Wednesday, January 31, 2007

bring on the YEAR OF GOODNESS

so far, 26 has been the YEAR OF GOODNESS. haha, thanks for the great motto for the coming year kels. sort of like the chinese years. they have the year of the dog, we have the YEAR OF GOODNESS.

i was woken up (after turning off 2 alarms) by my family calling. highlights from the conversation - well, being woken up by home when i didn't feel like getting out of bed, attempting to think in spanish after having been woken up (oh dear), 'i hope that conroy doesn't become captain. have you seen a rhino yet?' and 'and i wanted to mention, happy birthday' (brothers, gotta love them).

i was late for work and didn't even rush after having made some juice with the fruit i had in my house (ok so it sorta smelled like feet, but i love to blend things in the morning). i got an email from cirque du soleil wishing me a happy birthday and 2 emails that made me laugh out loud and only one of them had naked pictures in it. of me. but it was a photoshopped birthday joke so don't get your panties in a knot that i am establishing a career on the www.

the article i wrote was published in the u of c alumni magazine which you can read here (and let me preface it by saying i am not pregnant, contrary to the photo, and i was standing on a hill and was not exercising my best posture).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

repeated kick in the junk

dear 25,

as we spend our last day together, i thought it important to reflect on the past year and let you know how i feel about our relationship. if i had to say one thing it would be that it was a nice year. and by nice what i mean to say is that it often felt like repeated kicks in the junk. don't get me wrong, we had some good time together, you and i. we went to the olympics and went luging on table tops with some italians and there was that trip that we took, just the two of us, to amsterdam. i had never had a vacation like that and i am so glad that i did it because it gave me the confidence that i could do it again, anywhere. we also had a great summer together, against all odds, and i moved to a whole new continent with you and managed to settle in really well. you also helped put me in contact with people from all over the world who became fast friends and who i will maintain relationships with for years to come. thanks for that.

but i've decided that we should part ways after today, you going on to harass another unsuspecting young 24 year old and me moving on to bigger and better things. no offence intended, of course. but i really don't see a future for us. just doesn't feel right.

i'll give you this much, you taught me a lot. but did i have to learn it all in one year? couldn't you have been a little easier on me at times? but i suppose because you were such a hard ass i have grown and learned more than i would have without you standing behind me, giving me a swift kick in the behind everytime i slowed down or things seemed to be comfortable.

i loved with all i had this past year. i fought for things to no avail. i said good-bye to people i loved and i still believe that i will see some of them return once i get rid of you. others, i will have to keep alive in my memory and the memory of my family, but at least i was able to say good-bye. i worked the hardest i have ever worked and was proud of the result. i continued to figure out who i am and what it is i expect. from people, from myself, from the world in which i live. i had to make some decisions that hurt or disappointed people this year and i am going to blame you as soon as you are gone.

there were many times where i felt well and truly alive this past year. i suppose i could give you some credit for that. i have looked back to think that i am living the life that i expected of myself and i didn't just land in africa by some twist of luck but by a lot of hard work, persistence, and dedication. i didn't really slow down this past year even though i felt incredibly lonely and isolated on occassion. i still feel like there is an uphill battle in front of me, but i am on my way and your urging and proding helped me move in the right direction. even if i wanted to punch you in the face weekly.

i know it is a clique, but really, it is not you, it is me. i am ready to move on and see what 26 holds for me. somehow i cannot imagine it to be the same type of volatile, love/hate relationship you and i have carried on for the past 364 days. but i will most certainly remember you and talk about you fondly in a few years. and don't try and sort yourself out and treat me like a queen now that we are done, that doesn't work. you can't go backwards and fix things after they were broken. let's just walk away knowing we are better for this past year and look forward and to the future. and if you get a drunk text message from me in a few weeks, please ignore it or just laugh to yourself about how i will never learn to keep my phone in my bag after i've been drinking red wine.

have a good year 25, i hope you are kind to the next girl you are involved with. at least we can both walk away knowing we learned from one another and maybe one day we can be friends. like maybe when i am 50.

yours truly,

ps - that time that i repeatedly screamed at you and gave you the finger on that road trip. sorry about that, i was angry and frustrated. i've deleted the photo, if that makes it any better.

another gem

"That's the thing about ex-girlfriends...they have terrible timing!"

moms, they always know what to say.

