Wednesday, 27 June 2007


Last night I met up with Herman for drinks, and today I am paying for my wild abandon and unwillingness to do the sensible thing and quit while I was ahead. Shouldn't have had that fourth glass of wine, but you know what, it was completely worth it. It's been years since he and I sat down and had a proper conversation, and in the interim I had forgotten what good friends we used to be. It was fabulous to catch up with him. We started our evening with drinks at the Long Acre on the edge of Covent Garden, filling each other in on our lives since we last spoke. We then went walking around Soho, taking in the sights and smells of London, and looking for a place to eat. We finally decided on Chinese at the Crispy Duck, or something to that effect; only because we happened to be in China Town at the time and couldn't wait any longer for our next drink. Our waitress spoke next to no English, and got quite rattled when Herman orderd the stuffed pig's intestines (no, he was being serious, I thought it was a joke at first too). She kept saying "only for chinese people" rather vehemently - I think she was trying to prevent a silly English ignoramus from ordering a Chinese deliacy and then bitching about his food when he realised what it was. Herman was unphased however - as he said, he's German, he'll eat anything. When they came they didn't look like the bulging, veiny melanoma type sausages I'd been expecting; instead they were cut up into bite size bits that looked a bit like deep fried pork crackling. Against my better judgement, I tried a piece, just to say that I've done it. It wasn't putrid but I wouldn't voluntarily eat it again - it tasted like a super-fatty pork sausage with a crispy skin. After the intestines, we made our way back to Leicester Square and popped into All Bar One for the proverbial "one more". For a change, it really was only one more, as I knew I'd have to leave at about 10:30pm to be home before 12 - something which I try to make a pre-requisite on nights out during the week. I ended up catching the 11:20pm train though, simply because we were having such fun and we procrastinated like mad on our way to the station. I don't feel too bad today actually, although I have this curious sensation that I am on a boat - everything is swaying ever so slightly. I thought this would wear off as the morning went on, but it seems I might have done some permanent damage - I wonder if that's possible? My sense of balance is off - it's like someone poured beer in my ear!

Monday, 25 June 2007

Down in the Grumps

I'm grumpy today. I can't shake the feeling of being really annoyed about nothing in particular. Oh, there are plenty of things to be irritated with, such as the freaking stupid weather. London is currently the same temperature as Cape Town, with the same weather conditions, including massive grey clouds and pissing rain. However, it is the middle of summer here, and the middle of winter in CT. Ok you smarmy gits reading this from SA - you can shut off your thoughts of I Told You So right about now. Yes, I know I chose to come to England, and I know it has shiteous weather as a general rule, but there is no law against grumbling about it incessantly! I am also annoyed with the fact that yet again it's rent time, so Shoes and I are broke. Because we both get paid weekly, we have to pay all our expenses over the course of two weeks. So the first two weeks of the month we always have money, and the last two weeks we don't. We've been living like this for a year, but we still can't get used to it - we need that monthly salary to balance things out. I am also annoyed with work. Nothing in particluar has happened. I'm actually having a fairly relaxed day. But I am gritting my teeth with the effort of being nice to everyone. I can't tell if the honeymoon period has worn off and I'm no longer quite as taken with my wonderful working environment as I was last month, or if it's just a case of the grumps and I may enjoy it again tommorrow. I suppose the fact that I've started applying for other jobs again and am not getting any responses might have something to do with this, but I just can't go through that rant again. While it's fine for blog therapy to be used in the process of growth and self-discovery, I have to admit that posting rant after rant on the same topic only serves to highlight a lack of growth, or gross incompetence, or both. Since I do think I've been growing as a person, I must therefore be grossly incompetent, and if that's the case then, in the words of Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.

