Monday, October 27, 2014

Questions you should probably ask but never have.

I climbed a steep hill for twenty five minutes today. I also nearly lost my breath when I got to the main road, but that's done- the best part has been reading The Calhouns: Suzanna and Megan by Nora Roberts. Why? I have this bias towards books by Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts and Sidney Sheldon. It's more like a been there-done that kind of feeling, and before you think I'm hating, sit down and think about it, take a minute, matter of fact, make it two- and then say "Dora, you're crazy and downright stupid for even thinking like that."

And this is the part where I say, "Thank you."
I have been rid of that bias after reading that book, and I know Writers have a style and voice, just like you know that any book by Jodi Picoult is going to make you weep if not cry and pull your hair at such human cruelty and pain. It's just the way it is.
So, what brought this up? A man. Yes, don't give me The-Rock-Eyebrow right now!

​Well, I was reading the book and this man seated beside me was also enjoying my leisure time- and he came right out of nowhere and asked, "Is it true that women are like that? They don't really ask questions when sometimes they want to?"
I looked at him, but what I was thinking was "Where did that come from?" Then I turned to the book and I saw that he could read bits of it based on how I was holding it- and at that point I went into Diplomat mode, "It depends, but the way I see it everyone is like that, sometimes we have questions to ask but never do either out of fear for the consequences or the truth."

He nodded. We continued reading until he alighted at Katito then said, "My name is Lameck. I like women who read."
I smiled and blurted out, "Thanks," instead of "My name is Dora and I don't like people who interrupt or reign in my parade as I read."

As we got to Kisumu there were many thoughts going through my mind regarding the questions that never rolled out on my tongue and why I kept them there. As usual if anything spooks me or makes me uncomfortable, I write it in my journal and think about it there- but I called Grace with three questions and let's just say I did not like her third answer!
  1. Whom do you know that I should know?
  2. What have you read that I should read?
  3. What have you done that you know and truly feel I should do?

And her answers were:

  1. Gabriel. He's an Accountant and loves to read just like you, and he's better looking than Grumpy.
  2. Really? Go ask someone who has never heard or ABCs! You have probably read everything! That's a selfish question, are you bragging?
  3. Get married, have a baby. being pregnant is a chore.

Grace aside- those three questions should be directed to three kinds of people in your life: those you look up to, those who look down on you and those who look up to you.

They are to make you stronger and better than you are now, so write them down, and go ahead and ask. You have this week to do so, and if you have such people in your life chances are you'll learn the best things you never thought you would!

Do not let anyone define you.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What's happened so far.

I have had quite a wonderful week, because I haven't had the time to sit down and finish writing "Fire."
This would have saddened me three months ago, but now, it is all about the art of 'simmering.' Yes, I am taking things as slow and precise as they ought to be because I have learned that a story can be told in less than five hundred words and it would still have meaning. So, I have chopped down lots of repetitive paragraphs and had four cups of tea today while doing so, and come to the conclusion that all will be well.

So, let me tell you about my trek yesterday!
I went to make a follow up visit at a school around Lela (a few minutes before you get to Ahero) and had to walk for forty-five minutes because it had rained heavily the previous night and no picky-picky was willing to go there.

I got to this bridge (which the people call 'olalo' in Dholuo) and had to walk for an extra ten minutes to get to the school.

So, when I got to the school gate, and paused to catch my breath imagine my surprise at seeing that I had covered 8.5kms from the main road. I was like, 'are you sure? That distance seems more like 6 or 7kms, really? Are you kiddin' me?'
Well, I got no answer, but let's say that I have toned abs now :-) and muscles!

Grace dared me to cook something awesome last week and I prepared vegetable spaghetti. I got to brag about it on this blog. See the ingredients I bought:

​My favorite has to be Cayenne Pepper, because it lights up soup literally! And today, I thought about visiting the Kisumu National Library and seeing what they had on their shelves because I had been disgruntled that they never stocked new books. I took a stroll there and found two things surprising:
  1. The attendant/cashier had grown fat!
  2. The shelves still had the same books, same pile of dust and same poor lighting and no, I scanned every book reminding myself of the pleasure I had in reading them until I stumbled upon these two titles in the 'Marketing' section.

