Friday, December 24, 2010

Riding the I-95

I wonder if they see me, warmy esconsced behind the tight restraints of the seat belt in the passenger's side of the Range Rover. I think back to years in secondary school watching with envy the seniors, and when I got older the classmates, who would receive their suave admirers at the Love Garden, transported there in cars borrowed from parents. Years later, I would watch with a mix of curiosity the couples wheezing by while I huddled at the bus stop waiting on the bus or at the stop light waiting for it to turn green; both of which in extreme weather, would take their painfully, sweet time.

now i wonder who sees me, jetting down the i-95 in his silver grey range rover with the beige leather interiors. wonder if they see that we hold hands as we cruise. wonder if they know that we have already had two tiffs about what music to listen to and that the first time, - won and the second he let me win. jazz it is. i know i amgoing to pay for this on the return trip. he listens to middle eastern rap. but no worries, i have ear plugs.

wonder if they see that i am happy to be on this trip. wonder if he knows. wonder if he understands that right now, right this moment, it does not matter where we go but that we go together. wonder if he knows.

wonder who sees me, happy to be riding the i-95

Friday, December 17, 2010

Walking among the stars

I meet American celebrities in the oddest of places. I once met the R&B singer Mario at BWI airport while trying to wiggle out of heavy boots to pass through security. He was in a hurry but he stopped to take a picture with me, a picture that I do not have because the passerby I gave my camera to, possibly did not know how to operate it and so took nothing. I could not run after Mario for another opportunity. And I could not break my camera over the person's head. After all, it was not his fault, I did not have extend-able arms to take the pictures myself.

I met Tamara Tunie on the metro once. She was sitting there with no fan fare, like any regular rider. Smiled even though I stared at her the entire ride--granted, I was trying to ascertain that my eyes were not playing tricks on me. Was more fair than she appears on television and was kind enough to give me an autograph which went in my copy of Ha Jin's A FREE LIFE; a copy that for the life of me, cannot seem to locate. I am bummed about both the loss of my novel and the loss of my autograph. The book I can replace, the autograph will have to wait till when I have the time to stalk and locate Tamara Tunie.
picture from here

So, yesterday, while staring at the list of canceled flights at the airport,who comes walking past me but John King. Now, I can understand how some of you might be like "who?", seeing as the majority don't know any show anchors unless they deal with celebrity gossip. He must have thought the same when I asked quite slow-ly, "Excuse me, but are you on television?".
Nice guy. Smiles, introduces himself, watches in mild amusement as I rummage through my bag for a piece of paper to take his autograph. Found one with itinerary of the person that I had come to meet and he signed it nicely. Shook my hand and everything.

I hope when I too am famous, that I can be as gracious as the famous people who have met me and have treated me nicely.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

How I learned not to mess with my mother

picture from here
One morning, many years ago, when I was a little girl of about eight or nine (so, donkey years ago), my mother bundled my brother and I to the town’s one and only health center for what I initially thought was a courtesy call on the doctor. We got there to find the clinic packed, mostly with mothers and their squalling children. My mum sashayed her educated self to the front of the line, possibly intimidated the nurse—as she liked to do—and got our names on the list. We found a spot and sat down to wait.

As we waited, I began to have a sinking feeling in my stomach. One, almost every pair of mother and child that disappeared behind the nurses’ reception would later reappear with the children bawling their eyes out. I asked my mother what was going on. She told me to wait and see. My brother could not care less, stuck to my mother’s side, his world was complete and if she said we were to wait and see, that dude was going to wait all it took.
I on the other hand, was not having it. It took me all of ten minutes to figure out that there must have been a memo—which I missed—and all kids had been brought by their secretive, plotting mothers for an immunization. Basically, we had been brought to the hospital to be stuck with needles.
I had to get away.
What was I to do? I was all of four feet and some inches. I could not drive. Was not quite sure I could find my way home if I ran and that was if I out ran my gangster mother, which was very unlikely.
I started telling my mother some tale. The plan: distract the woman until she forgot why we were there and she put us back in the car and drove us back home.
Thinking back, I think my mother was thinking the same thing. Except her version was something like, “keep this twit talking until I can get her back in the nurses’ room and chook her with some vaccines.”
Someone called our names. My heart sank. My mother grabbed my hand like a g clamp. And dragged me along. My brother went silently, resigned to his trusting fate. His mother could do him no harm.

He took his injection like a champ. Very little tears and what little came out, my mother hugged away. Then it was my turn. And I must say, I let those nurses know why I have three very unique first names. I shook that dispensary with my whole being.
First, I had to be caught. Then when I was caught, I writhed this way and that way, and bit someone and shook, and screamed, and thrashed, and kicked and….it took my mum, two nurses and a doctor to try and hold my eight year old bad self down; all to the entertainment of my five year old brother.

My mother was fed up. The doctor refused to stick the needle lest it break in my butt and leave me walking lopsided with a limp or something. My mother warned me and told me to behave myself. I gave her the evil eye. How easy it was for her to order me to present my bum for the evil injection. Hell Nawwwwwww.
So my mother said to the doctor, “If she does not want the injection, you can take her to Homaj”. And with that, she grabbed her son, her purse and whirled out of the clinic.
Leaving me behind.

--Now, let me tell you a bit about Homaj International Home School. It was an orphanage between the towns of Ikere and Akure, right at the bottom of the hilly part of the road. Because it was sort of in a valley and the road was no good, when it rained, the front of the orphanage would be a muddy traffic jam. Then unemployed youth would show up to place planks across the muddy pools of water so that cars could pass by for a “fee”. But that was not the sad part.
The sad part were the kids in the orphanage who would line the fence, their skinny, arms poking through the patterns in the walls, begging passersby for food or money. They were not allowed out so of you had anything for them, you walked up and put it in their arms. Their faces would hunt me and I was always terrified of ending up there as an orphan. And that was why I always stalked my father, in case he was having an affair because I knew his second wife would send my disrespectful behind packing over there—why I thought that is another story for another day. Anyway, anytime I was bad, my mum would threaten to drop me off at Homaj.

I never took her seriously until I saw her small white Mazda drive out of the hospital compound.
Like a scene out of my worst nightmare, there I was, my skinny eight year old self left behind at the clinic.

And guess what the nurses began to do? Oh, they taunted me. My dear friend, the doctor came out to cajole me to come back in. Another doctor came out to let me know that he was sending for the one ambulance the clinic had to come make the long, long drive—cos that was what a 45 minute drive seemed like to me at the time—to Homaj to drop me off at my new home.
I sat in front of the hospital like a homeless person and cried. Then I started telling myself stories to make myself feel better. I could not believe THAT WOMAN had abandoned me here. But what was I to expect, my five year old brother had clearly told me he had overhead her saying I was adopted. That he had said that I after I throttled him was not important; what was that he had said it and I believed it.

I mean, what would you think if your mother left you at 10 o’clock in the morning?
So, I sat there and sat there, hissed at the taunting nurses and sat there some more.
Then some hours later my father’s old Volvo pulled into the compound but stopped right at the gate.

My Daddy was making to leave the University’s campus after a hard day’s work. A colleague asked for a ride back to town as the college was at the time, in the middle of nowhere.
My father had no problem and gave a couple others a ride too. One of them wanted to be dropped at the clinic/hospital. There was only one, was on my father’s way and so it was all kosher.
So my father pulled into the clinic's compound and in the distance, sighted a little girl sitting on the steps of the clinic. He apparently says to his friend, “My daughter has a dress, just like that.”
To which his friend replies, “That is because, THAT is your daughter.”
My father peers through his glasses and what-do-you-know? It is me.

I thought my father had come to save me.
I ran forward. My arms flailing. My father drove in and packed the car. He and his friend came down in a panic.
“Why are you here? Where is your mother? Where is your brother?”
Mainstream cell phone use did not come to Nigeria until 2001 and so had there been an emergency, there was no way he would have known. And we did not have a phone at home either.
So I can imagine all sorts of things flying through his mind.
Oh, I spilled my guts. “Do you know what happened to me, Daddy?”…And I let loose. I relayed every bit of the illtreatment and disrespect my small person had had to endure all day. How could this have happened to his child? Hun?

The nurses must have noticed me talking to some men because like three of them came out with the doctor on their heels. It took a bit of talking over each other but it was made clear to my father and his amused colleague that my mother had brought me to the hospital for the state mandated immunization and when I would not cooperate, she had left me there until I agreed to sit still for the injection which they had not wanted to force me to have so that I did not break the needle.
My father asked, “This little girl gave you problems?”
I am not sure what I thought I heard but I thought he was about to curse out the doctor and so I turned to poke my tongue at the evil group when I found myself air borne.

