I dared Mt. Muhavura and she dared me right back.

When I was leaving for Mountain Muhavura last Friday, I wrote a braggy facebook update daring the mountain to become steeper because I felt I needed a proper challenge to help me forget the week I had had. I got a challenge alright. As I write this, I have one cracked fibula and a body that is still bruised from the various ways I had to contort it as I climbed.

Well I wasn't climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Well I wasn’t climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Have you ever exerted yourself so much that even your elbows sweat? Has your body ever given out so deeply that your mind stops recording your life? This is what happened. Halfway up the mountain, I stopped noticing things. I placed one foot after the other like every zombie in every zombie flick you have seen.

If the journey up takes away all of your energy, the journey down steals your patience. I began to fast-walk, and then slow-jog down the mountain. I had become bored with my pace and also competitive. It gets old, watching person after person overtake you. I also wanted to feel fit.

When my knee cracked back and I heard that pop, I fell down and wailed like a heartbroken actor in a Telenovella.

OK like this, only less dignified.

OK like this, only less dignified.

My poor limb. First, it had been ravaged by the spider mites on my herb patch, making it scar so much that I look like I’m wearing polka dotted stockings, and now I had broken it. Central to my weeping was that I would not be able to dance that night. A trip to a new place is not complete for me if I haven’t jiggled my limbs to its music! I was full of despair. Somehow, I got off the mountain. Somehow, I danced. Somehow, my moves did not make my leg break clean in half.

Yea

Yea

When I got to Kampala, my first stop was a hospital in Ntinda that I have been asked to please not name. The medical insurance I have is tied to that place. With the help of my nkoni, I hobbled up the stairs right into a nightmare. I have never encountered such confusion or rudeness. I should have run right out when I saw that the doctor was wearing a tiny pink dress top leggings and strappy sandals. You guys, I work in Advertising. That is my uniform. When clients see me, they go, Oh! This one must be full of crazy ideas. That is NOT what you want to be thinking about your doctor.

Me on a good day, You would not allow me to treat you.

Me on a good day. Don’t allow any doctor who looks like this to treat you.

Fortunately for me, she didn’t seem to have any ideas at all, good or bad and after 30 minutes of spastic, disinterested and distracted service, I was sent away with diclofenac and instructions to return for a session with the ‘sonographer’. The next day, the receptionist informed me that I would need authorization from my office to see this sonoperson. After two hours, she snappily informed me that my office hadn’t called back with the authorization. Now I know the fault wasn’t hers and reserve a big helping of side-eye for my office admin, but surely she could have let me know an hour earlier. I shook my crutch at them all and limped out of their establishment.

I eventually had my leg scanned at Span in Kisaasi, and although I am sure I left with some damaged cells thanks to being X-rayed on a naked table with no protective clothing over the rest of my body, I was happy with their service. The doctor made me feel like I was going to be OK. To distract me from the painful massage (there was a whole lot of swelling but I have been informed that it was very stupid of him to massage my fractured limb), he called me an athlete and told me stories of how basket ballers sometimes have to have their fibulas sawed entirely off.

I finally hauled my ass to a bone specialist and he’s put me in a leg brace and scared me into using my crutch more diligently, because nti I will never run again if I fool around with the healing of my limb.

I feel like an autobot.

I feel like an autobot.

One bright side is that thanks to the fracture, my body requires for me to take almost three times as many calories per day in order to heal properly. You guys August is going to be gorgeous. Fooooood!

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Broken Bones, Restructured Hearts and Other News. (Hello August)

Hello August. I salute you. I salute your air with my lips. Here, mwa! Mwa! Mwa! On your 20th day, I shall be four digits older than my birth date. I shall be closer to the glory that my mid-20s are sure to bring.

I of course arrive with drama. My fibula is broken, so you will be my unfittest month of the year, August.

2013-08-01 12.38.30

As I rest, I shall enjoy getting rounder, and I won’t even mourn my stamina too much. I shall throw back glass upon glass of water and tot upon tot of gin. I shall eat all of the livestock and some of the fruit. Perhaps I shall join a gym and tone my upper body up. We’ll see.

My 23rd year has been incredible. It saw me make a year in the most serious relationship I have ever had. I am not a commitment-phobe, now I know. And I am not incapable of loving or being loved! This year also saw me fall out of that relationship. It saw me in the lap of devastation and afterwards, in the face of excitement (and contentment) so bright and thick that I thought I had achieved Nirvana. I am now back to being normal just, so yea that wasn’t nirvana.

