Friday, November 26, 2010

The Voices in My Head: A Camping Experience

I consider myself to be quite an outdoorsy person (I made up a word and spell check didn’t correct me…score!) having climbed Mount Kenya 3 times, done Mount Longonot and camped in the wilderness, I think am, well, pretty outdoorsy (there I did it again). There are however those moments when I realize that there is a reason why electricity was invented, why wheels are an integral part of the human race and why hiking for kilometres with the weight of an American 13 year old Playstation addict who has a soft spot for bacon on my back is not a really good idea.

At times I am thus required to sermon my super human powers, then get more frustrated when I realize I have none. This is the point where every outdoorsy (I’m loving this word) person has to experience, the point when you come face to face with your worst enemy. Now in the wild, your enemy could be a simple 3 horned chameleon which the worst it could do would be freak you out so bad that…well I’ll leave that to the imagination. Your enemy could be anything with wings, teeth bigger than your fingers, horns and fur. Yes fur, they may look cute but they are not. The enemy here however, does not have wings (unless you are a fairy), does not have big teeth, horns or hooves (this of course is situational because some people are just one sip of blood away from growing all of these).

The enemy here is that voice that tells you what to do. The voice that stops you from doing some things, the voice that asks things like, “If I shave off my left eye-brow, will I become a mono-brow or a right-brow?” The voice that tells you to look at the weird thing growing on the back of the neck of the guy standing in front of you in the elevator, no matter how hard you try not to; or the voice that tells you that your new born niece is not as cute as the mother thinks and she probably will grow to look a bit funny (read strange).

Last weekend a bunch (56 to be exact) of friends set out for a camping expedition to the Hell's Gate National Park in Naivasha. Apart from that one time we stopped over at a gas station to buy food, the trip was characterized by my incessant banging on the window by my head, before I realized that sleeping in a fast moving vehicle on our poor roads was, in the best words, dumb. We arrived at camp at some minutes to 6 in the evening and so the first thing that needed to be done was set up camp. Now, when you are 56 and only 6 of you know how to pitch tents the scenario is not what you would call enjoyable; but when 4 out of the 6 are busy entertaining the newbies with stories of past expeditions and experiences, you kind of get the urge to kill something.

So some minutes till dark and half of the tents have not yet been put up. Forty minutes after dark, we realize that some tents are missing pegs. For those of you who are new to this, the peg is what holds the tent down to prevent it from turning into a hot air balloon in the middle of a stormy night. Everything else goes well, the food, the company, the fire, the tents (none of them flew off into the night) and the breakfast. We even had sun-warmed showers. The tables turned about 45 minutes after breakfast when we started setting down camp to prepare for the 10 kilometre hike to the second camp site. So far, so good.

All my outdoor experiences have been defined by the back pack I have with me and so normally I would attach my tent, sleeping bag and mat on the back pack and hike on...not today! Today, people carried school bags, duffel bags and some even carried shopping bags! Where the heck did they think they were going...for a sleep over then ice cream?! All the while the voices in my head have been doing their voice practice, minding their business as I mind mine...until one voice notices something wrong and ask, "What the...?"

Realizing what is bound to happen, I'm like, "Okay voices, relax, it's going to be fine." The voices go, "Okay, so where was I yaa...if I cut off a duck's foot....wait!!! Why on earth do those chicks look like they are going for shopping? Ras kill something now!" I'm now a deer staring at the hunter's barrel (couldn't find another metaphor) "Ah, why don't we see what we can do, may be I could attach an extra tent to by back pack..." Almost immediately, the voice turns beast like, like the bass part of an all dinosaur acapella group, "Shut up, get do not need this." At that moment one of the girls comes to me and asks if I'll help her carry her purple hand bag. "Do you mind carrying my bag for me?" "Mind if I kill you and stuff you in the bag?!"

Ooops! I cover my mouth with both hands and she asks, "What?" I whisper, "Nothing" as I briskly walk away saving myself from a lot of judgement and probably pepper spray.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I hate Organizations

My organizational strategies class seems to have created in me a loathing for organizations. Before the class, this was my career aspiration: Become famous and possibly rich through this blog, and the many I will have created since my life will revolve around eating potato crisps, the internet and not leaving my house. I couldn't picture myself handling various responsibilities since responsibilities are life's way of telling you, "Hey! I have another side, a side that you'll probably hate...." I couldn't see myself handling a 9 to 5 job, waking up early each day, wearing a tie and hating Mondays. Now because of this stupid class, I have affirmed this. I hate organizations, I hate the corporate slave ship and I hate all the people who made everyone else hate Mondays!

Knowing that life does not usually end up the way we want, I have prepared myself psychologically for the kind of organization I would work in. This would be a normal day at work for me....

