On obsessions *(not the dead band)

Obsession. Definition: The unhealthy immersion of one’s mind, soul and (where applicable) body into something or somebody. Or even somewhere. It is possible for a creature to be madly obsessed with a patch of grass outside their house, but this creature is more likely to be a ruminant, than, you know, a person.

Was it Louis de Benieres who said a man is only as good as his last obsession? I have several, which hopefully means that I’ve got a vast personality and not something that can be diagnosed.

People/ things I’m crazy for:

Enygma: This perpetually masked MC who sounds like a serial killer that’s a male stripper on the side has got me good. He says ayayaya, I swoon. He talks about ten reasons to date MCees, I buy yet another def.i.ni.tion shirt with his name on it. If you haven’t, for minutes, stared at his mouth through his balaclava and tried to place it/ attach it to one of the Ugandan males you have met, you can’t possibly be as obsessed as I am.

Matooke: My mother is a matooke fiend. She’s the only other person I know who can comfortably eat pressed matooke and fried matooke together as a meal. Boiled, pressed, stewed, flash fried; it is my favorite ever. I haven’t gone a week in my life without stuffing my face with this exciting nyamsockable, so it qualifies as an obsession.

Damp Squid: There’s a blog on the interwebs called Damp Squid and it is the world’s true source of happiness. It is where all smiley faces are manufactured, where laughter is tested for authenticity. Dampsquid is fabulously funny and everybody deserves to visit it. Feel free to read all the posts twice (thrice, four times. Who’s counting?).

Kimbra: There’s a space in every girl’s life for Kate Nash and Lily Allen type music; cute, feely, sweet and slightly bleedy. I thought I’d stuffed that space to capacity until I met Kimbra. Her music is fabulous, her videos are adorable and she grooves like drunken cat. I’m in love.

Mac lipstick: Finding a brand of lipstick that works for you is the hardest thing. You’ll suffer rashes, cracks, actual rips, lip pimples, itchiness, etc. So when you chance upon a wonderful tube that produces sweet smelling, nicely colored grease with which you can accentuate your fabulous lips, bright red joy fills your heart and makes you do weird things like buying a whole box of the stuff.

Ecclesiastes: With the possible exception of Revelations, this is the only book in the Bible that was written with the attention span of the average youth in mind. Content- spot on. Delivery- fantastic. Length- short.  It tackles angst, despair and dispenses advice in an open, honest way. King Solomon is basically saying, “Cut the bullshit. Life is hard and pointless, but you need to enjoy it, especially when you’re young. Take care and spare a thought for God.” I don’t read it as often as I used to, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it.

And just so that I can stop judging myself, I’m going to mention my library. Those are my obsessions. Tell me about yours in the comment section.

Sheila, books ARE everything.

I believe, no, I am certain that stories, books come to you when you most need them. They gravitate towards the people whose lives are desperate to be filled up with their knowledge.

When I turned 20 and was being dramatic, feeling like time was shoving me from behind into an ‘adulthood’ that I was both glaringly unready for and excited about coming into, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath came and immersed me in the absurd life and mind of the protagonist. She too had just turned 20. It was my coming of age book.

When I needed help accepting a new addition to my family, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka came and wagged its finger in my face. It sat me down and lectured in an extremely entertaining way about time, generations, aging, fickleness, love and the way babies change everything.

The time I was going crazy about identity, Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga showed up. At the time, I was asking myself questions like: Which of my many personalities is the real ME? What kind of Acholi girl can’t speak her language?  Etc. Tsi Tsi gave the issue of identity a vicious hit on the head for me and I have never stopped being grateful.

And now, Norwegian wood by Haruki Murakami has shown up when I need it the most. It has touched on absolutely everything: A life numbing death, madness as a result, pain, emptiness, pure unadulterated sorrow and a newly bald girl has just appeared in the plot. J.  (To be accurate, Midori has a crew cut. I’m calling her bald to add a little perspective. My dreadlocks fell a little below my neck. Haruki describes her pre-cut hair as long and pony-tailed, so crew-cut is to her as bald is to me) and many other things.

It annoys me that all of Watanabe’s thoughts on death are so similar to the ones I’ve been having, all of them except for: the only reason I can push on, laugh, giggle, gossip about boys, curse, have crushes, write is because my eyes have been opened to my own mortality. It’s now clear to me that my Ma didn’t go because she’d done something horrible to the world or committed a shameful, damning sin but because it is our lot to die. Death stands hand in hand with inevitability and together, they wait for us to make our way to them.

I read the Life of Pi by Yann Martel when my opinions on religion needed serious broadening. At the time, I was quite ignorant of different beliefs. It also threw in much about sloths, zoos and humanity than I’m still trying to digest.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides? It’s a gem. Pick it up.

People have said to me, “There’s more to life than books, Mildred.” I say sit down and think, really think about the nonsense that has just jerked out of your mouth. And then lie down in despair and kick yourself in the colon.

They have said, “Mildred you are wrong. Books are great but are not better than people”. Sheila, yes they are.

They have said, “I’m not really that big a reader”. I silently marvel at the ability of these ones to blaspheme and acknowledge such a big flaw so bravely. They scare me, because if they have ably filled their lives with other things that are not books, what am I missing?

I want to disappear into a great, enchanting, book with the kind of impeccable writing that numbs your appetite and makes you want to just shudder to death in an ecstasy of enjoyment. I want a story that will enfold me in a strings-fully-attached relationship; one that will convince me that if it weren’t for its author, my mind would be grey. Do you have any recommendations? Please put them in the comment section.