Diaspora Depression

Diaspora Blues by Ijeoma Umebinyuo captures my feelings perfectly.

A curious thing happens when you leave the place you grew up in. After a few years you start to feel homesick, but you become unsure for where.

It doesn’t take long for people to acclimatise to where they live. For some people it may feel like it’s taken years, but it hasn’t really. You just failed to notice when the word “innit” became a regular part of your vocabulary. You didn’t realise that you’d made the trade-off of cocoa tea for Twinings as easily as you stepped out of the plane onto new soil, green fig and saltfish for fish and chips, DBS for BBC. The transition was seamless, and maybe you didn’t catch it until it was 5 years too late, or maybe you were like me, when you caught yourself talking about the weather with a feeling of horror and dread. That something was being done to you, that your culture was becoming more diverse internally, that the definition of you was being transformed may have escaped your notice until now but it has not escaped mine.

The curious thing is that the transformation is never 100% completed. I have been here for 8 years and my accent is still described as “lilting”, like there’s a cheerful song in the lazy way I say my vowels, my questions ending just a little higher, my sarcasm just a little lower. Yet I know I say words that would have people scratching their heads back home, not for ignorance but for unfamiliarity. Why is “camp” an adjective? Why is a “mug” an idiot? Why is the train the tube? I don’t know, they just are. These words were presented to me and inserted into my vocabulary without commentary, and now float amongst words like “dekdek“, “boug” and a host of other colloquialisms that are moot here. And yet those words aren’t as immobile as one would think; I suddenly used the word “koudmen” the other day because I simply didn’t have the English slang for what I needed, nor did I have the English word at the time (syndicate). It felt right but was not.

I have not been able to adjust to the speed at which people do things. I am not slow, I just wasn’t raised in a way to believe that haste is necessary. I still watch with amusement at people who run for buses in a country where buses are often a minute apart, and still hold back a smile when people prostrate themselves as an apology for being late. Nou pa ni pyes pwoblenm. I would have been late anyway.

And yet I have become unbearably British. A feeling that has extended past my birth certificate and passport, past the hospital I was born in (UCLH) and past my current address. I can talk for England about the weather in England. It’s raining now in case you were interested. I’ll queue where there aren’t queues, and glare at people who do not do so. Nothing is more soothing to me than a warm mug of tea and my humour is so self-deprecating that it takes some people a lot of convincing that no, I don’t really feel that way about myself. I actually quite like myself. It’s called sarcasm you muppet.

So now what? Where do I go from here now that I celebrate my home being independent from the place I call home every year? What do I do when Jounen Kweyol isn’t a holiday? Do I go to work in a wob dwiyet? How do I explain to my friends back home about the ongoing political disputes here, when I know nothing of the ongoing political disputes going on over there?

How do I go home when home is either a tube or a plane away?

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Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Sex is weird.

It’s yo thang, do what you wanna do

Ok well sex isn’t weird in and of itself. It’s one of the methods of propagating a species and it’s pretty fun too. What I mean is people’s attitude to sex is weird.

The morality and personal attributes we attach to sex based on our culture, religious upbringing and history is so tangled up and messy considering it’s ultimately a act between 2 people minimum that has been done since the beginning of time. It’s something science and religion agree on. Not to blaspheme, but God said “be fruitful and multiply” not “asexually bud off your offspring from an extra limb”. That begatting came from somewhere, right? And the atheist crowd, you know our ancestors shacked up not just with other Homo sapiens but with the Neanderthal crew and a bunch of other ancient humanoid species that we keep on finding more about. So we know sex is a thing right? Our parents did it (ew), our grandparents did it (ew ew) and we’re probably gonna do it (if we haven’t already). So why do we define the worth of a person so much on something that’s pretty much a given?

I see sex as something pretty similar to exercise. Other than a fun way to get sweaty, it’s something that most people have done at least once, some people don’t do it as much as they’d like you to think, and if you’re not safe with it, you might be off your feet for about 9 months. Oh, and there’s a lot more self-help books on it than there probably needs to be. Feel free to run with that metaphor in any direction you choose.

Hopefully not in this direction cuz this is just weird

And yet the stigma is there. One that really doesn’t help anyone. When it comes to being a woman, there doesn’t seem to be any winning. According to some people, you’re uncool up until you have sex in which case you’re instantly a dirty whore. Others say you’re pure and precious until you have sex in which case you’re tainted goods. Still others say that you are only liberated when you have sex, and you are oppressed if you’re holding onto your V card. The solution, ladies, is to somehow have sex but only on the terms of whoever’s dictating these rules. Sex police… but not sexy. Ok.

