2020 Recap.

I’ve been writing on this blog for over five years now, and I hardly go back to review things I wrote in the past. Sometimes I do go through an old post and I am either quite impressed by my insight and eloquence, or cringing at the childish nonsense and lack of editing.

To round off this great year, I have gone through all the posts from this year and highlighted a few of my favourites.

Hello Twenty Twenty: This was the first post of the year, and what a year that has been. In the post I was full of optimism: “2020 feels different” “I feel good going into 2020 and I am determined to make this year count.” I wanted to do a lot with this year and my vision statement was to engage my life mindfullydiscover my purpose, and travel. I do not feel that I ticked off any of those boxes. In this post I also outlined a few things I wanted to do in order to achieve my vision; let’s go through them shall we?

By the end of the year, I want to be in a much more fulfilling space in my life, I want to have a full rich life that I am proud of. I don’t want to be bored. I want to meet people who will change my life for the better. I am definitely not in a more fulfilling space in my life, in fact this was possibly the least fulfilling year, or to rephrase, the year in which I felt the most restless and unfulfilled. I was so stressed out and anxious at work and I realised my current lifestyle is not sustainable. I really need to get off my butt and start doing things that enrich my spirit.

I need to stop being so lazy and restless. I want to actually take the time to figure out what drives me, rather than simply going where the wind blows. Ha. Ha. Ha. I’m still so restless and still so lazy and still so undriven. I faintly think writing is what my purpose is but I am too lazy to fully pursue this.

I want to finish a piece of writing (at least a draft), rather than leaving a bunch of scanty stories and poems. I’m disappointed in myself that I was not able to achieve this and there are really no excuses. I spent all my time either working or recovering from work. I watched so much films, shows, YouTube clips that my eyes were twitching from all the screen-time. I barely read any books and did not complete any writing. I hope 2021 will be better but I have to do better.

I want to develop and maintain fulfilling relationships. I developed zero relationships this year, but I will say that the lockdown made me communicate more with my friends and family. I could have reached out more often to more friends but as always there was nothing to say.

I want to commit to a hobby rather than spend all my time either working or watching television. I want to travel at least four times (to four different places). Ha. Ha. Ha.

I want to have another great birthday celebration. My birthday was in the first week of lockdown so I spent it alone. However I woke up early and went to the shop where I got myself some flowers, ice cream and brownie mix. I enjoyed calls and messages from friends and family, baked the brownies, and then dressed up and settled down to a fun virtual party with my friends, eating my brownie and ice cream. I was alone in my room but I was not lonely; I felt the love and I was happy.

Addict: I wrote this post in January about loneliness has become a staple in my life; simultaneously a burden and a craving. Loneliness is terrible but the longer it stays the more it attaches itself to the personality that it is difficult to be rid of it. I particularly love this quote from Olivia Laing: Loneliness grows around them like mould or fur, a prophylactic that inhibits contact, no matter how badly contact is desired.

For the love of God: In this post, I revaluated my feelings about religion and God. It is amazing how fickle opinions are, and how opinions are really dependent on life experiences. A stressful 2019, and the deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, made me realise the importance of a belief system and having something to fall back on. Being an adult is hard, and for a lot of people religion, as well as the concept of God, can provide much needed comfort, similar to a child with a security blanket.

The year of realising things: By now 2020 is the year in which everyone has realised something-good or bad. My personal realisations revolve around the relationship between my eating habits and skin issues, and the impact loneliness has on all these. I also realised that I have an addiction to sugar, diary is bad, fibre is good, and nothing really matters.

Two sides of the same coin: I am highlighting this mainly because this issue had been on my mind for the longest time and it was a relief to finally put it down in words.

Who Killed Malcolm X?: This Netflix documentary led me down my usual rabbit hole of articles and YouTube videos as I attempted to devour everything about Malcolm X.

