Old at last. Yay!!

I always claim that I skipped my teenage, and that the pierced nose and purple hair is kharma’s belated birthday gift. People who knew me as a kid say I didn’t know how to be one. My high school pal said I was hatched as an adult. But after watching Ink yesterday, wailing until my eyes hurt, and sedating myself to sleep, I made a few key discoveries.

Let me back up a bit. I’ve been on a depression spiel and written about it pretty much everywhere. This morning, I woke up to this post, and was somewhat surprised, because Loco always seems like such a cheery sort. I didn’t think she was anything like me. But depression is a disease, and with faith, we’ll get better. I read iCon’s response, and was quite touched. I always knew that boy was deep, but dang! Sometimes the net shows you sides of people that real life never could.

So back to Ink. I’d never have watched this movie on my own. I’d have stopped the second the dreams appeared. They looked terribly creepy, and the music was wrong. And those were the good dreams! When the bad guys I appeared, I hid under a chair, and by the time Ink showed up, I was looking for the light switch despite daylight. For some strange reason, I was also thinking of that show, The Ink Thief.

I’m not very good at kiddie games, especially Barbie world and kalongo. I’m not bad at By-show and Ina-mina-apsa-mina, but when Princess wants to play dress up, I’m likely to say, ‘I’m not very good at that sweetie. So the scene at the railway haunted me. I’d have turned it off at that point if Mr 3CB hadn’t stopped me.

By the end of the movie, I was crying, though I still wasn’t sure I liked it, and after sleep and analysis, I’ve decided it’s a must see for everyone. The camera work is great too, and the Angel lady has such awesome hair. If I was white, I’d wear my hair like that. Or like Roxette. Or like Olga, Sunny, and Octopus in MGS.

I realize that not being good at kiddie games is a learned response. When I was little, the kids didn’t want to play with me, so I pretended I’m too old to play. I did it so long that I started to like it, and as an adult, I still find most children’s games … well … childish.

It’s like in Class 4, when everyone was reading Sweet Valley High, I could never get a copy because I wasn’t one of the popular kids. So instead of sulking that no one would lend me theirs, I started reading Lamb Tales Shakespeare and Sidney Sheldon, because there was no waiting list for those. I ended up looking precocious, when I was really just taking what I could get. I read all 8 Sheldons, but lost interest after Stars Shine Down. It wasn’t very good.

Dr Phil says we pick up habits for one reason, then keep them for another. I picked ‘mature’ books to hide my lack of social clout. I kept reading them to look grown up. I hung out with adults to hide my hurt pride, and when the grown ups moved away, I stopped hanging out period. I don’t feel lonely or reclusive, and I rarely long for company. I’m not missing out on anything. I’ve built up habits that work for me, and I’m quite okay with this. Although I know I’m a fun person, I don’t feel drawn to spread it beyond my blog.

The reason Ink made me cry is that it opened up a lot. It reinforced my thoughts that nothing is random. It made sure I’ll never attempt suicide again. And most off all, it taught me to never give up.

Ink became what he became because he stopped fighting. He lost himself, and he didn’t even know it. I’ll always remember the scene enar the end where the Goth girl is standing in the room, facing a million incubi [?], knowing she’s bound to lose but refusing to back down. And just as they bad guys close in on her, the beacon goes off and tha cavalry arrives. I’ll always think of the Blind Pathfinder, and how he counts the beats in life  … 1 … 2 … 3 … 4. You could give up only to realise you were on Beat 3, and if you’d held on just a little bit longer, salvation would have come.

So which part of this says I’m old? Well, I allowed myself two gifts today. One, I looked at a person’s work, decided I don’t  like it, and accepted that I was cool with that. I won’t lie – I wasted half an hour wondering what was wrong with me, since this is the most gifted person ever, and everyone adores him. But finally, I looked, smiled, said, ‘No thanks, not really my thing,’ and walked away. Voilà! maturity!!

My second gift was admitting that I’m fun. Self loathing is so last season. There’s nothing wrong with loving yourself – take that any way you will. But like Pati, doing one bad thing doesn’t stop you being a nice person, and being a hermit doesn’t make you hard to hang out with. It just means you get around less, and you revel in the few friends you have.

