Monday, March 30, 2015

Making Room for Clothes part 2

Even with my fabulous new double-decker closet pole, that closet can not hold all my clothes.  I generally have kept most of my clothes on hangers, pretty much everything other than undergarments and socks.  Circumstances were dictating a change.

The apartment came with a neat little white bureau of some sort.  It has a large cabinet with two shelves, a smaller cabinet with two shelves and two small drawers.  I also got a white dresser from my aunt’s house.  Between these two items of furniture, I was able to tuck away most of the clothes that people traditionally fold: t-shirts, trousers, handkerchiefs, sweaters, etc.

But what to do with all my dresses and skirts that didn’t fit in the closet and big bulky things like hoodies?  Poles to the rescue!  Poles installed by a partial-Pole. Hee hee.

WP_20150113_003 After making the hanging pole in the closet, I had a length of metal closet pole left over.  I trimmed it down to the appropriate size and installed it next to the fridge.  I’d originally had a tension shower rod running through that space, from under the overhang, but that kept falling under the weight of my jackets.  A mounted closet pole is much sturdier and works great to hold all my hoodies, my shawls, my scarves and my extra winter jackets, including my high school letter jacket.

Original attempt with the shower tension rod.

closet pole

Mounted closet pole

That shower tension rod went to good use elsewhere, with two other shower tension rods.  The three of them are hung together as a cluster across the narrow part of my Dressing/office/sitting room.  They essentially split off the dressing part of the room from the office/sitting part. 

At first, I just had two rods.  That didn’t work so well; gravity and all.  With three hung all three together they balance out the load by sharing the weight.  One has cardigans, one has dresses, one has skirts and empty hangers from whatever’s in the wash.  Since redistributing the weight that way, they haven't’ fallen.

dressing room

Quick, knock on some wood.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The skinny white fat Nigerian in my head

Note: I usually do a book review post when I finish a book.  But I decided to do something different with Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah and instead share thoughts and comments in a pseudo-real time.

The protagonist is a fat Nigerian.  We know this within the first page or two of the novel.  But the image in my head is a faceless slender white woman.  The same image I’d have for Elizabeth Bennet.  I realize this.  I try to change it.  I try to think of one of my larger Nigerian friends, a well-off woman who I can’t call fat because she’s lived abroad enough to consider it an insult coming from an American.  It doesn’t work.

I keep reading; the image changes.  As Ifemelu grows, the image in my head flushes itself out.  It begins with Ifemelu’s flashback to her school days in Lagos.  The image begins to take the form of a slender African teenager, drawing on any number of the girls in my Zam-fam, my village, or around the neighborhood in Abuja.

When Ifemelu immigrates to America, when she’s new and lost and navigating the strange straddling world of her aunt who has already been in America for some time, the image grows.  It becomes easy to fit each new bit of her into the image in my head.  Her clothes change.  Her attitude changes.  Her hair changes.  She relaxes her hair; she practically shaves her head; she grows and afro.  These changes manage to stick -  although for some reason she has a blonde afro – not white girl blonde, dyed honey blonde.  This protruding of my subconscious strikes me as odd again.

As the scenes pop back to the present, the Ifemelu in the hairdresser’s chair becomes a large, Nigerian woman with black hair being put into braids, puffs of unbraided hair sticking up in front.  An Americanized Nigerian woman who’s become bitter and condescending in ways that would probably surprise her young self (but fit perfectly into the developing image in my head). 

It takes at least half the book before this Ifemelu, the one described on page two, can finally take shape in my mind.

It bothers me a bit, that I cannot take a written description and make an image of it; that my defaults are so ingrained that it takes 200 pages, 200 pages of slow growth and character shaping, to get to something close to the written description.


… For some reason, I did not have the same trouble with the male lead character, Obinze.  Perhaps because my first introduction to him was as a school boy.  By the time he showed up as an adult, he’d morphed into a melding of Kevin Hart and Idris Elba.  I’m guessing the combo is because Obinze is described as not tall.


Apparently Lupita Nyong’o is going to play Ifemelu in the film.  I’m having a really hard time picturing that.  She’s so tiny and doesn’t look at all Nigerian.  At least the actor they have for Obinze, David Oyelowo,  is Nigerian, even if not Igbo like the characters.  Of course, they’re both such stellar actors, they’ll probably pull if off splendidly.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Greetings to You

She said, “Hi. How are you?”  and I walked away, having already said good morning.  I knew it wasn’t really, “Hi. How are you?” but rather “Hi. How are you.” 

It reminded me of our German exchange student who used to complain “People ask how you are and then walk away!”  She’d try to answer them, thought it was a real question to which they wanted to know the answer.

And I thought of the children on the side of the road in Zambia who would yell, “I’MFINE HOWAREYOU I’MFINE HOWAREYOU I’MFINE HOWAREYOU,” over and over again as if it wsa two words instead of five, as if yelling “HELLO HELLO HELLO” and not a question and answer series.

It bothered me to walk away.  It probably would have bothered her more if I’d answered.

Friday, March 6, 2015

While We’re Young and Beautiful

We are told we will not be young and beautiful forever.  Every piece of our culture and our lives we are told this.  Bettery hurry and catch a man because our flower will fade, we will wilt, we will not be young and beautiful forever.

No, I will not be young forever, but I will be beautiful.  I look around me, at the women in my life who are older than me, and I see it.  we are beautiful forever.  It is a changing beauty.

I look at my mother and my aunts; they are beautiful.  They were beautiful at 20.  They were beautiful at 40.  They are beautiful at 60.  I look at colleagues, and church ladies and people on the street.  No, they are not young, but they are beautiful.  I will not be young, but I will be beautiful.

You cannot scare me, life.


… And as for the young, I’d have to live a very long time to run out of men older than me ;)

*Title taken from the Carrie Underwood song “We’re Young and Beautiful