My father had picked me up by the midriff and motioned for the doctor to proceed to the dispensary. His friend followed us in.
It took me a good minute to realize that I was about to be given an injection.
I started round two of my struggling but this man, my dad, was not having it. My dad's friend waited in the waiting room. We--my dad, my airborne self, the nurses and doctor-- went into the room, my father took a seat, all the while not loosing his grip and somehow managed to bend me between his legs and under his arms. My head was all the way behind him. I felt breeze on my butt as the skirt of my dress went up and my panties were pulled down. Then, the cold sting of a needle. I swear I heard the nurse chuckling.

I let rip the strongest scream my vocal cords could muster. A scream that died immediately as my father covered my mouth. Long and short, I got my immunizations.
I promised myself as my father repaired my clothing and wiped my eyes that I was never going to forgive him. As soon as I had my dinner, I was going to run away. I sniveled as my father got the signed proof that I would neither contract any particular disease nor infect another child and followed him to the car. I refused to hold his hand. His wife abandoned me and he just sided with the doctors. Oh, I was so out of that house after dinner.

He bought me a coke. Stuck a straw in it and handed it to me in the back seat. I took it but I did not say thank you. That would show him. I could not reject it. I had not eaten all day. Plus, I had to conserve my energy for my escape later that evening.
We drove home. A small town, the commute was short.

On the way, we passed through the King’s Market—every town has one. Saw my mother’s car parked. This woman was shopping!!!!!!
My father parked and got down. I imagined that he was going to let her have it. Suddenly, he did not seem like such a bad man. I sat up and watched as he walked up to her car and peered inside. Saw a small head come up: my brother’s. then my mother emerged from the market. She smiled at her husband. Ooh, she was going to get it. Nothing happened.
I could not make out what they were saying, just that he pointed at his car. My mother’s gaze followed his motion and then they both came over. I sat back in disappointment. I could not believe I had been so wrong about the two of them. Neither of them loved me. I was definitely leaving that house that night.
My mother peered into the car and I still remember her cheeky smile as I did my best to ignore her. She called my name. I turned my back on her. She laughed. Can you imagine? And her husband was entertained by the whole thing. See my life
We went home in separate cars. I had dinner and decided to wait till morning to run away. By morning, I had forgotten the plan.

That was how I learned never to mess with my mother. Years later, she swore that she would obviously have returned for me; the town had but only so many people and so everyone knew whose daughter I was anyway and there was no way they would have used the one ambulance to give a ride to a little girl who was afraid of needles.
I don’t know if I believe her.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TV Watching, Lesson Number I

On the 8th season of Law and Order: SVU, in an episode entitled “Responsible”, a young high school student attends a party where there was alcohol. She overdoses on the alcohol and dies because no one calls for medical help. The dead girl’s father immediately makes charges against the organizers of the party, they themselves, high school students.

The kids are the initially charged with negligent homicide but the judge lets them off only for that very night to be arrested again because they are having a drinking party.
End of the show, two of the kids end up dead in a drunk-driving accident.
I was like, “What?!”

Three million things are running in my head.

Issue number one
The party was held in the house of couple who were out of town and had no connection to the kids. Charge: Trespassing.
It’s like that silly kid’s story: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Some blonde girl (aged 8-10: I think) finds a house in the woods and decides to go snooping. She eats their food, messes up their house under the guise of looking for comfortable furniture to sleep in and rubs her sweaty self all over their beddings because she could not find a comfortable bed to sleep in, in the house she was not invited into. I cannot remember how the story ended but I remember as a kid putting myself in her shoes and knowing for a fact that if someone had come to my house to report that I had come into their house, rummaged through three pots of soup like a random goat, rearranged their furniture and to then top it up, they found me in the master bedroom, snoozing and drooling on the parent’s pillowcase; my mother would have beaten me into a coma so that indeed, if it was sleep that was the motivation in my break-in-and-entry, I would have a permanent slumber.
But no, these kids, same race as Goldilocks, are released on their own recognizance. Their highly paid lawyer reels off a list of academic achievements-- which by the way, I have since come to reconsider. For one, just because you have all As does not mean that your academic load is taxing. I would have As too if I took a class on how to set the dinner table or how to properly order caviar-- and the judge nods in admiration.
Kai! If only I could reach into the TV and smack someone

Issue Number Two
All the kids were underage, from affluent WHITE families whose parents spent their time travelling exotic world locations, leaving their errant teenage kids without supervision and lots of money to spend.
My issue: please tell me the judge would have been lenient on a couple of black or other-ethnic kids. In one scene, the judge states that she does not want to ruin their careers for doing something stupid and that the punishment should fit the crime. Errrrr, what was the name of that black boy that went to jail for having sex with his white sixteen year old classmate when he was nineteen or something? Two barely-legals’ do the nasty, black boy ends up in jail until he is past twenty one. Wow… punishment fit that crime on one serious note.
Sometimes, I am amazed at the blatant double standards. At least in my country, whether the kids are rich or not, at their initial arrest, the police would have dished out equal amounts of ass whooping before anyone could summon the lawyer

Issue Number 3
It is revealed that one child has been drinking for a long time, aided in part by her mother who after catching her drinking, began instead to purchase the booze for her so she could do her drinking at home, where it was "safe". Two years later, the fifteen year old has the innards of a forty year old and a shortened lifespan because her mother wanted to be cool.

So I thought about my own mother. And had a vision of...

My Adopted Child: Mummy, why have you no ears?
Me ( many years from now): Well, my child. One day, your grandmother...
My Adopted Child: You mean, Grandma in Lagos (or wherever she is)
Me: Yup...the very one...she caught me stealing alcohol from the cabinet and she stared at me with her laser eyes and burnt my ears off.
My Adopted Child: Wha....aaat?!
Me: Yes, and I will do the same to you if you ever try it. In fact, I will carve the map of Africa across your face.
My Adopted Child: Daddy!!!!

Oh, wait, I am the only one laughing?
I love American TV

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Been planning an update for four days.

No time

So Busy

So tired

So crazy

but happy


Friday, November 05, 2010

The degrees of Sin

I once had a conversation with a girlfriend of mine about why I did not want to ride in her car because of the lingering and cloying smell of cigarette smoke. She listened quietly as I explained my spiritual reasons for not exposing myself to cigarettes and the lifestyle; it being that it creates a shroud around your spiritual aura that prevents Divine Spirit/ high positive spiritual energy from manifesting in your life. In short, I said, it blocks communication with your inner Spiritual guides and if I desired any form of spiritual growth, I could not smoke or hang around smoke. There was also the personal of my aversion to the smell but that was not the main issue.

To the above, she said, "You don't smoke but you have sex?"

Basically, she was saying that as a sexually active unmarried adult; an action that is considered sinful by the religious path she belongs to, how could I question her own "sin" of smoking?

Since I don't subscribe to the same path, I see sexual intercourse as something different.

This is what I know: (Note, you don't have to agree) When you sleep with someone, alongside the exchange of bodily fluids that can be potentially dangerous if one or both of you is cooking some STD, or emotions is an exchange of spiritual baggage. i.e karma. So for instance, if I were to hook up with Boy X (or Girl X if you swing that way) and the person is packing some serious past life drama on some crazy level, being with them automatically allows some of that drama into my life and I will have to carry that karma as well. And deal with it.

It is because of this that on my spiritual path that you are ENCOURAGED to be married when engaging in physical intimacy. This is because, when you decide to get married, there is the assumption that you are aware of this exchange, acknowledge the possible challenges that will come your way ( hence the "for better or worse" clause in the vows) and are deciding that as spouse, you are going to help each other burn karma and be the best spiritual being you can be so you can attain the best spiritual results for your incarnation. So, if anything happens when Papa Junior knocks boots with Mama Junior or Papa Junior II (for same-sex couples) both have decided to stick it out.

Now, as this idea is not such a new age idea; I am sure ancient texts have this line of thinking in them from all parts of the world. However, I am of the theory that ancient religious leaders realising that individuals will take this kind of thinking and start "exchanging" all over the place as the concept does not introduce any real fear; especially if you don't understand karma, reincarnation and the Laws of Cause and Effect, introduced an element that has revolutionalised the world, landed many people in trouble and given sexual interractions the identity it has to day.


The fiery, eternal burning pit for sex-ing peoples.

