Meditation – Take 1

So on Friday I decided to try out my meditation CD for the very first time. Thanks to Amazon’s spiteful policy of giving a month long window for possible delivery, I had spent a week stalking the mailman. Needless to say, we were both relieved when it finally arrived on Thursday. The CD came with a tiny book which I was able to read in 45 minutes flat WHILE watching an episode of Cops (for those of you who are curious this particular episode was titled ‘Bad Girls 3’ which, among other things, featured one particular bad girl who had the brilliant idea to hide UNDER HER CAR from the cop who had just pulled her over – yes, I know – >reality TV heaven). 

Anyway, I busted out the CD first thing on Friday morning. Ok, the thing about my meditative experience is that I have no idea if I was doing it right because I have no idea what a successful meditation is supposed to feel like. For one thing, I kept on being distracted by the weird noises that my toilet was making – I think my toilet is possessed; one day last week it just started making these strange sloshing noises at random intervals throughout the day. Then I scared myself by wondering if there was something swimming INSIDE my toilet. And who can meditate with a toilet that’s possessed by a swimming ghost?! But the pleasant sounding lady on the CD kept on reassuring me that it was ok for thoughts to come into my head and telling me to just imagine them floating away into the sunset. Easy for you to say lady, you’re not the one trapped in an apartment with a malevolent toilet ghost.

For the pleasant lady’s sake, I tried my best to imagine my toilet and its ghoulish occupant floating away and focused on what she was telling me about the love, light and general awesomeness that was inside of me. For a few moments I actually felt like I was totally calm and thought-less, but those moments were cut short by my unborn child who has recently decided to test the ability of my ribs to withstand her vigorous kicks. (This kid is SO grounded when she comes out…) 

All in all though, I managed to complete the entire 15 minute session. I can’t say that I felt radically transformed afterwards but I will say that I felt a wee bit calmer.  Pleasant Lady says that meditation is a ‘discipline’ that takes time and practice. I believe her and so I will commit to meditating 5 days a week.

Everyday I’m Hustlin’

These are the confessions of a hustlin’ housewife (I’m sorry but does “hustlin’ housewife” sound like the title of a low-budget porn to anyone else? No? Ok, never mind). 

Confession #1: I re-use Ziplock bags

You remember how you kindly packed a few brownies for me after your party last weekend? You BEST believe that I made my husband wash that Ziplock bag so that he could use it to carry his lunch for the next few weeks. So, thanks x2.

Confession #2: I double-dip my tea bags

Kenyan tea is hard to come by around these parts people. So I’m SORRY if when you came by the other day your tea tasted a little weak. I can assure you that I tried to squeeze that tea bag as hard as I could so that it tasted like the first cup I made (even though yours was cup #3 down the line). Next time I’ll serve you first, promise.

Confession #3: I re-gift gift bags

You know those tiny cards attached to the handles of gift bags? Please don’t write in them. People like me intend to take our gift out of the gift bag as soon as possible so we can carefully fold and save the gift bag for re-use sometime in the near future. We already feel pretty crappy about this without you making us have to tear out the little card on the handles. 

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As a side note, I think the universe has decided to reward me for my money-saving efforts; in the last 4 months I have received 3 coupons for free Victoria Secret panties. No purchase required! Well, either that or the universe is trying to tell me something else altogether 😕

The Little Housewife That Could

Before I get on with this post, let me first acknowledge that my use of the word ‘little’ in the title above is extremely laughable because there is NOTHING little about me right now. 7 months pregnant or not, I feel (and most definitely look) like a beached whale. My belly seriously grows at the astonishing rate of about 20 inches per day. And every morning I look at it like, SERIOUSLY? My sweet little belly button which used to curve inwards ever so delicately is now just a flat, black rounded spot in the middle of my massive midsection. But I’m grateful for this belly because it has been mercifully shielding my ankles from view. All this time, I thought my ankles were doing fine until my beloved husband felt the need to point out to me a few nights ago that they are looking mighty swollen. So, with some difficulty, I lift my legs so I can see said ankles and yup, I officially have CANKLES people. Just great. Thanks boo. This is exactly the type of information I need to hear right now. AND THEN my boobs are just another story on their own. They need their own zip code. They have ballooned to obscene proportions and continue to do so with no end in sight. Let’s just say that if a boat I was on capsized, everyone could climb aboard my massive frame and I would make for a great life raft, complete with two outstanding floatation devices. 

