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Writing prompt 4/365: At the bar

I think I had a wasted youth, and that’s not even a pun. Do I really not have any good “At the bar” stories or inspirations? Nope. I do not.

As already covered, I am not much of an alcohol drinker, and going out to bars has never been my thing. Oh sure, we used to go out in college (especially once we turned 21, which is the drinking age limit in US) but that was just rowdy, loud disorganised chaos. Reminds me of that Modern Family episode where Gloria and Mitch try to prove to the kids that they “still got it” and insist on going clubbing with them. They barely make it through the front door of the club before they bail and run home. That would be me too.

Which is not to say that I do not like to go out for a sophisticated drink at a sophisticated bar while wearing a sophisticated cocktail dress (with high heels, not sneakers!). Actually, that sounds divine. It just doesn’t fit well into my schedule, or my location. Or even just my life. Last year a bunch of mothers on my kid’s whatsapp group decided to have a ladies night out. We took weeks to organise it, chose a great bar, set the date and time. I swear to God, in the hour before we were to meet most mothers bailed in panic and it turned into a “bring your toddler” tea party. I’m proud to say I passed. I have my standards.

I should also say, since we are talking about bars, that they make me rather nervous. For starters, my knowledge of alcohol is dismal, and my knowledge of specific drinks is even worse. Short of ordering a strawberry daiquiri, i really have no idea what I am getting when I order it. I just hope it does not have coconut or pineapple in it. (I do have a drink I love…an Amaretto Sour, but almost nobody in “my” bars knows how to make one. In fact, the only place I have ever had it in this country is in…wait for it…Tasha’s! And they don’t even have a bar (in the Brooklyn branch). But they do/did have it on the menu.)

Lastly…there are no good bars in Pretoria. I have been to some stunning bars in my life (I LOVE top hotel bars, especially if they are in the hotel in which I am staying) and I repeat that there are no stunning bars in Pretoria. They are all in new York or London (it’s true. Nine of the top ten bars in the world are in one of those two cities).

You want a good looking bar? This is a good looking bar:

Ritz Carlton, Shangai, China Source

Ritz Carlton, Shangai, China Source

The writing prompts come from Writerswrite.co.za and they are my attempt at daily writing for 2017. Unless stated otherwise, the images are taken by me, also as a 365 day challenge.

Writing prompt 3/365: Cracking the spine

I no longer have many unread books whose spines I can crack, mostly because the majority of books I read I buy as ebooks, and there is no spine there. Every once in a while I will buy a physical book at Exclusive Books. This tends to be either a “beach paperback” that I can take with me and not worry about kindles etc, or some beautiful reference books, for which I have a soft spot. The DK publishing house is my favourite. Their books are simply stunning.

But I do have a weakness when it comes to notebooks. I can never have enough. I have them in all shapes and sizes, and I definitely do not buy on a “per-need” basis. My favourites are blank page ones (remarkably difficult to get) and the one-blank-page-one-lined page are also a good bet. My only saving grace here is that I will never buy fully lined pages that have widely spaced lines, no matter how pretty the cover, because I just don’t ever end up writing in them.

I used to have a really, really tough time “cracking the spine” on my notebooks. Making a first entry always seemed like a momentous occasion, and nothing ever seemed important enough to be The First Thing in a notebook. As a result my collection grew, but I was getting little enjoyment out of them. Eventually I was able to move past that, and now whenever I need a new notebook I pick one out of my collection (or buy a new one) and immediately write some nonsense in it, to get the process started. Once the virgin pages have been ruined by silly words, the task of filling up the notebook becomes less daunting and less intimidating.

What goes into my notebooks? Well, I often think best on paper first, and then move my thoughts onto the computer. I almost never ever look back at my written notes though. Once a page is filled and turned, it is almost never referenced again. It is simply the act of writing it down, brainstorming it out etc that matters. The actual details are not that important, since the details will evolve daily, and are merely influenced by yesterday’s ideas. And because I wrote down yesterday’s ideas in an organised and methodical manner, they are now roaming my brain to be improve on while I drive, shower, fall asleep or daydream. And the new ideas go into the notebook, to rinse and repeat. It is a process that works remarkably well for me.

In 2016, I did adapt the process slightly, with much success. I bought a cheap wire-bound hardcover notebook (R20 or so) at CNA, and I keep it with me always (together with a blank notebook). The wire-bound book gets all the notes that DO need to be referenced. It is the book I take with to meetings, the book in which I write down all my lists, the book that keeps a physical track of all my projects and the book I can reference to find obscure details that I wrote down “somewhere” so that I would have them when necessary (example; a mechanics telephone number). Having such a book really frees up the mind, and even though I know that everything in the book can be stored digitally, the truth is it hardly ever gets to that point, and it is not as foolproof as a real page turner. (Although I might just scan the pages into Evernote in 2017. Progress!)

I cannot live without my computer, but I also cannot, absolutely cannot, live without a blank piece of paper and a pencil/pen. They are my connectors between my brain and Real Life, and without them I would be lost.

The writing prompts come from Writerswrite.co.za and they are my attempt at daily writing for 2017. Unless stated otherwise, the images are taken by me, also as a 365 day challenge.

Writing prompt 2/365: It’s a dog’s life

My father loved dogs, and my childhood home had at least two at any given time. They were such an integral part of my family, that I never supposed that having a family home without a dog was possible. And yet, I have never owned one in my adult life, and therefore neither have my children (much to their sorrow). It’s not because I don’t want one, but because looking after a dog is hard work, and – to be frank – I have enough hard work already. Add to that the cost consideration (cost of puppy, vet fees, food, holiday stays at kennels, grooming, toys etc…) as well as the fact that a pet makes it very difficult to just head out for the weekend, or for a four-week stay at the coast, and not owning a dog seems like a no-brainer.

Except, of course, that dogs are a wonderful addition to the family, and once they arrive any “hardships” that they cause is a price worth paying times ten. I do know this. But I have another consideration that I am finding difficult to shake: dogs steal your heart, and then they die. I’ve had my heart broken too many times by a pet passing away, and I am not sure I want to sign up for such guaranteed heartache.

To be fair, my kids have always had pets in their lives, because my mother continued my father’s tradition of always having a dog, and my kids are at her house very often. Her dog is their dog (minus all the negatives!). She has a Airdale Terrier, which, let me put it on record, must be the most mischievous and impossible breed of dog around! He is impossible, and keeps my mother on her toes at all times. He is also gorgeous and extremely smart…but boy is he hard work! (My mother wouldn’t swop him for anything in the world, though).

None of this is to say that I will not own another dog. My kids can be very persuasive! And if we do ever move to a place where daily long walks and weekend hikes are the norm (think Switzerland), then a dog is not out of the question. In the meantime though, I will enjoy my mom’s dogs the way she enjoys my children: lovely to share, but good to leave behind when it all gets a bit much 🙂

The writing prompts come from Writerswrite.co.za and they are my attempt at daily writing for 2017. Unless stated otherwise, the images are taken by me, also as a 365 day challenge.

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