Here was my dilema with this concept. One of the hell ideas, among many others says if you have sex before marriage or outside of marriage, you are going to be an eternal human barbecue. Even as a little girl, my first question was always, "What if you don't want to be married?"
I don't think marriage is for everyone and I definitely don't think motherhood is for every woman, just because she has the equipment to do so; thus out the window went another hell ideology of sex for procreation only. It's like a food processor, you can blend fruit, mix dough or even pounded yam if you are so adventurous. You can adapt any "tool" for something else.
I digress.
So, I knew that if I wanted to have mastery over my personal, physical, financial, creative, emotional and spiritual affairs, I needed to figure out what to do about my sexuality. Since, I wasn't gunning to present any future husband with a virginity on my wedding night like a well cultivated fruit for the plucking, neither was I waiting for marriage to "help me explore sex", I had to sit down and make a very calculated decision about what I could and could not do.

So, I tried to explain to my friend, that I did not see sex as a "sin" because I did not see anything as a "sin". You do something, however minute, you deal with the consequences. If you don't finish this lifetime, then you come back and start again. If you would like to squander one incarnation and return as a cockroach because you actions were so horrendous (I always imagined that this would be the punishment for certain criminals), be my guest; I have RAID if you show up in my house.

There are some things that I try to avoid because I cannot deal with the repercussions.

Like gossiping; I love it. It is juicy and scintillating but I often fall ill after a long session because I have violated another's space. For smaller gossip fests, I walk into a wall or hard object, or hit my toe. I always know when something like that happens that this a a physical repercussion to something I have done. Cos, you see, nothing at all happens in a vacuum.

This is just as an example.

To cut a long story short, my friend and I decided that she would not smoke if she has to give me a ride somewhere and I would respect her decision to be a smoker and leave her be.

C'est finit.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Thinking about my mum...

My mom is wierd. But then again, as her only child, it follows true that I should be like her. Whatever the case, I love the woman; her gray hairs and all-- most of which I put there.

When I was about fifteen, my mother decided that I needed to learn to cook by force and so one day, it was my turn to make stew. For those of you (possibly none of you) who are unfamiliar with Nigerian food, stew is the basis of most of our dishes. It is a mixture of blended peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, seasoning, fried in oil and flavored with stock (or not). It should take maximum twenty minutes to prepare. My first time, the entire process took me four hours.

The end result was good but also, I developed an aversion for meat. Having spent an hour cleaning fresh, raw chicken, I could not put it in my mouth without being nauseated. The only kind of meat I could eat was treated cow hide, known as pomo. It has no nutritional value, has a distinct taste that masks anything else and is quite cheap.

So what did my mother do? She would go to the market, wade through the muck and buy me pomo just so I could have something to eat.

Then there was the time when I would not eat freshly baked bread.

What did she do? She would buy two loaves and leave mine in the fridge so that it was a bit "stale" by the time I was ready to eat it.

Since I was little, and till now, I hated the smell you get when you wash a frying pan used to fry eggs. So what I would do would be to fry like six eggs at once and that would be my egg ration for the month; just so I would not have to wash the pan all the time.

My mom's solution: she would make the eggs, season it heavily and then clean up; leaving me with no chores.

I have other things that I have subjected that woman to, out of sheer wierdness or phases. And she would oblige me.

When you are a kid, what is more important than a parent who accepts your skoin skoin.

*sigh* all this , cos I was just thinking about my mum

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Riding the bus for a thousand blocks

I can understand why sometimes white people have alot of bad things to say about black people or more specifically black kids. I really do because I share some of the same sentinemnts mysel.

These African American offspring are some of the most ill mannered, disrespectful disruptive people you will ever encounter in a public space.

The law says, keep conversations to a mummer: no, we have to hear about the fact that you need to get your thirteen year old head subjected to a chiaruscuro of weaves.

The law says, no eating or drinking on the metro: but no, you come in with a dinner special from Dim Sum Amazing, with fried chicken and home made ice tea, masticating like your life depends on it and spitting the bones everywhere. And there is the oil on your hands that you rub on the seats.

The law says that if you have to listen to your electronics, you should use sound cancelling earphones: but no, I have to sit through eight stops of your horrible, monosyllabic, auto tuned horror that is the latest hip hop/ rap music. Music that I might add was written and produced by someone who thinks that you are too stupid to listen to anything else and so the lyrics do nothing to tax you besides a dumb repetition grammatically incorrect tenses and stereotype fueling messages.

I am not sure if this is a law but there should be one about showering or odors emanating from your person but no: you roll up on the metro smelling like a cross between an ash tray and the bottom of a trash can with femented animal waste. I think it is admirable that you want to kill flies and other air borne bacteria with what emanates from your person but you must remember there is a reason why when you spray insecticide, humans are asked not to be present sheer reasons of toxicity. Well, it is the same with your BO.

Sorry for the rant but sometimes, these kids are just plain embarassing. They knock into older people, even elderly people. Scream and shout and constitute a nuisance. And they think they are being cute or hood or whatever misguided idea they have of themselves.

To call them out is to risk humiliation as it can result in a shouting march or even worse, bodily harm. It is a problem because so far, these groups of kids have always been African American. I know there are white errant kids and even ill mannered kids from other races but so far, I have not had to endure their presence on the metro.

So disgraceful

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I ate a pomegranate

picture from here.
Yesterday, out of curiosity and a genuine desire to consume fruit, I bought and tried to consume a Pomegranate. An odd looking fruit with no clear indication as to how it should be eaten and nursing a paranoia from a disastrous experience from my first week in Architecture school and second week in the US, I was a bit skeptical about my choice of source for vitamin C but it was either buy apples (which I do not quite like), oranges (too sweet and they cannot be peeled like the specie that grows in my home country), pears (only like them when their skins are hard and crunchy) and grapes (which have taken a back seat since I discovered cherries.) All the other fruit were either unripe or I did not quite know what they were. I selected some bananas, three peaches and a pomegranate, paid and went home.
Why was I so cautious about this fruit and why was it so important that I eat it, in other words, conquer my aversion to it? I will have to take you back six years, to the late summer of 2004 when a fresh faced me, began the first week of my collegiate pursuit of an architecture degree and the class was given an assignment to both test our observe-and-record skills as well as the ability to indicate depth of material through shading techniques. Each student was required to select a fruit and make five drawings with five different types of pencil techniques: hatching, pointillism, cross hatching, staining etc. I had never been a strong fine artists but like everyone in class I had to do the project. I selected an orange and went to work.

The project required you to sketch the fruit whole, then take it apart and draw what you saw. So the end result would have been a sketch of a whole orange, half of an orange, the rind of the orange, the squeezed orange with pulp and seed and whatever else you felt you could come up with based on the fruit you had selected. Some classmates opted to let the fruit ripen and rot, thus indicating the different processes of its demise.

In any case, we had two weeks. In architecture school, we would present on Mondays and Fridays with the days in between usually for developing ideas or correcting errors based on a bad critique.

Sunday evening, ninety percent of the class is done. My submission looks as raggedy as the fruit I have subjected to all forms of artistic torture and I am moving around the studio observing other classmates at work and getting to know them. At this point, I know maybe three names in the entire class.

I stop at a classmates desk. He has chosen a pomegranate. I actually stop for two reasons, his drawing skills are waaaaaaaaayyyy above mine and I have never seen the fruit he is drawing before.
I ask, "What is this?"
He looks up a bit puzzled, then realizing it is me, he says "A pomegranate."
I look at the fruit. The skin is hard. It has on its inside, a dense network of seeds that are encased in a transparent skin of liquid, a bit like paw paw (or for Americans, papaya) seeds. It has no discernible fruity smell.
"How do you eat it?" I ask
He answers in a weary tone, as if to say, "why bug me now" and answers "well, you suck on the juice." He points at the seeds.
I look at what he is pointing at and still not understanding, I reach for one of the seeds, pick it up and I am about to say "what do you...", when I press it between my forefinger and thumb and disaster happens. Juice goes spurting everywhere...over his almost complete, impeccable project.
He goes ballistic.
I try to apologise. The class gathers. I am shaking. I know I cannot offer to do the work for him. It is not a model where I can build the frame or anything, it is an art project and that is tanamount to skill. Mine can in no way replicate his.
He is livid and cursing. If I was a guy, I am sure he would have hit me.
I am still apologising as best as I can. I am embarassed because the whole class is reacting like "How could she not know that the seeds have juice that STAIN". Another batch are explaining, "She ain't never seen one before. You know, she African."
So in one swell move, I am a destructive coon from an uncivilised jungle who does not know what anything is and causes trouble. I am sick to my stomach.
He storms off, the rest of the class goes back to what they are doing.
I go home. I am sad and scared. I don't want to be hated for a mistake
So I say a prayer and explain to God that He knows I would not do anything intentional to hurt someone's work. I say that I will try to get to class as early as possible before the professor gets there and that I will explain what has happened and ask that if there are any marks to be subtracted, that it be taken from my grades and not his.
I go to bed worried.
I cannot sleep.
For one reason or another, I am late to studio the next morning. Not seriously late, just enough that the professor has walked in. Immediately, the guy whose work I have ruined presents his case. I hurry over and try to interrupt, apologising and presenting my offer.
The professor listens. Looks at the project and then says, "I would have thought you were trying to use a staining technique to more accurately depict the color of the fruit..."
Then she takes a small sponge, rubs it against the rest of the fruit and begins to press it all over his boards.
Needless to say, I learnt a new technique. No one got punished and no one got marks subtracted. However, I was so scarred by the experience that for six years, I never touched another pomegranate till yesterday.
And even after I brought it home, I went on Youtube to research how it was to be eaten.
I found this