At least there are two things to look forward to this week - although with the mood I'm in right now, I'm glowering at the thought of doing both of them. I expect I will feel differently when the time comes though, as they are both very cool events. The first is hooking up with an old friend from CT. Not just a random schoolfriend, but someone who I spent alot of time and teenage angst with and who featured quite prominently in my life for a couple of years in high school. Herman the German, as we called him back then (yes, he is German, it's not just some weird teenage thing) was in my group of friends in Std 7 when we first discovered booze, sex (well, not quite sex but kerfuffling anyway) and how to piss off the parentals. He was also, incidentally, my first real kiss. We were playing spin the bottle at his house when I was 14. I'd pecked another guy on the lips before, but this was the real deal. I remember we had to go in the kitchen by ourselves, as that was the rule - you either got to do a short 10 second kiss in front of everyone or a 2 minute kiss by yourselves in the kitchen, although I can't remember how it was decided what you did. What I do remember is that 14 year olds suck at kissing. Not just him, and not just me (although I'm pretty damn sure I sucked - how can you not when all you really know about a french kiss is that you're supposed to stick your tongue in someone's mouth), but all 14 year olds in general. In fact, high school guys in general suck at kissing. Maybe they have to find the love of a woman patient and tolerant enough of all the washing machine maneouvers to teach them before they get it down to an art. Anyway. So he was my first kiss - although I only told him that years later. We then went through a stage of going to church and youth group together - he became the bad-ass friend with the good heart who I wanted to save (Std 7 was a blip in the radar of my otherwise smooth Christian upbringing - up until the age of 17 I really was a model child). And then we matriculated, and I went off the rails with a rather bad seed of a boyfriend, and we lost touch. I've seen him intermittently in the years since high school. Although we've never actually arranged to go out and do something, we've chatted whenever we've bumped into each other - in the offices of OVC organising flights to come overseas; in my parents' driveway when, after roughly a two year absence, he dropped in to show me his new car; at Pulse where I ran into him and his best friend, my High School Obssession, while out on a chicks' night. I can't really say that I know him anymore. He's my friend, yes, but more by association than actual friendship efforts. Shoes isn't too keen on him, mainly because the few times that they've met, Herman was very intent on impressing whatever fad of the moment he was involved in on me, while Shoes stood there pretty much flatly ignored by him. Not that it really matters whether or not Shoes likes him, Shoes has made it quite clear that my old schoolfriends are just that: MY old schoolfriends. One of Shoes' worst nightmares involves me making him accompany me to an event where the guests consist primarily or entirely of my former classmates, and he spends the night making small talk. The way some people feel about heights, spiders, small spaces or peas (unless that's just me), that's how Shoes feels about small talk. You'd think it had the venom of a Cape Cobra. I know if this UK mini-reunion ever gets off the ground, I'm on my own. And actually, I think I prefer it that way. It means I can spend time flitting from one person to another, spending as long or as little time as I like catching up with each one, and not worrying that my boyfriend is going to a) die of boredom or b) get so uncomfortable and antsy that he heads for the bar one too many times, thereby cutting the evening short with a display of raucousness. And he's absolutely right - why should he be forced into these awkward conversations with people he will never see again?

So that's event number one. Number two is Snow Patrol - live at the O2 Arena in Greenwich this Thursay! Tickets for this event were sold out within minutes, as is the norm for any event in London, so I feel very lucky to be going. Usually, you have to know the exact time that tickets go on sale, and you have to be ready to type in your credit card info at the speed of light so you don't miss your place in the electronic queue. In this case though, the tickets came courtesy of Ebay, and a madly enthusiastic Mello, who wanted to go so badly she just decided to buy the two and give one to some lucky friend so she had company. Lucky friend, being me of course, is now pathetically grateful and indebted to her for life, because the tickets were not cheap. As far as gigs go, the list of bands, artists and theatre productions I want to see is endless. While I don't think any concert I go to will ever top my Robbie Williams Experience, Snow Patrol is fairly high up on my list of must-see bands, and I never would have known a thing about this gig if Mello hadn't been so resourceful.

