Sunday, November 18, 2007

Women left for dead in the Congo

I read the most horrific article in US Glamour this weekend. It was a shocking, enlightening, amazingly well written article entitled 'Women left for dead and the man who's saving them'. It is about Dr. Denis Mukwege, who repairs women who have been the victims of brutal rape in the Congo. A country ravaged by war where rape is being used as a cheap and effective weapon of war. Not only are the women raped but they are raped in a very barbaric way, in front of their children, husbands and neighbours. They are also raped by many men at the same time and their vaginas are mutilated with guns and sticks. Dr. Mukwege says, ‘clearly these rapes are not done to satisfy any sexual desire but to destroy the soul. The whole family and community are broken.’ Below are two extracts from two women’s stories, they brought tears to my eyes.

Alfonsine is thin and poised, profoundly calm. She tells me she was walking through the forest when she encountered a lone soldier. ‘He followed me and then forced me to lie down. He said he would kill me. I struggled with him hard; It went on for a long time. Then he went for his rifle, pressed it on the outside of my vagina and shot his entire cartridge into me. I just heard the voice of bullets. My clothes were glued to me with blood. I passed out.'
Dr. Mukwege tells me, ‘I never saw such destruction. Her colon, bladder, vagina and rectum were basically gone. She had lost her mind. I was sure she wouldn’t make it. I rebuilt her bladder. Sometimes you don’t even know where you are going. There’s no map. I operated on her six times, and then I sent her to Ethiopia so they could heal the incontinence problem, and they did.'
‘I was in bed when I first met Dr. Mukwege’, Alfonsine says. He helped me spiritually. He showed me how many times God makes miracles.’
I look at Alfonsine’s petite body and imagine the scars beneath her humble white clothes. I listen carefully. I cannot detect a drop of bitterness or any desire for revenge. Instead her attention is fixed on transforming the future. She tells me with great pride, ‘I am now studying to be a nurse. My first choice is to work at Panzi. It was the nurses who nurtured me day after day, who loved me back into living. I feel like a big person in my community; I can do something for my people. Women must lead our country. They know the way’.

The next story is Nadine's.

‘I’m 29. I’m from the village of Nindja. Normally there was insecurity in our area, we would hide many nights in the bush. The soldiers found us there. They killed our village chief and his children. We were 50 women. I was with my three children and my older brother; they told him to have sex with me. He refused so they cut his head and he died.’
Nadine’s body is trembling. It is hard to believe that these words are coming out of a woman who is still alive and breathing. She told me how one of the soldiers forced her to drink his urine and eat his feces, how the soldiers killed 10 of her friends and then murdered her children: her four-year-old and two-year-old boys and her one-year-old girl. ‘They flung my baby’s body on the floor like she was garbage. One after another they raped me. From that, my vagina and anus were ripped apart’.
Incredibly, Nadine was the only one of the 50 women to escape. ‘When I got away from the soldiers, there was a man passing. He said, ‘what is that bad smell’? It was me; because of my wounds, I couldn’t control my urine or feces. I explained what had happened. The man wept right there. He and some others brought me to the Panzi hospital’.
She says, ‘when I got here I had no hope. But this hospital has helped me so much. Whenever I thought about what happened, I became mad. I believed I would lose my mind. I asked God to kill me. Dr. Mukwege told me: maybe God didn’t want me to lose my life.’
Nadine later told me the doctor was right. As she fled the slaughter, she says, she saw an infant lying on the ground next to her slain parents. Nadine rescued the girl; now having a girl to care for gives her a reason to keep going.

I was going to write about the impression this article made on me but I don’t think it is necessary. You’ll probably feel exactly the same way when you read this. I read this article at a time where I felt there were some issues in my life but this put them into such perspective. I’m guilty of forgetting how much suffering (and to what extent) is going on in the world around me and this makes me do two things which I’m incredibly ashamed of. I over-indulge myself in my own perceived problems so much so that I forget how amazing my life is, and how blessed I am. Second, I have become passive about what is going on in the world because I'm no longer faced with it on a daily basis. I need to know that I’m doing something to the best of my ability to make a difference in my own way. If you’re anything like me, please make more of an effort to make a difference in the world around you. It doesn’t have to be this cause, just anything that makes this world a slightly better place; there is so much room for improvement.

If you want to help this particular cause, you can:
- Write a letter addressed to His Excellency, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila Kabange; demand that he take action to stop the attacks on women. Send it to the U.N. Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, P.O. Box 3862, New York, NY 10163, and it will be delivered to Kabila.


- Donate money directly to Panzi hospital through
www.vday.org Money donated to Panzi also goes to establish a City of Joy, a safe haven for the healed women, where they’ll learn to become political leaders.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Want a Man Who...

This is probably the most personal post I've ever written but it's forced me to really think about what I want in a guy. It's funny because I've had to overcome a couple of personal prejudices to write this for example, the first time I have ever uttered the words 'I want a man' was in the title of this post. Please note that I'm not saying I want a boyfriend, only that I'm open to the possibility of one.
I've heard that it is a good idea to write a list, a list of qualities that you shouldn't compromise on. I've been wanting to do this since I saw it on Yellow Ibo Girl's blog (and I've stolen a couple of points from her) so here goes.


I want a man who (in no particular order) …

… is a good person. There isn't one word I can use to qualify this but he should be the type of person who is polite and respectful to everyone because he doesn't think of anybody as beneath him. The kind of person who does good things not because of what he will gain but because it is the right thing to do. The kind of guy who says please and thank you, who would do anything for the people he cares about, who people call when they feel they have no one else to call. I need him to be the kind of person that cares about injustices and events even though they don't affect his life

… I'm very attracted to

… is ambitious. I don't care what he does, just that he wants to be the best he can possibly be at it. I want somebody for whom mediocrity isn't an option

… smiles, often and easily

… sees the best in every situation and in every person …

... likes to be active and likes the outdoors. For whom summer means walking in parks and hiking and exploring the city

… loves to travel

… will try most things once, if it doesn't go against his principles

… has principles and morals and who will stand up for them to anyone, including me

… recognises my strengths and believes in me more than I believe in myself

… tells the truth even when it is the most difficult thing to do

… is witty, sarcastic and has a great sense of humour

… gets along with my brother

… my family and friends not just approve of but like too

… is very intelligent

… believes me when I say that it is over if he ever cheats on me, and has no intention of testing the theory

… is thoughtful. He doesn't have to be a full blown romantic - I can live without flowers on valentines day but little, well thought out gestures go a long way

... is generous in every way. Not just with material things but with his time and affection

... who genuinely respects me, values my opinions and feelings

... is clean and tidy

... is secure

... who adores everything about me

I'm pretty sure I'll add to this list in the future but I'll stop here for now ... know anyone that fits the bill? (Only kidding). I know I'm picky but trust me, I'm totally worth it ;p

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Nothing Worth Living For

Sorry I've been away for a while, and thanks for actually missing me. Truth, your comment was very funny and while I didn't make your challenge of updating before the 30th of September, it's only a couple (okay 4) days after.


Another apology for returning on a bit of a depressing note but this is the first time I've felt compelled to write in a while. I heard today from someone I used to work with that a man that also worked at the company commited suicide a couple of days ago. He hadn't come into work for two days and today, the MD got a call telling him that the man had thrown himself in front of a train. He was in the process of a divorce and when his wife had left him about 5 months ago, he didn't come into work for quite a few days and when someone managed to reach him, they heard the news. He came in a few days later having lost a couple of stone and while he was obviously upset, he was the same as he always was and did his job well.


Two things struck me when I heard the news today. The fact that you never know what someone is going through. The people who worked closely with him are crying and beating themselves up thinking that they should have realised something was wrong. But from what I can remember of him, there was honestly no way to tell. He was in his late forties or early fifties I would say. A tall, good looking older guy, and a bit of a flirt. He was witty, very posh and I remember bursting out laughing one day when I heard a conversation he was having with someone where he went '... and as I said to Judi Dench...'. He became a bit quieter after his divorce and it was no secret he wasn't handling it very well but I couldn't have been more shocked when I heard the news. I sincerely pray nobody reading this has ever thought of ending their lives, but if you have, please talk to someone about it, they'll give you some perspective and give you a reason to live, even if it's only because they don't want to have to live without you. A regular of a pub I used to work in when I was at uni also killed himself. He was young, handsome, very funny and very friendly. There was a bar maid who was totally in love with him because he was so charismatic and yet he was obviously dealing with things we couldn't see.


The other thing that struck me was that I couldn't imagine (although I literally tried) the feeling of having nothing to live for. That feeling that there is nothing good about life until he finally woke up one day so tired of it, and unable to face another day of living, he wrote a note and jumped in front of a train. I thank God that suicide has never ever crossed my mind and that there has not been a single second of any single day that I haven't had plenty to live for.

In theory, my feelings about people who commit suicide aren't favourable. When faced with it though, I just feel overwhelmingly sad. It feels like such a waste of a life.

