New Year Updates

Is it too late to say happy new year?

How’s your week coming along? I was looking through this blog and almost kicked myself for having taken such a while to check in with the blogiverse…I hope you are well and working towards whatever resolutions you made.

So, here’s a list of some insights into what I’ve been up to in the past 8 days:

  • I traveled back to Mbita
  • Dusted, aired and mopped where I stay and it never hit me just how exhausted one can get from bending under a bed trying to retrieve an eraser!
  • Visited a school in Mfangano Island which is considered to be in one of the extreme inaccessible places in the whole island.
  • Gained weight 🙂 thanks to all the coffee dates I had with my cousin and the holiday food.
  • Started working out- just finished day 6 of the 30 day fitness challenge! I can’t feel my thighs.
  • Gave this blog a new look, grey is so last season!
  • Writing the next book, hoping to release it this April.
  • Receiving reviews, through calls and texts from readers on just how much they were moved by reading my book, Sifuna, and recommendations on how to distribute the books.
  • Updating my wardrobe, wearing more jean trousers and a bright t-shirts 🙂 okay, I did this once! I still love my black and grey t-shirts.
  • Drinking lots of Love Tea from Kericho Gold- because I love the strawberry/vanilla/raspberry flavor.

Have an awesome weekend!

Updates on the 30 New Ideas Challenge for this August

August is my “try new things” month. I came across this idea by watching one of the TED Talks on challenging yourself to try new things every day for 30 days.

So, I made a list of some things I wanted to do on this cool LCD slate I got last week:

100_9189

So far I managed to get the first one done, writing using my left hand:

100_9195

I’d love to watch a TED Talk every day of the week, build up on what I know, gain some inspiration and challenge myself to test out new ideas, so my video of the day has to be: Adam Grant’s “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers.”

I listened to a new song, new artist to me- and it was Mabel “Don’t Call Me Up.”

I danced along too 🙂

While taking this challenge, I am learning that there are things I do and some that are easier to write or dream about but not to implement, like number 2: wake up at 5am.

I struggled with this, mainly because I work till 2am and find myself waking up at 8am, working out for 5 minutes [ 30 Days Fitness Challenge App, thank you] and having a cup of tea to go.

Writing 300 words daily of two manuscripts has been an uphill task, and I am forced to prioritize one story over the other while still jotting down ideas that could build upon the other as I move along. This is one new thing I am not giving up on. I can write more than 300 words a day, and can definitely have content for two manuscripts at the same time.


So, out of my list, I’m done with numbers 1, 3, 5, 6, 10.

Score: 5/12 

In going through this list, I noticed that most of the stuff I did are things I’d love to do daily, so after a week or so, they’ll cease to be new or a challenge to me and I also noticed that I am yet to step out of my comfort zone and pick something that truly challenges me.

How’s your August? Any ideas?

 

 

Tuesday: Brown

Walking to work from the bus stop was the one thing Diana hated to do, especially if it involved light showers and morning chills. She needed to cut down costs so as to make her finances work for her till pay day.

This August had been the worst month because she had moved houses and now had to deal with new neighbors who knew nothing about keeping their music preference to themselves. There was also the tenant in the main house who made it a habit to show up after midnight, his car tyres grinding the gravel like they were administering punishment. The last and worst of all had to be their dog, Juno or Jano, whatever the mutt’s name was, she could not stand the bursts of howls into the night, or his barking at shadows.

She loved her new place. It was cosy and spacious.

It was the one place she could simply be.

Now, after spending on moving and new furniture and clothes she had to cut costs on daily expenditure and that meant getting rained on in the morning.


She signed in at the reception, said hello to the ladies and as she was walking to the lift, Gladys called out to her.

“Haiya! You are not enjoying the free public holiday?”

“I wish! I have three reports to submit today, I had to convince HR to let me work for a few hours and then I’d be out, Boss amecome?”

“Ai, no way, but you know him. Atakuja alafu aishi hapa mpaka kesho!”

Her mind was still reeling from how easy it was to talk to Matthew about budget concerns, her work and art. She never thanked him for being good company on Saturday, and she never did say the same yesterday as they walked to the bus stop.

She knew he had a car, but she did not ask why he chose to walk her to the bus stop. Each moment seemed to add onto a sensation, a confidence that she enjoyed. As she put her bag on her desk and reached out for the pack of soft tissues, she heard someone call out to her down the hall. She looked around and walked towards the exit of the office floor, Matthew was waving at her, “Pick your office phone.”

“Okay.” She walked back to her desk and picked the phone at the third ring.