It's taken me a good couple of hours to write this post, in between doing my work, and I'm quite pleased to say that while I'm no Britney Cheers (cringe, sorry, I just watched Bring It On: All or Nothing), I no longer feel that I can give Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau a run for their money either. The power of writing never ceases to amaze me.

Friday, 22 June 2007


He passed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am completely relieved - now I can actually have a cup of coffee without it making me shake ;-)

He said it was much, much harder than he had anticipated, and that it was the worst hour of his life. When you're finished, you have to push the End button and it totals your score straight away. He sat there for 10 minutes, too scared too push the button, even though he'd exhausted all his answers. I was wrong, the pass mark is 57%, and he got 62%. He is naturally over the moon, and I am so, so proud of him. He's put everything into this; it's only right that he gets rewarded for it.

So I am itching to go home now, and crack a bottle of wine in celebration with my wonderful, clever boyfriend who is halfway to achieving his dreams... start crossing fingers for next week!

15 Minutes To Go....

My stomach is tied in knots and I feel nauseous with nerves, and I'm not even doing anything! Today is the day Shoes writes his first A+ exam. In fact, it starts in just 15 minutes. I spoke to him this morning, and he's wisely left all his notes at home, deciding to stick by the recommendation that last minute cramming is actually a hindrance rather than a help. He's been working so hard the last month or so, and he is definitely prepared. The only thing he's worried about is that he didn't have the time to go through all the course updates in depth, so instead he's been doing practise exam papers and learning the updated material that way. The pass mark is 60%, and it really is going to come down to how much of the paper consists of updates, and how much of the core material.

He's more nervous for this that I've ever seen him. This Networking exam and the Operating Systems paper next week mark a turning point in his life. For years he's struggled to find his niche; struggled to find something that he's both passionate about and has a natural affinity for. Finally, when he did some soul searching and decided on IT a year ago, it was like - why did we never think of this before? It's a natural fit; he's enjoyed every moment of learning since then, and has concentrated on finally getting out of the restaurant industry with a driving intensity. It's so tough when your dreams boil down to two exam papers.

If he does fail either one, it's not the end for him by any means. He can rewrite them, but June is the last month that he can write on the 2003 course objectives, which is what he started his studies with. He just happens to be in that unlucky group of students who have their entire course overhauled during their study period. He would have to start the same course from scratch with the 2006 objectives - in other words, he can't just go study again and write in 2 weeks time; he'd have to study brand new stuff for the next 6 months to a year, and only then write the updated exams.

It means everything to him to pass, and therefore I am a sympathetic bag of churning nerves, because it means everything to me to see him happy and successful. I'm going to go now and get something to eat - although I can't actually see myself eating it - and I'll post again when its over. If you're reading, say a little prayer or cross your fingers now on his behalf - he needs all the good energy he can get.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Scarred Liver Tissue ;-)

I'm snatching a couple of minutes to scribble a quick post in between my considerably expanded list of tasks today. S is on holiday - in Turkey, no less... what's up with that; before this year I never ever thought about Turkey, now everyone and his mother are off on a quest for Turkish Delight. Anyway, S is on holiday, and I therefore have to look after my own team and also my Team Director, Fi. S is Fi's full time PA, as when you're as important a person as a Director, you don't share PA's with other lowly employees. My experiment this week is to determine whether this is actually necessary, or if it's just a snobby status thing. The fact that I'm posting at all suggests maybe organisation leaders are suffering from Pedestal Syndrome, but let me not be too caustic, lest I tempt the office gods to rain down meeting mayhem on me. I get enough of that with my team alone, I don't need to outrun another storm while trying to look organised and efficient for Fi. Luckily, she is very laid back and incredibly nice, so I don't anticpate too much furore.

