Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Kris Okotie for President?

While Tunji was visiting last weekend, we'd napped and woke up hungry at 9pm so we went down stairs to get something to eat and watch some TV.

There was nothing on the usual channels and we found ourselves on OBE or was it BEN? Anyway, who was on being interviewed? Kris Okotie - talking about his presidential campaign.
For a minute I thought it was an old programme because the last I knew, he campaigned and lost. Was he having another go? Don't these things cost money? What is he thinking?

As we listened, in the midst of his big big grammer, he seemed to be making some sense.

I do (or is it did?) like Mr Okotie, I think we had his album at home when he was a pop singer. After I left uni in Naija, I used to go to his church in Oregun - and loved it. But as President? I don't know?

Realistically what are his chances? With Yaradua and the rest? With the money involved? What about the corruption? Can he really win without getting his hands dirty and compromising his beliefs?

If he doesn't win, who will? An 'Obasanjo puppet'? or worse?

Honestly, I never get into Naija politics. It's just too messy. But stumbling on this programme got me thinking. What hope for my beloved country?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Time of the month

It's the time of the month again. I'm not even sure where I am in my cycle and I should be after my pregnancy scare last month.

After years of charting, plotting, monitoring and all what not while TTC, I've just switched off from it completely. Through the mercy of God, after 4 years, I eventually got pregnant and had my beautiful baby and in him I am totally fulfilled in my role as mother.

Hubby on the other hand would like one more. I wouldn't hate one more but I don't want to kill myself over it. Who would see fire and put their hand? TTC was more stressful for me than for him. I was the one waking up to take my temps, I was the one reading books, taking all sorts of herbal supplements, having and recovering from fibroid operation, crying when after all that the period still came. Once, on my birthday.

I just don't want to go there anymore. I really don't.

But he does not understand.

He says: "God did it before, He can do it again"
I say: "So let Him do it again, what do you need me for?"
He says: "We need to be in agreement"

I give up. I can't agree this. It'll take me right back there again, and I don't want to go.

There are other issues too! The AS/SS/AA possibilities. My life, Me, My career. His family. My son. He'll no longer be my special baby, the only one who looked down from heaven, pitied me and asked God to send him. I want to give him the world... will he now have to share it?

It's the time of the month. My stomach cramps, I feel sick, my mood is black and I have to stand in front of a class Tuesday and Wednesday with a big smile on my face.

Pray for me.

Hubby in Leicester

Finally, Tunji made it up to Leicester this weekend.

My colleague HR, was getting engaged and was having a pre-wedding Indian ceremony/party. She'd got me a sari to wear, but when they started talking about henna on my hands, stuff in my hair... It was beginning to seem I was going to be the entertainment.

Plus it's still cold and I was not in the mood to be showing off my fat belly in a small Indian blouse.


I ended up wearing a nice skirt suit from Monsoon. Very nice actually!

We left Kitan with my sister (and his beloved cousins) on Saturday and drove up to Leicester after church on Sunday. The event was nice and it was great to have Tunji in my 'lodgings'. He met my landlady (she seemed cold) and thought the whole set up was very nice. Still, he felt really uncomfortable being in someone else's house and I kept telling him to relax.

We drove round Leicester a bit, he's mad about buildings and Architecture and always wants to see what the buildings are like whereever we go. We thought we'd go see a film. We were both tired but felt since we were on our own with no Kitan (a mini-honeymoon) we must do something. Thank God we came to our senses and went home instead, read the Sunday Times and the many supplements that came with it, chilled, chatted and then napped.

It was nice, sweet and very cosy. We've been through a lot together and the fact that he still really loves me often amazes me. I guess I do love him too.

Think Pussy Cat Dolls
Nobody gonna love me better
I must stick with you forever.
Nobody gonna take me higher
I must stick with you.
You know how to appreciate me
I must stick with you, my baby.
Nobody ever made me feel this way
I must stick with you.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Official Countdown Starts

On Monday in a meeting with all trainers, our big boss Fran said our managers will be having 1-2-1 sessions with each of us to determine our aspirations and plans for the future as the project (and contracts) begins to draw to a close.

