Book-smart, Street-wise

This is the only picture I took this past Eid-ul-Fitr and the first picture since a long time. I couldn’t decide whether to be happy or sad.

I have been beaten down pretty badly these past couple of months. I used to be a Star Girl. I felt I could weather anything, but nowadays, I’m not so sure of that. Little miracles like finding money on the ground have stopped happening to me. Back in the days, I was a prodigy. All I had to do was read the textbooks I was given and explore additional readings on my own, and I was acing my tests. This formula doesn’t seem to be working so well for me nowadays.

Take my driving experience, for example. I learnt what the instructors told me and obeyed the traffic rules, but I struggled with my turns (hand over hand,etc), which eventually led me to crash my new car. It was when I decided to forget what I learnt in class and use my intuition that my turns got better. My first brother also went to a driving school, he tried to use the tricks he learnt in class, but he also dented his car. Then, there is my second brother, who never stepped into a driving school and started his lessons by driving. His driving is pretty impressive, and he has not dented any car.

These past few months at work, I have failed some tests even after reading and memorizing test materials circulated. The pass marks were too high, and so many questions were set out of the scope of the reading materials, but this wounded my confidence still because I seem to have lost my lucky streak. I have been following the success stories of my classmates, and it seems that the really confident and outspoken ones are exceeding expectations. They are travelling the world, bagging more degrees and creating fun families.

I thought I had cracked the code by following the guides; respect your elders, read your books, and pray. That formula is not working!More and more, I have come to appreciate that networks are really effective for surviving this world. Social media influencers prove this every day. The more people you get to notice you, the higher your chances of succeeding. My experience at work has taught me that there is a standard that we all adhere to no matter our skillsets . We do not go below that standard, and even if one’s skills far exceed the standard, the chances of one getting promoted and even getting to make a career pivot is about who notices them .If I have learnt anything these past few months as I have started research for an MBA, it is that I need not be modest about my accomplishments, but I have to sell them because no one else will. I have to reach out to people who have been in similar shoes for tricks and lessons for acing my application and also to target companies I would like to recruit for.

I have decided therefore to reduce the time I spend with my head in books and started to relax and take risks and living in the moment. One of the things I appreciate in my life now is serving as a customer service representative. Roles like this used to freak me out because I am shy as well as being an introvert. I used to worry that I would not succeed but I have cracked the code for listening and communicating with people. I am doing pretty well for someone who used to be scared of people.

This networking thing may not be as scary as it used to be when I was straight out of college. These couple of days, I have been able to bluff and flirt my way into getting favours from other colleagues.

Who can blame me? It is time to be street-smart.

Don’t mind me; I’m just practicing vocabulary I

Since, I was a child, I always learn and remember new words by using them in stories. This story below is an example. The new words I learnt at the time(about fourteen years ago) are in bold format . Hope you enjoy it:-)

Bob and Queen broke up their relationship. Everybody remembers it well. That day, everybody heard an altercation from Bob’s room. Nobody still knew the reason because they refused to talk about it. Many months went by but still they did not get back together so everybody forgot about them.

Then, a time came when Queen was always fretful;exams was approaching. Anytime she picked up her books, her countenance was that of a person in excruciating pain.What she could not admit to anybody was that she really needed a lot of help with her academics. Before, Bob was always solicitous enough to help her but now that they were fighting, she did not know who would help her.

At long last, her apprehension forced her to go humbly to ask Bob to ask for his aid. Contrary to her expectations, he was magnanimous. He helped her so willingly that she was very happy and yet ashamed that she had quarreled with such a good young man. After exams was over and everybody was celebrating, Bob went to see Queen, They had quite a long chat secluded from everybody else. Bob admitted that it was not in his disposition to stay angry for so long and that he wanted to get back with Queen if she still wanted him which she did, so their relationship was revived.

At long last the curious minds got to know the cause of Bob and Queen’s argument. They divulged that their fight had been about tardiness.Bob had reprimanded Queen for always being late so that is how a harmless criticism turned into a wild fire.In a matter of days, the hue had returned to Queen’s face and she was always so full of mirth.

