Day 30: Wole

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 “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair“… Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

When I think back on 2011, with its many vicissitudes, my mind always strays inevitably to the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ classic novel. 2011 was a year of many contradictions for me and truth be told, the greatest contradiction I found was within myself.

I have always been something of a hodge-podge of characteristics, none of which is truly me and yet I am greater than the sum of my constituent disjointed, contradicting parts. In no year has this been more obvious than 2011, for I leave this year even more disjointed than before but somehow at peace with myself for I have come to terms with what I am. But that is, as they say, not really why we are here.

Seeing as how 2010 was such a dismal year for me, I am extremely glad that 2011 did not even nearly meet the poor standard set by its predecessor. However, it did make several attempts. On the other hand the year was full of blessings for me and I would be the worst sort of fool not to count them. 2011…

It was the best of times.

I fell in love this year… and I had quite a number of lovely people fall in love with me. There were lots of great moments many of which I will never forget. 

It was the worst of times.

The person I fell in love with did not feel the same way about me… and I did not feel the same about the others that loved me. Sadly. Sometimes I wish I did. There was an emotional pipeline spill for a while. 

It was the age of wisdom

I learned a lot of new things in a very short time and collected another certificate. A Distinction from Imperial College London to match my First class degree from Ife. The two certificates will look good next to each other I suppose. Some more pieces of paper to tell me how smart I am supposed to be.

It was the age of foolishness

My poor memory is gradually becoming more and more of an issue. But I’m glad my ability to reason remained undiminished. Also, I finally realized that I will never know as much as I am expected to. Or want to. This is something no piece of paper can tell me but I have learned to accept as fact.

It was the epoch of belief

I realized that I do believe in God more than I would care to admit. I am very reluctant to talk about faith because I like to pretend to be a man of strict logic. But when the chips were down, I know whom I call to for help.

It was the epoch of incredulity

I can count on my fingers, the number of times I went to church this year. I am constantly amazed at the ability of people to twist religion for their own agendas. Sadly, I have no faith left in most of the religious structures of the world as they currently exist. I chose instead to focus on charity. 

It was the season of Light

I made many new friends, learned many new things, travelled to many new places, had several new experiences, opened my self up more than I ever had. Made many new friends, the light that helped me navigate my way through the year.

It was the season of Darkness

I realized that my brothers are probably the only real family I can trust completely. The rest of my family is an emotional minefield of love and hidden agendas that I am not eager to navigate.

It was the spring of hope

I spent many days this year hoping for many things, some of which I eventually received and I am extremely grateful for. Some of which I am still waiting for…

It was the winter of despair

Was it really? No it wasn’t. No it fucking wasn’t. Because I never really lost hope. I felt overwhelmed. Sad. Angry. Frustrated. Stressed. But I never sank into despair and I doubt I ever will. You see, 2011 tried to break me. Where Death and Desolation tried and failed the previous year, Stress and Uncertainty tried their hand. The troubles at home (my elder brother is an unbelievably strong young man who had to deal with issues that would have broken men double his age) combined with the cruel, constant and consistent stress of labors imposed on me by Imperial college combined with the ups and downs of my emotions all conspired to break me. But they failed. And I’m not just writing this to make this seem like a story with a happy ending… those that know me, know what I mean. I’ve gotten most of what I wanted out of the year and set myself up perfectly for 2012, and even though I will spend most of the year working my ass off, it will be worth it. For that, I am glad.

Perhaps you will allow me to share something of a testimony (God has done a lot of things for me in my life and I’ve developed a habit of taking them for granted, I should stop. Since I wont be giving this testimony within the four walls of any church any time soon, I will do that here)
I applied for an Internship with a Fortune 500 company over the summer for my MSc project, submitted my CV and after all was said and done, I didn’t get selected. Disappointment. However, they sent emails to everyone that was not selected informing them that they would be processed for any open job opportunities. I didn’t get that email. Disappointment. I decided to be decisive and send my CV again with a hope and a prayer, requesting to be considered. I was. I got an email back informing me that the email address I had on my original CV was wrong and that was the reason I had been excluded from everything so far. Stupid. Lord knows how many companies I applied to with the wrong email address. Sigh. I eventually got called for a series of interviews and at the end of the process, not only did I get the job, I was the only one from my university that they hired which in itself was something of a wonder. And oh, the lady that spotted the email inconsistency will be my direct boss when I resume work and is also good friends with my former project supervisor. I see you, God. I see you. Thank you.

I’m glad for the life I have and the people that were part of it this year. I would mention your names if I were any less of a secretive person. But the truth is you already know yourselves. You especially. I thank God for you guys even though I cannot for the life of me understand what manner of madness makes you want to be friends with me. I’m glad for the music, the words, the equations, my brothers, the fortran codes, the stories, the movies, the breasts, the vodka, the friends, the suffering and the sun.

