Friday, September 11, 2009

In the silence...

What is it about being in the silence of their own thoughts that makes people uncomfortable and uneasy??

Yesterday I was traveling on a bus. The driver had the radio on, and some loud dancehall music was playing...
*Enter annoyed Rb*
Rb: Driver, yuh can't find something else to listen to? Find some news or something nuh!
Driver keeps driving. Rb feels ignored.
Rb (raising voice): Hey driver!! You nah hear me?? Me say find some news or something fi wi listen to!!
Driver turns off radio. Enter annoyed 'other passengers'.
Other passenger 1: So wait, driver, a one person you a carry? Turn on back the radio man!
Other passenger 2: Driver, a more than one a we in here, enuh. You ago make one woman make the rest a we vex? Tun on back di radio. Me nah drive go St. Mary inna silence.
Other passenger 3: Yow driver, majority rule. Run di music.
Driver continues driving. The radio remains off. Other passenger 3 beside Rb turns on her cell-phone and starts to play some music.Rb sighs, starts to silently chant and petition heavenly intervention. Other passenger 3 puts phone close to Rb's ear. Rb starts to chant and request divine intervention under her breath. Other passenger 3 starts to flip aimlessly through her songs, then with a loud hiss-teeth, turns off her phone.
*Enter PERFECT SILENCE for the rest of the journey home, and a happy Rb.*

What is it about being in the silence of their own thoughts that makes people uncomfortable and uneasy??

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yay Me!

It’s official, blogland. I’m employed. For one of the biggest, oldest and finest companies in Jamaica. Full time. On a full-time contract. For full-time salary (and that’s the clincher). Ecstatic? You bet. I’m so excited I can hardly type. I’ve had this big, stupid grin plastered on my face all day – like someone cut it out of a kid’s book and tacked it over my mouth.

You know how it was that first time you got that real job (the one you actually wanted, or something close enough,) for real pay, and were about to have your first real taste of the real working world (in a place and space you wanted to work instead of some obscure ‘filler’... not that you don't appreciate the stepping stones that got you where you are)?

Remember the butterflies in your stomach? The dry mouth in the interview? The anticipation when you realised that you didn’t handle yourself so badly after all, and that NONE of your worst fears were realised that day (you made it in early; you didn’t say anything stupid or dry up like a well in a desert; your feet didn’t wobble too much in those high heels; your body didn’t betray your uneasiness with any embarrassing sounds, and -hurray- you got the job!!).

I know I must sound like a rookie, but well, I kinda am!! And don’t you remember how you felt when you knew you got that first job – for sure? Be honest – you had a ‘yay me’ moment too. You wondered at yourself in awe of all your new-found responsibilities... ah! The word suddenly comes alive: riss-pon-see-bill-i-teez! I feel like the proud five-year-old who gets to wear her mother’s precious pearls, except I’m not wearing anything for anybody. This stuff I’m wearing? It’s all mine! And now, (*whispers*) I can pay for it!

So, yeah, I have a job. The kind that comes with health benefits, allowances, vacation leaves, pay stubs and taxes (yikes). The kind that requires real dedication and real performance or else a real job won’t get done. It's great. Especially in this economic climate. It feels so... real!

And I’m sure you’ve it figured out by now: I’m REAL excited!

YAY ME.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gutless Caribbean Scum (Pt.1)

Modern society loves 'uniformity'... it irks me. My special grouse has always been with the education system. The transformation of our classrooms into factories that manufacture little dicta-regurgitating ibots upsets and concerns me to no ends!

I'm always cussing that they put limits on our creativity and self-expression: word limits, time limits, page limits... thought limits!! And oh how they love to throw up the almighty past to us as superior; and urge us to be like long-dead and well-gone people, (or some unimaginative classmate who happened to master imitation of aforementioned deceased), instead of encouraging us to delve deeper to unearth the individual diamonds of potential we all possess.

In some ways, the quest for 'one world' seems similar to this mass de-individualising of our children and youth. This mad obsession with 'one world'... this obsessive compulsive need that some nations seem to feel to ensure that everybody else conforms to one standard (usually theirs)... where is it leading?? Where is it going??

It often seems to me that the human race lacks the ability to look at its history, look at its present and answer one simple question: where are we going?? And as if that question is not elusive enough, you can't imagine the quizzical, blank stares you'll get for the second most crucial question: who is leading us??

The Caribbean has trouble answering these questions as well... maybe because we're spineless wimps who would rather merely exist than face the answers to these hard questions: Where are we going and who is at the helm?? Who is our Commander-in-Chief? Whose orders are we following? What orders are we following?

The Caribbean is, according to Rex Nettleford, the ideal model of what the world is trying to achieve through globalisation: different people and cultures and races melted into one big pot, sharing the same geographical space. CARICOM is supposed to epitomise this union of cultures and people.

But I often wonder if we ever stopped to think that maybe our social constructs and standards not so similar that we can throw everybody into one pot and just melt away the differences. And even then, after everybody conforms to one standard, then what?? A big, beautiful, boring world?? Is that really the aim of all these efforts at unions and uniformity?

If the aim is to make everybody equal, then why are we preaching our idea of governance as superior to everybody else's, instead of accepting that it is possible for us to be different -very, very different- but still equal?

I'm probably missing something essential in the equation, but it seems to me that this quest for one region, for one world - is accompanied by a great evil: the crucifixion of our human/national individualities...

Of course, that leads to the question of whether or not these lines of demarcation aren't all farcical creations in one man's attempt to laud himself as superior to his neighbour. Are our 'cultural differences' myths? Or are they realities that help to fuel our fear of facing our truths??

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Comic Rant 1

(...because Heavy Logix and Jack Mandora just had to go there!)

In all my life, only two comics have ever grabbed and kept my interest. I share the first with you today...

Calvin and Hobbes
You've seen this little mischievous-looking rascal somewhere, I'm sure: the evil glint in his eyes, the impish grin, the dark tilt of the brows, peeing on walls, the sides of cars, store windows, doors... anywhere he can unleash his liquid mischief. You take one look at him, and you think pure evil.

But that's not really true. Calvin's actually adorable. Not because he asks a million and one questions a minute, not because he has a rebellious streak a mile wide and a generation long, not because he has the proverbial 'Arnold' football-head, not because he's a child genius who often deliberately sets out to destroy and annoy; but because, at the end of the day, Calvin is just a 6-year-old trying to figure life out, with the help of his trusty imagina-real stuffed tiger, Hobbes.

Bill Watterson somehow manages to capture in Calvin the mystery of childhood mischief and the unarticulated desires and thoughts of both children and adults. His comics function as social commentary wrapped up in comic relief, and usually leave readers thoughtfully provoked. I think it's really awesome and quite effective. (When I'm a wee bit freer on time, I might do a thesis on just how awesome these comics are!!)

One of Calvin's most endearing characteristics is his attempt to play tough, even though he's all cotton candy inside (you could say he's a miniature version of our favourite Doctor House)... Calvin is quite an interesting, and astoundingly intelligent kid. He asks questions that just blow your mind: literally!

I'd never want to be Calvin's parents, I wouldn't even want to be an aunt or uncle for that kid! But I can probably imagine myself being a friend of the teacher who has to put up with his antics. Those stories of 'all the horrible things Calvin did in school today' would provide guaranteed daily amusement... as do his comics!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ruthi The Snob?

Can you imagine my shock and consternation when I realised that she was talking about me?? She was talking about me!! I was the snob! I'm the snob in the story... I nearly choked on my mango seed. My eyes must have been as huge as june plums... I was so shocked.

"You mean you think I'm a little rich snob??" I asked.

She nodded. "Yes. You talk like you don't understand what hard life feel like."

I was taken aback. She was saying this about me - me! Me- who grew up for the first five or so years of my life in a board house in a slum. Me? The little country girl with the unemployed parents?? Me? A snob?? Heaven forbid!

I stood there thinking about all of this. Then I looked at her. I had to ask again. "So you think I'm a snob?"

She nodded vigourously. Yes.

I sighed and nodded in resignation. "Then I guess I am a snob." And I left.

And I'm sure you're wondering why I just accepted it like that. Well, to tell you the truth. For someone who's come from dirt-poor days to a relatively clean and smooth life... I guess maybe I AM a snob. I MUST be a snob, because since I've come back home, I've gotten nothing but the cold shoulder, the don't-think-you're-better-than-me scoffs, and my personal favourite, the laughter for no reason just to let me know that they notice me but they find me laughable... not nice. Not nice at all.

