Two Hundred and Counting

200

 

I received a WordPress notification about my 200th blog post about six weeks ago. What does this mean to me?

1.
Because Nigerian musicians frequently fuse their local dialects and English to produce hits that resonate beyond their shores, I thought the word colabo, and I spelt it like that, in the song collabo by PSquare featuring Don Jazzy is a Pidgin derivative. However, collabo is a word in the dictionary, which means something produced by two or more people working together, especially a piece of music.  I did not get to two hundred on my own. Many collaborations with different writers brought me here.

2.
Every year I check boxes and add scores on tests designed to show me an aspect of myself. I am always trying to answer the questions, who is Timi and what does she want? Perhaps I am more curator of stories and editor than I am writer. The collaborations I inspire and drive bring me double joy. Flipping through one of my old journals, I smiled as I read my handwriting, cursive, strong, sure. I had written: I want to tell other peoples’ stories. Self: A person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.

3.
For years, my answer to the question, “So what do you do?” was fluid because I was like a natural hair enthusiast growing out a perm, one leg here and one leg there. To define my ‘do’ by my day job seemed limiting. Then I stumbled on Adam Leipzig’s Tedx Talk and discovered a way to answer the question with ease. Recently, I answered the question like this: I write a blog, dismissing Leipzig’s recommendation. The man to whom I was speaking probed further, “What do you write about and are you any good?” I answered his second question before the top of his lips settled on his bottom lip, “I am very good.” Gone was his disinterest. Confidence: A feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

4.
Sometimes people leave me comments and messages that they wish they could write like me. I take it as a huge compliment and nothing more. I have stopped wishing I could play the piano like the musician who is a wiz at the keyboard. I have no desire to put in the work and disciplined focus required to reach that level of proficiency. I do not have another 10,000 hours. In making the point that excellence requires a critical minimum level of practice, Malcom Gladwell says ten thousand hours is the magic number that researchers have agreed on for true expertise. Two hundred blog posts is not yet 10,000 hours. Practice: Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.

5.
The line between just asking and a free consultation is smeared with politeness. Doctors and other professionals know this. I know this now; 200 blog posts means I have a feel for what makes a piece of writing work. A party is not the place to read me a sentence then ask if it is grammatically correct or whip out your phone to show me something you wrote. That is what emails are for. I do not carry a red pen in my clutch bag; I carry red lipstick and blue mascara. People ask me to be brutally honest in my feedback, but the only place to be brutal—savagely violent or unpleasant and harsh, is the gladiator’s ring. The only adjective that should go with honesty when it comes to feedback on a piece of writing is kind. I have made and kept more friends this way.

6.
Space is not a continuous area or expanse, which is free, available, or unoccupied. It is a place stamped with evidence of my presence, neatly littered with comforting memorabilia—a weathered collection of poems, old photos of my children, journals, books about writing, ideas on yellow post-its, and greeting cards that affirm who I can be. Space is freedom to live, think, and develop my writing in a way that suits me. It is saying no to play and living like a hermit Friday night and all day Saturday. Space is showing up for lunch or dinner with my laptop, typing away while conversation wafts around my head. Two hundred blog posts later, space is the greatest gift my family and friends have given me. Extroverted Introvert: Also called social introvert. Sociable and friendly but needs to recharge in solitude often.

7.
When I decided to start a blog, I had three options: WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr. I am yet to regret my choice. Often I struggle to leave a comment on other platforms but I have scarcely heard that anyone struggled to leave a comment on my blog. It is true that I do not want be bothered with technical things like code, wanting only to upload and publish, but more than that I have found a community of generous people who are curious about the world beyond them. Two hundred blog posts ago, I published my first post to a warm welcome from several bloggers who I did not court. Welcome on WordPress is like a revolving door. A good number of bloggers with whom I engaged in those early days have exited the blog stage and in their place, other bloggers have taken my hand. Welcome: Greet (someone arriving) in a polite or friendly way; React with pleasure or approval to (an event or development).

