Monday, January 28, 2013

Gay Club Friday and Other Gay matters

Last Thursday, for the umpteenth time I was about to find an excuse not to go out on Friday night with my colleagues. Then I thought..why not. Yolo. Lol

So Friday, I put on a sequined top under my jacket, jeans, heels were in my bag cause I didn’t wanta break my legs walking on ice in them thank you very much. Finished my shift at 11.30pm and waited for those who finished at midnight.
A little background, the party crew includes L and G who were dating, R, C, K, A, W and Sy, the group leader (who is flamboyantly gay and loves going to gay bars lol). I think that was the main attraction... I wanted to go to a gay bar.

So we went to Rusty’s, an entertainment and late night venue. It's located in Newcastle’s Time Square/Centre for Life. The bar attracts a mixed clientele of gay and straight and features live cabaret entertainment from its owner Rusty (sadly s/he didn’t perform on this particular Friday).

From the glass I could see bare torsoed muscular waiters moving around guests with bottles. *eyes agape* Unfazed, I followed my party in. Color me gay. 
Inside was dark and gothic-like. Stairs to another sitting level were on either side of the bars. The stage for the cabaret was round the corner. I got a pinot (hated it) and went to find somewhere to seat. Met A who had arrived earlier. She is my best buddy from work (as bookish as I am). That just made my day. we sat, drank and gossiped as we watched the antics of drunk revellers lol.
I was itching to dance but the music was neither pop nor recent. Imagine music from Chicago, even I Dreamed a Dream (dance version), FAME, Cher's Believe and like. No PSquare here. 
Well, when the desirable is unavailable, the available becomes desirable. I wanted to dance and dance I did. Moreover with a half a glass of orange juice and vodka I was very ‘happy’ J.

So, I got to find out one of the girls at work C, was lesbian. I only mention it cause it was there starring me in the face but I didn’t know..compared to Sy who I sussed was gay by the 3rd day of training: He was uber comfortable with the gals, puffy hair, fashionable, has an eye for color, has the wittiest comebacks and had this affected way of talking and using his hands. Yup stereotypical.

C is a very pretty girl. I think I had told her so before too (face palm). I couldn’t understand her love for low hanging baggy jeans, t-shirts and trainers. She treated the guys in a jocular manner. She also had this boyish way of walking/bouncing, rolling her shoulders, her head. 
I kept hoping for the day she will get over this ‘tomboyish phase’ and start wearing dresses. Or when the love of a good guy will soften her up. You see my life? A put me right thankfully.

I was gisting about this to a friend and he said ‘Who made you Inspector Gadget?’ And he is right. Does Sy/C/R being gay add or detract from the kind of persons they are or the work they do? Nooo. The only knowledge advantage I can think of is to prevent making a faux pas in conversation.

Anywho, as we packed our bags and coats to leave about 3am (it was snowing heavily), there was Sy in the corner sucking tongues with this guy he had introduced to us earlier. We rolled eyes and exited to find a taxi. That matter no be small thing. Newcastle is busiest on Friday night/Saturday mornings. It was almost an hr before I got mine.

I saw Sy today and I was like "Hey Sy. I had a great night. hope we do it again" and he was like “Cool. Cause I can’t remember much of the night. I only remember waking up with a strange guy in my room Saturday morn”. *poker face*

Thoughts
1. 
I couldn’t but think of the situation in Nigeria and why we think that imposing on the liberties of a group of people because of their sexual behavior is humane or right. Or why we have taken it upon ourselves to become Judge and Jury, defenders of Heterosexual Sex.