Just recently I was sitting in a bus and the lady behind me burst out in laughter, then gave out loudly: "Not because dem go college!! Dem nuh better than me!!" And the whole bus looked at me. And, surprisingly enough, I felt ashamed. Like I'd done something wrong. Ashamed of what though? Ashamed of the disconnect and borderline rejection I've felt since I've been here. Not from my family. I mean, things are different there too,but I still get the feeling that at least they love me. In their own irritating and annoying ways. But the rest?? Did I do something wrong?? Maybe I was away for too long. Or... maybe I'm behaving like a snob. Or else why would people suddenly decide to treat me this way?

It's not fair. I want to be petty and behave like an immature little girl. Sometimes I honestly want to cry. But I always remember that there's another day and another sun and that, most importantly, I haven't done anything wrong!! All I did was go to university and live in Kingston for 4 years. And if that makes me a snob... then so be it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What Do You Do...??

What do you do...

...when you're caught between a rock and a hard place??

...when you're going through disgrace after disgrace after disgrace??

...when your life seems shrouded in shame?

...when just about EVERYthing fails??


You keep hope alive.
You look up.
You have FAITH.


Hang in there blogland. Help's on the way.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dear Michael...

I feel like I’ve lost something. But I’m not quite sure what. I feel like I never got the chance to witness and experience something truly extraordinary… and that is the problem exactly: I feel like I’ve lost something I never got the chance to have.

Dear Michael,
I don’t know you. But you must be somebody great. I hear people talking about you – about how much they miss you, about how much good you’ve done and how you’ve touched the world because you tried to heal the world. And it’s amazing to sit and listen to people go on and on about you. And I wonder if they’re saying all these things because you’re dead, and how sad it would be if they never took the time to tell you all these nice things when you were alive. Because, from what I’ve been hearing, you needed to hear them.

I heard people talk about how shy and soft-spoken you were, and how animated you became before a crowd – how you transformed into this other person who was innovative and creative and just went out of your way to make people happy.

And I saw the videos. I saw the way you stretched your arms wide and tilted up your chin during the applause after your performances… how hard you breathed, and how you seemed to be absorbing every last drop of praise from those people. Was that it, Michael? Was that what made stage life so great for you? Was it the adoration from the fans? The feeling of being valued? Of knowing that, in that second, for that moment, you could allow yourself to feel loved and appreciated? You could find satisfaction for that basic human desire for acceptance?

And that was exactly what was wrong with you, wasn’t it Michael? You were too human. And they nearly killed you for it. Because who were you to be a full grown man with a boy’s voice? To like to laugh and give hugs? To walk with your heart in your hands, ready to give it freely to anyone who wished? Who were you to be so very very simple and basic and human, yet miraculously gifted and talented? Who were you to bare your shattered soul to humanity and ask them to love you anyway? To make yourself so vulnerable? What did you think you were, Michael - a kid? A king?

Michael, I miss you. I don’t even know you and I miss you! I watched your funeral and I bawled shamelessly. I didn’t even know when the tears started falling… but fall they did. And they’re falling still. Because I loved what people had to say about you. I loved the way I felt when they showed the picture of this little five year old boy-wonder singing about missing his baby. I loved what Smokie Robinson said about watching you sing – about you being a kid but somehow knowing. You know what it means to be a kid knowing, Michael. A kid being able to feel what adults think is reserved only for them. A grown man-boy who never really grew up...

I reckon there are a lot of things in this world that I still don’t understand. And I figure that if I stay around long enough, I may start to understand some, but others would still evade me. But I know. Michael, I know- that when I die, I want people to talk about me like that too. I want orphanages and charities to remember me. I want my brother to sing my favourite song with tears flowing down his face. I want my mother to wear a big ole hat to hide the grief she cannot bear. I want my sister to get quiet and pensive. I want my baby to tell the world what a great mommy I was, and how she loved me – regardless of what anybody else thinks –she loves me! I want people to sing my songs and remember me for all the good that I’ve done. And sit in a town square and rock and cry. And remember. And recount. And appreciate. And cry.

And I want the world to pause, for one brief moment, and acknowledge my existence like that. I want them to say, without the shadow of a doubt, that -love me, hate me, can’t make up their minds about me– they all MUST acknowledge the fact that I lived. That I really lived. That I did what I did. And I did it well.

Michael. I don’t know you. But I know you lived an extraordinary life... You were something special... you were something else... *sigh*... something else...

There was nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with. -Rev. Al Sharpton to Michael Jackson's children at the Memorial Service

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Must Not Forget

Most days, I want to think of myself as something pretty special. I want to tell myself that I am truly one-of-a-kind. I want to believe with all my heart that I'm a fighter... a survivor, and that I made it this far because of my hard work and on the raw force of will-power alone.

But other days, like today, I face the truth. I look myself in the mirror and tell myself what a lucky person I am. Because had my parents been any less devoted to my success, had my teachers been any less relentless in their demand for excellence, had the foundations and principles of my life been only a shade different, and had there not been a God, I would not be the person I am today.

Days like today, I remember: I may have seen this much and come this far, but I did NOT do it on my own.

I've spent the last four years living in Kingston: going to school, working, and getting acquainted with urban life. Yesterday, I sat at home in rural St. Mary remembering, for a good long while, how easy it is to forget the people and places that comprise the 17 years that precede the last 4.

Is it really that easy to forget the pride in my father's smile, the warmth in my mother's arms, the loud, cheerful rings in my siblings' laughs? Is it so easy to forget music-filled streets and Miss Mabel's corner shop, and the names of classmates who stayed home to help build their parish, while I was whisked away to urban Jamaica with lofty dreams, in search of something (supposedly) better... in search of something (supposedly) more?

I sat listening to my siblings' jibes. My sister is a woman now. And my brothers have beards, or stubble... How weird that they have lives -whole lives- that I have very little knowledge of. How weird that my parents are growing old. How weird that my teachers and neighbours and classmates have never forgotten my name, or my face, and that, with the extra wrinkles in their tired faces, they smile when they see me, and remind me -again- why I should never give up. Why I should never forget.

I must not forget past classmates carrying babies in their arms: theirs and their little sisters'. I must not forget street vendors missing teeth, the sight of once-firm flesh now sagging, jangling and dangling as they offer passers-by their wares. I must not forget scruffy young men, congregating on street corners, already beggars, drunks and drug addicts... I must not forget that for every step I take, someone gets left behind. That for every rung on the ladder I climb, someone stands on the ground, wistfully looking up or cluelessly gazing around... I must not forget that they toil relentlessly. And I must not forget why: because too many children, by virtue of location alone, are abandoned and forgotten. They're bright. They're smart. They're awesomely talented. But they're oblivious to how much they're being robbed.

They have no access to what this world calls success. No access to urban Jamaica and all the secrets it hoards and hides... They remain where they are: seeds of potential. Undiscovered. Undefined. Unfulfilled.

They look at me and smile. And I think they feel proud. But, really, what's there to be proud of? I am no better than these. I am a daughter of St. Mary soil, just like anybody else. While I am in Kingston trying to realise fairytale dreams, they are at home fighting through the despondence of habitual disempowerment, finding new ways to survive a world that denies them the privilege - nay, the right- to fundamental amenities.

And it's a long road ahead of us. We have a far way to go. But if we ever expect to look in the mirror and feel any sense of accomplishment, it must be because we never forget. It must be because I never forget.

I cannot forget... help me to remember... I must NOT forget.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Only in Jamaica

1. From the STAR (newspaper)
"There is absolutely no truth to the fact that he was involved in anything alleged..." (Uh... what?Is this legalese for guilty?) This from a lawyer defending his client.

2. From the Telly
"Children are different from human beings..." this from a gentleman explaining why children should be treated differently from grown-ups...

3. Courtesy of my own circle of friends
From Lee: "A three baby mother me have, and mi nah cheat pon none a them!"

Gabs: "I was in my room with my sister JJ when my brother, Jude, came in laughing. He told us about this American woman he saw on TV. The quizmaster asked her how many Eiffel Towers were in the world, and she replied, "I think it's ten, but I'm leaning towards nine." Me and Jude broke up laughing. JJ joined in after about a minute, then she left the room. Me and Jude were in the room having ourselves a good cry-laugh when JJ came back in and asked, "so, really, how many are there?"

