Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Taking Stock: January 2017

We are already 24 days into the new year but it's never too late to pause and reflect. I fully intend to be more introspective in 2017 (Case in point, I dusted up the old journal and posted for the first time in a year!)

So let's take stock:

Making: nothing at the moment. However, I intend to bring to life some DIY home decor ideas.

Cooking: a lot of stews lately. Peas, ndengu, kamande. After December I feel as if I need a meat cleanse.

Drinking: hot lemon and honey. At the moment it's because of the sore throat. Two weeks back it was because of the metallic taste from those awful deworming meds.

Reading: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Its very English. So much so that even though the main characters are all suicidal, you feel as if there is a general, "Chin up, old chap!" feeling all along. No one is more whiny than they have to be.

Wanting: potted succulents in my house! And a knitted bikini because I already have plans for the birthday!

Looking: inward, but not too much. I have a great relationship with my inner self but I think it could be better. At the same time, I am being intentional about keeping in touch with the people who matter.

Playing: some music from NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Wasting: time. Mainly because I am in a weird transitional / limbo phase at work. This definitely has to change. I need to improve my personal productivity.

Sewing: nothing. I am considering doing the alterations to my dira (sp) myself.

Wishing: as humans we weren't such sods who caused climate change and have definitely sentenced ourselves to a short, brutal life.

Enjoying: mango salsa for as long as the mango season lasts.

Waiting: for the sun to set anytime I need to go anywhere. Really, this weather has made me a night-walker.

Liking: many politically conscious posts on twitter. I don't imagine there is much logic behind the political scene, and the older I get the more politics stops to be amusing and becomes scary, but I still think knowledge is important.

Wondering: what the next year holds in store; with all the changes that I can foresee.

Loving: very many people, despite not saying it enough.

Hoping: my next house hunting episode in approx 2 months won't be as unfruitful as the previous one.

Marveling: at how God has been full of grace in  my life. Some of the most significant things in my life have been as a result of "accidental" encounters that could only have been arranged by God.

Needing: new pots and knives.

Smelling: nothing, with this flu!

Wearing: a flowery sundress that my mum bought me years back. Climate change may suck but we can still play the part while at it.

Following: recommendations from a handful of people on Pocket and I want to add more.

Noticing: how my appetite has improved since the exorcism deworming.

Knowing: an uncomfortable lot about the business of health in Kenya, that only makes the current doctors' strike harsher.

Thinking: that a 'taking stock' post is not as easy at it seems.

Feeling: excited to meet the people I'll be working with later today.

Bookmarking: book recommendations. From Obama to Thought Catalogue. I think I will read some non-fiction this year. First on my list is Trevor Noah's Born a Crime

Opening: windows in every PSV because we need to let some air in! I'd highly recommend it. Sharing the flu is not sexy.

Giggling Being amused: at seeing those masks that muggers wear (the ones with holes for the eyes and mouth) on sale at the flyover on Kahawa Wendani. I suppose thugs have to buy them from somewhere.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Will society allow the bleeding heart entrepreneur to do their job?

