Day 1: olatoxic

*strolls unto stage and sits on stool, staring into the distance for a few moments before tapping the mic*

Testing, testing… One, two, three…

It’s been a hard couple of days. You know those days where you make plans you consider fool-proof… Until you see them collapse like a pack of cards.

Oh well, we dust ourselves and move on.

I had grand plans for how this series would start – with a several-day-countdown and an intro – before I would graciously tick off a list of things I had bravely accomplished before the middle of the year…

Alas.

Here I sit, doubled over, upon this porcelain throne forcing out dollop after dollop of… Yeah, you get the picture. Oh well, might as well dive into it now. Smelly and yamayama as it might be.

I’ve been dodging going back to read my #30DaysOfHope post and recall the things I expressly expressed that I’d do this year. But man can no longer dodge it as the dreaded July has now arrived and the music must surely be faced.

Toxic has achieved nothing. Not one single thing from the list I wrote at the beginning of the year. Not even a first step. At least, not yet. I decided I’d keep it short and real simple…
– Start making wristbands again
– Start writing fiction again and blogging more frequently
– Properly develop my website and move this blog there
– Get my instagram activity back up and kick off certain projects
– Finally write the exam for a digital marketing course I took last year
– And somehow, still travel. A lot.

😂😂😂😂

If I don’t laugh now, I might start crying.

Let’s take these one by one and see just how poorly I’m doing. (Don’t worry, I’ve already judged myself).

– I haven’t made a single wristband. I’m still wearing the tattered one below every chance I get, convincing myself it has a cool “vintage” look. (Shush. It does, I’m just trying to ginger myself here 😑).

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A ‘vintage’ olatoxic wristband

– I haven’t written a single story in *counting fingers* exactly a year and a half. I don’t want to believe my oil has dried up in that regard. I just can’t seem to put a whole story together in my head, much less on paper or screen. I’ve already tossed the book project idea out of the window. Not going to happen anytime soon at this rate. I’ve never been able to write medium-length stories. Only shorts. But now, even those… Sigh.

Worse still, I haven’t even been able to write anything else. Thought pieces, poetry, rants, reviews, journal entries… even, ideas. They frequently flutter away before I’m able to trap them on paper or behind a screen.

Well, I’ll not give up so easily. In 2014, I started a ‘project’ where I tried to put up a post every day of October. I think I managed to do 20 days. I think I’ll get back on that. This time though, I’ll try and stock up on material leading up to that.

– As for olatoxic.com, that’s going to take a ton of pedal-to-the-metal grit and hard work that I’m not sure I have in me right now. If anything though, that’s something that absolutely must be done before #30DaysOfHope next year.

– Finally, something positive. I’ve somehow managed to get my activity back up. Though I’m still far from any form of regularity. Also, haven’t quite figured out how to (re)package the ideas I’ve been toying with for a while now. All in due time, I guess.

– From a small high to a big low. I procrastinated so bad that I never took that exam. I hate studying so much that I never did, and so never took the exam. The deadline came and went and I kissed that opportunity for a certificate I hope I never need goodbye.

– Finally, the only thing here which really gives me a cause to smile. I’ve been traveling. A lot! The target was three new countries and three new Nigerian cities/states. In February, I hit Senegal. In March, Kano and then Ghana, which doesn’t really count cos I’ve been to Accra before. It should though, cos we (Yellow Mitsubishi) also did Kokrobite, Elmina and Kakum. But no, Ghana doesn’t count. An neither do Benin republic or Togo, seeing as we went by road through them. But no, I didn’t visit those yet so they don’t count *sniff*. In April, I attended a training in Vienna, Austria. That definitely counts, though Germany doesn’t. Because odeenari layover. Mscheew.

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Because Viennese blue skies and centuries-old, spell-binding sculptures and architecture.

So I need to visit one more new country and two new Nigerian states to achieve my target. Looking good. The only sad thing about all this is how I’d been hoping to begin properly documenting these experiencing by doing some travel-blogging, but nah, such lazy. Sigh.

Oh well, I’ve got another six months to try to get all these done. I really needed this mid-year review to hard reset and force myself to look back and see that I’ve only been given excuses to why I haven’t gotten more done. I can honestly say I have no valid excuses and I sure plan to do better.

Hopefully, these plans won’t crumble again like a house of cards.

Ladies, gentlemen, welcome to 30 Days PurposefulTomorrow, we play catch up with Coco and Lo.