Brandy: "We were in class talking about which planet we would visit if we had the chance, and everybody was giving different answers. Then one guy stood up and said, "I would go to the sun." The class went silent. "What?" I asked. "Dude, you can't go to the sun! If we so far from the sun and it so hot, you can imagine if you GO to the sun? You would roast!" The whole class was laughing at him when another boy marched in and ordered us all quiet. "Oh shut up," he asserted. "Di whole a unnu a eediat. Di bes time to go to the sun is night." Class mash up.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thought For the Day

Just because a body is doing nothing doesn't mean a body has nothing to do...


(maybe a body just doesn't know where to start...)


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Caribbean Newspapers Falling Short?

Things and times certainly have changed… and the big money says they will continue to do so as long as things and times exist. Newspapers and journalists cannot afford to have a myopic approach to the many new developments on the internet. We better turn with the tide, or else get turned over.

Speaking from a Caribbean perspective, I think a reanalysis of the relevance of (Caribbean) journalism to today’s socio-technological climate is loooong overdue. Caribbean news-houses, especially our newspapers, are lagging behind in their use of modern technology to optimise content and capture new, untapped audiences. And it’s funny and sad, because their online presence as a textual authority provides (in my opinion, at this point) many more opportunities for a wider scope and reach than other forms of traditional media outlets, which have not as yet even begun to make their presence felt online.

In her address to a US Senate hearing on the future of journalism last month, Google's Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, Marissa Mayer, explained that one of Google's latest and most innovative products, Google Wave, can be especially useful to media houses, if they take the initiative to use them.

Mayer’s points are well worth taking note of. And our newshouses must realise that whether or not they pay attention to what she has to say, her words still stand as truth and prophecies that, if not now accepted and acted upon, will be later remembered and (unfortunately) regretted. Google (with their awesome, enlightened selves) will continue to break new ground and be at the helm of new technological innovations. They will continue to reap the benefits of their insight and foresight, whether or not newspapers pay attention.

It stands to reason, therefore, that our newspapers should quickly act on this invitation to be a part of the 21st century, and see Google as friend, not foe. We should be making every effort to tap into the multi-million people market to which Google already has access. How else do we plan to optimise our reach in the face of ever-growing technological innovations? Best advice is to take Mayer’s advice: act fast, act now!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Recession

I was walking along Silver Slipper Plaza in Cross Roads. Just looking. When I saw them. I stared. I drooled. I downright ogled. I got all panicky in the tummy in that sicknsweet way that gives delight wrapped up in anxiety. My belly went jelly and my knees grew ridiculously weak. I nearly passed out.

Wow! Gorgeous... goh-je-uss!

They had to be the most beautiful pair of earrings I had ever seen. I had to get them. It was a compulsion. I could. not. leave. without. claiming those beauties.

Then I felt my pockets: Empty. Broke. I shrugged. And sighed. Oh well, they weren't all that fabulous. And with drooping shoulders in a dejected slump, I continued walking.

Recession? This too shall pass.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Here I Come!!

I'm not worried.
And my friends can't understand it.
Especially the ones who graduated last year and still haven't found stable employment.

They just don't understand why I'm so calm about the whole job-seeking thing. They think I'm being naive, and a little (or maybe more than a little) foolish. But I don't think so. I'm just not worried. At all. About finding a job or making a decent living. Even in this economic climate.

I keep trying to explain to them that I'm being calm (because it goes hand in and with rational and thoughtful, lol) and because I'm more excited than anything else. And because I have a plan. And I've already begun to execute it. See, I'm not just leaving University and then going back home to deep rural St. Mary to sit on my beautiful bum and send out countless resumes to people. I have a PLAN!!

I've been doing my research. I've already seen loopholes, gaps and spaces in the world of PRINT and ONLINE journalism/production where my skills can prove useful and profitable. And what I don't know, I'm making every effort to learn to make myself even more marketable. Yes I'm sending out resumes. Yes I'm dropping the word. But I'm also looking into self-employment options. Looking into the world of entrepreneurship. I'm exploring *profitable* volunteerism, and all that wonderful jazz.

I guess maybe if I sat at home just waiting for something to fall into my lap after sending out some CVs, I'd have time to get worried. But I'm NOT worried because I'm working my amazing azz off to make sure I don't have anything to worry about! *Plus I'm praying like crazy (lol)*. And I am seeing things happen...

I'm in a weird place. Transition, I guess you could call it. I know I'm leaving a season. And I'm also entering a new one. Exciting? Yes. Absolutely. I'm at this point where I can see my whole life before me. I see everything I want. And it's all within my grasp. I mean, it is all really and truly right there staring me in the eyes, kinda daring me to come get it, to get up and do what is necessary to get them. And I just can't keep still. Because this is not a dream any more. It's all a real and very visible and tangible reality.

All the things that were supposed to limit me... lack of qualification, experience, age, location... they're now the very things that are empowering me. And if you ask me, it's about time! I can't explain this (supposedly naive) feeling that has engulfed me lately. But I also can't lie to myself. I feel ready. Ready to work. Ready to be successful. Ready to actually see what I've been studying and planning for... I'm ready, world. I am ready!! Are you??

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Don't Like Funerals

I don't like funerals.

The last time I went to a funeral, I was about 7 or 8 years old. I've had people close to my family die since that time, but I have never gone to any funeral since.

I don't like funerals.

They're sad. And all about dead people. And I don't like coffins. And the exorbitant drama that people believe has to happen at funerals. The wailing. The screaming. The griping and rolling on the floor and petitioning God. The wanting to jump into the coffin with the deceased. The passing the (poor little innocent) babies over the coffins (something I would outlaw if I were in government, cause that is just creepy and unfair and wrong).

I don't like funerals.

I especially don't like the graveside processions. The singing and dumping dirt on a slowly lowering coffin. The realisation that this person is really gone and never coming back. The old women getting into spirit as they sing ancient hymns and negro spirituals. The dumping the rum into the grave-hole to (supposedly) appease dead spirits. The nasty loose grave-yard dirt that I don't want on my shoes or anywhere near my home. And most of all, the sadness. The oppressive, pervasive, overwheliming sadness. And tears. And burdensome grief.

I don't like funerals.

So when I found out that a cousin of mine had died, I know I'll never see him again, and in my mind, I make peace with that fact. Because I don't like funerals.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why I'll Never Forget Ayi Kwei Armah

"What do you do when people, free to choose, choose what they want??" -Ayi Kwei Armah, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born

I think I felt the book more than anything else, and that affinity made me appreciate it more than many other texts I'd studied. This one got me.

It's main character, the man (yes, the man - he remains nameless) experiences life in corrupt post-colonial Ghana under Nkrumah's rule. Different aspects of the man's life are affected by the corrupt politics that pervades his society: work, school, church... everywhere! (Sounds familiar?)

The book gives an allegory of people who lived in a cave and thought that was all there was to the world. Then one day, some of these people ventured outside of the cave, and realised that there was a whole other world out there to be explored. They went back to the cave and tried to explain this other world to their friends. But their friends refused to believe it. They refused to listen, and chose to remain the cave. Then Armah pops the question: What do you do? What do you do when people, free to choose, choose what they want?

Those words haunted me. I started to apply them to everything. And that was around the same time we studied Toni Morrison's 'Beloved'... and we were looking at Caribbean intellectual traditions in Caribbean Studies, and all our lovely slavery history... sometimes history can be depressing. Especially black history. We've certainly come a faaar way! I never wanna go back.

So that's how Armah's book got me. And why I'll never forget it. I mean, really: What do you do? What do you do, when people, free to choose, choose what they want.... especially when they're making the wrong choices???

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Only in Jamaica...

This is Part 1 of what I have dubbed my "Only in Jamaica" series... where I will highlight little bits and snippets from everyday Jamaican life, and argue why these things can only happen in Jamaica (or to Jamaicans). This first episode can be considered the pilot. Thus, it will be short. Feedback would be greatly appreciated (like, should I do this in a new blog entirely called 'only in Jamaica'?)

In the Taxi
Male 1: 18 years, 18 years, 18 years then he found out it wasn't his
Rb: But it was his. By naturalisation.

*all the dudes in the taxi give Rb the look of death*

Rb: No... come on, what I mean is, he fathered the child for 18 years... after all that time, that child is definitely his! He was the real father!

*all the dudes in the car shake their heads vigorously*

Male 2: Nope. That child wasn't carrying his genes!
Male 1: Alright, look at it this way... how would you like your husband to come home with a kid and tell you that it's yours... *he leans closer to Rb* by naturalisation??
Rb: But that is not the same thing!