I knew there was no way I'd be staying on in Leicester full time as a trainer (that was if they even wanted me to) but I did toy with the idea of moving over to the Training Design team - those idiots who write the crappy slides and manuals and develop the unstable training systems. At least that way I could work 3 days in London and 2 days in Leicester. It was only an idea and I ran it by the Training Design team manager. She liked the idea but was facing the same problem with work drying out for her team. Infact 2 members were already leaving.

Fine! It was final then. Goodbye Leicester. All I had to do was find SN and have my discussion with him.

I spotted him in the corridor and called him into the room I was in. It felt like I was the one assessing him. "Are you okay to have our chat?" "Sure" he said "When?". I gestured to a seat next to me and said "Now?".

I'm not one for uneccessary small talk so as soon as he sat down and I asked him if there was any possibility of them wanting me to stay on. I was thinking, if the answer was no, then there was no point in continuing the conversation. He said "Yes, we'd like you to stay on". I replied that I was surprised considering the various incidents in the past but he said "Omara, you are a great trainer and your feedback is consistently high". I said "Well, thanks but unfortunately, I will not be able to stay on beyond the 17th of May".

Did I detect his face drop or was it a hidden smile of glee? Anyway, it did not matter.

I said "I'd love to but my family commitments make it impossible, Leicester was an interesting opportunity at the time and it's helped me a great deal in building my confidence and getting me back into work but I've got to go back home now".

He said "I would not have thought you needed any more confidence building but why did you take a job in Leicester in the first place?"

His shoulders relaxed and I could see he had finally asked the question that had been burning in his soul since the first day I started. He must have asked that question to himself and everybody whenever I made a fuss about leaving early on Fridays or my 'special terms and conditions'.

I explained about Benjamin and how I never actually applied for the job but was persuaded to take it (read The Testimony (part two)). I confessed I was not really looking forward to going back job hunting again when he said that he was sure Benjamin would find me something very soon.

He then went on to say "I might be needing Benjamin's number myself".

I realised then that the internal staff (SN, the gay guy, my puppies and a few others) are more scared because they have all been seconded into the higher paying jobs that they have now on the back of this project which is now ending and don't want to go back to their old jobs with huge salary cuts.

I said "No problem SN, whenever you want. Benjamin knows of you by name now anyway" He replied "I can imagine what you've been telling him about me".

We laughed like it was a joke (Not!) and wrapped up the session.

So the official countdown starts. I'm definitely leaving on the 17th of May and with that goal in sight, I can finally relax. Nothing matters here now but that end date.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Unfortunate Lies

This image is the word 'Liar' made into a face

I'm not quite sure how to describe the weekend I had... I had to go to Prague without my husband's knowledge.

The whole week, I was wracked with guilt. I have several vices but lying is not my thing and even when he suspected I was upto something last week, I denied it.

It was supposed to be a 2 night stay but the logistics of covering that up was impossible, not being home for Mother's Day was not an option, so I cut it down to one night. The plan was to leave from the Leicester airport (EMA) on Friday morning, leave Prague Saturday afternoon then head home.

I told Tunji that we'd all been asked to stay back on Friday because the project we'd been working on was going live on Monday and they needed all hands on deck. I would be home on Saturday after a lie-in. Ofcourse he believed me.

While there, I had called him several times pretending to be in Leicester working.

The trip was successful and thank God I made it back safely... as I drove home, I knew I could not keep it up and had to confess.

He was not home when I arrived, he had gone with Kitan to the barbers. I took a shower and rested from my hectic escapades. When they got back we relaxed in the lounge, playing with our baby when he said "So how was work, you must be tired." I started off saying "It was fine..." then broke off and said "I have to tell you something.... please don't be angry".

Angry was an understatement, Tunji flipped. Kitan was in tears and I had to tell him to leave the room so as not to upset him further.

