Every Tuesday, I share snippets of thoughts that I call ‘My Thinking Corner.’
I would like to invite you to participate. The challenge is quite simple. You can check this link for more details.
When we were young we were full of ambition, dreams, and drive, but when we get to a certain age there’s the tendency to let go of our deep desires, which gives way to the need to just get along with living and paying the bills. We unconsciously tell our minds that we are too old to pursue certain dreams.
This creates a chasm of dissatisfaction deep inside anyone who has found themselves in such a position and it just never goes away no matter how much effort is made to mask such desires.
When we realize that our destiny lies in our hands through our thinking; when we realize that so long as we still inhabit our bodies and notwithstanding the fact that we grow older, that as long as we’re mentally, physically and spiritually able, we can still pursue some of those dreams that gave us bright eyes and lit up our hearts.
I’ve seen people obtain degrees in their old age, change careers or start a business late in life. Never stop dreaming. Never stop pursuing your dreams.
It’s an honour for Mandi to accept to do such a personal interview with me. Ever since I started blogging Mandi has been a staunch and heartwarming friendly support. Mandi, I wish you all the best in your endeavours and appreciate your hand of fellowship.
Introduce yourself, a bit about your background, your likes, dislikes and general outlook towards life.
Hi, my name is Amanda or Mandi as some of you know me. I am from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and have lived here all my life. I live by two gorgeous parks and off-leash trails for dogs. I enjoy walking the off leash trails. I miss my old dog and enjoy the other dogs on the trail. I also love how peaceful it is on those paths.
I have been on disability for over eight years now. I used to be an admin assistant in construction for a commercial development company. I became ill, not realizing what was happening to me because I had never experienced mental illness before December 2008. I left work my last day emotionally distraught, embarrassed, and not realizing I was hearing echoes after certain people talked. I would hear what someone usually said, then hear an echo of their voice which would comment and say something mean.
On December 24, 2008, I waited in the emergency with my Dad. We discovered I was experiencing a psychotic episode. I went into the hospital in January. Once I started a certain antipsychotic, I stopped hearing things. For some reason my now doctor told me when you hear things, it’s always the worst things you can think of. After, the psychosis I had a mini depression.
I have never had another psychotic episode since 2008 but now experience depression and severe fatigue. Severe fatigue meaning, I cannot mentally or physically do things for a long enough period to work or do many activities in life.
After trying countless medications and developing insomnia along with my depression, I went into the hospital to overhaul my cocktail of medications in July 2015. I’m finally, on a helpful and tolerable med called Clozapine.
It acts as an antidepressant, antipsychotic, and causes me to sleep through the night. Before Clozapine, not being able to sleep and becoming so used to sleep medications that they stopped working was miserable. Now, I have more freedom in everyday life as well and can do some exercise and concentrate better.
I’m a determined writer and I’ve been working on improving my writing for years. I have a BA in English Literature, a certificate in Residential Design, and am pursuing an online MFA at UBC for May 2017. I love being creative and imaginative in my writing; I enjoy drawing and acrylic painting at times; and I adore dogs, hanging with my friends, Netflix, scrapbooking, and yoga. I’m told I’m intuitive and thoughtful.
I don’t like it when people push me into a corner and force me to decide something, I need time to weigh matters for significant decisions. Because of my illness, I need a bit more control over my life than some people realize. I have to plan down-time to relax and can’t do activities out of the house every day. I hate it when people are discriminative of people with mental illness or disabilities of any kind. I regret that because of my disabilities, I missed a lot of time with my best friends and are not as close to them as I would like. But maybe that’s life and it happens as a person grows older.
I’m extremely close to my family and I’m drawn to people who are close to their family too, including pets. I’m a proud Christian and would not have made it through what I have, if not for God’s grace and the love of my family and friends.
Tell us about your blog and your purpose for starting it. Did you have any set goals in mind when you were setting up your blog? What do you think about the blogging phenomenon itself? What has your blogging experience being? Here, you can share some links of your top posts or blog posts that you particularly like with us.
I mentioned earlier, I have been working on my writing for years now. After my mini depressive episode, I couldn’t read books such as Harry Potter and it was hard for me to even write. Daily, I increased my ability reading, starting with easier books such as the Twilight books and other Young Adult books, eventually, moving into more difficult reads such as the books I read in university English classes.
