Friday, 29 February 2008

The Ladies Privilege

Day 3, post 3. Undacova is smokin'!

Apparently, there is an old wives tale regarding February 29th.

February 29th is known as The Ladies Privilege day, and as is the case with most old wives tales, there are a number of explanations for its origins flying around. Here are a few:

St. Bridget's Complaint
It is believed this tradition was started in 5th century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for so long for a man to propose. According to legend, St. Patrick said the yearning females could propose on this one day in February during the leap year.

February 29th in English Law
According to English law, February 29th was ignored and had no legal status. Folks assumed that traditions would also have no status on that day. It was also reasoned that since the leap year day existed to fix a problem in the calendar, it could also be used to fix an old and unjust custom that only let men propose marriage.

The first documentation of this practice dates back to 1288, when Scotland passed a law that allowed women to propose marriage to the man of their choice in that year. They also made it law that any man who declined a proposal in a leap year must pay a fine. The fine could range from a kiss to payment for a silk dress or a pair of gloves

Sadie Hawkins Day
In the United States, some people have referred to this date as Sadie Hawkins Day with women being given the right to run after unmarried men to propose.
Sadie Hawkins was a female character in the Al Capp cartoon strip Li'l Abner. Many communities prefer to celebrate Sadie Hawkins Day in November which is when Al Capp first mentioned Sadie Hawkins Day.

I suppose my question to Men is this - how would you feel if a Woman proposed marriage to you? I don't mean if a woman asked you out on a date. I mean proposed marriage, which presupposes that a relatively advanced relationship is already in place (it would be freaky otherwise, of course and you'd be justified in telling the woman to buzz off!). I really hope no one brings up that whole hunter-gatherer crap (yes...that is the technical, anthropological term) whereby men will not appreciate something unless they work for it...yada, yada, yada cos that just makes me yaaaaaaaaaaawn.

And my question to my Ladies is this - would you propose marriage to a man on Ladies Privilege day, or any other day for that matter? Again, i stress the distinction between asking one out on a date and proposing marriage.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Happiness is...

Happiness is such a sublime emotion, i think. It's really difficult to find a clear and concise definition of Happiness. I once read somewhere that Happiness is being okay with the way you feel. So far, that's the best i've heard.

Another way to define happiness could be to try to compare it to something a bit more tangible and relatable. Y'know, like a simile or metaphor. For example:

Happiness is...savouring a plate of carbs at night, after a full day of self-denial! (Yes, i have just done justice to a plate of rice and beef stew, and it tasted mighty fine!!!).

It's been said that food tastes so much better when you are really hungry. I whole heartedly concur. Although, that is not to say that ma food don't taste good! I've got me some skills...if i say so myself!

Anyways....What is your definition/idea of Happiness?

Do share...

Two posts in as many days...i'm cookin' on gas, dude!!!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The Passage of Time, Almost Scarface, and New Birth

Time flies. It really does.

I say this in reference to my niece who turned 16 a few days ago. Actually, i've got two nieces - the aforementioned, and her younger sister who turns 15 in a month, and like children do, they've grown sooooo fast!

My whole family used to live really close to each other, and as such we were always in each others homes, seeing each other at least once a week. This was until, i broke out and moved across the river to North London. The reason for this is worthy of a post of it's own - i was burgled four times in the space of 5-6 weeks!!!

Anyway, i moved up north and by virtue of distance, no longer had easy access to my family, and in that space of time, guess what the inconsiderate little blighters went and did? Yep...they grew! Suddenly, i realised that i really didnt know my nieces and nephews any more. They were no longer rosy cheeked little kids i used to have so much fun playing with and looking after. They were young people with lives of their own, hopes, dreams and aspirations.

I decided to tackle this ever-increasing void by instituting what i choose to call 'Auntie Undacova' day. The first of these was 2 weeks ago when i went out with the girls. I took them out for a Lobster meal (ooo-ooh) and we saw Juno (good film). The boys (aged 11 and 8) want to go Quasar laser tagging. We might have to do some negotiation on that one i think!

