NaNo, NaNo, it’s off to write I go…

It’s that time of year again.  It’s been that time of year for about 12 days actually and so far it’s going…not bad.

I never like to be too gushy or overly-optimistic when it comes to writing.  She’s a bit of a bitch sometimes!

It’s like when you read those celebrity interviews in ‘Hello’ magazine and couples are going on and on about how in love they are and how their souls are entwined forever to soar among the stars… blah, blah, blah.

We all know it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be back on the front pages looking daggers at each other under headlines like ‘Love Rat Horror’ or ‘How Could I Have Ever Thought I Loved That Twat’….

So I won’t say that me and my NaNo project are soulmates or even BFFs but we’re doing okay.  It’s early days.  The honeymoon period, if you will.

Last year for NaNoWriMo I wrote ‘Horizon’ which (after a lot of editing and some very patient proofreaders) became the first novella in my First Person Singular series on Amazon…

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(it still is…feel free to go and buy it if you don’t believe me.  No really, go and buy it!)

This time it’s the second one in the series and since I’m up to 21,357 words I thought I’d ‘announce’ the title here…

It’s called (insert your own drum roll)…..

#apocalypse

Ta – as they say – dah, right?

‘Horizon’ was an ‘easy’ book to write because the voice is very similar to my own in many ways.

I’ve heard that lots of writers do that, start with the familiar and then go further afield.  A bit like serial killers…

Anyway.

This time the voice is very much not my own and that made for some sticky moments in the first few days.  And for ‘sticky moments’ read ‘bit of a meltdown’.

There was a strong feeling of ‘can I do this?’ mixed in with some ‘was Horizon just a fluke?’ and a side order of  ‘why am I even doing this to myself?’.

Then a couple of things happened.

I dug out my paperback copy of ‘Horizon’ and realised I have done it.

Two of my short plays got performed in London on the same night.

And I found the voice.

(I know that’s three things but no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition)

Since then I’ve been off and running.  There’s still those moments of staring into space and times when I can easily find 101 other things to distract me (writing a blog for instance) but it’s coming along.

We’ll get there, me and her.

My aim is to do the 50,000 before we head off to Cape Town at the end of the month and then leave it to sit in a drawer over Christmas and New Year.  In January I’ll read it through and edit the arse off it so I can get it published and move on to the last one in the series before we leave Africa.

Did I tell you we’re leaving Africa next summer?

That’s for another blog.

Also, we finally got our car back…with one last little #Africa moment.

That’s also for another blog.

So the next time I want to distract myself I’ll fill you in on The Other News, but for now it’s back to my Regular Programming…how many words will I get done today, I wonder.

And how many of them will be any good.

(don’t answer that)

More shit I don’t make up.

As you know, we’ve been having some car issues of late.

If you haven’t read my last blog ‘one big moan’ then I suggest you go do that and get filled in on the history….I’ll wait….

Okay?

So the other day Hubby took the car in to get the seat finally fixed.  After much emailing and ringing and general shoutyness we were finally assured that it would be fixed.  It was exciting to think we could finally kiss goodbye to the useless garage and start focusing our hatred and frustration on some other aspect of living in Joburg.

It was not to be.

One his way there…can you guess what happened?

Yup, he got rear-ended again.  There’s nothing like sitting, waiting at the traffic lights to encourage some complete numpty to go into the back of you.

Ah irony, thy name is South Africa.

Luckily this time the damage wasn’t as bad and he was able to drive the car the rest of the way to the garage.  He asked about the hire car they had promised to give us to make up for being so incredibly crap at customer service – they didn’t have it.  They couldn’t get it.  They didn’t even want to give him a lift home.

Customer. Service. To misquote one of my favourite movies ‘those words don’t mean what you think they mean’.

Sigh.

So Hubby told them he was going to go and report the accident and when he got back they would give him a lift home…or else glaring would ensue.

Off he went to the wrong police station, then the right police station, then back to the garage.  Still no lift home.  He glared and threatened to stage a sit in on the floor of the lobby which suddenly made car keys and a driver appear as if by magic.

In lighter news…want to hear some other shit I haven’t made up?  I was in the queue at the toy store and a female customer standing next to me asked to see what I was buying…it went a bit like this…

Her:  What that?

Me: It’s a kind of football game thingy. (Note my smooth use of words, you can tell I’m a writer, innit)

Her: What is?  How do it?

Me: Um, well you have to just kick the bubbles like they’re footballs.

Her: They pop!?

Me: No, see you have to wear the special socks.

Her: No pop.

Me: No pop.

Her: Nah!  Crazy!  Is crazy!  You crazy!

…It was at this point that I noticed she had a monkey on her head.

Yes, you read that sentence correctly.  A real, live, tiny monkey.  On her head.  Clinging to her hair and looking at me with big eyes.

And it was wearing a teeny tiny nappy.

But, according to her,  I’m the crazy one.

Happy Friday fellow crazy people.

 

 

 

Just one big moan…

I could blog about my birthday resolutions.  I could blog about how epic it was to fly in a hot air balloon.  I could blog about how many animal arses we saw on safari.

