Wednesday, 26 October 2016

This Mistaken Identity Thing...

I don’t know why, but lately, people keep confusing me with Karitas Karisimbi.

I don’t have a problem with this in principle- I don’t know Karitas personally, I just know that she’s a media personality and was on radio.  But it’s crazy how many people have either greeted me by her name or confidently pointed me out as being her.

I was at a recording studio voicing an ad recently, and the producer asked the receptionist if she knew who I was.  She scoffed at him and rolled her eyes, replying ‘Shyaa.  Of course.  She’s Karitas!’  I was so stunned I didn’t even have the gas to correct her before I entered the booth.  I wasn’t expecting her to know who I was at all, never mind her mistaking me for someone else altogether.

Another time, I was patiently waiting at the ATM for the lady in front of me to quit wasting time, get her money and go.  As always, I had my headphones in and was blasting some tune or other, when she came out and stopped in her tracks in front of me.  I looked up and found her grinning at me.  Confused and a little unsure, I smiled back, not knowing who this woman was, but wondering if she had confused me with my big sister Kaine.

(It happens often, even with relatives.  Why, I will never know, but we have accepted that we are twins, born several years apart and with a whole sibling in between.  But I digress). 

Anyway, I smiled politely and tried to get past the woman and into the ATM.  No such luck.

‘Hi Karitas!’ She chirped cheerfully.  Trying really hard not to roll my eyes, I fixed my grin and turned around.

‘Ha ha, I’m not Karitas,’ I responded.

‘Are you sure?’ she looked at me incredulously.  Like that look you give someone who clearly has no idea what they are talking about and might be somewhat touched in the head.

‘Yes, I am sure.  I’m not her,’ I replied, with more uneasy laughter.

‘Yiiyiiii, but you are Karitaaaaaas!! Stop denyyyyyiiiiiing!! Ok kale you are her sister!’ This woman wouldn’t let up.  I gritted my teeth.

‘I’m not her sister.  I don’t know her, honestly.’ Hoping this was the end of the conversation, I turned to get on with withdrawing my money. 

Two minutes later, I walked out the ATM to find the same woman leaning against the railing, looking at me as if she couldn’t understand why I was denying my true identity.  ‘Bye Karitas!’ she called after me.

I didn’t have the strength to argue.

Like I said, I don’t know Karitas.  And I’m not sure how she’d feel if she knew people keep thinking I’m her, but just to be clear, I thought I’d include a list of other people and/or things that I most certainly am NOT.

  • An Arsenal fan
  • Here for your nonsense
  • Against Marmite
  • Obsessed with Idris Elba
  • A fan of spiders

I think Karitas is beautiful and I’m flattered that some people think we bear a passing resemblance. 

At least I’m not being confused with the wrong end of a bus.  I guess I should count my blessings.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Ugh, disappointment.

I don’t deal with disappointment very well.

I know that might sound like an obvious thing to say, because, who does?  But I realized today that I really need to find a coping mechanism for that crushing feeling when things don’t quite go the way you hoped they would.

It is partly my fault, because I was looking at things perhaps I shouldn’t have been.  Nothing illegal, mind.  Just that normal curiosity, more so now because technology makes it so easy for us to look back at what people were doing this time last year or the other year, and tally that with what we were doing at the same time.

And that’s when I saw it.  I wish to God I hadn’t.  I wish to God I had Google Imaged Idris Elba instead.  But that split second before my world came crashing down around my ears, right before this stress headache hit (it’s moved all the way down my neck, by the way), that split second before the wave of nausea I still can’t shake came over me- I thought, what harm will it do?  I’ll just have a look.

And that’s when I saw it.  The post that made my happiness a lie and broke my heart and pissed me off and broke my heart and gave me a headache and broke my heart.

I didn’t stop there, by the way.  Sitting at my desk, shaking, trying to act normal so the intern stationed next to me didn’t notice that I was trying not to throw up all over my (brand new) laptop.  I kept looking.  And clicking.  And reading.  I think that’s when the muscles in my neck bunched up and this damn stress headache intensified.

I’m not yet sad.  I’m just pissed off.  Because I had promised myself I would never ever ever ever go through this again.  I’m super pissed that I’ve let myself down, that I didn’t listen to myself, that I didn’t just NOT GO THERE.  I’m disappointed in myself.

And I just don’t deal with disappointment very well.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Stay Out of My Womb, Stay Out of My Business.

Something happened on air this morning that totally threw me off.

We were discussing whether or not a parent should compensate a babysitter, or even a friend, if their child breaks something of theirs.  Like a phone, or laptop.  My stance is, if my child broke something belonging to someone I had asked to look after them, I would feel compelled to refund them or at least contribute towards the cost of getting a replacement.

Big mistake, so it would seem.

A female listener called the show.  Sternly, she asked me if I have any children, to which of course I answered in the negative.  She went on to say that the only reason I had that opinion is the fact that I do not have a child, as no mother would ask another mother to pay for something broken by a child. 

