Saturday, February 11, 2006

A tribute to Jason and René, on their marriage

Jason & René, with bride's maid and bestman

To most of you, by now, it should be obvious that it isn’t that often that I log on to Blogger and accomplish a post. Juggling through excuses/reasons in my head, it's quickly apparent to me that between being kept extremely busy at work, and being the oh-so devoted boyfriend at home, it's no wonder at all, that I have no time for blogging. In a way these thoughts help me to deal with and justify my stale site. A few of you have experienced this commitment difficulty yourself, so I know you'll understand what I mean.

When you do spot a new post from me, you should therefore immediately sit up at attention and ask yourself what triggered it. Between my excuses of being too stretched for time, there happens to be a new line that I think I'll start to use for reasons of consolation: I only blog when something of outstanding significance occurs in my life.

Last week Saturday was one such occasion; the wedding of my very good friend Jason to his wife René.

I got to know Jason when he began working with me a few weeks after he joined Ogilvy, but strangely it wasn't really until he left Ogilvy and began working at UUNET that we struck up a friendship via MSN Messenger and started getting to know one another a little better. I must admit that my memory is terrible and therefore the details of how we came to be friends are rather blurry now. However, what I've always known and remembered about Jason is his kind nature and a good heart, and during the time I've known him I think I've got to see a side of him that very few of you may not have seen.

Although his relationship with René had its bumps and moments of uncertainty, I've always known Jason to be faithful, modest, unpretentious and ever-committed to working through areas of their lives where there was disagreement, so the announcement of his engagement to René didn't come as much of a surprise to me.

Sitting quietly on Saturday afternoon in Paarl, waiting for the bride to arrive, I couldn't help but look around and notice that I was counted as one of the special people in their lives, and to feel exceptionally honoured to be in attendance to witness their most special moment together as a couple. What a down-to-earth and sincere ceremony and reception!

Jason's brother - and bestman - Craig delivered a very confident and heartfelt speech, and the rest of the time was rushing around organising last-minute things behind the scenes.

Jason's mother beamed with pride, safe in the knowledge that her son was happily married and that her son's love is genuine. René's parents were equally proud and welcoming.

One of the things I thought about on the way home from Paarl that night, which was emphasised at my aunt and uncle's 40th wedding anniversary the following day, was how there's always such an emphasis on how hard it is to stay married to someone. Candice and I agreed that 40 years is a very long time indeed - especially in today's society - but why is there always this tremendous sentiment of it being this constantly laborious task? It's emphasised numerous times during the wedding ceremony, with warnings of "this is it", "best you be up for a lifetime of effort from this point onwards" and "so many marriages don't last".

I'm sure that for some it must be tough work staying committed to one person for eternity, but I just can't understand the need for that underlying negative component right at the start of something so special. I honestly think that this couple is the least likely to need such strong advice, afterall their relationship has endured and remained rock-solid through the years and through some tough challenges - what's to stop it now? What's to stop it, ever?

I'd rather offer positive words, and say to the two of you that I look forward to sitting down around a decorated table with you at your 40th anniversary, looking back and remembering all the good times...

Here's to you Jason and René, I'm proud to call you my friends.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Touchdown in Cape Town

Touchdown of Candice's BA flight MN6427 at 17:54 on Saturday 30 July 2005.

Candice's Flight landed a minute ahead of schedule, and I arrived at the airport just in time to see her plane disembark. I caught a glimpse of her while the shuttle pulled up just in front of the domestic arrivals terminal building and she spotted me. We were all smiles as she walked to claim her luggage before exiting into the waiting area where we excitedly greeted each other with a huge hug, big kiss and lots of laughter.

Back at home...

Just a little surprise that I'd planned for Candice when she stepped into the house.

