Sunday, December 21, 2008

One Wedding down... one to go

Apparently three couples are getting married on Jan 3. I am invited to 2.

The wedding yesterday was nice.

I had a good time emceeing the reception. I was in my element... it is good to be reminded that I actually do have flair.

My hand still hurts so I am forced to keep my blogs short.

Imelda says I am addicted to the internet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

2 Days to Go- The darkest hours before dawn...

I have cleaned the bathroom, curled my hair, sorted through papers, done the laundry. Now all I need to do is sweep (pains in my wrists wont allow me to mop the floor).

But yuh know what? I getting miserable!

Wouldn't you if you were having a runny tummy for weeks on end? It has gotten to me now, twice nightly trips to the loo on account of stabbing belly pains really can make you cranky. To top it off, I had to rush like mad about an bour ago to use the OFFICE bathroom!

I need a wash out. Pure, clean and simple.

I am soooo happy to be leaving this country.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

3 Days to go!

Hair curl up in setters.

Still cleaning house (can u tell I am not into this bit?)

Passport and visa inna mi handbag.

Should I walk with cash or card?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

4 days to go....

It has DEFINITELY been the longest week ever. I feel like a five year old right before her first train ride.

I have almost finished packing (except for shoes, jewellery and some suits to be laundered in Jamaica).

I have washed my locks and am about to curl them, which will last until Christmas. I dont plan to spend any money at any hairdressers when I reach Jamaica. IF I need professional assistance, my little sister will have to step in. What she think I sending her to cosmetology school for?

I am tidying house with my one wrist... putting things in order so that I will return to order.

I wear a wrist band now. I realise though that my wrist only feels fine when I do absolutely nothing.

I am goign to get the car serviced next week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

7 Days to Go!!

Until I leave this place!

Lord grant me your grace

My fambily and friends to embrace

And with my lover, disappear without a trace.

CLEARLY, rhyme is not for me. But man, I am sooo happy, I at least TRIED to rhyme!!!



My wrist hurts so i cant type long.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Petted and Pampered

I feel like a girl again.

The 13 year old who would spend hours in the bathroom, soaking in the tub, shaving non-existent legs hairs, trying new homemade facials, and plucking every stray hair threatening to ruin perfectly arched sparse eyebrows. Those were the days when I embraced the woman I was becoming and had all the time in the world to bring her out in the confines of the bathroom after my Saturday chores were completed.

It was a beautiful and silly kind of self love. I was too pure and innocent for it to be for anyone but me. And it had to be done in hiding because my Daddy needed not yet another clue that his baby girl was growing up.

Isnt it fitting that the Bee Gee's "More than a Woman" is playing now on my iPod?

It's funny, because as you get older, the novelty of doing all this stuff yourself becomes a chore and you would rather pay someone and spend all day in a salon/spa and have others handle your fragile parts with care, but ever so often, it's nice to kind of do it alone at home.

And the thing is that it always takes me back to the peach bathtub and my 13 year old self, especially when like today, it's not for any particular purpose, and there is absolutely nobody else to please but me.

Today my youngest sister turns 16. Happy birthday my love. I really hope that you will cherish these years of purity and innocence and wide eyed enthusiasm cause once you grow up, you will have to resort to rare solo bathroom pampering sessions to bring out that little girl in you. Well, duh! Its not so bad... but still... love you lots and lots while thats all you really have to worry about.

It will pay off later on- I promise.

I am going home...

I am going some place I belong...

I am going to titivate this evening in preparation for my trip home. So what if it's in 10 days? It's a perefectly good number.

I'm going to do my toes.

Shave my legs.

Pluck my eyebrows.

Give myself a facial.


And feel pretty.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Train up a child the way she should grow...

You know what, my parents did a damn good job. They did the best they knew. What could be better? Perfection?

They had their challenges... and in many ways I represented their most difficult one for many years, resulting in stomach ulcers and hypertension for my Daddy, but still, he never gave up on me.

My mother is having quite a difficult time with one of my sisters, but in spite of how the rest of us think, she will never give up on her.

Parents are the first people who believe in you before you even know yourself enough to believe in it.

And do they make mistakes! Sometimes really bad ones that scar us, and require us to spend years in therapy to overcome, but you know what? If therapy does not include a crack house, violence and selling sex, they didn't do that bad a job.

The thing I am most grateful for though is my faith. Had I not been exposed, I would not have the faith I now have.

This life is filled with a lot of nothing sometimes, many things that are puffed up and empty, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.

I miss church. I really miss church.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Finally finishing my thesis

I just sat and wrote my research proposal for my thesis which is to date, six years overdue. Don’t get me wrong, I have attempted to do so before. This is my third topic during that time.

My weakest point academically is research, and while I have managed to get good grades for the courses I sat, I knew from the get-go that I would have a problem with the research. Why? Because I had nothing that I wanted to write about.

I first took a leave of absence due to my close aunt’s death. I was very close to her and watch her fight a painful battle against breast cancer, with which she had been diagnosed at 26 and died of at the tender age of 31. That was hard for me and submitting a thesis was the last thing on my mind during what I knew would be her last months. I am happy I put her first. No regrets whatsoever.

Unfortunately for me, I developed a whole range of excuses that have now spanned six years. That is a long time to put off getting a piece of paper. I could have finished a PhD. by now- but I don’t want one anyway so no point dwelling on that.

I had come up initially brilliant idea of presenting my research in the form of a documentary on the reality of those living with HIV in Jamaica. Unfortunately, that would have taken funding (video is expensive) and that would have meant several proposals and tireless follow-up to funding agencies for grants. For me, that was too much work. Then I had jobs that required too much of me.

Then I came up with another brilliants idea (still incorporating my first love- film) which would allow me to examine how Jamaicans portrayed their own on film. This turned out to be slightly boring and yet again, I pulled the plug somewhere in the midst of gathering a load of information and books on stereotypes.

Now, I have a time issue on my hands. If I am going to be successful getting decent jobs outside the Caribbean, I have to be suitably qualifed and beyond the Caribbean Sea, a bachelor’s degree and a “pending” masters just do not cut it.

So I have decided to take all of this work drama here and develop an academic research around it. If I am not successful at actually doing the job I thought I came here to do, I must at least gain success academically.

It is the perfect scenario for my thesis, and I have access to all the supporting materials. Plus, the research is really my job- writing communication strategies and policies to improve communication in a place that never had any formal strategy or policy.

The challenges only make the research more realistic and less academic, and you know what I have found? Just by writing the proposal just now, I have come up with some new ideas about how to tackle the problems at work.

It is a exercise in self-criticism and commitment, not to mention patience.

I know that there is ageism at play on the job. I realise that in most workplaces, and cultures, it will be same. Nobody wants to take crap from a woman, much less a younger, prettier one.

But I have to learn to find ways around my own obstacles, real or perceived. I have to learn to get the job done in every circumstance that I am placed in.

My first bible verse that I learnt from Aunt Rosa (who I thought was An Trosa for many years) was “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Maybe I have been trying to take the praises for me, and as such have come across as self-centred and conceited. There is a thin line between confidence and conceit, and maybe I have crossed it a few times.

So this research is teaching me so many things.

It is reminding me that no matter what, I am not at core a quitter. I finish things worth finishing. It is also pushing me to meet personal deadlines that I am not otherwise self-motivated to meet.

I have been trying to get my financial house in order, but I also have to ensure that I maximise my career potential.

If I am contemplating marriage and the inevitable raising of children, I have to make certain that I have pushed myself as far as I can go now.

I have been blessed with talents. Sometimes more than I know what to do with. But talents are like minutes in a bad telephone plan-use them or lose them.

My single years were supposed to be spent on developing me and finding my way, and in many ways I have but I need to go further. Too much time was spent dwelling on men and heartache. Too much time on chasing the all-powerless dollar and too little on doing what truly makes me happy.

And that brings me to today. Today is the day of reckoning. Today is my day of salvation. What am I being saved from? The most destructive elements of myself.

I keep on moaning that there is nothing to do here when I have this grand opportunity to finish something so critically important to my next move that has been hanging in the balance for all of six years.

When I get married, I will not only be debt free, and have some personal savings set aside, but I will also have the qualification to ensure a good future for myself and my family.

One thing I love about writing is that I just don’t know how my thoughts will develop. Somehow, they have a mind of their own and become coherent when written.

This is a wonderful place to be at the end of a long, rough, but good year.

I have discovered personal strengths I never knew I had. I have discovered love and support from people that I never knew I had. I have gotten closer to my family by moving away from them and having to take part in the day to day drama.

I have discovered in me a capacity to love another even after getting burnt.

I am a resilient force of nature. I fall. Sometimes repeatedly, but always, do I get up (even if it takes painful nudging and shoving from those who love me most).

