How to find the perfect wedding dress: Lessons – Part 2

Finding a wedding dress that you love and feel great in can be a rather daunting task, as seen in my previous post. This is especially for those, like me, who are prone to bouts of chronic indecision from time to time.

Starting over on this project (it really is one) that I thought I was done with in good time so I could focus on other equally important matters was not fun at first. Searching for another wedding dress design that could actually fit into my vision and budget, shopping for fabric, and a different fundi (as the one I had talked about earlier was experiencing some health challenges) for the second time while still planning other aspects of the wedding was exhausting.

Even though the first attempt of having my dress made didn’t turn out as expected, I was not deterred from tailor-making my dress. I settled on one of the very first designs I had liked and pinned on my one of my Pinterest boards (I wouldn’t call myself obsessive but by this time I had about seven wedding-related boards). It was simple and elegant with long-sleeved lace arms, a low back, and a flowing chiffon bottom.

I’d like to acknowledge my good friend Laura of Weza Fabrics who hooked me up with not only some great fabric for the dress design I wanted but also with a great fundi from her tailoring shop who had experience in bridal work. She was also rather patient and understanding with me, something that all brides need in generous doses during this time. Though there were a number of adjustments and uncertainties that were part of this process, I loved the end result and do not regret my decision to tailor-make the dress. I also learned a couple of lessons that I’d like to pass on to another bride-to-be from my own experience.

  • Start your wedding dress search early so you can have time to browse, consider different options and titter tatter in indecision. You will not have the luxury of doing this 1.5 months to your wedding.
  • I probably do not need to state the obvious but I will anyway. Go for a dress you feel comfortable and beautiful in. It’s great to have the input of your loved ones but the ultimate decision has to be yours. You’re the one wearing the dress after all.
  • It’s possible to have continuous second and third thoughts even after you’re sure you’ve found THE ONE.
  • You will see prettier, shinier and non-mainstreamier (yes, this is a word I made up) wedding dresses after you have already settled on a dress you’re sure you love. You need to make peace with this fact and be content with your decision.
  • If you are having your dress made, please understand that it may not turn out exactly like the one saved on your phone. Find out where adjustments can be made to make it closer to the one you had envisioned and also what you can accept as the fundi’s creative interpretation of what you asked them to make, if possible (easier said than done really).
  • There is no perfect wedding dress.

 

Happy wedding day!

 

How to the find the perfect wedding dress: 15 simple steps – Part 1

  1. Blow the dust off a Pinterest account that you created ages ago but have never really put to any use. Try to remember your password. Give up on this and create a new password.
  2. Type ‘wedding dresses’ into the search bar and get lost in the plethora of options generated. Should you go for vintage, lace, princess, encaje, mermaid, boho, modest, backless, with sleeves, A-line, rustic, or tea length? Sure, you don’t know what some of these terms are referring to but they all sound great!
  3. Let your search take you to the deepest recesses of the Internet, to the places many fear to tread, the 18th page of Google search.
  4. Decide that you have seen it all and make your decision. Something that you haven’t yet encountered on your perilous voyages on the Interwebs. A long-sleeved wedding dress. With pockets. No lace. Lace is too mainstream.
  5. Type ‘long-sleeved wedding dress pockets’ into the Pinterest search bar. Wow, these exist. Marvel at the exquisiteness of some of the designs. This is definitely what you want. The sheer simplicity, elegance and non-mainstreameness of it is making you smile in traffic.
  6. You decided a while back that your wedding dress would be couture (and hopefully won’t cost you an arm, leg and spleen) and you already have a date with a fundi that has known you since you were into nguo za stairs.
  7. The day before your fundi visit, open a link sent to you by your fiancé from apracticalwedding.com on WhatsApp, containing ‘unconventional wedding dresses’. Get mind-blown by the designs and decide that your choice wasn’t unconventional enough. Not rustic or bohemian enough. This is, after all, what you were going for.wedding-dress-searchb
  8. Settle on a different design from the one you had shown your mother and all other interested parties at 11.37 pm. The model in the picture wears a one shoulder, straight wedding dress that falls oh so gracefully. Her hair is down and there’s that sunny, cheery feel (that you’re also going for) in the picture. #sunkissed
  9. Your mother may not approve. She will say it’s too simple and ask if you’re sure about this. You will chuckle at this. How can you not be?
  10. Take the design to your fundi, printed on photographic paper so she doesn’t miss the finer details. Screens can be deceiving. Find a way to add pockets to the mix. Fundi is doubtful about doing this with chiffon. It’s possible, insist on this. Show her a picture on Pinterest with pockets. Same fabric.
  11. Two weeks later when the dress is ready, make your way to the fundi’s house. So the dress kinda sorta maybe looks like the one on the picture. It probably only needs a few adjustments.
  12. How do you feel about it? A most important question from sister dearest. You’re not quite sure at first but maybe you need to see it in a better light. It was dark at the fundi’s. Try it on again during daytime in a well-lit room and try to summon feelings you don’t quite understand. Start getting a little philosophical in the midst of all this. But what does it truly mean to like something?
  13. “Don’t settle for a dress you don’t like.” You will be advised. Pay heed to this (this is the cheapest thing you will pay for as you plan for the wedding!).
  14. You don’t like the dress. This realization, this heavy wet blanket, will settle on your awareness, disillusion you. Though you don’t know what you want anymore, this dress will not be IT. Get back to the drawing board. A Pinterest board, to be more specific.
  15. Lace will start to look like an attractive choice after a few weeks. Not as mainstream as you initially thought. Also, if well put together, lace could have a positively rustic bohemian quality to it. Right?