I pray for the people who love him and I pray he finds peace.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

30 Things to do before you're 30 (MSN Lifestyle)

I saw this on a website and thought I'd share it. I used to have a list of things I wanted to do before I was 30 but I've lost it somehow. At some point in the future, I'll try and compile another list of things I want to do before I'm 30. Any suggestions? What do you want to do before you hit a certain age? I'd be very interested to know!

1. Go Travelling
2. Get Something Published
3. Watch the following films: Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Scarface, The Star Wars Trilogy (don't bother with the new ones), Godfather parts I and II, Psycho, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Trainspotting, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Top Gun, American Pie, Gladiator, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Blade Runner, Kill Bill 1 & 2, City of God, The Deer Hunter, Se7en, Fight Club, Back to the Future, Alien and Aliens, Jaws, This Is Spinal Tap, Die Hard, Life of Brian, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Ferris Beuller's Day Off, Life is Beautiful, The Breakfast Club, Grosse Pointe Blank, Stand By Me, Chinatown, The Great Escape, The Outsiders
4. Live in London
5. Learn a 2nd Language
6. Run a marathon
7. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway
8. Have Sex
9. Go to a music Festival
10. Try different foods
11. Get on the property ladder
12. Test yourself: Skydiving, abseiling, bungee jumping - never in a million years, you might think, but there are few better things for you than stepping out of your comfort zone and standing up to your fears. So whatever it is you think you can't do, we promise you'll feel proud of yourself after you've done it…
13. Visit Paris
14. Blow £500 in one night
15. Get a savings account.... and use it
16. Do something for charity
17. Get yourself on telly
18. Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant
19. Quit your job
20. Go to a live sporting event
21. Have a weekend in New York
22. Read these books: The Catcher in the Rye, 1984, Romeo and Juliet, the Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, To Kill a Mockingbird, Brave New World, On the Road, Catch 22, Trainspotting, The Wasp Factory, Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, Great Expectations, Tess of the D’Urbevilles, Treasure Island, The Beach, Cloud Atlas, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Ulysses, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time, Life of Pi, The Shining, The Handmaid’s Tale, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Shining, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Suitable Boy
23. Own a convertible
24. Buy something really expensive: When was the last time you really treated yourself? So long as you can absorb the damage, go crazy and spend at least one month's wages on something you really, really want
25. Buy wine worth more than £50
26. Sign up to facebook
27. Record your family history
28. Sing Karaoke
29. Have a complete health check
30. Climb a mountain

I've done 12 of the 30 things on this list and they include singing karaoke (one time decently, all the other times dismally), the greatest two weeks of my life in New York and experiencing the palpable magic of Paris. I have no interest whatsoever in owning a convertible or being on TV but there are 11 things on the list that I'd really like to do before I hit 30. Top of that list are owning property, running a marathon and I have always wanted to do a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway. And I'm determined to read all the books on the list, watch all of the films and do some extreme sports wah hey!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Summer is Finally on Its Way!

We thought summer had finally come to England but it turns out we were very much mistaken. It’s been raining for the last two days. Funnily, I really don’t mind … because my summer is on its way.

The only season that rivals my love for Christmas is summer. I have spent the last 11 or so years trying to decide which time of year I like more and I'm still drawing a blank ... they're just too different … I have to say I love them both equally! Summer is just so much fun and I feel like I’m high on happy pills the entire time. I challenge anyone to be in a bad mood after looking out of your window in the morning to see the sun reflecting off everything it touches; trees, houses, cars - you just can't!

And has anyone noticed just how much more social summer is? There is always something going on. I could literally go out every night of the week if I wanted to. Everyone seems to be doing something for their birthday, people want to go for drinks after work or grab a bite to eat out at lunch, people have parties just because, friends that live in other parts of the world always pop into London at some point during the summer and bbqs and lazy picnics in the park are regular weekend activities. Oh and one of the hugest perks of the summer is that all the hot guys seem to come out of the woodwork, or whatever cave they've been hibernating in all winter, if hibernating means getting all buff for the purpose of being eye candy in the summer. Hey, all I'm trying to say is summer hones my appreciation for God's good work.

The highlight of summer for me though has to be going to Greece! We go every couple of years and as children, we spent almost every summer there so for me, it epitomises every thing that is ‘summer’ about summer. All my best summer memories feature Greece in some way and every time I smell that salty air which suggests that the sea is nearby, I think of Greece. Let me tell you what I love so much about Greece…

Well first of all, we have a lot of family over there that we never usually see and it’s great seeing them and catching up on the last couple of years. And an added bonus is the fact that they spoil us so much! They always invite us round to their houses for food - Mmmm food, I'll get to that in a bit - and they always get us presents and if they come to visit us, they bring a Tourta (decadent, fresh cake with cream/chocolate/fruit - usually all three) or Pagotinia (little ice creams, either little cones with ice cream or little balls that look like a collection of chocolates but are actually ice cream on the inside) from a Zaharoplastio (Patisserie). And since we're on the topic; Greek food is amazing! Seriously, all you foodies need to visit Greece and make sure you have Pastichio (baked layers of pasta and mince topped with b├ęchamel sauce), Moussaka (baked layers of potato, fried aubergine and mince again topped with b├ęchamel sauce), Kleftiko (the most tender lamb and potatoes cooked in a clay oven in which a fire is lit and let to burn for several hours then all the fire is removed and the meat is put in to be cooked by the hot coals only), Loucoumades (pastry balls fried like puff puff which are saturated with hot syrup) and Souvlaki which is our all time favourite. It's pork skewers barbequed and put in a bbq pitta bread (Greek pitta is different from other pitta) with tzatziki, Greek salad and some chips. It might sound like a Kebab or Shawarma but it's so different and so much better! Oh and the seafood; little fishes cooked whole (I have no idea what they're called), grilled squid stuffed with cheese, octopus ... mmmm. Even regular pizza is amazing in Greece.

We usually spend a couple of days in Athens shopping and visiting friends and family and then we go to Xilocastro for the rest of the time. Xilocastro is in Corinth and it's where my Yaya has an apartment right on the sea front. You come out of the apartment building, cross the road, there is a small forest which you walk through and then the sea is right there. It's not the most beautiful beach in the world and there are always a few days in summer where the sea is full of brown jellyfish who take all the fun out of swimming but I can't even begin to describe how it feels on those very windy evenings when the waves are so huge that swimming isn't an option so we sit on the beach and watch them instead. And I remember the time before, I was lying on the beach as the sun set, listening to Michelle Branch on my Discman loud enough that the music was the only thing on my mind but not too loud that I couldn't hear the sea and for that hour or so, I could 'see' what that saying 'the world is your oyster' meant. There is something about the sea that makes me realise just what a gift life is and what an amazing place the world can be. When I'm by the sea, it's like all the bad stuff in the world is non-existent.

Xilocastro is just so laid back. We wake up in the morning, sometimes to go and get breakfast, sometimes to go for a walk in the woods with Papou. We have breakfast then go to the beach, we swim, hang out with our friends and sunbathe till about 1:30pm then we go home, have a quick shower and have lunch with Yaya and Papou. Then we have an afternoon nap or read till 5:30ish, wake up, chill, then go back to the beach. We stay there till 8:30ish then come home, shower, get dressed and walk into town where all the restaurants, bars and clubs line the sea front and usually where we meet our friends. It’s also where the two outdoor cinemas are. It’s just so quaint watching a movie outdoors, with a 15 minutes intersession so that you can re-stock on food. We always do this walk, even if we're not going to eat out or go to a bar; it's just what we do, what we've always done. We usually get home after midnight, or early the next morning if we go clubbing, play cards (my brother turns into a bit of a card shark in Greece), chat then go to bed and wake up the next day to do it all again. It's just … bliss.

So, I'm not trying to make you jealous or anything but I'm going away in three weeks with my brother and Gavity. Onada was supposed to come to but I don't think she'll make it. It’s only for 10 days but I can’t wait, my summer is finally on its way!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I think I'm in Love again ...

... WITH R&B! Ha ha gottcha! Sorry no juicy goss of that sort today.

My music taste is pretty eclectic, I love everything from pure unadulterated Pop (Especially boy bands - The Backstreet boys, N Sync, Blue) to Hip-Hop (I'm a huge Eminem fan). If you asked me if I liked Country, my first instinct would be to say no and yet I love Keith Urban. I like some dance, especially the stuff that reworks classic songs like Bryan Adam's 'Heaven' and I love, love, love alternative/rock/indie music; Linkin Park, Michelle Branch, Lifehouse, Evanescence, Snow Patrol, Keane, Damien Rice ... I could go on forever. But my R&B was my first music love and good R&B will usually trump the others.

All of my favourite teen memories were played out against a backdrop of my favourite R&B songs. I think the first tape of my own I ever owned (that wasn't stolen from my father's extensive but somewhat outdated music collection) was the Boyz II Men album that some friends of mine in Lagos copied for me. I loved four songs on that album; 'I'll Make Love to You', 'On Bended Knee’ and 'Yesterday'. I still love every single one of those songs but my favourite then and now has to be 'Water Runs Dry'.

