Love at First Flight

Good day, smut readers!

This is my first post whilst on my trip in West Africa. For those of you who follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, then you know that I have been posting photos and such from my trip. I am currently in Sierra Leone and will be here until mid-March. I was very nervous about this trip for all sorts of reasons; one, it is part of my field research, so I’m not on vacation, I am here to do work and collect data and this will impact the viability of my thesis. Second, there were some logistics that were not yet solidly confirmed such as my short and long term accommodations and where in the country I would travel to conduct interviews.

Oh, and apparently, I’m engaged, so now I must think about that too.

I’m glad to say that it has all been working well. I stayed in a nice guest house for a few days before heading out to the most eastern region of the country, Kailahun District. This is where the rebel war of the 1990’s that had spilled over from Liberia crossed over in 1991 to overthrow President Momoh and displaced millions of Sierra Leoneans as they fled westward to the capital, Freetown, or to other places. A large part of the diaspora has yet to return, especially in a country that desperately needs educated, entrepreneurial, and reform-minded people to rebuild in a post-conflict and fragile setting. In 2014, this is also where the deadly Ebola virus had also crossed over and was the heart of the epidemic that soon spread to the rest of the country, and now people are rebuilding from that too. I plan on visiting some other districts along the South, and hopefully will make it to the Bombali district in the north too.

The good, the bad, and the ugly about traveling

Everyone has been very friendly to me, despite my companion and the family I’m staying with, warning me to view everyone as suspect. It is not in my nature to do so, however, I know that I am different and I look different, so I should be cautious. Especially at night and tonight I do plan to travel alone from downtown Freetown to my apartment in the Eastern side of the city. I am also the type of person who will forget to lock her (front) door and I never lock (I don’t think I ever had a lock and key, except for in the college dorms) my bedroom door. However, folks here take security seriously, even in the remote villages that I went to, its common to see 6 or 8 feet cement walls with barb wire and broken glass bottles on the top. As well as bars on the windows, all kinds of deadbolts and padlocks on front doors and each person’s bedroom doors. When I asked my companion why he felt it necessary to lock everything up, especially when he is living with family, I asked, “Are you afraid of theft?” He replied, that he knows that no one in his family are thieves, but this is Africa…etc.” There is suspicion of the other – that someone will try to harm you (physically or spiritually) or take something from you. As well as there are a lot of stories and rumors of people being robbed or kidnapped and such, in the States we call that news.

So, I do think this one person may be a little overly cautious, especially since I was betrothed (kidding) by a close friend of his to watch over me while I’m here. And he wants to make sure that nothing happens to me.

I can’t seem to escape…men problems

Speaking of my betrothal, my companion has taken a liking to me. I arrived very early on a Thursday morning where he met me and took me to my guest house where I stayed for a few days before moving into this apartment. He’s a very smart guy and politically involved and savvy, just the way I like ‘em. I would later find out, that he in turn, was surprised to see how young I was doing my postgraduate degree. There are many obstacles in Sierra Leone for young people to attain higher education, so to get a bachelor’s (a first degree, as they call it) is remarkable in of itself. But to see someone my age studying beyond that, is rare and very respectable. I guess he was not only surprised by my youth but also attractiveness. We talked a lot on Thursday about Sierra Leone politics, global politics, my thesis, my family,…etc. I felt very comfortable talking to him, of course, because I knew we would be doing a lot of traveling together and spending a lot of time together. Thus, it is good to get to know each other well. However, I may not have known that culturally I may have been crossing a line; by the next day he declared that he was falling in love with me and tried to kiss me. He really didn’t seem to understand what was wrong when I kicked him out of my guest room and threatened to christen my new Swiss army knife by slicing off his left nut.

Apparently, “being open” about yourself is a sign that you like a person, so talking about my family and myself…etc. He may have misread that as me falling in love. Thus, I made a call to a friend in London, who has spent some time in Senegal on his experiences. His advice:

  • Love doesn’t actually mean love. The word love is sometimes overused, when it really means lust or just really liking a person to date him/her. Westerners are much more reserved in using the word love until we know this is the person we want to settle with for life.
  • Men in West Africa, can be more aggressive. Not just in pursuing women, but in other aspects too. For example, I noticed that when my companion speaks with younger cousins around his compound “he orders” them assertively to do things (fetch water, boil water, sweep his room…etc.), now there is a respect for age and education, so as the oldest male relative, he does get to boss his younger brother and cousins around to do things for him, but heesh! As well, since he is an educated person (first degree) when we go to buy things from local shops or hop on the bus, he “demands” that they take us this place, or when they are going too fast or slow, or to give him his change now. In terms of love, if they are feeling something, its best to let the lady know upfront and now, hence why I found out from him so soon.