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to: My birthday has always been a source of angst and anxiety for me. I spend all year stewing in my loneliness, mostly happily, but my birthday is the one day where I want to be celebrated. I started writing the post to whine about how I have never had any good birthdays, but in writing it I realised that I have actually been quite fortunate and that people in my life have done their best to make me happy on my birthday. It is just easier to remember the bad birthdays. In summary; it is nobody’s responsibility to make my birthday a happy one. I need to make the plans and make my own dreams come true.

I love all women….even the ones that I hate: In this I laid down my frustrations and anger at the treatment of women as sexual objects with no autonomy.

Illusion that youth is happy: This quote from W. Somerset Maugham spoke deeply to me. A lot of young people are under the erroneous impression that our teens and twenties should be full of wild raucous fun and Gatsby-esque parties, which then puts so much pressure on us to be having fun all the time. The quote is simple and direct- it is an illusion that youth is happy.

All my baking posts: If there was one thing that I did in 2020, it was bake. I discovered my love and ability for baking and that made me so happy during the early days of lockdown till weight gain and cystic acne put an end to that. The feeling of satisfaction I felt as I removed my creations from the oven is incomparable. In 2021 I should redirect this energy into healthy cooking that feeds my body and skin.

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself: In which I conquer my fear of making Mac and Cheese.

A Countervailing Theory: In a year in which I barely left my house, I was happy to be able to go see some art at the Barbican.

Self care: This aspirational post on self care; aspirational because some of these are things I do, and things I should do more of but don’t.

On purpose and fear of missing out: “I don’t think your life has to have a purpose, or you a grand ambitionIt is okay to wander through life finding interesting things to do until you die.” I saw this quote on Instagram and it lingered in my mind until I wrote this post on my phone while relaxing after an invigorating spa session in Wales. I was at peace when I wrote this and that’s what I feel whenever I come across this post.

Take me back: Take me back to my childhood when I was carefree and happy. Random childhood memories regularly pop into my mind and I find myself drowning in nostalgia, especially as I live away from my family and have not seen any of them in person in a year.

This is the last day of the infamous 2020, a year which started out as everyone’s year, until Kobe Bryant died and nothing was the same again. For 2021 (which some have pointed out sounds like twenty twenty won), I just want to be alive and well, and I want the same for my family and friends.

Working on my fitness.

I have what must be the most expensive and ineffective fitness routine. I stay in my room for days on end, averaging 50 steps a day, and severely deficient in vitamin D. I eat sporadically; I am too lazy to leave my room I don’t eat breakfast until my sight is blurry from hunger and I am forced to go downstairs for nourishment. Of course then I pack too much food and I return to my room laden with hefty calorific carbs. I will have a banana of course, and pretty much inhale any edible thing within my reach.

But the star of my fitness routine are my expensive walks. Oh darling, I don’t go out “for a run” like the rest of these plebeians, for several reasons. One, why would I just enter the street and start running when nothing is chasing me? In addition, I am unable to pack light- a quick run will require my phone, keys, water bottle, umbrella in case it rains, wallet and shopping bag incase I run past the shops, face towel and all sorts of Knick-knacks. No darling, I go for long walks. Now once again, I can’t just leave my house and go on an aimless walk to nowhere so to motivate myself I add a goal to my walks. Rather than go to the nearby Tesco which is three minutes away, I will walk 30 minutes to the big Tesco which stocks my favourite cinnamon bites. So I get in my steps and also get a tasty treat out of it. Win-win for all but my waistline. The Tesco is also quite big so walking around adds to my steps, and if I should pick up an apple pie and a dozen sweets as I make my way through the shop then so be it. Tired of Tesco? Well there’s a Morrisons 35 minutes walk away, and an Aldi thirty minutes away.

I went on one of such long walks a few days ago and it only cost me £13, three new pimples, and bloating. Next week I’ll walk to Morrisons as they have a charity box and I have stuff to give away; I might get some pies and pastries to make it worth it. Once I master the act of going on regular long walks and then eating fruit after, I will be unstoppable.

the good old days.

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

― Andy Bernard (The Office).

We are currently living in the good old days, though it may not seem like it. I was chatting to a friend recently and we were reminiscing over the past and how much fun those times were. However the reality is that during those good old days we were stressed out of our minds and also reminiscing on the past. There’s a lesson to be learned here: no matter how stressful life may seem at the moment, things will get worse which will cause you to look back on this time with rose tinted glasses.