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, on to the post…

It’s been a full two weeks since my lifestyle change and I can honestly say that I’m a much more productive (and happy) human being. I’m not a domestic goddess yet by any means but I’m not at the same level of crappiness that I once was. This is progress, people! The thing is, I’ve discovered that with housekeeping (as with most other things in life) moderation is key to success. Less is more, if you will. There is absolutely no reason to clean your house all day –nobody’s house needs to be that clean. An hour of cleaning on Monday, spot cleaning throughout the week and then a touch up on Friday and you’re good to go! With laundry, I’m probably the last person on planet earth to discover that waiting until you have a 6-foot-high heap of dirty clothes is not a great idea. As I belatedly learned, laundry becomes much less depressing when you have a small, manageable load. Who would have thunk?!Progress, I tell you! I’m still waiting for my craft supplies to fill up my afternoons but like that famous Little Engine That Could, I think I CAN do this housewife thing!

All this got me thinking that it’s funny how you can pray and hope for one thing (a job in my case) but get something totally different (housewifery), and STILL be happy (after a little attitude adjustment). So, maybe, the answer you get isn’t just plain “No” but instead it’s “No, BUT what I do give you will be more awesome if you could only just see it that way.”
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Thursday Things

1. Happiness is an attitude.  We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong.  The amount of work is the same.  ~Francesca Reigler. 

And with that quote in mind, please watch this short, too-cute-for-words video.

2. A while ago, Kuweni Serious released this fantastic piece in the effort to ‘fight the evil forces of apathy’ that plague the younger generation in Kenya (and all over the developing world if you really think about it). I think it’s worth sharing.

3. Aid organizations and the United Nations itself have expressed alarm that the plight of millions of Pakistanis flooded from their land has yet to strike a sufficiently sympathetic nerve among donors — neither governments nor the general public — with aid trickling in far more slowly than needed ~The New York Times

Disaster fatigue? Donor mistrust of Pakistan? Insufficient media coverage? Why the relative apathy when 20 million people have been affected by this tragedy?

4. Lately I’ve been trying to smile at least once an hour, no matter what. At first it felt silly but now I’ve discovered that smiling (even for no particular reason), makes my days much happier 🙂

Have a happy weekend!

The Desperate Housewife

Desperately BORED, that is. Now I completely understand why housewives get into all types of mischief,  like the ever popular sordid love affair with the surprisingly-muscular-for-his-age pool boy. It’s the afternoon boredom! My mornings are great – they bustle with energy and productivity; with my new routine I wake up early (let’s just agree that 8:30 a.m. qualifies as early) and clean or launder, then maybe go to the gym, check my emails/Facebook, read a book and before I know it, it’s time for lunch!

But eventually and rather unfortunately, lunchtime has to end at one point or another. I then spend the afternoon in absolute tedium, traipsing interchangeably from the reading chair to the computer to the fridge. My unholy trinity. Two weeks ago I would have been content to watch TV the entire afternoon without the slightest bit of shame. But now I’ve gone and convinced myself that TV is the root of all evil (see footnote) and my nemesis in the journey towards better housewifery. So where does that leave me? Bored out of my freaking mind and ready to fling myself off the balcony at any given moment. Some of you working folk might be seething with anger as you read this, wondering how I have the audacity to complain about my afternoons while you’re stuck doing mind-numbing, life-draining excel spreadsheets in a dreary cubicle.  But before you start foaming at the mouth, please remember that you get paid for the boring crap you do. Me? Not so much.

I could blog more often but it would probably be best to spare you from too many mindless rants within the same week. The pool attendants at our communal pool are all middle aged and female which takes one possibility off the table (husband, you can breathe a sigh of relief). So, as much as it pains me to say this because it makes me feel at least 100 years old, I may need to explore the age old housewife tradition of  crafting. The world may not need any more hand-made soap, candles or jewelry but world be dammed, I need something to do!

It’s decided then. Crafting will henceforth be adopted as a suitable afternoon pastime. I intend to keep you abreast of any developments (or lack thereof) in my newly found pursuit so stay tuned for updates on this topic. 

*Footnote: This only applies to the hours before 6 p.m. I happily and unabashedly follow pretty much every primetime show that exists.    

PS – My mind, body & soul makeover is going well if you were by any chance wondering. I have a healthy stash of books waiting to be read and have already ordered my meditation CD.  As fate would have it though, my cheap ass forgot that I purchased a gym membership that only allows me to use the gym 3 days/week so unfortunately my 5 day plan had to trim down to 3. Okay, who am I kidding, the realization that I couldn’t go to the gym more than 3 times/week even though I wanted to was the best thing that happened to me all week, possibly even all month.

So, what do you do?

You have no idea how frequently the topic of occupation comes up in casual conversation until you have no occupation to speak of. I have increasingly come to dread meeting new people because the question of what I do for a living will undoubtedly come up within the first few seconds of dialogue.  The typical tête-à-tête usually goes as follows:

Me: Hi, I’m Shiko.