Toni Braxton and Tevin Campbell were favourites while I was in boarding school in JSS 2 and 3, and I thought all the older girls were so cool when they tied bandanas round their heads back to front the way Aaliyah did. I loved Shai and 3T, Michael Jackson and Jodeici, Montell Jordan and After 7. When we moved to Lagos and I started going to ISL, I remember getting ready for school every morning to Mariah Carey's 'Daydreams' album. Wow, there were so many amazing songs on that album - Underneath the stars, Melt away, Always be my baby, Open arms and One sweet day with Boyz II Men. I had one of those 'I'm really getting old' moments when I was in a car with my younger cousins and this album came on and they had never heard any of the songs. Cue a really long rant (by me) about ‘how they totally missed out on Mariah's best stuff and how they don't make R&B like they used to’ and two very bored cousins.

You know what? I really do believe that though. I think all the best stuff has already been done. Don't get me wrong, there are some good songs around these days but not many AMAZING songs. You know, the kind of songs that you love from the very first time you hear them, the kind that you don't have to let grow on you because they almost jump out of the album at you. The kind of song that against all self restraint, you put on repeat till you're absolutely sick of it. The kind of song that had you sitting in front of MTV for hours on end (back in the day when we didn't have youtube) so that you could watch the video which you always hated because it was never what you imagined it to be, and didn’t do the song any justice in your opinion. The kind of song that literally gives you goose bumps from listening to it. The kind of song that brings the memories flooding back with every note and lyric. Songs like Allure's 'All cried out' and more or less everything on the 'Enter the Dru' and '8701' albums, Nelly & Kelly's 'Dilemma' and Neyo's 'Sexy Love'. In the last few years, these songs have been few and far between.

A few weeks ago, a friend who has taken it upon himself to keep me updated as to what's going on in the world of music and truly believes that if it weren't for him, I'd still be listening to the golden oldies, made me a CD and for the first time in a while ... I found myself listening to a few songs over and over again. I'm loving Joe's 'Life of the Party' and 'It's me' and I hear the rest of his recent album is pretty good too. I also love Neyo's 'Make it work', 'Go on girl' and 'Do you'.

I'm remembering what I loved so much about R&B, and I'm loving the process!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

BFF

You’re in every one of my favourite childhood memories
I can see your face clearly, right there, next to mine
Come to think of it, you were also there during my no-so-favourite times
Like the time when my mum shouted at us for taking all my clothes to school and giving them away
Or your sixth birthday when you had that party and we locked ourselves in your bedroom and refused to play with the other kids
Wow, we really were brats sometimes
Do you remember when you told your parents you were coming to my house
And I told my parents I was going to yours
And we both went to Ayo’s house because her parents would let us go to parties and stay out as late as we wanted?
And somehow, despite our meticulous planning, we got caught and your dad came to pick us up
I swear he thought it was my fault and I couldn’t look him in the face for months after.

I told you absolutely everything of any importance that happened to me
When my parents fought, when I fought with them
I wasn’t scared to tell you I was going out with Ali even though I knew you didn’t like him.
And you didn’t even gloat, not even for one moment when he dumped me for the most popular girl in school
I never ever resented the fact that all the boys liked you, and all the girls wanted to be friends with you
And you were so proud of me for always coming first in class despite never really trying
There was that brief phase in our second year of secondary school when we both made other friends and spent less and less time together
But that all ended when I told you that Iko and I were going out. You’d always said we were meant to be together
Just like that, we were once more a part of each other’s lives and it’s stayed the same since

I moved to England and you moved to the States and yet we wrote each other at least once a week
Do you remember when we started keeping diaries and we’d exchange them every few months so that we knew every detail of each other’s lives?
And later when I caught up to your computer literacy skills, we emailed all the time Nothing was too mundane to share with the other
Different lives, new friends, profound experiences, an ocean between us and still we remained so close
Even though we never got to share a lot of firsts together, you heard all of mine as soon as they happened.

I couldn’t be happier for myself than I am for you when something good happens to you
The words ‘I told you so’ have never ever left your mouth even though you have had plenty of opportunity to say them
I’ve prayed that you would have things that even I didn’t have. I wanted them for you more than I did for me
You’ve supported me through every decision I’ve ever made. Your one question always was ‘is this what you really want?’ Once I uttered the magic word, ‘yes’ then you were as loyal to my dreams as you were to yours.
I’ve cried every time you’ve cried
You celebrate everything that is good about me, and are always there to remind me when I’m in danger of forgetting

We’re still an ocean apart but you’ll always be my best friend
And I know I’m yours
I’ve recently found the love of my life, and you’ve got yours, as well as three little ones
But I maintain that you’re my soul mate
How lucky I am to have found you so young and to have shared so much with you

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Bit of This and That ...

I've got so much stuff going on in my head but I just can't write! I start writing and then lose steam halfway through, or I think of something that I desperately want to get down on paper, I start writing it down and suddenly it just seems so trivial and not worth actually expressing.

I've been in a weird mood lately, kind of like a funk and it's strange because I'm not normally like this but I guess a lot of stuff is getting to me all at the same time, mainly friends and work. So here's the thing about me, I have A LOT of flaws but I'm not at all selfish and I'm not at all self absorbed. Ironically, or maybe it's just the laws of attraction, my friends tend to be pretty selfish and especially self absorbed and it can be so exhausting at times. Some of them know it and I'm comfortable enough with them that I can bring it to their attention if they do something that gets to me, but recently, an old friend has come back into my life, one who can be extremely lovely but is also pretty selfish and remarkably self absorbed. My dilemma with her is 'do I give her a chance, put up with the stuff that bothers me because on the whole she's a nice girl? Or do I nip this re-newed friendship in the bud knowing that chances are, we won’t be friends this time next year because at some point, I became so exasperated with her selfishness that I ended our friendship. Surely it'll be easier for both of us if we stop getting closer now, and just become 'hi' ... 'hi' friends?

On a more upbeat note, I have met, seen and hung out with a lot of fellow bloggers and commentators recently! Favoured Girl, Chica Africana and I are now facebook friends. I discovered that Biodun and I went to school together and she's hidden it from me this entire time. T.Minx, LB, Last King of Scotland, Low, Fine Boy, commentator Dimples and I were all at Olawunmi's 30th Birthday party which was so much fun. And then Low, Noni and I went to get Nigerian food the following day ... the best pounded yam and Okro soup I have ever eaten! And the meat was so well cooked, I could even cut the pomo and shaki with a fork and knife.

I've been feeling like I need to get away from everything for a while but unfortunately my next holiday isn't till September when I go to Greece for 10 days with Noni and Onada, if she gets her act together and applies for a visa. Oh that reminds me, I need to send her an invitation letter. If I could go anywhere now, it'd be a toss up between Hawaii and Manhattan. Actually, the way I'm feeling now, it would have to be Hawaii ... sea, sun and surf lessons complete cute surf instructor would definitely lift my mood ;p

Finally .... Okay, don't make a big deal out of this you guys, but for the first time in a really long time, I think maybe, just maybe, it would be nice to have someone ... like a boyfriend. Now don't get excited, I'm not going to go out looking for one, but lets just say I'm open to the possibility.

I promise I'll try and blog properly next week.

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

... I'll be right back

Hey, I haven't gone awol like some bloggers I can mention ... I just haven't written in a while but I will soon, I promise!

In the meantime, check out my lovely cousin's blog - http://cinnamonqueen78.blogspot.com/
She is an amazing writer and also pretty damn good photographer; to be honest if we weren't family, I might just have disowned her by now because she's just too talented, I'm worried she makes me look bad! Lol.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I feel like my last few posts have been kind of intense so I'm going to lighten the mood …

Sex and an Oh So Fabulous City!

WOW! I'm very surprised it's taken me so long to write about the most amazing show in the history of television ... ever!

I was doing my A-levels when Sex and the City began and a friend of mine; Michelle was obsessed with it but nothing she said managed to convince me it was any good, and the one embarrassing episode (embarrassing because I watched in with my mum and spent the whole 25 or so minutes squirming) I caught did nothing to change my mind.

Fast forward three years, I was in my second year of university, and had just moved into a house with three girls. One of them was given the first two series' on video as well as a load of 'Friends' videos and believe me when I say that for the next two years, whenever one of us was in the lounge, 'SATC' or 'Friends' would be on the TV. And when the new series started and they moved the day it showed to Wednesday, we stopped going out on Wednesday nights even though that was our favourite night of the week to go out! I think it's fair to say I've watched every single episode at least 20 times and yet, I still find them just as funny and as interesting as ever! At least once a year, I get out my SATC DVDs and start from the very first episode, and watch them all through till the very end.

Why do I love SATC so much? Hmmm, Carrie's fabulous outfits are just one of the reasons. Her outfits were very often amazing and sometimes downright cringe-worthy but every single thing that woman wore was a conversation piece! I haven't even got the time to go into my love affair with most of the dresses she wore in the final season but let us just say there are very few things I wouldn't do for a lot of her clothes and I think it's fair to say there is nothing Noni wouldn't do for her shoes! I also loved Charlotte's wardrobe and she's definitely been an influence on my fascination with 50s style dresses.