This weekend was a cracker. The guys had Guys' Night Out on Friday night, and on Saturday it was the girls' turn. Yes, I know, it would have made more sense to do them on the same night, but as we weren't even planning a Girls' Night this weekend, when the idea came up on Friday it was unexpected and everyone was unprepared. So Friday was a lovely chilled night for Scarf and I. We came home, cracked a bottle of wine and got stuck into our new favourite series, What About Brian. It's fabulous - think a cross between the OC and Friends, but with more serious relationship issues and less teenage angst. The characters are all 20-somethings as opposed to fresh-faced 16 year olds, which I am enjoying much more. As much as I love the OC, it gets a bit melodramatic. I mean, how many times does Marissa have to run out of a room when faced with conflict - will she ever grow up enough to actually talk about the problem? I've just finished Season 1, having started watching backwards with 3 and 4, and now moving onto 1 and 2. A bit like Star Wars. But wait, I digress. So we caned four episodes in a row, stopping every now and then to pour more wine, make more popcorn or go off on a tangent girly chat. The great thing about two chicks watching a programme all about relationships is that inevitably you identify certain things in the show that relate to your own relationships, and of course each discovery has to be fully explored before you go on with the episode. So it took rather longer than expected to finish, but it was a really great night.

Shoes, Eyes and G-Days eventually arrived home at 5am. They then stayed up for another hour drinking whisky shots - shame the poor things, it's been so long since they had a good old-fashioned male bonding session that they couldn't quite let it go. I am just thankful that Shoes had the consideration to showet before coming to bed. They slept half the day away, and Scarf and I dutifully went and did the grocery shopping on Saturday morning.

We spent the afternoon just chilling out - I read a lot, because I simply can't put my book down at the moment. I'm reading Scar Tissue, the autobiography of Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. His life story is absolutely fascinating, especially because it is so far removed from the kind of upbringing I had. He smoked his first joint at age 11, took his first hit of cocaine at 12 and then basically went on a 13 year drug binge that culminated in him getting kicked out the band because he was so wacked on heroin he was barely able to get from A to B, let alone actually write songs and participate in the creative process. During this time his best friend and Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel died from an overdose, and he spent the night of friend's death shooting up everything he could get his hands on. Frightening, disturbing and very compelling stuff.

Scarf and I really weren't in the mood for going out come Saturday afternoon. Although we didn't drink heavily during our marathon tv session on Friday, we could feel that we'd had a few, and we just felt like chilling at home. However, the arrangements were made, and Mello and Mands were looking forward to it; and we knew once we got there we'd have a great time. We made it to Charing Cross by 6:15pm, and found our way to Motion Bar by Embankment station. It was quite a cool place, all wooden floors and furniture, quite pubby in atmosphere - and smoky enough to fit right in that genre - can't wait fot the no-smoking laws to come into effect at the end of this month! Happy Hour ended at 7pm, which was why we piched up so early. We figured we'd buy enough of a stash to keep us going for the rest of the night. We were just getting down to some serious chatter when we saw a group of guys at the bar, one wearing a magazine cutout of the Queen shaped into a crown on his head. I couldn't resist, I had to ask.... Why are you wearing the Queen on your head? Because, says Crazy Patriot, she's fucking great!!!!!! And then he proceeds to lead his buddies in a very loud, very enthusiastic rendition of God Save The Queen, fists over hearts and everything. First kooks of the night. Second kooks of the night belongs to Team Charades. Two guys walk up to us, and one starts miming the hand gesture for "movie", as you do in charades. Of course, we're instantly hooked, and we all go: Movie! So he holds up three fingers - Three Words! Points to finger number one - First Word! It took us just seconds to get the movie - The Lion King. And then we were off, bouncing movies between us for the next 10 minutes. I got the vote for the favourite of the night: One word - Blow. You can imagine the action, of course. It ran out of steam eventually - as fun as it was, we knew it was a pick-up, and we were there to party with our girls. I did congratulate them though, on the most original pick-up act - not even a line - that I'd ever seen, and I asked if it always worked. They said they couldn't really speak in terms of scoring, but it always got people's interest and they always had a few minutes of fun.

