Blog Like Nobody's Reading

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(Hahaha, because in my case, it's true!)


As National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) draws to a close today, I am following today's NaBloPoMo prompt to say what it was about blogging every day that I have been struggling with the most. For me, it was DEFINITELY the whole "quantity over quality" thing. That to me has even been MORE challenging than making the time to blog every day, or finding topics to write about.


Since I write for barely-a-living, I take it extremely seriously, no matter WHERE I do it. Sometimes, in fact, I take it so seriously, that I end up writing nothing at all. (That old perfectionist’s excuse that non-perfectionists find so hard to swallow.) Just as Gustave Flaubert so famously once described his writing process, I’ve also been known to spend “all morning putting in a comma and all afternoon taking it out”. My nitpicking can sometimes be crippling, making the task of even posting to my blog so daunting, I often just leave it altogether instead.


But I really wanted to participate in NaBloPoMo this year. With serious work-related writing deadlines hurtling towards me, I’ve had several legitimate excuses NOT to do it. I knew that I wouldn’t have time to sit here and carefully craft posts of epic proportions. (I would have loved to, but I wisely decided to rather save the internal squabbling over commas for my work writing, otherwise I’d still be stuck around day 2, which would have totally defeated the purpose of this exercise, no?)


This kind of free-styling scribbling that I’ve forced myself to do here has been liberating. Difficult, sure! (Hard to teach an old dog new tricks, after all.) But it definitely has been freeing – and more than a little refreshing - to just WRITE for a change.


Of course, if I were to go back and reread what I have posted on here this past month, I would probably cringe and then just delete the whole batch in one fell swoop. But I’m going to leave it up and proudly pin this badge to this here blog.


I don’t know if I’m going to be keeping up this daily blog revival. Probably not. But hopefully I will be blogging more than just twice a year in future.




I have never forgiven the French Huguenots for not wielding more influence and forcing their language on the natives when they settled in D’Afrique du Sud. Maybe the heat was shocking to their systems (which, hello, but what then was their excuse in so much of equally hot Afrique where the natives were forced to become native French-speakers?), but they seemed to not be bothered when the Dutch took over the Mother Tongue department and allowed the creation of Afrikaans.

Forward to me at age 14, when I heard that I had successfully passed my audition and that I was going to be attending the performing arts high school in Pretoria. The thing that thrilled me the second most was that I would finally be able to take French as a subject – never mind the fact that I was barely able to speak English then.

Unfortunately, my plans were soon foiled when one of the teachers advised my parents that, since I was starting school almost in the middle of the school year, I should rather take German, as it would be easier for a native Afrikaans speaker to catch up on.

Grateful to at least be in the school of my dreams, I heeded the advice and took German instead. Perhaps (and more likely) it was because I had no interest in it, but I did NOT find it easy to catch up on at all. Whenever I walked by the French class, I looked in with longing at all the lucky students as they “ecoute et répète” the flowery aural delights that so effortlessly flowed from the young, beret-wearing teacher’s mouth.  

I finally had my chance in college, when we had to take a third language for a year. My choice was French, of course. It was basic, conversational French, but I totally immersed myself in it. The result is that I can now, almost 20 years later, say: “Pardon me, I can’t speak French. Do you speak English, please?” in French, with a perfect French accent.

I can do the same thing in Egyptian Arabic, German, Italian and Spanish. It’s a nifty and impressive party trick and especially with the Arabic, I managed to score a few free cab rides in D.C.

Last year, during a trip to Taiwan, I had the amazing privilege to stay with a host family in Taichung City for about a week and a half. The mother was unable to speak any English, and I was unable to speak any Mandarin (except for “good day”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, “South Africa” - accompanied by a gesture of pointing towards myself - and enthusiastically shouting - because there’s really no other way to express it - “I love Taiwan!”). She would speak in Mandarin to her daughters, who sometimes translated, when it was necessary for me to be privy to what was being said. One day, during one of the non-translated conversations, I suddenly piped up and said: “Yes! I KNOW!” And then I added something that was completely relevant to the discussion. 

I was met by incredulous stares and stunned silence. It almost seemed as if I had learned to understand snippets of Mandarin, here and there. But it wasn’t true comprehension, because honestly, I know NO other Mandarin except for those four things stated above. So it was more like somehow – possibly via osmosis - catching the basic gist of what they were talking about. Of course, they were far more sceptical about my continual denials that no, I REALLY could not understand Mandarin.

And sadly, I don’t think I would ever be able to.

I’m not done romancing French though. I desperately want to wrap my brain and tongue around that language and read and even possibly, one day, write in it. 

For now, though, I have to focus on whipping L'Anglais into proper submission. 


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This is a cheating post. I'm uninspired, tired and still ill.

But at least I'm posting. Quantity over quality.

