The Measure of a Man

sorry

An apology that never came changed her view of life.

Bode and Chinyere met on WordPress. While working on his master’s thesis, Bode wrote retrospectively about the 2008 Financial Crisis when financial institutions fell like a deck of cards, one after another. The simple way he explained complex economic theories and the poetry he used to assign blame, in stanzas, inspired Chinyere to follow his blog. At the end of each blog post, he posed questions that drew comments from her. In responding to her comments, he stoked a friendship as though he was tending to embers in the fireplace.

When he wrote that post she didn’t agree with, she thought it best to send a private email. What started in public, mushroomed in private. Forty-four emails later, she knew his favourite food, sushi, the movie he never tired of watching, Schindler’s List, and that both his parents were professors. As they tangoed near the perimeters of their deepening friendship, she moved from being his favourite reader to his dear friend. The first time he referred to her as darling, she danced in tandem, placing a one-eyebrow-raised smiley next to the word sweetheart in her reply.

She imagined what darling would sound like if he said it; she envisioned a baritone, like her boss’s, whom she secretly admired. She felt safe in Nigeria, eleven hours away, from her Toronto sweetheart, Bode, whose handsome face smiled at her whenever she read his blog.

One Saturday, their email exchange, interspersed with LOLs and smileys, over the wonders of touch screen and autocorrect spelling, spanned the evening and spilled into the night. Joking about a political scandal that involved an elder statesman and nude photos of his beautiful mistress, he wrote, “I bet you’ve got a body to die for like hers.”

The half-smile, still on her face from their previous exchange, died and her lips closed into a straight line. Scrolling through the email thread, she searched desperately for it—that email or reply from her that gave him the nerve. She searched again. And again. Finally, she slept with a frown on her face, questions etched on her brow.

She did not reply the next day. Or the day after. She immersed herself in work like a zombie, neither feeling nor caring. How could he have written that? What had she done to encourage him? On the fourth day, he emailed. He had pined for her reply; he had grabbed his phone every time it beeped and driven his professor mad with error-strewn work. He guessed the joke had rubbed her the wrong way, but was it now a crime to joke with a dear friend? He was sorry even though he didn’t know what he was sorry for.

She read his email several times. He had written it in the same simple way he explained complex economic theories, using poetry to assign blame, in stanzas. But, it lacked the sincerity upon which people build great friendships. Two days it was before she fashioned a reply. Discarding the word sweetheart, she wrote:

Dear Bode,

Your joke was in bad taste. I have since evaluated the sixty-three emails we exchanged, and can find no reason why you would share a joke like that with me. Btw, I read your recent post and I agree that the bailout of banks by national governments should be a temporary measure only; it should not be the cure-all. I will share more on your blog later today.

His reply was swift. She had wondered if it would come. She had considered that the curtain had fallen on a friendship that spanned four months and she had already started mourning. Clutching her phone, hope fluttered in her heart and unsteadied her hands.

Dear Chinyere,

I am sorry. What I wrote was inappropriate and lacking better judgement. I offended you and I am sorry. If you can forgive me, I would like to continue being a friend.

That was not the reply she received; it is the one she wished she had. After two weeks, she knew his reply would never come. As weeks turned into months, she left fewer and fewer comments on his blog. She liked to think that his not responding to her comments did not influence her decision to stop altogether.

Today when Chinyere measures a man, she does not take into account the school where he acquired his MBA or the features that make him attractive. German or Japanese, his car keys hold no lure. It is his apology; the quality of his apology is the measure of a man.

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Photo credit: primenerd / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hiroic/8521967145/

Title: Stranger Nº 5/100 – Robbel

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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WordPress 105… Make Money Blogging or Not?

millionaire

The Introduction

You, online service provider, said your product was free. I downloaded it; waited twenty minutes to install, clicked through for another ten minutes to get past the razzmatazz you call introduction. When I got to the main course, you asked me to upgrade for $49.95. I am not angry… not yet.

I decide to uninstall and search for a truly “free” freebie, but you have refused to go. You have been uninstalling for the past sixty minutes.

However, it is when you, my partner-in-crimefreebies, suggest that I should have read the fine print beneath the shiny free banner that my talons come out, long and wicked like Jezebel’s too. Yes you, I am talking about you, my fellow blogger and friend.