My goal with writing was to bring my writing to the point it was at in university, but I hope I’ve surpassed that goal. I had read some of my friends blogs and had a friend who blogged on WordPress. I signed up and started blogging.
In the beginning, my blog was a place to share about my mental illness and my daily life, the disappointment I felt at not being able to live and be like a normal girl of my age back then, and the classes I was taking. I also started writing for a young woman’s magazine and I enjoyed writing about these current events twenty-somethings would be interested in.
I also started taking some editing course through Simon Fraser University online. Quickly, I discovered I would never be perfectionist enough to be an editor, but I loved to write so I focused on creatively explore writing. It has always been my passion and I’ve been writing poems since I was eleven or so as stress relief and because it always felt right to me.
The editing courses were useful and I did learn when editing others work, to leave it as their own work and not completely change it as my editor for the young women’s magazine had done to my articles often. But I did need to work on my spelling and grammar and my blog and the editing courses aided me there.
At the same time, I was working on a Residential Design certificate. It was good knowledge to know had I been able to return to work, but it wasn’t my passion. I signed up for a few creative writing courses, and participated in many versions of the WordPress online courses. I started writing posts for my blog everyday. Gradually, I fell head over heals in love with writing fiction and especially, poetry.
I have made it my goal to visit www.shadowpoetry.com and learn to write using as many poetry types as I can master. Poetry always comes out the easiest for me, usually in free verse. Fiction requires more thought. Through Flashfiction challenges, through writing my own novel, and learning the whole process behind developing a novel, my writing has improved substantially, since I began blogging nearly five-years ago.
As a writer, I realize a blog is a necessary part of sharing your work with the public, by commenting, participating in prompt challenges with other bloggers, and sharing your work over social media. I never realized even a few years ago, how all these social media accounts add to a writer’s audience.
Twitter is a big one. I have many followers on there and quite a few new ones every day. I write some poetry only on Twitter and have found places to publish my poetry through Twitter. Mainly, www.spillwords.com. I also love the WordPress community. It’s so supportive and I love brightening someone’s day by telling them how wonderful their writing piece is or what it makes me think about. Critiquing is so helpful as long as it is done in a helpful and kind manner and I try to do this when I comment. I would rather in my own work, have someone be honest with me if it doesn’t sound right (etc.) than tell me it’s fantastic and lie. But not everybody likes such honesty.
Take us with you on a typical day spent with you. Show us a bit of your World and yes we love photos of your pets if you’ve got any.
Honestly, my average day is not interesting. I set out with a list of tasks to accomplish and try my best. Sometimes, it’s a bad day, and I end up staying mostly in bed and sleeping. Other days, I do chores I need to around the house, make healthy meals, do twenty to thirty minutes yoga or walking, clean, comment on other blogs and read blog posts, catch up on writing for different prompts, read books or magazines, or work on editing my novel in second draft. I research a lot online, try to stay up on current events, and watch Netflix or TV at times.
A day out, I plan ahead. I go to a festival in Edmonton in the summer; go to the mall for necessities and sometimes clothes shopping; I go for coffee and meet a friend or sometimes on my own for a change of environment; I go for a longer walk in the river valley; go to a farmer’s market on a Saturday; get my hair or nails done; attend an appointment or go to a movie; and whatever else I want to do or need to do. I can only go out every couple of days usually, but sometimes I manage two-days out at a time. I’m limited to about four-hours out at a time, unless I’m simply sitting, such as for a movie. After a while, an extremely noisy or loud place is difficult to remain in on certain days.
On weekends, I often do something with my Mom in the day. I’m pretty constantly texting friends or messaging them and connected to the online world throughout my week, but sometimes even I need a break.
What’s the next pit-stop for your blog’s outreach and publishing? Any plans in the offing? You can also share some of your published works here.
Well, like you, I’ve started doing interviews of other poets and Bloggers. It’s fascinating to learn about other writers, their writing processes, how they publish their work, and to find their unique take on life and writing in general. It’s been a success for me on my blog. I was extremely pleased to have you as my first interview. Now, I’ve got a whole list of interviewees until October at least. The interviews are informative for readers such as blog followers, as well as myself.
