The Blog is Ten, So Time To End It?

This blog/site turned ten this year, rather unceremoniously. But yes, it was ten years ago I published my first post ever on the Internet. And there have been various iterations of this blog and quite frankly, of me too. I meant to make a big deal of the blog turning ten, but honestly life happened. The exact day (July 24) I was traveling for work and the farthest thing from my mind was this blog. 

There have been times I didn't know what to do with it and wanted to shut it down altogether; delete everything and go into hiding. My sister said if I ever delete this blog, she would "never forgive" me. Those were her exact words. If you know my sister, you know she's not ever that aggressive so it was a little shocking to hear her say that (haha). And I believed the threat so I decided against that. I won't delete. The threat did not include not ever writing though. So I thought that for a while: that I wouldn't post anything here anymore. Ah that lasted all of 2 seconds before the next idea for a post came. The whole writing thing comes so naturally for me sometimes, that it feels a little foolish to quit it. 

I have been consistent. I have been inconsistent. People have read. People have not read. But if we are keeping it real (or vulnerable, as the Internet loves to say) it hasn't grown nearly as much as I would have liked. In the beginning, it did. People read a lot. But eventually that growth fizzled out. I wouldn't call this blog a failure. And trust me, having actually failed at things, I know what failure looks like. This isn't that. Yet, I don't know that I would call it a success. So here we are. As with most things, in between. 

Book of the Month: The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

Welcome back to the book of the month! I love doing these because people love reading these haha. The book of this month is “The Hopefuls” by Jennifer Close. The thing about giving summaries of books is they are never quite enough. And I’m admittedly not the best with summaries but I’ll try. It tells the story of a young wife who follows her husband to Washington, D.C. to follow his political dreams in the newly minted Obama administration. Matt, the husband in question, is a White House staffer (who was also a campaign staffer) perennially frustrated and antsy about his career. Beth, the protagonist and from whose perspective the entire book is written, is a writer unsure about everything. And when I say everything—I literally mean everything and everyone.  Early on in the novel, at a birthday party for another White House employee, Beth meets Ash and Jimmy. Ash is a Texan who also moved to DC for her husband, Jimmy’s, work as an Obama staffer. The foursome quickly become close, going on vacations today, sharing everything including a “cleaning” lady. The book uses the discomfort of a new DC transplant to tell the story of important themes  of marriage, friendship, career, political campaigns, and envy.

Book of the Month: Life Behind Bars

America’s carceral system is deeply flawed. It is filled with deep injustices and its criminalization of black and brown bodies can never be fully stated. Those are facts. More so, the American prison system suffers from the prison-industrial complex. Where to begin? The imprisonment of people has resulted in the massive economic profit and political influence for certain groups. Again, these are facts. 

But what about the people watching over these inmates? Seldom do we hear about correctional officers and staff charged with the responsibility of overseeing inmates.  Here is where the book of this month comes in. Life Behind Bars is a first-hand testament of the author, who spent fifteen years on a tour of duty at the Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC). He provides excellent and never-before-seen/heard insights into the world of DOC in Delaware. 

Don’t Follow Your Passion; Here is What You Should Do Instead

I have written in bits and pieces, on this blog, about not being married to an idea. Even outside of this blog, I’m sure you’ve heard it before: don’t follow your passion. I am here to reiterate that advice or to provide additional nuance to buttress that point.  

It is not that following your passion is bad per se. It’s that any idea that is so romanticized is bound to fail. Even when you achieve the biggest dream, goal, plan, ambition, you would realize you are still the same person, with the same worries and anxieties. And that is a feeling that destroys people. Following your passion is not a specific salve to bring you happiness for the rest of your life. Your happiness, I am sorry to announce, is not unlocked by some true calling or purpose. Your life is not going to be magically wonderful when you finally achieve the uncrackable dream. I am sorry to let you know. The path to happiness is  broad and filled with bumps that you get better at navigating the further on the journey you go. 

Book of the Month: Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

Welcome to Book of the Month! The Book of this Month is a historical fiction titled Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell. I know people say awards don't matter (don't believe them by the way) but I still want to start off with  the awards this book has won. It won the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction and the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. It was named "Novel of the Year" at the Dalkey Literary Awards, was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize, and longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. I say all of these to show that this book is a masterpiece. It's O'Farrell's magnum opus.

Remember how I said here that I didn't want to read about a pandemic or similar stuff this soon. It turns out I lied Lol. Because Hamnet is literally about The Plague. The book, set in the 1580s, is about a young Latin tutor—constantly bullied by his violent father—who falls wildly in love with a weird, remarkable woman older than him. She is known throughout town for her eccentricity and her ability to heal people and to understand plants and potions. She falls in love with the tutor right back and they get married, and settle in Stratford. There, she becomes an extraordinary mother, a force in the life of her husband who recently started a career miles away in London theatre scene, and their three children. Life is just getting stable when their beloved young son succumbs to The Plague. It is a story about love, family, and more importantly, the many ways grief can ravage even the most perfect union. It shows how people react so different to grief. 