So, in essence, thank you all who love and support me. My successes are your successes. It is on your shoulders I stand. Thank you for your wisdom and insight and most of all, your time.

Good friends are really worth more than pocket money. As it stands, based on the support I have in my pocket, I am a rather wealthy


I got sick yesterday.. ..(due to the spraying of aerosol cleaning stuff in my office by the same woman with who I argue about it everyday). Went to the hospital (no private doctor's here) and then the clinic to fill the prescription because the pharmacist at the hospital was MIA.

Anyway, I was talking to Easy Skanking Chef about this whole timing drama, and he says that I shouldn't worry about it because there is much more to us than just horizontal entanglement. He said that I am not a sex object, and even though he would love to -as any man would- if we have 6 nights less, then so be it. We have more in common than that and even much more to discover.

I was thinking that was all sweet and grown up and then I am like- you know how LONG four months is to wait plus to then settle for only four nights? I mean, I hear all that very progressive talk about the female body and love and I honestly really and truly appreciate the depth and integrity of this man...but as Imelda #2 always says-"Not a backside!"

I wouldnt if there were more days together. In fact, I have NEVER done this in my entire lifetime. But hey, I never had such a damn good reason to.

I am still thinking about it though. Who wants to pop a pill the same time, everyday?

I neeed a nicotine patch.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Like a Virgin

This whole relationship is making me feel quite virginal. There are so many firsts its unbelievable. This is strange, coming from me who thought myself wise enough to write a sex column.

But seriously though, things have intensified between Easy Skanking Chef and myself and he has expressed his readiness to me thee wed next year. While no ring has yet been placed on my finger, I wonder about a few things.

Just how important is lingerie really? Arent cutesie nighties acceptable and even mor romantic 95% of the time? Wouldn't the surprise element be lost if you wore lingerie to bed everynight?

It also seems that nature has a well-timed sense of humour as it relates to my sex life. Everytime I guaranteed to me some good Marvin Gaye style loving, my cycle intervenes. How is it possible that I have 10 nights with a man for the first time in four months and my cycle lodges smack dab in between? It was the same when he visited me in Summer, but luckily, he stayed for all of three weeks. But do you know the absolute frustration involved when you aint getting none, and every time you supposed to get, braps- Kiature?

I have been reading up so much on relationship and sex and now I have to add period and birth control and all those delights to it.

Did you know you could "prepone" a period instead of postponing it? Well, I learnt that last night. All the postponement remedies involved hormonal supplementation and quite frankly, what is the point of delaying a period if you going to bloat, be nauseated, have cramps, headaches, acne, and maybe some breakthrough bleeding anyway? Furthermore, smoking women cannot safely use any hormone supplement over 35 and the mini-pill could cause the above side effects. On top of all that, I have a family history of lumpy breasts and my favourite aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer at 26. So hormones are a no go for me.

It seems therefore that even when I get married, condoms will have to be the mainstay of our sexlife. Either that or one of us does the snip snip.

Anyway, I am going to have to go and steep a handful of fresh parsley in cup of boling water for 30 mins and drink it 4 times per day to bring on the period. If that does not work, I will have to do ginger and yarrow. Only I dont know what yarrow is nor where to get it, and as a Jamaican, drinking ginger tea is a regular habbit and I never saw a period because of it before, so I really dont think that will work for me.

On top of that, I will call my doctor and ask how to proceed. There is NO way that I am going to be thrilled about having my period cut 10 days of nookie into 4!

A so me say!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

This was REALLY fun!!

This was REALLY fun (Thank you Harlem Mama:-)

I promise. I followed directions and I did not cheat (though I was tempted at times :-)

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write that song name down no matter how silly it makes you look.
4. Tag Your friends! (or not.)

Love Needs Vacation Too- (unknown reggae artist)

Hey Lover - Boyz II Men (feat LL Cool J)

The Master Has Come Back (Damian Marley)

I Am De Man- Mutabaruka

Pull Up-Mr. Vegas Soca Remix

I Will Survice-Gloria Gaynor

Until You Come Back To Me- Aretha Franklin

What's Going On- Marvin Gaye

All Around The World- Boys II Men

Witch Doctor- Mighty Sparrow

Natty Dread- Bob Marley

Moonlight Sonata- Beethoven

Love From A Distance- Beres Hammond

Behold- The Blues Busters

Young Boy Blues- Ben E. Kings

You Bring Me Joy- Anita Baker

As Long As You're Black Man, You are an African- Peter Tosh

Get It, Get It- Bryhan Art

A new wave?

I find myself reading up alot about relationships these days- and all related issues. Because mine is long-distance, I read up a lot on those too. It turns out that very many people have a lot to say about relationships, including that of the American first couple to be.

This blog has always been about anything and everything that I felt like giving voice to. Sometimes, it has been meaningful, other times not. Sometimes funny, others grave. Most times happy and hopeful and rarely, sad.

I find myself coming into a new wave. And it's interesting.

Having taken all of 7 years and one too many meltdowns, I walked away from my ex at the beginnig of the year. Hindsight- best thing I ever did.

But 7 years of being in relationship purgatory (between being "in a relationship" and "not"- and more "not" than "in") did take a toll in my sense of reality.

I find that my rekindled relationship with Easy Skanking Chef, though separated by time and space, is going very well. Almost too well. And therein lies a bit of irony.

I have finally created the personal environment to nurture a happy and healthy relationship. This after spending my adult life in bad relationships doomed for failure. So when did all of this growth and self awareness come? And from where? It certainly was not due to previous experience.

Could it be that the bad times really help us to find our way to better times and that struggles help us to eliminate what is not good for us?

The other day I was so thrilled to see calalloo on a menu in a place that doesnt grow it, that I ordered it and had a few mouthfuls before I remembered how grossly sick eating canned callaloo had made me previously, thinking of all the stomach pains and two-day suffering and I put my fork down.

I guess I have also put the fork down on all the relationship melodrama too, having not only tasted the effect, but having a play-by-play memory of all the heartache. I have already tasted and seen what's not good, so I can move on to better choices.

For long enough did I date unavailable men, many of whom who should not have been taken home to my apartment much less to the parents. But I sure did have my fun too!

And that's the thing- that ying always balances with yang, even when the fulcrum my not appear to be properly centred. Seven lost years turned out to be perfect timing for this new relationship.

I have always said (since I discovered the scripture in my most devout spiritual days) that all things work for good for them who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

I have never since questioned God's love or my calling.

I have had a fair deal of hiccups, obstacles, trials, longsuffering, whatever noun you want to give to Holly Golightly's "Mean Reds," but weathering them and coming through them have made me a much better person.

I have learnt a few things on the way, and outside of scripture, the most profound thing that I have heard is "be present."

Sharon, my Shakti yogi introduced me to this concept years ago in the midst of a really tough time. Awareness in the moment is worth more than rumination or mindless dreaming. I am still working on that but that is what life is for- striving for self-perfection, though knowing that it is impossible and giving yourself kudos for taking your best shot even on your most fucked up days and then trying to rise above it in the next present moment. It was indeed an epiphany (even the midst of writing the Un-Zen "fuck.")

It seems my life is filled with these epiphanies. Christians call them revelations. Either way, it is the Aha! Moment of seeing something differently. Some may never be interested in Aha! Moments because they prefer to stick on the shallow side of the thought pool, but I could never be that person.

One of the things about being an only child for nine years, is that you really become comfortable with having your own thoughts and your own company. I can sometimes be in a room and not there and used to even travel in the middle of conversations but I am getting better at the latter.

Speaking of space, I find that I am slowly getting to relish the quietude of being alone at home all the time and not having anyone here (except when it's bedtime). It is a good thing that I am not going to be here indefinitely because I could see myself turning into a career hermit. And for my personality, something tells me that may be a little unhealthy :)

This ended up being a much longer post than I intended, but the thoughts have won the battle. And creativity must find its release. And inspiration, its voice.

Barack and Michelle: A more perfect union?

By Vidya Rao
updated 8:15 a.m. ET, Sat., Nov. 29, 2008
It started with the fist bump seen ’round the world. Soon there were stories of rousing family Scrabble battles and date nights, in spite of election mayhem. Then President-elect Barack Obama referred to his wife Michelle as “the love of my life” during his election night victory speech, embracing her tightly and kissing her afterwards, while millions of people worldwide watched.

“They took a moment to face each other, to kiss and hold one another, regardless of the magnitude and spectacle of the night,” said Camille Washington, a Bay Area blogger on, a music and culture site. “That says a lot.”

The Obamas represent a welcome change as an openly affectionate and romantic couple for many Americans. Some experts say that the soon-to-be first couple embody the ideal healthy relationship, and that they can stir up love around the country. The New York Daily News even predicted a baby boom attributed to election night friskiness inspired by the Obamas.

“Michelle and Barack are so obviously in love it's actually helping me to believe in love again,” Washington, 25, wrote on her blog.

