I’m a Perfect Size 8

Christian Louboutin high heels

Something really shitty happened to me on Thursday. I was about to get on the Northern line train from Bank to Moorgate, when without warning the train driver in his infinite wisdom decided to close the door without the  accompanying warning sound.  The minute I realised the door was closing I tried to hurry on,  but the akindindinrin in front of me was leisurely stepping on as if it was his father’s private jet! The door caught my sling back pencil heel shoe and it slipped right off my feet onto the platform. My entire body and the other pair of shoe stood inside the train while the other pair laid on the platform. I stood mortified as a fellow commuter  held up my shoe on the platform as the train slowly departed. I had lost one shoe! I kept hearing my mother’s voice “you already have a problem, focus on the solution”.

The only solution was for me to take off my second pair and just do the bare feet thing. Now very stupidly that very morning I had decided that tights were messing with my swagger so I wasn’t wearing any.  Yes!!! I was barefoot on the flipping underground!! People stared of course, but I just didn’t care because suddenly I was filled with dread! Where were those shoes from? panic. panic. panic.  “Calm down” a voice said, they were from Zara’.  They were from Zara! phew! The realisation that they were not expensive shoes overrode any sense of embarrassment, discomfort or self-consciousness I was feeling.  I would have cried if those shoes were expensive shoes!! but darm those shoes fitted my size 8 feet perfectly, without looking like a canoe! do you know how ard it is to find shoes in size 8! nice ones that look nice!

I can’t ever remember being smaller than a size 8! I must have had smaller feet at some point, but I can’t remember. All my adult life I’ve been a size 8, and all my adult life I’ve hated it.  Being a size 8 sucks because it is harder to find your size,  and when you do,  they are likely to look humongous, especially if they are poorly made.  It doubly sucks to be a size 8 when you don’t fit the ‘profile’. And there is profile. Models fit this profile. Models are much taller than average. But when a 5 foot 5 woman rocks up into a shoe shop and asks for a size 8 well let’s just say I used to get a lot of funny looks. I don’t utter the words size 8 anymore, I just casually ask  “what’s the biggest size you do?” because then the shop assistant is forced to say “size 8” or on rare occasions “size 9” and then I can comfortable ask “can I have a size 8 please” .

In my Twenties I realised that my best option was to shop in high end, high street shops or designer stores. But I couldn’t afford designer shoes at 21 so it had to be high end, high street. Pied de terre was a popular brand for me.  High end fitted better and made the feet look nicer.  At university my friends who had smaller feet thought I was crazy,  but I knew what I knew,  and I wasn’t even going to talk to a size 5 feet chick who would never understand the struggle!!

For a little while I deluded myself into thinking I could afford designer shoes for everyday wear.  I wrecked all my Sergerson Morrison shoes in the process ( high five if you still remember that shop)  . Now I reserve expensive shoes for outings only. Zara and Topshop will do for work these days, because shhhhhh even the low end high street stores have improved their cut for bigger feet! The shoe I lost was from Zara, much cheaper than even the Pied de Terre  I used to buy years ago. I’m glad things are improving for us bigger feet girls  – now lets just hope the next few years will see high street and even designer shoe stores stocking more that one or two pairs of size 8.Christian Louboutin high heels

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Sunday Sunday Church

church

I’ve never understood why it bothers other people that I don’t go to church. By other people I mean mostly Nigerians who are christians.  I sense the discomfort my laid back response of ‘no I don’t go to church’ evokes.  Most inquisitors will hurriedly change the conversation; a few might ask “are you a Muslim?”.

I have concluded that these people are not  interested in my salvation.  What it is, or rather what I think it is, is that I belong to a culture that doesn’t accept people who choose to deviate from the norm or question the status quo. For all the education, integration, and exposure, we are still mostly comfortable with things that are familiar, people who share the same values and aspirations, do the things we do, how we do it - perhaps this is intrinsically what  human socialization is.

I do not underestimate the significance of congregational worship. I get it completely. It just isn’t for me. And I wish people wouldn’t convolute church attendance with faith, because we all ought to know that both are not the same.   I often detect silent judgement, the questioning of my values,  and even my fitness as a wife and mother because i am not a regular church attendee – conservative nigeria.