So out with the old and in with the new, for, to paraphrase the closing lines of the same classic book by Charles Dickens’

 “It is a far, far better thing that I will do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better year that I go to than I have ever known”

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I didn’t think this challenge would be this emotional, spiritual and heart-wrenching when it started as a flash idea on December 2. But here we are. 🙂

Moyin amazed me with her heartfelt post on Day 1 drafted within an hour of this idea being born. From then on we have cried, laughed, hugged and prayed for every single writer on here. We have loved them as though they were family. The openness, vulnerability, boldness, strength, weakness and realness of each post have reminded us of what we share as humans.

Thank you all for writing, for reading for sharing, for commenting and for becoming friends this year. I personally would christen 2011 The Year of Friendship.

*takes a bow, exits stage left*

Breakfast: Olatokunbo

It’s been the worst year-end of my entire life
 
When I decided to grab the opportunity Efe’s challenge offered, I naturally, as an epic somebori , picked the most epic day I could think of… Last! This would, while giving me the chance to plan and prepare this epic entry for a good 30 days, help me study every other entry before mine and trump them all in epicness! Haha!!
 
Bulls**t!!
 
After 18 months of work, my leave was finally approved for December 12… I never proceeded on that leave; My birthday this year, 8th December, was a stream of words… phone calls, facebook messages, birthday tweets, smses… and no gifts, not one; Christmas day rolled around and I and every other staff at the organization at which I have worked the last 18 months had received nothing more than a bag of rice and a pangolo of oil each, no salaries; I was so broke on Christmas day that I couldn’t even afford to visit my family without having to ask for money to make it back to my place. So I ended up not going at all, knowing how depressing it would be to arrive home with only one or two presents where there would be at least six people and still have to ask for transport fare to leave; I wrote a Christmas post on my blog that was to also be an intro for a little series I‘d been planning to write, a series that was supposed to run from the 26th to the 30th leading to this piece as a grand finale of sorts, not a single post went up. Why? Because the following day, I struggled to write the post all through, but the feverish and woozy feelings I was having all of that day would not allow me focus enough to finish the first post. The day after was no different… On the 28th of December, the chicken pox I’d gone acquired became full blown. Talk about a perfect ending to 2011.
 
And that’s only December…
 
*sigh*
 
I’m not even going to depress anyone with the lows of my whole year. I’ll just move along to the highs, few as they may be.
 
I finally became totally independent, paying my own rent and for all the food I eat, amongst other things. No more mooching off papa for me; I became active on twitter… Now, that might seem like such a mundane thing to say but the thing is, I’m finally at a place where I can unashamedly admit that I. Love. Twitter! And I guess, to some extent, (Nigerian) twitter loves me too *wink*; Getting active on twitter exposed me to blogs, bloggers and the art form that blogging is, which inspired me to start my own blog. Blogging was something I’d always known I’d love doing but I’d never really had the resources or discipline to proceed with until I just what-the-hecked and started it. I’m really, really proud of my blog. That little slice of cyber space carries little signatures of me and might as well have been created from my very DNA; That virgin post! *sigh* That post opened me to something beautiful I was never really sure I had, the gift of mentorship. Being able to encourage and build others up is such a great way of building and encouraging your own self that it almost seems selfish when I’m given that opportunity; Through twitter and blogging, I met this group of crazy people online who are now more like family than just friends and who would come to salvage some of this Christmas for me… (y’all know yourselves… I love you guys *secret handshake*); I secured a new job that is Guaranteed to create more opportunities for my career than I might ever be able to figure out what to do with (there’s a pun in there somewhere for those who know what to look for *wink*)…
 
All in all, in retrospect, I have to admit that 2011, despite the many lows, was epic…
 
Far more epic than this entry, despite all my plotting and scheming, turned out not to be.
 
I’m grateful to God for how far He’s brought me and stand here looking forward to everything He has in store for me and mine in 2012.
 
*raises glass* Cheers to the New Year

*rolls over for the sweetheart to apply calamine lotion on back and butt cheeks*

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They call him the Last Virgin Blogger Standing (@OlaToxic) 😀

Early Riser: Yemisi

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I am pleased to have Yemisi (@Sisi_Yemmie) on here as guest writer. 🙂 I do hope you all can read the photo shot. It’s a bold experiment #NoBlackberry. This comes as the rest of the post.

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This year I celebrated a lot of my friends: the total of my friends that got married in 2011 was *counts fingers* 32!!! I thank Master Jesus that I was not in Nigeria this 2011, because I for don use my body parts take buy asoebi!

