Some reader help please?

What do you do with your old prescription frames? I am looking to donate them to a charity in Johannesburg with little luck. Any leads?
Please reply in the Comments or send me an email. Thanks!
PS: I tried The Lions Operation Brightsight and I got no response from them …

Book review: Open City–Teju Cole

I have finally gotten to review this book.

The back of the book cover describes the book thus

‘The past, if there is such a thing, is mostly empty space, great expanses of nothing, in which significant persons and events float. Nigeria was like that for me: mostly forgotten, except for those few things that I remembered with outsize intensity.’

Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor doing his residency wanders aimlessly. The walks meet a need for Julius: they are a release from the tightly regulated mental environment of work, and they give him the opportunity to process his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. Though he is navigating the busy parts of town, the impression of countless faces does nothing to assuage his feelings of isolation. But it is not only a physical landscape he covers; Julius crisscrosses social territory as well, encountering people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey-which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul.

A haunting novel about national identity, race, liberty, loss, dislocation, and surrender, Teju Cole’s Open City seethes with intelligence. Written in a clear, rhythmic voice that lingers, this book is a mature, profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our world.

My thoughts?

Overall, I felt the book was pretentious, difficult (even impossible) to get into and as I read it, I thought how it’s possible for people to hype up something crappy into this larger than life thing. I will admit that as a result Open City was on my to-read list for almost three years before I finally bought it and wasted my time reading it.

In many parts I felt it to be unstructured, disjointed and almost like taking a bus that promises to go somewhere but never quite leaves the bus station! I honestly preferred the little story within a story and in those instances I could see the writers brilliance.

Discussed themes that were of interest to me include: the Jewish state, belonging/ identify, family dynamics, Nationhood and Migration as well as the power/benefits of solitude. But I feel like all this was overshadowed by the fact that he wanted to tell us about the different streets that Julius had walked on in New York and Belgium.

Final recommendation: Do not read the book. Avoid at all costs!

Monday Morning Jam

No clue what they are saying but it’s lovely and the video is awesome!

Enjoy!

Sunday Reads (Evening edition)

  1. More benefits to all from paid paternity leave
  2. Struggling to make a decision? Here’s how to go about it.
  3. I know about schools like this.So much pressure to succeed or be the best. SO. MUCH.
  4. A pea pilau recipe Smile
  5. A huge risk for little or no pay. So sad

Forcing myself to love Winter

Despite being here for six Winters, I find that the period June to August is always so difficult for me to deal. So this year, I decided to compile a list of things that I like about Winter. Don’t worry, it’s extremely short.

  1. Soup for dinner, YUM Smile
  2. Scarves as a vital fashion accessory. I have many beautiful scarves so I am good.
  3. Having a ready excuse to avoid going out in order to stay indoors and stay cosy.
  4. Not having to shave my legs.
  5. Shorter days. In the morning, I definitely enjoy getting up when it’s dark outdoors; reminds me of growing up in Nairobi.

Do you love anything about Winter?

Some quotes to start off the week

Brandon from Humans of New York has been on a mega roll this past week. Love the following two quotes:

On love and more than just love, secure love.

“I feel much more secure in my current relationship. Everything about my last relationship felt conditional on me measuring up, which magnified my insecurities. There was a tentativeness to everything. It’s hard to explain, but it was certainly felt. It could be a slight hesitation in holding hands, or an unwillingness to talk about the future. Or if he did talk about the future, he used tentative pronouns. It was ‘his’ future and not ‘our’ future.”

I once loved someone that didn’t love me back and if he did, he didn’t show it in a way that made me feel secure and loved. Now that I have that, I can totally relate with the quote above. If the guy or girl doesn’t ever talk in “we” and of “our future” I would say walk away. No, RUN! Otherwise, the doubt and the fear becomes too crippling and you can never quite leave of your own volition but you also somehow know that one day, it will all be over, just like that.

On being a mother and maintaining your identity.