For those who dig deeper and ask me questions I am honest. I’m just not that interested in physically attending church,  and yes I know Pentecostal churches are good fun,  but I haven’t been to one since forever. I don’t agree with most of the new Pentecostal teachings.  I don’t agree with prosperity teachings.  I don’t agree with generational curses.  I don’t agree with pastors owning private jets.  I don’t agree with the lack of female leaders in the church.  I don’t agree with the suppression of women. I don’t agree with the exploitation of women.  I don’t agree with the dogmatic pursuit of tithes.  I don’t agree with young girls volunteering for hours on end at the church.  I don’t believe in teachings that wouldn’t denounce domestic violence or provide shelter for battered women.  I don’t believe in demonizing  gay people. I don’t believe in leaders that wouldn’t stand and fight for poor people.  And I just can’t brush this all aside by saying I will attend and focus only on the word of God, because I strongly believe that the word and the teaching  should be entwined.

I tried the Church of England for some few months and I tell you it was so boring I  wanted to cry! Now Angligans ought to learn a thing or two from the Razzmatazz of  Pentecostal churches.  Do I miss going to Pentecostal churches? Yes, sometimes.  After all, the motivational speeches of pastors can be powerful and mesmerizing.  But more than that there is something comforting about worshiping with people who share the same faith, hope and aspirations. But there is the thing, apart from faith, I  find that  increasingly I do not share the same hope and aspirations as most of my fellow church attendees. I am not wielded to the dream of monetary prosperity or more and more and more blessings. My deepest prayer is to become less needy of  material wealth, less a follower or pursuer of consumerism. I want to seek and  delight in the simplest things.   I am looking for that church that emphasises the humility of Christ, one that teaches me to forsake material pursuit for spiritual growth, and without dangling the carrot of worldly wealth. I need teachings that encourages and challenges me to recognise my abundant blessings , be content with it, and focus more on being a blessing to others.

Relationship Advice for my Son

  1. Pay on the first date!! What the hell is wrong with you!! But If she offers to go half she may be a keeper.
  2. Any woman worth marrying isn’t looking for a knight in shining armour. She has her own shit together thanks.
  3. You will love me for teaching you how to cook, because no one wants to marry an incompetent idiot.
  4. Stingy men are ugly.
  5. Your father has a way of zoning out of arguments, learn this trick, it still amazes me, I suspect this skill prevents stress.
  6. Confidence has nothing to do with Mama and boy
  7. You are only 2 and a half but I can tell that skinny jeans isn’t for your genes.
  8. Take fashion advice from your wife. Never experiment without her approval.
  9. If you marry a white girl please pleaseeeeeeeeeee make sure she learns how to pronounce your name, including your middle name Abdul-Farouk – this is my only request .

Relationship Advice for my Daugther

  1. mama and daughter
  1. You are responsible for your own happiness. Happiness is a choice.
  2. You can call your mother in-law mum till you are blue in the face. But you only have one mother.  Me.  Only one woman gatz you like that.
  3.  You get the friends you deserve. If all your friends are mean, shitty or backstabbing bitches, it’s time to check yourself.
  4. Your life should not revolve around your husband, your children, or your career. Find a balance. Don’t forget your own needs.
  5. It’s okay not to want to have children. This is not your purpose on earth. It is a choice.
  6. He who pays the piper calls the tunes. No matter how much he loves you, if you are financially dependent on him; without your own interests or income, trust me,  you will soon become a bore, a liability, a nuisance.
  7. No man worth marrying wants an obedient and submissive partner. Till they die men like the chase, the excitement, the challenge! as do we.
  8. Don’t let him dictate or direct your fashion sense – why would you want to give someone else power over a key aspect of how you express yourself?
  9. Don’t suffocate him!! Let him pursue and enjoy interests outside of your union, as should you.
  10. Sex and food solves all arguments.Sent from my iPhone

Black People don’t do snow

 
 
 
Riri2 Riri1I follow Rihanna on Instagram, I know, I’m an agbaya.  But I love this chick for so many reasons I’ll discuss another day. Everytime Rihanna posts a picture on Instagram my fashion heart just melts, always on point always on F*** you mode. If the fashion doesn’t get me, the exotic locations do,  that’s until she started instagraming in the snow!! Now don’t get me wrong, the fashion as always was on point; the hat, the gloves, the colours – My God I love Rihanna, but the snow?  I rolled my eyes and kept scrolling,  where are my bodybuilders jor  – you need to follow bodybuilders on instagram!
 
My temporary indifference to Rihanna reminds me of the time my friend said in excitement  ” I’m going shopping for my holiday” . It was winter, I was immediately gripped with envy! Winter getaways are notoriously expensive, I couldn’t afford it, but man I needed some sun!! And then she said “we are so looking forward to skiing this year“.  I almost busted out laughing,  I didn’t. Instead, I rolled my inner eyes, all envy evaporating, not a holiday after all just ‘suffer head’. Quite frankly, that’s how a lot of us black people view skiing; a complete nonsensical sport,  not worth the risk to our limbs, let alone lives,  and certainly not worth the money!! But of course we all know black folks who really really enjoy skiing! that’s at least what they tell us,  and their oyinbo friends,  good for them! But as we Nigerians say ” Butter o se onje Obo” meaning  “Butter isn’t monkeys food”.
 