Ultimately though, it's not the great outfits that made this show the hit that it was; it was the fabulous characters. Funnily enough, despite my fascination with her style, Carrie was actually my least favourite character. She was way too 'me, me, me'. My absolute favourite character has to be Samantha. I just adore her chutzpah. Samantha knew who she was, what she liked and didn't give a flying frick what anybody thought about her. In fact, I think she's the only person I've ever known of, real or fictional, that has managed to achieve this feat. While I love Samantha though, I'm probably a mix of Miranda and Charlotte. Deduce from that what you want.

And though part of the reason I love the show so much is for its highly entertaining content, I think I have learned a lot from the show and I genuinely feel that I'm a better person for having watched it ... Really! Before SATC, it was unthinkable that women would choose to be single in their thirties (and forties, in Samantha's case) and have such a fabulously fun time doing it. And Berger telling Miranda (about a guy that she went on a date with and who never called her) that 'he's just not that into you' transformed the way I think about guys and I love the fact that all the girls end up with the good guy in the end. Who can forget Charlotte's husband Harry who is nothing like the guy she envisioned she'd end up marrying and the way he turns out to be the most loving, supportive husband a girl could wish for. And Steve; Miranda's long suffering boyfriend turned husband who manages to take the girl out of the city (to Brooklyn) and puts up with her become while she becomes an amazing mother, wife and person in general. And gorgeous Smith, the man who manages to get Samantha to finally settle down with one man! The only person who I wasn't happy with was Big. As far as I'm concerned, he messed Carrie about way too much; she should never have ended up with him. Plus, I loved Aidan and think he's the one she should have ended up with!

I challenge you to find someone who was more ecstatic than me when the movie finally got the go ahead! It might be a couple of years till it hits the big screen but Noni and I have already made a date to dress up to the nines and go and watch it on the very first day of release. Then go for dinner after and spend the next several hours (probably days, if we're being honest) dissecting every outfit and storyline! Till then, please keep me entertained and tell me your favourite SATC character is? Or who are you are most like ... and why?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Confessions of a man who has cheated on his wife

Someone sent me an e-mail reply to my post on Emotional Infidelity vs. Actual Cheating. I thought it was interesting …

Hi Vickii,

I am responding via email to this blog because it is late and I want you to read it. I was asked the same question when I was having an affair with L. L knew I was married and we fooled around a couple of times. L being very thoughtful as usual said she would rather have actual cheating because there is no depth to it. I totally agree with her. I have been with other women and it was purely physical, for all I care she could have been a Barbie doll. No questions asked, no conversation, came into my apartment, bent over, I was done and she left (3 mins tops). Pardon me if this is graphic or offensive. I am trying to convey how detached I was, I just simply wanted to unload one.

I have asked my self why men cheat. Consider Halley berry’s ex; you can have the crown jewels at home but still go out for junk. There are so many reasons. Believe me when I say I really love my wife and family and will give any thing to guarantee their happiness. I just feel my extra stuff does not come in the way, or hope the wife turns a blind eye. I am not one of those guys that would flaunt it in her face. It is done with total discretion. However I know it is still wrong.

There is no excuse for it, but Bill Clinton, JFK, Bill Cosby, Frank Sinatra, Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt all cheated and the list goes on and on. I have heard statements like ‘Men can separate love from sex’, ‘Men cuddle to have sex and women have sex because they want to cuddle’, it just seems as if the act is merely a physical release sometimes, and that is why we can look the wife straight in the eye and say "But I did not love her".

When you combine Emotional Infidelity with actual cheating, that is a dangerous cocktail because you now have both the physical and emotional attachment to that person. You talk about every little thing with her, which type of detergent does she recommend, mundane stuff that is worthy of a G8 summit. You don’t just get up and go, and you hold her, try out every possible position you can imagine, phone sex becomes a regular thing when you can’t see her and when you miss her call, you dial like a mad man.

Why can’t sex with the wife be like this? Is it because you are both inundated with balancing family life and somewhere between ballet and swimming lessons for the kids and your careers, you just take her for granted? You only have sex when you want to sleep quickly, it become your valium. I don’t know.

Anyway I hope this does not ruin your opinion about men in general, I believe there is such a thing as dignity even when it comes to having an affair.

Hello anonymous,

Thanks a lot for your email; it was interesting to read your perspective on things.I would normally be quick to criticise your behaviour because quite honestly, I feel very strongly about men that cheat but I think the fact that you've written in such a matter of fact manner and admitted that you know it is wrong, renders whatever I would say redundant.


Can I ask you a couple of questions? First of all, I feel that you kind of copped out in the end when you say you don't know why men cheat. Why do you cheat?I assume you've cheated a few times over the course of your marriage. You say you hope it doesn't get in the way of your relationship or that your wife turns a blind eye. So what would happen if a time came when it did get in the way of your relationship or your wife stopped turning a blind eye? Would that make you stop?

I think my view of men has become quite realistic in that I believe most men cheat, however this will not stop me believing that the person I end up with never cheat on me, and it won't change the fact that the way I feel at the moment, I would end my marriage if he did.

Would you mind if I put your e-mail and your response (if you respond) on my blog? If you do mind, I won't ... just let me know.

Vickii,

Go ahead, by the way what's the URL to your blog again? I would like to read more.

Men will cheat for a variety of reasons; from sexual incompatibility, lack of communication, lack of oral sex hmm ... I don’t know, maybe just because we can do it? Please note that this has nothing to do with beauty or finesse. In a man's physique we are able to compartmentalize stuff; we can separate sex, love and beauty. Whereas for most women it’s a package, the whole thing is bundled into one. "I can't sleep with him if I don't love him"; "He's not fine". These are statements you hear from women. The perfect wife for most men is a good cook, a good hostess and a whore in bed. Sometimes you just feel like you want something different. After making love to the wife for so long, it’s almost like masturbating (doing it your self). And again I repeat it has nothing to do with love, it’s just a hit. I don't know about women but I have met someone for the first time and fantasise about F...ing them. Men think about this every 3 minutes. With me, I truly enjoy the company of women (Bill Clinton's excuse in 1998), and that might be another reason. If you have met anyone and you enjoy spending time with them, it is very easy to end up in bed with the person. Flip to genetics and I am sure there is a gene responsible for this male behavior because that is one distinctive factor between the sexes.

It’s unlikely that what I do will get in the way because firstly I am not out there looking for women. I am pretty busy and focused on spending quality time with my family. Talk about Soccer dad for someone who does not play any sports.I make sure we eat dinner together every night so we can talk about what going on in our lives. So if I would be cheating the woman has to understand that I don't have a lot of time. However if am ever caught I might deny it just like Bill Clinton and see how far I can get away with it.

I don't want to sound sexiest, but let’s flip the script on you. Let us say your man cheated (just a little bit), say a one night stand. Would you leave him? I would advise you not to. Why? When you leave, are you going into the convent or will you be out there dating again? You were once settled with a home and children, a safe haven. Now you have to go back to the dating scene. How many men will you sleep with before you find someone you will marry again? Note that this new guy you are about to marry will also have his own baggage. If you re-marry, are you prepared to be a step mum to the 15 year old girl who constantly yells ‘You are not my Mummy; you’re just sleeping with my Dad’? Or is it the 14 year boy who keeps harassing your little 5 year old? Oh by the way I forgot all the baby mama drama from your step-kid’s mother when she calls your house and says, "Give the phone to x".

At one time in your life the boundaries were clearly drawn and everything was simple; there was one daddy and one mummy which was very easy for the kids to digest and now you have 2 new dads and 2 mums. Think about this very well.

There are ways to keep your man in check, but if he's going to stray, he will as long as it’s done with discretion. Most men just like to feel we are in control; we really don't have to be at the wheel, so think twice.

Oh by the way I have to go and read ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to my daughter for the 3rd time this week, its bed time here.

I am sorry for lack of punctuation.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Am I a Bad Feminist because I like Hip Hop?

I am a feminist. An all out, through and through, card-carrying feminist. I'll do a post sometime about what being a feminist means to me but I think most people that know me would definitely agree that I'm quick to adopt a feminist stance in conversations. I also love hip hop music, or at least some hip hop. Sometimes though, I find myself singing along to some song, when slowly the lyrics sink in and I realise that what I'm singing goes against everything I believe in, and often, it's songs I really love. Why does hip hop have to be so ... so ... I'm leaning towards using the word ‘misogynistic’ but I don't think that's accurate. Most rappers don't hate women, it's more that they tend to put them in a tiny box; basically, in hip hop, women are hos, possessions, sex objects, gold diggers; basically a whole lot of unfavourable nouns. You'd think Snoop and Biggy never came across smart, intelligent, independent women. In fact, speaking of Snoop, listen to these words straight from the horse's (so to speak) mouth:

“[Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We’re talking about ho’s that’s in the ‘hood that ain’t doing sh–, that’s trying to get a n—a for his money. These are two separate things."