Then the music started and we hit the dancefloor. It was fabulous for the rest of the night - Mello was doing her usual dancing with all the hotties she could find, Scarf and I were running around joined at the hip like Siamese Twins - our regular double act. Then we get to the rather ironic part of the night. We decided Mello and Mands were very pissed. And we got on our high horse, as you only do when you're pissed, and appointed ourselves Guardians of the Group. This involved going to the bar to get the next round, and ordering two plain cokes which we passed off to Mello and Mands as vodka and cokes. Meanwhile we bought ourselves alcoholic beverages. Not very long after that, Scarf disppeared, and when Mands went to find her, she saw she wasn't in great shape, so took her outside for some air. And that's how one half of the Guardians of the Group found herself sitting on the pavement in front of the club, a spot of her sick in the gutter, while the bouncers organised us a cab and fetched her glasses of water! It was quite strange, as for a change I was fine, and we drank the same amount. But then, I suppose part of the fun in going out is you have to expect the unexpected.

Sunday we took the opportunity to do the chilling we'd wanted to do all weekend, and finished it off by watching the finale of Britain's Got Talent. I, like the rest of Great Britain, am now Paul Potts crazy; FYI he is the Carphone Warehouse employee who sings opera and who has captured the hearts of a nation, culminating in his winning the competition last night and going on to sing for the Queen at the Royal Variety Show. A heart-warming tale of the underdog getting his, and the cherry on the top is that he makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when he sings. :-)

Friday, 8 June 2007

Cinderella ain't got nothing on me!

I had a rather panicked e-mail this morning from Shoes' sister in response to yesterday's post. Black Velvet (so named because she is completely horse mad) said some very sweet things, including that we are her "relationship heroes." This isn't the first time she's said that to me, but it certainly makes me feel warm and tingly all over anyway (and perhaps ready to start cashing in on self-help books - move over Dr Phil!). She says she believes the following is the secret of our success, and I quote: you don't have unrealistic views of each other, and you don't put unrealistic demands on each other, which in my opinion is one of the things that can break a relationship. Alot of the time people tend to want their partners to fullfil every aspect of their lives and be everything to them, this to me is unrealistic, one person cannot fulfill every need in another person.

Interesting. And, in our case, very true. We've never looked to the other one to complete our happiness, rather just to add to a part of it. Perhaps this is why we find our relationship, for the most part, very easy. Earlier this year, we came face to face with our biggest hurdle when, for the first time in almost 7 years, we questioned whether or not we were meant to be together. It's something I had believed whole-heartedly since I'd met him. To wake up after so long and realise that not one, but both of you has doubts about whether you actually want this, is terrifying, to say the least. After some soul searching, honest conversations and a period of mourning the loss of the fairytale (yes kids, it took me 27 years to realise that soulmates don't exist and that it is possible to find happiness with more than one person on this earth), we found our way through and came out the other side with a sense of humour - to this day my most integral aspect to any relationship. If you can't laugh at it, you might kill it, and then where would you be?

But what Velvet said rings very true with me - There is nothing wrong with being content with what you have, if what you have works and makes you both happy. Girls grow up hearing stories of Cinderella and dream about finding their Prince Charming. Long ago, I cast aside that idea when I first got burned by love, and decided Princes don't exist - just decent guys who try their best. But looking at what I have with Shoes; there's nothing else I want or need in a man that I don't have in him. And if that's not a Prince Charming, then what is?

What this really boils down to is a suspicion that there's something else going on that I'm missing, simply because I'm just not usually this lucky. There are always people in life who have it easy - some are born into money, some are whip smart and carve out amazing careers with what seems like very little effort and some are incredibly talented. I'm probably never going to be wealthy (ok, wealthy - who's kidding who here; I suppose I might never pay off my credit card debt, that's more realistic), I'm never going to have a career that will put me in the history books and I don't have any outstanding talents that could make the world sit up and take notice. But I have this relationship that outshines everything else in my life with the grace and smoothness with which it flows. 90% of the time, at least. And if that's not having it easy, then I don't know what is..... Besides, one should never look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Can Happiness Be Luke-Warm?