This year has delivered me into the arms of herbs and essential oils.

Yay essential oils

My hair smells like peppermint. My pillowcase has wild lavender tucked into it, plucked right off the slopes of Mountain Muhavura.

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Eucalyptus oil blesses my water every time I feel pain. Moya (that some call shea butter) is stripping scars off my legs, scars that appeared because of the mubofu spider mites that tried to invade my herb patch.

I regularly bless my bath water with rose petals and mint leaves, plucked from my own plants. I have even gotten into the habit of thanking the plants when I take from them. In other words, my kwemola has reached insane levels, and I am happiest this way.

whosaqueen?

This year, I have stopped being so annoyed by some of the things my father does. I have come to love them instead. His tendency to befriend and invite complete strangers into our home for impromptu dinner parties. His loud way of speaking, my god, he shouts all the time, everywhere. He is so aggressive, even when he doesn’t intend to intimidate or annoy. I have come from flushing with annoyance to beaming with joy and acceptance. This is partly because I am so very similar to him.  I intend to honor him in a Stiletto Point article soon, so let me not over spoil.

During this my 23rd, I have conquered the demons that made me so attached to deodorants (I would have 5, one for each workbag). I no longer spray those synthetic, paraben-filled armpitcides onto my delicate skin. I have made peace with the memories of bullying that went down in Green Hill Academy’s corridors and no longer pay that time of my life homage.

I am in love with my brown. Forget pretending that I am blind to all those times that weirdos have tried to make me feel bad, or lesser because of my dark skin. I have been at war with many demons-ooo!

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

I am an aloe vera gal. On three separate occasions, people have hugged me at the end of a day and said, “Oh wow, you smell so nice.” Do you know what they are smelling? Aloe vera + Apenyo. The gel mixes with my natural smell to produce musk like no other.

I have never had so many trips lined up in the same time frame as I do now. Last weekend, I was in Kisoro and Kabale drinking, dancing, climbing and breaking legs with the Kampala Hashers. This weekend (or possibly next), I am going to be exploring Lake Bunyonyi with a very lovely person, the best travel buddy in the world really. On the 24th and 25th of August, I am going to be in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Plans are all over my life like back acne.

I am also part of a competition that explores how stories directly affect readers after production. 46 of us submitted stories on the theme of identity and equality to Writivism, 14 of us got mentors, attended workshops and read to young literature lovers in many of Kampala’s schools. It has been an experience with many ups and downs for me, but ultimately, a great one. I would do it again. The shortlist is going to be released on the 3rd of August, and here’s hoping True to Nothing will be on it.

I am writing (haltingly, with a lot of procrastination and inertia in the mix), I am growing things out of the soil, I am growing myself, my mind, I am living as consciously as I can. You guys, life is good.

Forgive me for not posting last Sunday’s Stiletto Point. I was full of pain and self pity. My leg nanti.

See how I have cutiefied my crutch.

On crutches, but still pretty.

Pretty crutches.

x

Herbs and indiscreet (happy?) vibrations

I met Godiva yesterday and it was wonderful. She’s a fantastic womyn whose tweets I find infinitely retweetable.  Our plan was to buy some herbs, actually, a lot of herbs and I’m pleased to report that we were successful.

The stretch after Mukwano Industries is lined with an impressive collection of plants and that’s where we finally convinced our bodamen to drop us. Ko these guys. Ever to throw us the most dubious of looks. Their tiny eyes were just swimming with lechery. I understand that we looked good, but that was some other level, punch deserving behavior.

Aaanyway

I got sage, peppermint, thyme, three lemon balms (my favorite), parsley, some lavender and a plant that you can burn to get rid of mosquitoes. Unfortunately, I can’t remember its name. When you bruise its leaf, you release a smell similar to BOB insecticide, only less toxic.

Kaka a.k.a tata herbs (0752927404) was nice enough to give us enyongezas plus boxes in which to haul our loot. He even organized bodas for us.

When I got back to office, I first of all:

Rapped to my herbs

They appreciated it.

Uh, uh, yo, yo, herbs, herbs, uh, uh.

Then I used them as an epic modeling prop

Wuluku! Who is that? It is Apenyo.

Wuluku! Who is that? It is Apenyo.

And finally, I achieved the ultimate: looking exactly like my mother

Anyayo's very own

Anyayo’s very own

My aim is to have a large, thriving herb garden and to convert all my siblings into sage burning, aloe eating, ginger/honey bath loving, plant adoring people. I’m on the right track!

