Monday, 31 December 2012

2012: The Year That Was

I had issues about posting this because it felt kinda personal but hey, my blog, my rules. So here goes: Feel free to gag if it gets too sappy.

2012 was a one-of-a-kind year... but aren't they all. Thinking about it, if I were to sum it up in one phrase, without getting too personal... I would say that 2012 was a good year for Indie Rock. 2013 will be an even greater year because now the rest of the world will finally be catching up with the select few who've had ‘Mumford and Sons’ and ‘Of Monsters and Men’ on their playlists over and over. 2012 has also been a great year for Kenyan Rock. I need only mention ‘Parking Lot Grass’ for you to get my drift.

If I were to sum up 2012, in one phrase, being completely personal, I would say 2012 was the year I lost some... and then more. Sounds depressing, I know. I lost the trust I had in a person I believed I could ultimately trust... and with that I lost a friend, because though we are a lot of things now, we’ll probably never be true friends. I lost my aunt...and God knows that wasn't something I was ready to deal with. My aunt... well, she was special. The rare kind of people who aren't afraid to dream, to work for their dreams, to be different... I guess I’ll need a couple more hard knocks from life to completely come to terms with that.

I lost a home I had lived in since forever... I mean, I got a new one but it’s just not the same. In a sense I lost a life. I lost a bunch of friends along the year, most of them because I didn't try hard enough. Some because I figured they weren't worth my fight. I lost my child like belief that things will eventually work out; that if you are patient and loving, people will come around. I learnt that bad things more often than not happen to good people... and some people are just what they are...impossible.

The thing with losing is that you learn... or at least I do. I feel like I've grown up a whole decade in just one year. I am one of the most constant people I know... change isn't a necessary part of my make-up. But in this year alone I have changed so much that I was afraid I would lose myself too. I am not too sure that I haven’t. I told a friend of mine that I feel as if I have lost some of my ‘muchness’. I am not as much Ivy as I was a year ago. I was wrong. I am as much ‘Ivy’ as I have always been. I am just a different ‘Ivy’.

This different Ivy has a really good feeling about 2013. I faced so many of my fears in the past year that nothing fazes me much. In 2013 I am ready to grab new opportunities, wear my heart on my sleeve, cultivate richer relationships and generally be fabulous. 

'Sooner or later the things you love you lose'- Florence+The Machine- 'You got The Love I need'

Cheers to the New Year

Yeah!!! Its finally here.

I once wrote here that I have a copy of 2012, the movie in Blu-ray to watch and laugh, hard, in 2013. I suppose tonight as I wait for midnight I’ll be sorted. I guess a bunch of you will be doing mundane things like partying hard, getting drunk, making New Year resolutions, attending prayer meetings and making out with the nearest person when the clock strikes midnight. By all means, do what you must to make the leap into the new year memorable for you.

Seeing as you are reading this... and I am writing it, it goes without saying that my well-meaning advice on how to survive a zombie apocalypse was a total waste. We’re still here... at least most of us. With no definite end in sight for humanity I suppose we should continue with our given purposes in life; trying to better ourselves and the like. My mom gave herself a head start on the whole ‘new year resolutions’ thing this year. She’s wanted to start a business of sorts for as long as I can remember. We’d settled on a mini-mart but any such hopes were dashed when dad relocated us to this armpit of civilization called Kamulu. Fortunately it seems as if the people here have a high affinity for cereals because despite having an already well established cereals shop in the area my mom seems to get an endless stream of customers. No matter that she drove me to social suicide by using my childhood pet name as the name of her store. And yes, the name will remain redacted from this post and any subsequent works of art by yours truly.

But I digress. My point was that New Year resolutions are irrelevant, other than to make one feel like more of a failure when they don’t keep them. If you seek something and the timing feels right, seize it... there and then. Don’t wait for January 1st.  I suppose I am not the best person to give my opinion about such things seeing as I am skinny and free of any alcohol, drugs or sexual addictions that I know of. But I have a bunch of stuff I want to change in my life and I've learnt that the best way is to find a good enough reason to make all that trouble worth my while. In short, I mean that you need to find an inspiration... an anchor that will keep you in line.