According to recent data from NACA , over a third of new HIV infections in Nigeria occurred among MSM, sex workers and their clients. And Nigerian MSM are more than fifteen times more likely to acquire HIV, compared to other men in the general population. We know the negative impact that criminalization and prejudice poses for individuals who face all forms of blackmail, family rejection and police brutality (See Prism’s post here). All the talk of “Zero discrimination” or an “AIDS free generation” will be meaningless if efforts are not made to stop the zeal of legislators wishing to criminalize types sexual behaviors between consenting adult men or women through The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill before the Nigerian Senate now. (culled from here).
I keep thinking, if you send them to jail the what happens? They sober up in prison? They become straight? Or is it society’s way of keeping them out of sight of holy people?
One of the bare torsoed waiters who came to ask if we wanted more drinks looked decidedly Nigerian. I remember looking at him and smiling and thinking..lucky escape for you!
2.
I won’t lie my last convo with Sy sent shivers down my spine for him. In this day and age, having random sexual encounters is as dangerous as driving without brakes. I recently had my Cervical screening done after putting it off for two years. I also decided to throw in a sexual health check-HIV/STD it was free after all. Scariest 7 days of my life waiting for my result. Every kiss was magnified. Ghosts of boyfriends past, their ex-girlfriends and the ex-girlfriend’s boyfriends haunted me big time!! Anywho, I am clear. All sins forgiven. A born again Virgin.
Why am I sharing? Go check yourself. And don’t put off that cervical smear if you are 25 and over, especially for those in the UK who can get it done free. A stitch in time saves nine.
*NACA - National AIDS Control Agency
*MSM - Men who have Sex with Men



Sunday, January 27, 2013

If You Were Born in January

*If you were born in January, Come out and dance
Aringa ringa rosie God bless you

My birthday was on the 11th of January. Yup ages ago. I’m a quiet one about birthdays and would have happily let this one slide by..at least on this space except that I found out I shared same birth month with Michelle Obama, Blue Ivy(rolls eyes), Mary J Blige, Elvis, even our own Verastic and I’m like hey, I have something in common with these hard working achievers!!

I remember being very disappointed as a child to find that MJ was August born. I still am. But I forgive him..for not coming out premature or just sitting tight in that womb till January 1.

Anyway, so what did I do on my birthday? Nothin much. Slept in cause luckily I had the day off. Visited with facebook, received phone calls. Then I treated myself to ‘Les Miserables’ which was having its first outing In UK that day.

It’s my party I can cry if I want to
Cry if I want to
Cry if I want to
You’d cry too if you watched it too
 (lyrics from movie: Problem Child)

Yup, I was sniffling and snuffling 20mins into the movie. Only shame stopped me from going into bawling mode ..ok I exaggerate.

Plot
An ex-Convict who finds his salvation by a singular act of kindness by a priest and a promise made to dying woman, strives to live a life meritous of heaven, only to be constantly haunted by the spectre of his former jailer and Sheriff. Are human beings inherently good/bad? Can good defeat Evil? You watch and tell me.

Wow
I had heard about the classic novel Les Miserables and sought to read the book, however I saw the TOME and shelved that idea fast, hoping to find a ‘Longman Simplified Version’ or  catch a Broadway production.
In 2009 it was again brought to my notice by Susan Boyles’ rendition of ‘I dreamed a dream’ at her audition for Britain’s got Talent. Her performance brought tears to my eye. I remember the ‘rolled eyes’ and mocking laughter which was quickly replaced by awe when she opened her vocal cords.
I felt the song was apt. Here was a 40-something year old rural woman living the dream she had only dreamed of.

Then I saw Anna Hathaway (Fantine) sing the song in the movie. And I forgot it was the same song. 
For her It was the lament of a girl whose dreams had been dashed. Anna’s voice didn’t have the breadth or depth of Susan Boyle but golly she ran through the gamut of human emotions - sigh, smile, joy, disappointment, anger and ultimately despair with a voice that rang with clarity and innocence lost. I would have been as touched if the plot was excised and hers became a solo performance. 
Anna exited the movie within the first 40mins but her presence lingered till the end just cause of that song and her dream. In addition, losing her hair for her art no be small matter shaa. Anna is one beautiful lady! I sincerely hope she gets that Oscar.

Hugh Jackman (my man) gave a wonderful performance as Jean Valjern. His singing voice was again not broadway standard but it rang with sincerity and conviction at every point. You couldn’t help but root for him as he chose good at every turn and did get cut a dashing figure. 
Ah! if only men were like that.
Russell Crowe as Javier just annoyed me. It’s bad enough that as villain I had no reason to like him, but his singing voice was crikey!! Or maybe it was the self importance with which he sang and puffed in character. Anywhos, this former Gladiator did not gladden my heart at the Les Miserables arena..lol.
The bit about the French Revolutionaries was also touching. Inspiring even. I thought I will read up about it before I wrote this post to confirm if it was truth or fiction, alas no time. But fiction or not, it made this part in our national anthem ‘the martyrs of our heroes past’ very real.
The performances of Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Banks, Aaron Tveit and even brave little Daniel Huttlestone were also very memorable. I will understand if this movie gets the best picture award cause really every character played their role to the hilt. None easily forgotten.