Friday, January 26, 2007

3 more things

the maher arar settlement brings home the gravity of the situation.

i am obsessed with Ray LaMontagne, especially the song Empty.

this made me laugh. "See, this is why I won't let you have nice things. Because you won't let me grow majestic facial hair."

forced fun

in lieu of a christmas party, we are having a work new year party this afternoon and i am not thrilled about it. possibly because i just feel like going home and watching the rest of Blood Diamond (again, 2 thumbs up to excellent bootleg copies of movies) in my pyjamas due to the melancholy brought on by the coup in guinea. and apparently i have been signed up for the 'bun on a string' eating competition. sweet mother of god.

i think i am getting used to running at this altitude because i went for another run yesterday where i could just keep going and going. could have been the good tunes on my pod that kept me moving or the tension from a rather hectic week at work that needed to be burnt off. but i now have a rash right between my boobs because that is where i put my pod in its case when i run (if you have to wear a sports bra, you might as well carry stuff in it, is my thinking). not comfortable.

i had a full table for dinner last night and was happy to try out some new recipes on unsuspecting houseguests and friends, but everything turned out rather delicious and they were great at offering to help and allowing me to delegate tasks so i wasn't overwhelmed with chopping, blending, crushing, frying, boiling, sauteeing, soaking, and simmering. along with butternut squash, potato and leek soup is my new speciality.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

never a dull moment

i have been keeping a pretty full dance card as of late and when i am not calculating how much time i am earning myself in hell or questioning my morals, i have really been having fun. with all of them.

but just as soon as i decide that one of them might actually be the kind of person i would like to spend more of my time with, there has to be an attemped coup in guinea.

you see, a certain someone's exgirlfriend lives there and has fled the country only to end up in nairobi. i can't say i blame him since i would open my doors to exboyfriends fleeing social unrest but this attempted coup is really putting a damper on my weekend plans to go golfing.

i mean, how long do these things typically last? i am afraid i shouldn't hold my breath. as i told him, the most indecisive guy is asking the most impatient girl to wait and see. and that is not a promising situation. and if it is possible, i actually like him more because of the way he was upfront and honest about the whole thing. damn it.

just as i thought things were moving in the right direction there has to be a coup in guinea. who would have ever thought that african strongman politics would have such an impact on my social life?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

risky business

(january 21, 2007)

i would not consider myself a risk taker. but after a conversation i had today, i am beginning to reconsider. and maybe risks don’t feel like risks to the people who are taking them.

the conversation went like this:
‘once i tried to get a scorpion to sting by poking its back with a stick… once i threw rocks at a puff adder to see if it was in fact a snake… once i ran down the side of a volcano… once i used the men’s bathroom at a bull fight…’

‘you really have no sense of risk, do you?’

to me, bungee jumping and sky diving are unnecessary risks and i just don’t understand why that appeals to some people. but then i field questions about why i would choose to live in one of africa’s most notorious cities and i suppose that that is just as difficult to comprehend for some as throwing your self off a bridge attached by the ankle to a giant elastic band is to me.

toe crack

(january 21, 2007)

i have been in nairobi for 3 months and i know we always say it, but it really feels like it has flown by. i keep wondering if i will stop being happy here. part of me just assumes that it won’t last. can’t last, by some rule of nature or gravity – what goes up must come down. but i remain content and continue to enjoy my life in kenya.

this past week i acquired a new item for my room which makes is even more my own. i am almost ashamed to admit that it is a sheep skin rug, which is not normally something i would choose to put in my room (and i recall making a big fuss out of someone else’s every time i inadvertently stepped on it…) but i stayed in my flatmate’s room before i moved into mine and every morning i stood on this thing and got addicted to the soft fluffy wool on my toes to start the day. well she moved out and left behind her sheep, so i hastily relocated the dead animal skin from her room to mine and now it sits beside my bed waiting for my feet in the morning. i call it crack for my toes. it feels that good.

and speaking of meat, this quasi-vegetarian went for my second, and much more enjoyable than the first, nyama choma experience. roasted meat. i do like the goat. and i had nice company and a Stoney soda to go with it.

it’s the world social forum this week and i wonder if there will be a noticeable change in the city. there were a lot more people here during the climate change conference (sorry about the job sitch, rona) and it was tougher to get a taxi. i went to a concert on saturday to kick off the wsf and it also kicked ass. live music, drummers, outdoors. slug on my foot. it was grand.

in other creepy crawly news, i sat in a nairobi fly hill this afternoon. these bastards ooze poison if you squish them on your skin and then you get an awful rash and then your skin peels off. apparently not painful but i’ve seen the after effects and i am not interested in any skin discolourations. i am also not interested in any more mosquito bites so i think i will have to suck it up and get a mosquito net even though i hate sleeping under them.

Friday, January 19, 2007

variety is the spice of life

and my newest favourite quote?

"You are not why not have a selection?"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

natural high

that song 'i'm so excited, i just can't hide it, i'm about to lose control and i think i like it... i know, i know, i know i want you. want you' makes me want to dance on a wednesday morning.