Icons of love
For African-Americans, the image of a powerful black couple in love is particularly meaningful. In the 2005 census, 51 percent of American women reported they were living without a spouse. Among African-Americans, this number rose to 70 percent.

“With such a high percentage of black people unmarried, everyone is looking for images of black love,” said Michael Perry, 47, a librarian at Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. “[The Obamas] personify that. It makes people say, ‘Wow, we want to be like them.’”

Washington, who is black, told that she and her friends look up to the couple, saying “they want a love like that someday,” and added that she thinks the Obamas might inspire songwriters to pen soulful, emotional lyrics.

But some say the Obamas, who have been married for 16 years, aren’t the exception, and it’s the media that has created a one-dimensional caricature of African-American relationships.

“There are many types of families of African descent, and many families that are like the Obamas – two professional parents with children,” said M. Belinda Tucker, a social psychologist and professor at the University of Los Angeles who has done significant research on black families and relationships. “But the predominant image we see is of the single-mother household. The [president-elect] and his wife represent a counter-image.”

But the effect of the couple’s love for each other transcends the black community, and according to relationship expert Kathlyn Hendricks, author of several books including “Conscious Loving” and “Lasting Love,” Americans should see the couple as a role model for a healthy relationship.

“Not only does [Barack Obama] love his wife, he respects her,” said Hendricks. “The model of harmony, shared humor and easy communication that the Obamas reveal really is a new model — if ordinary citizens practiced this each day, our world would transform very quickly in positive directions.”

Presidential PDA
In general, the relationship between the American president and his wife has always been an important one, and does have an impact on the public, said NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

“We know that a person’s partner [choice] is one of the biggest clues to what that person is all about,” he said.

Beschloss said that in the past, how a political figure interacted with his or her spouse didn’t matter as much, and as with the Kennedys, the media often looked the other way when it came to philandering.

“Presidents are so intensely covered, we know so much about their personal lives that it’s inevitable that the public is going to know a lot about, and make judgments on, what happens between political wives and husbands,” he said. “John and Jackie Kennedy almost never held hands or showed affection in public — nowadays, people would think something was wrong.”

Former president Richard Nixon and his wife Patricia almost never showed affection to each other in public, either. Beschloss pointed out that Nixon was criticized for not thanking her enough in his speeches, marking a turning point in how presidential relationships were seen by the American public. Such a misstep today, he said, would be a major faux pas.

The Clintons were the first presidential couple to present a more egalitarian working relationship, but public perception of them quickly eroded due to scandal after scandal involving former President Bill Clinton's infidelity. In contrast, the Bushes have represented a more "traditional" relationship model — with first lady Laura Bush standing behind her husband, but maintaining a seemingly loving relationship.

The Obamas have the best of both worlds, said Gil Troy, professor of history at McGill University and author of “Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons.”

“The Obama marriage is a modern partnership between equals; they are a working couple just like the Clintons," he said. "But, unlike the Clintons — and more like the Bushes — the Obamas appear to be a solid couple, devoted to each other, with no fidelity questions hovering overhead.”

For love or politics?
But could the affection and appreciation between the Obamas be scripted for political gain? Maybe, but those close to the couple say the feelings are real.

“Their friends have observed that they have a very positive relationship,” said Liza Mundy, author of “Michelle: A Biography.” “One of Barack’s friends pointed out how effusive he is in his praise of Michelle — he knows how much his career has demanded of her, and he’s very appreciative of that.”

Based on their body language, relationship expert Hendricks also says that the Obamas’ interaction is genuine.

“The Obamas’ body language, expressions and gestures all match. That's an indication of harmony rather than conflict,” she said. “When Michelle came out on election evening, she and Barack spoke and touched as if they were alone. Then they turned to the audience. If they can communicate that way in public in front of hundreds of thousands of people, their bond is very solid and real.”

Essence magazine editor Mikki Taylor saw this genuine quality in the couple as well when she interviewed the Obamas in their Chicago home for the September issue. “They talk to one another – they sit at the table and discuss what happened at school, what happened with the campaign,” she observed. “They were warm, loving and engaging.”

Looking forward
The couple, who have weathered Barack Obama’s ascent from the state legislature to the Senate and the long presidential campaign, now face life in the White House, with kids and possible puppy in tow. In order to keep their relationship strong, Hendricks said, Barack Obama may have to take breaks from leading the world to make time for his leading lady.

“Michelle and Barack [should] continue to schedule time to enjoy their private relationship,” she advised. “Times of listening to each other's feelings, dreams, daily experiences, will continue to keep them balanced and refreshed as Barack, with Michelle's counsel, faces the enormous challenges he's inherited.”

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bruk Like Church Mouse

"Bruk" is a Jamaican word for being broke that somehow conjures a worse state of having no money than the otherwise clinical "broke."

The saying, inherently Jamaican, is a term that we could use to describe personal finances in the wake of rising prices and stagnant salaries. But it is a little ironic.

Church mice should be poor because the church has no money. And for a country that has more churches per square mile than any other world wide- we should know about churches! But herein lies the irony- Church mek money!

There are exceptions mind you- like those small flailing churches that struggle to pay their electricity bill, but many churches make a lot of money. So church not necessarily de facto poor after all.

Who says that Jamaican folklore doesn't hold classic elements of literary genius?

Anyway, I straying. Fact is I bruk like the poorest of church mouse.

But is a good bruk.

Yes- not all bruk is created equal.

Bad bruk is when yuh owe people money way pass yuh ability to pay or when yuh pay cheque done fully spend fi di next 5 years wid not even room for a streetside cheap china slippers purchase.

Good bruk is when yuh pay off everybody yuh did done owe in less dan the 5 years and yuh still no have not even dollar towards the purchase of a street side cheap china slippers.

So what is the difference?

The difference is dat wid good bruk, yuh CAN afford the cheap china slippers in very short order.

And so, having demised a genius plan to be DEBT FREE and UP TO DATE ON (Insurance and Pension) INVESTMENTS, I bruk.

But it means that if anything happen to me, my estate is fully protected and my pension is secure.

Due to the Jamaica trip in December, I will have to carry over a relatively small balance until end of February, but coming from where I am coming from, that is still home free for me.

Honestly, this is the best gift to myself after a REALLY rough year. Entering the New Year without this financial baggage makes up for all the distress that I have faced.

It means that I will have to suffice with holiday events that are free (or near there) that allow me to dress up and go out without breaking the already bruk bank.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Home for the holidays and weddings galore

Sheer Almshouse is heading home for the holidays- JAMAICA, HERE I COME!!!

So whappen, yuh tink is ongle some people can come back a Jamaica and talk bout dem land fi di Christmus? Mi a nuh smaddy too? Cho yah!

Me haffi seh dat the whole ting THOROUGHLY THRILLS me! Ackee and saltfish, roast (and turn yellow heart) breadfruit, sorrel, Imelda's fruit cake, fatty ham, homemade sconces and bread, oh yes, and all the attendant tings like family and friends and parties and having places to dress up go, yadda yadda yadda.

Mi realise Beres Hammond giving another concert this year. You know seh mi haffi di deh pon mu yeye teet! Pity though mi nah go have nobody fi hug up farzin to say Easy Skanking Chef going to have to keep all him dance moves in the hotel kitchen in Dubai fi di rest a di year. A so life go when you tek up chef mi dear. Plenty single appearances during holidays due to the inability to get time off. But mi was single before me get him so yuh done know seh dat nah stop me from di excitement. Me and Imelda dont need no boddy fi dance and sing by we self and mek poppy show.

So baby, mi just deh yah feeling well irie. I happy to be going home. Been playing reggae since yesterday.

Mi have some wedding fi go to. Plenty people getting married mi chile. I suppose we reaching the second wave of this wedding thing. There were those in the collegiate years and now the "oh my God I am turning 30 soon" and the "oh my God I am ALREADY in my thirties" phases. Because I have friends who are slightly older than me, I have all those stages.

I am looking forward to the stage of the "been there tied knot, but will try it again phase" *hint hint. That's the stage when those who married in the collegiate year and untied the knot in subsquent years find their real life partners.

What phase am I in? I'm in the "damn it to hell, I need a lifetime buddy pass" phase. Every pun an conjugation intended. After all, stastics show that single people have less than coupled people (except one person I know who shall remain nameless).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Release Me

I just came across this song by Lucky Dube and I just had to share it. I was going through my music collection in preparation for my world beat radio show and the melody and harmonies distracted me from my shower. It is such a great thing to find new life in music that you never even knew you had. I find myself playing it over and over again.

It is a sweet song... a song calling for the severing of ties from the past. The most profound line in the lyrics is "sometimes love never knows when to die."

I suppose the same way we have to release the spirits of our dead loved ones, we have to release our dead loves. Just how we do that, is still a question for many. Just dont crawl back into bed for "closure."

