Okay, after missing out on last week because of what I have chosen to call brain freeze… I’m back this week, with a vengeance. And I warn you- it’s a long one. I tell you, JJ adds some spice to my weekend and makes me think a little, and like I said to him- it’s almost pathetic how much I look forward to his posting the new starter every Friday!!
Here goes.
It was either a pill or a piece of candy…
…and naturally she was WAY too curious to just decline the offer. She picked it up off the proffered platter and put it in her mouth. Rolling it around on her tongue she tried to decide whether to chew it or just swallow it whole. It didn’t seem to taste like anything in particular, but its texture did change a little, getting slightly slicker- not quite slimy- but not wholly unpleasant either. She decided to swallow it whole, just in case there was something nasty in the middle… and she didn’t want to offend her hostess by spitting it out.
About three minutes later, she noticed something strange. Everything in the room seemed to be developing coloured tints and outlines, in shades of blue and green mostly. It was getting more intense every second, the proper colours fading away. Her hostess had left, leaving her alone in this beautiful room. She was having trouble remembering why she was here. Then she recalled the anonymous and old fashioned gilt-edged invitation she’d found stuffed in her gym locker. It had been too intriguing to ignore! Now she was here, and the woman who answered the door had been exceedingly polite but not particularly forthcoming. After dining extravagantly and very quietly with the woman- who simply said her name was Ess- they had retired (to use Ess’ word) to the library. Where Zoë now sat, or rather, lay on a huge green silk sofa, wondering why everything looked so strange. She was feeling a little dizzy so she lay back on the sofa and looked straight up at the ceiling- some three floors above her head. The chandelier she had glanced at admiringly on entering the room had taken on shades of pink, orange, yellow and red. Frowning in concentration, Zoë thought “…that looks like infra-red or something… I wonder how they did that…” and then suddenly the chandelier was dropping straight towards her… as she tried to push herself out of the way, she realised she was no longer on the sofa and the chandelier wasn’t really falling- she was rising towards it!
“Don’t be afraid Zoë,” She heard Ess’ voice from somewhere below her. “If you panic you may fall, just try to enjoy it. Learn how to use them.”
“Them…?” asked Zoë.
“Your wings,” replied Ess “you’re using them instinctively already, just learn what it feels like.” And then Ess was right next to her in the air, and Zoë was looking at the most exquisite creature she’d ever seen. Ess was no longer a woman. Granted, she had the same eyes she’d had when they’d met, but now she had wings and scales. “You’re… you’re a… are you a dragon?” spluttered Zoë “…but I thought… they were just a myth! Aren’t they…?”
“That’s right I suppose,” said Ess “And almost all myths and legends have a little bit of truth to them.”
Zoë couldn’t take her eyes off the colours radiating off Ess’ body like electric rainbows. Even though her vision was now mostly infra-red, it still looked as if Ess’ scales had a translucent, mother of pearl sheen. Zoë was mesmerised.
“How? I mean, what happened… am I a dragon too?” Zoë asked.
“We’re family you and I,” answered Ess “in a way. It’s taken me years to trace my lineage to you. You see, you carry the same genes I do, the same blood essentially. You just needed a, lets call it a ‘trigger’, to wake up the part of you that you didn’t even know was there. Now you can transform from dragon to human and back again at will.”
“I don’t understand.” Said Zoë.
“Let me try to explain,” said Ess “the dragon gene is passed on in the females of our species. For centuries it was tradition for us to marry suitable men in order to keep our bloodline strong. We were always secretive about our draconic personalities, because we were hunted if we were seen in our true forms. And as the world got smaller we had to hide our true selves more and more, and our traditions fell by the wayside. We lost touch with each other as we spread out over the globe. The younger generations became more and more adamant about being true to themselves rather than to their heritage. And over time our history was lost. Our bloodline was depleted.” Ess looked sad as she spoke; she sank slowly and lay on the floor in front of the empty fireplace. Or rather, her head was in front of the fireplace, the rest of her almost filled the room.
Zoë was too afraid to look down at herself.
“Now there are not very many of us left,” she continued “fewer and fewer of the women in our lineage are having children- it seems our species’ longevity makes us afraid of forming relationships of any kind because we outlive everybody. It’s almost funny.” She made a soft sound that was more a sigh than a laugh. “I am three hundred and seventeen years old; I discovered my true identity more than two hundred and eighty years ago. I have been almost completely alone ever since. And then I found you- almost by accident. I can help you through this, if you’ll let me.”
Zoë tried to will herself gently to the floor as Ess had done. She didn’t quite get it right but she didn’t break anything either. She finally plucked up the courage to look down at herself, and was very pleasantly surprised to see that she was not identical to Ess. Her scales and wings bore more of a metallic sheen and her colouring was closer to a bronze and gold compared to Ess’ pinks and silvers. She was considerably smaller than Ess, and surmised it was due to their age difference of a couple of hundred years. She was discovering things in her mind that she didn’t know she knew. Like math, chemistry, trajectories, and geography. And she was surprised at how easy it was to make herself fit in the room alongside Ess given their size. Her own mind was already explaining to her subconscious how it was that this huge draconic persona and body could fit into her relatively small, five foot three inch, human frame. “Wow…” whispered Zoë as she felt her own power surging through her “…so what can I do, what am I capable of? Do I have magical powers or something?”
“Not really, not magic as such. You can breathe fire, and you can fly. And you can read minds if you concentrate hard enough- humans are tricky because they think of so much at once. And you can turn invisible when you’re in your draconic form. You just need to learn how and practice it all, I can give you hints, but you have to learn and teach yourself what each action feels like.” replied Ess.
“And then what?” asked Zoë “I mean, after I’ve learnt how to do everything you think I’m capable of, what do I do with it?”
“We begin by finding more of our own kind…” murmured Ess “…AND THEN WE CAN TAKE OVER THIS PUNY WORLD!!!!”

