Learning to breathe

On Giving Twitter Up

twitter-7

When I shut my Twitter account down on Tuesday, I remember thinking to myself: “My life is over”

And it was for me. Sometimes it still feels like it is. It’s been five days now and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more disconnected from the rest of the world than I do now. However, guilt for spending hours just poring through my timeline no longer plagues me and feelings of irrelevance and inadequacy no longer torture me when I don’t get new mentions, retweets or favorites. Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired but I think if Twitterverse does not revolve around me then it should not exist…at least not to me. Now that right there is the thought train that sets me up for disappointment.

Not many people know that my Twitter was shut down and those that do don’t see the sense in it. Heck, sometimes I don’t see the sense in it. I think a lot of things set the stage for this deactivating and shutting down business. First, the guilt for spending so much time online, then this post I read on Kelly Minter’s blog, then this post I read on Living Proof Ministries’ blog, then finally this post on The Verge. By the time you’ve read all those posts you’ll probably want to shut your Twitter down too, spend less time on it or like Paul Miller leave the internet. I’m not in any way saying that Twitter is a bad “place”. I’m saying that Twitter is pretty much a reflection of real life. Sometimes it’s distorted and sometimes it’s accurate. I’m saying that there are some people I have met in real life through Twitter that I wish I had never met and there are those that I wouldn’t trade meeting them for anything in this world. Or the next. I’m saying that Twitter gives people the chance to be what they never got to be in real life: popular, witty, “loved”, and adequate and gives them an illusion of security or a pedestal to showcase their insecurity. Twitter allows you to judge a book by its cover or by its bio. Twitter gives you shrinks, doctors, relationship experts, buddies for what looks like free. All you really have to do is give up your real life for it. Twitter says “Have entertainment and a fun virtual life in exchange for entertainment and fun real life”

Maybe I have a serious case of lack of self-control here and I just don’t know how to balance real life with virtual life. Maybe I have more problems being present to the things that are happening around me in real life and I’m more alive to the things happening in my phone or my computer. I never want to miss a thing in Twitterville so that when I get with my real life friends we can talk about Twitter and ignore the things that are wrong with us in real life. More than half my conversations are punctuated with “Were you online when…” or “Did you see what Blah retweeted?” or “Why did you tweet this?” and I begin to address people by their Twitter handles instead of their first names. And my level of respect for you is directly proportional to the number of followers you have on Twitter or how many times your depth (or lack of it) gets retweeted into my timeline. And I’d rather have you mention me than have you call me or I’d rather mention you than call you. Looking at it objectively, most of my existence for the last, what, 6 months has been poured into knowing the latest Twitter gist instead of knowing what’s going on with my friends, tweeting to complete strangers about my father instead of calling him up and asking how life is with him, looking out for interesting or witty stuff just so I can tweet about it. It makes me wonder if any of it is really worth it.

At this moment, I don’t know for sure that I want to delete my Twitter permanently…mostly because I’m scared that I will no longer be relevant than because I don’t want my followers to think that I’m dead. For now, I want to explore real life. I want to find a new coping mechanism, a new stress reliever, a new hobby. I like to try new stuff and maybe this is just a phase for me like Facebook was. But I want to bake cakes with my Aunt Tolu and know what’s going on in her life, I want Kiki to sniff my nail polish, like me and not bark at me so much, I want to have my mind in the room when my dad is talking to me, I want to be actively involved in conversations I have with Peju, Seun, Tobi, Seyi, Dunni, Femi and Dare, I want to experience the good stuff for myself no longer so I can tweet about it. Maybe some moments are meant to be treasured for me and me alone. And maybe some pictures are meant to be taken by me and for me alone not for some three hundred people that will never really know more about me than the fact that I talk too much, like red lipsticks and short boyish hair. Again I’m not saying that Twitter is a bad place and you should pack up, shut your Twitter down and follow me to the Promised Land. I’m saying: live-really live– your real life. Sammy says I might lose friends and contact with people that really care about me so if you’re one of them you can mail me zoe_akin@live.com. I’m not turning into a hermit. I still post journal entries twice a week, I still laugh till I start to cry and my tummy hurts, I’m still in coffee rehab, I still post stories, poems and random stuff here on Learning to Breathe, I still read people’s blog posts, I still work at Aphroden, I still meet up with a bunch of guys Thursday evenings for Bible study, I still swim and I still like Rihanna’s hair. Oh and sadly, I still use a Blackberry.

Unfortunately, no one is paying me to stay off Twitter and blog about my new experiment (I would have liked that). I just want to explore this side of life so that if I ever decide to come back to Twitter, I can use it and not have it use me. In Jon Foreman’s words, I’m somewhere between who I am and who I could be, between how it is and how it should be.