 

Stay tuned for Part 2.

 

fundi  – Use here to mean a tailor, but also refers to  a mechanic, technician, plumber · artisan, craftsperson, metalworker or artificer.

nguo za stairs – Directly translates to ‘a staircase dress’. A (mostly) Nairobian term used here to refer to dresses with cascading detail that were rather popular with little girls in the 90s.

The woman

She’s always seated at this very spot, probably one of the very few she can lay any claim to; the corner of one of the long metal benches at the bus stop, not too far from a large parking area for matatus. Her clothes are worn and her hair hasn’t seen the front end of a comb in a while. In her arms is a sleeping baby covered in a dirty shawl. Next to her, there’s a large bundle of what appears to be the entirety of her earthly possessions; a patterned, tattered khanga fashioned as a bag, stuffed with clothes and tied with a knot. There’s a paradoxical quality about her being; conspicuous yet also somewhat unnoticeable in the mass of human traffic that traverses a bus stop.

I’m waiting to board a matatu home when I first notice her. I’m seated on the benches opposite her. Between us is a short driveway that allows the matatus to come in and out of the bus stop. I’m frustrated about the long wait for one. My dying phone having lost its charm, I’m people watching. She doesn’t notice me staring. She has a faraway look in her eyes and a half smile. She looks as if she’s trying to remember a funny joke she once heard. A matatu comes by and I dash in, thoughts of her quickly replaced by my own cares.

I spot her again a few weeks later. This time I’m inside a matatu staring from the window just before we pull away. Who is she? Where is she from? Does she spend her days or nights here?

Another chilly evening in December after a long day at work and I’m waiting at the bus stop yet again. Nearly half an hour has gone by without any sign of a matatu. I’m not dressed warmly enough for the biting evening chill. There are so many of us at the bus stop waiting, eyes on phone screens, heads bobbing to music from headphones too large, deep in conversation, or pacing and looking around impatiently.

central-bus-station1-520x245
Courtesy of http://www.jambonairobi.co.ke/tag/public-transport-in-nairobi/

One matatu comes by and it’s a fight to get in. It’s always survival for the fittest during rush hour. I’m not too keen on elbowing people to find my way in today so I opt to wait for the next one. It takes a long while. There are a few false alarms where it seems like one’s coming and we rush to fight for space but it turns out to be a damaged vehicle in the midst of repairs and testing. “Ngojeni tu hapo, ingine inakuja.” Matatu proverb. I’m back at the benches and lo and behold, there she is, in her usual spot.  Her earthly possessions sit stoically next to her on her right. I take a seat on the same bench, a small gap between us, my mind racing, trying to find things I could say to make conversation with her.

