So, I’m getting inked.

Oba?

Tattoos were cool when they were frowned upon. One as harmless as a butterfly would make self declared ‘right thinking’ members of society judge you. They’d form dark opinions about your upbringing and refuse their children to date you.But now, tattoos are as normal as dreadlocks (and dreadlocks are as normal as permed hair). The shock value is all gone. If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo to express how edgy you are, you’re too late, sorry. You may as well use that money to pad the foundation of a land-buying/ car-buying fund.

However, if your itch to get inked comes from a deep, dark, genuine place, get one and let me know how you zeroed down on your message or drawing.

A whole new kind of pressure has infiltrated the process of getting a tattoo. Since coolness and peer pressure have been taken out of the equation, tattoos now have to mean something:  a memory that you hold dear, a date that changed the course of your life, a phrase that reaffirms your beliefs, etc.  I’m judgmental of anybody who just goes into a tattoo shop, opens a book and picks a design and I’ll totally judge myself if my own doesn’t seem well thought-out to the world.

I’ve been hunting for the right message for over two years because my expectations of the phrase that will occupy rent-free space on my skin are unrealistic. I want it to be funny, deep, a bit shocking and full of feeling. I want every human that glances at it to be thrown into a frenzy of self-reflection.

My first idea was ‘writer’s block is for amateurs’. It was stupid. Every artist goes through periods of hyper creativity, followed by periods where their brains refuse to start, like the engine of a third hand car. I thank my lucky stars that I chickened out because I’d have this nasty, mocking message running from my chest to my belly button, paralyzing my creative process and driving me over the cliff of sanity.

Ever since I discovered a website called Zen pencils, however, I feel I’m as close to making a decision as I‘ll ever be. What this guy does is take inspirational words and turn them into comics. I don’t know how wonderful the lines will remain when they do not have his pictures below them, but I’m slowly moving past the point where I mind so much about what people will think. It’s not like I’m going to stand at city square showing passersby my body ink.

The best ones I’ve found are: Fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds’ worth of distance run. Rudyard Kipling wrote that. It’s beautiful because life is full of unforgiving minutes. Boredom, depression and ennui can combine to make you useless and this message will spur me to action every time my cubicle feels oppressive.

Make good art. This one’s by superstar of the pen Neil gaiman. He says to make art out of every situation, especially the ugly ones.
Baby, air and light and time and space have nothing to do with it! This is by Bukowski, that coarse and brilliant man. It bashes the notion that one needs a certain combination of factors to be perfectly aligned for them to be creative.

My favorite idea is to have the word LAUGH! printed on my belly with a naked fat lady laughing uproariously below. That’s the second one I’ll get.

Now to find the first.

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The politics of clothes

I recently read the stories of two young women from Delhi who were brutally gang raped.  They’re both dead now. The 17-year-old committed suicide because of how the police officers handled her case. Apparently, she was told to settle the matter peacefully with her assailants and to marry one of them. I am paraphrasing heavily, so I hope have the gist of it right.

The way I feel reminds me of how shaken I was when Daily Monitor ran a story about how one Ronald Kibuule told youths in Masaka that a law was in the pipeline which would regulate the way women dress. The purpose of this is to avoid rape, apparently.

What utter bum-rash.

From when we are small, we are told in age-appropriate ways that men are sex-crazed dogs that will catch and ‘spoil’ us if we’re not careful. We are also told to view the lecherous comments of men on the street as compliments. Our society is stuck in a mind frame where the body of a woman is hers until a man wants it, and then he can pick from a plethora of justifications for his actions.

This is why a boda man, a wheelbarrow pusher, a douchebag in his SUV all will, without a second thought, comment on what a lady is wearing and if she slaps or spits words of disgust at him, watchers will judge and call her “unladylike”. What do people think? That we women walk around with big shields around our emotions that keep us unaffected by these stupid comments? What kind of society is more inclined to defend a sexual predator and to blame my clothes for his sins against my dignity?

Please. Let’s not get it twisted. Rape existed before the miniskirt. It exists in societies where women are culturally required to cover most of their skin. It exists in societies where people celebrate their nakedness. It exists in Kampala that is a mix of many cultures. A rapist is a rapist and he doesn’t need a trigger to rape.

My miniskirt and low-cut blouse will no doubt cause arousal, but my society should be women-friendly enough to recognize that a man who looks at me and thinks, “must force into sex now” is a devil that deserves the strongest punishment.

Feel free to judge a woman on every other level for wearing what you call ‘skimpy’, but for heaven’s sake do not insinuate that a man who rapes her is justified on any level.

I leave you with two stories. A little friend of mine, all of eight years old, was ‘squeezed’ against her will by a group of boys during a school party. They surrounded her and touched her all over. Now they aren’t adults, but recognize that it is the mindset with which they are being brought up that makes them believe it is normal, even funny to do such a thing. Oh. And she was wearing a big dress with lots of petticoats.

The other story is my own. I was in senior 5, on my way from school. I was wearing school uniform, a grey skirt and a grey sweater. As I was stepping out of the taxi, I felt a weird pressure at breast level. When I looked down,  I found the finger of the now-amused and leering conductor rubbing against my sweater.  I wanted to vomit on his face, cry and to bemusedly comment about it to my friend, all at the same time but ended up not doing any of these things.

This man did not fondle me because of the way I was dressed. He did it because he was a disgusting and disrespectful human being.

Be ashamed, greatly ashamed if you believe that clothes cause rape. You wouldn’t think the same if women began raping men and then insisting that it is their fault for looking so ravishing in trousers.