We Spent Most Of Today At The Castrol Xtreme Auto Show

In Jo’burgs massive Coca-Cola Dome.
I’m quite pleased with some of the shots I got. It was very busy, so sometimes to get a decent picture of a car you had to get your timing just right with the people passing by while you’re trying to focus! As soon as I can I’ll post them all to my Flickr account so you can browse at your leisure. In the meantime… here are some pictures of Damien’s favourites from the show (top to bottom, left to right- a custom paint job depicting the creature from Alien, a very customised Nissan, a Hummer, a spinner with banknotes on it, a Galiant and a suped up Nissan 350Z)…Here are some of my favourites (clockwise from top right- a Morgan, a GT40 in Golf colours a’la Le Mans 1969, a Lotus, a custom chopper, and a custom painted Harley)…And what motor show would be complete without Ferraris (there were only two),or Lambhorginis (also only two)…
They also had the Castrol Jet Car which we unfortunately missed seeing in action.
We had a very relaxed afternoon, strolling around the show. Damien enjoyed himself, especially since the show was primarily aimed at sound and accessories, which he lately has shown an interest in. I just with da Bruvva could have gone with us to at least talk with Damien about some of the stuff we saw… a beautiful car to me is truly a work of art- and if you want to give me goosebumps and make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up- give me an F1 car to listen to… but when it comes to the technicalities of sound systems and so on, I get a little lost.

Am I In Parenting Hell Or What?!

Now, I started smoking when I was fourteen. A really cool and cute guy offered me a smoke and I said no thank you. And for some insane reason I started soon afterwards. Turned out my best friend smoked and I never knew. Of course when I admitted to her I smoked, I pretended I’d done it for ever and a day… but I didn’t inhale… yet. She “taught” me to do it properly. Man what a head rush! In fact, and you may find this interesting, one of the first “conversations” I had with Damien’s father was over a cigarette. I had promised to bring him one when he had asked and I hadn’t had any. When I gave it to him the next day- he smiled at me and winked as he turned away- and his dimples made me melt. This was after he’d already asked me out and I’d said no. In fact it’s one of the few moments I remember as clearly as if it happened this morning.
We smoked at school. There was a group of smokers who congregated at certain spots on the school grounds to smoke before school and during break. Every now and then the prefects and teachers would organise a raid because everyone knew where we smoked, but I never got caught. I was just plain lucky. I smoked for sixteen years. In between I stopped for just over a year- when I was pregnant with Damien and for a while afterwards- but when I started working I started again. I am an asthmatic, so it’s r4eally stupid. And I ended up in hospital twice with asthma and pneumonia. Its now two years since I had a smoke last. And honestly, the only reason I stopped was because I literally couldn’t breath anymore. I am now on a steroid inhaler twice a day, everyday. And I carry and asthma inhaler with me everywhere I go. There’s also one next to my bed. Sadly, even after two years, I still need them both on a regular basis. And it’s almost the only reason I have not yet started smoking again- not being able to breath scares the crap out of me. The other reason is (of course) Damien. The look on his face when my dad brought him into the emergency room to say goodbye after I was admitted and I was on an oxygen mask and a drip and heart monitors and all that has stayed in my mind. He was scared and crying and it scared me. I am selfish too- I don’t want to miss anything he might do or achieve growing up, and I know that smoking might make me miss it.
But heaven help me- I miss my smokes!
When I stopped I was smoking around thirty to forty Chesterfield Lights a day. And I didn’t smoke at work because after the laws made it illegal to smoke in offices, it was too much of a schlep to walk to the smoking area at work. So that was thirty to forty cigarettes between 3pm and 11pm everyday. I was quite literally chain smoking. I didn’t have ashtrays big enough.
Well. One of my parenting nightmares has become a reality. I caught Damien smoking today. Did you guess and s from the picture maybe?
Those closest to me will play witness to the fact that I have a permanently blocked nose and almost no sense of smell. For me to smell something it has to be seriously potent. I was sitting in the living room and I smelt smoke. Now I know the difference between cigarette smoke and regular smoke. I go down the passage to Damien’s room and say “I smell smoke.” Would you believe he tried to play the innocent wounded one? Seriously- he denied it. It almost turned into an argument. Then he admitted it and handed over a box with one smoke and a lighter in it. I made him sit in front of me and smoke it. I wanted to see if he was really smoking or just puffing it. He wasn’t happy. It turned into a lecture of sorts- but I tried to stay cool and calm. He said he’d been smoking since school started again, about two weeks ago. I spoke to him, I didn’t cry or shout. He still has that stiff fingered flat handed grip on a cigarette, so I know he hasn’t been doing it long. But he inhales alright. By the time he finished it he was crying and clearly wasn’t enjoying it. He also promised not to do it again.
Oh me.
Can’t he save anything for next year?