“Good morning, you came in early and so I thought, I’d say hello.”

“Hello, Matthew, you could have just come down and said as much.”

“This is better, we have to make use of company resources at some time. Did you get rained on?”

“Yes, I walked from the bus stop.”

“Sorry, I can get you some sugar, that’s if you still don’t have any and maybe you could have that green tea you love.”

“Yes, please, thank you.”

“I’ll be there shortly.”


When he walked into her office, Diana had removed her shoes and jacket and was busy wiping her feet dry. She turned to look at him, smiled and he could not for the sake of fate understand just how they both wore brown to work.

On Work

Work is love made visible,

and if you cannot work with love but only with distaste;

It is better that you should leave  your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

Khalil Gibrain

TMI

Word of the day:

Scripturient (adj.): Having a consuming passion to write

Listening to: Young, Wild & Free by For King & Country

 

 

Travel diary; Bungoma 

I recently shared my experience in Chavakali and an interesting turn of events at The Crying stone in Mukhonje.

My trip to Western Kenya saw me visit Bungoma county today and I was so excited to be back that the team we were traveling with thought I was high on my own expectations. I love Bungoma. I love Kakamega. Honestly, I love where I can get some good milk tea and a whole cob of well roasted maize at twenty shillings. Please don’t remind me of Kapsabet, Kitale, Eldoret and Londiani…we are talking about Bungoma and Kakamega here.

So, we made our way through Kakamega to this place and arrived at around 3pm. We drove around looking for someplace to stay, with a limited budget, I kept reminding people in the car that any hotel behind Barclay’s Bank was out. During my previous stay I had no sleep because of the loud music played from the pubs around and in more than one occasion, I found myself listening in on more than I could handle. 

We drove along Moi Avenue (yes,there is a Moi Avenue in Bungoma) and we came to The County Comfort Hotel. I stepped out and asked for the rates and a chance to scout the room to see if it appealed to me. 

When I saw the room, I settled in, picking the most spacious of them all. It did not come with an awesome view because it overlooks the Shariff Centre which is a pit stop for Easy Coach buses. 

I did however love the tiny electric kettle they set up on the table. 

The receptionist told us we could prepare some instant coffee or tea with what they had provided. When she said this everyone turned to see me light up. The Driver however asked if his room had a mini fridge and Tusker, and when she said no, he walked back into the hallway. 

I am looking forward to visiting Chwele and though my stay is a short one, I hope it goes well and I can’t wait to visit more places.

It’s the little things

It’s the last day of 2016, and instead of writing a list of things that happened this year, I am going to talk about a build up.

It is the little things that matter, especially because they build up when ignored, and the saddest part is that little things are easy to ignore.

Like the voice in your head that keeps telling you “it’s not a good idea,” or the awful remarks you hear your colleagues make that make you wonder whether you are in the right place. Sometimes you are doing something but your heart is not in it and you force yourself out of bed every morning and spend days working on something that is not in your heart, simply because you are afraid of what would happen when you take a step back. I have been on a roller coaster this year. I have had the best work experiences and some that I deemed worse. I have walked in and out of interviews sometimes hopeful and sometimes distressed.

As I write this, I am at a crossroads. My heart is done pleading with me and it’s pulling me towards achieving a dream I have had for years. It is a huge project. I have no funds, except for a world I dream of. It is a beautiful dream but realizing it would be a nightmare and I will have to step out of my comfort zone.

What would you say?

I don’t know, for at the moment, I know I am not in the right place and would have to move. I also know that moving frightens me because I would lose a paycheck in exchange for an idea that might or might not work.

It’s been a frustrating few months but I’m going in for this, because hey, if I could sweat it out and write a book, why not try a career change?

So, it is indeed the last day of 2016, but whatever moment you have, cease it, and spend more time with loved ones. If you are at work, please do not ignore the little things that frustrate you, find an outlet that’s positive (liquor is not) and sort it all out, because when you ignore these red flags it builds up into frustration and you end up hating your work.

Also don’t just capture memories, make memories. 

For a while now

The art of spinning a tale has eluded me for a while now. Like smoke off a cigarette butt, it is caressed by the wind and vanishes unaware of my sorrows.  I thought about it at 4am sitting on the cold cement floor in my bedroom, one leg stretched out to accept the cold and the other folded as though being introduced to the cold. I think at 4am, often write at 2am and clean the house from 6:30am when nothing but cold water reminds me of chores that are to come.
What usually starts with a word, a feeling and ends in a composition has left me thinking of what should not happen.