He was angry, betrayed, confused and upset. Most of all he felt so foolish and trusting - he really believed me when I called from Prague saying I was in Leicester. And why shouldn't he?

He said "How do I know Leicester, Sanjay and all those work colleagues are real?", "Who knows where your pay is really coming from?" I maintained my apologetic postion, refusing to get angry back or to rise to the bait.

I felt bad. I wish I had not deceived him. I wish he hadn't created a situation where I felt lying was my only option.

Needless to say, it was a difficult weekend.

We went shopping on Sunday to Tesco with Kitan and bumped into one of my colleagues from work (Tim, another Nigerian contractor), he was with his wife. I introduced them and asked Tim how his work was going as we work on different parts of the project... He replied "You know it's go-live on Monday now, so things are hectic." We made more small talk and went about our shopping.

That little chance encounter reassured Tunji that I was actually working in Leicester and there was go-live on Monday.

By the end of Sunday, he had forgiven me and we were pals again...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Being Me

Work was really good this week, I feel all I have strived for in this place with regards remaining true to my authentic self, I am closer to achieving.

After the first few weeks of trying to be 'Ms Please Everyone' and then becoming 'Ms I Don't Give a Damn', I think I more 'Ms Me' now.

And who am I?

Some days I don't feel like talking and some days I do... When I do talk, I am direct and honest but silly sometimes. Humourous but also quite serious. I am passionate about the things I believe in but can often be fickle too. I'm a softy with a shiny steel armour.

It's not realistic for me to like everyone and for everyone to like me. I'm cool with that... now!

I can be very organised and analytical but I'm laid back and not 'precious' about my material possesions.

I'm happy to be a Christian, it's a life saver believe me, but I'm so not where I should be and often times not even trying...

I'm not just one thing. I'm a bit like everyone else I know but I'm also uniquely 'Me'.

More importantly, I'm this same 'Me' at home, at church, with friends, with family and now, thank Goodness, at work too.

I got in Monday about 1pm because I was working the evening shift... I was 'paying' for the time spent this morning with my 'boys'. Still, it was worth it. Official training was coming to an end and we were conducting 'Grad Bay' sessions. These are one-to-one sessions with individuals who had gone through training, testing them on various tasks they should be able to do in the system, based on the training they had and extra practice time they should have put in. Each Grad Bay session lasts an hour. They have to pass 5/5 of a series of General Navigation tasks, then 5/5 of tasks specific to their job role.

The first thing I had to do was learn what I was going to be asking them to do. There were 20 tasks per section and each trainer/assessor had to select 5 of varying degrees of complexity for them to do.

It was one thing to train out material based on slides and simulations, but now the tasks were being done in the live system and one was in danger of showing oneself up. Everyone is a bit of an expert in their area but I noticed that asking someone to share their knowledge was like asking for a pound of flesh and instead of the trainers assessing, there was way too much conversation going on between assessor and delegate, I was sure there was coaching going on. Some of the tasks did not work properly in the live system and instead of the trainers reporting this so it is fixed, they were passing delegates on the basis of them just 'talking through the task'. All of this was not on and against the rules.

By the time I started assessing delegates later that afternoon, I was getting one fail after another. I felt bad doing it but should I do what some of the other assessors were doing or do it by the book? I had no choice, this was the outcome and I was comfortable with it.

Wednesday and Thursday was spent out of Grad Bay and training a class. Despite the delegates blank faces during training, I got great feedback and felt really good.

The problem with blogging is my friends don't call me as much because they know all about what's going on through here, so what's to talk about?

So I was grateful for Bernie's call on Thursday morning, just to encourage me to hang in there and it'll soon be over. We talked about job options in London and I felt more optimistic - or so I thought. At lunch time, I was with one of my puppies when I decided to call home and speak with Kitan. I put the phone on speaker so she could hear his voice as we chatted away. He sang for me, told me he loved me then said "Bye". When I hung up, tears welled up in my eyes and started dropping, right there in the staff restaurant.