As a bonus for today, I say one thing. I walk away from others, so they walk away from me, and that’s okay too. In the same way I don’t like some people, some people don’t like me. And for the first time in ages … actually…  for the first time ever … I’m perfectly okay with that, and it feels pretty damn good.

Luck vs presentation: Celebrating Pointblank

I like nice people. I know the world isn’t full of them, and they mostly have no place in business, but I like nice people. Be nice to me and I’ll probably buy your product, even if it’s slightly sucky. Lie to me, and your business is history as far as I’m concerned. And last week, I put this into practice in a very curious way.

I was looking for Bouncy Castles, so I Googled ‘Bouncy Castles in Nairobi’ and ended up on this page. I skimmed and realised the prices were basically the same, so I looked for other methods to sift the wheat from the chaff. My first concern was contacts. They all listed phone numbers … and hotmail/yahoo addresses. Not good. I next checked for websites. Nada. I looked for anything else that would catch my attention – a pretty name, descriptive info, a dancing turkey, anything to give me a sign. Nothing doing. So I dialled the first number on the list. I figured if I didn’t like it, I’d inky-pinky-pon-key, or maybe just call them all.

The phone rung like ten times before it was answered, and I came that close to hanging up. When the guy finally picked up, he was professional and courteous. I asked lots of questions and he answered every one. I was going to ask where his office was, to see whether I could get a closer provider, but then he offered me a discount, which pretty much sealed the deal. I really like this guy.

The lesson here is that people will tryout the first service they see, so you need to be visible. If you’re on any list, you should be at the top. When your client drives by, make your pitch so good that they don’t want second opinions.

I needed an artist too, and after a bunch of great coincidences, I got two names. I thought I’d call them both, but instincts said to try the second name first, so I did. He answered his phone promptly and was very well-spoken. I like that. He took all of my questions, answered them immediately, and set up a meeting, though we ended up doing the whole thing online. He even gave me his plan of action and the project started right away. I gave him a deposit through Mpesa and he got to work. Everything was sorted in minutes, and I knew I was getting my money’s worth. I was quite happy with this guy. He has a nice voice, and some Google sleuthing suggests he works in radio …

A few hours later, I figured I should still call the other guy, just in case. I called and explained my project, and he suggested we talk it over on email, which was fine, except I felt a little brushed off. I was glad I’d called the other guy first. Still, I played it to the end, sent an email with my brief and everything. A few hours later, he replied, giving me the first guy’s number. Hurray for intuition!

The results of are phenomenal. He worked fast, he worked well, and I would gladly do a cartwheel for him. Please note that I don’t generally do cartwheels. The project was to build me a Manga character, and as you can see, the resemblance is uncanny. He did this piece too, and it’s truly my favourite.

Ladies and gentlemen, credit where credit is due. If you need animation done, Pointblank is the guy to call. I don’t think he has  a website … [or does he? I didn’t ask] but I can give you his details if you need them. For now, bow at his awesomeness and check him out on Facebook and Twitter. And yes, my hair really is purple – but only in sunlight.

Mind over common sense … or something like that

I was talking to a good friend yesterday, and I told him my actions are different from my words. I’ve done so many posts about the stupid things girls do in relationships – mostly because I do all those stupid things myself. It’s very easy to say what you shouldn’t do. It’s far less easy to actually not do it.

Some people say those who can do, and those who can’t, teach. That’s probably why women who write romance stories are multiply divorced, though it could also be because they’re looking for a Prince Charming who may not exist.

I told my friend the dichotomy was all in my mind. I’m a fairly smart person, so I can analyse and synthesize perfectly sound solutions. And because I’m a writer, I can express them in terms so clear it’s almost magic. But then I turn right around and follow my heart. I can write down all the reasons why I shouldn’t stalk his ex, and then I’ll go on facebook and check her latest upsate. Sad really.

My friend had an interesting response to my confession. He said, ‘You’re just being yourself, and that’s perfectly fine.’ They’re magical words those, and they made me smile. His words often make me smile. Sometimes when I’m demon-fighting, I’ll hear his words in my head and they’ll sharpen my sword and set me straight again. We should all have friends like that.

A tweet I read this morning re-inforced the idea, reminding me why I so love Sometimes, cute is a complimenttwitter. I don’t if I’ll ever get back to 100 tweets a day, but it does feel good to be Birdie again.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t judge me by my words. I may sound all smart and sensible, but that’s really just grey matter, and when it comes down to it, I rarely listen to the little guys up there.

