Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ding-Bat Class?

I don't mind being misunderstood, so much as I mind being misunderstood and then ridiculed, as was the case in one of my gender classes.

It's a small class of six students. Just six of us. Five women and one man. From the first class I could see trouble: these students hardly talk. When Teach asks a question, you can hear crickets chirping. I hate those awful silences, so I talk. And sometimes I get flack for it -flack I can live with so long as we end up having lively, fruitful discussions that move the class past a boring, uncomfortable snail's pace.

But today was different. The question was whether women ever wish to be men, and why. Personally, no, I don't wish to be a man. But I understand why women would (all the other women in my class) considering the inequities that still exist in some societies, negative perceptions of childbirth, etc.

This girl, call her Curly, was presenting on the subject and said that men enjoy sex more than women. I objected: Do they really? And if they do, isn't this because we have been socialised to believe that men ought to be more sexually dominant?? She rebutted me on the basis that men are (I interpreted that to mean naturally and inherently) more sexually virile and dominant. She went on to say that men find it easier to have orgasms than women.

I argued that the only reason we think men find it so easy to live out these sexual roles is because they've been conditioned by society to do so. In another society, things would probably be different.

Enter laughter here.

I relate a tribe in Mexico where the women are the sexually dominant ones. They approach men, initiate sexual intercourse, and have much more fun with sex than the men do. In fact, the men secretly administer suppressants to these women to cool them down... I argue that if sexual aggressiveness is really a natural, in-born masculine value, wouldn't all men everywhere display the same sexual behaviour? Margaret Mead's research backs me up.

Enter laughter again.

The entire class gets on my case about it. Curly says that for men, any hole will do. I refute. This is not an absolute and I think it's important to look at the explanations behind our actions rather than just accepting the 'absolute finality' of the actions themselves.

Laughter again. Enter Ruthi getting a little pissed and annoyed.

I don't know. Maybe my point wasn't very well-made. Maybe they didn't get what I was saying, or maybe I missed what they were trying to tell me... It just annoys me, though, that instead of trying to get what I was saying or explain clearly what they were saying, they all had a laugh-fest about it.

I guess my persuasion skills need work. Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it was a classic example of miscommunication.
Or maybe I'm in a class full of ding-bats!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Maddening Family

My weekend in a nutshell:

1. The Ride Home
Daddy gets the urge to check on me every 5 minutes for a two-and-a-half-hour taxi ride: asking where I am, how much longer it will take me to reach home, how many people are in the taxi with me...

2. Arrival
Mummy calls (all the way from Canada, mind you). Her complaint: why don't I sign up for some phone plan and call her more often? She talks right through my explanation that I am studying, not working and therefore usually broke, and continues to berate me about being so distant...

3. Inspection
Auntie Flo comes over to me, squints her eyes, pinches my skin, pokes my ribs, then says: "But gyal, you a get mawga. Dem nah feed you ah town?"

I guess, one day, when I have children, I'll understand...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tagged 2: Introspection

This tag courtesy of Ruth Rhytswell...

Should inspire thought...

Give the first answer that comes to mind...

I AM … living, learning, growing… and loving it!!
I WANT… more clarity, wisdom
I HAVE … a heart packed up with dreams, fingers itching to write, a mind that refuses to be still, an expansive imagination… many trades, some mastery
I KEEP… books, and I mean all my books: notebooks, textbooks, scrapbooks, novels, magazines, devotionals, diaries and journals
I WISH I COULD … rewrite history??
I HATE … crowded closets and overused words
I FEAR … dying and adding to the wealth of potential that remains forever buried in a cemetery. That will not happen to me!
I HEAR … the sound of a revolution… lol. Nah, actually, I hear cars passing outside…
I DON’T THINK … I could tolerate being average, I like to stand out too much
I REGRET … not trying harder…
I LOVE … life. And good food!
I AM NOT … never communicating, so pay attention!
I DANCE … in stops and starts (hey, that’s my beat!)
I SING … when I have a song??
I NEVER … procrastinate (this is the future me, lol)
I RARELY … keep still, always moving…
I CRY WHEN I WATCH … anything! (I am a sap!)
I AM NOT ALWAYS … straightforward
I HATE THAT … I don't have everything I think I need
I’M CONFUSED ABOUT … the theory of relativity (I almost believe it, I think)
I NEED … money, and more time!! And love.
I SHOULD … be quick to listen, slow to speak... and I should get going. I'm already late for a class, lol

What about you?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Had Real Teachers

Not the archetypal zombies who do the job solely for the salary, take out domestic frustrations on unsuspecting students, live a lie everyday they step into classrooms, unknowingly committing mass murder... I mean real teachers.