“I’m trying to raise three children and not lose who I am. I used to be a fashion buyer, and I got a lot of satisfaction from that, but now it’s so easy for life to be all about the kids. They need me all the time, and my whole identity seems to be wrapped up in seeing them learn and grow every day. So I’m trying to do something everyday that’s just for me. It could be as simple as flipping through a fashion magazine in a café. I just want there to be something left of myself when they grow older and leave the house.”

My worst fear is losing my identity and only being known as mom and wife. So I like that her remedy is the little things, keep doing stuff that I love that makes me happy. My mom loved to walk the high street on a random afternoon between leaving the office and coming home. My mom’s room was a haven to her, her little space where we children were only ever allowed under the strictest circumstances and only for a limited space of time. I now see why she did that and I love her all the more for it.

Sunday reads

  1. A very unfortunate Catch 22.
  2. Twenty cooking lessons for any cook.
  3. The Brief on SA Wines.
  4. My dad is always asking why economic growth in Africa is not visible to the ordinary man. Here’s why.
  5. Jeez, doing this job would drain me but I am grateful that some people really do it well. Or keep rising up against adversity.
  6. I certainly used these tips last night!
  7. Building great teams, some core ingredients. (I totally agree with this. Great read)
  8. Took this test and found out I am in the right profession. Thanks BBC!
  9. More on the problem of Economics in Africa
  10. Dreaming of donuts: One Two Three
  11. Such a great and inspiring read. Love the quote below:
But if you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be O.K. But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet.

Enjoy!

Favourite Pins

Loving jumpsuits – they allow me to feel playful and grown up

Fabulous Ankara Jumpsuits Style  http://www.dezangozone.com/2015/05/fabulous-ankara-jumpsuits-style.htmlNEW The Sheba Peplum Top and Pants Set (2 pcs) 100% Holland Wax Cotton via Etsy

Beautiful coats

Love the #Ankara Blazer! ~Latest African Fashion, African women dresses, African Prints, African clothing jackets, African men's fashion, children's fashion, African bags, African shoes ~DKK1950s inspired African print cropped jacket ~African Prints, African women dresses, African fashion styles, African clothing, Nigerian style, Ghanaian fashion

Beautiful home decor, particularly coffee tables

Love the coffee table. A lot. 

This quinoa recipe

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Beautiful loc styles

Locs

Her make up. Clean and with her eyes popping

Dread Envy

As I get beautiful images, will try and share more as well.

Late Sunday reads

Funny thing but I found this lying in my drafts … please enjoy the old-ish links. Hope you are all having a lovely week and hopefully the next one starts on a positive note.

  1. The economics behind standing in line. Who knew?
  2. Things ARE looking up in the Development world.
  3. Practical and very thoughtful approach to Development (please also look through the comments)
  4. Quantifying the sacrifices given up at Lent
  5. The next time you want to like sad news on social media (little hint: Don’t. Never. It’s not a good idea)
  6. Please read this for the comments and the shade. Yoh! the shade
  7. Double whammy! Black and a female economist!
  8. Women and negotiation. Damned if you, damned if you don’t
  9. Recipes to try this week: Chocolate cake, Cardamon crumb cake, Lentil and rice salad

Enjoy and please feel free to leave comments with interesting stuff you read this week.

On adulting

I Can't Adult Today shirt | A Girl Named PJ

Been talking with a friend the past week about being a grown up. I guess both of us are at a crossroad making us feel a bit vulnerable.

I read this blog today (also the source of the pic) and I just screamed internally! Finally someone that gets this adult business.

  • How did my parents manage to adult so successfully? Did they ever feel the sheer panic at some of the decisions they made? How did they hide it when/if they did?
  • How did they know that it was Ok and how did they not panic when they went ahead to have five children and therefore have to make life adult decisions for them too?
  • It’s so weird because I know I am an adult (hello, 30!), I do adult things and have adult responsibilities but most times, I feel out of depth and scarily much like a 16 year old.
  • At 16, I was so driven by the desire to finish high school and weirdly, not so much about growing up because I felt I had all the freedom and some as well as  money and I was cool. Just get out of high school.
  • And then now, it’s like decisions galore and every time you ask for help, people throw it back at you like, what do you think and all I want is do this and then that.
  • So frustrating sometimes y’all. But however much it is, I sometimes look back and think, I haven’t done too shabby with myself and the few decisions I have made for myself so it’s not too bad. Not at all.

