Category Archives: Writing

3,2,1 … blasting off for mommy land

Ok, I’m just going to say it:  I’m pregnant.

Actually, I’m just over 18 weeks pregnant now and still in a state of [pleasant] shock.  Last time I posted on Teatart I was lamenting over Mother Nature’s cruel blow of aged eggs, but as you can tell, lots … no tons … of things have happened since then.

I may not have uncovered the secret to improving a woman’s egg quality, but I have discovered that serene balance between using science to help fertility and relying on some well needed divine intervention.

What changed?

Hubby and I decided to try one last time, but this time to do things oh so very differently.  After much consultation with our fertility specialist and putting in some overtime prayer, we decided to go with the old school version of IVF:  ZIFT.

ZIFTOur awesome fertility specialist at Vitalab explained to us that some eggs are really just too borderline to undergo the stresses of being handled in a laboratory – no matter how sophisticated lab techniques have become these days.  My previous cycle of ICSI and PGS seemed to prove this as a healthy embryo just didn’t implant.  Moreover, we just didn’t feel right about the decision to destroy embryos that weren’t deemed healthy.

What we really needed science to help us with was the fertilisation of my eggs.  So with ZIFT, we harvested my eggs, used ICSI to fertilise and then the very next day I went under the knife and the fertilised eggs were implanted in my left Fallopian tube.   By doing this, my now fertilised eggs could naturally continue their journey down the Fallopian tube and plop into my uterus on their own steam.

It all sounds very straight forward doesn’t it?  I need to point out around about now that our chances weren’t great from the start.  Besides being a very invasive procedure, they could only harvest five mature eggs from my ovaries, of which only two eggs actually fertilised.  This meant that on the day of the surgery, we were found that we were undergoing a fairly painful procedure to put back only two eggs!  That’s not great odds.

You only need 1!

Our miracle had been scheduled.  From the surreal positive pregnancy test and blood test, to every scan since then, I still can’t believe how blessed we really are.  Every milestone is celebrated to the fullest and, if I can be so presumptuous, perhaps more so than for the average pregnant mommy to be.

Ask any infertility sufferer, the joy of falling pregnant is more poignant.  The converse is that the anxiety is more exaggerated too.   A crescendo of worry is the norm before each of my scans, followed by the absolute relief when we hear baby’s strong heartbeat and hear the doc says “everything looks good”.

But it’s all good and par for the course I guess.  Oh, and did I mention it’s a girl?  Well, doc is not 100% sure, but our next 20 week level 2 ultrasound will confirm all of that.  So no buying pink just yet!

The murder of Caroline

Well, well, well … I haven’t blogged for so long that I almost forgot my WordPress password! Thanks to a writing workshop I recently attended (a gift from Mr Teatart), I have officially broken the writing drought.  So here is my edited short story assignment that depicts a part of the story telling process where the stasis is broken.  I call it:  The murder of Caroline.

—————————————-

The first time Caroline met Joe at work, she knew she would be his wife.  Her life had always gone to plan, and now, Joe was no exception.  With just one look in his eyes, she foresaw children of her own, a dream home – the whole proverbial picket fence experience.  What Caroline didn’t know, couldn’t know really, was that Joe had secrets:  dark, festering, carefully guarded secrets.

You see, Joe had a type and Caroline was that type.  He would set his sights on winning her over and unwittingly, she would fall for him.  She would believe their first meeting to be a serendipitous event.  He would bump into her in the corridor with just enough force to send her papers and cell phone tumbling to the ground.  Apologising profusely, they would simultaneously stoop to collect her belongings, bump heads, and with his hand grazing hers, he would unleash his disarming charm.  The rest would be history.  Thanks to Hollywood, Joe believed his job would be done.  So many women were too eager to be loved, to be swooped up in a fast-paced, picture-perfect romance.  That’s exactly what Caroline got.

The day the wedding bells chimed and Caroline walked down the aisle beaming at him with love and adoration, Joe beamed back – a smile that nearly consumed his entire face, squinting his eyes into slits and lifting his eyebrows almost into his hairline.  Expect Joe wasn’t smiling in loving reciprocation. He was smiling at the thought of what he would do to Caroline in just a few hours.  Finally, he would be happy again, able to relive his twisted fantasies.   Joe then began to fidget with anticipation.  She would be his now to do with as he pleased.  Just a few more hours … just a few more hours.