*dudes in the car laugh and shake their heads even more vigourously*

Male 2: But that's what it's like!
Rb: Well, for women, it's easier... we definitely know when a kid isn't ours!
Male 2 (somewhat sadly): I'm convinced that all women are tailors.
Rb (puzzled): What?
Male 2 (repeats): All women are tailors... they know how to sew good jackets!

P.S. This one is from a Rasta: Swine flu ting? Them always say pig fly. Now them flu!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dying Friendship

The voice has changed
The tone, the look
Disinterest
I can smell it...

Conversation becomes
Burdensome obligation
Terse, insincere laughs
Tell it...

Looks of longing
At everything else
Everywhere else
But me...

Hasty flight
Quick departure
A perpetual need
To leave...

Always in a hurry
Hurtfully impolite...

Countless conversations
Cut short in spite...

Telling signs.
Telling times...

You don't have time for me,
I ain't got time for you...

*And so the friendship dies. (This last line is not a part of the poem).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Boycott Jamaica?

There is a growing wholesale attempt to sink my beloved Jamaica! The boycott-Jamaica website is the latest.

I've heard of boycotts of certain events where anti-gay music is played, and of performers who support and promote violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBTs)... but the whole country?? Wow.

I guess I should hurry up and get my migrate on like my friend Destiny. Cause I certainly won't relish being part of the innocent many that are made to suffer for the guilty few. Or the innocent few that are made to suffer for the guilty many. Why are the innocent always the unwilling sacrificial lambs?

No to Red Stripe & Myers Beer & Blue Mountain Coffee & Jamaica as a tourist destination?

It's happened so many times before in history: we don't like your look, so we're just going to make all your people suffer till you do what WE want you to do... diplomatic bullying! I mean, hey, it's cheaper to go wholesale and just label the whole island. Because they're all LGBT haters. And they all deserve to die! They're anti-us. So let's be anti-them. That's a perfectly reasonable approach, right?? Right? Let's make Jamaica the next Cuba! Or Iraq! Or holocausted Jews!

Too brilliant.

Slaughter leftist Jamaica in mainstream media. Declare war on Jamaica for its undemocratic stance. Land a bomb and sink the island to get rid of all the LGBT haters. No. Wait. That sounds barbaric. Can they do that? Have they done that? Are they doing that?

So if I were to think based on this premise, I'd say, let's boycott the boycott-Jamaica website. I mean, hey, we have good reason. Our welfare and the welfare of our children may very well depend on it. Cause let's face it, they're trying kill us. Let's get them first and keep the cycle going!! It's our obligation! And our right!

I hope they fly out all our LGBTs before their awesome plan sweeps our island; or else I hope they realise that they'll be making our LGBTs suffer too. Or are Jamaican LGBTs earmarked to be the martyrs of the cause (especially considering they're Jamaican and therefore highly likely to possess that genetic strand of violence and anti-LGBT-ness)?

I should stop talking before somebody calls me a paranoid conspiracy theorist and throws me into prison for being subversive...

PS I will never support violence against LGBTs, or anyone else, for that matter. I believe in respect and equal rights for all. I just don't agree with 'punishing' Jamaica into a response. I'd gladly support an education and awareness campaign/website any day. In fact, I suggest more energy be channeled in that direction, instead of this anti-Jamaica campaign.

For more on this issue (cause balance is important) check the Axoriak, Towleroad, The Washington Blade report, The Gleaner report

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cough-ter that Reverberates

I sat beside a girl the other day with a big, dry, hacking cough. The sound of that cough was just awful, and the frequency was much more than most average personal comforts would tolerate. I felt sorry for her, and sympathised but I had to get up and move! Not because of the cough - she had a rag and was doing all the socially correct things to ensure that the air remained sterile (or as sterile as could be expected under the circumstances). My problem was the cough's disturbing effect on my insides.

You could hear the grating at the back of her throat, and the resultant shaking in the room, and my midriff, was horribly, horrendously wrong. That was the first time in my life I ever heard someone cough so strongly that it vibrated up and down a room and actually reverberated like an echo on my tummy. It feels as nasty as it sounds.

I wondered what kind of pain that poor girl must have been in, with that shaking actually coming from inside her... I wondered if the girl sitting directly beside her didn't feel like she was experiencing the tremors of a mini-earthquake... After looking around the room and seeing everyone else absorbed in their laptops and apparently undisturbed, I wondered if it was just me with a sensitive tummy (some people are weird like that- like women whose wombs 'glow' when they see pregnant women). Then I stopped wondering, packed up, and left.

I usually hear of laughter that reverberates, whether it be booming, powerful guffaws, or echoing peals that bounce around a room and envelope everyone. That day, it was a different experience: who knew 'cough-ter' reverberates? I wish I had been spared the discovery...

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Print Class's God-Sent Song

I think everybody has a God-sent song: that song that just captures exactly what you're feeling and thinking, that paints a portrait of you so perfectly, in such unbelievably, undeniably, meticulously correct words, music, tone, pace, pitch -and everything else!- that you swear this tune was written straight from your life!

I am unwritten
Can't read my mind
I'm undefined...

My Print Class had one!! It was our anthem! We couldn't hear it anywhere without doing little jigs, bobbing our heads, humming along, smiling, and sometimes doing crazy group dances that made people look at us like we were weird. But who cared? We couldn't help it. The song just had that effect... it got us (as a group) anywhere, any day, everytime!

I'm just beginning
The pen's in my hand
Ending unplanned...

Natasha Bedingfield (and her co-writers) must have gotten special inspiration from God when she penned the words for 'Unwritten'. Either that, or she stole a chapter from our class, because that song was just sooo us!! Our class co-ordinator told us that we were the craziest group she had ever seen, and when I think about it, we did some very radical things (including getting a lecturer removed from office) while we were there.

I break tradition
Sometimes my tries
Are outside the lines...

What I remember most, though, is when we were in the Print Lab during our final semester. We would close the doors, max up the speakers on our computers, and go crazy belting out different songs together. 'Unwritten' became our class theme song. We sang it almost every day up till our last class together, because it just verbalised so very well, how we all felt going through our courses.

We've been conditioned
To not make mistakes
But I can't live that way...

It's fun screaming "release your inhibitions!!" at the top of your lungs with your friends... and then doing funky dances around the classroom, goading each other on; then the mad dash to sit in your seat and look dignified when your favourite Trini teacher comes in to ask, "what a pound??" (because, according to him, we sounded like market-people, lol), and the panting, sweating, and feeling absolutely exhilirated after getting a good work-up, eyeing each other and mimicking the funniest-looking dancers, and bursting out laughing (for no reason the teacher could think of... poor man, he had to put up with a lot, but we loved him to pieces... fun times!)We really believed in the exciting possibilities of the great unknown...

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you cannot find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions (!!!)

It's been a full year now. We recently had our first official 'class reunion'. Looking at everybody reminiscing and laughing, I couldn't help but wonder: now that some of us are still in school, others are working, and some unemployed, what will happen to us? Where will we end up 10/20 years from now, and will we still be 'releasing our inhibitions' with enthusiasm and excitement? I can't wait till our next reunion, to see where our lives go. Until then, I dedicate this post to my crazy print class, and to our favourite God-sent song:

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

The rest is still unwritten....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Love Affair With Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

One day I'll write a poem, or an essay -a book probably- on how profound this poem is. But for now, I want to talk about the man who wrote it, and when I met him, and why I've been in love with him ever since.

I'm weird. I sometimes fall in love with dead people: authors, poets, singers, songwriters, activists, artists... maybe it's safer to love them dead than alive. I especially love African-American history. MoTown music (late 1950s onward). Martin Luther and friends (1960s). Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad (1859). Rosa Parks and her indispensible 'but' (1955, pun intended). The Harlem Renaissance (1920s-60s). And especially Langston Hughes.

It was sixth form literature. We studied the Harlem Renaissance, one of the most profound periods in Afro-American history, a precursor to what would soon happen in the Caribbean when we started to develop our own (recognised) intellectual traditions (1960s-70s-now?). I always think it must have been awesome to live in a period when black people were defining their own identities (not that I'd ever trade places with anyone from that time. I'm fine here and now, thank you.)

The first poem we studied was Dream Deferred. And that day, Mr. Hughes won my heart. I marvelled at the simplicity of his language: the raw potent explosiveness behind his carefully measured words. Mesmerised, I started to research his life beyond class requirements. I began to read his poems with more fervency and passion, to feel reverence for this amazing man whose words helped to transform an entire nation. I wrote a whole book of (amateur) poems just feeding off the energy from his words alone. That was the same year I came third in the country for CAPE Lit. Langston really turned me on, I tell you! (no pun intended; and I studied Ayi Kwei Armah's 'The Beautyful Ones' that year as well - another absolutely powerful piece of work!)