A low point for me this year was when my drama leader in Church committed suicide by hanging himself. I still ask why 😦

High moments in 2011 was getting a job 🙂
…Recovering from Bell’s palsy (when my face collapsed) Now I can smile again! 🙂
…My best friend’s wedding 🙂
…Winning Best Foreign Based, and Most Unique voice on Nigerian Bloggers Award 🙂
…Twitter 😀
…Waking up everyday 🙂
…Sipping *hic* this *hic* palmwine *hic* 🙂

Last last, I am so thankful for 2011, one thing I cannot say is that God has not been good to me: God has been faithful! Cheers to a prosperous 2012!!!

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Break of Dawn: Osama

How painful it was to be at work sometime this month and receive an SMS from efe…that said
You are not delivering ..I guess I’ve had it with you and I’m pulling you out of the 30day challenge.
(he didn’t actually say it like that)
I was like cool…no problems..I was doing a ward round and I just wished he could understand everything that was drowning me.
I can write this now because I just had minor surgery and I’m off work.
I practically collapsed at work (if I should use that language)

Oh well,even if I never featured on the challenge …who would miss me?
Yea,I’m not really much into socialising and I’m actually scared of making new friends.
Feels something like having sacred territory invaded.
You can now understand how it would feel telling a whole bunch of people whom I’ve never met the emotional highs and lows of my year.
Maybe If I put on a storytellers hat..I may just dissociate and get down to pushing the point across.
I’m somewhat a ‘spiritual’ version of what you may call ‘superstitious’ but the truth is that I’ve learnt there are certain laws that the world runs by and you can’t be working in the opposite direction of these laws.
Delving into theories now are we?
The odd years of my life since I turned 13 have hardly brought much in terms of love,achievements and well,I usually don’t look forward to them.
I told myself however that after I watched that prejudice wash away an entire year,it won’t be featuring in my thoughts any longer.

So saying ,2011 was odd.
Considering I was already like odd year, sit and mope!
I have always been in church at the strike of midnight in each new year since my dad decided church was better than fruit salad and wine at home.
Call that 12years running.
However on the 31st of December 2010, Boko haram struck Abuja and we cowered indoors for fear of losing our precious lives.
I was on antimalarials and slept into the new year.
I didn’t do my usual bantering with God for all I needed to achieve by the end of the year.
1st of January I was on call at abacha barracks medical reception centre and the year rolled in with gory tales of severed body parts and flying heads as well as neckless bodies and whatever horrendous tale could come of a bomb blast.
I was still sick.

Thus began the blur that became 2011.

Ill health (mostly a ficticious and sometimes real fever) and the end of national service.
I was exiled home in March to baby around ,tweet and listen to birds chirp in the trees when everyone was at work.
My mates were hussling it out and I was relegated to sissy home baby.
I was jobless,useless, half dead and my joie de vivre was gone.
Depression is real!
It got me to stop believing in myself and watch the opportunity of residency I had earlier on in December of 2010 pass me by and have everyone berate me about my attitude.
I had never been without a job since I graduated from school.
I’ve worked nonstop for 3years.
‘Like a man’ a friend said
I’m keeping the romance out of this but let’s say someone came and left me as sad as the happiness he brought
Then I failed a professional exam for the 2nd time..
I was saddened beyond comprehension
I had to deal with joblessness,meeting a guy I really liked and losing whatever would have been the outcome of that relationship to factors yet unknown.
Everything looked so bleak.
Here is where I say that
Having people who understand you,support you and having God is very important.
Having family that loves you cannot be understated.
My dad knew what I was going through ..they all understood
There was a day when I told them I wanted to kill myself ..
I was so deep in despair and lost in things I cannot describe.
I discovered wordpress and started writing stuff again.
Lots of underground stuff *smiles*
Its funny how even at my very weakest of points there was always someone who needed words of encouragement from me and the irony kept me thinking maybe..just maybe

Somehow,in the process of comforting others and the struggle I was going through
zoehugs came about and its been a most wonderful experience sitting quietly and hearing from God the words with which to comfort and encourage myself and those who needed to hear them.
God uses the foolishness in our lives to show us to wisdom inherent in our hearts and souls.
I have learnt to worry less and pray more.
(I am still an epic worrier though-frequency only reduced)
To Listen to God more and operate with the holy spirit.

I got a fabulous job after juggling two -three at a point …and then came the much needed financial independence I missed so much earlier on in the year..
Although I had never lacked,its just cool to have your own money.

I’m grateful to God.
Feels like I’ve got a new lease on life now.
I’m looking forward to next year..it will be an even year for me…with God,family and career and my classic FBI”

Here’s a special shout out to @otococcoa and Efe..personal shrink,hug provider and hard drug supplier.
This year would never have been complete without meeting you.

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We love you so much Samsie. (((hugs)))

Just Before Dawn: Ife

I would not have come in contact with Ife (@Isysart) but for this blog challenge. For her, this year was like a thief in the dark night…

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As much as I would love to display my prowess in creative writing, this tale does nothing but dampen the urge.
So I’ll dive right in…

2011 has been a disaster from the very beginning. I lost faith in everything and everyone. It has been the worst year of my life!