and this

I chose to follow the instructions in the second video.
Did I enjoy it? It was just one very weird fruit. After nearly hurting my cheek bones trying to get out as much juice as possible, i then faced the task of how to get the juice off the seeds without going through the five-week-blender-salad-alternative. I ended up spooning the seeds into a bowl, sucking on the juice and spitting out the seed shaft.
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy too much work

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Isabel Briggs Myers/ Personality Indicator

Isabel Briggs Myers (October 18, 1897 – May 5, 1980)[1][2] was an American psychological theorist. She was co-creator, with her mother, of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). from here.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.[1]:1 from here

In any case, as part of an office-wide initiative to help us find out what kind of personalities we all were and how they affected how we perform; I and my co-workers sat through the 93 question questionnaire, after which some individual had the tedious task of trying to analyse us.

My results arrived today and I was classified: INTJ

What does that mean?

After analysing my responses to questions to determine a) where i like to focus my attention, b)the way I like to look at things c)the way I like to go about deciding things and d) how I like to deal with the outer people; it was discovered that:

I have an original mind and a great drive for implementing ideas and achieving goals. I quickly see pattens in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, I organize a job and carry it through. I am skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance for myself as well as others.

I think that pretty much means I am awesome.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Liberian Widows Initiative

Simply by watching the video posted below, you can help raise funds for a worthy cause: The Liberian Widows Initiative. The couple in the video will be spending a year in Liberia working with the program, funds for which are being donated based on the number of views the video gets.

So just by watching it and inviting someone one else to click on it and do the same, you are helping to raise funds for people who really need it.

Visit the creators at the JUBILEE PROJECT if you would also like to sponsor directly.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

69 days

The highlight of my day yesterday was the rescue of the trapped Chilean miners after a 69 day ordeal. Yes, I said 69 days. 69 days of being trapped in cramped, unsanitary and uninhabitable quarters, miles beneath the ground on which their frantic family members were standing on.

I remember when it first happened, I stumbled across the news because I am well, nosy. I remember I was getting dressed to go out and watching a live streaming broadcast of the news and the newscaster said something to the effect of "Work has started on the tunnel to reach the miners and bring them out. There were two possible points of entry" the camera pans as he points to two mountains," the current option will take about two months and the original choice would have been a 6 month drilling project."

I remember freezing. Two months! Six Months! What on earth was going on? I thought it was a simple case of sand falling in on a badly constructed mine shaft and all that needed to happen was for them to use dynamite to blast their way in and get them out. I was wrong.

69 days, these men huddled together, armed with sheer determination not to give up and the fervent prayers of their loved ones.

I wondered which one of them might have fought with his wife that morning before going to work and maybe in anger she had yelled, "Get out and don't come back!" and he too had retaliated with "Who wants to come back sef!!" Only for hours later to realise that he really couldn't and if something went worse, he never will.

Or maybe one of the men had a kid that had done something bad and the father had said, "When I get home from work, I will deal with this." and the child had prayed out of fear,"God, please don't let daddy come home tonight." Well, daddy did not come home for 69 nights, all of which you now stayed with another kind of fear.

Does make you wonder at the grace of divine love in your life. Why do some experiences happen to some and not to others?

Do you care? I don't. I am just happy that the ones that have happened to me, I could deal with.

And I am happy that the miners are home. My mother, when I told her, wondered if there might have been some psychological effects on the miners. We both were still grateful that they were still here; even the most sickly of them all.

Welcome home. Welcome home

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I am not a spectacular cook. I cook well and have been complemented enough times on my ability to raid the fridge and make something delicious. I cook because I love to eat and have sadly come to a realization: some time in the past five years of living in the US, food became my go-to pick-me-up

Two years into my collegiate career, things became very tough for me. A lot of things began to go wrong. Too many issues were beyond my control and I found myself crumpling under the burden. I have an aunt who in her own way tried to do her best to make right for me, the things that she could. One such thing was food. She always made sure that I had enough to eat. And so, I began to measure my level of personal well being by how much food I was eating. I could not afford to eat out but that was no problem as I always had enough food to make up.

I remember one Friday evening a couple years ago which could serve as a template for many others. As usual, I had put up for "pin-up" review, designs that were so predictably sub par--according to my professors-- that the reviewing jury took a considerable amount of time ripping into me. Choking back frustrated tears and weighed down by the foreboding knowledge that it did not matter what grades I got in other courses, my GPA was not climbing anywhere higher, I dragged my sorry self to my dorm room.

My suite mate was getting dressed to go clubbing and she proffered the perfunctory invitation. As usual, I declined. Girlfriends with whom I had hung out with as a freshman had slowly taken me off their social lists: a heavy academic workload coupled with my recluse-type behaviour meant that I was not honoring their invites and they too stopped asking; so that Friday, like all others, no one was looking for me to do anything.

My other classmates from architecture school called me to tell me they were going drinking. Our studio was split down the middle with half being budding alcoholics and the other half stepping that up to smoking weed. Each group usually retreated behind their individual comforts when stressed. Since I did none of those things, and could not afford to do anything else, I went into my room and closed the door.

Then I cried a bit. It sometimes helped.

Then halfway through blowing my nose, I realised that I needed to pee. I got up and headed for the bathroom I shared with my suite mate. As I walked out of my room, I caught sight of two plantains, sitting on top of our fridge. They were turning black. I told myself that I needed to fry them immediately lest they become so rotten that they could not be salvaged.

As I sat on the toilet bowl, I toyed with the idea of eating just plantains. As I washed my hands, I mentally browsed through the contents of my fridge. Twenty minutes later, the suite was filled with the smell of frying peppers and steaming rice with onions. Less than an hour later, I climbed on my bed with a tray laden with food and cold, sweet drinks. I was alternating between shoving my face with food and changing the channel when I caught my reflection in the mirror and froze. There was a slight, imbecilic smile on my face and for the brief moments, I had forgotten that I had been crying.

All it had taken to bring up my spirits was hot rice with fried fish stew, fried plantains washed down with cold soda. Food had become my comfort.

I think, after that, i became very cautious about how I saw food. Unfortunately, the system had been set in motion. Till now, I fight a daily battle not to mask/ bury my emotions with food. It does not matter what it is, as long as I am eating something.

A forty pound weight gain coupled with skin that has become a new colony base for acne have been just two of the repercussions. Lethargy, fatigue, join the list.

I am working on it. We all battle depression in different ways. I have used food. Others use even more destructive means. Talking about it was not an option at the time: no one would have understood and family would just have told me to go into prayer; which is fine but sometimes, you might feel so down that you cannot hear God speaking to you. And that is why God made professional mental health practitioners.

It is 10.56 pm. I am craving something to eat. I am not sad. Or depressed. Just hungry.

Friday, October 08, 2010


I attended a panel discussion yesterday of which one of the panelists was Cheryl Blair, wife to former England's Prime Minister, Tony Blair. I had no idea she would be there as I had only just heard about the event while mistakenly eavesdropping on the chatter of two ladies on the bus. It was to be a seminar on Empowering Women Entrepreneurs and as I am a budding entrepreneur, I excused myself for an hour from work and went to attend the event.

