The Lectern: Impossible is nothing

I do not know about you, reader, but this past month has been both a trial and a blessing for me. I gave up many times – numerous nights when it was just hisses and ta-hell-with-it’s. But none of those dark moments was ever for too long at a time. Every time it seemed impossible to pull through, someone/thing came through – family, friends and/or that aged belief in my own strength.

Imagine my delight then when Chizzy knocked on my door this early morning with ‘Impossible is nothing’ … as if she knew! Thanks to this month’s edition of ‘The Lectern’, I have found belief afresh. I hope you do too.

Have a sweet July 🙂

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…that we might be read


IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING

Impossibl is nothing - The Lectern

I recently saw a picture of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote on the cover of Tell magazine. On the far end of his mahogany desk sat a plaque on which was written, ‘impossible is nothing’.

Many times I have heard that phrase repeatedly used by motivational speakers, and I often roll my eyes in response. Never did I take time out to find its application to me.

One day, I went to buy some shoes at an ‘OK’ store. If you don’t know what ‘OK’ shoes are, you are not Nigerian; it means okirika shoes, a code name for fairly-used imported shoes. Fellow Naija babes will agree that ‘OK’ shoes are more durable than the acclaimed ‘foreign’ ones, most of which are made in Aba anyways.

But I digress. I entered the shop and asked the shop attendant to pick out black ballerina shoes for me. Rather than do as I requested,  the man brought out a writing pad and began to scribble on it. I was too curious to even be vexed, what was he writing?

After he was done, he handed the pad to me and I saw that he had written on it: “what do you want to buy”. The guy was deaf and dumb!

What on earth is a deaf and dumb fellow looking for in the business of buying and selling?, I thought to myself. I know quite well what trading entails – a lot of talking and haggling and more talking. So saying that I was shocked is an understatement. I bet you are too.

I was amazed. At that point I remembered the phrase, ‘impossible is nothing’.

Here was this guy, probably already written off as a mute, as something headed for nothing. He was disabled, but he refused to be disadvantaged. He rejected the limitations placed on him by his physical condition and rather chose to see ability in his disability. Plus he handled the sales so well that I even forgot to haggle – and you know we love to haggle.

This experience made me pause for a minute and think. I thought about how at several points in my life I had abandoned projects and plans because I felt they were impossible feats. Oh nobody has ever done it, I would often lament; the last person that attempted failed woefully.

Many times I catch myself holding on to a past hurt, obviously stuck in a rut, but refusing to let go. And other times, I feel like my best days are long over and I can never live a happy and fulfilling life again … the list is endless.

However after my experience with that shoe salesman, I began to see hope. I see now that I am fired up to succeed like I have never been before. I see now that life can throw anything at me, but I, and I alone determine what to make of it. I see now that ‘impossible is nothing’.

Dear friend, if nobody has ever done it, be the first. Challenge the status quo and reach for new frontiers. Who said you cannot be the one to break that old record and set a new one? Nobody.

If you still think it’s impossible, maybe because you have tried so many times and failed every time, then you need to visit Thomas Edison. He will tell you that 999 feels like 1 million to someone who has lost all hope, and one more trial to a passionate soul. Nobody every moved forward by keeping their eyes fixed on the rear view mirror. The past is past and those who dwell on it pass away with it.

The shop attendant in my story wrote out his words in well-articulated English, his lettering was bold, neat and legible. Evidently, he took time to learn to read and write. Even in his disability, he stands tall and makes much more money than many who are perceived as ‘able-bodied’.

Is there an area of your life which isn’t quite playing out according to your plans? I suggest you stop planning for a minute; take the time to show gratitude to God for the areas that are working. Then you may think about ways to make the problem areas work. And when you are done thinking, stand and start doing – very important. Because it is often in the ‘doing’ that our strength fails us. And if in trying you fail, I urge that you try, try and try again. Do not bother who has written you off, never write yourself off.

Losing your eye is not the worst thing that can happen to you, losing your vision is.