This essay was originally written for the Peter Drucker Challenge 2016. Current events such as the closure of Bridge Academies in Uganda and an increasing threat of closure in Kenya have prompted me to post this. I have been wondering whether 'the powers that be' are ambivalent about social ventures until the point where they disrupt the status quo; then hell hath no fury like a cartel boss scorned...
Entrepreneurship is the new cool. It is a word that inspires thoughts of celebrity-like status when one considers ‘unicorns’ such as Facebook, Uber and WeWork that have disrupted traditional business models in communication, transport and real estate. This high profile status of entrepreneurship is not only limited to developed nations. The power of entrepreneurship to be a disruptor in recent times is clear in sub-Saharan Africa, and Kenya in particular. Riding high on the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative, Kenya is continuously making its mark in the world as a regional hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. When one hears ‘Kenya’ and ‘innovation’ in one breath, one cannot help but think of M-pesa and the way necessity has bred innovation. M-pesa is not a one-off blip in the Kenyan entrepreneurial landscape. Entrepreneurship is maturing and beginning to attract recognition. While early ventures were supported largely by grants; a surge in venture capitalist funding has seen Kenya ranked the 3rd investment destination; receiving USD 47.4m in funding for startups in 2015.
However, beyond the glamour of the technological innovations are a different brand of entrepreneurs who are committed to the less sexy work of addressing social problems such as inequality in education opportunities, inaccessibility of healthcare, and youth unemployment, among others. These social entrepreneurs rarely make a large splash in the media but they have been deftly filling the gaps left by the public sector. They have gradually risen to a point where they are now attracting attention; and with it, raising questions on the appropriateness of for-profit ventures in providing basic social services. One school of thought argues that for-profit initiatives can only be exploitative. Another camp feels that these businesses are playing important roles that governments have neglected. They are bred, after all, from necessity.
There isn’t a lack of necessity in Kenya. In stark contrast with the rise of the ‘Silicon Savannah’ are the social problems that plague Kenya. Despite having some of the highest school enrollment rates in Africa, the education sector is mired with quality concerns, that have fanned other social problems such as poverty and unemployment. For instance, among unemployed youth, 90% lack relevant vocational skills and are therefore unemployable. In the health sector, while strides have been made to curb communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, Kenyans are facing the ticking time bomb that is non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Currently, NCDs account for 26% of the mortality; and this is expected to increase to 36% by 2030. This picture of fundamental social and economic problems, and a growing entrepreneurial spirit; suggests great opportunity for entrepreneurs to make a difference.
Social entrepreneurship could well be a lifeline. Social impact initiatives that have previously been donor funded face a sustainability quagmire with the declining state of donor funding. Official Donor Aid (ODA) has stagnated at 0.3% of Gross National Income (GNI) between 2012 and 2014. ODA is expected to decline in the long term with 2/3 of the countries in Sub Saharan Africa expected to receive 4% less aid in 2017 than they did in 2014. Developed nations are faced with greater domestic problems since the 2008 Economic Crisis and have less to spare. It does not help that previous lack of transparency and corruption has made most donors wary of supporting state-run programs. For instance, USD 46 million shillings set aside for the Free Primary Education program in Kenya went missing, prompting several donors such as the UK’s DFID to withdraw funds. Increasingly funders are looking for new ways to achieve impact.
Entrepreneurs have been quick to fill the gap left by the public and NGO sector. For instance, Bridge International Academies have grown into the largest private primary school chain in Africa with 400+ schools primarily aimed at bridging the access gap in the educational sector. Jacaranda Health has, on a lower scale, moved to fill the gap in providing access to pre-natal, obstetric and post-natal care. The significance of this is clear when viewed in the context that in Kenya, maternal mortality stands at 488 per 100,000 live births, compared to an average of 239 in developing nations. Another social enterprise has found a way to provide sanitary toilets and economic opportunities for the urban poor. Social entrepreneurship is also evident in the energy sector, access to financing, and agriculture. With its rising significance, there has been a rise in support for social entrepreneurs by impact focused accelerators and hubs, impact focused investment funds and management consultants who specialize in developing best practice for social enterprises.
So far, it seems clear that entrepreneurship can not only address social needs, but is already doing a good job at it. However, a more imperative question seems to be ‘Will society allow entrepreneurs to address social needs?’ The experience of Bridge International Academies would make an interesting study on the role of for-profit entrepreneurial ventures that want to tackle social problems. Born out of the idea that pro-poor solutions require scale to be sustainable, Bridge has set up 400 nursery and primary schools across Africa. The backing of high profile investors like the IFC, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CDC, among others, is a rubber stamp of approval. However, particularly in Kenya, Bridge has faced numerous hurdles. In 2015, the Ministry of Education chose to implement ‘informal schools’ guidelines that had been outlined in 2009 but had not been enforced hence. A key requirement in the guidelines was that 30% of teachers in an informal school were required to be formally trained. This poses serious challenges to Bridges low-cost model that is driven in part by hiring untrained teachers and giving them on-the-job training. Trained teachers are expected to require higher pay than the USD 120 monthly salary currently paid to Bridge’s tutors. Taking a cue from the ministry, teachers’ unions and NGOs have called for the closure of the schools over quality concerns, despite the fact that they serve over 100,000 slum dwelling children.
The IFC and other development agencies have been criticized for investing in for-profit ventures rather than funding state run programs not only in education but also in health. While some of the criticism is justified, continuously pumping money in corrupt state run programs or unsustainable donor funded initiatives seems highly unwise; especially when entrepreneurial ventures like Bridge achieve more impact, with fewer resources.
Ory Okolloh, co-founder of Ushahidi and Uzalendo, activist and Director of Investments at Omidyar Network is as close to an expert on entrepreneurship in Kenya as you can get. Speaking on the issue of entrepreneurship having to take on social needs that the government ought to take care of during a Quartz Afruca Forum, she succinctly summarized that: ‘We can’t entrepreneur ourselves around everything.’ She elaborated on the fact that in developed nations; public schools, hospitals and power companies work seamlessly. Why then is it that Africans are expected and encouraged to maneuver around getting basic services through creative innovation? Her conclusion was that entrepreneurship on its own is not enough. Innovators and entrepreneurs need to do the additional (and less glamorous) work of guiding the government so as to influence public policy. Using learnings from the field, they can inform government decisions and work towards a public sector that works.
My take on this is that entrepreneurship should not have to provide basic social services that are universal rights. It is unfortunate that a child in an urban slum has to learn by rote because he/she cannot access teachers who are qualified to teach creatively. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the child is getting better quality education that what the government can provide. This is proven not only by data-based evaluations, but by the fact that poor families living on less than USD 2 a day are willing to set aside USD 6 a month to pay for tuition at a private school.