I was being silly. Even if I was in working London, I'd be away from home at work at that very point in time but it was hearing his high little voice, his singing, his laughing - I could not help myself.

It's Mother's Day this weekend, and I don't want anything fancy or any fuss. I just want to chill at home with my baby and bask in his sweet unconditional love and attention.

p.s. Did you notice the change in the blog title and the little script below the title... I've decided to keep the blog on after Leicester, if only for a while, to tell about my return home and to what lies in store.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

About nothing

I love blogging! Not so much because I want to share my life with the whole world but because it helps me get stuff out of my system and chronicle this time of my life. Even now when I look back at my earlier posts, I can see how much has changed and how somethings haven't.

This particular post is about nothing in particular...

The last weekend went okay.

Friday: Dinner at Ping Pong with hubby - he's never been and enjoyed it. Got a parking ticket! There must be something about that place, the last time I went with a friend, the car got clamped.

Saturday: Had last minute information that the Women's fellowship meeting at church was happening the next day. I HATE last minute preparations but spent most of my Saturday preparing the agenda, the quiz and doing some shopping for materials. Still had time to chill so it wasn't so bad. Later that night, Tunji read my emails while shutting down the laptop as we were going to bed and caught me out in a lie. It was so funny as I continued to deny his allegations. Whatever.

Sunday: Church... had a visiting minister, Pastor Femi Ayotebi (or something like that) - that man knows the Bible inside out and can quote literally any verse off the top of his head. I pray for that sort of anointing to know the Word in detail. His sermons are deep but humourous. This Sunday's was on Faith - Back to Basics, and it was inspiring. The Womens's fellowship was after church, I was the quiz master and it was hilarious and great fun

Monday: Negotiated with SN to work the evening shift today so it meant a lie-in. Instead of getting up at 5:30am and leaving home at 6:30am. I could play with my baby in the morning, have breakfast with Tunji and leisurely leave home at 11am. Bliss!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Choosing Life

As I anticipated, the training session SN forced me to do on Monday was a disaster. If not for my dark skin, I would have been beetroot red throughout the whole session. To make matters worse, Emilio was made to sit with me as I was training that particular topic to his delegates. Strangely, we had to bond together to get through that course because the material was so bad and I did not have a clue what I was training.

I was training to a class of techies and they knew their stuff. Telling them "you don't need to know what that button does..." did not wash it. When I got in on Monday, the training environment was down, the delegates had to wait an hour before it was fixed. Then the slides were not where they were supposed to be, it took another 30 mins to find them on the network. By that time, the delegates were fuming. The fact that the course made no sense, was illogical and did not address pertinent issues was the straw that broke the camels back. The training team need to present a united front so it was hard but I had to take the critism without pointing the fingers at the stupid person who wrote the material without consulting with the right people and my manager who refused to listen to my concerns.

By the time the evaluation forms were completed, the feedback was atrocious. Thank God, they absolved me of some of the blame but stated the course was half-baked and a waste of their time. But at least the ordeal was over and I had captured their issues and prepared a document with enough guidelines for the course to be reviewed. When SN came in after the training session, I told him how bad it had been and how he owed me an apology for insisting on this class when I'd clearly stated that neither me nor the material were ready. He was gracious and apologised.

I had told my housemate, Louise, last week that I was definitely not going to be wanting to renew my contract but I did not expect her to have another tenant lined up so quickly, as Monday progressed, I got an email from her that she would like to show my room to someone that evening. Mondays are not good for me, I have to wake up so early, drive 90 miles, usually do a full days training so by the end of the day I'm shattered and am often in bed by 8pm. This person was coming at 7:30pm and I was not even sure my room was in viewing state because I left in a rush on Friday. I sent her an email saying I was not expecting to have to be conducting viewings so early and I'd prefer if, after this one time, she does not arrange any viewings earlier than 6 weeks to the end of my contract. She wrote back apologising and I realised I was a bit abrupt, I wrote back apologising for my tone... It was just Monday and I was having a rough week already!