Yesterday I said I was feeling sick and tired of life, in the sense that I need a holiday, but I that was not unhappy. I'm still not unhappy, but I'm taking the sick and tired thing one step further - I just can't bring myself to do any work today. Or any day this week actually - I've been fairly unproductive since Monday. I'm unmotivated. It's not because I don't enjoy my job; it's still fine as far as jobs go. I'd prefer to be sitting on a yacht in the Caribbean running my toes through my piles of stirling, but who wouldn't? It's just that I'm tired of working. I've had enough to being a slave to the system, and I'd like to stop. Now. Just grab my stuff and waltz out of here, on to a better future which involves sipping cocktails and expensive trips around the world.

I'm pleased to say that I am grown up enough to realise the futility of this. Shoes and I once discussed becoming a con artist team, like in the movies, and marrying a old geezer on his last legs for money (me, not him), but we were both too grossed out by the fact that I'd have to shag him. I mean, I guess if he wasn't grossed out by this, we would no longer be a couple. So, lucky me then. But since winning the lottery or getting randomly "discovered" (as you do these days) are not on the cards for me, I decided I needed something else to lift me out of the bleakness that is my daily routine. What better than to live vicariously through other people?

I've spent most of today trawling through blogs - or, to use the apparently correct term, blogosphere. Partly for my own amusement, and partly to see what everyone else is writing about. I suppose it's no wonder really that almost all personal blogs focus on love. Love, loss, lust, good sex, bad sex, mars vs venus and women scorned (this last from both male and female writers, and it makes for an enormous number of posts!). Also, nearly all posts are negative, in the sense that the writer is suffering some form of drama, difficulty or heartbreak due to love won or lost.

I felt quite alien while reading. Here I am, happy and secure in a relationship with the man I plan to marry, coming up for my seven year anniversary in September, yet almost no other bloggers out there seem to have got it right. Instead of inducing a revolting smugness in me, this has actually caused me to panic. What have I got that they haven't? Or, more precisely, what are they waiting for that I haven't found? Perhaps Shoes and I are too complacent. Maybe we shouldn't be so relaxed - maybe we should be lamenting over the differences between us and constantly pushing ourselves to be better, closer, more in synch with each other. Shouldn't we? Maybe our contentment is actually just laziness, and in 10 years we'll wake up and find we have nothing to talk about because we didn't put the effort in when we had the chance. Oh dear, my heart is pounding, I feel a dramatic swoon coming on. It's really worrying - we're not special, we don't do anything different, yet we're solid and dependable and strong where others are crumbling around us.... this makes me feel that we might be freaks!!!!!!

Perhaps I will go home and pick a fight with him. It might be fake, but at least I would have a witty, acid-tongued post at my fingertips for tomorrow. Ok, jokes aside though, it is a bit weird how calmly we move through our relationship. I'm rather melodramatic in other areas of my life, but my relationship is one area where I hate surprises (unless they're non-threatening and involve presents), and I am definitely anti-conflict. That's not to say we don't have it out when we need to - we do, and we shout and slam doors when necessary, but it rarely happens, and most of the time we're just content in our own little bubble with our own inside jokes and coupley ways (I know, sorry, you can put the barf bag away now). Why though? Why is it so easy for us and so hard for some others? Either we're a fantastic fit, or we're not looking deep enough and missing the heights to which others are aspiring. Hmmm, food for thought. If only there was actually a right answer.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Sunshower Sessions

