BY BETT KINYATTI
We’ll all bawl our eyes out at preschool
Muna goes to preschool in January, Inshallah.
(Wait, with Matiangi’s curriculum withdrawn again, is it preschool, kindergarten or nursery? I don’t know. We’re throwing our kids into the black hole of an education system. I don’t know who we’ll accuse when the system damages them.)
Anyway. We got her her uniform in the early weekend of December, that’s how much psyke we had. We got them from that uniform shop in Yaya. Muna couldn’t be bothered to try them on, though. In fact, she flung them across the room and said in that raspy voice of hers, “Sweater, bad boy! I don’t want.” (She picked up that ‘bad boy’ line from her one of her pals in the hood. Now everything she says when she’s pissed off is punctuated with that line. “Uji, bad boy!” “Peppa Pig, bad boy!” “Bouncy castle, bad boy!” “Mummy, bad boy!”)
I didn’t know how to feel about this. Is this how she’ll approach her education, with that I-don’t-want attitude?
Here’s how I see it: Muna will bawl her eyes out on day one, Inshallah, when we drop her at school and leave her there. I’ll bawl mine out in the car, GB in the washroom at work. Nanny Viv in the quiet of the tidy living room at home, she’ll be at loose ends with what to do with herself.
This scene will repeat itself on day two. And maybe three.
Day four, it’ll just be me and Muna bawling.
By the end of the week, day five, she won’t even be thinking that school wasn’t a central part of her life. I’ll be thinking how central she is to my life.
I pray Muna loves being in school and loves learning. She doesn’t like to read books but she likes song and music, I hope her school’s curriculum will consider this learning style. She’s a terrible dancer (unlike me, it’s only the gwara gwara I can’t nail) but she likes to swim and run and play ball, I hope the school let’s her explore in the outdoor. I hope she won’t be saying to her homework ‘bad boy’.
With Muna now going to school, the echo of the empty nest is getting louder. My body is aching to silence that echo.
I want another baby, a baby I’ll cuddle with and who’ll make me feel needed again. I want a chubby boy with chubby feet and a tiny nose and toes that are all the same length. It’ll even be better if I get twins. Twin boys or a boy-girl set. A Black Friday sort of deal. Or a BOGOF from God, because He also swears by happy hour.
Dear God, I know you read this silly blog – make it happy hour in my uterus and give me twins.
Love don’t live here anymore
GB and I wedded in February. On a gorgeous sunny Saturday.
I like being married. I’m a better person married.
I’ve read everywhere of how folk don’t want to get married or have kids because it ties them down. Which is true, it does tie you down. I choose to look at it, though, as anchoring yourself to this new life you’ve created with your person and your kids.
And it’s beautiful.
Marriage and motherhood anchor me in a beautiful traditional way.
I used to be lazy before I had Muna. Jesus. I had this victim mentality, that everything which wasn’t working in my life as I wanted had been fashioned to work against me. It was bullshit, really. So I sobbed and whined, and I blamed the creative struggle, and the Jubilee government, and my mother, and the Chinese, and the idiot who invented adulting.
Yet it’s kids who open your eyes to the possibilities in your own strength and ability as a person. Mostly as a mum or dad.
Muna is my push factor.
Then there’s marriage. Marriage is an old-fashioned traditional institution.
It’s not that marriages don’t work – they do – it’s the people in it that are unable to work with it.
And it’s not love that keeps the marriage going, it’s plain old compatibility.
I’m all about personal identity and individualism. About knowing yourself and pursuing what you believe in, that which makes your soul sing. I’m glad I’d found myself before getting into the institution with a hope to find myself in there. Marriage is ruthless to such. It spews you out without hesitation.
I’d told GB that I wasn’t wouldn’t take up his name. Mrs. Kinyatti for what? It was a useless naive battle, to be quite honest, battles that don’t serve anyone any good. That was until I walked down the aisle in a white poofy gown to some indie folk song and ridiculous eyelashes, that it all changed. Something profound happens to a woman in that walk down the aisle. Every girl ought to put on a gown and walk down the aisle. Every girl deserves a wedding ceremony.
He’s my home now, and this home is where my hearts are. These two clowns, GB and Muna, with their box heads and short chubby fingers, and their bond that has no place for me, are my anchor.
What else can I say to you, Lord? Thank you.
Then there was ‘Shoe Dog’ and ‘Mile 22’
Books and movies amongst a lengthy-ish list of stuff that I didn’t finish to the end.
There’s also ‘The Book Thief’ by Marcus Zusak, ‘Catcher In The Rye’ by J.D Salinger, Frank McCourt’s, ‘Angela’s Ashes’, ‘A.A Gill is Away’ (and any book by A.A Gill, for that matter. He was a gifted columnist but not a gifted book writer. I’m currently reading ‘Uncle Dysfunctional’, I must finish it to the end).
