My day at the polling station.

I got at the polling station at around 7.It was a station in our constituency but a different ward from mine.I had never been there before. We were supposed to start at 7 but couldn’t because we were last to be dropped by our transportation.  We hadn’t slept the whole night getting the material ready for the nominations. We were sleepy, tired , in need of a shower and some nice breakfast but already late for work.

My colleague and I got to work real fast. Our clerks made it early and had already set the room up. We still had to catch some new clerks up with the process, acquaint ourselves with various stakeholders and get started. There was already a line of people waiting when we got there. There was no time to have a break. Our day had begun.

When you are working such a job people expect you to have all the answers. The truth is you rarely do but have to act like it. Its the difference between peace and total chaos. You realize that there’s only a thin line between the said peace and chaos. My best bit of all during the entire day was having old men and women who couldn’t read, write or see well ask for my assistance. When they were through and you had ticked whoever they desired their gratitude was so genuine it made the fatigue worth it. The realization of the levels of illiteracy was a crushing one to say the least.  I’m talking middle age village women who had no chance to attend a classroom and could therefore not carry out the exercise unattended.

I spent  around 14 hours in that polling station. I learnt Probably much more than my 23 years combined. A lesson in humility, patience, team work, tolerance and toughness. The agents loved our team. Which is saying something since they are ready to burn you the minute things go south. I wish there had been more organization though. Maybe the exercise would have been less exhausting but we all need to get out of our comfort zones, get challenged and see life through other people’s eyes.

I and many others did not sleep for two nights straight. We did not have proper meals for that period of time but now I know people have it worse. They don’t get paid to do it, they don’t wish it, its just their reality. Mine was short lived and I eventually went home. I had a shower, had a meal and slept in a cosy bed. I would not want to be in a polling station often. Its not the kind of job that’s healthy for you. But it is the kind of job every citizen should take up once in their life. If only to experience exactly what happens and to be less quick to judge and point fingers.

Advertisements

You have to stop the Q- tip when there’s resistance.

i have been very very bad. I promised myself to write more regularly and here I am. A month down and nothing. I have been opening my app and staring blankly at this page then in half shrug closing it and pretending its not that empty. Every time I’ve done that I swear it sort of looks at me with that funny scrowly face that just reads disapproval. So here I am , ready to take my punishment. Okay, no, I’m not turning this into an adult blog..at least not yet.

I am a friends fun. I have watched the entire season of friends, rewatched it and still watch it every once in a while. Mostly when I have nothing else to watch but I never get tired of the humor. If you are a fan like I am, then you are aware of this phrase and the context in which it was used. If you aren’t, I’ll break it down for you. That’s my job at least for as long as I’m dedicating a whole post to it and because sometimes I need to add some anecdotes to my writing to beef it up.

This is when Chandler needed a tailor and Joey gladly suggested his trusted family tailor. Afterwards he went on to try and remember when he got his first suit and kept guessing..” I was 19 no, 16 no 19 no..I know,19..”then he asks, ” which year was 1990?” At which point Chandler thankfully puts him out of his misery by telling him this phrase, ” you have to stop the q- tip when there’s resistance.” I do not want to say Joey was a rather stupid character so I’ll just say that he took some time to catch on things..Even the most obvious ones like his age at a particular year.

This is not an excuse, for my lack of writing or lack of creativity or plain old laziness but I really do agree with Chandler on this one. Sometimes the Q- tip is just being pushed too hard and if you don’t stop where you feel resistance in my case, there will be plenty of very water melony posts here. So I was giving the Q- tip a rest and waiting for some time when pushing too hard or far won’t result in a Joey moment.

When it comes to the q tip effect , and i’ll refer to it that way from now on, well, sometimes not forcing issues- also something we used to say a long time ago- is usually the best thing. Whether its a new romantic liaison that you so badly want to work, or a new thing you’ve picked up that you insist on doing even when you know you are terrible at it or whether its that dress you got that’s a size smaller but you are losing weight and refuse to buy the one that fits you perfectly. It would be nice if you just removed the q tip and give it a rest. At least for a while.

Please be nice.

My face and I have had the longest relationship ever and are still to find the sweet spot. Right now as I write this, we are like that discordant couple that always makes people uncomfortable during gatherings. Always bickering or hush hushing during parties like they carried their house problems with them. That couple that everyone thinks should call it quits and save themselves but mostly everyone else the drama..or just stay home. The only difference is I’m stuck with this face for an unforeseen amount of time.