One thing I've learnt is that history really makes literature come alive. Whenever I get the historical context for a piece of writing, my appreciation for it multiplies hundredfold. Reading about Langston's rise from Joplin, Missouri to Harlem, New York made him real to me. If writers who are able to articulate the feelings and hopes of an entire nation/race are dangerous, then Langston Hughes was lethal. He effectively captured the frustration and depression that afflicted African-Americans in 1950.

I felt his every word, and in my mind's eye, I could see him walking on desecrated black streets, passing dilapidated shops, looking into the faces of desperate people: broken men, women and children; reading the hurt in their eyes, and wondering... "what happens to a people who have lost the will to live? What happens to a dream deferred?"

I hope to grow up soon. And when I do, I hope to be a lethal writer too. Not like Langston Hughes. Like me. But with the same kind of intensity that makes the world turn on its axis, or that makes a little girl studying in high school many generations later sit up straighter in class, and start to really pay attention... and maybe even become inspired to write a legacy of her own...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Phallus, Phallic, Phallocentric... Fallacious

The phallus is the axis around which the world revolves...

That was the scintillating topic of one of my classmates' tutorial presentations... and his presentation was every bit as juicy as expected: just dripping with references to how the 'phallus' and 'phallic' symbols pervade every aspect of our 'phallocentric' society...

I was traumatised. By the end of his presentation, I was literally numb and just plain tired of hearing the words phallus, phallocentric, phallic... I asked him to use the word penis sometimes instead, and the whole class roared. I didn't get it.

Did you know that the idea of tubed lipstick/products came from ancient Greek goddess Diana? Touching the penis to the lips was seen as a way of appeasing the fertility gods... little tubs of lip gloss/stick were later innovations, and even then, the dipping of the finger into the tub before applying it to the lips can be seen as the ritualistic dipping of the phallus into the challis...

The pen is also a phallic symbol. And toothpaste. And all your antifungal creams. Just think about it: liquid secreted from the tip of a tubular object... But that's not all. The knives and forks with which you consume your daily meals are also phallic symbols: consider the elongated, cylindrical contours, and the dipping of this phallic implement into the metaphoric 'challis', the plate. Cars, ancient historical monuments, Egyptian pyramids, obelisks, the World Trade Centers, bullets. spears, guns, Catholic candle-lighting rituals (dipping one long candle into some short, tubby ones) and even our cutesie toes and fingers, can all be regarded as phallic symbols...

Yes, I know. It certainly disturbs me too. And that is exactly what I said when his presentation was over. I suggested that maybe he looked a leetle too hard for phallic symbols in everyday society... even though his research proved that established, learned and intelligent scholars supported his claim (they thought of it first!).

At the end of the class, my summation was that his extensions of this phallocentric (or rather, phallo-eccentric) thought, was very, very disturbing, and also quite "fallacious"...

And nope. The class didn't get it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Oh The Possibilities...

"Turn back!" men from the approaching crowd yelled. "Police down deh, turn back!" At first I thought they meant that the police were stopping and perhaps ticketing robot taxis, but as my brave (robot taxi) driver continued, I realised that this was not what they meant. The area was cordoned off with bright yellow tape: we were approaching a crime scene.

The taxi driver (having lost all aforementioned bravery) stopped his car and ordered us out. I looked toward the yellow tape and swallowed. Did he mean we had to walk past this crime scene to get to campus? He turned his car around and drove away, leaving exhaust fumes and dust to provide me with an answer.

It felt surreal: inspectors with white-gloved hands placing measuring tapes on the ground, soldiers patrolling in their army greens with huge magazine guns, policemen directing traffic away from the scene, and crowds of people behind the yellow tape at both ends of the road.

The only time in my life I've ever been close to anything like that was once in Ocho Rios when a police officer shot a taxi driver close to where I was... He did it because his pride was offended and he felt like he had to assert his authority somehow. So out popped the gun, and when the taxi driver seemed unmoved by this scrap of metal waving in his face, the officer stepped things up a notch, and with a whole crowd of women, children and men looking on... he shot the taxi driver for 'mouthing' him.

I remember it in slow motion. There was such a quandary afterward... the shot still ringing in my ears (I was that close), terrified screams, heavy boots hitting asphalt as people ran helter-skelter, my mother grabbing my hand, and looking and calling for my siblings at the same time, the sirens wailing as the police car sped away with the wounded man, the shouting mass of people stampeding their way from and to the scene, the cries of 'him nevah do nutting' already rising. I thought mob justice was about to be delivered. But the police villain got into his car and his colleagues sped him away too.

I think I lost my sensibilities for a good five minutes or so. My sense of direction disappeared, and had my mother not been nearby, I might have run in the wrong direction or stood there petrified, watching everyone else run for cover. But mommy was there, and by the time she and my father rounded us up and got us on a bus to go home, I had recovered and was jabbering excitedly with my siblings about it.

My mother was most traumatised. Her maternal reflexes snapped into full action when the incident was occurring, but by the time we reached home, she was a frail, weak and semi-senseless being. Her nerves were shot. She went promptly to bed, and for the remainder of the week, that was where she stayed, distressed at the thought and memory of what had transpired (she saw it).

I felt it for her, but, as you can imagine, when the immediate danger was past, I was soo excited at having actually been there (and my schoolmates only magnified my feeling of greatness by having me recount again and again what I saw)... I felt thrilled at having witnessed a potential murder: I even wanted to be able to claim that I saw the taxi man go down, but my spotless Christian upbringing got the better of me.

It was something else.

And that was what came to mind when I saw all the yellow tape and heard that a man had been shot. My alertness quadrupled I even had a CSI/NCIS moment (*saw a short fella in a spiffy suit walking briskly from the crime scene, talking on his cell phone with this air of self-importance and just knew he was the head detective: Grissom/Gibbs*).

As I walked past the crime scene, I unconsciously drew closer, wondering who shot this man and why... But the girl who got booted out of the taxi with me was adamant that I should not be stupid and waste time endangering my life for foolishness. Silly me pointed out that the immediate danger was past and it didn't hurt to look and listen. In response this, my fellow strandee replied, "anything is possible."

That woke me up, and I hurried to class. Because, hey, you know what?? Anything is possible.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beholden-ness

I was in the bathroom washing my hands when the woman stormed in, rushed into a stall, did her business, and came back out (yes, it takes me that long to wash my hands). The whole time, she was talking on the phone in her lilting Trini accent... something about a 'he' who was taking advantage of a situation, asking for some annoying curse-word-curse-word favours. When she came to wash her hands, or rather, to let the water run full force on them for two seconds, I could hear more clearly what she was saying:
"is a damn shame when you don't have your own things to be able to do things for yourself without having to depend on anybody for anything and put up with people foolishness..."
Then she whooshed out, leaving a slowly dying breeze and a flopping curtain above the window (I lie. No flying curtains. If it was a movie, though, that would have been the mood). For all I know, she could have been a divine messenger from above with that statement. Oh how well I can relate!

Beholden-ness. That wicked noose that traps and slowly suffocates; draining the last vestiges of life from an already tired body. Beholden-ness. It sucks! Too many people in this world already think I owe them this magnanimous debt of gratitude and whatever-the-hell-else. Don't get me wrong. I'm not ungrateful. I'm just tired of compulsory gratefulness (mind you, I could be ungrateful now, but that would hurt me a whole lot more than it would hurt my not-always-so-pleasant benefactors). And alas! I know that bills and rent and providing for yourself isn't all it's cracked up to be, but neither is this wretched state of 'beholden-ness'...

So when that woman stepped into the bathroom breathing fire and brimstone for this stupid man, I could feel the defiance and indignation boiling...

Hasten the day when I achieve the honourable degree and acquire or create (whichever comes first) the ideal, prestigious, well-paying job. Then I can go live however and wherever my heart desires (or can afford to desire, lol) and assert autonomy from all undesirable external entities. And what's more? I can even become a benefactor to my benefactors for a change...

Independence calleth... *sigh* ...I hear it so clearly!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Talk With the Self

Self,
I should start on a high note and point out that I love you in word, thought, deed and truth. Can't live without you, and that's no lie. I even have friends getting jealous and malicious because I love you so much... but such is life. I love you. I can't help it. Afer all, you're you! Who wouldn't fall in love with that? =-)

I should also say that you've been making a lot of personal progress lately. Like the way you've been getting up early in the mornings and getting more things done around the house? Fabulous. And the way you're not allowing little things to bother you, and actually having entire worry-free days? Just awesome. I love it. Cause I, for one, can't stand it when you worry.