Photo credit: http://www.arts.vcu.edu

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Don’t “like” my post

When I wake up with my mind brimming with ideas for a new story or poem, I hardly ever want to have to get to my laptop to type it out because, well, that would reduce the masterpiece in my mind to a mere article for your reading pleasure or displeasure. But I do it anyway because there’s no way else for you to see what I see in my head. It is not my intention to articulate my thoughts and put them up on the internet for all to see, and then have you “like” my post. No sir, I don’t want you to “like” my post at all.
I want you to read my thoughts in five hundred and something words then tell me what you think about it. You don’t want to know what it takes out of me to sit down for an hour sometimes more to make my thoughts presentable to you then have you “like” my writing with a smirk on your face or disinterest in your eyes. I don’t want your consolation prize. I want you to read my post. I’m not asking you to like it. I’m not giving you license to hate it. I’m telling you to pick one of the two. There is no fence where my work is concerned. I broke down all the walls so there are just an open field with two groups of people, readers, whatever. Don’t waste five minutes of your life coming to this blog to like a post you didn’t even read till the end. I betcha you didn’t even check the title of this blog. But it’s fine. Just read this post till the end then memorise the title of this blog or something.
I’m not asking you to go all literature-critic on me especially if you don’t know what that means or entails. Give me your honest opinion, is all I ask and cry for day and night.
“Ibukun, this post was stupid and was a waste of my time” Fine.
“I loved this post! The story was beautiful. Kept me guessing till the end. Love love love it!” Sweet.
Just say something. Try to understand that you cannot take back the minutes you used to read the post so say something honest. Don’t tweet a thumbs-up at me, don’t IM a smile, don’t “like” my post even if you like it. Say you like it in the comment box- if you really do.
The most difficult part of writing this post for me to accept is someone, somewhere on this planet, will still go ahead and “like” this post.

So I got nominated for a Liebster

So I got nominated for a Liebster award. I think I’ve already stressed enough how much I think “Liebster” sounds like exotic European food on Twitter so I won’t do any stressing on here. Y’all should know at this point that food is very very important to me. Like I actually have real-life feelings for food, I get sad when we break up and I watch sloppy movies and cry into my pillow and all that but I digress. I’m s’pose to answer a series of question that Ore (the giver of my award) asked so I can win the food I mean the award. It really hurts that there won’t be money attached to the award, or food even so I’m going to print out this picture and frame it so I can tell my future Dalmatians their mommy is smart and she won a Liebster. So here it goes…

If you had all the money in the world but still had to have some kind of job, what would you choose to do?

I’d write short stories and attempt poetry. Then I’d do small concerts (like 100 people max) where I get to sing my experiments to the audience without having stage fright because there are only 100 people in attendance. Then I’d want to model for a boot company. I like them cowboy boots a lot and I think it’s really unfair that the weather in Nigeria won’t let me buy them, much less wear them. So, yeah, I’d like to model for a boot company cos I love boots. I’d have 3 jobs (score!)

What do you believe stands between you and complete happiness?

Self, a lot of times. Self sabotages

What small thing could you do to make someone’s day better?

Give them one monster hug and refuse to let them go even when they pretend to be dying. It works every time.

Is the Country you live in really the best for you?

In all honesty, no. Maybe last year it was the best for me but these days half the time I’m biting my bottom lip wishing I could attend Living Proof Live in Texas, intern at Passion Church (in Texas) sit in Starbucks and write like Angie does (in Tennessee) make snowballs and play with friends in the snow, etc. You get the point.

What life lesson did you learn the hard way?

That some people won’t always love me back no matter how hard I try to make them

Which activities make you lose track of time?

Swimming, eating, sleeping (duh), blog hopping, tweeting, singing, writing

What is important enough to go to war over?

War

What is the most desirable trait another person can possess?

An honest-to-God love for God
Bonus: a ridiculously delightful sense of humour

What is the simplest truth you can express in words?

That grace is free and true love exists.

What are you proudest of in your life?

My faith

So the deal is I have to nominate other people for the Liebster thing. Here’s my list:

Okaima: because she’s a great short story writer and I look up to her and cos she has a ridiculously delightful sense of humour and cos she loves cake and Coke
Efe: because he’s young enough to be funny, old enough to be wise and man enough to believe in God
Tomi: because she gets to travel to exotic places and gets to twitpic tulips and I don’t (boo)
Adora: because she’s got an artistic mind and she thinks black lipstick is crayyy
Dami: because he made me look at the Creation story differently, more clearly
Sammy: because he writes pretty well and isn’t afraid to ask questions
Tokunbo: because he never has time to write on his personal blog
This interesting (like, salad kind of interesting) collection of people gets to answer my questions *insert evil laugh here*

What is most important to you right now?
What is your love language?
How do you feel about food?
What’s the one quote you live by and who said it?
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
What do you do when life gives you lemons?
What/who is God to you?

Till I have something remotely interesting to blog, later guys!