 

To all my readers: I owe you a debt of gratitude. You have pushed me to become better than I was.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

  1. All dictionary definitions from English Oxford Living Dictionaries
  2. Gladwell, Malcom, Outliers, The Story of Success, (London: Penguin Books, 2009), 43 -44

 

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A Space Too Little Explored [5] The End

coffee end

Every man is trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes.

The End

Wetin make you cry?” I asked the six foot two gruff security man.

A mattress leaned on its side against one wall and a spare blue uniform hung from a nail on the opposite wall. A small desk and chair on which he sat and lay his head completed the furnishing in the gatehouse.

After prompting him for a while, he replied, “My papa  . . . e die before I fit show am wetin I be.”

When im die?” I asked.

E don tay.”

A tender moment that never repeated itself. It was the second time I had seen a man cry. The second time was like the first. Both men were crying over loss of something that they had never shared with their fathers because death came too soon.

I have wanted to explore the relationship between sons and fathers for a long time. Finding men who were willing to tell their stories was difficult then as it is now although this time, I offered anonymity.

Two years ago when I approached a friend to contribute to a series on fatherhood, he said, “Do you know I live down the street from my parents and I hardly drop by? When I do, it’s because of my mother. My father, too much stuff going on there.” 

When I pressed, he said, “I’m just not ready to go there.” 

He is in his thirties now.

A writer I admire said, “We just discovered we have another brother who is twenty-eight! Don’t ask me about my father right now,” before going AWOL on me.

A recent conversation I had contained elements of estrangement I have come to know.

“I didn’t talk to my father for nine years. Well I wanted to, but he wouldn’t speak to me because I disappointed him.”

“How?”

“All my siblings followed the path he carved out for them based on what he perceived as their strengths. He read me wrong. I tried. I really tried not to waste the money he’d spent on tuition, but flunked the first year of school and then quit to do my thing.”

“Let me tell your story,” I urged. It will help someone.

“Dad and I just started talking again, it’s still too fresh.”

I understood and respected that.

When fathers don’t speak their sons’ love language, internal bleeding occurs on both sides. I am suspect of sons who proclaim that they don’t need their father’s affirmation. Sons, who admit that they need and would love to have their father’s affirmation, but have come to terms with not having it and the man they call father, feel real to me.

However, not all stories are punctuated with grief or trauma. There are many stories of afternoons playing ball at the park, evening conversations about what it means to be a man, and long-distance phone calls seeking advice on pressing matters.

Is every man trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes? I think so. The dots were obvious to me as I read or listened to stories, even when the narrators were oblivious of the sub-plot of their lives.

Maybe one day I will author a coffee-table book with elegant photos of sons and fathers on one page and the story of their relationship on the other. I hope to paint an accurate picture, editorialized through the soft lens of a son who has received grace for his own mistakes and so better understands the shortcomings of his father.

To me, it remains a space too little explored.

 

Forget Batman: when I really thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to be my dad. -Paul Asay

P.s. Special thanks to Ayo, Tola, and A.C. for sharing their stories. I thank everyone who also shared their story by commenting on the series.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

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A Writer at Last?

writer

We arrive at my parent’s house to meet a party in full swing. I am surprised. We hug uncles and aunts we have not seen in ages, while the girls who assist my parents with running the house cart the food and drinks my sister, with foresight, had insisted we bring along.

“I’ve been waiting for you people,” my mother beams, “some people haven’t eaten.”

How did she know we would show up with food and drinks on her birthday? Had she not said, “No, I don’t want a party; I just want my family around me and my pastors to pray for me”?

I should have known. Family for my mum means at least 100 people.

“Are you the daughter from America? UK?”

“Yes,” I reply, discounting the value of correcting them, these people who comment on how I have grown and how when I was small like this—they gesture with their hands close to the ground—they had changed my nappy or carried me or brought me presents.

And so I let myself be passed from bosom to bosom and chest to chest, squeezing back lightly sometimes, pulling back determinedly sometimes. I lose myself in the maze of people whose stories intersect with mine on account of my mother.

