Survival of the (Un)Fittest

I survived last night’s personal training with Steve.  Barely!  I am stiff in places I’ve never had places before.  I am grateful that we only did upper body last night, because if we’d done legs as well, my gait would have surely rivalled that of John Wayne.

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Food wise, I still not hungry. And I’m still craving cake. And freshly brewed rooibos tea – which I’d make if I could lift the kettle!  On Thursday evening I shall detach my legs from the rest of my body and send them to the gym on their own.

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Seriously, if I don’t have a banging hot body after the ten sessions I’ve paid for, I’m going to eat an entire New York baked cheesecake in a single sitting.

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Direction = Up!

I watched an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles on Sunday at Harriet’s place.  It was about a cult called The Church of the Unlocked Mind.  I’ve been told that watching TV is not conducive to my recovery, but I didn’t think forty-five minutes would do much harm. Well, I had nightmares the entire night about being held captive- and attempted to be brainwashed by an inescapable sect that I was quite exhausted when I woke up on Monday morning.  I decided that reading is a more suitable pastime.

Today marks my one-month anniversary since I was discharged from the hospital.  For the most part, I’m feeling better and I’ve been likening myself to a Phoenix.  I even had Elena do my nails in the theme.

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I’ve shed many tears the past thirty days, but I remember in the second Harry Potter book that Professor Dumbledore told Harry that Phoenix tears having healing properties.  My own tears have contributed to my rise from the ashes; granted, crying isn’t the only thing that’s been a catalyst to the improvement of my mental health, I’ve also changed my ringtone to Katy Perry’s Rise.  But that too isn’t all:  It’s a combination of factors – the medication, going to sleep with the fowls and people respecting my boundaries.  At some stage I will make a concerted effort to get back in the gym, but not to become obsessed like I did the first time I did my nut.

I’ve also reached a point of tossing my hands in the air with a screw-this-I’m-over-itattitude if things beyond my control start to get me down.  Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes a week, sometimes a month and sometimes it takes literal years, but it happens.  When it happens, it is like something within me awakens and I have an urgent need to do something that will enhance my self-esteem or better me in some way.  I think that makes me human?

One thing that is a clear indicator of me being on the mend is that I’m starting to get excited about things again and I’m planning.  I love planning – whether it’s a meal, an outing, a party or a trip.  One of my colleagues has a milestone birthday coming up, in August, and I’m already thinking of something special that can be done to surprise her.  I’m also making photobooth props so that everyone in attendance can join in the fun and I’ll make a nice collage for her as a keepsake.  No, I’m not letting the cat out the bag here, because I know she doesn’t read my blog.

There are also plans in the pipeline to attend a bachelor auction at the end of May (I won’t be bidding on any would-be suitors though because the tickets are a bit steep), but it’s for a good cause and it’s a proper formal affair, and a night out on the town with my girl friends will do me good.  Shayla-Rae and Rowena have both hauled out formal dresses for me to try on, so I’m spoilt for choice.  I forgot home much fun playing dress-up can be.  I also realize that I look amazing in the colour green.  Maybe there’ll be more opportunities to wear evening dresses down the line, who knows?

In short, if I look back at where I am now vs where I was a month ago, renewal is clear and that’s good news.  One step at a time…

Creative Writing: It was a Dark and Stormy Night

As I cranked up my 1988 Compaq SLT/286 laptop to write a piece for this week’s writing theme, “It was a dark and stormy night…” I gave a wide, lazy yawn. “Really! A dark and stormy night? How original!”  I’m 39 years old.  I’ve seen enough B-Grade horror movies to know that the only time anything happens to some horny teenagers is during a dark and stormy night – as if their hormones are only supercharged during such climatic weather occurrences.  Watching Jason Voorhees pick off teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake for the umpteenth time wasn’t doing much for my mood either, but it was way better than having to listen to Bella cruelly drone on and on about her pending nuptials, as if James leaving me two months ago wasn’t pain enough.