We talked a couple days later and decided to remain friends but even that has had tension and clashes. Like hand-holding (all sexes) is a common sign of close friendship and I had many times refused to hold his hand, which made him upset and wondered why I would refuse this. Not to mention, in one of our trips we had to share to a room.

These last couple weeks, he had let it known that his feelings had not changed, and even had gotten stronger the more he has gotten to know me. Even to the point of telling his mother that he was falling for me. His mother confirmed this over the phone to me too. On our last night before heading back to Freetown he said he had been talking to someone before he met me, but it hadn’t gone far. OK, I don’t give a shit. Really, we just met last week or so, and I’m pretty sure you had a life before me, anyway I’m glad he’s an honest Joe.

Sigh…More problems, am I in Nollywood?

Well, on the day of our return, when I was transitioning to my new apartment with a lovely older couple, he said he was going to introduce me to a female friend, someone my age that could keep me company in my new neighborhood, as the couple’s own daughter was away in medical school. He showed me a picture of her on his phone, then another picture, and another and another…and WTF, how many pictures of this female friend does he have on his phone?! I inquired deeper into their relationship, and it turns out she was the girl he was talking to…for two years!

Who the fuck does he think I am? Nobody “talks” for two years.

To be continued…

Ringing in 2017 (finally)

Hello World!

Those of you may remember the WordPress template greeting for your very first blog post, this is my first post in quite awhile. It seems when we last connected, I was lamenting over the pressure of the holidays and moving out of my lovely apartment in London for a field research trip to West Africa.

Thank you to those who responded with helpful advice about remembering to breathe and the real meaning of the season, but the dark fate of 2016 had struck me in its final hours and gave me pause to think about the importance of our lives and family.

My Christmas in London was absolutely lovely. I spent the weekend with a British family in Croydon, opening presents, eating, and drinking until I was blind. Really, its the stuff that movies are made of, to wake up and open wrapped presents (I got soo much stuff!) and have magnificent home-cooked meals and mixed cocktails at every meal and snack hour.

My move-out wasn’t too hectic, honestly the only thing that sucked is that I realized that I have way too much stuff. Like my personal effects quadrupled in the last year, despite me sending some books home earlier in the year, selling my major appliances, donating clothes, and giving away lots of household items, and throwing out stuff, including my favorite shampoo and conditioner because I had no where to pack them.

My trip to NYC started off with a 9 hour delay at Gatwick, followed by an overnight ride in an 1000 degrees Fahrenheit cabin on Norwegian airlines. I’m not shitting you when I say the flight crew didn’t even serve refreshments on this transatlantic flight. In fact, I had to get up and ask for a drink of water when I couldn’t bare it anymore.

My first day in NYC ended in a family medical emergency. My older brother, who had been sitting in the den watching TV, could not get up and walk upstairs without assistance. So I helped him up the stairs, where I noticed his sudden weakness and vertigo. The next morning I drove him to the hospital and my entire world crashed.

My brother is nonverbal because he was born with cerebral palsy (CP). However, he is friendly, smart, a sports jock, and a laid back guy. His only flaw is that he is a Leo and always has to be the center of attention. But what’s shocking about what happened, is that no one in my family could remember the last time he had a cold, let alone be taken to the ER.

The first 48 hours had dramatic highs and lows, after 45 minutes of being triage and sent to an ER bed, his vitals started to decline; his heart rate was at 32 and then the labored breathing started. By 8pm that evening, they supposedly had a bed in the cardiology unit, but he went into respiratory distressed and hypothermia. So he and our family spent the night in the ER room.

By the next morning when his body temperature went up to 92 degrees Fahrenheit, we noticed the heart rate improving too, but his breathing was still labored. Not only is this a difficult situation for anyone to watch a loved one, but having doctors talk to you about end-of-life decisions and aggressive treatments, like intubation, just builds on everything…Everything I took for granted. Everything that I missed or said. The times when I didn’t call home when I should have.

He did do better that day, and they made the decision to move him to a general floor instead of ICU, but the next day he downgraded a bit so the doctors said they felt better with him in the ICU so they could keep a closer eye on him. He didn’t get moved from this ward for another two days. While my brother did get better and came home last week, essentially as normal as before, we don’t have a real explanation for what happened as all the tests were negative, and after some antibiotics and steroids, he still continued to improve. So the professionals believe it was some sort of viral infection. In which, I responded by having the home professionally cleaned and offering to burn all his belongings.