This song calls for a doobie and Easy Skanking Chef. I miss miss our long sessions of listening to music.

Good music, inspires, challenges and even sometimes...sets us free.

by Lucky Dube (RIP)
You don' t have to come with me
Down this road
'Cause I know my way around here
Very well
It may not seem like it
From where you stand
But believe you me, I know what
I' m talking about
Letting it all go
Didn' t matter to me
'Cause I' ve done it all before
But when you left
Part of me left with you
That is why I call you now
On this phone
So please, oh please
Don' t hang up on me

Release me let me go (x 3)
But remember that
Some bridges never burn

You took your way
And I took mine
We were sure our ways
Will never meet again
Everytime I go out
With another man
I find myself calling your name
Now I know that it' s true
What they say
Sometimes love
Never knows when to die
When you went
Part of me went with you
That' s why I called you on the phone

Release me let me go
Remember that
Some bridges never burn

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pay Day?

I am supposed to get paid on the 25th, but sometimes, salaries hit the bank sooner than the actual date. You think since I only have 2.39 cents in my chequing account, and I have my professional association membership due today, that I may be able to just go to the bank and find that today is actually pay day?

It is my Daddy's birthday, and that of my cousin, The Cheeky One, who hits a quarter century today. So you think that I will get special favours on other people's birthdays?

It would be nice to actually eat something other than crackers and vienna sausages or peanut butter for lunch today.

Lord, please make it pay day today :S

The other side of the lake

"If I had known what it would be like to have it all - I might have been willing to settle for less."

Lily Tomlin

Life is funny. We spend our lives dreaming about what we would do if only we had... not realising that those who have, often look on our meagre existence and envy us for our passion, friendships and relationships and lives filled with love.

Money isn't everything- on either end of the spectrum. You need to eat, yes, but enough of it won't buy you love. So, the secret I guess to true happiness is to to tap into the scale of the continuum somewhere right in the middle.

Just enough money to do the necesseties, (and you decide what is absolutely necessary for you).

A big mansion may be beautiful to look at from the outside, but tremendously lonely to live in. People have so much space that they never see each other, and families live like tenants, rather than, well- families.

I guess that why the bible (my premier life manual) cautions us to "be content in whatever circumstances..."

Many people have picture perfect lives, but less than picture perfect relationships, but sometimes, some people do indeed have it all.

But having it all comes with its own complications.

Water bills are higher, and sometimes, when you move across the greener side of the lake, some of your best friends do not make the transition with you.

Imagine my surprise when one of my friends, whose life we could easily envy, says to me, "I long for the days when we had no money." Apparently, when his family had less, somehow they had more- each other. Now that everything is money, everyone has his/her own house and there are attendant issues that come along- increased security costs and constant paranoia about safety due to a greater display of wealth in a society with the highest crime rate in the world..

Newton's Third Law of Motion is "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." The truth is, there are always going to be consequences of every decision. And sometimes, the consequences are greater than the decision itself.

Truly, no matter how much better some people look like they have it all, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the lake.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Life After Sex and the City

I have managed to watch every single episode of SATC since Season 2 in less than one week. How did I get here?


Now I have nothing to look forward to coming home to.

There has been a cold front looming over this place for the past few days.

It gets dark at 4pm. And now, there is no SATC to come home to.

There is life after SATC isn't there?

These are the times when I really wish I had Easy Skanking Chef with me. At least I could make my own sex in this city. :-)

In the still of the night

I am feeling better. Been feeling better over the past two days too.

I wore my Jackie O inspired tweed mock jack and layered like a pro. I even took my purple bag draped with a cyan pashmina.

Boss' secretary things I am FULL of style and ALWAYS dress well. Go figure.

Anyway, I have been doing work everyday... and sending out emails for people to see such evidence.

I got word however today (informally as usual) that the big man in charge of this whole Island Behind God's Back finds my Communication Strategy elaborate (aka unnecessary). My response (duh!) It WOULD be elaborate if it is being considered AFTER a major hurricane has hit the island and we are still living with flies three months later! I sent in my strategy almost 6 months ago, about a week after I came in. I am not used to having these things deliberated on for all of six months. And thirdly, how would it not be seen as elaborate for a place that now has absolutely no money to spend?

Money is tight -seriously tight- and this has NOTHING to do with the US recession and the world economy. There is a freeze on hiring. And a freeze on spending in general.

So, on top of the fact that I was hired without a budget, it seems I WONT be getting a budget anytime during the course of my two-year contract. Public relations without a budget, yippee yay!

Needless to say, the tension is high here. People can't go away on trips, and cannot even leave this Island Behind God's Back for sanity breaks... and so the house divides against itself. Ineffeciencies are blamed on foreigners because it is easier to do so. Little or nothing is done to improve business processes, to standardise effieciencies.

But all of that is their problem. If they were lucky enough to hire me (and only because I was desperate to- a) pay off my bills and b) get the hell away from the elusive ex ). If they do not factor my services as important enough to set aside even a $10 budget for, then who loses really? Do I not get paid anyway?

The reason why I got so depressed (and may again-who knows) is that I KNOW I can't leave right now. Memories of the ex are long gone, but I still have some more bills to pay, and I cannot move into the next phase of my life with them. And that is why I am so miserable, because I cannot even spend money on a sanity break. If I could have flown to Jamaica once or twice since I came back, I would have been in a MUCH better emotional state... but with things being the way they are, I cannot spend money unnecessarily.

All in all, I am here, taking it as it comes one day at a time.

I am grateful for all the love and support and understanding.

It was good for me to have come here...and it will damn good for me to leave when I am good and ready.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Addendum to "Signs of the time"

Don't get me wrong- I still manage to look fabulous heading to work in the mornings. And I did shower the night before... and it was a cold night. I did not stink. Even this morning I was asked if I was a model at work.

And you know what, my boss' secretary thinks I am so fab that she has been wearing black everyday too!

What is lacking is the finer detailing that I am used to, which have been carefully disguised.

Even the harp playing David had his moments of distress " My God, my God why hast thou foresaken me." (Psalm 22)

And so, I decided to be honest and open about this emotional roller coaster that I have found myself on. It's grimy yeah, but it's good to get it out there. There is something to be said about seeing stuff in black and white. I am not depressive by nature, I just have my waves. And I am honest with myself and have given myself permission to feel my emotions-good and bad and express them-good and bad.

I don't wallow. I can't even stand being sad for too long. But there is something about giving yourself license in the moment that makes the next, better, even happy moment that much more fulfilling.

Venting here and at home free me up to be queen of the charade in public. Otherwise, I could either have a meltdown or a screaming session in the middle of a meeting.

Essentially, this is group therapy. Welcome friends and passers by. My name is Sheer Almshouse and I am a realist, as schizophrenic as this might all sound.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Signs of the times

I had a real conflict about whether or not to wash my face and brush my teeth before leaving the apartment for work this morning.

Luckily the issue of bathing was a no-brainer. A fresh coat of Powder Fresh Mitchum Clear Gel for Women would suffice.

I wear black everyday.

I had my first cooked meal for the first time in days yesterday, eating less than half of my already reduced portion size, and feeling full and sick because meat and rice were too complex for taste buds covered in smoke and no longer used to anything but crackers and cereal.

My idea of healthy eating is taking echinacea and vitamins to ward off complex vitamin deficiency.

When I don't talk to Easy Skanking Chef, its like my world goes into a tailspin.

I call my cousin hollering "I want to come home" in the wee hours of the morning.

I called another friend, with the same behaviour, triggering him to follow up with a call early this morning encouraging me to try to have a nice day.

The days are OK enough, I just go throuh the motions. It's the lonely nights that are unpredictable.

If there was a flight leaving at midnight last night and money in my purse I would have truly left.

I haven't washed my hair in so long that I can't remember and my idea of styling my otherwise beautiful locks is to pull them back into a chignon daily.

My toenails are projecting out about a quarter inch and I could not care less. The cracked clear nailpolist and bits of white left over from a two month old pedicure are testimony of better times.

My heels scratch my sheet and my legs at night, even though I have a salon-type pumice thing in the bathrooom. I have no desire to change that.

I have carried the same handbag everyday for the past 10 weeks.

I have worn less than 10 pairs of shoes everyday for the past 10 weeks.

I go home and lock my door and only talk to my neighbour if I see her. I never go looking. Not even when I am out of salt. I just delay cooking the already seasoned curry goat until the shops open the next day.

I just want to curl up in bed and cry and sleep.

Roller Coaster

It's official. I am depressed. And this of "the mean reds" kind- too blue for the blues.

Usually this has to do with a man breaking my heart (one asshole in particular-the elusive ex).

This time, it is just me. And that is the problem. The sheer isolation, abject lonliness, and not even a challenging job and drinking partners to balance the emotional tide.