(more to follow shortly)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Our Story - part III

(continued from part 1 and part 2)

All of a sudden

Candice's departure back home came so suddenly on that Sunday. We raced from Clifton 4th Beach, through to Canal Walk to pick up her photo prints - which we'd sat retouching earlier in the day - and then back through to my place. Packing involved 10 minutes of scraping together toiletries, clothes and gifts for those back home and dumping them into free gaps in her suitcase. One final look around to see that nothing was forgotten, and then bundling it all into the car before racing through to the airport to catch the flight back to Johannesburg. It was all very reminiscent of the Amazing Race - and it all seemed to be futile since the flight was delayed.

We found a quiet spot in the airport where we sat looking through our photos together. They came out brilliantly! A feeling of mutual sadness seemed to have descended upon us: all that rushing around disguised the realisation that she was actually heading back to Jozi and we wouldn't be seeing each other for a potential lengthy period of time.

The drive back home - on my own - that night made Candice's leaving blatantly apparent to me. I had the radio off the whole way and I just kept reminding myself about all the things we did during our 12 days together. I found it difficult to come to terms with someone being there one minute, and gone the next. Getting back home to my empty echoey duplex highlighted that fact for me even more.

Candice phoned me when she arrived back home later that evening to say goodnight; I think I'd passed out sometime inbetween. Goodnight phone calls: something that was so usual a few weeks before being together, and now something that would frustratingly become the norm yet again.

Where to from here?

In the days following our Cape Town holiday, we started to readjust to the distance between us again. We were quite used to it by now, but it was a little bit more difficult afterwards since we were more certain that we wanted to be together. It seemed to hightlight the fact that you can never really have what you truly want.

In one of our phone calls one night, we discussed a potential date for seeing each other again and agreed that 'sometime in September would be best'. In subsequent chats, Candice made a decision that she wanted to move to Cape Town because she really didn't want to have to deal with the hurt of spending more time together - and having it all end again.

A few weeks later, Candice's brother Darren was informed by their landlord that their rent was going to be doubled, and since they couldn't afford the new rental, decided it was time to move out.

As excited as I was to see Candice again, the idea of having to bring the date forward to the end of July worried me a little. Financially, it would make things a little toughter on both of us, which I felt in turn would translate to additional stress. We wanted the move to be as stress free as possible.

My initial reluctance soon melted away when I realised that the most important thing would be seeing and being with Candice again, and in the past few weeks I've started oozing excitement! Just a few more days to go now. Excitement's now fighting nervousness though... it's a different kind of nervousness to last time, but I guess both share the same underlying foundation of "the unknown".

Let's get started

In the end, what is to be will be... and overall, everything inside of me is telling me that this is going to be something amazing. I'm not scared, let's get started!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Our Story - part II

(continued from part 1)

Getting to know you

Candice and I exchanged just under a hundred brief messages between us via the DatingBuzz website within the first 3 days of getting to know each other! At this stage we both felt very comfortable divulging our personal email addresses and shortly after that, our phone numbers followed. Plenty more emails messages ensued, and the volume of SMSes between us was steadily climbing as we felt there weren't enough office hours in a day to get to know each other properly.

One Friday afternoon - the week after first writing to each other, I think - I was going about my work when my cellphone rang. An 011 number. I knew immediately who it could have been, but at the same time never expected it to be her. I later learnt that Candice had been dead nervous picking up the phone and dialling my number for the first time. We chatted for only a few minutes (probably the shortest phone call we've ever had!) in the weird kind of awkward way two strangers would even though by this stage we'd learnt quite a bit about each other through our emails. Guess who was smiling for the rest of the day...

On Saturday evening I thought I would surprise Candice with an unexpected follow-up call - I could not resist! We spoke for 3 hours about anything and everything (I could never remember exactly what) without a moment of feeling uncomfortable. We probably could have spoken for a lot longer too - it's not words that I was running out of, but fear of MTN suspending my account! Oh, and my poor cellphone battery too.

The phone calls would start to become frequent, and each time we spoke I became more and more sure that this girl was something special, something else. I honestly thought I was dreaming. All of the many conclusions I had arrived at about women, had pretty much been reset by her. How was it possible that one girl could come along, and match so very closely the things I've been searching for?

