African Woman, Health & Balance, Learning to Live a Balanced Life, Life Lessons

Transformations that Change us

DSC_0067This Christmas, I celebrate that my Afro has turned four years old. A milestone. I have managed to walk by relaxers without succumbing to the promise of “straight easy to handle hair” for 48 months, 208 weeks, 1, 456 days.

After these years, kitchen ingredients are no longer just cooking ingredients, they are hair and skin products. Who knew?

I moved to Sweden in the summer of 2006 and my hair survived that winter solely due to all the treatments it had received in Nairobi. In the beginning of 2007, I started shopping around for an Afro salon. Between 2007-2010, there were two recommended Afro salons near where I lived with one recommendation each and I couldn’t recommend any of them, both being expensive nonchalant and tardy. There was a different hair dresser every time I came to the salon and I had to start over every time. Explaining my needs, my likes and dislikes, my sensitive scalp, my fragile hair. I had to find and try other salons.

Once, in desperation, I went to a Brazilian hair dresser at the recommendation of a new found Brazilian friend. They didn’t believe I had sensitive skin and scalp so the woman who treated my hair used the same products as she used for everyone else. After the salon visit, I came home and washed my hair again. With conditioner for sensitive skin.

I am neurotic and nutty that way.

The last hairdresser I visited in Stockholm had to close down a perfectly good salon in the end of 2015.  She was caught cheating on the taxes and received a tax bill with all the tax arrears that had to be paid in the coming years. That would ruin any good business.

DSC_0633
Before – 2013

In Sweden, I have had to answer the question: “Is that your hair?” in all the gracious ways I can master. And then some.

No, it is not my hair, it is a weave. My hair is braided under there. Bitch!

“Why can’t you just have your hair?”

Good question! I would counter, is that the natural color of your hair? #¤#&%

“Did you know that in India, Indians girls are scalped for free and the hair sold to weave wearers?”

No. I didn’t. . . WTF is wrong with folks?! I have to read about that. How and where is hair dye made? Anyone know?

When Sebastian and I met the first month at the university and became quick friends, I was a bony bald thing. I had just gone through chemo, lost patches of hair and shaved the rest at Jill’s salon, around the corner from my first apartment in Stockholm. Jill’s was owned by a nice Ghanaian couple. Soon after, they had to leave for England. Sweden didn’t work out for them, they almost lost their children to welfare.

Sebastian and I started dating about a year later and for some reason, he liked me and my short-haired head. By the time we had been dating for a little over three years, he had seen me bald, short haired, permed, weaved, braided and other nameless Afro styles that reveal themselves in the morning. In my childhood, my grandmother used to call these miscellaneous styles porcupine style. Hair with a will of its own.

In Kenya, and later in England, I was at the salon every week, spending any penny I could spare on my hair. Arriving to Sweden, a good weaving could cost up to 2,000sek ($230) and this is after paying a similar amount for good enough human hair. Simple medium braids cost as much. In Kenya and England, I chose salons through personal recommendation. I was sure of the quality of work. Knowing no Africans, or blacks in Sweden in the first years, I could only find recommendations on the internet.

Have you ever had a weave sewed in so tight you removed it in the night? I did that in my second year in Stockholm. Sebastian sat by and massaged my scalp after the fact. Braids too tight, braids too big and/or braids too short. I never used to remove my own braids, I went to the salon to get them removed so my hair could get deep conditioned and washed right after. In Stockholm, I started first, to remove my own braids and weaves and then after a couple of disappointing years, I started to braid my own hair.

I had never worn a wig before I moved to Sweden, but three years in and I had ordered a Brazilian on Amazon and requested an Indian from my cousin in France. Things were looking up! Instant hair.

“Is that your hair?”

No. . . . I couldn’t do it any more.

In the end of August 2013, I graduated, got a job and I threw both my wigs away. I ordered 5 packets of Expressions from eBay UK, just to be on the safe side. I raided Taj Mahal, the Kenyan owned shop on Queens Street Stockholm, and bought ORS shampoo, conditioner, hair oil, the works! I already had coconut oil, Aloe Vera, olive oil and almond oil at home and felt quite confident that it would do.