I would gently tap the snooze button on my alarm clock since I'll love waking up at 4 in the afternoon. A quick shower then straight to the closet. Black suit, white shirt, blood red tie, gator boots and holster check! Oh wait! Sun glasses, check! I would then run down stairs and find my partner impatiently waiting. The drive away from the city would be refreshing as I sip on some Red Bull (the breakfast of champions) and meditate on today's projects. My partner would slow down as we approach the gate making time for us to show the friendly guy holding the AK-47 our ID cards. We'd park right under the huge AREA 51 sign, it shields the car from the sun.

The doors would slide open with a swoosh after flashing our cards to reveal a large warehouse-looking building with hightech gadgets and people in suits walking around purposefully. We would walk towards our station past the aliens in the huge liquid filled incubators and then just as we approach our desks, I remember the practical joke my partner pulled last time and I see this as an opprtunity to hit back. So I push him violently and shout, "He's got a gun!!!!" and watch as everyone, me included take our guns from our holsters and point at his direction.

The chances of that happening are however not as promising as I would like and so I have to prepare myself for the alternative.

After waking up at 5 in the morning so that I can beat traffic and get to the office before my boss does, I get to the office 25 minutes after the mail guy who is always 30 minutes late. I discover that I forgot my tie and that is probably why my boss is giving me this weird cold look like I'm the one who told his wife about him and his last secretary at the office party last december. I would then walk to the coffee maker frustrated, since the space bar on my computer keyboard is broken and so icannottypemyreportlikethis, only to find the coffee maker broken and so I have to wait until lunch since they forgot to bring tea bags. I try to get some work done, but the IT guy can't fix my computer because last week I got frustrated and 'accidentally' stapled a stack of papers on his forehead. And so like a zombie I would drag myself back to my desk and wait until it's time to go home...and probably kill something.

Therefore, to prevent any life altering disappointment, I have decided that the only organization I would work for is one that would hire me as a kick ass undercover agent.

Otherwise I'll settle for my house, a pantry full of potato crisps, unlimited internet and a bunch of followers bent on seeing that I become famous.

Anything else can eat a bag full of smelly socks!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Freaking Army of Korean Zombies

I always thought zombies were fun creatures. Why on earth would you be scared of a zombie, not unless you were asleep and one creeps up on you. You only need to shoot or hit one in the head or, run away or walk briskly either way the stupid creatures would only catch you if for some weird reason you wanted to be caught. That however changed. I can now say that the only thing that freaks me out more than a zombie, is a spider and that's because zombies do not have eight legs!

My school shares an exchange program with a Korean university (I feel the need to state that it's the other Korea the one in the South) , so every year a group of Koreans spend a semester in Kenya while, sadly a bunch of Kenyans, for no apparent reason go to a country where there names will not be pronounced right, the food probably at some point wore a leash (most ignorant joke I have said this year...I promise) and Korean is the first language. While I have no problem with learning a second language, Korean isn't exactly at the top of my list. Anyway, this gives us the chance to share our cultural experiences and apparently learn something out of it.

I therefore developed a liking for Koreans. They were cool, they dressed like they own Mr. Price, and they had a surprisingly good taste in music. I still am not sure how Ehud, my Korean buddy listened to Common and Lauryn Hill. I'm beginning to sound like the American idiots who ask us how we live on trees and whether Kibaki is a member of the Mungiki; but there is a point to all this...I hope. So for some time I enjoyed Korean company, even their food; until I signed up for the International Youth Fellowship (IYF) 2008.

The IYF is an annual youth camp that runs for a whole week. Oh, and it is organized and facilitated by Koreans. So on seeing the poster I was somewhere between excited and confused. "So many Koreans! It's going to be just like a star wars meets Lord of the Rings meets Common and Lauryn Hill convention. I was convinced that this was going to be the event of the year...probably even the decade. The problem is at that particular time, I had malaria.

I usually don't get sick a lot but when I do, the disease makes me feel like a giant cyclops beast swallowed me, then threw me up then chewed me again, then shared me with his dragon friend who saw it a good idea to breath fire all over me.... So while I was fantasizing about how much fun the Korean event would be, the cyclops and the dragon were not yet done with me and so sadly, I wouldn't attend. At least I thought so.

One of my friends, now near the bottom of my best friends in the whole wide world list, and still waiting for me to accept their Facebook friend request, signed me up for the camp. As if that wasn't enough, he signed me up as: (Before we go any further, in this particular blog I will reveal my identity, then I will erase your memory at the end) Kefa Kariuki Peter. Kefa, is Amharic for Peter and so for obvious reasons having Peter and Kefa in the same name is redundant AND ANNOYING to say the least.