Someone asked me the other day if I wouldn’t even try skiing! I said if it was a free holiday I’d go along.  I’ve always wanted to wear those great fur hats and gloves.  And I do love looking out onto the snow in the comfort of my house,  so  I’ll happily enjoy being in a  warm cabin with an open fire, a glass of champagne, watching others play in the snow.
 
 
It’s not just the skiing thing.  My trainer asked me if I was following the winter Olympics, I told him straight up ‘ No’ I couldn’t care less about it! He laughed and said “Lola you would really like bla bla bla bla bla, you are quite sporty ” I rolled my eyes.  I didn’t know what half of the sports he listed were.  I barely understand figure skating; grown ass people in silly outfits twirling and prancing about on ice,  like children! I remember the day I actually went along with some friends and acquaintances to iceskate. I regretted it. For the entire duration of the torture,   I imagined myself falling down and crashing head first, smashing all my teeth, including my very expensive implants and destroying years of dental work. No. I’m in no hurry to go back to Hungry for dental work thanks. My trainer went on a bit, so I said look I’m African right, these sports are far removed from our interests, natural climate experience etc - my trainer said “I’m African too Lola” I couldn’t bite my tongue ” Yes Gavin, White South African” we both laughed and continued the training I enjoyed! Running, sprinting, weight lifting!
 
 
Listen right,  I have no problem with the winter Olympics or skiing but lets call a spade a spade, few  black people are interested in these sports.  Personally I think we should have the tropical Olympics!  I started this conversation on FB and I’ve since been educated  there are indeed a number of black nations participating in the winter olympics, I hear you laughing too,  even Togo is there!!! don’t ask.  When I dug a bit deeper nearly all the African representative were born abroad. Of course some smart ass is gonna jump on me and start telling me about snow peaks in the mountains of Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and even snow falls in Egypt, Tunisia and so forth but still who cares these are not common occurrences.
 
They say live and let live, so let the winter  olympic roll on, all sports are great right, but me sha I’m not interested.

The Humble Yoruba Stew

My Igbo friends love taking the piss out of Yoruba cooking, in jest. I laughed and laughed  when one of them said we just like everything red! The truth is we do love our tomato base cooking! And my gosh it doesn’t get redder than stew; chicken stew is red, goat stew is red, beef stew is red, fish stew is red, you get the drift! And you know what? it’s a little redder when you use palm oil. So this weekend it’s all about chicken stew in my house. My hubby is addicted to rice! He says he is not,  but he is! He can happily eat rice and stew for the next 3 days,  minus tomorrow,  because you know it’s Sunday and Sunday is Roast day! If there is cooked food for the next 3 days it simply means peace for me, I tell you,  as long as there is food I  think I can wander off for days and SB wouldn’t notice! But more importantly if I cook the stew now, I’ll avoid that oh so annoying question ‘Titi ki la ma je lale yi” yes I hate the question because I feel like saying  ‘dude, why don’t you think about what’s for dinner tonight! And the real question you are asking is ” Titi what are you making for dinner’! And, yes there is another and,  there is no ‘we’ here cause weeeeeeeeee never eat the same thing  mid-week”!!! he eats rice, and I eat salmon and asparagus! Apart from weekends when I kinda eat whatever!
So today I stretched to open the  cupboard for the canned plum tomatoes which will make the base of my chicken stew and I think hang on a minute! I did say I’d stop using canned tomatoes and switch to fresh . But then the thought of actually using fresh tomatoes freaked me out!!! Firstly, I’ve not cooked stew with fresh tomatoes in years! What if it’s a disaster, watery, strange colour, I literary had to get a grip! Like seriously! What’s the worst that can happen ….