Idiotic Stranger: Hi, I’m (insert idiotic stranger’s name here), nice to meet you. How do you know so-and-so?

Me: Oh, we went to school together in Kenya, how about you?

Idiotic Stranger: blah, blah, blah.

Me: And do you live here in the city? (By this time my mind is frantically thinking of ways to steer this conversation away from the inevitable employment query. I could care less where this guy lives. All I want is to retreat from this conversation with some measure of dignity still intact. I’m trying to think of another question before he does but my stupid brain, having been dormant all day after another reality TV marathon, will not cooperate. Beads of sweat have already begun cropping up all over my forehead and the only thing going through my head is Oh Crap, oh crap…)

Idiotic Stranger: So, what do you do?

Me: (CRAP! Now, how should I answer this? I could say that I do nothing and laugh it off but that might just make him feel awkward. I could give him my life story in a manner that evokes a sympathetic and slightly condescending response like, ‘I’m sure you’ll get back on your feet again.’ Yuck. Or I could use the pregnancy and pretend that this was the plan all along — because I’m just so awesomely maternal like that. In the midst of my panic and despair, I usually mumble a variation of the following reply…)

Well, I’m a recent casualty of the economic crisis and with a baby on the way, I’ve decided (Decided? Yeah, right.) to take a break from the workforce. How about you?

Idiotic Stranger: I’m the V.P. of Marketing at XYZ.

Me: (Screw you! But instead I say…) That’s great. I love their stuff!

Why does the job question come up so soon during introductions? What does what I DO have to do with who I AM? Granted, there are some occupations that can give some indication of personality type e.g. lawyer, nun, fashion designer. But even those are just stereotypes; I’m quite positive that there are non-confrontational lawyers, bitchy nuns and boring fashion designers. Majority of people have obscure administrative jobs that do nothing to reflect their personalities. Yes, I’m talking to you Ms. Database Manager. If anything, all this question does is allow people to estimate which income bracket someone else most likely fits into…which is fine if you’re trying to decide who to invite to your baby shower (ka-ching! Just kidding! Kind of.) but otherwise you’re better off asking what someone’s favorite clothing brand is. My point being that the, ‘So, what do you do?’ question should not be one of the first questions to ask when getting to know an individual because it is quite ineffective as a character assessment tool.

Yes, my recent transition out of the workforce is probably making me touchier about this than I should be. Maybe it will get better when I can say ‘I’m a housewife’ in a less defensive/amused tone (right now, depending on my frame of mind, I either say it like I’m DARING someone to call me a loser or like I’m about to burst into laughter). Whatever the case might be, at this moment I am convinced that ‘So what do you do?’ is the dumbest question. Ever.

Eat, Pray, Love, (Clean)

In my previous post I declared that from today henceforth I would begin to live out my joblessness a.k.a housewife life in a healthier and happier manner. As contradictory as it may seem, the couch potato life that I have been living is not only exhausting but it’s not that enjoyable either. It’s one thing to lounge on the couch after several days of hard work but it’s quite another to be confined to a couch (for lack of anything better to do) day after day and week after week.

So today marked the dawn of a new era! Up I got at the crack of dawn (well, around 8 ish) to begin my week. I busied myself with putting away the laundry (never mind that these were clothes that had been sitting out for two weeks and that it was my husband who had laundered AND folded said laundry. I married a saint. It makes me feel even more useless). And I also bestowed upon the apartment a thorough cleaning. So thorough was this cleaning that I even dusted the furniture before I wiped it down. DUSTED. I associate dusting very much with housewives because they always seem to be doing it on TV. The cloth that I was using, however, was not very effective and I ended up knocking stuff all over. I have resolved to cease all further dusting until I get proper equipment in the form of a duster (or is it called a dust mop? Surely, dust mop just seems contradictory…either it dusts or it mops. We just call a mop, a mop, not a wipe mop. Until I investigate further into this matter I shall call it a duster). Anyway, I cleaned vigorously for a full 45 minutes (feel free to applaud at this point) and was literally panting by the time I was done. The apartment was gleaming but I was tired to the point of being rendered immobile – I collapsed on the couch where I remained for the next hour.

As I lay on the couch in a near comatose state, I began to think about what other specific changes I would make to my life to make it happier and healthier (Yes, yes, I will continue to add more household tasks and domestic projects to my daily routine but I mean BESIDES that. After all, I may be a housewife but I am more than just a sum of my chores!). Then I started thinking that this question would be more easily answered if I broke it up into how I could change different dimensions of my life, as in, mind, body and soul. This is what I came up with:

Mind – I will reignite my voracious appetite for reading. Why not take advantage of this free time to get back to something that I love doing? In particular, I want to explore African literature so it’s a good thing that I found this website to point me in the right direction.  I have also found that writing this blog has given me a creative outlet that should assist in the effort to prevent the atrophying of my brain cells (thanks to Real Housewives marathons, though, I fear that much of the damage may already have been done).

