Crutch Me One Time (Say it with Reggaeton).

Crutches hurt your back, stress your arms and give you the gait of a scarecrow on stilts. Even though I was possessed by a strange excitement when I first began to use mine, the novelty wore off chap chap. Life changes when you’re so openly hurt. People you’ve passed by for two years on your way to work all of a sudden stop and with sympathy in their voices, ask you what happened.

First I thought I was being mocked and became angry, but the concern seemed genuine so I mellowed out. That’s one thing that comes with crutches: paranoia.

I was walking up Capital shopper’s parking lot with my sister when I noticed that a trio of young adults had turned to stare. I couldn’t believe their bad manners. I scowled and began to complain loudly about the stupidity of Ugandans nowadays. After listening to me rant for a few seconds, Jero said, “But you realize you have just shaved the back of your head, right? You have a ponytail at the top and shiny kipalata on the bottom half of your scalp. Sure they may be wondering about the crutch, but this attention, you deserve it for wearing that hairstyle.” And she is right. I am used to the doubletakes. Because of the new crutches however, I was convinced that these people were intentionally trying to make me feel awkward.

Crutches provide the perfect response to the kiss-kiss, sister-sister laced overtures that Kampala’s idlers so love to make. Now if I feel a person’s words are offensive, I stop and threaten them with my crutch. So far, both men have run away with real fear in their eyes. I understand that I am a fine specimen of a woman, even with my crooked walk but ssebo, have some respect. I am struggling to get from place to place on this wonky leg and really don’t need your lechery in my life right now.

Breaking my leg has made me unable to abide unkindness, especially from people who are supposed to be making my life easier. Last week I wrote about how traumatized I was by the service at (a certain) hospital in Ntinda. Be fair, people. If you are going to be bad to me, make sure it is when I am full of health and can chase you down.

If you like to look different, the opportunity to accessorize your crutch will fill you up with glee (well, when the thing is not making your armpit yell with pain). I decorated mine with colorful flowers made out of kitenge material and paper beads, making it a bit easier to tolerate.

Lastly, crutches infantilize you. You are not able to blaze out of a room or hop on a boda at will. Because I hate being idle, I decided to continue going to work after my fibula broke

(stupid decision). It is not a very important bone and if it wasn’t for the fear of never wearing wedges/ running again, I wouldn’t even be using this crutch. I cannot leave or arrive at office on my own so my father’s car is very important to me now. His time keeping too. Do you remember when you were five and you realized that you were the last person in class who hadn’t been picked up yet? Do you remember how the tears started forming from the pit of your belly, how they traveled up to your eyes making you cry and cry like you’d never stop? That’s how I, big woman as I am, felt when father picked me up at 7pm last Monday.

Crutches change your life completely. I almost can’t remember walking any other way (lies, I really really can).

Of course I tried to use it as a modeling prop. One day, my moceling career is going to take off. You wait.

Of course I tried to use the thing as a modeling prop. One day, my modeling career is going to take off. You wait.

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.

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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

Bathing plants and office DIY

When my dad discovered me singing to my plants a few days ago, he must have backed away very slowly because one minute I could hear him being generally alive in the space behind me and the next, he was gone. Not to another part of what is a large backyard, mind, but totally gone. Perhaps he was like it’s too early in the day to face the kind of offspring I have bred. 

In the absence of a watering can, and the presence of my two very capable hands, I give my plants a bath every morning. I am very proud of the small plot that I was allowed to de-grass for this project and I’m determined for everything to go amazingly well.  

The process:

Using my palms, I scoop water out of a bucket, quickly come up with a song for whichever plant I’m watering and then pour. For example:

Lemon balm, lemon balm, will you let me be your calm.

and

Sage plant, Sage plant, protect me from these ensanafu

and

Thyme, Thyme, will you love lime…

Look it doesn’t have to make sense. Singing charms plants and that’s what must have brought my strawberry baby back to life.

Have you read this article by Fungai Machirori, founder of herzimbabwe and all round fantastic woman? You should because it is about Anne Kansiime, arguably the funniest comedian in Uganda. I was lucky to meet, attend a comedy show, drink and do loud karaoke on Jinja Road with Fungai when she was in Uganda a few months ago. She’s a real gem and I hope I will one day do something extraordinary enough for her to feel like blessing me with an interview like this.

For now, I will enjoy the fact that she has called me an advertising executive and included a beautiful picture of Kansiime and I in her article.

In other news, I have decided to document my journey to fitness on tumblr. Check my tumblog out and send me all of your best energies, even after reading that  I yesterday jogged from office up to Alfredos and back. Control your feelings. Don’t let your jerasssey cloud the vibes, hehe.

In fun and final news, I stole an empty banana boat paper bag from the receptionist’s desk. I say stole because it’s really good paper and she may have wanted it for something.

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Anyway, I needed its sisal handles for an impromptu recycling and DIY session.

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Also read as, I felt like changing my hairstyle and didn’t have any rubber bands. I took the handles out and after a minute in the bathroom, looked like this. 

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and this

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and this

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and this

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It’s fun, free and takes my bob away from my neck, which is great for the hot hours. When it gets cold, I can just let it back down. This has got to be the most versatile hairstyle I’ve ever rocked.

I need to go and write a wildly overdue article about songs, sex and gender issues for Muwado.com, so see you on Monday.

In Pursuit of Sharp Hair I

Humans pay too much attention to each other’s bodies. What is he wearing? How long is her skirt? What does her hair make me feel? We are forever poking our noses into things that are none of our business.

I chose to go bald for a little over a year and during this time, my family, (certain) friends and ex didn’t stop devising schemes to get me to wear some hair. My father told me that I’d get meningitis as a result of all the mosquito bites that my large, smooth scalp would attract. He also said I would get headaches and all the exposure to cold wind would freeze my thoughts.