However, this is the reality. When the choice is rote learning or no education at all, suddenly it becomes an easier choice to make. Entrepreneurship can address social needs but it is unlikely to do so as effectively as a well-run public sector in a developed nation. However, before the public sector in Kenya ever plays catch-up, entrepreneurship will continue to play a vital role. In fact, there may be a silver lining beneath this. Africa is renowned for leapfrogging technologies, and jumping from crawling all the way to running. The innovative solutions that African entrepreneurs come up with may serve populations more effectively than anything that the government can come up with. The unique challenges in service delivery call for agility, and entrepreneurs are anything if not agile.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

9 reasons why the Standard Gauge Railway should be built AROUND and not THROUGH the Nairobi National Park

To the Director General NEMA,

9 reasons why the SGR should be built around and not through the national park:
  1. Elephants have long memories and big hearts. Do you really want to make their lives hell? (Also, have you watched Jungle Book? That should move you enough to be an animal conservationist)
  2. Trains are very loud and disruptive. Can you imagine the railway being built THROUGH your cattle pen?
  3. Animals aren't the best at reading signs, e.g., a railway crossing sign?
  4. Lions look great and I'd prefer them not to all die.
  5. Warthogs are kind of cool too and seem pretty shy. I'm pretty sure that the noise will make them uneasy.
  6. Man eating lions of Tsavo. This is a bit of a stretch, but isn't it dangerous for humans to build a railway while surrounded by wild animals? Case in point, history.
  7. We constantly build roads AROUND some rich people's houses so as not to offend them. Tourism makes a tonne of money, making the national park a rich person's home.
  8. Trespassing is illegal. Any person caught doing so can be mauled.
  9. People WILL feed the animals.
Please reconsider.

Yours truly,

I can see people petting / feeding the animals. Source: The Star

PS: Some reasons may not be strictly factual. For instance, I am not sure if there are elephants at the park. I'm pretty certain about the lions and warthogs, though!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Guest Post: Of Finding Purpose and Living a Little

I am terrible, I know. So terrible that I cannot even take time to publish a guest post. Trust me, I appreciate the irony of taking a break from life to publish a post about, well, life! Luseka Socrates took some time to muse about life, especially the rollercoaster that is post-school life. Enjoy! And if this is your cup of tea, check this out.
Adulting is largely about being aware of  what matters.