Decide today that nothing shall be impossible for you. Whatever is conceivable is achievable. The greatest battles are fought in the mind, win them. And you shall soar like the eagle, because indeed, nothing is impossible if you believe.

By Chiezugolum Odilinye

Chizzy Odilinye

Chizzy Odilinye is a chemical engineer who is driven to challenge status quo and add value everywhere she goes. Her pleasures are photography, chess and cooking.

Don’t forget to share with your friends and enemies; also take a minute to tell us in the Comments what you’re thinking about this one. If you have written something which you would like our readers to enjoy from ‘The Lectern’, attach and send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter, still reach out and we can work up something appropriate for you. It does not have to be right or left, right or wrong…only your opinion.

Chisom

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The Lectern: Africa is a continent, not a country

For us in Nigeria, this past month of May was very eventful – mosquitoes; fuel scarcity of such potency that saw prices triple, shops and services shut down; scant electricity; then NO electricity for days on end; more mosquitoes; and but all turned over by the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Riding with the optimism that we cannot help but feel in this new dispensation, Thia takes to ‘The Lectern’ with a message of identity, of pride and ultimately, of hope. She admits that this is no new subject for discourse, but she also insists that we must not tire of preaching it until we first, then the entire world, learns it.

And so, we welcome the month of June.

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…that we might be read


AFRICA IS A CONTINENT, NOT A COUNTRY

Africa is a continent

This topic is not a peculiar one.

The first time I heard of it was on a TEDTalks video of the Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled “The Danger of a Single Story” where she jokingly recounted how a Virgin flight she was on mentioned their charity works “in India, Africa and other countries.”

The second time I heard of it was also on a TEDTalks video of another Nigerian, Cobhams Asuquo titled “The Gift of Blindness.”  He also mentioned again rather jokingly that an announcement on a flight he was on mentioned the charitable works the British airways was doing in the UK, Africa and other countries.

Until recently I saw this as inconsequential or rather just unnecessary. I am a fan of great music and one of the songs that I doubt will ever leave my playlist is “We are the World”, both the original and the remix for Haiti. I am sure I have listened to both of them over a hundred times.  Weirdly until recently I never really listened to the lyrics; I merely enjoyed the melody and the rare freshness of many celebrities coming together in one song.

So today I listened. Towards the end of this very awesome song I discovered something I am sure I will never forget:

“…remember Katrina, Africa, Indonesia

and now Haiti needs us…”

It shocked me. Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States of America. The earthquake in Haiti was another really horrible natural disaster. And at about that time in Indonesia, multiple earthquakes and a tsunami at the Mentawai Islands including volcanic eruptions at Mount MerapiI had shaken the Asian country. Seeing as it was a string of natural disasters that hit the above mentioned countries, I began to wonder what natural disaster has hit the whole of Africa.

In all my instances above, Africa was put on a list of countries. In the last one in particular, it was put on a list of geographical areas smaller than many countries. The whole of Africa is not sick. Africa is a continent not a country thus it deserves recognition as such. People make it seem like Africa is a country with South Africa as its capital because in pictures of Africa in most books and magazines, the Safari of South Africa is what is captured as Africa.

Komla Dumor in another TEDx talk stated rather brilliantly that we tell both sides of the story. Yes! Africa is rich naturally. Yes! Africa is still developing. No! We are a continent, a conglomeration of various countries spread across a wide geographical location with various value systems, cultures and languages interwoven rather very beautifully. The moment we start to appreciate this I think it will put things in greater perspective for those doing “charitable works in India, Africa and other countries.” Maybe then Nigeria as a country will become a beneficiary of their benevolence as well as Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Somalia and other AFRICAN COUNTRIES.

This seems confusing at this point and I am asking myself what the whole point of writing this is. Maybe my point is just that this message be passed along so that it is not said anywhere that xenophobia occurs in Africa. Nigeria is not xenophobic and I am sure Benin republic isn’t also, neither are many other African countries.

Africa is way too big to be disrespected so often. Even smaller continents get more respect.

Africa is a continent not a country

Proudly African! Proudly Nigerian! Proudly Igbo!