It doesn’t really help men either. If women are whores for having sex, and being gay is “gross”, but the only way a guy is considered awesome by his peers is if he had sex, who is he meant to have sex with? I mean there are… toys… available, but somehow I don’t think they count. Prostitutes? No, they’ve got a raw deal too. (One of the oldest professions and it gets treated like crap, but that’s a rant for another day). How do you measure the worth of a man on something that isn’t even exclusive to our species? Well, some people say that you measure it by being pure as well. Which, um, ok. Maybe we should measure the worth of a man by how he treats others, not by how many notches there are in his bedpost.

And while we’re on the subject of LGBT+, why is some sex considered no way (G) but others considered a-ok (L, but only if it’s for entertainment purposes)? Why does B mean promiscuity? That’s like taking a vegetarian and a meat-eater to a buffet, right? Just cuz the latter has more choice in what they can eat doesn’t mean they’ll actually eat more. Fair enough if your ancient book tells you that it’s wrong, but from what I’ve read, the ancient book says a lot of things are wrong… and it also says to be nice to people. Mistreating people on something that they can’t even control isn’t really following your book.

Say it louder for the people in the back

I think that it’s ok to have your own views on how you conduct your bedroom (or living room) (or local public park). I don’t think that it’s ok to extend those views over a group of people to make yourself seem superior. Whether you do your ‘exercise’ alone, with a companion, hell even in groups, it’s your business and no one else. Do your thing, dude/ette. Do it safe, do it consensually or don’t do it at all.

Just don’t do it in front of me alright? Pretty sure that’s illegal or something.

Liebster Award 2016

We interrupt this regular programme for a blogging challenge!

liebster2

The beautiful sunflower Elie of https://thisnatureofbeauty.com/ has nominated yours truly to do the Liebster award, a blogging award for bloggers by bloggers! If you have the time check out her site, she is the glorious hippie that we deserve, as well as the one that we need right now. Actually, check out her blog even if you don’t have time for a regular dose of ecological learning, beauty tips and just general cuteness. She’s the Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope, ha.

Anyway as far as I can tell, the Liebster award is a way to support fellow bloggers who have a small following, and just a nice way to send positive vibes. I’ve got to answer 11 questions – let’s do this!

  1. What is your favourite subject to blog about?
    I’ve just started blogging so I don’t have a “niche” and I can’t say that I ever will have one, but I’m a storyteller by nature and I love talking about my personal experiences. I’m also a glutton who loves talking about food. So the Soul Food For Thought blog posts are my favourite to write because it combines the two!
  2. Are you a party animal or a home comforts kind of person?
    When I was doing my undergrad I loved going out and clubbing and partying, but the older I get, the more I prefer to be at home with my blog and my books and my copious variety of tea.
  3. What is your number 1 travel wish destination / which was your favourite holiday?
    A part of my quarter-life crisis involved the realisation that I had achieved my top ten travel list I made when I was 15, so I’m in the process of making a new travel list so that I have something to aim for. But I think my favourite place was Japan, I lived there for a year as a part of my undergraduate degree and I loved it! The food was great, the people were lovely, the anime was cheap and it was a dream come true for me. I’m aiming to go back for Tokyo 2020, if not earlier!
  4. Who / what first got you into blogging?
    No one, really. I had been told a couple of times by various people that I should have a blog and I’d made many attempts without any success. I think now I’m at a point where I feel like I have well-formed thoughts I want to talk about and blogging has provided me with a space for me to express my thoughts, even if they’re silly things about bras sometimes.
  5. What makes you smile and relax when you are having a bad day?
    Lots of little things. Peppermint tea and fluffy socks, Disney movies and popcorn, singing oldies (I just want your extra time and your dododododododododo KIIIIuhss), talking to my Gentleman Caller, reading a book while shovelling maltesers down my face…
  6. What is your favourite book / who is your favourite author?
    Why would you ask me that. I cannot choose my favourite oxygen molecule.
    I’ll tell you that I’m currently reading David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks while I wait for MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood to appear in the post.
  7. What is the most delicious food you have ever eaten?
    Hmmmmmmmm. That’s difficult to choose. I do love me some food. I think food tastes more delicious when it’s tied to an experience, though, so gelato in Italy, pizza in Italy, pasta in Italy… mmmm Italian food.
  8. What three things have you learnt from having a blog?
    I’ve learnt that there are whole communities of bloggers I didn’t know about, I’ve learnt that maybe I’m not as bad a writer as I think I am and I’ve learnt that it’s kind of therapeutic to write things down, even if they’re not necessarily about my feelings right now.
  9. What is your greatest fear?
    My greatest fear is my biggest paradox. I fear that I won’t be able to achieve all that I want to achieve, but every time I achieve something, I find something new to work towards. So I’ll never really stop, will I?
  10. What do you value most in life?
    My relationships. Not many people are fortunate enough to have good relationships with wonderful people. I’m so thankful to be close to my family, and to have great friends and a lovely GC.
    Also my xBox because it was the first thing I got with my very first paycheck. Maybe it sounds shallow, but it was the first thing I ever owned that was truly mine, y’know?
  11. Which is your favourite season of the year and why?
    Fall because the leaves are beautiful, it’s not too hot and not too cold and because of my birthdaaaaay!!!