I think I was so thrown, that I dared not believe it too much. But it was so enchanting! Soon enough the fact that she lived in Johannesburg became a real obstacle in my mind. How very typical of my luck!

Suddenly, Valentine's Day was upon us. I was so unimaginative that I ended up buying a card and decorating the envelope a bit before sending it. Candice on the other hand pulled out all the stops: she had gone to all the trouble of sending me a (very light) package by courier, which was waiting for me on my desk at work on the morning of the 14th. Package description was simply "shoe laces x20". Interesting. Duncan, my boss, was hovering around quite eager to see what was inside. I slowly tore off the brown paper, opened up the box, removed the bubble-wrap and revealed a smaller glittery box. Its size and weight made me a little cautious about opening it in front of my boss, but at that moment I didn't really care much. I'm not sure who blushed more when I grabbed hold of a SEXY little black G-string with a pink bow in front, laced in Hugo Boss Intense (shimmer edition) perfume.

Let's meet

We started speaking very openly early on about the separation obstacle and about our desire to meet each other and be together. We both decided that we'd really like to take things to the next level and see how we were around each other.

Wednesday, March 23rd was decided on to take maximum advantage of public holidays and leave days due to each of us. We booked off until 3rd April, which gave us 12 days in Cape Town together.

How do you reassure a mother?

Eventually the 23rd arrived and I remember nervously driving through to Cape Town International airport to go meet Candice in domestic arrivals. To compound things, Candice's mom decided to phone me - for the first time - while I'm driving along the busy N2 freeway in peak morning traffic, without my handsfree attached in an area notorious for traffic cop speed-checking - and I could hardly hear her! She was clearly very worried about her daughter travelling alone to a strange city to go meet a guy that she'd met over the Internet and had only known for a couple of months.

"I hope that you'll take care of her", she pleaded. I should never have said the words, "don't worry Cheryl, I'll make sure I take good care of her".

"You won't take her to any dodgey nightclubs where there are drugs and things?"
"Not to worry, we don't go out to any of those places."
"Please Warren, look after her."

I didn't know what to say.

First glimpse

Since when does have an arrangement with British Airways? I was a little confused at the airport because a Kulula flight came in on time, but Candice wasn't on it. I waited around and the next flight in was a British Airways flight from Johannesburg.

I didn't really know what to look out for; I wasn't sure that I would be able to recognise Candice in person, in a crowd of people. When I saw her for the first time, I knew instantly that it was her. Don't ask me how, I just did. My heart rate went up a few notches while she walked past the tinted windows from where I was peering, into the baggage collection terminal. I moved round to the front nervously awaiting our first moment. I knew I'd definitely give her a hug... maybe a small kiss.

As she walked from the sliding door into the waiting area, the nervousness subsided completely and I just remember both of us with silly smiles on our faces, approaching and then embracing each other tightly, before having our first words and heading home.

12 short days, 600 photos

Time literally flew as we went through items on our combined Cape Town to-do list. Weather played along very nicely, so the first day it was off to the beach for the afternoon. From there, we went to the Two Oceans Aquarium, went out to Cubana and Springbok, had a trip to Stellenbosch and Franschoek, went to the Castle of Good Hope on Easter Sunday and did some window shopping. Spent some more time more shopping, went back to the beach, Rhodes Memorial, Forries and Rafikis (where Candice met Vaughan and Claire). We made a day of stopping off at all the beaches on our way around the peninsula, including stopping off at Boulders to look at the horny penguins. We paid a visit Ratanga Junction - and spent some time in bed sick after that, thanks to their dodge food - before we were off to do some more shopping at Canal Walk this time, followed by an introduction to Duncan and colleagues, then to Sinfull (ice cream place in Camps Bay - which we don't talk about) followed Grandwest and drinks at Arabella Sheraton on the Foreshore. Saturday we made an attempt to take the Table Mountain Cableway (but was closed because of strong winds) so instead went up to Signal Hill before racing to the Waterfront and going on a tour of historical Robben Island. We got all dressed up in the evening for a seafood feast at Blowfish in Table View - highly recommended! I'm sure I'm forgetting something...

