Of Resolutions, Past and Present

of resolutions, past & present

Reflections and resolutions now seem so cliché, I struggle to write this post. Rummaging in the attic, I find a box of old clothes. Each item of clothing held a promise for the future that’s been realised. I hold up a pair jeans, faded and torn at the knees, and press my face into a light pink summer dress. I marvel at how much the kids have grown for it depicts how far along I have come. The past may hold treasures, still remembered but the future is bound in hope, in belief and in the knowledge that with life, all things are possible1.

2012 seemed like such a dismal year for me that come 2013, I had only one mantra: be happy and move forward. 2012 had been a tough year for me that I left formulating 2013 New Year resolutions to the brave and mighty. I knew about goal setting and other jargon like accelerate performance and maximise results, having taught others these principles, yet I dared not articulate hope on paper.

Careful not to rumple the blanket of snow around me, I placed my feet in the footprints ahead as I walked home. Although it was early 2013, several doors had already closed in my face, some loud, others quiet; all resounded with foreboding. I told myself, “No matter what happens, move forward.” All men fail, not all men rise. If I didn’t like the tempo of the skipping rope to nowhere (self-doubt held one end and if-onlys the other), I could jump out. Speed wasn’t priority, movement was. Crawl, limp, walk, run, anything, as long as I kept moving forward.

I tried to be happy, but happiness is a moving target. My challenge was to find something upon which to anchor my happiness. Many suitors paraded before me. Things and more things. People and their foibles. Relationships and their contradictions. In living for something bigger than myself, I moored my ship. A legacy is something that will outlive me, so I gave my best always. I started writing again. Once a week. I made my commitment public, you held me accountable.

Since I had subconsciously translated my mantra into goals, I had to track progress. Success has several indices. I failed on many of them until I realised I must define my own. No one in his right mind expected me to be the next Bill Gates, but everyone expected me to finally get the hang of Windows 8 and stop whining.

Although I have surpassed my bar, success has no finish line. After we cross the tape, and the applause dies, euphoria will leave a day too soon. The world throws today’s headline in the garbage bin tomorrow. I have stopped waiting for that thing to happen before I live. I move forward, I forward march.

Here are three things that helped me on my way.

Define your boundaries and internalise them by rehearsing often, for we are not as strong as we think we are. Two words: be principled.

Cut off unhealthy relationships. A clean snip with a sharp blade worked for me. A saw leaves jagged edges and many wounds. Two words: follow champions

Don’t give unsolicited advice and your relationships will have less drama. If asked, discern the real need: affirmation or feedback. Two words: shut up.

2014? I dare to articulate hope. I will give more, need less, laugh again, forget quick, dream big, in other words, take lemons, make life, and then jump for joy!

Do you make New Year resolutions or write your goals, or do you let the wind carry you where it will?

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

 

1. Quote from KitchenButterfly, “The ‘Forgotten’ Groundnut Pyramids of Nigeria.  http://www.kitchenbutterfly.com/2013/08/08/the-forgotten-groundnut-pyramids-of-nigeria/

 

Image credits: http://www.pixabay.com

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.

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Another Day in Tolerance

another day in tolerance

Now that winter is almost here, I have ditched the bus, tram, and train in favour of my car. Away from Potential Bestfriend, Regular Joe, and Young Generation, music accompanies my solitude. My heated interior obliterates memories of last year’s winter, of waiting on bus, tram, and train platforms, whipped by the wicked North Sea wind. In spite of this, I am still having another day in tolerance. Let me introduce you to the characters on my way to work.

The Nerds

People who drive 30km/h on a 30km/h road. To drive behind people like this is to simmer with the pressure of wanting to pee with no toilet in sight. They do not realise thirty is the new sixty. However, they know what it is to pay a 320 Euro traffic fine. You cannot meet their slow-motion stare as they crawl past, moments after you sped past them and the police flagged you down. After you calculate how to pay the fine and still lead a normal life, you laugh aloud at the idiot who just zoomed past you.

The Jokers

People who overtake you with zeal, and then slow down, forcing you to overtake them. As if on cue, they overtake you again and then slow down again. For them life is a game of chess, they have captured your pawns, knights, rookies, and queen too. You know how to beat them nonetheless. After a couple of moves, you decide the game is too juvenile to play. You slow down until they lose interest and speed off to court the next player.

The Sadists

People who drive slower than you do, so that you are right to overtake them. The minute you exert pressure on your accelerator, indicate, and switch to the left lane, something in them comes alive. They pick up speed to match your speed. Since you are already on the left lane, you increase your speed to overtake them. In turn, they increase their speed so you cannot overtake. Riding side by side, you sneak a peek. They are a study in casual concentration. You know people like this in real life, people who had a deficiency in childhood. Maybe it was potassium or vitamin K. Their motto: if I cannot get to heaven, then neither will you. You take the high road and follow lamely behind them, shaking your head as you whisper, “Life is too short; life is too short.”