A Juneteenth Post: How DEI Initiatives Are Stripping Black People of Dignity and Safety

It was Juneteenth on Monday and as far as I'm concerned, we are celebrating all week long. As I said in a previous post on this blog, these past couple of  years, more than ever, I have learned more and had more conversations about emotional safety, belonging, and vulnerability in the workplace. More importantly, I started to better understand that vulnerability needs to be earned; that you deserve a right to protect yourself if you don’t feel “safe”: and that—this is the biggest—vulnerability without boundaries is NOT vulnerability.

Through these conversations, I found that there are places that just expect Black people to remove our armor without sufficient assurance or commitment to our safety. Let me give an example: person X is the “only Black person” in a room and then all of a sudden, they are deemed the race expert. They expect X to open up at every meeting or during every “tough conversation” about the Black experience or about racism. They want X to share their experience of microaggressions, and prejudice, and racism. But what about if X doesn’t want to be vulnerable? Especially if there is no guarantee of protection when X does share something they don’t want to hear. Forget the fear of reprisal; sometimes, people haven’t earned the right to our mind, thoughts, and opinions. So, to not guarantee any safety, yet expect a Black people to speak for all Black people is just wrong.

Why Silence Can Be Ineffective

When Chimamanda Adichie wrote the masterpiece, "It is Obscene", one line stood out and has stuck with me since then. Okay, more accurately, I recently found it again and posted it on Instagram

"Sometimes, silence makes a lie begin to take on the shimmer of truth."

On Serving and Being a Part of Something Bigger

There was a time I was so particular (I don't want to say obsessed) about serving in my community. I truly believe in service. I believe every single person should be a part of something (or some things) bigger than themselves. Normally, this is work. But work sort of feels like work. In any case, I think that being a part of something bigger than you can bring immeasurable purpose. I also think this is a kind of purpose that is good for the soul. The kind that allows you feel like you have a well-rounded life, you know? In any case, I wanted to serve. I also know that if our community is going to progress, then all of us have to be involved. 

Friday Reflections

 1.) The Netflix show, "Indian Matchmaking", tells women to compromise, but this woman refused to do that. 

2.) Sorry, but Nigerian parents can be UNHINGED. My God. This man sexted his daughter's boyfriend because he wanted to set a trap and catch her in the act. 

3.) I saw this old article about a Christian gay woman who married a man and how she never really became straight, and maybe that was never God's goal. I don't know whether it's right for me to call her gay since that may not be how she still identifies herself. What stood out in the article and what I think more Christians need to emphasize more is the goodness of God and how more than anything else, we are called to be faithful to God. 

Book of the Month: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Welcome to the Book of the Month! Let's get into it. One important thing you need to know about the book of this month is that it is about time travel. Yes. I will be honest that I didn't know that before going in; I knew nothing about the book before going in. If I knew it was about time travel, I am not sure I would have gone ahead with it. There are also some other things that made me a little uncomfortable but I'm getting ahead of myself.

In Honor and Memory of Tim Keller

On Friday, May 19, 2023, I was writing about something else and was about ready to hit publish when I heard that beloved pastor, mentor, preacher, and teacher, Timothy Keller had passed away. He was 72.

Tim Keller, as he was often called, is the kind of man you write about. So here we are.

Book of the Month: Verity by Colleen Hoover

Welcome to Book of the Month. The book of this month is Verity by Colleen Hoover. I cannot possibly continue with this post without acknowledging the HOLD Colleen Hoover has on the reading community. If this woman was Nigerian I would legit accuse her of using some sort of spiritual power to captivate people, because people LOVE her. She has a large cult following and you literally cannot walk any airport, train station, bookstore without seeing the array of her books. They are everywhere. This is only the second book of hers that I'm reading. I read It Ends With Us and I HAD thoughts but it was so emotionally intense that I decided against making it book of the month despite my feelings.

Anyway, Verity is about a writer, Lowen, on the verge of financial ruin when she accepts the opportunity of a lifetime. She has been hired by the husband of a much more famous writer, Verity Crawford, to complete the series Verity started before she became unable to continue due to an injury. The said husband, Jeremy Crawford, invites Lowen to their home to sort through Verity's notes and outlines and such, which is opportune, because Lowen has just been kicked out of her apartment. What Lowen did not expect to find in all the chaos was an unfinished autobiography by Verity. And that's where crap hits the fan. Somewhere along the line, Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify. And as I said, crap hits the fan.

Friday Reflections

 1.) Adam Sandler accepted his award for the Mark Twain prize in comedy and the speech was very humble, grounded, and reflective of everything that contributed to his success.

2.) With another mass shooting this week, a gentle reminder that the thoughts and prayers of political leaders wont do. 

A Case for Shame ?