In other news, earth shakes! Quake quakes! Who is mother earth’s new boyfriend/girlfriend? And can’t she have quiet orgasms, considering how many creatures live on her? I’m happy that she’s getting laid, but she needs to be a bit discreet about the way she expresses her enjoyment.

For serious, I was terrified last night. The first tremor was not so bad. I didn’t panic. My dad though. He went all: EVACUATE THE PREMISES! WHERE IS THE BABY?! WHERE IS THE BABY?!

Now I’d left Daniella on my bed, happily tinkering with the contents of my handbag. One of our helpers must have  grabbed her because I found the bed empty when I went to fetch her. You guys my terror was for world! For I moment I even thought the rapture was upon us.

Meanwhile, the tremor had ended but had dad’s panic decreased? No. It had just spread to everybody else.  I found them all outside the house, recovering from their craziness.

The second tremor happened at around 1am and it was strong enough to wake and abandon me in the land of the sleepless.

It’s OK for earthquakes/shakes/tremors to happen during the day. In fact, it’s awesome (when they’re not destructive).

But during the night? Nothing is allowed to steal the calm predictability of the night. That’s a sin right there! I’m waiting for somebody from the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness to say something. Abaaye, tell us if we need to migrate to the moon.

In unhappy news, I have missed the Stiletto Point bus. My last two weeks have been full of existential crises and soulless essays, making it impossible for me to write good stories. Naye worry not. My time and enthusiasm are back! I’m going to be sending my editor a nice bunch of articles soon.

Meanwhile, check his website out. He’s a cool dude.

Pilawo gets me. It understands.

I’ve just eaten delicious pilawo. This is how I feel:

Pilawo gets me for many reasons, but I can only remember seven right now.

No teeth: At this my young age, I have very few working teeth.  Well, I have lots of canines and incisors but like two working molars, so. The less chewing I have to do, the better. Rice is not like bread or crisps. It’s easy to chew ( swallow, when I’m feeling lazy) and the pieces of meat that come with Pilawo are too yummy for me to complain.

Spice is nice: Oh God I love spicy food. I am that cook you’ll love if spices give you the happies and the one you’ll want to spit on if you like your meals plain. Kati pilawo has bayleaf! Cinamon! Black pepper! Cardamom! etc! It’s like a dance party in your mouth.

Hangups:  As a kid, I didn’t have much access to pilawo but I heard lots of mention of it in class. Always, during the “ Christmas of the Muslims  my Muslim classmates would brag about all the pilawo and meat they were going to eat. Nobody at home seemed to understand my obsession with it and to shut me up (I think) ,one of my cousins told me that intestinal goo is one of the ingredients used in the cooking of pilawo. I stopped asking, but my fascination didn’t die. Now I’m an adult with money that I can use to eat all the pilawo that I want (that’s a lot).

Happy wallet:  During rich times, I eat out  a lot. I can end up eating at La fontaine every other day of the week. I just can’t resist their sandwiches. And that stirfry! Everything seems so cheap until I run out of money. Then I’m faced with quaffing bland kikomando everyday for the rest of the month. In a bid to reverse this trend, I’m training myself to think of pilawo whenever the itch for a treat begins. I’m slowly learning to holla at Abid when I want to spoil myself. His pilawo is life changing and only takes a fiver off me.

It’s healthy, yo: Pilawo beats having chips from Kamwokya market every time I can’t decide what I want to eat.  It even has kachumbali with lots of onions. What’s not to love?

Engages the cook in me: Now if you read this blog, you know just how much I love to cook.  I’ve had this battle with Pilawo, where I never have all the ingredients that I need  in the same kitchen at the same time when I feel like cooking it. So frustrating. Every time I order a plate of pilawo, I’m like, “I’m totally cooking this stuff on Saturday”! And then I don’t. But at least it  keeps refreshing my dreams of one day eating pilawo that I’ve cooked with these two hands of mine.

At my desk: My friend Abid is a proper Ugandan. He knows how to capitalize on weaknesses and make people happily hand him money at the same time. We office workers/cubicle rats/wage slaves are usually too unwilling or too fearful of our bosses to go out of office for lunch. Unwilling because, lunchtime is the only hour we can properly abuse office internet. Fearful because coming back late can mean many withering looks and even a salary chop.

The only option is to foot to the neighborhood kafunda, but that works only for the first three months. After that you get tired of the 5 lunch meals on the menu.  What I do is I order Pilawo. I text Abid and get him to deliver a good serving of spicy rice and meat to my desk so that I can eat and at the same time look at gifs for one whole hour.

