Merry Christmas

christmas-baubles-vector-28769I think I am a lot more excited about Christmas this year around. Not because of gifts but because the build up to Christmas was just so entertaining this year. I attended concerts in the park, sang Christmas carols with the neighbours, watched the Drakensberg Boys Choir in action and I was really immersed in the music of this season.

On the topic of music, when I was in primary school and high school, I was a part of the choir. Every year there was a Christmas Carols concert held at the City Hall and various schools would practice for months and then perform songs there. There was an afternoon show and an evening show. The primary school kids would perform during the afternoon show only. It was so much fun! And I remember some German song that our Choir Mistress once taught us and how we loved to sing “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, FAT” and there was another song we once performed whose lyrics went like “eBethlehema lase Judea, Judea”. Writing this post has brought back a flood of memories – I’m off to look for all this music! 🙂

I wish you all a Merry Merry Christmas. As we remember the birth of our Lord, may it teach us to be blessings to those around us and fill our spaces with love and joy!

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On house sitting and baby sitting

It’s that time of the year again. Silly season! Where parties are plenty and there is a plethora of travel plans.

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As the unemployed black sheep of the family, I usually get asked to help out here and there with house sitting and baby sitting.

At the end of every house sitting or baby sitting session, I always swear state “I’m never doing that again!”

While it’s fun, it’s also a lot of responsibility and a lot of work. Kids are hard work. You literally spend the entire day running around and cleaning up after them, it’s like a full time job and I applaud all mothers and nannies/house helps/maids/domestic workers out there.

To avoid any awkward situations, I’ve come up with a few ground rules that parents can benefit from in making their lives and mine the babysitter’s easier.

One
Parent’s must not LIE to the baby sitter. When we ask if the kids don’t eat anything, this is an opening. Take it! Use it! This is your chance to let us know whether they are fussy eaters, what their favourite food is, what tactics we can use to get them to eat etc. This is not the time to be shy and say no, they eat everything. And letting us know they are picky eaters 2 days into the babysitting gig is NOT ON! All it causes is frustration on both mine and the child’s part. I have dealt with babies that want you to “fix” a fruit after cutting it, I’ve dealt with babies that need to be coaxed into eating by offering dessert and/or pancakes for breakfast the next morning, I’ve dealt with babies that walk all over the house and I have to follow  them around and give a spoon of food every now. But that’s ok, because I’m patient. I can spend two hours coaxing the child to eat provided I knew beforehand what I was working with!

Two
I am a babysitter. Not the house help. I will cook and feed the kids. I will bath them. Heck I will even do the dishes and clean up after the kids but I will not do their laundry. I will not do thorough cleaning. You know that spring cleaning that our Zimbabwean mums love to spring up on us! Yeah… that one. No… I won’t be doing any of that.  If you want these additional extras, we now have to talk money!

Three
Unless you are 1 of my 4 siblings, I will move in and help with the kids for a maximum of 1 week. Siblings get more time. My role is to help you while you organise yourself and organise your lives! After that, you need to have sorted yourself out.

Four
For house sitting gigs, please understand I will not be a slave to your house. Meaning I will leave the house. I will go and meet friends. I will go out. I have a life and I will live it but I will always sleep at home. And I will make sure doors are locked, windows are closed, bins are taken out and lights are switched on and off so you don’t need to worry about the general safety of your house.

Five
Please leave your house in a decent manner. I will keep the house neat and tidy meaning I’ll clean up after myself and I might even spruce the place up just before you return home but if I feel you left too much of a mess in a certain room, best believe I will not step into that room or even attempt to get things in order.

Six
If you are particular about how  a babysitter must take care of your kids during your absence, it helps if you leave a schedule with an indication of meal times, bath times, bed time routines etc. One of my sister in laws has a schedule and during the early days when I had to be home alone with my nephew, it helped to know what to feed him and when, when to schedule playtimes, when tv was allowed etc. I will try to stick to it as much as I can within reason.

Seven
Please book my services in advance. By the time  you book your flights, let me know your plans because I’ll also be making my own plans and gone are the days where I’ll be cancelling my own plans to accommodate yours.

So darling friends and family, before you ask me to take care of your place or your kids this festive season, please give the above guidelines some thought. It’s all peace and love!

