guy who looks like a certain cricket player but not, cool dreadlocks guy, the bodybuilder, the entourage, momkins and Tompkins and so on) but as a rule we don't try to get to know each other. I wear my headphones in the universal signal of "Leave me alone!" and most people get the message. I have nursing some new shiny blisters on my palms from the rowing machine so I went off to the circuit to finish up when along came little yellow t-shirt guy. He went straight to the middle of the circuit while I was about a third of the way through, which annoyed me but I ignored it.

Then he put WAAAAY too many weights on a machine, strained to lift the bar and let them clank back down- so loudly that I heard it clearly over my music. He repeated this several times until I looked up in confusion. He looked back and smiled and I smiled noncommittally and looked away. He started thumping and clanging weights again and I looked up in annoyance to find him staring again. I tried a sympathetic smile in the hope that it would make him go away. Instead he started talking to me.

I shrugged- the universal signal for "You moron I have headphones in and can't hear you and would gesticulate wildly but I'm currently moving weights around in a smooth and controlled manner as is says on the instruction board!" but he just kept talking. I shrugged again. Finally I pulled out one of the earphones and said
"how's gym going for you today?"

You have GOT to be kidding me.

Finally after raising an eyebrow which made him repeat himself twice I decided on the polite route in the hope that it would make him leave me alone.
"It's OK, I'm having a good session thanks." he carried on chattering away and I left one ear open as if I was listening when actually I was just sending exasperated looks to Momkins who happened to be in the area, she nodded sympathetically and shrugged in the "rather you than me" gesture. Eventually I caught something vaguely interesting and asked him to repeat himself.

"I said I'm gymming to hard and you aren't working out hard enough!"
"Look at me, I'm all sweaty, you aren't!" I sighed.
"Well I'm wearing black, it's not exactly going to show up, now is it?" I didn't mention that his oh-so clingy polyester outfit was totally not breathable and that I was wearing a Nike magic-dry shirt, but I figured why extend a conversation when I was already adjusting my routine around him as he was still on his first machine and still unable to move the small scrap-yard's worth of weights he'd chosen. He smiles
"I'll bear that in mind... hmmm... wear dark colours..."

I moved to the weird oblique sit-up-but-not station (I'm sure it has a name) and the unthinkable happened. He asked me what I did and all about random stuff. When he asked if I cut up dead frogs I told him that I worked on lizards, which lead to him telling me all about how awesome anacondas are. I'm sure buddy. Moving on. When he asked what year I said "PhD" as shortly as possible. this guy was really not taking a hint!
"Oh! What's your thesis on?"
"Oh really?" yes really, it's only the third time I've mentioned them. "Wow, not many girls like lizards."
"Well I do, and my friends are learning to like them too." at this he nodded seriously
"I bet you have a lot of friends!"
And no folks, don't think of this as me, with the sarcasm behind every second sentence - he was being sincere. I freaked out.

Well, freaked out in that I shrugged, replaced my earphones and turned to face the other way which is usual on that machine-thingy, so I wasn't being entirely rude).

Does anyone have any bright ideas on how I can get people to leave me alone at the gym? they would be greatly appreciated (ad not showering aLa Shield ads is totally out of the question)!

Friday, February 13, 2009

No dinosaurs in Tahiti!

So nothing very exciting happened today, except that Luke's supervisor sent us a weird song about start Trek (neither of us have ever watched it I don't think), and I almost ended up organising 60 undergrads into writing their test because Luke was late and the lecturer had disappeared. Fortunately shortly after I started giving instructions the lecturer arrived.

Oh, and the IT guy here gave me a copy f the old DOS-based wolf3D! We used to play it when I was a little kid and its bringing back SO many memories! I still get lot regularly in the maze and get stuck in doorways when I aim a little bit too far left, but the graphics are terrible, the music is cheesy and the bad guys scream like girls when you kill them and I loved it!

I just did a dinosaur quiz with Luke, it was surprisingly difficult, and I got 50%, which is pretty embarrassing considering I used to spend my free time gluing chunks of fossil together and chatting to a paleontologist...

Now I have to matk 60 tree worksheets...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


It's been a tough week so far, mostly because of the weekend that I had! First, several friends and most of my family have birthdays in February, so besides being totally broke, I get exhausted from all the socialising.

On Saturday I worked at the vet, went straight through to the videostore and worked (where I ended up eating chocolate cake with the guy who wanted to get me fired about a year ago) and then changed in the kitchen in the back of the shop and ended up sharing makeup tips with Joey while we did our makeup in the mirror over the cockroaches scuttling around in the sink (I'll work there, but I will never eat nything that ocmes out of that kitchen!).