NOMINATIONS!

Amanda from http://alltheworldsapageblog.wordpress.com/

Dana from https://danabubulj.wordpress.com/

Nadine from caringinthechaos.com

QUESTIONS
1) What made you start a blog?
2) What’s the best part of your life right now?
3) What’s one thing you’re proud of?
4) Is there one show in particular you love watching?
5) What’s one thing you’d tell your past self?
6) Do you believe in ghosts?
7) What’s your favourite song?
8) What’s your favourite meal to cook?
9) Do you like animals?
10) Sweet or savoury?
11) What’s something few people know about you?

Anyone else interested in doing this, let me know and I’ll nominate you 😀

 

Stranger Danger

I talk to strangers a lot. I was told once that this was un-London of me, but I can’t help it. People are just so… interesting.

One time my friend and I got onto the Overground, where a group of seemingly rowdy guys occupied one end of the carriage. The only seat available was next to them so I took it and told her to sit on my lap (what is personal space and cupcakes between friends?). The men hooted. I responded with “Hey it’s the best seat in the house!” The one guy had the super fun idea of playing a ring game where one person gives a topic and the rest of us have to name things in that topic until someone is stumped. Example:

“Songs with women names as their title!” “Ms Jackson!” “Ruby!!” “ROOXAAAAAAANNE! You don’t have to put on the red liiiight”

By the end of the train ride we made the rest of the carriage immensely jealous that they weren’t having fun with us.

I hit it off with the saleslady at the mall the other day. Now every time I see her, she tells me something new about her life. She’s dating a very good looking prison officer…but he has 2 kids. She’s not sure she’s ready to be a mum. I told her she’d make a great mum and she looked as if I had made her day. I hope everything goes well with them.

Another time a man in Japan drove me around and helped me sell my stuff so that my suitcases wouldn’t be too overweight when I left . His rationale for helping me (in addition to seeing me drag a bag of clothing down the highway like an exotic hobo) was that his daughter was about my age and studying in Ireland and he’d like to think that someone would help her if she was in the same situation.

While waiting for a bus one day, a little old lady regaled me with stories of her time as a part of the Royal Navy – running along the beach every day, managing the phone lines and “the very dashing soldiers – although I didn’t get to meet any!” she giggled conspiratorially to me, but then her tone grew serious. “It wasn’t a good time in our history. I’m glad things are safer now.”

Then there was the time my friend and I met an American man in a hotel restaurant and ended up sharing a table with him for dinner. We spoke for hours about the differences between America, England, St. Lucia and Japan (“why is baseball popular in Japan?” “The same reason why Country and Western is popular in St Lucia. Because America left us the weirdest things”). In the end, he paid for our meals, saying that our company was worth it and he knew what it was like to be a broke student.

There is so much kindness in the world, and so many kind and interesting people.

And yet.

And yet right after I began to write about my positive experiences with strangers, I had a thoroughly uncomfortable experience. I jog at night so that no one can see my bum wobbling but I never go further than a few kilometres from where I live. A strange man found it appropriate to follow me in his car, parking just up ahead and yelling at me to get in and talk. He did this in the middle of the night while I was running, and when I kept running his response was to slowly drive after me and continue to try to gain my attention and more importantly my compliance.

Now, it’s easy to say that perhaps he was lost, that he couldn’t find an address on google maps and needed me to help him find his way. But from my perspective he was encroaching on my personal space in a real and terrifying way not once but multiple times and understanding the hint that I didn’t want to talk only made him redouble his efforts by following me in his car.

And so it makes me so very uncomfortable when I see men on social media (and some women) say “not all men are like that!” Because here’s the thing: I know. I know not all men are violent, I know not all men have bad intentions, I know not all assailants are male. But for every three people I’ve had dance battles with in a supermarket aisle, I’ve had one person remind me that the world is not full of those kinds of people. The people I need to remember are the ones that might have less than innocent ideas. And that is a scary thought.

If you are not one of those people, thank you for being a decent person. But if you know someone who can be please let them know how not to be. Victims don’t often get that chance