And your self-control is coming along nicely! Remember when that same gal there open her mouth to speak nonsense in class (again), and you actually kept mum this time, and kept a straight face, even though the whole class was looking expectantly at you (cause them know you love to rebut and rebuff)?? I know it was hard, but I was so proud when you did that.

Or remember that time when that lady came to Auntie J's house and decided to pretend you didn't exist?? You actually held your tongue and managed to keep a smile on! Bra-vo. I know how trying moments like that are, and I'm really glad you're learning how to handle spiteful offense. I always say, if you can't change action, change reaction. Don't kill up yourself over them things there, self. It not worth it. This self-control will come in handy when you meet all God's wonderful variety of people in the working world... you'll see...

But, seeeelf, ah muss tell yuh! There are some things about you that are getting on my nerves. Especially the things you hide so well for so long that I think they not there any more, only to see them resurface later on... self, what is up with that?

Take today, for example. How you manage to not be happily finished with that essay when you had an entire month to do it? What happened self? I thought we were on a roll with this doing all things on time thing... how come that happened?

Self, I'm so ashamed of you for that. I seriously would give you a spanking, except it would hurt me as much as it would hurt you. How dare you jeopardise my future first class honours like that?? And then to dump all this unbelievable guilt and regret for it on me- me?!! Self, how could you betray me like that??

I really thought we were over the procrastination phase. I thought we were making progress. Perhaps we are. Now ah not so sure. Self, I really can't tell you how unnerved and just plain old frustrated I am with you today. That essay was an A essay. You could have easily handed in, not just good work, but great work. Instead, you somehow managed to watch time pass till too late, and then the maddening race against the clock...

I have to admit that you stayed calm under pressure, especially when it touched 4:45 and you knew you were working against a 5 o'clock deadline... I'm glad you didn't panic and get jittery and do something stupid. But still, self, you never had to be in that situation at all!! You could have finished this thing weeks ago and had a nice, slow, peaceful day today.

So self, hear me out: I can't handle the procrastination thing again. This is not high school. You can't get way with them things like one time (okay, maybe you can, but really, is a B/B+ good enough when you could have easily gotten an A+? Mediocrity just don't make it in my books!)

Self, step it up man! Do better. Learn from your mistakes and shape the hell up. You better not let this happen again, you hear??

I done talk.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sometimes It's the Little Things

One of my friends gave me a story. That's what she called the pretty colourful bracelet, and the cute pair of pearl earrings she brought me back from her trip to England (she went to a workshop in business journalism hosted by Reuters -can you believe that- the Reuters!! She was the only black person there among journalists from all over the world!) She also brought me back a real live authentic Reuters pen! I was beside myself with ecstasy! A real live Reuters pen is just a really big deal to a young li'l Jamaican journalist-in-training. I'll tell you this much: it means something!

So, when she handed me these things, she said, "this is the beginning of a story." When I heard that, I sat up straight because I knew something good was coming. And here it is:

My friend, (we shall dub her Destiny), visited her grandmother in England on her birthday (during the workshop). Her grandmother gave her a gift of a beautiful crockery set, and told her, "this is the beginning of a story." What she meant was that she didn't know if or when she would ever see Destiny again, so she was giving her the gift as what she expected to be the beginning of a legacy in Destiny's life. Basically, she was saying, if I never see you again, let this gift be in memory of me. Tell the story of your trip to England and your visit to your grandmother to your children and your children's children whenever you use these dishes.

So, after Destiny bought me the little keepsakes, she decided to call them the beginning of a story too. Because, according to her, as soon as she finishes her program at UWI, she is getting out of Jamaica as fast as she can and there is no guarantee that she will evah see me again after that.

"So," she said in her saucy, matter-of-fact way, "let this be the beginning of a story." I laughed my ass off. But it warmed my heart too. See, sometimes it's the little things...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Insecure and Afraid??

How do you explain a perpetually optimistic friend who seems to live by the belief that, regardless of how horrible things may seem, everything will be ok?

Who never seems perturbed by anything, and never complains to you about problems (does she have any?) and never seems to undergo the poverbial identity crisis?

How do you explain a friend who broke up with her boyfriend and shows almost no sign of pain or remorse about it?

Who rarely even talks about it and rarely ever goes through distress about anything?

Who seems constantly confident and behaves like she knows what's she wants and where she's headed?

How do you explain a friend like that?? Especially when you're in the middle of a mess and feeling woefully inadequate yourself?

The discussion revolved around relationships, and how hers was going up-the-mountain-down-the-mountain so often that her emotions were swimming in a nasty roller-coaster that seemed to me more like a manipulative web weaved by the (I must admit) very handsome and charming love of her life.

There I was telling this friend about my epiphany:
- how I discovered that latching on to people for dear life was a destructive habit, especially when the 'latcher' is an ambitious, somewhat clingy young woman, and the 'latchee' is a young gentleman with top-of-the-line executive responsibilities hailing from the one and only clannishly repulsive all-male's hall in our most prestigious university;
- that sometimes it's best to just stop trying to be validated by things and people and groups, and step apart from all that and find validation in your mere existence;
- that the type of confusion she was experiencing comes in large part from trying so hard to shape yourself into what everyone else wants you to be instead of just being what your merry heart desires and then allowing other people fall in place around that.

There I was thinking I was being a supportive friend, explaining that while I did not have the answer, and could not, like my grandmother recommend bay rum as a universal panacea for her aching heart, I could offer the encouragement that the storm would not last always and that at the end of this very turbulent season, she would have grown and developed into an even more beautiful and self-assured individual.

This wonderful friend of mine looked at me and explained that she thought I was insecure and afraid, and that that was the real reason why I was not in a relationship right now, and that that was why I broke up with last mister, and that that was why I was trying to explain everything away with this mumbo-jumbo love-yourself, independence speech...

She said that the real reason why I was going around vomitting all this sunshine nad spouting all this optimism and assurance was that I was insecure and afraid.

I sat back in stunned silence. Wow. Look'a that. Insecure and afraid. Hmph...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Randomosity: Today's Thoughts

She should definitely talk less in class, because her darkness just overpowers... Today, for example, she was adamant that ALL people who migrate for years, and come back with accents, are trying to disown their Jamaican-ness. We (meaning the entire class) tried to show her that this wasn't necessarily the case. We tried to show her that sometimes it's just hard to lose that accent in a day, if ever! But she refused to listen. She was sure that ANYbody who came to live in Jamaica after years abroad and kept their foreign accent was just trying to be showy. This in a class where the teacher, who has lived here for quite a while, still has a heavy British accent. Steups.

I know I shouldn't have said it. But -at the time- it felt right. I thought the context allowed for such a comment. I thought I would be understood. Well, funny how fast everyone around you will back up into their shells, and deny ever knowing you... the wrong word, spoken even at the right moment, can do irreparable harm...

Maybe I reopened a door that should have stayed closed. I had no idea so many issues and thoughts and feelings still lingered. I guess (and hope), that by reopening this door, I can finally clean this closet once and for all.

Awww.. twin baby girls, with their hair twisted in reggae-colour beads... holding hands and crossing the road together, their little book-bags and tunics... adorable...

I broke his heart, ripped it to shreds, put him through hell, and all he says is: it's cool. Just like that. No hard feelings. No nothing. It's cool. We're okay, he says. Are we really okay? And was he always this amazing?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dagger This Daggering Thing For All It's Worth!!

If Jamaican film-makers/play-producers wanted to make some money right now, and had all the requisite resources (money, time, actors/actresses, etc) at their fingertips, I would advise them to make a movie called 'The Daggering Dilemma'. Yeah. I really would.

I was reading on Javed and Long's blogs about this daggering debate, and like a wonderful, epiphanic bolt of lightning, the idea struck me: money! A fast-thinking, quick-acting, creative genius could make money out of this daggering controversy. Of course, they would have to act veeery fast, but still, as I see it, the money could probably be made.

How?? Start with the script. How about a script showing all the different players (as outlined in our beloved Long's blog) in one small community, each group characterised by their reaction to this not-so-recent dancehall phenomenon called daggering? The play would hafta be smartly written, loaded with ironies and symbolisms and parrallelisms- probably a staunch uptown Pastor with a pious-looking wife who 'daggers' on the side, or a shopkeeper who is absolutely repulsed by the idea of daggering till he one day goes to experience it for himself and somebody else asking if daggering cannot be compared to what dogs do in mating season... catch my drift? Clever hyperbole, syllogisms, and tons of regular jamaican humour could pull this thing off!! And it would make a killing, or atleast a near-killing... and quite possibly, create an entirely new buzz around town!