My personal Adonis (a short story)

I shouldn’t be doing this. But here I am – rifling through his bathroom cabinet. They say you can tell a lot about a man from his choice of pharmaceuticals, but I’m not sure that’s really the scenario in my case. Besides hair gel, a toothbrush, toothpaste and two deodorant cans, I’ve actually learnt nothing new. That should teach me.

I place everything back as I found it and close the cabinet door. A quick peek out the bathroom door confirms that he is still sound asleep. The rumpled duvet covers lie half on the floor, half on the bed and my Adonis is lying on his back, spread-eagled. A sliver of the sheet covers his waist. It actually reminds me of the children’s bible story illustrations of Adam and Eve with a fig leaf over their private parts. That makes me smirk a little as I admire him from my bathroom door vantage point. He really is magnificent: sandy blonde tousled hair, tanned skin, a surfer’s physique.

The thing is, other than how he looks (and now the contents of his bathroom cabinet), I actually know nothing about him. What I do know is that a rowdy girls’ night out last night has, given my current precarious situation, not ended quite as planned.

It’s easier to blame someone other than yourself, so I blame Brendon, my long-time boyfriend of seven years. I conclude that his cheating shenanigans are directly responsible for where I am right now. We are – were – high-school sweethearts; the cliqued perfect couple. After being together for so long, I wanted a ring on my finger to seal the deal.  Yet Brendon was hesitant. Evasive even. I just didn’t understand why. We loved each other, had a stable relationship – so why then? I got the answer I didn’t want when Brendon’s recent activities were uncovered. He had met some girl at work and had been out with her several times. Apparently enough times to have moved the relationship to the bedroom! His explanation included a feeble excuse that because we had met so young, both of us had never really ‘experienced’ different relationships. He begged my forgiveness, but now it was my turn to be hesitant.

A night out on the town was determined by my girlfriends as the best therapy for a philandering boyfriend. Led by our one and only single friend, I allowed myself to be dragged out instead of comfort eating in my pyjamas in front of the TV. Not that I would’ve admitted it, but it was actually quite fun to dress up and act like a single, carefree woman again. My red party heels were pulled out from the back of my cupboard and my favourite fitted jeans donned. Topped with a splash of red colour on my lips and nails, I felt exciting and daring. Alas, the last thing I can confidently recall was swigging down the umpteenth shooter in some smoky club. Where I am right now, how I got here and with whom, I regrettably have no recollection of.

I decide to brazenly do the only thing a girl can do in this circumstance: I mentally channel the image of a stealthy ninja and make a grab for Adonis’ cell phone. Thankfully, no password and I’m in. A perusal of his text messages conclude that, while he is affectionately termed ‘Bud’ by his friends, I’m positive it’s not his name. Another bust it seems.

There’s something to be said of the cruel light of day, and now, as my bravado wanes and the Nancy Drew in me withers, I start to panic. Its morning. I want to go home. Now.

I scramble to gather my clothes, my cell phone and purse and head straight for the exit. I admit that I’m prone to acting first without thinking it through. True to form, only once I’m out the front door do I stop to contemplate my next move. I have one plausible option: phone my BFF Tina. Damn, my cell phone is turned off. Fumbling, I power it up again and, ignoring the flashing red light that signals my battery is about to die, I dial Tina’s number. She answers on the first ring. No pleasantries. Her first words are a half concerned, half irritated question: “Maddie, what the hell happened?”

I feel a big lump rising in my throat and the last of my composure crumbles. I manage to whimper, “Geez Tina, you tell me! I woke up in some strange guy’s bed. I feel …”. I let the words slide. Nothing can accurately describe how I feel right now. She mutters some profanity under her breath. “Ok, ok. Where are you? I’ll come pick you up”.

Another thing I don’t know it seems. I walk a bit further from the spot I’m standing in, turn the corner and see the main gate to the street. A car is driving out the complex and I make an ungainly dash for the gate. I silently thank the municipality for erecting a large street sign about 200 metres up the road. I tell Tina the street name. As the resourceful heroine she always is, she orders me to stay put and wait for her. “You can’t be far, I’ll plug the street name into my GPS. I’m on my way.”

Barefoot, holding my shoes in one hand, my hair dishevelled and my eye make-up smudged, I conclude that I must be a glorious sight to behold! I’m sure Tina thinks the same thing as I climb into her trusty Polo fifteen minutes later. During the animated ride home she manages to fill in a few of my self-inflicted memory gaps and tells me that she left before me last night as she had to get up early this morning. When she tried to phone me and her calls went straight to voicemail, Tina phoned one of our other friends to find out how things went. She found out that the girls had left me at the club with a friendly guy – hopefully the same one I woke up to this morning – when I insisted I didn’t want to go home and they should leave without me. It explains some of what has transpired, but not who my Adonis is and what happened after their departure. Perhaps this is one event I should really try to forget instead of trying to remember.