So in the spirit of acknowledging and celebrating the present aka the good old days, I have decided to look on the bright side, and celebrate the things that made me happy recently. Here are a few:

My Vogue subscription: I’ve never really been the type to read Vogue, let alone subscribe to it. I have only bought vogue once, earlier this year (or was it last year? Time is a myth) and that was because it was half price and only £2. Last month I was casually minding my business on Instagram when I got an trial offer to subscribe for three print issues plus free delivery plus free digital access all for £1! Pourquoi pas? I said to myself and went on to order it. It was perfect timing as well as I had been seeing pictures of my girl Beyonce on the cover of the December issue. Like most highbrow magazines Vogue releases new issues a month in advance which means the December issue was on sale in November. Anyway in claiming the £1 offer, I had to select the three issues I wanted, so naturally I said from December. I waited and waited until finally a few days ago the first package from Conde Nast arrived and I excitedly tore it open expecting to see my girl B, but instead it was Kate Moss staring at me on the cover of the January 2021 issue. It then occurred to me that in selecting December, I may have chosen to start with the January 2021 edition. Naturally I was annoyed with myself, now it was too late to get the Beyoncé issue as the stores had replaced them with Kate’s beautiful face, and I sure as fudge was not going to buy it on eBay. I decided to email the vogue team to request an update but of course kept procrastinating.

Long story short, today I came down to make dinner and another Conde Nast package was waiting for me. I thought wow February 2021 is out already but nooooo it was December 2020! That immediately lifted my spirits. I will most likely cancel my subscription after the offer period because 90% of the pages is just adverts, but I do like the smell and I will flip through looking for a perfume sample and enjoying the fashion.

My yellow nail-polish: I have been feening for a mustard colour nail varnish ever since I saw it on one of my former flatmates. Her (professionally done) nails looked so good and I could not stop thinking about it. So I searched on Amazon and saved all the options that came close for under £5. I finally ordered it and when it arrived I was disappointed to see that it was more sickly yellow than mustard. I half-heartedly painted my nails in annoyance- no base or top coat even. But by the next day I started to like the look, and on an office call everyone complimented my nails (well two people did) and after a few days the bright yellow nails were the single bright spot in my dreary life. Oop that got dark quick. Moving on.

My dinner: I have gone from hardly ever ordering food to ordering food every week during the lockdown because hey you gotta treat yourself and hey it’s not a waste of money if you’re supporting small businesses. I treated myself all the time it was ridiculous. Anyway in recent weeks I have started cooking again. Last week I bought food ingredients, and then promptly went out to order a burrito from my new favourite Tortilla spot (hey at least I got my steps in). Today on my usual daily tour of the deliveroo app, I couldn’t decide on what to order; my favourite restaurant had suddenly disappeared from the app, and my dreams of having chicken and waffles were dashed by the realisation that it was chicken breast (an abomination!). So I dragged ma petite derriere downstairs to make dinner and it was delicious. Again I was on a high from my new vogue magazine but there is also a joy in being self sufficient and not needing to order food all the time.

Realising I need a humidifier: After days of dry itchy skin and difficult breathing, it occurred to me during one of my nightly 3am overthinking sessions that there might be something up with my room. Finally that grown up word “humidifier” started to make sense to me. I did a quick google search and then ordered the cheapest hygrometer I could find. Depending on the results, I’ll go ahead and order the cheapest humidifier I can find (hopefully can find a humidifer-dehumidifier hybrid). I am excited for them to start enjoying supple skin and easy breathing.

My new skincare routine: My skin has been my problem child since March 2018, and it seems to get worse by the minute. I recently did beaucoup de research and decided on a few products which may help out. In summary I got salicylic acid, as well as vitamin c, Niacinamide and retinol serums. I can’t wait to get fresh skin and start throwing about motivational posts: “Love the skin you are in. #NoFilterNeeded.”

