Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes and listens with the soul – Part 1

When I was 16,  I made the trip that would save my life. I ended up by the beaches of the blue 20140805_193743warm Indian ocean for the 1st time in my life. Not from death. I was always far from dying. And as close to dying as I am today. This trip saved me from desperation. The desperation that comes from not seeing far enough. The desperation that comes from not seeing the options you have. The desperation that comes from limitations set by circumstances, family, society, religion. Desperation that comes from the limitations we set for ourselves because of ignorance and fear.

Watamu was a small village then, 16-17 years ago. My childhood friend Sessa, my deepest friendship of all time, was to start working at a restaurant in Watamu. Sessa had never been to the coast either. Her cousin who had worked at the coast for some years had promised her there was work. Sessa was 16 too, a few months older than I, but just barely; I was born in September, a hot dry month in Kenya. Sessa is born in may, in the middle of the long rains. When we were small, my friend and I, people used to joke that we were so close because we completed each other. She was serious, quiet, strong, brave. Sometimes a little gloomy. This is because it rained, flooded and shook with thunderstorm the first 3 months of her life; her mother used to tell us.  “Sessa’s first smile was for the lightening.  Who smiles at the lightening? except to challenge it?”

By July, the rains have become incessant drizzles and it is cold. Sessa stayed indoors, short visits outdoors when the sun shined, as it always does in Kenya. Come rain or thunder, the sun will show its beautiful face some time during the day. But it remains wet and muddy and adults don’t want to be out in that weather with babies. By mid August, drier and sunnier, Sessa is used to the rain and the indoors. And she is no sunny girl. Her warmth is the heart. In the soul. I am the sunny one. Taken out the first week I was home and outdoors until December when the short rains arrived.

I joined a boarding school 144km from Nairobi in February 2001. I was 14 years and 5 months  old. Sessa’s single mother was unable to send her to high school so Sessa was to stay at home and learn some kind of trade or marry. Education is a luxury in many parts of the world, costing the extra that some families just don’t have. Sessa was to drift around for 1½ years dodging marriage proposals.  We both felt desperate and scared for different reasons.

The first letter I received came from Sessa. She had found the lyrics of “You are my sunshine“,  For the first time since we were 3 years old, we would not see each other every day. For 3 months.

friendsMy dearest friend/sister, the letter began

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away

The other night dear, as I lay sleepin’
I dreamed, I held you in my arms
When I awoke dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cry

I will come for the visiting day on Saturday, 17th March. I am saving every cent I get for that! when you have become a lawyer as you always dreamed, you can pay me back for my kindness. [we had 1 visiting day per term. A term was 3 months long but this term was shorter for me since I reported to school on the 12th of February.]

Lots of love from Sessa Sessa. I used to call her Sessa Sessa

She sent only the two verses. The nuns at St. Mary’s  girls high school [catholic high school for girls] thought it was a boy and almost didn’t hand the letter over to me.

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Incredible Things That Happen Once You Learn To Enjoy Being Alone

I am home alone this weekend. Although I spent many years hoping I could be Kelvin for just one day, or an hour, my childhood never produced such a day. The most excitement came from battles to stop father drinking himself to death. He eventually succeeded. There was some fun in the antics to ensure that the mad man of our village stayed alive. We roofed his hut when he was away. We left food by the door of his hut and run away on rainy days when he couldn’t go out scavenging. We held him down for treatment when a snake bit him. He would hurt you even when you were helping him and he was accepting help. He didn’t know how to accept help graciously, because he was afraid he had lost too much pride already.

I was browsing through LinkedIn, as is the habit when I am taking a short break from being lazy on my free day. I am a team leader, so tips about habits that define good team members are always appreciated. Today’s episode of LinkedIn browsing led to  this  article.
Travis Bradberry is one of those people who know everything about people. It feels so when I read his articles. EQ (Emotional Intelligence), who knew such intelligence existed? Not me before I read Travis work. habits, handling bad bosses, improving one self, toxic friends, office politics. Name it. Travis knows something about it. I respect him. We may be saying the same things in different words. But I felt that Travis’  wonderful list missed some incredible points that make me happy to be alone. Which is so rare, as it surely is for most. Being alone is bliss for some, and it is loneliness for others.

It is a long weekend because of the ascension day. Which we celebrate in Sweden by staying as far away from the office as we possibly can.