I have to get my focus on writing and see to it that no matter what happens I sharpen and tweak my areas of weakness because it's been a great year, full of lessons and love and attention.

Here's to Grumpy for also making headlines on my blog but more so to Grace and Joseph who will be having my nephew or niece in five months to come- and who have been the greatest inspiration and testament to what love is.

Do not let anyone define you.

Friday, October 24, 2014

What I love about Memoirs.

I bought a copy of The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer on 20th September this year.

 I walked into Nakumatt supermarket at Mega Plaza here in Kisumu and when I came across it- I set it aside simply because it was a memoir.

A memoir is a collection of memories that an individual writes about, and it could be both public or private.​

What I love about most memoirs is that they are told in the kind of voice that feels like someone is making a confession but also entreating you to learn a few things from their experiences.
When you buy a memoir, you know that you will not read it at a sitting but rather have it with you as a companion so that you can always get in on someone's life as you live yours. I had not read anything by J.R., but on that day I got what I wanted and it's safe to say that I am still at page 101 of the book.

I still have 267 pages to go, and am taking my time because one's life story cannot be told in ten minutes. One's experiences both good and bad cannot be summarized in a sentence, because even then you'll miss out on the emotions, torments and understanding that they went through.

​Like, on page 17, he says "Life is all a matter of choosing which voices to tune in and which to tune out, a lesson I learned long before most people, but one that took me longer than most people to put to good use."​
I do wish however that there would be a memoir with cartoons. You know to capture those moments where you thought someone was being stuck up, or where you lost your marbles or better yet where you snoozed the alarm so much that you woke up an hour late!

I'd love to read such a memoir!
Do not let anyone define you.

Friday, October 17, 2014


I'm jealous!

Yes, no matter how many times I try to hide it- that stuff just comes through my veins and it surrounds me like it owns me and for a moment I stop to think 'this is wrong' and then I let it be. I breathe in and out, and feel as though every step I take is a confirmation of my jealousy.

I met a school mate today. She waved at me from the other side of the road and rushed to hug me. She was so happy to see me, and I couldn't help but wonder why.
We barely shared such space in high school and though I hate to admit it- I liked to dance in high school.
I loved writing too, but dancing- that was another level for me.

She immediately asked me "do you still dance?" I took a step back and looked at her, she'd gained roughly five or six kilos, to give her form such vibrancy I just couldn't stop staring.
"So, do you still dance?"
"Yes, but it's not like an every day thing. I'm a Research Assistant now, and I walk a lot."
"That's good, and you write! I love your books! Aki, kwanza the guys! I need some of the men in your stories,you can keep the women, but I need some men- you know like that one about the days? I was hoping that the girl would take him back, you know, jamaas mess up, but you can forgive once in a while- aki that chic, what was her name again..? Wait, Zora! Wait, hebu tell me was that you? I know that for real, Lelia was you! I just read it and knew ilikuwa wewe...but wait, can we get something to eat, ama you're busy?"

I stopped to breathe. I think it's only in Kenya where you get a stream of compliments, questions and assessments and an invitation to lunch in under one minute!
It was half past noon. I had eaten half an apple and wouldn't mind being complimented- and so we walked into the nearest restaurant.

She's been married for three years. She has a one year old daughter named Marie-Precious, and loves being a mother. She lived in Nairobi but had to move to Kisumu when her husband got a promotion, and she's also working as a teller at one of the banks within town. When she'd finished all I could say was "wow!"

"And you? What about you? Any kids? Husband?"
"None so far. I'm committed to someone, but kids? No, not yet."
"Well, all in good time, now tell me about your writing? Has anyone told you that you are great? I mean just great, and am not saying this because I know you- but sometimes I read your stuff and it just makes sense. Do you know what I mean?"

I smiled and thanked her- and the rest of our conversation consisted of high school memories and tales. She asked if I was still seeing any of my high school crushes  and we laughed about it. We used to write names of idols on our shirts, and when we untucked all people could do was call you by your idol's name. I was Samantha Mumba while she was J-Lo. She told me how her brother goes to the rival boy school that we loathed- and she wishes he'd have gone to the boy school we loved. ( I tell you beef is real!)

