It was my birthday yesterday! I was born twenty or so some years ago and I am thankful to God!
I am always slightly excited about my birthday and I am exceedingly thankful this year. Not because I get to celebrate one year of life a gift or privilege not everyone was given but because God has been good to me. My birthday celebration is usually a low key event, I forced myself to throw a graduation party last year because I thought I had to mark my graduation from medical school somehow. It was only by Gods grace I made it through. As my friend always says, Jesus dragged some of us to the end of medical school with us clinging to the hem of his garment. Because " I is gotta tell ya, sometimes it was rough.
As I get closer to the dirty thirty. I am unnaturally calm and content with my life. This unnatural calmness scares me because I am NEVER calm about personal goals for my life. I am usually a drama queen. I usually fret about everything then throw a spiritual tantrum when I feel God has not delivered on his promises to me. I tell you , God has suffered in my hand. The only conceivable reason I think he takes it is because he loves me. I really wouldn't tolerate a lot of the stuff I do if I were God. But thank God I am not.
Its weird to think I am actually changing and maybe growing up GASP. Since I am a little fickle.
Sometimes I am all like “God how did I get so old!!! I thought it would never happen!!! I thought I would be Peter Pan and never grow up!! Then I envision the Holy spirit calmly walking into the room and giving me a hot slap then I calm down and then I am all thankful again.
But I am really thankful to God for all He has done for me and continues to do for me. He's' my homeboy. Without His intervention and patience I don’t know where I would be.
Since its my birthday I decided to take a trip down memory lane cataloging my life in a mixture of pop culture and personal milestones.
So sit back and relax this one is going to be a long one.
I am an 80's baby. I don't remember much from then but I choose to share a cute pic of mine
Didn't I look all cute and innocent? Sigh. The good old days....The interesting thing is I remember when this picture was taken. I remember I was in an unfamiliar house ( my moms friends house) and she coaxed me to take the pic. Even from a young age I remember I had a powerful imagination. I was a shy quiet child and could retreat into the worlds I created for myself. I thought it was my child like imagination and I would lose it when I grew up but I still had the ability when I was older. Then one day I realized it was a gift and began to appreciate the fact I could be whoever I wanted to be ( in my head anyway.)
My first imaginary friend was Shaddy Edison and her best friend was Hardy. She was an actress in Hollywood. I actually had a lot of fun with her. In a weird way I still believe she is a real person that existed.
Random fact of the 80's to 90's. I went to a Lebanese school in Lagos, Nigeria.
When I think of this, all I can ask is why! I wish I could stop my mom and tell her no. Don't get me wrong I had fun there and made a few friends there, however I was a MINORITY in Nigeria. I remember even my young self thinking this wasn't right. The black kids always stuck together and we were all friends. One thing I got out of there was learning to sing the Lebanese national anthem ( because we used to sing both the Nigerian and Lebanese national anthem) and I got to eat zeta which was a bread type of thingy. It was delicious.
Then sometime in the 90's I was introduced to the beloved and delicious ...
Indomie. Indome was/is the BOMB.com. All the kids loved it but adults always hated it. I remember when I told my uncle all about it and made him taste it, he threw up. I was so confused! As far as I was concerned this was the best invention since slice bread! When it first came out it was delicious and pepperish then it became watered down. Nigerians get crazy with indomie, Some people eat it with chicken, shrimp, veggies, corned beef you name the food, a Nigerian has probably added that to indomie I like mine plain and I still get it from the local Giant store for 59 cents.
My first nickname was
Frank Spencer! For you guys who may not know him, he was the accident prone main character of an old British show " some mothers do 'ave them . The show was on all the time on local Nigerian television. I was very clumsy, absent minded and forgetful ( Lord my family used to call me Forgetful Jones too!, a character from Sesame street). I used to lose every thing! Every earring my mom gave me, every pencil, every toy! I mean everything. I think it was because of my imagination. I was never present. If I wasn't happy, I would just retreat into the world in myself then forget everything else. Frank Spencer was soooo annoying, I really don't think I was that bad. His longsuffering wife, Betty taught me about marriage because she stuck my him through his many accidents. It was amazing to watch Frank Spencer enter a room and then level it to the ground because of his clumsiness. You have to watch the show to understand.
My absolute favorite author was
Enid Blyton! Before a certain British author influenced the hearts and minds of young children there was Enid Blyton. Enid Blyton's books was responsible for helping me develop my imagination. I wanted to go to a British boarding school when I read her books. I wanted a midnight feast like the girls in St Clares and Mallory Towers, I wanted to travel on a wishing chair and be transported to a different world every night, I absolutely loved the fact that Georgina was a tomboy in the famous five and they solved ALL the mysteries!! She is one of the most prolific writes of all time and my "young self has idealized all her books. I cant read the books again because in my mind there are all perfect!