And even if the movie/play is not all that, some good PR, riding on the waves of the current debate, could make it appeal to the nation at large, so that people would want to come see it at least one time. The producer/advertiser would just hafta pull out all the stops to ensure that there was a huge turn-out on opening night! Probably make it a one-night only thing, and have different classes of tickets for front row seats versus back row seats, etc. And I know, I know... how can I even think of producing a movie/play that is not very good just to make money from a controversy?? Where are my morals?? My response: this is just speculation people. Spec-u-la-tion.

Plus, if the movie was really any good, or anything even closely related to something good, it could probably be used in University courses about Jamaica's dancehall culture and in those Western/European/Asian countries where our culture is so readily exoticised and glorified... we could have subtitles in a coupla other languages and sell DVDs... it probably could really work!! It probably could!

Too bad the debate kinda sizzling down now, and I dont know any film producers. Or else we could make a killing off this daggering thing, and still manage to be somewhat educational and informative, and make a mini-dent in the Jamaican documentary/film industry, and probably even carve out a little niche in the wider ever-globalising world... or somebody else could take this idea and do all of the above.

Maybe I oversimplifying, and I tend to get carried away with my "great" ideas, but what you think people?? Would you pay to go watch, at least once, a (real literary-kind of respectable) movie/play called 'The Daggering Dilemma'... especially if it promises to be good Jamaican symbolism and satire!!

Whispers: Hey, people, this idea is NOT copyrighted! *wink-wink* LOL!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Primary School Flashback

Grade Five: This was the same grade of the pixie accident. But that doesn't even stand out in memory like this other thing: I was a part of a group of about eight chosen to do devotions with the entire school in General Assembly. I was given a pre-scripted prayer to go home and memorise. I left the paper with the prayer at home on the morning of said devotion, and had to do an impromptu prayer (I'm a pastor's kid so to this day I think I aced that). When devotion was done, we all filed to our classrooms in lines (remember when you had to file in lines to do everything?? Even lines to go the danged bathroom!)

When Teach came in, she congratulated everybody else who did devotion, then turned to me, took the stack of test papers in her hand, and proceeded to hit me on my head with them... something about me spoiling her devotion cause I didn't read her prayer... I was a tender 9 *sniff-sniff, dabs eyes with hanky*

Now that I'm NOT nine anymore, I'm thinking of a million things I coulda done to get back at her, lol.

Chupse.

Too bad I was the silent good kid! If I could go back in time... maaaaan!! Justice would be seeeeerved... ;)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Unfunny Cartoons



These are supposed to be funny. The humour was completely lost on me... I mean, what on earth are they trying to say??

Friday, February 13, 2009

For Broken Hearts On Valentine's Day

My friends behaving like V-Day without a significant other is dismal, depressing and impossible to get through. I dunno why they find it hard to believe that a body can be a happy, significant whole till the appointed time of enjoinment, even on Valentine's Day, but, to show that I am human and really do have emotions, and satisfy their need to see me bleed...

Miss You

I saw them in the lounge
Hanging out
And I missed you

Saw him look at her
With that look
And I missed you

I watched him kiss her lips
Watched her flip
And I missed you

I heard her sigh
Then type
And then smile<
And I just knew

That once upon a time,
That would be me
And you

But today
It's her time
Not mine...
God, I miss you!

I re-read diary entries
Then I cried
Cause I miss you

Somebody asked what's wrong
And I lied
Cause I'm too blue

I walked out on that life
I am done!
I am too through

Still

Days like today
I remember
And I miss you...

PS One of my friends said Valentine's Day is a farce...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

6 Annoying Net Thingies

1. Sites with music I can't turn off... grrrr! Especially repetitive music, like Lambchop's song that doesn't end, yes it goes on and on my frieeeend...

2. Pop-ups! Hate em, hate em, hate em! Especially smileys, cursors and screensavers; and why am I always the 9,999,999th person to visit a site?

3. Updates – every danged day!! Like I don't have anything better to do with my time!! And slowing up my computer...

4. Viruses... well obviously.

5. Forwards: Isn't it amazing how friends can't even spend a minute to write you a nice little personal message, but can find time everyday to assault your inbox with stupid, corny jokes, semi-porn and ridiculous (sometimes downright spooky) chain letters? Please... spare me...

6. LOL, ROFL, LMAO overkill: I love net-speak as much as the next person, but reading it every five words or so is just tiring, especially since we all know you're not really rolling on the floor laughing or even laughing out loud. Actually, come to think of it, does anyone really roll on the floor laughing over an IM?

Feel free to add to this list...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Waiting For Inspiration...

I believe man has done himself a grave injustice by overlooking his own inherent worth and potential. We've started to look elsewhere to find what is right in front of us, and even inside of us... like inspiration.

Why can't I be my inspiration? I mean, since I have no control over how other things, people or moments will be, why should I wait on them to inspire me?? Would it not be wiser to keep things in the realm of what I can control (me), and in the realm of who/what I can always rely on (God and me), and let that be my source of constant inspiration? If this is indeed so, then isn't it fair to say that inspiration, like life, is not something to be found or received from an external source, but something already resident within us that just needs to be tapped into?

That's why I'm a big advocate of selfishness (the antonym for selflessness, which is the absence of a self, which, as far as I'm concerned, is death). I think we've been socialised to believe that seeing ourselves as continuously talented, bright, beautiful, smart and downright inspiring is wrong, prudish and selfish. We're human, and therefore full of mistakes and fallibilities, we've been taught, the implication being: there could never be anything inspiring about us. But I say, I AM my inspiration. In fact, I am, and that alone warrants notice, so sit up world, and pay attention!!

When I say it, people look at me like, wow, well you're a self-loving narcissist. I always reply, well you know what? If it's true that you can't love anyone else till you love yourself, then that means I have a whole damn lot of love to go round!! Like my friend Jewel loves to say: live to love, love to live!

I refuse to wait till I'm old to BE... (great, smart, fabulous, talented... happy!) Nobody promised me tomorrow! My girl Ruth Rhytswell is always saying, live life like a legend, live life like it's golden. Another of my role models loves to say: "Wake up to your own power!" It's all right there inside of you:

Be your inspiration! Or else...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Simple Spelling, Hard Word...

Doing it::
Loving it::
They did her::
He did them::
She does everybody::
Why can't people just call sex sex?? What's so hard about saying the word?

Sex!! There, I said it... and I'm still alive...

We find every other word to candy-coat and sugar-paint that one little word: "body-talk", "having relations", "getting laid", "getting screwed", "putting it on somebody (or something, as the case may be)",the infamous "f" word, "hitting it", "coupling", "duggu-duggu", ... but we fail to say exactly what it is: sex!!

A couple had sex? They did it.
A guy had some sex? He did it too.
A girls gets a VD from sex? She caught it from doing it cause she didn't wear it...

Why is it so hard to say sex and sex-related words? What's so toxic and poisonous about them? Why is sex taboo? It's not even hard to spell. It's a three letter word, for crying out loud: S.E.X!

Don't even ask what got me started in this direction, but please people, words are simply a bunch of abstract letters strung together. They only acquire negative or positive connotations when -get this- when we add them!! So nothing's really taboo unless we want it to be...

And please please please please please note: you cannot beat your kid for saying the word SEX!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Familiar Face

I was sitting on a bench under a tree with my laptop, trying to get some preliminary research done for my first Spanish Lit. class, when she walked by. She did a double take, stopped, turned around, and came up to me. She smiled warmly. I smiled back.

"Queens, right?" she asked.

I was puzzled at first. Then I laughed and shook my head. "No."

Now she looked puzzled, "You never went to The Queens School?" (why do Queens students always say it like that -the Queens school- like going there makes them royalty?)

I shook my head. Nope. I've never even been on the campus.

She said an embarassed sorry and started to walk away. I kinda felt bad (like I shoulda gone to Queens), and shouted after her, "If it's any consolation, this happens all the time."

And it does. Almost every.single.day. Maybe it's my resplendent come-hither-and-talk-to-me smile, maybe it's the homely aura that surrounds me, maybe it's my propensity to smile and wave at random people whether or not I know them... but there's something about me that makes people -lots of people- think they've seen me before, and feel like they just know me from somewhere.