DISCLAIMER: My baby sitting duties come free of charge. These duties are also only for family or really really REALLY close friends.

on car wash dates…

This one is for you Tara 🙂

As you grow older, As I grow older I’ve realised that I don’t have the capacity to take crap from guys anymore. Probably explains why I’m still single when my friends are all getting married. I’ve been told I’m stubborn, I’m hard-headed, I’m too honest, I need to stroke his ego, I need to tone down the strong woman act but hold up it’s not an act! This is who I am so what is the use of toning it down because that means said gentleman will fall for a half version of me and what happens when he discovers the real me, the fighter, no nonsense chic who speaks her mind? Isn’t that a recipe for disaster?

Anyway, I digress, the point of this post is to talk about me refusing to take nonsense. This post was brought about by a whatsapp conversation that I had recently with a certain gentleman. I had a few errands to run at the mall when he hit me up on whatsapp (that’s a story for another blog post). He wanted me to accompany him to the car wash. The exact words were “Its a nice one I can’t go alone Pane car wash laundry sadza ne saloon Tongo tsvaga ma drinks coz havatengese ipapo”

On that particular day it was blazing hot and I was not in the mood to be assaulted by soap sud smells with a hint of boiled muriwo and a tinge of burnt hair while sitting on a crate sipping on a Savannah Angry Lemon trying to look cool in my Jacqui O inspired sunglasses while swatting nunzi away with my open palm. Granted the car wash is probably very different from my little scenario but I was just not in the mood for car wash vibes. So I chose the air conditioned movie house at the mall over the car wash and that’s when the statements began and said gentleman guy insinuated that I was a gold digger.

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To be honest, I’m not a car wash type of girl. I prefer my sushi and cocktails. And I don’t expect anything from anyone that I can’t do for myself. But that doesn’t mean I don’t go to “sadza” places. I do go and I have been before sometimes with even just the girls and no men. I’m that girl who has even gone to Hillbrow because Aleck Macheso was playing at one spot *no judging, this is my blog 🙂 *

But because on this particular day I chose to go to the mall over hanging out at the car wash I earned myself a label. My response to him was along the lines of you can go ahead and put me in whatever box you feel like, I’m not even going to fight it. See the thing is I’m 27 years old, turning 28 in a few weeks. I’m past the stage of trying to explain myself and lower my assertiveness because I might scare a guy away. I just don’t have the energy anymore plus it’s hard to always try to remember not to be myself so I’ve embraced who I am.

Another phrase that got thrown at me last year was that I should be grateful this other guy was even calling as if he was doing me a favour – I sure do know how to pick them lol. I let it be known that I didn’t need favours and our interactions are very different and very minimal ever since that phrase.

Why am I writing about this today? Because I realise it’s ok NOT to accept bad behaviour from someone. And I’ve learnt that people treat you how you let them treat you. So if you roll over and let people speak to you like they are doing you favours by even having your number in their phone book, that’s on you but I’m saying that’s NOT ok. Disagreements do happen but there is a difference between disagreeing and being disrespected. So it’s ok to cut communication with people that you feel don’t respect you or your time. Life is too short to keep people around that subtract the joy from your days. It’s new year and when you start seeing your worth, you will find it harder to stay around people who don’t!

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on Monica…

I met a girl

And we hit it off immediately!

She had a beautiful smile

And always had a story or two to share

I knew her for a short space of time

But it was more than enough to make us friends.

We spent time together on 2 occasions

Celebrating the start of a new life

And mourning the end of another

The irony!

But we hit it off immediately

Swapped numbers so we could check up on each other.

Then she stopped responding to my messages

But she was always on my mind!

So I decided to confront her

Why had she gone silent?

Had I done/said something wrong?

Or was ours a seasonal friendship?

And our season was spent!

Those thoughts would have been more comforting than the truth!

The girl I had met

The girl I befriended

Had passed away!

She was no more!

I was not there when they buried her

But I too shed a tear

i didn’t get the chance to say goodbye

To share one more joke

To smile and tease each other

To hear her say I know what I want in life!

To hug her

To hear her laugh!

I think of her often

I miss her

RIP Monica!
Gone but never forgotten!

Part 3 : on dating a girl who writes…

Date a girl who writes.