Primary School. One Miss Taylor comes to mind. That woman pushed me into public speaking, encouraged me to write my two-bit poems and short-stories, even allowed me to share them with the class. Showed me off like I was her prized possession, the jewel in her crown... (in retrospect, it probably wasn't very beneficial for my classmates), but the unwavering belief in my greatness killed the shy and antisocial in me...

High School. One Mr. McKenzie. I'll never forget the day he called a few of us out of class. Told us the story of the professor who gave pearls to all his students and encouraged them to excel. Explained that while he had no pearls, he had carefully selected words...

Another Mrs. Kerr-Harvey. Gave me my first real zero... Lawd, you know I bawled down the whole school bout that! Me? Zero?! For a 5-minute late paper? I nearly died! Some days I wanted to kill her: for the first time in my life, a teacher refused to choose me (!!) or any other student for that matter, as a favourite, but doled out equal treatment to everyone... no wonder we ALL love her now.

Mistresses Wilson and Mullings. A darling pair. No they're not gay, but they've been teaching together at that school for so long that they're like the proverbial bench and batty. Always so concerned about what I was doing. And in sixth form when I slacked off and was falling into the lethal throes of depression (I was spoilt rotten and getting a rude awakening), these two queens worked really hard to pull me back into more youthful, light-hearted, yet focused ways.

University. Images of a Mrs. Spence quickly appear. "Wake up to your own power!" she daily drummed into a hall-full of women's heads. And wake up we did.

Mr. Gibbings. My Trini daddy/mentor. Sweet memories of uncensored classes; unaltered writing styles appreciated as distinctive offerings from unique individuals; archaic ideas bounced around like the fallible, questionable theories of other mortals... Empowerment through encouragement and open-mindedness... A good human being. A great teacher. Coined my favourite phrase, "What a pound?"

I had real teachers. Not this rubbish in the classroom that takes the sparkle out of kids' eyes, turns them into dull, monotonous machines regurgitating text-book edicts. Too many rules, one smart old lady told me. Too many rules that restrict action, thought, self-expression and self-realisation...

I had real teachers. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Famous For the Wrong Reasons

Ananda Dean. This little girl is famous in Jamaica right now.

Not because she won a government scholarship. Or can sing like an angel. Or can recite poems. Or is a netball or sprint champion.

She is missing.

A $350,000 reward is being offered for her safe return. It's been days. They found her schoolbooks.

The mother's desperate plea: "Please, I don't care who you are. Throw her outta the car at a police station or somewhere... Please, just leave her somewhere we can find her."

But I think she knows... I think we all know...
Yet we quietly pray, and desperately hope...

**UPDATE** Ananda Dean's decomposing body was found in bushes in Cyprus Hill, St. Andrew. RIP Ananda.

Monday, September 22, 2008

No Air, No Air...

::Tell me how I'm supposed to breathe
With no air
Can't live, can't breathe
With no air
That's how I feel
Whenever you aint there
No air, no air...::

:: became the anthem of a bus-full of commuters travelling from Papine to Crossroads/Downtown this evening.

Packed to capacity, the bus was an acrid mixture of human odour, and stifling body heat. You could feel the steamy vapour rising off the hot tar on the road, squeezing between closely-packed cars on the traffic-jammed route, seeping into the bus, inspiring sticky trickles of sweat down blouse-backs, on necks, on foreheads and behind ears; little beads of sweat on arms and legs and above lips; stuffy, hot air taking a slow choke-hold on every-one's lungs...

When the radio started to play Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown's 'No Air', the whole bus lustily sang along, directing their words at the driver...

"Driver, gi we some breeze nuh!" One irate passenger said, to many shouts of agreement: "Yes, AC, driver, AC!"