The Non-Conformists

Aka the motorcyclists. They sneak up on you in traffic, stealth is their middle name; they love the strip of asphalt between two cars. You would too, if you have been moving at 10km/h for the last hour. They whiz through the narrow space and nearly take your side mirror with them. Your mirror bends to the limit of its elasticity and returns to its place. Your blood boils and refuses to cool until you remember that lottery-winning numbers are yet to be announced. You let your car roll and slap your ear as if brushing away a zizzing mosquito.

The Bullies

Aka the excursion bus drivers. They do not think the signpost that limits trucks to the slow lane applies to them. Maybe they are right. You passed your driving exam long ago. They obscure your vision, not only of the road and vehicles ahead, but also of the sun, the moon, and the stars. As you drive behind them, you wonder when you will see civilisation again. With nothing to do, you read the bus; you read about all the trips the company offers and commit the website to memory. As soon as the road widens, you change gears, enter the fast lane, and forget all you have read.

The Snakes

People who snake from one lane to another as if they have diarrhoea of the brain. Your head aches from watching their spiral, and it’s no wonder, they remind you of boyfriends that cannot commit. Oh, there they go again, searching for the next best thing. You let out a hiss that is longer than a snake’s, “Hisssss!”

The Lions

The Ferrari-like drivers who would rather be on a German autobahn, but a 70km/h road constrains them. They breathe down on your trusty Toyota, lights menacing, as you overtake a truck. The second you inch back to the right lane, they vroom vroom past you, leaving a trail of imaginary smoke in their wake and drag that causes your car to vibrate. When you catch up with them at the red light, the roar of their engine sounds like the bleat of a frustrated goat. The smug satisfaction on your face says it all. There is a god. No matter how rich and powerful some people are, we still shit the same brown shit. All hail traffic lights, the great equaliser.

Recognise any of my fellow travellers? What’s commuting like for you? I bet not as bad as Lucy Martin’s travails in Dubai.

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

Image credits: all people illustrations, animes, avatars, vectors by Microsoft

Background: lovely pink and gray card design by VisionMates in backgrounds/wallpaper http://www.vecteezy.com/backgrounds-wallpaper/47521-lovely-pink-and-gray-card-design

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.

Grief: When Words are not Enough

grief

I am a strong woman and I let my tears fall as often as they like. However, when I pull up in front of his house, I repair my eye make-up and then smile twice to drive sadness away. Tears are not welcome here, I remind myself as I get out of the car.

I let myself in and grief meets me in the hallway. The post lies in a scattered pile on the doormat. Blue envelopes, white envelopes, shiny envelopes, and magazines and periodicals, he does not read. I sort them in three groups: the urgent I place on the console table, the trivial I put in the drawer underneath, where he keeps his car keys, and the rest, the magazines, periodicals, and shiny envelopes, I dump in the dustbin, in the kitchen.

Here, grief is loud coaxing me to chide. I clear dirty plates, a half-empty sardine tin, and stale bread in the semi-darkness.

In the living room, the curtains say no to the sun. The light from ESPN’s classic football on TV illuminates his form. Grief is quiet inviting me to converse. Grief is still but I am not one to fill the silence as if I am a child colouring with impatient hands that cannot stay within the lines. It has been two days since he heard the news.

When pain overwhelmed my reasoning, my sister sat beside me, squeezed my shoulders, and remained quiet. When disappointment visited me on a Monday morning, my cousin sat beside me, a box of tissues separating us. She hunched her shoulders in sync with mine, let me cry, and kept quiet. When I exhaled the last bit of hope in my heart, a friend sat beside me, numb we stared at CNN, and then he kept silent vigil as I channel surfed.

So, I sit on the settee, careful to maintain distance. I sit until my nose attunes to the smell of day-old perspiration and until I can breathe in the stuffy air circulating in the room. Grief is hypnotic calling me to sleep. I sit until I awake. His head lies heavy on my lap. My skirt is damp and the soft sounds are not from the TV. They are from a man beaten by life, his hopes shred by the finality of death.

“My father, my father, oh my father.”

Grief feels like roulette. Sometimes touch is enough. Sometimes presence is enough. I know he knows that if we pull open the curtains, sunlight will burst through and in the night, the moon will give us light. But right now, words are unnecessary. This is the first time I have observed a man cry.

I have only ever seen two men cry. The first time must have lasted less than five minutes. Ten years passed before I saw another man cry. Perhaps it is because this occurrence is rare that each time I glimpsed a man’s vulnerability, I loved him more.