Stew1 Ste3

So instead of the canned tomatoes I blended a dozen tomatoes, four scotch bonnet and two onions! I heated my vegetable oil and when it was hot I poured in the mixture and started the cooking process.  It looked cleaner, it looked fresher and when I’d fried it down to the point where I could see a bit of oil peeing through,  I poured in the chicken stock that I had set aside,  and it tasted divine!! I allowed the chicken stock to cook its way through my stew and the result was absolutely superb!
I have been frustrated with plum tomatoes for months, most brands are either too sweet so that your stew tastes sickly sweet,  or too bland! Or too sharp –  acidic! Using fresh tomatoes is simply a return to basic to the best. And based on taste alone i think I’ll find it difficult to use plum tomatoes again! Ever!  so yes it may cost a little bit more! But you know what,  I intend to start growing my own tomatoes ( well I can try, I hear it’s quite easy to grow).  After moaning and moaning about plum tomatoes my friend suggested fresh and I’m thanking Funke for planting the seed and for returning me to basics!!
For the chicken: Boil your chicken with fresh ginger, garlic, onions and chicken knor with a splash of black pepper corn! blend all these ingredients with water and pour the paste on your chicken. Nix it in well and start boiling. Once the chicken is boiled,  put it under the grill ( not oven), once brown add it to the stew at the last-minute and switch off the cooker immediately. Do not cook your chicken in the stew. I buy my chicken from Tesco. If you still eat  Pluvera and like it carry on, but some people buy this chicken simply because it’s what they have known their parents use or for some odd misconception that other varieties don’t work in stew. I am more comfortable with chicken from the supermarket – taste and freshness wise,  if you can go free range even better.  But leaving the chicken thing aside, the moral is to try going back to fresh tomatoes for your stew – try it.
Eat with rice and grilled plantain!

Mother’s prayers

Mother woke up at ungodly hours to pray. Adorned in white  she would sprinkle holy water held in a white keg with one hand and swing her incense burner with the other.  I loved the familiarity of  the sweet-smelling musky smoke that engulfed our home.  I hated how the smoke stuck to every item of clothing; lingering in the house for hours, announcing  us as foreigners to intolerant teenage friends.

Mother prayed for each of her children according to their order of birth, starting with the first, and ending with me, the  last. She could have prayed for us collectively and halved her prayer time. But she did not. Perhaps she thought God needed to be reminded that she had four daughters, or perhaps she was pleading with him not to inadvertently forget one or two.

Mother had a standard list of prayer requests; good health, long life, good husbands, good children.   This list didn’t  change unless we  were going through a particular challenge, so if i had exams coming up, she would add success to the list.  And if she was upset or disappointed with our behaviour, we would hear about it in her prayers.

I always thought the prayer for good husbands took weighted more than the  other requests. I could tell by the slight change in her tone and pitch.  She would raise her voice ever so slightly, tilt her head towards the heaven, and swing the incense burner a bit more vigorously before embarking on the prayer for God-fearing men; Men who would love and provide for her daughters and their offsprings.   She would pray against husbands who  sought to use her daughters to obtain  British citizenship.  She prayed against ‘low life’s’ with unapologetic discrimination; these  included uneducated men, men with a family history of mental illness, men whose families practised juju, unemployed men, philanderer, or any man whose behaviour or character didn’t ‘glorify her God’.

The prayers for my brother differed from that which she offered on behalf of the girls.  In addition to the general requests for long life, good health and in his case a good wife,  she would pray against physical and spiritual enemies who aimed to change, steal or alter her son’s destiny. She would pray against ancestral curses, demonic influences and bad company. The prayers for him took the longest and  were the most farfetched. Up until now I remain  bemused that she placed so much emphasis on unseen attackers, instead of attacking visible forces.

I’m sure my mother’s prayers haven’t changed very much. I’m sure they didn’t get shorter with each marriage. I’m sure the prayers grew  longer with the birth of each grandchild. I’m sure she has carried on the tradition of calling each grandchild by name; offering identical prayer on their behalf. I’m sure she is relieved to have us girls out of the house and with that the freedom to pray solely in her Nigerian dialect, without switching from English, to Ondo, to Yoruba, trying but failing to accommodate the various ears of her children. I’m sure she still starts with the recitation of a psalm, followed by the various names different folks call God. Jehovah, Jesu Christi, Holy St Michael. I’m sure she still ends her prayers with Psalm 21 and not the Lords prayer.

And here I am,  at that same ungodly hour, head raised to  the heaven in prayer. I pray  and pray and pray and then pray some more. I pray for my own children, calling on each by name, offering identical prayers .  In the stillness of  the night I hope my prayer echos all the way to God. Surely that’s why mother prayed at midnight.  When I’m done with this prayer I’ll put the baby down, get some sleep and repeat the same requests late tomorrow night. My meetings with God, at this hour, will end once baby starts to sleep through the night. I do not have the discipline to wake up for prayers at 1 am as my mother did. I will revert back to quick mornings mumblings, thanking you in 30 seconds flat and trusting you to know and appease the desires of my heart. I’ll miss our midnight rendezvous just as  I miss my mother’s prayers