These thoughts keep me company as I take strong tea, brush up my hair and tie it in a bun and leave for work. I plug in my earphones and click on ‘No longer slaves’ by Jonathan and Melissa Hessler. I walk to work, slowly making my way past Uzima University (they have a new bus and students whose attention is always on the road and not their destination), Frank’s place– he makes the best chips and has chilli sauce for days. I walk past the Carpenter’s shop at Robert Ouko who walks into his shop every time he sees me approaching, mistaking me for my sister, he never fixed the drawers she had paid him to, in September 2014.
My feet advance me towards the Le Savanna Junction, where motorcyclists speed past you’d think the traffic police were right behind them, by this time the song I am listening to is almost ending.

So, I slow down and watch the vehicles speed past me, children rush past me to school and I take in the stench of the latrines of St. Mary’s Kibuye Girls. At this time, I am tempted to start dancing as Usher’s song, ‘No Limit’ starts playing and then I realize that I don’t got that same master p he’s talking about, but even as I smile and laugh, the people walking past me think I am crazy. They would not know the joy of listening to lyrics and not the beats of a song.

I walk on past Mountain View estate, four tuk tuks are parked, and the drivers in their seats ready to take passengers.
I make my way to the coca cola shop across the road, buy two sachets of Nescafe, hand the man twelve shillings- careful not to brush his fingers, he has yellow fingers- the kind Magda calls tinted fingers. He smiles, ‘have a good day today.’ I nod and walk past the woman who sells tea and hot mandazi to the boda boda guys every morning. She has a purple head wrap today. I love the yellow one, it’s the epitome of fresh sunflowers.

By this time, my playlist has reverted to either some Daughtry or what I always call mellow music. It gets me reflecting on my life and why I work every day. Who names their playlist ‘Sober?’ Seriously!

I cross the road, look at how much dust my feet have gathered and this time Justin Bieber‘s Sorry is playing and I am tempted to start twisting my ankles and swinging my hands in the air, but the office is only two minutes away, besides, I walk past The Neurosciences Center, I cannot unleash my crazy right there. So, I keep my cool and let my soul do the dancing.

And as I reach out to push the gate open, Kings Of Leon comes on and I suddenly wonder why I tap the shuffle icon on my playlist because clearly Sex on Fire is my jam and now I am officially under the complete scrutiny of the HR department and cannot wiggle, now do you understand why the art of spinning a tale has eluded me?

10/40

The Boss called me on Sunday at 2:00 P.M.

I had just finished mopping the house and my knees had become noodles. His response to Jeremy’s idea for a collaboration was ‘just do what needs to be done to make us look good.’ I set the phone on the brown leather chair Dad had bought me.

I looked through my fridge hoping for a different result every time I swung the door open, but magic had ceased to appeal to me. I could go down to Mama Jacinta’s kibanda and get mboga ya ten and stop over by Jose’s shop for two eggs and come back to prepare lunch. Or I could simply make some tea and have the two slices of bread with it. The healthier option would involve adding a tomato to it. The phone started ringing as I was still standing by the fridge hoping to open it’s door once more and see a piece of grilled chicken.

It was the office.

“Hello.”

“Hi, Marjorie, it’s me, Martin. I had to talk to you about something urgent and I knew you would not answer if I called using my number.”

“I might just hang up now that I know it is you. What are you doing in the office on a Sunday?”

“I was working with the Board of Directors on next quarter’s plans. The golf event that I was working on took place today at the golf course so, that’s why I am calling.”

“Okay, how can I help?”

“There is a disconnect between the PR department and HR and Accounts departments. The HR and Accounts do not see the need of what we do and their proposals have come down to a forty percent budget slash and if this gets to the meeting on Wednesday, we might be forced to pull out of the project with The Light Keepers and also consider letting go of two people in our department.”

“Do you have soft copies of the proposals that HR and Accounts made?”

“No. They are in hard copy.”

“How long will you be in the office? Have you had lunch?”

“I had some heavy breakfast at the Golf course canteen but I can order something for us at Tuffoam Mall.”

“Okay, I would appreciate that. I will get there as soon as possible. We can work through this and I think a budget slash on my project with The Light Keepers would not be such a bad idea.”

 

 

8/40

Jeremy was seated by the window. His eyes faced the window overlooking the road. His back was to the coffee house. If he moved an inch to his left he would spot me ascending the stairs wiping the sweat off my brows. He was in the same washed out jeans with a white T-shirt. He pushed back his chair and got to his feet when I approached the table. 

“Hey, thanks for coming.”