Sainsbury’s doughnuts: I (tried to) quit sugar and dairy a few weeks ago to help my skin but I am slowly regressing. I went to Sainsbury’s one morning and managed to pick up one of their vanilla doughnuts aka my absolute favourite. Then I went back the next day after work and the next and the next and no doughnuts! Sacre bleu! It then occurred to me that the doughnuts are made fresh each morning and so by the time I got off work in the evening they will all have been snatched up. Anyway yesterday I made a point of getting up from my work chair at lunch time to go get some fresh air, exercise and doughnuts. I managed to get doughnuts and I immediately swallowed three.

Rolling off a difficult client: I have been on a new client for the past month and things are a mess over there. Friday is my last day on the client, and while I’m sure I will get follow up queries throughout next week, it will still be nice to be officially off it and that is something to celebrate.

It’s the weekend!: This is always a reason to smile, even though it will be Monday again before we know it.

Making Christmas plans with my friend: I can’t travel home for Christmas and neither can my friend, so we are spending Christmas together. She lives in a house so we will have enough space for the festivities and merriment. Some of our other friends will be dropping in and I am looking forward to playing hostess. We were chatting today about the menu and it’s all so exciting.

My dress from Mango: I visited a friend ages ago and coveted a dress I saw in her closet. She gave me the link and encouraged me to get it too. In the spirit of not spending too much money plus I have no space in my room plus do I need yet another dress with ruffled sleeves plus I am bloated from all the baking, I did not buy it right away. I kept the tab open on my phone for months on end until I decided to just go on ahead with it. The price has significantly reduced (praise Jesus!) and now I am excited for it to come and for me to try it on.

Girlfriends: Not my actual friends, although they do make me quite happy, but I’m talking about the sitcom. Netflix recently unleashed a torrent of Black American sitcoms (well three of them) and I was eager to see them all. I couldn’t decide which one to start with so I decided to watch them all in rotation, but once I heard the Girlfriends theme song I was hooked. I watched Girlfriends a decade ago on Youtube and I quite enjoyed it. I don’t always relate to the women, and Joan Clayton drives me up the wall, but Girlfriends is a nice easy show which makes me laugh out loud and roll my eyes. I’m almost through with all 8 seasons and 172 episodes and I miss it already.

Cheers to the good old days!

Take me back.

Take me back to ten years old; the age of innocence and bliss. Take me back to my old family house on the Lagos Mainland where I spent my entire childhood surrounded by all my family, with my closest friends just next door. I miss sitting in the big parlour with my family-mother, siblings, aunts-watching one Nollywood film or the other while the men sat in the other parlour watching their own shows, their racuous laughter reverberating across the house. My father would be in his room watching the news, which at the time I found incredibly boring and grownup-ish. I mean who cares about yet another conflict when Genevieve and Omotola were being bad girls? When he wasn’t watching the news, my father sometimes watched the Turner Classics Movie (TCM) channel which may be partly to thank for my love of classic films. Take me back to a time when I saw my loved ones every single day.

I especially miss sitting in front of the television on Thursday evenings, with my favourite meal of white rice and beef stew, waiting for it to be eight o’clock so I could watch another episode of my favourite show Superstory. It saddens me to think that I may never have another moment with all of my family- parents, siblings, fave aunties and uncles- under the same roof, chilling and enjoying each other’s company. Oh the bliss of those weekdays when the National Labour Congress (NLC) would announce a weeklong nationwide strike- meaning no school or work, and we would all just stay at home and enjoy the idle time. Even better were those rainy days when we were all indoors with nowhere to go; we would watch our favourite shows until the DSTV inevitably got scrambled, upon which we would go outside and play in the rain.

Take me back to Saturday morning, where the house was abuzz with cooking and cleaning. The women in the kitchen preparing the beans needed to make the Saturday morning breakfast staple- Akara. I would be asked to go grind the beans and I would frown all the way to the neighbourhood grinder, annoyed at this gross interruption of my morning television time. Akara and pap ready, we would eat it happily in front of the tv with the rest of the family. Saturday morning meant the men would be out and about doing the heavy lifting outside, cutting grass, cleaning the water tanker or just lazing around waiting for food. Saturdays meant visitors, which was either a happy time or a reason to hide in the room, depending on who the visitor was. Our favourite visitors were my daddy’s friends as they were very generous and never left without gifting us some money which my parents would immediately appropriate for safekeeping.