If we show our weakness, we may lose the ground we have secured and the advantages it conferred, but if we don’t show that we are weak sometimes, we may lose much more. We may lose the opportunity for others to love us for our humanity.

I wonder, at what age does a boy “man up” and decide to stop crying?

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Photo credit: Pixabay

Original image URL: http://pixabay.com/en/candles-tealights-soft-209157/

http://pixabay.com/en/clapping-hands-shadow-poor-light-189171/

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.

I am not What I Wear and Other Lies we Tell Ourselves

cracked face

“I want to be taken seriously dammit!”

Her skin is fair, her face, neck, and breasts, the same skin tone. If her blouse were cut any wider, her nipples would escape. Once, she told me with pride that she didn’t need a bra. I want to use my hands to verify, but I check this irrational impulse and listen to her instead.

“I mean who stumbles over cleavage, right? That’s just like . . .  soooo eighties!” She flicks her bangs and sucks her lemon ice tea, her every movement a pirouette in seduction.

“Right,” I reply, aware that almost every eye in the restaurant is on us, on her, as they have been ever since she walked in. Tall and lithe, like cat woman, could she be unaware of her magnetism? Or does her power lie in contrived innocence?

I let her lead, the conversation that is, but I don’t follow. If I say what I feel, she would think I’m like so eighties, anti-feminist, old–er, and sexually repressed by my sociocultural and religious background.

I let her lead, and then I come home and write this blog post.

***

 Whether you believe in evolution or creationism, gone are the days when humans roamed free and breeze cooled what hung bare for all to see. Fig leaves or animal skin no longer covers our “delicate” parts. Along the way, we discovered clothes, which define standards of decency in public. If you walk naked on the streets, people might consider you mad, and little children might giggle.

Imagine . . .

Nine o’ clock, Monday morning, you walk into the building and approach the counter. A man sporting dreadlocks, a cut-off denim vest, and three gold chains with huge dollar-sign pendants, rises to greet you.

“Good morning, how may I help you today?”

You shake his outstretched hand and look around the room: off-white walls, ficus plants at the corner, black straight-back reception chairs, display screens, ATMs, and the revolving door behind you.

“Sorry, I thought . . . where . . . is this the bank?”

You visit your doctor for a routine exam. An assistant ushers you in. The doctor has her back to you. When she turns, her wavy black hair bounces. Her smile is pleasant as she motions for you to take a seat. Your eyes fasten on her cleavage; the V of her blouse would make the Kaghan valley in Pakistan weep in envy.

“Is something wrong?” she asks politely.

“No,” you say as you swallow and drag your eyes to her face.

“How are you doing today?”

“Fine. But, I . . . I’m here to see the doctor.”

At the office, you hit your keyboard with the gentle force of your ideas. When your colleague stops over and says hi, you reply without taking your eyes off the monitor. He walks a few paces closer, so you look at him.

“Was there something I could help—”

You cannot complete your question because you are nearly eye level with his white boxers. Your eyes travel up past the narrow line of hair around his navel, which fans out like a bush on his chest. You spare a glimpse for his biceps before you take in the black bow tie on his neck. When you meet his eyes, his voice sounds distant. You have not been listening.

“I hope will you be done with your report on time. I need to put everything together for the presentation.” He turns and walks away.

Your yes response carries no conviction because you are staring at his boxers, the bit of fabric trapped in the crack of his buttocks.

Why are clothes important? Why do you wear what you wear?

Girls, we’ve come a loooong way! We’ve leaped from the bedroom to the boardroom, made sandwiches in the kitchen and laws in parliaments. We’ve flown beyond prep school all the way to Outer Space and signed cheques for weighty sums in our name too. But what more did my great, great, great, great, great-grandmother fight for? To see me strut almost naked on the red carpet, while my beau stands by my side fully clothed in a tux? Where is equality? Why isn’t he as naked as I am?

While the V’s on our dresses reach our navel and our hemlines tease our bums, men objectify us, fully clothed, they gawk at us, only human, they ogle “with style”. We are progressing regressing to an upscale version of cave woman.  It won’t be long before we’ll be swaying down the streets our breasts running free. We’ll hi-five each other in our Victoria Secret fig-leaves tong, “Power to you girl; we’ve come a long way baby!”

And the men? They’ll be walking down the streets too, savouring women’s liberation, hailing women’s empowerment, fully clothed of course.

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Original image URL: http://pixabay.com/en/cracked-cracks-face-people-woman-164310/

Photo tags: Cracked Cracks Face People Woman Female Portrait

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.