P.S: This is my identity not just a chant. I should be identifiable by my specific origin not just a random over-generalization. I feel we all should.

by Thia Mbajunwa

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Cynthia Adaugo Mbajunwa is a Christian Igbo Nigerian African female. She loves, as wholly as possible, and looks to make a difference no matter how little. She is sarcastic and shy, a bold feminist currently studying to become a lawyer.

Don’t forget to share with your friends and enemies; also take a minute to tell us in the Comments what you’re thinking about this one. If you have written something which you would like our readers to enjoy from ‘The Lectern’, attach and send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter, still reach out and we can work up something appropriate for you. It does not have to be right or left, right or wrong…only your opinion.

Chisom

My Sketchbook…lost but found!

Yes…really.

In May’s edition of ‘The Lectern’, WAW featured a piece titled ‘My Sketchbook’ (read the whole piece here). In it, Hope told a heroine’s tale of pain suffered at the hands of love. The heroine gave her sketchbook to her lover; but every time she retrieved it from him, he had riddled it with horrid markings.

He returned repentant every time, and in spite of the pain she had suffered, the brave heroine gave this lover another chance with her sketchbook. And each time, he treated it even worse “…until there was one page left.”

And even as we watched in astounded rage, this heroine yet again forgave the prodigal lover and gave the last page to him. This time, he …

“…tore it into tiny bits and pieces…

…and the wind carried it away”

leaving the lady hurt and heartbroken. With no beautiful sketches and no sketchbook, our brave heroine finally broke down and cried.

Some of you thought it was beautiful, some thought it was sad, the rest of us were just angry – “how could she have been so trusting?!” And we kept a thunderbolt doing press-ups in the backyard waiting for the day the yeye lover-boy go try surface.

But this one WAW reader did more. He found the sketchbook!

You hear me, Hope?…he found ‘your’ sketchbook. And for icing, he drew your face on the very first page.

Hope sketch2

He also asked that I add this:

“Christ gave and gave everything to us, yet we crucified him. Even at the point of death he still gave – he prayed for us. You gave your sketchpad in love and forgiveness, like Christ, but it was misused and lost. Good news: you will get it back bigger and better, as long as God lives. Because He is the epitome of love and mercy”

Did he say “you will?”…because it looks like she got it back already, bigger and BETTER.

WAW!!!

I know what you’re thinking. What’s his name, abi? My dear, im no gree oh. The dude swore me to secrecy on his identity. So I’ll just leave now…before I start leaking truths and tears all over this e-floor. Do not pass by without saying one word or two (or singing a whole frigging chorus) in appreciation of this beautiful gesture.

Question: “Shall we let this correct guy remain anonymous???”

I mean, yes, he swore me to secrecy but swear sef dey fear im mama. If a good number of you, say 30, 40 or 50 came out here to say SHOW YOURSELF, I wouldn’t have a choice but to yell his name. You folks are king after all, and I can’t be sued for royal loyalty…right? 😉

#Nuffsaid.

Chisom

The Lectern: My Sketchbook

The mellow is upon us yet again in this month’s edition of ‘The Lectern’. The ‘crazy architect’ we will be reading today is Hope; if you asked her, she would say that she only writes from a moist mind. After reading this, I was astounded by the moistness in mine.

As an aside, can we get some dudes with the ‘hammer-n-mortar’ write-ups please? Some fire-brand religious mojo, profanities, and hardcore life lessons abeg…any more mushiness here, and these writers will have me dripping eye-sweat all over :/ #Nuffsaid

Aaaaaaaaand so, for the month of May, of sketches, sketchbooks and…well, moisture (what?!), WAW brings you…Hope!

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…that we might be read


MY SKETCHBOOK

sketchbook

I gave it to you…my sketchbook. My most prized possession.

You said you’d sketch and draw for me

Flowers, trees and parks,

beautiful pictures of sunsets and sunrises, buildings too.

So I gave it to you, kept nothing back.

 
 

The first sketch was nothing but scribbles

Ugly ugly scribbles…like the markings of a demoniac.