The panelists were 1) John Rwangombwa, The Minster for Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda 2) Cheryl Blair, The Cheryl Blair Foundation for Women and 3) Leslie Lane, The Vice President of the Nike Foundation

A couple things struck me during the discussion. First of all, when Cheryl Blair was introduced, there was no mention of her spousal connections or how many children she had; which made me think of the last time I attended a Nigerian business professionals' event and someone thought it important to mention that all the speakers were married with children. I had had no idea that she was a lawyer. Her personal life was not important, only her personal achievements. I was impressed by that. I want to be measured by what I have done with my life and not whose last name I might or might not carry or how many children I am mother to.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala gave the opening remarks. Of the percentage of impoversished people in the world, women make up most of the numbers, she said, and she finds it incredible that constantly there has to be presentations to justify why women should be invested in. I have my own theories about that but I found the information fascinating. Because, I have indeed seen so many announcements of summits where women are lobbying to invite male dominated giovernments and financial mechanisms to invest in their women and communities. As one of the panelists later stated, 90% of a woman's revenue is pooled back into her family while for men it is 30-40%. Men in general, are thought to consider an investment in/ purchase of things to be better use of their resources than an investment in the women.

The third thing that touched me was when the Rwandan Minister said that his country has the highest number of women in political office in the world. And as such, there have been quite a few progressive, positive reforms in legislature and constitution to protect and develop women's rights which have in turn led to positive results for the country as more women were seeking education and aspiring for more with their lives than just marriage and children. However, the interesting thing is this would probably not have been possible if the 1994 genocide had not happened because as a result of the horrific deaths, most homes were left without male heads. So, it was imperative for the government to do something as now, most of their citizens were women and children; both of which had not historically been given rights and opportunities to empower themselves. So reforms were made for women to improve upon their economic potentials which then led to an increase in their overall life potential.

This made me think of one valuable lesson I have learned growing up as an Eckist: that nothing in life happens in a vacuum; it is up to you to deduce the reason and choose your reactions.

The genocide was a horrible part of history; as were all other acts of human violence on one another. The nation is still recovering but who was to think that in future years, its result would establish Rwanda as a nation that might very well be on its way to becoming the template for a modern African nation with regards to equality and human rights. Women's rights are human rights, you know.

Cheryl Blair then went on to share that she had just come from a bid opening chaired by Hilary Clinton on a project to bring to half of the world's 300 million women who have no access to technology, information and thus social leverage, a simple device some of us take for granted, called the cellphone or mobile phone. This was after it was realised through research that this was a $150 billion untapped market that telecommunications providers were ignoring in favor of their more western and more male dominated markets. Now, there is a bidding frenzy to participate in a project that will develop and encourage such services like mobile education, mobile banking, mobile marketing, mobile health care among a plethora of supporting services and industries. I was intrigued that it was only when a monetary incentive was dangled, did these firms step forward.

I am no fool. I know money or the lack of it makes the world go round. I also know that women are the best avanue for capacity building for every nation. If a woman is in control of her own life and her resources, she can plan if and when she does things be they be the more traditional actions like marriage and child bearing or even running a business to maintain her independence and financial contribution to her family and community. An educated and enlightened woman is an asset to every community she is in.

I know that I have been fortunate in life but also the quest for the opportunities to be fortunate has also been because my mother herself was educated and could encourage me to do so.

And so I march on, seeking ways to empower myself spiritually, financially, intellectually, emotionally and socially.

That is why I visit sites like Timbuktu Chronicles to learn of those who are doing similar things across the African continent.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Started Cycling Classes

My butt hurts terribly. I think I will switch to Kick Boxing or something.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

October 4th 2010

I am 26 years old....


A former work colleague of mine recently started working for an organisation called InterAction. It is a caolition of like minded non-profit organisations working on overlapping human interest issues around the world

A couple weeks ago, as part of the organisation's participation in and objectives to combat World Hunger, the employees were give the task of surviving on $28.00 for a week, which is what has been estimated is the amount of aid currently being disbursed in Haiti. So for a whole week, the employees only had twenty-eight dollars to survive upon.

When he told me this, I guess my reaction was not what he was expecting because I only blinked. Assuming I had not heard what he was talking about, he repeated the amount and I was still staring at him. I was not impressed.

Let me tell you why.

As much as I admire the motivations behind westerners' attempts to highlight a serious issue, one must realise that comparing living on $28/week in the city of Washington DC, USA and Port au Prince, Haiti like comparing oranges and coconuts. Not the same fruit group and thus not the same effects.

In Naira, Nigerian currency, $28 is about N4200 or theareabouts. I am really no longer sure what things cost in a city like Lagos but I think that someone who makes almost N5000 a month can possibly survive well. Not magnificently, but well.
Also, using DC as a template for the experiment is useless because the resources the city have to offer is not the same as the resources that Port Au Prince has to offer. Plus, the experiment was for only one week. If the participants had been asked to move out of their apartments and indeed live off $28/week, then I might have been a bit impressed. But not spending money for a week and going home to sleep in a comfortable apartment with a plasma flat screen is not what the devastated citizens of Haiti are experiencing.

I have lived off less than $28 for an extended period with no idea where sustenance would come from. So for me, the challenge was not a challenge because it was once my life.

Still, it brought whispers of sympathy from the audience that I was consisted of, as my friend explained what he had to do for a week. I just blinked.

But it does pose a question, how much is the least you have had to survive on?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Free Love: I endorse this message

picture from here
By now, if you frequent this blog, you should be at least conversant with the fact that I do love Asian culture; my initial introduction being through film. As a result, I have been somewhat indoctrinated into Asian-American culture and recently volunteered on the rousingly successful first Annual Kollaboration DC talent showcase--to which none of my friends honored my invite--and on which I think I was one of two people of non-Asian descent on the whole team. Side note: not once during the production and show did I not wonder if the warm welcome and kind courtesies extended to me would be reciprocated if the group had been largely Nigerian/ African and an Asian had stepped forward to volunteer. i really wonder

Putting that aside, working with Asians has presented me with an issue that I initially had no understanding of the magnitude and gravity: the de-sexualisation of the Asian Male. Almost every Asian-directed blog that I have read focuses on how Asian men are never considered attractive and are at the bottom of the choice-of-partner-poll. On the hand, Asian women are considered highly desirable with one in every six Asian-American women dating aside of her race.

Each time I read this, I think of black women; more specifically African American women who fall into the same category on the female side of the scale. Thus if there are so many similarities,why then won't Asian Men seek out Black Women as potential partners? Why is there a derth of this kind of pairing:

Then come the stereotype responses:

1) Asian men are not attractive
Ugghhh, I seriously beg to differ

2) Black women are loud and aggressive
Uggh, that is relative. If you mean, they have been dealt so much shit over time that they are quick to call you out on your bullshit, then, I agree. Most Black Women I know WHO ARE EDUCATED are some of the classiest and elegant people you will ever meet; loyal and respectful. Note, I did not say, subservient.

3. Asian Men have small penises
While statistically speaking, it has been recorded that Asian men do have smaller members in relation to other races, you have to take into consideration a few things: a) Asian women are also smaller than other races of women, and so why would God design something that would split your insides...b)it does not say that it makes them lesser lovers as size has no indication on this and c) there are enough sexually unsatisfied black women AROUND THE WORLD for me to know that the desired penis size is more of a fantasy. It is like wanting a hummer so bad until you realize that is an obnoxiou, cash guzzling monstrosity that makes you look like a tool when you take up two parking spaces or crash when you took a corner too fast.
4. Neither parties find each other attractive
Ugggh, again, i beg to differ. I think the attraction is something both sides appear embarassed to admit. Speaking as a Nigerian, I watch with intrigue the stress my fellow sisters go through in finding a mate. I am yet to meet one who will say something like, "I am open to a man outside of my race". They are very concerned about what their parents who will say--parents whom I might add, will die and leave you behind to deal with your marriage. or what their friends would say -- friends who might secretly envy your courage to step outside of your comfort zone.
Once my friend stared me like I was crazy when I termed myself "An Equal Opportunity Lover". When I ask for a partner, I ask for love, respect, friendship, support, freedom and laughter. All of which I can get from anyone. It is when I start specifying that he has to be an engineer, be 6 feet tall, have an MBA, come from Ikeja in Lagos State and be an Eckist (as I am not a Christian) in addition to all the things that were listed above that I pidgeon-hole myself. Then when I meet someone that I find attractive, I immediately blank his side because he is none of those things listed.
I think people will be attracted to whomever but fear is what causes many to assume this as a point.
5. If God wanted us to mix, he would not have put us on different continents
Wow!!! Anyone hear KKK advocate?
6. There is the cultural difference
The most similar culture to an African culture is an Asian one. So also, a comparative culture to a European culture is an American one. Equation balance. I promise you that for every African tradition, there is an Asian equivalent. Language? There's always English or Sign or even better, learn a little bit from one another.
7. The Children will be confused
Only if the parents are confused. My parents are a mix of Yoruba and Itsekiri and while that might not seem like a comparative example, I use that to illustrate a merging of cultures. At home, we kids learned my father's language, ate foods from my mother's people and holidayed with her people. So, I am very much connected to both parts.
Plus, it is always useful to have your children be bilingual. I am always irritated when I see Nigerian children who cannot even speak one Nigerian language. The average Indian student has to learn two national languages to graduate from secondary school. Which reminds me, I have to continue my Igbo classes
Why this post? Am I secretly stalking an Asian guy all over town or currently involved with one and thus already defending against any potential social backlash?
I just would like to encourage anyone who would like to experience love to go out and let it happen organically. Or you can use your church matchmaker (BTW, most east-Asians are christian. Yup, I was stunned. Southeast Asians, another issue)
Give one another a chance and live happy. make cute blasian babies...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kollaboration Rocked!!!