Not so wow
It was quite a Melodrama. Every bad thing that can happen happened. Javert the Sheriff showed up to put ‘sand sand in the gari’ of Saintly Jean Valjern at all the right places. Everybody that should/could die died. The funny people (Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen) stayed funny throughout. The movie enthroned you as god....you could easily judge those who were going to Heaven and those destined for Hell. No Limbo here. Lool

In case you don’t know, this movie was 100% musical though it sure had more action scenes than the likes of Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia and Moulin Rouge. It’s not every one’s cup of tea, and I can bet most of the male population who go to see it will be at their female partner's behest.

2hrs after, with sodden tissues and swollen eyes, I left the theater. Headed home to meet my girlfriend who had come with cake. Yeah another day, another year but ---

P.S. I only found out recently that Maeve Binchy one of my favourite Irish writers is late (1940 - 2012). RIP Maeve and thank you for the books. 

P.P.S. The rebellion did happen. Called the June Rebellion (click here). According to Wiki “Although fictional work, Les Misérables has given the relatively little-discussed rebellion widespread renown. The novel is one of the few works of literature that discusses the June Rebellion and the events leading up to it’. 
I’m sad, so those young men/mostly students really died! Occupation Nigeria etu?


*popular children's play song in Nigeria. When your birthmonth is called, you jump into the circle and give your best dance :)









Monday, January 14, 2013

Songs That Celebrate Enduring Love

I never marry, anniversary song dey hungry me, Blogfam isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? lol

So on Sunday, I was watching a music channel that was playing oldies and this song came up. I coulda sworn the guy was Billy Ocean though I wondered about the hair. Billy Ocean if I remember has short jerrycurled/nappy hair not long and wavy. I could remember the song from childhood but hearing it as an adult now the words also made me nostalgic. So I waited for the names of the singers. Ashford and Simpson. I know I had heard the names but just never knew who they were.
On Wiki-ing them here.... I found they were a popular singing/song-writing duo. Wrote songs for musicians like Marvin Gaye(no not sexual healing), Teddy Pendergrass, Amy Winehouse, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan etc. Songs like:
I’m Every Woman
Reach out and touch..somebody’s hand
Ain’t no mountain high enough
Nick Simpson and Valerie Ashford met in choir in 1960 (don’t they all meet in choir!), collaborated on songs and finally married in 1974. Stayed married until Nick’s death in 2011 from throat cancer. RIP.
I was so touched. Hope someone writes a book about their life together. That’s a worthier read than biographies of Cheryl Cole, Katie Price, Victoria Beckham, Snookie, *rolls eyes*
It seems I am not the only one who marveled at their marriage. Here’s a short interview of the couple I found on Youtube.
Anyway, their song got me thinking. About songs that celebrate enduring love and/or relationships.
My top 4 anniversary songs are…ok, make it 5 I can’t decide between those two Shania Twain songs:
Solid by Ashford and Simpson 
Always Shania Twain 
Still The One Shania twain 

Over to you...What song/s would be on your anniversary playlist?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hope Springs

So I watched Hope Springs a couple of days ago. Hmmmm.
First off, this is one movie that is not going to garner Meryl Streep an Oscar nod or nomination. Amen..she needs to give other women space lol.

Plot
A middle aged couple’s marriage was stuck in a rut. Actually rut is good. They were like two familiar strangers living together (in separate bedrooms too, that's a No No from me.). 
Each performed their roles like automatons. She fries his bacon and egg every morn. He comes down. Puts down his suitcase, picks the paper to read as he eats his food. Gives her a perfunctory kiss on the cheek and off he goes to work.
Of course like in most relationships, it was not an equal one. Somebody was bound to be unhappy from this affectionless relationship…the wife.

Then she came across a book by a relationship expert which inspired her to book a week’s intensive course for her and her husband in a small town far from their home. He reluctantly takes the trip with her and under the gentle prompts of the therapist, they rediscover the old magic.

