Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Last Post for 2014....A Mish-Mash!

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
  1. 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.
  2. A wonderful summer. I had the best summer of my life this year with my sisters, a wonderful sister-friend and T.
  3. Christmas with Vicky, which meant I wasn't alone in a new city during the festivities.
  4. 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, IbibiogirlNigerian Scorpio, Berry and Pynk amongst many others.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. 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.
  13.  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!


  1. Wishing you a happy new year in advance.

  2. What a wonderful post, and a great summary of your year. Reading that, it's no wonder you didn't blog as much as you may have wanted to: moving five times in four months? Incredible! I guess you learn to pack light and not be a hoarder that way.

    Clara, I hope to read more about your life as we enter 2015. May God continue to bless everything you do. I'm very happy to read about your siblings' accomplishments and of the "second honeymoon" that your parents are experiencing. Perhaps there will be talk on this blog of another honeymoon this year! ;)

    By God's grace I'll make time for Paris before or after my next trip to Nigeria. If so, I'll badger you for the name of the Nigerian restaurant (and other recommended restaurants), and definitely for good tips for inexpensive accommodations! :)

    Happy New Year! xo

    1. Dear GNG,

      What an equally wonderful comment!

      Thank you for being you, I found your blog a few years ago and apart from getting two (I think) handmade Xmas cards from you, I feel like I also gained a big sister. I love your unrelenting optimism about life and I'm looking forward to reading more from you too.

      And yes to you coming to Europe and of course you can contact me at ANY time for ideas/tips/whatever.

      Hope your new year's day was great.

  3. As always olu, great post. Hilarious as well hahahahah!
    I guess we both have different views about Americanah....will put up a post on my final review.
    2015 is def going to be so much fun with you ....cheers

    1. Thanks Jenny from the block ;)
      I thought it was a bit long mais bon, I figured it's the last one of the year so... Really, you didn't like it in the end?! Looking forward to reading your review and yeah 2015 with you. Xxx

  4. It was surely a great year for you.

    1. Amen, you too...I'm looking forward to really discovering your blog this year. X

  5. Clara oh Clara.

    I don't know what you mean be lowlights. You have had an amazing 2014! I am more than a little jealous. I now know what i want to do if I'm ever in your house. I will so raid your library. Americanah is a lovely book, I read it last year as well. Sadly, I cannot do a review of my 2014 because almost all my memories are with a fiance who is no longer mine, and even though I'm grateful for strength and life and lessons learned, the urge to erase 2014 completely is almost unbearable. But hey, we survive.

    Even though I share your sentiments for long distance love, I cannot say more, for obvious reasons. Hehehe.

    Finally, using myself as the lab rat, I totally see why anyone would want to be friends with you. Anyone who resents superficial at least. God bless you Clara, and T. May it be your best year yet

    1. Hey hey, we're following each around the interwebs hehe!
      I did have some lowlights and a few tears but yes, an amazing year. I am thankful!

      I'm sorry that your 2014 was marked by such a life-altering event, but thank God you're here, stronger, happier and content! I cannot imagine how it must have felt, but I can empathy from having lost a boyfriend who was also a great friend. still thank god I did, because now I have my T! Fight the urge to erase the past though, adversities add richness and colour to our lives and personalities.

      You can't say more? Hmmm you have activated my gbegborun cells, intriguing...

      And thanks for the compliment. I thank God too for all the interesting people he (re)brings into my life, and I'm constantly amazed at the young women we've all become!

      Amen, and the same for you t(w)oo ;)

      P.S. I have hardly any books in my house o cos of my constant moving, but we can raid the library together!

  6. Okkkaaayyy Ehmmm how come i missed this.. **Hits head on the wall.. duru You ehn.. lemme not lie ehn Clara! I smiled through out this post, and then Point 13 of the gratitude sectin just made me smile even more. You know yeah, www.sykik.blogspot.com said GOD brings everybody into our lives for a reason, and it is obvious that you are one Super duper ghen ghen Bubba that has come intp our lives, so I am uber glad that our paths crossed... Bubba its always nice and soothing coming here, plus the smile you make us wear is always priceless, cause you are awesome by default. Thank GOD for you, and for a smashing 2014, cause you deserve all the love and support and happiness that you got. and for all the many many gullivers travels safe journey :). may his name be praised in all. Hoping for a ghen ghen 2015 togera bubba. Cheers.

    P.S: Wait!! did you say you read 75 books?! Chisos!! i haf die.. I didnt read even 1 sef, Chisos help my soul... do have a ghen ghen week ahead bubba.

    1. Aww my cheri coco d'amour! Thanks for your lovely comment. You've made your poor egbon Clara a bit teary this morning. I believe the same as you (and sykik) too, that everyone comes, because I've met so many lovely people and...it can only be God.
      Amen to your prayers my one and only bubba. I hope that gives you the same blessings you have proclaimed upon me.

      Have a lovely week!

      P.S. Oya start reading na, I read on ALL my journeys and even at home sef. That's why I managed to go through so many books