My nieces are as different as night and day. There's Niece A who is confident, outgoing, makes friends easily etc; and there's her younger sister by a year, Niece B who reminds me of myself at that age: introverted, painfully shy (covered up by outwards indifference), would rather bury her head in a book than socialise. I, personally, had to work through all my issues and teenage angst on my own, and i can tell you it was a pretty arduous process. My reasoning now is that i've been there, done that, so my nieces fact, should be able to benefit from my experiences in navigating the minefield that is growing up into a well rounded, balanced, self-assured woman. I can't speak for anyone else, but at that age there were things i would rather choose to stick red hot pins in my eyes over, than discuss with my mother!

Niece B is also a 'still waters run deep' kind of person like me, and to be honest, i thought she was the one i'd have to worry the most about, what with her independent spirit and i-know-better-than-anyone-else take on life. Last weekend, i found out to my surprise that i was wrong and it's Miss I'm-16-and-now-an-adult-don't-treat-me-like-a-child who has been manifesting all sorts of rebellious behaviour! Goes to show, eh?

I do recall, however, a time in my life when my 'deepness' (lol) almost got me into trouble and left me scarred for life literally!

I was about 8 years old and sitting at the breakfast table one morning. I'm not sure how long i'd been pondering for, but it must have been a long time because, on not being able to come up with a satisfactory conclusion myself, i asked my Mum the following question: where do we come from? Not as in which state are we from and which home town, but rather where does mankind originate from. She tried her best to explain, and i really don't remember what she said i.e evolution, creation, i don't know, but because i wasn't satisfied, i kept probing and probing to a level that must have freaked her out, because she immediately got on to family and friends who eventually suggested her taking me to see some Baba like that who lived in Ajegunle.

I don't remember an awful lot about the journey, but i do remember we had to enter a Canoe to get there. Interesting detail just to set the scene. Another interesting detail i recall is that as we made our way through the alley ways to the dude's house, for the first time in my life i witnessed dishes being washed with Omo(detergent), and i was completely bewildered. My aje-bota self couldn't quite comprehend that not everyone had access to washing-up liquid!

So we get to the Baba's house and he does some mumbo jumbo. In a nutshell, the verdict is that i should be given gbere i.e. little incisions made on the skin with a razor blade, presumably to ward off evil spirits blah, blah, blah. I don't know if it was because of my age or maybe he got paid per visit, but it was suggested that i get some done that day and then come back for the rest. So this guy whips out his razor blade (scary thought just occured to me - was it new?!) and literally gouges out some lines on my chest and back. I can't remember if i cried or not.

On the second visit, the Baba's son finishes off the job, doing the other incisions elsewhere on my poor eight year old person, including my face, and this is the crucial part in the tale for which i will eternally be thankful to God. I have deep scars on my chest and back to this day, but Baba's son was a little less heavy handed than his old man (thank you, Jesus!) . If he hadn't been, i would today belong to the ranks of those who sport disfiguring tribal marks across their faces! Narrow escape, huh?

And in closing, i must add that only God knows what kind of associations were made that day. What i do know is that the greater one now lives in me and i am a new creation. It's actually funny that in the search for 'answers', my Mum graduated from Babas in Ajegunle into the even murkier depths of the Celestial Church of Christ (aka Cele). Oh, the tales i could tell! Maybe i will one day. When i mention to people that i spent years in Cele, their reaction is unfailingly the same i.e. they can't reconcile the person with their impression of the Church (read my profile to see what i mean). Anyway, one can only praise God.


Apologies for the lameness of the post title :)

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (My Hero)

I don't normally do book reviews , as there are loads of others on Blogsville, in my opinion, who do it so much better than i ever could; however, i am willing to make an exception for this one book.