I am having meltdowns in between hazes of peace and traquility. When I'm up, I'm down, and when I'm down, I am in the molten lava in the earth's core. And when I am halfway up, I might as be halfway down.

Fuck intestinal fortitude.

I want to go home.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Light at the end of the tunnel

You know what... that spiritual eye thing is no joke. I had the most interesting dream last night.

I dreamt I was appointed as some high flying assistant to the White House... (don't say anything)... anyway, there was this press conference and I was there in my suit that was way too tight... with my Daddy and Bro in the audience...(my father had his tie like a bandana and his shirt opened like how high school boys look at High School Champs in Jamaica..don't ask)...

Anyway, was so surprised that I ACTUALLY got a REALLY GOOD job because I dont get the good jobs (as in the exciting ones that make you tingle AND pay you well)...and I was so caught up with FINALLY getting my dream job.

The only prob was that I had put on too much weight (hence tight clothes) and my feet were in DESPERATE need of a pedicure. Even the President came over to me and asked what's up with the tight clothes. I told him, "Mr. President, I put on a little weight over the summer."

Still in the dream, I went to work on the weekend, wearing a colourful culotte I gave away about a decade ago and was all donned up, wearing nice accessories and really cute sandals but my feet were terribly calloused and so crufty that they looked like they needed commercial grade sand paper to chisel them down.

The moral of dream: My dream job is on the way and I have to prepare for it because it will come when I least expect it and I won't have the time to get all things together.

I have just essentially visualized my own professional salvation.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Early to bed

I am going to bed now. 6:30pm on a Sunday evening. There is nothing to do, and I dont want anything to do.

I went to bed after 3 this morning watching Sex and the City. I watched seasons 3 & 4 between fri and sat. Woke up at midday today.

I got really lonely last night. I even managed to cry myself to sleep.

Old ghosts came back haunting, displacing the little equilibrium I managed to find over the past two days.

Have only eaten crackers, vienna sausage from the tin and solomon gundy and cereal. Have no apetite even though I cooked a chicken wing recipe for Easy Skanking Chef. I could only manage to bring myself to taste the sauce but I have a pot of chicken wings that I have no interest in eating.

I smoked 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes between yesterday and today.

I just feel tired.

I am going to have some lemonade and head to bed and dream of the white light shining at the end of this tunnel.

I know I have a bright future ahead of me... I see glimpses of it through my spiritual eye.

Until then, I live in each moment.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Epiphany a la Churchill

"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught."
- Winston Churchill

Doesn't that sum up this whole damn decade in a nutshell!

The lessons have been "plent many." And many have been REALLY hard. Tough pills to swallow. Some have had to be powdered by mortar and pestle to get through, and even so, they did not go down without leaving a horrible after taste.

But like Bucley's they taste awful, but they work.

Every single step has been ordered. And so to has every single obstacle.

Man drama. Work drama. Family dram. Friend drama. Health drama. Money drama. Spiritual Drama- all apart of the plot.

What is a dramatic play without drama?

I feel like I am on Act II of my own personal drama- where all the scenes heat up, and the dramatic elements rise in conflict to crescendo. But you know what happens in Act III? All conflicts are resolved and the climax settles in a nice post exctasy haze. And so, after spending your money, time, energy and emotions being wrapped up in this tangled web of a plot, you leave the theatre happy that you have just not only seen a play, but had a real experience.

I am finding myself.

Note the present continuous tense because that is a never-ending discovery. We are dynamic, and once we are open to learning and growing, we reach higher heights of self awakening. The only challenge is that often comes with change. And so once we reach higher, we are finding more and more about our continuously evolving selves.

That is what makes this life so beautiful, and yet so hard.

Learning often comes with difficult lessons, some which we do not really want to embrace. But once we do, then this whole scarcely defined thing called "life" seems much more purposeful and enjoyable after all.

There are times when we lose sight of this light at the end of the tunnel and are blinded by the darkness immediately in front of us, but that is time, when we close our eyes and see from spiritual eyes. We envision that light, even though we cannot see it in the physical, and we walk, eyes closed -but far from blinded- right into it.

I believe this is the moment in therapy that they call "The Breakthrough."


Friday, November 14, 2008

New Goals

1. Pay off Student Loans by year end
2. Pay up insurance and pension premiums by year end.
3. Pay off debt on expired credit cards

I know my time on this Island Behind God's back is short. No need to fool myself. If work is all I have here and I am not given the resources to do my job and am being criticisd for lack of output, then I have an untenable situation on my hands.

In the meantime, I will triple efforts to try to redeem myself professionally, but my exit strategy has got to kick in full gear. The time is short. August next year was ambitious.

Money is not everything.

I just need some to get out of this financial rut and then, whoila, I will be free to define my own happiness.

I have prayed about it and will continue to do so. I have put the whole situation squarely at the foot of the cross.

If God's eye is on the sparrow, I can rest ASSURED that He will provide all my needs according to His riches in glory.

That's the thing about money and faith. You dont have to have money to have faith but having faith means that money somehow finds its way into your hand when you need it most.

But you know what? I am at peace.

That is the first time in a long time that I have felt this way.

Maybe there really is something about taking the yoke of Christ- it is sure easier and lighter.

I know ultimately that whatever forces are at hand, no weapon formed against me shall prosper.

God put me here and His purspose for me here will be achieved before I leave because his word does not return to him without fruit.

So, in the midst of all this work drama, I am standing on His promises.

Even when I have been banished on an Island so far removed that I refer to it as "The Island Behind God's Back," His presence is never far from me.

What more could a Twenty Something girl ask for?

Not even shoes.

When is not the the button hole...

That is what Imelda#2 says when some dramatic situation gets solved only to be quickly replaced by another.

And here I am...

I am truly struggling. Mi nah lie. I holding on for dear life to all the positivity that lies within me.

"Intestinal fortitude" ascording to my Accountable Friend.

But I travel with a weak stomach. Something doesn't mesh.

One of the greatest struggles of my Twenty Something years, is finding my Zen Career Zone. What's that? When I find it, I will tell you. But seriously though, this has been a reaaally rough time for me.

I never thought it would have been this hard. And it is hard for a few reasons.

This is a small place with nothing much to do. That equated to no escape. High airfares from here means that leaving when I need a break is really not practical, unless I am comfortable with working just to pay air fare.

I have essentially taken up the kind of job that I would have avoided at all costs: you know the one where you are hired as a one man fix it shop, and your mission is to save the devil, his wife and illigitimate children from the heat of hell.

I am not a graphic designer. I dont do graphics. I explained that from the outset.

I was hired without a budget and all of a sudden it is my fault that very little is getting done?

I do not have staff. I expressed the need for help. Other areas were filled, but I, like the cheese, still stand alone. And now, they all take a bite.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

After a really rough day...

This has been a very rough day for me.

Sometimes, I think that God deliberately throws me battles so that I can get a reality check and put Him back in the picture. When He is in the picture, I know with conviction that the battle is not mine but His, and when I have sidelined Him, I get worried about minor obstacles in this life’s journey.

I think in spite of all the struggles I have gone through since I have been here, it was good for me to come here. I have been growing an incredible lot, and there is much more room for growth.

My psychological mettle is being tested. My spiritual mettle is being tested. My professional mettle is being tested. And all have been found wanting.

In many ways, this has been a weaning period from all the comforts and support systemthat I am used to. Like falling back on family and friends when times get rough. Here, I don’t have anyone to fall on but myself and God.

And that is why my spirituality is so important. If I do not keep close to God, I am not led by Him, but by my own will, which is very disastrous. I can accomplish so little on my own, but with the power of the omniscient (all knowing) omnipotent (all powerful) Him in the midst of disaster. And that is by no means good enough.

Professionally, I have come into a situation that is itself a turn-off. I have no budget, no authority and nobody really understands what I am supposed to be doing despite my numerous attempts to educate them. I have been miserable because I realise that I cannot accomplish what I came here to do, and feel cheated because they lied. But I stopped there when I should not have. I stopped at the point of frustration, not doing what I could, and representing myself to the best of my ability because so much was wrong with the equation. But that is not what I was called to do.

I was called to be among them, though not of them. To rise to my own standards in spite of theirs. To display all it is that I have learnt and not get caught up with the petty issues.

Yes I miss home. Yes I am lonely. Yes I could really use a hug right now. But none of that validates behaving like a yub yub when I have been called to be a princess.

It is hard though.

It is hard to find motivation deep within when there are so many elements in the environment that suck out every drive you have. I think I have been battling depression and have been successful in not falling head down into it, but I am not without scars and wear and tear in the process.

I am very ambivalent about my career. Public Relations is not what I dreamt I would be doing when I grew up. I was just good at it and learnt quickly and had very adaptable skills, so I did well. But the truth is that I am bored.

I just want a job I love.

I love public relations- for the right company or product, but I also love media.

