Cashewnuts, coconuts and stuff like that

I hear there are two kinds of chocolate eaters – those that chew and those that suck. Me, I’m the type that chews. I grind the bars and let the taste explode, so I can feel it everywhere at once. Yesterday, I bumped into this.

I’d never heard of the flavour before, but I love nuts, so it had to be good. When I put a piece in my mouth, I swear I felt the earth move. I thought it might just be my mood, so I left a few pieces for today. When I nibbled on one for breakfast, I started jumping up and down and I couldn’t stop giggling. I spent about five seconds squealing oooooooooooooh!

My chocolate bar is over now, and I’m pretty near tears. *sniff sniff* Oh well. We’ll always have Tuskys. I meant to explain this far more eloquently, but I still have that dreamy look in my eyes, my brain is all fogged up, and my mind keeps grinning. God bless Cadburys.

In other news, I had a good day yesterday. I spent it with a not-so-new friend, and I surprised myself. A lot. I spent the whole day laughing, and I had to keep reminding myself to act depressive. It didn’t work.

At first, I thought it was my friend. I thought he’d brought out the best in me, and decided to see as much of him as possible. But in retrospect, the change is in my mind. I’ve been reading about destructive thought patterns and how to change them, and I noticed that everytime I made a statement, I’d stop myself and mentally correct it, which made me a lot less sad.

The book I’ve been reading is Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. I get so upset by what people think of me, but the good doc says only my thoughts can affect me. He demonstrates by spending five seconds thinking bad thoughts about the patient, then spends five more seconds thinking good thoughts. The patient didn’t know when the doc was thinking good and when he was thinking bad, so, of course, she felt nothing at all.

When someone says something mean to you, you mentally respond them. So it’s not the person upsetting you. It’s your reaction to their words. It wasn’t my friend affecting me. It was my response to his what he said and did. Of course, I should still give him credit for being that way in the first place. Either way, it was a good day, so I thank my friend and raise my glass to time well spent, sharp knives and all.

Moving along. I’ve been depressed for a few weeks, and now I think I might be manic. I just tried to fry minji without boiling them, I’ve spent the last few nights dag dancing to strange songs, and today, I’ve got the radio on at full volume as I do the food and dishes. Please note that I do not dance, so the resultant scene is … interesting. Thank heavens for dark curtains and soundproof flats. And at least the dishes are clean.

I was asked a basic question yesterday. He asked what I do when I’m not working. I didn’t have any answers. Reading, writing, music, sleep, baby? Also, scrabble and brick game, though I didn’t mention those ones. I think I should try out new things. It’s in-something to go blank when you’re asked about your hobbies. And no, cashew and coconut chocolate doesn’t count.

AllstarSmashmouth

Mysterious headphones

I love music. It’s my drug of choice. That and sugar and I’m pretty much in kite status. So when I finally got a radio phone, I was way above Cloud 69. For days I walked around smiling to myself and dancing on the streets as I sang along. Sheer bliss.

The euphoria didn’t last very long, and I soon got used to having music in my ears. I still get excited when my favourite song plays, and I almost gave some guy a heart attack when I came out of the UoN tunnel singing Woohoo. Priceless. Simply priceless.

[Apparently, it’s actually called Song 2 and is a parody on American grunge. Who knew?]

Anyway, my radio phone earphones are pretty basic, and they started to fall apart quite quickly. I need to ask the DR brothers where they got the sweet pairs that I’ve seen them with. But meanwhile, I walked into a few phone shops to find a replacement.

The guy at the first shop said he was out of stock, and the lady at the second shop referred me to  a third shop. This lady asked me what my price range was, saying she had a pair for 300 …?

[The way she said it implied a question mark, so I responded, ‘300 … and …?’]

She went into a nearby stall and took down two pairs. One pair looked generic, but was beautiful and shiny. The second pair was in a plastic packaging … and I should have read the signs when she ripped the plastic and unpacked it. In my head, I could almost hear Lane’s mother screeching, ‘You break, you buy!”

The unpacked earphones were the new-looking type that have these suction-cup-looking devices. They fit right into your ear, taking the music to the source. They were hot! She tested them for me by plugging them into my phone, changing the station to something with […benga…?] and handing me the earphones. They sounded a little ech0-ey, but I figured it’s because the stall was in the corner of some building and there was a lot of noise outside.

The difference between the basic pair and the pretty pair was just 50 bob, so I bought the pretty pair and left smiling. But once I got outside, I noticed something very strange. You know that effect when someone is talking into a microphone and they suddenly turn their head, so that their voice sounds diluted?

Yes. That’s what my earphones were doing.

If I turned to look at someone, the song would be suddenly louder. If I tripped on a kerb, the tweeters would spike and my rock song would suddenly convert into ‘pss-pss-pss-pss’. When I stopped walking in shock, the tweeters would disappear and all I’d hear was base. Sometimes the instrumentals would die completely and I’d just hear the lyrics is some kind of twisted reverse karaoke.

The annoying part about this is it’s inconsistent. I was riding in a Citi Hoppa, and every turn, bump, or break would create a different result! Aaargh!

Now comes the amusing part. I took out the wiring to examine it, and noticed a shiny silver button at the base of the earphone jack. Apparently, when you press the button, the sound becomes bellisimo. When you stop pressing it, you get the echo sound. So the fluctuations in sound quality occur when the shiny button is accidentally[de]activated. The only way to get good sound is to keep your finger on the button. Or use a really strong rubber band. Or masking tape.

Now here’s the thing. I’m not mad that I bought fake earphones, because everyone that sees them goess all ooh and aaah before I demonstrate. And even if someone had warned me, it’s one of those things that you have to test to believe.

