Monthly Archives: November 2014

21 days later

So i stopped drinking. Or rather went on a sabbatical. 3 weeks, 21 days. The time it takes to break or form a habit. Also because I read somewhere that if you can stop cold for 3 weeks without any external help then you have no drinking problem. I’m currently on day 15 and since it’s a Sunday I’m sure I’ll make it

“I heard you quit alcohol.”

Friends would tell me. Immediately my heart would beat faster. I would get scared. Is that what I did?

“No I just stopped. Just stopped, not quit.”

Here’s a really shitty thing about not drinking for a set period of time: the world is angry at you for trying this bullshit. I went for a wedding and a wedding after party on the first Friday of my not drinking. Everyone was happy, and people celebrate with alcohol, I had to sit this out and still have as a good a time as I could. The next Saturday another of my friends was sealing dowry negotiations. This was yet another night when happiness spilled in the air and demanded alcohol. That happens to everyone who stops drinking for a while. A reason will crop up. A great reason. A reason that demands a compromise. A once in a lifetime event involving people you love, people you have drank with who want you to drink with  on this the day their life changes.  I kept telling myself that there will always be reasons to drink but it’s only once in a long while that you find a reason not to drink so I didn’t despite how much I wanted to.

Here’s a great good fair thing about not drinking. There is no more exhaustion. Shit, I woke up before the alarm every morning. I was fresh to work every day. I had no problems with this sector in my life. Hitting the correct number of hours of sleep. Eating every day. Proper eating. Full meals. Swallowing kilos of ugali and meat and vegetable and chapati. Shitting smooth slidy stool. None of that exploding out of your ass thing that happens with beer. None of those fearsomely dark and foul smelling faeces that are the result of one beer too many. Time too. I had a lot of time to read. Not sure I read more than usual. I had a lot of time to write and i procrastinated a lot of it away. All this time though seems to have only manifested itself in my being able to watch a movie on Sunday instead of being too tired to pay attention to anything that would be longer than an hour. Watched the toy story trilogy, watched raging bull, watched groundhog day,), watched a DC animated movie about villains that was shit- whenever they release Suicide Squad to the big screen don’t watch it. That was shit.

There is all that. All that is great BUT it’s so fucking boring. I can’t imagine that I have ever been so bored in my life. It’s not even really life. Its fucking hell, stuck in stasis, lounging in limbo, parading through purgatory. Nothing happens. I wake up and I go to work. I work it gets to be time to leave. I leave and I go home. There may be traffic there may not be. I get home. Switch on the computer. Write or procrastinate about writing. Look for something to watch. Read till I fall asleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Ad infinitum.

This is what life has been for 2 weeks now. I’m so sad about my life that one day a week I take a nap just to make it pass faster. Then I wake up eat, sleep, wake up and repeat the last day all over again. I watched Groundhog Day the other day and it hit me with this story about a man whose day was the same all the time. Everyone can relate to this, to the fact that life can feel like a series of factory manufactured days. Everything is so similar that you know whether or not you are late by things other than the time. That is a feeling that’s real even when I drink. It’s worse now. I’ve lost that day when I would decide to feel a little different about life. Those days when I would put something in me that immediately made me happier, less bored, and more able to forget just how shitty the world is….

Because the world is shitty. I don’t bat an eyelid when I read an article that claims Kenyans are being force-sterilised with donated medical suppliesI don’t even have to click on that link, I believe it. It’s probably happening because the world is a fucked up place. (ed. Note- I found out that this story was mostly bullshit, what this means though is we leave in a world where the most powerful religious organisation will not bat an eyelid or do scientific research before spreading such damaging rumours). Maybe it’s not that bad but I believe it is and that’s what’s important here. My lack of illusions about just how bad life here really is means I need to not think about it sometimes. Alcohol shields it. It may not be a perfect solution but until the day I’m in love or have children I’ll hold on to this. So here we sit in a world that is both shitty and boring.

God, I miss the pint though. Someone asked me if I missed that first sip. I told him I miss everything. The smell of hops and barley in the beer the way some of it jumps off like backward meteors I miss the slightly bitter taste and the decidedly foamy texture. I miss running a beer through my mouth once and twice before I swallow it. I miss the heft of a beer bottle; I miss how easily the label comes off when it’s really cold. I miss taking a beer piss. I stand next to people in bars and they pee for so long. So long that it could only have been the result of a beer and I miss that. I miss the way beer tells you not to go take a piss until the moment when you are almost bursting.

I miss the joy of sitting down at a bar having decided that I want a drink. I miss the conversations over alcohol. I miss the happiness I feel whenever a new bottle hits my table.  I miss liquor. I miss the bitterness of the first shot and the way it burns right through you telling you that what you are drinking is not something to be trifled with. I miss finding the right balance between liquor and soda. This spot is different for everybody. When you get it right you can taste the soda. It basically is soda with a kick or liquor with a lick. The warmth of liquor and something tangy off the tip of your tongue. I miss when alcohol hits your head and you feel lighter. Not metaphorically because the world’s problems are gone, nope actually lighter like something is carrying you away. I miss that.