The shoulders of my aunts would droop with sadness whenever I’d walk into the house with yet another haircut. The ex’s tactics were so many and amusing that I cannot do justice to them in one article.

I ignored them all. First of all, I strongly disagree with the notion that a woman’s hair is her “crowning glory”.  A woman’s brain (and the things she can do with it) is what we should be focusing on, people. Not the dead waves and coils of keratin that emerge from her scalp. I refused to yield to the insinuation that the entire experience of womanhood can be reduced to the ability to push dead cells out of a scalp. It was only after I became bored with baldness that I allowed my hair to grow out.

 By the time it was about half an inch long, I was sick of it. I missed the feeling of a cold electric shaver buzzing on my scalp. I missed the newborn alien look that a fresh haircut gives me. I felt like a teenager among all of the S.6 vacists roaming Kampala’s streets. The hair felt invasive and in a last bid to make myself like it, I decided to style it.

 There’s a rather popular hairstyle around town that many people with short natural hair are rocking. They somehow maneuver their kaweke into little spikes that stick out from their scalps, giving a lovely definition to their faces. I knew from research (loads of facebook updates) that this style could be arrived at by briskly rubbing a sponge or a palm over the scalp. Thanks to the lovely people on my friend list,  I also knew that a cheap locking gel could be used to achieve this style.

I uploaded this to facebook. it helped a lot.

I uploaded this masterpiece to facebook  and captioned it with the words below:

 

(slightly edited) You guys, I need your help. So I have seen this style around town where people with teenie weenie fros like mine curl their hair into spiky little points. I know from a bit of research that this style is arrived at by briskly rubbing a sponge over the scalp. What treatment do they put in the hair to make it form the spikes when rubbed? I love this style but I’m not willing to pay the insane dimes that a salon  is sure to charge me.  A sponge is 500 and whatever product they’ll use can’t be more than 30 bob. Any(really really) useful information will be rewarded with long hugs and a good meal. 

Because I’m rich (ha), I visited a salon in town for a cost assessment. The shameless lady told me she’d require sixty thousand of my Uganda shillings. I visited another one, this time in Wandegeya because I figured it would be cheaper, what with the bulk of their clientele being broke campus chicks. I was right. Yusuf told me he’d only need 30,000. When I asked what the styling would entail, he became cagey and it was only after great insistence that he told me he’d be putting Ariel detergent in my hair.

Understand that I really wanted this style. As Yusuf washed my hair, I consoled myself that a little Ariel wouldn’t hurt. It was only when I smelled the actual detergent that I chickened out. The thought of sitting in a taxi going from  Wandegeya to Ntinda while smelling like soaking clothes just killed my morale dead. When I told Yusuf to stop, he was very angry. He rejected payment and snarled something about “losers who visit salons to steal knowledge” at my back.

I then took my research to youtube and thankfully, none of the ladies online were using detergent on their heads.

to be continued.

Either teach well or go home (and kill yourself).

Church was once a staple in my life and slowly, I am starting to find true enjoyment in the word of God again. This article isn’t about my spiritual awakening (which I hope will last this time). It’s about the way people in positions of influence deliver their teachings.

One Sunday last November, one of the pastors at Watoto Church was talking about his wonderful wife and the lovely things that she’d done for him on his anniversary. It was very sweet. He even insisted she come up and sing the song she’d sung on the day to much cooing and clapter*  from the congregation. He remarked on how beautiful she is and how more women need to obey their husbands, especially when it comes to how they look.

He then said, “But some women just cut off all their hair” while making a comical sweeping motion over his head.

I bristled with indignation, and not only because I have chosen to rock a nearly bald head.

Like this

I miss the days it was like this

The pastor’s joke made the entire congregation look around and eyes lingered on those like me with little or no hair. In that moment, I wondered what it would be like to be married to somebody like him and let me tell you, what I envisioned wasn’t a fun experience. I saw a guy who would whine endlessly and be very aggressive about letting you know how he wanted you to look. Just imagine if a Christian couple in attendance was fighting about style choices. On hearing Pastor’s words, whatever headway they’d made would be lost.

A lot goes into a way a person looks. Mood, emotional well being,  fashions, personality, etc. Style is an intensely personal thing. Even in a long term relationship where you’re committed to loving the same person forever, both individuals retain the right of choice.

If you want to change your partner’s style to suit your tastes, don’t do it by shaming them or comparing them to others. Spitting Bible verses won’t work. Belittling them won’t work. Writing blogposts about them won’t work either . Give them a reason to want to acquiesce to your whims. Make them feel comfortable enough to adjust their style in a way that will make you happy. The way a person looks should be their decision, an act of service (to you, their partner) and not one that leads them to doubt themselves.

People in the Education sector are another group that need to be careful about the way they deliver their wisdom. Their job is to instill confidence, manners and a sense of decency in the children that pass through their system year in year out. Instead of doing that, our teachers and school administrations are filling young people up with their own warped sexual politics.
How can a school profess to be against trousers on girls or tight uniforms and then turn around and allow their girls to wear barely-there dresses during prom? If they really thought that trousers caused uncontrollable lust to surge in the hearts and minds of the males in the system, they wouldn’t allow girls to wear them during dances.

A school like Seeta High bars female visitors from entering school grounds if they are wearing trousers, causing much embarrassment and irritation, but allow their students to swim semi-naked in a pool which is not far from the staff room. Where is the logic? Selective morality is dumb and needs to end.

Our young need to be equipped with feelings of equality, self esteem and affirmations, not insecurities and hypocrisy.

James 3: 1 says Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

If you can’t teach well, go home.

*clapping and laughter