Stockholm is at 18 degrees Celsius today! And will keep on that level all weekend! I can sit on the balcony, I can take a walk in a dress…oh God of Mt. Kenya, the things I can do on a sunny day! Alone

7 Incredible Things That Happen Once I find that I am Alone

  1. Books get read! I just got through The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison. As a black woman over 30, I should have read this when I was 20. It is a journey that has brought me to myself. I hope my daughter finds this book in our bookshelf on the day she is home alone. Before she is too old and just about the time she understands that being a woman; being a black woman; is being a woman made in precious metal. A pragmatic force. Music list

2. Neglected favorite music gets listened to! My very own special play list with no one looking at me as if I am lagging behind technology.img_0493

3. Poor grey legs finally get some attention after 6 months in hibernation! Summer is here (or summer heat is) and there is no shock when I at last remove the trousers that have kept the grey horror hidden from nice people. The Scandinavian winter is brutal, needless to say. Bad for the face, lips, hair, poor hidden legs that get the least attention. Really bad. I couldn’t show those legs to a man who is supposed to love me for my fabulousness!

4.  I can paint those winter nails too!

5. Hair gets deep conditioned at home without costing a fortune! With ingredients from my refrigerator. I create. That’s it! I get creative when I am alone! A concoction with henna, coconut oil, mashed avocado and castor oil. If you ever did this at home, you know you can’t or won’t do it in front of men. Even the men you love. They don’t get it. A plastic bag on my head for some hours…I pull that off nicely!!

Plastic bag on the head is as far as I am willing to go regarding photos in post.Mask on face is too traumatizing even for well-meaning readers.

6. Wonderful magic protection against the world & elements can be treated with the respect it deserves! The face gets a mud mask that I also leave on for some time. I have seen women with face mask on TV and I just don’t get that! I look scary in a face mask. I mean it.  Once, I had a mask when my sister dropped by with my niece who was 2-years old at the time. My niece screamt and run back to her mom. This is a girl who adores me and stands on my side when my sister and I are at logger heads.

7. TV can finally be the entertainer it is supposed to be. Why else do we have a TV when we never have time for it?! except when dusting it during spring cleaning. Lying on the sofa, red towel on pillow, plastic bag on head, mud face mask on and lots of Shea butter on lips. No guilt. No hurry. No one coming in every 10 minutes for some attention. Phone turned off.

Whole season 2 of True Detective. Collin Farrell has never looked sooo attractive, so close to suicide and murder. Rachel Adams is femme fatal in another genre and Vince Vaughn as a bad ass criminal who just won’t die!!??

Hope your times alone turn into whatever you need from them!

Seasonal Happiness?

In the Swedish spring, nights are cold as a witch’s tit. Maybe that is the same in other countries in Europe? Explaining why people get so depressed?

Why do we say that? Who ever touched a witch’s tit? Why touch a witches tit? Did the witch just stand there, say, “wait a minute. Before I bike away” and the she lifted her blouse and said “TOUCH IT!!??”

angry-emoticon

Anyhow, when we were younger, we would be out all night freezing. Drinking. Dancing. Bar hopping. Club hopping. Calling friends we didn’t even like. And then be home next 2 days recovering from the celebrations.

Hating ourselves. Hating each other. Hating the Swedish spring for its coldness. Promising each other to stop drinking that last glass.

Why do we like to torture ourselves?

 

 

 

Linnie: Candy crash champion and all that!

I am playing Candy crash like I never played anything before! My games of choice were tetris and  super mario brothers. Six months ago, a friend introduced me to Candy crash and I was on fire! Well not really.

Some levels take me 2 weeks to get through. I dont buy any lives and I dont borrow from friends either. Not yet but who knows how long I can hold out??! So I struggle through end of 5 lives, 72hr waits, nuts and grapes that refuse to drop aaaallll the way etc But the feeling when candy crashes down with Sugar Crash flashing is like…like…like…oooohhh the feeling I get when I get hot water on my skin during my beloved morning shower. Or when my little brother laughs. Or when I get to bed after a 12hr flight where my in flight seatmate had a child/baby with them.

We have always been on friendly terms, my phone and I. Except when it gets it in its smart head to auto-correct, wrongly. Now I am on loggerheads with my phone because of battery life. Iphone has never been in the “best battery life” category. Or? I don’t need to be sued for this. Still… Candy crash, Tetris, Whatsapp, Facebook, Bukowskis auction, Outlook, Yahoo mail, Gmail, Ted talks, Spotify, selfies etc leaves my lovely totally shaken within a couple hours.

Then, on level 123 of Candy crash, the leader board scroll on to nr.1. Number freaking 1!!!! And to make things worse, on level 125 Leader board scrolls to nr.2. This is addictive stuff dear child. Tread carefully. Play play play play until you are nr.1 again is all I can think of. Dancing round the apartment singing amgoodamgoodamgood amgood

I am Linnie in Candy crash. Find me and share a life!

 

The other half joins in in one of my Iamgoodamgoodamgoodamgood… amgood… He says “ooohhh honeyyousogood!!. Duktig älskling! Are you nr.1 of the whole world or just the neighbourhood housewives and idlers??”

That fixes me for a week.
His voice is all honey and soft as one who is  giving compliments.

Btw, is the leader board based on statistics from a global level or just neighbouring housewives and idlers??!! Why do I even care? I am number 1 at something.