Hell, take me back to Sunday morning, even though back then they were not my favourite. It was not pleasant being woken up early to prepare for Church. My father always left much earlier so as to get to church on time. We went with mummy who took her sweet time, and this meant we were always in the back pew which I did not mind. Despite our lateness we would stay in church for what seemed like forever and when the service was finally over, our parents would begin their other group meetings and banter with friends. We would spend this time impatiently in the car, eating sweets and treats which we bought from the kiosks and street vendors. Finally we would go home and try to enjoy the rest of the day, whatever was left of it. Sunday Afternoon/evening was much better- we would happily eat the rice and beef stew which we prepared that morning before going to church, and spend time with our guests/cousins who had come to visit.

I miss having all my friends living on the same street as me. We would carpool to school together and upon our return we would congregate in one person house for lunch, television and play. Hell, there were days we got home and nobody was home in any of our houses. Whew the irresponsibility. Baby’s Day Out was our favourite film, and we would watch it every single day after school. This and Agbala Nga (not sure how to spell it), in which Liz Benson played a widow who pledged herself to the gods. How many afternoons did we hastily remove our school uniforms and change into our house clothes (borrowed from whoever’s house we were in) before settling down to the movie and a late lunch of anything from indomie to Agege bread and Pepsi/Coke/Fanta like bricklayers.

I miss playing outside in our expansive compound; we did everything; tag (which we called catcher), Suwe (hopscotch), and loads of other games I can’t remember. I remember my friend had a box full of toys and props and I would often stroll over to her house with my sister to act dramas with she and her brother. We played shopkeeper, mummy and daddy, school, church and so on.

Take me back to a time where deadlines and anxiety were non-existent in my lexicon. A time in which homework was optional; didn’t get around to doing it? Oh well. I miss having a landline and an address book with the numbers of everyone in my class. Nowadays the sound of my phone ringing drives me up the wall, but back in the day it was a real pleasure to get a phone call. I would dial my friends numbers and if I was able to get through to them we would chat about nothing for two wonderful minutes.

Take me back to my old self; the one who randomly decided one day that she wanted to have a small party at home, and made my mum and aunties cook Jollof rice and send out invitations to my friends in the neighbourhood. My uncle was the DJ and he played Tongolo (also inappropriate for our age) and that was the first time I gave D’Banj’s music the time of day. I miss the girl who saw a girl during church service and decided I want her to be my friend and just walked up to her to ask for her name. I remember the adults around us laughing and commending me on my youthful courage. I miss the girl who gathered all the neighbourhood children together for social events; the one who started a junior social club in which we spent 5 minutes discussing ways to improve our country before moving on to the main item of the day-food and drink and games. I miss the girl who would choreograph dances with her friends and then interrupt her parent’s conversations with their friends to dazzle them with our dances. I wonder what they thought of us; I’m looking back at it through my adult lens and I am amazed and amused at my audacity. I miss discovering new music with my family; Take me back to the night my sister and her friend had a concert in the parlour, singing loudly to Mario’s Just a Friend with fake microphones. I miss singing along to the Women of Faith album, and those 20in1 music compilations CDs we would buy in traffic. I miss singing into the standing fan and pretending to be on stage. I miss sitting with those lyric books and cramming the lyrics of my favourite American songs.

I miss the days when I was young enough to walk around without a top on, and I would spend hours running around the compound chasing and being chased by my friends in one feisty game or the other. At the end of the day I would say goodbye to my friends and collapse in a sweaty heap in the parlour; zero worries and zero cares.

Those were truly the happiest days of my life and I miss being happy.
Take me back.

Life will break you.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

I like the first part of this quote, but cannot figure out what the author means with the apple tree analogy. “Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” Huh?