I started this year with hope, joy and excitement but 19 days later I was sitting on my doorstep waiting for my mother’s corpse to arrive.
Death had paid me a visit, haven overlooked my family for soo long.
Who’ve thought my mum would die two weeks after her 50th birthday. My beautiful mum.

My life ended that day, death had picked on me and forced me to play the guessing game of who dies next! I felt like I was in an episode of final destination. A month later my baby shook hands with death, then my step mum, then my brother!
Yes this has been a year of loss, despair, depression and sorrow!

I tried hard but couldn’t find a reason to go on. Tried to take my life twice, almost succeeded but death just wouldn’t have me.
*sigh* instead we played hide and seek while  I drove myself to d point of insanity and back.

I am now a shadow of myself, a ghost of who I ought to be, struggling to escape the darkness that engulfs me. Indifference plagues my reality and I wait patiently for this year to end.
The sad thing is, even if I heal, the scars will ever be etched in my memory, the nightmares will always be the same, and the lives I’ve lost can never be replaced.

P.S. I still await what good this year might bring.

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Be extra vigilant, girl. Hold your lamp out. The night is often darkest just before dawn. God bless you for speaking so freely about something you obviously haven’t shared like this before. (((hugs)))

Surprise for Team Insomnia: Coco

Coco (@CeceNoStockings) wrote!!!!!!!!!

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If you’re reading this, then I actually went ahead and sent it in *rme*

I’ve read all your highs and lows. I’ve ‘awww’ed and ‘lol’ed and ‘rme’d and just simply not really cared. I haven’t commented. But yeah. I’ve read them.

I don’t comment on posts anymore. Don’t know why. I just…stopped. At most, I ‘like’ it. This year, I found blogging again. I remembered why I loved to write, and I did. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, I seem to have lost it again. I did, however ‘meet’ some really interesting people/writers.

I noticed everyone was thanking a group/list of friends they’ve made. Everyone I want to “shout out” to or thank has been covered. I’m just going to assume you all know yourselves. I’ve listed your names over and again. So much so that I worry you may have grown weary. But I love you all nonetheless. I can never adequately convey verbally how truly grateful I am for each and every one of you. 🙂

I’ve always had a lot of dreams. I’ve never really put much effort into pursuing them. I am a quitter. It’s not something, I’m proud of. It’s a problem..my problem.  Finishing things I start suddenly isn’t my strong suit anymore. This year, the gravity of just how terrible this is forcefully presented itself to me.

A lot of people think I’m brave because I went ahead and had a baby. Yeah. I’m not. I don’t really talk about it. But, God kinda made the decision of keeping her alive. I really didn’t have a choice. If you know what I mean. My heart breaks every time someone calls me brave. I’ve thought about giving her away several times simply because I felt like I couldn’t cope. Still do sometimes. I’ve even contemplated ending it all….I’m a coward. I know I am. It sucks lizard balls, but it’s true.

Do I regret keeping her? No. I love her. Truly. Deeply. She’s helped me learn.

I’ve learnt to put aside my pride and borrow money or take stuff from a store on credit or accept gifts/handouts.

I’ve learnt sacrifice. Making do without stuff I may want or need, or selling some stuff, so she has what she needs.

I’ve learnt to smile/laugh and say/type “I’m fine” even when I’m hurting inside. No one really cares, you see? When someone askes how you are or if you’re okay, they don’t want to hear about your problems. Even if they do, they probably have an ulterior motive.  Everyone has his/her own demons. We just want to hear/read “Fine.”. Well, ‘they’ do. Not me. I really care.

Humans feed off the misery of others. You complain/rant about your problems publicly, and people will laugh at you. Some might feign sympathy to gain favour to be redeemed at a later date. They will tag you ‘weak’ and move on. It’s unlikely that they will help you solve the problem. Unlikely, but possible.

I made friends this year. 🙂 I probably shouldn’t have, but I’m glad I did. I’ve had an excellent time picking the minds of really amazing, intelligent, and beautiful people. I’ve been encouraged and loved and prayed for, and, honestly, sometimes it all gets so overwhelming that I cry. But I never tell anyone, of course.

I was supposed to go back to school this year. A lot happened and I didn’t. I don’t want to go into all that because, like I said, you really don’t care. But we’re praying and hoping it happens soon. We’ll see what happens.

God is truly amazing. He’s the reason we’re here. He’s gotten me through the most difficult of times. Either directly or through someone in my life.

Telling you I almost committed suicide would be stupid, but I’m in the mood. You know? I’ve struggled with my condition for as long as I remember. It doesn’t help struggling to raise a baby practically by myself. But I’m still here. I’ll try my best to keep it that way.

