A 2015 recap of sorts, and other things II

I chronicled the first half of my 2015 here, and it was too long so I decided to post in 2 bits. Here’s the other bit.

Jul – Sept

I moved back with no job in sight but many entrepreneurial ideas (because what else could I really do?). I have friends though, who sent my CV around and about 4 days after I got back, I got a job and my boss is my type of person, and I’m quite well-paid, so yay! My entrepreneurial ideas are now dusty though, but that’s fine for now.

Because I was broke and wasn’t sure where I was going to live when I got back, I made arrangements to go stay with the bf for a while. Even when I got a job, there were some delays with the project I was supposed to handle and I had to work remotely while that got sorted, so I was still living with the bf. That was good for us in a way, because it’s like suddenly being around each other all the time after years of long-distance. It also meant having to fly to Lagos every time either/both of my parents announced their presence, because of course I couldn’t tell them I was perching with the bf, they thought I lived with a friend in Lagos.

Aside: This friend’s house used to be my default place to stay in Lagos but she had gotten tired of the place because it wasn’t in the best location and then some dynamics in the house itself were annoying, so she  moved to a better location with better ‘dynamics’. The only snag was I couldn’t ‘move’ with her. My folks already knew about this friend but at the time I was coming back, I couldn’t tell them she’d moved because then they’d have been extra curious about where I was supposed to be living.

Oct – Dec

I travelled quite some between July and November, but for reasons too long to get into right now, my project got cancelled. So now I was and am still hanging in the balance (because I don’t have a signed contract, only a verbal, good-faith one) but working and getting paid every month.

I interviewed for a UX Design job in Kano though, and I’m hoping that comes through so that I can have a contract and my own house – even though I’m looking at houses in Lagos in case Kano doesn’t pan out. If it does though, I hope my present boss can keep me on as a remote freelancer (i.e. I want to turn his projects into my side hustle) because somehow I’m sure I’d be able to handle the load, as long as I’m still allowed to define the amount and kind of work I want to do. Fingers crossed 🙂

I’m in a pretty good place now, and I’m thankful that things are going relatively okay. I don’t have much money but I’m not destitute and reliant on my folks to subsidize my life. I had 10 goals this year, and I think I accomplished about 5.5 of them. I’m still very thankful, and hopeful for a better 2016.

I’m thankful for my family, and my boyfriend, and friends, and ALL the patience and support I’ve gotten. I’m thankful for safe travels and smooth plane rides (I really hate turbulence and my stomach drops every time there’s a bump). Thankful for relative financial ease in this last quarter, and my mother’s cooking. For good health all-round, and that there were no deaths in my immediate circle this year. For the great things that happened and are happening in the lives of ‘my people’.

In 2016 I’d like to grow as a UX Designer, by taking on more design projects in a structured environment (and I think the Kano job is the perfect avenue for me but let’s see how that goes), and I’d like to try my hand at a new UX-related blog which I’ll talk about if I do. I also want 2016 to be more fun than 2013 was, so I’d like to travel to new places (but also save money and make investments, and I wonder how I’ll pull that one off), meet interesting people, get a car, implement at least one of my entrepreneurial ideas for passive income, and kick ass at my job. Maybe I can also FINALLY learn to play the violin too.

For some inexplicable reason, the phrase “stay hungry, stay foolish” just popped into my head. I’ve just googled and seen that it’s a quote by Steve Jobs, and also the title of a book. Well, I hope that’s what I do in 2016 but not in the literal sense because it’s a very bad idea for one to literally remain without nourishment and/or wisdom.

Happy Holidays! x

 

My Christmas

I’m in the UK on holiday. How’s that going? For starters, I should say I’m very glad my flight wasn’t delayed because of the storms the UK has been experiencing. Then I’ve been fighting a war between being lazy and wanting to try my hand at making new food. Note that ‘new food’ does not include anything fancy, like those exotic salads. I did entertain the thought briefly, but laziness won. By ‘new food’, I mean things I’m sure everyone else knows how to make, which I’ve never tried, like meat pies. Or Egusi soup.
On Christmas day, I went to church. That was really nice, it reminded me of my church in France. It wasn’t as traditional as I expected, but most churches are evolving anyway, and perhaps traditional behavior is now reserved for churches like The Eliza’s Queen’s. Got bad news about a job a couple of days ago. Ugh. I really need a break on that front. Went shopping on Boxing Day, but mostly for the boyfriend. Not much for me, because, low-cost airline baggage restrictions. Oh and a bit of ‘brokeness’ too (remember I went to Berlin last week? That cost money, not tree leaves).
The weather has been really good in my part of the UK, I must say. I mean, UK weather is supposedly always horrible, especially in winter, and I heard/read this winter has been predicted to be the worst in…was it 100 years? Maybe that sort of bad weather behavior will begin in January/February. Oh and in the news this morning, there were reports of a fire on a ferry on its way to Amsterdam, from somewhere in the UK. Tyne, I think it was. They were just 30 miles off the coast though, and they managed to get back to safety on land. However, I’m just remembering all the times I’ve been on ferries this year…what if… Hmm.
My face has been reacting to something, and unfortunately I can’t remedy it till I get home, I think. Maybe I’ll put some milk on it to soothe it in the mean time. (Oh look at me, washing in milk like royalty. LOL.) Well, right now I’m sprawled in front of the TV, nursing an upset stomach and watching Titanic for the first time ever. I’ve just seen the part where the ship hit the iceberg. Oh dear.