Body – My love-hate affair with the gym will have to be rekindled. I really HATE going to the gym. I mean REALLY. People who love working out annoy me to no end and should all be shot at sunrise. Anyway, I will strive to work out 5 days a week. And that’s enough on the subject. As, I smugly mentioned before, I can (at least) cook a decent, well-balanced meal, and will continue to do so until further notice.

Soul – Aaah, what will I do for my SOUL? I must admit that I am quite shy about giving you my thoughts on this one but here goes: At the risk of sounding totally New Age, I want to learn how to meditate (those of you who know me personally can stop laughing now. Seriously. And no, this is not just because I read Eat, Pray, Love). Haven’t you ever just felt the need to be still? To stop the constant, random chitter-chatter in your brain and just be silent? Well, I have. I’ll do some research into some meditation for dummies CDs and let you know how it goes.

(Back to my day…)

After an hour spent incapacitated on the couch I gathered myself with renewed determination and headed straight for the gym. How proud I was of myself as I walked on that treadmill (my pace was far from brisk but give me a break, I’m pregnant!). Afterwards, I ran some errands (wow, doesn’t that just sound so domestic?) before returning home to have lunch, read my Agatha Christie mystery (the library does not have the book I ordered yet) and blog.

But as I sit here at 3:30 in the afternoon, I am so damn sleepy. Perhaps it’s the early morning I had or maybe all of my hard labor. Either way, I’m pooped. Do housewives nap? Not even the ones in Spain? Well, this one does and will.

PS – Seriously people, what is the name of that dusting thing? Is it really called a dust mop?

PPS – If you have any book suggestions, please hurl them my way.

Oh Crap. I’m a housewife.

Couch PotatoAnd I’m not just a housewife, I’m a CRAPPY housewife. I despise cleaning, I love sleeping in and I would rather watch a Real Housewives marathon than do anything constructive around my home. Let me give you a quick run down on how I got to this point in life: I graduated with an MBA just as the economy tanked, spent the next 6 months looking for a job, finally got one, only to get the boot 6 months later when the company went bankrupt. As if my luck wasn’t already questionable at this point, my husband and I found out that I was pregnant right around the time when the company announced that we were all about to get sacked. I mean, I’ve always loved kids and have always dreamed of being a mom but did it have to happen NOW? So, anyway, I tried unsuccessfully to look for a job after the lay off but as days turned into weeks and weeks into months, it became apparent that I wasn’t going to find work before the baby arrived. So here I am, 6 months pregnant and staring down a path that I never prepared myself for – that of domesticity.  

Back to why I’m a crappy housewife. Here is a typical weekday in the life of yours truly:

10:30 a.m. – Wake up. (I have nothing important to do for the rest of the day so what’s the rush?)

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. – Rush through my daily hygiene routine and make the bed. (I am extremely proud of myself for religiously making the bed every morning. This is undoubtedly the only housework that I do without complaint.)

11:00 to 11:05 a.m. – Tidy up the house. (And yes, this gets no more than 5 minutes of my time. In my defense however, we live in a small apartment and it’s not my fault that we are tidy people.)

11:05 – 2:00 p.m. – Lazily eat breakfast while watching t.v. and surfing the internet. (I have no excuse for this one. It is simply what I do.)

2:00 – 4:00 p.m. – See above but replace ‘breakfast’ with ‘lunch’.

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Tea time. (This is the highlight of my entire day because not only does it give me a chance to indulge in a rich PB & J sandwich but it also marks the end of the ‘work’ day which means that A) I made it through another day and B) my husband will be coming home soon.

5:00 p.m. – Start prepping and cooking dinner. (I may not do much cleaning but I DO cook!)

I’m well aware that my current weekday routine is very lazy and nowhere near what a good housewife (whatever that means) should be doing but here is the thing: I’m 6 months pregnant (!) and in no mood to crawl around the house scrubbing floors. Ok, I know that I could probably do a lot more than I’m currently doing but everyone says that I’ll be SO busy once the baby comes – shouldn’t I be allowed to live out these final 3 months in luxury? No? Well then here is a compromise: Without going overboard (Ha!), I will begin to make changes to my routine with the goal of living a more productive and healthy domestic life.

Starting Monday, August 9th 2010 (you didn’t really think that I would start during the weekend did you?), I hereby pledge to start my journey towards Good Housewife status.