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4 posts from August 2010


Writer's Blog

It crossed my mind when I launched this blog, but I ruled it out as a possibility, because surely thoughts are a renewable resource. I just figured I'd need to be more selective, become a better editor. I spent a week mulling over what to do about the fact that this blog has no point. Then I thought about the fact I'd never be able to poke fun at the people in my life again, since they now make up the majority of people reading this. That worried me. The key to my humour may be the people in my life, and I worry that this makes me sound fickle or callous. I worry about why the fonts keep changing when I post. I also wonder if it's tacky to promote the movie I'm in this Friday at the Royal Theatre at 9pm. I worry that "the movie I'm in" sounds self-important, especially since it's such a little part. I hate it when people refer to something as "theirs", like, "I'll have to talk to MY writer". I wonder if saying it's only a little part sounds falsely modest. Or worse, ungrateful. I really loved this little part. And I worry about appearances and about how all of this must sound, since I'm actually not worrying about much anymore at all. I think life moves much more smoothly when you stop. Worrying, I mean. I've tried worrying. I like not worrying better. But, cold turkey's no fun, so I maintain a little worry just to remind me of the old days, and also to keep real worries, the important stuff, safely at bay. So, I worry a little that maybe my ex-boyfriend's stumbled across this blog and that he's read a line I wrote about him way back, after the first time we broke up, and I wonder if I should erase it, since I'm still deeply in love with him, and I'd sort of like him to know that, even though I know we probably shouldn't be together. And, then I worry that maybe the wrong ex-boyfriend is going to read this, and then I console myself with the fact that, let's be honest, there aren't very many ex-boyfriends, so the likelihood of a) their reading it or b) their mistaking one for the other is probably quite slim. Still, I worry that I'm going to bump into him-- either one of them, really -- on the street while he is/they are with some stunning girl and I'm in my gym clothes. Again. 

And all this worry to stave off the fact that I appear to have stopped having thoughts that anybody will care about. And I am concerned that this is a blogger's occupational hazard (though, God forbid I should EVER be referred to as a blogger). I formalized blogging, I gave myrself targets to hit -- one, two, three blogs a week -- and now, I have paralyzed my blogging muscle. Ordinarily, when this kind of thing happens, I hit the road. I travel. I have lots of thoughts when I travel. I have lots of thoughts in lots of languages. But, for now, I'm grounded. So, I'm pulling out travel diaries, reading Jack Kerouac in French, picking up every magazine I can get my hands on, reading history tomes, looking at calendars and dreaming about Ethiopia. 

And the problem, I find, with worry, is that it muddles your priorities. It totally slipped my mind, but the first line of this blog post was supposed to be, "skim this".


Love Song for Football.

Five years ago, around this time, I came back from West Africa.  I was only there for six months, but you can learn a lot about a place in half a year. I worked as a journalist with a few local papers and it was a pretty magical period. I'm finishing up a project now, starting to think about what I'll do next. Itchy feet are a perpetual state of being for me. I'd love to get back to Africa.

I wrote this during the last World Cup. It's a piece of a book that I've been writing, on and off, for... well, for awhile.


The win means that Ghana’s playing Brazil for a berth in the quarterfinal against France.  Everybody loves an underdog. Suddenly my friends at home are asking about Appiah, and Mensah. They want to eat Fufu.

No. No you don’t.

This team has raised the hopes of West Africa. These players, who’ve faced such racism, people in the stands chanting, “Monkey, Monkey”, these players are hoping to be the first African team in history to score a goal against the Brazilians. One goal.

The Black Stars. The self-proclaimed Brazil of Africa.

The country is still. Ghanaians are quiet in prayer.

At game time, we look strong. Brazil scores first, Ronaldo breaking a record for most goals scored in the World Cup finals -- 15 and counting. And then, Ghana dominates. First, a shot on goal by Draman. It’s palmed out, but it’s a shot. On goal. Against Brazil. And the crowd is going wild crazy. And then, Appiah’s got a clear shot to Amoah, who’s looking at the goal but kicks it wide and it sails past the post, then Amoah again, then Addo, and nothing’s gone in, but we look aggressive, professional, we look fucking good. Still, it's tough to watch. Brazil’s held back by the Stars’ defense, and John Mensah sends a beautiful header right at the Brazilian goalkeeper and, although it bounces off his shins, it is only a matter of time.

Molls and I are watching on the projection sheet again, because we think it’s good luck. Garbage bag walls and a ceiling block out the sunlight around the screen. It’s sweltering, cocooned inside black plastic, laid in like tinned fish. It wasn't this dark inside the last time. Maybe things just feel different when you're winning.  

I’m trying to gauge the number of people in this tiny space, all wearing Black Stars t-shirts or puffy orange top hats with a black star in the middle. We’re a grand crew in this airless plastic mass. Everyone is silent. The large man next to me is praying. The large man next to him is clutching his throat. It’s one nil, and half time is coming up. One goal before halftime, just to validate the effort. Come on, come on, come on.


And, out of nowhere, his name’s Adriano, and he hoofs the ball past our guy, Kingson, and even though he is clearly offside, the goal’s ruled good, and the rest of the air’s let out of our black plastic yurt.

“But everyone saw it. He’s offside, he’s offside-oh!”

There’s fury in Accra as the second half gets underway, but by now, Brazil dominates by two goals, and by the time our guy Gyan is thrown out over a yellow card, the chasm's too wide. 

Three-nothing. Final score.

The people of Accra look to celebrate the bravery of their team, but there are tears. A palpable despondency is sweeping the country and, maybe, the rest of the continent.


The woman who sells waatchey outside my office says, “God will punish that ref”. Molls’ radio station’s running a Black Stars/Proud to be West African consolation rap on a virtual loop. I’m amazed by the rapid turnaround of this new billboard hit. Emotions in the newsroom at the Public Agenda are high as we talk about how we're going to write this.

It’s a bad day to be an oburoni.

Roland, one of the ad guys, is giving me the silent treatment, because, he says, I’m one of them. Ordinarily, it’d be something of a miracle to be mistaken for a Brazilian woman. Today, Brazil is a curse word. My editor says I’m lucky this isn’t Nigeria. If this was Nigeria, he says, I’d probably be dead. 


Standing corrected. Eating Krow.

Spelt. Past and past participle of SPELL. 

The British. 


I am such a Yank.

I also had to double check the spelling of participle.

Things are really falling apart.

You Spelt Tim Horton's Wrong.

Spelling mistakes make me incredibly uncomfortable. I realize this makes me a snob, and I'd be cool with that if my grammar were better. This -- "you spelt Tim Horton's wrong" -- was sent to our editor a few days back by my colleague. I am trying to be more openminded. So, I decided to save the judgment for my blog and instead I thought about how spelt's actually a great idea for Tim's. Or, as the case was a few days back, Tom's.