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.

Monday, 10 September 2012

What a way to go: Zombie apocalypse

I had some reservations about writing this post. You see, much as I am one of those people who have saved a copy of ‘2012: The Movie’, in Blu-ray so that I can have a nice laugh when watching it in 2013, part of me is apprehensive. That part is the one that has been watching all sorts of possible apocalypse movies. Being a Christian, I know that when the world ends all the righteous will fly off to paradise and those who will be unfortunate enough to get left behind will have to deal with a vicious world ruler who will force them to have gory tattoos on their foreheads or arms. (Talk about poor fashion sense!). To some extent, such an ending isn’t too scary. At least even if I were to be separated from my loved ones I would know that they are at a happier place.
Unfortunately, not all apocalypse theories are so rosy. Take a zombie apocalypse for instance. You either turn into a mindless cannibal; or watch everyone you knew and cared for turn into one; or decide that the world has become too messed up and you commit suicide. I think the reason why the zombie apocalypse theory is so popular is because most people are pessimists like me. We expect the worst so that in the end we are either pleasantly surprised or proved right. In my opinion, the end of the world does not get worse that a zombie apocalypse so if I am prepared for one, I will be able to handle pretty much any other apocalypse.
So, what facts do we have about the zombie apocalypse? None, actually… The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published a pamphlet on preparedness called Preparedness 101: Zombie pandemic. I suppose they followed my line of thinking…if you can be prepared for a zombie outbreak, you are ready for pretty much anything. I can see you letting out a sigh of relief and thinking, “If the US government is prepared for this thing then we should be safe, right?” Wrong! If you must know, in the publication, the zombies break into one of the safe zones and ambush the hapless victims who thought they could trust the government.
This brings me to my first rule in my own Preparedness 101:
1.       Look out for your own hind. Don’t wait like a sitting duck for the government to evacuate you, provide supplies and a cure for this new madness. Hell, if after all these decades a cure for HIV hasn’t been found, what makes you think that on for a zombie pandemic will be found?  If you are Kenyan you can move onto rule no. 2. You don’t need an apocalypse to show you the inherent weaknesses of your government.
2.       Make friends with a pizza delivery guy or the appropriate equivalent of that. In Kenya I would suggest you make friends with a street hawker. You will need someone who knows his way around. Someone who can get in and out fast when you need to loot for supplies. Someone with the street smarts…someone like Glenn in The Walking Dead.
Don't let the guitar fool you- he's a bad-ass somewhat
3.       There are two ways to look at your plus-sized friends… they could be the death of you when you need to make a quick getaway… or squeeze through a tiny space. Or they could be your saving grace if they are benevolent enough to sacrifice themselves for you. By the time the zombies are done eating them up you will have covered some ground. Yes, I know…how inhuman, sacrificing you friends like that. But in truth we do it all the time. All that bitching, backstabbing, stealing of boy (girl) friends, and stepping on each other’s toes. It’s not as if any significant world order will be changed by your act of betrayal.
The fat guy that Shane so aptly sacrificed in 'The Walking Dead'
4.       Learn how to shoot an arrow, swing a pan, hold your breath for long stretches of time, go for days without a shower or a decent meal…in short, forget your humanity and embrace the animal in you.

I am not an expert at this whole survival thing…frankly I think I would just sit this apocalypse out and wait for one that is more my forte. Preferably one where the smell of rotting flesh isn’t so potent... But I went out of my way to dig up some ‘expert opinions’ for you: 6 Sensible Things You Should Never Do in a Zombie Outbreak

However, instead of over-analyzing conspiracy theories and such, I suggest  you make the most of the time that you have with those you love... so that no matter how it ends, you will have no regrets. A very smart friend of mine told me about this song: 'Monalisa' by All American Rejects.
 You can sit beside me when the world comes down  
If it doesn't matter then just turn around 
 We don't need our bags and we can just leave town 
 You can sit beside me when the world comes down
And I suppose that if it ever comes to that, that's all we'll need: someone to be there for us. 


Monday, 3 September 2012

Kenyan TV: mexican-soap watching afro-cinema loving people

2nd September 2012. Today will go down in history, or at least in my own personal history, because today is the day that my baby brother takes his first step towards 'drinking at the table of men'. He was flipping through the channels on TV when he said with a snort, "Puh! Nothing on but soap operas!" Time froze for a moment. I wanted to hug him with tears in my eyes but I feared this show of big-sister-mother-bear affection would reverse what was now the first sign that he would grow up normal. So instead I remained outwardly calm and commented that Sundays were usually like all-you-can-bear buffet of soaps and wedding shows.

I have to admit that my baby  small brother had begun to worry me a little. He was all of 12-going-on-to-13 and whereas I had taken, knowing all the words to most High School Musical ballads; watching Hanna Montana religiously every evening on KTN; and (by far the most worrisome trait) having an insatiable appetite for Mexican soaps, in my stride, I had begun to wonder when he would outgrow it all. I wondered: 'What if he grew up into those single-ladies-watching vampire-diaries-loving men who fall for Mexican-soap-watching afro cinema-loving women?' Even the thought made me shudder. Turns out my fears were unnecessary. He has finally woken up to the obvious reality that soaps, especially Mexican ones, will do irreversible damage to your present and future standing in society. Not to mention the psychological damage that will be done to the children whom you will be brainwashed into prone to naming Gustavo, Antonio, Junior or Chineke (Oga?).

Its obvious that I have a lot against soaps...its not personal. I have a lot against most of what is aired on Kenyan TV. The news are over-sensationalized; melodrama being more weighty than facts. Probably the reason why in my high school watching news during weekends was considered entertainment. Comedy shows are full of poor satire and worn out stereotype jokes (seriously, my conscience is way funnier.) Reality/ talent shows like TPF, Sakata, Slimpossible provide much needed comic relief at the auditions stage... and if the talent is as laughable as it was in TPF 5, way into the show as well. The soaps are everywhere... like a plague. Terrible accents, annoying high-pitched voices and a non-existent script. Oh, and not forgetting how they so blatantly advocate illiteracy and teenage pregnancy.

However, Kenya has some saving grace... like upcoming Kenyan rock bands. I stumbled upon Crystal Axis. They are a teenage punk band made up of these four guys: Neel Vaghela, Abuga Aroni, Ahmed Bulhan and Djae Aroni. They are pretty awesome...they even have awesome names. Of course they are awesome... they are a punk band after all...
Crystal axis: I may have a little crush...maybe