Round four of egg donation – let’s go!

So, it’s all officially official and the dates are set… I’m doing a fourth round of egg donation for the wonderful, inspiring women at Nurture!

Over the past year (wow, it’s been a year already!) I’ve been very open about my work with Nurture and the donation process. I’ve written about it extensively here and on other websites, but I thought that this time round I’d be a bit more proactive about blogging the process – from first scans to Donation Day – and you’re all more than welcome to contact me if you have any questions.

Because it’s been a year since I last saw the psychologist, I met again with the wonderful Leanne from the Cape Fertility Clinic. She caught me just a few days after things ended with J – and I was still pretty beat-up about it, oddly – and so we spent more time talking about life, love and everything else than we did about the actual donation process (although don’t worry, those boxes were covered too!)

Because the Amazing Dr Heylen (hereafter known as “The Amazing Dr H” or “Dr H”) had to shift my appointment, I spent an hour and a bit sitting in the waiting room, catching up on work and people-watching. The energy at the Clinic is always so amazingly mixed – hopeful, anxious, nervous – I love the people-watching there, wondering about their story.

Then, the scans and blood tests. Because it’s been a while, I got the Amazing Dr H to a proper breast exam, and he was wonderful about talking me through it and teaching me how and when to examine myself. The internal ultrasounds are never pleasant, but I’m used to them now – and then it was down to the pathologists for blood tests. J and I had been tested a few weeks before, but you know me, I’m always paranoid – but everything was a-okay and I’ve been cleared for take off.

Injections commence 15 November 2012. Everybody start sending some seriously positive vibes to me, my ovaries, and the woman these eggs are going to.

If you’re South African and think you may want to donate your eggs, I highly recommend you check out Nurture – they’ve been nothing but amazing to me. And, no, they’re not paying me to say any of this! ūüėõ

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Thoughts on aggressive readers

This is an old Facebook note that I thought needed a more public repost and a bit of a do-over. It springs from a discussion I had today with two of my colleagues – where somebody sent an email that read pretty much: “UNSUBSCRIBE ME FROM THIS FUCKING MAILING LIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Seriously, who do you think you are?

I’m tired of being yelled at by readers who think that an Internet connection means they are entitled to express every single feeling that they have – in as rude a manner as they possibly can. Thankfully, I like to think I’m pretty good at my job so I don’t get as many complaints as some people do. But when I do, it hits pretty close to home – even after three years on the job.

Some thoughts.

1) First and foremost… I’m a human being. I have feelings. Calling me stupid or suggesting that I’m bad at my job actually hurts. If I make a typo, you can point it out in a polite, constructive manner. “Holy shit who the fuck do you think you are how did you get your fucking job you’re obviously a fucking retard and this site fucking sucks and this is why I never come to this website”… Really? Is this how you would speak to a bank teller? A cashier? A doctor? A lawyer? I don’t think so.

2) Think before attacking me personally or before being aggressive or rude in a comment/email/Facebook post. I don’t sit behind your chair and call you names while you’re trying to do your job, do I? It amounts the same thing.

I’ve been called a cunt, a slut, a whore, a dumb bitch (amazing how much has to do with the fact that I’m a woman)…

3) If you don’t care, don’t read. Don’t comment. Please. Writing “Who CARES?!!!” on an article is just a waste of everybody’s time. [And clearly, you do care… You care enough to comment.]

4) On that note, I am fully aware that celebrity gossip is not everybody’s cup of tea. However, can we just agree that it is of interest to millions of people in South Africa and that it actually does deserve a spot on our website? Please?

It’s quite simple: If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

5) Lay off the Caps Lock, bad grammar and the truckload of exclamation marks. You really lose a whole lot of credibility when you use the above to point out my failings. (I actually had an email, in which a reader pointed out an error of mine, then ended her email with “PUH-LEEEEZ!!!!!!!!!!”)

6) If your comments are racist, homophobic or sexist or could be considered as any of these, I can and will delete them. If you continue in this manner, I will ban you. Even if you come back with another email address, I can (and will) find you and ban you again. And again. Don’t email me to complain – you should have read our Terms of Use.

On having a slightly unusual name

There’s not much fun in having a slightly unusual name, truly.

My parents – and I do love them dearly – clearly thought the usual “Candice” would not suffice. Instead, somewhere – in the depths of a baby name book, I presume – found the variant “Candace”. Which, I’m sure, was accompanied by something along these lines:

Glittering white; glowing. History: The hereditary title of the queens of ancient Ethiopia.

All very awesome. The trouble comes with the way my name is pronounced.