Getting up to make myself a cup of soothing Earl Grey, my routine when writing, I was reminded whilst filling the kettle that I really needed to get the kitchen tap fixed; the constant drip-drip-ddrrriiippp was driving me crazy.  My life was arduous to say the least, without still having to deal with Chinese water torture on top of it. I also needed to get myself a brand new Apple Mac when I got the refund on the honeymoon flight tickets.  I didn’t care how hard James had hunted to find that vintage laptop; it had to go!  I was keeping the Louboutins though.  My ancient feline companion, Gerry (short for Geriatric) purred in agreement as if reading my thoughts.

Teenage screams bounced off the walls as Friday the 13th continued to play to nobody in particular while I washed my hands repeatedly under ice-cold water; rubbing, no, scrubbing between my fingers, under my nails, rinsing and repeating the process until the kettle finally whistled.  I’d never had any kind of obsessive compulsion before, but ever since James left me standing in a church full of witnesses, I needed to wash my hands. Damn him! And damn her!  That hourglass shaped redhead with the emerald green eyes.  Jessica I think he said her name was. Or was it Janice?  Or Juliet? No!  It was Julietta – “like the car, just spelt differently”.  I supposed it was apt considering the first place he’d decided to have sex with her was in the backseat of a car – the very Lincoln Continental that had taken me to the church that fateful afternoon.

At last the laptop had booted up, and I opened the internal word-processor to type my tale of stereotypical mayhem when I heard thunder in the distance.  Odd for this time of the year, but still a welcome sign of much needed rain.  The wind also started to howl round the corners.  Clearly the Universe was trying to get me in the mood. Clicking on the keyboard, I began my story: It was a dark and stormy night…

Another clap of thunder hit, and the antique telephone rang at the same time.  Sighing, I rose to pick it up.

“Hello,” I said, trying not to sound exasperated, given the lateness of the hour, “Kim speaking.” The connection was crackly, no doubt a result of the looming storm. “Hello, I can’t hear you, the line is bad. Hello?  Hellooo?” Click. Silence. Shrugging my shoulders and giving Gerry an ear-scratching before I returned to the couch, the phone jangled again. “Hello, Kim speaking.  I hope you can hear me now,“ I said less-than-friendly.

“You shouldn’t be watching horror movies on dark, stormy nights, MISS Winters.” The voice on the other side was raspy, breathless and mechanical, almost like someone was using a device to alter their speech, or like Jason’s underneath his hockey mask just before he slashed another oversexed adolescent.

“Who is this?” I asked, failing abysmally to hide the terror in my voice. “Answer me, damnit!” Click. Silence again.

The phone chimed a third time, and as I picked up with “Listen here, you creep…” lighting struck and the house was plunged into velvet darkness, save for the few green words on my aged laptop’s screen:  It was a dark and stormy night.

Blood pumping through my veins, heartbeat audible in my ears, I picked up the phone receiver and listened; the alien voice was gone, but I could hear the wind in the background.  The caller was obviously mobile.  Could he be close? I needed to call for help, but I didn’t want to hang up.  The landline was my only way of knowing where, to some extent, the caller was.  I reached for my handbag, worse than a witch’s wardrobe at the best of times and located my cellphone.  The battery was dead. Sugar!  Ever since James had chosen her above me, I tore myself apart wondering what I could have done differently.  Losing the sailor’s mouth seemed like a good start, although in this situation, four letter words would be more appropriate.

Glass shattered, but with the inclement weather, and disorientating darkness, I couldn’t be sure where.  My adrenalin was in overdrive, my fight response stronger than my flight one, but granted, I didn’t know who I was up against.

Thankfully the Glock I’d inherited from my dad was in its trusty hiding place.  I opened the bread box as quietly as I could, locating the cold weapon, “I’ve got a gun, and I’m not scared to use it!” I shouted, hoping that my mock-bravado would do something to give my assailant second thoughts.

