Learning to breathe

Archive for the tag “writing”

For The Love of A Country

Our first Nehemiah Project Prayermob meet-up is Saturday this week and I am excited to say the least. When I finally worked up the courage to tell y’all about it, I honestly didn’t think that it would “blow”. I just wanted to make sure I obeyed that one thing He was calling me to do. Not all of us will be missionaries in the North, Uganda or even the Amazon jungle but all of us are called to radical living right where we are. So, right now for me, “radical” looks like praying for my country on the 15th of every month and getting as many people as I can in on it. I can’t tell you that about a million people followed us on Twitter or that NPPM has 2 million likes on Facebook. I’m not even here to talk about stats because they aren’t impressive by any standards. But I’m grateful for that one person that somehow got my phone number and called me for two days straight before I finally found my phone to ask how he could help with the movement. I’m grateful for that one guy that sent me mail offering to help design the logo for NPPM (haven’t heard from him in a while and I hope he’s alright). I’m grateful for the twenty-something comments and the handful of reblogs, the shares, the likes, views. I’m grateful for Twitter followers, retweets, shout-outs. I’m grateful for that one Facebook like because, really, the definition of success has changed for me. A dear friend of mine said, “Success is obedience in that one thing God has called you to do. That, in itself, is success. Forget the Stats.” (Paraphrased)

So I’m here again talking about NPPM so you know what to pray exactly on Saturday. If you started a mob in your neighbourhood and you’re unsure people will show up and you end up being the only one, just go on and pray anyway. You were obedient so you succeeded. And if it so happens that a bunch of guys show up in front of a supermarket (it’s a mob remember) close to your house to pray, go on and do what you came to do. Then if you’re like me and you’ve wondered what to pray for Nigeria in 10 whole minutes, I kinda came up with a loose plan for us to follow:

  • Pray for peace in the North
  • Pray for our leaders (GEJ and his cabinet, governors, etc) and finally
  • Pray for the citizens.
  • Pray each point for 3 minutes then take the last minute to engage and converse with the people that turned up, take a picture together if you can and tweet it at us or put it up on NPPM Facebook wall. with the hashtag #WePrayed or #Iprayed to encourage more people to join the movement then plan where you want the next meet-up to be. It doesn’t have to be the same place. When the last minute is up, disperse like the mob that you are! That was a compliment by the way.
    I’d love if you could spread the word to the ends of the earth and with as many people as you can. If you’ve ever wanted to do something meaningful and eternally significant for your country, this is it. Don’t let the thought that this mob thing is for “spiritual” people stop you from praying. Don’t let the thought that praying together won’t make a difference either. Praying together is way better than whining and doing absolutely nothing. I don’t care what church you attend or what church you don’t attend, come 15th of June put your disqualifications and differences away and just come out to pray for your country. If we don’t care to pray for Nigeria, who will? If you still want to help out with designing a logo for NPPM, do mail me zoe_akin@live.com I’d love to hear from you.

    Don’t forget to save the date June 15th!

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    On Getting Twitter Back

    When I deactivated my Twitter account earlier this month, I wanted to stop to smell the roses, I wanted to try new food, to hang out with friends, talk to my dad more often and all that good stuff. I wanted to experience real life and boy did I get real life. I got a mean ass rollercoaster ride this month. I don’t think I’m going to forget in a hurry. I’m not going into details out of respect for myself (I’ve always wanted to use that line) but those closest to me know that this month, I’ve felt more burned out, drained and overwhelmed than usual. I’ve been busy up to my neck doing everything inconsequential so I won’t have to curl up in a ball to cry. See the thing is, I’m very emotional and I get cranky when I’m hungry and when things don’t go the way I plan. I don’t know how it is that I still have any friends. So right now, I’m just grateful for closure and for the fact that May is almost over.
    On the upside, I’ve managed to find me a new and better coping mechanism and new hobbies and discovered that people reading what I’m typing over my shoulder annoys me to no end. I’ve found that I like walking in the evenings and in the mornings- just before the sun comes out in its full glory. I’ve found that mono-tasking is actually better than multi-tasking, that coffee tastes better when I mix my milk separately first, that red lipstick makes my lips look like thin strips of upturned bacon, that reading a chapter of a book every day is healthy, that not having anything to say all the time is fine and that not having all the answers is fine too. I’ve found that I have friends that will stand up when I can’t and are willing to give me the best of their lives. Now I understand that past mistakes will follow you around like a nagging wife and that cutting people slack is worth it sometimes. I’ve learned.
    It’s not to say that I didn’t know how to live my life while I was addicted to this social network thing, it’s just that I wasn’t living what I knew.
    I’m not exactly ecstatic to announce to y’all that I’m back on the thing, I’m just scared shitless I’ll become what I was again. My opinion about Twitter hasn’t changed and I doubt it ever will. But I think I’m better equipped at being a “stuffer” keeping most of my business to myself. I know to pray about difficult stuff instead of announcing the calamity to some two hundred people. I know to sign out when I have work to do, food to eat, people to converse with. The only problem is that knowing to do something and actually following through on what I know and plan to do are two entirely different things. So I’m still testing the waters, I’m still wary. So forgive me if you used to think I was fun and you’re hoping I can go back to being fun. I may not be able to measure up again; I might disappear for a few days and reappear online when I can, when I want. It’s not that I don’t care that you care; I just don’t want to get sucked in all over again. Some of you may be wondering what difference 19 days off Twitter has made. Well it’s kinda like how hearing and listening are different. The difference between hearing and listening is 19 days, the difference between “acquaintance” and “friend” is 19 long days, the distance between “loneliness” and “solitude” is 19 sets of 24 hours. I’m still exploring this side of life so be patient with me…and maybe help me.

    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.

    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

    Thoughts, thoughts, ramblings, musings

    What do I know apart from what I know?

    Nothing.

    I met someone new and he taught me new things. He taught me things I can’t be sure I know because what a heart knows by heart is what a heart really knows.

    What if I know by mind? Or soul? Does that count for nothing?

    He taught me new fragrances and  he taught me art. He taught me to feel and he taught me honesty.

    He taught me to sing and he taught me to sound breathy.

    But I had no intention of staying under his tutelage for long and I disposed of that type of education with the coming of full moon

    Till a certain full moon came that I did not stay outside to watch, to admire, to love, to  soak in.

    Instead, in slumber I was watched, admired and stolen from.

    Rudely awoken at an even number and informed that I wasn’t the only one watched, admired or stolen from while humans slept

    You have to hang loosely to things that can easily be forced out of your hand because it was never yours. I learned that under his tutelage, under the full moon.

    Another teacher stays a die hard fan

    He teaches me but he hardly speaks. Talking is too much. Talking is unnecessary; he  lives like a blackboard and chalk.

    A walking illustration, he is

    I stay here to muse and wonder about the teachers I learned from this past week and my mind recoils, not wanting to process any of it fully. Doesn’t want to have to process anything.

    Some things are best left the way they were given you

    Other things are gifts you have to check thoroughly in the mouth

    Do you understand any of this? Does your mind keep you up at night?

    Will you lose yourself in the forest that is your mind?

    Or will you build a safe house somewhere at the edge?

    Either way, you’re not really safe in the thing that is your mind

    There is always something unsafe about safe so choose which direction of unsafe you will fall.

    Before you are pushed over the edge

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