So what should you judge me by? Beats me. In an ideal world, nobody would judge at all. Words spoken by the little grey girls, because I’m the most judgemental person I know. I even make judgements on Manga.

If we all listened to the grey guys, we’d be a lot better off. But then again, we’d probably be sterile solar robots that reproduce by Petri dish.

Something to be Rob Thomas

Aoi Sakuraba and my daily manga nightmare

I’ve just spent the last 15 hours reading a downloaded archive or Ai Yori Aoshi. It’s a cheesy romantic story about family, soul mates, boarding houses, crazy Americans, and purple hair. There are lots of good visuals, including repetitive scenes of the crazy American sussing out the ladies … assets. The crazy American is a girl by the way, so yeah.

I’ve never read full length manga. Usually I just watch random clips or drool over googled images online. There’s something about those sparkly eyes and crazy coloured hair that just totally does it for me. So I decided to go all the way and see what the deal is.

First, I stayed up all night watching the complete First Season of Full Metal Panic in Japanese, with English subtitles. It’s a futuristic military drama, and I didn’t like it much. The females were hot and manipulative, the guys were cute and clueless, and everybody was sixteen. I found Kaname frightfully loud. She has that Rachel-factor that totally drives me nuts. Mao is even more Rachelly, and she can shoot, so yeah. Testarossa-san … well … she’s a study. At first I didn’t like her, because she’s frail and girly, even though she wields a lot of power. After a while I realised she’s a lot like me, and that I simply hated  watching my weaknesses play out. I like the greyish-purple hair though.

 

So yesterday when I started reading AYA, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I suppose I was already biased, because for the first few chapters, I was stressed and upset. Manga is too much like a soap [which, by the way, I don’t watch because soaps are sadistic and they make me cry. My aversion has nothing to do with sappy plots, evil twins, or Alejandro de la Whoever. Mexican soaps are predicatble so they’re not too bad, but Filipino soaps are the pits! Every time I start to like a character, she goes and kicks a puppy or steals someone else’s spouse. The evil nemesis then adopts a pet donkey and buys it Mercedes Benz, proving he truly has a heart. It’s impossible choosing someone to root for, because you can’t thell the good guys from the bad ! ]

Anyway, manga twists my insides because I get into the plot and there’s just too much emotion involved. I have a 10 gig library of the stuff, but I doubt I’ll read anymore. It makes me ask myself questions that have really nasty answers, and I don’t always want to do that.

I was curious enough about Aoi-Chan that I read the story right up to its happy ending, so that was okay. I took a lot away from it. Aoi is a lot like me, so naturally, I didn’t like her at first. I have a habit of magnifying my faults when they appear in someone else, then crying when I recognise my reflection.

Aoi is emotional. She cries for half the story and says sappy things that would make any soap diva gag. She’s ashamed of her amazing body and apologetic about her earthmoving love for Kaoru. I was so busy hating on these qualities that I failed to see her kindness, her strength, her bravery, and just how much everyone loves her. She’s the only character in the story who is sincere throughout. She doesn’t try be mean, take advantage, or con anyone, which at some point, everyone else in the series does.

Aoi has to pretend to be the landlady to her fiancé, so she ends up turning their love nest into a boarding house, where she has to watch her tenants grope, seduce and woo her man. She can’t say anything because as a mere landlady, she has no right to mess with his ‘lovelife’, and the guy himself is too nice to protest. I mean if a hot naked chick arrives in your lap, bath, or bed, how do you turn her away without hurting her feelings? So instead, you try to sleep, warn Junior to stay down and hope Aoi doesn’t find out.

Aoi watches this, silently seethes, makes horrified expressions, and cries when no one can see. Just like me. Aoi wishes she was more like Tina, the crazy American, because she drinks like a fish and can knock out friends and foes alike. In so many different ways. Sometimes, I wish I was more like that too.

But reading AYA helped me to accept myself. I saw how the other characters looked at Aoi, and I thought maybe I’m not so bad. I also realised for the first time that I don’t like myself very much. I’ve always had esteem issues, but they’ve never been as clear as they were last night, when I loathed a fictional character for being just like me. She even has the short purple hair!