Ten or so days a month, my face decides to transform into a war zone. Every morning during this time has me staring at casualties in the form of ugly fat or small but annoyingly painful pimples. When I go to the mirror it’s always the decision on whether to pinch them or follow the more sensible advice of having them dry out and save me from the black spots afterwards. We all know which choice I pick. So my woes never quite end. It’s always trying to get rid of the uglies or dealing with a face full of black spots. Because sometimes I get over excited and decide to kill them all. In my head my face started it all, not me.

Maybe I am being too hard on my face. In all honesty, I’m angry at my face because that’s the first feature people see. In reality, my oily skin and its over productive glands are the real culprits here. Having oily skin for a girl or for anyone but mostly a girl is like trying to pet a lion in a zoo. You feel like its a good idea but really its not. They say oily faces age well but I don’t want to be 40,looking like a 20 year old because my glands are still very active.

I have been to the doctor who said to keep away from stress and not put anything on my face. Maybe I should have told him that I am not stressed but these daily conversations with my face are in fact what is stressing me. I have to talk to my face so she behaves. I do so especially before  events when I would really want my face to be good because, putting a bunch of products to get that effect will leave me with very lengthy, depressing talks with my face for the next one month. He prescribed some antibiotics and something to make my face less oily and she behaved. At least I think she did, for a while until she said..’uum..nope, I’ve been too good, the goodness will kill me.’

Sometimes I wake up and instinctively touch myself to see if there is a new addition to my little army. Some would say I am lucky. At least its not that bad. I don’t want to be lucky, I want my face to go back to as it was a year or so ago. I don’t want to be standing in a boutique minding my business, only to have an unsolicited offer for a facial or whatever treatment that entails slathering my face with a bunch of products to see if you can get it looking ‘happy.’ When you deal with acne or any other variation of skin problems then people automatically assume you just don’t know how to scrub your face well. The worst thing is, you are so vulnerable you actually believe them even if deep down you know you have tried all the tricks in the book.

I am still angry at my skin/ face.. Really. I’m angry at my face and whatever part of me that is responsible for this sporadic breakouts. My hormones even. But I learnt long ago that my face is also a bit human. She has her bad days as we all do and on those days instead of scolding her ,maybe I should listen to her. Ask her what she needs and if a warm wash will soothe her. Then I should tell her to give me warnings before she goes haywire so I schedule my days around that. When you hit puberty and the pimples appear, its not a big deal because you know it will be over soon. When you are an adult and face this again, then you know its time to get creative , understanding and very patient. It’s going to be a long journey.

All for one day.

Finally this day is over. Men’s phones can start buzzing again having been switched off and callers relegated to the annoying message, ‘ the person you are calling is not available, please try again later.’ Men realized that this is the most foolproof way of not having ladies you have not talked to in like forever start appearing like ghosts. Mostly with stories about how they moved to your town and you should catch coffee ‘soon.’

I do not know what this spells for ladies who are not particular about the going ons of the day. Maybe I’m just in denial and I would like a huge display of flowers, chocolate some red wine and everything else that we ladies are supposed to like. Maybe I would actually enjoy the attention lavished upon me by a gentleman whose actions are as a result of being coerced by all the commercialising going around.

I don’t mean to say that I don’t like being pampered once in a while. No, don’t get me wrong. What I am opposed to is picking one day and going all out then forgetting about every other day. That’s why I believe we have birthdays and I’m not even fond of those ones. But at least on that day God decided to add another one of you into the world. That’s a reason to celebrate if you really must have the spotlight on me.

Valentines however, always feels for men, I must imagine, like they are being held up to have their worth inspected. Or like they are on the butcher’s table waiting to see if they get picked to be packed up for the next meal. Once the butcher passes you with their knife, you live another day or at least your relationship will.

That being said, I don’t think it’s a particularly bad day for those who actually have a loving relationship and don’t have to exhaust all their energies pretending to be in one. So strut about in town in your red outfits hand in hand with no care in the world. You two deserve it for putting up with each other for that long. Oh, while you are at it, did you notice how everyone else is in red? I know you wanted to get noticed but next year you should probably consider pink.. Or pink and fuschia.I have no idea which is more feminine there but you will surely get noticed in that. Now, those two are having a good time. Much better than the man who had to carry a bunch of flowers across town because bae will have it no other way. It does not matter if we have no idea who this bae is but surely see the man with flowers.

I’m done ranting now but I would really like to know what the fuss is all about. Unless its a giant diamond ring you’ve hidden in that huge bunch of flowers, then i miss the point. And if it is a giant diamond ring, then we really do have cause to celebrate. Don’t we?