(Please note, she ignored the fact that I said I would feel compelled to refund if my child had broken something belonging to someone else.  I didn’t say that I would demand money from someone if their child broke something belonging to me.)

I am rarely rendered speechless.  But I was.  And I’ll tell you why.

I understand that there are many things I can’t comment on when it comes to motherhood.  Like the pain of childbirth, the love a mother has for a child.  The only experience I have of that love is from a child’s perspective.  In this instance however, I do not think the fact that I am not a mother had any bearing on me sharing my opinion on this topic.

I am exhausted by the comments I deal with, almost on the daily, as to my childlessness.  People seem so concerned that I don’t have a child.  Like there is something physically or mentally wrong with me.  Like I am too selfish and ‘precious’ to just get on with it and get pregnant.

‘’Siima, what are you waiting for?  What is the problem? We want a baby! Give us a child!  Ah, you like doing your nails, you can’t handle being a mother.  We want twins!  Why are you wasting our time? We want to see what you’ll look like pregnant!! Just get a baby!’’

There are many reasons I have not had a child yet, none of which I am willing to share here, and none of which I have to tell anyone.  I know I am not the only woman my age that gets such comments regularly. 

I shudder to think of the number of women who have had such insensitive utterings thrown their way, and yet they are physically unable to bear children.

So next time you feel like rubbing some chick’s tummy and asking her when she’s going to ‘use it’, next time you tell a woman YOU feel ‘should have had a baby by now’, next time you ask me why I have puppies instead of ‘just getting a baby’- just don’t.  Stay out of my womb, stay out of my business and mind yours.  I’m not here to have a child for you like you’re going to have anything to do with it,  FFS.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Gratitude List: The Joys of Puppy Love

It's no secret that I absolutely adore dogs.

I brought my two puppies, Zsa Zsa and Pepper, from the farm in Kinoni to Kampala, right after New Years.

It had been a long time coming, lots of preparation and visits to the farm from when they were born in August.  I was especially excited because their mother, Biscuit, has been with us since she was a puppy.  When she gave birth to a litter of 8 puppies, it was a real event in our family.  Our little Biscuit was all grown up!

Biscuit. Just look at that face!

I grew up with dogs being a part of the family, but until now, the responsibility was always with my parents as regards the vet, food etc.

Now it's all on me.

It was a bit daunting at first.  No sooner had the pups been in Kampala for a week and had their appointment with the vet, they fell ill, reacting to the vaccines pumped into their little bodies.  After spending a few days at the vet's (I had NO idea there was a facility in Uganda where dogs could be admitted!!) the pups were back home, happy and healthy.

They have very different personalities.  Zsa Zsa has CRAZY fomo.  As in, she is hyper and boisterous.  Very affectionate.  And the spitting image of her mother.

Zsa Zsa. The calm before the storm.

Pepper on the other hand, is calm and chilled.  Such a laydeee.  She's much smaller than Zsa Zsa but is not to be trifled with.

Pepper.  The eyes. The ears. Pure cuteness.

My Gratitude post today is all about my puppies.  Many people don't understand why I love my dogs so much, which is fine.  It is lovely to get home after a mad day at work and see their little tails wagging.    

Here's to being grateful for pets.  I'm certainly grateful for mine.

Gratitude List: The Awesomeness of Being A Big Sister

I'll never forget the day my brother Baingana was born.

Not so much because I was going to be a big sister (finally!! Someone below me on the sibling food chain!!), but because I had won a bet with my Dad.  He bet on it being another girl, my sisters and I all bet it was going to be a boy.

When we went to the hospital, I was a bit disappointed that we weren't allowed to see my Mum, but I soon forgot all about that when we were taken to the nursery where all the newborn babies were being kept.  Of course we weren't allowed in- my Dad just held me up to the glass and pointed at a baby in the corner (they all looked the same to me- wrapped in blue blankets, with only their little scrunched up faces showing, yelling like their lives depended on it), and said 'There's your brother.''

I was a little underwhelmed, to be honest.  I mean, why couldn't I go in?  I'd washed my face and hands before we went to the hospital.  I'd been so excited to see the baby and thought I'd have something someone to play with instantly.

A few months down the line, my Mum was back home and back on her feet again.  The baby had grown, and was moved into my room, while my sister Asiimwe upgraded to her own room, since Kaine was at boarding school.

It was nice.  At first.

Then the little shit would wake up at all hours, crying and carrying on, and interrupting my blissful, My-Little-Pony dreams.  As in, come on.  I didn't sign up for this!

The final straw was the day my little brother, after being fed, projectile vomited down my back.  Dude took special care NOT to miss my hair.  I call malice aforethought.  I don't care if he was only 8 months old.  He puked on me, then smiled.  Everyone else said it was relief, but I know he was laughing at me.

But I digress.

This is meant to be a Gratitude List.