Day 1: OlaToxic

Thank you for the journey, 2015.

It’s brought me a mighty long way. It was unplanned and took me unawares, but it didn’t meet me unprepared. I’m still adjusting into the new fit. Still settling into the road. Still eager to see where it takes me.

Read the rest of my 2015 review here.


Hello 2016

It’s the first day of the fourth edition of the 30 Days of Hope project and this time, I’m going first.

I’ve never gone first.

And this is the first indication of something I plan to do differently this year and going forward – Go first more often. Just go. No more dilly dallying, no more foot-dragging, no more churning things over endlessly in my head.

Last year, there were no projects completed. There were no projects started even.

This year, several things will happen:

I’ll begin making and selling wrist bands again. Maybe make a proper, structured business out of it. I dunno. But even if it’s just as a small side hustle, is about time to get back to doing this thing that I really loved.

I’ll get my writing back up. Not like I have a choice. Writing and editing are a big part of the new job description. But that isn’t what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about fiction. There are so many stories swirling in the head that need to be told. Time to begin that book project.

olatoxic.com is going to be fully developed and this blog moved over there.

I’m going to get cracking on those instagram projects. All this professional social media managing experience and training kennot weist. As an extension, that digital marketing exam needs to be taken and aced. No more last minute rushes.

Love will happen again, somehow.

Project 40 before 40 begins. @son1ao inspired me a big deal when she declared she’d attained her goal of visiting 30 countries before she turned 30 someone last year. E pain me die say I don already turn 30 by that time. But oh well, life serves you lemons, you make lemonade right? I hope to have conquered 20 countries and 20 Nigerian states by the time I turn 40. Lay-overs and pass-throughs do not count.

My progress thus far?
Countries –
Ghana
USA
The UAE

Nigerian states –
Lagos
Abuja
Ogun
Oyo
Ondo
Osun
Ekiti
Kaduna
Katsina
Enugu

That’s 13 over 40. Let’s see how many more we can notch up this year. The goal is 3 new countries and 3 new states.

No pressure, man. No pressure.

The Day After 30 Days

Ladies, gentlemen, Nostalgians, The 30 Days of Hope is now… almost over.

No, no, no, it’s not over yet. What? You thought I’d just end it like that? Without having a go at it myself? Naaaaaaaahhh… I’ve got hopes and dreams and expectations too nah. How will it look if I got all these good folk to come share theirs and then just stood back and didn’t show no faith myself? Not cool, that’s how… ( ˘˘̯)

Where do I start? Well, I already pretty much did… Seeing as this year, my mainest goal is to bring my writing into a new dimension. Like many writers, my writing experiences flows, ebbs and stops. I need to move into the same realm of those folk who seem to always be able to just write. Whenever, wherever. And I realise that this takes discipline. And discipline involves taking steps. And this blog is one of such steps. Writing more, on a schedule, is one way of achieving this. Writing through the block and frustration and inspirationlessness is another step to achieve what I aim for and so I’ve decided to post more, much more, going forward. Hey, look who posted every single day of January. *beaming*

Of course, I realize I didn’t do this all on my own but I did manage to edit most, if not every one, of the posts that went up and I wrote an intro for each one too, short as those might have been. So yeah, I managed to write something practically everyday in January.

In addition, I was offering folk an outlet I’ve come to appreciate, same one I’m taking advantage of right now. Sharing a platform. Helping old friends, making new ones. As evidenced by testimonies that have already begun to roll in from people who’ve participated in the project. They’re not mine to share (except of course y’all are offering. Hey, I’m open *hint*), but I’m really glad I was able to be a part of making them come to pass.

Back to writing more and honing this talent into more of a skill, I would like to announce to you, my beautiful nostalgians, that I shall not be posting here so frequently going forward… *crickets* No, I’m not contradicting myself and ,yeah, I expected y’all to cheer really loudly and shii but y’all just can’t seem to see the bigger picture so I’ll just go ahead and paint you one… literally. Well, sorta. Okay, enough with the dramatics. My good friend thetoolsman over at TheNakedConvos has offered, and I have accepted, to move one of my largely under-utilised categories on here over to TNC. Basically, I shall be running a column, Art Stories, on TNC weekly. Art Stories will feature pieces that bring together two or more artforms including the literary, applied, performing and visual arts, one inspired by the other(s). What does this mean for me? Well, I’m a practicing artist, but I’ve left certain skills to go fallow overtime. By running this column, I get to power these back to life, developing them in the process and achieving all-round fulfillment as time goes on. You feeling me? So I’ll be doing much more drawing and illustrating now, also exploring other styles and media as time goes on and y’all get to go on this journey with me. Yay!

