So I’ve been silent for a while, which is totally fine. I took some time off to restructure my life,including moving from Nairobi. More on that in a later post, but I have wanted to leave the hustle and bustle of the city to seek serenity on our farm, as well as a career change. I have no interest in being a social media manager or copywriter, which are like the only two jobs available in the city right now if we’re being totally honest. Also after reading this Wired article about pink-collar jobs…. Nah. So, I’m a farmer now. [pauses for gasps and applause.]
Living off the land and away from thousands of distractions has been great for my soul,mind and skin. June was my birthday month – I’m now 27, or as my friend Kevin says, 3 years closer to 30. Gai, anyway. Here’s a recap of the best month of the year. To me. [This format inspired again by one of Lila’s posts which was inspired by this one.]
Making : a photography portfolio. I’m very excited to show the world what I have been working on. But not yet! This is one of my fave pictures though.
Cooking : lots and lots of pork. [Remember when I was a Muslim? Lol, in high school till I cleared.] There’s a pork place in Moi’s Bridge and I’ve struck up a friendship with the butcher – since I’m such a regular customer with curious demands. [I always ask him not to cut fatty pieces – which is absurd since most people in the area opt for the fatty pieces to use the remaining fat to cook other things.] There’s also a guy who sells pineapples across the road from the pork place, and he can still smell the Nairobi on me so I am pretty sure I’m being overcharged. Regardless, pork and pineapple are besties in my pan. I’ve made my own version of this Cuban Pork with Pineapple recipe that doesn’t involve grilling, and I pair it with coconut rice, as well as pineapple pico de gallo. The tomatoes, chillies and cilantro come straight from our farm. Farm to table is a wave we all need to get on.
Drinking : all the herbal teas. What would life be without Kericho Gold? I’m currently obsessed with their Sweet Chamomile, Green Tea with Passion and Jasmine as well as their Detox tea. I also discovered Organo Gold Organic Red Tea with Ganoderma Lucidum which I initially thought was going to make me trip [lucidum…] but turns out it’s just REALLY GOOD rooibos. Very calming tea.
Reading: so much. I’ve done a ton of reading after making the move. I finished the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. Annihilation was brilliant, Authority was boring as fuck, and Acceptance was…acceptable, but a weak finale, considering how strong the introduction was. I watched the movie just for Tessa Thompson, but it’s so loosely based around the book that it’s almost disappointing for readers. [WHY DID THEY PUT A TOKEN BLACK JUST FOR SEX?] My best discovery this month was Brene Brown. After an afternoon of loud venting about all the problems I have, my sister recommended her books to me. I started with The Gifts of Imperfection especially after reading a one-star review that claims the book ‘seems to be focusing on a reader that is obsessed with her own flaws or who is a perfectionist and self-hater.’ I am not a perfectionist [far from it] but I do obsess over my flaws and think excessively of what others think of me… or at least I did. It doesn’t change your life immediately, so if you’re looking for a quick fix this isn’t for you. It does call for loads of introspection and honesty with yourself, and I reread it as soon as I had finished. I’m currently reading Braving The Wilderness, and I’ve downloaded a bunch of her books to read after I’m done. Would definitely recommend.
Next read: Octavia Butler’s Parable of The Sower.
Wanting: A Yamaha ATV. Since I’m committing to this farm life and I’m probably never going to buy a car, this would be the most sensible purchase I’d make. The roads are terrible for cars anyway. Plus it can tow over 1 tonne, so I would probably be of great help to other farmers in the rainy season.
Looking: At birds. The birdlife here is abundant and so beautiful. I’ve spotted a family of crested cranes around, either migrating from Uganda or heading back. I’ve realised though that birds detest being photographed, or rather, sudden movements make them freak out. A raised hand probably means a feya to them. I’m definitely going to purchase a bird watcher’s book in the next few weeks.
Playing: lots and lots of lo-fi hip hop and South African house. Also, I found a bunch of wellness podcasts. I had already mentioned Alex Elle’s hey girl podcast, and I’m adding Jerico Mandybur’s Self Service podcast [for the astrology buffs as well], as well as Aditi Juneja’s Self Care Sundays. The episodes are roughly 30 minutes long, which is great for my short attention span.
Deciding: to stop making excuses for my creative endeavours. A thread by Akwaeke Emezi about writing is responsible for this shift in thinking.
here's how i use goals to pep talk myself into completing book manuscripts. i've been doing this for the past three years + it works for me.
— akwaeke emezi (@azemezi) August 6, 2017
I do tend to worry a lot about external factors beyond my control, which really doesn’t do much for my creation. It actually did take a lot to convince me to write even this, so y’know, here I am.
Wishing: the Kenyan government would get serious. Things are so much different once you leave Nairobi. I’m especially annoyed because of the Cereals Board scandal, with government officials pretending nothing is wrong when bags of maize lay stagnant in stores and the price of one bag is abysmally low. Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties are more or less just maize field after maize field, so thousands of livelihoods are at stake.