But I’ve decided to have a good moan about cars and computers, so if you came to this blog expecting sunshine, unicorns and tree-hugging then you are soooooo in the wrong place.  Sorry/not sorry.

I was telling a friend on Facebook about that fact that it’s the shitty stress in life that gives me good blog fodder.  She said that she likes to read my blog but is always sympathetic to the fact that I’ve gone through the stress in the first place.  I guess it would be amazingly tedious if I just wrote stuff like ‘was a bit cold in the night and needed to put socks on’ or ‘every surface in house is very dusty but I’m using them to write rude messages to Hubby and Man/Boy on’….

Woo-Freaking-Hoo!

Luckily I live in Africa and own electrical equipment and a car so I’ll never be short of something to blog about.

Car:

We had a bit of an accident a couple of months ago.  I may have blogged about it but I’m too senile and lazy to check so just read on anyway.  The car was taken away to be fixed and they had it for over a month.  We got the car back.  While driving it home Hubby noticed that the drivers seat was set back a bit far but he assumed a stupidly tall mechanic had fiddled with it.  When he got home we realised the latch/catch/doofer to adjust the seat was broken.  We took the car back and pointed this out.  They said they’d fix it.  They kept the car for 2 days with no communication to us and only after me ringing every half hour from 8am-11am did they admit that the whole frame of the seat is bent.  I pointed out that this was a big thing to miss in the month they had the car.  They changed the subject.  I asked what happens now and they told me they’d order the part and let me know.  That was over a month ago.  I rang on Monday and they said they’d go and see if the part had arrived yet.  I resisted pointing out that they should be keeping an eye on when the part gets in to avoid having me ring them up in full-on mad shouty mode more than was necessary.  They said the part is not in and they will find out what’s going on and ring me back.

No prizes for guessing whether or not they’ve rung me back – it’s now Thursday.

Sigh.

Computer:

My laptop is a basic, cheap model because I’m Scottish.  It kept asking me to install updates and then moaning when I had no room for it to do so.  I decided to take it to my local computer store.

(just a quick aside – as someone who uses the computer every day for writing and job searching it is no small thing to hand it over to someone and walk away.  I would hand over Man/Boy and worry less!)

I asked them about the update.  They said it doesn’t have the space, and other jargon that I didn’t understand.  I looked at them.  They looked at me.  I found a nicer way to say ‘whatever, don’t care, just make it so it stops telling me to update’.  They sold me a teeny tiny memory card that they said would give me all the space I could ever want and more.  They promised to sort out the annoying update whinge-fest.  I went home and tried to find something to do that wasn’t cleaning the house.  I went back to get the computer and they said it’s fine.  I came home and it wasn’t.  I turned it on and it asked me to do an update that it had no space for.  I stomped back to the shop.  They said they’d need to move everything to the teeny card and then do updates.  I found a slightly nicer way to say ‘I thought that’s what you’d done last time you bunch of twits’.  They used jargon on me until I wanted to chew my own foot off to escape.  I left.  I came back.  They told me they couldn’t get the stuff back off the teeny card and would have to restore factory settings and start again.  I didn’t cry/scream/swear/tazer anyone.  Even when they said ‘we want you to leave here happy’….oh buddy, that ship had so sailed!  I stomped home.  I came back.  They gave me my laptop.  I stomped home.  My keyboard was all wrong.  I stomped back.  They fixed it.  I stomped home and started working on my new/old laptop.  I don’t like it.  It is empty and looks wrong.  On the plus side they installed a basic Windows package that never expires.  On the negative side…just about everything else.

The best bit happened as I was leaving the shop for the last time.  The guy said ‘I also disabled the updates’.

Literally the only thing I wanted them to do in the first place was stop the update message hassling me.  Why the….never mind.

3 days, R1,000 and about 900 calories-worth of stomping later…

Sigh.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Both these things have happened.

Both these things were annoying, stressful and a huge pain in my arse.

Both these things didn’t* result in me killing anyone or even swearing (loudly).

I feel I’m growing as a person.  Although, I’ve still not got the car seat fixed so there’s always time to channel my inner serial killer.

 

*I know the grammar is appalling but I wanted to keep the ‘both these things’ going, so just suck it up people.

 

Priceless…

Man/Boy came home from school today and asked me if his left eye looked any different than his right.

Me – Well, it looks a little bit red.  What happened?

Him – I can’t tell you because you’ll just laugh.

Me – No I won’t.  I promise.  What happened?  Did someone smack you in the face?

Him – Sort of.

Me – …

Him – I was walking into Spanish class today when a rubber chicken hit me in the eye.

yup, I laughed so hard I almost peed myself.

Adulting/Parenting Sympathy Distribution Level = Zero.

Urge to Share Online ASAP = 12 Gazillion.

A rubber chicken.

To the eye.

It doesn’t get better than that, a lifetime of piss-take material right there.

My family Ladies and Gentlemen.  Never Knowingly Normal.

….you’re welcome.

 

 

Don’t get, won’t get.

We recently babysat a friend’s dog, Lola.

