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…

Finding Yourself (in the world)

Happy Sunday!

It is a good and “bleh” feeling to be back in London after a whirlwind week in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have to say, if there is another city that I fell in love with, and could see myself living in, it is København!

It is an amazing city, with lots to see and do, especially around the capital area, where I took day trips to Roskilde and Helsingør as well as to the nearby country of Sweden, to a little town called Malmö (pronounced mal-mer). I even started speaking the language, which is English, by the way. Many Danes and Swedes speak English with a near flawless American-like accent.

Back in action in the U.K, I have moved the logistics part of my research project further and now its back-to-school time for me, this included enrollment (and vaccines!), and setting my hours for my job on campus. However, the beautiful and scorching sun of London made it a bit hard to concentrate on political theory this week, instead I’ve been daydreaming of my new beach-read while breaking in a new swimsuit in the sands of Brighton.

Nonetheless, as I reflect on my trips to Europe and this year in general, I seem to find something out about myself everyday. For example, I love to travel (always knew that) but I didn’t realize how spontaneous or flexible I could be. I was so busy, up until the night before I left, I didn’t have time to plan what I wanted to see or do in Denmark. Heck, I barely had enough time to pack and am lucky that I remembered to bring enough underwear (#1 rule in packing folks, bring one day’s extra). So I spent my first night talking with a few locals, and that is how I found out going to Sweden, and continued to talk to folks on the street about where to find the best places for food and a drink. Each day, I had a new plan on where to go, what to see, and how to do it.

I also learned some basic pronunciations for those weird letters that are not in the English alphabet (ø, æ, å…), so I can at least pronounce street names and train stations in a more coherent way when asking for directions. But don’t let that scare you if you decide to visit, it’s really easy to get around even with the conventional tourist map, and downtown is so small, that if you do get lost, keep walking you’ll get there!

On a sad note, I also learned that Disney’s little mermaid is a lie! Well, yes, I know it is a fictional story, but the version by Hans Christian Andersen is so different…I almost cried after reading the summary at his museum.

So, I guess answering the headline of this post, did I finally “find me”? No. I’m still lost. I didn’t find anyone else either. But it did change my feelings about London, in that I no longer feel so new or foreign in London.

IMG_1706

My first night in Copenhagen, I had a few doubts about my landing in a strange country without any research or knowledge; it was the very first time that I missed London. Not New York, but London. It was a familiar chest-achy feeling of being away from home and all the people you love, hate, and miss. This brings me to a second revelation that I may love, hate, and miss people or things in the U.K…

Anyway, without hashing through all of that, my experience so far in Europe has been amazing to see how people live on the other side of the Atlantic. Not that Brits, Scandinavians, or the French have a drastically different quality of life or standard of living — we are pretty much the same. However, attitudes and perspectives about life, people, and humanity are different and eye-opening. As a generalization, the attitude is more “work to live” instead of “live to work” Brits eat way worse and drink way more than the Americans, but have more longevity (according to World Bank), so…it could be something in the water.

However, speaking of humanity, I can’t ignore the tragic incidences that took place in Europe and the United States this summer, it is a pause to see how folks around the world reacted. The same beaches that I visited in southern France wearing a sundress (I didn’t have my swimsuit) and reading a book in the sand for hours, are now being patrolled by policemen for (mainly) women dressed in attire that does not “respect the culture and secular nature” of France. And the wave of unarmed shootings in the United States in July that also reignited a national conversation and exposed some very ugly structures in the our country.

However, this is winding into another topic that I wanted to save for my birthday post next week, so I will leave it here for today. Enjoy this sunset picture of the Langelinie promenade in the Copenhagen. Tell me about your breath-taking experience, @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.

Lost in Translation

UK to USA dictionary, British vs. American English, Moving to UK, English dictionary, S.C. Rhyne

So I just bought this two-way dictionary, because apparently I do not speak English. So, I do not want to offend anyone and I also don’t want to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous shop-keepers.

Well, look on the bright side, I can always add it to my resume/CV as another foreign language that I can converse in.

This past week, I have been integrating into campus life and meeting my PhD supervisors. They seem less cold in person, but maybe that has to do with the “freezing 45F/6C weather” than me. I’m sure things will warm up soon.

Overall, trying to stay positive and thanks to the advice of many good folks who have been following along, I managed to get great tips and stay on top of all things that I need to navigate the system in the UK. It hasn’t been terribly hard, as the government here likes to post things in plain English, rather than Legalese.

mumbo jumbo, legalese, legal term, no comprehension, S.C. Rhyne
From https://blogs.adobe.com

The number one question from friends and family from NYC: have you met any hot guys yet?

Oh yeah, London is full of sophisticated blokes in top hats and carrying handkerchiefs who just can’t wait to take me to the museum. I’ve just been tripping over them the last two and half weeks since I landed here!

But seriously, no.

During the winter time, Londoners and Brits in general seem to want to go into hibernation and sit in their living rooms with the curtains drawn up.  Especially on a grey day like this with subfreezing temperatures of 55F/13C. Just look how nasty it was on my morning run as I discovered a quaint little town called Mill Hill.

Mill Hill, London neighborhoods, job, miles, exercise, S.C. Rhyne, the reporter and the girl,
This was actually beautiful!

Meanwhile, New Yorkers who are facing a state of an emergency #WinterStormJonas who dumped well over 12 inches of snow reacted by buying every last loaf of bread in the city and proceeded to throw chunks of bread at Sanitation workers.

A Snow Day

Oh well, will be interesting to see how Brits react when the storm comes visits us next.

Lol, soon things will brighten up on both sides of the pond. But until then, cheerios!