With much cursing and consoling, Tina finally drops me at home and leaves me alone on condition that I promise to phone her later on in the day. My first point of business is to make a cup of my favourite tea and take a hot shower.

I charge up my phone to check my text and voice messages. In addition to the harried messages from Tina, I have a long-winded message from Brendon. He says he loves me and asks if we can meet to talk things through. He also states emphatically that he believes it would be a huge mistake if I just end our relationship so easily after one foolish indiscretion. Characteristically Brendon – always trying to control the state of affairs and minimise the damage.

I’m contemplating whether I want to call Brendon back after so much has transpired, when my phone rings. I don’t recognise the number but I answer anyway.

“Maddie?” an unfamiliar voice asks.
“Yes.”
“Maddie, my name is Jeff.  We met at the club last night?”
I remain silent.
“You left your watch at my place.”
I balk. Oh boy, this must be my Adonis. Did I really give him my number?
He clears his throat, “You could’ve woken me up. I would’ve taken you home you know.” Now I hear a soft rumble as he tries to contain a chuckle. I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed or angry.
“Why don’t I take you out for lunch today? I like you and we seem to have tons of stuff in common. Based on your quick escape this morning though, I think I might’ve scared you off. How about we start over?”
I think about it and after a short pause, I hear myself say “Ok”. Surprisingly, I am ok with it.
“Oh, and by the way Maddie, we didn’t sleep together if that’s what you were wondering. You were a little wasted and I couldn’t get your address out of you. So I took you back to my place to sleep it off.”
“But you were naked!” I blurt out.
He laughs. “I sleep in the buff.  See you in an hour.”

I’m smiling now – a big goofy grin that crinkles the corners of my eyes. He sounds like a ‘nice guy’ and I sure could do with a ‘nice guy’ around about now. Maybe there is a life after Brendon?  I’m sure I’ll figure it out, but it’s one step at time. This is my first step – and it’s out the door to meet my personal Adonis. Adios Brendon.

~ A short story by Sherrie Dyer-Bracher

Liebevoll recognition with the Liebster Award

I know I’ve been very quiet as of late.  Truth be told, I’m experiencing some … erm … inspiration difficulties. In short, my creative well is a little dry at present.

Do I have a plan of action you may ask?  Well, I know that I have to firstly stop feeling sorry for myself and secondly, most importantly, write something – anything!

The best advice is often for free

I follow many talented writers, and thankfully, the advice given by these individuals is free for all.

Their advice on overcoming writer’s block is simply to write something – anything.  To entice the creative writing juices, you have to start somewhere right? To this end, I’ve set my timer for 20 minutes, and that’s what I’m doing:  I’m writing something with the hope that I can clear this writing blockage.

Feeling the love by fellow bloggers

Liebster Blog Award 2013Knowing that your writing is appreciated definitely helps.  So thank you Marci Wise for nominating my Teatart blog for the Liebster Blog Award.  Marci is one such talented author and columnist that I regularly follow, and I regard her site as truly motivating (http://marciwise.com).  Thank you again Marci for the recognition.

As part of accepting the Liebster Award nomination, I have to answer the ten questions posed by Marci to me and the other nominees.  Here goes:

How would you sum up your blog in a single sentence?
My Teatart blog is about sharing life’s poignant experiences and lessons with those who are in, or will encounter one day, similar scenarios (I certainly wish someone had shared this kind of information with me when I needed it the most!).

If you could have dinner with two people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
This may sound clichéd, but I would really want to sit down and have dinner with Jesus.  I have so many questions, and I really want to understand how to love without expecting anything in return – who better to ask than the ultimate sacrifice?  The second person I would love to have dinner with is Stephen King. He is a true artist, whether you enjoy his genre of writing or not.  I’m sure a few pearls of wisdom shared by this man would be enough to guide any amateur writer into writing greatness.

Do you have a saying or a personal motto?
“What comes around goes around”.  The wheel turns in life, albeit sometimes a little too slowly.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you’d spend money on?
A beach home.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Cheese, because everything with cheese just tastes better.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Learn to love yourself.

What do you do to cheer yourself up when you’re feeling down?
I eat.  When I feel down, I crave all the feel-good carbohydrates.  Add shopping to the list and you have a plump, broke comfort eater.