I saw her to the junction where she took a matatu home. We'd exchanged numbers and twitter handles with the promise to call, but I felt drained.

She saw something that I was not seeing. I have been struggling to write this book "Detached" which follows the every day question "why am I here?"
I have been struggling so much with the words and story that my sleep pattern has changed and so has my walk.

It's not a block because the words are there- it's just that the words are not alive to me. Piece after piece of draft feels like it's empty- like it's detached from life itself, and I have been hating myself for this. So, I set it aside and started reading. I've read three books this week- and am onto the fourth one. I'm doing everything to forget about it, but suddenly meeting her just brought it back to life.

I realized what my problem was.
I did not appreciate myself for the journey that I was embarking on.
I did not value the story itself or what it would achieve and as such it became as empty as what I put into it.

And even though I've often said that it's good to value yourself- today as I watched that matatu speed off with her hand waving at me, I realized that I was jealous of her.
I was jealous because in her joy she saw the good in me- the good that I took for granted.

So, here's to Eunice for bringing me back to life!
Do not let anyone define you.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tug of War

Sometimes we fail to see what's before us, not because we are blind, but because we believe that it cannot be there.

In short- we find ourselves in denial sometimes.

I have had enough time in a matatu from Sondu today to work through my state of denial and trust me it was not a good feeling. I do change like the wind, and have come to accept that 'bottling' is my specialty when it comes to emotions. If there's anyone who knows how best I do this, they always know to best leave me alone and not dance around me hoping that I'd get out of it.

Grace stepped on my toes today. I forgive her because she's carrying my future niece or nephew, and I want that baby to know how much of a doll her mom is. She did not take it kindly when she read my last entry on Grumpy.
I have talked so much about her here, that I believe she's famous and it's gotten into her head. She said that I do the same thing that guys do when it comes to any relationship. I withdraw after some time.

But, most guys withdraw from a relationship for any of three reasons: they've lost interest, they feel rushed and they're afraid.

None of those apply to my case.

I thought so then- but not now.
Let me choose my words carefully then tell you why.


Okay, I have it. Have you ever been in any relationship where it gets to a point that you are just there? Nothing moves you about the relationship, but you do not want to break it off?

Okay, so there's a term for it (thank heavens for Psycho-therapists!) and it's called Emotional Withdrawal.
Things were great between you and suddenly you do not want to connect with someone more so it feels as though you have created a distance and no matter how much they run, they never catch up with you.

In most cases you'll find someone pushing and the other pulling back. In most cases it's the person you distance yourself from who tries to reach out to you (pushing) and you keep retreating (pulling back). The more they push, the more you retreat- and this often leads to a break-up. It's not that none of you care for each other, it's just one person felt he/she was fighting a lost cause and they gave up.

So, why does Grace think I am withdrawing from Grumpy?
If I said, "I don't know," I would be lying, but on the other hand, if I said why, it would become the cold ugly truth that would stare at me for years to come because
  1. the internet never forgets
  2. if it's written, it definitely happened
  3. Grumpy is my number one fan and supporter-and he'll read this before he sleeps tonight
  4. I love the feeling of not running out of excuses which makes it
  5. easier to have a fifth reason that does not make sense!

I do like Grumpy, but I am not withdrawing from him- rather I am taking a step back to give him time to prepare himself for me (yeah #denial if you really think about it). Does that make sense?

It's like taking a shower before going into the swimming pool, or wearing armor before going into battle. He's not prepared to have me in his life as a 'constant' - and I did let him know my reasons for saying so and gave him time. His only weakness is to rush into restructuring his life so much so that he keeps checking up on me because whether he admits it or not- he's afraid of losing me.

But, I ask, which one's worse- losing me or losing to know himself?

Do not let anyone define you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hold up! Let's do this again.

Do you remember on that Thursday evening last month when Grumpy turned the tables on me?
(Psst! You can read it here )

Well, I have been on the down low about the state of things with him because truth be told there was nothing mind boggling or eye-opening to share, and that's until now!