All good things come to an end

We were so back-to-back busy doing things together that in no time Sunday evening raced to meet us. I don't think either of us had expected the way it would suddenly creep up on us, and we were a left quite unprepared for our sudden goodbyes.

"Fly safe my honey, please let me know when you're safely back home."

(part 3 follows)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Our story

"I'm loyal, affectionate and caring"

It was the morning of Tuesday, 4 January, just a few short days into 2005. It was an ordinary day at work since I didn't take any leave over the festive season. Considering how many people were still soaking up the sun on beaches around the country - not having to concern themselves with being confined to an office desk for at least for another 2 weeks - the DatingBuzz website was surprisingly... well, 'buzzing'.

While I was slowly making my way through large quantities of the usual member-generated admin work that had built-up up over-night, I opened up a new browser tab. It was time to do some looking out for myself, while I waited for my other web pages to load. In between glancing my eyes over messages from our members expressing their appreciation for having found their ideal partner on the site, and other messages from those who'd given up on ever finding their life partner, I entered my usual search criteria: Man seeking women, aged 18 to 27, anywhere in South Africa, photo required.

It always felt like playing the lotto. Spot someone you like? Start the process of carefully wording an email that makes a good impression. If they reply, great - write the next and the next. If they aren't interested, move on. With enough luck, if emailing via the site goes well then the next step is to exchange email addresses, then phone numbers and finally meet face-to-face. Meeting the people behind the online profiles initially resulted in a mix of disastrous failures (which got me questioning whether I wanted to continue putting myself through disappointment), to deciding to be a little more cautious and give it all another go. My new outlook resulted in me making some cool new friends, but I didn't want to force anything with them.

Amongst the search results on that particular day though, were all the usual - and by now familiar faces (those who still kept hoping to meet their ideal match online). Then you always get the typically "that's gotta be a fake" profiles (picture's too professional, username/profile's too sexual, etc. etc. - you learn to spot them). You get the disappointments ("she sounds cool, but she's all the way across the country"). Next page, next page.

Working my way through the listing, I spotted the username "Sexy_Ass69". Initially I thought to myself that with a username like that it must be a guy pretending to be a girl. I went in to the profile. Being an administrator, I'm first to see when a member uploads a new photograph of herself since it needs approval first before it becomes publicly visible.

My initial reaction when seeing the photo was "OMG!", but I still wasn't certain if she was for real because of the username she'd picked for herself. I pondered over her narratives:

The bits that got me particularly interested in wanting to get to know her were, "I'm loyal, affectionate and caring" and "someone who cares about me and will tell me if im driving too fast on a dark rainy night. someone who will call me after a long trip to see if i'm okay.".

Next I spotted this:

I looked through some more of her details (admin-only stuff) and saw that she didn't yet have a subscription. Also, combined with her living all the way in Jo'burg and the fact that she had a really good photo of herself just about to go public, I decided that it would be pointless mailing her because she's not going to be interested in some Cape Town guy - that's if she even saw my mail: girls who put photos of themselves like that up on the site - especially with a sexually suggestive username - are inundated with email, mine would simply go unnoticed. But damn, I really wanted to talk to her! Her name was Candice, and I already liked her confidence and expressive nature, but the best thing I could do for myself was add her to my favourites list and hope for the best, while simultaneously forcing myself to forget that I had ever spotted her profile.

She thinks I'm a hottie

The next morning I was working my way through the usual admin queue again, when I received an alert that I had a new email from "Sexy_ass69":
hey there...

i saw your profile and i thought i just have to send you a message.

I think you are such a hottie!!! and i think ur pics are pretty cool too! You sound like a really awesome person.

if you wanna chat, drop me a line.