I’ve had poetry published in www.spillwords.com and www.sicklitmagazine.com since June 2016. I continue to send out my poetry to literary magazines and journals, as well as websites which publish poetry and fiction. My goal is to have a short story in fiction published.
Fiction is harder for me as I said, but I love it. Rejection makes me all the hungrier to have it published. Even when I receive rejection emails, I’m happy a publisher/magazine took the time to reject me and often tell me what I need to work on.
I want to eventually publish my novel which is a paranormal romance. I’m working on rearranging and polishing the second draft of my manuscript. Then, I need to look at editors because as it is my first novel, I need an editor to read through the whole piece and tell me what works and what doesn’t. I think I’m going to try querying for an agent after, but I will see. There are advantages to self-publishing, but given my health, it may be better for me to have a publisher take care of editing the manuscript, doing the cover, the marketing etc.
Thanks for interviewing me, Jacqueline. I appreciate your generosity.
Here are some current links to some of my work and some photographs:
“There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.” W.E.B. Dubois
“I would like to be an architect,” she told me in her soft melodious voice and I listened.
“I am starting my course at the University this September and I am so glad.”
‘You see, I am from Yemen and it’s not easy for us as women. There’s a lot of gender disparity,’ she continued in her lilting tone
I could see the shining ambition in her eyes and the beautiful smile on her clear pretty face and I felt such pleasure just knowing that she’s getting the opportunity to pursue her passion and ambition.
The saying that when you raise and train a woman, you raise a village, a town, a nation came to my mind.
It’s been quite a grueling competition! Sebastian is determined to win the championship even if is by the skin of his teeth!
He has come far and this is it! The moment of his life and his dreams!
He could almost taste the victory and the fame at the end of it all.
His face would be splashed all over the papers and television. Instant celebrity status stamped on him as he turns into the toast of the town.
Endorsements would fly in from here and there. He could imagine his preening and the ladies cooing after him; his companionship sought by all. He could see it all! The pause to pose for silent brooding pictures for the paparazzi. The constant request for interviews. The frenetic social calendar. What a success it would be!
For just a split second, his wandering mind drifts off from the game at hand. In that split second, the ball comes sailing through the air and his delayed reaction causes him to over-reach. His legs fly out under him! He sails into the air, landing with such a heavy thud at an odd angle.
Pain pierces and radiates through his entire body. He struggles to rise but this legs crumble under him as the excruciating pain keeps him down.
The medics rush to attend to him and a quick examination is carried out.
Through the haze of the pain, a sober voice filters through;
“Well my young man, it appears you have popped a rib or two!” Said the Voice.
”You will be needing a FLANGIPROP for support for several months or more.” ”Unfortunately you cannot continue with the game.” The droning voice continued as he administers on-site first aid.
He is quickly holstered on a stretcher whilst he writhes in pain and anger. This is not the way it is meant to end he argues in his mind.
The flashes of the camera keeps popping in his face as the paparazzi catch every wince of pain and misery that is etched on it.
In response to The Daily Post – Invent a definition for the word “Flangiprop,” then use the word in a post.
The actual definition of Flange: An external or internal rib or rim which is used to add strength or to hold something in place.
The actual definition of Prop: An object placed against or under another to support it: anything that supports.
An assortment of okada, keke, and several kabu’kabu/taxi’s, park lackadaisically on the hard-packed earthen kerb, beside the gutter that Mama Put used as her frontage. This is a busy corner of the road side, which teems with human traffic.
Mama Put’s shack is brimming with customers going in and coming out. Some still have their toothpicks in-between their teeth, sucking in air, in an attempt to dislodge a tiny morsel that had stolen into a gap, whilst some insert a finger in their mouths, using it as a wrench to pluck out remnants of chewed meat.
Lunch time is one of Mama’s busiest period. These rushed gathering of men jostle each other for space on the worn wooden benches and the few mismatched plastic chairs inside the crowded shambolic tent of the popular buka.
The men are taking a proper break from the morning rush. Most times they leave their homes on empty stomach as early as 5:00am for the quick business turnaround of taking passengers to their places of work and trade. Leaving early not only helps to put more money in their pockets, but it is also a means of beating the unbelievable go-slow which builds up as early as 6:30 in the morning.
Hasty gobbles of soft Agege bread, slathered with blue band butter chased down with hot tea from the local Mai shayi, serves as a respite till lunch time. On days when there is a lag between passengers, then it could be a quick meal of hot fried akara balls and ogi or kunu.