An Encounter with LASTMA

LASTMA

Like Mumbai, Moscow, and L.A., Lagos is well-known for traffic jams. The thorny maze of automobiles, motorcycles aka okada, and pedestrians, inspired the Lagos state government to create an agency to ease traffic congestion. Lagosians hailed LASTMA as innovative until LASTMA began contributing to the bottleneck.

“The fear of okada is the beginning of wisdom, and to avoid LASTMA is understanding,” said a friend, when I started driving in Lagos soon after my return. I had survived reverse parking into tight corners on narrow European streets, but here in Lagos, the challenge was different.

LASTMA
Acronym for Lagos State Traffic Management Authority

An initiative to reduce unemployment and sanitise Lagos roads. Commuters lament the actions of its officers, who are the “reason” for the growing number of ATM machines.

Do not confuse them with the:
Army (green uniform)
Police (black uniform)
Traffic wardens (orange and black uniform)
Theirs is a proud cream and maroon

They are not bad people but a reflection an endemic system.

Motto (of a few bad eggs): To bring insanity to Lagos traffic and lay ambush for mugus.

So, I drove very carefully. Too carefully, annoying Lagos drivers who attempted to terrorise me with their ear-splitting horns, dare-devil manoeuvres, condescending stares, and foul words as they overtook my snail-paced car.

Me? I refused to give them the satisfaction of looking at their faces when they pulled up to my car, moments before overtaking. I kept a straight face and commanded my neck not to turn. I could at least hold one ace, I could relish the silent knowledge that they may have won the battle, but I had won the war.

Once, at a junction, LASTMA officers caused commotion by waving go to adjacent lanes of traffic simultaneously. I drove a few meters and stopped in confusion. Maybe that was the mistake—stopping to make sense of chaos; pausing to take stock rather than forging ahead through the pandemonium. Seconds later, two officers headed my way. I apologised and explained that they had unwittingly caused the mayhem.

They insisted that I let the windows down. I was privy to this trick and refused. When they persisted, I relented and wound down a crack. The officer at the passenger-side window stuck his hand through the tiny space with the agility of a monkey and next thing I knew, he was sitting beside me.

Madam, park for side, you dey cause go-slow.”

I complied and the “usual” conversation followed.

My kids began to cry. My son asked, “Sir is our mum going to jail? Is she in trouble?”

I wished he had not spoken. How much is a child’s distress worth to a LASTMA officer?

Oya madam fast, do quick. See as you don make the children dey cry.” Poking his face in the space between the front seats, he said to my daughter, “Small girl, don’t cry. It’s okay.” Turning to my son whose cries were louder, “Tell your sister sorry. You’re a man, don’t cry.”

My son wailed, “I’m not yet a man.”

“Okay big boy, sssh, it’s okay.”

“I’m not a big boy, I’m only eight!”

Realising that conversing with my son was pointless, he turned to me. “Oya now, madam shake body, so you fit carry dem go Mr Biggs. E be like say dem dey hungry.”

I thought about many things but “settling” LASTMA was not one of them. I folded my arms for a long silent sit-in. With an exasperated hiss, officer one got out to engage in heated dialogue with officer two. I saw my chance and took it.

RAKING

The ability to bluff your way through anyone or anything that threatens you on the streets of Lagos.

Any dialogue that begins with, “Do you know who I am?” or in pidgin, “You no sabi me?” is raking.

A loud voice and threatening gesticulations add panache to the craft.

However, in cases of real emergency, access to a high- ranking military officer is a plus.

The next time I encountered LASTMA officers, my driver was negotiating a left turn on a road with no prohibiting signs. Two officers suddenly appeared.

They insisted that he wound down. I gave the driver a simple choice: your salary or the window, and secured his cooperation. They informed us that left turns are illegal. I welcomed the helpful information and the driver attempted to change direction.

They mounted a human roadblock. “Madam just tell am to wind down,” they threatened.

I assumed my best big man’s wife pose, squared my shoulders, and sat up higher. I was glad that for this all-important trip to Shoprite, I decked to the nines Naija-style with designer sunglasses to complete the look! But the officers didn’t budge. So, I pretended to call my imaginary military officer husband after all, power pass power. They backed off.

What is the purpose of LASTMA, to correct or to collect? I hope things have changed since I wrote this post a few years ago.

lagos state traffic laws

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

You may also like:

When in Trouble . . . Just Yell: http://ofilispeaks.com/when-in-trouble-just-yell/

LASTMA in the Eyes of the People: http://flairng.com/new/lastma-in-the-eyes-of-the-people/

Lagos the liquid wonder: http://bizzibodi.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/30-days-of-lagos-lagos-the-liquid-wonder-by-ferdinand-c-adimefe/

Photo credit: LASTMA website

Image URL: http://www.lastma.gov.ng/traffic_law.pdf

http://www.lastma.gov.ng/

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.