Wows and Duhs
For a cast that was made up of only three principal characters....it didn’t get boring. 

Steve Carrel as the therapist was at his quietest. Perfect supporting role and he did it beautifully.
Streep played the sweet middle aged wife whose only need was to love her husband and be loved in return. Her cherubic face and puppy eyes kept following her husband searching for signs of love. It started annoying me at some point lol. I guess I’m used to Meryl wearing smart suits and acting edgier roles; a woman in control. In this movie, she was just a simple housewife who lived to please her husband.  
I hated Billy Joel. Omg he was my worst nightmare of a husband. Complaining, nagging, cheap. But then you look at the love in the wife’s eyes when she looks at  him and you forgive him thinking ’he probably isn’t always this bad’. It was of course lovely to see the transformation in that jowly lined face when things were happy again.

Hope Springs reminded me a lot of Mr and Mrs from Nollywood reviewed here.  Both were about women who had husbands who were taking them for granted and neglecting their emotional needs to the point of cruelty. How in the world do you describe a marriage where hubby has not touched wife sexually for months talk of years? Sadly I have heard similar real life stories so don’t scoff…it happens!

The therapist underscored how sex and love were intertwined. People, if it ain't happening in the bedroom, there’s a problem. Wives, BJ is not for *ashawos. It seems the husbands really like it. even those who are too shy to say it. Pls rev up the bedroom.
A friend of mine married for 4 yrs now confessed that she can’t errr love her hubby that way though he keeps asking. I still dey look am. I keep buying bananas. I no talk anything. Lol
I gotta admit that watching Meryl attempt to give her hubby some love was like watching my mom. *covers face*

I was also reminded that men are truly creatures of habit which can work for good or bad.
Good - When he gets into the habit of being with you, he doesn’t want to lose you.
Bad – When you allow him fall into the habit of being taken care of, he might take it for granted.

Both women had to break the habits to make their men sit up and notice.

The difference between Nollywood version and Hollywood version was of course the fact that the couple in Hope Springs both owned up to the part that each had played and worked together to mend their marriage, while Mr and Mrs told us that only the wife needs to do the work.

Summary: Predictable romcom, better than average cause of good performances from cast. Might be called different cause it focused on ‘old love’. Watch, learn and actively paint anti-rust on your relationship.


*sex workers





Saturday, January 5, 2013

Grateful





I am thankful for a new year and its promises for greatness. 365 clean slates to write my story..no, 361 more days. I started this year on a high. I can smell the new air. I am expectant. Can't you feel it? lol. 
Unlike its predecessor 2012 which in retrospect was a training ground.

Take a walk with me through 2012

Hidden Talent
January had started with hope. I graduated..with a merit to boot. Added a year but was one broke babe.
Managed to apply for my post study visa thank God and thanks to two angels..you know yourselves.
Then began the long wait for the home office to answer..and within that time I was neither here nor there with job applications, with travel - I couldn't go home (Nigeria),I missed a conference in Atlanta in March because I had no travel document, a conference i had looked forward to as an opportunity to network and meet future PhD supervisors. I couldnt go to Nigeria. 
To add insult to injury, I applied and supposedly got this job with Stop Polio (a WHO project). Only for me to find out, following a frenzied exchange of mail 4 days after that there was a mistake and my name had been mixed up with someone else. Ginger wept.
To keep body and soul together, I resurrected my hair making skills among my bevy of female friends. Talent is discovered in scarcity/Practise really makes perfect cause in a short while even i couldnt believe my handiwork!!
 Family
What would i have done without the warm and cheery support of the world's best Mom and Dad, sisters and brothers. We call, chat, gossip, CARE. My mom is really old now..81. She keeps asking after my PhD..I might as well do the PhD and make it real huh? Thank you God for keeping them safe.

Durham Fam
I met Ij by serendipity and ended up living with her and her family after i left school. Hers are the kids i wrote about two posts earlier. It was the best of times! We have laughed, argued, cried, quarrelled and made up like sisters. She's a nwanne di na mba. Thank you.
There is a small but extended group of Nigerian families in Durham. Beautiful wonderful, families. They added color to my life with their oddities, gossip and parties. J,Z,O,E,Y Thank you.