There is no racism in Sweden, only consencus and feminism. Yet…

 I am very thankful for a fulfilling life, love and good friends in Sweden. Still, we need to remind each other:

The wake up call could be me, in Sweden. People say: “you speak so good English.You speak so good Swedish. You are educated. You live with a Swede. It doesn’t feel like you are like other immigrants. We don’t mean you; the ones who are integrated in society (I hear assimilated).” etc etc etc. But I am an immigrant like all the others. I am black like all the blacks. I have other experiences like all immigrants. I also have other loyalties, not conflicting with Sweden, but parallel. If blacks were to be short on the streets, my good English and good Swedish would not save my brother Eric.

I racist applies in Sweden too. It is 10 million people and fewer blacks, so it is on a lesser scale.

racism is not the violent act of a drunk stranger at the park who calls me dirty and asks me to go back where I came from. And then asks JK if he couldn’t find a nice Swedish girl. why else would he choose a black one. I could see how that hurt JK. “what do I answer to defend you?” He asked later.  It is a combo of ignorance, alcoholism, loneliness, depression and envy. Envy because I look well taken care of;  for a black. The drunk’s view of the world is that he is not doing so well but at-least I am in a better place (Sweden) than Africa. 

Racism is the systematic exclusion of a group of people from the resources and opportunities in a society. The systematic repetition of prejudices created & Stories told by colonialists in the 1940s. Systematic repetition of misrepresented news and of demeaning opinions. The inherited baseless fears & descriptions of a people goes from generation to generation to the inevitable diminishment of the humanity and the influence the immigrant or the one that is different has in the society. Because the immigrant is the OTHER, and the immigrant is different for several generations. And the society should be protected from the influence of the other.

And picking a few from a specific group for quota lists is not equal to opportunity! That is called “filling quota lists to avoid bad press”

Facts & speculations to trigger the already right-edged mob:

1. In 2015, over 12% of Swedish voters voted the right wing Swedish democrats into parliament. Nothing special, the French did the same and a few others in Europe. And Donald Trump has has lots of airtime saying all the right things. And then there was the “very white Oscars”. In the words of “game of thrones” The winter is coming.

We are all ashamed and shocked because we are not racists.

2. This is no scientific data so we should ignore it because we are not racists.

My immigrant friends of color feel questioned, slighted, doubted and suspected. Feeling is one thing but actually experiencing joblessness, low income jobs or mean comments about being black vs being competent is demoralizing and counter productive. A friend once called me to tell me that she was quitting her job at a construction site. She is an engineer. The guys at the site were joking among themselves, thinking she had left for lunch. But she had forgotten her wallet. “I never imagined I would be working under a bajs korv (poo sausage) engineer. She knows her stuff but by God, are we supposed to look at that face when she talks?! Laughter” My friend is a beautiful black woman. She walked in, took her wallet, walked out and called me in tears. One of the guys tried to apologize later. “we are not racists you know. We are just surprised and we need to change our way of thinking. Just guys you know. We will get there, he promised.” And I asked her to not quit her job.

If you run, you don’t change anything. We stay until as long as can. But, a whole lot of us are worried that we may have to leave. We are not all refugees either. Some of us are here as there are British expats in Africa. Or Americans expats in Mexico.

2. This can also be ignored for lack of qualitative data actually. Plus, we are not racists at all.

It is basically impossible to discuss immigration in Sweden without the questions of race, criminality and social welfare rearing the three ugly heads. Listening to the current opinion, you would think no ethnic Swedish receives money from the social welfare. And you would definitely believe that no ethnic Swedish lies to the social welfare for money.

3. You know the drill where data is missing!

When race comes up in dialog in Sweden, we are quick to point out “I am not a racist…but”… followed by excuses for our prejudices and indoctrinated opinions of THE OTHER. THE OTHER usually thinks wrong, behaves wrong, feels wrong, takes too much and gives too little, is not thankful enough to Sweden for the privilege of living here, sends Swedish money to the home country, invites the non-Swedish, non-white family to visit in Sweden, dilutes Swedish culture…the list is long. Basically, native Swedes know better & do better, every single time! And don’t you forget it. Or forget to be thankful if you are an immigrant, refugee or not. Thankful that Sweden is not spitting you out like a bitter potion.

It can be exhausting to constantly be in the process of fixing one self in order to fit in socially, politically and aesthetically. Without ever succeeding, generation after generation after generation.

4. http://www.thelocal.se/20151015/swedish-nationalists-to-run-anti-refugee-ads-abroad

Borrowed: Equal pay for women isn’t just fair—it’s a game changer for the economy

Here’s why.
Tales of passion by @Isabel Allende is worth listening to @Tedtalks just to understand that standing up for >50% of the world population is the right thing to do. Now & going forward.

And while on careers and pay, does anyone really do this?? Or is it a joke to keep us on our toes?! Elizabeth *wink wink*? Seriously?!