There was also Uzodinma Iweala’s ‘Speak No Evil’ and of course Phil Knight’s, ‘Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike’. Everyone loved ‘Shoe Dog’, I didn’t. I’d rather see it as a Netflix documentary.
Movies I fell asleep to (because we caught them big screen at 9 p.m., my bedtime) are ‘Mile 22’, ‘Gringo’, ‘A Star Is Born’, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, ‘First Man’ and ‘Deadpool 2’.
I felt terrible about sleeping through ‘Mile 22’ and ‘Deadpool 2’ because a) the ending threw a curve ball that turned the movie from good to fucking great b) it was hilarious. In that order.
Speaking of which, I encountered Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron was a writer. A humorist and screen writer. She died in 2012 from complications related to leukaemia. She was 71.
I read her every day. When I wake in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, I read her under covers from my Kindle. When I think about what book I’m currently reading, I think of Nora Ephron, even when I’ve finished reading the books and are simply rereading. When I think about how to create magic out of the mundane, I think of her.
She’s written plenty but there’s something in ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck’ that spoke to me on a cellular level.
I catch myself surprised that I’m chuckling even though I’ve read those stories over and over and over. Some lines I even know by heart.
Nora Ephron is my north star. My go to. She’s everything I want to be in a writer. She made me love being an urban woman, and a mum and wife.
She made me accept that I’m 20 some more years from my best years.
No one tells you that the magic bullet is the Nutribullet 900W
First, a story: so for a long time GB’s tummy used to get upset. Indigestion, bloatedness, a dull thump in his lower abdomen from last week’s githeri or whiskey plan with his boys. Sometimes he couldn’t even sleep well at night. And he was frequently reaching for a box of Eno. He’d stand over the kitchen sink as he gulped the effervescing mix bottoms up. Eno was his equivalent to Bascopan for period pains. He first liked the green regular box then he grew to prefer the orange flavoured one. He was taking so much of the stuff that his face began to look orange. Hahha.
Anyway, so after downing the Eno he’d mournfully sing the same song: Are you guys… (I like how he says ‘you guys’ when he’s unhappy about something in the digs, yaani ‘you guys’ to mean ‘me and the help’)… are you guys cooking the food when it’s still fresh? Are you guys washing your hands properly, and scrubbing the sink and surfaces? Are you guys sure about food that’s been in the deep freezer for more than a week? Do we need to get KEBS in here?
And he just kept at it, week after week, pack of Eno after Eno.
It got to a point where we were buying stuff from the market fresh to cook that day. Portions were controlled so that there’d be no leftovers. Someone (me, ahem) had to run to Kamundia Butchery in City Market for fresh beef. It was disorganizing my kitchen and upsetting my monthly budget.
At one point I also considered upgrading all our cooking equipment and getting those fancy non-stick Rosetti pans. The ones they stocked at Nakumatt. Because maybe our regular sufurias were causing a chemical imbalance that imploded in GB’s tummy. Maybe even the steel wool was causing lead poisoning, you can never be too careful with these things.
We live in apartments, I wondered also, do we need to zero-graze a cow on the balcony so we know where our milk and meat is coming from? Do we have to farm our own crop in the undulating hills of Kiangwacii so we control the quality of what ends up on our plates?
But GB wasn’t the one getting tummy upsets. I was too.
The most poignant episode was the Friday we got the Nutribullet. I’d just had rice and bad beef fry at our staff cafeteria. By the time I returned to my desk I had a splitting headache and was sweating, my tummy was swollen with gas and a food baby. I took off my shoes and unbuttoned my pants. I considered then reconsidered taking off my blouse to chill in my white undershirt. Know when you have a hangy and you just want to lie on a cold floor and drink nothing but a cold Fanta then die? That’s how I was feeling that afternoon. I wanted to lie comatose under my desk.
I told my pal, Vicky, about our bad tummies and she casually said, “Ah, why don’t you guys detox? Get a Nutribullet and make smoothies at home. I’m emailing you the recipe I used for Jane Mukami.”
It was a week after detoxing that I realised it had nothing to do with our kitchen. Or the help. Or our sufurias (the poor things). It had everything to do with GB and I, and our digestive systems.
Our systems were clogged with shit. They were inefficient. Toxified. Sluggish. The nuts and bolts were loose and poorly greased. The organs to troubleshoot it were AWOL. Everything was backed up and moving slow, bumber to bumper, like Langata Road’s morning traffic. There’s that home appliance for grinding beef into minced beef. See how it struggles to grind the meat its fed? That’s how it were for our digestive systems.