This book left me completely wrung out emotionally. I read the last 10 pages on the train on the way to meet up with a friend on Saturday, and as my eyes kept tearing up, i had to constantly battle not to let the tears spill down my cheeks; although after a while, i was beyond caring. Such is the power of this book. It's totally amazing!

Until a couple of months ago, i'd never even heard of Cormac McCarthy. Now he is my ultimate literary hero and i am going to read every book he has ever written!

I saw an interview he did with Oprah a while ago and i remember him striking me as someone completely comfortable in their own selves and comfortable with who they are. Not at all caught up in the hype that accompanies being featured in Oprah's Book Club. In fact, he actually said he didn't care that millions of people now read his books. He only hoped that people who would appreciate his writing read his books, the numbers being completely inconsequential. Never mind that i had no clue who he was or even that he'd won the 2007 Pullitzer prize for his latest novel, The Road, i was completely transfixed by his intellect and his ideas and wasn't surprised to subsequently find out he is an academic and a scientist, no less.

Right from the opening pages, i was hooked! Hooked, and also filled with a feeling of dread. I'm not exagerating when i say i wore a permanent wince throughout my reading of The Road. Incidentally, No Country for Old Men, the Oscar nominated movie is based on one of McCarthy's books, and my reaction throughout the film was the same.

The story chronicles the journey of a father and son to the coast, following a natural disaster, or even perhaps a nuclear holocaust. We are not told what has happened, however, it is clear that the world as we know it, has come to an end. The landscape is completely burnt out, the air is filled with ash, vegetation and animals are all dead and the few human beings that remain are divided into two distinct camps - the good guys and the bad guys. The ones who eat other human beings and the ones who don't.

The father and son do what they can to survive. All they have is each other. Their story is so beautifully imagined, and beautifully told. In fact, it's hard to come across a single review of the book which does not use the word 'beautiful'. But in contrast to the beauty of the often heart-wrenching relationship between the boy and his papa as they spur each other on to continue against all odds and to hold on to their humanity even as all those around them lose theirs, there is a palpable sense of dread and terror, as they live in constant fear of the 'road agents' who capture survivors enslave them and keep them for food.

The man is ill and constantly coughs up blood, but even in the face of near starvation, freezing temperatures, death and despair, he carries on for the sake of his son. They often go days on end without food or even the hope of it, but they carry on. The man has a pistol with two solitary bullets in it. We are told that his wife committed suicide at some stage, entrusting the boy to his father, knowing that he would continue on, if only for the boy's sake. The man has taught his son how to position the gun in his mouth and fire in the event of anything happening to him.

Cormac McCarthy is 73 years old, and became a father late in life i.e. in his 60s. The book is dedicated to his son, and he admits that it probably would not have been written at all if he did not have his son. He tells of how he was in a hotel room in El Paso, late one night, his son asleep. He looked out of the window down on the town below him and at the hills in the distance and imagined what that town would look like in the face of devastation. That was where the seed for the book was planted, although the story wasn't completed till 4 years later. He said when he writes it's like taking dictation. As if the story has already been written in his subconscious and when he sits at his Olivetti typewriter, he is simply writing down what he's being told. The book was completed in a few weeks. Amazing!

In the interview, McCarthy also tells of how his primary objective in life was always to never have to work. As a result, he went through lots of hardship, three marriages and unimaginable lack. However, he says no matter how hard things were, something always turned up in the nick of time e.g a cheque for $20,000 for a fellowship, a sample size tube of toothpaste in the mail box, just when he had run out etc. This theme is echoed throughout The Road. Just when your heart is breaking for the wretched pair, they would stumble across a cache of food and supplies, retrieve their stolen possessions from a thief who is really just another man trying his best to survive.