Let's say Snoop has a point - he doesn't, but for the sake of being fair, let's just say he does - If he dislikes those kinds of girls so much, why doesn't he stop rapping about them or at the very least stop sleeping with them and surrounding himself with girls just like them? And has he never met a female lawyer, entrepreneur manager, publicist? Has he never met a non ho-ey woman? Unless he lives in a box, the answer to those questions is yes. So why doesn't he rap about them instead?

To be fair though, if I don't like it, I don't have to listen to it. But you see, therein lies my dilemma. I love a lot of songs that the feminist in me is very opposed to. Let's take 'Nasty Girl' by Biggy and 112. There are few songs guaranteed to get me on the dance floor more than this song but when I first heard it, I couldn't help cringing every time I heard the words 'All my ladies if you feel me grab your titties for B.I.G'. Seriously. Why? And the rest of the lyrics of the song aren't much better either. I'm not saying don't rap about sex, a lot of R&B is about sex, they've just mastered the art of making it ... tasteful, for want of a better word. It's less crude, slightly more subtle and a whole lot less insulting.

There are way too many songs which I personally take offence to but the one that really gets to me at the moment, the song that was the inspiration for this post and (unfortunately) a song I quite like is the 'I'm a Flirt' remix by R.Kelly, T.I and T-Pain. For anyone who hasn't heard it, it's basically R.Kelly saying he is a flirt and warning guys everywhere that if he meets/sees their girlfriends, he's going to flirt with them, and the R.Kelly chat up lines are obviously so persuasive that the guy is probably going to leave without his girlfriend. In his own words, the 'moral of the story is cuff yo bitch, cuz hey I'm black, handsome, I sing plus I'm rich (and I'm a flirt).

This I take huge offence to. He's not even differentiating between different kinds of women, he's basically assuming that if I was in a club with my boyfriend and he was there, I'd be like 'oooh, oooh, baby, it's R.Kelly, it's R.Kelly. Let's go over and talk to him pleeaaassse' and then if he decided to make my night by sleazing on me, I'd go all giggly, toss my hair, turn to boyfriend and say 'don't wait around for me hunny bun, Robert here is going to give me a ride home'. Puhleeze! Even just writing that, I've had to revert to some bimbo stereotype because I honestly can't imagine that he's talking about any of the sort of women I know.

So to recap, I like hip hop but I find a lot of the lyrics insulting. I'm admitting that I'm aware of the double standard so please if I happen to bump into any of you out one fine night/morning, and I happen to be dancing to 'Smack that', please don't tap me on the shoulder and say 'oh, didn't you say in that post....' I'm not saying there aren't women out there who even I have occasionally used the words 'bitch' or 'gold digger' to refer to, I'm simply saying they're not the only women in the world and I'm pretty they aren't the only women most hip hop artists come in contact with so why are they the only ones we hear about?

I want to point out that my hip hop taste is pretty commercial and also not the most extensive, so if this doesn't apply to all hip hop artists, I'm more than happy to hear about the exceptions!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


My Papou

Papou means 'granddad' in Greek. This is a pretty emotional post for me and I guess I'm writing it just so I can express just how I feel about him, even if he won't read it. Papou is technically my step-granddad. My mum's dad died when she was at university so I never met him. My parents moved to Kaduna after they got married and that's where I was born. My Yaya (grandmother) spent a lot of time in Nigeria because that's where her daughter and granddaughter were and it was around this time my dad introduced her to Spyros (Papou), a Greek Cypriot who had spent most of his adult life in Nigeria. They hit it off and have been together ever since.

Papou came from a good family in Cyprus but in those days, only children that demonstrated great academic potential were sent to university and in his family, that person was his brother. Long story short, unsure of what to do with his future, he accepted a job to go and work in Nigeria. I think he was about 18. And he stayed there for the next 35 or so years. I wish I had listened more closely when he would tell us all about his experiences but I guess I just thought we would always be able to hear them again. Now he doesn't remember.

He has always says he spent the best years of his life in Nigeria and reminisces about the hunting, and the parties, the women and the friends. We have so many amazing memories with him and Yaya. They probably feature in all our defining childhood memories because we spent most of our holidays with them and any child will tell you that the school holidays are the absolute best times of childhood. I love Zaria because they lived there, and I love fishing because Papou would take us fishing, I love Xilocastro (where my grandmum has her beach home in Greece) because it's where I go walking with Papou and where I accompany them to the Laiki Agora (the market) to buy the fruit and veg for the week. It is where he swims really far out to sea that I start to follow and then get scared and swim furiously back out while trying to figure out how I'll save him if a shark appears. Our garden in Kaduna looked forward to his visits because he'd plant entire crops that I'd never heard of - Radishes for example - and tend to the crop he'd planted on his last visit. He was such an avid gardener. In fact, when he 'retired' in Nigeria, he became the manager of a huge farm halfway between Kaduna and Zaria where we'd go and visit him in his office and spend the day wandering around the farm, exploring the dams and playing around in his Range Rover; you know, one of the old fashioned ones where the back was open and only covered by a canvas sheet. I used to love riding in the back of that truck.

About four years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and after the initial rapid deterioration of his memory, it has more or less stabilised now but he still forgets so much. For a week up until Kitty's wedding, whenever anyone mentioned the wedding, he would ask, 'Wedding, what wedding? Who is getting married?' And my mother, who believes that it is better to make him use his memory rather than give him the answers, would reply, 'you tell us, who is getting married?’ Funnily, he would always say Gavin's name first and only after more prodding would he remember that Gavin was marrying our Kitty. Then he'd complain that no one had told him about the wedding and no one tells him anything anymore. A week after the wedding, he had forgotten all about it and again the questions started 'what wedding?' It's been really sad to see the change in him, because where he was once a vibrant, very outdoorsy man who loved to read, he is now content to sit quietly and listen to what is going on around him.

But the changes haven't been all bad. He has really mellowed and is just the sweetest man you could ever have the opportunity to meet. He's always eager to please everyone and make everyone feel at home. He is simply amazing! And our relationship hasn't changed. I have a well documented sweet tooth which Yaya has always been very happy to cater to it. Papou also has a sweet tooth and has spent a lifetime teasing me. Yaya makes the best ice cream in the world (I'm not lying, Ben & Jerry's has nothing on her!) and she would make it whenever we came to visit her as children. Papou would tell me that when we went to bed, he would wake up and eat all the ice cream. With a furrowed brow and worry written all over my face, I'd go and confide in Yaya and ask her to please keep an eye on him in the night. Whenever we see each other or talk now, I say that my Yaya has made me Pasta Flora (a Greek pastry and his favourite) but that I'm not sharing it with him. And he'll counter by saying that since his wife made it, it belonged to him and he definitely wouldn’t be giving me any. Back and forth we go like that until one of us says 'Ori o da'. I have no idea how you spell it and even exactly what it means, I just know it's a Yoruba insult. Then the other will reply 'Ori o fo' and so we'll make our way through the 'Ori o' insults and end with 'Oloshi' then we'll laugh and one of us will report the other to my mum or Yaya. I love that even though he's forgotten so much, he still remembers our banter.

I really miss who he used to be but I love who he has become even more.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Best Friend's Wedding Update

The wedding was amazing ... My lovely cousins Suby and Sinem were there with their cameras snapping away and here are some of their photos on http://suby.shutterchance.com/

I'll post a couple of mine at some point but they're not half as good as Suby and Sin's!


Just like I predicted, I cried at the registry on Friday - they got married in a castle in Shrewsbury and because they do not attend the local church, they couldn't legally get married there, they could only have a blessing. My relatives from Greece, my immediate family and a couple of her friends were at the registry and when we were all asked to stand up as they walked in, I welled up a bit but I managed to get a grip on myself. They said their vows and it was pretty funny at times because they all had to say my sisters name about three times during the ceremony; she has a Greek middle name, and a Nigerian middle name and surname and it is a bit of a mouthful and Gavin struggled with it every time so we all laughed. Then at the end, they started playing that song that they play at a lot of weddings when the bride walks down the aisle; the classical track that Coolio sampled on 'C U when you get there'. If anyone knows what it is called please tell me because I can't remember for the life of me what it is called. Anyway, that just got me started again and I was discreetly dabbing the tears from my eyes when my aunt seating next to me started sniffing too. Then Kitty's friends sitting in front of me heard us sniffing, looked round, and then went 'awww, are you okay?'. That got the tears flowing even more and everyone turned around to look at us ... Gavity (my celeb moniker for them as a couple) even laughed at me. Then the next morning, I was telling Kitty about my dad's friend who was coming up from London. He had decided to leave London at 6:30 and he was telling us that he kept waking up during the night so that he wouldn't oversleep. I was telling her just so she would know how much it meant to a lot of people that they were invited to be a part of her day and the thought of how far people had come overwhelmed me and I started tearing up again to cries of 'Not again Vickii!' from Kitty and the other bridesmaids.