Enter the magic of the Nutribullet 900W.
All our bad-digestive system problems went away a few months after drinking our homemade smoothies daily. GB has his for breakfast, I carry mine in a mason jar to drink as a snack in the afternoon. Our digestive tract moves like a freeway now, they’re the urban definition of wellness. We sleep better. No more stinky farts in the middle of the night. No more Eno. No more meal hangys. Bowel movements are on a schedule. Water is what we reach for when we’re thirsty. We only eat fistful portions. We no longer crave fast food junk, not even Mama Rock’s gourmet burgers.
There’s a white couple on the user manual of the Nutribullet, they look healthy and annoying and pleased with their life’s choices. That couple may as well be GB and I.
I’m sharing my recipe with you because I care about you and I want nothing but the best for you. I realise that sounds plastic but it’s not, hahaa, it’s the truth. I care about you. I modified it from Jane Mukami’s detox recipe. Everything that goes into the Nutribullet only needs to be torn up and roughly chopped. Make sure to read the manual so you don’t run it like a sewing machine, this is 900W of raw power we’re taking about.
Here goes: A leaf of raw sukuma/spinach, mint leaves, cucumber and carrots. Sweeten it up with fruits – a banana, mango (a little mango makes a lot of smoothee), watermelon, beetroot. Charge it all up with super foods – a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, two teaspoons of spirulina powder and chia seeds. Loosen the mix with a little water.
And the best part is, you may as well drink all your meals – no one will ever know you can’t really cook that well.
(PS. Get yours from one of their listed local stockists. I lazily got ours from a Facebook group. I’ll save the story of its breakdowns for another day.)
Airtel isn’t appreciated enough
I was going to tell you a long story of how UnlimiNET has me to-the-death loyal with more than 12GB of bundles and 900 minutes rolled-over in my phone right now, but I’ve exhausted my word count.
I don’t even have room to tell you about my Morning runs. Damn it. Or how to make cocktails at home.
Or about the Christmas ‘office’ party Mike and me had last week.
And then there was YouTube
Craft It took it to YouTube in February. I launched the channel a few weeks after I returned from our honeymoon.
I shared with you my goal. I’ll rehash it here because a lot has happened since, for both you and I. I had said, “My goal for Craft It is to have uploaded 30 videos to our YouTube channel by the time the year ends on December 31st, Inshallah. That’s 30 videos and 30 stories to go with, here on the website. 30 stories written in the long form.”
We only uploaded nine, one is still sitting in the bank awaiting my review comments for final cuts and edits.
What can I say, really? There are no excuses or no reasons why I didn’t meet our goal. I just didn’t.
And it’s OK – I’ll try again harder next year.
A voyager they called Vagina
In the week after turning 34, I wrote a story for my ‘True Love’ column about my vagina. Oh yeah, 650 words about my vagina. The editor didn’t say anything when I sent her the copy – as most editors are wont to – but she went ahead to publish it.
I’d even thrown the word ‘shit’ in there to see whether they’d cut it out. She didn’t.
The story bordered so riskily on tasteless and crass but it was also bold and beautiful, unhinged and uncensored. It was me at 34.
I avoid reading my stories published in print because it’s just weird. And they read boring. Plus you’ll see things you don’t like about how they edited. Mostly it’s just weird, I said that already.
I particularly don’t read ‘True Love’. Ever since I cut my hair short, I don’t need to get it done by a professional hairdresser anymore. I go to the beauty salon for a wax, and to get my eyebrows tweezed and toenails pedicured. The beauty salon I go to in Westy is really bourgeois, they don’t keep in their shelves local magazines like our beloved ‘True Love’, they keep ‘Tatler’ and ‘Vanity Fair’ and ‘Vogue’.
I read this story because several people (OK, I’m stretching the truth here, it was only one) sent me a photo of that story. And I read it and reread it.
I generally live a relatively safe domesticated urban life but my mind and my imagination mustn’t mirror this safety. I read the vagina story to guide my kayak back to the rough waters of unchartered creativity and not to play to it safe. Safe is comfortable and comfortable is dangerous and boring.
I want my 2019 to be equivalent to writing about vaginas.
I pray yours will be, too.
May you find the vagina that takes you out of the safety of your perimeters. And may the vaginas never run out, may they just fling out of every page you’ll turn in the new chapter of your New Year. May they be good vaginas, and terrible vaginas, and vaginas you didn’t think you could engage with. Vaginas you didn’t imagine still existed, vaginas you’ll trek to the other side of the world to find.
Mostly, may you have fun exploring with these vaginas.