When I first came to UWI, I thought it was funny. But as the years wore on, it got annoying, then frustrating, then, (after I met a coupla these people) disturbing; then the whole thing just became amusing. Everybody seems to know somebody who looks exactly like me.

So I've come to the (somewhat sad) conclusion that my unique face may not be so unique after all. I have a familiar face. And I guess I'll just have to live with it.

Either that, or I could convince myself that all these people want to talk to me and just don't know how else to strike up a convo :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Obama Conspiracy

I had an interesting debate on Facebook that really got me thinking:
1.Is a conspiracy to control the black race (ie Afro-Americans) through a black President plausible?
2.Will Afro-Americans blindly accept anything Obama offers them simply because he is black?
3.Does the mere fact that I would ask these questions seem like an attempt to somehow undermine Obama's achievement or underestimate the black race?

I copied and pasted the main arguments of the debate below for your perusal. (I was going to edit the statements to make it shorter, but I relented, lest I compromise the integrity of any of the other speakers' points):

Sheldon's status:I WONDER IF OBAMA IS A PUPPET!!! USED TO CONTROL THE BLACK RACE WHEN WE START GET TOO POWERFUL.

Kimmi: sheldon as uncanny as dat sounds it actually makes sense...

Ruthibelle: But who says Obama can control the black race?? And why would you make a man President of your country so you can control a race??? Does that really make sense to you?? Let's make him President, so we can control his race. never mind this very act of making him President is going to inspire, empower and motivate that same race more than anything else you could ever do at this moment... I don't think so!

sheldon: WHERE DO U THINK THE "BULK" OF THE POWER IS... WITH THE HARD WORKN AND MILITANT BLACK PEOPLE WHO NOW ARE SOMEWHAT TRYN TO MOVE TOGETHER AND IF U PUT UP A WHITE MAN TO RUN THINGS HE WILL BE IGNORED. BUT OBAMA IS THE PERSON WE ALL WOULD LOOK UP TO AND LISTN. THE MARTIN LUTHER KING AND MALCOM X OF THIS ERA AND WHO EVER CONTROL HIM WOULD NOW CONTROL BLACK PEOPLE AND WHITE PEOPLE CAZ THEM NUH WAA LOOK RACIST BY OPPOSING HIM!!!

Ruthibelle: Looking up to and admiring someon eis different from allowing that person to control you... It might seem like Obama is in control of the majority of the American population now because of the significance of his most recent achievement. But he IS still just a President. And like any other President, he will be subject to close and serious scrutiny from a people who eventually want to see their lives get better. When the novelty of the situation wears off, and the euphoria dies down, then Americans, and the entire world, will be taking a long hard look at Obama and closely analysing his every move. I strongly doubt that they will just wilfully surrender themselves to be controlled and blindly 'led' like sheep to the slaughter by Obama, especially after the ordeal they have just experienced with the Bush administration, and the hard lessons they have had to learn about not believing any and everything placed before them without at least a little critical thought...

I'm not arguing the motives of the people in power: whether or not their intentions are good or bad, and whether or not Obama is being 'controlled' by some larger entity... The crux of the matter, the axle on which this entire argument spins, is whether or not the 'hard working and militant' American black population, which you say carries the bulk of the power, will really allow a President -any President- to 'control' them and slowly silence them. I honestly don't think so. I don't think that a people with a history as gruelling and hard as the African American people will just blindly go wherever they are led by anyone, even someone as eloquent and seemingly spotless as Barack Obama. So whether or not Barack is a puppet that was created with the intention of controlling the black race because we are getting too powerful, you cannot discount the free will of a people whom, I believe, will, refuse to be controlled any day in any way by anyone!! Even their beloved first black President

Sheldon: aah hear me out barack has the hero effect going for him he is seen as a 21's century robin hood by most. honestly no matter what he does to the black man it couldnt be any worse than bush. plus to the average white man they cant be against him caz they dont want to be accused of being racist. no matter what he does obama cant fall off his pedestal. plus no matter how bad things get we will never say, " the white men make better presidents" or as much as say he has failed. dont get me wrong though im all 4 him i just wonder if he is being used. America has a hidden agenda 4 every thing they do.

Ruthibelle: hehe! I could tell you a coupla conspiracies I've heard of that sound feasible enough... but prudence forbid... I hear what you're saying, though, and I understand where you're coming from. Whites, including white racists, are really in a spot. They can't criticise Obama without sound arguments and nuff nuff evidence, that's for sure. Or else the entire black community going eat they supper- you're right about that!!

And right now it would sem that Obama can do no wrong - especially in the eyes of the black population. But if Obama turns out to be a very bad President, he will be more scandalous than George W. Bush!! And the effects will be far more devastating simply because he rode in on such a high tide. The higher up you go, the more precarious the fall. And he is veery high up!!!

Remember also that human instinct is not to defend race first. Our instinct is to defend and protect SELF- irrespective of race or any of that stuff. If Obama's presidency goes horrible wrong, his own race will criticise him worst than the rest of the world because they would have been most disappointed. I don't think majority will try to defend him. they will probably be most ready to rip him to shreds for letting them down. And media critics have no mercy. Black President or no, as long as the evidence is there to support the argument, they will rip him to shreds too, especially because of what lofty heights of greatness he has already achieved.

Sheldon: ruth- take this scenario and try to see where im coming from when i make the statement that obama is protected by the love of the black race. if u have a business and you place your mother in full control. no matter how poorly your mother handles the affairs of the company you may never be able to say "MOM YOUR FIRED, YOU ARE DESTROYING MY BUSINESS" we would rather give her less responsibilities than face the fact that she needs to leave. similarly obama holds such a place in our hearts and no mater how detrimental his decisions are 4 us we will be blinded by the euphoria entrenched in a black president. he is an untouchable person 4 his critics and no matter who he is instructed by we will give each and every desision our signiture of approval.

Ruthibelle: Aha! My disagreement comes from two places:
1. I dont think the euphoria will last as long as you think it will. Four years. People will go back to daily life and eventually start seeing him as just the president. When teh wear adn tear of daily life sets in, the novelty will wear off- trust me on this. At that point, they will have little or no mercy for him if he is fouling up.

2. This illusion of Obama being the untouchable golden boy is just that: an illusion. Yesterday the focus was on history being made, hearts being warmed, yada ya... today the hard work begins, and the focus will be on him making the tough decisions. The scrutiny now begins, and woe be unto him if he messes up. They will- I promise you- they will, eat him alive. They won't jsut take whatever decisions he lays at their feet. They will slaughter him if he disappoints. That is why he better deliver.

Carla: sheldon...you are my cousin and i love you but that comment is ridiculous. coming from someone who lives in the states and sees the foolishness that goes on here on a daily basis, it is a breath of fresh air for me to see someone of color in the "white house". you don't live here so you don't know what people of color go through to try to be successful in this country. you were born and raised in jamaica. a country that has a handful of white prime ministers. you know what it is to have someone of your skin color represented in office. the issues in jamaica are socio-economical....not racial. here in america, you could have a doctorate degree, years of experience and accolades and still get passed up for a job because of your color!!!so please don't try to belittle the wonderful piece of history that took place yesterday.

Sheldon: shelly dont missunderstand me i am also proud of him and i acknowledge the significance of his acheivements. and what it means for america but the root of my argument was wether or not he was following orders from a higher power and what implications this would have for america and by extension african americans. yes his acheivements will motivate the black race and make an atempt to acheive racial equality. he stands ass a rolemodle to every black man and will show the world the stupidity behind racism.

on another note though if he is being "controled" and his strings being pulled so to speak we may be in for more of the same or maybe even worse conditions. if he is being used as a sacrificial lamb then what do we do and what message will be sent to the black race, who look to him as their savior from racial oppression. if after 4 years obama is viewed as the worse president ever. it is highly likely that the professional world and the general society will be against black leaders

Sheldon: don't get me wrong it was a risk worth taking, but for all things we should look at both the positives and negatives of all things. i made started to think about the possible negative implications of this achievement and thats what i wished most persons took the time out to ponder on.

Carla: understood. but do you see that you asking if he is a "puppet" overshadows all of his personal and professional accomplishments? yes there are negatives to him being in office. there is a pro and a con to everything. my issue is the con that you came up with my dear. you asking if he is a puppet demeans what all of the people who fought and struggled through the civil rights movement had to deal with. like i said before i understand your point. i am just disappointed that when a black man in america achieves what seemed like the impossible, you, who live and study in jamaica, see it as a conspiracy.

So, what say you?