The Main Body

You started blogging because you felt you could write. You started blogging after that status update on your Facebook Timeline attracted 67 likes and 134 comments. Never mind that half the comments were your replies. You did not start blogging because you wanted to make money. You already had a real job. Even after your cousin evaded your question, “Have you read my blog yet?” by telling tales of how people were making money blogging, your heartbeat remained the same. You had looked at him with pity; the jester had never held a job for more than two weeks.

But now you wonder. After a tentative start on WordPress, you danced when your first post gained you five followers and a few likes. You twirled with hands on your hips, and then wriggled down. When you almost reached the floor, you remembered that you have back pain and slowly began your ascent. Your cheeks redden at the memory.

At the recommendation of WordPress, you check out some great posts from your new followers. Like strawberries and ice churning in a blender, one thought revolves in your mind. Can you really make money blogging? Of course, ever since your cousin sowed the seeds, they have been growing quietly like weeds in the periphery of your mind. Five followers have invited you to make money blogging.

Three of the five bloggers are attractive guys in their early to late twenties. They have escaped the corporate slave master’s whip and the income they’ve made off their blogs allows them to live the life they’ve always dreamed. Tanned and bare-chested with surfing shorts and six-packs to kill for, they grin at you, and you wonder how long before you can hand in your resignation. You wonder about the six-pack too—did they get it from blogging?  You shake your head to clear the silly thought. Two of them live in Thailand and the third on some other island. You’ve always known that you are living in the wrong country, and true happiness resides somewhere exotic like Bali.

One of your followers is a mum. She quit her job and leads a stress-free life. Her husband works fewer hours, and together they have more time for their daughter who has a debilitating disease. Their family portrait tugs at something inside you and sentimental music plays in your head. You zero in on the mum’s face to fool your tears. Rubbing your chin, you whip out a mirror and trace the lines on your face.

Your last follower is a bald guy with tattoos. You do not bother to read his profile. You do not want to make money blogging so you can become like him.

You note the similarities of the blogs, and brushing a fly away from your face, you draw conclusions:

Money-seekers are from Mars, altruists are from Venus.

Observing life has deepened your cynicism. When your daughter asked your son for a sweet, he quickly plopped it in his mouth and said it had his germs. When you asked to share his germs, he swallowed and you watched his Adam’s apple bulge. The human instinct is to hoard and not share.

What do Donald Trump and Warren Buffet have in common?

If Donald Trump’s apprentices had to endure the humiliation of elimination, making money blogging cannot be as carefree as white clouds floating in azure skies or lounging on the beach in the prime of your life. When Warren Buffet talks about getting rich, he uses “dirty” words like invest, which connotes delayed gratification.  At this point, you reach for a bowl of ice cream and stop sucking in your stomach. Acquiring a six-pack takes discipline, patience, and determination.

Becoming rich begins with watching a video or signing up for a newsletter.

One blogger declares that he wants to help those who are “serious” enough to sign up for his updates. You have never been more serious in your life. As your cursor hovers over the link, the title of a James Hadley Chase novel floats into your mind: There’s Always a Price Tag. Bye-bye Bali!

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

You’ve heard it before and you laugh at the allure that these four letters, E-A-S-Y, hold. The same ideas that sucked people in years ago, now repackaged, suck people in again like a merry-go-round that never stops.

The Conclusion

Thank you for connecting all the dots and for flying with WordPress. If after this post, you decide to unfollow me, I will understand. I have also kissed Bali goodbye.

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Image design: © Timi Yeseibo 2013

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original

What Brought You Here?

what brought you here

The WordPress Stats page is an invaluable tool for bloggers who want to track growth and progress of their blogs. Bloggers receive a summary of blog views by country, top posts and pages viewed, referrers, which are clicks from other sites that link to theirs, and search engine terms, among others.

So far, my biggest referrer is Facebook followed by search engine terms. Search engine terms are words or phrases that people searching the internet use to land on your blog. That search engines drive substantial traffic to my blog is a pleasant surprise because I don’t have an SEO strategy neither do I optimise my content for search engines. It would be too stifling. I would spend too many hours agonising over words. Of course I agonise over words so that what you read flows as effortlessly as rivers over boulders.

The most popular search term that brings people to my blog? Akpos, all things Akpos. Akpos is a fictitious character around whom many Nigerian jokes revolve. I wrote Open Letter to Akpos, a few months ago because I grew weary of multiple BlackBerry Messenger broadcasts of Akpos jokes. Little did I realise that my mini-protest would lift my blog to greater prominence on search engine radars.

