Money, Thanksgiving, Soul Train Music Awards

I’ve never quite understood why among my group of friends, I always seem to be the only one (visibly) bothered by money. Maybe I process things differently, but when someone invites me to a random thing, like brunch, I have to think about it. And whereas (I think) most people who pause to think are trying to see if the invitation fits their schedule, I’m thinking about whether my account balance is padded enough, and if the experience is worth it. I’m ALWAYS here for new experiences, and I don’t mind being a bit broke for a while because I spent my money travelling to a new country, for example. Thankfully, I’ve never had to be extremely broke, because my daddy is too kind. However, I need time to mull things over, to see if I’m flush enough or if I can spare a few coins – and it’s not like I have a budget. I don’t think budgets work for me as such, so once I get money I just move 20-60% into a savings account because I usually don’t know if I’m going to be able to save anything next month. Why am I not sure? Because my life is unstable. In one month, I might have to travel like 5 times, and when you consider that flight tickets cost €70-120, consider that I have to factor in costs of transportation in these cities, consider food, etc., you might appreciate why I have to save in advance. Also, I’m looking for a house and my parameters are really stringent so I have to save for what I want. Then I need a new computer. Etc etc. Sigh.

{Break in transmission: I’m watching the Soul Train Awards on BET and Erica Campbell (one half of the Mary-Mary duo) is on. It’s very interesting to see how black people can turn spiritual in an instant, and this right now, this might as well be a church service or church concert. Tasha Cobbs is on now. Babyface was being honored earlier and they played some of the songs he wrote, with the artistes. BoysIIMen featured then, and that was the best bit of things for me because they sang End of the Road and I got really nostalgic. My goodness, I love Janelle Monae’s voice. I’ve been trying to get rid of the nasal tinge to mine and now I think I want to sound like her; only problem is everyone who knows me will look at me askance like “have you come down with a cold? You’ve had this cold for months now though”. R-Kelly has come on now to sing Step in the Name of Love and I’m dancing along because nostalgia, but I’m also making a weird face because I just remembered this article I read recently. That also just made me think about how the media shapes our perceptions and influences our behaviour. Hmm. Eyyy he just started singing Ignition Remix and I remember how my best friend in high school loved that song.}

Right, so we started with how I seem to be the only one who doesn’t outwardly worry about money. I don’t know how to pretend, so I usually just say how broke I am. I think I’m poor 😦 and I wish I could just not worry and spend all the money. I need more hustles. And more stability. Oh well.

How was Thanksgiving weekend for you? I liked the hashtag #ThanksgivingWithBlackFamilies – another insight into the lives of black Americans, seeing as I’ve never lived among them and all I know is from TV and maybe books. I’m grateful for my parents who have done their utmost best to raise us, and I’m a bit happy that I’ve come to see them as human beings who have emotions and are just trying to live their best lives, rather than just ‘parents’. I’m thankful for my edges, because they’re full and don’t look like they’ve been ‘snatched’. Thankful for red wine (which I used to hate) and cider, because those are awesome. Thankful for self improvement, and love. Thankful for relative comfort, and for my career because my current job is almost the literal illustration of “life comes at you fast”. I’m learning a lot though, and hopefully not falling on my face too many times – AND I get to work from home 🙂

I have work to do and a work phone call to make at 10pm (perks of working from home, eh?), so I’m gonna go now.

A bientot.

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My 2014 In Review

TL;DR: First half of my year was fine and fun, second half wasn’t very fine.

January-February: Got back to NL from the UK, spent time with an old school friend who I hadn’t seen in years and who lived in Amsterdam. Tried to find an internship and really was beginning to panic because my lease was expiring and I needed to find an internship so as to know where next to move. That didn’t work out, and I signed another 1-year lease and then started an internship in a different city (with free accommodation), 2 weeks later. Shout out to the friends who agreed to help me move (it was a 1.5 hour drive) when it turned out I was too broke to afford professional movers or a taxi, and had way too much stuff to just take the train. So, yay internship, but what about the house I rented? I had to sublet it so that went okay. Got broke, and then not-broke. Settled into my new life in the town-in-the-middle-of-nowhere where my internship company was located, sorted out carpooling to and from work, got a new computer, etc.

March-April: My Master’s program required me to do an internship while writing my thesis, ergo, I was writing my thesis at this point. I set a plan and everything, but the project I was handling was such that I wouldn’t be able to write a traditional qualitative or quantitative thesis. Also, the literature review was not going very well. I decided to be ‘AGILE’ – as opposed to waterfall – about the whole thing and was writing various parts of the thesis at the same time, and designing what I was supposed to be designing too. I took a Lean Six Sigma course – because that’s required for all employees of my company – and passed. I also learned, painfully, how to ride a bicycle. I think I already explained why I had to in another post, but basically, it was because the company is on a very large site (and ‘houses’ 2200 employees) and my office is 15 minutes on foot from the main gate, same for many others, so the company has lots of bikes for employees who may have cars but want to move around the site, and for people like me. Anyway, I learned how to ride a bike. I made friends with a very nice Spanish girl and her boyfriend, and she helped me. She’d go out of her way to come to my office the first couple of times, to ride behind me and make sure nothing happened till we got to the gate. Same for when I was going from the gate to my office (and this was possible because we carpooled together). I went to the UK too to see the boyfriend and for a 4-day break from all the nonsense. While on this break, I didn’t check my university emails and as a result, missed out on a job opportunity. Welp. I was still wearing a jacket at this point and wondering why it was still this cold in spring.