When I was a kid I thought I’d love to have a dog, all that unconditional love and companionship.  Then I realised that real dogs aren’t like Disney.  They shit and pee, they drool and let their private parts hang out, they vomit and eat their own/others shit…then they slobber all over your face.

Ewwww!

So growing up we had a succession of goldfish, a short-lived allergy-inducing guinea pig and a cat.  I could cope with a cat mainly because they spend 99% of their lives ignoring you and tend to keep the Eww Factor to an acceptable level.

(a bit like me)

So I was daunted about looking after a dog.  Turns out I didn’t need to be as they’re actually pretty easy-going, especially Lola.  She’s the kind of dog who doesn’t bark, wags her tail when you say hi/look at her and generally likes to sit in the sun and chill out.

As her owner said, she’s a lot like a cat.

So if I had to have a dog, I’d have Lola.

But even so, I’d rather not.

We’ve only just got Man/Boy trained to make food, drink water and go to the toilet without full-on supervision and a handy fire extinguisher.  I did not like having to get up early for walkies, and I’m a morning person.

I like walking but dogs are like golf – they spoil a perfectly good walk.  They run off where they damn well please and do their business here, there and everywhere.  I got waaay closer to flora and fauna than I ever have before in my attempts to pick up her shite.

Also, I’m not a big fan of the Guilt-Trip Eyes.  I like to shovel my food in my face without it being a spectator sport thank you.  If I want to feel guilty I can always talk to my Catholic relatives….or tell my nearly-teen that I’m too tired to read him a bedtime story…I’ve got that covered.

And Lola is a good-looking dog.  This meant that all the kids in our compound wanted to pat her.  I decided to dodge a possible lawsuit and say that she doesn’t like to be petted.  This didn’t stop the kids following me on almost every walk.

Pied Piper I’m not…apparently growling at kids just makes them laugh…

And finally, there’s our lifestyle.  It’s true that I work from home and Lola did develop a bit of a twitch when I tried to walk her for the 4th time in a day but that’s not the point.  We move.  A lot.

We were in Ghana for 4 years, been in South Africa for 3 and next…who knows.  Doesn’t seem quite fair to ship an animal around the world with us – especially if it turns out we only have a tiny flat to live in.

Or if there’s a chance that doggo will end up on the local menu…!

So no dog for us.  It was nice to have Lola for a few days and we’d happily welcome her back but, just like grandchildren, we’re glad that we get to hand her back to her family afterwards.

In the meantime, we’ll make do with our fish – Slash, Axel and Duff.  Slash zips around like a loony, Axel eats all the food and Duff just floats back and forth looking like a complete pothead.

That’s much more my speed.

But for all the dog lovers out there here’s a picture of Lola looking, well, epic.

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Africa, my Africa…

This was the lantern provided inside my safari tent.

It is attached tightly to the tent pole with a plastic tie so it can’t be removed or stolen.

It is solar-powered.

…and that pretty much sums up my experience of living in Africa.

(sigh)

 

Just one more waaafer thin game drive.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will be rolling your eyes and sighing.

I don’t blame you.  When a good 50% of the animal kingdom has made it clear time and time again that you’re pretty shit at all things nature, you’d think I’d take the hint.

Nope.

We recently decided it’s time to move on from South Africa at the end of this school year and so I’m determined to get some quality wildlife photos before we go.  Not just the bum and pile of poo shots that I’ve got up until now.  I want animals looking like they just stepped out of the latest Lion King movie.  Or going past on a unicycle.  Anything that’s not just tails, arses and roundabouts made of elephant dung.

Please?

I looked back at my other game drive blogs and remembered a few ‘highlights’ of our previous attempts.  We did get chased by an elephant once when we were doing a self-drive.  That made for some good close-ups – and some stained underwear.  The rest of the time my photos have been mainly of bushes behind which animals are lurking or empty vistas where they were happily posing until I got out my camera.

Apparently, last time we were there the closest we got to wildlife was when we were stalked by pissed-off baboons by our chalet.  This time we won’t even be in a chalet, we’ll be in a safari tent.  The same kind of tent that I was glad not to be staying in last year because it was so cold and windy.  A fact I’d obviously forgotten when I agreed to sleep in a tent.  On the plus side, it’s a tent with an actual bed – on the other hand, it’s a tent with no bathroom attached and it’s been a good 8+ years since I stayed the night anywhere that involved me having to get dressed and wear a head torch to go for a piss in the night.

Oh boy, oh boy, am I not looking forward to that…

So hopefully my next blog will be full of beautiful photos of majestic SA wildlife and not a bunch of dusty bums and a list of things we saw that consists of moving bush, thing without horns, something big and saggy, something small and furtive, not-a-log and not-a-Bambi.

Yeah…don’t hold your breath.

I’m also not looking forward to the joy of going for 3 long, bumpy hours without a trip to the toilet.  At my age, this is like playing Russian roulette with very soggy bullets.

But it wouldn’t feel right to leave SA without trying one more time to have a ‘proper’ game drive experience, and we might get lucky…

So tomorrow we head through to Pilanesburg again for the weekend and at 5:30am on Saturday we’ll head off for our last ever African game drive.

Just don’t tell the wildlife…