Blog Fam
Of course you were an important part of my year. you made me laugh, dance, cry, vex. Thank you for being YOU. I have no intentions to bow out anytime soon. my work isnt done joo. But err,Myne pls share your recipe!! Thank you for following. For reading. for taking your time to comment. For agreeing with my opinions. For disagreeing with them.
p.s. I am yet to meet any blogger in real life. Hope to change that this year. London bloggers do something na.

Friendships
I remember when Tizzle blogged about the friendship crisis she was having. I gave her some advice based on my experience not knowing that I had future hurt. 
It hasn't been my best year with girlfriends. I've prayed with, rejoiced, been expectant, been disappointed, hurt, angry with the antics of my friend. The secrets, the gossips; yet i cant deny that when I needed them most, those that mattered came through for me. Thank you.

A close friend of mine went through an agonising period in her life alone because she thought i would judge her. I don't know which hurt most...finding out that she had been bearing it alone or that she didnt tell me cause she thought i would judge her. Me??? All is well in paradise now thank God.

There are one or two friends i should prolly reach out to, but another part of me asks...why? Pride park well. lol

Men and Marriage
From a proposal in March which sorta led to nothing (like the Copenhagen climate change summit. How does that happen?), to the best friend who is looking for Ms Perfect (sadly not me!), to the fella who is actively working on 'Project Get Ginger Hitched', To the one who wants me to be a baby mama to his Kanye West, To the frogs who refused to become princes, To the ones who are in the wings buoying and supporting all the way. Thank you.
My 2013 pact with God is that I am going to have a baby. All I ask is that He sends the perfect accessories. Amen!

Faith
I had my worst crisis of faith this year. Its not that I lost my belief in God No. But I started doubting bits in the Bible. Yes the Creationism and Evolution dichotomy. I had gone from rejecting Evolution to believing that evolution was compatible with Creationism (story for another day).
Then I remember one day in church whn the priest teased us that he hopes no body here thinks that men and women have different number of ribs. Well, you coulda pushed me with a feather cause I did. Don't laugh.
As small as that was it just made me question how many things I had just accepted with faith without applying common sense.
Anyway, I have since made my choice to cling to the wisdom of God than that of scientists. So be it.


Career
I'm a bit confused about what trajectory my career should follow. Human or animal. Maybe a merger of the two? I'm still on the look out for research opportunities. PhD seems to be the best option for now but till I secure funding, I have to shelve it.

Jobwise
I had a breakthrough with the job search in March. It was far from my dream job, but I was thankful. Thankful that my account was green again. Thankful that I had a job to go to. Thank you Mark!
I have a scar to remind me of this period. I look at it and smile.
As the job was part-time, I took up a volunteering position with Oxfam. An opportunity to learn new skills, make friends, have great team Lunches. Thank you Bryony and Rob.
In between these activities, i was still intensively job searching. Both here and in Nigeria. My CV got a facelift at least twice a week. then the interviews started coming. Some even involved traveling - Newbury, Manchester, London. The rejection letters afterwards read the same. (Nigerian HRs are terrible. As bad as rejection letters are, it is still good to get them. At least you can put that application off your list and move on. Nigerian firms just leave you in limbo!).

Finally. Just when I was about to give up, a job came through after a couple of tests and assessments. No hassles, just a phone call to confirm my start date. I remember the HR saying bye and i was just starring at the phone thinking, "Really?! just like that" *rolls eyes*
It was till I got my written offer a few days after that I fell on my knees in thanksgiving to God, then told my family.
But it wasn't just about a new job in the health sector (yay!!), It was a new start. I had to relocate to Newcastle. Yes Geordie shore lol. That was a break I badly needed. It was Baba God's New Year present to me.

Its a month now and I can't believe the change in my life. I sleep easy. Wake up happy and hopeful. May it continue. Amen!
Lessons learnt
Nothing you never heard. Don't give up. Its okay to cry, but never stop believing. Just one event can catalyse life changes.

I pray for a beautiful 2013 for you my friends. Like my Blessed Mary said to Angel Gabriel, 'May it be done to YOU according to His Word'. That's all.

Happy New Year People!!



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