Enjoying: the serenity of mashinani. It’s such a relief to go from having an obnoxious Sauti Sol fan as a neighbour – obnoxious meaning he played everything except Mwanzo – to the sounds of birds chirping and really nothing else. I see butterflies and ladybugs every single day, and I don’t have to pay 50 bob to walk in nature.
Waiting: to harvest my garlic. I planted a couple of bulbs in the beginning of June and they’re doing pretty well. They are the first things I can say I planted, so my excitement is very real. Garlic is pretty easy to plant, just soak a few cloves in water till you see tiny roots and plant them in your garden. Or you can just plant them as they are – that’s what I did for a couple. I also planted broccoli and lettuce as well as swiss chard [spinach to you peasants] and I’m very excited to see the results.
Liking: how my skin is improving. I kinda got tired of all the funny concoctions I was making and buying off IG stores, so I went back to Nivea products. In just 3 weeks my skin is looking so much better. I still make my bentonite-charcoal-honey-turmeric face mask weekly. Some habits die hard.
Wondering: about forgiveness. Of late I’ve seen several threads and articles about forgiveness on the internet, some good, some bad, but none of them truly satisfying. I think these conversations are strange to witness because we are all not talking about the same transgressions, we do not all carry burdens in the same manner, so the suggested ‘solutions’ are extremely broad generalisations yet said with so much authority. I feel like they are written with the author’s own problems in mind which is acceptable but there is no way that is the universal standard. Certain things vary from human to human, some are very personal. In my opinion, forgiveness is all up to the person who was wronged.
Loving: the new Florence and the Machine album, High As Hope. My caucasian queen. It is so fucking good y’all. GRAAAAAAACEEEEEEE. Yes, ma’am. [Though she does appear in the yourfaveisproblematic Tumblr for blackface and cultural appropriation.]
Considering: taking up woodwork. We have a bunch of timber lying around, and I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to pallet furniture. There’s also a carpenter available who can teach me how to do it. I’ll need to do research on this.
Buying: [or at least planning to] shoes for school kids in the area. For Kenyans it’s more or less winter, and if June was bad, July will definitely be worse. I can barely leave my bed without three or four layers, so its extremely disheartening to see small children running to school barefoot in nine degree weather. The ground is definitely colder than the air and I can’t even begin to imagine the effects on their young bodies. . I will be going to Kibuye Market in Kisumu to see if I can get a bale of shoes, but if anyone has any other leads on where I can get shoes for kids in bulk let me know.
Watching: reruns of Bojack Horseman and realising how this is just a story of a narcissist and his hardcore abuse. Bojack is AWFUL, continuously sabotaging the people around him and more so himself. The best indicator of his narcissist behaviour is when Mr. Peanutbutter confronts him on whether he likes Diane and Bojack responds
‘Am I attracted to her, sure… do my days feel better when I’m around her, yeah… does she get me in ways no woman ever has, indubitably… do i fantasise about her, YES but only in two positions… look, am I the kind of guy who would try to steal someone else’s girlfriend, yes of course, but do I LIKE her…the answer is no, you have nothing to worry about.’
Initially I thought it was misdirection of some sort but wow this is textbook narcissism. The only way this show can have a happy ending for the characters involved is with his death.
Next watch: Pose. I’ve seen the tweets and I am sold, though with my limited connection it’ll be unfair to start and watch weekly so I’ll just wait for the episodes to pile up.
Cringing: at the state of the creative scene in Kenya. There is almost an unhealthy obsession with a name-shame-blame culture. Yes, there is no doubt that there is gross exploitation of creatives in every sector of the industry, from models to writers to photographers et al, and they often take to social media to air out their grievances [usually non-payment] online. It is unfortunate that aggrieved parties have to resort to social media when the right channels of doing business prove futile, but there is rarely another option to hold these financial abusers accountable . However from my own experience there are barely tangible results. A few people do get their money but there is seldom accountability and a way forward after all is said and done.
We cannot keep resorting to the court of public opinion [and subsequently mob mentality] to seek accountability, instead we need tangible systems to protect us. Currently the method is to have individual lone wolves go up against titans of industry [or at least those who are perceived as such.] We as creatives need to seriously examine our tactics and come up with solid structures to assist us in mitigating risk and alleviating such abuse. We must hold ourselves to the same standards to which we hold the companies and individuals we demand penance from. There must be clear parameters and consequences for breaching said parameters. Associations/unions may be a good start. Collectives [another cringe] seem not to be the house built on rocks but the one built on sand. We need something solid to represent our interests, otherwise the only things that will remain of our creative legacies are forgotten hashtags.