The driver, not missing a beat, took up a huge, flat notebook and started to fan. With a little smile, a shrug and eyes pleading understanding, he turned to his audience and sang, "No air, no air..."

The bus exploded with laughter.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thought For the Day

What you see............................................................is not all there is!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Armed, Dangerous, and Mad as Ever!!

Why are mad people allowed to roam this country armed and dangerous??

Picture with me: A mad man. Cushioned between two light-posts. So well-concealed that you can't see him until you're actually walking right by him. Uncomfortably close. Grinning. Leering at you in a sleazy, disconcerting way. With his dingdong out of his pants, in his hands, pointed at you: Eeeeeeeeeeeew!

That met me this morning on my way to school. I stepped off the curb, into the raod, and nearly got hit down by a passing car... All because of a madman showing off his nasty, big, black (and I mean black) dingdong. Yuck, yuck yuck!

There used to be this madman in St. Mary named Dudus. He would hide between the stalls in a lonely alleyway that we used as a short-cut to get to the bus park early in the mornings. He waited until girls were passing, then he would come at them, shaking his dingdong... Police knew about it. We constantly complained. But apart from an occasional beating from the men in the area, no-one did anything to get rid of him...

Why are mad-men allowed to roam this country armed and dangerous?

There's this madman called Cat on South Camp Road. Always has a machete in his hand, a knife in his waist, and an old bucket... Cat always laughs hysterically when I pass him. I complained to a security about it (begged him to follow me past that lunatic). He laughed. Cat wouldn't hurt me...

This madman named Scotty in St. Mary was like the Pied Piper for dirty, smelly dogs. He had a radio stuck in his crusty, thick locks. Scotty didn't really trouble anybody, but he always had this machete... I never felt comfortable...

Why are madmen allowed to roam this country armed and dangerous?

Gussie was another St. Mary madman. He always had a crocus bag over his shoulder. Always cussing imaginary people. Or real people. Depending on his mood, the weather... stuff you can never count on. He too totes the proverbial machete. And his is always sharpened and ready-for-use...

WHY ARE MAD PEOPLE ALLOWED TO ROAM THIS COUNTRY ARMED AND DANGEROUS??

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Raped on Duty

That's what the Gleaner headline screamed at me, and my blood boiled even before I took up the newspaper and began to read, because I knew that it was a woman abused by a co-worker (again) simply because she was a woman, with a vagina, and her abuser was a man -a male chauvanist pig- who believed it was his sovereign right to exercise sexual dominance over vaginas any and everywhere...

But it got worse. This woman was a police constable. Her abuser was a colleague, another officer, a man who has probably handled a plethora of rape cases against other men in the country... and he did it while the country was battling with the devastating effects of Gustav. Yes, Jamaican police have fouled up again! And in an even more despicable and shameful way!

To add insult to injury and pour sulfurous salt into raw, open wounds, this constable is being victimised by her own colleagues, who are treating her like a villain, labelling her a traitor, for standing up and speaking out against gross injustice and unpalatable abuse. She laments, "It's like I have done something wrong. No-one remembers that this man violated me."

The tragedy deepens because the very same people who she has to be looking to for help are the ones who are playing hanky-panky with her report, doing everything they can to slow the process, and trying to ensure that her case never reaches the court. They have leaked her story to the general public in the area, and exposed her to humiliating stares and comments from random people on the streets everyday. Can you believe, even the person in charge of her division (a male) has now made it a habit to go to her work station and stare at her for at least a minute every day?? And she explains that this happens everyday to countless other women in the force, who keep silent and feel helpless...

I pray to God that this case gets intervention at the highest level possible and that justice is served to this police constable. Everyday she has to see the faces of her rapist and his friends, jeering and mocking her... I call Women's Media Watch, Jamaicans for Justice, Women's Affairs Bureau, JFLAG, and just about every other NGO and civil awareness group in this country to start rallying for her right to a fair trial! Let this be the precedent that puts police rapists to shame!! I am so upset... I wish I could inflict serious grievous bodily harm, dole out cruel and inhumane punishment, to the bastards who think they have a right to any woman's body simply because they are men, especially the nasty, rotten, disgusting pieces of effluence that plague our police force...