Let’s just say I am not successfully adulting today!

*PS: I love how adulting has become a verb in this post but I really saw it on Facebook earlier today so I can’t even claim this genius!

50 Timeless Pieces Of Advice About Love & Relationships

gnovember:

Always love to hear of how to improve or keep a relationship!

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

oksanaacunaoksanaacuna

Found on AskReddit.

1.

Don’t stay with someone who antagonizes you or belittles you.

2.

If you feel lonely, you’re better off being alone.

3.

Know when to walk away.

4.

You can gauge a person’s love for you by how they treat you when they are upset with you.

5.

Love is a verb, not a noun.

6.

When a lightbulb goes out, you fix the lightbulb. You don’t get a new house.

7.

Don’t settle for someone who has zero regard for your feelings or wants just because you’ve been together a long time.

8.

Just because you love each other does not mean that you’re good together long-term.

9.

No relationship is perfect and there will be conflict. What matters is the desire to solve the problem.

10.

Always fight the problem, not the other person. If you keep this in mind when arguing, you’ll…

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Books I have read this year

… aka the delayed #WorldBookDay post.

  1. A Week in Winter – Maeve Binchy
  2. This Year it will be Different – Maeve Binchy
  3. The One plus One – Jojo Moyes
  4. Sheltering Rain – Jojo Moyes
  5. Little Liberia: An African Odyssey – Jonny Steinberg
  6. A Man of Good Hope – Jonny Steinberg
  7. Open City – Teju Cole (separate post on my dislike for this book here)
  8. The Light Between Oceans – ML Stedman
  9. Forgive Me – Lesley Pearse
  10. A Lesser Evil – Lesley Pearse
  11. Silver Angel – Johanna Lindsey
  12. Rescue – Anita Shreve
  13. Gilead – Marilynne Robinson
  14. The Postmistress – Sarah Blake

On my to-read list?

What have you been reading?

Long weekend Reads

Tomorrow is a Public Holiday in South Africa so snuggle in and read up!

  1. Is the World Bank becoming obsolete? I certainly hope not!
  2. ‘Sexiness’ isn’t one of the main qualities that a girl needs to make it in a tough and competitive world, in my opinion. And if she is trading on that, then you’ve got a problem.” More here
  3. Who doesn’t like to look at beautiful food?
  4. Twelve types of peeps on Instagram (Aside: A close pal is on my bum to join and I.just.dont.feel.like)
  5. Looking for a whole week of recipes to make?
  6. I’d say this is a compulsion, but we all need something.
  7. In case you ever wanted to make your own tea blend
  8. Not so sure about this tech solution for the homeless. Not sour grapes, just not sure.
  9. I love reading about teachers using contemporary sources to get students to learn and really engage with the material.
  10. Because I just love Toni Morrison
  11. This is how to teach Maths.
  12. What a cool grannie!
  13. How much does stuff cost in your parts of the world?
  14. Crazy unintended consequences of the US’s Migration Policy.
  15. Was talking about this with a friend earlier this week.

On feeling “Other”

gnovember:

Still applies ….

Originally posted on first hand accounts of a former homebody:

The reason for the blog silence around here is that I can’t quite bring myself to focus on writing something while foreigners in Gauteng (Joburg’s province) experience looting, shooting and general fear for their lives. As a foreigner, and one that’s privileged and been blessed enough to avoid all of that, my heart breaks. So I am just going to chill and process what I feel for now.

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I too am one of “them”

gnovember:

Still very relevant in the past week as more and more people highlight what’s happening across the country!!

Originally posted on first hand accounts of a former homebody:

While writing this post, I suppose I struggled the most with the privilege that I have been afforded since moving to South Africa (incidentally, next week marks 7 years).