I’m sorry I didn’t list my highs and lows like everyone else seemed to do. I told Efe I didn’t have any highs this year.

In retrospect, I guess I do. I’m 20. I’m single, out of school, and jobless with no steady source of income. I’ve had my hopes and expectations crushed so much this year, that I stopped expecting any good news, and I’m raising a baby. My princess 🙂 that’s my high. She’s all I could ask for. She’s beautiful, and the push I needed. Every time I look at her I’m gonna want to work harder, and that’s what I’ll do.

*raises glass of Ribena*

So, here’s to pushing forward, staying alive and 2012. Because there really is no point in crying over spilled milk. 🙂

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Like you said, only divine strength can be the reason we keep pushing on when we have every reason to stop. Amazing Grace

There’s a point crying over spilled Ribena though. The tears dilute the spilled Ribena, making it easier to mop up. 😐

So the very last post of this series will go up at noon, written by Wole. But before then, 4 awesome writers will be on here in a “Last Day of 2011” Countdown. Osama, Ife, Olatokunbo and Yemisi. Do not miss a single one.

Surprise: Dolu

I may have more articles from Dolu (@MsDuro) than any other writer on 19th Street, myself included.

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When Efe told me to write about my high and lows of 2011, all I saw was a gloomy post. Doing a quick recollection of the past months all I saw was the pain and I wrote about it. But a week after I was re-reading my write-up and I remembered what the pastor said two weeks before during evening service, “we focus on the wrong things and that’s why we think God is not there or cannot hear us or has not done anything for us.” He went ahead to quote 2nd Corinthians 4: 17-18. I held on to it and decided to be thankful for the little things I have overlooked.

2011 rolled by so fast, I’m a little bit shocked it’s December already, although I am happy the year is ending already, 2012 is looking so positive already I am pretty much excited. I have been staring at my screen for the past ten minutes, there’s so much to write about, so much to be thankful for, and a tint of regret here and there. A lot of things happened in 2011 and even though they happened to my parents, siblings, friends and those around me, it made me happy, so I call it part of my 2011 high moments. Well not that nothing happened to me this year that wasn’t good, I won’t just say it was spectacular. I can’t point to anything major like a project I embarked on and completed this year, even though I had so many ideas, so sad I know. The only major thing I did was complete my NYSC and I am glad it is over and I didn’t get any extension because I was away a lot due to health reasons.

My lowest days of 2011 were my hospital days, going in and out of the hospital, enduring the needles and staying close to fifty hours in bed watching the drip drop, or the countless number of pills I had to swallow morning afternoon and night, all the sleepless nights, etc. It was a gruesome process; I won’t bore you with it. But I am all better now, better than I was before, and I owe it to God. I was not alone throughout this period, asides God’s being with me all the way, my family stayed by my side. I can never forget all those night, my dad thought I was sleeping and he would come and kneel by my bed side, tears in his eyes, praying, telling God how much he loved me and he didn’t want me to die, begging God to take away the pain and the sickness. I can never forget my mum taking her leave from work in June, forfeiting the opportunity to come home for Christmas just to be with me when I commenced treatment and all. I am so happy she doesn’t get to spend Christmas alone; she’s so excited that her house would be full, i just cant help be happy even if i wont be there. I can never forget my sister coming home for midterm and when she was going back she hugged me crying, then I realized what my absence from life would do to my 14year old sister and wasn’t ready to let that happen. I can never forget the days and nights my immediate elder brother spent by my bed side in the hospital, when I was awake he would hold my hand and pray with me, gist with me, make me laugh, he do anything just so I could forget what I was going through. And when I fell asleep, he would stay awake to watch the drip and make sure everything was going okay.  I am grateful for those days, even though I was in pain, even though my family was shaken, God used it to draw us close, to emphasise the love we share, He was the only one we could run to and we ran to Him as a family. Oh the value of family.

Also my friends were there for me. I am not talking about the ones you graduate with and promise to keep in contact with, no, not those ones. Just a few among them keep to their words. These people I call friends are people I have come to know in 2011, strangers that turned to family members and some people I know from way back, but I never thought we would become close one day. I’ll like to say they over did themselves when I fell sick, that was the time I needed them the most and they help me fight the battle gallantly. They are part of the reason I am alive today, they believed so much in me that letting them down was not an option. Even those I met on social networks, many a times when I needed to talk, or needed someone to pray for/with me or just needed someone to encourage me, it was some of these people that I’d run to and they always created time for me. God bless good friends that stick like a second skin. My friends made my year beautiful.