Date a girl who spends her money not only on a single, definite collection or passion like “clothes only” or “books alone” but on a variety of things—-from a quirky shirt made by 4-6 year old children at a local orphanage, a lavender scarf woven by a mother of eight who has been a widow since half of her kids were able to understand that their father will never come back, a spur-of-the-moment trip to a far flung island whose caves are said to be haunted by a sea nymph, a 5 o’clock am breakfast in a 50-year old Chinese restaurant on a dusty corner on a downtown boulevard which serves the best fried rice… the list can go on and on. And notice that every time she spends, what she buys are not only the items or the experience but also the tiny details and countless stories of lives and experiences that she can weave perfectly into words.

Find a girl who writes. You know that she does because she carries around with her a handy notepad with torn papers and stick-on notes inserted in between its pages, and these are filled with random writings, often unfinished, jotted down poems, half-finished essays, a what seems to be a first sentence of a supposed to be short story, a quotation from a book, or simply just a word that evokes a lot of meaning.. The writings are not that too organized nor the handwriting too intelligible because most of the time, the string of her thoughts are faster than what her hands can muster.

Look at the hands. You can almost always pinpoint a writer by her hands. You see the girl with the smudges and smears and lines of ink on her hands, most especially in between her fingers? That’s the writer. Don’t get her wrong. She would also sometimes wonder why she couldn’t seem to get away from those ink smudges no matter how many times she would wash and scrub her hands in a day but she would end up pacifying herself that it’s a reality that she has to deal with. Look closely at the weird girl who has chipped fingernails and crooked middle and pointing fingers on her dominant hand. If you get the chance to hold her hand one day, you’ll surely feel a small, single calloused spot on the side of the last joint of her middle finger. That’s the writer. It’s the result of the love affair of her fingers with a pen or the way she would sometimes pound (Take note: pound, not type.) on the keyboard keys, very much like a pianist who is passionately absorbed, lost in his own music.

She’s the girl who would absent-mindedly stare outside the window for most of the time while you’re relating to her what you feel is one turning point in your life and when she does this, you would sometimes get a strong desire to pound on her and tell her to pay attention. Don’t be hurt by her seemingly lack of attention or interest. Don’t worry. She’s one master of multi-tasking. I tell you, you would be surprised when all of a sudden, she would turn to you, remark on what you’ve said with words that hold the deepest sense of meaning and you would further be amazed at how she would matter-of-factly tell you how your smile became somewhat crooked at one point of your story or how a single crease of line crossed your forehead at another point. Now, who’s not paying attention, huh? Do not ever, not even for a second be deceived that she’s not paying attention when she appears like her mind is elsewhere but with you. During those times, her mind is actually in full gear and she would surprise you that she can take account of your story in toto with the right details, including the life dilemma of the old man on the other table across yours which she just heard in passing while listening to yours.

Let her know what you really think of her writing. Talk about one of her poems over a cup of coffee and insert how this particular cup of coffee is special because it was planted and harvested by a certain native tribe in the southern part of the country. You’ll surely get her attention with that. Find time to read her works even those which are written on the side of her textbooks if you happen to come across with them and you would realize her great sensitivity and the special way she looks at life with a certain degree of passion.

Critic her works, don’t be afraid. She will welcome it with a humility that would make you realize that her writing is pushing her to take a great risk of exposing and baring her soul and her heart, piece by piece, fragment by fragment, to differing opinions and views.

Don’t hesitate to disagree with some of her ideas or opinions. Instead of being disappointed, she would greatly appreciate it for she understands that a great piece of writing stimulates ideas and reactions, may it be positive or negative.

It might appear difficult to date a girl who writes because of her unpredictable nature, varied taste, and wide range of experiences that she’s exposing herself into, but I’ll tell you, she’s one of the persons who are easy to be pleased and stimulated. The only key is your resourcefulness and imagination.

Yes, give her some gifts, you cannot do away with it, but don’t give her just the item or the thing. Give her the story and the words and the emotions behind these gifts. Present to her a bouquet of inexpensive flowers and her blush would be priceless because you bought it with her in mind and knowing that the money you spent will be used by a 10-year old kid to buy a new pair of blue slippers to replace the ones with holes on both of the soles. On your date, bring her to dinner on a food cart in one of the old streets downtown without worrying of being called jologs and tell her the story of the vendor who has to sell the fishballs and the kikiam that you’re eating to compensate for his allowance the following day at the local college. Give her the stories and the gifts of words, the dramas, and the funny anecdotes and you would surely move a mile deeper into her heart.