People watching is one of those dreary child habits I’ve been meaning to quit to no avail. Ok. Save me the pity and just laugh at what I’m going to share. It’s never that serious.
Last week, in my evening moments  as I was mooching around  ‘The Hub’ –this  new mall in Karen-  with the  intent to go buy bread  at  Carrefour, I found myself pausing occasionally ,lingering and straying my eyes to people’s heads (sounds weird right?), sometimes  vexing them , nitpicking at their walking styles (that’s more weird) and scoffing  at those pairs that rubbed  PDA into people’s  faces . To the latter, some mushy career ladies who  passed near me  had it all flowing  through  their heartstrings  going by the number of   ‘aaawws’ that left their mouths. Such betrayal. I thought we all hate PDA?  We all should. Ok. Maybe I am just a condescending   sadist. Just ignore me and read on. To lighten the mood, I found solace in watching the aged. Some little distraction you know.  Could be the uncalled-for lessons  that come  with  their  subconscious actions, case in point: their calculated steps  which can teach you something about patience. Or their wrinkles that  bear stories, grand or sad.  I felt  a tad encouraged. But that was  only for a fleeting juncture  before fear set in. Turns out that getting  old was the origin of  my  sudden  fears. Bummer! I don’t  want to get old dear reader.
And so it got me thinking and reflecting. Looking at those old-guards ( wait, the word sounds rude, right?)  and turning back the clock. How  life  had been  to them and what it had in store for us young-turks (I hope I’m not sounding like an old politician by the use of that word, they use it a lot). I imagined their life. Old age. A quiet house now that children are married and living on their own. I  pictured the 80’s and 70’s when they were dancing to ‘the Beetles’ or  ‘Yvonne Chakachaka’. When they were feeding their  kids  and gently tending to their farms  or working their asses through Jomo’s economy with some admirable levels of energy. Did they imagine that one day fate  will quiet their joy and turn them into frail creatures and all? And so my justification.
I thought about myself too. Life in nursery school, primary , high school , campus- the whole shebang! And now inching towards old age  and marriage in between. As I mulled  at these flinching  thoughts, I saw some giddy Somali kids enjoying the elevator rides, and then shifted  my gaze to meet high school boys lost in banter while some girls who looked  like campus young-uns  gossiped and chuckled at some distance. To the carried away career ladies. With the ‘half-a day’ imagery conjuring up ( cue the high school set book-  Half a day & other stories) , the happenings presented the right paradox.  My  life unfolding in one day . Wait, in seconds. If you cleverly read along those lines you can  strike a guess at what stage of life I am at.
Towards the end of May this year I completed my undergraduate and eased into another life. To say I never had the chills or sweaty palms   as this transition  happened is an understatement. The feeling  was bittersweet. The sweetness  reveled in the fact that school was finally over. But all these happy moments were  overshadowed  by a cloud of despair  that came  with the future’s uncertainties and the cut of  fun  and adventures  that only a previous  life could offer . For guys, the pressure to leave their family homes and get their own houses was mounting. I was caught  in a similar  vortex. No parent could chase you out but present circumstances, timing and age were pressing enough  to get you moving. I decided to move in with a friend and later found my own place. I’m  slowly adjusting to the thrills and challenges that  seem to surface  each waking day. Bills are a different story. The thought of budgets and acting all grown up is a tad disconcerting- but a man has to man up. Ladies too.
Don’t get me started on friends. But I will. With the pursuit of career advancement, many succumbed to busyness. The plots started dying. While some of us moved houses, others moved cities. They spread yonder (I’ve been meaning to use that word. Y’all should know I read Victorian novels!). Suffice it to say, the vast company of  friends  that campus offered  are no longer in tow. Majority moved on. Sadly, they had to.  Jobs happened. Some married or got married. Distance came in between and silence took over. Facebook and other social media have tried to keep us close, thank God, but then their services can never match the effectiveness that physical presence brings. High school filled our lives with funkies, primary school had its fair share of cool and campus crowned it. Think the movie plots. Fries plots. The hikes. The group discussions. The dating dramas. Mass stone throwing, for some (fellow UoN comrades!haha). And now all of these have ebbed away and rolled  into a ball of memories. That feels sad. (Someone play me a violin. Get me Elani’s music before I’m numbed by this arresting sadness. Will you?)
When you prod into your peers lives , stories are varied. Some are driving. Others are outside the country. For some, things have not fallen in place as they had planned it out. The job search is quite an outlandish nightmare. Confusion is  reigning supreme as a number of  former classmates keep waxing lyrical  on how they seem not  to have it together. The lucky and wise ones are reaping. Those  whose parents are Kahunas in  the corporate world  and the civil service  are having it easy  finding placements. But in everything, in between  despair and gloom, remains  hope because this is just a season thing. Some  phase where majority are bound to pass, rolled up with its form of sham and drudgery ,glum and lucklustre , tears and bruises, but with a grand story  to tell at the end of it all.
On the flipside, I’m slowly appreciating  the ensuing challenges and learning to take life with a pinch of salt. I’m manning up. Toughening. I’m making friends, reading books and making the most of my youth the best way possible. Soccer with the boys on Sundays and hung outs with ‘the girlfriend’  crowns  the weekends. Dancing alone to music in my house is another addiction I have picked on lately. Don’t laugh. It is called living a little and brings with it hustle-free satisfaction.  And  wait, if you find it a health hazard eating roasted maize (with chilli) at  the roadside  or checking in on your guy’ Njoro’ for  the ‘20’ shilling Mtura on your way home, then I’m sorry for you. You haven’t lived life ( said  with tongue in cheek!).
Come on, amid everything  let’s learn to enjoy life. Do we have to tighten it?
Side note.
PDA- Public Display of Affection.
Mtura (For the sake of barbies who read Ivy’s blog)- It is a mixture of cow's meat stashed inside the intestine of a cow or goat and roasted mainly by the roadside usually in the evenings.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Waiting in Coffee Shops: The Art of Deduction