I have stayed corporate because I make more money than in media, and media standards in Jamaica have fallen incredibly, which is itself frustrating if you love what you do. I don’t like working in the public sector because nothing really ever gets done. I left my first public sector job after six months because I went to work everyday and did nothing and felt bad about collecting a pay cheque under false pretences.

I am not cut out for office politics. I just want to be left to do what I do best.

I started the company, but I had too many personal debts to endure dry periods when no income was coming in.

So I guess, it all takes me back to why I am here- to work to pay off my bills so that I can be free to make my next move without encumbrances (burdens or impediment). And so, I need to do what it is that I have to do here, so that I can leave here better than I came here- financially free!

When I am there, at that momentous point in my adult journey, I will be able to critically assess where I am, and where I want to go professionally. Until then, I just have to stay put and get myself focused on the bigger picture.

God is with me, and in the toughest times, he will lift me up and carry me right through the hottest of hell.

When I do what I need to do, then the foundation will be laid for me to examine my next move and for me to really do some introspection to find out “what next?” for me.

I just wanted to share.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Miriam Makeba- The Click Song

Miriam Makeba- Amampondo

Khawuleza - 1966

It is one of my all time favourite Miriam Makeba songs, sung in the height of the war against apartheid- a war that she was exiled for.

Back up.. cllick here

Into Yam- Mama Africa at her finest

Miriam Mekeba- Pata Pata

Obama to di WERL (world)

The Water Cure

As a child I set the freedom down

Guided my life about
I believed what you said when you said you loved me
Tried to smile I spent my life on trial

Another broken child

I pretend it's o.k. when you lie to love me

You're the wolf outside my door
And I swear you're waiting to break my soul

Don't you know?

I tried to live I tried to die

Placed your hands over my life
You tried to run you tried to hide

You're the watercure of life
As a man I played the game again
I tried to call you friend

As you kick in my face while you say you trust me

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Star Spangled Shredder

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Out of the mouth of babes... (however you like)

click on the title of this post for the link. If that doesnt work, copy paste the url above in your browser...

Missing Jamaica like Cook Food

I am so looking forward to going back to Jamaica in December.

I just need a break from all this.

I slept in my apartment last night for the very first time in over one month. I even managed to sleep in the back room because it was so clean. Peaches came and helped me clean the place. The back room is actually much cooler than the front room, so much so that even without air conditioning, I missed my blanket last night, especially when the rain started falling.

(I am so annoyed by the yap yap yap in this office. Sharing space with secretaries who have no idea of appropriate office protocol is a little frustrating).

There is a lot of rain here these days. The place looks like spring instead of autumn approaching winter. I love rain, so I don’t mind. I am not sure I will continue to say that when I have clothes to hang on the line, however, I still find rain rather romantic.

I think it is a Jamaican thing.

Cold rainy days means cuddling under a live blanket never gets stale. Unfortunately for me last night, I had neither a live or dead one to draw for. But that will change in December, even for just one week. Oh how I long for the warmth of my man____(insert all prepositions) me.

I am going to Margaritaville today to get a hamburger for lunch. I am craving a deli-burger (which I do every now and then).

It’s just 9:00 a.m. (that is why I hate getting to work early), but the clock still says 10:00 because we just fell back by an hour yesterday. My prayers are that no one will realise this and change the time before noon (yes I am evil).

I am really good at looking busy. I find that typing up these blog entries in Word on a very small laptop makes me look super duper professional.

Did I tell you that I have already picked out my outfit to wear home in December? It can’t come too soon.

I have been dreaming about Little Ochi, Port Royal, Lime Cay, Faith’s Pen, Spur Tree Hill, and Hellshire, not to mention Red Bones, Rib Cage, homemade sconces, bread and carmelized fatty ham.

Yes, most of my longing is centered around food and frolick, but as Easy Skanking Chef often says, “there is nothing better than “good food shared with good company.”

And so say all of us!

Dry weather friends

I have noticed over the past few weeks that Sister of the Motherland and Neighbour have cultivated a rather secret friendship in my absence.

Sister of the Motherland would come for me on the way to work in the mornings before I got my car and she started doing that for Neighbour when I decided to stay with another friend for greater convenience of running water and electricity. Note that this invitation had also been extended to Neighbour, but she preferred to stay put except for one holiday weekend when she joined me mainly for the purpose of ironing a suitcase of clothes.

Note well that I have absolutely no problem with two separate friends becoming friends on their own upon being introduced by me. What I have a problem with is the secrecy surrounding that friendship.

I was to visit Sister of the Motherland one evening for some work-related issue and on my way to her house, I called her and she belted that she was not there. She never said where she was, which was unusual, but I left it at that and drove home. Upon reaching home, I saw her leaving Neighbour’s apt.

I just find the secrecy strange and very uncomfortable. It makes me very wary of them both.

I have been calling Sister of the Motherland all weekend because I was supposed to take her children but she did not reply. I had stopped by her home on Friday and she was not there. Yesterday, it was her daughter who answered her cell phone. This morning, she drives to my house to pick up Neighbour.

Writing this down has made the whole thing seem even more convoluted and unnecessary. There is no reason for grown people to behave like children.

I guess this comes with the territory of finding yourself in a different place, far removed from your established friendships. You are forced to make new friends. It took me years to develop some of my closest friendships, and only one (with Imelda # 2) sprung up over night. Most of my “friends” are family. Why did I think I could make real friends in the space of three months?

So, I have decided that these two persons are merely associates and I have only made one real friend here. His, is the place in which I sought refuge for over a month.

Neighbour and I are friendly because we live in a duplex and Sister of the Motherland and I work together. She needs me to do her work well, and I need her to mitigate some of the politics of the office.

I figure that if I keep things that simple and lower my expectations, I will neither be surprised nor disappointed when I discover that loyalty and honesty

Not the nicest place to be but welcome to the real world.


Would you be uncomfortable if your friends have a secret friendship that you do not know about?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Future of Africa: Soyinka and Gates

By Henry Louis Gates Jr. |

In his ongoing video interview series, "The Vine with Henry Louis Gates Jr." The
Root Editor-in-Chief talks with Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka about Sudan, Mugabe, slavery and, of course, Obama.

Oct. 23, 2008--At 74, Wole Soyinka remains one of democracy's great champions on the African continent. The adage "criticism, like charity, starts at home," has long been a favorite truism of the Nobel Prize-winning playwright and political activist. Sadly, there remains much to criticize, as political turmoil, ethnic warfare, graft and corruption continue to plague his home continent. From genocide in Darfur, to despotic misdeeds in Zimbabwe, to lingering repercussions from the often capricious creation of arbitrarily constructed countries by colonial powers in the 19th century, multiple crises across Africa call out for searching critique and harsh condemnation. Yet, many African and African-American political leaders and intellectuals remain reluctant to react meaningfully, through a misguided fear of airing dirty black laundry to a Western public with a long history of bias against Africa and its people.

I have known Wole Soyinka for 35 years. We met at the University of Cambridge in 1973, when I was a first-year student in the English Department, and Soyinka became my professor. He was living in exile, having just published "The Man Died," the memoir of his 27 months in prison during the Nigerian civil war and a searing indictment of the Nigerian government. In one-on-one tutorials, he introduced me to African literature and myth and, as editor of Transition magazine, published my first essay in literary criticism. He encouraged me to pursue a Ph.D. in English literature and became the first director of my dissertation. Over the years, we have become friends and colleagues. We trade stories on everything from Euripides and Shakespeare to which red wines go best with spicy food to which laptop is lightest and fastest (Soyinka is a techie, like his patron god, Ogun).

Yet, I remain astonished by his ability to move me—not just as a literary artist, but also as a political commentator and democratic activist—with the raw force and honesty of his social critique. He is the only writer I can think of who could just as easily be a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Peace as for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I sat down with Soyinka recently, in an interview for The Root, to ask my friend to help me contextualize some of the turmoil in the news recently over events in Africa. The International Criminal Court is seeking a war crimes indictment against Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, for the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe has rendered cash, food and the most basic daily necessities out of reach for most of its people, as President Robert Mugabe continues to resist a power-sharing agreement with the opposition. Of al-Bashir, Soyinka echoed a growing sentiment, arguing that he "should be seized, wherever he is, and put on trial." And if al-Bashir is tried for war crimes, he went on, Mugabe deserves to be indicted for crimes against humanity. "When you take a bulldozer to the homes of your opposition and just turn living, teeming areas into deserts overnight simply because they disagree with your political policies, that is a crime against humanity," he said, in a decisive tone.