You see, I pronounce it “Cand-ACE”. To rhyme with race. That’s what my parents named me, you see. Therefore, it is my name.

However, the internet will tell me it is pronounced “Cand-iss”, “Can-deh-key” and even, for some bizarre reason “Can-day-see”. Do you know how many people have pointed out that my own name was not pronounced in the “usual” way? (One of those people was Morgan Freeman. True story.)

Look, if your name was spelled “Diane” and you pronounced it “Dee-anne”, I’d be cool with it. Because that’s your freaking name. Likewise with “Kelle” and “Kelly/Keh-leh”. I’m not judging.

So, with a name like “Candace”, you can imagine how funny phone calls to my office are. “Hello, Candace speaking,” I’ll say. Person on the other end will usually respond: “Oh, hello Candice”. Or, more fun, are the debates we have over how to pronounce me name. They usually go like this:

“Hello, who’s speaking?”
“This is Candace.”
“Candice?”
“Candace.”
[I kid you not, this happened last week] “Sandrace?”
“CAND-ACE”.
“Oh, sorry Candice.”

FFS.

Never mind the written versions of my name. I’ve seen Candice, get “Candance” on a regular basis (even my Open Water 1 diving card reads Candance, it was a huge joke at that night’s braai. “Can you dance, Candace? Can you?”) and once I even had “Can”. As if they got stuck at the tricky part and gave up.

To add to the confusion, my brother still calls me “Candice”. Because when I was younger, I hated “Candace” so much that I basically bullied my family out of it. At high school, though, the teachers preferred to call me “Candace” – and it stuck.

However, in the interests of not going through life in an even larger ball of rage than I already do, if I can vaguely recognise it as my name, I’ll generally answer without comment.

Plus, to make everybody’s life¬†that much more difficult,¬†I spell my nickname “Candi”.

You know, for fun.

Cinema Etiquette

Cinema

Cinema by M4tik (flickr.com)

After months and months of waiting, I finally got to the press screening of¬†The Hunger Games¬†here in Cape Town. While the movie was absolutely freaking incredible and all I could have wanted in a big-budget, big-studio, PG-version of the books, I spent most of it trying not to shriek at the audience… other so-called film reviewers and entertainment journalists.

I was appalled at the behaviour of these people – arriving 15 minutes late (why did you bother, then?!), checking their cellphones, talking to the person sitting next to them…. WTF?!¬†Anyway, this got me on to a topic I’m extremely passionate about (strangely) – cinema etiquette.

Going to the cinema is as close to a religious/churchy experience as I suspect I’ll ever get. It’s a sacred time for me, and I have my own set of “rituals” that I adhere to. All I ask of other people is that they don’t be a damned asshole.

And Рbehold! Tips on how not to be an asshole at the cinema.

Don’t talk through the movie

One of my favourite lines from¬†Firefly¬†– and from television of all time, I guess – comes in Our Mrs Reynolds.¬†Shepherd Book tells Mal that if he takes advantage of his new “wife” “Saffron”, that Mal will “burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater”.

That’s pretty much my level of feeling for people who natter through a film. Damnit, if you want to chat – why are you watching a movie?¬†And then, if you want to discuss the film while it’s playing (I hope¬†that’s what you’re talking about, by the way) then just download the thing off The Pirate Bay or something and chat at home in front of your laptop where you can stop/start/rewind to your heart’s content. If you must talk, then whisper. Sparingly.

Don’t fiddle with your phone

This includes but is not limited to: Checking the time, making or taking a phone call, responding to or composing a text message or – and yes, I’ve actually seen this – playing Angry Birds.

See, while texting itself is relatively quiet, and I’m sure that you can turn the volume down on Angry Birds, it’s that damned light off your super-phone that ¬†can also serve as the Bat Signal that is the problem. There is nothing more irritating than somebody’s flashing phone light in front of you in a darkened cinema.

And if common decency isn’t enough to put you off texting in the cinema, maybe this will: We can, and I will, read what you’re texting.

If you must take the call, leave the cinema as quickly as possible. Don’t sit in your seat and chat away. Seriously.

Arrive on time

Look, I get it. Sometimes traffic sucks. Or the line to get your popcorn and slushie is quite long. Or you need the bathroom and there’s only one working stall. It happens. In fact, it happened to me – twenty minutes ago, when I arrived in time to catch all the trailers¬†and¬†the start of the movie! (I know it must be a weird thought, but filmmakers actually do have a “beginning” of the film). You don’t have to be seated for the trailers – that’s a personal choice – but you had better be sitting as the movie starts. It’s disruptive for the rest of us –¬†especially¬†if you arrive 15 minutes late as we’re getting into it.