Kollaboration DC was a huge success. And the pre-production for year II begins shortly

Monday, September 20, 2010

People I read II

Blog Name: Ask a Korean

What is it about: Questions about Korean culture are submitted via email and responded to in order and with the discretion of the blog handler who identifies himself as The Korean, and takes on the task of providing his personal insight to the Korean experience both in the United States and on the home continent of East Asia

Why I read it: Infused with sarcastic humour, the blog provides an insightful take on the workings of a brilliant individual who has the difficult task of navigating within an external culture that is both his and then not. The Korean is a naturalized uS citizen and so has both strong ties to his country of birth as well to his country of residence. There is also the issue that The Korean's family had to flee Northern Korea, the more totalitarian and oppressive state to South Korea, which we are more conversant with, before coming to the United States.

One of my favourite posts: Do Korean eat dogs

How to attract a Korean Man

Blacks and Koreans

What to wear

picture from here
I always find myself not having something to wear for any event. And since for the longest time I never functioned on a budget that allowed me to just walk out and purchase a solution, I have on more than one occassion, sat down to effectively review my selections and ponder on why I might be out of a new hip number.

The answer is simple, I don't buy hip new numbers. I am pretty much a basic dresser. Ninety percent of my shoes are black and I always have a black piece as a base line ; be it, pants, skirts or the top. I only just learned a simple technique last year for applying makeup and this was after many years of leaving the house feeling cool only to pass my reflection in the street and wonder what affliction might have possibly befallen me in the past hours of my exiting my residence to make me have a red tint on my skin; and I am not one of those females that uses blusher.

I watch what other females wear and will be honest to say I am not as fashionable as the average femme. As long as my clothes are clean and I smell exceptional --now, fragrances are something I don't mess with-- I am quite satisfied. But these days, I am beginning to wonder whether or not the quality of my social life has something to do with the quality of my warddrobe.

I rarely go out. A typical Friday evening, has me pigging out in front of the TV to my latest foreign film DVD acquisition and I love it. When you are not the drinking type, and living in a culture where most of the socialising revolves around the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, you will find yourself either gravitating to religious gatherings or if you like me where you are more spiritual than religious, entertaining yourself. Thus as a direct result, my warddrobe is sorely lacking in those pieces we Nigerians like to refer to as "ashewo couture".

Simply put, outfits that grab attention of males and females alike by putting your physical attributes on display.

I am not a prude but I am also not delusional to imagine that my body is in perfect condition to wear certain things. The last time my stomach was flat, my age was in the single digits and my bust and derriere size has steadily climbed in width over the past six years. The last part, I am quite happy with, though. Also, life's experiences have been evident on my skin as my once perfect, flawless feature looks like a cross between a post-harmattan farm burning exercise and a bombing zone.

So, I dress to cover the "love"/"food" handles, mosquito bites on my leg and ensure that my "ladies" are always in their proper position. Luckily, they are still behaving. I dress like a conservative adult. Which is not so bad. It is just that when you are now faced with an upcoming clubbing event --an activity that I have not partaken in in the past year or more-- you realise that your clothes are more suited to an evening at the Kennedy center.

What is a girl to do? I am going to be surrounded by a bunch of Asian girls whose average dress size is from 0-2. I am not envious of that though but I would rather not look like I could swallow one of the whole. Also, I have not been out in a while and so some pieces that used to fit twelve months ago have to be donated to charity.

Jeans it is...I'll will find some top to make it work. We will support it with Spanx. Luckily, I always have one good working pair of "ashewo couture" shoes....

So who is coming out to the Kollaboration DC after party at Pasha this Saturday?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

People I read

I started blogging in 2005 as a way to hone my writing skills and also vent my frustrations about things going on around me in a public form of self induced therapy. And, in the beginning, it was a blissful experience: I was suddenly linked with a group of young and adult writers whose unique outlook on the Nigerian experience both at home and abroad provided for a much intelligent discourse.

Each blogger then, had a distinct way of speaking, so much so that when I conceived and executed my Catwalq Academie Series (see links to all on the right), our general online community was drawn to the project, reacting to the familiar characters who though were anonymous avatars, had inspired personalities that were easily identifiable.

Projects began to spill out, as if an invisible barrier to creativity had been lifted and an infinite number of ideas were brought forth. Bella Naija became a brand, Blog Idols became a seasonal event and then came the blog awards, giving recognition to those bloggers the community felt stood out from the multitude of bloggers. And there was the 14th & Serenity which I was directly involved with, bringing a diverse group of characters for an amazing literary project.

As the community grew, so also did awareness of the technology and thus the different uses for which it could be put. Suddenly, the Nigerian blogosphere was inundated with spiteful, spineless individuals masked behind the cloak of anonymity who would go from blog post to blog spot leaving behind a trail of calculated insults to entice controversy.

Then, there was a mass exodus of bloggers. Most of the bloggers whose daily or weekly posts, i had awaited in high anticipation, eager for the ensuing discourse that would be conducted in the comments section. That was soon gone and a new generation of bloggers came on and my interest in the community all but died.

I have maintained my blog, largely because while I no longer have that connection to majority of the bloggers out there, this portal was initially chosen for me to have an outlet and I find myself running back to it, again and again. And even though my mother now uses this blog as a medium with which she can conduct her transatlantic stalking, I still feel most free expressing myself there.

And so, that is why I have decided to also to share what it is that stimulates me now.

By share curiosity and coincidence, I have become quite involved with Asian American issues, content, projects and initiatives. In fact, I am a current staff member on Kollaboration DC, an Asian American talent showcase holding this coming Saturday at the GWU Lisner Auditorium and being the only black person on staff, I am going to raffle names of anyone who buys tickets to see the show because I invited them, to win a lovely, free Kollab Tshirt.

Getting to meet and befriend Asian Americans also means I am getting exposed to their cultures which is not so new, as I grew up on the steady dose on one of the most successful exports out of South-east Asia: BOLLYWOOD. Outside of African cultures, I have felt most connected to Asian cultures because of the glaring similarities in community construct, social values and hierarchies. Both parts of the world (Africa and Asia) mirror one another, perfectly.

I am infused with the language, dress, food and visual culture. I have more Asian movies in my collection than any other region in the world; partly because they have many thriving industries from which budding filmmakers can learn how to tell accurate encompassing stories about their cultures and do so on a budget but also because the stories are so damn good.

I now have many friends from all over Asia and cannot wait to see two of them in particular at the upcoming Eckankar Worldwide Seminar in Minneapolis.

As a result of me opening myself up, I now read on a daily basis, a steady stream of blogs, websites and articles by Asian bloggers and writers. So in a series, I will term " People I read", I would like to introduce you all to an inspiring and rib cracking humorous individual, residing in New York and raising his daughter as a single parent; METRO DAD.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Kollaboration DC: September 25th, 2010

Next Saturday, the First Annual Kollaboration DC comes to the national's capital with an Asian American and Pacific Islander talent showcase of some of the brightest and amazing up and coming out there.

An added bonus for you coming out to support in honour of my invite to Kollaboration DC: When you buy a ticket, I enter you into my personal raffle to win a free Kollaboration DC Tshirt to show my appreciation. This is my gift to you. Contact me for tickets Prices go up on the day of.

See you there

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inspired by true events...

A young lady, recently starting at a new position within a financial institution was seated in a mandatory orientation briefing which included staff members at various levels. It was the afternoon session and the current presenter was doing her best to keep the diverse group informed as well as engaged.