I was fine on the saturday though. But then after all her make up and hair, as we walked down the stairs to go to the church, Kitty suddenly welled up and she was waving her hand in front of her eyes so that she wouldn't cry. You'll all be glad to know that I saved the moment though by saying 'boo boo boo' (don't ask, I just wanted her to stop crying so she would get to the church on time)!

It was such a beautiful ceremony and such a fun day! Honestly I've never seen all my aunts and uncles dance like they did in the night, some of them have some moves! And Gavity had an amazing time and were very happy by how it all turned out ... it was a beautiful wedding!


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Best Friend's Wedding

My gorgeous younger sister is getting married this Saturday! (Don't you dare tell her I called her gorgeous ... I'll deny it!). On the day of their wedding, her and Gavin would have been together for 2 years and she turns 24 a couple of weeks after the day. People always mention how young she is to be getting married but Kitty has always wanted to get married young. We want a lot of the same things in life; to travel, a career we love, but while I've always wanted to do certain things before I settle down, she has always maintained that she wants to share all the most important and exciting events in her life with someone else. So to me, she isn't too young, she has been ready for a while. And Gavin is amazing! My sister can be stubborn and challenging at times, and years ago I had predicted that she would (or should) end up with someone just like Gavin and I honestly can't think of anyone I would rather marry my sister than him.

Her name is actually Christiana but when we were children, we couldn't pronounce each other's names so my parents shortened them to Vickii and Kitty. Over the following years, she was called everything from Kitty Kitty bang bang (because she always seemed to be breaking something or getting into trouble) or Kitty Kat Copy Cat (because she liked to do everything I did). Our relationship has evolved rather interestingly over the years. When we were younger and we both used to live at home, we were always arguing, then I went away to university and we got along much better because we didn't live together. She came to the same university as me and that was great because we lived near each other but not together, so we would hang out a lot, go out together on Friday nights and generally enjoy each other's company but not annoy each other. I'd say it's more or less the same now, we get along really well but when we go on holiday together, it only takes a few days before we argue about something. I think it's her but she'd probably say it was my fault! I can have more fun with her than anyone else and we're very similar in a lot of ways but she can wind me up like no one else can in literally a matter of seconds, I think she's got it down to an art by now. Those times, I wonder how we're related because all I can see is the differences between us. However Kitty can be so generous, it’s actually unbelievable. She’ll give away something of great value if she thinks you need it without so much as batting an eye. And she will insist you take it. She can be a much better woman than me.

We always laugh about the fact that people can't seem to tell us apart. People that know us both will tell you we look nothing like each other, we have completely different features and apart from the colour of our skin, I can't think of much that we have in common physically. But the number of times people have asked if we are twins is unbelievable. At school, people would sing the theme tune from the TV show 'Sister Sister' when we were walking together and at university, someone would come up to one of us and start having an in depth conversation while we'd be racking our brains trying to figure out on which alcohol fuelled night we'd met them. Then the person would say 'our name' and then we'd realise that they thought I was Christiana or that she was me. And this has happened several times! Honestly, we really don't look alike! She threatens to cut my hair off in the middle of the night because it's always been longer than hers and I've always begrudged her amazing figure, and I don't begrudge it because its amazing but because my sister eats more than anyone you will ever meet (She lived with four boys and they used to call her 'serves four' because she could out-eat all of them) and does little exercise and yet she looks like she should be modelling lingerie.

I'm so excited about the wedding in the way that you can only be when someone that means the world to you gets married. I cried when she told me she was engaged and I guarantee I'll shed a few tears all over my pretty bridesmaid dress at the wedding. I don't know if she'll ever read this but Kitty I love you so much and I can't tell you how happy I am that you've found someone so perfect for you to spend the rest of your life with. I pray you'll be truly happy! I can't wait for the wedding and you really need to re-think that 5 year hiatus before giving me nieces and nephews.

Have a great weekend everyone because I will, and if you guys are really good, I might post up a couple of pictures
from the wedding.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Emotional Infidelity vs. Actual Cheating

Sticking with the topic of infidelity since it's obviously such a controversial one, I have an interesting conundrum for you. Which is worse, emotional infidelity or actual cheating?

We all know what actual cheating is - sleeping with someone else, kissing, basically crossing whatever physical boundaries a couple have agreed in their relationship. Just so we're all on the same page as to what constitutes emotional infidelity, let me give you a little scenario. Ross and Rachel (sorry, those are the first names that came to mind) have been together about three years and there's no doubt for either of them that they're with the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Rachel has just had a promotion at work so she's working late and working weekends and when she's not working so hard, she's so exhausted that she either wants to stay at home and sleep or when she's with Ross, she's not much company. This has been going on for about a month and a half.

The company Ross works for is also going through some major changes and there's a lot of pressure on all the employees. One day after work, a bunch of them go to the pub and Ross spends a lot of time talking to a colleague called Hannah. He's always thought she was a nice woman but they'd never really spent any time together. For whatever reason, tonight they get talking and they spend the whole night venting their frustrations about the company and making fun of their colleagues. Over the next couple of weeks, they start going for lunch together and go out occasionally after work with other co-workers. They're always IMing at work, they have in jokes and soon they're sharing the details of their personal lives with each other. They cheer each other up after a particularly hard day at work and they can tell what the other is thinking simply by looking at their face. Rachel's work hours are becoming slightly more normal and she and Ross are spending more time together but when Ross's beloved Chelsea loses a game, the first person he thinks to tell is Hannah, not Rachel. And it's Hannah's opinion he asks for when he's thinking of changing his mortgage provider, and it's her he spends hours venting to when his parents decide to separate after 35 years of marriage. They're both attractive people so it's only a matter of time before they start to fancy each other and Ross starts to wonder if he's with the wrong person. In this particular scenario, nothing ever happens between them.

Is that worse than if Ross had gotten drunk one night and kissed/slept with his ex girlfriend/co-worker/random woman?

For me, emotional infidelity would be much more hurtful than if he had slept with someone else. Partly because I know that realistically at some point (in fact, several points) in a relationship, both parties will be attracted to other people, it's inevitable, people don't stop being attractive just because you're in love. But I believe that the things that would set me apart from the other women are our shared experiences, his feelings for me as a person and the relationship we've built. I guess I'm naive enough to believe that as long as he values all of those things, then I'll always be set apart from other women and it is this that will stop him from cheating on me. That's why it would hurt me so much more to know that he's shared newer, more fun experiences with someone else, and he finds her funnier or smarter or sweeter than me, and he feels something for her that is based on much deeper than just physical. Now here's the conundrum. Even though that would hurt me more, I'd forgive emotional infidelity and if he wanted to work on our relationship then I'd do everything in my power to work on it and make it right again. But I wouldn't forgive physical infidelity even though in some ways, it's the lesser of two evils for me. Does that make sense?

I think it’s because there is an innocence about emotional infidelity. It’s often one of those situations that you’re in before you even realise it. While as far as I’m concerned, whichever way I look at it, if a guy cheated on me, it means he put his needs before my feelings.

What do you guys think? Which would you find harder to forgive? Why?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

She is Loving Him Still

Trying to push the past away

Still waiting for the lights to change
She tries, tries for the sake of their pride, pride
Learning to barely feel the pain
Thicker the skin the less the strain
And though it's really hurting
She ain’t breaking, breaking, breaking
Coz she's loving him still, after all this time

Now he knows his weakness shows
Selfish soul, never changing
That's fine, because she's loving him still
After all this time

(Lyrics from 'After All this Time' - Simon Webbe)

Okay so I guess I should confess right about now that I was a fan of the boy band 'Blue'. But this post isn't about me confessing to all the pop music I love - Backstreet Boys 4 Eva! Okay on a serious note, I'm not into the solo stuff from the ‘Blue’ boys but I've loved this song since the first time I heard it. And the lyrics really challenged a deep seated belief I've always held.

See, I've always thought (rightly or wrongly) that women who stayed with men that cheated on them were either stupid or dumb or both. The song isn't about a guy who cheats, at least not explicitly. It was written about Simon's grandmother and it's about a woman who has been through a lot with her husband. He's selfish and has hurt her time and time again over the years and yet she stays with him. More importantly though, she continues to love him.

I had heard the song a few times before the lyrics sunk in and got me thinking. I have heard so many explanations and justifications for why women stay with cheating men but they had never changed my feelings about the women. In my mind, they just aren't strong enough to change their situation. I have to admit that this song doesn't make me stray from my assertion that the second I know a guy is cheating on me, I'm out the door. But it did make me think that maybe these women aren't weak and stupid like I first thought. After all, the only difference between relationships that last forever and those that don't is that some people refuse to let their marriages fail. Some people take their vows so seriously that they'll fight to keep them till the very end. How can that be weak? These people are strong ... warriors. In the same way, women who know that their husbands are having/have had affairs, and choose to put up with the humiliation, and insecurity, and hurt because they when they said 'till death do us part', they meant it, deserve my admiration not my contempt and pity. Because they're stronger and more unselfish than I'll ever be in this respect.