From 6.00am in the morning till she closes shop in the evening, Mama Put’s domain is a place of systematic chaos. She endeavors to start early to cater to her early bird customers and it was not a strange sight to see a flashy car or two with a customer carrying a food warmer to make purchase and eat in the comfort of their office, shop or home.
Her rivals spread snippets of malicious gossip that mama uses spiritual powers to keep her customers enraptured, but these back talks neither stopped her nor did it deter her customers. Nkoyo – Mama Put’s real name – could cook. Her food is always tasty, fresh and her demeanor pleasant.
The men look forward to their lunch. It is a place of camaraderie; a place you need to be, to keep abreast with the goings on in the vicinity. Heads crowd the steaming pots of jollof and dodo, white rice and stew, porridge beans and yam; each customer making their request and pointing out their particular choice of a piece of assorted meat or fish, whilst those who waited on the next round of pounded yam straddled their benches and engaged in idle chatter.
As they crowd the eating arena, an overpowering smell of dried human perspiration clings to the air, mingling with the divergent aroma wafting from pots of food and this creates a unique smell in itself.
The deep hums of their voices rhyme with the kpom, kpom, kpom beat of the pestle and the mortar at the back of the tent where a young lad mashes the boiled yam – which occasionally mingles with beads of his sweat – into softer lumps for swallowing with native soup. Pounded yam is a heavy meal appreciated by the hardworking men. It kept the hunger pangs at bay for hours on end.
Over their hot plates of food, their loud voices compete to regale each other with anecdotes of the days events. Of cantankerous, corrupt officials who dot every few meters of the road, casing the riders and extorting money from them. Sometimes, it would be the story of an irksome passenger or a tussle with another rider. They argue over football, a division of thoughts depending on the persons Premier League of support and their gist’s are often interspersed with ribald jokes. They talk politics, share their opinionated advise about women, touching on this and that.
“Ha!” “Mama, na wa o!” exclaims a stocky regular. This poundo fit belleful person so? E small o, he carries on talking as he receives his plate of pounded yam and afang soup.
Mama generously cuts a little extra portion and adds to the lumpy mound on his plate.
A beg give me pure water, another customer known as Sadiq requests.
Mercy, one of Mama’s kitchen girl heeds his request and ambles over with a cold sachet of pure water, which is kept cool with the ice blocks purchased from the ice block supplier.
Sadiq, calls her “my wife, my wife”, pats her ample waist and Mercy giggles as she steps away to answer another customer.
It’s a typical selling day and nothing is amiss until a customer rushes in, breathless with news of calamity. A demolition order from the new local government chairman is taking place. Makeshift stalls, shacks and all are being callously pulled down. They say it is to make way for modern stalls that Mr. Chairman wants to construct and sell or rent to the highest bidders.
Grumbling of mistreatment of poor masses in the hands of elected officials ensues. The men disperse quickly in order not to be caught in the backlash and have their properties impounded, as the rumble of the crushing Bulldozer is heard chugging it’s way slowly and surely, leaving destruction, tears and anguish in its wake.
Mama flounders as they hasten to gather crockery, aluminum pots, pans and other items that they can move quickly. Her thoughts are scattered to the four winds as she glumly watches her modest enterprise bulldozed to the ground. Tears leak out of her gritty eyes, rolling down her face unashamedly. She is caught in a wave of abject despondency.
Her sweat and efforts of many hard months fast turn into a crumpled heap of rubbish. It has taken so much to get to this point. To get to a point where she had a steady stream of customers and feasible income. Her family existed from hand to mouth; from the sweat of her brows and thoughts of her children, Uduak and Kufre’s school fees which is due in a couple of weeks cause more tears to well and brim over.
The bitterness of her situation pools and curdles her spirit. She rails and rants in anger, her vitriolic emotions overflowing its bounds. Her life has been a deep struggle; from one point to the other, that it sometimes feels as if the current sweeping her is too strong for her to keep her head up.
“Where will I start from?” Nkoyo mutters to no one in particular.
“How will I now catch up with my book me down customers?” She ponders fleetingly?
The vote she that she cast for the imbecilic Chairman a thought to regret and hiss over.