Some say the boy is a figment of the man's imagination. Something he makes up to give him a reason to keep on going. Others say the boy is a type of Messiah, 'carrying the fire' that is going to save the rest of the world. Me, i leave the analysis to more seasoned book reviewers. As i mentioned earlier, the ending of the book is heart-breaking. Literally. The whole book just blew me away, and it's a testament to author that he is able to endue such a simple story with so much poignancy. Without giving too much away, I love this book. I gave my copy to my friend to read, but later found myself regretting it because i wanted to read it all over again.

If you only read one book this year, let it be The Road.

Oprah's interview with Cormac McCarthy

Friday, 8 February 2008

Year of the Ox (abi na Rat?)

2008 is the Year of the Rat according to Chinese astrology

The "Rat" is the first sign of the Chinese zodiac.

Legend has it that the Jade Emperor invited the animals for a party. The first 12 to arrive was the Rat, followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and lastly, the Pig. All the animals were named after the 12-year cycle that governs Chinese life thereafter.

My birth date apparently falls under the year of the Ox. Here are some of the characteristics of the Ox:

Oxes may appear docile (sometimes), but watch out (too right)! They also have quite a temper (unfortunately). They are extremely determined and work tirelessly to get what they want (uh huh). Step by step and piece by piece, they move steadily toward their goals. People born under the sign of the Ox are dependable and stick to a routine until the job is done. They are fair-minded and good listeners, but they can also be extremely stubborn (yep)

Because of their trustworthy character, Oxes will often hold positions of authority and responsibility (true) They always get ahead in the world. They must be careful not to become slaves to their jobs or profession (hmmn). Oxes can be forceful leaders and eloquent speakers when the occasion arises. In troubled times they will have great presence of mind and will never be intimidated (very true). They are very proud souls. Oxes are systematic and respect traditions. They mistrust things they don't understand,and they hate loose ends. They can also be vulnerable in romance. They are so straightforward that they don't relate to the love games others play (detest them). Since it takes a long time to develop intimate relationships, Oxes like long courtships. Once they have made up their minds, they are loyal and giving-almost to a fault (sigh).

Ox people are neat and punctual (?), honest and hard working (yes). Oxes make ideal mates since they always do more than their share (to a fault!). They have a long memory and remember the little details others miss. Once Oxes are angry with you, they will carry their grievance a long way (guilty). When they are unhappy or upset, they will bury themselves in their work until they feel better. Oxes always pay their debts. If they owe you anything, they will never forgive themselves until the debt is paid (YES). They always remember a favor, and though they don't use flowery words,they will show their appreciation in other ways. Their actions speak louder than words (true)

When Oxes lose their temper, they really lose it! There will be no reasoning with them, so get out of their way until they cool off (oh yeah!). Always appeal to the head rather than to the heart of the Oxes. They quickly understand the pros and cons to the situation. Oxes seldom get sick and are not tolerant of weaker people (i'm trying). They should learn how to relax more (any suggestions?)

Oxes hate to ask for help (soooo true). If it takes them twice as long to accomplish something, they still prefer working alone. They want things to last and build them with care (yep). Oxes love their home and family and provide well for them. They do well at long term investments with stability and firm foundations. They are definitely not gamblers. Oxes earn their success by their own merits and don't expect any free rides (yes, yes, yes).

Whether you believe in this stuff or not, almost every statement is an accurate reflection of the person i am. As a Christian, i'm not meant to believe in the zodiac, astrology and things like that, however, i'm rebellious and every once in a while, i still peek at my horoscope and this is what i've found. A lot of the time, what it says is usually something that has already been revealed to me through reading my bible or speaking with God. Whether you believe in horoscopes or not, things are undeniably programmed into the stars. I believe this is done by God. Case in point - When Jesus was born, the wise men saw his star in the east and came to worship him (Matt 2:2). There was a message in the stars, they saw it, responded, and came to worship Christ.

I don't think the issue is whether people's lives or destinies can be read from the stars (at least for me). For me the issue is why go to the stars when it's possible for you to have direct access to the one who has placed that information there?...

Other years here