So I didn’t climb Mount Everest, or find a cure for AIDS, or write a book, or get married to Ian Somerhalder (Damon Salvatore) or act a play, or co-star in a movie with Denzel Washington, I didn’t even find millions of dollars sitting on a restaurant table waiting for me to claim it >_<, even GLO did not dash me free credit, neither did I win any of their promo (I am beginning to question my loyalty) I didn’t even get a job. No I didn’t do anything spectacular this year to have my name written boldly on the front page of your dailies or mentioned in the news, but I formed bonds with strangers and acquaintances that I now call my extended family; friends, bonds so strong, stringed by love, trust, understanding and faith inspired by selflessness, each bond a blessing in its own form. I am so proud of y’all and humbled to have great people like you as friends.

All these I point to as proof that 2011 with its entire not so good times and news was worth living, and I am most grateful and thankful to God because even though I can’t see the big picture yet, I know that all of these is nothing compared to what He has planned out for me.  I was going to write a post on my birthday, appreciating you guys, but I never got to do it, so this is me saying thank you.

Hey dear, I know you are reading this, I just want you to know I am praying for you and I am trusting God that it’s just a false alarm, we’ve crossed that bridge, no going back. You won’t enter 2012 sad or depressed. Hold on to your faith. I love you.

*raises glass* here’s to good health, family, friends, happiness, love and a better 2012.

God bless y’all

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Dolu still needs our prayers and encouragement as she undergoes therapy.

Day 29: Edwin

This Post by Edwin (@EdGothBoy) brings out something I would have loved to express but would not be able to in this way…

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When I chose to do this, I just sent a number and got given a date and a topic, and afterwards I freaked out. I really haven’t spoken about myself since I dumped my journal in 2009. Hidden conviniently behind fiction, spinning tales of other people to hide myself. But thankfully, this has a theme to guide me so I’ll try to be as honest and get it done as possible.

LOWS
This year has been one of my lowest, a lot happened, a whole lot. But I guess six things really stood out for me.

The first and most recent was my elder sister getting married. I am extremely happy for her and she married someone she’s loved for nearly twenty years. Still remember both of them sneaking off as teenagers to my mom’s chagrin. But what is depressing about it is that inspite of the 11 years between us, she was my best friend and biggest cheerleader. She was always there when I needed her, she was always a phone call away. I could always rely on her when I needed her. But now she isn’t here anymore and every day I realise it just a little more. 

Second was when I had to leave my friends for half a year. Ope and Segun have been in my life for so long, I’d taken for granted how lucky I am to have friends who get me so implicitly. When we all had to split for six months for SIWES, I realised how much they’d become a part of me, all those days they’d stay up with me helping me figure out how to perfect a short story became all the more valuable. How our conversations switched from mythology to politics to vodka to metaphysics in the space of 10 minutes was something I couldnt replicate.  I missed them terribly.

The third was my mental health. My bouts of depression came back this year. The last time I’d had it this bad was in 2008. They were triggered by memories I’d thought I’d buried and forgotten but apparently, those things don’t go away that easily. Some days it just came unbidden and I’d have trudge through the day and hope for the best. I contemplated suicide many times, I’m ashamed to say. I’m very sanguine in person so few people get to see the brooding underneath. I’m sad to say I pasted a lot of false grins this year.

Fourth, a couple of people I didnt know personally died this year. But these people were related to people I knew and their deaths devastated them, and by proxy, me. Especially Katherine Williams, sister of Leigh Williams, friend from Minnesota I made on my early blogging days on yahoo 360. Her death wasn’t in any newspaper, few people even knew how she died. But she’ll stay with me forever.

Fifth, I got rejected by someone this year. This isnt the first time I’ve gotten rejected and I wasn’t in love with the person. Hell, I wasnt even sure I liked her. But it was risky and I was bored and we sorta made out, and it turned out to be one of the best kisses of my life. And our lips had barely parted when she hustled me out of her house like I’d suddenly contracted the plague. In that moment, I felt for all the girls who’d put themselves out there for a guy only to be treated like a nuisance.

The sixth totally devastated me but I dont want to talk about yet because I feel hypocritical telling strangers when I havn’t told my mom.

HIGHS
This year has also been amazing for me inspite of all the bad.

First, I took my writing really seriously this year. I honed my craft and wrote endlessly. It gave me joy, helped me make sense of some really dark days and generally made my life much better. But what made it such a high is that I finally got a medium to share my words and they touched people. People, real humans who were not my biased friends read what I penned down and it touched them. Wow!

Secondly, this network of friends sort of grew around me, people I can call or text or IM for advice, critique or just generally say hi. People I admire and hope to write like someday. People like that Baka Ekwem who writes the celestial stuff, Chioma my very own succubus, Efe my pops man, Banxman with whom I apparently share an obsession for eccentric hair.  Sammy, the very human bot, Mayokun the Odd future groupie and loads of others.

Third was meeting the guys from PTS, Dare and Ranti. I wont say much but what I’ll say is we’ve been through a lot together and they’ve grown up before my eyes. I’m insanely proud of them.