Just in case you didn't believe me!
So I got a call a few days later (the dragon was still playing his part) cheerfully reminding me that the camp was starting in a couple of days. My attempts to cancel didn't bear fruit when I was told that money was spent on registering me and that I had to go.

I managed to get there with a fever, cough, running nose and slur. I guess they are used to weird flus (ahem...swine flu...ahem...bird flu) because none of them seemed to care. "Kepa. Kepa! KEPA!!! KEPA KARIUKI PETER" "Crap! That's me. That's me? That's me!" Kepa? as if Peter was not bad enough. Then all of a sudden, with the cyclops spitting me out and the dragon spitting fire at me, I started sweating profusely. Nobody believes me when I give this story and this is why:

All of a sudden, all the Koreans turned pale and their eyes blood shot. Before I realized it was an army of Korean zombies it was too late. They were all over the place. "Kepa! Kepa! Kepa!" They kept repeating that as they came towards me. I tried to mumble a few words, "It's Kefa...It's Kefa!" "Stop calling me..." I remembered my first rule about zombies: hit them in the head; I did not have any weapon. Rule number 2, RUN! So I was wrong, this zombies could run!

They caught up with me eventually (you can't run far with a boiling point fever) then next thing I knew, I was surrounded by some Koreans and my freaked out friends.

The doctor said I was hallucinating because of the fever...yeah right!

Since I revealed my identity, I sadly have to erase your memory. All you need to do is stare at the image for 10 seconds thinking about unicorns or any mythical creature of your choice and then blink 15 times.


Monday, November 1, 2010

A Bald Head and A Funny Song

It's probably 30 degrees outside as I write this post. I normally do not care for the weather, but today something special happened. I woke up extraordinarilly happy, shoved my matress under the bed, got ready for the day and took off. I wasn't going to let anything get in my way not even the hot Athi River sun. I grabbed the 'D & G' sun glasses that were conveniently lying on the table and cool-ly put them on, a subtle voice in my head saying, "bring it on". Basically, it was going to be a good day.

I usually have an organizational strategies class on Mondays. I shouldn't say this for fear of spoiling the credibility of our fine learning institution but I fear for future organizations. I have nothing against this particular person, but when you include giving key holders as a strategy for enhancing individuals' perception of an organization's mission and vision statement, I can't help but woder how much thought was put into that presentation. Regardless of the key holders in my head and the annoying yet entertaining presentations, I still wasn't going to let anything ruin my day.

I should mention that my organization strategies lecturer is an amazing person. She has this amazing way of putting things into perspective without even breaking a sweat. I remember how this one time I understood a concept known as Systems Thinking using a cooking pot as an analogy. Now, over the years I've come across random analogies and silly songs we sang to remember things. Remember Richard of York and the colors of the rainbow? Once she starts talking, a world is created in your mind where you can either get lost and day-dream your way to the end of class or you can build castles and civilizations and apply what the lecture is about. Today, I got lost somewhere in there.

One of my good friends cut her hair. I like that statement, it shows possibility of some hair still left and so, I will rephrase it: One of my good friends, a girl, shaved her head bald. There, that's more like it. I have nothing against ladies with short or no hair but sometimes, honestly, they push it. I recently discovered the dynamism that is people's head shapes and so every so often I find myself wondering, "If that chick cut her hair how would she look?" or "I wonder how the back of her head looks." So here I am, in class, my mind processing several million thoughts per second and then, wham! There she is head as bald as the moon.

My mind almost goes into overdrive (before I continue, let me explain overdrive: this usually happens when my mind is extremely excited. Images appear from everywhere, then numbers turn to blobby images and the the blobby images turn to light then everything turns smokey and a loud voice commands me to either take off my shirt or start singing out loud. At this time it is usually too late and all anyone can do for me is restrain me and hope for the best.)

All the questions I asked about head shapes are answered all at once so my mind is heading towards overdrive then my lecturer says something and I calm down. I think she asked me a question; or everyone in the class just decided to look at me all at the same time. Ya, that's probably it.

So all I can see is bald heads and a voice telling me to sing. The voice keeps getting louder until I shout, "what song?" (This is the amazing part about this whole ordeal. I could move my lips but no sound came out and so I conveniently had a conversation with the voice in my head after my lecturer and the rest of the class apparently got tired of looking at me blankly.) I still do not understand how I was able to separate the apparent imaginary voice from my mouth and that in my mind. So a few more bald heads and my mind could take it no more and as if on cue:

No hair, for my hair brush
No hair, for my hair brush
No hair, no hair, not fair, oh where, no hair....

As if nothing had happened, the images disappeared, the music stopped and the class ended. I walked out with a smile, an image of a bald head and a funny song. Today still is a good day.