I wrote my first original novel when I was twelve or thirteen it was called Dark Shadows. It was about a set of twin girls, one was bad and the other was good. The good one watches her mother have an epileptic episode and die then she panics and runs. The wicked one blames her for their mothers death. I don't remember the rest of the story but I wish I could find the manuscript just for the laughs. I also wrote a play when I was fifteen. Yeah I had a lot of time on my hands....
My first two unoriginal novels were based on
Sweet Valley High (SVH) and Baby Sitters club. I loved these series. SVH more than baby sitters club, because sweet valley was everywhere. The series went from sweet valley kids to sweet valley university. I hated the fact that Elizabeth was so passive and let Jessica get away with everything! I wanted to go into the books and shake some sense into her. I read a baby sitters club where they had a summer camp babysitters club. I loved it so much that I basically wrote my own version when I was in secondary school or high school for American readers.
Then I had a gap year in between secondary school and starting University. In that year I discovered CDs
I played and overplayed some cds. Aaliyah's Aaliyah cd, Destiny's Child's The writings on the wall CD and Ushers 8701 cd. I overplayed this cd! As in every single night and every single day. I memorized the lyrics of Can you help me by Usher by pausing then playing then writing down the words. Yes I was that desperate to learn the words. Lord!!! Those lyrics and Ushers voice screaming , Can you help me!!!!! I was like Gad!! I wish he was singing to me!
Then I moved to Chicago and was introduced to
Michigan Avenue and downtown Chicago. I had so much fun in Chicago. That city was my baby, my first love. From shopping on State Street to catching trips on Michigan Avenue, summers were so much fun. All my memories in Chicago are not honky dorey, however I cannot deny that living in that city for five years was fun. There was always something to do.
Then I got my first library card, shortly after I moved
The first time I went to the library straight from Nigeria, I wondered what the catch was in the library. SO I got to borrow limitless amounts of books and I just had to return it before a certain time. I didn't understand why the library wasn't filled with more people. So then I read and read and read then read some more then and I grew. I commuted to campus so I would read during the train ride. I never went to one world history class but I can talk about Versailles, Marie Antoinette and the guillotine , Henry the eighth and his many wives, the war of the roses, the betrayal of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra and Grecian civilization because I read. I would never pick up a history book about these subjects but I would read a fictional book based on it. I have made up my mind to make my children read and not stare into an iPad because its so important to learn about the world. I didn't limit myself to libraries. I spent my free time in borders and Barnes and nobles. Its a pity that Borders closed down. I know I wasn't always happy then in my life but books were my escape. I always say I didn't dream in Chicago. I did not imagine.Things were too dark in my life. I cant imagine when I am down but I could escape and escape I did, into my books.
Then I packed up my bags and moved to Washington DC for medical school. Here, I met the crew
the studying crew aka room 210 studying group crew! I don't remember how we came together but it started with hustling for studying rooms on the second floor in the medical school. We were all in our little groups for the first few month of medical school but because we were always competing with the dental students for study rooms we always ended up together in room 210. Soon we became known as the loud Nigerian 210 group and Thomas Jacob( the only non Nigerian in the group aka Oluwathomas Babatunde). God blessed me with a people, with friends , with a support system in medical school. I can never take it for granted and I really appreciate it. A lot of getting through medical school was your support system and I couldn't wish for a better support system. These ones enter the life time friends category. I feature a lot of my friends in the book as minor characters. I wanted my book to be a memorial to that snapshot in time of our lives for us, I didn't want it to turn into anything negative a la Best man part one where some of my friends didn't like how they are portrayed so I kept them as very minor characters.
Though medical school was the best of times and sometimes the worst of times. I made it through by the grace of God cue I made it through by Tye Tribett.
My transition to real life adult hood was rough to say the least but in that time I got my first car,
Last but not least, in medical school was where I really met
So through my twenty or something years of living, these are the surface snapshot experiences that have made me who I am today . Of course the highlighted ones are not the totality of my life nor are they the most important ones but they are vital part of what makes me who I am today. I do not regret the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences because they made me who I am. Every little experience had a part to play in teaching me , molding me and sometimes breaking me,. I guess all I am trying to say is that after taking a catalog of my life, I have made many mistakes but I don't have any regrets.
I am exceedingly thankful and grateful for my family, my friends and good health.
I am thankful I sleep like a baby when I do because not everyone has that gift
I am thankful that I have friends who shorten my ration and eat the food I cook because not everyone has that blessing
I am thankful for the gift of contentment, not being happy most of the time but being content with where I am and who I am.
That even in the wilderness stage of my life right now I can say to myself " I have fought the good fight of faith and even if I do not obtain the promise at least I gave it a damned good fight.
I did the best with the hands I was dealt with and I look back on my life and I say to myself "at least I tried."
I am at peace.
And to the one who gave me another year of life, I say thank you Father, for you are exceedingly kind and faithful.