Fourth, was something I’ve had on my bucket list since I was six. I took a beautiful girl to a live concert of a musician whose craft I really loved. We held hands and swayed to the music, screamed the words to the songs we really liked and shared a torrid kiss in the cab home afterwards. Twas nothing short of magic.

Fifth, my cousin’s first child Nummayyi was born. 10th of February 2011. He’s the most perfect little thing I’ve ever seen. I have an insane love of children and been wanting one that’s actually part of my family since forever. Holding him for the first time on his naming ceremony reinforced my want to have children sometime in the future. And yes, I have been a hands-on cousin and fed him and changed his diapers sef. Not pretty at all. But I love him all the same. 😀

Sixth; across the interwebs, I met this girl who is as pretty as she is smart. She’s been through a whole lot and come out strong, she’s always there when I need a friend and she doesn’t ask a lot of me. She is eccentric and edgy and a tad whimsical. She says things like ‘me mam’ and is always calling people Baka. She always forgets to say hi when we chat and I just lol ’cause it endears me to her more. We gel on a metaphysical level. I could just sit and stare at her all day, (yeah I have a stash of all her munched avatars X_X ). She is that girl that I know I could just be with. I may joke sometimes when I say I’ll track her down  eventually and wife her but I know deep down that it is mostly true. She is one of the high points of my year. Getting to know and respect her has spiced my days. It’s not every incubus that is lucky enough to meet his succubus. 🙂 She-She; ayam coming for you oh!

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Baka! 😀 Tomorrow the awesome ThinkTank comes on the Guest Blog Challenge. We are just getting started people 🙂

Day 28: Tolufi

I’ve actually had the honour of sitting next to this iPad babe (@Tolufi). 😀 #OkBye

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I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Finishing my master’s degree, my family, my friend’s and life basically. School was a totally different experience for me and I miss it. I got to head different group presentations not because I am an amazing leader, but because my spoken English was by far the best. I got oppressed by the Chinese girls in my class with their designer bags… Lord knows I thought of so many ways of getting one of them.  There is this friend of mine who came to class on Monday with this amazing handbag I was coveting {Father forgive me} I had to ask her where she got it and she went “Zolu (the chinko version of Tolu ) I got it from Selfridges and it was very cheap just £1500” At that point in my head I just went God punish you.. £1500 is cheap? .I just murmured nice. Class parties and dinners were overtly boring though. The music was horrible, plus people danced like they were being electrocuted. Dissertation was a whole lot of stress but I scaled through.

The most amazing part of this year for me is actually the second half of the year. I met this amazing girl who has sickle cell Anaemia. You actually would never know. She looks so good and healthy. I got to experience her crises for the first time in my life and I must say it is a very painful sight. There is nothing as painful as watching someone you love in so much pain, with nothing you can do about it. The Ambulance came to pick her up and she was just shouting and crying. At that point I started crying too because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

A day before her birthday, She had another crisis. This one was quite painful because we had plans. We were all supposed to spend the weekend at some resort in Spain.  The pain she feels is immeasurable. According to her “When I have my crisis, I am in a state of confusion. My bones ache so bad and I am short of breath and I really don’t know what to focus my attention on so I just scream” . I know there are debates about the sickle cell thing and people have so many views but you really do not understand how horrible it is until you experience it first-hand.  It was so bad that I called my parents to thank them for checking out their genotypes before they got married.

The amazing thing about her is that she is the most positive person I have ever met. I mean she has a lot of problems. She could die any day. Relationship wise after screening potential candidates who are of the AA genotype, she has to make sure He is ready to date someone with sickle cell which truthfully is difficult. Little things trigger her crises like the kind of water she drinks, drugs and so many more. Even through all this her faith in God is unwavering, obviously she complains sometimes but the way she trusts God amazes me. 

I have a huge problem with trusting people and I discovered this year that my lack of trust in people has transcended into my spiritual life. I actually pray and read my bible but I just didn’t trust God as much as I made myself believe. Absolute trust in God is probably one of the hardest things ever. It means you give him total control and you let Him steer you into the direction He pleases. No doubts no worries, absolutely nothing. I had to learn to give him complete control and let Him do with me as he pleases. It is still a work in progress but I am grateful for how far I have come.

I am starting a new phase of my life and for the first time ever I am looking forward to what the New Year holds for me.  I look forward to my career, my relationship with people but most especially my walk with God.  I am not going into the New Year thinking things are going to be perfect. I believe God is taking me through the “refiner’s fire” to mould me into what he wants me to be. 

I want 2012 to be all about God even when things are amazing or horrible, It should be all about Him.