Like water on a day when the sun’s heat can fry eggs on car bonnets, Akpos is the antidote to the hassles of Naija life. Unconvinced? Below are a few search terms that brought people to my blog.

Search Engine Terms                                     My Take

Long list of jokes about akpos                     – so you’re currently unemployed?

Akpos meaning?                                            – when you find out let me know

Sweet akpos jokes                                        – are there bitter ones?

Akpos I have a dream                                   – so did Martin Luther King… and                                                                                       Obama had the audacity to change

Akpos bbm pin only                                      – na becos of una I bin write Akpos                                                                                     letter

Akpos jokes of the day                                 – copycat! nor be so Basketmouth                                                                                      hammer; write your own jokes!

Akpos goodmorning jokes                           – for real? wouldn’t you rather have                                                                                     coffee?  

Akpos funny stories                                    – you nor enter molue this morning?

Googleakposjokes                                         – amebo, go find work                     

Best of Akpos at the top                              – please see “my Oga at the top”

Akpos funny love letters                              – run Ekaette, run!

Need story of Akpos                                     – ehnn, for what?

Naija loaded akpos comedy                         – there in four words, the problem with Nigeria!

Since I’ve written about life in Nigeria, I see why search engines referred these searches to my blog.

Search Engine Terms                                     My Take

the beginning of Naigeria                             – this is deep, really deep @Naigeria

God created Nigeria, discuss                       – required essay for secondary                                                                                               school leavers    

I am so glad to know you grew up in                                                                                                     Nigeria. I am from Nigeria                           – nice to meet you too

God of Nigerians                                               – god of corruption, tribalism &                                                                                               comedy

returning to live in Nigeria                           – abeg shine ya eye well well!

Exchange rate Nigeria baits to uk pound   – say what?

Is it legal to urinate in public in Nigeria?   – oyibo, is this your first visit to                                                                                             Nigeria?

I want to wash naija film                              – yes o! wash it clean of the ten-                                                                                           minute credit roll at the start of                                                                                        the movie!

Night+with+naija+full+movies                    – and what a night it shall be!

Don’t ask to touch my earrings                   – okay now! sme sme, I won’t

funny naija post to make my room lively   – sms AkposJokes N10/sms

Lively things to do with my blackberry      – hmmm….

Business woman rides on man                    – nothing and I mean nothing I’ve                                                                                         written on this blog should make                                                                                       anyone land here using this                                                                                               search term! I’m suing Google!

The Body Magic is the post with the highest views on my blog. Perhaps because I expose my insecurities about my weight? Go figure! Not surprisingly, people land on my blog when searching for:

Girl magic weight gain butt                          – need I say more?

Body magic not tight                                   – check the label; made in China?

Body magic won’t fit over hips                   – sis, I feel you

Body magic money                                       – yes, you can make money selling                                                                                     body magic                                                                                                                              #womenarevaincreatures

The body is magic                                     – *wink wink*

Magic in my body                                     – it’s called fat

Where can body magic bra be found                                                                                  in Nigeria                                                                  – send me your BB pin

 

So what brought you here? Search engine? Facebook? Twitter or WordPress Reader? And, what search engine terms drive traffic to your blog? Tell, o tell!

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Image design: © Timi Yeseibo 2013

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Third World: Where Culture Meets Culture

Urban development

I am a first-generation immigrant caught in a clash of cultures but I do not wallow in identity crisis. Although I know where I come from, the pieces of the puzzle that spell out where I am going are the hardest to find.

I am from Nigeria and now, I am from The Netherlands. In the Netherlands, people ask me, “Where are you from?” It is not because I speak Dutch with a foreign accent.

Waar komt u vandaan?”

Den Haag.”

Ik bedoel het land van uw herkomst…”

“I’m originally from Nigeria.”

There are layers of meaning in this exchange. For me, it is freeing to imagine that I’ve just been asked, “What’s the time?” and then to reply in the same tone and with the same emotions with which I would say, “Three o’ clock.” Chasing rainbows is for kids, adults know that when sunlight and water droplets kiss at an angle, a rainbow appears, but not for long.