I suppose that 2013 will be quite something. As Kenyans we’ll have an endless supply of unscripted comedy from our politicians as we prepare to go to the polls. More so now that we don’t have to worry about our TV signals being switched off due to our reluctance to join the digital migration. Personally, other than for the entertainment factor I think Kenyan politics is 90% BS... which makes my choice for president so much easier when I only have 2 or 3 serious candidates to consider. So while the yapping continues I will busy myself with the new music and movies that I know 2013 will bring. 2012 has been like a year long Christmas for an Indie Rock enthusiast like me. And Hollywood has played its part in making this girl happy for most of the year by doing special things like finally settling the age old dispute on who’s cooler: Batman or Superman. I believe TDKR settled that for us amicably.

Other than the loud political opinions that I foresee in 2013 and the general weariness that is the life of a 19-soon-to-be-20 year old, I have a really good feeling about 2013. I feel much bolder, more alive and open to possibilities and opportunities.

Cheers to 2013, and to the people who’ll be fortunate enough to have me in it!!!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Do more...Be more

'Be The Change'... an old cliche that carries a world of truth.
Sunday mornings are surreal. The reality of the new week is just beginning to hit you as you try to hold onto the remnants of the weekend. Sunday mornings are the moments when the weekend’s escapades stop feeling as glorious when you tip out your wallet to see what’s left of your last pay check. For some, Sunday mornings are their only chance to reconnect with family, pets and well...God. For Kenyans, Sunday mornings are the times we wait for that Breaking-News update or that lunch-time bulletin informing us of the latest blast or hopefully, reassuring us that there was none.

You probably think that is a gross exaggeration. I mean, it’s not as if there’s a blast EVERY other Sunday... and no, we don’t wait for it with baited breath. But think about it carefully... When was the last time you were genuinely shocked at the news of such a tragedy? I am willing to bet that it’s been a while. We have grown used to the feeling of helplessness when we hear news of 2, 3, or 10 more lives lost. It no longer fazes us. And we have every right to give in to the hopelessness. We have nowhere to look for help, if the killing of 42 policemen in Baragoi is anything to go by. Our security forces are incapable of protecting us. What’s even worse is the fact that at the slightest provocation, they are willing to turn against us. Look at what happened to the poor residents of Garissa after 3 soldiers were killed by suspected Al-Shabab.

Last Sunday it dawned upon me that every time I think about Kenya... every time I REALLY think about Kenya, it saddens me. It saddens and angers most of us... and in our desperation we resort to desperate measures. Like making angry xenophobic comments about communities that we have lived with for decades... communities that have as much right to be here as anyone else. I was so shocked to see the tribalism and ignorance on my twitter feed last Sunday. How can a supposedly educated person watch youths of a certain community getting battered for a crime no one has proof that they committed and tweet about how right that is? Even go on to add their two-cents worth of hate speech?

It’s sad that the state of our country has turned us into these people. I recently listened to Ingrid Michaelson’s “Keep Breathing” and thought that it ought to be our anthem, seeing as we have lost so much hope and all:

The storm is coming out but I don’t mind,

People are dying, I close my blinds,

All that I know I’m breathing now.

I want to change the world, instead I sleep.

I want to believe in more than you and me.

But all that I know is I’m breathing.

All I can do is keep breathing.

All we can do is keep breathing now...

I am tired of being this person...tired of sitting in the sidelines and watching as my country gets torn apart. I want to do more than just to keep breathing...and I will, in my own small way. By calling out anyone who spreads a lot of tribal BS; by refusing to listen to empty promises and lies from our politicians; by doing my part to build this nation; by making sure no one feeds ignorant tribal ideas in the minds of my younger siblings; by challenging my parent’s misconceptions; by making my vote my voice next year; by asking you to do your own small part.




Friday, 2 November 2012

Random Musings

 "Between writer's block; the distraction that is Twitter; and this guy who keeps brushing against my computer on his way past and disconnecting it, I feel as if the world has conspired to ensure I don't post this."

I suppose that the world had conspired against my post because I typed that sentence a week ago before proceeding to stare at a blank screen till now. But guess what, the Muse has smiled again.I woke up feeling young and carefree. Yes, it was a gloomy Friday morning and I still had a 2 hour long test to sit for, but life felt ultimately good. But no matter how good I feel, I will never be reduced to living by the motto YOLO. Same goes for declaring TGIF jubilantly on every other Friday. I will not be reduced to this state because I firmly believe that those two acronyms show just how far gone Generation Y is. Yes, you'll only live once. Big deal, so will everyone. The fact that its taken you 18,19,20 something years to realize this fact doesn't make it any less obvious. And as for TGIF, I settle my argument by quoting one Robin Wood:  "If it's Friday and you don't tweet "TGIF" is it still Friday?"

But not everything about being young and affected irks me. In fact, most of it intrigues me. It intrigues most of us. There seems to be a buzz about it in music, books, television, movies... I bet you all remember Jay Z's 'Forever Young'... ingenious, to not only live forever but to live forever young...

The there's The Band Perry's  'If I Die Young'. The ultimate paradox of immortality. Dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse. The thought makes me sigh whimsically. Don't get it twisted, I don't want to die young. That romantic idea is for people who live short, beautiful lives... like fireworks. They are beautiful; explosive; they stand out; but they burn out equally fast. Some of us, on the other hand, are like a slow fire. Slow, sure, constant and long lasting.

But the ultimate 'being young' song has got to be 'Here I am Alive' by Yellowcard. It wraps up what it means to be young and carefree. To make mistakes and forgive yourself easily. To fall and jump right back. To have the clarity to listen to your heart amidst all the distractions and noise.

I know that this has come off deep and philosophical. Yes, I can be that way sometimes...okay, most of the time. I blame this particular bout to a wonderful book that I just finished reading called 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' by Stephen Chbosky. And no, the book had nothing to do with building a case for loners like I did here. It was about, well...being young. All the aspects: love, friendship, loss, making mistakes and more importantly, saving up good memories for those bad days. I felt as if I had lived a thousand lifetimes just by reading about one year of Charlie's life. What stood out most was this quote:
“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” 

And I suppose that's what being young is REALLY about. If we can find such moments and live for them, we'll always be young. Like hell, we'll die young... and as impossible as it sounds, we'll live forever...young.

Have an awesome weekend and I hope you stumble upon such moments... and if you really have to chant YOLO, at least do it with a little class... In Latin perhaps... Carpe Diem would be a perfect alternative.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


It’s been a minute since I last posted here… and it’s had nothing to do with you. This is all me. I wish I could blame it on my schedule but though it’s been hectic, I had time in between to scrawl a few words and make witty commentary of my life. To be frank, I have been suffering from ‘everythingitis’… my own form of everythingitis where I have so many different things to write about and since I can’t decide which one to pursue, they turn into a warped, confusing feeling.

For starters, for a while I have been feeling very ‘mellow’ for lack of a better word… very warm, fuzzy and loving on the inside. Suddenly the words of all those cheesy love songs sounded like they had been written with me in mind. I wanted to gush out about all the love in the air… and I would have if I hadn’t been too busy enjoying it. I am a sucker for love… in love with being in love. I know I don’t act like it… but there’s something magical about love. I had stopped feeling that magic. I suppose I had grown used to being in love. For so long, loving him had become as natural as breathing, waking up, eating, walking…it had grown so commonplace. Then suddenly it feels magical again.

I went home to Karatina last weekend. I still think of it as home… even one year down the line. It had been a while since I’d gone back but of course not much had changed... at least not on the surface. Small towns are like that. But I could feel the change. This used to be the one place where I could come and feel safe…as if I belonged. I knew all there was to know about it… the best tables at my favorite restaurants; where to get fries for only 50 bob; the 10-bob sausage joint that won’t give you food poisoning; when to get discounts for shoes from that guy with a stall near the library (his name escapes me now); which counter at Mathai Supermarket has the shortest queues (it’s the one right next to the stairs, just so you know)… my small town and I were intimate like that. I loved it and it loved me back…especially since everyone I loved was there.  But when I went back I felt as if my small town had moved on and gotten over me.  True, it’s still filled with people who don’t run out of fucks to give; the roasted maize sold near the stage is still the only one I trust enough to buy off the street… (Because that guy has been selling roasted maize for as long as I can remember so I suppose he must be an expert of sorts.); and it’s still the gloomiest place in the world when it rains. I imagine it’s gloomier than London. But beneath all that, it’s changed…or I’ve changed.
MY small town... in the rain