Sit in the seats assigned to you

Those little numbers on your ticket aren’t just for decoration, you know. In fact, there’s actually a¬†meaning¬†to them! Okay, I know this might be hard to follow so I’m going to go slowly. Right. Look at your ticket. See how there is the letter “C” and then the numbers “4-5”? Right, you see – no, move your thumb – there!¬†Right, now look down the aisle. See, along the aisle, there are those little letters? “A, B, C, D…?” Right, go to “C”. Now, if you look on the seats themselves there are little numbers? “1, 2, 3, 4” – see, that’s you! and “5”! That’s you too!” Now, sit. Stay. Don’t move.

If the cinema has unreserved seating, it’s relatively empty, and there’s a blonde woman in glasses sitting near the end of the row, don’t sit next to her. That’s me. I will growl at you. There’s plenty of space, why do you need to sit on my lap? If the cinema fills up, I’ll happily sit next to somebody else – but¬†only then.

Keep noisy eating to a minimum

Look, I love my movie sweets. The tip is simple – open the packet¬†before¬†the movie starts (see why it can be helpful to arrive on time?!) or wait for a super noisy part to open it. Hint: While the main character’s love interest is dying is not an appropriate time.

Think smart with your luggage

I am known for my giant handbags. It’s a thing. They need to be able to cart books around, you see. So if I can keep my luggage under control, so can you. Either keep your bag on your lap, on the empty seat next to you or under your chair. Not in the aisle, not in front of your feet where other cinemagoers can trip over it when they need the bathroom or have to take an (urgent) call.

Extra bonus tips, suggestions and pointers!

Kick my seat and die.
If your child can’t sit through an episode of¬†Barney,¬†they’re not going to make it through two-and-a-half hours of film. Don’t bring her. (Oh, and if your child is so young that the noise and lights in the cinema make her¬†cry and you have to leave to change her nappy,¬†then you have Failed at Parenting. Another true story)
Don’t sing. I’m very pleased you know the song. Just don’t sing.
Oh, and try and refrain from throwing food around the cinema. That’s just common.

On Harry Potter… And me

Harry Potter book collection

A stack of Harry Potters. Pic by Alan Edwardes, flickr.com

A few days ago, I saw a tweet about a super-cool Harry Potter DVD boxset. Like, seriously, Warner Bros. pulled out all the stops for that. It was the full eight-film collection plus bucket loads of special features spread over 31 discs, a kick-ass box and concept art and stuff and more stuff… (Check it out here)

Anyway, the wonderful tallulahlucy and I started chatting about the books – how we’ve probably read them a thousand times between the two of us, and we got to chatting about our favourites and least favourites… And our firsts. Which I thought would be super-cool to put out in blog form.

But basically, it boils down to this – the¬†Harry Potter¬†series defined a very large part of my life. Pretty much from the time I was about 13 to… Well,¬†now¬†I guess. That’s a good 12 years, and I intend to pass Ms Rowling’s novels onto my future children. The Potter¬†series was there through some of the darkest times in my life. And in fact, if I ever feel myself down in the dumps for an extended period of time, I open up at¬†The Philosopher’s Stone¬†and start at “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much…”

My first 

My first ever¬†Harry Potter¬†novel was¬†The Prisoner of Azkaban.¬†My grandmother had bought¬†Azkaban¬†and the¬†Chamber of Secrets¬†for my younger brother (who, at 9, was more into cricket and comic books than novels). I grabbed¬†Azkaban¬†first, and fell in love. I, like positively millions of children (and adults!) across the globe, wanted to be a part of Harry’s world. I remember very clearly sitting in a patch of sunlight streaming in through the window into the TV room and reading as Harry tried to escape the Ministry on the Knight Bus… And being thrilled to discover there was a real Neville Longbottom.

My favourite

I think¬†The Goblet of Fire¬†has to be my favourite – and, in my mind, it’s also the most important¬†Potter¬†book, because of the sudden turning point. It’s not purely because Voldemort returns – though, obviously, that helps – but it is the abandonment of the relative innocence of the first three novels in stark contrast with the complexity of the emotions and the issues of¬†Goblet of Fire.¬†I still get goosebumps with this novel.