I have been reading a lot about shame, courage, vulnerability and the intersection of those three emotions. This, of course, means tackling Brene Brown’s work, which I absolutely LOVE (check out her special on Netflix; powerful stuff). That said, I’ve been struggling with some aspects of her work as it pertains to shame. She mostly argues that shame is a useless emotion, that shaming people never works, and feeling shame almost never leads to better behavior. I disagree with this a little (or maybe a lot?). What I seem to struggle with is she doesn’t quite account for accountability (excuse the pun) nor does she account for transitional justice. 

International Women's Day 2023

This post  is coming about three weeks late but better late than never! We have a serious IWD series on this blog and we are not about to let it go this year. So on the very last day of Women's History Month, let's talk about it.

One fear I've had in recent times is that our generation has taken to underestimating gender inequality. After all, we have had female leaders, athletes, corporate executives. Women can now vote, work, drive, yay feminism, right? To add salt to the injury of this perspective is the sudden glamorization of everything generations before us fought against. With the rise of younger women on TikTok ostentatiously broadcasting their dependence on ultra-wealthy boyfriends, glossing over clear imbalance of gender dynamics as they feature their latest designer purses in yet another get-ready-with-me video, or as they deliver yet another aesthetically pleasing smoothie to their boyfriends. What is not as apparent to the impressionable [even] younger viewer is how wide this path is to abuse and powerlessness, and perhaps even sadder, how much those who came before us fought against this very phenomenon.  

But the gag is (as the cool kids say), we need advocates for women more than ever. In a world where people falsely believe the differences between men and women are nonexistent, where people believe our work is done, we need louder voices for women. One thing is clear, there are still myriad of biases and barriers that prevent women from pursuing and/or achieving their potential. And I have receipts. 

Book of the Month: We are the Brennans by Tracey Lange

I bet you thought we were going to end March without a book of the month, huh? Think again! Haha.

When I got midway through the book of this month, I remember thinking finally! I deserve to read such a great book. True story. I haven't had that wow factor with most of the books I've been reading this year, and when I say this book made up for all that, I am not kidding. Let's get into it. 

On Loss, Strife, Being the First, and Loss Again...

I recently had laptop issues (is it me or I seem to have those a lot?) and lost lots of the data on my computer since they had to reset it. I was so devastated. So devastated. Then I remembered some of my worst moments this past year and realized I would rather lose my files every single day than have even just 10% of those happen to me. In other words, it could be worse. Perspective.

I'm still sad though. I had some badass headshots that I was saving for future use. Kids, seize the day, put little trust in tomorrow.

I just recently saw this interview of Will Smith by Trevor Noah.  Trevor Noah is a masterful human when he interviews: empathy, objectivity, love, compassion are all emotions he is very adept at displaying.

Friday Reflections

 1.) Why pronouncing names correctly matter. 

2.) My three fathers. This is the most beautiful essay on love, adoration, strength, and acceptance. The underlying theme is the love of a father for his children. Just beautiful.

Book of the Month: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Hi folks,

It's another Book of the Month. Let's jump into it. The Book of this Month is Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson. I went into this book really excited and just assumed it would be a HIT. I had really high hopes for this, and while in a lot of ways it met those expectations; in others, it fell short terribly. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's dive in.

Black Cake –  a debut novel – is about a woman, Eleanor Bennet, who has just died and left a puzzling mystery and inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a black cake from long-running family recipe and a voice recording. Through the course of this message, Eleanor shares about her past, untold secrets, and a long-lost daughter (and sibling to Byron and Benny) that no one knew about. As this story unfolds, we learn about the memories, secrets, betrayals, and a thread of connections intricately woven by the author. The kicker is Eleanor has left a message that her kids can only eat this cake together with their long-lost sister (who they didn't know existed until the recording); and they have to do all of this while estranged from each other. Byron, a successful Ph.D. and Oceanologist, and Benny, a stubborn, spoiled-rotten queer artist living in New York must confront everything they knew about themselves, their mother, and their family. 

Friday Reflections

 1.) Happy New Month of February! This is a very Nigerian thing to do/say: "happy new month". But it's also the reminder of the importance of time, and endings, and beginnings. 

2.) Never ever underestimate yourself. I think it's fine for others to underestimate you (I quite like this) but it is important that you have an objective assessment of your abilities: don't give yourself more credit than is due but also don't underestimate yourself.

3.) Barbara Walter's final words on The View. What a Legend. 

Book of the Month: On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi

Happy New Year! I can't believe this is the first time I'm here on the blog. So let's get it out of our system. The Book of this Month is On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi. This is a hard book to categorize and talk about. It's about a Ghanaian-American medical student, Angie Appiah, who is figuring out life as she navigates her myriad of relationships with her boyfriend(s), friends, and her family. She also deals with expectations from her family and is left confronting choices, decisions, and even the people around her. As this is happening, she meets a random guy, at a random place, Ricky. As he is introduced into the equation, Angie feels control spiraling out of her hands.