PS: I think it’s fair to say some people shouldn’t have ever gotten together in the first place and in that case, I think it’s actually more admirable for them to acknowledge the fact and cut their losses.

Another PS: I'm not talking about the women who turn a blind eye to the cheating and pretend it's not happening and will fight anyone who even dares to suggest otherwise because you can’t fight for something if you don’t admit it’s happening in the first place. I'm referring to the women who see their husbands for who they really are, warts and all, and are not afraid to fight for what they believe they deserve in their marriage, but in spite of all this, they have a one track minded belief that marriage is forever.

Yet Another PS: I might contradict myself at times and that’s because I’m not completely clear about my feelings on issue.

What do you all think? This should be interesting because I've heard it expressed by several women that all men cheat and that as long as he's discreet about it and it doesn't happen to often, we should thank our lucky stars and accept it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Robin Thicke!!!




I went to see Robin Thicke with some friends at the Jazz Cafe last Wednesday. He was late. The doors opened at 7pm and he didn't come out till 9:40pm even though we know for a fact that he was in the building the whole time because my friends had seen him outside when they arrived. It's fair to say that by the time he came on stage, the crowd was a bit disgruntled to say the least but the fact that by the end of his first song, we had all forgiven him for his lateness should give you some indication of how amazing his performance was.

Honestly, I've seen a couple of really great performers live but Robin Thicke was by far the best! He has such a great energy on stage and even though he put on a great performance (very raunchy at times with his hands straying down towards his crotch during 'Teach you a lesson'), his voice didn't suffer at all. You know how you can tell that people are singing live by the fact that their voices don't sound as polished as they do on records? Well there was none of that here. His voice was pitch perfect at all times and in my opinion he sounds even better live on some songs that he does on his records. I loved hearing him sing my favourites and he made me like even the songs that I deemed average SO MUCH MORE! My favourite performances were 'Shooter', 'Angel', 'Wanna love you girl (he did Pharell's rap and I thought he was pretty good' and 'Teach you a lesson'.

My one gripe with him apart from him being late? He didn't sing 'Superman' or 'I need Love'; my favourite songs on the album. Otherwise, it was an experience that I can't wait to repeat! Plus he had a cute bassist; Greg - the first picture above.



Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Why I’m Single…

A couple of weeks ago I went out with this guy I had met a few months ago. We went to the cinema to see 'The Illusionist', then went for a drink at a Yate's bar that we ended up leaving because the music kept getting louder and louder until we couldn't hear ourselves. Then we went to Starbucks, had a couple of hot chocolates with whipped cream and then we got the tube to my stop where he waited for me to get on my bus before he went off to get his bus. He is a really great guy; good looking, smart, ambitious, he's got a similar sense of right and wrong as I do and we echo a lot of each other's thoughts. So how come I don’t want to be anything other than friends.

I just had a text from this guy who I met about 9 months ago at a party. He's a friend of a friend and we got along really well that night. He's very sarcastic and cheeky like I am, and he was really generous, putting all our drinks on his tab. I got an email from my friend the Monday morning after I met him saying that I'd made quite an impression on him and he was asking her for my number. I wasn't interested and somehow she got the message across to him. Our paths crossed again a couple of months ago at her birthday party and once again, we got along really well. A couple of weeks later I bumped into him at my tube station. A month after that, I once again bumped into him at my tube station and he asked me for my number. Now, I'm really bad at making it clear to someone at the asking for my number stage that I'm not interested. I just think it's really presumptuous of me to go, 'obviously you fancy the pants off me which is why you're asking for my number. There's no way you could be possibly interested in just being friends because I'm that hot so sorry, no, you can't have my number because I'm not interested'... you get the point. So I gave him my number. A couple of weeks after that I bumped into him at Green park tube station (fate or what?). He called to ask me if I wanted to go to the cinema and maybe dinner and I said yes but realised that I had made other commitments so I cancelled. He's funny, intelligent and has a great job and all I want to be is friends.

A few days ago, I met up with this guy I know who recently moved to Austria. He was in town for the weekend and told me a while ago so I'd make some time to hang out with him. I met him at a party late last year when he still lived in London but due to his 'player' reputation, I refused to give him my number and didn't call him when he gave me his card and asked me to call him. I saw him a couple of months later at another party and he was really sweet and very attentive. Each time he walked past me, or I walked past him, he would make sure he stopped to say something, anything to me. And later, when we all moved on some dingy club packed with So Solid Crew wannabies, he offered to drive me home. We've stayed in touch over the months, bumped into each other at parties and the like in Lagos, and he's always made it pretty clear he likes me and he's always been really sweet to me. My official line for why I won't get involved with him is because I think he's too much of a player. Unofficially? Hmmm, I’m not sure.

I think my point is that I know (and have known) a lot of amazing guys. Guys that I wouldn't hesitate to fix my very best friends with, but when it comes down to it, I never give them a chance and I have no idea why that is. Actually, that's a lie; I know why it is ... I'm very afraid of commitment. And I've narrowed down the reason for my commitment phobia to a couple of reasons. The first is that I'm very happy with the way my life is at the moment and I'm scared of it changing. The second is that I'm scared of the lack of choice that comes with having a boyfriend ... what if I miss out on the love of my life because I'm dating someone?

And it’s not that I can’t see the advantages of being in a relationship … I really would like to be in a relationship. It’s just that every time I’m with someone where there is potential for something to happen, I panic and start to think of all the reasons why I don’t want to be tied down.
Maybe I just haven’t met the right person …

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I am no longer on a diet!

Sorry guys, this is such a girly post but it might give you some insight into how women feel about their bodies.

I'm no longer on a diet! Most girls I know, even those ones who seem to be effortlessly slim, have some hang-up about their bodies. Most of us just want to be a bit slimmer. I have been on a diet more or less since I was about 16. Name it, I've tried it. The Cabbage soup diet, Atkins, Slim Fast, the Cambridge diet, Weight Watchers ... the list is endless. If you'd like to know, the Cambridge diet is the most effective but it's hard core and I think you have to be at that point where you're very desperate to do something about your weight before you can commit to it. On the plus side, it's a nutritionally balanced plan. And my personal fav has to be WW because it gives you such a healthy and well balanced approach to food. It's the only diet that I ever committed to as a life style change without balking. If I've learnt anything, it's that crash diets are stupid, you will put the weight on again because ultimately you haven't learnt anything so eventually, your old habits will return and the weight will creep on again pound by pound.

At my heaviest, I was about a stone and a half heavier than I am now and that is a lot for me because I'm not particularly tall. At my slimmest, I was about a stone lighter than I am now and in my mind that's my ideal weight. For as long as I can remember, I've been dieting in an attempt to get down to this 'ideal', I've only ever reached it once (and that was because I was ill and didn't eat for 4 days) and my biggest motivation for reaching it has been the thought that when I get to my ideal weight, I'll be able to eat what I want and not have to diet anymore. So I've been dieting so I can get to a point where I no longer have to diet. A bit like working your a*se off to get a stage where you no longer have to work. The other day I was out with a couple of friends who I've been friends with since uni and as usual, the conversation turned to our weight and I said, 'to be honest, if I stay the weight I am now and I don't lose any more weight, I'll be fine' and as I said it, I realised I meant it. And when I realised I meant it, I thought, 'aren't diets for people who are trying to lose weight? If I'm not particularly bothered, why am I still dieting?' I still don't have the perfect figure but I think I've embraced my shape a bit more; I'll always have big hips and a big bum and I've actually learnt to quite like them.

The other reason for my new found body confidence is running. Thanks to London Buki's
'I will be fit' blog, I started running last September when I could just about run for 2 minutes before collapsing in a heap. Now I run three times a week, including a long run on the weekends; the last couple of weekends it's been a 12 km run. Buki and I are doing a couple of 5k charity races which by the way you can sponsor me for. If you would like to sponsor me for one of the races, check out my Race for Life and Sue Ryder Care sponsorship pages. Don't you just love that shameless plug! We're also going to do a couple of 10k races, a 10 mile race, and my ultimate goal is to do a half marathon by the end of the year. So the fact that I'm constantly pushing my body to limits I never thought I was capable of, and the fact that I feel so strong and so healthy makes me proud of my body and I guess that offsets any negative opinions I might have about how I might look. The long and short of it is that I'm no longer dieting until I have a real reason to diet, and hopefully that won't be until I've started popping out babies, which won't be for a while.

Now I'm not saying I'm going to go around eating loads of stuff that I know is bad for me. No. The one thing I can say about all those years of dieting is that I know which foods are good for us and which aren't. I'll try and eat as much of the good stuff as I can and only eat the bad stuff in moderation. So I baked a chocolate mud cake yesterday and in the past, I'd have eaten loads of it yesterday (easily half the cake) and then refused to touch it from today. Instead I had a piece last night and today, along with my roast beef and tomato wrap that I made for lunch, I have also brought a small piece of cake with me. And I intend to enjoy every bite and have a piece every day until my housemates and I finish the cake.