Death Concerto

Spinning, spinning into endlessness
Spinning into nothingness
Self is unravelling without the consent of the whole
Faster, louder
Ripping, disintegrating, the opposite of assembling,
breaking, being destroyed, collapsing
in darkness, in fire, in the crucible, in the centre of the earth
like glass scattered across the galaxies
elements of self repelling as fast as they attracted a lifetime ago
open heart surgery without anaesthetic
burial before the death
yet the pain is welcome
the universe pauses and waits as the plot thickens, as blood unthickens
as body is broken
as self is lost
as spirit is shattered
it will end, it will end
pizzicato sounds become louder, voices singing,
world spinning, spinning
vortex widening
the voice of one is heard above the orchestration of perfect harmony like a solo
forte, vibrato
unexpected climax
curtain call, light fades, music stops

Red

goth-haircut

On this side of the world, your clothes stick to your body in an uncomfortable embrace and the sun is not familiar with mercy. The nights are no different as the moon and sun are in an eternal conversation; they hardly ever disagree and hardly ever give us respite from the heat. The clouds on the other hand are quite sympathetic…empathic to unfriendly degrees. The clouds shed tears because the Sun and Moon are not merciful to us. Somehow, their tears become unmerciful to us; taking houses away, children too I heard in the news last night and grandparents. What use are tears if they aren’t shed in moderation? They just cause more pain and heartache.

It is unusual how I woke up this morning thinking about the elements.

Maybe it was because I could not get more than two hours of sleep just a little before dawn. If it were possible to shed even my skin so I could have gotten proper sleep, I would have without thinking twice.

My name is Teniola Red. I’m half Nigerian and the other half of me is British and French. I have fair skin and hair that is strawberry red. Both my parents are dead and I have lived most of my life in France but a few months ago I moved to Nigeria with the hope that I will find myself here. I have tried modelling, acting, singing even dancing and failed terribly so now I’m trying my hands at writing. The publishing firm wants the first draft of my book in a month and I don’t even have a plot yet.

“Ugh.” I fling the pen out my flat window and light a cigarette while finding myself a spot beside the window. My neighbor’s husband all but drops his briefcase when he sees me barely clad in underwear and a cigarette. He rearranges his face before his wife sees him gawking.

“Good morning, Mrs Akinyemi!” I call from my window with mischief shining brightly in my eyes.

“Good mo-“, her greeting catches in her throat as she raises her eyes from her phone to look in my direction…ultimately at my body.

I see shock, jealousy, anger and malice flash in her eyes in quick succession before she hisses and says: “Dapo je ka ma lo. Ki lo n ranju mo?! Wonu moto fun mi, my friend!

I wink at Mr Akinyemi shamelessly and continue puffing my cigarette as husband and wife hastily enter their car and drive off.

“Hahahahaha! That was a good one. Totally worth it.”

My laughter is hollow and it echoes through my house reminding me that I’m the one who is alone and not Mrs Akinyemi.   I trudge towards the refrigerator and pour myself some vodka, letting it burn a trail down my throat and allowing it make a fireplace in my stomach.

What is wrong with me?

I rummage through the untidy pile of clothes on my bed for something comfortable to wear in this heat. I finally settle for a tank top and a pair of shorts. I reach for my wallet on top of my wardrobe, feeling around for the leather possession. My hand finds a nylon bag.

Nike’s coke

A smile claims my lips as I grasp the nylon bag in my hand, walking towards the living room table.

I may not have to go out after all.

I remember Nike left her coke here before she traveled to Abuja. I watched her snort some of the stuff before she collapsed on my sofa swearing softly.

“What is it with you and this stuff?” I asked her as I offered her a glass of juice.

She was looking at me but she wasn’t really seeing me. Her eyes were hazy and she had a new moustache of white.

“You can’t understand till you’ve tried it”

“Pshht! Not my thing.”

I eyed her as she lay on the sofa with her head thrown back. She looked content.

I arrange the powdery substance into three lines as I saw her do that day. Only the lines are thicker and a little shorter.

Was this how she did it?

I can’t be precise in these things. I am not familiar with them.  I close my eyes and count to three preparing myself for the euphoria.

One…

Two…

Three…

Oh my God…

Is this euphoria?

 

My head feels light. Very light…

Did Nike snort all three lines at once?

Did the room spin?

Were her fingers tingling?

Was her skin cold?

Did her heart threaten to burst out of her ribcage?

Realizing that I still have control of my legs, I hurry to the kitchen and run water over my head, hoping it will return me to normal condition. But now the kitchen is spinning and the water won’t stop running.

Am I turning the tap the right way?

I hold on to the kitchen sink for dear life before the water, the flood, pulls me under.

Why is it so dark?

Am I dying?! Oh my God! Am I dying?!!

Oh my God! Oh my God!

The darkness is suffocating. The darkness is thick. The darkness is palpable. The darkness is an entity.

Somebody help me!

The darkness is coming for me! It’s coming inside me!

Can anybody hear me?!

Silence…

There is a…bright light.

A very bright light

 Photo credit: http://www.creativefan.com

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