I have been blessed to have an income that afforded me the privilege of living in the multi-racial and international parts of Johannesburg. I have the luxury to forget my foreignness and blend in. For the most part.

Over the years, I have had certain encounters that reminded me that alas! I am one of “them” and these have always stayed with me.

  1. In 2011, the municipal bus service that I used at the time went on a protracted strike and this forced me to use a bus service whose customers are predominantly black South African. Over those four months, that was my WORST.EXPERIENCE.EVER. As I live in the suburbs, the drivers would make all kinds of assumptions about my socio-economic status…

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Why I Dropped Everything And Started Teaching Kendrick Lamar’s New Album

gnovember:

Haven’t listened to the album or in all honesty read the book BUT, I love it when teachers use contemporary sources to spur thinking in their students. Kudos!

Originally posted on Brian Mooney:

When Kendrick Lamar released his sophomore album, To Pimp A Butterfly (2015), I was in the middle of teaching a unit on Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye (1970). My freshmen students were grappling with some big ideas and some really complex language. Framing the unit as an “Anti-Oppression” study, we took special efforts to define and explore the kinds of institutional and internalized racism that manifest in the lives of Morrison’s African-American characters, particularly the 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove and her mother, Pauline. We posed questions about oppression and the media – and after looking at the Dick & Jane primers that serve as precursors to each chapter, considered the influence of a “master narrative” that always privileges whiteness.

Set in the 1940s, the Breedlove family lives in poverty. Their only escape is the silver screen, a place where they idolize the glamorous stars of the film industry. Given the historical context…

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Throwback Thursday

Nifanyeje na roho ishapenda? (What do I do when I have already fallen so hard?)

This song takes me back to high school days … But,look at how the ladies are so fully dressed compared to, ahem, today.

Spare a thought (and tears) for the Children

On Saturday I wept as I stood in front of a group of 15 high school students ranging in age from 15 to 18 (Grade 10 – 12).

For the past five weeks, I have been volunteering my time to tutor a class of Grade 10-12s at a school in Soweto to assist children from under-equipped schools with their school work in order to boost overall performance. There is an education crisis in South Africa and as a privileged member of the society; I have decided to take some time to give back.

 What is Maths Literacy?

 The competencies developed through Mathematical Literacy allow individuals to make sense of, participate in and contribute to the twenty-first century world — a world characterised by numbers, numerically based arguments and data represented and misrepresented in a number of different ways. Such competencies include the ability to reason, make decisions, solve problems, manage resources, interpret information, schedule events and use and apply technology. Learners must be exposed to both mathematical content and real-life contexts to develop these competencies. Mathematical content is needed to make sense of real-life contexts; on the other hand, contexts determine the content that is needed.

 There are five elements to it, Maths Literacy involves:

  1. the use of elementary mathematical content.
  2. authentic real-life contexts
  3. solving familiar and unfamiliar problem
  4. decision making and communication.
  5. the use of integrated content and/or skills in solving problems

 Source

 A bit of context here is the fact that until three or four years ago, Mathematics was not a compulsory subject for high school students and in fact many of them elected not to do it at all. I, who studied in Kenya until first degree level, found this extremely odd as Mathematics is compulsory for all until the twelfth year of high school. Further, that some of the outcomes being measured at Grade 10-12 level I did between Grades 4 and 8 to varying complexity.

So why did I cry?

A key skill they have to learn in Maths Literacy is ratios and proportions. For the past five weeks, I have been trying to teach them about cross multiplying in order to equate two relationships. On Saturday, we had a price list for vegetables and had to qualify cost; weights bought and undertake other related calculations.

The problem

If the price of strawberries is R29.99/400g:

  1. What is the price of 1 kg of strawberries?
  2. If he bought 0.4kg of strawberries, how much did he pay?

Each of these questions took us over 15 minutes to solve and I could tell that they just didn’t get what was required of them and tended to guess the final outcome. For instance, I got answers to (ii) above in grammes.