He refused the latter.

So what does this mean? While I still have my brother, I actually lost a close friend the night I arrived. This New Year’s has given me a lot to reflect on. I have been so embedded in trying to “find myself” and “live life” because I felt tied down in New York, but none of that is important anymore. Not university, not my thesis, nor my trip. I was certain that night in the ER, that I would be emailing my professors to tell them I am not coming back this year. Because that is what I had to do, if it happened.

However, it didn’t, and I did not spend my brief time in the city going out for drinks and catching up with the latest gossip like I intended. I spent nearly two weeks shuffling between the hospital for 2-3 days and going home for a quick showers and food. I left for Manhattan twice: the first time for that funeral for my friend and again for dinner. I have been home making the most of my time with my relatives.

And you know, home is not a bad way to vacation. Its been rated 3 and half stars.

Happy New Year, everybody!


Jingle Bells Batman Smells

The countdown begins, not that I haven’t already been counting the days before I leave the United Kingdom. It seems that for almost two months, I had been trying “to prepare,” however that far back it is hard to get anything set in stone. I was still getting documents ready for my visas and getting passport-sized photos, then approval from the university’s ethics committee for the research, then approval from the department for funding, then having to re-book my flights because the airline canceled them, etc…. Now today I had everything together for my visa for my second country and they decided to take the week off before Christmas. So now, I’m trying to see if I can apply at an embassy in America when I return or while abroad in West Africa.

So we will see how that pans out. Embassies are notoriously difficult to get a hold of, which is frustrating when they want you to email them for an appointment. Thus, shouldn’t I get a reply email confirming my appointment or even answering a general question if I am just getting stuff ready and just want to know what to bring in advance?

Other than my general frustrations and woes with government bureaucracies, how are all of you doing?

Not that I’m expecting an immediate response, but I know with the upcoming holidays everyone is just going through something during the happiest time of the year, right? Ironically, since this is my first Christmas away from my family and I am not planning to cook a gigantic meal, nor does London seem to get into the “spirit” as much as New Yorkers, I feel toned down this year. It could be because I have my head in the books and am more worried about theoretical frameworks (still no idea what that is), rather than thinking about people (that I know). However, being single and hardly knowing anyone here has really just made me able to focus on myself this past month and “getting things crossed off”. It is selfish, but being away from home can have its perks. Unfortunately, London is completely shut down this weekend, which feels very unusual. At least NYC had Sunday/holiday service on the subway and buses.

Taking care of self during this time of year is just as important as looking out for the ones you love. You can easily get wrapped up in other people’s issues and burn yourself out. So here are somethings that I think helped me get through these last few weeks.

1. Start as early as possible. I know it is hard to think about end-of-year things in October, especially when anything can happen between now and then. However, you will save yourself a lot of time getting those “little things” done that may seem only take a minute or two. For example, I knew that I was moving out after holidays and I had to get a key replaced, order some last minute things off of Amazon, and get boxes from my job. Well, had I waited until this week to do that, there’s no way that stuff from Amazon would have made it before I left, nor would I have been able to carry some free boxes for packing from work all at one time. I also did have my key made as it gave me opportunity to shop around for a lower price. Things that I have no time for this week, now that this visa emergency has popped up.

2. Book a spa day. At the end of all the holiday parties and dinners or perhaps right before, you are going to need a couple hours to yourself to get the kinks out. If the spa is not your thing, then get your hair washed or another activity where someone is doing something for you. We all love our family and friends but sometimes having someone do something that makes you feel loved can coax you back from the brink of insanity.

3. Give up your expectations. Whoa, whoa…now put down the bottle. Expectations are different than your inhibitionsstill keep those. So what I mean is that there is no perfect or fantasy Christmas. Yes, maybe we have an idea to specifically go somewhere or do something, however do not give your hopes up for the “perfect experience.” As I opened above, you can see that unexpected shit happens (like government offices closing a week early so they can have their perfect Christmas, which messes up my perfect Christmas). So flexibility, patience, and open-mindedness is key – remember what is a priority for you to get done may not be someone else’s priority. I’ve worked in customer service and although we are supposed to empathize with clients, it’s hard to feel for someone when they are blowing up in your face.

So this is just from my experience, but I hope that you find them useful! If you have any other ideas about de-stressing through the holidays, please share them with me!