If you could change one thing to help the environment what would that be?
I would make recycling compulsory.  We have a long way to go with the recycling issue in South Africa.  Legislation needs to be changed and resources need to be allocated to the issue to make it possible and easier for people to recycle their waste.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
I am a klutz and a scatter-brain for the most part.  I attract embarrassment, so it’s hard to pinpoint just one incident. One recent embarrassing moment involves warmly greeting and hugging a perfect stranger because I thought it was someone else.  It turned out to be the person’s sister who looked, in my opinion, almost identical.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My mom.  She has gone through so much in her lifetime and yet still manages to stay upbeat and level-headed.

Now it’s my turn to nominate

I in turn nominate the following blogs for the Liebster Award:

I Am Lovely

Lost Companion

The Big Book of Dating

Theothersideofinfidelity

Ohh, honey!

That precarious gait

Serene and sweet

Find Fabulous

nevercontrary

Black Box Warnings

My questions to you are:
  1. What goal motivates you to keep writing?
  2. How would you describe your blog in one sentence?
  3. If you could be any one superhero, which superhero would you be?
  4. Which food would you eat everyday if you could?
  5. What charitable cause is close to your heart?
  6. When are you more productive:  morning, mid-day, afternoon, evening?
  7. What has been your biggest writing achievement to date?
  8. If the world was overrun with zombies, who would you choose to be in your group of survivors?
  9. What piece of technology can you simply not live without?
  10. Who inspires you?
Don’t forget that for all Liebster Award nominees, there are a few simple rules:
  • Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.
  • Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award that has less than 200 followers.
  • Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them

Jobless. Can it be a positive?

Well its official, I am jobless. The company I have given over 14 years of loyal service to has given me the axe in the name of cost savings and forced job redundancies.

Office chair with a RETRENCHED sign isolated on whiteIt comes as quite a shock to realise just how heavily I’ve relied on my career to give my life purpose. Losing the one consistent facet of my life that I thought defined me as a person has shaken my very foundations and left me feeling lost and overwhelmed.  For the first time in my life I’ve lost my job without having something else lined up; and for the first time in my life I now have to worry about where the next pay cheque will come from.

I know that I’ve talked about wanting to write more, to pursue my dreams of one day publishing a book.  Yet I haven’t a cooking clue just how to go about doing that!  Yes, I am more than just another employee at a corporate company, but how do I go from being one to a freelance writer? So if you have any tips and suggestions, please feel free to impart your knowledge as I have a lot to learn!

Admittedly, this whole experience has not been all negative. I’ve learnt so much, grown so much in my personal and business life, and more importantly, I’ve made a bunch of fabulous friends along the way. This isn’t the end – this is an opportunity to embrace something new.

The “unknown” has always been my greatest fear.  Now that the “unknown” has now become a reality, it really isn’t that scary anymore. I’m not going to gush that the world is my oyster, but I do know that I will get through this and that I will indeed forge my own new path.  I hope you, dear reader, are ready to embark on this adventure with me? To my dear CC gals, I’ll raise my glass of wine this evening in thanks that you have made my working life not just a boring job. I consider you my friends, and I will sorely miss you.

Celebrating ye olde English of ye olde times

During one of my many trips to Durban and back, I picked up a delightful book on sale at a bookstore in the King Shaka International Airport.  Although I paid small change for this book titled “Lost English Words and Phrases That Have Vanished from our Language” by Chris Roberts, this little publication has given me hours of entertainment and is worth its weight in gold.

As is the case with most languages, the addition of words and phrases is dependent on prevailing circumstances and the influx of other cultures, amongst other factors. For example, the two World Wars saw a melting pot of nations and cultures influencing the English language as it was known then.  Chris Roberts describes English as possessing the largest vocabulary of any language in the world, an attribute he says is because of the language’s “magpie-like tendency to adopt words from pretty much anywhere as well as having been shaped by successive waves of invaders, bringing with them Danish, Anglo-Saxon and French words”.

This is the true beauty of the English language:  its adaptability.  As words are added, so other words become obsolete.  After paging tirelessly through his book, I’ve picked out a fifteen of my favourite words that are now sadly out of commission.

Poodlefaker:

A term used for a young man, often a newly commissioned officer, who habitually socialised with women. The word “poodle” was 19th century slang for a woman, and “faker” in this context refers to the pretence of emotions.  “Poodlefaker” is a great old word for what we would call a “player” today.

Knickerbockers (knee breeches):

A sort of loose-fitting trouser gathered in at the knee or sometimes the calf. Today the more stylish versions are called cropped pants or Capri’s.