And so I took it from you. I took my sketchbook back

Even though I didn’t want to.

 

Then you came back.

You were sorry, and you wanted to make it right

I forgave. Just like God taught me

I forgave. And I gave it to you again, my sketchbook.

 

But when I got it back, I saw worse markings

Very bad ones.

Each stroke tore at me like the claws of a fiery dragon

And sunk beneath my skin

Like a vampire’s fangs.

 

My heart broke again.

I took it from you. Again.

But you wouldn’t stop coming. You came back, each time

Looking more contrite. And I believed you, each time

So I gave. Again and again.

But I believed. Just like God taught me

I believed. And I gave it to you. Again and again.

 

Until

There was only one page left.

 

You came again. For pardon

For one last chance

I had only one page left. I could not risk that.

Then you promised. Like God taught you

You promised. To make it up to me.

For all the ripped pages, the discarded ones. For my broken heart

To make everything alright.

 

And I gave.

I was hungry, searching for something beautiful. Vulnerable…what can I say?

But I gave. My very last page.

Because I believed.

 

You were a leopard. On the backdrop of your pale sincerity

Your spots shone…dark and unrepentant.

You did not just scribble this time. You neglected

My sketchbook.

My heart.

 

I found it drenched in the rain, scorched by the sun.

The little boys in the street played with it

Drunks fought over it…prostitutes spat on it.

Then you came along. And with your very hands

You tore it up into tiny bits and pieces…

…and the wind carried it away.

 

Then you came back

One more clean sheet, you wanted…even if only a scrap.

But I had none to give. I gave all I had to you.

So you left…sad.

And I cried.

Again. I cried.

Because I was hurt and heartbroken.

Because I had no beautiful sketches

Because I had no sketchbook.

I cried.

 

By Hope Eboh

Hope Eboh_The Lectern

 

Don’t forget to share with your friends and enemies, also take a minute to tell us in the Comments what you’re thinking about this one. If you have written something which you would like our readers to enjoy from ‘The Lectern’, or you just wan show yourself, attach and send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter, still reach out and we can work up something appropriate for you. It does not have to be right, left, right or wrong…just your opinion.

Chisom

 

The Lectern: Illusions

For a change from all the adrenaline zipping all over the place recently, this month’s edition of ‘The Lectern’ is mellow. With a sober almost sorrowful tone, this new writer bares it all unrestrained, and in the same one stroke, takes it all. It is a WAW hope that this message reaching you from ‘The Lectern’ does for you, more than it did for us.

Nuff said, have a delightful rest-of-April.

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…that we might be read


 

ILLUSIONS

woman

 

You stand there crumbling everything around me

Weakening my defences as you saunter into the room

My heartbeat rapidly increases as I realize

You’re going to ask for something I’m not fully willing to give

But would give willingly because you asked for it

 

My shoulders shake as I weep uncontrollably

As you tell me you’re not going to do it again

You tell me you love me and nothing can ever change that

In my heart of hearts, I wonder if any of it is true

It was easier to believe it back then when the relationship had just begun

 

An uninvited question crosses my mind

‘How long can we continue in this illusion of a relationship?’

I shiver because I don’t know what tomorrow holds

Yet I hold onto you desperately praying it wouldn’t hold the pain of betrayal

And your eyes would never stray

 

You touch me and all my insides melt

You hold me in ways no one has ever held me before

I continue to cry, wishing I wasn’t so hopelessly in love with you

Wishing I could walk away from you without a sick feeling of emptiness and loneliness

 

My mind tells me this is all an illusion

“He can’t be with you forever, he’ll soon move onto the next girl

You can’t possibly hold on for much too long’

I know I should walk away but my legs can’t carry me

My heart can’t handle this onslaught on its emotions

 

I try to imagine life without you

Life without your smile to experience and your hands to hold me

And it seems so dull and dreary

I’ve been in this relationship for so long

I’m not sure I can find myself anymore

I’m not sure I can see me except through your eyes

But this illusion would end one day and I would be forced to walk away

 

Rather than wait for that day to come, I will now helplessly turn to the One

Who can give me the courage to walk away from you and find myself again

 
By Ifeanyi Omoike

TM Ifeanyi Omoike 20150407_200108

Ifeanyi is a focused project manager who believes in God, and the beauty of human relationships. She loves shoes…LOTS of shoes.