I was in for the greatest transformations of my life. I was not beautiful at all, my grandmother had lied to me in all kindness, God bless her soul. I was an ordinary woman, confident and loved.

But this hair of mine, it is truly beautiful!

afro back
Summer 2017 – Yoga by the Lake
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African Woman, Amateur Love Doctor, I am not a feminist but...., Learning to Live a Balanced Life, Life Lessons

World News: World’s most eligible bachelor is off the market!

Skin Thickener lotion

This morning, I showered, dressed and put on some make up.

Make up for me is a click of foundation and a little lipstick.

My skin doesn’t like make up that much. And I don’t give that much of a crap to make Makeup look good.

Before I left for work (today, work is a summit for Data BI Nerds), I browsed through the news. One day too late as usual, I find out about the attack at Westminster that took place yesterday.

I click on to read about this terrible news. Where is the world headed? How can we save ourselves? Where do we hide our fear? Where do we hide our courage? Who do we the civilized world have to attack to make this stop???

…huh?…mmm…huh? To the right of this important news item, there is even worse news!

The WORLD‘s most eligible bachelor has been taken!

I feel crushed: nooooo. not him! no. no. no. after all this trouble with lipstick that ends up on the cheek?

Then I wonder despairingly: who??!

And then I realize: oh. him! I don’t know him!

Why is he the world‘s most eligible? Why don’t my relatives know of him?

My very beautiful cousin is single and the aunts have been going nuts pictures & work titles about all the bachelors she could capture if she paid any attention.

Is he nice? is there any news of him doing nice things?

Is he kind? is there any news of him doing kind things?

Is he respectful? is there any news of him doing respectful things?

Is he sober not abusing anything?? is there any news of him doing sober things?

None of that crap.

Lots of information about how much money he is worth and where his properties are to be found.

Due to promegneture, pregonut, primegenite, primegerosorous, primogeniture?

I read that the one who has captured him is his high school sweetheart.

So was he ever The World’s most eligible in the first place? You know, being in love with someone can takes care of that.

Being the world’s most eligible; that means the whole world including China, Thailand, Guinea, Vietnam, US, Mexico and all the regular suspects?

gemmacorrell-nope-square-greeting-card

That any girl woman, including my cousin in the world had a chance until he was snatched right under our sweaty pimply noses?

The spin in my head: So..

if she just pulled herself up by the bootstraps cheap broken zipper,

wore her best dress Polyester from Ellos,

took some time on her makeup from H&M,

Used her teeth whitener cheapest Colgate from ÖoB more often, and then went out to Debaser Medis as we did when we were younger;

She would have a chance to meet the world’s most eligible, take him home and make him hers?

Why doesn’t someone mail out a newsletter with this kind of data shit to unmarried women under 30 every month?

Given data in time, anyone, & I mean anyone, could have captured this bachelor!

 

African Woman, Life Lessons

You are so lucky…

Yesterday, a colleague informed me that I had recruited very competent requirement analysts. “Thanks!” I said happily. She continued to compliment me & said I had such luck to find these two guys. I “flinched”. I swallowed heavily. I straightened my back & stared at my colleague. I smiled at my colleague. My dearest colleague hopes to have the same luck in finding a similar requirement analyst. Luck. Luck she said. Luck.

Since you’all know how the recruitment process looks like, I will not insult you by explaining it. What irks me is the use of the word “luck” as if:

  • I didn’t do all the analysis & preparation before sending out the announcement.
  • I didn’t go through 70-100 CVs to eliminate and select a few that we would call
  • I didn’t prepare a number of specific questions to capture the right personality, competence & potential
  • I didn’t sit through 15 interviews
  • I didn’t sit through more hours of elimination & selection
  • I didn’t disappoint over 70 applicants with “no thanks. We found someone who fits better.”
  • I didn’t plan the onboarding process & make the whole team available for the new recruits for over 3 months to ensure a good understanding of our delivery
  • Etc etc etc

When an achievement is credited to “luck”, luck negates the work that went into the achievement. As if something just happened by the grace of…fate? 