When people cannot eat and drink anymore and chatter dithers like a misplaced comma, my aunt says to my sister, “You need to give the vote of thanks.” A Nigerian party without a speech is an anomaly. My sister replies, “Please meet Timi, she’s the writer in the family; she knows how to speak grammar.”

My aunt approaches me and I protest, “I am not a writer,” so, my sister gives the vote of thanks instead.

I have pondered this exchange for some years now. Why did I refuse to be called a writer?

I think I felt as though I had not earned the title. Because writing comes relatively easy to me and I had a real job, writing felt like a serious hobby. However, the more I wrote, the more I saw how much like my mother I was, insisting I did not want something when in fact, I did.

I had confused being an author with being a writer. Since I had not yet authored a book, how could I introduce myself as a writer and answer the question that inevitably follows; so what books have you written? Or maybe I was afraid; if I did not succeed at writing, no one could accuse me of failing at being something I never claimed I was.

A while back, I found a definition for writer that arrests my reluctance to accept the title: a writer is someone who writes. This description frees me to allow those like my sister who want to call out and celebrate my gift, to do so.

If I have come closer to embracing the title writer, it is in no small measure because of you; you, who read, comment, like, and share my words. Our Sunday-Sunday interdependence has grounded me.

Thank you.

timi

 

 

The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true. – John Steinbeck

 

Pretending to be a writer is easy… but genuinely being a writer is difficult, because you have to write something that will convince both yourself and readers. – Kim Young-ha

 

Wat De Brouhaha?

100th post

 

After I finished writing, A Portrait of Success, I opted for the WordPress proofreader to scan my post before publishing. It underlined brouhaha in blue because it is a cliché. I didn’t know that, maybe I should have. How else would I have known about such a word if not from reading it a thousand times on the web? Brouhaha, even saying it sounds like a joke.

Okay, because I’m a junior at Grammar Police, because I laugh and laugh and laugh at the (autocorrect) spelling mistakes of friends, a cliché cannot be found on my blog ever! A passive sentence yes, a cliché, nooo!

I ran to my trusty friend, Google, and typed, synonyms for brouhaha1, while trying not to laugh. Here’s what I found and my comments.

babel

So, the Tower of Babel still haunts us  . . .

coil

Reminds me of snakes and snakes don’t brouhaha.

commotion

I go to YouTube and listen to Madonna, I’ve got the moves baby, you’ve got the motion, if we got together we’ll be causing a commotion. After reliving my youth, I decide I’m too adult for this synonym. Next please!

conturbation

No way! Even if it’s the last synonym on earth. Tufiakwa! It sounds like – – – – – – – – – – – -.

flutteration

I see. I see butterflies in flutteration. Come on, get real! Even MS Word flags this one and gives me flirtation, floatation, and literation as options.

hubbub

Has an “amazing” 165 synonyms including bobbery, charivari, feery-fary, and shivaree. I think I can write a poem!

jumpiness

Reminds me of sokugo2 in Cyprian Ekwensi’s Burning Grass. Nah, nah, not a good match.

kerfuffle

I think they made this one up. Someone shuffled into the office and to meet the quota, the editor wrote kerfuffle!

moil

Means to work hard. Just had to share, who knows when you might need to moil to write a post. Of course it’s archaic, but some of you are in your mid-eighties!

nerviness

Laughing gas will do that to you!

ruckus

Could have used this, but isn’t it a cliché as well?

tumultuation

Sounds like something they say from the pulpit in church.

turbidity

Water swirling round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round. Are you dizzy yet?

twitter

I read that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction, plus a social media overreaction. What the brouhaha! Figures doesn’t it?

zealousness

The reason Sunday after Sunday I’m still here. Um, I’ll save this one in my brain, thanks!

 

My 100th post, how time flies! I couldn’t have made it without you, and that is no joke. Thank you for flying with me.

 

Take lemons, make life & jump for joy!