My least favourite

That’s not to say that I don’t¬†like¬†it, it’s just that of all of the novels it’s the one that I love the least.¬†The Chamber of Secrets.¬†I loathed Gilderoy Lockhart’s character and I found all of the “Harry is the Heir of Slytherin” thing quite tiresome. I still have some favourite moments of the novel, of course, and it introduced me to the delightful Dobby… And while at first¬†Chamber of Secrets¬†seems relatively disconnected from the narrative of the first six novels – we find out in¬†Deathly Hallows¬†that it isn’t quite so.

My strongest Potter reaction

I had two very strong reactions to two points in the novels, but one comes out hands down – Cedric Diggory’s death in¬†Goblet of Fire¬†and Voldemort’s return. I remember putting down¬†Goblet of Fire¬†and going outside to help my mother hang up the laundry, my head still positively reeling from what I had just read.¬†“Cedric Diggory’s dead!”¬†rang on a loop in my teenage brain – I was astounded. Secondly, of course, would be Sirius’ death in¬†Order of the Phoenix.¬†The idea that he just disappeared through the veil – no body, no goodbye, nothing – well, that just slayed me. And Harry yelling into the mirror, so sure that Sirius would respond… Well. There were tears.

My Harry Potter family

I often credit the¬†Potter¬†novels with getting my brother to fall in love with reading. We used to discuss the novels while I was home from school, and dissect the smallest details. (“What did she mean by a look of¬†triumph¬†in Dumbledore’s eyes?” etc etc) We saw all of the movies – I remember my parents taking us to see¬†The Philosopher’s Stone¬†in 2001… We had ice cream just before and I wore my favourite red dress.¬†Potter¬†was a connection to my grandmother… She bought us all the novels – she knew how much I loved them – and would, in fact, order them well in advance so we didn’t have to wait too long.

And then… My father. Well, he enjoyed the films, I knew that much. But when he was in his coma, after I had read him¬†The Hobbit¬†and abandoned the idea of reading him my setworks (I didn’t quite see him enjoying¬†Mansfield Park,¬†though I thought that at least some Dickens could have gone down well, if he tried) I started reading him the¬†Harry Potter¬†novels. In Jwaneng, when he was in the private room, I would arrive after lunch and read to him all afternoon until we had to leave at six, then came back and read for a little more from seven until we were kicked out again.

When he moved to the house in Ladysmith… Well, his nurses scared me. A lot. I always felt horribly judged, so I stayed away. In hindsight, they probably judged me more for seeming to never visit… But from four-thirty until six, when there were no nurses… Well, that was our time.

I was halfway through The Goblet of Fire, I think, before he died.

Bringing it back to the center

DaisiesThe last few days – and today, in particular – have been crazy. In an entirely unhealthy, largely destructive kinda way. And then, with my heart rate at easily 300, I sat down to blog. I opened WordPress, and under their “Freshly Pressed” section was this:“Ten Things I Learned From My Father”. And it brought me back to my center.

It has been over five years since my dad had his stroke, and the missing him and longing to have him back comes in waves. Sometimes I’ll be perfectly fine, ticking along as normal – then suddenly BAM! It hits me. So clear, so pure, so sharp, that I’m sure if I pick up my phone and dial a number I’ll hear his voice at the other end of the line. Telling me “Even, sweetness” and “I’m so proud of you”.

But while I remember happenings, stories he told, flashes of memories… Somewhere along the line I forgot the kind of person that he taught me to be.

First, he taught me to be brave.

He taught me to have a “rhino skin”, to not let everything get to me. He knew me too well, knew that I feel everything so acutely, that sometimes it’s just a bit too much. Words that other people brush off, haunt me. When people are harsh with me, I can’t just laugh it off. I hurt. He knew that I was a delicate little petal. He told me to develop a “rhino skin”. I had forgotten.

He taught me to fight. Fight for what I believed in. Fight for my rights. To not just step back and let everybody take what they wanted. (I needed to hear you say that this week, dad. So badly.)

He taught me to be the best I can be. Then he taught me to be better than that.

And he taught me that I was worth more than I thought. That I was precious, special, something to be proud of.

Damnit, dad. I am.

I am not okay with Rihanna and Chris Brown’s collaboration

* A relatively rough rant. I may come back and edit it tomorrow. Or I may just leave it entirely. 

I have been ranting to friends/relatives/colleagues about this pretty solidly since yesterday morning, although I haven’t had the time to actually blog about it*.

*Which reminds me, I have a backlog of material – blog, work and personal – to get cracking on. I should probably invest in a day-planner. Do those things actually help?

I am not okay with Rihanna and Chris Brown’s new collaborations.