Fall Break

I joined an association at school, and signed up to become a committee member. I like it, really…because I never did anything of the sort in my undergrad days, as there were no interesting committees for me to join, and even if there were, well, they were bound by the ‘rules’ of the school. Don’t bother trying to figure what that means, you’ll hurt yourself. Moving on…so I joined a committee, and they’ve been organizing fun activities. Pub quiz one night, guest lectures from companies another day, all-you-can-eat tapas the next. Nice. (I have to attend meetings and actually do some work, of course, but that’s not the focus right now 😀 )

A couple of weeks ago, I applied for a UK visa, and I was hoping it would be ready before the 9th, because I mean, my visa to the Netherlands took less than 1 week to be processed (even though, like the UK, they said it would take 15 days). I had planned to travel on the 9th because I have a Fall break between then and the 20th. However, as things were not looking bright by Wednesday, a couple of my friends invited me to go to Berlin with them, on a road trip. I was pleased (because road trips don’t necessarily require a passport, like plane trips do) and said sure, assume I’m going, but I’ll let you know for sure on Friday. Friday, I let them know that well, my passport hadn’t been returned to me, i.e. no UK trip, i.e. I’m going with them to Berlin. Then they went “err….we sorta asked other people if they wanted to join, and they said yes, but we’re still contemplating the trip itself. We’ll let you know by tomorrow, okay?” …or something along those lines. Long and short, my ‘space’ in the car has probably been filled, my passport is probably being used as a coffee placemat on someone’s desk in the UK immigration service, and I’ve got about 1 week of nada to do (well, I have school assignments of course, but that’s neither here nor there. pfffft). Fun times ahead 🙂

In other news, I did mention how I was transitioning, yeah? Well, that’s not working out very well anymore. I don’t know if my hair suddenly became pissed at me, or whether it’s the water (because a friend also has the same issues), but for the past couple of weeks, I have literally wanted to weep each time I washed my hair. Why? because the hair just clumps and tangles at the demarcation line (between the relaxed hair and the new growth), and no matter how much I tease with conditioner and a comb, it always falls out. I really think it’s a miracle I’ve still got some relaxed ends left, at least enough to make a sensible bun. But yesterday was the height, so I’m tired. Now, I’m either going to cut the hair this week, or next. I’m going to walk into a salon and ask if they know how to handle African hair, and if they don’t, well, I’ll tell them to go learn and call me when they feel ready. Before I cut it though, I need to figure out what style to cut it in. My options are very limited because I don’t look like <insert pretty woman of choice> by any standards, I have a long face (some say oval, but the jury’s still out on that one), and a high forehead. I also don’t use makeup as such, so I can’t go all Amber Rose and then come confuse you all with red lipstick and perhaps dramatic eyebrows. Nah. Oh and my new growth is still really short, about 2.75″ when stretched. That’s not good enough, I had planned to wait till December, because then I’d have 3-4″ for sure, but now… 😦 I really don’t think I can deal with the stares and questions that will follow this haircut. I only just started having a social life here, and this bloody hair wants to…I don’t know. I need someone to hold my hand 😦

The sun is shining though, that’s one thing to be thankful for. The circus is in town today, I’m gonna attend. “What did you do over the break?” “I drank cocktails at home, got a haircut and went to the circus”. Yes, that should be interesting.

PS: If anyone has suggestions on hairstyles for kinky-curly, 3″ hair, please leave a comment.

Week 9

Sunday: The weather was 2 degrees today, but I was blissfully unaware. When I got up to go to church though, it became a different story. I was wearing the warmest clothing I own, yet I was freezing. And the wind, oh dear. I would later learn that it was something called ‘mistral wind’, and the last occurrence in this town was about 10 years ago. Who cares abeg, I’m freezing. Today officially marked the end of our daylight savings, so we’ve moved back by 1 hour. The result of this is that 6pm is now really dark, and I can’t help but remember when I came here towards the end of summer, where 8.30pm was still quite bright…

Monday: I found out late yesterday, that they fixed an Accounting class for today. So, instead of the free day that was originally on the schedule, I had to bundle my tiny body into warm clothing and go to school. The clothing didn’t help one bit; what more could I possibly wear? Oh I have one funny Eskimo looking jacket, but I’m not sure things are not that bad yet… The accounting class was actually not so bad, and I like the fact that the lecturer tried his best to simplify it in more ways than one. However, despite all his effort, my eyes still crossed at some point. #sigh