All for NaNoBloPoMo.

(I don't think this is quite what they had in mind, but there ya go! I can't mess this up on Day 28.)

There once was a little girl from Canada. 

A special spirit, she was always amazing to those who knew and loved her, but then one day, after getting a wonderful and noble idea and - more importantly - acting on it, she unintentionally began drawing attention to herself until the rest of the world recognised her awesomeness as well. 

In fact, her story is featured in a newspaper today in Nanaimo, the Canadian town where she resides with her mom and her older (and equally special and gifted) sister. 

I'm writing about this today, because I am so proud and lucky to count her incredibly creative and talented mom among my "real life" friends. I haven't seen this kick-arse little girl since she was a wee babe, but time and distance apart haven't changed how deeply this remarkable trio of girls have burrowed into my heart. 

And this? Is just the cusp of the amazing things that are in store for all of them. 
On a Friday afternoon in mid-March, as I was getting my car washed (which is probably why it began pouring at that moment, but never mind...), who would show up next to me but a major South African celebrity: Haas Das* himself, the legendary Riaan Cruywagen

Riaan Cruywagen.jpg

For my international imaginary readers, 
he is one of South Africa's most veteran and famous television news anchors and a total legend in his own right. (Americans, Riaan is basically our version of the late, great Peter Jennings and Tim Brokow.) 

Despite a disguise of sunglasses and a cap (so, sadly, no sighting of the infamous, "alleged" toupee), he was almost immediately accosted by another fan, so, since he was already disturbed by another fan and didn't bite the guy's head off, I eventually worked up the courage to also go over, shyly say hi and ask for a photo op. 

He was incredibly gracious and - rather surprisingly - deadly funny. (Which is why the resulting picture of the two of us is of me all puffed cheeks and squinty-eyed from cracking up!) I told him that I'm a journalist as well ("but only in online media, so really, it's No Big Deal") and he said: "Well, what a coincidence, so am I!" 

No shit, Sherlock.

He was SO lovely to me. Chatted to me for about 30 whole minutes. Of course, he didn't have much of a choice. I kept on incessantly quizzing him (if he hadn't believed that I was a journo, he believed me by the end of it!) and he couldn't really escape, since he was essentially held hostage there until they had finished cleaning his car. 

The interroga... conversation was about all sorts of things, from what it was like to live in Washington, D.C. almost a decade apart (he was foreign correspondent there from '81-'84), to journalism, his first big scoop in D.C. (Hinckley's attempted assassination of Reagan) BlackBerry phones, iPods and cars. It totally made my day! 

And from then on, whenever he came onto the TV and said: "Goeienaand, welkom by die nuus om 7 op SABC 2", (Translated: Good evening, welcome to the news at 7 on SABC 2), I pretended (in a Nurse Betty kind of way) that he was speaking JUST TO ME. Because we’re now BFF and therefore thisclose.

But I'm rehashing this story tonight, because earlier this evening, exactly 37 years (to the day) of anchoring his first news broadcast, Riaan retired. To great fanfare and sadness. 

I sat in front of the television, absolutely rapt throughout his entire final broadcast, waiting to see if he would get emotional during his last goodnight. 

And? I ENDED UP MISSING IT. Right at the crucial moment, the satellite decoder somehow decided that RIGHT THEN WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT TIME TO RESET ITSELF and so it first had to warm up and rescan all the channels. Meaning that I missed his very last goodbye. 

Utterly bereft, and going to campaign the SABC to put the final broadcast on YouTube. Or something. 

*Haas Das was a fluffy rabbit puppet who read the news out of animal land to kiddies when I was little. Riaan voiced Haas Das, even before he assumed that same position as human (or robot, if you care to believe some for his continual excellence and unchanged hair) anchorman. 

I just feel genuinely lucky to have crossed paths with him. 

Enjoy the break, ye legend! 

And on the 25th day, she was ill.

When asked what is wrong, I would ordinarily be all tough and answer dismissively and airily (or as airily as one is able to be when half of one’s airways are obstructed), using the rasp in my voice to lend the toughness just that bit of a rockstar edge: “Oh, it’s just a cold.”

But this? This monster? Isn’t just a cold.

Oh, no. After careful consultation of my trusty and beloved, dog-eared edition of the Time/Life A-Z Medical Encyclopaedia, I have come to the alarming conclusion that I have… the Man Flu.

Why that particular strain, you ask?  And how does this Man Flu differ from your run-of-the-mill cold and flu?

At first glance, all the symptoms are identical: scratchy throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing with such force that you can blow your neighbour's hair back from where you are curled up in a pathetic bundle in bed, feeling lousy, feverish, and achy. But in the trusty tome, it says that when you are feeling particularly SORRY for yourself on top of all of that, and act to your loved ones as if you are on the brink of death? It’s definitely the Man Flu.