'i want to love you feel you, wrap myself around you...' seriously, dancing in my chair here.

i might be drinking too much coffee lately. or i have been naturally hyper this week. yesterday morning i woke up at 6am and went for a run (freaking altitude - i feel like such a light weight running in kenya) and then last night i changed all the light bulbs in my flat that were burnt out, made today's lunch, knit half a mitten while watching The Departed (i give it 1 thumb up, but i give pirated copies of new movies 2 thumbs up), and painted a table. as i didn't have anything like paint thinner to get the paint off my hands afterwards, i am still covered in white. good thing i don't have any important meetings today.

i am also pleased to report that my skin looks less like an adolescent's these days. (no disrespect to my adolescent bros). and i have been informed that the prescription i have for antibiotics isn't even necessary and i can now just go back to the chemist and ask for another month of the drug. and i have been told to bargain on the price of the medication. so, no prescription and bargaining on the price. hmmm.... just another reason why international development doesn't work or a more efficient and streamlined system?

i have been considering lent again this year. as you may recall, i gave up chocolate for 40 days last year. as i write this, i am nibbling on some israeli chocolate treats compliments of the all-woman department i work in. my thoughts this year are to give up coffee (but i love coffee so much, it seems silly to deprive myself of one of the few liquids i consume), chocolate again (but this will obviously be tough with the above mentioned all-woman department), or follow a friend's suggestion and try out the anti-lent. smoke more, drink more, and eat more red meat. i am on board with all of those suggestions apart from the smoking and the red meat.

favourite quote from last weekend: 'for a cave, it is pretty clean.'

Friday, January 12, 2007

there, that's better

the pink and white is refreshing. i was getting sick of looking at the black dots.

but i seem to have lost my map and counter. apparently, i can get it back somehow but don't have the patience to fight with blogger today. although i must say that blogger rarely puts up a good fight and is usually pretty easy to contend with. and the map never showed me in kenya anyways*.

i have had a headache the past few days. it could be a) dehydration, b) stress, c) staring at a computer screen, d) the burning garbage outside my window (again), or e) all of the above.

*can we talk about the use of the word 'anyways?' because i think that it is fine to pluralise it, but recently someone from another former british colony pointed out that canadians always say anyways when they say anyway. which is correct? grammar police, any ideas?

Monday, January 08, 2007

allow me to introduce...


i bought her from an older man with cataracts who insists she will grow into a medium sized plant that loves shade and will flourish indoors. i brought her home in a taxi with a driver who had specs. his name was joe and he helped me load my newest companion into his car without minding that some dirt might be left behind after he dropped us. sam the askari carried talulah above his head up the flight of stairs to my flat. he even changed out of his flip flops into his combat boots for this rather important task. i think it was a warm homecoming and i am happy to have living company when my flatmates are out of town.

59 4-letter words

(january 8, 2007)

i should have known that today would be a crumby day after the way it started. i was running late and as i hurried out of the house with my go-mug and two pieces of toast in my hands, i managed to get jam on my sweater sleeve and almost drop my armload of stuff. and when you swear more than 3 times before leaving the front door, it’s a given that the day will most certainly suck.

and it did.

not for any particular reason. just one of those days where thoughts of your own future evolve into a downward spiral of stress, frustration, and discontent. where no one can convince you otherwise and you just need to be stuck there for awhile. i think i have managed to climb out of the funk enough to see a bit more clearly. i think the two cups of tea helped. tea always helps to make sense of a difficult situation.

you know what would help more? 2-5 years of work experience. but not just any work experience of course, but specific kinds that i do not have. i could suck it up and put more time in and gain this elusive experience but i don’t really know where exactly i would do this or if it would get me any closer to working in the area of development that i would most enjoy. mostly because i have no idea what area that would be. i have some ideas, but nothing solid enough as to be the foundation of decisions on where to live, where to work, or what on earth to do next.

i know, i know. it will all work out. and you just have to get your foot in the door. and it is who you know. and be patient. blah, blah, blah. i am sure it is all true but it is the sort of advice that says ‘hurry up and wait’ and doesn’t give you anything to work with.

at the risk of sounding overly melodramatic – does it get any easier?

