Taking Stock – Hello 2019!
It’s been a while, and I have reasons. I began overthinking, as most writers can relate, and was worried that I was only going to have monthly recaps on my blog. I thought that would become repetitive and boring, and that people would lose interest and not want to revisit the site. Without even realizing it I was falling into the trap of creating for others, instead of just doing it because I enjoy doing it – and I really do like writing these posts. Instead of coming up with new ideas, I panicked and thought myself into a corner, and seven months passed without any new or revolutionary content. But after a serious life audit, good things started happening to me, and I’m feeling confident about my decisions, so here’s a stocktaking post!
HIGHLIGHT: 2019 has been great so far. Towards the end of last year, I applied for the Nairobi Fiction Writing Workshop facilitated by Makena Onjerika, who won the Caine Writing Prize in 2018. (You can download the story, Fanta Blackcurrant, here.) I got into the workshop, which I am really proud of. Despite my confidence in editing, I’m not too sure about my own writing, less so fiction; before the two required samples for the application, I hadn’t written fiction since the first WTBAP anthology back in 2014. Anyway, the workshop has been great and I am learning so much. I’m more confident in my writing, and despite it being a fiction workshop, there are elements that I am able to incorporate into non-fiction. I’m reading books I’d never thought I would read, and the class is made up of the most diverse and interesting characters. They all love reading and writing as much as I do, if not more. I highly recommend it to any writer in the Nairobi area -classes are currently ongoing but there’ll be a May intake, so start preparing your drafts!
Making :Trello boards. Trello is the best thing that has happened to my life. It’s basically a web based project management tool – like the digital equivalent of Post-It notes on a bulletin board. My accountability partner and I use Trello to have our weekly meetings, since it allows for collaboration. A few days ago I stumbled across this article on how to search for a job using Trello, and I’ve applied it to my job search. It’s taken away so much of the misery that comes with job-hunting. Highly recommend.
Sipping: on herbal teas. I’ve been trying to avoid sugary drinks this year and I realised that the biggest culprit was alcohol, since I drown my liquor with chaser. In an attempt to live a healthier lifestyle I have been chasing my beloved KC Coconut with chilled hibiscus tea [patent pending]. It’s great as it gives the illusion that you’re taking something healthy as you get drunk. No added sugar.
Reading: lots of short stories because of the workshop. We read so many and they are all good, but I really enjoyed Welcome To Your Authentic Indian Experience mostly because it was written in the second person and you don’t get a lot of that, as most writing advice discourages it. Also I like Haruki Murakami’s short stories. Many of the criticisms I’ve heard about Murakami’s stories usually complain about the emptiness that one feels after reading them; a sense of ‘ok so now what has happened? What have I just read?’ and that for me is what makes his work so awesome.
This year I put 55 books on my Goodreads reading challenge
Next read: We have to read NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names for class and I am NOT looking forward to it. I got this book last year, but didn’t finish and it didn’t warrant a mention in my 2018 reading recap. I wasn’t impressed by the first few chapters,mostly because didn’t like the language; there’s a way you can slide in the local dialect/street slang/pidgin or whatever without making it sound like you’re doing it for the benefit of white people. It’s only months after I had given up on the book that I found out that the first chapter won the 2011 Caine Prize, which, my point. However I have no choice but to give the book a chance since it’s the first book we start with. Who knows, maybe I’ll change my opinion on the story.
Sorting: through my wardrobe. Is decluttering unAfrican? Discuss (20 marks)
Looking: for a place to donate my clothes to. I’m in the process of moving and I have so many clothes I don’t want any more, and I can’t buy any more clothes until I get rid of these ones. I have three bags full. If anyone knows a place that is always taking donations please let me know.
Listening: to Spotify. Late last year I made the shift from Deezer to Spotify, and I have not looked back. I kept postponing buying Deezer Premium and I’m glad I didn’t because Spotify gives me what Deezer could never. The Discover Weekly and Release Radar playlists are always fire (though I wish they would stop recommending Jaden Smith.) Deezer’s Flow is repetitive and made up of songs I removed from my faves. In the last month, I’ve discovered JID, KALLITECHNIS, The Last Artful, Dodgr and others that I honestly don’t think Deezer would have recommended even if I paid. I just keep the app on my phone for the random days the Spotify
Wishing: for a Kindle. That’s the main thing on my wishlist right now. I’m still very much OK with being a pirate, but… you can buy me one if you want.
Enjoying: house hunting. While most people detest the idea I love it, I love seeing the finishes and talking to the people about the place. I also love the whole moving process, which is like the icing on the house hunt search.
Waiting: for the content that will come with the new season of Game of Thrones. The show has its merits, but for me half of the fun is logging on to YouTube the next day and watching people react. I really like Nerd Soup’s G.O.T. commentary but have no personal interest in their other content.
Liking: the Creative Independent’s Chrome Extension. The Creative Independent is a fantastic site for creatives; they interview several creatives across multiple fields about their craft, finding their voice, developing a creative process and finding balance and other areas which most of us struggle with. When you install their extension, any time you open a new tab, you’ll see a quote from one of their articles, which is always great for motivation.
Loving: the Kaldi’s Coffee House Espresso Milkshake. It’s so creamy and thick.