From there I went through to La's birthday party which was awesme, over the years I've got to know most of her friends, some of them have even become friends of mine independently of her. Lara herself had come dwn with flu that day and was merrily mixing flu meds with alcohol so that by 8pm she was running around, introducing me to ev eryone (I think there was one person I actually hadn't met before) and saying "This is Helen, she's doing a DOCTORATE! And she's divine! Isn't she divine? She's divine!"

By the time they managed to stop her and escape, she would turn to me and say "You are divine. I'm so glad you're here! So glad! I love it that yore here! Oh Bob, have you met Helen? She's divine!" and so on. It was really funny!

Once she'd had comething to eat she settled down and told us all about her first week at her new job and all about how exciting and scary and totally overwhelming but awesome it is. I'm really happy that she's found somewhere to work where she's obviously being challenged but also supported and she's learning tons! She's also an incredible stoyteller, and I think that all our years as friends has trained her to see the melodrama in every situation which made for hilarious stories!

So La's getting all grown up, Joey's divorce is being finalised on Friday, another girl just got engaged and someone else is 8 weeks pregnant. Meanwhile I'm still studying, living at home and nowhere near any of the landmarks I had expected to be reaching by now.

And so life is a little bit upside-down, I'm not sure where I am,or where I want to be. And while I have the most fantastic friends and mentors, bosses who are supremely understanding, funding (!) and pretty much rather a lot to be thankful for, I was still relieved to get home early this afternoon, crawl in to bed, and listen to the rain outside while reading about bizarre experiments which made me feel a little bit sick.

And very glad the the carnival-culture isn't very prevalent in South africa. I guess we had enough horrors in day-to-day life without paying to see more! And by the time we'd started figuring ourselves out the rest of the (Western) world had somewhat passed that stage!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Secondhand stealing, another iPod game

I had an exciting weekend, in that it was hellishly busy, to a point of my passing out last night and forgetting that I had schedules a breakfast this morning and then I got stuck in traffic after already leaving late and I ended up sprinting through Braamfontein and arriving 45 minutes late... so I figured rather than handling everything that has happened in the last 72 hours, I would do some secondhand stealing from here:

It's basically the usual bunch of headings, and you put your iPod on shuffle and see what happens:

My Life Soundtrack
Opening Credits: Someday, Nickelback
Waking Up: Who knew, Pink (I didn't even know I had it!)
First Day at School: Let me in, REM (followed by Let Me Out about a year later?)
Falling in Love: A Complicated Song, Weird Al
Losing Virginity: The World Below: Lifehouse
Fight Song: Sick of Me, Green Day
Breaking Up: Passive, a Perfect Circle
Matric farewell / Prom: If Looks Could Kill, Camera Obscura (it's catchy, I could totally dance to it! "tell me where it all went wrong... tell me I can make it better...")
Life: Falling Down, Travis (more of a walking through the rain kind of song).
Mental Breakdown: Over it, A (totally perfect! I can see myself freaking out to this!)
Driving: On the Way, I'm not sure of the artist, but it's from the Oasis Lounge album
Flashback: The Importance of Being Idle, Oasis (that's just rude!)
Getting Back Together: Home, Just Jinger
Wedding: Hold Her Down, Toad the Wet Sprocket (that's pretty much my attitude to weddings, it's unlikely that'll happen unless I'm under serious duress!)
Birth of Child: Sublime, Supreme Beings of Leisure (I'm assuming I'll be drugged up for the birth?)
Final Battle: Forgotten Years, Midnight Oil
Death Scene: What do you need? Goo Goo Dolls
End Credits: Bruised Water, Chicane

And the next song was Life's Gonna Suck, by Dennis Leary, just thought I'd throw that out there!

Friday, February 06, 2009

So are you?

So the other day one of my mother's friends saw me, but didn't say hi because I was talking to someone else at the time (and I probably wouldnt recognise her anyway). She called my mom to say she had seen me (why is this news? do people think I'm on house arrest?). At some stage during their lively discussion about me, my 'style' (for lack of a better word) came up.

She asked "Is she a goth?" my mother was a bit surprised and said asked why she would think so. Apparently, black eyeliner and blue hair makes me a goth. I was probably also wearing my super-cool paperclip earrings (I like them!) at the time. It really doesn't bother me much, except that my mother came home and relayed the conversation to me.

"I said, of course not! You're just enjoying being young!" I smiled and nodded
"Ok then!"
After a rather awkward silence she asked "So, are you a goth?"

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Scary body-builders

It's been a bad day and I don't want to talk about it, so I pulled out a draft from yesterday and decided to finish that instead.