Yes, it IS mostly just a male affliction. But in VERY rare instances, such as this, even the strongest women sometimes get weak enough to be overcome with it too. It’s horribly shameful, which is why I would never have admitted to it unless I WASN’T DYING AND FEELING ALL CONFESSIONAL DUE TO THE FACT THAT I'M DYING.


Was that my last breath? It sure felt like it should've been. Can't see anything, 'cause it blew the glasses right off my face. 

Updated to say: No, I also have NO idea why and how the font managed to change colour halfway through this blog post. (Yeah, got my glasses back.) Unless... I have given it my highly contagious and fatal form of Man Flu too!?

The Axe Factor

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And suddenly, there he is. Simon Cowell, in the flesh and looking JUST as he does on TV. (It’s remarkable, that uncanny resemblance people on TV or in the movies have to their on-camera countenances when you see them in real life, innit?) Complete with his trademark, fitted T-shirt.

“And what’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Red,” I stammer.

“And what will you be singing for us today, Red?” By now I should’ve caught on that there is clearly something suspicious about this whole scenario, but unawares, I bravely push on.

“BlackBird/Bye Bye BlackBird.”

“Okay, let’s hear it. Good luck.”

I sing. Flawlessly. My voice oddly sounds JUST like that of Sara Gazarek, the amazing jazz songstress whose rendition of that very song happens to be one of my favourite tracks ever.

Since I don’t sound like me at all, it’s no wonder then that he lets me sing it the whole way through.

Afterwards, he looks towards the other judges, but I’m only waiting for HIS opinion. I think Randy Jackson is there too, which slightly niggles at me, since that wouldn’t be right.

Finally, Simon speaks again, about to hand down his career-altering verdict.

… And then I wake up from the dream.

Could it be time to axe all that obsessive X Factor viewing from my TV watching schedule?

P.S. Okay, okay, I didn’t actually wake up before he told me. He said no. But he DID say that he loved Sara’s voice, but just didn't think the "time was quite right for me" (never tell a procrastinator THAT, Si!) and so I left feeling elated. And then I woke up for realz.

P.P.S. It was really the dream I had last night and not just another of my incredibly amateurish writing tricks, honestly. 

After almost a year of not blogging – which is a long stretch, even for the self-proclaimed World’s Laziest Blogger - those two of you imaginary readers who are still hanging around (the third one defected at around July this year) may have noticed that there has been a slight spike in blogging activity on this here blog lately. 

Okay, more like a major surge; like the kind you get when you jumpstart a heart that has flat-lined.

It’s not that I’ve been possessed by more inspiration or that I suddenly have more time than usual. And no, I’ve not been abducted and my productivity been taken over by a bunch of hardworking aliens. There is in fact a rather simple explanation for this newfound enthusiasm. Scared that I would jinx myself, and not sure that I would be able to stick to it, I have merely been holding out on you. However, now that I’m on day 23, I think it is relatively safe for me to finally come clean and tell you who/what is to blame for this blogging over-enthusiasm. Why it has been all about quantity and not quality around here lately. (Hahahaha, as if it has EVER been about quality!) 

This. That’s right. NaBloPoMo (or, in English: National Blog Posting Month). November might be a time for Thanksgiving to the Americans, but to writers the world over, it has also been the most feared and despised month, since it is also NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), in which the participants accept the downright insane challenge to try and write a novel in the 30 days during November. NaBloPoMo is the somewhat easier alternative for those among us who might not be quite dedicated enough for a novel.

In all the years it has been in existence, I have always wanted to give NaBloPoMo a shot, but always (conveniently?) forgot and only remembered a week or two too late. No such luck this year. Don’t quite know what came over me, but here I am, three weeks in.

Let’s see if I can keep at it for the remaining week, shall we?

No pressure… 

As promised last night, here's the story: 

It was a mid-winter's night when I was about 14 years old. The Pretoria Show (sort of like the US equivalent of a State Fair combined with a trade show) which ran for a couple of weeks every year, was in full swing.

I got to hang out there almost every night during that time, because my mom was working for a sewing machine company and running their stall at the show. The show hours were brutally long – from early morning until about 10 at night – so I had no choice but to tag along, help out and sometimes also to explore the enormous show grounds on my own. There were several massive exhibition halls, tents, fields (where equestrian shows, pop concerts and other outdoorsy type things were held, with pavilions for spectators) and of course, the large amusement park with the roller coasters, merry-go-rounds and all the other rides.

The sprawling show grounds are located in the western part of the city. Right around that same time, girls my age had been disappearing in that very area of town; vanishing without a trace. Sometime after this particular night, the man who had been identified as the kidnapper shot himself and his lover (who happened to be the aunt of one of the kidnapped girls) while being chased by police. None of the kidnapped girls were ever seen again, nor were any remains ever found to give their distraught families closure.