That aside, I am filled with nothing but success wishes for all those kids who are sitting for their final exams. Especially my sister. She really is an awesome person who deserves better than the best that life has to offer. I know she will do well but my mother-hen, big-sister instinct wont let me stop worrying. So I have resorted to wailing out loud, spontaneously whenever I feel like it, to let out the tension. 

Now that I have expressed some of the many ideas stuck on my mind I'll probably be able to make a more coherent post next week. But everythingitis is not so bad... I can blame my blabber-mouth on it.


Friday, 28 September 2012

Solitude...and Last Week's Reading List

… it is all right to be alone, to want to be alone, to be alone and not lonely—even to be lonely at times
The Muse refused to smile… I brooded, wondering why I couldn’t find a single thing to write about. Not even my baby brother’s antics over the weekend could inspire me.  It wasn’t just writing. I found that I had little to say to my friends. The texts went unanswered and the phone calls were punctuated by awkward silences. There wasn’t even much to say to HIM, which is definitely weird because even when we run out of things to talk about, we never run out of things to argue over. Any tweets were just links to things I had read. No witty commentary to life…nothing.

Since I wasn’t the most pleasant company anyone could have, I kept to myself and read. In that short span of time I read ‘The Lilac Bus’ by Maeve Binchy. Reviewers will tell you that it’s a romance novel but it’s really a book about people, ordinary people who are much more that what meets the eye: the mean girl who doesn’t think that she’s mean and the woman who is not as dumb as everyone takes her to be. It’s an Irish book so I had an Irish accent in my head the whole time I was reading it. Reza says only I can do that.  

I also finally got round to reading ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. I have wanted to read it since I saw it in a newspaper article about classics that are must-reads before one turns 20. ‘A Man Called Thursday’ was also part of the list. Awesome read by the way. I am sure you are wondering, ‘Why the running commentary about literature?’ To be frank, there’s no point to it.

Atticus, Scout and Jem Finch from 'To Kill a Mockingbird'
All I really set out to do was build a case for loners…or people who feel the need to go for certain lengths of time without unnecessary human contact…people who once in a while need ‘me-time’. This description should fit all persons, in general, but you will be surprised at the number of people who simply can’t function in ones. You see, we aren’t such terrible people.  Sometimes we just want to be left alone. Like Boo Radley.  Oh yes, I knew there was a reason why I mentioned ‘To kill a Mockingbird’. It’s an American classic about racism, justice, family and growing up in the South…but more importantly, it’s a story about two children who spend a whole chunk of their childhood trying to get their neighbor, Boo Radley, to get out of his house before they finally accept that being a loner is not such a terrible thing after all. You catch that and a few other life-changing, life lessons from the book.

So when I sit at a corner table alone, wearing a slightly amused expression and seeming content with life, leave me be. Sometimes all I need are my thoughts, my music and my books. But of course they don’t completely substitute human contact. Even I can’t spend life devoid of all human contact (and that’s saying a lot, being the awesome person that I am). After a dose of me-time I rejoin life. I call up one of two awesome people whom I have probably been neglecting, make plans to spend the weekend binge eating (minus the throwing up), watching movies and regaling each other with tales about the men in our lives.
Have an awesome weekend, be it lonesome or in the company of others. (I use the word ‘awesome’ too many times, right?)

Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. –ditto 

Monday, 17 September 2012

The Girl Code... Not Neccesarily in that Order.

"The only rule is don't be boring and dress cute wherever you go. Life is too short to blend in."

Society can be such a drag. What, with all the unwritten, unsaid rules and codes. Guys have an elaborate ‘Bro Code’. In fact there’s a whole website. You will be surprised that Rule no. 1 of it is not the (in)famous ‘Bros before whores’.

