Home

I have struggled and continue to struggle with writing this piece. What do I want to say about "Home"? What am I trying to convey? In my experience of being a first generation American, and from what I’ve learned from people in the same boat (absolutely no racist or otherwise pun intended), that particular immigration status often means you don't feel like you get to call anywhere truly yours. Everywhere feels unfamiliar, not quite right. “Home” becomes an elusive concept.

For myself, American born of Nigerian blood, finding a place to land has been no less difficult and confusing. I'm not a Black American, bred of the culture created by descendants of those who were kidnapped and brought to this country in chains. I'm not "American" because, let's be honest, this country is racist AF and the rights and privileges it affords some of its citizens are not available for all of its citizens. (I’ve tried to claim “Southern Californian” but even then, there’s a certain bronze skin/blonde hair stereotype that I really missed the mark on. Little feels more alienating than belting out the lyrics to “California Girls”, being a girl from California, and still knowing the song’s not really about you). I’m not African either — I can barely understand even one of my mother’s native languages, let alone speak it. And you have not known the meaning of “sticking out like a sore thumb” until you’ve seen me in a room with a bunch of Nigerian people having a conversation. It’s not pretty.

Where it becomes mystifying is that despite feeling like I fit none of these categories, I somehow also fit all of them. And in that tension comes this uncomfortable sense that I am always appropriating a culture, namely black and Nigerian. When I visited the country this past week, I was worried I would feel alien, and that calling it home would be assuming something that is not mine. But I discovered that there is something really powerful about going to place where all the street names look like yours. To look at a land and feel “this is from where I have been derived”, and on top of that, appreciate that it is ancient. I still barely know the language, I still mostly sat and smiled pleasantly as people around me held conversation, but the place felt more mine. Obviously San Diego is still home, but now it doesn’t feel like my only one. While it is a little harder on the heart to be split between two places, it's also comforting to gain a richer perspective that focuses the blurry parts of an identity.

Birthdays and Bon Voyage

Hi friends!! First things first I wanted to share with you guys pictures from my 90s themed bday party last weekenddddd. We had neon, we had acid washed jeans, we had fanny packs-- and that was all in one outfit! But really my friends showed TF out, and I didn't look so bad either if I do say so myself. 

Pics will be down below but before you holler at those, I alsoooooooo wanted to let you guys know that I'm dipping out for a bit! Headed back to Nigeria to visit family and chill HARD. So next week there won't be a post, imma try to stay up on my Instagram but who knows if that's a real thing. SO. In case this is it for a week or so, I love you all, hope everyone has a great beginning of June, and here are the pictures from my birthday in case you start to miss me too much. Byeeeeeee!! 

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A Jumbled Rambling on Religion and Desire... God Help Us All

You know what, there are a lot of things I don't understand about my religion. I mean there's a reason why I have it sure, but sometimes it feels like a lotttttt escapes my grasp. Recently I've been wrestling with the idea of desire, and what happens when a long held desire goes unmet. I don't mean like wishing for months for a new pair of shoes, I mean like wanting for years to have a partner that you can grow and live life with, and watching that desire continue to go unattended. Or trying for decades to bear a child and seeing those efforts be fruitless. I’ve been sitting with the pain in that—the pain of unmet desire—trying to observe and examine it, but mostly crying under the weight of it. I think sometimes unmet desires feel like physical open wounds. Exposed, vulnerable, easily irritated. And due to their often tremendous pain—especially for the ones close to our hearts—we try to numb through denial or disassociation. Pretending we don’t want the things that we do, or that we don’t want them as badly as we do. It’s self-protection, but the desire remains attached. No more able to be separated from our selves than a limb from our bodies.

There's a verse in the Bible that says "Trust in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart", which already feels problematic to me because it sounds conditional and formulaic. If you do this, then you will get this. And if there is anything I have learned in this near 28 years of life, it’s that there are no formulas. You can do everything “right” and have everything go wrong— I don’t know what that’s about, but I know it’s true. And I’m pretty sure God also knows it’s true, so I’m like who wrote this bullshit? Or what has gotten lost in translation, because I’m pretty sure you can “trust God” and still not get what you desire. Second question: if I don't trust in the Lord what happens? Language like that puts the blame on the reader, like if you don’t get the thing(s) you desire in your lifetime, you must not have trusted the Lord enough. You can start to see where the Church picked up its performance complex, a thing that feels literally antithetical to the Christian faith because it relies on our own efforts rather than God’s grace, so again I ask what is this bullshit? And what does “trust in the Lord” even mean? Is that like a 100%, 24/7, nonstop, full force, constant trust? Because I’m pretty sure no one has ever done that and yet I’ve seen people gain the desires of their hearts, especially with regard to personal relationship and family soooo....

Currently I find myself again grappling with the idea that God is who he says he is and does what he says he will do. Which as I’ve said before, I think is just how having faith goes. Constantly going back and forth between belief and doubt. I’m sorry that it’s not pretty or uplifting, but I suppose realness often isn’t. Maybe at some point I will gain perspective or reach some understanding.... But right now it feels more like a lot of confusion with a healthy sprinkle of frustration and anger. All questions, no answers. Fun fun funnnnn, well anyway! Just came here to toss some doubt around I guess lol. If anyone has any thoughts or inspiration, please feel free to comment below or on my Facebook pageeeee! Love you guys, thanks for bearing with me.