May-June: Thesis and project were going well with a few hiccups here and there, and I have to mention here that I think my thesis went as well as it did because I had the best set of supervisors, at work and in school. I’d have been so lucky if I had them while writing my Bachelor’s thesis, but let’s not even speak about that. I had to learn and practise Change Management here too. I started a social media management side-gig with a friend. Then there was my birthday, during which Spanish friend and boyfriend and Colombian friend (all working in my company of course, and now I wonder, really, if any of us young foreigners ever made friends with any one who lived in that town but didn’t work in our company…) made us Spanish omelettes and mojitos. It was summer (and I know this because I was able to wear short shorts) and we’d had a party of sorts the day before, organized by the company ‘country club’. Fun. I had begun to feel old by my birthday, but meh. (Really though. The years are just flying by, and what am I doing with my life?) I submitted my thesis in time (special shoutout to the boyfriend for helping out), had to rewrite some parts, defended and (shot myself in the foot but) got a good grade. The World Cup started in June, and we interns (all lived on the same floor in a hotel and) used to gather in the living room to watch, we’d make a mini party of it, with food and drinks.

July-August: Internship ended, began the search for a new apartment in another city, and I failed the second stage of an interview. I moved to another city, and loved it. How I chose this city? The mental equivalent of spinning a globe and things…only, I was a bit more ‘strategic’. Anyway, I moved, and then the house I moved to was quite rubbish. Falling apart. Unfit for habitation. (And people actually live there. No, I was not able to see detailed pictures before I moved.) So I moved again, after 2 or 3 days, and was quite lucky to find a much better apartment for the same price as the rubbish one. I went to France for my graduation and, when I think of all the rubbish that has constituted the second half of my year, I think back to my time in France and I regain some measure of peace, and happiness. The south of France is quite lovely (year-round, but especially) in the summer, and that, combined with good company, is the stuff that nice holidays are made of. It’s also funny that I didn’t appreciate it that much when I lived there.

September – November: Sorted my residence permit (because once you graduate, your reason for being in the country changes from ‘student’ to either ’employed’ or ‘looking for employment’), but first, had to sort out insurance (Nigerian one expired, and it is illegal to live in NL without insurance, among others) and move because of registration issues with the city hall. So in essence, I have lived in 5 houses this year. Wonderful. Kept getting bounced after interviews and stuff, for no discernible reason. I say ‘no discernible reason’ because my CV is quite solid (I’ve heard, many times), and I’m not terrible at interviews, if I do say so myself. Got another gig in social media management – which can’t pay the bills, but can buy groceries. Finally got a job in client support which I don’t like for shitty pay (but it paid the bills and I was grateful for that and for the opportunity to learn other stuff like account management). {Side bar: the reason I went for an MSc in what I got an MSc in, was because I’d tried the tech support/network admin shebang and found that I didn’t like it.} I got bounced from work after the probation period because I was ‘doing an excellent job but wasn’t integrating’. I never spoke with the person who fired me, so I didn’t get the chance to ask for an explanation. I was fired by proxy. Heh. Why I wanted an explanation? Because, while I always, always blame myself when things go wrong, I couldn’t find any way to blame myself for this one. So I was quite shocked, etc. Well then. Got betrayed. A bit broke. Etc. I got an instant camera, because I wanted one, and because it’s a nice thing that gets people excited, such that you forget your own struggles for a bit. I remembered, somewhere in all of this, that 2 years ago, I decided I wanted to become a Product Manager (for digital products like Gmail and Skype, rather than physical ones like Ariel or other FMCGs). But school and ‘the cares of this world’ made me forget that. I still want to be one, so I have taken (and am taking) courses to put me on that path. Also, I’m practising product management on someone’s yet-to-launch product, and I’m looking to practise all I can, for the experience.

December: Came to Nigeria, for a break of sorts. I’m still here, and it’s been nice to see people and eat food and all that jazz, but my mind is still quite troubled, and I’ve been a bit prickly. This has been my worst year so far. I’m grateful though, for family and friendship and kind words, thoughtful gifts, help, advice, and prayers on my behalf. I’m grateful for the lovely people who have chosen to love me even when I’m being prickly and rejecting offers of help. I’m grateful for the parents who have enough to help me if I’m ever homeless or something (God forbid though. The purpose of all the tuition money that has been spent on my head is not so that I can still be asking parents for money at age 25). I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a blessing to people. I’m grateful for the good things that have happened to my friends and family. I’m grateful for all the flatmates I’ve had this year, to whom I owe many interesting memories. I’m grateful for museums and music, books and instant cameras. I’m learning to think positive thoughts but that requires discipline. I’ve learned that I need to develop people-skills, because my normal self does not go out of her way to, for example, say more than just ‘hello’ to near-strangers. I’ve learned persistence, and to find joy in the little things. I’ve practised compromise. I’ve stopped being naive, I think. I’m going back to NL in a couple of days and I don’t know what’s going to be different, but we’ll see.

In summary, I’m not very happy right now, haven’t been for a while, but I’m very grateful. It could have been much worse, I think. I’ve coped by dancing, exercising (yay year-round summer body), by asking myself things like “are you the furst?” and “but did you die?”; I’m also hopeful because that’s probably all I have left. Hope that efforts being made will pay off, and things will get better. So here’s to 2015. May the odds be ever in our favour, and may the lines be arranged for us in pleasant places.

Happy Holidays (or what’s left of it)!