I miss drinking on a Friday night when you have put the office aside. You are surrounded by so many fellow revellers. People are happy and loud. They have been set free from all the bullshit their weeks are filled with and at this moment they are happy. Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains Roseau said. On Friday night you see the unshackling begin. It’s a night filled with so much promise. Friday night out is in fact what life is.

On Saturday I am usually hungover and I go to the office and don’t work. Here’s the thing though it’s not because I’m hungover it’s because I’m there on Saturday against my choice. So when I went with no hangover I hated it even more. I realised that I even miss being slightly hungover on Saturday because it makes the time pass so quickly.

I really miss alcohol and this life I have led, this hermitage I have been assigned to has been eye-opening. I have found out that the pros of sobriety are so far outweighed by those of drinking that I can’t have a life of just that. I don’t know what people do. I have been unable to find out despite asking almost desperately from people who don’t drink what I should do. You know what it seems these people do? Have coffee with each other and go home. Shit. Life has to mean a lot more than work and a caffeinated drink that I really don’t think is ever worth what I’m asked to pay for it. So coffee drinkers you can have your sobriety I’ve tried it and it’s not for me.

At the time of posting this I had successfully done my three weeks. Great feeling of achievement and it feels like just there at the 20th day you begin to realise that its not as bad as all that. But then I still went and immediately had a drink. Realised it wasn’t as good as I had made myself believe it was and that what I had missed more than anything was the excuse to see people whose company I enjoy. Though I had missed the drink too.

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All Hallow’s Eve

So Halloween came and passed. It’s one of those holidays that has no bearing or effect on Kenyan life. I’ll admit i find that sad, this is objectively a great holiday. It marks all hallows eve a time of the year when the denizens of hell; Sasquatch, Godzilla, King Kong , Lochness, Goblin, Ghoul, Zombies with no conscience-everybody know mutherfucking monsters and more besides witches and werewolves, demons, merlings, vampires and dragons. All these rose from the depths to which they had been consigned and roamed the earth for one night. Demanding that if you couldn’t trick them you would have to treat with them. They then carried off the thing that was most important to you. Be it riches, time, memories but most of all children all the things that made life sweet. Until, somebody somewhere lucked on the idea of dressing their children to resemble these monsters. So for the whole of the month of October parents would slave away making costumes that appeared as near as possible to the things they feared mining their minds, netting their nightmares, delving deep into their dreams to draw something that was closest in likeness to the citizens of all hallows eve.

This was not enough because their dreams were not just peopled but also placed. In looking for how to array their children they also stumbled onto a physical representation of hell. Then as now they knew that the hell they believed in was a metaphysical place. A platonic idea that could not really be mapped physically, the difference between it and anything they could put on earth being akin to the difference between  emotions and the words they used to describe them. They understood however that a great artist could reach at this thing that could not be described and using something that seemed like the hand of god approximate it by picking only the peaks and valleys of its existence and throwing that onto the earth. So they lit lanterns red, they cut up pumpkins round, they hang bones polished and made crosses of David placing them inside pentagrams inlaid in  circles embedded in pyramids. They hung foul smelling entrails from their doors and played music that chilled their bones full of expectant drum beats that never paid off.

On the evening of All Hallows Eve they sent their children out. They told them that they were what they were dressed as. The children played make-believe and imagined that what their parents told them was the truth. Children as we know have the ability to transform the world and make it in their own image, bending the will of us weaker adults by smiling and crying and all of a sudden making us feel just as they do. On the night of that All Hallows Eve so long ago they infused the world with their minds. Collectively they turned everything that had been laid out into the truth of what it was. They turned the world into new hell and when the children of hell visited they found their harvesting ground already overrun. Their vacation from the fiery pit had turned into nothing more than a trip down the street. The darkness and the fires that burned, the world filled with demons already roaming back and forth in all the glory and  power that  so effortlessly emerge from children. This was too much for them. That year they did not harvest feeling that perhaps the inhabitants of a hell they did not know about, a smaller but altogether more powerful hell had been to earth before them. They returned empty-handed to be tortured at the hands of those who stayed behind and could not believe what they were told. Every successive year fewer and fewer ventured out of the abyss until the year the devil himself walked the earth.

He took the form of a terrible dragon with sulphur and fire leaking out of his scales, his tails swished back and forth forked with maces. Despite this he was not feared. He could see through the costumes of the children unlike his minions and further than that. Looking into the heart of man himself, reading his memories of life upon earth. All he encountered there was misery and hardship, pain and suffering, the capacity and in many of them the will to do great evil. He realised that he could never train his acolytes to be as evil as man is. He gathered his host to him and left saying “every man is his own devil they have no need of me, no fear of thee, and nothing they hold dear that time will not snatch away in a ruder and more tragic fashion than we ever could.”

The costumes were able to lure the devil to walk on earth and see in it the hell he had left behind. The children never stopped transforming on Halloween and looking for people to treat with or better yet trick.