I don’t excel at small talk but today I’m winning. “Hizi matatu za hapa zinakaa sana.” She smiles and nods and makes an incomprehensible sound then continues to stare straight ahead. Today, the toddler is awake and scowling at me from her mother’s bosom. I smile at her. “Sasa baby. Sasa!” I’m trying too hard. My chitchat is running out. I’m losing. “Hata we unangoja matatu?” She shakes her head, smiles. I’m already chiding myself for this one. She is clearly not one of the commuters.

Another commuter rudely interrupts the wonderful conversation we’re about to have by sitting in the space between us. Thankfully, he leaves after a few minutes of unsuccessful small talk with me (and after trying to find out where I live). I’m left alone with the woman. What to say? I pretend to look around. I’m racking my tired brains trying to think of other things I could say to her but I keep drawing a blank. A matatu shows up and I get up to leave then turn to hand her a 100 shilling note from my pocket. “Nunulia baby maziwa.” She smiles and thanks me. On my way home I keep thinking of things I could have said to her, maybe words of encouragement. Or I could have prayed with her. Sigh. All these could-have-beens.

Today I’m waiting at the bus stop once again. She isn’t at her usual spot. In her place sit her earthly possessions silently marking her territory. On the ground below them is a faded Tuskys paper bag that I assume also belongs to her. It’s filled with what look like overripe mangoes, some with the insides spilling out of their spotted red-yellow skins. Was this her food for today? Where is she?

 

 

Matatu – minibuses used as public transport

Ngojeni tu hapo, ingine inakuja. – Wait here, another one is coming

Hizi matatu za hapa zinakaa sana. – The matatus from this route take a really long time to get here.

Sasa baby. Sasa! – Hello baby. Hello!

Hata we unangoja matatu? – Are you also waiting for a matatu?

Nunulia baby maziwa. – Buy the baby some milk.

 

 

Internship

September 2009. I was nearly done with my course work. Three units and two internships to go before I was conferred with the power to read and do all that appertained to my degree. Two internships because I was taking two different arts programs, but that’s a story for another day. I was determined to land an internship without daddy’s connections. Not that it was a terrible thing to be helped by him in this way. I probably needed this help but was holding on to a somewhat misguided sense of independence.

My search took me to the Standard Group. They had recently moved to this swanky new address on Mombasa Road. One of my lecturers had connected me to a former student of his who worked there as a sub-editor. I remember waiting for nearly an hour at the lobby, dressed in one of the very few official outfits I owned at the time, to meet the features editor after meeting the sub.

When he showed up, he perused my papers, commented about how organized I was (I had newspaper cuttings of my writing in this A4-sized book with clear paper pockets. I realize how dated that sounds now. Where did the time go?), and also made a dig at the fact that I was from a Christian university after asking whether I could write for the Pulse pull out. I really didn’t want this but I tried to look enthusiastic about it. Long story short, he took my CV and said they would call me when they were hiring interns in October. They never did.

My search continued, a rather unfruitful one, I might add. We were well into the semester and I still hadn’t found an internship. Time was not smiling at me. Daddy came to the rescue. He knew someone at The People Daily newspaper who knew someone at the Nation newspaper where I would have liked to end up. Writing for the Nation really was the dream for me then.

internship
Image from http://bit.ly/2iCiQLJ

Off I went with my little book of newspaper cuttings to their offices which at that time were on Union Towers (the building on Moi Avenue that houses Creamy Inn, Pizza Inn et cetera. Also used to be a very popular meeting place when it was Nandos. Wait, did this change at some point?). The People Daily occupied a number of floors in this building.

As I headed to the newsroom, it did not occur to me that I had not confirmed who exactly I was supposed to see and what office they occupied. I went in, asked to see the editor and was pointed to a little office at the corner of the newsroom occupied by a man that fits the description of the clichéd newspaper editors in movies and TV series; tough-talking, no nonsense, hard news kind of man.