Tuesday: today is the programming class. I think I’m fed up at this point, and I’m just breathing for the Le/La Toussaints (All Saints) 1 week holiday coming up tomorrow. Like, I don’t think I want to do anything or go anywhere, I just want to sleep and sleep and sleep. Sadly, I have tons of reports that won’t write themselves, and their deadlines are looming too. I also need to study this Accounting and Programming, if I’m to make sense of it *tears* I want to sleep and travel to Barcelona and watch tv! Oh well…c’est la vie. You know that thing people say about ‘culture shock’ when you go to a new country? My school even wrote about it and offered counseling if it ever happens, in the handbook they sent. Well, I don’t think I’ve experienced much of it, but one thing I know is this: it’s going to be extremely hilarious if the 1st thing that frustrates me to tears in France is food. I’m ‘this’ close to throwing up, for real. I’m not trying to be mean or anything, but their food just doesn’t agree with my palate, I think. And I think it’s because of the spices they use, which I’m not used to. I really hope I find a way to adjust real quick because like I said, clothes can’t help me anymore, I need to put on some flesh. I tasted chestnuts for the first time today, I like.

Wednesday: today is OFII day. It’s raining as I step out, and not in a nice way. I don’t think it would hamper me that much. I am right, it doesn’t hamper my movement, but it certainly makes it very inconvenient. Think on broken umbrellas, wet shoes, wet feet, cars splashing water on you without care or remorse, and constantly sidestepping to avoid wet dog poop. Now I’m sure you get the picture, let us move on to other issues of concern. You see, this my OFII appointment is supposed to turn out in the issuance of a carte de sejour, which means I’m legal in France and can work and travel to schengen countries for the duration of my visa. Now, before you get this stamp, you have to undergo a random medical exam (thankfully not involving needles), and it is during this exam that I discover I have lost weight. Not that I’m stunned or anything, given the fact that I’m yet to find what works for me in terms of French food and spices. Still, I’m not pleased, this was not the plan. Other people travel to ‘obodo oyibo’ and add weight, but it appears my body is just too stubborn. And it’s unfortunate that I actually need to put on some flesh, for the cold days ahead. Yes, in the spirit of cold days, I had to purchase more warm clothing at Marseille, and I think I’m getting used to spending money without shuddering when I think of the equivalent amount in Naira. Progress, no?

Good times: later that night, a friend invites me to dinner at her apartment; spaghetti and some sauce containing sweet corn, chicken, mushrooms, sweet peppers, etc. We watch Tower Heist while eating said dinner, and for a while, all is well with the world 😀

Thursday: Today finds me lying in bed all through, doing nothing productive. So much for planning to study during this holiday. Oh it’s All Saints Day (Toussaints), and well, I have a break till Tuesday next week. At 4p.m., I decide to go see Skyfall. It’s supposed to start at 6pm, so I leave my house at 5, get there at 5.20. Tickets sold out. Why did I assume these people would behave any different from Nigerians on a public holiday? I decide to go grocery shopping then, might as well. I buy new spices, but this time I stick to the familiar Ducros and Knorr, and I buy beef. Now, time to cook the beef, and it smells weird. Hian. On the package, it is indicated that said beef was prepared yesterday. I put it on fire, and after a while, I see the blood boiling out into the water. Very irritating, so I pour the water away and put a fresh one, then spice it. I proceed to make sauce, see below. As for the beef, I fry it when it’s done, don’t want to taste anything weird. Err, anyone remember Uncle Ben’s Rice? Yes? Okay so as I said earlier, I’m sticking with name brands I know, so I bought that. Apparently it now comes in sachets, which is not bad, the only thing is you have to cook the entire sachet. It’s riddled with holes, so you place it in a pot of boiling water to which you have added salt if you wish, and you let it cook for about 20 minutes. Then you remove, drain and tear the sachet along the perforated line. Problem is, this sachet is too big for me, I’d probably eat that rice like 3x.

P.S.: the sauce tastes better than any real food I’ve eaten since I got to France, yay me.

Friday: Today, I take out my braids, and begin the process of carrying my normal hair, probably for the next 9 months.
At some point during the day, I get a phone call, from an unknown number. Turns out its the Finnish Embassy in Paris, and they need me to come ALL the way there at my earliest convenience, with an extra 125€, i.e apart from the fees I already paid last week in Marseille. I’m just tired, really, because tickets to Paris are hardly cheap. Silver lining is I get to see Paris, even though it’s not the way I want.
Next up, Skyfall. This time, I make sure I buy tickets in advance.
PS: that rice of yesterday is still remaining, and it appears it will still be remaining by tomorrow 😦

About Skyfall, shall I give you some spoilers? Yes? No? I’m too lazy to type anymore anyway, but Silva is psychotic. And hydrogen cyanide has disturbing effects.
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My sauce 😀

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Beloved Uncle Ben’s

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Took this on my 1st trip to Marseille last week.

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The well behaved doggy at the Finnish Consulate. Forgotten what breed it is.