I like that story and I would love to celebrate a holiday that inspires such stories. Now watch this video.

Yep, jimmy kimmel tells parent to tell their kids that they ate all their Halloween candy. Hilarious as fuck. I dare you not to laugh at the outsized reactions these children have to their candy being stolen. Somewhere in the middle when we are getting bushed with tantrums and troubles there is a toddler who says its ok, next year we’ll get more, hugs her  parents anyway.

Now tell me that it’s possible for the parents of the forgiving children not to attain a crippling superiority complex. I mean goddam that’s a sign of good parenting if ever I saw one. A child forgiving immediately. There’s a child there who forgives through hyperventilation. You can see him taking deep breaths as he attempts to control himself. It’s a struggle. I’ve always thought that somebody who struggles against their selfish nature in order to be more selfless deserves more kudos than the person to whom it comes easy. Khalil Ghabrain wrote that some give with joy and that joy is their reward, others give with pain and that pain is their baptism. Perhaps it’s wrong to hold either in higher esteem and the best thing to do is to be happy that the earth has them both.

Then there’s the little girl who says fuck you you mutherfucker (being the first born of three she’s speaking more  truth than she knows). And she says it happily. Let’s admit it right now. That child was happy that the candy was stolen. Why you may ask, it’s simple. In her heart and in her head she was holding something that she wanted to let go. The emotional equivalent of a beer piss, she had imagined how awesome it would feel to get these words out of her mouth. To, in fact, tell them to her parents the ultimate symbol of authority. She wanted to spit these words in their faces and here they came and gave her a chance. She heard them say that the candy was stolen and immediately adrenaline flooded her blood. A snap decision was made. Somehow she knew there was no other chance to do this and so she let go. Fired, scored and thought it was worth all the candy in the world.

After all the festivities Jimmy Kimmel comes on the screen and entreats people to send things to American troops abroad. And right there we see why America is so easily able to engage in war after war. To be able to carry out these foreign policy human rights incursions for decades. To have presidents who allow its international image to be tarnished, tarred, torn and tattered giving as much of a shit as the last girl did about candy. This fucking PR machine.

These people are bought up on these movies, this doctrine that their way is the best way. That they live in the only country in the world that gives opportunity to the man who works hardest and not to the one who inherited the most- this is bullshit every other country has self-made men and until the kind of institutional racism that has young black men being shot down in the street is gotten rid of you couldn’t hope to convince me that the spoils of the father are not visited on the son. My point is they are taught to love their country. To be patriotic. This is not really a concept we can easily understand in Kenya. Does anyone here join the army because they love their country? I doubt that the percentage would be high. It’s because they want jobs and those are hard to come by. It’s because they want opportunities and this is their way out. Not that these aren’t reasons in America too but I think here they are much bigger reasons.

We’ve been at war in Somalia. Just across the border KDF has been involved in a long, drawn out conflict. There have been war crimes and war criminals, there have been moments of courage and war heroes. There have been all the things that war promises: pain and glory, shame and brotherhood, looting and love, rape and rapport, hate and nightmares and more besides lost limbs and scarred sons,  deserted daughters and child corpses, fucked up families and raging revenge. Through all of this I can’t say I have heard even once that our troops in KDF need food or amour or ammo. There has not been a citizen led attempt to raise money for them. To send over a care-package , to go without so that we can help them in our war.

The differences between what is going on there (American wars)  and what is going on there (Kenyan war) are very small. The similarities are almost mind-boggling. An invasion of a country that is predominantly Muslim because of a perceived attack on the invaders sovereignty by citizens of the Muslim country. Resulting in an embroiled war that turns the invaded into people who hate and do anything in their power to harm the invader. The main difference is lack of citizen involvement in the Kenyan war. I don’t know why this is so. The KDF are so far removed that we don’t really seem to remember that those are our brothers and sisters out there killing our other brothers and sisters. We aren’t as a whole patriotic enough for there to be stories on the death of the KDF soldiers. Whose family are they? There must be hundreds of families affected by the deaths of Kenyan soldiers why don’t they have a voice. Who is going to scream for them? Who is going to write a war classic a song or movie or book that is going to capture what happened that will be able to remind us that what happened, that what is happening is horrible and we need to pull back from such actions.

I wish we had enough patriotism to remember them, to remember our soldiers but not so much that we got blinded to what was happening. I wish we would hear the statistics of how many Kenyans died in this conflict and then were chastened when this was followed immediately by somebody reminding us how many Somalis died. It’s not enough to send care packages just to our troops. We need to be reminded in the same breath to send them to the refugees that we created. American jingoism reminds them they are at war but that’s only the costume. For the world to be better we need to have the insight of the devil. We need to realise that, while it is horrible, what happens to an invading army when compared to what happens to the invaded is but a covering over the cold heart of man that the devil himself would turn away from. They live in hell. Not one of their choosing. Not one they deserve. But hell nonetheless.

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