New Starts..

I thought long and hard about the ramifications, but I accepted nonetheless – I agreed to bring forward my start date by 60 days. Truth is the only other option was more sleeping, eating and waking – a totally quotidian experience.

The first day is January the 4th; for the first time in a long while I have to dress formally to work. Its totally against the grain of me – the lost, non-conformist son. The alternatives are not exactly great. I would rather have to wear a shirt and tie to work than to file away products in coveralls. For that I am thankful.

For Dennis Brutus….. 1924 -2009

Dennis Brutus – anti-aparthied activist, poet, professor and family man amongst others – passed on in his sleep today…. An excerpt from the family statement:

Dennis lived his life as so many would wish to, in service to the causes of justice, peace, freedom and the protection of the planet. He remained positive about the future, believing that popular movements will achieve their aims.

Dennis’ poetry, particularly of his prison experiences on Robben Island, has been taught in schools around the world. He was modest about his work, always trying to improve on his drafts.

HT: www.rabble.ca

His poem – A troubadour I traverse – from the anthology A simple lust – is one of my favourite poems. I’ve taken the liberty to reproduce the full text here.. in appeciation of his unique influence….

A troubadour, I traverse all my land
Exploring all her wide – flung part with zest
Probing in motion sweeter far than rest
Her secret thickets with an amorous hand
And I have laughed, disdaining those who banned inquiry and movement, delighting in the test
Of will when doomed by saracened arrest,
Choosing, like unarmed thumb, simply to stand
Thus quixoting till a cast – off of my land
I sing and fare, person to loved – one pressed braced for this pressure and the captors hand
That snaps off service like a weathered strand.
– no mistress – favour adorned my breast
Only the shadow of an arrow brand.

Randoms….

Christmas was ok.. It was WHITE at the third time of asking- wish I took pictures of me trying to move around in knee deep snow. Got invited out to a bash by the guys where there was a wee bit too much alcohol. That is guaranteed to loosen up a few tongues – and I heard a lot about certain people I shouldn’t have heard! Thankfully I’m out of here in a bit, so I can forget I ever heard those things.

I finally burnt the stash of things, I did try one last time to talk but the conversation was forced, almost alien. Clearly I’ve had my nose in the wrong cloud all this while. We lose some and we win some, that keeps life moving..

Something about Christmas makes people want to be on their best behaviour – I got a call from an old friend, and it was almost like the old days.

The work folks want me to start in January. A project came up that they require extra hands for. So much for my lounging till February. In a way it’s good though, because boredom was already doing things to my mind!

I like the Taking stock thing. I think it will be a great way to measure what progress, if any, I have made on resolving the issues that spawned my mid life crisis.

Random meeting..

In one of those moments – of serendipity or plain coincidence, I met someone who I know from Nigeria on the streets. I was chatting with two friends of mine on a particularly busy street when someone walked up to me and called my name. He attended the same church with my parents for a bit, before he moved on to a new town – got a job in one of the so-called new generation banks and quit his University Lecturer job.

Life couldn’t have been harsher. Dude went up several ranks in the bank, before he lost his job. He claimed his pay-off and skipped off to the UK. A few years down the road, he still doesn’t have a permanent job.. Now he works as a temp at a confectionary producer in this town, engaged in back breaking labour, twelve hours each day, five days each week.

Its honest labour, he makes enough to cater for his family… I really should be thankful that I have a job to look forward to, and a kid brother who was magnanimous enough to loan me several thousand pounds…

Menus, shopping lists and healthy eating.

The rude shock of seeing the bathroom scale inching steadily towards 100kg has given me the proverbial kick up the back side. I need to start eating healthy ASAP. Eighteen months of binging on KFC, Greggs and Pizza Hut has done my weight in, and added a few inches to the waist line.

The big problem though is I have zilch experience in drawing up menus and creating shopping lists. I’m good when its a crowd going shopping, and I can eyeball what they are buying and decide. Like the googlephile I am, i jumped to google, to see if there were any hints I could get. I stumbled on the UK Food Safety Agency’s Eat well website. Loads of useful information even though it seemed overwhelming at times!

Four hours later, and countless more google searches, I am no closer to deciding what I want to buy than when i started. I think I will just outsource the creation of the list to one of my more skillful female friends!

In Retrospect…

This has been one  hell of a ride. There was change aplenty – the good, the bad and the iffy. In hindsight, maybe some decisions in 2008 were hasty, maybe they were not…Bottom line is that I survived..

