End of the Year
December was a very busy time for me, as I travelled a bit and then worked/hosted some guests over the Christmas period. I went to Vienna as usual in the first weekend, then Germany in the third weekend (met Jen from Ibibiogirl and visited T's family). Vicky, my Argentinian friend, arrived on Christmas eve and stayed until the 27th when Mr T got here. I was so tired from working full-time and all the fun I had with Vicky waka dugbe-ing around Brussels, doing longer throat and eating all manner of mede-mede. Anyway by the time T got here, the temperature had really dropped and it even snowed sef, so we just stayed home and I slept a lot. He left yesterday, and I'm back to work today and tomorrow before packing my bags again and heading off, this time to mama Charlie's country (England for my non-naija readers).
My 2014 in Books
I started the year with Adichie's Americanah and it was definitely worth the hype for me. The issues that come with moving to a new country and finding yourself a "minority," the fight to affirm or (re)create your identity, doing the adjusting/adapting required, and merging your new culture with your home culture...these are all things that meant I recognised myself very strongly in Ifemelu and the other immigrants. On the other hand, I really didn't enjoy Taiye Selasi's Ghana Must Go. I had seen an interview of the author on RAI1, an Italian TV station, and was really impressed so I actually spent some of my Amazon vouchers on the book. Unfortunately, I was bitterly disappointed. I did not like her writing style one teensy bit.
I however liked Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowlands, Khaled Hosseini's And The Mountains Echoed, Swallow by Sefi Atta, A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif Unaccustomed Earth again by Jhumpa Lahiri, and Adaobi Nwaubani's I Do Not Come To You By Chance. Special mention goes to Brady Udall's The Lonely Polygamist, Rajaa Alsanea's Girls of Riyadh and Lola Shoneyin's The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives which I particularly loved. These books made me laugh out loud, literally and I really enjoyed reading them. They were (in the words of T about me), "kleine aber feine!" I also loved Christie Watson's Tiny Sunbirds, Faraway. She wrote about Nigeria in a way that was very realistic. Even though the story was sometimes sad, I felt a kind of connection with the Nigeria she described, it felt neither over- nor underdone...
Of the 75 books I read this year, only about 12 were written by "white, mainstream" authors, and even then 11 of them talked about "others." "Atypical" situations, places and people, for example transracial adoption, immigrants and immigration, being an expatriate, being Amish, polygamy, Jewishness and the second world war etc. I am apparently attracted to and fascinated by difference and otherness...
Highlights and Lowlights
- Travelling! I visited 6 countries and 10 cities/town.
- Moving houses 5 times between July and November. It was hectic, phew!
- Putting up only15 blog posts (pitiful)
- Improving my Italian, then abandoning it for German
- Going to the seaside once this summer with T
- Going to a European zoo for the first time (the other time was in India), and visiting the circus, also for the first time, thanks to the generosity of a dear friend
- Turning 30. I had 3 birthday parties and got many wonderful presents. I especially love my churidar, my alabaster necklace and my Aya de Yopougon comic book.
- Discovering a good naija restaurant in Paris, then moving. Now I have to find a new one here in Brussels :(
- Drinking a million aperitivos whilst on holiday in Italy
- Seeing my friend K after 8years
- Having an amazing summer with my sisters and friend, while living in another friend's beautiful Parisian flat. I so want something similar when I grow up!
- Getting my turn at the annual mummy-and-me-only holiday
- Getting my current job
I am grateful for
- Life and health. I turned 30 this year and became a bona fide adult ;) And everyone in my entourage (family and friends) is alive and well.
- A wonderful summer. I had the best summer of my life this year with my sisters, a wonderful sister-friend and T.
- Christmas with Vicky, which meant I wasn't alone in a new city during the festivities.
- The online community of which I'm part. I feel like I have made so many new friends this year! I'm thankful that I discovered the blogs that made my 2014 interesting - Duru, GNG, Ibibiogirl, Nigerian Scorpio, Berry and Pynk amongst many others.
- Journey mercies. Not one train/plane/road accident or incident in spite of the many many miles that I covered this year. Truly a miracle, if you think about it.
- The most uncomplicated cross-country move ever. My move to Brussels has been ridiculously coordinated and everything has fallen into place so easily...making friends, work, finding a flat and church, getting along with colleagues and even my day to day life!
- My job. I love it so so much! I enjoy the work because it's very different from everything I've known up until now. It is really challenging me as a nurse
- Progress with my finances. Thanks to nagging from T and him constantly telling me off for accruing unnecessary interest, I've increased my student loan repayments substantially and have started making serious inroads into paying back my debts, slowly but surely.
- My parents. They are finally starting to enjoy middle age, this season of their lives where all the children are more or less independent and there are no grand-kids yet. They're taking up travelling again and making plans to really enjoy each other.
- My family-in-law. I met them this year and it seems they love me as much as I love them. I even went there alone for a weekend and things went better than the first time when T was with me. I particularly love his mum because we're very similar (it's so uncanny!) and it feels like she's a friend. Everyone keeps telling me how lucky I am.
- My siblings. One sister finished her masters last October and did fantastically well; she got 18.99/20 and was valedictorian. She then basically gave her French university the middle finger salute by giving her speech in English. Yep, my sister is gangster like that ;) She now has a place at university for next September to do her PhD in law. My brother is doing amazing things and is going places with his new startup and little company. I feel like this year was a very important one for him in terms of making progress and knowing what direction to take the business. The baby sister loves her course this time round and has really settled into university. I'm thankful that she decided (and my parents insisted) early on that she "drop out" of last year's hated course, and take a gap year. She really grew up in the 9months she spent in Paris. As for her twin brother, he is also doing great at uni, working/playing hard and getting fantastic grades. My siblings are such superstars and for that I am grateful
- Mr T. This year has been difficult, with him moving to Brussels and then Vienna, but I think our relationship has become much stronger as a result of it. We've both had to make a lot of sacrifices this year in terms of time and money so we could see each other, and it really makes you ask yourself if you truly want to be with the other person. I know now, for sure that I love him and would go to the ends of the world to be with him. It's been 2years of ups and downs, but our relationship (and both of us!) has matured a lot. Like good wine, it just keeps getting better.
- Favour wherever I go. People have always described me as someone who makes friends easily, but this is the first year I've actually noticed that it is true....for some unknown reason, people are drawn to me and want to be friends. I spent a lot of time thinking this year about why this is so, as well as trying to figure out what it is about me that attracts others. I'm certainly not the most intelligent/beautiful/cool/fashionable/whatever-attribute-you-like person in the world! In the end I figured it must be God's grace, some special dispensation, a particular blessing in my life, because I know for sure that I haven't done anything to deserve the undeserved and unreserved love that often comes my way. I am just immensely grateful!