A reason why I like writing

Sometimes, I get distressed after watching a drama or reading a book which was awesome. This is because I am often interested in the lives of supporting characters and also how life continued after the end of the story.

I have always wondered what happened to the seven dwarfs while Snow White was enjoying her happily-ever- after. What dialogues did the townspeople of Hamelin have after the Piped Piper left with their children? Did Rhett Butler and Scarlett from Gone With The Wind ever get back together? Well, I could speculate and imagine my own ending, maybe even go as far as writing one myself but it would never be the same.
And maybe that is the reason that I like writing. It is something about the ability to create something that belongs to the writer; readers may try to reconstruct the story in their own ways but in the end, we know that it can never be a creation of the writer.

Writing is a source of power!


My first car crash happened in August  2021. I was just three weeks into learning to drive( My turns were still  bad).It wrecked my car and messed with me emotionally and mentally .
It happened when I was joining a main road . There was a car parked close to the junction so I had to drive further onto the main road and closer to the other lane . Everything happened so fast. One moment, there was a dispatch rider approaching in the middle of the road which was unexpected and I mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal with the force with which I intended to step on the brakes.I flew over a gutter and into a wall fortunately or unfortunately because the wall stopped the car.
I look back many times than I want to and try to think of things  I could have done differently at the time .
In many days and some months after, I felt like the luckiest unlucky driver; lucky because if I had not driven into the wall, I would have caused a lot of wreckage on the road which would have made news headlines; lucky because I could have killed the dispatch rider because the speed at which I flew would have killed any human on impact;lucky because I was alive and  the only real damages were to the wall and car which could be fixed.I felt so unlucky because I had used all my savings to buy the car and I felt that this accident meant to tell me that buying the car was a very wrong decision. I felt so unlucky because I could not figure out how to do turns(I was such a scaredy-cat on the road) and that  maybe driving was just not meant for me. The way I wrecked the car, nobody would have been surprised if I had quit driving.Maybe I would have but the circumstances at the time meant that I was stuck with the car for another four years. Driving again was scary. I kept having flashes of the accident and at the beginning,  I thought I should have just given up driving. Somehow, it all worked out for me because I am a good driver now.
Now, the main reason for this post is that I have realised increasingly that my family members always have a comment or two to make when I am chauffeuring them.
You turned too close to the gutter or the curb.”
“You turn  like a new driver.”
” You should not have allowed that driver to join because you have more right of way.”
“Don’t park here, park there .”
These comments really got to me and I used to ask myself if I am just a bad driver.  What I realised along the way while also being driven around is that I am just like other drivers on the  road. There is nothing wrong. We all make mistakes here and there and there is no perfect way  as long one  drives defensively, stays in his lane,obeys traffic rules and does not end up hitting a curb or falling into a gutter.
I also realised that no matter how far I have come, the people who know my driving story and have seen my journey as a driver may never appreciate how much better I have become . To them , I will always be that driver who always has problems with her turns. Only people who do not understand my story will really value my driving skills.

This scenario happens a lot in other areas of life . For example ,at work, one’s colleagues or employer may not be able to tell how much someone has grown because they were part or saw the growth process. The lesson here is that one must always not allow himself to be stuck at the same place because one may not be acknowledged as much as elsewhere. That is the reason people keep switching jobs even if the previous workplace conditions are awesome.

It is just that one needs to step out to be respected .

New York:-)

Photo credit:

New York has many impressions on my mind. I always think of Alicia Keys’ description of it as a vibrant city in which dreams come true. I think of ballet and theatre when New York comes to mind because a lot of the books I read about theatre are focused on New York. From acquaintances that have been there, New York is a Metropolitan city where you always meet someone from your country who shares your local dialect and where you can always find a street named after a popular city in a foreign country or named after a country like Chinatown. On social media, I see New York as this bustling city full of bougie people and quaint expensive apartments and designer shops.
Lately, I have gotten another impression of New York from a movie  called “A Rainy Day in New York.” I enjoyed this movie greatly, more than  I had thought I would . It appeals to an esoteric crowd, people one would call romantics. At the beginning of the story,  we meet the protagonist, Gatsby who also happens to be the narrator in a voice-over. We get the impression that he is this bougie smart kid who would rather not be in school if he can help it and then, we finally see his face.
He describes his successful escapades playing poker and reveals that he has made $20,000 overnight.  He does not fail to strongly indicate that his mind would be better put to use out of school even though he is super smart. He describes his girlfriend ,Ashleigh who also happens to be super rich and very beautiful . We are then introduced to this blond beauty who is really doing well on the school paper on screen. After the account he has has given of himself, I admit I was a little shocked when Gatsby admits that he is in love with Ashleigh.
Ashleigh excitedly announces that she has been given the rare opportunity of interviewing  a famous film director, Rolland Pollard. Gatsby is happy for her and immediately plans an exciting romantic weekend for them while avoiding his parents and also the weekend charity event his mother has planned which he has lied his way out of. He goes ahead to book a hotel called the Pierre with a Central  Park view. He would have preferred The Carlyle, another hotel but decides against it because of the proximity to his parents’ home. Instead, the love birds will have dinner at the Carlyle, visit the bar and enjoy the murals. On the ride to New York, Gatsby reveals the itinerary;  they will have dinner at the Daniels and also an ice splurge. When they get to the hotel, Ashleigh who is impressed suggests they take a carriage ride if it does not rain but Gatsby believes the rain will not spoil the ride but make it more romantic.
The interview with Pollard is supposed to last an hour after which Gatsby and Ashleigh will indulge in the romantic activities .I don’t want to drop spoilers here but the long and short of the story is that Ashleigh’s interview takes more time than planned and has her going on her own adventures to the dismay of Gatsby. He walks around New York City and tries getting in touch with Ashleigh at the appointed time for any  activity but she keeps blowing him off until he becomes insecure about her fidelity under the influence of the artistic men she has come into contact with in the course of the Pollard interview.
To pass time, Gatsby decides to check on an acquaintance  who is filming a movie as a project in film school. He is convinced to get into a kissing scene with the little sister of an ex-girlfriend, Chan. She teases him by mocking his choice of girlfriend that is a blond rich country girl which looks so cliché.  As he keeps getting blown off, Gatsby ends up following Chan around the city even though she continues to mock him and make him feel more insecure about his girlfriend. He is surprised to learn that his ex-girlfriend, Chan’s sister  and her family did not appreciate Gatsby’s  idea of romance which included going on dates in the rain and making love in the open. Chan finally reveals she thought Gatsby’s eccentric date ideas were really appealing to her and avows that she had a crush on him. At this time , Chan and Gatsby have broken down their walls and are becoming more appreciative of each other.  Chan is impressed when Gatsby plays and sings an old song,  “Everything Happens To Me ” on her family’s piano. Chan in one of their intercourses reveals that she can picture Gatsby with a lifestyle playing risky sports like poker and playing the piano. I believe it is at this point that Gatsby may have realized that for the first time , he meets someone who really gets him.
Through some unfortunate events,  Gatsby ends up going to the charity event where he surprisingly has a good time and bonds with his overbearing mother. Finally,  Ashleigh shows up for the last romantic event of the day to a downcast Gatsby playing piano. Before Ashleigh and Gatsby leave New York , he treats her to the last romantic plan for the trip which is  horse-riding in the park. It starts to drizzle and Ashleigh complains about the rain. Gatsby has an epiphany and realizes somehow that he belongs at  New York and Ashleigh is wrong for him. He jumps of the carriage indicating to Ashleigh to go ahead back to school and that he may not be returning.
He runs to Central Park and stands before the Delacorte clock at it strikes 6:00 clock. This scenario is one he has imagined sharing with a lover. He stands for a while looking at his watch while the clock continues to strike. Just when we think he may be wasting his time, Chan appears and they kiss indicating to the world that though they have different views, they share similar tastes when it comes to creating romance.

Now,  this version of New York I saw through the movie as this romantic place even made more beautiful by rain is a novel experience for me. I enjoyed the soft music that played throughout the movie. It transported me to the 50s and at the same time I was in the 21st century. From where I come from, Ghana, we all run home when it rains. The rain dampens any enthusiasm for going out because you have a lot of places getting flooded, potholes getting deeper and mud-water splashing everywhere. For a film to romanticize rain, that was a first for me. Well, if ever I find myself in New York , I ‘m going to take some time to walk around the city and experience this romantic side the way this movie portrayed it .I loved this movie and will totally recommend it to anyone looking for a romcom.