On my lunch break today I went for a sunshower. This is the latest in artificial tanning - something that I am usually vehemently against, due to an unresearched but probably well-founded fear of sunbeds. Let's face it, if the sun can give you skin cancer, you're probably not wise to fling yourself into a close, powerfully lit environment that emulates the sun. I've been on a sunbed twice before this - both times when Shoes and I were working with Mini-Me and G at a pub in our first 6 months here. Our manager had this old sunbed in the garage that she never used, and Mini-Me (who is about as obssessed with tanning as it's possible to be) decided to install it in her lounge, so she could tan while listening to her favourite TV shows. Yes, I did mean to say listening - due to the set-up of the lounge and the lack of space, she couldn't move the couch that blocked the TV, and so had to imagine the antics of Monica, Chandler and the rest of the gang as she listened to the dialogue. This particular sunbed was WAY past it's sell-by date, and probably a serious fire hazard as well as being a health risk. Nevertheless, it is tempting, when you're about to go home on your annual holiday from what is the middle of English winter, to gloss over the glaring glow that blinds unsuspecting passers-by whenever you get your pins out. And so, Mini-Me put the has-been sunbed to excellent use, going very brown very quickly. Depending on how cynical you are, you could say this was either because the sunbed was working very well or very badly. I didn't notice much difference on myself, but then, she has always tanned three times faster than me and retained it three times longer.

The sunshower is like a suped up sunbed. Instead of lying down, you stand up in a cubicle surrounded by sets of very strong, very hot lights. Shoes' sister regularly goes in the tan can at her gym, and I think this is the same thing. It has two distinct advantages over the sunbed: one - it is much, much cooler, as you don't lie sweltering in a pool of your own sweat while the lights do their job; instead, you stand upright with plenty of space around your body, and cool moist air circulates so that you have a constant breeze to counter the heat. Two - due to the intensity, you only have to '"shower" for 6 minutes at a time. Today was my fourth treatment out of six, and I'm now a nice golden brown colour. I resorted to this desperate measure after the gang came back from Turkey and I was the lone milky bar button in a pack of milk chocolates. Jealousy makes you careless!

I have good news on the Italy front. Shoes now has his British driver's license, our flights to Venice are booked and we have made our reservation at the b&b in Lake Garda. We are staying at the Gabbione Malescine, recommended by my parents who went there 2 years ago. I was browsing a book shop after the sunshower today, and found a guide to Italy, which I had a quick scan through..... it looks absolutely stunning there. The weather in September should be mild, but the mountains are permanently snow capped and the alpine lake an icy azure blue. It really looks like a postcard setting. I'm starting to get antsy about going on holiday - with summer here, all everyone at work can talk about is the trip they have booked, or the holiday they have just returned from. Not having had a real holiday myself in 2 years is starting grate on me, and I'm feeling generally sick and tired of life. Not that I'm unhappy - I'm definitely not; but I feel the need to leave life by the wayside for a little bit and step into someone else's paradise. Only 2 more months to go though, as we're planning to buy our tickets to Portugal this month, and we'd leave second weekend of August. I'm still worried about my passport - it should arrive latest end of July, but you know how these things go, and there's only two weeks from when it should arrive to when we leave. I'm not going to dwell on that now though; I have to believe I have had enough miserable luck this year already and that this time I'm going to have the chance to share the experience.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

As Time Goes By

It's 25 degrees in London today, although it definitely feels hotter. I've just come back from basking in the sun and testing the tanning factor on the grass next to the Thames. Aaah, this is the life! It is SO good to have summer finally arrive. Yesterday was pretty much the same, if a bit hotter, and we've been making the most of it by spending every second we can outside - even when we're in the house, we're sitting on our balcony - the pic on the left was taken yesterday; our first 2007 summer sunset.

Winter on this side of the pond seems to go on forever. It's the complete opposite of Cape Town's endless summer, where it starts getting warmish in September and the cold only arrives late April (well, that was before the crazy climate changes anyway). Case in point: the longest day of the year in Britain is 22nd June. Which is 20 days away, but summer has only just arrived! Scientists (guesstimaters) predicted that this summer will be the hottest that Britain has yet seen. They also say that each upcoming winter will be the coldest yet, and that coupled with the generally unpredicatable fall of the weather here, it's no wonder nobody believes anything the weather people have to say.