Back to the Pretoria Show: so on that particular night, I must’ve been wandering around again on my own for ages. Eventually, I saw a poster advertising some sort of magic show. Intrigued (and probably somewhat chilled too from being outside), I decided to enter the theatre and see what it was about.

I don’t remember many details surrounding this particular show, but I do remember that I found it dead funny. The magician/hypnotist’s routine included the usual shtick of randomly pulling rabbits from hats, and then eventually, pulling people from the audience and hypnotising them. He made grown men crow like roosters and dignified ladies act like little girls. The audience (myself included) was screaming with laughter.

When the show ended, I followed the rest of the audience out into the now-almost deserted show grounds. I still remember telling the woman next to me that the show must’ve run overtime, because all the other stalls and halls seemed to have already been closed down for the evening. I was a tiny bit alarmed that my parents would possibly be worried, but was soon distracted from that thought when I heard the sound of a helicopter and saw a blindingly bright search light.

I looked up. It was a yellow South African Police helicopter and it was flying low across the grounds, sweeping the search light back and forth. We shielded our faces as the chopper flew over us, kicking up a gust of wind and a swirl of dust.

Moving towards the gates, we rounded a corner and suddenly I saw a few hundred police officers. And police dogs! The dog lover in me squealed with delight: “Oh, look at all those gorgeous Alsations!” I remember telling the lady who was still walking next to me.

I wondered aloud what on earth was going on, what they were all doing there, when suddenly, from a distance, I glimpsed someone vaguely familiar standing in the middle of this massive crowd of cops and canines. When we moved closer, the figures became increasingly clearer and even more familiar. The recognition finally dawned and I told the woman next to me, with some amazement and not a bit of excitement: “That’s my parents! And oh… wait, is my mom CRYING?”

It turns out that all those cops (almost every single one who was employed by the Pretoria City Police Department at that time) and that helicopter? They had been searching for ME! As I had suspected when we left the theatre, the magic show had indeed run overtime… by about an hour! So knowing that I fit the profile of the kidnapped girls, my frantic parents immediately called for help when I didn’t appear at closing time, as I had dutifully done every single night until then.

Even though I had done nothing wrong and it wasn’t actually my fault, I was in so so SO much trouble, it wasn’t even funny. Not with the cops, understand – they were just happy that the case of one “missing girl” had for once just been a misunderstanding, and that it had a happy outcome. I could’ve handled trouble with the cops, I think. No, it was far worse: I was in seriously hot water with my parents.

They were certainly NOT happy. Especially not my dad. He was FURIOUS. In fact, technically, I believe I am probably still grounded. That’s what “you'll NEVER EVER EVERRR leave your room EVER AGAIN, young lady, except for school and church” means, after all, right?

So, that then concludes the true story of how a whole city’s entire police force was once looking for me. 



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This is a total cheating post, since I'm seriously on deadline (done with the financial article I told you about yesterday - phew! - but now I've been unleashed upon the subject of network deployment in South Africa...), so instead, I'm going to pretend to be a TV preview and tell you, in a hopefully enticing manner, what I'll be blogging about tomorrow. Okay? Okay. (And if you're not okay with it... tough luck!)  

When you read it, pretend that it's narrated by that American guy with the somewhat raspy, deep voice who does all the voice-overs for the movie previews and who makes everything - from an almost uneventful, predictable, cheesy rom-com to a thriller -  sound so brilliantly dramatic. 

"Coming SOOOOOON to a URL near youuuuuuuuuu." (Remember to roll the r's.) "A blogger reminisces about the night that a few hundred cops from a South African city's police department were looking for her..." 

Curious? You'd better be! Otherwise that dude is so firrrrrrrrrred! 

is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)


  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Terra: YES! Wait... you didn't think that I would be this possessed to post for NO REASON, did ya???... [go]
  • Terra.Shield : OH! ... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: Be a bit like serving drinks at AA?... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: I personally think it is a mindset that has been cultivated over the years, and one, if not stemmed,... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Ms. Crazy Cat Lady Pants!!! Squeeeee! Sooo good to see you! (I thought NO ONE was bothering to read ... [go]
  • Ms. Pants : Kitties don't get enough credit sometimes. (All times, if you ask me, but I'm a Crazy Cat Lady.)... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Hey Tamara! I know, right?? That is a tough act to follow indeed. I adored that dentist. He used to ... [go]
  • Tamara Tipton : Well, I am not sure how any dentist could live up to that standard! LOL! I hope your appointment was... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: I'm really really glad that I'm not the only one, Po! Sometimes I drive myself mad with all the what... [go]
  • Po : Those questions run through my heads for various times in my life too, that is for sure!... [go]
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