While many influential thinkers and leaders are calling for the two leaders to be held accountable, Soyinka, in typical style, pushed the contemporary discussion to its historical limits, linking modern dictators from Uganda's late Idi Amin to Mugabe to their opportunistic predecessors who drove the African slave trade. It is a painful linkage, he said, that blacks in the diaspora, especially African Americans, still struggle to reconcile. "If African Americans confront that history," he told me, "they will discover that [today's war criminal regimes] are the same people, they're descendants of their mental kin, and they are treating their own people in exactly the same way" as Africans treated other Africans whom they captured and enslaved, then sold to Europeans or North Africans to be shipped to the New World, Europe or the Middle East. I know well of the raw nerves exposed when it comes to tracing black Africans to the source of the slave trade. When I introduced this idea a decade ago in my PBS series, Wonders of the African World, a firestorm ensued: One wit even wondered aloud whether a fatwa should be placed on my head.

Of course, the responsibility for the current state of affairs rests not solely with black Africans. With provocative flair, our conversation turned to the often illogically carved-up nation-states of Africa, created by colonists to serve European commercial interests rather than to reflect ethnic and religious affiliations and rivalries. Of his home country, Nigeria, Soyinka posed the question: Is it really a nation, or is it merely a space whose boundaries were drawn to define the Niger oil-producing Delta?

For all the cerebral provocation, Soyinka remains tapped into broader concerns. He is closely following the U.S. presidential campaign, saying that he is optimistic about the far-reaching effects an Obama presidency could have on the state of international affairs generally, and in Africa specifically. "There are dictators who will be very alarmed by the possibility of an even more liberal attitude towards things like democracy now championed by somebody of African descent," he said with visible delight. But, while fascinated, he is not distracted. In the midst of a consuming presidential race and a widening economic meltdown, Soyinka and others like him are here to remind us that there are always issues—too complex for the scrolling news ticker, too uncomfortable for buzzy water-cooler chatter— that demand pause, outrage and action.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Deepak Chopra on Sarah Palin...

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is
perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents,which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin's pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses.

In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of "the other."
For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don't want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and
frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)

I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palins message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

Look at what she stands for:
--Small town values -- a denial of America's global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
--Ignorance of world affairs -- a repudiation of the need to repair America's image abroad.
--Family values -- a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don't need to be heeded.
--Rigid stands on guns and abortion -- a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
--Patriotism -- the usual fallback in a failed war.

--"Reform" -- an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn't fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from "us" pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of "I'm all right, Jack," and "Why change? Everything's OK as it is." The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a
woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

Obama's call for higher ideals in politics can't be seen in a vacuum.

The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow -- we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

Resident of the Dark Ages

I cannot believe that the big big US election is passing me by.

I cant watch it, because there is no TV to watch. There is no free-to-air station here so even local stations are patched through a subscriber cable network. What happens when that network is down as it has been since the hurricane hit two months ago? You keep in the dark.

Big big journalist like me dont have a clue what going on and limited internet time is mostly spent keeping in touch with family and friends.

Aw bwoy!

Just think that the world is watching the campaign of the first black US presidential campaign and I have a front seat in pitch darkness.

May grace enlighten my darkness.

Skin like leprosy

I figured out why the women here on the Island Behind God's Back plaster on foundation like masons' putty- to cover all the skin problems that I feel are attributed mainly to bad water.

I painstaking wash face and brush teeth with bottled water, but I wash my hair with the water from the tap. I know- quite defeatist. Its hard to wash locks with bottled water though but I may have to begin doing so, or apply dry cleaning methods until I leave the island on visits to Jamaica.

My skin is yucky. My exxema is wild!

I may have to choose between clean hair and clean skin.

What a plight!

... And there was light!

MI GET BACK LIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Which also means running water because I needed electricity for the water to be pumped from the cistern.

Yes- TWO months without light or running water, dont ask.

Still dont have landline, internet or cable. Projections are that they will be restored by March.

I still have to drive up to the computer dept and park outside to get wireless. Yes- at dis time a night! (10:43)

By tomorrow we will be on the same time as Jamaica because we are falling back one hour (DST). DOnt ask me why we needed it in the tropics anyway. It was beginning to be hard to get out of bed in the morning when 7am was still night.

I was just talking to mi likklest brother and I told him that there was no cinema here. His question immediately followed "so what are you doing there?"

I have been contemplating that repeatedly over the last two months. The short ansswer is that I am working hard at receiving my "Get Out of Debt Card." Just know, that as soon as I have obtained a fiscally viable status, the rollin stone moves again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I am falling in love all over again

I feel like that...

or am i bored?



Monday, October 27, 2008

I got me a damn good man

In the midst of all the jing bang dem dat parade as man but whose sum do not add up to the equal parts of one... I got me a damn good man.

No luck round here.. just soso blessing. You think is little heartache I go through to get here?

But you know what? If it were not for all of the crap I have dated, fed, and bedded, I would not know just how good I have got it now.

Maybe I was really wise beyond my years when I decided as a teen that I would settle down with a man who had been a long time friend. It certainly helps that we have lots to talk about, common ground to stand on, and respect to navigate the rough of orbital wars of venus vs mars.

My expectations have changed too. Things that seemed critical fade to minor idiosyncracies. And I have changed.

I actually like taking care of the gent and dont feel taken for granted in an unfair anti-liberal world in which women are confined to the degradaton of domesticity. Could it be because he doesn't mind doing the dishes while I do the laundry, or making breakfast while I sleep late?

The plain and simple truth is that I have grown up. I have come full circle.

I have become the career woman who actually loves cooking oxtail at 2am because her man, though a refined sous chef, loves her home cooking and cannot go back halfway across the world without a last supper of oxtail...even it has to be breakfast.

Missing the Easy Skanking Chef

I have two months and three days more to go. We are hoping that he will be able to arrive in time to ring in New Year's in Jamaica. He will only be there for one out of the three weeks that I will be there. Bummer!

If it weren't for Gilli P's wedding on Dec 20, I would just wait and reserve my leave to go to be with him in Dubai, but I wouldn't miss her wedding for the world!

Anyway, I hope to go next year. It seems that dates keep on getting pushed back. I have Taco's wedding in August in Puerto Rico, so I am going to have to postpone my South African trip until much later too, maybe as far as summer 10.

At least Easy Skanking Chef will have his way about us timing our trip for the World Cup.

It is maddeningly hard to have a cross atlantic long distance relationship because it is so far and so expensive for us to be together and we can only do so for short periods because we live in different hemispheres.

I so long to see him. And laugh and dance and cook and eat, and walk and talk with him face to face.

Living alone sucks almost as much as sleeping alone. And cohabitation is a verb whose time has come.

What Goes Around Comes Around

Twenty years ago my Daddy bought me my first Purple BMX with purple tassles, purple wheels and a white basket with a strawberry sticker on the front. Twenty years later, I am the owner of a rather girlie adult mountain bike with argyle 2D graphics to boot. I bought myself a bicycle.

Having grown tired of feeling slugglish and unbalanced, I went and got me my newest obsession with the hopes of actually trimming my expanding waistline and thunder thighs.

Don’t worry about my self-deprecating humour. It really is just that. I have enough self esteem to bottle and sell.

But at least I can ride for 15 minutes daily with the hope of being able to ride for 1 hour before I leave and then the length of the 8 mile island.

Ride on King Jesus, no man can-a hinder me!

Verbal Wranglings

It was a holiday this past weekend. Yes, yet another, and no Imelda, the Queen is not cutting her toenails. But don’t ask me what the holiday was about. They have plenty of those here- don’t get me wrong- I am certainly not complaining.

I have been itching to write all weekend, but I left the power cord for my laptop in my office. In the meantime, I wrote a million words in my head.

A loving plea to my youngest sibling who is struggling with self-esteem issues; a blog about my new pastime; and another about something else that I can’t remember. I guess that is why I write: my memory too often fails me.

This job has become, for all intent and purposes, a job on which I do all my personal writing. There is much little else to do, so the artist in me has to find alternate ways to release the bottled up creative energy.

There is still no electricity or running water in my apartment, almost two months flush from Hurricane Ike. I am still “cotching” with a friend in his one bedroom apartment. Luckily for me, chilvalry isn’t dead, especially among Jamaican men.

I managed to groom my locks over the weekend, and now, for the first time in weeks, I look properly cared after… at least my hair does.

I have stopped wearing makeup because the water is making my eczema more pronounced than it has ever been. My face is extremely blotchy, and my neck and shoulders look as if I have some mild skin disease. I used to be complimented on my skin… once upon a time in the west.

I have a theory that the water is above and beyond safe pollution. Apart from the fact that the catchment area is DIRECTLY beside the cemetery, I just don’t trust that these people, who are renowned for their inefficiency, have actually treated it properly. On top of it, many landlords have the contaminated city water routed to even more contaminated concrete cisterns which almost never get cleaned. It is known that it should not be ingested, but I don’t think it is even good enough for human use. Fact is, the skin is the largest organ of the body and whatever you put on it enters your bloodstream. Go figure.

Do you see why I may be inclined to leave this country earlier than expected?