I was stunned. She thinks I'm a hottie??? Some guy had bought her a gift subscription which had enabled her to mail me - but out of the thousands of listed guys on the site, what made her choose to mail me? I had a moment of nervousness and loss of self-confidence as I really hadn't been expecting to make an impression on this girl by replying to a mail of hers. I decided that I wanted to spend some time composing something substantial rather than replying right away.

But Candice was impatient:
i see you are online at the moment... would you like to chat?


It's right then that I realised that I really couldn't afford to procrastinate in getting back to her. It needed to happen right then and there, no time for carefully thought-over and chosen words - she just wanted a response! And I was so glad to be able to give her that response.

(part 2 and part 3 follows)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

All your favourites

For those of you who've been around since the beginning, I know that you think I'm a slacker when it comes down to writing. Hell, I even think I'm a bit of a slacker, once in a while! So I thank you for sticking around and checking back here for updates every once in a while. A truly loyal bunch!

Some of my loyal visitors may have noticed that I've been quite busy behind the scenes manually and painstakingly hand-importing all my posts from the very beginning. I'm sure, some of you who noticed that may have even started anticipating something new on the way. Of course, this should set you up quite nicely for the disappointment that this "new" post will bring: surprise surprise, this post is simply to reminisce about the good old days when I used to have some sort of regular frequency of updates - no new material just yet.

So thinking back, I remember very clearly the reason for even beginning a 'blog'. Sure, I had the domain for a good while sitting there gathering dust and not doing too much, until one day Natalie challenged me to put something more than a placeholder page up (considering that I was a web developer and all). I got through the irritation of putting something basic up and wrote my first post. But even in the very early days you somehow knew that I was slow and that regular updates weren't guaranteed to happen.

A few days later, Natalie thought she'd be oh-so clever. And she remained inflexible. With the help of Acidman, revenge was realised (and later censored). By this time, the Great Web Wars of 2002 was in motion! My first month of blogging came to an end with Natalie's surrender, and a theme that I would often touch on from time-to-time in future posts - and have others express their appreciation for - was established: the many mysteries, oddities and the ways of women.

Then came the oft fondly referred to post of "the legendary Nick Shimmin" where I ended the post with "Have a nice weekend people and happy Easter." A happy Easter was not to be, for me. I injured my back quite severely, and was in hospital for a while undergoing surgery and physio before being able to make a return to my blog in mid-April. Updates were infrequent - mostly due to how uncomfortable it was sitting down for any period of time (although I know none of you believe me), but towards the end of the month I posted some photos which I think sums the whole ordeal up pretty well.

May was a good blog month for me, mostly spent thinking back to my school days in a series of posts, with some really awesome feedback. Also happened to have a very ironic traffic cop tale, the first of a few. June saw me returning to work, and I guess there are a few interesting posts to read there.

One of my longest ever posts, also happened to be one of my nastiest and most direct. They're right... writing down your feelings is a big help, but perhaps I should have considered the reach of my words! This post's frequently referred to (by me anyway) as "The Rant". Things started slowing down for me a bit after that, mostly because I was working like a madman trying to get the new Volkswagen web site completed - finally it went live! Things pretty much halted after posting my appeal to everyone to become bone marrow donors for Lindy's sake.

After the "drought", came some posts that I consider gems: "Toasters in the sea", "Fake/not fake Nat", "ATM curiosity", "Rebound boy", longest-ever-post contender, "The smell of chicks", "Biggest thing you've killed". I switched jobs, and when I returned to blogging in June a year ago, my posts began taking a somewhat more thoughtful and mature direction, before my interest once again began to wane.

And that brings us to the present. The recent flurry of blogging activity has inspired me to try my hand at blogging yet again. But you know me by now... if I was you I wouldn't come to expect much or rely too much on anything I say I'm going to be doing.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Floury apples take 2

Ok, so now even the Pink Lady variant are starting to get all floury. Goddamn it, what am I going to eat now?