It is not possible to get tired of pilawo. As I said, it is like a party in your mouth with Major Lazer on DJ duty.

Yes, you know by now that this post about pilawo is also kalango for Abid’s Friday Pilawo business. You’ve caught me. Naye it’s seriously delicious. Don’t miss it.

Image

Peas, soupu, onions, rice, spice, juicy meat. This is some real food.

In fact, Like his page right now.

For a plate, holla at 0705155561.

Dancing with Marketeers/ Oopa Apenyo Style.

Although I didn’t find the topic of the night exciting, I attended Marketeers night on the 3rd of this month. I figured that the keynote speaker would only have the floor for thirty minutes or so and if he was boring, then that would be the price to pay for the exquisite dinner and the self-esteem boost that always comes from spending time with people who do what you do. Heck, I wasn’t even paying the 100,000 for my ticket. All I had to do was send an email saying yes.

Jimmy Mugerwa, CEO of Tullow Oil spoke on the importance of marketing in the oil sector. This is certainly a necessary topic and I was hoping to glean some real wisdom from his words.

Mr. Mugerwa may be a firebrand in oil and energy circles, but the man is just not an engaging speaker. All I got out of the thirty minute speech was that Ugandans need to open their eyes and grasp the opportunities that come with so much oil being discovered in the country.

After his talk, my workmates and I visited the dessert table to bring life back into our bodies, through our mouths. Have you ever looked at sweets and cakes and fruit and had tears come to your eyes? Have you ever felt defeated by the splendor of it all?

We returned to our table when the emcee was making a call for table captains and all my workmates turned to look at me. I was confused. From their giggle filled explanations, I learnt that every table was supposed to front its best dancer and he or she had to go to the front and shake everything that their momma gave them.

Now if you are a regular reader of Stiletto Point, you know that dancing comes as naturally to me as breathing. I dance on my way to work, in the queue of a bank. I dance on the hills of Kololo when I am working out. Dancing makes me feel alive. It injects my blood with a jolly madness. I happily agreed to be table captain.

Seven other people from other tables walked to the front of the room with me and we exchanged amiable if nervous greetings. I was sizing them up all the while. When we were told to get on stage, three people dropped off. Dancing at the front of the room, they could do. Getting up on stage like some teenagers at a kadanke? That was too much for them.

In the beginning, I didn’t know what exactly we were dancing for. My first moves were Macarena, caterwauling hands and a little waist shaking here and there. When, however, a fellow dancer informed me that we were grooving for a trip for two to Mombasa, well that changed the game.

I felt stupid first of all. Dancing for something small is more fun than dancing for something as drastically fun as a trip to Mombasa. I felt like a circus bear riding a bicycle for treats from its master. But then I also liked the idea of winning. To calm my nerves and kill the indignation that had started to build up, I decided to dance like I would at a house party.

That’s probably why I am now immortalized on youTube in a Point Blank segment, no less, jigging like I just don’t care.

Kampire made 10,000 gifs. She’s the best.

Here, have another gif:

😀

Here is the entire video:

.

Dancing makes my world go round.

Humbled by Latkes.

One of the reasons I’m glad to be an adult is that I’m no longer made to attend  gatherings against my will.  I choose whether or not I want to remain in a particular space and this has everything to do with being able to afford a boda boda at any given time.

My parents were determined for me to grow up a social, religious and well-rounded individual. This meant I had to attend youth conferences, Christian home cells and other such things. To do away with awkwardness, we, the youth, were always loosened up with “ice breakers”, little questions to get us talking to each other. One of the most common ones was, “what are your hobbies?”

As a teenager, the three things I truly enjoyed were eating, eating and cooking. I had other interests, somewhere in the background but those three made my life worth living. And yes, I know I’ve mentioned eating twice. I hasten to add that I did not have an eating disorder. I just derived all the pleasure that I derive from other things now, from food.

This wasn’t something I could reveal to other teenagers just like that. They’d judge or giggle or act like I wasn’t cool because talking on the phone and sneaking off to daytime kadankes didn’t appeal to me enough to be included on my list of hobbies.

I have more varied hobbies now but food, the cooking and eating of, remains among my favorite things. I try to have a little project every week. If it is Masala chips this week, it’s perfectly done peri peri chicken the next. I get a feeling of accomplishment just from bending over a steaming saucepan with a printed out recipe in one hand and a mingling stick in the other.