So I have always been a little bit morbidly fascinated by body-builders. I spent a year working next door to a gym when I was around 18 or so, and I used to watch the crazy body-builders go in and out of the building, clutching those giant bottles of protein-shake powder and wearing clothes that barely fit.

The guy who ran the shop next to where I worked was one such body-builder. I will call him Tim, because I can... Anyway Tim was absolutely gigantic, and he actually looked kid of chubby with giant arm muscles, because his stomach muscles were so big that under a t-shirt it looked kind of like a beer-gut (with associated moobs). I will always remember one day when I was chatting to him and I said something along the lines of "Oh, so you're so tough then?" and poked him in the 'moob' to emphasise my point. I almost broke my finger, he was as solid as a brick wall.

Over time I got quite fond of Tim and his tiny wife (body-building men, in my experience, tend to go for scrawny women who don't work out...) and their little girl, who was one of the cutest kids ever, despite the ADD and associated issues. Tim and I would go for tea occasionally, when my shift was over or if I went to the gym on days I wasn't working, and I remember watching him holding his teacup and wondering if he was going to squeeze it too hard and accidentally break it. I learned later that there were many drawbacks to his life-style (and he wasn't on steroids at all, those have a whole exciting bundle of consequences), such as that he battled to find clothes that were big enough, and that he got up two or three times a night to eat so that he wouldn't break down any of his muscle. And by eat, I mean a 6-egg omelette type meal.

Either way he was a lovely guy and I got very close to his whole family (although I had to stop spending time with his daughter when she had nightmares at 2am and called for me instead of her mom, three year-olds just aren't rational!) and I was sad when the shop I was working at relocated and I was moved to a different branch.

Anyway that was a good 5 years ago and I hadn't thought about them in a while, until I went to gym two nights ago to see a body-builder and entourage training. It consisted of the chief guy, who was massive, but obviously restricted his training to the gym because he was even more pasty-white than me, his tiny wife/girlfriend, and three or four wannabe-body-builders who watched his every move with awe. as it happened I was on the machine where you have to point your toes repeatedly (people spend hours developing these contraptions, so it must do SOMETHING) so I was able to watch their group.

I came to a few conclusions, some of which I had reached before, but had forgotten and revisited:

  1. I don't understand the appeal of the 'sport' I find the participants hideous. Tim used to play videos of the contests and I would sit and shudder. And while I find the men incredibly unattractive, I think the women are even worse! We actually had a client at the videostore, years ago, who we all thought was a very in-shape guy. then joey went to the gym to find 'him' in the change-room, wearing a bikini.
  2. As much as I don't get it, having too much muscle to get through a doorway really does it for some people. looking back I don't think I've ever seen a body-builder without an entourage and/or a significant other, even the ones on all kinds of steroids who were always moody and difficult (the steroids in the on-weeks make them go nuts, then they get frustrated in the off-weeks and that makes them cranky).
  3. At least with all that muscle they'd probably be worse at yoga than me!

Anyway the main guy would lift something probably about the same weight as a small car, then his wife/girlfriend would rush forward and mop the sweat off his face. Not while he was holding the weights though, AFTER he's put them down. It would have been perfectly simple for her to hand hm the towel, but no... Although even just holding the towel would be disgusting, he was sweating a LOT.

Can anyone explain the appeal to me? I just don't get it!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Lately I have come to the conclusion that I have an addictive personality. Thank heavens I figured that one out without having learned the hard way on anything dangerous (should I say thank heavens that gambling was illegal in South Africa for so long that it didn't play any role in my developing psyche? Who knows...)

It all started with guitar hero (no, I am NOT addicted) when I mentioned to Chief Goth that it was a good thing that I didn't have it at home because I would do nothing else. She said that t wasn't a problem for her because she really doesn't have an addictive personality. I noticed that by the end of a guitar-her evening I would always stay for 'just one more song' until I was at least an hour late to be getting home and my family would be nervous wrecks sitting at home.

Than last week Luke, Laura and I ended up playing on a WII at a new coffee place on campus and I realised that as much as I had very little desire to play 10 pin bowling, by the end of it I would have stayed there for the rest of the day quite happily.

Last week Luke showed me how to win at Hearts, which was a lot of fun, with both of us yelling at the computer a lot. A few days later I decided to watch a DVD before bed and ended up playing hearts instead For HOURS. Although apparently I'm not the first to fall victim to the evil game.

So I guess I will just have to stop myself from ever buying any for of video games, and I will have to exercise restraint on my laptop. My desktop is safe because after a nasty run of solitaire addiction I deleted all the games (as well as some mildly essential operating files, oops) about a year ago!