“Did you honestly think I wouldn’t bring a weapon of my own?” I heard a familiar voice call out.  I spun round in the eerie blackness, stepping on Gerry’s tail.  He screeched and disappeared with a hiss.  “Miss Winters, come out, come out wherever you are…”

If I could just get to the basement cellar, I could lock the door from the inside and climb through the window and get help.  I had to, or I quite possibly would end up dead. And I didn’t want to die on the eve of a new decade.

Trying not to breathe heavily for fear of being caught, I crawled towards the cellar door.  Yanking it open, I rushed inside, but the lock jammed as I turned the key.  “Oh, Miss Winters…Kimmy…I just want to play…”

“Leave me alone,” I screamed, “I will shoot you if I must!”

My nostrils filled with the smell of mildew as I took the rickety wooden steps with trepidation.  One gave way and I tumbled to the bottom, hitting my head on the concrete floor. “So this is how I die, I thought to myself, “in a dark basement, a lonely unpublished wannabe author with unworn Louboutins.” I blacked out, swallowed by the cold darkness.

The next time I saw the light, I was being strapped to a stretcher by Basil and Adrian, two paramedics I worked with.

“Trust Kimberley Winters to make an entrance that would wreck her own surprise party and bash her head in,” laughed my best friend and colleague, Susan. “Do you have any idea how much planning went into getting everyone down here?  Good think I swapped out your gun, or you’d have shot our dear old amateur drama student (and Pastor), Harold. Well, it’s past midnight, so Happy Birthday, Hun.  We’ll have you blow out your candles at the hospital.”

And that is how my forties started, not a word of a lie – with a concussion and the fanfare of ambulance sirens and flashing red lights.

 

 

 

 

 

A-Maze-Ing Adventure

I’m still reeling from Frances’s expected-yet-still-unexpected departure to the Other Side.  And tomorrow, Malcolm will also be gone for three years.  It feels like just yesterday that he too was sick one day and then gone the next.  It’s comforting to know though that they’re both in a Better Place, free from pain and the oddities of the world.

My last conversation with Frances was a long one, where we spoke about many things.  She said she had a few regrets but was grateful for the opportunity to be able to make amends and ask for forgiveness.  I asked her if she could give any person in the world one piece of advice, what it would be; her reply take the risk if it means you’ll be happy – as long as it isn’t at the cost of someone else.  I know exactly where this pearl of wisdom stems from, and why she gave it to me.  I’m going to miss her a great deal – after such a long time without any communication to the last nine months of intense kinship, it feels like I’ve lost a sibling.  I felt the same when Malcolm died.  He was my best friend for a long, long time.  I know that time heals all wounds, but it will never erase the memories, thankfully.

As an empathetic person, I don’t do well with negative emotions – be they hurt, grief, anger, sadness, anguish, guilt or (insert your own here) – so in an attempt not to wallow in the sorrow of losing my friend, I stayed busy.  Frances would have understood; in fact, she would have expected me to.

Work kept my mind occupied during the day, and most evenings I had something to do – getting my bi-weekly manicure, dinner with friends, that kind of thing, but Friday…that was an a-maze-ing experience.  Exhausting, but fun.

Every year, one of the main tourist attractions in our area, the Redberry Farm, where co-incidentally, Malcolm worked for a while, has an event called the Moonlight Maze.  Their hedge maze is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere! Charlie and I did it during the day last year, in August and honestly, had it not been for him, I probably would not have found my way out.  So, bravely (or stupidly, seeing as the line is very fine) Elizabeth, Chantel, Yasmin and I set off on our adventure, donning sneakers, glow-in-the-dark-glasses, and of course, mandatory flashlights in hand, which  Yours Truly didn’t remember.  Fortunately, I’m a creature of the night, so just used my night-vision.