In reality, there is little luck involved in recruitment. There is a little luck, a tiny whiny drop fleck of luck; but not much. There little luck involved in most things. And no one recruits alone. It is a team looking for the right person. It is a months long process. So if luck is all we pin it on, it is expensive luck!

While at it, I have even been told that I am lucky with guys. “Lucky” that the nice kind guys just kinda fall on my lap. As if:

  1. I didn’t go out all those years in youth & meet all those other guys that didn’t work out. There was the one that shouted at me when we went to dinner & I dropped the fork. I was nervous. There was the one who left me stranded 125km from home because I questioned his driving while drunk. There was the one that almost raped me during my periods because he thought I was lying to him. The lisbgoes on & on & on.
  2. I didn’t write that list of all the things I DON’T WANT in my next guy. I didn’t want a guy who thinks reading is boring. I didn’t want the guy who had been to theater, opera or other cultural activities & decided it was boring. O didn’t want a guy who thought Rome & London are samesame because they are both cities. A guy who thought travel was a waste of money he could buy a motorbike or alcohol with. I didn’t want a guy who had ever tested drugs & would try something new if he got the chance. The list goes on & on & on & on
  3. I didn’t write that list of places to go if I want to meet nice kind guys. 
  4. I didn’t ask advice from friends & family who already had met the right kind of guys.

I hope for luck when I buy lotto tickets & find I have no luck. I rely very little on luck but hope that the gods of luck stay close to me in case of an accident. Mostly though, the effort required to accomplish something is more fun than lucky breaks. Stories for the grandchildren.

Good luck all!

Life Lessons, Therapy Sessions

Busy doing nothing and the nothing ruins your life?

First time his telephone was off, I believed him. The power went off and hbroken_heartis battery died. Bad luck. Coincidence. The telephone was off Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. Then I got an sms. “Baby, I saw your missed call and sms. The phone died. Will call later. Love. C”

Next time this happened was on his weekend away with his boys. That gnawed at me because I knew his friends. Same said “pling” on my telephone on Sunday afternoon. My suspicions began then. I asked nicely if he was cheating & when he said “babe, how can you think that of me??!” and he cried a little bit, I melted and told myself he couldn’t. He couldn’t. He could never.

A couple of months later, my telephone went off when I was away in Cape town with work. Battery dead. For real and no time to charge. He went bananas. Bonkers. Off the hook. Knots in knickers. How could I “LET” the phone die. And then have the audacity to go out for a drink with my colleagues instead of running back to the hotel to call him?

Me: “babe, it has happened to you twice the last 4 months. You know how it is?!”

C:  “Oh no, don’t try that on me. I know how women are. Some dude took you to his hotel didn’t they? Didn’t they? And you don’t even know them! How can you? Etc”

I hang up.

Next day I panicked that my very first relationship was ending because of a misunderstanding. I decided to fly home on Friday, miss the weekend planned with colleagues. I had to convince C that he was the one. For ever. And ever.

So I booked a ticket and at exactly 17:45, boarded and flew home. I arrived in Nairobi at around midnight, took a taxi to C’s place. Knocked. Knocked. Knocked. Called out his name. Called out “sweetie”. Called out “baby”. For about 10-15 minutes.

His face showed up at the window. Not the door. The window. My heart sunk. It took 3-5 minutes, he opened the door. Looked surprised & started crying. Asked me to wait outside for a minute. 5-10 minutes more. He did not want to embarrass me he said. A girl came out the same door. Crying. “Where shall I go in the middle of the night?” He says “I don’t care, my wife is here now”. We were not married. We would never be married.

I took the girl home with me. He couldn’t take her back in because he wanted to prove to me that he had changed. Immediately. I wanted to go home because I had changed. Forever.