Girls have their own code too, though it’s not set in stone and varies among different groups of girls. The Girl code is especially tricky to girls like me who aren’t exactly programmed like other girls. So, I have a list of essential rules in the Girl Code. Some come with disclaimers and modifications. Some are universal while others are just stuff that my friends and I have come up with along the way.

1.       Should a Girl be critically injured, her Side-Girls are to never make jokes about it, unless the hurt Girl does first. I love my girlfriends…very much, but if said critical injury has risen as a result of a fall (which happens to be 99% of the time); and said fall was hilarious, in a public place, or while wearing heels; I WILL LAUGH first then pick you up later. And you are required to be understanding and not take away my chance to have a good laugh by whining incessantly.
2.       If the fall happens in a Bathroom and I happen to see your naked bum, this should then be treated on a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ basis and we are never supposed to talk, joke or laugh about it.
3.       A Girl will drop whatever she's doing and rush to help her Side-Girl when and if she gets dumped. Things required to ensure maximum comfort for your dumped Side-Girl:

  •  A shoulder to cry on: However one must realize that the waterworks are supposed to be let out for a reasonable amount of time. Not too long. Should a Girl make a habit of crying the privilege of the shoulder will be swiftly replaced with an awkward pat on the back and a ‘there-there’. 
  •  Arms to hug: There is no exception to this. When your girlfriend needs a(hug, it doesn’t matter if you are a hugs kind of person or not. You hug them for as long as it takes…unless they start crying and then the previous rule will apply.
  • Things to break…cheap, non-brittle things to break. Like her ex’s favorite records. It should be noted that providing his laptop screen as a ‘thing to break’ could lead to legal consequences. Tissues…pretty scented ones.
  •  Chocolate
  • Alcohol. This is reserved for the girls who aren’t violent drunks, who will not pass out on you or puke all over the place.
  • Chick flicks…Happy-slappy ones with sexy men/vampires/werewolves who have great hair and a British, Irish or Italian accent. 
  •  Angry Girl music…like Pussy Riot or Icona Pop
  •  Popcorn
  •  Words aimed to describe what a douche what's-his-face was.
4.       A Girl shall not be caught with chipped nail polish…ever. A loyal girlfriend should carry around nail polish remover so as to salvage the situation.
5.        A girl shall not call attention to herself during ‘that time of the month’. Any fits of rage caused by hormones should be controlled and all spams of pain should be handled gracefully and femininely. (This means no cursing out loud.)
6.       A Girl shall not curse unless she is sure that the curse word doesn’t make her sound like a Black-American rapper gangster. Insults like ‘twat’ are acceptable since despite the vulgarity of the word, it actually sounds cute and adorable.
7.       If a Girl should accidentally boob or butt brush another Girl both shall continue on like nothing had happened.(Yet another don’t ask don’t tell kind of thing) If a Girl should boob or butt brush a guy on accident she shall act like nothing happened and try not to blush.
8.       Girls are strongest in three's and four's. As an ode to this rule, a girl must make an effort to meet up with her girlfriends regularly for lunch, ice-cream and (or) cake. One should come equipped with juicy gossip for such occasions.
9.       A girl always spellchecks… and she retains the right to never talk to, or even block guys who type that, “Xaxa xwitty, xema…” nonsense.
10.   A girl takes it upon herself to ensure that the guy her girlfriend is about to date is not a serial killer. Efforts to do this include adding: ‘for all I know you could be a serial killer’ in The Talk. This comment should be followed by a steely gaze that will see the laughter die on his lips.

As important as these rules may be, rules such as:

1.       A Girl loves pink, regardless to whether or not she really does love pink.
2.       A Girl should be able, at any time, to recite the following: winner of American Idol and Project Runway ;(or any other reality show for that matter) who's on the cover of Vanity Fair and Vogue; the new hottest couple is; who the top celebrity couples are; what the latest celebrity scandals are.
Are total BS. 

It wouldn't be possible to discuss the whole code. as I said, it varies from person to person. This is just a tip off the iceberg.