Those "Good Old Days..."

I was reading this post by D-Empress about how sweet and simple life used to be, and how absolutely undesirably horrible things are now, when I was overtaken by a burst of righteous indignation, and in what might have been blind rage and folly, I penned this reponse:

While I understand quite clearly the essence of your article, and am even wont to agree on some of the finer points, I have to admit a weariness of "older" generations lamenting the never-ending virtues of days gone by.

As a member of this present and apparently disadvantaged generation, I feel compelled to refute the notion that humanity's best days are far behind us, long gone and never to return. I always think it is grossly unfair to my generation for older persons to describe the period in which they lived as "the best" period of life, for them to look at us with something akin scorn and disdain, or treat us like poor things.

Our lives may not be remotely similar to theirs, but make no mistake about it, we do our best with the life/time we have... Do I sound a little precocious, bitter? Maybe, but I get so annoyed when I hear anybody talking about the good old days... as far as I am concerned, my best days are NOW. It is what I have, what I can use, and I intend to enjoy it (like they did theirs) to the fullest...

*Whistles!* Quite a rant, huh?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Screeching Tires

My knees were so weak, I barely had strength to walk to the safety of the sidewalk... with the bus-the driver cussing me to pieces for not running out of the road like a sensible being, the bus-full of people wondering if I had a death wish, or if I was slightly suicidal or just plain crazy.

And me? I just stood there with my big, teared-up bulb eyes watching the bus drive away, trembling ever so slightly...


*SMH* Screeching tires. I've been causing/hearing that sound since I was a tiny little thing. My first major road accident was when I was four, crossing the road to go home from basic school. A bicycle man was coming down the hill full speed and couldn't brake in time. He ran straight into me and sent me sprawling... destroyed my little pink lunch kit (funny the things you remember... I don't even remember dude's face, all I remember is that he ruined my cute little lunch-kit and I was devastated).

Since that time, I have been plagued with an irrational fear of crossing the road... a situation accutely intensified by my move from rural country to urban town.

I loathe crossing town roads. Too many lanes and lines and lights to look out for... especially at cross-roads with four to six different lines of traffic... I still get scared about it (no kidding). And it's become a self-reinforcing habit. I get scared, my timing goes off, and by the time I swallow the panic and work up the courage to start the arduous trek across the road, the traffic light changes, and here comes a line of speeding cars at little scared me...

My mother is always especially concerned about this, because when I'm scared like that, I don't fight or fly. I freeze.

So this evening I was crossing the road and a huge white bus suddenly turned the corner and came at me full speed... I remember the flash of white, a bus-full of frightened people screaming 'moove!' and more than anything else, the familiar sound of screeching tires...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

For Sale: My Virginity

Nope, not mine!

Hers.
Name: Natalie Dylan
Age: 22-y-o
Occupation: College Student
Claim to Fame: Auctioning her virginity to raise money for college tuition...

See CNN video here, or check r2.

Quote courtesy of the soon-to-be-deflowered 'entrepreneur':
I think empowerment to women is picking yourself up in order to better yourself...

Really??
Feminism?
Capitalism?
The beginnings of prostitution??

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gustav Woke the Dead?

Gustav just earned my respect. Even though it was a 'mere Tropical Storm', it's scope and magnitude was so great that it surpassed the boundaries of the living and traversed into that mysterious realm reserved for the dead: Tropical Storm Gustav managed to unearth several dead bodies, disturbing the peaceful sanctity of our dearly beloved departed. To the best of my knowledge, not even Hurricane Gilbert did that! (Get the full story on this most unnatural occurrence here).

Humour and disturbingly high gross-and-freak-me-out value aside, there are some very legitimate concerns being raised:
1. What did these people die from and is it a public health risk?
2. How soon will their bodies be returned to six-feet-under and out of public sight/mind?
3. Who exactly will be performing this crucial but highly repulsive duty?
4. And come to think of it, when a body gets washed or dug or blown or somehow-removed from a grave, who do you notify? The Cemetery (if it's a cemetery)? The Parish Council? The police? The family of the deceased? Whose responsibility is it to ensure that the dead and buried stay dead and buried?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Randomosity: Today's Thoughts

My eyes have seen the best Tyler Perry movie thus far (and I've seen them all)... Family That Preys is worth seeing on the big screen. I feel happy that I went to watch it, even if I was all by my lonesome in that big ole theatre...