Anyone who knows me know how impatient I am. I simply cannot stand lateness... Yet, some of the most important people in my life have a slow internal clock. The fact that I still talk to them is evidence of my goodness.
Image source: Pinterest

Last Friday I was impatently waiting for someone at the Java in TRM. On an aside, has anyone noticed how Javas in the CBD and all these malls frequented by the emerging consumer* have comparable service to Olive Green and those other crowded restaurants along Tom Mboya? I mean, serviettes are a luxury. You'll be lucky if your coffee doesn't splash on you when they dump it on your table!

I am digressing. Coffee houses will be a post for another day. Anyway, I was reading an okay book and waiting for someone to think of asking if I wanted a coffee refill. In true Java fashion, the waiter led this couple to my table. Regardless of the fact that a book is the global 'Do Not Disturb' sign that even a moron ought to understand. I was more than miffed and would have pouted petulantly and dug deeper into my book had curiousity not gotten the better of me.

What caught my eye was the girl's hair. She had one of those weaves with bangs, so well done that I had to stop myself from asking where she got it done. Now that I was already distracted, I had no option but to eavesdrop on the conversation. The man she was with must have been at least 50 and dressed in those Kaunda suits. On another aside, why do people dress so ridiculously on dress down Friday? Casual wear should be easy! 

Looking at the couple, there were a number of possibilities: this could be a dad and his daughter; this could be a random relative taking his random younger relative out for coffee; this could be a boss and employee (yes, young girls can hire elderly men as drivers); or this could your male spomsor / investor and his beneficiary. I simply had to solve this mystery!

I have carefully curated the conversation for you to help me solve this:
50 y/o Kaunda wearer: So, where do you live?
PYT with the good hair: Kahawa Wendani
50 y/o Kaunda wearer: (shudders) Gosh, that is a whole other world. The wide, wild west.
PYT with the good hair: Yeah. I'd like to move.
50 y/o Kaunda wearer: What do you want?
PYT with the good hair: A government job. You work short hours and make lots of money. I also                                              want to move to Mombasa Road.

(At this point I want to mention that I was quite mind-blown. I always thought that the typical sponsor-beneficiary relationship followed certain societal norms, such as beating around the bush. Turns out it is full blown capitalism here!)
50 y/o Kaunda wearer: Yes we can get you a new job.
PYT with the good hair: (smiles coyly)
50 y/o Kaunda wearer: (picks ringing phone) Hello. Nani ameshikwa? Give me the name of the                                               police officer. Tell him if he still wants his job tomorrow anipigie simu.
At this point my date showed up and I moved to another table. My final conclusion is that my 50 y/o Kaunda wearer is part of the suave group of powerful men who work the puppet strings. He can hand around government jobs, hire and fire policemen! Infact, I think he may be Bruce Wayne himself!

As for PYT with the good hair, she may be Robin for all I know! I wish I had asked for her hair dresser's contacts.