 

 

Now, the object of the maze isn’t to go in at one end and out another – it is to find seven different stations within the maze and obtain a stamp at each one.  Sounds easy enough, right? Uh, no!  We found the first three stations with relative ease.  Being in the maze even during the day is understandably disorientating.  Add to that the black of night and crowds of people – amongst them excited kids of all ages and well, you might as well have put me on another planet.  We spent almost the first hour of our time in the maze walking around in a circle around the very stations we already had the stamps from.  We knew we had to get to the other side of the large structure resembling a giant strawberry, but we kept taking a left, or it could have been a right and ending up right where we had been before.  All in all, we walked over 5 Km (a little over 3 miles) within the maze and with the help of one of the staff we crossed over to the side we needed to be to get the remaining stamps we needed.  As a token of our completion of the task, we were awarded these badges as a souvenir to take home.

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I had another souvenir when I woke up on Saturday morning – seriously stiff legs.  I think that next year we should do it again – in memory of Frances whose star I know will light the way for us.

Friends: They Leave Imprints on your Heart

I rant when I’m particularly irritated or feel that there is injustice happening to those I care about – many of you who have been following my blog for a long time will know this. I feel the urge to rant, because I am tired of the same shit repeatedly, but realize that it isn’t going to solve anything; it is only going to steal my joy.

On the subject of joy, I’m going to share its opposite with you for a paragraph or two and then end off on a happy note, because while it’s normal to experience negative emotions, it’s not okay to allow them to take root in our minds – after all, our thoughts become our actions, not so?

Yesterday was an extremely busy day at the office, so when I got the news that a good friend of mine, Frances, had left this world for the next, I felt a pang of shock (although she’d been ill for a long while), but I couldn’t really think about it.  We hadn’t seen each other in a very long time, but for the last nine months or so, we’d reconnected online.  I often chatted to her about alternative things, and she always gave me her honest take –  No holds barred.  Even when she was at her worst, she always gave her best.  She listened without judgement and never hesitated to tell me the truth, even when it was hard to hear.  Now she’s gone, and part of me feels lost.  It’s odd really, because we were close for a short time, then so far removed from one another for over two decades and then close again.  A kind of ‘concertina friendship’ if you will.  She leaves behind an ex-husband, who despite the divorce, I know she loved ‘til her dying breath, and two children, who I’ve not met.  I’m devastatingly sad at her departure.  I’ve lost close people – even family – before, but with her it’s different.  I can’t articulate it, because I don’t know what it is.  The world is emptier without her.  One thing that is a relief, despite the heartache, is that she is finally pain free.

I said to Charlie yesterday that I think I have only a single photo of Frances and I together, and that if I do, it is in a dusty album in storage somewhere. I hope one day I’ll find it and be able to have a proper reminisce over it. Until then though, I’ll remember her for the amazing person she was: mother, fighter, friend.

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Onto a less sad subject, Saskia, who “adopted” me as her big, but thin sister (we met in the gym…) is tying the knot in November and asked Yours Truly a while ago if I would be a bridesmaid. I was like, “is a duck’s arse damp?” followed by unexpected tears, of both joy, and surprise – because she has so many friends, and well, in comparison to them, I’m old.  She and her beau too live far away, but they are here for a few days, and she, her best friend of the past eighteen years (and Maid of Honour), another bridesmaid and I are getting together for dinner this evening to talk about the shindig.  I’m counting the hours because I just know we’re going to have a great time.

As I type this post, thinking about these two incredibly special ladies, I am reminded that making memories is important.  The digital era in which we live affords us the ability to capture those memories at the click of a smartphone button.  Sure, it’s amazing, but we need to caution against being lost in that action, as opposed to being lost in the people we’re with – so tonight, while I know the young ‘uns will be doing their millennial selfie thing, I’m not going to even take my phone with me. This evening, I’m going to imprint memories of this jubilant occasion in my mind’s eye.

Here’s to a night of uproarious fun, hysterical laughter, and most of all, the love of friends!

 

Great News, for a Change!