I had been feeling quite down the week before and I got some really positive and encouraging comments on my blog so this week, I was determined to 'Choose Life'.. 'Choose Joy', even after I heard the other lady who trained us last week had complained to SN, Fran and her own manager that I was being difficult in the class by asking too many questions, being rude and acting like I did not want to be there. This was after I'd left but the rest of the trainers defended me saying that that was absolutely rubbish. They told SN and the big boss Fran that her delivery and course material was bad and that I did not express myself any worse that the rest of them did and infact some were more vocal. I did not let it affect me instead I sent her an email apologising for upsetting her, saying that it was not my intention, like everyone else there, I just wanted to gain a good understanding of the topic she was delivering by asking the sort of questions delegates would ask.

Praise God! The rest of the week went okay. It was SN's birthday on Thursday, he was 24. After wishing him Happy Birthday, I said "At last, I have an older manager!" He found that quite funny.

The weekend came really quickly because I was trained Monday, Wednesday and Thursday so before I knew it, 3pm Friday afternoon came round and I was off.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Children - a poem

I love poetry and my friend Emma sent me a beautiful poem recently which inspired me to revisit one of my poetry books "Childhood - An Anthology of Verse and Prose".

Don't think I'm that posh with a huge collection of poetry books... I was pregnant for Kitan when I wandered into a charity shop and spotted it on the shelf for £1.50. I bought it because it was illustrated with beautiful art work of children (like the one below) and the poetry mirrored my thoughts and feelings at that time.

Here's one of my favorite poems from the book... I hope you like it too.



And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls.
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archers hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Children from 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Seeking Joy

I had left work fuming after my conversation with SN and spent the drive home devising my exit strategy and weighing up my options. It was depressing and I arrived home depressed.

My baby was delighted to see me and that was enough to lift my spirits for a few hours. Diane was still doing an 'okay job' but there was something about the house... I could not put my finger on it. It was clean, everything in it's place and Diane was making a Trinidadian dish - macaroni pie with beef stew - nice. Still, everything seemed somehow.

By the time Tunji got home and Kitan went to bed, my grumpiness was unleashed full force. I just seemed discontent... for no good reason. Tunji said "Omara, you have a job, you have a child, you have family and friends, you have your health, your own home, car, clothes, jewellery, money... why can't you be happy"

"Why can't I be happy?"

On Saturday, we decided to combine business with pleasure. Tunji had to be in Kent for business so Kitan and I tagged along. After the business part, we planned to drive to the funfair in Margate but we got hungry along the way and stopped off at a pub. The pub had a fantastic contained indoor play area. There were other children there so we let Kitan off to play. We dragged him back to eat when his shepherds pie arrived but he went back after eating. After being inside for a bit, we went to the outdoor padded play area and he played on the climbing frame and slides. That was how a short stop-over for lunch turned into 3 hours at this place but it was a fun family time, just us 3 and it helped tire him out so we decided to head back home.

Diane works half days on Saturdays and goes back to her sister's for the weekend. I was tired from work and I was dreading having to look after Kitan by myself. Tunji wanted to go and play golf when we got back but I begged him to stay home. In the evening, I bathe Kitan and went to put him to bed.

In his little head, I disappear when he sleeps so he was determined not to sleep. I tried everything to no avail. In between his getting up and out of his room, I was trying to find something to wear to church on Sunday. In my large closet filled to the brim with clothes, I could not find anything to wear - everything was too small, too ill fitting, too inappropriate- nothing fit! I was getting angry with myself and the weight issue as well as getting frustrated when Kitan kept getting out of bed. I had to call for Tunji to put Kitan to bed while I focused on finding something to wear.

I have to do something about losing weight - start a diet, go to the gym, cut off body parts - anything!!!

Anyway, after church on Sunday, I was looking forward to going home, putting Kitan down for his nap and getting a snooze myself when my sister called. She and her husband were going to visit someone in hospital, could they bring the children round? "OOOOh God!" If not that Kitan absolutely loves his little cousins and would love having them around, I would have said "NO!" but I said "Yes" and ended up with 3 toddlers to look after on Sunday afternoon.