The column has already premiered- this last tuesday- and you can expect a post every tuesday going forward at 4pm, naija time (GMT +1). You can read the first piece/story titled JURY based on a drawing I did a while back title AlhajaiPlease hit this to read the post. Leave a comment o ( ._.)

I can tell that some of y’all might begin to wonder, patriotic Nostalgians that you are, whether this doesn’t contradict my earlier stated resolution to post here more often (than I did last year). It doesn’t. I shall write here still, only I might not be writing fiction as much, those shall be going to Art Stories.

That said, now, finally, we can bring 30 Days of Hope to a beautiful close. I’m so thankful for everyone who participated, RTed, commented, encouraged… Y’all are precious. By God’s grace, we shall all continue to see positive fruition from doing this. We shall testify, we shall grow, we shall become better people… because we said and wrote it and because we believe.

A blessed and a purposeful 2013 to you all, my beautiful Nostalgians.

Bless.

Future Tense

This post is inspired by Nono aka @RealistXX and @UberBetty. On her blog last week, Nono put up the 4th installment of So You Think You Can Think where a small portion of a story, usually the conclusion, is put up and readers come up with their own versions of the story. UberBetty provided the end of the story this time (highlighted in green) and here’s what I came up with…

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She vaulted over a fallen tree trunk, landing with stealth, toes first as the warriors had taught her. She no longer bothered with swatting the branches that now slapped her in the face and across her chest and arms. She welcomed the pain, relished it.

The silent, urgent words she had read in her father’s eyes spurred her on. Will power and stamina kept her on her feet. The urgency of her purpose lent her speed. The smell of blood in her nostrils heightening her rage. She would save him…

As she approached the clearing surrounding her hut, she heard swift, heavy footfalls in the distance behind her. Her training immediately kicked in and her highly analytic mind processed the available information at speeds her tutor would have been proud of:

Adult Male.

Late youth.

Military training.

Fatigued.

Resilient.

Heading straight for his mark.

She was being pursued. No surprise there, not after the stunts she had just pulled back at the village square. This was no tracker either, a tracker would pause, take in his surroudings, look for a trail, markings, footprints, scents… This one was a runner, a fast one and he dashed after her. She could not outrun him.

The first spent, another training module slid into the slot that was her mind and began spinning. “When pursued, become pursuer. When the quarry, become hunter”, she heard her tutor say in the speakers in her head. She slid to a halt, briefly scanned the woodland around and scrambled up a tree overhanging the faint, barely used trail.

As she balanced on the bough in a crouch, she readied herself. The footsteps approached fast and she ascertained something else. This one was not trying to mask himself, he was loud, obvious, and there was no effort to hide his approach. Using his loud footfalls, she gauged his direction and speed. She turned to face the sounds, not to see the approaching runner- the thick foliage surrounding her would not permit that- but to ready her ambush.

Even before her pursuer was actually under the tree, she leapt, backward and head-first, towards the clearing, her body forming a beautiful and deadly arc. His momentum brought him underneath her before he saw her. Her outstretched hands fell upon his shoulders, startling him and bringing him to a halt, which suited her purpose just fine. Grabbing unto the straps of his thick, leather breastplate, she used his shoulders as a pivot, much like the gymnasts back in her time, and swinging her lower-body in, executed the perfect backflip. With the force of her entire body weight and the momentum she had already gained behind it, she drove her right knee into his mid-section, driving the wind out of him. As he doubled over in pain, naturally, her left foot, already stretched out, found footing and she pulled him down over her, taking advantage of his forward-lurch as she fell to her back. Before his weight could crash in on her, she used her right leg, still folded into his gut, to flip him high as she could, over and behind her. She smiled with satisfaction, as he crashed into the brush and hard earth. She could just hear her tutor say what a good job she had done, accompanied by the three excited, short claps that meant he was excited and proud.

Finding her feet, she approached the vanquished only to pause in confusion as she heard his very familiar grunt, followed by her name, “Ebiere” in the same familiar voice she had heard only seconds ago in her head. She stood back as her tutor, Guntharr struggled to his feet.