Tweet me @ReporterandGirl

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Good Pain

pain, good pain, healing from pain, broken heart, bleeding heart

I woke up this morning with what I reluctantly describe as good pain.

The spot under my armpits are sore, there’s a part of my hamstrings — right under the gluts– that feels like its about to pop out.

And I feel like I may have broken my neck during my sleep.

With the exception of that last part, every other muscle ache is due to good ole exercise in the gym from the day before.  Pain that will eventually fade as I kneed, stretch, massage, and rework the muscle. I’ll train my muscles and joints with more exercises until it sinks into memory.

But what really is bothering me is the uptick in temperature, the longer solar hours, and accumulation of dust on my furniture.

Its Spring.

While most of us are happy to leave old man winter behind (so am I!), there is something in my muscle memory that brings back a slight ache and throb. I like to blame it on the traumatic experience of having to stuff all my sweaters in a crate and haul the damn 30 pound (13.6 Kg) box up a flight of stairs into the attic and lifting it overhead onto the top shelf.pain, good pain, S.C Rhyne, inspirational quotes

Yes! I worked out all winter just to do Spring cleaning.

But its something more than that.

Its the season of going out of hibernation and socializing. Perhaps even meeting new people or starting new relationships.

Its was during this time I met Jon and broke up. I even lost my job in the summer too.

But while I’m still happy single, it sucks because my coupled friends (best friend and cousins) will be out and about with their partners — probably having ice cream while walking along the boardwalk, or going to the movies to see the 22nd installment of the Fast and Furious series, or whatever it is that people do nowadays as a couple. Oh, have sex. Lots and lots of hot and sweaty sex that fills the humid air with screams and moans to be heard by the single people like me next door.

But pain is just a reminder of your survival, and as long as I have summer Fridays at work; I’ll survive. Until next year, old man winter.

Share the love and share the pain. What is your good pain story?

@ReporterandGirl

TheReporterandTheGirl

A Winning Wednesday

winning, inspiration, quotes, S.C Rhyne

I apologize for the delay, but I finally heard back from the winners of the #SpaGiveAway and the #BookGiveAway from a couple of weeks ago!

Thus, I want to formally congratulate Cyndi Barber (@CNeverenufshoes). She will receive a copy of The Reporter and The Girl! For the next prize, the spa gift certificate to La’Alegria will go to Lee Ann Howlett (@lah_ann)!

So if you meet either of these wonderful ladies on twitter, please send tweets of congratulations!

I’m still currently running the $100 shopping spree of Necessary Clothing’s online store.

This giveaway is only open to U.S Residents and to enter all you have to do is follow and tweet me or post on my Facebook fan page the phrase:

Take me on a #ShoppingSpree @ReporterandGirl for 100 bucks! #BlogContest

So remember to follow me on twitter or like my fan page and post that phrase! You can visit the trendy retailer’s website at http://necessaryclothing.com/

Blog contest will end March 31st.

And even if you have not yet won a prize from one of my blog contests; today we are all winners! As the biggest goal is not getting a free book or some clothes, but rather to make a change in your life or someone you care about for the better. So what happened to you today that made you a winner?

Today, I drove 150 miles outside of New York City, at the crack of dawn, to reconnect with old mentors from my college. I also got a couple a of good leads, in terms of networking and professional development. #WinningWednesday! So share me your #WinningWednesday story.

@ReporterandGirl or Facebook: TheReporterandTheGirl

Bonne Année et Bonne Santé

s.c Rhyne, New Year's dinner party, Haitian new years, soup joumu, pumpkin soup, the reporter and the girl

Happy 2015!

Or, as we say in my house — “Bonne Année et Bonne Santé” which means “Good Year and Good Health”.  In the Haitian culture, New Years is big, and if you have any Haitian friends, you may have heard them whispering about “Soup Joumu” this past week. Pictured above, this is the soup that was mandated to be eaten by every Haitian on the Independence Day of the Republic of Haiti on January 1st, 1804.

And the tradition still continues, as every year we eat soup joumu in our home, and the homes of relatives and friends; as well as we give away candy to children and exchange gifts too. So our culture rings in every new year celebrating a historical momentum of being the first free Black nation and the prosperity and hope for the future.

This year, I am looking forward to some big changes, changes that only I can make happen. And instead of making resolutions, I realized that sometimes I do not keep those goals because I do not have the right mindset. Thus, I have acquired some affirmations to help me think more positively and ambitiously about my future.

The only way to get ahead in life, is by starting.

So  this year for one of my major goals— working abroad preferably in the U.K., I’m going to start by updating my CV and reaching out to recruiting agencies. I also reached out to some expats living here so I can network and get some advice. Its not big but steps in the right direction, are better than living a fantasy.

The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year, but rather that we should have a new soul.

Definitely some more spiritual and emotional growth for the New Year. Having a better sense of self, will help me get to where I’m going. Without that, I could get lost easily. So as a person, I’m thinking of my weaknesses that need fixin’ and what traits stand out that make me a real asset.

Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day.

OK, so I need to stop being a clam or a hermit. Because the only way I can make it out there, is by getting out there and seizing more opportunities. On Tuesday, I helped a cousin move a bedroom set to his friend’s place. And  as a gesture, his friend introduced me to deer sausage. Now I’m totally ready to go and shoot my own deer and smoke it. Thus, I think I found a new hobby, but that would never replace blogging with you folks, of course!

Last year, I was very job-oriented, as I was starting a new job in a new industry and really wanted to excel. So I focused– and put a lot of time and energy into my new job. I may have forgotten to take a bird’s eye view of life in 2014 and where I wanted to be. So hopefully, these affirmations will put me back on the right track and out of the rut.

So do you have any aspirations for 2015?

Tweet them to me @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook — TheReporterandTheGirl