If you have written something which you would like our readers to enjoy from ‘The Lectern’, or you just wan show yourself for the helluvit, attach and send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter, still reach out and we can work up something appropriate for you. It doesn’t have to be right, left, right or wrong…just your opinion.

Chisom

The Lectern: Black is Good

WAW confam home-boy, Vincent Nzemeke is back again. He’s on The Lectern for the March edition, and spitting controversy as usual, this time on the topic of the black man and racism.

It’s not polite, it’s not prim, nowhere near proper…but well, Veen wrote it anyway.

So enjoy – or not – let us read whatever you think of it in the comments section, and have a fantastic month ahead.

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…that we might be read


Black is Good

black

She’s a pauper – a poor little thing in a skimpy, worn-out and ragged dress. But because she was born on one of those days when the sun shined for just fifty miserable minutes, built a snow-man in winter and her skin pigmentation is brighter than yours, she thinks she is better.

In her head, she is up there and you are down there. Her life is the script you and your generations yet unborn should aspire to follow. She wants you to pronounce her name the right way by rolling your tongue even if it hurts. But she says it is illogical when you tell her the ‘K’ in Akpos is silent and should not be pronounced as ‘Hakkpos’. The society taught her to see herself as superior and you as inferior. So from now until the afterlife, you will always be black in her mind even if you die trying to be white.

You are black and will always be black. That’s why you are always alone on seats that should take four persons when you are on the train. When that boy with the curly hair and his friends board before you, they occupy the seats with their bags and legs sometimes. And when you ask them to take their bags so you can seat, they marvel at the audacity of a black man.

Because you are black and will always be, their stomach aches when you make meaningful contributions in class. They are red with envy and disdain when you tell the professor that the capital of Australia is Canberra and not Sydney. It is more annoying when you discuss the history of Europe with so much accuracy, especially how the allied forces made a mess of Hitler’s tactics.  They say Boko Haram is running your country, you tell them the myriads of problems in their own backyards.

So when you have to work in groups, they assign to you what they think is the easiest task. Just because you are black, they think you lack the intellectual wherewithal to do that which they can do. At the meeting,  they are stunned when you tell them 15 subtracted from 103 is 88 without using a calculator.

You know why that lady with flabby breasts at the store made you wait longer than you should when you paid with cash for all those items you bought?  It is because a black man should never have that much. She says it is a normal procedure but it is normal only because you are different.

That cocky dude still can’t believe you beat him in a scrabble game. You compound his woes when you play soccer and you also dazzle him and his brothers when you have the ball. They play like machines; you are sleek, cunning and always scoring beautiful goals. That must be some African magic at work.  That’s what they say in their minds.

You exceed their expectations in different ways.  How can you be black and not be a beggar at their mercy? How can you be black and not kowtow to their whims and caprices?  How can you be black and offer to pay for their meals when you eat out? How can you be black and not fit into the box their society has taught them to put you?  How can you be black and not be ashamed?

It hurts their ego to say you are better than them. So they will remind you at every opportunity that you are black and will always be. Don’t try to argue because it is an argument you will never win. Just keep performing and prove to them that white is not always good and that black is not always bad.

By Vincent Nzemeke

Veen

Vincent ‘Veen’ Nzemeke is a Nigerian currently studying in Germany

If you have written something which you would like read at ‘The Lectern’, send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter but want to be read still, send me an email too and we can work up something appropriate for you. It doesn’t have to be right, left, right or wrong…just your opinion.

Chisom

The Lectern: A Message to Unmarried Women

Emmanuel Akaeze is at ‘The Lectern’ again this month, this time on spinster matters.

If you missed last month’s episode which had A Special Message for Unmarried Men, take a minute to read it before you go on.

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…that we might be read

Are you male? Female? Both? Or undecided?

