Happy New Year: Efe

My year in 2011 began and ended with romance. Weird. But that is not why I am here.

I’m here to ramble. To give thanks. To pull together snippets of random feelings and recollections into something resembling a coherent account of my 2011. I may succeed.

I wrote the hardest exam of my life in 2011. Incidentally it was the exam I had prepared for the most also. I had even received a revelation of a possible exam question, which actually came out as I thought it would but which I still failed. I was depressed for a long time after that, biting my nails in regret for missing my chance at hitting an international question I actually prepared for on the head. Somehow I got over that.

Results came out, I passed well. I didn’t have a distinction like my friends and family expected, but my wingman and revision partner, Wole, did. The joy he felt on that day was my joy too. I was touched that God sought to use that little sign to compensate him for an unusually turbulent year. The project that gave him so much grief and dementia also won a special prize. He also was the only Nigerian (after me) offered a job of a unique nature. I saw all this and rejoiced deeply, though I may not have shown it very much at the time. 🙂

I had the opportunity to travel to France and Thailand this year. Nice and Bangkok to be precise. Those two trips opened my eyes to the world in an amazing way. I realized how much my world view was distorted by the Western Media and how I had been blind to so much in the world because of thinking the way America wanted me to think. The value of hospitality was brought to my notice in Bangkok, where no one tried to cheat us tourists or make us feel like intruders. This city had simple, content (the Western world would say poor), smiling people who did not speak English but desperately wanted to communicate as friends. The genuine smile of the Thai is something everyone should see at least once in life. In Nice, I met young people from all over the world who came for French summer school. My powerful command of English meant nothing in that place where I was the only non-French speaker. I felt like a five-year old being led by my translator, who felt like a parent, though he was seven years younger than I was. I determined there and then to make my kids learn international languages as part of their education. English all of a sudden seemed over-rated.

I would love to talk about London and Edinburgh for a while but that would be a story for another day.

I joined the global conversation called Twitter in June under pressure from Wole and Meena. It is easily the most life-changing thing I did in 2011. Can I say that in six months I had meaningful conversations online with almost a hundred people, had crushes on almost twenty, and met about ten people who radically altered my view of life? Can I say I became friends with over a hundred people? My work place, my UK experience, my settling down in Nigeria upon my return, my knowledge of current affairs in Nigeria and the world were all made richer and I dare say possible by interactions via this awesome social network. It had its downsides as well. My productivity dropped drastically. My phone call friendships also suffered terribly. My relationship suffered too, in ways I do not yet fully understand but which I have learnt from. Will my child have a twitter account? Certainly. Will I stalk them on it? Certainly.

I discovered a few things about myself this year. I found out I was funny. I laughed the hardest at my own jokes and broke down age barriers and religious walls effortlessly. I found I could make friends with total strangers within minutes and be romantically vulnerable within seconds. The possibilities were as scary as they were exciting. Realizing many of my new found friends suffer from depression put sense to my having this gift. I found myself being the only one to listen to some hurting soul (mainly female, the guys just don’t share feelings, *shrugs*) and having to address suicidal feelings even when the word suicide would be conveniently unsaid in those painful conversations. I really do not care for my happiness as much as I care for the happiness of my friends. I may be blessed by God in that. He gave me the gift of making others happy and then gave me the reward of being happy when others around me are happy.

I also discovered that I was not as strong as I thought. I now see why wedding vows are taken in church. So that God would be kind to give you the grace to stay faithful. I thought I had the power to say no to sex. I didn’t. Every single time I said no, some divine miracle was taking place. The few times I followed my heart, I was deep in sexual impurity before I realized what I was doing, and many times, even AFTER I had realized exactly what I was doing. Was I disappointed in myself? Very. Did I become wiser? Very. Am I grateful to God for my falls then? Very. Do I regret them? Very. Is all this a paradox? Very much so. Do I accept it as normal? Yes. Do I reject sexual sin as an aberration of divine purpose? Yes. Do I ask myself a lot of questions? Duhhhhh!!

I thank God for my family. They prayed for me and encouraged me and many times gave me a reason to get out of bed. I love you church family.

I’m happy I went through 2011. I’m happy I met you all. When I say I love you, best believe it.

*raises glass of lemonade, gin, vodka, and champagne* Cheers to 2012.

Happy New Year.

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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.