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Reading this was a privilege for me. Thank you Tolu 🙂  Edwin jumps out of the page at us tomorrow. Don’t miss it… 🙂

Intermission: Deola

Deola (@D3ola) strolled onto my TL one day like that. Our friendship is weird. But her story seems so familiar. Enjoy…

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So do you all want the good news or the bad news first?
You see, my mom always told me to ask that question. She also told me that even if they said they want the good news first, start with the bad so that the good covers it up and makes the bad seem very little.
The thing is I’m not sure if the good of this year covers the bad. This year can be said to be the worse year of my life. I’ve been through a lot of crap but this year made me realise that I was still in for way more crap.
So bear with me as I take you all through my 2011 (both the good and the bad together)

It started off badly.

Mother was being a drama queen, father was being his usual self. Brother in the middle, being annoying as anything. I was all on my own, trying to get by, trying to be normal with all the madness around me. I had that anchor, that weight, that shoulder I could lean on and talk to. I literally had no friends, just my regular drinking buddies who were all guys and would talk about ass from now till next month. In all haze of school work and family drama, I always had that shoulder to cry on.
Sadly, the end of the school year separated us as he had to move on with his life. *sigh*

Continued with school and came home to Lagos where my mother decided to put on her usual one woman show. It’s called ‘you don’t love me anymore and I will make your life a living hell by emotionally blackmailing you and making you my bitch and servant girl’. Currently still showing in my house under a different title and tickets are limited to a select few – me.

In those days where I was the only audience for my mother’s madness, I fell in love with twitter. Yes, the social networking site. I met like minds and laughed at ridiculous jokes. It opened me to a new world without the crazy family. Opened me up to a crazier family of friends. I will never forget the first time I met them, it was raining cats and dogs and we desperately wanted to go go-carting. But all we did that day was talk and laugh. I finally felt accepted by people. The sense of belonging and satisfaction I get from being with them matches no other.

I sound tres mushy right? I’ll continue now.

My fall semester was the semester I learnt to be alone and like it. I never liked being alone or having to entertain myself. I have personal demons who like to visit my mind when I’m just sitting and staring. I always try to keep myself busy no matter what so that they don’t visit. But fall semester proved to me that I could get rid of those demons. Despite the fact that I was busy organizing events for school and doing two final projects, they came. They visited and taunted me, saying I could never be good enough to do all those things. I would sit and cry at the end of every long day, wishing I could just end all the stress I was having. I remember the week I had my bath only twice and slept a total of 5 hours because I was organizing my project presentation and defence. Those nights were the worst. The demons found time out to visit me then, saying I would never make it and I would fail and have to repeat the class again. Well demons, here is this to you – I’m 21 and I made my own fashion and lifestyle magazine. Also, I got an A in my final project. In yo face!!

Did I mention anything about my 21st birthday?

I was alone in the middle of ‘F**k avenue’ (story for another time) and crying. I felt so alone and the demons were working extra overtime. I turned 21 in school with no one around me. No warm hugs or big smiles. Only the darkness of the night and the gravel underfoot to remind me that I had spent another year on this earth. Listening to Coldplay’s ‘Every teardrop is a waterfall’, I wrote and read a story about a girl committing suicide on her birthday. After reading it and wiping tears away, I started laughing. Yup, I’m weird like that.

I came home back to Lagos two weeks back, excited and ready for the holidays. Friends and family around to celebrate with. My mother was her usual self (the title of her show this time was ‘You now think you are an adult and you can do whatever you want. I will show you by not giving you any money and making sure your life is a living hell’). Two days after I came home, it happened.

I was robbed. In my own house, in my room.  I woke up that morning to find my  laptop, my blackberry, my media organizer and my money were all stolen. Note that nothing else in my house was missing. My mom’s jewellery (gold from Saudi Arabia) was on the table untouched. Two laptops in my father’s office downstairs were still there. Only my stuff was gone.

I know who took them. He is my 27 year old cousin from my father’s side who works for my dad. He is currently sitting downstairs in the office with my father working on something. But Yoruba families are complicated you see. All I can do is cry myself to sleep and shut up.
So you see, my year was kinda shitty. Sorry, very shitty. It was a year of laughs and tears. A year of ups and downs and all that stuff. It was the year I finally also realised that upon all the shit that I’ve been through, I’m raawsome. No, not awesome but raawsome (it’s an inside joke between me and my t-shirt).

Also the year I realized that no matter what, true friends will always have your back. Want to use this opportunity to thank Victor, Tula, Wole, Kevin, Bankole, Dania, Toxic, Dayo, Bule, and my crazy white chick and fruit sister – Cece aka Mama Ayo. I love you all from the bottom of my heart. 
That’s my 2011 for you. This is me hoping and praying that everyone’s 2012 will be far better than 2011.

Gotta go now, the mother is calling for me to watch her usual morning drama.

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Dear Deola, your self-awareness is amazing. You are not afraid to look inward no matter how ugly it seems. This makes us believe they you will pull through in the end. (((hugs)))

Be back at noon for Tolu’s take on her year.