@ReporterandGirl or post these ideas on my wall.

30 Year Old Student

This is when you realize that your vocabulary is permanently scattered with words like “problematic” and “ontological” and “hegemony.” I’m just a monster.


Or now that my social circle consist of other PhD students that go to pubs and parties, just talk about their research. Because no one know who Ariana Grande is.


Or when all my colleagues, acquaintances, relatives, and facebook friends are married and having babies (yes, even “that guy” from high school). Life has dealt a low blow on this.

Did you ever need a reminder as to why you strayed onto the off-beaten path? I’m sure there is light at the end of this tunnel!

Tweet me or hang a picture on my wall. Solidarity!

Read the rest on BuzzFeed Images/gifs are a courtesy of BuzzFeed


So much for the Free Market

Indiana tax payers will subsidize Carrier with 7 million in tax breaks in exchange for keeping 700-800 jobs in the state, it is unknown if the remaining 1000+ jobs will continue to move abroad or not.

It seems that most Americans do not understand how Capitalism works. The government is supposed to stay out of the “free market”, not even to bail your sorry @$& if your company fails or one loses a job. These aren’t my rules, but if you studied economics 101, then you understand the laissez-faire principles. Businesses are suppose to compete and be profitable by keeping costs low and sell quality goods at the lowest price. That means cheap labor by either replacing humans with machines or hiring labor at a cheaper wage. If not, they will be priced out of the market by other competitors. Who else competes? Customers! Yes, sometimes customers bid and compete for high-demand goods (i.e ebay or buying a home); and employees also compete, by convincing employers that they can provide valued services at the best wage. If someone else can do your job for a lower price, then guess what, you weren’t competitive and free market principles dictate that you keep looking for another job or leave the market all together. These are all components of the “free market” that Conservatives rally for, but seem to only to remember one of these branches.

However, when White working class men realize that they are not competitive in the market, its time for a government handout (corporate welfare)! Unfortunately, the working class won’t benefit from these deals. Carrier is not obliged to hire union workers or pay the same wages/benefits that will put decent food on the table, nor keep these jobs on U.S soil for more than a year. However, this is politics, so a very good symbolic move for Trump. Nonetheless, my post is about the free market and the State staying out of the affairs of the private sector. Let’s take the fight for $15 minimum wage, that many conservative-leaning naysayers feel that these low-skilled, low wage jobs are for teens and college students for entry level positions in the workforce and thus raising wages could actually cause more unemployment as business will cut jobs.

When food workers picket for a higher minimum wage, they are classified as “lazy” low-skilled (predominantly shown in the media as Black, Brown, and female) workers that need to “get better jobs” instead of flipping burgers. Hence, this year’s election was all about poor and working class men who have seen manufacturing and mining jobs disappear as long as 30 years ago! Why didn’t Bill O’Reilly or Tucker Carlson also argue that these low skilled (mainly portrayed as male and White) workers in the manufacturing industry should “improve their skill-set” to get “better jobs” instead of asking for the government to intervene? This is a true capitalist perspective, which in no doubt would leave many people very vulnerable. However, many Americans are not advocating for government welfare policies to benefit the bottom 70% of America. Instead, mass society cheers and claps at the mention of more corporate welfare that may eventually (hopefully) trickle-down. Folks, something will trickle-down from the top 1% but it won’t be the loose change from their pockets, don’t you smell what’s going on here?

Tweet me or post it on my wall

Packing Up Again

I still remember that awkward feeling of excitement, nervousness, and reality setting in when I boarded the airplane in January of this year to leave NYC. I had been mostly excited up until November. Then I started feeling nervous when I had to think about saving money (harder when you’re not working) and looking for a place to stay. Then reality hit me in late December, perhaps after I received my visa and cooked Christmas dinner with my family and friends for the last time. January was coming too quickly, I still had lots of packing to do, some stuff to pre-read before the school year starts, and I didn’t (and never would) have enough money saved up.

It took me awhile to call London home and I remember exactly when that was. It was my first night in Copenhagen in late August. I haphazardly planned the trip (bought tickets and accommodations), but I didn’t have any plans for the whole week except to visit a friend outside the city for a day. By the time I arrived, it was late afternoon and I was staying in a room in a nice house-share away from the center, on a street that I couldn’t pronounce. I sat on the tiny bed and thought about the comforts of my full size bed and my laptop with amazon prime where I could fall asleep to a movie. Yes, I had missed my home, London. I was not thinking of New York or how I could call a friend to hang out in Manhattan or Brooklyn, I wanted to go back to London and sit at my pub down the street.