Are you single? Double? Or undecided?

Yes? No? or well…still undecided?

Regardless of whichever it is, we give you…

A Message for Unmarried Women

Madea

I hear a lot of people took my hard truths a little too hard, especially the prettier and fairer creatures among us. I really do not care for anyone who can afford the luxury of misunderstanding bare-faced facts. So today, I come with even harder, ruthlessly naked truths. Hate it if you must, but read it nevertheless.

Marriage has always been an important thing for many women, but the race for it today has become so bad it’s almost diabolic. Yes, many women are doing all sorts of infernal things to get married. Young woman that wants to get married, pause a bit and ask yourself this important question: why do I want to get married?

I ask you to do this because your reason for getting married may very well determine the kind of man you will hook up with. If you want to be happy in your union, you’ll carefully and prayerfully choose a spouse. Or, still carefully and prayerfully, let a spouse choose you.

But if you want to be married because all your friends are, or because your family thinks so, or because society says your clock is ticking, you may very well end up making the wrong choice. Like a man who abuses you – be it physically, verbally, emotionally, psychologically…hell, even spiritually. No matter what you say, there are always signs of an abuser. Whether he’s a featherweight, middleweight or a heavyweight practitioner of the punching, verbal or emotional slicing arts, those signs – like pi – remain constant.

Now listen to me; when a man makes you stay on a video chat for 24 hours, just so that he can see where you are at all times – don’t look at me, this shit happens everyday – he’s an abuser. You can say he’s just a bit jealous or you know men are like that all you want but we – you and I, know the truth. And the truth is that it is not “a bit” of jealousy and not all men are like that!

When a man makes you take pictures of yourself and send to him 1,440 minutes every day, so that he knows where you are and who with, my sister you’re in bondage. Only that your master hasn’t paid your purchase price. Any man that makes you do this, under the guise that his heart has been broken by the previous women in his life and therefore, you need to earn his trust, is a confirmed wizard. He needs Jesus and you need a copy of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.

When a man flings objects at you during an argument, throws and breaks his phone against the wall and then says, look what you made me do, you better run. He will one day throw you and then blame you for it. So run! And when you have run far enough, pause and text him the number of a psychiatrist who will enroll him in Yaba for anger management courses.

When a man tells you that once you get married you will pound yam for him while you’re nine months pregnant, because his mother did it. You will also wash his car, feed your three children and drop them off at school, clean the house, do the family laundry, go shopping, and pound even more yam, all without any help. I ask you: are you familiar with the letters R. U. N?

When you’re in a relationship with a man who arbitrarily picks up your phone, deletes some male contacts and text messages, then grills you whenever you pick a call from a man. He logs into your Facebook account, abuses and warns off all the men who say nice things to you, tells you which friends to keep and which to dismiss, and short of getting you a bodyguard, monitors your movements in every way possible. I have the pleasure of informing you that he is not the man who loves you; he is a monitoring, familiar spirit. The earlier you’re delivered from him, the better for you.

Having said that, I’d like to add that some of these kinds of men can smell desperation and know that there’s little or nothing you can or would want to do to them. They can sense it when you have started asking God to crush you with the train of marriage bells and slam-dunk you with the fruit of the womb. And like sharks smelling blood, they will zoom in and literally answer your prayers.

So my advice to you, dear prospective bride, is build your self-esteem. Be proud of who you are, be picky. Yes, contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to drag the bottom of the barrel. Know that you deserve a good man and take your time to select one.

Take your time; because once you make your choice, you’re stuck with him. There really is no need to for haste, for where the hare gets to by running, the tortoise will arrive there by walking.

By Emmanuel Akaeze

Emma

Emmanuel is an avid reader, a creative writer, historian and public speaker, a Process Engineer by profession, Business Analyst by occupation. Still single, he lives and works in Abuja. His life philosophy implores you to “Change the way you think, change your life”

If you have written something which you would like read at ‘The Lectern’, send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter but want to be read still, send me an email too and we can work up something appropriate for you. It doesn’t have to be right, left, right or wrong…just your opinion.

Chisom