Sunday, June 22, 2008

Same Script, Different Food

We sit together across a table
Me and you. And you. And you
The atmosphere is stuffy with all the pleasant formalities
Of people who enjoy each other’s company
And have spent time planning and cooking
So as to spend a little quality time together

Over a first course of tomato and mozzarella salad
We dip into a little light conversation
Who you’ve seen and how awful they look
We enquire about characters from previous dinner parties
Are they still pathetic?
We express shock that apparently intelligent people can be so misguided
And laugh out loud at the misfortunes of many
Who knew disability could be so funny?

A more meaty conversation accompanies the mains
As always, it’s religion or culture
A few half histories and plenty of misinformation later,
You joke about sacrificing animals in my church
And tell me the Bhurka started out as a fashion statement
Oh what bad teeth the English have
As usual I just smile and nod
And mmmhh and ahhh over our ‘wonderful meal’

Today, by desert, I realise with a burst of pride that I have made it almost to the finish
Without ever once joining in your fundamentally flawed debates
Or lying through my teeth about how good the food is
I giggle (unfortunately at the wrong point in the conversation) when I think to myself, that if someone enforced the saying, ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’
I would be surrounded by absolute, complete, blissful silence

Oh well, I look forward to next time
It’ll only be the same old script, hopefully just with better desert

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It was the Best of Times ...

‘It will be the best three years of your life’ … ‘the friends you make there will be friends you’ll have for life’.

My dad’s huge enthusiasm about university made it something I couldn’t wait to do. After all, he should know, he has like six degrees. I was very disappointed when I found out I didn’t get into Nottingham University and instead I would be going to Aberystwyth, a small university in Wales that I hadn’t heard of until a close family friend started there a year previously. It was little comfort that after writing it out so many times during the application process, I could at least spell it!

All my doubts flew far far away from the moment we started the picturesque drive on winding country roads and my excitement was uncontrollable when we stopped at a pub for lunch; one filled with several other students on their way to Aberystwyth.

I could talk about every single experience I went through at Aberystwyth but I have a full-time job and you probably have a life so I’ll just stick to the highlights but it would be accurate to say that it completely changed me. From the very first day, after my parents left and I was left alone in my larger than average room at one end of a noisy hallway filled with 35 girls, I became more me. I used to be pretty shy with people I didn’t know but I walked down from room to room saying hey to everyone and getting to know them as much as you possibly can in a 5 minute conversation. I had decided to study International Relations because I wanted to be a lawyer but I didn’t want to do a law degree because I heard it was boring. I knew nothing about International Politics; I didn’t even like watching the news, so there was a slight fear that while I might love uni life, I could hate my course. But I didn’t. I loved it. It was so interesting and so enlightening that even now, I read books that were part of the curriculum. It shaped the way I view the world, and made me much more aware of what goes on behind what we see on the news. I find international politics so fascinating that while I might never use my degree professionally, I would do it over again and I intend to study it further at some point just out of interest.

I also took part in an exchange program to Victoria, on Vancouver Island in Canada. I can’t pretend I was even slightly apprehensive about going across the world to a place where I knew literally one family, and they lived a 3 hour ferry ride away, but looking back, I recognize how bold it was. It was an amazing experience, one which fuelled the decision that I’d like to live in Canada one day, and one which left me with some amazing friends.

It’s funny when I think about how shy I used to be and how nervous I was on my second night out, playing the drinking game ‘I have never’ with second year students (wow, they seemed so worldly), eyes wide open while people took gulp after gulp to signify that they’d done things I hadn’t even heard people talk about before. I used to be more of a stay at home person and honestly, that first year in university, I must have gone out literally every night. It was just so much fun, making friends and getting to know each other, having crushes on boys, partying. I was having such a blast that I barely called home and completely lost touch with a lot of my old friends.

My sister came to the same university when I was in my second year and we had such a blast. She was a real party girl and she made my first year look tame but thanks to her, my second and third year lived up the precedent I set for myself in the first year.

I need to pay some respect to the town that undoubtedly had such a large part to play in all of this. Aberystwyth is a small town, it probably takes 45 minutes to walk from one end (any end) to another and it was a complete student town. There were only three happening clubs at any one time (including the union) but I believe it has the most bars per square mile than any other town in Wales. There were about 60 bars and we all knew which were good for which occasion. The Varsity on Tuesday for pound party before we all flocked en masse to Pier Pressure, the club everyone went to which was on a pier … The Cambrian for crazy cocktails and Scholars for a nice fire place in winter and comfy sofas. The Glen where we all went on Saturday nights and Academy, a surprisingly nice bar for Aber. Did I mention that it was a coastal town? This meant it wasn’t very cold in the winter although it was very windy and from March onwards, we literally spent our days on the beach or on the pier. While my fourth year doing my masters wasn’t as much fun as the first three, I got to accomplish a life long ambition of mine; live on the sea front. Believe me when I say that there is nothing better than going to sleep with the sound of turbulent waves crashing just outside your window and nothing distracts you from your revision as much as the sun streaming though the window and the sound of gentle waves lapping at the rock. I even saw dolphins once from my window. It was a magical place.