No,  I’m not mean or materialistic, but I really feel it for the men who have to carry flowers because their love isn’t real enough if they don’t do it on this day. It does not matter if they did it every other day of the year. If that is a celebration of love, then I want none of that love. Seriously though, it’s a happy time to have your phones up again. Next year, it would be nice to see women carrying the bouquets and wearing the worried expression on their faces.

My human interactions.

Human interactions are messy and awkward.I get awkward almost all the times. Especially for an extroverted introvert. I still don’t know how to bridge that line between friendly not so aloof and bored like I’d rather be elsewhere. 

When we are small our parents..or most parents tell us to smile and be nice. Greet people with a wide grin like you mean it. Don’t fidget. Don’t sulk or bite your fingers. And yes, do share the toys. Oh, and stop being bossy while playing with the other kids. As we grow up though, our true forms morph and since you can no longer be admonished for being quiet for too long we are left to survive. Polish up our social skills or whatever. Just get along with the rest of humanity.

As an extroverted introvert which simply means that yes, sometimes I will want to be out there. I may even be the life of the party but at the end of it all I will want to be curled up in bed reading or just staring into space. Recharging. Because, you see, small talk wears me. Which is what we do most of the time when we meet an old acquaintance. So I sort of have a rehearsed script that I can go over and over in my head and with each new person. Because society dictates it most of the time. Being friendly and warm is what is considered ideal even when silence doesn’t necessarily mean animosity. Maybe I just want to sit at the corner because I need to keep running out and I don’t want to have a flurry of legs in my wake as I walk out. Or maybe the plants there are very spectacular and I need a backdrop for a selfie. Not. I probably want to avoid the least amount of conversation that almost starts with an enthusiastic hello, then some routine questions and ends in a series of grunts. Always feels unfinished ..like we should pick it up later. But when.

Over the years I have been described as quiet, reserved, too serious sometimes proud will snake its way in there. All this because I refuse to talk unless I have something serious to say or I’m answering a question that no one else could. I have also been described as lacking enthusiasm. How more enthused can I be than actually showing up for this party?, Maybe I could make up for my lack of enthusiasm by dressing largely or less. 

It gets awkward when a random person or even not so random but not overly close person unburdens their problems on me. Depending on the side of the spectrum  I’m on that day ,I could be helpful and at least  provide a listening ear and some remarks so they don’t feel like they are talking alone but often it makes me feel uncomfortable. ‘Should I simply say ,sorry you feel that way, or your boss is a terrible person or maybe they just need silence. ‘Somehow I can’t get past this monologue before they are done and gone. See, I don’t understand how you just shared that bit of information about yourself, shrugged it off and are walking happily into the sunset.

Which brings me to the few interactions I actually make. I have very few close friends because I  am not going to share every tidbit to just everyone. Except the internet of course, I’ll be reminded of this very many years to come.I digress. My friends. At any one time I will only have a handful of people I can call real friends. Too many and i just don’t know how to divide my extroverted nature among them. I have lost many friends over the years. Good ones even ,because I couldn’t reach out and say, ‘ hey, i miss you, it’s been so long let’s do something soon.’ So we just drift apart. Friendships , just like everything else need loads of nurturing. My energy levels wane on this one.

I have been confused many times for being shy. Although, yes, I’m not particularly fond of being handed the mic to say something in front of a crowd of people, I’ll do it if I have to. The point is, I’m not afraid of putting myself out there every once in a while. Just don’t push me. I’ll analyse every situation beforehand and decide whether its jumpworthy or not. If it is, I need no prodding. If its not, maybe next time.

In retrospect, in the few years I have walked on this earth I’ve realized human beings simply want you to be who they think you are. Well, that’s a nice cheat sheet right there. If you like to be put in the proverbial box then you are in the right planet. I , however, would like to be left alone to stay next to the gigantic plant for as long as i feel like it.

Unapologetic.

That you are too smart, too opinionated, too stubborn, too brave, too care free, too unyielding, too unapologetic.Too emotional.

That you are too loving, too caring, too smothering, too affectionate, too trusting, too passionate, too naïve, too beautiful.Too accomplished.

That you refuse to be any less of these things. You refuse to compromise. You refuse to yield your identity to fit. You refuse to change to be what they want. That you choose to be these things even when they would rather you were not.

They say, ‘you are too opinionated there is no space for anyone else. You are too stubborn only your way wins. You are too smothering I need to get away. You are too naïve, you are not mature enough.’

