Breathe In, Breathe Out

The past couple of days have been hellishly stressful (I know this because my elbows have flared up again). Waiting for the exam results is definitely not a ride in the park. Luckily, the wait is over AND I PASSED EVERYTHING WOOT WOOT! I am now officially done with university (for the time being :P) and it feels great.

Next on the agenda:

* Find an apartment for next year
* Attend the Board Course
* Prepare for Boards
* Write the Boards
* Work
* Get a puppy
* Get a bf
* Start exercising
* Write more
* Buy a kindle so that I can start reading something other than my text books


I’ve heard this word uttered plenty of times – on Grey’s Anatomy, on House, and in primary school we used to have competitions to see who could say it the fastest – but I never really knew what they were (or did) until a couple of days ago.

I had been feeling exhausted for quite some time – The kind of exhaustion that would knock me out for hours because my body was too useless to do anything other than sleep. It didn’t affect life so much because my lectures started at 2pm so an early morning nap was a luxury I willingly took. Unfortunately, now that exams are just around the corner, I can no longer afford to take leisurely snoozes whenever I like. The tiredness really hampered my study routine so I decided some medical intervention was needed.

I went to the school nurse who did a finger-prick test which revealed my low haemoglobin count (1.5 mg lower than the minimum threshold for an adult female to be exact). Basically, I lack sufficient “iron-containing protein attached to red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body”. Apparently anaemia is common among females and a healthy dose of vitamin B12 is all that’s needed.

Now, I’ve been told horror stories about the vitamin B injection. Even the nurse warned me how she’d seen grown men squirm before the needle. Well, frankly, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. The injection itself wasn’t painful at all, and sure, the vitamin B burned a little but it was hardly something worth moaning about. Pfft.

Oh, and I got some cortisone cream for my elbows and they seem to be working (yay!).

The last stretch

I can’t believe the holidays are over. I definitely miss the undergrad days where we would get 5 weeks’ of relaxation instead of a measly two. I’m back in Cape Town – just in time for the crappy weather to overwhelm my sunny disposition. My flatmates have gone out, so I’m stuck in the flat all by myself eating a not-so-appetizing Woolies meal. It’s times like this where I wish I still lived at home where I have two devoted parents catering for my needs. I guess we all have to grow up at some point in our lives.

I didn’t do so well in my July tests. I passed everything by the skin of my teeth – and while I’m still above class average, the margin of safety is minimal. (Plus, I’m somewhat convinced that my year is full of retards so being above class average really isn’t that big of an achievement.) The next three months is crucial – I really have to pull up my socks in order to avoid disappointing my parents and myself. I’ve done quite a bit of introspection during the holidays, and came to the conclusion that I need to do something about my internet addiction. I reckon I waste about a third to half of my day idling in front of a PC – being unproductive. It explains why my marks have deteriorated since highschool. (Back then, I had a very shoddy dial-up connection and I could only surf the net after 7pm.)

To illustrate, I’ve written a little poem – Definitely not my best work, but it’s pretty close to heart.

I used to strive for perfection, but soon realised
It was nothing but a distant dream.
Now laziness has become
My overriding theme.

The things I ought to do right now
Are left for another day;
Even as I tell myself:
“I shall no longer procrastinate”.

Distractions dazzle dangerously –
Though none is worthy of my time.
I succumb to them in any case,
Waste precious moments of my prime.

Every once in a while,
I look back and reminisce
The days where I could look in the mirror
And not be confronted by a total mess.

Is it too late for change?
Is this truly the last straw?
My inspiration is dwindling,
My purpose, I’m unable to recall.

All that’s left is this pressure
Weighing on top of me
I wish someone would take it off
So I could end this soliloquy.

Anyways, I really hope I can concentrate enough to pass the year. *fingers crossed*

Break, etc.

Back in undergrad, I used to hear all sorts of horror stories about how atrocious postgrad was going to be. So horrible that it made me look forward to articles where I must spend weekends at dimly-lit warehouses counting boxes and bean-cans to earn my keep. I didn’t believe much of it as I figured most of it was hyperbole and they were just trying to scare us. Boy, was I wrong. Not only do they work us like donkeys, they assume we are donkeys on crack with never-ending bursts of energy. I’ve barely had time for meals, let alone blogging. After 10 weeks of learning and a series of unrelenting tests, I finally have a 10 day break where I can catch up on all the missed beauty sleeps and update my neglected blog.

Nothing of particular interest has happened since my last update. I’m still stalking random cute boys in my class and still being rejected point blank. Perhaps it was my (wrongful) approach; perhaps it was the lack of yellow fever in this region – whatever the reason, I have had no luck in the relationship department and I’m starting to despair a little. Maybe it’s a sign that I should focus on passing the year… It’s bad enough that I’m scraping through my tests with a 50, I can’t afford to waste time chasing after penises (and not get any) AND have my average drop to a 49.