And now the time has come again to pack up and start again. For almost seven months I will be in West Africa conducting field research for my thesis. I have my documents ready and am anxiously awaiting to process my visa. I am unable to sublet my apartment while I am gone, so I had to give it up and will my put my belongings in storage, except for a tumble dryer if anyone is interested in buying my appliance. I’ll be starting over in London again, when I return in the summer. I won’t say Thanksgiving was miserable, but without the dinner and the fuss, it was depressingly quiet and it looks like Christmas may be too. However, I will return home a for few days before boarding at JFK airport again for another stage of my life.

Damn, coming home from college (it soundsso lame after 25). I wonder how everyone looks? Maybe my room looks ten times smaller or my neighborhood has burned to the ground. Hey, I’ve been following what’s been going on in the States. I also kept up with local gossip, I know who broke up, who got together, who left my old job (besides me!), who just had a baby, who is engaged, in short everyone but me. Yep, everyone has moved on and for a moment that makes me feel insecure. I mean, shouldn’t I be an associate director or junior vice president now with a bun in the oven and an anxious first time buyer? Not that I really want to be in that world, but I am re-thinking life as a post-grad student and what contributions I can make in my field at this level. In other words, I don’t see the light yet and I’m a little anxious about that. On top of that, it doesn’t help that my supervisors also seem anxious and that just makes me more anxious, oh and I’m broke.

I’m also fairly certain we are heading into another recession in 1-2 years, so my prospects for a job opportunity when I come out of this will also be poor. Thus, rounding back to the same old question of, “what is the meaning of my life?” Happiness is key, but finding what makes us happy is so hard! And I wonder why, don’t we know ourselves best? Why does it take so long or so many trials to find something that makes one happy? Obviously, someone who is happy has to give me some advice here!

In the meanwhile, I’ll be packing up.

Everything You Need to Know About Online Dating

black girl on tablet, online dating, saturday afternoon, the reporter and the girl, IR blog, BWWM, S.C Rhyne

Digital technology like smartphones, tablets and computers have changed the way people connect. They’ve also changed the way people date. If you’re single and ready to date, you should consider internet dating as it lets you interact with like-minded people before having to meet them in person. But what are the pros and cons, the advantages and dangers of these internet platforms? Here’s a look at how you can get started, protect yourself and find your match from your mobile device or computer.

Your Profile

Every online matchmaker site requires a personal profile for each person. Most of these sites will guide you through the profile creation phase once you sign up, but there are some tips you should consider. First, be honest about your intentions and your lifestyle. This can be a snapshot of who you are and your everyday life. Also, only post profile pictures of yourself. If you post one picture of yourself and many group pictures it can confuse those who look at your profile. Second, don’t list your ideal partner — that person doesn’t exist — instead include the type of values you have and cherish, this will attract similar people. Lastly, check your spelling and grammar. Attention to detail is key.

How You Connect

When you’ve chosen an internet dating site, how do you connect with other users? People love to talk about themselves, so personal questions about someone’s life is always a sure bet. Or if you’re more blunt, just ask someone if they want to have dinner or a drink after work one night. Remember, people are on these sites for this very reason, oftentimes there’s no point beating around the bush. If you’re a flirt start a game with the person you message like Would You Rather. This can get as intimate as you and the person messaged let it.

Precautions, Catfish

There are certain things about yourself you should never disclose online. Personal information, your address and other sensitive data shouldn’t be included in your profile. Another precaution you must keep an eye for is catfishing. A catfish, in the online dating world, is someone who pretends to be someone they aren’t and lures a person to fall in love with the idea of the catfish avatar they’ve constructed. Whether for manipulative power or financial gain, why some people do this is largely unknown. To protect yourself, demand an online video conversation on your computer or smartphone once you’ve had a few conversations; the iPhone 6s smartphone and similar models come with FaceTime installed making it easy to connect via video chat. If the person continually makes excuses for why they can’t speak face-to-face, it’s best to move on.

Offline Meet Up

Once you’ve messaged someone for a while and have a good grasp of who they are — that they are a person you’d like to spend time with — initiate several FaceTime sessions and then schedule a meet up. This can be any type of activity: a drink at a bar, an afternoon in a bookstore or a picnic at the local park. The most important aspect is that you meet them for the first time in public, as you likely don’t know enough about them to meet them at their house or yours.