You know you could choose to be less of this things. You could be less loving, less trusting, less passionate.Less opinionated. Yet, you could never really be you.

You are all these things because they make you you.They say you have to compromise but no one tells them to compromise. They don’t have to compromise because nothing is too much for them. Everything in measured quantities. As it should be.

You begin to be less. Less opinionated, less stubborn, less brave, less smart. Less passionate. Until all that is left is a shadow of you. Unrecognizable even to you.

All you had to realize is that you don’t have to be unapologetic for being you. So what if you are too trusting. So what if you are too naïve . So what if you are brave. All these things are you. They are not perfect but no one is. Nothing is. They are true. They are real.And next time they want you to be less, tell them you would rather be real than trade it off for measured quantities.

When it’s said and done, when all the too much is put together, there’s a beautiful soul not afraid to be who they really are.

Why I might not be voting this year.

Last General elections I was very excited. With a fresh new ID and voters registration card I would finally get to exercise my right. My right to pick a leader. I did not care that my picks won. Yes, it would be nice if they won but the very thought that i was old enough to contribute to this event was enough for me to get my still teenage bum out of the house, walk a relatively long stretch under the scorching sun to go put some ticks next to peoples’ face. Even the prospect of the having to stand under the scorching sun did not faze me. My mind was made up. I was voting.

I have had middle class upbringing. This means I got the chance to have a good education and generally good upbringing. Not luxurious not littered with excesses. Just simple but nice and enough. This is the category that most people fall into in our country. Salaried individuals or individuals in business with enough to provide basic needs to the best of their abilities.

This is not all the country has though. There are throngs among us who have very little. Casual and unskilled labourers who rely on daily wages. Most don’t even make the minimum daily wage standards. With families, mouths to feed and clothe, children to educate, health care to think about.

Then we have the super wealthy. Or rich. Semantics. One would say that wealth is subjective and that even the wealthy have their own financial struggles but this is after they have sufficiently covered the basic essentials and there’s enough left over to worry about investments and how to multiply their money.

The leaders we are going to elect are supposed to have all these people in their best interests. So far, I see the first two groups being the ones missing out in this party. Middle class Kenyans, average Kenyans suffer the most when the wage bill is so high that the tax man has to keep slicing the citizens. Our leaders on the other hand are content to eat and drink in this sweat having some of the most outrageous salaries in the world. I am yet to hear an honest aspirant who instead of beating around the bush with some manifesto just comes out and says..’ Hey, vote me in because by God you’ve seen me struggle and this is my one chance to get rich fast.’ That’s what political offices are in the country. Just a get rich avenue.

Of course one would say that these are my opinions and that they do deserve these monies but it is also my opinion that no nation should have striking doctors and education stakeholders with  people who have the power to turn around the situation earning that much money. I don’t understand why the same leaders who almost line their tongues with promises of better development, better health , services can not see the correlation with the active nationwide doctors’ strike. I am sure these doctors did not just wake up and decide to down tools it was just an action after lack of reactions from the responsible stakeholders. This is the face of a dying nation. What the leaders don’t realize is that you can’t have convince sick people to vote you in with promises of better health care. Heck, if they are not careful the population will have heavily declined come August due to lack of medical care. Now, unless you are content having ghosts vote you in then proceeding to lead a nation of ghosts then there is better use for you. In getting doctors back to work.

I might not be voting this year because now, less disillusioned by the feeling of having just acquired official adulthood status, I know to expect more from my leaders. Having come from the much anticipated USA elections and seeing what true democracy and choice is, I know I don’t have to get up and vote just because I can. So far, I get no motivation and no faith in our current crop of leaders to make that stretch in the name of exercising my rights. What this spells for this country if every other citizen harbours the same thoughts. I do not know. I know it’s absolutely impossible to please everyone but it is very possible to make an impact. Given the right mindset and resolve. My leaders are not giving me this. Instead of criticizing each other all time they should tell me what they intend to do for me. How do I benefit as a citizen? Does my life improve or does it get worse. At the moment  I  am praying that my health remains as it is because I can not afford to fly off to timbuktu to seek treatment .My faith in the entire system is as strong as straw.And that is not a good feeling for a patriotic citizen.

As a middle class Kenyan I know what a failed system spells for a country. When I need to pay an extra 20 shillings to get to a destination because the policeman has to have something to take home I’m at a loss. When I have to further endure the same journey packed like a sack of potatoes because the extra money does not cut it to satiate those pockets I begin to think the nation has gone to the dogs.