For starters, it was my off day and all I was doing was giving a detailed report of what has happened this week and it turns out that the man who always takes me to town on his bicycle was as high as a fiddle today! Yes, he was drunk and the bicycle kept making some MJ moves on the road that it scared me senseless.

So back to Mr. Grumpy- remember the line, "I'm serious about us Arch, what do you want me to do to prove it.Say it and I will do it?"

Twenty days later and my answer was "commit." It was simple, just one word and yet as I said it, I laughed not because it was funny but because I did not expect it of him. It made me think of all the things I have wanted to do but never done simply because I could not commit and follow through on them. It was a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black, and instead of being embarrassed about it or wearing the 'look of shame' all I did was laugh.

​So here's the question: have you ever gotten to a point in your life where you wanted to hit the re-do button?

I know there are moments when the undo button is most desired, but cast those aside for a moment and think of three or better yet five moments in your life where if you could have some remote control you could simply hit repeat. I had that today because I finally had an answer for Mr. Grumpy but it's not so much as telling him, but having him prove me wrong that made me want to hit the re-do button.
So, there I was expecting that he'd pause or demand a breather like I did on September 18th, but he smiled and said, "I'll do more than that Arch."

He got to turn the tables on me twice! I was not pleased about that because I love being in control, but today I learned that sometimes letting go is the best way of taking in.​

Do not let anyone define you.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What happens when work's all about complains of the boss?

You have to read this post if you are: working with people, working under people or working for people.

Do you answer to someone?
Do people answer to you?

And forget the employer-employee relationship that results in a salary or wage consider also any relationship you have with people. You invest time, attention and emotions and expect the same from others too in your life- so that's work because you constantly build on it and learn new skills as you grow.

So for now, I'll focus on bad bosses!
I mean they always mess up your day and seem not to care for your development but that you slave without thinking or feeling and worse off voicing these feelings. So, it's lunch or tea time and you are out of the office and someone starts talking about how much they hate the boss and would definitely beat them up if they were to meet in a dark alley. You listen and, brilliant idea...but you say nothing and soon everyone shares how one time the boss was mean and disrespectful to them.

​I have had such an experience and trust me- it does not help trying to see things from the boss's side, but here's the thing I live by at work:
First, my boss clearly told me one time when I tried to make him realize he was wrong that "I am the boss! I run the show!"
So, I know he is the boss. I do not give a hoot about anything other than ensuring my work's done- we talk work and nothing else just reports- because he made his position clear.

But-see bashing the boss takes up too much time that you could spend at work, it does not advance your career, and when you bash him you lose the opportunity to learn from his mistakes because you shall have labeled him the evil one in your mind already.So, before you bash your boss this will help (trust me, I use it daily!)
  • will this comment help the organization?
  • will it help realize our vision or attract and retain customers?
  • ​will it help the person I am talking to?
  • will it help the person I am talking about?

If your answers are: no, no, no, no- Shut up!

It's true that bad bosses create an emotional climate with their attitudes and behavior but you can choose to not let it be your topic of concern. If you want to dwell on it you will only grow into a gossip and there's nothing as active and a quick way of losing your job and integrity by fueling the rumor vine.

You can learn so much more about being a good leader from a bad boss so don't despair, turn things around in your favor. And sometimes while bashing your boss you demean yourself without intending to or knowing that you really are doing so- because if he's so mean and doesn't know what he's doing, why are you reporting to him? Why not report for someone else who is brilliant? Your bad boss as you see him/her might be the reason why you gain good leadership skills- so if he/she does something you feel is untoward ask yourself what you could have done- and why?

But let it be clear asking for sexual favors, stealing, lying to cover up some organizational crime or being flogged does not apply here.

So, if you ask me, what happens when work's all about complains of the boss, I will share with you what I will be doing- pulling out my novel and reading a good story. I would rather use the time to develop myself, because let's face it- if your boss is bad- people will complain and you cannot cut off their tongues while they do this- if one thing is certain- you can forward them this post so they can learn from my experience.

He/she is the boss today, and you will be the boss tomorrow.

Arm yourself with the necessary skills so as not to be the one who is bashed tomorrow.

Do not let anyone define you.