Yesterday was a day of good abso-flippen-lutely fab-u-lous news for some amazing friends in my circle!

Charlie told me that he is soon going to be owning his first home, a dream come true!  I’m so incredibly proud of him for chasing his dream and staying focussed.

It was pretty much a done I’ve been to the place with him a few times to just peer in the windows like proper lookey-Lous and once to see the actual inside.  It is a stunning place, with a magnificent view, but most importantly, it checks all his boxes. Yesterday he said, “It’s not a new chapter. It’s like a whole new book” and I found myself wondering what the title would be, or if it would be something to do with a Wonderland of sorts.

While I have never owned a property of my own, I have been prone to bouts of nostalgia walking this journey with Charlie.  The excitement of the smallest of things, like buying hand soap that matches the bath towels, making that first meal or simply unpacking stuff into the cupboards of a place you can call your own.

At times, understandably, doubt would set in with questions that usually started with “What if…” and I would just revert to the logic of – you found something that has ticked all the boxes you wanted, except the jacuzzi and the Lamborghini in the garage, so ergo, it is just a matter of time.

It is an exciting adventure – Charlie’s delight is so evident; there is an inflection in his voice that belies his attempt to be nonchalant about the whole affair.  I’m quite sure if he was a woman he would physically be glowing.

Shortly after receiving Charlie’s news, I got a call from Jack, who I consider a solid friend, although work is what ties us together.  During his last courtesy visit to my office, we got talking about goals.  He mentioned that he would love to climb the corporate ladder within the company that he works for, but that the next step would mean relocation for him and his wife.  His beliefs and mine are pretty much aligned and it was said that if it’s meant to be it will.

Jack’s call was to tell me that the promotion had happened, and that in three weeks he and his wife will be moving to a new city where he will be the National Sales Manager.  The next step on the ladder after that is Sales Director.

Jack’s loyalty to his employer and his open, dynamic approach to thinking outside the box in a challenging market are his keys to success. I’m confident that he is going to be a shining example to the colleagues entrusted to his leadership.

Then last, but by no means least, I saw news on Facebook that my amazing US friend, Mike McClelland’s debut novel, Gay Zoo Day which was published in September last year, has been named a finalist for the IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Award in LGBT literature.

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This in between completing his degree and becoming a father to a beautiful baby boy he and his husband adopted.  I’m so inspired by Mike’s achievement.  It makes me want to dust of my work-in-progress-novel and get it finished.

Admittedly, I haven’t read the book…yet, but it is merely because I haven’t ordered books in ages.  While I am a real-page book-slut, I am beginning to realize that at some stage I may need to join the Kindlers *gasp!

I am humbled to have many wonderful friends that are scattered all over The Globe and if every day can be one in which I get to share happy news (even from afar) with even just one of them, and celebrate their victories and their joys with them, then my life already feels full.  I’m grateful too, to the ones that are close, that want me to be part of their life-puzzles, because after all, as my tagline says, I’m the piece of the puzzle that just doesn’t quite fit.

Charlie, Jack and Mike – you guys made my Tuesday.  I’m ecstatic for the roads that lie ahead for each one of you because you’re all so deserving of everything good that is coming your way!

 

Love at First Sight

I fell in love.

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At first sight.  This past Sunday night.  Yes, the evening before last.  I couldn’t resist.  Problem is, I don’t know what to do now because it’s way longer than I originally expected.

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I had you there, didn’t I?! 😀

But I did fall in love with this bookshelf when I saw it advertised online and using some money I got from Tina and her partner for Christmas, I bought it.  It needs a little TLC (hell, aren’t we all?) and I know I want to turn it into something amazing; I just don’t quite know what yet.  The right side of my brain is firing on all cylinders, but the Voices in my Head are arguing as to what I should do – paint, wallpaper, collage… So, watch this space ’cause This Misfit is going to get her hands dirty.  Now, where’s my toolbelt?