Now, I would like to vote. I would like to feel as if I contributed to choosing my leader. But who do I pick. A country’s affairs should not be made to feel as if a rock and a hard place situation . If I pick I won’t be picking because I feel a particular conviction or that a particular leader’s ideals appeal to my individual needs. I’ll pick because its the lesser evil. Now, if leaders put themselves in their citizens’ shoes then all this will cease to be rocket science and maybe, just maybe they will begin to take notice of the realities facing us and be in a position to articulate them. If this happens then we have leaders to elect. Right now what I see is a country full of vain political ambition and little respect for human life.

What my writing feels like..sometimes.

Dear readers,

At any one time I’m going to have 2/3 drafts of mostly a bunch of gibberish that I think  I can’t let you see yet. The problem is I’ll have so many ideas that if I don’t check the drafts every so often I find myself forgetting my initial thoughts. I think my mind is conspiring against me. I promised to write as regularly as possible instead i find myself starting off strongly then finishing in a trickle. Forgive the imagery but its like a stream running dry.

So I’ve been looking through my drafts..four by the way and just realized the tones are as off as my singing and I’m a terrible singer. I’ve decided in lieu of this to instead write about how hard it becomes to write at times. It’s not that you don’t have something to write ..it’s just the coordination. There’s just none. Your brain won’t agree with your heart and your feelings feel hurt that the two don’t respect each other. Then all you are left with is a few very impersonal words. It’s a very complicated relationship.

Anyway, my earlier draft. Like the one right before this one, I went on a rant about how the buzzing of mosquitoes makes me feel like my brain is on lock down. I ranted on and on and had enough to fill two long paragraphs. Imagine that! Then after I was done I realized this is the internet and I do not want to make a joke out of myself by talking about creatures I hardly know about so I stopped. I could not easily change the subject and turn around that conversation.

So now I’m seated in my room feeling the itch to write but  finding it extremely difficult. Killed the mosquito by the way. Now I don’t have an excuse but I feel that admitting that I can be a dead zone even without a mosquito buzz is a good place to start.
Don’t get me wrong, my head is crawling with ideas. Some very good, others so terrible I’m afraid they even came out of me but they refuse to go past a few lines. Unless of course I decided to do a few lines then a hook that I could type over and over again.

I’m done. I’ll publish this because I’m laying my soul bare and what not and this is what my mind feels. Forget my soul. I don’t want to go there. But if I stay longer the signals in my brain will keep blinking that I need to keep my word to myself. Hopefully next time I’ll have something meaningful for you to read.

Yours,

Frustrated me.

Taking the plunge.

This year, I plan to write consistently.. The more I write, the lesser I over analyze situations and the easier it gets for me to keep writing.

On the eve of New year’s I pierced my ears. For the umpteenth time. Wait, one, two, this will make my third time. I told myself that this time I’ll take care of the piercing like a baby. You see, these other times they never got to heal. At least not properly. They closed up. I was too impatient and they did not get the time they needed before I took out the initial set of studs. Anyway, this is not me rattling on about how I have two tiny scars on my ears to remind me..no, you can’t see them. I pierced my ears again because I get earring envy all the time and I just have to get me some pierced ears so I can rock whatever earrings I want. That’s part of the reason. The major reason that is,but my motivation was, if I can get them to heal properly this year then I shouldn’t make any excuses for myself from now on.

My ears are my little ‘ egg’ project.. The kind where a young kid is entrusted with an egg  break before getting bigger responsibility. My ears also signify my willingness to try firsts this year. Like, making mandazi. I have to confess that my tiny bit of narcissism and fear,mostly fear, would not let make mandazis. Because mandazis involve deep frying and for the longest time I’ve had images of the oil flying out of the pan and scalding my hands. Call it paranoia.Today I made mandazis. Did I get burnt?no. Were they tasty? yes. Did I enjoy it? Hell yeah.. So I will be making lots more from now on. I couldn’t have known it would be easy if I hadn’t tried.
Now that I have started with conquering my little fears I’ll move on to the big ones. They don’t have to be fears. Even the things I have wanted to do but never got around to trying. Like skinny dipping.. No I’m kidding. But I think about it. Like baring my soul..even that is proving quite easy and unburdening. That’s the whole essence of why I keep writing even though half the time my thought process seems so convoluted at times and I have no idea why I put you readers through it.

On my birthday this year, I’ll take stock of all the firsts during the year.No matter how small they seem. I’ll make a list, I’ll celebrate them. That will be my gift this year. Maybe I’ll go get myself some fancy earrings while I’m at it.