Friday, January 05, 2007

brevity is the soul of wit

funny things...
  • i just wrote an email that began Dear Jesus...
  • my future was planned by a taxi driver last night, it included meeting his parents in their village, visiting an orphanage in his hometown, marrying him in a church wedding, having 2 children (a boy and a girl), moving to canada, and coming back to kenya to visit his family. i don't think he was kidding
  • i almost poisoned someone with the spiceness of the meal i cooked last night. who knew those little dried chillis had such a bite!
  • everytime i cook with chillis, i manage to put my finger in my eye or my nose afterwards
  • i gave a young kenyan girl her first raspberry this morning, she liked it. who wouldn't? they are my second favourite berry
  • i received a gift from a woman i don't know in india, some sort of dessert made out of carrots

rocking the vote

in my morning newspaper scan i saw this about the upcoming year in canadian federal politics:

Harper’s cabinet overhaul comes as his government looks to launch a fresh approach to the environment — which polls show is a prominent issue among Canadians — and to bolster the Conservatives in what’s almost certainly an election year.

first of all, what does almost certainly mean? that is a style of journalism just as evasive as politics itself. second of all, i am not sure how i feel about the certainty of an election this year. it is no secret that i am not a fan of the conservative party, but they haven't done an absolutely abysmal job and what good will another election do? will any changes be made? will a majority be won? will people just be pissed off about the cost of a federal election?

regardless of what 2007 has in store for canadian politics, i will dutifully send in my ballot from where ever i am living like a good citizen of a democracy.

**ok, so i just typed the title of my post and then i thought, wait a minute, is 'rock the vote' supposed to sound like 'rock the boat'? then i thought, whoops, there went something else, flying well over my head for many years. sort of like the direction of the landing strip..., hey ladies?!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

mombasa in colour

bathing in tikka masala

(january 2, 2007)

ayurvedic massages are greasy. after lathering you all over with the special oil that comes from india, you are left slick and smelling like curry. it was relaxing for sure, but i think i will stick to my regular fancy tickles unless i experience the amazing healing properties of ayurveda in the next few days. the oil didn’t do anything for the skin peeling off my back due to the overexposure to the sun. redness, tenderness, heat rash, peeling skin… when will i take nature’s hint and stay out of direct sunlight at high noon in the tropics? probably not in the near future. just as vanity kept me from scratching my chest, it will also leave me wanting more of the vitamin d goodness of the sun.

all that poolside/beach time let me dive into A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth and i am on page 350. this would sound a lot more impressive if the book were not 1400 pages long. it is a behemoth of a novel and i intend on conquering it. but no dolphin trip for me as it was cancelled due to low numbers (and this is supposed to be the tourism high season) but we were not informed until 7:50am so we paid the hostess at a fancy hotel restaurant 200 bob (about $3) so we could drink the lovely, dark, rich coffee and eat the buffet. corruption makes this canadian uneasy and puts african countries back years in socioeconomic development initiatives, but breakfast was good. and cheap. sometimes, corruption tastes better than any of the other options.

prickly heat

(december 30, 2006)

it is most definitely called ‘prickly heat’ for a reason – my chest feels awfully prickly and the only thing holding me back from using my nails (that have grown amazingly quickly in the african sun) from scratching my chest is the thought of this getting worse and having a bright red, bumpy chest in my low v-neck dress i plan on wearing for new year’s eve.

vanity – it will keep you from scratching.

after bouncing back rather heartily from being the obvious 5th wheel, i’ve managed to have myself a proper holiday. today’s highlights included more sunning, the purchase of a kikoy for a sarong, and jet skiing in the ocean.

it’s such a rush to travel parallel to the beach with the wind in your face and finding good waves to fly off of so you think you just might fall but never do. i’m a wimp at heart but jet skis are tremendous fun. and in the indian ocean too!

the sun and i continue our love-hate relationship and my legs and chest are left itching every evening but the little blue called Aerius and i are making up for love lost between the sun and i. but i’m brown and freckled and therefore happy.

i have had a few more run-in’s with the insect world, however. a millipede (these things are as long as my forearm when stretched out) managed to fall from the thatched roof on to the floor of our cottage, effectively committing bug suicide by splatting and leaving a puddle of bug gut goo (seriously, they are that big) that i had to clean up with a dust pan, broom, and mop. and i also volunteered to slay the centipede (again, MUCH longer and bigger that its north american cousins) that crawled on its 100 legs into my room. i sprayed it with some chemical-cocktail insecticide and trapped it under a basket while it died. the basket was a necessary tool in the operation to prevent the bug from lodging itself in my clothes pile to be found at a later date. but when i returned i found that it had escaped my clever scheme and thrown itself down a flight of stairs (kenyan bugs seem to be into theatrics) so i collected it and deposited it in our garden to promote the idea of compost and to rid our humble abode of the insect carcass. the reason i go on about the placement of the centipede is that this morning it was still moving, albeit in a very slow, ineffectual manner and i salvaged some bug compassion and squished it with a sizeable piece of coral rock to put the poor thing out of its misery. but you really should have seen the size of the chompers on this guy!

apart from insects, there are some vervet and collobus monkeys that hang around our cottage, some of whose babies were wrestling on our patio furniture this morning. and tomorrow i hope to spot some dolphins on our scheduled boat trip. then an ayurvedic massage, some more sun, more antihistamines, a nap, then to ring in the new year at a bar on the beach where it appears that shoes are optional.