If you’ve never been, Kaldi’s is a nice first date venue, a place to figure out whether you like one another enough to head out for evening drinks. The waiters aren’t intrusive and fade into the background, but if you need anything they’re quick on the take. The stretches of time between placing your order, drinks, food and the bill are perfectly timed. You can either enjoy your time together, or have enough time to realise that shit isn’t going well. The food isn’t all that though – the chicken is always dry. Their milkshakes though, top notch.
Buying: books from street vendors. I’m trying to build an extensive personal library but I’m also a cheapskate and suddenly don’t know how to read when I get to Prestige Bookshop – what are those prices guys are you kidding??? I found The Andalite Chronicles, Aldous Huxley’s The Island and Ender’s Game from the same guy, and I’ll be making a point to go round buying books. Apart from the CBD where do people buy second hand books? My father used to take me to a second hand bookshop that was in Adam’s Arcade; it’s where I got my first copy of Animorphs. It’s very unlikely that it’s still there, but I wonder if anyone else remembers it.
Watching: YouTube, and nothing else really. I’ve more or less given up on any other form of entertainment; I watch a few movies here and there but that’s mostly when someone else is watching. I watch Netflix when I visit my sister or my friends, and I don’t care enough to ask them for their log-in details after I leave. Why, when there’s so much content on YouTube. I clear my entire watch history when I don’t like the stuff that’s being recommended, and over time my recommended has been getting it right. My current favourite channel is Nerd City. They recently did a series in which they investigated whether pretending to have a big butt would get you followers on Instagram, and when I say INVESTIGATED I mean it. They studied popular trends in beauty from the 70s till today, they researched which poses were the most popular, they travelled to Europe and Jamaica for different locations…as in it was so well done. Check it out.
Next watch: I just discovered a media critic/video essayist called Angie Speaks. I’ve only watched one video on how social justice can be a clout game and it’s really good. Her channel is only 10 months old, but the content is well-researched and the videos are well done.
Needing: a microphone and a ring light. You know what for!
Wearing: new bras. Oh my goodness. As someone who breasts boobily down the stairs, and sometimes has 3- 4 breasts depending on how much I had eaten at lunch that day, I am relieved to say that my bra woes are over. I FOUND A PLACE. As a 34F/G I struggle with finding good bras. I suspect a large majority of the women who sell bras in shops work on commission, because the number of times they have insisted that something is my size when it’s obviously not [to the point of intentionally measuring badly] and bullied me into a bad purchase…ugh. It’s been enough that I have always disliked bra shopping, it’s like a game of Russian Roulette, but with underwire. NO MORE. I found a lady at Ruaka Shopping Centre her name is Priscilla Shiru – she hooked me up. PLUS THEY ARE 150 BOB. Please if you are a victim of bad bras, I feel your pain, and I can help.
[Also now that I’m on the topic of bras and breasts let me tell you something. NOBODY CARES THAT YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO’S BACK HURTS BECAUSE THEIR BOOBS ARE BIG. AGAIN. NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR IMAGINARY COUSIN’S BACK PROBLEMS. Stop telling people these unsolicited anecdotes like they’re supposed to do something about it. The number of times I’ve had other women give me shitty bra/breast advice as in…
Getting: used to losing friends as I get older. This is something I can’t feign ignorance about; literally everyone will tell you that as you get older you will lose friends. Sometimes there’ll be a slow period where everything is fine and you’re all frolicking in the fields, but then there’ll be times you’ll lose five friends in three days. Probably all unrelated. And you’ll have seen each and every one of them coming. It’s OK. Let it happen. It has to.
Saving: money. It feels fittingly adult to say that – I’m saving! When I was doing my end of year audit, I had to face really hard truths considering my attitude towards money, and that meant going much deeper than ‘I need a better job’ and ‘Nairobi is expensive.’ While both those things are true, there’s more to it than that, and it was sobering to realise that some unresolved issues were making me broke, or at the very least averse to having money. For example if you had a sibling/relative who stole money from you when you were younger, you might have developed an attitude towards saving, since every time you tried to put money aside, someone would take it away. (Last borns, let us come together and pray…) I found out that I had a lot of unpacking to do,and I can tell you that discarding outdated attitudes, not only around money but also anything in your life, can clear up room for a lot of prosperity. That’s the adulting part that comes before you start putting money aside.
Feeling: HUNGRY ALL THE TIME
Snacking: on McVities Penguin Bars. A pack of 6 is 250 bob at Chandarana, and they’re the closest imitation to Tim Tam’s that I can find. They are above decent, but they don’t have the chocolatey goodness that TimTam’s has to offer. If you have friends coming in from Australia tell them to bring you Tim Tam’s so that you may experience heaven in a biscuit. Apparently, Tim Tam’s were made second; the Penguin Bar is the original concept, but as in… Tim Tam’s won that battle fair and square.
Craving: Tim Tams.
Opening: a new bank account. It’s time. Do you know I’ve been with Chase Bank all this time, like I stayed after the collapse and through the rebrand. It has been hell on earth, and I’ve had enough. GOOD THE FUCK BYE.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked the links and would like more of the same content, I have a Telegram channel on which I regularly send out links to content I find awesome.