Monday morning 5:30am, I'm awake to get ready for work, Tunji is ironing for me (as he always does) and we finally have a 'proper conversation' - I tell him about how unhappy I am with my weight, I tell him about the latest issue with SN, I tell him about how I am happy with what I have but sometimes the things I'm not happy with crowd the happy stuff out, I tell him that I'm feeling boxed in and need more life options.

We prayed and asked God to help me enjoy the many blessings in my life. The devil comes to steal and I must not let him steal my joy. Kitan woke up soon after, which was good because I did not have to disappear while he was asleep but was able to say good bye to him and ask him to be a good boy for his Daddy and Aunty Diane.

I kissed my boys at the door and set off.

p.s. I dressed Kitan up in traditional Nigerian attire (despite his protests of "I don't want it Mummy") for church on Sunday and he looked sooooo cute!

Monday, March 05, 2007

He has come again oh!

See me see trouble with this my manager oh! He has come again! I'd had a busy week training, nothing major, just the usual stuff. Come Friday, my only real free work day and the managers then decide that all of us not training should go for 'train the trainer' training where we as trainers are trained on further topics to then train out to delegates. This is called 'knowledge transfer'.

This is a pain and nobody really likes doing this, certainly not on a Friday. The people developing the training are not trainers neither are they technical, infact they are pretty incompetent and more often than not produce material that don't make logical sense and are ridden with errors. So, anyway, about 8 of us trainers sat through knowledge transfer of the SAP Reporting topic for most of the morning only to find out there was another course with a different person in the afternoon.

It was still a pretty easy going day until I got an email from SN, my manager, at 2:30pm that I would be delivering the SAP Reporting topic to delegates first thing Monday morning. I had to leave the class and go to him. Our conversation went like this:

Me: I don't feel comfortable delivering the SAP Reporting course on Monday.
SN: Why?
ME: Because I've only just seen the course, I've not had a chance to properly look at it and I can't go over it during the weekend because the software is not on my laptop. Can't someone else do it?
SN: Everybody is the same situation Omara. You are the best person to do it because you do the BW courses as well.
Me: The material is not even ready, Lucy still has some changes to make.
SN: Which training material do you know that is in perfect condition?
Me: Okaaaay. Can we move the training to the afternoon so I have the morning to prepare?
SN: No. One of the delegates is off and is coming in specially in the morning for the course.
ME: But the course is not ready to be trained out and neither am I.
SN: [blank stare]

I walk off back to the class to continue with the knowledge transfer. As I sat down I notice it was quarter to 3pm and I usually leave at 3pm. We'd been in training for 2 hours already that afternoon and it did not seem to be ending anytime soon. The trainer then announces that she hopes we can finish by 4pm because she has a meeting. 4pm ke? Not me and you! I send an email to SN to ask if I can leave at 3pm. He takes 15 mins to reply me in which he says "You can go when the knowledge transfer is over".

I fire back an email saying "I'm leaving now. There are 7 other trainers here who would be fully skilled in this course, I will catch up with whatever I miss next week".

I gathered my things and left.

My contract ends at the end of May, I'm counting the days and I'm sure he is too...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Crazy designers...

They must think we are the crazy ones.

Would you rather have the Louis Vuitton 'ghana must go' bag on the left for £850 ($1500) - being paraded at a catwalk show no less or a regular 'ghana must go' bag for £2.50 ($1.00)? Can you even tell the difference?

Where did the Louis Vuitton people see 'ghana must go' bag to copy sef! Na wah!

BluntRemi - our blogger fashionista - can you explain this please?

At risk of flouting copyright laws, here's the catwalk show, also available on the Louis Vuitton website

p.s. Any one who does not know why it is called 'ghana must go' should get in touch.

France, Italy, Spain - here we come!

Omara's Weight loss progress (started diet 17th March 2007)