It's been a good week all round really. Everyone's spirits have lifted with the departure of the semi-permanent grey skies, and invitations to summer braais, drinks by the Thames and parties of all manner are flooding in, both from friends on facebook and for my team at work. S and I will hopefully start planning a summer party for our team soon, and of course, my 10 year High School Reunion is this year, and I said I'd be happy to instigate the planning of the London leg, since there are so many of us over here. I should get cracking soon though - summer here is intense, hot and very fleeting! Phillygirl has been hard at work on our school reunion booklet, which I have helped her put together (mostly by assisting with nagging the slackers to get their entries in on time) over the last month or so. She came up with the idea to have everyone write a short paragraph and send in an updated picture, so she could put into a booklet and send it to everyone around the time of the reunion. I think it's awesome, and judging by some of the entries we've already received, is going to be a very worthwhile read.

We all have those people in school who we're still curious about. Maybe it's the popular girl who seemed to have everything, or the brilliant rugby player who looked set to make a professional career out of his sport, or the troublemaker who was regularly suspended and who looked as if they were heading with a one way ticket to nowhere. No matter who it is, there are some people that you are interested to hear about - how did their lives turn out in the end? Are they who you remember? Who's married, divorced, got kids or living the jet-setting life? Who's dead (answer to that: no-one we know yet, but there are some e-mails going unanswered)? It takes you back to what seems like just yesterday, when you were marching for a final time down the school halls after valedictory; when you were on the cusp of adulthood, your whole lives ahead of you - the world was your oyster. We're hardly past it now, but still, it seems quite incredible that we've been out of school for a decade already. And I'm sure there are many of my former classmates who would join me in thinking, what on earth have I done with my life since then? I guess at age 18, when you're wide-eyed and fresh-faced and you really haven't got a clue which direction life is going to take you, you think that 10 years down the line you really will have it altogether. I know for myself, I thought I'd be married with a house by now, a stable and fulfilling career, and maybe even thoughts of a kid on the way. Real life's not quite like that - I'm not married, although I have met and am in a relationship with the man I will marry; I don't own a house and will more than likely only get around to that in the next couple of years; I certainly can't imagine having a child right now and my career is, well, let's just say I'm working and it's good for now - it's hardly the kind of thing that's going to get me into Time Magazine.

But there are other things I have instead. I've spent years cultivating friendships with a group of friends who are as close to me as my own family; I've found the love of my life and am in no rush to make it official; I'm living in London and am busy travelling the world and using the time to get as much career experience in different fields as possible, and I'm living life to the full here with a bunch of people who I wouldn't ever have wanted to experience this without. And I've made mistakes - 10 years worth of mistakes and heartbreak and regrets along with the good times, which have all made me into who I am today. And I'm pretty proud of that person, so I can say that although I'm not where I expected to be in terms what I've done, I'm further than I ever expected to get in terms of who I am. And I know that really, that's far more important - I have all the time in the world (minus 10 years!) to catch up with the rest.

This school reunion business is really nostalgic and making me feel quite reflective. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone to hear how they feel about life. I've met up with a few old school friends here already, and it was with great relief that I found none of them had it all figured out either. It seems like everyone is still a work in progress, and I guess the idea you have when you're 20 of having it all together by 30 is a naive one, because if you're so settled that you've stopped growing and dreaming and reaching, your life is not one to inspire envy. Having it all together doesn't mean that much today - doing the things that inspire you to greater heights and that give you irreplaceable memories - that's the real fabric of life. I could do with making more money, but couldn't we all!

As for those people who are totally sorted and pitch up at the reunion with their smug "look how I got it right" attitudes... be careful, the rest of us "works in progress" will eat you alive!