UWI is just as disorganised as I remember it... Cancelled 2 of the courses I was supposed to study, now I have to choose stuff I'm only marginally interested in. This may not augur well for my GPA...

Finally got me some Japanese from Little Tokyo... sooo delicious! I love Jap/Chinese food!

My little bro seems very serious about school. Called me to let me know he starts 6th form next week, and he's all-business. I sincerely hope this mega-motivated phase lasts till the end of the school year...

You know how people get homesick and feel like they'll just die if they don't go home soon, and get depressed and sad about it?? I'm Dude-sick...

I'm lucky to have friends like Skinny (now studying for Masters). Saw her today. Had a lovely chat. Reminded me why I have people like her for friends, and just what a terrible friend I've been, not calling, emailing... Love her to death and will do better. Good thing she reminded me her birthday is in a week *Hangs head in shame*

The AC in the library makes me shiver, my hands white. Note to self: walk with sweater, lotion...

PS I was in the ladies' room just now washing my hands when in walks an old man. Me: This is the ladies' room... Old man ignores me. And with a dazed look he proceeds to check each and every stall (they were all unoccupied). I hightailed it outta there!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First Years and Freshmen

I had my first class today and hallelujah! I feeel like I'm back in school... homework and reading to catch up on already! Lucky me got the last text book for a course from the bookshop-- oh yeah! No borrowing texts, or suffering through dust-induced allergy attacks from hundred-year-old library copies... But I've noticed something horrendous about myself. I'm ashamed to say it, but... I resent first years. Too cluelessly perky. And too squeaky clean: fresh faces, fresh clothes, fresh books, fresh bags, fresh money... new in every way! Hate em, hate em, hate em!

Especially the ones traipsing around like they know the ropes, or like they have a clue... Boy, don't be psst-ing at me like I'm some roadside thing, and do not turn and ogle me when I pass you in the hallway, cause that pretty little sweetie-wanna-be standing beside you is shooting me daggers with her eyes, and I ain't able. Plus, you just got here, calm your azz down!!

Overheard a group of "freshmen" talking the other day: how hot the girls at Uni are, what they wanna do with em... What??? Word of advice: get your head in your books and out of your pants, cause that's not gonna help you any! Furthermore, in time you will (hopefully) learn that:
Real men + getting laid = don't talk about it!
I honestly can't wait for the end of first sem, when they realise just how much serious work this is and how exciting it is not!! When they learn what broke and stressed means, and the shine from the shoes wear off, and the clothes have been washed a coupla times so they don't look so sharp and new anymore... It'll be harder for the con-men and rip-off artistes to spot them... I can't wait for them to get past the oohs and aahs of their first university encounter and wise the hell up!! Bad mind? Maybe, but these cats are getting on my very last nerve with their trying to play it cool.

What gets you through University is being focused and being you -the you your parents packed up and sent off with hopes that you'd at least get a pass degree and find a decent job, the you that did well enough to get accepted into this place, the you your real friends already like and trust... yeah, the uncool you. This ain't no party. This is school, and if you don't wise up soon, you'll look back and see a whole semester hopelessly gone and a new one smirking at you... Why I even care, I don't know, but everytime I see a first year dude walking with that extra bounce and dip, or some little lady swinging her hips like they're on suspenders, it irks me... I mean, damn! Did I look like that???

Sunday, September 7, 2008

JCF Caught In Compromising Position

Yes mi chile!! That distinguished group that serves and protects and, above all, ensures that no illegalities occur in our island - the Almighty Jamaica Constabulary Force - made a major, major, major boo-boo: they spent millions of dollars purchasing ammunition from an illegal dealer in the US. If it wasn't for the consideration and alertness of the FBI, the arm of the law in this country would have completed its business transactions with an unauthorised and unlicensed international dealer. Scandalous. Just disgraceful. *SMH* (Read the full Gleaner story here.)