Tell her the truth no matter how ugly or painful you may think it is. She can surely take it, coupled with a poignant smile. She has heard a lot of truths in her lifetime—truths that would make other people cringe. However, she understands that behind those truths expressed in words are sometimes honorable intentions and motivations that have just somehow swayed out of the context. It will never be the end of the world to her.

Don’t get her too comfortable with your presence. Stimulate her even if your effort would at times fail. She understands failure much like she would sometimes purposely lead her characters to fail and doom for she knows that this gives substance and twist to the story, for without it, her write-up would be bland and unimaginative.

If you find a girl who writes, don’t be daunted by her seeming complexity. Keep her close. When you receive a call at 2 o’clock am and you realize that it’s her voice on the other line asking you about a certain word which is already at the tip of her tongue but she couldn’t seem to gather her thoughts completely because she just woke up due to a strong need to put to writing an idea that passed her mind while in the middle of her slumber. Don’t tell her to go back to sleep. Help her think of the right word, noting that her voice is enough to erase your irritation of being woken up and is stronger than a cup of coffee in keeping you wide awake. Who knows, she might be using you as the hero in the short story that she is currently brewing up or better yet, she is in fact writing about a vision of your life together.

You will start to write letters, the real kind, in long hand and expect to see it several years after—-yellowed pages and dog-eared, evidences of having been read for several times. You would start reading Keats and memorize some of her own original poems, reading it to her on a warm night and wonder how you ever thought before that reading poems nowadays is too gooey , when it’s the most romantic and natural thing for you to do.

Learn to ride with her quirkiness and crazy ideas and you would realize that it’s like a whiff of fresh air into your life. On the other hand, in moments when she is in deep thought, try to call her back into the dimension that you are in by your assertiveness and by balancing her silence with your thoughtful comedic acts. Don’t hesitate to break her occasional silences. Introduce and relearn with her the pleasure of experiencing the lighter stuffs in life. When she is having one of her moods during a writer’s block, take the pen out of her hand and hold it tightly with yours—-crooked, calloused fingers and all.

You will declare your love to her in the craziest way you’ve never thought possible—-in a rusty carnival ride, in the middle of a Mardi gras, while walking on a wooden plank to the pump boat that would bring you to another island escapade. or probably when there’s a thunderstorm coupled with streaks of lightning and you just find yourself dumbfounded, mesmerized with her complete focus on the natural phenomena in front of her that would lead other people into shrieking, while she gazes at it intently, keeping to mind the exact color at the moment of the streaking of the lightning across the sky and the distinct sound of the thunder so she can write about it perfectly lest she needs this particular scene in her next write-up.

Life with her would be one great adventure with moments of tenderness for she understands the balance of her elements. You will at times want to throttle her, but most of the time, you would roll with her while laughing so uninhibitedly and you will smile so hard ’til your jaws ache and will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled all over your chest yet. She will ask you to write with her the story of your life together, carefully balancing the elements of love, happiness, excitement, conflict, suspense and of course, the happily ever after. And take note, this is open to editing and proofreading.

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Do not expect her to be the conventional partner that you could tie on the bed post. Ask the man who tried. For anytime, she may decide to study ballet, or learn digital photography, or join the peace corps. But expect her to love you with the passion that is only equal or even more than what you give her for she is sensitive when it comes to this matter. You will have adorable, intelligent, yet quirky kids with names that have individual stories of their own. She will introduce the children to a world in which there is a balance of magic and the occasional painful truths.

Date a girl who writes because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can introduce you to seeing life in a different light and loving it with a passion like the way you look at her when you think (remember the warning about not believing even for an instance that she’s unaware?) she’s unaware that you’re lovingly gazing at her. If you can only give her monotony, and half-baked decisions of embracing her totality, then you’re better off alone.

If you want the worlds beyond ours and the worlds beyond those still, date a girl who writes.

By Aura
(Continuing off where Rosemarie Urquico ended)

Check out the original post here… http://definitelyfilipino.com/blog/2011/12/25/date-a-girl-who-writes/

Part 2 : on dating a girl who reads…

Date a girl who reads.

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Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or if she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes!

Rosemarie Urquico
(In response to Charles Warnke’s You Should Date an Illiterate Girl)