“We had an agreement and I could not go against it, even though I was heading home too exhausted with this week’s work. Tell me, how have you been and what do you have to say about the proposal I shared this Monday?”

“Can we get something to drink first and then talk? Or are you always strict about getting business out of the way first?”

“No, it’s fine.” 

“Relax, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, it is better to know the people you are dealing with outside the written contracts and office walls. But, I wonder, why did your organization send me three different takes on what we had discussed? Do I get to choose what we can do out of the three or am I allowed to combine the three?”

“Three proposals,tell me whose proposal stuck with you?”

“Your proposal did because you met me and shared the idea first but Nicole and some lady called Vivian just sent me a document with lots of numbers.”

The waiter’s arrival with our drinks gave me time to choke Nicole in my head. 

Nicole. She was keen on having this done her way,but what was it about this project that had the attention of the HR? Did the boss share the email he sent me with every department? Turning these thoughts in my head added to the grief I had all day. Nicole.

Nicole. My friend.

“Ni nini? What are you thinking of like that or are you still bent on getting those earrings at Woolworths?”

“Ai,no! I think I will get something else some day maybe. I was not even thinking about that.”

“How bad can it be? Do you have a roof over your head?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have food and water and a warm bed to sleep in?”

“Yes, where are you going with this?”

“See, you Marjorie, like being in control. You want to know everything and prepare your reaction towards it all. Life is not like that, and I have seen children who have not even touched soap in their life. They eat like vultures and their hands are bent because of all the begging they do, so that’s where I am going with this. Can you take a week off work and see what my day is like? There are other community volunteers who would take you around the homes during their visits so you have an understanding of what LightKeepers are like.”

“I will see what I can do.”

“No, you do it, besides I have a feeling that you will like it. But, tell me, did you ever go to Victoria?”

“Primary? Yes, why?”

“I knew it the first time we met, but that’s a field story. Now we talk about general stuff like what your favorite color is and your hobbies and things like those. I will email you details of my amendments on Monday.”

“Are you the sole decision maker in your organization?”

“I founded it and I make some decisions but not all. And no, mimi si kama wewe, I am not stubborn. Siko serious twenty four seven, binadamu hucheka saa zingine.”

Walking Away

Walter looked at the bag he’d set on the table. It was black and empty. There were three t-shirts and a pair of jeans next to it. There was also a black notebook with cut outs of his favorite recipes sticking out of it. He looked at the wall.

He looked around the room before pushing the clothes inside the bag and zipping it up.

His leave was denied but he knew that going to work would not hurt him. Being home and staring at the blank walls hurt his conscience more. When he was handed his salary and bonus, his mind had gone back to his own pastry shop but it took one call from his mother to render him broke. The Bishop was going to visit her and she had to prepare him fish. Did he know that the best size of fish she wanted cost around a thousand shillings? The Bishop was coming with two Deacons, three Lay Readers and some Church members. It would be a shame if they ate ugali and sukumawiki at her house. She would never show her face at the church after that.

He sent her all the money he’d earned for the month of November.

“Listen, my son, you always embarass me with your kindness, are you coming home this year?”

“I wanted to Mama, but I am working over the holidays. How is everyone doing back home?”

“Everyone is just as they are. Mama Nancy’s cow gave birth to two calves and she cannot stop talking about it. Your Uncle broke his leg again running away from some men he’d stolen from, that man will die running I tell you. Hey, your sister, says she needs some money for tuition.”

“How much does she need?”

“Three thousand two hundred and seventy.”

“Okay, you can use some of the money I have sent you to pay for it.”

“Ai! This money will not be enough to take us through Christmas and if I start spending it on everything, what will my visitors eat? Wallie! You know how I like to treat my visitors.”

“Yes Mama. I will see what I can do and thank you Mama for taking good care of us. God bless you.”

“Wallie, are you okay?”

“I am Mama, why do you ask?”

“You sound different my boy and I know you. Something is bothering you, listen do not worry about your sister’s fees we can always work something out, you work hard and it is more than enough. Listen, I want you to come home soon, we have to sit down as a family my son. Please, tell me you will come.”

“I will come home for the New Year, how does that sound?”

“That’s the boy I gave birth to, Wallie! God bless you my son and do not forget to pray, and give thanks to Him.”

“Goodbye Mama.”

He sat back and checked the time by his phone. It was almost noon when he walked out of his bedsitter and made his way to the Restaurant for the afternoon shift.

Each step he took felt lighter, like he was walking away from something that he couldn’t see. He only knew one thing for sure, this time he was not walking away from his dream, but he was rather running towards it.