Young Lady, who will from here on out be referred to as YA, was however in a bit of a predicament. You see, over the course of the course of the previous couple of hours, she had downed two cups of herbal tea, completely forgetting that within her internal biological system, tea acts as a form of purgative. So as the first batch of slides went up, so did the indicative sounds of future bowel movements which would be preceeded by, until the alloted time of release, loud and disastrous gaseous emissions from her ample derriere.

Her seat was not such that she could so easily slip out of the class for such an extended period of time without people noticing and worse, figuring out the reason why. The presentation was not one that she could miss, the presenter being from her department and presenting material that she had already been informed she would need to be conversant in, and efficient in delivering. Also, the presence of the emissions was not necessarily evidence that she was ready to "go" but that she was too prepare herself to do so.

So, being the person that she is, she began to silently count to herself, willing her body to respond to her mental commands to extend the time between contractions and reduce the audibility of the emissions. Like a woman trying to mask an induced labour, she concentrated hard. Counting, sipping on water, counting, refusing to allow her butt cheeks to release either air or each other.

For 45 minutes.

It was the longest of her life.

At the end of the presentation, she made a less than graceful escape by which time, her bowels had rebelled completely and the herbal tea declared ownership of her arse.

At the end of the day, as the professionals gathered their things and made their exit, a senior staff member from her team, to whom she had been introduced earlier in the week, walked up to her.

"It is amazing what they expect us to process so early," he said with a wide smile, "but I am sure you will have no issues at all"

Her face looked a bit puzzled.

"I noticed you were concentrating hard on each of the slides. In fact, I thought at one pount, weren't you counting the data along with him?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Things that graze past my ear

I was doing my usual crazy walk home from the yogurt place, trying to directly avoid the sewer grates on the sidewalk because I am a firm believer that those things are not as strong as they look --case in point the last episode of the show Rescue Me shows a man just dropping 20ft to the bottom of the sewer when the grate suddenly gave way--but I digress.

So I am walking home, or to the casual observer, hopping from one side of the side walk to another and I pass a Hispanic mother and her two sons possibly on the same route; home, that is.

The little one is talking. I don't know the origins of the sentence but I catch, "....I am going to ask my daddy to buy me ....he said he would buy me....I'll ask if I can have this too."

We get to a traffic light and stop and then I catch the wearied, slightly irritated answer from his mother, "Your daddy always promises you he'll buy this and buy that and you never get nothing...."

The little one immediately jumps to his father's defense. "Nah- uhn, he doesn't lie. He never lies about Jerseys. He bought me that jersey that one time."

The mother gestures for him to keep walking. The light is green. She uses her left hand and there is no ring. Beside her, her older son is silent, lugging two grocery bags. She has a matching one in her right hand.

The little one lapses into silence. Brooding. Most likely hurt. I felt for him because, he was yet to fully understand the dynamics of an absentee father.

I felt for the woman because conversations like this would keep coming up until one day day, they would stop and then she would know that the man was "dead" to the little one. She was probably tired of defending a man who appeared larger than life to his sons, was probably the same to her once and now was not even worth his word to purchase an item for his children. Her response had had no sneer in it, just a cautious reminder to a child that was beginning the foundations of another fantasy that would possibly be crushed to the ground.

I felt for the older boy because from his silence, he had no fantasies left. Not of his father.

I imagine. But the again, it was just a few words that grazed past my ears. Their father might be in the home, and what the boy wanted might have been ice cream and in that case, his father constantly promising him a cold treat and delivering celery sticks would not be so bad...but I like my version better.

More dramatic.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sound of Music...sounds of the classics

picture from here

My aunt and I took her son and his friends ( children of her best friend) to see a stage production of The Sound of Music. For days before the event, my aunt and I debated over the price of ticket seats, budgeted extensively over the trip that would be more than a day's drive for her --whilst I could wing it by metro-- and could barely contain our excitement. We were so excited about going to see one of our favourite childhood memories brought alive on screen.

The venue was parked. We were there early and could barely find parking. Old and young, the audience trudged towards the Wolf Trap entrance and we went to find our seating. It took off to a good start, the music reaching out from strong, professionally trained vocals to hug us like a warm memory. Our seats were nice enough that they offered us a price that would not break the bank and we could even make out the features of amazing performers. My aunt and I, seated next to one another, sang along with the audience and the performers, rocking ourselves side to side. Then we looked over at the kids and the invited children were looking bored out of their minds.

To say I was deflated, was an understatement.

My aunt whispered that they had never seen the movie --which was the reference point for both us and most likely for you--and my jaw hit the floor. Not only had the kids never seen the movie but their mother did not think there was anything odd about the fact that as children within an environment where they could have access to almost any information, their exposure was limited to hip shaking movements of Obesere, Sunny Ade and Yinka Ayefele.

The kids had never been taken to a stage performance before; in fact were confused as to what was happening during the intermission.

I did not know what to think. I am not going to tell you that their lives are infinitely and permanently marred because they have never read any Western Classics or seen movies like, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or even Koku Baboni, Ralia The Sugar Girl etc because there are millions of children around the world who haven't either and are quite fine.

My thing was that even though they had never read those, they were not reading anything either. They are quick to break into whatever track, Rihanna has found to lay over repeating the same word or jump on an owambe party dance floor to collect the dollar bills, stamped on their foreheads but they cannot tell me one single book they have read or movie that was not stamped by the intellect diminishing Disney.

I am a Sunny fan. Yinka Ayefele, Obesere, Pasuma...not on my radar. One of my greatest sources of gratitude was that as a child, whilst I was not born into a financially wealthy home, I was born into one that was wealthy with KNOWLEDGE. I read extensively and was read to. I listened to the conversations my parents and their friends had and was able to piece together my culture not just as a singular unit but as part of a global fabric. You cannot imagine the look on my face when after I ranted about how evil white people where after reading Alex Haley's ROOTS, my father told me Africans had always owned slaves too and even facilitated the sale of slaves to the Europeans. Shuo!

The first time I went to the beach, I was not allowed in. Not because neither my brother and I had planned to swim-- which we did not know how--nor that we did not bring clothes to do so, but because my father preferred to give us a running commentary about the power of tidal waves. I remember watching with mild irritation as he made us count how many waves were coming and listen to the underlying sound of the HU --another story for another day.

My mother would tell me stories of her growing up--she had an interesting and sometimes pain filled experience--and she would in turn listen to whatever stories I churned out; whether made up or not. I went to see plays. I acted my own out at home. I had a little farm of my own; one of my earliest career goals was to be wealthy industrial farmer...which I could still be if I wanted to.

I think that is why I am the way I am. I grew up learning and always enjoyed something new. Living abroad has been one educational experience after another; no pun intended, seeing as I came here on a student's visa. Which is why, when I see Nigerians living in the US who do not seem inclined to or interested in availing themselves of the opportunities to learn, I shiver inside. So, why did you leave home? You could just have been blissfully unaware within the space you live in in Nigeria instead of constantly saying something quite off putting, like calling the Vietnamese restaurant on the next street from your house, a Chinese take out. Or saying that me being friends with a Sikh Indian is bad, because he is one of the "MUSLIM" Taliban on account of his Dastar (or head wrap)

I am not bourgeoisie . I just feel like, one should know of things outside of your comfort zone because you never know where you might be. Also, it helps you realise just how small you are in this wide world.

Till then,

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me

Bless my homeland forever.

yeah, i skipped lines...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The first time

As females, we have been taught from childhood that our virginity is a highly coveted prize that men are very eager to divest us of. It is that which we brandsh as evidence of our being of exemplary behaviour and good repute. It is that which many present to their future spouse as gifts of their fidelity and intended continued loyality and which the intended spouse takes with a sense of entitlement and proof that they were the first to feast of the sumptious delicacy.

If you ask any man, they will tell you that they would prefer to marry a virgin. Why, I have no idea. In any case, it is their second biggest fantasy after a menage a trois with models.

I don't think anyone ever forgets their first time. And you hope it will be as memorable for your partner as it was for you. That is, if it was their first time as well. There is probably nothing as disappointing as finding out that the person does not even remember.

Years ago, one of my very good friends and I sat in bated breath, awaiting her next period after she had sex for the first time. She and I were eighteen and fightened at the prospect of her being pregnant. The responsible party had by then left the country and there was no way we could have tracked him. She was panicked and stressed and I was even more so because I had introduced the two.