*emerging consumer: how fancy multilaterals refer to the middle classs that has just now arrived, as opposed to those ones who have always been here.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

23: Finally a Second Former at this Adulting Thing

This year (now last year) has been a year of my firsts... One of them being the fact that I did not do a Birthday blogpost. My life has been simply chaotic lately. I am moving back to Nairobi. JL There really needs to be a better bittersweet emoji. The fact that it almost coincides with turning 23 means that the line between before and after is much more clearly demarcated here.

So, 22 was fun! I got my first real job, moved into a new city, really ‘grew into myself’… whatever that means. In hindsight, even when things were tough, I wouldn’t take back any part of it. The biggest, resounding learning that I have had in the past year was ‘dreams change’. Fresh out of school I had a very idealistic, pretty-much-set-in-stone idea of how my life should work out. I was going to intern at a couple of fancy places, get a fancy management trainee position at one of the big four firms, sit some professional paper or other, get a cute apartment and spend my evenings sipping girly cocktails at fancy bars in Westlands. (Mr and Ms Deloitte and Touche of the world, please don’t burst my bubble about my perception of your lives!) Anything outside a 95% confidence interval of that life was not even a consideration.

Instead, I went to Kampala to work for a start-up accelerator with the unconventional name of Unreasonable East Africa. I am not proud to say this but I do a lot of things out of the necessity of the moment: getting a passport; learning how to drive; and making new friends. I had not needed to make new friends in about four years. I had grown rusty at a skill that I did not even fully possess to start with. Now, with a new job and in a new city, I had to build a whole social life. I wish I could say that I ventured into a journey of self-discovery and had exotic experiences. I didn’t. Unless you count trying new foods as an exotic experience. However, I grew up. Fast. I became self-reliant and self-confident. Again, necessity.

A random selfie of my shabby self walking to work.

I made 5 or so new friends. I know this because I am in the middle of organising a belated birthday / Goodbye Kampala dinner party. That (the 5 friends) is impressive, for me.

23 will be a great year. It had better be. I went through most of the challenges and transitions that a fresh out of school 23 year old ought to go through at 22. Now I think I am getting the hang of this adulating thing. 22 was like being a form 1 in the adult life. A lot of meekness and confusion. 23 is the rowdy form 2 who thinks she knows it all.

However, as Ugandans love to say, “I will be okay”. To paraphrase Desiderata:

I am a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
I have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to me, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

My favourite beer. 2 % alcohol yoh!

A random blurry picture of a band.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Male Sponsor vs The Investor

I am a very introspective person. I have many conversations with myself. There is hardly a quirk that one can point out about me that I have not noticed yet. I am generally curious about myself and have often wondered what kind of person I would be if I was born in a different century; or if I was a bird; or (most often) if I was a man. I have had the whole "If I were a man..." *muse-fest many times. This is probably because twice in my life I have met people who have made me think, "You are my alter-ego! You are me, just male!" and it has been exhilarating.

I think I would ace the whole manhood thing. I have a diverse portfolio of beautiful friends so that says a lot about my taste. However, there is one area that still leaves me bewildered to date: the whole concept of being a male sponsor. You meet a beautiful damsel and treat her as if she is in distress. You swoop in and solve the homelessness that she was not even aware that she was suffering from. You revamp her living room furniture, despite the fact that it makes your inner Southern Belle show. You then go ahead to become her new fashion stylist who definitely does not believe in thrift shopping. I feel that some of the things I would be running away from in the land of womanhood are listed above!
Proudly sponsored by...

In this era of teaching a man to fish and promoting trade over aid; I have begun to see a new version of the male sponsor: the investor. In addition to the roles listed above, the investor provides start up capital to open a trendy business. Given his eye for fashion, the business is usually an up-scale hair salon or a trendy boutique. The investor probably thinks that he is playing the long game here. Eventually, the little social enterprise will sustain itself and his duties as a sponsor will come to an end. He can finally retire and focus his philanthropic efforts elsewhere. The investor is usually on to something. After all, the business will have a ready clientele in the form of beautiful damsels who are proudly sponsored by other male sponsors.

The investor's happiness is usually short-lived, unfortunately. He only realizes just how far gone he is when he goes to drop the beautiful (now entrepreneurial) damsel at her swanky boutique and before she pecks him goodbye, she turns to him and asks, "Babe, what about lunch money?"

*muse-fest (n): an occasion on which you embark on a journey of random musing... mainly about stuff that would probably see you committed if you dared to share!