Facebook Live... Kindof.

Some of you may have seen my last post on Instagram where I opened up a bit about having a rough couple of weeks in needing to sit with and grieve the pain of unmet desires. Instead of writing about that pain, because turns out it still feels too vulnerable and raw to put into a blog post, I created a Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/femiio/. Sorry not sorry I'm now that person spamming everyone with invites to come like my page :). Anyway, go check it out, let me know what you think!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Welp, it’s that time of year again pretties! Cinco de Mayo is upon us, which means it’s time again for my yearly reminder: sombreros, ponchos, fake mustaches, brown face, any combination of the former with a donkey suit costume— all HIGHLY offensive and unnecessary to celebrate. You know what you can do instead? Support a local Mexican business, learn about the history of the holiday, learn about why the holiday was even popularized in the United States (spoiler alert: it’s capitalism), find authentic Mexican cuisine, literally Google “how to not culturally appropriate Cinco de Mayo”, the possibilities are endless! Just try not to be an ass. And if you’re going out with a group of friends and one of them thinks it’s cool to be an ass, call them on it! Accountability people, hold it close, never let it go.

 

Happy celebrating!

The Knowledge of Good and Evil

Yeah, this seemed like a nice, light topic to touch on this week. Super casual.

Okay so a while ago I was reading that book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, and there was a part I can’t really remember about the "Original Sin". I’m pretty sure we all know the story but JUST IN CASE you didn’t grow up under a repressive Christian tyrannical regime in your household, or somehow managed to avoid the crushing and pervasive influence of America’s puritanical roots, the story is basically this: In the beginning "God" created “Adam” and “Eve” (at this point I'd like to quickly interject that there is a lot of discussion to be had about the creation story and whether it’s literal or metaphorical, or somehow both. Trust me that is something I would loveeee to get into but for the purpose of keeping this post from being thesis-length, I’m going to suspend that discussion and we’ll just take the story—loosely— as it's presented in Genesis). Okay so “God” created “Adam” and “Eve”, and He put them in this sweet garden and He was like “Listen, you got everything you need here, okay? There's plenty of food, super clean water, I’m gonna be with you all day everyday, you're all set. The only thing I’m asking is that you don’t eat from this one tree I put in the center of the garden, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Which like also God, what kind of shit? Anyway, He goes on) Literally you can have anything else you want here, just don’t eat from that tree. We good? K great, you two crazy kids go have fun!” Except we weren’t good and through some trickery involving a "snake", and some misogyny involving Adam’s aversion to taking responsibility for his own actions, he and Eve ate from the tree, got kicked out of the garden, and ruined everything. Or so the story goes.

So I’ve heard this story literally one million times (I counted) and can recite it in my sleep, but I couldn't quite grasp the significance of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Clunky title aside, it obviously provides the crux for the climax of the story, but what is "the Knowledge of Good and Evil" referring to? And why was it such a problem that Adam and Eve wanted to know good from evil? In EHS Peter Scazzero presents it differently: instead of thinking of it as wanting to know the difference between good and evil, rather the “sin” (another Christian buzzword that needs dismantling, unpacking, and reclaiming but please bear with my use of it) in claiming that knowledge was that Adam and Eve wanted to be the Judge. To decide what is good and what is evil. And that hit me ‘cause I was like, well I’ll be damned if that isn’t what the Church has been most characterized by since its rise to power—being judgmental. Deciding who’s “in” and who’s “out”, who’s going to hell, who’s going to heaven. And of course, always deeming itself on the “right” side of God’s law, even if it takes some maneuvering of that law to fit its own agenda. *sips tea*

I’m wondering if maybe part of the problem in humans trying to be the Judge is because, considering that was never meant to be our job, we literally don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. There’s a part in another book I’m reading, Dark Night of the Soul by Gerald May, where he talks about how he’s learned to realize that he can’t tell what is good and bad in his life anymore. He used some kind of gnarly examples from his own life but I’ll give you a couple scenarios off the top of my head. Like maybe you get a new job, and you and everyone you know think it’s good, but then it becomes too demanding and you miss getting to bond with your family, which is bad. Or maybe your fiancé dumps you, and you and everyone you know think it’s bad, but then you go on this deep and healing journey of self-discovery, and later realize it was a mess of a relationship and you dodged a bullet, which is good. (There’s a Chinese parable that illustrates this point more clearly, if you want extra credit. I believe it's called Parable of the Lost Horse. Check it out and report back!) I know I’m touching on a super deep philosophical discussion about good and evil which I am in no way prepared to have right now, but it’s definitely something to think about right? Maybe we don’t actually know what is good or what is bad because to know such a thing requires an expansive perspective of time that we just cannot possess in our lifetimes. All we know is what’s in front of us and how we feel. Also how hilariously ironic (read: sad, damaging, destructive) is it that the original sin is also the one the Church is most known for: the desire to usurp God’s position as the only Judge. (I was going to insert a Miley Cyrus lyric in here but then thought better of it. Bonus points if you can guess what it is and leave it in the comments!)