To test whether they understood this price-weight relationship, I would ask whether in (i) they expected an answer that’s greater than or larger than R29.99 and again, they had no clue. Here I was checking whether they understood the relationship and to introduce the idea of sense checking an answer rather than diving in to answer without understanding the question.

After the blank stares, I actually lost my head. For five weeks, we have applied cross multiplying to so many different circumstances and still they can’t apply it or even recognise when it’s the best way to arrive at a solution. What’s worse, even when I reminded them that we have looked at it repeatedly each Saturday without fail, in a bid to refresh their memory, there was no concern or even sense of urgency on their part. In fact, this was my issue to deal with as frankly it had no bearing on them.

The national pass mark is 30% and even with that, some 15.9% of Matric students failed Maths Literacy. The bar is so low and it broke my heart that even with such a low bar, these kids still had little fighting chance and that despite being sufficiently grown up to understand this, they still didn’t an I almost had the sensation of how hopeless my efforts were, almost like I was repairing a fast bleeding wound with the tiniest of plasters.

But that was one sad moment, today I am hopeful and looking at different ways to help them understand this principle as well as make Maths Literacy a practical subject for them and to empower them to have the confidence to do succeed and advance in their studies.

 

 

Sunday Reads

Happy Sunday and here are some reads to get into your morning coffee.

  1. On childlessness and more importantly why we never track the number of mean that elect not to have babies.
  2. How many of these have you read? Me only four!
  3. Always fascinating to read about the glorified world of interns or assistants.
  4. Yellow Fever is making quite the waves. Watch and Read
  5. On Dating and Apps in the African context
  6. Monica has paid her dues and needs to be released.

The positive voices, when there are enough of them, keep abusive ones from spreading, just as a mostly vaccinated population protects those few people who are not. Together, we have the power to protect the most vulnerable among us

My Crazy Happy List

I was challenged to do this post by a friend (snarky things these private blogs) so I will cite the initial source Karen.

“Grab a pen and paper, and list everything you love to do that fills you with joy and/or grace.  It can be shooting photographs, or cooking, or taking a shower, or running a mile, or singing or whatever.  Write deeply profound things, or silly little things, like organizing the junk drawer in your kitchen.  Write until it exhausts you.  Just write whatever fills you with joy or grace.”

In no particular order here are my favourites:

  1. Listening to Talk Radio and Podcasts.
  2. Reading. A good book, a great article, a lovely post. Even bad stuff, I will read as long as people write. I like the fact that reading allows a third dimension to come in and you can start to hear, smell or imagine stuff beyond what’s actually on the paper.
  3. Sitting with family to have easily six conversations running concurrently and speaking a mish-mash of all the different languages we speak or appropriating words to mean something new altogether.
  4. Chatting – whether on Gmail or on Whatsapp. I love the connection it gives me and the fact that it helps pass time.
  5. Getting a good work out and pushing my body really hard.
  6. Road trips with my Mr – gives us a chance to really talk and connect as well as listen to each others Music (his mainly).
  7. Cooking for family and seeing their appreciation S/O to my nephew who is so complimentary when you hit the happy spot. Also, getting a new cookbook and trying a new recipe and having it come out tasty and adding it to my repertoire of meals.
  8. Browsing in a bookstore or being in a Library. BOOKS, YUM!!!
  9. Journaling and my journals. I have journaled more on than off since I was 11 years old and have kept each of them.
  10. Writing lists. Anyone that knows me knows that I list everything for private and professional stuff. To-do lists, shopping lists, meeting notes, books to read, places to go, stuff I like – LISTS are my thang
  11. Reading an applied Economics paper that answers a really practical and useful question and actually getting it.
  12. I make a mean cup of tea.
  13. Friendship – catching up with a pal and connecting whether on silly or deep things. Just connecting.
  14. Getting my hair done. Ok, I will say that again, getting my hair done.
  15. Going to Church and being in a room with other believers.

What about you, what’s on your crazy happy list?