Since the hurricane, weekly grocery shopping has become a tumble for fresh produce. “Fresh” here is a euphemism for produce that has been sitting on the dock in Florida from the previous Thursday, and arrives in the island on Monday. Often times, boxes of rotting fruit and vegetables are displayed among those that may have faired better. The fridge is never cleaned and I have become an expert on the different stages of mold development, having encountered the progression in the fridge of that store for over a month. I think there may be enough penicillin to treat every patient in the clinic-cum-hospital. This is no joke.

Nevertheless, I press on to greater things, like Paul encourages in the New Testament. I am not despondent. I am not yet weary. For even in the midst of chaos, there is some order, and in bad, good.

This is a cash-only country. Well, cash, cheques, and the proverbial “signing for” note of credit. The last option is removed from expatriates, which I don’t mind, because I would rather starve than sign for milk. Cheques are as good as cash, because if I don’t have the money, I don’t write the cheque. And then there is the mighty dollar.

The truth is that the only thing to buy here is food. There is nobody here to attract or impress, so buying clothes is definitely not an option. I have not even bought a panty since I have been here!

My expenses are pretty much limited to food and utilities.

Using cash only essentially means that I am not mounting debt while I am here. In fact, what has happened is that my credit cards and student loans are being paid off. I can’t charge the credit cards in the process so the debt is going down. In fact, I should be able to pay off every red cent of those loans by January. I am over my projected repayment plan by a month because I have had unexpected expenses over the last three months.

I am actually going to take out a small loan so that I can avoid further 30 and 50% interest payments by paying off all loans in full and repay that loan by January at a rate of 14% annualised.

I am also going to pay off my outstanding insurance and pension payments and pay ahead for the next year. I will then settle the utility bills that were left behind back home. During this time, I will fast track a savings plan to cover fixed expenses for a period of one year.

The best thing about coming here, is that in a few months, I have developed some much-needed fiscal maturity, a critical step to reaching long term goals and avoiding a lifetime of abject poverty.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Refiner’s Fire

My friends have been telling me that this whole process of working in a situation which intensifies more than internal surge protectors can contain, is a “character building exercise.”

My response has consistently been “I don’t need flies pitching on me to build character.”

I felt I had already grown beyond this situation, the chaos in this country, overwhelmingly outdated living conditions (including no electricity and running water for 6 weeks), cover-ups beyond anything I have seen in public relations, blah blah blah…

But I hadn’t.

The beauty of this life is that as long as we have breath, we can review, reflect, introspect, and utilise all the verbs necessary to find deeper meaning in the midst of any circumstance.

(Enter the character building bit.)

Apparently that is what they meant- finding deeper meaning to my own existence because my purpose is greater than my circumstance.

But I am human.

I get distracted by flies feasting on me and I get frustrated when things don’t work the way they should, nor even with the contingencies that my-event-planning-self meticulously budget for.

This, my new reality, is the “Small Islant Mentality” personified. It means that absolutely nothing goes according to plan, not because of Murphy’s Law, but because of a decidedly myopic framework that prevents inhabitants from “seeing the big picture.”

How can you convince someone to think beyond parochial borders when their idea of success is driving a gas guzzling luxury vehicle on a 7 mile long island, where there is a one-handed mechanic who is always drunk, no wheel alignment machinery, one nameless grade of fuel, and enough sea air to guarantee rust in a few years? You can’t.

The problem is that for now, you have to live with them, and their myopia, and no matter how exposed and unbridled your perspectives are, unless you are going to self-fund a world tour for every jack man and child, they will remain so. So what so you do?

You shift your paradigm.

One of the most revealing things I read from Imelda’s extensive library is that when you have reached a higher plane in your own development, you must be understanding of those who have not yet risen to that level of consciousness.

What is the point of the housewife marrying the man who is a career spendthrift and spending the rest of her life watching him whittle their joint savings away on every gadget meaningless known to mankind? She too has to shift her paradigm- get another provider who understands that KEEPING money is as important as making it, or get a job herself and take over the finances.

I must shift my paradigm.

I must find my purpose here, which is not to be frustrated, nor to lower my standards, but to critically adjust the way I go about things and my own expectations.

If the donkey doesn’t want water, don’t force him to drink.

He clearly doesn’t know that he is thirsty. He doesn’t understand thirst because he has never been quenched.

It’s hard. No it is damn hard. How do you not do what you feel is exactly what you need to do and be happy about that?

It is actually a little simpler than I thought.

Did you bring the donkey to the water? ‘Yes’
Did you explain clearly, without insulting his ignorance the benefits or drinking water and the repercussions for not so. “Yes”
Then that is your job.

It is his life. He makes his own decisions and works out his own salvation.

Repeated attempts to convince him to drink will only frustrate you to the point where you forget about the bit of “not insulting his ignorance” and then you insult his ignorance and you reach deadlock. You die of a brain haemorrhage and he dies of thirst.

Just as he has to work out his own salvation, so do you.

So save your sanity. Guard the joy and peace and love, and hope that God has blessed you with.

In fact, better yet, build on your own character.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I must write- for Malcolm

I don’t know where to begin, nor how to end.

I know only that I must write.

I must write because the same spirit than gave your body life gives mine, and it never rests without artistic release.

Malcolm McCormack, 28 year old black Jamaican male artistic creative inspired troubled by the things in life that affect us so significantly like injustice hatred envy greed malice pride politics development scarce benefits spoils always trying to find deeper meaning to your existence yet always grateful still for the small mercies the ocean the blue sky the lush green of Jamaican countryside hopeful kind young promising reflective of times good and innocent Son Brother Friend Nephew Cousin Schoolmate Neighbour Bredren man in the street smiling at nothing but everything.

My heart is heavy. My eyelids, light.

I remember playing with you in Jamaica. A distant childhood memory in which I had to climb stairs with my daddy to see you and Fran.

Now you have climbed stairs with the real big Daddy, to be with Our Father which art in heaven.

In the moments before you began your spiritual ascent, you made music. You found your own artistic release. You played your violin, giving praise like David to the God of music, the God of man, the Most High.

As you walked your final walk on the streets of this life, you were not alone. You were with friends. The same ones with whom you had just shared your music. And in those moments, as you walked, the music was still in your ears, in your heart. Your spirit was free. And so it went.

As you climbed the staircase to heaven, again you were not alone. This time, the Greatest Friend of All, the One who promised never to leave nor forsake you was with you.

Now, as your spirit lingers with us, we feel you as we gaze into the eyes of those who are gathered with us to not only mourn your passing, but celebrate the blessing of your life.

Every click of a camera shutter is a reminder of your passion for photography. Every smell of a new flower bud, a celebration of your wonder of nature, and now, even the most mundane walks, become a silent, spiritual event as we pay homage to you.

Thank you, my dear cousin, for choosing us as your family, and for giving us life even in your own death. For you remind us to live as you did, embracing the good moments and the bad and to find joys and profundity in the most simple things.

May perpetual light shine on you.

As we say in Jamaica, the land of your birth…Walk good bredren

Craziness Redefined

There is a lone fly in the room and it is on my desk.

I swear that flies, like mosquitoes, sense that I have the greatest disgust for them, and so, by default, they take the role of antagoniser and single me out as the protagonist, even when there are others in a room.

I know I bathe. I know I wash properly, I wear clean clothes. I brush my teeth. I wash my hair even more than I should. So why me?

Why me?

What great sin have I commited to be banished to insect hell?

Now there are two flies. Misery loves company.

And there are three. A crowd.

I notice that more are perched on other people’s desks, but I seem to be the only one visibly disgusted with the concept of sharing my space with flies.

Maybe it is indeed a cultural barrier.

Where I come from, flies follow mangoes, fish and filth. If there is none of the former two, then you face sheer condemnation.

But here, flies are the mainstay of daily living. It appears to be OK to walk with a buzzing posse. Why else would stray animals be continued to roam streets and yards and conduct their most basic deeds freely? Why else would such evidence not be removed immediately from walkways of offices? Why else would people continually step in it, taking the smell of a pig sty into banks, utility companies and even the supermarket?

Yes- the supermarket, but I won’t even go there.

I must admit that when I first came here, I thought that some crazy person was following me around. The kind of crazy that makes one unconscious that eliminating bodily waste is something best done in private, and washed away immediately after. The kind of crazy that makes the one so affected involuntarily eliminate and voluntarily do it on onself. It was only when I could not find that consistent face, that I realised it must be something else. When I started walking the streets, I saw why.

I guess I come from a place of normal people. Because crazy people drive straight through potholes, so driving in Jamaica is usually characterized with a lot of zig-zagging. Here, I must seem crazy because I zig zag when I walk and drive. Not to avoid potholes, but filth.

Try as I may though, there is something associated with such widescale messiness, that I just cannot seem to shirk- the flies.