For as long as she can remember, she pays the local government touts protection money in cash and with free plates of food too. They extorted sums of pin money with promises that her space will always be maintained. She even contributed when all the vendors were approached to add their meager support to the Chairman’s campaign kitty.
Now that trouble had come calling, where were they to flex their lying muscles? Where were the thieving local government officials and their area boys? The Area fathers have slunk away like sly foxes with their tails tucked in-between their legs.
Nkoyo sits on an overturned mortar beside the rubble in weariness, her ambitions of expanding her business callously truncated. Her leaden legs are too tired to carry her home.
Glossary for words in italics that you may not know:
Afang soup: A vegetable soup originating from the South Eastern part of Nigeria – Cross River states.
Agege bread: A very popular low class bread baked in Lagos and favored by laborers. Usually very soft and eaten with so many variations of items e.g eggs, beans, bean cakes, etc
Akara: Bean cakes made from peeled black eyed peas and fried in hot oil.
Area boys/fathers: These are loosely organized gangs of young men, who roam the streets of Lagos. They extort money from passers-by, act as informal security guards, and perform other “odd jobs” in return for compensation.
Book me down: Customers who purchase food on credit and keep an account with the food vendor.
Buka: Local food canteen a step below restaurants. Food cheaper than the restaurants.
Dodo: Fried ripe plantain
Go slow: Slow crawling traffic
Jollof: A popular meal eaten in most West African homes, a one-pot meal made with fried tomato and pepper stew, rice, meat and spices
Kabu’kabu: Shared taxi
Kpom, kpom: Typical sound made from pounding.
Kunu: Popular drink consumed throughout Nigeria but mostly in the North. Made out of millet or sorghum
Mama Put: Road side food seller so called because her customers are known to beg for extra food for their plates ”mama abeg put more now”
Mai Shayi: Road side hot tea sellers
Na wa o: Exclamation which expresses so many things such as surprise, woe, you don’t say etc
Ogi: Liquefied maize meal which is thickened with hot water and sweetened with sugar and/or milk.
Okada: Commercial motorcycle used as vehicle for hire in Nigeria.
Pure Water: Water bagged in disposable sachets.
This poundo fit belleful person so?: Will this pounded yam fill me up?
It was just the perfect opportunity. Disaster had struck unexpectedly in his favor and he intended to grab it immediately. The past few months had become very harrowing as the noose around his neck got tighter that at times he felt out-rightly choked.
To sleep was proving more difficult for Eric and as each day passed, he spent insomniac nights chewing Pepto Bismol to calm his nervous stomach. The unexpected wave of staff lay-offs at the firm was getting a bit too sporadic and uncomfortable and the forthcoming audit would surely give rise to a whole lot of eyebrows and dust trail.
It had been cool running’s over the past years but disappearing without trace was no longer as easy as before. Now it seemed luck was smiling at him with the massive train wreck that had just occurred. The ensuing inferno and mangled wreck had left so many dead and burnt beyond description.
It was simply luck that his appointment in the neighboring city; San Francisco which was a three hours train ride away from home had been delayed and he had missed catching the train by mere minutes. He had tussled with the idea of changing his ticket for a later train or hanging out in town and scratching some itch, when the news of the accident broke.
Eric felt it was providence; even though he really didn’t believe in God. It was time to move on and to cover his tracks as usual. His steps grew lighter as he turned back and caught a cab back into town, his thoughts firing on as he quickly made his plans.
He pondered briefly on which color of contact lens he should use this time around. Should he grow his hair a few inches with a nicely trimmed goatee moustache or a full beard? He had fancied the scruffy yet debonair look of George Clooney a couple of months ago. Paired with scholarly glasses, he could definitely cut the image of a confident man who had it all figured out.
Having to keep up appearances over the past few years and maintaining Emily and his two little girls in style meant dipping his fingers deeply into the company till. A closer scrutiny of the accounts will definitely nail his coffin and he could not afford the beam of light which would shine on him; it could open a whole can of worms which were better left firmly closed.
He was also almost a hundred per cent sure that someone had been watching him very closely of recent. Anonymous little notes had started appearing in odd places with names and words supposedly known only by him. It really was time to skip town.
A little part of him would miss his daughters, he thought. “No matter, they will have to get by without me”, he quickly reassured himself. They were the reason he had tarried a bit longer than usual. Emily was not known for her brightness and she would never think beyond the fact that he died in the train wreck. She would mourn him appropriately.