We (everyone, but Christians in particular) have some reworking to do. And I’m not saying we should throw the baby out with the bath water and not take a stand on anything because “who’s to say murder is bad” or some dumb shit like that. It’s bad. Murder is bad. I’m saying maybe we should hold more room for nuance in this discussion. Maybe you don’t know as much about your own religion or God as you think you do. Maybe you don’t know as much about your life as you think you do. And sure we’ve all tried to play judge a time or two or too often, but the reality is those shoes are wayyyyy too big for us to fill, and we should probably give that job back to God, or Karma, or the Universe, or whatever you believe handles that shit. All we have is this present moment in front of us. Let’s not use it to be judgmental assholes.

Okay Just Give Me One Second

Hi friends! Listen, we're in a bit of a rearranging time here at femiio so please give me grace while I try to figure this big-girl-blogging thing out. While you wait, this weekend I'm gonna be posting some of my would-be Coachella looks on the Instagram so be sure to look out for those! I love you, let's keep growing together, cheers.

GIRLS.

I truly never thought I’d feel compelled to write about this show. If you’re somehow not familiar, Girls is an HBO original created by Lena Dunham that follows the lives of four white women in New York City as they navigate their 20’s. As it gained popularity, Lena Dunham was both hailed as the Voice of a Generation and harangued for being a White Feminist. Which like, honestly both are probably true to some extent, but I'm not here to talk about her. I never thought I would write about this show because Girls was never at the apex of my must-watch television list. It hovered somewhere near the top, then drifted down towards the middle, but now as it's ending I've found myself feeling surprisingly nostalgic.

I was talking to a friend the other day, trying to figure out why that is. What has triggered feelings of nostalgia at the series wrap-up? One thing we came to that I hadn’t previously realized was that we kind of grew up with Girls. Most of the people I know who watched and kept up with the show are close to, if not exactly the same age as the characters depicted on screen, making us, when it started, around the ages of 22/23. Which I’d argue is probably the most fragile part of your 20s because it marks the end of the beginning. You’ve cleared your teens by a couple years, you’ve graduated college, you’re officially an adult by most of the world’s standards, but that frontal lobe's still not quite fully developed and you have no fucking clue what to do with yourself. And to top it off, you can drink legally now, so it’s really like a powder keg of circumstances. I don’t know about your early 20s, but mine were a WRECK. And Girls provided a space where I got to see my poor choices, or more often worse ones, portrayed on screen which was comforting and created an odd sense of camaraderie, not only with the characters but with other American women around the same age who saw themselves reflected in the show.

Of course when I say that I saw myself reflected, I’m speaking loosely. It’s well documented that the show had a glaring lack of color, particularly egregious for a story set in Brooklyn. But generally we got to see people going through similar shit we were going through. Navigating dating and pseudo-dating relationships, dealing with conflicts within friendship, realizing maybe your friends are actually shitty people, realizing maybe you’re also kind of a shitty person, learning to establish your Self within the context of parental relationships, dealing with the fallout when those parental relationships break down, etc. And that experience, of seeing your life unfold on screen, was unifying. We shared commonality. Even the quality of the show as it progressed feels like a metaphor for going through your 20s. It starts out and everything’s great, everyone’s excited, your dumb drunk stories are still cute, it's a blast! (Seasons 1-2). Then somewhere around the middle it's not so cute anymore. You feel lost, and like no matter how much you try you can’t stop making bad decisions, and everyone is kind of annoyed, including yourself (Seasons 3-5). But then hopefully by the end you start to get the hang of it. You feel more comfortable with yourself which then makes everything else feel easier, and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief (Season 6). I feel like even though there is plenty of room for criticism of Girls, it did a good job of showing how people can evolve and step into themselves more fully. I appreciated the telling of these stories, 10/10 would recommend. Okay 8/10.

Mother's Day Giveaway!!

ICYMI, Something Wild Floral and I are having a Mother's Day Giveaway next month! I know, I know, it's the beginning of April, you're prolly like "I got WEEKS to figure that shit out", I get it. But we all also know that shit'll sneak right up on you if you're not careful. It's happened to me one too many times, I'm just trying to save you from a similar fate. We'll be giving away a floral arrangement by Something Wild as well as a card with a hand painted design by yours truly.

IF YOU WANNA WIN FREE SHIT: just follow @somethingwildfloral and me (@femiio, duh) on Instagram, tag two friends and tell us why you love your mama! Your name will then be entered into a raffle and the winner will be announced April 21.

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!: Even if you don't win the raffle, you can still place an order with either me or Kara and get your mom that sickass card and flowers. Hit us up in the DM on Instagram and we'll give you the details.

Listen, I might be biased but I'm pretty sure these packages are gonna be cute AF sooooo I'd get in on the ground floor here. And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me or Kara!

Love you, happy tagging!