 

timi

 

 

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

1. Synonyms courtesy of Thesaurasize: http://thesaurasize.com/brouhaha

2. Sokugo: a wandering disease that causes one to undertake a restless journey at its onset. Described by Cyprain Ekwensi in his book, Burning Bush.

 

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.

Share Your Story

share your story

“So, you would have been blogging for a year now this April?”

“Uh huh.”

“Wow how time flies! You don’t sound very excited.”

“I am.”

“But?”

“Well, it’s not like it’s such a big deal, people have been blogging like forever.”

“True, but you’re not people.”

“I know.”

“Why don’t you write about it?”

“Me? It’s not like I won Olympic gold or something.”

“You’re too hard on yourself. You keep waiting until you arrive. Learn to celebrate small successes on the way. Life has peaks—”

“And valleys. Every peak is a valid point for celebration, blah, blah, blah. Okay, how should I do it?”

“Share your story, what you learnt, why you started blogging, that kind of thing. Your writing voice lends itself to the personal essay.”

“Really?”

“What’s wrong with you? Where is your confidence?”

“Don’t! I don’t want to talk about it.”

“I am your mentor. If you want a cuddle, go to your friends. If you want to kick ass, you come to me!”

“Alright. But it’s not like I made money blogging, what exactly do I want to tell—”

“You of all people should know that money isn’t the only index of success—”

“You didn’t just say that?”

“Of course it’s a biggie, but writers like us console ourselves it’s not. As I was saying, haven’t you found fulfilment? Didn’t you achieve some of your goals?”

“Well . . .”

“And what is it you say again on your blog? ‘We’re all doing life together.’ And the other one that makes people think you’re sooo deep? Aha, ‘Because life happens to all of us—’”

“You’re an idiot and your advice ain’t worth two cents.”

“You can always go to the mall and buy a Gucci bag to celebrate  . . .”

 

I went to the mall. I didn’t buy a Gucci bag. Writing is so much cheaper.

 

For the rest of April, I’ll share about my experience blogging for a year because I feel proud of what we, you and I, have achieved on Livelytwist. I hope you’ll stick around. I hope you’ll locate yourself in my stories and maybe share parts of yours too. Thank you so much for your support.

 

Take lemons, make life, and then jump for joy!

timi signature wordpress

 

 

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Image credits:

Photo by Rob Gros:  http://www.creationswap.com/media/3387

 

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.

Gratitude

gratitude1

I know activities dot every square inch of your life. I know your commitments stretch you past breaking point. I know you have been planning and failing to go to bed early, to get a good night’s rest, every night for the last fortnight. I know.

That is why your reading my posts and foraging in the archives, sometimes laughing, sometimes sharing with a friend, sometimes shaking your head, means so much to me. If I stood on a hill and shouted my gratitude, the echo would not reach the valley fast enough, would not carry the meaning trapped between the words, would not overwhelm you with the thing bubbling in my heart. I can’t say thank you enough for your being here, especially in October when I wasn’t really here.

Thank you.

My family of bloggers, who adopted me, no questions asked, you understand me more than most. You know what it’s like to fill a blank page with your thoughts and then do what Stephen King recommends: “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” For lifting my airplane with your wings, thank you.

I start blogging again in November. I haven’t finished reading the books I planned to read in October. I have some days left from my annual leave—there is hope! I didn’t complete my half-written posts, you know, the ones I planned to develop later. This Friday night na die!

What did I do? Movies. Food. Friends. Family. Laugh. Cry. Talk. Music. And graphic design. Through it all, I scribbled on yellow post-its. My task is clear—to make new things familiar, and familiar things new1. So, don’t leave me now you know I have half-baked gist to share. Stay with me?

 

Take lemons & make life!

timi signature wordpress

 

 

 

1. “The two most engaging powers of an author are, to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.” Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

 

 

Image Credit: blue European pattern vector background- http://all-free-download.com/free-vector/vector-background/blue_european_pattern_vector_background_278520.html

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.