It was still a sore point for him when he thought of how he had been had. He hated to think of the time he wasted courting Emily and how quickly she had succeeded in hustling him down the aisle, only for it to turn out that his father in law was actually not as wealthy or as generous as he had anticipated.
With only Emily as her fathers sole heir, he had been sure a life in the lap of luxury was guaranteed, and it was a rude shock to help the old man kick the bucket only to find most of his wealth tied up in useless stocks and paying gambling debts. Settling down to a job was novelty and in no time, he was back to his old tricks.
He was feeling very upbeat as he first went to the town’s library to research the deaths and births records. He settled on the name Karl Sutton. It had a nice ring to it. His next stop was at the bank where he withdrew some of his booty and then to his rented storage space where he pulled out another stash of cash he had been tucking away.
Checking into a nice motel, he decided to freshen up and enjoy a bit of the town before buying a ticket to check out to Boston. His mind had settled on Boston; it was far enough.
That was the beauty of it all. Good old United States of America was big enough that a man could choose to get lost if he so wished. From San Francisco/California to Boston was a clear cross country journey of four days by train and a five to six hours non stop flight.
He needed to worm his way quickly into the heart of a young impressionable Boston heiress and the way to go about that would be to gain admission into the exclusive country clubs and to attend the prestigious churches within that location.
His stolen booty would be useful in buying a lee way into these staunch epitomes of success. These days, money could buy you a whole lot, even a complete change of sex and identity if and when necessary.
Nobody cared to question the source anymore, except when you choose to run for a political office. That was not in Eric/Karl’s immediate ambitions. He would like to support those in power from the peripheries and with time such meatier ambitions could be achieved.
He made his way to The Dungeon and Skulls; the towns reputed pub with exceptional nocturnal services. In no time at all, he had two delectable ladies keeping him company at the bar. The red head looked very interesting with her charcoal black sultry eyes, the engaging mole on her upper lip and the very tight pussy-cat jump suit that she wore.
She kept leaning into his sides with her generous unbound bosom which he thought would burst out of the deep cleavage of her suit if care was not taken.
Karl was excited! The night was proving fruitful as he made his way back to his motel room with his lady of the night: Miss Red. Pouring a generous glass of brandy for both of them, he went to the washroom to retrieve his pack of emergency condoms and joined Miss Red, who was sipping and swaying gently to the croon of the music from the radio. She treated him to a nice peek-a-boo strip tease, as his light headed and excited body reclined deeper into the mattress. He felt very languid and did not offer much protest when she used silk scarves that she had extracted from her purse to tie his hands firmly above his head.
She crouched lower and he waited with bated breath for the anticipated titillation. She had him in the position that she wanted him. Pulling off her leather gloves which exposed fingers that had been twisted and mangled by fire burns, she removed her red wig, her fake upper lip mole, her eyelashes and contacts, whilst he watched in amazement.
She wiped her face clean of the heavy disguising make up that she had painstakingly perfected how to apply, leaving no illusions of her identity in his mind. She was his former accomplice and second wife in his line of bigamous marriages.
He struggled feebly as flashes of the burning house he had orchestrated came to his mind, his body felt heavy and his head was getting lighter by the minute. He was sure she had been taken care of in that fire; but that was apparently an erroneous assumption.
Opening her purse, she pulled out a .22 Magnum mini revolver— a tiny little five shot revolver, that packed a good punch. His eyes flashed in desperation as he pleaded and tried to negotiate with her.
Laughing scornfully, she told him that she had been waiting for a day such as this for a long time.
“Shh! Just keep quiet and die like a man.” Blowing him a mocking kiss she bid him good night.
Enunciating each of his aliases for each silent bullet that were carefully aimed: two for his groin – Karl Sutton and Eric Godson, one for his temple – Jesse Everness, one for his chest – Kurt McKnight and one in his stomach – Chase Reeves.
She wiped down every possible tell-tale sign of her presence, finished up her glass of brandy and tossed the snifter into her bag. She left a clear finger print free parcel propped by the noisy radio in the room, it was crammed full of incriminating pictures of his escapades.
Grabbing the duffel bag filled with money, she walked into the enveloping darkness of the night.