Of course, the Government is already playing the cover-up/cop-out/blame game. Commissioner of Police Hardley Lewin had nothing much to say, but referred the Gleaner to "the people who were actually involved" (what is he trying to say?). One unfortunate "involved" soul is a heretofore unknown DCP Bent, who, I have a feeling, is seeing the writing on the wall... (adieu, madamoiselle Bent, adieu).

The Ministry was trying to make it look like a set-up, but the FBI wasn't having it at all:
Gilbert Scott, permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, said: "The matter regarding the purchase of weapons from Taylor and Associates was part of a sensitive security collaboration between Jamaican and USA law-enforcement agencies." But Judy Orihuela, media representative for the FBI, Miami Division, said that the case was "not a sting operation".

Apparently, we even wired them the money already: US$81,100 to be exact, that's 5.8million Jamaican dollars! Quite an expensive "sting operation", no? If it wasn't so disturbingly sad and tragic, it would be laugh out loud funny... Really makes you wonder about the regulation of those entities in our nation that are supposed to regulate us. As the good book says, he that is without sin cast the first stone...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

School Again?

Oh Lawd!! I can just feel ma belly rumbling and tumbling at the thought alone. I hafta change rhythm again... get into the school vibe, get my mind back in class-and-study mode. After this summer, and four months of non-stop working... ah not sure ah able.

I suddenly feel too old for all this, (I know, a whopping ripe old 20). Ah feel sooo tired at just the thought... oh lawd! School again.

So I made ma trek to the University today, and the weirdest thing happened when I reached the gate to go on campus. It's like some magnetic force (really more like a whole lotta fear and apprehension) was stopping me from entering. I was frozen. The people passing me musta thought I was crazy: just standing there looking on without budging, this sorry look on my face. I started to walk forward, then stopped, turned back, then turned round, started towards campus, then stopped again.

I had to think hard about it. Stepping back on campus would mean reimmersing myself into an atmosphere that had almost defeated me. Almost. The bouts of depression and panic that university life has taken me through... Lawd, ah not sure ah able. One more year of crazy scheduling and sitting through semi-interesting lectures, burning the midnight oil... alla that good stuff. One final year. One last time. I can finish my double major degree (that I really want), or punk out with a major/minor (which wouldn't be too too bad). I not sure if I want to go through alla that again...

So that leads me to the whole topic of New School Year's Resolutions.

The start of the school year is always the perfect time to get yourself back together and make some new goals, you know, recommit and refocus. My mind now running helter skelter all over the place... thoughts of text books and lecture notes and class-times and part-time jobs already running through my head... so much to think of, so much to do...

No backing out though. I'm in this for the long haul ("long haul" being exactly 1 year/the equivalent of exactly 2 semesters, and not a second more!). Life should be very interesting this year, considering all the new circumstances under which I will be toiling. I know it will all work out (I have a somewhat naive but unshakeable belief that the universe will always right itself and that God loves me specially from everybody else, lol - just ask my friends). So here I am again. Back in Uni. My last year.

Can I do it?? Yes I can. I have to. So I will.

PS Man, you should see the newbies all decked out in they Sunday best for the first days of class... Lawd you want to see them with they fresh faces and they dandy ribbons... lol. Can't wait to see those same faces halfway through first semester, round midsemesters time when all they papers due and they have a ton of exams too. That should be interesting, lol.

Monday, September 1, 2008

SFGTD

Got this little email:
To: YOU
Date: TODAY
From: GOD
Subject: YOURSELF
Re: LIFE

Dear Valued Client,
This is God. Today I will be handling all of your problems. I do not need your help. If life happens to deliver a situation that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it yourself! Please put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. All situations will be resolved in due time. Once the matter is placed into the box, you are strongly advised to let it go. Do not hold on to it by worrying about it. Instead, focus on all the wonderful things that are present in your life now. You are strongly advised to recommend these services to a friend as well for bonus customer appreciation points. Please be reminded also that the fee for the termination of these services is only a lifetime of pain and misery.
Have a nice day.
Love,
God (CEO, SFGTD Inc.)

So I opened a (new) SFGTD Box yesterday. So far I put school, work, family, friends, finances and future in there. I have this special deal with unlimited box space, but my list keeps getting longer. I think the box will soon be full...

Question: What would you put in your SFGTD box??