“Don’t… Ebiere” *cough* “don’t do it.”

Her face contorting in anger, “Don’t do what? Save him?! You know I can! I must!!”

“Don’t be a fool. You’ll be killed and what good would it be when you’re both dead?!” He grunted, wheezing heavily.

“I just bested you, did I not?!”

“Aye, you did”, he said producing three short claps as he stretched painfully to his full height. “But you’ll be facing a mob out there, babe, a small army, not a handful of ill-trained guards. They will have their way. Look what that guard’s spear did to your arm. Now they want you for murder too!” Breathing hard, he found his breath and added “Besides, your father requests that you do not.”

“See? HE’s the fool! That barbarian deserved to die and by my hand, no less! And so will anyone else who stands in my way when I go back for him. He was only trying to get us back home!” she cried “You’ve seen his lab, the experiments, you know what he had achieved, what is at stake!”

Pointing at himself emphatically: “I understand, THEY don’t!” he said as he pointed in the general direction of the village. “It took me that long to understand the science of your time. How would they?!”

“What’s there to understand. It’s so simple. How dare they try to hang him… And for the use of ‘black magic’?!” She spat out bitterly.

Reflecting on the last two words she’d said, she rubbed absent-mindedly on the black skin on her forearm and continued in her igbo-flavoured 15th century european accent…

“He worked on the machine for sixteen years, eventually sending objects and animals back and forth through time. A human had to go and return for us to prove that our return home was possible. All he ever wanted was to take me back home. To go back and show the rest of our world that some good could come out of his precious Africa. Like time travel is any good to anybody…” she sneered “Look where it’s gotten him, gotten us. Those people volunteered and those heathens know that. They were sent to the same future we came from and he can bring them back! Why wouldn’t they just let him?!” She screamed at him as she finally broke down, the tears flowing down her face freely.

He had no answers. She remembered the look in her father’s eyes again, recalled the urgency. She remembered the proclamation that had been made over his hanging head as he looked markedly at her “…he shall hang at sunset.” She glanced up at the sun preparing to retire and then down at her watch, the only other reminder of home she still had besides her father and strengthening her resolve, said again “I will save him.”

Guntharr stepped out of her way as she floated past him, then said “He knew you would try to save him. He knew you would come back here for the shotgun. He asked that I meet you here and ask you to not return to the village”

“Ha!” she scoffed. “That is not possible. I saw what he wanted in his eyes. He was pleading with me… to save him”

Shaking his head, the tutor said “He was pleading with you to leave him.” He paused to let this sink in before going on “He says it was a mistake- his mistake- bringing a five year old on such a journey but he does not regret it. You have blossomed into a brave, beautiful woman in this cold, hard world so far away from your home and he is very proud of you. You are the only reason he has fought so hard to go back all these years. Your father asked me to tell you that he loves you very much and that it is time for you to go home.”

“He always was too much of a peacemaker, wasn’t he, Guntharr? Much unlike you and I. We are fighters we do not walk away from the ones we love. I guess he was always the brains of the family and me the brawns, eh, Guntharr?” She tossed back as she began walking…

“You are right about you and I. But you are wrong about him. Everything he has done is him fighting for you, princess. That is why he found the shotgun… and destroyed it”

She paused mid-stride. “That is impossible. I hid it away where he would never find it”

“He found it with that little metal-detector of his…”

She knew that the shotgun in the box she had hid beneath the earth at the foot of her bed was the only way. The only way she could save her father! Turning around, she searched for the lie in his face and finding none, dashed for the hut.

…Out of breath; she burst into her bedroom. Her chest heaving. Up. Down. Up. Down. Her left hand held on tightly to the gash higher up on her right arm. It was 5:00p.m. Was she too late? She lowered herself to the floor, pursing her lips, bearing the pain. She stretched out her bloody hand to pull out the metal box. It was out. She gently opened it.
It was empty. What? Empty?
Her lips stretched into an unbelieving, cynical smile even as tears fell from her eyes.

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There you have it. This is actually a better (hopefully,) edit from what I posted on there. For other takes on the story, please visit the comment section of So You Think You Can Think 4. UberBetty writes at Afro says to me. Which reminds me, I made an appearance on ‘Spooky Fridays’ on Afrosays on friday night. Please check out Circles of Man if you haven’t already and please leave some feedback.