Hargeisa Literary Magazine brings together some of the strongest elements in my life right now: creative writing and Somali culture. I’m fortunate to have convinced a good friend to squander her free time on the same, and we’re full-speed-ahead towards the publication of an inaugural issue on 1 April. The magic is in the mission of this apparently niche endeavor: to provide a platform for the diverse and cosmopolitan array of Somali voices worldwide.
Hiya! Somewhere, for someone, Sunday counts as mid-week, so let’s have a go. After a long stretch of meetings and main hustles and side hustles and non-stop work, I’m headed back to Hargeisa from Nairobi, and diving into more of the same! A few links to get us through: Having recently decided to take a risk and embark on some new ventures, I’m majorly feeling these career paths from Mari Andrew. (via A Cup of Jo) Anybody out there of the Marcy Playground generation? Here’s Allen Stone covering “Sex & Candy,” a song that was deviant and mysterious when I was in 6th grade! Upgraded blast from the past. (Side note, if you’re not familiar with Allen Stone, brace yourself for the beauty) I’ve long considered myself a “language person” as opposed to a “math person.” Here’s an interesting argument for mathematics as a legitimate language, replete with verbs, nouns, and narrative. (via ThoughtCo.) Get a load of these substitute phones! For the reflexive, compulsive fidgeters among us. (via The Verge) This stunning short piece by …
The year also brought a whittling of the self, especially a recognition of my limits. Time expands beyond the moment to the far reaches of age where, if I’m lucky, I’ll look back fondly on slow walks down the stairs, on the lines of schoolgirls in long, bright yellow hijabs like flocks of canaries, on the hot stacks of loxoox in the kitchen each morning, on the frigid hop from bed to closet on winter mornings. I think about my aged years as though I’m already there, ruminating over a life well lived or not, observing wrinkled, spotted hands, remembering when they were smoother, tighter, and when I took them for granted. I feel fullness, and a gentle longing, and fullness again.
What matters are the earnest embraces of greetings and farewells, the unique infusion of scents that accompany the people you love, the sparks of energy that scatter with their laughter, the loving gaze of those who know your story and bear witness to the triumphant and crushing steps on your upward spiral. While living overseas amplifies the magic of those moments it also rarefies them, detaching you even when you most need them.
I’ve lived in Hargeisa for nearly three years, and learned a lot through trial and error and… more error. I can get around pretty well on my own, including at the market, diving in, finding what I need, negotiating a bit, and jumping back out. But there’s one section of the market I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around: Grain Alley. (This is a totally fabricated name that I established to reflect how intimidated I am by this place. It works, yes?). Grain Alley is lined on either side with giant sacks of legumes, cereals, and other dried goods. Vendors, all women dressed in colorful jilbab or wrapped in patterned scarves, sit perched atop their mountainous spreads , each sack not much farther than arms length… So, I’m reaching out, friends. Anybody out there a cereals/grains aficionado? Anyone cook regularly with these? What am I working with here?
Over time we’ve lost, relievedly, the quest for illusory perfection as individuals and in partnership. We’re flawed; we wear old glasses. The functional old is as good as the shiny new; as long as you can see that clearly (as well as, you know, oncoming traffic), you’re in good shape. We’ve learned to rely on what works. Marrying is typically appreciated as a process of gain: joint commitment; two lives indefinitely summed; the amalgamation of homesteads and accumulation of material trappings. Yet, there is loss. It’s inherent to gain and equally an element of relationships, albeit less advertised.
Last stretch of 2017, friends! Sliding right on into the new year with a few fun links. I’ll be on an airplane shortly, hopefully coming out the other side in Tokyo, assuming all goes according to plan. If you’ve got any recommendations, let’s hear ’em! Freakebana, the “turnt cousin” of ikebana, ancient Japanese art of flower arranging. I dig it. (Above photo from NYMag IG. More at Freakebana.life IG) Disequlibrium is the uncomfortable secret to creative success. (Quartz) Consider also that swearing can “fuel intimacy and bonding” among co-workers: [T]he development that intrigues me most, and that Byrne discusses in colorful detail in her book, is a series of studies showing how swearing can fuel intimacy and bonding — and make you more likable. Byrne, who works by day in a male-dominated tech job, says that for her, swearing is a “necessary rite of passage” when she joins a new company. And she’s not alone. “From the factory floor to the operating theatre, scientists have shown that teams who share a vulgar lexicon tend to work …