Aoi had a lot of problems and a lot of insecurities, but she was never of ashamed of who she was. She’d apologise for being a pest, then work herself sick trying to help others. She gave cooking lessons to a brat who was after her man, and gave lodging to three more rivals. The entire time she didn’t show any malice at all, but cared for each girl like family, even as she sat in her room sighing when they hogged all her man’s time.

My approach has always been to try and change myself, to try to be less judgemental or opinionated, to try unsuccessfully to hide my opinions, to be more of something he likes, to make love in the dark just to hide my flaws. No, I have no intention of suddenly turning exhibitionist. But I do want to be more like Aoi.

 

I want to be comfy in my skin, to cry when I need to cry, to say sappy stuff when the moment strikes, to gush in embarrassing ways and not feel shameful afterwards. I wish to accept myself with all my scars, warts, flaws, everything. I want to say I’m an idealist and a romantic without apologising afterward, or disclaiming the statement with a sheepish grin. I want to believe like Mariposa or Barbie Liah that it’s okay to be me. And I want to recognise and accept my strengths, because I know I have a lot of  those.

Probably, more than anything, I want to learn the difference between san, chan, chin, and kun. Because it’s really quite confusing.

My own worst enemy Lit

Twitter, wedding rings, and Eagle Eye Cherry

It’s been one of those weeks. I opened this window with a great story idea, but then I got distracted by five other windows and lost my train of thought. I really do suck at the art of the multitask.

When I’m alone in the house, I like to put on rock music very loud and sing along. My neighbours can knock for hours and I won’t hear them, because the walls are pretty soundproof. I can’t hear them rapping [the door] and they can’t hear me booming my rock.

Often, when I’m on rock mode, I hold imaginary microphones and pull a fake karaoke. It’s so fun. But yesterday, after doing the rock thing all day, downloading gigs worth of Manga, and watching the Poltergeist alone at 2.00 a.m., I had a hard time getting to sleep.

When I finally did sleep, I dreamt I was a Japanese girl in semi-manga Catholic uniform and pigtails, and that I had to play a karaoke gig. For some reason, schoolgirls were not allowed to karaoke. We were called some unpronouncable Manga name that I can’t remember, so I had to wear this massive luminous yellow jacket to hide my uniform.

Trouble is … I kept removing the jacket to find my microphone and backpack, then having to sprint down corridors and escalators to escape the music police.

Yeah, I definitely need a new hobby. The hair was so cool though.

I was thinking of quitting twitter [again] but a couple of friends talked me out of it. One reminded me not to take it so personally. After all, it’s only 140 characters. You can’t do much harm with that, no matter how hard you try. As he keeps telling me, it’s never that serious.

The other pal helped me put things in perspective. We were talking about some ish that went down a while back. I hadn’t revisited it in a while, but I ended up crying as we talked.

Once we were done, I realised that compared to that, any beef I have now is mere cotton candy. If I lived through that, I can live through anything. My mum tells me that all the time, but then again, all mothers do. It took an objective person to help me really see it. The issues I have right now are nothing.

Thank [God, kharma, the universe, or whichever deity applies to your faith life] for good friends.

In other news, I’ve been doing some work on rings, and I’ve picked up some interesting trivia. You know that ring that has two hands holding a heart with a crown on it?

It’s called a Claddagh ring, and it comes from ancient Ireland. You wear it on your right hand if you’re available, and on your left hand if you’re taken. If the ring faces outside, you’re still slice-able. When your heart is gone, you wear the thing with the heart hidden, facing your palm, with the bottom of the ring pointing at the veins that lead to your heart.

According to Wikipedia, Claddagh rings are often used at weddings, where the ring-giving vows include:

  1. With my two hands I give you my heart, and crown it with my loyalty.
  2. You hold my heart in your hands, and I crown it with my love.
  3. Let love and friendship reign forever.
  4. With this crown, I give my loyalty, with these hands, I offer my service, with this heart, I give you mine.

I added one of my own:

With this ring, i crown you king of my heart.

Of course, I doubt he’d actually wear such a gay-looking ring, and even I have to admit it’s pretty ugly. It’s a nice story though.

PS: Ooooooooh Eagle Eye Cherry! I heart X Fm.

♫ Falling in love again ♫ Eagle Eye Cherry ♫