Look at her! Her joy is encouraging rape! Her knees are sending me a message. They are screaming rape me! Mssswww

Look at her! Her joy is encouraging rape! Her knees are sending rapists a message. They are screaming rape me! Mssswww.

What it means to come first.

If you’re a firstborn and you know it, ball your fist and bump the place where my caricature’s might be.  I begin by borrowing from an old nursery rhyme to make you madly interested in yesterday’s Stiletto Point. Is it working? If you’re a firstborn and you know it, say, “Oh yea.”

As far as I know, I am the first child of my parents. This has always filled me a disproportionate sense of pride, as if there was some race in which I beat all 5 of my siblings to the finish line and came bursting into the world with the word lovechild tattooed on my face.

There are many similarities I have noted between myself and other firstborns I’ve met, biggest being Lugezigezi. That sells us Kabisa. Know a loudmouth who wants to always be the leader? Ever sat next to a person who won’t stop telling the taxi driver which alternative routes he must use? You have likely met a firstborn.

We grow up calling the shots, being regarded as infallible gods and goddesses by adoring and secretly hateful followers and when we get into the real world, find it hard to shake that sense of entitlement.

Note that if you’re grown and your followers are still secretly hateful of you, your dealings with them haven’t matured. I used to suffer anxiety and flashes of anger about how my loyal, obedient and fearful subjects would eventually outgrow my powers, and they’d stop seeking my approval, but that all dissolved when I stopped having silly expectations.

Firstborns are protective, so much so that in school, we’re the ones who take on the emotionally wounded to try and make their lives better. Also, because we’ve always stepped up and disciplined our siblings when our parents are being slow about it, we are both confrontational and defensive.

A firstborn will usually have a savior complex. Is Martha lacking something? Is Joel feeling sad? How can I take his sadness away? Has Bosco eaten? And that extends to the rest of the world. This will be especially strong if one parent has died and the eldest is trying to make it seem like the gap isn’t as huge as it really is.

As we’re born to brand new, right-out-of-the-box parents, we receive the most canes or leniency,  but usually canes. We were experiments, the ones on whom half-remembered teachings and directives from their own childhoods were unleashed.

We also come to see and know more than everybody else because we’re first companion to our very human parents. This little person they made has ears and often, all a human being needs to survive an ugly situation is a listening ear.

If lucky, firstborns get to be brash risk takers because of how much support they enjoy. Siblings are a protective cushion that lessen the disappointment of a project gone wrong. They’re also the first to brim with pride when one goes right.

Siblings who hate and sabotage each other, even after they’ve come adults fill me with alarm. I hate to imagine what evil situation exists that can drive a wedge between people with a shared childhood.

From Jacob to the people in the 21st century whose stories I know, all none firstborns feel honored and nervous when they somehow find themselves at the helm of the family. Being the one to steer people who trust you is as difficult as it is thrilling.

I love my siblings. They make me strong.  

Barongo got it wrong this time.

Barongo got it wrong this time.

Stop qwencing Mayans. Try something new.

Hello. Kulika festivities. You must be feeling very heavy from your weeks of overindulgence, and light in the wallet because of the same. I look forward to chuckling maliciously at all the status updates, tweets and blogposts that are going to flood the internet this month complaining about poverty.

The first day of 2013 is behind us, much to the disappointment (relief?) of all the sillies who kept insisting that Mayans said the world was ending two weeks ago. Poor Mayans were minding their own business, predicting the end of one of their time cycles, and the beginning of another. They believe a new cycle comes with changes on the personal, family and community level so that there is balance between mankind and nature.  Their jazz had nothing to do with you trolls.

Everybody on leave put your hands up! I hate working a 9-5 job. I don’t hate my job, but I hate working in the same space at the same time year in year out. One of the things that keeps me sane is browsing what I call beauty-porn. I simply devour any and all sites about facial scrubs and hair conditioners that are made mainly of things that you’re accustomed to having for breakfast.

I especially like to read about the benefits of natural oils like castor, coconut, shea butter and so on. Aloe Vera is one of my most Googled herbs because of how much of it is growing in my dad’s backyard. If all the hype is to be believed, I could have myself looking like a 16 year old in no time!

But wait. 16? No. 16 was a year full of baby fat and emotional turmoil. I remember sitting next to a window in class and staring forlornly out of it, hoping that some handsome, popular boy would catch sight of my profile and notice how beautiful it was. I also hoped he would write me a letter, as proof, and that the letter would be imploring me to become his girlfriend. So no. Not 16. Actually, I’m enjoying my current age very much. Back to beauty-porn.

So although I’d read up on lots of natural oils and beauty mixes, I hadn’t  tried any of them until 20 minutes ago. Why? I was too afraid! What if a mix of honey and salt made my skin peel off?

I’m not even sure that I would have taken the leap if it wasn’t for the four decadently fat pimples that have set up base on my face as a direct result of me rediscovering how cheap La Fontaine’s food is. Couple that with the fact that salaries come early in December, and with another fact that I can’t resist good food and you have a pimpled lady with a new courage.

I took this courage and put it into an old bowl, added a liberal amount of honey, a handful of salt and then spread the goo over my face. According to the internet, you’re supposed to wait 10 minutes before washing the it off so that it can sink into your pores and uproot dirt, pus and unnecessary oils.

I am happy to report that my skin is intact and that it feels both smooth and dry. If no nasty effects follow, this is a beauty regimen that will become a big part of my life along with this smug, naturalista feeling.

Be inspired by my courage and usher the new year in with a new, and if possible, scary experience.