Questioning: my feminism. I do not want to denounce the entire movement, far from it. I am however straddling the tension of supporting a movement I love and holding it accountable. I’ve started to see how one can get caught up in visuals and rhetoric – being seen to be a feminist and speaking the language is not something that only men can take advantage of for clout or personal gain, rather we are all susceptible to this once we appear to be doing the work, but not living it. There is a dire need for self reflection; for us to realise that while this movement is bigger than ourselves, there is no real feminism without the personal. We cannot have shitty interpersonal relationships and still purport to be ‘doing the work for a greater cause’…how, when the personal is political. We must question our role and what our presence is doing for feminism, and this calls for us to first lead feminist lives that reflect our theory. Feminism is praxis. I have come to realise that I can only call myself a feminist if I am bettering myself, and using what I have learned in my own time to better the relationships I have with those I directly interact with, THEN I can get on a soapbox and try to spread the message. Any other route for me seems facetious.
Smelling: fresh air. No exhaust fumes, no sewage, none of that.
Wearing: thick funky socks. I was wandering around Kitale and I found a lady who sells the warmest thickest cutest socks. What is cold.
Following: IG user y.na__. A South Korean homecafe, they make beverages, from iced coffee to homemade soda, and I dig the whole aesthetic very much. Plus if you turn the sound on they play old blues/jazz as they mix, and the names of the songs are in the caption. Very chill and cute.
Noticing: how much time I wasted on social media. I downloaded the Stay Focused app that more or less summarises how much time you spend on each app on your phone. It also allows you to restrict how many times you launch an app, how long you spend on a particular app, and what times you can or can’t access one. My daily Twitter average is SIX HOURS. I haven’t got the guts to set an hour limit [that is the max] but I have cut my IG use down to 45 minutes a day, and I’ve restricted access to certain apps past 10PM. Eventually I’ll be able to limit excess social media use. Baby steps.
Knowing: myself. This June I changed my approach to journalling. While before it was more of gossiping with myself [you will not believe who texted me and other bullshit] I have now taken a more introspective and self reflective approach. It’s much harder than it was before because it requires balancing hard truths while also being kind to oneself. I do like the results though.
Thinking: of Kimberley Foster’s For Harriet piece, Why I Will Not March For Eric Garner. Four years ago this piece brought all the controversy and outrage. I remembered it recently because of the current state of the world. We should extend empathy to everyone since we are all inextricably linked, and sentiments like these can further sever these connections. Us vs them is a false dichotomy and a move to force people to take sides – something Brene Brown refers to as weaponized belonging. However there is the case of expending energy to those who expend it to us, and assessing our lives and forming opinions based on actual in person experiences. I don’t know how it is to exist in America as a black woman, but I can still see where she was coming from. I don’t know though. What do y’all think?
Sorting: my closet, and general living space. A good friend recommended The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo a few years back, but i never got round to reading it because I didn’t really feel like it was something I could control at the time. But now that I have time, freedom and control of my personal space I’m getting on that train very soon. Stay tuned for updates.
Getting: an essential oil diffuser. Luscious Touch – Yaya keeps texting me of their offers till I’ve just acquiesced and ordered one.
Bookmarking: The Documentary podcast. I just need to find the mental fortitude to listen to an hour long podcast.
Coveting: Kaz Lucas’ sex box. Why not me Lord?
Disliking: Nicki Minaj’s behaviour. Trolling writers online for saying she’s almost 40. ‘My bad I’m 35’. ‘You’re just jealous that I’m rich, famous, pretty, intelligent.’ Ma’am. AT YOUR BIG AGE.
Giggling: at my naivete. Funny story. There’s a chang’aa den near River Nzoia. I usually take walks to the river and back every day, and sometimes I pass by the den when business is booming. [Literally PASS BY, I cannot bring myself to jump the gate lol.] On some days I meet with customers, either on their way or coming from the joint. There are some folks I actually do know, and they have convinced me on a couple of occasions to buy a round for them. However, I recently discovered that I was being scammed on the price. I was told that a cup is 50 bob, which is not true but because I didn’t have somewhere else to compare prices with, I just agreed and gave them. To date, I still am not sure how much a cup is, since even the mama pima of the joint tries to get me to buy her a cup or two. [One of the 10 Chang’aa Commandments – don’t get high off your own profits] Someone also asked me to give them 700 bob so that they could buy 5 litres of the stuff. Gah. I had to now change my path to avoid destroying the youth – everyone I’m referring to in this story [save the mama pima] is like 5 years younger than me.
Feeling: a bit homesick. I don’t miss the city, just my friends.
Snacking: Much less. I just buy a bunch of chocolate whenever I’m in Kitale, but I don’t really need to go there often so I kinda just eat whatever I can make quickly without a fuss – which just usually means sweet potatoes. I have been eating Frosties cereal bars [strange I know], which are like 40 bob these sides.
Hearing: Rumors of Nichelle Kobi coming to Kenya. If this is true [unsure because the Eventbrite link isn’t working and she’s not said anything about Kenya on her IG, which, why aren’t you following?]. I don’t care how much the VIP ticket is, I AM GOING.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading!
[also, why is this kid so stressed lol]