In other news, I went to my first Ernst & Young get-together on Wednesday. The theme was 70s movies (or some such) – We were greeted with popcorn and drinks, and had to endure watching (on loop) John Travolta dancing on top of a car bonnet in his spandex and singing that Grease song. The food was well below par. I mistakenly took a vegetarian burger that was tasteless and bland. After a couple of bites, I switched to a hotdog which was basically just a vienna in a bun so it wasn’t that much better. We then had to make our own banana split ice-cream, and the ingredients were heavenly. I also met a boy named “St John”… … o_O … Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

As a parting gift, they handed each of us a bag and a mug, and they really match my skin tone:


They’re trying to expand their 2012 intake by 70 trainees and so they’ve recruited us as “ambassadors”. Normally, I’m all for showing off the freebies I got but I think this one is far too yellow for me to take to campus. They should go for “mustard” or “jaundiced” next time.

It’s not rocket science

Growing up, I always believed in the best of people. I would give them the benefit of the doubt before I would cast them as “bad” or “untrustworthy”. Of course, I was then regarded as naive, gullible and inexperienced. Back then, I used to feel sorry for all the cynics of the world and vowed never to become one. I was quite content living in my protected bubble. But as time went on, I found myself in all sorts of situations where I couldn’t help but feel that maybe, some people were just born with a mean streak.

Today was one of those days where I had to deal with someone rather unpleasant. It was 15 minutes before the start of my tutorial and by convention, we were allowed to go inside and start setting up. However, the group before me hadn’t completely finished – and by that, I meant there were two students still busy with their work and one student who was Facebooking. So I waited 5 more minutes and decided to go in, only to be greeted with a rather rude tutor telling me to leave.

“We’re still busy”, she said.

“Yes, I know. I’m just going to set up the computers”, I replied.

“I can’t have any disturbance”, she vented annoyingly.

“I’m just going to log into my account, it’s not going to disturb you”, I said.

“I can’t have you disturbing me, so please leave”, she reiterated.

By that time, I was thinking to myself, “You’re tutoring Pastel, not rocket science. And you’re not defusing a bomb; slight movements won’t be the end of your world.” Besides, the 15 minutes was technically overlap time where the previous class prepared to leave so that the next one could come in. There was no entitlement to hog the space. But, being the nice person that I was, I didn’t want to cause a scene so I kindly obliged to her request.

What irritated me was not the fact that my group had to stand outside for 10 extra minutes. Rather, it was that she thought herself so important that she could discard all courtesy and expect others to revel in her pseudo-power. In reality, being a tutor (especially a Pastel tutor) really wasn’t all that special. It certainly was not an excuse for someone to act high and mighty like she did. Self-elevating oneself onto a pedestal does not garner respect from anyone. Today, she lost all respect from me.

I realized that she didn’t have to be nice to me. There was no social contract between us that stipulated, “Be nice to your fellow tutors”; and even if there was, it would not be obligatory. Niceness simply was not one of those things which guaranteed a pay-off. If people were not sufficiently motivated to be nice, then what reason would there be to conform?

After some thinking, I came to the conclusion that although there might not be any external motivation to compel me to be nice, I would still like to be internally motivated enough to try be as nice to people as I possibly could. Sure, there wouldn’t be monetary rewards attached but I think I would feel infinitely better if I were a good person than if I were a complete bitch.

How Disastrous

Today, I had my first tutorial where I didn’t have to play the part of a lost soul huddling in front of her notes, pretending to listen intently at the tutor. Today, /I/ was the tutor and I couldn’t help but feel slightly nervous. I had never tutored before, and I’d always been a little shy speaking in front of people. I don’t regard myself as a good teacher; I often struggle to convey a point across to someone who, more likely than not, function on a different wave length. Nevertheless, I wanted the money and it was something nice to put on my CV. Plus, Pastel is probably one of the easiest courses to tutor – what could possibly go wrong?

The session started off quite well. Everyone was on track and aside from a few glitches, nothing terrible went amiss. Unfortunately, that state of equilibrium was horribly disrupted half way through the 2 hour session: The lab was booked by another course, and we had to vacate the venue. Computer labs are scarce resources at UCT, and you generally have to book months in advance to secure a lab. Needless to say, there weren’t any available. The course convener eventually managed to get a lab (she nicely asked the postgrad students working there to join another lab) and 15 minutes later, everyone migrated to the new lab.

The backup/restore procedures took quite some time (mostly because the restore procedure was only meant to be covered next week); luckily the head tutor was around to help out. In the end, everyone managed to complete the tutorial (thank goodness) but the venue issue has yet to be resolved.

In other (totally unrelated) news: Did you know you could transfer property from a company/trust to a natural person without incurring any tax, as long as you did it before the end of 2012 and provided that you liquidate/dissolve the company/trust afterwards? The reason why you may want to do this is natural persons can get a R1.5 million exclusion on any capital gains/losses incurred on the disposition of a primary resident; but companies and trusts don’t get that exclusion. Furthermore, if a company/trust disposes such property, they would have to pay STC and transfer duty on top of the capital gains tax. That’s a lot of taxes!