Pully hawly:

The word has a “pull and haul” context.  Here, the phrase “pully hawly”, originating in the 18th century, meant a sexual encounter.  So a “pully hawly” is a bit like a “slap and tickle”, a “roll in the hay” or a “romp”.

Oojah:

A word similar to “thingamabob” or “doohickey” used by a person to describe an object or item he/she has temporarily or permanently forgotten.

Pell-mell:

Another descriptive word denotes disorderly or reckless haste.  Chaotic, helter-skelter, higgledy-piggledy or jumbled would be good alternatives.

Rubber Johnny:

Simply put, an old English term for a condom

Doxy:

An archaic term for a sexually promiscuous woman.

Rum:

“Rum” was often used as a prefix, either to symbolise admiration or warning, for example, “rum cove” (a dextrous and clever rogue) or “rum doxy” (a beautiful woman).

Sawbones:

An old term for doctor, or more accurately a surgeon.

Vapours:

An attack of the “vapours” would describe a number of mental or emotional conditions such as depression, hysteria, mood swings, fainting etc.

Tussie-mussie:

A small posy of flowers either carried by a bridesmaid or matron of honour at a wedding, or pinned to her dress by means of a small decorative vase. “Tussie-mussie” seems to stem from the medieval word “tussemose” or “tussock”, which is pre-dated by the Victorian era when a bunch of aromatic herbs were carried to disguise unpleasant body odours due to the poor personal hygiene in those days.

Cove:

A “cove” was generally a conventional, home-loving sort of person. The word may have been derived from the Romany word “kova” simply meaning a person or thing.

Egg on your chin:

A polite way of telling a man that his zip or buttons were undone.

Gasper:

“Gasper” is a dated slang word for a cigarette.  We call it a “smoke” these days.

Galloping consumption:

“Consumption” was once the most commonly used term for tuberculosis (TB) and therefore “galloping” was the vivid way to describe how the disease consumed and wasted its victims.

The debate of UK English vs American English

I am fascinated with the English language It’s a passion I learned, late in life, not everyone shares. People enjoy different things for sure! Me? I thrive on researching grammar, spelling and language issues in general.  

 There is one language related topic in particular that truly blows my hair back:  the variances between the use of American English, British English and South African English.

For the record, I do not confess to be an expert on the topic! I am merely an English language buff who has spent a substantial amount of personal time clarifying, in my own mind at least, the correct use of English in writing.

My vocation requires that I edit and write, and being a proud South African, I am continuously irritated at the inconsistencies in magazine and newspaper editorial, amongst others, in relation to the use of American and British English standards.  Often – and to my utter dismay – any particular editorial can contain both language styles:  the American English standard and the British or UK English standard – all in one writing sample!

faceWhat really gets my goat is the spelling of words with “s” or “z” (e.g. organisation or organization) and conflicting sentence punctuation, especially when using quotation marks e.g.:

  • “It’s a beautiful and sunny day”, Lisa said. She emphasised, “I wonder when it will rain?”.
  • ‘It’s a beautiful and sunny day,” Lisa said. She emphasized, ‘I wonder when it will rain?’

You see, my peers and I were educated to use the “s” and not the “z” – although both are correct in British English, while American English prefers using the “z” only.  Yet the “z” creeps persistently into our writing!  So which version is correct?

In my humble opinion, South Africans should stick with the following simple language guidelines:

  • Using British/UK English spelling e.g. programme, cheque, kilogramme, metre, dialogue, neighbour, honour, archaeology etc.
  • Using the “s” and not the “z” in spelling e.g. organise, analyse, capitalise, emphasise, standardise, urbanise etc.
  • Using double quotation marks for direct speech and single quotation marks for a quote within a quote.
  • Placing the comma or period outside the quotation marks unless the comma or period forms part of the quoted material, in which case the punctuation mark is placed inside the quotation marks.
  • In body text which already contains direct speech using double quotation marks, single quotation marks should be used to highlight or emphasise specific words or to enclose slang and jargon.
  • Use of hyphens to separate identical letters as in co-operate and re-introduce.
  • Hyphenating compound modifiers, if used in adjectives before the noun e.g. full-time job, well-known expert, large-scale project. However, if used after the noun, a hyphen is not used e.g. the job is full time, the expert is well known, the project was large scale. Also, modifiers ending in “ly” do not require hyphenation (thanks to www.copyblogger.com for this easy to remember tip)  
  • Hyphenating compound numbers and fractions.

So there you have it! Use it or don’t use it – I’ve put it out there!

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