I told him that I had been asked to see him about an internship and handed him my prized book of newspaper cuttings. I also wanted to add that I had been sent to him so that he could connect me to someone at the Nation. I didn’t. He looked through my book and asked what I was interested in writing about.  Reviews, I said. Book reviews. They already had someone doing that. What else could I write? Movie reviews. He seemed interested in this. I was excited at the prospect of watching movies for my job. He put a damper in my excitement however when he said that they had to be Kenyan movies. I was a little crushed being the Hollywood junkie that I was then and knowing very little about the Kenyan film industry.

He continued, “We do not have a space for you to work here. Do you have a computer at home? Can you work from home?” Of course I did not mind at all! Reviewing movies AND working from home! This was a fairly sweet deal. So I was taken on right there and then as an intern, all prospects about writing for the Nation shelved. Difficult as it was to access good Kenyan films, I did enjoy reviewing, learning about what to look out for in a film, and interacting with different industry players in the Kenyan film scene; the likes of Alex Konstantaras (of Jitu Films, the ones behind that film banned by KFCB), Cajetan Boy, and Wanuri Kahiu, among others .

I don’t regret going for this internship. Not too long after I started working there, I found out that the person I was meant to see about being connected to the Nation was an accountant at the newspaper. Maybe I did get my wish after all, not to have used daddy’s connections, though not in the way I had anticipated.

P.S. I don’t actually refer to my father as daddy. I’m just using it here for dramatic effect. And also to sound a little posh. I hope I succeeded on both accounts.

Day 1: My 540 Words

Let the record reflect that I showed up to write today. It’s been a very long while since I consistently did. 2016 was, for me, a year of barely any consequential writing. I’m not proud of that. When you’ve gone so long without stretching your ‘inky muscles’ as I’ve seen someone refer to them, the very thought of sitting down to write as I am now fills you with dread. Your writing is interrupted by long pauses as you keep stopping to think of what to write and you keep fighting numerous urges to edit your work, something that is frowned upon by the experts.

Stopping every now and then to edit your spelling and grammatical mistakes as many writers are apt to do is disruptive to the process, to your creative flow, according to many published writers. It’s also something I have found to be true. So here I am, typing away and almost successfully resisting that powerful urge to go back over all I’ve already written to correct my mistakes.

And so it happens that my first piece of writing is about my plans to write, more so, to commit to My 500 Words, a 31-day challenge to write 500 words every day. We’re slightly over 200 right now. Hurrah. Not that anyone’s counting. I certainly am not.

One of my biggest challenges when I think of writing, I find, is that I spend too much time planning to write, then thinking of what to write about, then getting distracted by social media, cooking and other chores that become suddenly urgent whenever I plan to actually write. My most significant hurdle so far has been consistency. The discipline required to show up every day to do the same thing is very difficult for me. Sometimes I think of it as the curse of indiscipline that I have so encouraged in myself until it became second nature. I’m rather adept at putting off to tomorrow what could have been done yesterday.

So, have I changed? Will I suddenly become consistent? Well, that remains to be seen. Here I am making a public commitment to write 500 words (or more) for the next 31 days. It seems that public declarations of one’s intentions to accomplish a certain goal are considered a great motivator for follow through because you are involving other people who can keep you accountable. It’s no longer only about you.

Jeff Goins, an author and the originator of this challenge believes that the key to accomplishing one’s goals lies in daily habits, the little steps you take to get there. Now this is hardly a new idea but it was very encouraging for me to read that at the start of this year. I do not consider myself a great planner, especially with regard to goal setting. I admire (also a little intimidated by) those with five year plans broken down into one year goals with monthly and hourly steps to get there. Writing more, as vague and obscure as this sounds to you veteran goal setters and achievers, was one of the things I set out to do this year, so help me God. This is Day 1.

P.S. I am still mulling over whether or not everything I write will end up here as a blog post and it may not. I do however intend to post about my daily journey on my social media platforms (@edgicovi on both Twitter and Instagram) with the hashtag #Eds500.