About a week ago, I happened upon latkes on a food blog. Latkes are a Yiddish food, a Hanukah staple and they look really delicious on the internet. I hunted around for the best recipe and then messaged my boyfriend, asking him to prepare his mouth for good things.

Like these

Like these

Together, we followed all the steps of preparation. I grated irish potatoes and cracked two eggs. He cut up ingredients, squeezed the starch out of the potatoes and radiated that very vital ingredient, enthusiasm. I then mixed everything together and heated a thin film of oil in the largest pan I could find. I know now that the oil I put wasn’t enough to cook the potatoes properly, but then, I was determined to follow my recipe to the letter.

The first two latkes looked like rebellious worms and didn’t stick together very well. I put them on a plate anyway and made Roger taste them. His face remained blank as he chewed, giving me so hope that perhaps, the ugly looking things tasted OK.

After swallowing, he said, “This tastes like paspalum. You know, the grass. This tastes like grass.” I tasted them myself. They tasted like grass.

He crunched again on an obviously raw clump of eggy-irish and said “It’s like we’re goats!” By this time, tears were streaming from my eyes and I was barking with laughter. I agreed with him and observed that we’d have to be very proud and foolish not to abandon the project. He wasn’t done commenting.

After taking a picture of me staring forlornly at the one remaining latke, he said, “In the picture, you look like mother who’s just given birth to a very ugly child.”

Really bad looking latkes

Really bad looking latkes

We further ruined the irish by trying to make it into a stew, but that’s a story for another day. My latkes weren’t a success, but I enjoyed making them. What’s my next project? Latkes again, of course! I won’t rest until I make crisp, golden, spicy, heavenly smelling potato pancakes.

Read his account of that day’s happenings HERE.

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.

Idiot’s guide to consuming nsenene (without shame)

In the beginning, you eat everything. You don’t yet have the imaginative power that it takes to be disgusted by the squishy innards of insects. In fact, your babysitter has to keep you in a cage made of pillows and plush toys to stop you from crawling out to the yard at the behest of mind controlling parasites that are just dying to get into your little soft babybody.

This continues until you’re fairly old and might even go on forever if you don’t encounter those ‘cool’ people with Disney accents, the ones who were born watching M-net and Hannah Montana. Because one day, in the company of your pompous friends, you’ll wistfully voice your craving for fried nsenene or roasted white ants or pounded white ants, or sundried nsenene and they’ll fold their faces into sumbusas of disgust.

High pitched coos of, “ugh! Gross” and, “OMG, so barbaric!” will abound. If you’re strong of character and if your love of insect based foods is unshakable, you may continue to prepare and consume them, but your enjoyment will never be the same. Something will have popped. Much like the abdomens of tiny grasshoppers when you overheat the grill.

All is not lost though. Here are some tricks you can use to continue quaffing your favorite bugs with a straight face and an unashamed heart:

All of the yum

Work: This is a great place to practice before you progress to eating nsenene in front of your friends. So during board meetings, shun the Danish cookies that have been strategically arranged around the room as motivation (ideas arrive fastest when your mouth is full of biscuit paste, not so?) Enter the room with your red container, preferably plastic with a screw-on lid.

Be confident and unapologetic in the way you twist open your container and let out the smell of your now sweaty insects. Proceed to consume with relish. You see, the only way to deal with feelings of shame that shouldn’t exist in the first place is by forcing people to accept and even embrace your localness.

Clothes, accessories: Wear shirts that declare the indisputable coolness of these insects and the people who eat them. If you remember, kikomando was terribly local in 2006. Nobody even wanted to acknowledge the saucepans of beans next to the chapatti sikas. But now? People take pictures of the stuff and post on instagram. So wear a shirt that says something like, “Nsenene, better than sex” or “Nsenene, responsible for Nikki Minaj” and watch yourself rise on the scale of cool.

Cameras! Lights! You could make a youtube video, I mean, that’s what people do for validation and publicity. Views are guaranteed. Likes are guaranteed. Comments are guaranteed. Go forth and wax lyrical about how much you like insects in your alimentary canal and all that.

Meanwhile, now I’m reminded of a time when I was determined to make a video for youtube, a rendition of Cookie Jar, a song originally done by The Gym Class Heroes. My version would be called Popsicle jar. I’d be singing about how I’d tried and tried, but I just couldn’t get my hand out of the Popsicle jar. That would have gone viral, man! I’d have no friends right now, but the satisfaction would have been epic.