While I’m perfectly happy with the size and weight I am now, I have to admit that I don’t want to put on weight so I’ll continue to weigh myself weekly and if
I find my jeans getting a bit on the snug side then I’ll maybe cut back on those slivers of chocolate cake or add another long run session to my week but I’m determined that it won’t be drastic and it’ll be healthy.

I can't tell you how liberating I feel knowing that I'm no longer on a diet! Now I’m off to research all those amazing recipes that I can cook and savour now that I’m no longer counting points, or carbs, or … mmmm, oven baked southern fried chicken, sounds good!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Another 35 sentences about Me

Dresses are my favourite type of clothing. Especially 50s style dresses. I would move to New York in a heartbeat. I want to settle down and have kids in Canada. I have 2 tattoos. I have a butterfly on the upper left hand side of my back and three stars on my left hip. My sister also has the same three stars on her left hip. I want a few more and the only reason I haven’t had them yet is because I don’t want to run out of good spots on my body to tattoo. I wrote my Undergraduate dissertation on feminism and porn. It was titled ‘Pornography: Men possessing women or freedom of expression?’ I have a Masters in International Business Law. I was a cheerleader for the basketball team in university. We were rubbish.

I think I’m a tomboy. I hardly ever wear make up and live in jeans and trainers. And yet, people tend to describe me as a girly girl. I don’t understand it. I am very secure about myself. My new year’s resolutions are to go to church more often, finish my book and run a half marathon this year. I’m doing well on the first one and the last one, but finishing my book? Hmmm. I have lots of different handwritings. I hate being centre of attention. I have a green belt in Karate. As a child, my parents made me take French, Piano and Guitar lessons. I really wanted to learn to play the violin. As soon as they gave us the choice to stop our lessons, I gave them all up. I wish I hadn’t. I’ve dressed up as a school girl, a sexy devil, an angel and a gangster for Halloween and fancy dress parties over the years. Oh, and my mum dressed me up as a hula girl for my first birthday party. My fashion icons are Nicole Richie, Rachel Bilson, Carmen Electra and Laura Bailey.

As children, my sister, brother and I would put on plays and shows to entertain guests. The cities I’ve visited other than places I’ve lived in are New York, Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria, Budapest, Rome, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Athens, Rhodes, Crete and Cairo. I’ve lived in Kaduna, Benin, Lagos, Sutton Coldfield (near Birmingham), Aberystwyth (Wales) and now, London. I have attended 8 schools over nursery, primary and secondary.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

www.confused.com

So there's this guy ... he lives in Lagos and was in London for a couple of weeks on holiday. At first I only wanted to be friends and I genuinely thought he felt the same. In fact I was convinced that he thought I was cool to hang out with but he wasn't attracted to me, and I'd made my peace with that. But pretty soon, I realised that he liked me. I still thought I wanted to be just friends. We hung out while he was here, went for dinner, went to the movies, mostly just went for drinks where we'd talk about all sorts of things. He even brought flowers to my office on Valentines Day. And before everyone goes awww, it was more of an arrangement than anything else. He'd mentioned that he had never gotten anything on Valentine's Day before so I said I'd send him a card, and he said he'd send me one too. On Valentines Day, he sent me a text asking me for my office address and I started wondering why, only for him to stroll in a few hours later with a bunch of flowers. My theory is he forgot to send me a card the day before and panicked on the day and bought me flowers. I still thought it was sweet. I still wanted to be just friends.

I really enjoyed talking to him, and we'd talk about the kind of stuff that I don't really talk about with anybody else. And he said he told me things he didn't really talk about with other people. If he called and I didn't pick up my phone, he'd always call back and leave me a little jokey voicemail 'threatening' to only call me one last time and never again, or to ask me if we were 'beefing'. It was sweet. Soon, I'd find myself smiling when he's name flashed up on my phone, or when I heard his voice on my voicemail and I'd look forward to seeing him. I realised that I actually quite liked him and I was getting used to having him around. Oh, did I mention that he's extremely hot! Even though I decided I liked him, I still played it cool because I felt I never knew where I stood with him. So unless he asked me if I wanted to hang out, I wouldn't ask him and so on. It's funny because on his last weekend, he said he'd blown off his Friday plans to hang out with me, but he didn't tell me this. Instead he asked me what I was doing on Friday really conversationally and I told him I was busy. I was busy, kind of. I had had a load of late nights that week and really just wanted to go home and have a night in but obviously I would have blown that off for him but he didn't say 'oh, I was thinking we should hang out', so I didn’t find out until a couple of days later that he’d cleared his schedule for me.

Anyway, his last night came around way too quickly and he met me after work (and waited even though I was 30 minutes late because my phone had just been stolen so I had to get it cancelled and I didn't have his number to call and tell him I'd be late). He suggested we go to Trocadero and go on the bumper cars. We went twice and it was so much fun, there's something about fairground type rides that makes me feel like I'm 5 again! Then we walked past a bar in Piccadilly Circus and decided to go in for a drink. We just made the end of happy hour and we stayed there until about 10:30 drinking (2 jugs of Mai Tai, 4 tequila shots each - he gave me one of his slices of lemon when I dropped mine on the table, red wine for him) and then we went to another bar where I started drinking water because I was getting kind of tipsy and I had work the following day. It was the first time we kissed and it was nice.

I couldn't call him to say bye the next day because I didn't have a phone. A few days later when I got a new phone, I sent him a text saying hey, hope he got back okay; it was nice hanging out with him etc. He didn't reply. A couple of days after that I sent him an email just saying the same stuff and I mentioned that I'd sent him a text which he didn't reply to. He replied a couple of days later saying hi, reminiscing about his last night, how much we drank and how surprised he was that we were both relatively sober and said that next time, we'd have to get there at the start of happy hour. Then he told me a funny story about being back in Lagos and finished by saying 'miss ya babe'. I realised I did actually quite like him because the email totally made my day. I replied a couple of days later and that was the last I heard from him. I still can't figure it out ... is this one of those men are from mars, women are from Venus things? Any suggestions?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Their Love Story

I went away with my family a couple of weekends ago and over lunch; I heard the story of how my parents got together. Although I'd heard the story before, it was different this time. Firstly, because I got to hear the details. Also, it was the first time I'd heard my dad talk about it. Because both of my parents were present, my dad told the story and my mum interjected here and there so what follows is more or less a pretty accurate account. I think it's a very sweet story.

Athens, Greece ... sometime in the late 1970s.

She stood with her friend outside the door of the apartment where the party was taking place. Their host was her friend's brother. My dad opened the door and greeted his brother. Then he introduced himself to her and then announced to both of them, gesturing to her; 'This is the woman I'm going to marry'. He says he just knew. She glared at him, Who the hell does he think he is? She thought as she walked past him and into the party.

As fate would have it, over the next few years, they bumped into each other occasionally. He recalls driving down a main road one day and on seeing her walk past; he hastily parked his car and ran out to chat to her. He owned a fashion store and he saw her in there once and again made a point of talking to her. Every single time they spoke he would end the conversation by asking 'When are we going out?' She was always friendly and gracious towards him and her answer was always the same; 'Never'. She explains now that as well as the fact that she had a long term boyfriend, she had found herself very drawn to him from the beginning and believing that he was all wrong for her, she had made a conscious choice to avoid him. As time passed, her initial reservations were confirmed; he was a playboy (his words), seventeen years older than her (though she didn’t know this at the time because he has always looked younger than his age), he had a daughter and he was black. She was always polite but made it clear that there was no chance that anything would happen between them.

A couple of years after they met, he went back to Nigeria for a while, and on his return, his brother gave him her number asking him to call her just to say hi. He did call and they started to talk on the phone occasionally. He would end every conversation by asking her out. She always refused. He recalls that one evening he had an overwhelming urge to call her. He didn't. The next day, sitting in his office around lunch time, this feeling that he should call her would not leave him. It did not make sense, it was the middle of the day and he knew for a fact that she would be at university. Unable to ignore the feeling, he called her. She answered the phone, he said hi, and she burst into tears. Her father had died from a heart attack that morning. Unable to talk, she put down the phone. He scoured the afternoon papers till he found details of the funeral that evening, then he went home, changed into a suit and went to the church. As the family walked down the aisle after the funeral, she spotted him and stopped in her tracks, staring at him. It was only a few seconds but very noticeable since she was following a procession. He went to the wake after to pay his respects to the family. They went back to talking on the phone.

A few months after, my dad was having a party at his flat and it occurred to him when the party was already in full swing that my mum might want to attend so he phoned her. She made her apologies, she lived on the other side of Athens and it was late but she thanked him for inviting her. As he said good bye, he once again asked, 'when will I see you?' And she replied, 'when do you want to see me?' She had broken up with her boyfriend a while ago. He was so surprised and pleased that he suggested that he take her out for dinner that very night. He waved away her protests that he had guests and left his own party to drive across Athens and take her out for dinner. And they have been together ever since.

26 years, 3 countries, 3 children, numerous fights and uncountable differences later, I don't they'd have it any other way.