Couple Hanging Out

By Niena Alhassan from sometime bi before 2011

I happened to find this picture in my scrapbook from many years ago.It’s a couple at a bar.It was really more about practising how to draw men and my fascination with bar setups especially the stools at the time.

I rather enjoyed creating the female character more than anything; she is a strong independent woman not afraid of people’s opinion of her. See how she was popping bubbles with the gum in her mouth!😆She’s also bold and creative . I mean, just look at the colours she matched with her outfit.

Every once in a while, she doesn’t mind being treated to a nice drink and a wonderful conversation.Who can relate to this woman?

A Visitor From The Past

Today, I found my childhood scrapbook. I had left it untouched for so many years. As I flipped through the pages, it reminded me of all the dreams I had nurtured. I thought I was going to be an editor or writer for a magazine . There was always dressmaking in the picture too. Right now, I am not so sure about those dreams materializing but the constant is that I always want(ed) to be rich(hehe).

I was pretty impressed by the writing and the handwriting (my handwriting was no neat back in the day) and so I have decided to make it my mission in the next few months to digitize the scrapbook. I am optimistic that I am going to have an exciting journey. I foresee that I am going to be motivated and that I will find a middle ground between the person I wanted to be and the person I am now. At this point in my life, I feel that I am better resourced to follow any path I want. As a child, I always had school to finish and nobody thought I could be trusted to make the best decisions in my life. Now, those barriers are removed.

Someone once wrote on twitter that the Ghanaian dream is to build a two-bedroom house and buy an Hyundai Elantra. I think I am on the right path towards that dream and then it’s freedom and more freedom to be more daring!!!!!

Almost 30 with many more years to go!

This is the face of a woman who is almost 30 years. As a single woman still living with conservative African parents, it means that every weekend or free time I get with my parents, I have to listen to their lectures on how hard is to get hitched when a woman gets to her thirties. It always ends with them pleading with me to find a supportive husband.

Like many other women around the world, I grew up with a vision to be rich, marry and have children. I guess like other children, I took it for granted that getting married and having children would be a piece of cake; the getting rich aspect looked less attainable.

Somehow, in my first years of college, I came to a conclusion that I would count myself lucky if I got married. To prevent future heartache, I stopped thinking about marriage altogether. In my last years of college, my leadership lecturer asked us to submit an essay about our future plans. When I got my essay back, among other comments , there was one asking me about marriage. That is when I realized that I had got to a point where I had totally ruled out marriage. Marriage at any point meant that I would have to change my life plan. My parents would have been so horrified to know this!!!

Some weeks ago, it occurred to me that I pray for a lot of things; long life, peace, money, job success, academic success, health but I have never prayed for a spouse. It was pretty surprising to me even. I decided to change. I am going back to being that little girl who hoped to conquer the world and did not see any limitations. When I remember to, I pray to the Almighty to guide me towards and bless me with a good spouse. I hope these baby steps will lead to a good end. We’ll see how the future goes.:-)

I’m Alive Today; Yay!

The other day during my bath, I felt a pain below my knee and noticed about four depressions there. I thought and thought about how and where I got hurt but I could not think of any place or reason. Finally, I somehow concluded that the marks were snake bites judging by how they had been arranged. This is how it played out in my mind:I was walking in a dark place and did not see a snake but I must have alarmed it causing it to bite me.
The idea was ludicrous to me even but it was the only thing that put me at ease or so. The depressions felt extraordinarily painful at the time and left me worried thinking about all the possibilities. Could it be a harmless snake bite? Was it a poisonous snake bite that was going to work its way slowly through my body until it reached my heart and stopped it? Was I going to experience one of those unexplained causes of death? I was scared for such a time but apparently not so scared because I don’t recall thinking of the “snake bite” when I was going to bed and many days after.
I just recalled this incident and realized whatever I thought the worst was going to be, I have survived it and I am happy to be alive. Hip Hip Hurrah!