Call them random occurrences, put them down to luck or whatever – I think it was Divine Providence that pulled me through some really difficult times. It had to be – from getting THE opportunity after it had closed, to significant delays on bus timings that enabled me catch the train that got the ball rolling, to having a friend leave her house at the just the right time I needed a new house to stay in a new city (P you totally rock!), to getting Brooke Fraser’s Shadowfeet at the time things felt the bleakest, there had to be some orchestration behind it all. The plus side is I learned a few hard lessons – still learning even newer, harder ones.

In retrospect I am thankful: for family, for friends, for life, for blogging, for second chances…..  In many ways I have been pulled back from the brink – been handed an undeserved reprieve….. I need to retool ME – leaner, meaner, focused and above all – hardnosed and pragmatic…

The Last Day… Again.

Today I leave the NorthEast, hopefully for the last time in a bit. I have called this place home; lived here, eaten here, made new friends here, grabbed a degree here, cried here, and now its off to new challenges for me.

In total I’ve spent just under eighteen months here, eighteen months of near perfect freedom, aside of the  back breaking swotting for exams. The people have been great too; I only had two questionable incidents – one where a clearly drunk bloke kicked an empty coke can in my direction and shouted a poor imitation of a racial slur, and the other when some kids made all sorts of noises and pointed as I walked past them in Brandling Park.

I leave some of my longest term friends behind.  Its especially emotional for Ivy because eighteen months ago, I left her in the belly of the Nigerian South-South to slug out the final bits of her internship, and I leave her here again to navigate her MSc. There are others – Bee, TBoy, Steve,  and Charlie – people who have become a real part of my life in more ways than one.

As the snow continuously pours down, carpeting me in a feathery whiteness,  and as I lug my boxes –  all three of them – onto the train, it is very much a case of saying hello to the future…

New Year unResolutions…

I found these whilst cleaning up my e-mail archives over the weekend.. Enjoy.


New Year Resolutions you can keep!

Are you sick of making the same resolutions year after year that you never keep? Why not promise to do something you can actually accomplish? Here are some resolutions that you can use as a starting point:

1. Gain weight. At least 30 pounds.
2. Stop exercising. Waste of time.
3. Read less. Makes you think.
4. Watch more TV. I’ve been missing some good stuff.
5. Procrastinate more. Starting tomorrow.
6. Not date any of the Baywatch cast.
7. Spend more time at work, surfing with the T1.
8. Take a vacation to someplace important: like, to see the largest ball of twine.
9. Not jump off a cliff just because everyone else did.
10. Stop bringing lunch from home: I should eat out more.
11. Not have eight children at once.
12. Get in a whole NEW rut!
13. Start being superstitious.
14. Personal goal: bring back disco.
15. Not wrestle with Jesse Ventura.
16. Buy an ’83 Eldorado and invest in a really loud stereo system.
17. Get the windows tinted. Buy some fur for the dash.
18. Speak in a monotone voice and only use monosyllabicwords.
19 . Only wear jeans that are 2 sizes too small and use a chain or rope for a belt.
20. Spend my summer vacation in Cyberspace.
21. Not eat cloned meat.
22. Create loose ends.
23. Get more toys.
24. Get further in debt.
25. Not believe politicians.
26. Break at least one traffic law.
27. Not drive a motorized vehicle across thin ice.
28. Avoid transmission of inter-species diseases.
29 . Avoid airplanes that spontaneously drop 1000 feet.
30. Not swim with pirhanas or sharks.
31. Associate with even worse business clients.
32. Spread out priorities beyond my ability to keep track of them.
33. Wait around for opportunity.
34. Focus on the faults of others.
35. Mope about my faults.
36 . Never make New Year’s resolutions again.

Retail Therapy!

The stark reality of being totally single, in another man’s land a few days before Christmas never hits you more strongly than on a Saturday night. No work, boring TV, home alone, the inescapable cold of the winter all remind you of your lonely, boring life. There is only so much a good book, mindlessly surfing the internet, food, wine or any of the other finer treats of life can do to assuage the feeling of loneliness.

A few days ago, I decided some retail therapy was needed and I ordered a MacBook Pro. I really didn’t need a new laptop, much less a change to a Mac. It arrived today.. 13″ of dull grey aluminum and the world renowned Apple packaging. Untying the box was near orgasmic and when I finally held it in my hands I almost swooned from the exhilaration. The cold feel of the metal chasis on my palms as the heat was swiftly conducted away couldn’t dampen my elation.

I have my very first MacBook.. I just know it is going to be the first of many! I swear I now understand why Mother has all those shoes!