The period came, two weeks late and we were both saved.

Flash forward, six years and I run into the guy randomly. We squeal, shriek and throw ourselves into an embrace. We meet up over a cup of tea and we try to catch up on lost time. When I am sure that we have gotten to a comfortable place, I ask if he has spoken to my friend since he left and he has no idea who I am talking about.

I try to refresh his memory. Does he not remember her? He was her first?

He draws blanks.

We both log on to facebook so I can pull up a picture and even then, her face is lost in a haze of many others.

I am saddened and then again, I am not.

It was her first time. Not his. She would remember it for the rest of her life. For him, she did not even register on his radar.

Makes me wonder....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Road Trips and Journey Musings

I have been travelling extensively over the past couple of days, mostly by road. At one point, I was enroute on the road, from about 12.00 am - 5.00 am. I slept most of the way and when I wasn't hitting my head on the glass, I stared out at the night as it swept by.

My one thought was gratitude that I could make the trip in safety. There is probably no how I would travel in the middle of the night within Nigeria and not fear for my life. Armed bandits, a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere with no roadside assistance are just a few of the issues running through one's mind. Fortunately, I went through with no issues.

Anytime, I enjoy the benefit of a service, whether paid or unpaid, I cannot help but compare to my own country. So many things here are interconnected. The economies grow in the west because there is an efficient transfer of goods and services.

Take transportation for example. There are opportunities at all levels for all income opportunities. If you wish to travel, you can walk, ride a bike, drive yourself, take the bus, take the train or fly. And while these services all co-exist, there is no apparent threat of eradication by a new service coming into play.

Someone told me that one reason the train system for goods in Nigeria was not working was because the northerners who tend to transport lots of goods and service wanted their trucking systems to flourish so they have systematically tried to sabotage the rail system. Whether or not this is true, I can still believe it. There have been so many instances where some new business idea has been sabotaged by the pre-existent --and most times not as efficient-- system because they feared a loss of business. What they do not understand is that we can all function because not all customers will like the same things. As much as cell phones have become part of our lives, there are those who don't use it or if they do, they use only the most basic function and so whether or not the phone can change shape or connect with outer space is none of their concern.

Maybe, one day, in my country, we will learn that we can and should work together.

Until then, we live on hope. And I stare out at the silent, calm, passing night.

Friday, August 20, 2010


He had stolen into my heart, infiltrated my dreams and taken residence in my fantasies. I watched him constantly, cautiously, carefully trying to discern any subtle detail that could indicate if ever our coming together would be possible.
I tried not to read too much into the way he said my name; with that unique lilt that comes from not having the specific intonations in his own language but with a softness that let me know he suspected there ought to be something there.
His handshake: firm. His eye contact: solid. His welcoming hug: comforting and warm. His manner: adult. His discourse: purposeful.
I dared to hope.
Then, I step out into the evening's warm air, mentally preparing for the journey back home as midnight appeared around the corner to be greeted by his fine form and those of our colleagues, clustered at the entrance; smoking.
My heart sank to many, many depths and I asked myself, how I could have missed it.
I had never seen him do so. Never smelt it on him, never....
I collect my thoughts....he is speaking to me, they are looking at me, waiting for my answer.
I tell them I would appreciate a ride to the closest metro . They are all headed in my opposite direction and the metro is pretty kind of them.
We share a joke and a laugh, me, from a safe distance from their cloud of smoke.
I watch his pretty smile.
I am sad.
I let him go.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Spin this yarn

Today, I made an ugly scarf. It took me quite a while to complete, starting and stopping the process. The wool came from two rolls; one of which was intended for a hat that never quite took shape and the other for a multicoloured scarf that did not do the same either.

I started crocheting in October last year. I was at the Eckankar World Wide Seminar in Minneapolis and was spending some down time in one of the supply rooms. A volunteer, whose job it was to man the supply room was seated beside me and we tried to make good use of our fifteen minutes spent in each other's company catching up as we saw each other every six months or theareabouts.

As she spoke, she reached into her purse and brought out a roll of yarn and began to crochet a scarf. I watched her for a while, taken back to when I was around 12 years old, in boarding school and a knitting faze swept through the school. Everyone was either crocheting or knitting something. Most girls made blankets or baby clothes. In any case, wool was in. So, I wrote home to my mother asking for knitting wool and pins. I think I must have told her, it was a requirement for home economics class which would have been a partial truth. In any case, the next visiting day, tucked inside the bag of fruits and provisions that my mother lugged with her in public transport on my behalf were half a dozen balls of colorful yarn and two long knitting pins. The kind old ladies used. I was ecstatic.

However, there was one issue. I had no talent for knitting.

By the time, my care package arrived, the fad had died out and something else was the reigning extra curricular activity.

This story, I shared with her inciting laughter. She then decided, she would teach me how to do a basic crochet.

We spent the next twenty minutes with me, battling her soft yarn with a crochet pin. Then she gave me my first crochet pin and the rest of her wool so I could practice on the flight home.

On the flight, while practising, I hit a snag and did not quite know how to continue. My teacher was either in the air herself or thousands of miles away. No means of communication. I looked up and realised that the lady sitting infront of me was also crocheting herself. So I proceeded to nearly scare her out of her seat by tapping her shoulder through the small gap between the chairs and ask for her advice. She put me through my paces and corrected what I had done wrong.

Now, I was ready to start.

I got home, dragged my bemused Aunt to Walmart and purchased three different colours of wool. Bad Idea.

For those who don't know, Walmart prides itself on its LOW PRICES. So, compared to other places, the wool was very cheap and I soon discovered why.

Tasking myself to complete a scarf for my little cousin with a colour he picked for himself. I began on my first scarf. First of all, I could not get the scarf to turn out straight and so the end result was more like a long triangle. Then, unlike the pictures I had seen, this scarf was not falling softly. It was as stiff as a carpet. When it was done, my cousin tried to wrap it round his neck so he could proudly show off his hand made monstrosity in school but the useless thing would not stay. We tied it in a small loop and it looked like something from one of Baba Sala's parodies. My aunt threw it in the washing machine with half a bottle of fabric softner and we barely escaped it becoming like a scouring pad.

I wrestled it free from the poor boy's neck and the last I saw it, I think it was used to wedge something in the laundry room.

I then decided that scarves were too much. I was going to make hats instead.

I have three really ugly, misshapen hats in my closet.

Still I forged on.

And now, I have a new scarf. It is still a misshapen. The rectangle is not quite smooth. And because I recycled some of the yarn from another failed project, it looks a bit off colour in some parts.

But I am happy with it...

So what have you been up to?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hugh Masekela - Fela

Sometimes, i find some hidden gems on Youtube...

Monday, August 09, 2010


What am I going to do?

I don't smoke. I hate the smell and the habit and it makes me choke. Yes, I use the H word because that is how strongly I feel about the whole thing....

I don't drink either; alcohol, that is...That is one of the reasons, I rarely get invited out because I would be the only sober person in the group and I find nothing attractive at being asked for my name and number with fumes of patron coasting on your breath (I am not even sure that is what people drink, so u see the seriousness of the issue)

So you might ask, ehn, so what is the problem? Nobody is forcing you, abi?

Well, that is true but there is something else happening.

I am a filmmaker and have begun to notice something a bit alarming to me. PEOPLE IN FILM AND TELEVISION SMOKE AND DRINK....A LOT!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had to work on a film set and had to deal with senior crew members who smoked. It was difficult for me to negotiate how we were transporting the crew to different locations, the process for sticking to the shot list and what not when I was alternating between holding my breath, breathing with my mouth and talking.

I could say, well since this is not my set and I am not a primary producer, there is nothing I can do but suck it in. Well, what happens when I do control my own set. Apparently, it is unconstitutional to demand that your crew members not take smoke breaks or that there be no smoking on set at all. I would probably have to designate an area for those that smoke and have them in there but that is discriminatory and if I include in the hiring process an exclusion for those who smoke, I would be sued.

The drinking part is much more negligible as no one actually is allowed alcohol consumption on set. However, a common practice with film crews is to meet up after work at a bar. Here, there is networking and if you work on say for instance, a Korean TV show, you might be having your debriefing and production meeting at the bar. If you don't show up, a major script rewrite or production directive can be issued and you will miss it, thereby looking like a big dunce the next morning.

I have put this in serious contemplation. So far, I have been very good at keeping my life clean of certain things. Film is my dream and intended career and not from behind a studio execs desk until sometime in the future.

Yet, this industry comes with all sorts of things.

What am I going to do?