I am not okay with the fact that in an attempt to “shock the world” (according to one of the producers, Kosine, on the remix of Birthday Cake), Rihanna has made a pretty public statement: It’s okay to go back to the man who abused you.

Court documents in Chris Brown’s 2009 trial made it clear that he beat Rihanna repeatedly. Photographs from that night – the night before the 2009 Grammy Awards – show a Rihanna that is almost unrecognisable.

Rihanna

Rihanna after Chris Brown's assault of her in 2009. <i>TMZ</i>

The recently released documents made for absolutely terrfying reading. You can read the full report on Perez Hilton’s site but I’ll give you highlights.

He punched her repeatedly, smashed her head against the window, bit her left ear and two of her fingers, threatened to kill her, had her in a headlock and tried to strangle her.

(And yes, all you Chris Brown “fans”, he was also injured. Those are called “defensive wounds”. You find them on rapists, murderers, robbers and abusers. They’re caused as the victim tries to defend him or herself.)

It’s been just three years since that night – and, in fact, Chris is still serving a five-year probation for the felony assault. He made an extremely controversial return to the Grammy Awards last week – he performed twice – and his appearance raised the ire of a number of celebrities, music fans and critics.

They questioned the appropriateness of his inclusion into the ceremony, and his reaction does not seem typical of a man who is remorseful of actions. He tweeted, “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That‚Äôs the ultimate FUCK OFF!”

And you know, in the interests of not stirring the pot without due cause, I kind of left it after the Grammys. It made my stomach churn to watch him parade around the stage, but I could have been being over-sensitive. It happens.

But then Rihanna tweeted her two collaborations with the man that beat her within an inch of her life. And I was unbelievably disappointed.

In 2009, Rihanna said:¬†“I don’t want to be the big domestic-violence spokesperson, because that doesn’t define who I am. But if I can help young women in any way, and that being one of the things they need help with, then I’ll do that.”

Rihanna had a perfect chance – whether she wanted it or not – to make a statement, be a role model. She had the chance, through her actions, to say: What happened to me is not okay. What he did was not okay. I do not need to stand for it. I do not need to go back.

But these two songs have sent a very, very public message: I have forgiven my abuser, and want him back in my life. Even better, I can cash in on the controversy and the abuse.

These were my thoughts¬†before¬†I had listened to the remix of¬†Birthday Cake.¬†And yes, while Chris’ contribution to the song is keeping with the hardcore, S&M style of the original’s lyrics… Well, Jesus H Christ in a handbag, it is¬†not okay for the man that abused you to be singing those lyrics.¬†

“Girl, I wanna f*** you right now. Been a long time. I been missin your body … give it to her in the worst way. Can’t wait to her¬†blow her candles off.”

I was surfing for various opinions on the tracks, and an article on the Boston Herald site really stuck out. The author had interviewed one Wendy Murphy, who apparently teaches a seminar on sexual violence at New England Law School.

Her thoughts?

“I don‚Äôt even have words to describe the perversity of (the collaboration),” she said.

“The obvious message she is sending isn‚Äôt that violence is bad, it‚Äôs that you need to find a way to enjoy it. … Someone should confront her and say, ‚ÄėWomen are dying from the same violence you are celebrating’.”

“To do a song with the man who beat the hell out of her is exploiting her own victimization for money,” Murphy said.

I am not okay with Rihanna’s collaboration with Chris Brown.

I do not care – and I suppose it is none of my business – whether she has forgiven him for what he did. I¬†don’t think that I would ever forgive abuse dished out to me. I would never record a fucking song with my abuser. But that’s just me.

And if they are all happy-and-back-together? Well, for god’s sake have some tact about announcing it. Release a statement instead of dropping two unnecessarily controversial tracks. They¬†both¬†owe it to their fans – whether they think they owe anything to the people who keep buying their records or not.

Rita Smith, the executive director for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, seems to agree with me.

She told MTV News (and I bold this for the tl;dr among you):

“I don’t know what the message is. I would like the message to be: People can change, and I will never be treated that way again and I will never treat anyone that way again.

“If they had released a song saying this is what this represents for us, that would be such a much more fabulous, powerful story than not saying a word,” she said.

Instead, Rihanna’s stand-alone collaborations with Chris Brown are a public statement – that she endorses the man that abused her.

Smith also said that, given Rihanna’s history with Chris Brown: “I think the message she’s sending is that the feelings of being in love are more important than your personal safety.”

Like so many other victims of domestic abuse, Rihanna returns. Convinced he has changed, perhaps, or convinced that she can change him.

And what if, like so many other victims of domestic abuse, it happens again?