Does racism exist? Does the sun shine in winter? I choose to see myself as a person, not a colour. In this way, perhaps people will also see that I am a person first; my colour is incidental. Niggling debates about the brownness of my skin, the flare of my nostrils, the strange hair plaits I call Ghana braids, and the location of my tail, would cease. Yes? Maybe not.

At the same time, Dutch people are tolerant, forgiving even of foreign traditions. They will accommodate you and help you out by quickly switching to the English language. They broadcast American TV series and movies in English and subtitle in Dutch! But until you speak the language and adopt their customs, you will be the stranger on the street admiring their beautiful homes, the view that they allow you see from their wide front windows with blinds drawn aside.

Say what you will schatje, this is as much my country as it is yours. Home is where the heart is, they say—my heart is in Nigeria and my heart is in The Netherlands. You’d better believe it, my heart is big enough.

untitled

The uppity houses in Archipelbuurt and Willemspark, the Halal shops, Western Union offices, and neon signs blinking, Simlock Verwijderen vanaf €5, in Schilderswijk, and the international organisations in Statenkwartier, reveal the multicultural character of The Hague. I cannot imagine living anywhere else; ik voel me helemaal thuis in Den Haag en ik zal hier wonen blijven.

 

I love-hate the sun worship that is the Scheveningen beach craze in summer and the Unox Nieuwjaarsduik Scheveningen 2013Nieuwjaarsduik in the middle of winter is a feat for the brave only. Cycling past the medieval Binnenhof, home of the Dutch parliament, a sense of national pride overtakes me. They say that God created the world, but the Dutch created The Netherlands. From North to South, we have mastered the sea and our dikes laugh at its waves. This to me is the “silent” pride Dutch people wear on their sleeves.

                                                                                  Binnenhof 

Wherever I am in the world, my ears pick out Dutch from a mix of Chinese, German, French, and Spanish, a comforting sound that makes me feel as if I am wearing a black turtleneck sweater over a pair of jeans and orange clogs, and I am holding a cup of tea, watching the sun light diamonds in the snow.

Riding in the tram in The Hague, my ears make out Yoruba or Igbo or Bini. It is also a comforting sound. I feel as though I am at a party in Nigeria, shaded from the sun’s heat by bright canopies. The food on display can feed the entire street and since our conversation must compete with the music, we shout in one another’s ears.

Many times people ask me to choose. I imagine they are holding up cards, and I am supposed to pick the joker. This then is the joker: it is not that one country is better than the other is, but rather one country is different from the other. I exist in my sub-culture assimilating the best of The Netherlands and Nigeria. It is a third world where many immigrants live.

When in Nigeria, my eight o’clock is my eight o’clock. I may have been born in African time, but I have grown in European time. Time is a fixed resource. My value of your productivity and mine plays out in the premium I place on your time. When in The Netherlands, I will not deny you the pleasure of a spontaneous visit to my home. Although your appointment isn’t pencilled in my agenda, I will not open the door a crack and stare at you as though you are wearing a Martian suit.

Here in The Netherlands, I will not snap the biscuit tin shut after you take one biscuit. But, I will also not smoke fish in my oven until my eyes water and the fumes wear the extractor out, forcing my neighbour to call the housing authority and fire service. When I wake up at 5 a.m., I will hum good morning Jesus, good morning Lord, instead of singing with Pentecostal gusto, so my neighbour does not bang on my door.

It is in the marrying of cultures that I arrive at my destination. They say home is where the heart is. My heart is in Nigeria; my heart is in The Netherlands. You’d better believe it, my heart is big enough.

So, how have you found living in a city where the language, customs, and the way you look, expose you for the familiar stranger that you are?

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Nieuwjaarsduik (New Year’s Dive):  An annual tradition in The Hague taken by some 10,000 people into the icy cold waters of the North Sea by the Pier at Scheveningen Beach.

Fast Facts about The Netherlands: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/netherlands-facts/

 

Photo Credits

Title: Urban development
Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38659937@N06/6887749481/
Photo credit: Frans Persoon / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Untitled
Author: Bas Bogers
Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bogers/4790162426/in/photostream/

Title: Unox Nieuwjaarsduik Scheveningen 2013
Author: Maurice / Haags UitburoOriginal image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/haagsuitburo/8334513758/

Description: Panorama of Binnenhof
Page URL: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AThe_Hague_Binenhof.JPG
File URL: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/The_Hague_Binenhof.JPGAttribution: By me (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons