Friday, May 31, 2013

The Cheat Reflex

Wunmi looked in on her mother and her two sister in laws, Bukky, the wife of her older brother and Kike. They smiled at her briefly and concentrated on their task at hand. She greeted her mother.

“Pele Wunmi. How was church?”

“It was good mommy.”

“I thank God for Sunday because that's the only time we see you in this house.”
“Yes ma.”  She said.

Wunmi could see from the look on her mother's face, and the subdued way her sisters in law had greeted her, that her mother was on the war path again. She wondered briefly what they had done to her mother this time. She thought that her mom was just too hard on her brothers' wives, after all they were someone's daughters as well. Ironically, she didn't like it when her youngest sister Feyisayo was mistreated by her mother in law. African women. A bundle of contradictions.

Wunmi stayed in the kitchen briefly, hoping that her presence would lessen the tension somewhat. But, after a while, she couldn't stand it and left the kitchen to them.  She followed the peals of laughter to the sitting room where she found her father with her nieces and nephew. She took her baby niece from his arms, and kissed her chubby cheeks. Her niece and nephew left what they were doing and ran to greet her.

“Aunty! Aunty!”
“Hi my babies.”
Her youngest nephew kneeled before her solemnly.
“Why is he kneeling?” She asked her father.
“You have to lay hands on his head and pray for him. He won't get up until you do so.”
“Really, but where did he learn that from again?”
“Who knows with this child. I’m telling you, even though he is not two, he is an old man.”

Wunmi placed her hand on his head. “You will be great among your peers
“Amen aunty.” he said in his high pitched voice.
“You will be a good boy to mommy and daddy.”
“God bless you and keep you.”
“Amen.” and then he got up and ran to join his older cousin.

“Hi daddy.”
“Hi my baby. So how are you? How was church today?”
“It was awesome as always. Pastor Ejiro preached this sermon that blew my mind. I find it so amazing that no matter how many times I have studied a passage, he comes and he adds this new dimension to it again. I am going to bring the cd for you daddy. You have to listen to it.”

Wunmi loved her church, she loved her pastor. She praised God every day for leading her to Salt of the Earth Ministries five years ago. She had been walking by the church for many months but one day she noticed that it had a big sign outside: Redefining Christian. She was curious about what that meant so she had walked inside. She had already been having serious doubts, not about her faith, but about church which she was beginning to see was for some just a business. She felt there was more to being a Christian than just attending church, dressing the part, singing praises, claiming positive things. After all, the bible said, faith without works is dead. As much as she loved her former church she wanted more, and her spirit was restless.

The bible passage that the pastor read that day arrested her, the pastor's sermon had kept her, and she hadn't left since then. She had been born again since shortly after secondary school, and lived in church throughout her university years (what with Sunday service, midweek service, worker's meeting, evangelism and so on), nonetheless, she grew so much when she got to Salt of the Earth. Each sermon always felt like God was directly answering her questions, and it gave her the fire and passion she needed for her tough  job.  It also fulfilled her need to be of use to God beyond being a worker in the church.

Pastor Ejiro strongly believed that Christians were called to make an impact on the world around them in the now.  His personal statement, he loved to say, was not to be served but to serve. He felt that the best way to bring people to Christ would be to actually provide their needs. He was also a man of action, and the church owned a fully staffed and equipped but small health center. The church also had a school which went from nursery through secondary school which was open to anyone that lived in the surrounding areas of the church. Like the clinic, the fees were on a sliding scale.

There were many opportunities for community work and outreach for Wunmi to be involved in and she was heavily involved in one or two. She had been trying to get her family to join her church but they were content with their respective churches so she let them be.

Her youngest sister, Feyisayo and her husband soon joined them. Well, her sister's voice joined them first, it was every bit as big as she was small.

“Hi daddy, hi sister. Where are my brothers?”

“Those boys, they think they are still children, they are playing on their gamestation, abi what do you guys call it again?”

“Playstation daddy!”

“Idea is need. Anyway, they are playing soccer. I don't know why they just do not go outside and play in the backyard. They need it, especially that your older brother. He is getting too big.”

“Daddy.” Wunmi and her sister said in unison.

“It's true.”

Her brother in law went off in search of her brothers, and her sister sat down with Wunmi and her father.
“What is up with mummy today? She was on a rampage in the kitchen, that’s why I left them to it in there.” Her sister said.
“You know how your mother gets. I have told her to take it easy on your brother’s wife.”

“What happened now?”

“I wasn’t even paying attention again. Something about someone not doing something. I just left the whole thing to her. How is work jo my dear?” Their father said turning to her sister.

“It’s going well daddy.”

Bukky came to call them into the dining room. “Dinner is served sir, and you two, you abandoned us to your mom. It’s ok.”

“Oya, let's pray.” Her mom said when they had all gathered at the dining table.
“Thank you Lord God for bringing us together as a family again this sunday. Thank you for protecting us on the road as we travel back and forth. Thank you for protecting us from the dangers of the night and the day. We thank you for multiplying our family. God help us to continue to be a tight knit family. All those who are working against the unity of this family, O Lord, help them to correct their wayward ways. Amen.

“Amen.” the rest of the family said.

“And Lord God, we bring Wunmi before you. Remember her o Lord for good, we pray that soon, very soon before the year runs out she too will bring her husband to join us at this table. Lord, bring her husband from wherever he is. Help her to recognize him and not chase him away when he comes. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Wunmi sighed. Her mother had found a way to slip in two attacks in one prayer.

“Mummy, you act like Wunmi is pushing forty the way you talk.” Her eldest brother, Ayorinde said.

“And so what? She keeps chasing people away. Look at that nice, decent handsome man that your father introduced to her two sundays ago…”

“Oh please…”

“I still can’t believe Daddy tried to play cupid.”

“I was not. My friend came to visit me. His son happened to be with him. He saw a pretty girl, and he did what came naturally. What is bad in that?” Her father said.

“Stop laughing at me, you guys. Ko funny ra ra.” Wunmi said.

“So what happened to the man?”

“Your sister chased him away like she does all her boyfriends.”

“I did not mommy. He was just full of himself. He thought he was a gift to me and I should be happy that he was talking to me. The man was even too boring.”

“Why was he boring, because he doesn’t go to church day and night?”

“Mummy..” Her brothers and sister said in unison.

“Kini? Look at all of you, with your wives and your husband. So Wunmi should now be the only one left out?”

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Cheat Reflex.

So, as you my faithful reader (s?) may know, I have been struggling with  editing my second novel tentatively titled Cheat Reflex.

I have stared at my screen for the past ten minutes, in between visits to facebook, SDK, and LIB. Still no idea what to write next so without further ado, here is an excerpt.

Wunmi 2005

The first service at Salt of the Earth ministries was on fire that Sunday. God was present and Wunmi could feel His Holy Spirit moving. The pastor's message was on point as usual and she felt as if he had stolen her journal and was using her secret musings to preach.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.” The pastor’s voice was clear and sure.

She did a quick scan of her section. Pastor Ejiro hated distractions, and Wunmi took her job as an usher seriously. She did not tolerate talking, crying babies, aimless walking about or… She was brought up short by the man in the fourth seat in the back who had the effrontery to be dozing in church despite the charged spiritual atmosphere. She marched up to him and tapped him on the shoulder – “Your bed is for sleeping not the church pew.” Then she turned and went back and took her position at the back.

Aside from a few minor distractions here and there, the atmosphere in the sanctuary remained fully charged up. Even the sleeping man appeared to be paying attention whenever Wunmi’s eyes swept the area where he was sitting. At least as far as Wunmi could see, his head was upright and not nodding out of time with the pastor’s message.

By the time Wunmi left church later that morning, the sun which had been brand new in the sky when she got to church was making its presence felt. She walked as quickly as she could to her car, her thoughts on the sermon, and her week ahead. She heard someone call her name, Wunmi, Omowunmi and she stopped. Somehow, she had walked right by her friend Kehinde and her husband Badewa.

“Kehinde na your face be this? You don fashi me since you married and left us on the mainland while you dey gbadun on the island with your man.”

“Fashi you? Never. Na you now. You na the one wey work every minute of every hour of the day. Anyway, how far? How are you? How body? Are you going to be at the health fair this weekend?”

“Have you ever you known me to miss one?”

“You are right. If I need to find you urgently, I know to check your job first and church second. But let’s leave that for later. Come and meet Jibade, my husband’s cousin.” Kehinde said, pulling her by the hand to where her husband was standing with a tall man in buba and sokoto. He turned as Wunmi and Kehinde approached them.

“I met her already, she was making sure I paid close attention during the service.” He said, his voice as smooth as his smooth dark skin was beautiful.

“It was a good sermon and Pastor Ejiro...”

“Jibade, don’t mind Wunmi too much, she takes her job very seriously.” Kehinde said. “Wunmi, Jibade just got in yesterday from the States, you know how it is.”

“I'm sorry, I didn’t know that. Well I’m glad that you came to church despite being jet lagged.”

“No worries, no harm done. It's cool. Badewa keeps talking about Pastor Ejiro, Salt of the Earth and all the ministry is doing for the community that I had to come and see it.”

“You are welcome. Hope it met your expectations.” Wunmi said.
He smiled and Wunmi's heart quickened just a bit.

“Wunmi, don’t mind my wife jare. She yabs too much. But, speaking of jet lag, you and Kehinde will have to catch up later. I am sure my cousin is hungry as well as tired. ” Badewa said.

“Ok o, Wunmi, we'll catch up. You should come and visit us this weekend. Maybe after the health fair we can come by mine and hang out. Have you even been by my place since I moved?”

“I was just there two or three months ago, remember?”

“You’re right, I had forgotten. But come and visit anyway. I miss you.”
“Ok, we’ll see. Bye, Kehinde, your people are getting restless.”
“They have even left me. Ok dear, have an awesome week.”

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three months and two weeks later...

But who is counting?

Sorry I vanished.

I have no excuse.

I am going to be changing the name of the blog soon, because I am moving back to Boston in July.

I am very excited.

I hope this excitement translates to a stronger commitment to writing.

We shall see...

Meanwhile, I am still editing!

Pretending to edit.

Ok, no longer editing or even writing.

Just keeping it real.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Unlimited Love

I adored me some Miguel. I fell in love with him on Feb 14. I was in Starbucks, they were offering a free download of his song "Adorn", I took it. All of my non-secular music listening friends, you can skip this post. I don't want to offend. But have patience for a minute, and see if you like where I am going with this first.

Anyway, I played that song out, over and over and over again. I played it in my car, I had to hear it before I went for my workout. I played it while I was writing. I was that obsessed with it. I thought it was all so romantic, I wanted someone to adorn me with love too.

On Feb 16, I woke up with fragment of a song running through my head: “Your love for me is forever, your love for me is forever.” It was the bridge from Fred Hammond's song "No Greater Love." I started thinking about God's love. Unconditional. Irrevocable. Merciful. Forgiving. Eternal. He said so Himself through Paul in Romans 8:35-39:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What love, what amazing love.

Sometimes I forget how much God loves me because I am stuck thinking about all the prayers that I want answered right now. I wonder if those prayers are running into a steel door up there in heaven because it feels like the more I pray, the more nothing is happening. Meanwhile, it seems as if everyone else in the world are getting their prayers answered in an instant, which frankly is just pure envy on my part.

As I sit in the waiting room, watching the time pass by without the physical manifestation of my desires, the little voices of doubt tick out the hour: He doesn't care. He doesn't hear. He doesn't see. He has forgotten you. Just do you.

Of course those words are straight lies. After all God said in Isaiah, in response to a similar statement made by the Israelites:

Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.”Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.” Isaiah 49:14-16 NLT

The most amazing thing about this God-love is that it is offered freely to anyone who wishes to have a part of it, there is no prequalification and no need for pre approval.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:6-8 NLT

Most important of all, once we get it, we don't have to do anything to keep it.
I think this continues to be my stumbling block, wanting to earn God's approval and God's blessings instead of resting in His grace. With God's help though, I know I will learn how to trust in His love. Meanwhile, I thank God for the best adornment of all. 

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adornherself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ó le Kú...

This time the movie, not the song or the outfits.

I have loved this movie since I first watched it more than a decade ago. I watched it again this past Thursday when Tunde Kelani released Ó Le Kú part 2 on YouTube as a Valentine's day gift to his fans.

I think I have watched this movie at least three times, and each time i have been captivated by Ajani's and Asake's love story.  I love the detail and authenticity of the movie set. Lastly, the Yoruba language  and culture is showcased in all its glory. It's an awesome movie from an awesome director. If you haven't had the opportunity to watch it, please do.

This last viewing though, I found myself paying closer attention to the supporting characters,  in particular, Asake's father. For example, Asake's father was vehemently against her marriage to Ajani until she completed her university education, and he did everything that he could to prevent their union from happening.

At first viewings, I thought "this old man is just mean. After all, she can go to school and be married."

But then he said something that blew me away: "My entire hope is in Asake." He wanted her to have his family name on her diploma not that of her husband's. He wanted her to bring that honor of being a graduate to his family.  That was an amazing thing for that time period - early 70s, especially in a world where boy children are infinitely preferred over girl children, and some even consider educating a girl child to be a waste of money. After all, she is only going to go to her husband's house anyway, so why bother. Even in this century, some parts of the world have even gone as far as banning the education of girls.

I felt sorry for her poor father, powerfully portrayed by Chief Lere Paimo. He loved his daughter and wanted HIS best for her but his way of expressing his love was just so harsh. Love without communication.

Some things have not changed though, namely the men and their playeristic ways, and Ajani's friends made me quite upset. But I won't say anymore, watch it for yourself, and if you are so inclined, let's discuss it a bit.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Writing Life

Last time I discussed my writing, I was moaning about how overwhelmed I felt about editing.

Well, this past week I stopped whining and consulted my expert researcher Ms/Mr Google - s/he is an hermaphrodite- and discovered a nifty book called Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. This book is so on fire that it impacted my writing before I even received it. How do I mean? Well, I read an excerpt of the first chapter online and realized what was wrong with my own first chapter right away. In a word -well several words- I was explaining too much and not letting the characters live. I was giving all kinds of background and history and what not. A whole lot of info that had me saying in my nephew's voice: "who cares?"

I guess the avid reader in me knew the problem all along, but the writer in me resisted deleting a single word. I mean those words were agonized over and carefully chosen by committee. I was loathe to let even one of them go. But I eventually did just that and the story reads a bit better. So I am happy. And less overwhelmed and even excited.

I forgot I was working today and had planned to walk up into the mountains and write until dark but alas, the job that pays the bills takes precedence over my creative pursuits. Thankfully, it is a dreary rainy day so I will settle for cleaning my house.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Writing Life

Haven't really been writing much, despite my resolution and despite my desires.

I did finally read all the way through my first draft of The Cheat Reflex (tentative title). It wasn't as cringe inducing as I thought it was. It is ironic to me that the first few sections which I had already edited and had worked on for several months before the challenge were actually worse than the unedited words that I wrote during the NaNoWriMo challenge. Those latter words felt more ... livelier. I guess because those words were coming straight out, and had eluded the great internal editor!

I don't know.

Anyway, the hard work is now ahead of me. Of course I am trying to avoid it by reading about the process instead of being about the process. Sigh.

Meanwhile, I have to get my act together. My thought life is neglected, I really have to work hard this year on destroying my addiction to the gossip blogs. I have too little time and I must be very stingy with it. But, it's hard though because those gossip blogs are so seductive, short and sweet to read unlike maybe editing or studying or any of those good for me things I should be doing.

God deliver me sha.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Run with you

I have been trying to keep to my goals for the new year.

As far as exercising and looking better and loving my hair by taking better care of it, i am good. As far as writing and blogging and non emotional eating, am not. I keep making excuses and finding reasons not to get on the ball. I need deliverance.

This week I started a couch to 5K training program. I did my second little jog yesterday despite the bitter cold. I bundled up like I was going to be in subzero weather. I had on three sweatshirts, two tshirts, my hat, my hoodie, two pair of sweatpants, two socks, gloves. lol. i hate cold! and it is cold up in these mountains.

But it's beautiful to exercise up here, and it's challenging to go up and down the little hills so I am not complaining. I love going uphill, and I love coming downhill as the sun is rising over the city. So pretty. Keep trying to capture it but it is hard to snap a pix when you are trying to walk/jog as fast as you possibly can.

Of course I made a playlist to get me through the pain, a mix of gospel and secular music. It's a work in progress because I find myself sometimes skipping through the tracks in the midst of the workout (this is how i break my devices...just saying).

My current motivational song is La Negra Tiene Tumbao by Celia Cruz. When I hear that song, I get new wind especially if I am going uphill.

Then there is Lara George's song which is also the title of this post:

Brighter day by Kirk Franklin always has me forgetting that I am Yemisi writer, and has me acting like a choir director complete with hand gestures, I even throw in a dance here and there. I love this song, even after 11+ years.

Lastly, there is Pretty Girl Swag by Ciara. It reminds me of why I am out here in the bitter cold in the first place.

Hmm, all these songs are very old. Need an update!

Friday, January 04, 2013

2013 already!

I can't believe my last post was in November.

Despite my good intentions, December was a wasteland in terms of my writing and life goals. I moved to my new apartment, came down with the flu or rather an influenza like illness, and have just been so blah. The cold weather is not helping either. I really cannot stand the cold, it tends to sap my energy.

As always, I have a few goals for the new year. I already feel all kinds of stressed because it is already Janaury 4th and I haven't made any moves. I did do one half hearted workout the other day but it was bitter cold. I could actually feel the cold going through my hoodie, my t-shirt, my skin, my bones and grabbing my heart and lungs and squeezing them to death.  I scurried back home and vowed to buy some winter gear. Total mileage 1.6 miles. Yeah pitiful.

My goals this year are simple:

1. Get with God and just delight myself in Him. Ps 37:5. I want to be serious about my walk with God this year. I promised myself last month that I was going to attend three bible studies at three different churches. I have always liked bible studies more than actual church services because you get to discuss and you get to know people better. I already attend the one at my church - RCCG Living Word on Montana, Tuesdays at 7pm. It's very intimate and fun.

I went to a young adult fellowship at Destiny Family Christian Center in early December, I liked it so I decided to add their bible study to my rota: it's not as intimate, but I like it a lot. I am also excited about the Young adult Fellowship which takes place two Fridays a month.

 Lastly, the mother of one of my patients has been inviting me to her church. She has such a sweet spirit and I saw that their bible study was on Thursday so I was like yeah! I finally went yesterday, in the snow and all and it was an awesome experience. It's a Spanish speaking church but the pastor preached in Spanish and English. I realized that I could understand most but not all of the spanish, (i only know the present tense lol). Nevertheless, I am going back to that as well.

2. Last year, I was deep in debt and obsessed with getting out of it as quickly as possible. This year, I am determined to start saving with that same obsession.

3. My hair, my poor neglected hair! The great thing is that shea butter is my friend. It has greatly simplified my routine big time, added bonus, it stretches my hair like nothing. But I digress. I need to stop being a slacker about washing the poor thing, and moisturizing and protecting my ends. I am so tempted to get a weave but then that would be incompatible with goal 4.

4. Lose my last twenty pounds. December was a very bad month. Very bad! I ate out almost every day, and I ate just once a day. It was bad! Bad! Did I mention that it was bad? Anyway, I am trying to be better. I made spaghetti squash the other day. It was good! Almost like the real thing. I think it was because my sauce was divine. It was simple really. Roast the spaghetti squash in the oven for about an hour. Scoop it out, and watch it miraculously become spaghetti strands. The sauce I made consisted of half a purple onion, two cloves of garlic, two roma tomatoes chopped and sauteed in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and seasoned with basil, black pepper and a dash of salt. Lovely.

5. Lastly, overhaul my wardrobe, except I don't want to spend a single dollar! But I need to really let my beauty shine. I promised myself that on my birthday and it's time to keep that promise. Watch out world.

6. Oops. See I am already leaving it off the list. Write more, write more, write more. I joined a 1000 word challenge #DailyK put on by author Christopher Courtley. In fact, it is why I finally decided to get my act together and write a blog post today. I also need to edit my novel. I read it last night and I was like this sucks! This really just sucks! I want to scrap it but I will commit to editing it and making it less sucky this year. I need to do research for this novel so I must find a way to visit Nigeria this year for more than  5 days. God make a way for oh and God please send the sun, thank you kindly.

So please to my one faithful reader, I urge you to poke and prod me when you see me going off the tracks.  Thank you very much in advance.

Happy 2013!