What bugs me is all the vendors that are pressing the shiny button while ‘testing’ just to make a sale. It reminds me of the stash of fake cash on my windowsill. I have a hundred bob note with the corner ripped out, a fifty bob that’s tattered and ripped in two, and a ten bob coin with the middle missing. I didn’t get them from makangas – I actually got them as change from three different supermarkets, all wrapped up in a receipt.

I’ve thought about paying them in a mat and insisting on a 1000 bob note if they refuse, but then I imagine some mean makanga forcing the same note onto some unsuspecting passenger, or worse, insulting them when they won’t accept. I watched one woman in a bus being called names for about 10 minutes because she wouldn’t accept a tattered note for change. male passengers joined in the abuse and it turned into ‘Wanawake was siku hizi wana madharau’ as the men called the woman arrogant and claimed she didn’t know the value of hard work or money. Sigh.

So rather than subject an innocent person to a really bad day, I keep the broken money on my windowsill. It’s a reminder to stay human. Not many people acknowledge such reminders.

So as I look for some duct tape to plug my brand new earphones, I keep thinking of where I will hide it so I can keep the cool factor – because they really are pretty earphones.

Speaking of duct tape versus masking tape, I had to sit a test today to qualify for a writing job. It was a 40 question multiple choice exam on the differences between British and American English. I always thought it was basic things like lift vs elevator, ground floor vs first floor and colour vs colour. Apparently, there’s a whole lot more involved. Like, for example, the British say dicTAte while Americans say DICtate. Who knew? And there’s the whole Dear sir [comma] vs Dear Sir [colon] thing.

I scored 80% – mostly through guesswork and inky-pinky-ponkey – so I got the job. But that was one super stressful 40 minutes!

In other news, did you know you can get a bugging device that looks like an extension cable? It comes with a sim card in it, and when you dial the sim card, instead of ringing, it transmits all the voices and sounds around the bug. I s**t you not. Scary, yes?

And finally, congratulations to My Love on getting his first novel published.

I am SO proud of you Sailor. You rock!!

♫ Song 2 ♫ Blur ♫

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 ♫

Can PMS be banned from the office?

I had a 9.00 o’clock meeting today, and I didn’t want to be late, so I left the house at 7.00. I figured the rain would aggravate traffic, and since I needed two matatus, it was better to start early.

By the time I got the message that the meeting was cancelled, I was at Wilson Airport and it was too late to turn back, so I sat in the jam an hour longer then decided to get a power sandwich since I’d skipped breakfast.

I’d skipped the gym as well, so I thought it would be cool to walk to Uchumi Hyper. The drizzle was slight, but I had some good music [Yay X-Fm] and a warm red jumper.

When I finally got to Uchumi, it was barely open and the sandwich people were running around trying to set up. There were lots of clients waiting, so I hovered near the artificial queue.

After maybe ten minutes, I stepped aside to receive a phone call, and when I was done, the queue was gone – yay! So I stood by the sandwich place waiting to be served. For fifteen minutes.

Well, maybe not fifteen, but it felt pretty long. I wanted to walk away once or twice, but I was badly craving that sandwich.

I don’t know why I wasn’t being served. The sandwich people were huddled in a corner, and they kept walking up to me then totally ignoring me. I suspect it was my posture – I had my shoulders slumped, I was lost in the music, my head was down, I was semi-daydreaming, and I was dealing with my own PMS. Plus, I didn’t look fussy enough to cause a scene.

Eventually, a lady came over and barked at me. She startled me so much that I asked for a thigh turkey sandwich. What I really wanted was a polo thingy – which is much smaller.

Usually, when I order my sandwich, they ask me what size, what bread, which sauce, and if I want toppings on it. But Angry Lady just stormed off and started assembling the thing, even as I pleaded with her not to put chilli.

I thought about making suggestions, but the look on her face was more than just scary. Clearly, her level of moodiness was higher than mine, so I silently watched her and prayed she’d wouldn’t get it wrong.

I thought about it as she fought the big white bread [I prefer it small and brown]. In any other place, the client would have stormed off after such treatment, or at least they’d have refused the sandwich. But I figured I’d already lost half an hour, I was really hungry, and I’d finally found my green yoghurt, so I was mostly happy. I waited patiently, paid for my sandwich and left.

Luckily, all she did was use wrong bread and cucumbers.

I read an editorial by Binyavanga Wainaina in Kwani 04. He describes a bus trip in South Africa. The bus driver was drunk, and Binyavanga’s response was to sit behind him, go to sleep, and hope nothing bad happened.

The South African ladies on the bus chose to force the driver off the seat and select a burly fellow passenger to drive the bus. The whole scenario merely irritated Binyavanga, and I share his sentiment.

A while later, he was back home in Kenya, and got off a bus because it was overloaded. He made quite a fuss, but fellow passengers accused him of being proud and thinking he was better than them. After all, they were glad to ride in the smelly bus, so who did he think he was? They were still grumbling as the bus drove off.

Binyavanga’s point was that Kenyans have learnt to accept the status quo, and we get irritated when someone tries to change it, even if that change is for our own good. We prefer to live, let live, and have fate take care of things. And the last elections – in many ways – made our attitude worse because many people felt their opinion – and their vote – didn’t matter.

In my case, I stood there, watching the Angry Lady and hoping she’d get my sandwich right, but I didn’t do anything to ensure it.

Sometimes I feel that way about my business. I want it to be bigger and better than it is, but I don’t actively do anything to make that happen. The ‘business’ side of business can get pretty boring if you’re not a born marketter, or an accountant.

One thing I am proactive about is writing. So I’ll make you a trade. You can handle the business side of your work, and I’ll handle the write-ups.

Need some copy written for your website? A flyer, a job post, some policies, or even a letter of appreciation? Swing it this way and I’ll take care of it. Then you can peacefully go about the business of looking good and getting rich. Deal?