Don't get me wrong.  I love my brother.  We're all grown up now.  He's a strapping lad, intelligent and funny and capable of eating his weight in food.  Much as our first experience as room mates didn't work out too well, we are now house mates and so far, the place hasn't burned down.

Peace, yo. Now leave me alone.

I'm kidding.  We're good friends, laugh ALOT and have endless conversations about all sorts of things.  I do have to remind him sometimes that I am his BIG SISTER, even if he is taller than me.

This pose just seemed appropriate.

And once in a while, I like to look back to a time when I had this little person looking up to me, thinking I was cool and knew everything about everything.  My biggest regret is that he grew up to be an Arsenal fan.

But you can't have everything.

Here's to being a big sister to a little (big) brother.  It's pretty damn  cool.

Fancy dress Pirates.  Arrr.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Gratitude List: The Awesomeness of Big Sisters

It’s Day 4 of my Gratitude Week and I have to admit I’m feeling quite pleased with myself, in an extremely non-smug manner.

Not that I didn't think I would make it this far.  One thing I've learnt writing these Gratitude posts is, once you start being grateful for the things in your life, it is so easy to find something to write about and be thankful for.

Today’s Gratitude List is specifically about my sisters.

I am the third of four children, the third of three girls.  (My brother is at the bottom of our sibling food chain and will get his own blog post another day.)

Kaine, Asiimwe and I have a very unique relationship in that for most of our childhood, we were moving around the world due to my father’s job.  Aside from all the usual sibling squabbles- ‘’She’s wearing my sweater!! She pulled my hair!! She’s looking at me!!’’- we HAD to be friends because when you move to a totally new country, new school, you need people who have your back until you eventually make friends and form your own squad.

Squad Goals? Perhaps.

When we would come to Uganda on home leave, usually our cousins would be in school.  So we had to entertain each other because who else are you going to play with?  The cows?  Your grandma?  I think not.

I was always lucky, being the youngest, because I had double protection.  When we were at primary school in Zimbabwe, BOTH my sisters were prefects.  At separate times.  So no one was going to bother me.  The playground, which can often be a place of dread, was a haven, a place I could skip around with no fear and without having to look over my shoulder.  (Things changed when we moved to Sierra Leone and my sisters went to boarding school in England.  But that's a post for another time).

And so it has been, now that we’re all grown up.  I’m still the baby sister, who can be sent to the kitchen, the shop, to do whatever errand our mother has sent us on that no one else wants to do.
That said, I have two defenders, supporters, and a guaranteed squad to look out for me and tell me when I’ve got some toilet paper stuck to my shoe or lipstick on my teeth.

So this is me being grateful for my big sisters, Kainembabazi and Asiimwe.

Big sisters rock.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Gratitude List: The Stages of Grief Revisited

This April will mark 2 years since my Dad passed away.

I have to be very honest with you and admit that I'm not quite sure how my Mum, my siblings and I have made it this far.

I've come to understand that grief is a very unique, personal thing.  Everyone will lose a parent, but not everyone will feel it the same way.

Big Bang Theory actress (though I prefer to remember her from Beaches and Blossom) Mayim Bialik lost her father a year after I did, and she put into words something I was struggling to.

"For those of you who have lost a parent, you know how I feel. You tell me you do. For those of you who have lost someone else you were close to, you also tell me you know how I feel. But you don't. Because you're not me losing my Abba."

Read the complete post here: Mayim Bialik Mourns Her Father In Emotional Blogpost

When I read that post, something clicked.  I had been struggling with condolence messages, the fact that some people were avoiding me because they didn't know what to say when they saw me (I didn't mind, actually.  I understood.)

I lost my father, the man whose presence and strength and love and wisdom held my world together. My sisters lost their father.  My brother lost his father.  My mum lost her husband, a man she had been with for more than 40 years.

United in our grief, we were also alone.

To paraphrase Mayim, we are alone in the singularity of our loss. Oh, that line hits me in the solar plexus every single time! The truth in it!!

But I digress!

This was meant to be a Gratitude List post.

I have to be grateful because I am almost at that stage where I can think about my Dad without my heart breaking.  For the longest time, just thinking about him, seeing his picture, seeing other women with their fathers, would leave me an absolute wreck.

I would cry at the simplest things.  I have found myself crying in an airport, at my desk, in the studio and in front of my TV.

The tears still come at random times, of course.  But more and more often, it is because of a happy memory.  Not that the void he left is any smaller.

The other night I had a dream about my Dad.  It was so real- I hugged him, smelt his aftershave, and heard his voice.  He walked into the house, we sat and talked.  And he asked me about my life- how is work?  Oh, I see you finally got puppies.  I hope you're not spoiling them?  And how is your young man?  Is he treating you well?

And then I woke up.  But this time, I wasn't crying.  I actually felt happy, like I'd had a chance to talk to him.  And much as it was a dream, for a brief moment, I had my father back.

So today, I am grateful that I am one step closer to living with my grief, and able to remember my Dad not with tears, but with a smile.

''Because to every thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.''