Personality Test…

I popped round to Eternally Curious today, and I spotted this beautifully colourful block on a recent post of hers that reminded me a bit of a Mondrian. It had a link to a personality test over here: Personal DNA. I’ve posted some of the results of my test… it was very interesting. Although- as with Eternally Curious- I scored low on empathy which surprised me a bit, and I scored low on spontaneity which also shocked me a little. I mean, I know I like to plan ahead but I didn’t realise I was quite as stoic as all that!

About You:

You are a Genuine Leader. Your solid grounding in the practicalities of life, along with your self-assuredness and your willingness to appreciate new things make you a LEADER. this caught me completely off balance!
Although you’re detail-oriented, this doesn’t mean that you lose the big picture. I like this one
You tend to find beauty in form and efficiency, as opposed to finding it in broad-based, abstract concepts. my love of beautiful cars and bikes?
The intellectual curiosity that drives you leads you to seek out causes of and reasons behind things.
now that I knew, never thought of it exactly that way, but I knew it
Your confidence gives you the potential to take your general awareness and channel it into leadership.
You’re not set on one way of doing things, and you often have the skills and persistence to find innovative ways of facing challenges. You are well-attuned to your talents, and can deal with most problems that you face. I like to learn, I hate saying “I dunno”
Your independent streak allows you to make decisions efficiently and to trust your instincts. knew that too…
You prefer to have time to plan for things, feeling better with a schedule than with keeping plans up in the air until the last minute. yup, then when something goes wrong I get upset!
Generally, you believe that you control your life, and that external forces only play a limited role in determining what happens to you. have to agree with this one.
How you relate to others:
Your outgoing personality, your preference for order, and your cautious appreciation of others makes you GENUINE. a nice compliment, I hope its accurate!
You aren’t afraid to occasionally be the center of attention. You are comfortable and confident in social situations. no news here!
When other people are upset, you are able to think about the situation rationally, without getting too caught up in their feelings. this I knew
At times you find it difficult to understand where other people are coming from, and wish they could just see things the way you do.
I hope this isn’t all that obvious!
In your experience, people tend to get what they deserve. Because of this, you work hard and try to follow your principles in your day-to-day life, knowing that you will be rewarded for your efforts. geez, makes me sound brutal doesn’t it!
Be cautious when judging someone- try harder to understand his or her perspective- and you will become a more intuitive person. now I know I can be judgemental…

Here’s my map that “uniquely represents my personality”. You can mouse over any part of the box to learn more about the traits that the colors represent.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Phone Calls

I was taught a little lesson in judgement this week. Not by anyone in particular, just by my own mind’s complete inability to leave “stuff” alone.
I have always been prone to jump to conclusions. It’s weakness of mine. Luckily I know it’s a weakness of mine and- occasionally- when I catch myself doing it I can remind myself to stop and put myself in the other person’s shoes, or stop and look at a situation from ALL angles first before deciding what happened.
When you share an office, you hear things (usually in one sided phone calls) that give you a small and often judgemental insight into someone’s life. Even if you aren’t friends, you pick up things about the people who share your space. Now, there’s a man whom I plain and simple don’t like, but share space with. Let’s call him X shall we. Mostly it’s his little mannerisms that annoy me (it’s always the small stuff isn’t it), but he’s my client, so I do my best to ignore it and get done with my work. So. X started having these telephone arguments with a woman (and even if you only hear one side you can tell it’s a woman can’t you? Or a man if it’s a woman you can hear?) And of course I often answer the phone when there’s no one here and take messages for X. Then after the one long weekend, X didn’t come back to work for a whole week. I took a lot of messages, and a lot of his colleagues would come by looking for him, but because I’m a contractor I don’t get informed when someone is going on leave or something. Then the woman who also spends most of her day in my space (I’ll call her M) answered the phone one day and ended up having an almost 30 minute long conversation with the woman I always assumed was X’s girlfriend. The girlfriend claimed she was pregnant and accused X of doing a runner on her (M told me some of what she was told by the girlfriend). I advised M as politely as I could not to get involved. I’ve seen what happens when work and relationships mix, and it’s not pretty. The girlfriend kept calling, thinking that M and I were covering for X. The one day she phoned and told M she’d miscarried and was in hospital. I didn’t have all the details, but of course I immediately decided that my dislike of X was now justified and I liked him even less.
It played on my mind. As much as I didn’t want to indulge in gossip and so on, I couldn’t help thinking that X was a real jerk and pitying his girlfriend.
Then one day, I was driving to work and it suddenly occurred to me- out of the blue- that maybe the girlfriend was talking shite… and then it stopped playing on my mind!