I made so many friends and got to know more people that I would have if my dad had let me come to London like I wanted to. Like I try and explain to people, in a big university, the people you see often are usually in lectures and only then if it’s a small lecture theatre. In Aberystwyth, if you sat next to someone in a lecture, chances are you’d see them out somewhere that very week, when this happens enough times with enough people, pretty soon you know practically everyone!

So I guess my father was right. I’m reluctant to call it the best three years of my life because I’m definite there will be several even better years ahead. But it’s definitely the best three years of my life so far.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

Hey! I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. I was in Birmingham for Christmas with the family and then in Lagos from the 27th for a two week holiday … I’m having an amazing time!

For the first time this year, it actually hit me just how much can happen in a year. I have friends who weren’t even engaged this time last year, and got married at the end of the year. I know other people who were with the person we all thought they would spend their lives with and they’d broken up by the end of the year. And I have a friend whose huge dream I was discussing with her at the beginning of last year and she was well on her way to achieving it mid way through the year and she’s now running her own very successful business. Basically, while a year might fly by, so much can happen and I’m really looking forward to it. For the first time, the significance of a new year hit me and the beginning of this year just feels for me like it is so full of potential and all I have to do is live it, and grab the many opportunities with both hands.

I’m excited about all the unexpected stuff that’ll happen to me this year but there are also some things I want to achieve this year!

  • This is the year that I’m getting my dream body. I want to lose about 25 pounds and this is the year I’m going to do it. I’m happy with what I look like at the moment (though I have put on a couple of pounds over Christmas and in Lagos) but it’s about having the best body I possibly can. Something I can look back on when I’m old and wrinkly and say to my grandchildren, ‘granny used to be H.O.T.T. HOT back in the day’. I joined weight watchers just before Christmas and I’ll take running even more seriously. I’m considering maybe giving a briefly weekly report on my blog after weigh-in every Wednesday. Anybody else feel like joining WW so we can do it together?

  • Blog a bit more regularly, and by regularly I mean at least once a month. Yeah yeah, I can hear the moans but that’s a start and I said AT LEAST that much so it could be more. Those of you that make it your life’s mission to inform me how long it’s been since I blogged last (ahem Buki, Noni), you officially have a case if I haven’t blogged in a month.

  • I want to give more to people less fortunate than I am. I want to give more time, more money, more thought, just more of everything I have to give. Some things really strike a cord with me like the Tsunami a few years ago or the article I wrote about in my last post, and for a few days I’m indignant and determined to do something because it reminds me how fortunate I am in comparison to a lot of others and for me, being so blessed comes with an obligation to help others. Over time though, I forget those feelings and don't do as much as I intended to so basically, I want to do more this year.

  • I need to find a way to organise my personal life better. I need time for myself but I know the time I should give to the people I care about suffers. I also have some people in my life who take up more time than they give back to me or anyone else and I feel I need to limit the time and effort I spend on these people – nothing drastic like cutting them out but just treating people according to the level of priority they hold in my life. I find the people that love me the most are often the people I don’t treat as well because I can get away with it because they’ll always love me but that’s just taking advantage of them and it’s stopping now!! They’re the people I should invest my time in because they’re the people I’ll still love a hundred years from now.

  • Read my bible more and get to know God better.

  • I’m already planning a few trips this year; Dublin, Paris, (Jamaica, Atlanta, Philadelphia, maybe San Fran all in one trip) and probably Lagos again at the end of the year so while I don’t think my holiday allowance and wallet will let me do much more this year, I want to start looking ahead to next years holidays too. I’m back on track with my mission to visit a new country every year!

  • Generally, I want to be better with money, specifically, I want to save £500. It’s not a lot but I have no savings at the moment and I think it’ll be a good start.

  • I want to be a bit naughtier in 2008 … not go crazy or anything but I’m so damn sensible! Chances are I won’t make any big mistakes – due to aforementioned sensibleness – but I want to be a bit crazier this year, maybe go skinny dipping, get really drunk, go away for a spontaneous weekend … that kind of thing.

  • I’d like to be consciously happier this year. When things are going well and I’m happy, I am going to stop and appreciate it and recognise how good it is. And when they’re not so good, I don’t want to just accept it. I will try to figure out what is wrong and what I can do to fix it.

So I think that's it ... I might add to this list throughout the year and maybe I'll do a review at the end of the year to see how much I achieved. Is there anything you want to acheive in 2008?