Monday, January 25, 2010

A few days off

I have been keeping away because I am consciously limiting my time on the computer. My hand has been hurting me and I realize I need it in real life, so if my lifestyle practices are slowly making me disabled, I have to modify. I just need to take a break from being so active on the computer for a little while.

So that may mean shorter posts for now.

One love.

Sheer Almshouse.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A "culturally relevant" education

I give credit to the man who used the term- Professor Aggrey Brown, former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education and Director of my school, CARIMAC (Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication) at the UWI, Mona campus.

I give credit to a man who for the first time in my education allowed me to think on my own and question. Before him, I was told to regurgitate. "So and so said, so it is." But he taught me the most important lesson of my life. It was in a single word. A single question. "Why?"

Nothing "is." Nothing lies in a vacuum. There are causes, effects, paradigms, frameworks, worldviews, objectives, environments, contexts, agendas. Who is talking? Now what's behind who is taking?

Therefore communication was inextricably tied to all disciplines. Especially history, economics, sociology, politics, business, psychology, ethics. A communicator is thirsty for knowledge and is not afraid to research and find out new things. To ask questions. A good communicator can communicate any subject matter stemming from any discipline, even if not his/her own. He also stressed that to understand current events, we cannot do so without understanding context. In the midst of that context, you will find history.

History is not separate from the current. History, in many ways defines the current. Are we not the sum total of our past experiences?

Therefore, to understand where we are now as Caribbean nation states, as countries developing in the world, and to understand those said to be developed, we have to know how we all came to be so.

Another important lesson learned is that there is never one side to a story.

Our West Indian history, before the establishment of the UWI was written by those in the UK, who had their own paradigm altogether. Men like Carlyle who said black slaves imported from Africa were lazy on the sugar plantations (that captialized the Industrial Revolution in Europe) because they would eat and fall asleep under pumpkin trees. I don't know about you but I have never seen a pumpkin grow on trees. Furthermore, we were taught the histories of other places with neglect of our own because of the direct link into a well of bitterness that could ensue among people now enlightened that their former colonizers had really raped and exploited them and let them go when they no longer suited them.

It's a political argument. But history, like current affairs, is highly political. It is always about power. The lack of it, or the want of it. Who has it, who uses it wisely, who abuses, and who is victimized by it.

I hold no grudge. I just don't want us to believe that Haiti is just the dumbest place on earth. Haiti has had a past of serious exploitation. They are the blue people in Avatar, as are we who have faced enslavement and colonization, only we got out a little better than Haiti. The lovely wooden homes in the Southern USA, and all of the lovely architectural wooden details in the homes in Savannah Georgia, originate in the trees of Haiti. I learned about the history of Haiti in High School and at University. It is indeed a sad history. But such is the history of colonization. Unfortunately unlike the Moors in Italy, it is still too recent for us.

Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, India, Africa and other countries have hell to pay for having the gumption to stand up to others more powerful. Jamaica has buckled for individual political gain and also aid from the US. Don't even forget the dumping of the dirty industries in our countries - industries that would evoke outcry in their own countries - utilizing child labour, expelling harmful toxic emissions maiming and slowly killing generations, burying toxic waste where people live, etc.

It is a nasty chain of events that has led us all to this day. But you know what is even sadder?

The Jews are allowed to speak of the holocaust but "slavery"and "colonization" from dispossessed blacks makes everyone uncomfortable. Why? Why can't we get reparation for the grave genocide that we suffered at the hands of those who were out to make a buck and build their own wealth who now police the rest of the world and cry foul on such behaviour?

Do you know what Haiti could do with that money? It is outlined in the articles below. Do you know what Jamaica could do with that money? End poverty, educate our people and put social systems in place so that our uneducated, disenfranchised youth don't feel like crime is the only way to get ahead.

These modern day embargoes on Haiti and Cuba are inhumane. How dare Castro to speak irreverently of US policy, right? Is communism still a "threat" in the west? Was it ever really? Who says capitalism is not the threat and not communism? Under capitalism, individual wealth has soared highest among the wealthy while the poorest have gotten poorer and the gap widens between rich and poor. There is no real "middle class". And who says that one man is more entitled that the other? I guess some people are really more equal than some. George Orwell was on to something. Capitalism is not a humane political agenda any more than a communist dictatorship. Both are too extreme. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

But what can we say of Cuba? Cuba has the highest literacy rate in the world. 97%. Where does the US fall in that?
Cubans have learned to be creative and to recycle because times have been hard since the Bay of Pigs.
Cubans are good sportsmen and women.
Cubans have highly developed arts education and preservation.
Cubans still help their richer neighbours by schooling them, providing free health care, building sports complexes and schools for them etc.

Colonization and invasion is wrong. It is wrong for one man to be more right than another and to forcefully wield his power on a sovereign state will disregard for the laws of the land. I do not believe in war.

Why can't we all just get along?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The fat housewife

Being a housewife is making me fat. That is the short answer/excuse (choose yuh pick) to the numbers on the scale and the body measurements taken tonight.

I have put on a LOT of weight since I got here. I here Azikiwe and LA saying (I warned you). On the contrary, my husband is looking more svelte than ever.

He has managed to maintain his weight loss because he eats the high fibre cereal combination in the mornings that IIIII mix for him which gets his day off to a good start and he grazes like a goat during the day. The occasional night fest when he comes home is just that- occasional. Furthermore, and perhaps most crucial, he no longer participates in the binge drinking that chefs are noted for. He has a wife to come home to.

But me? I sleep until noon and get up and eat whenever hunger really bites and ususally not that wonderful high fibre cereal mix. There isn't much that is exciting about my day and so I make up for it with pleasuring my taste buds. But every road and rope have end, no? Well mines sho do!

I called ESC tonight and he asked me how I was.
"I'm depressed," I whined.
"I know," he replied calmly
"How did you know?"
"Because you are my wife and I know you. And I observe you a lot more than you know. Something was bothering you."
"Yes, I'm fat."
"No you are not." (He knows who he is sleeping beside tonight).
"Yes. I am bigger than ever in my entire life!"
"Really? Well, I will fix my bike and we can exercise together on weekends."
"But that's not enough!"
"Well, when I leave in the mornings, you can get up too and go for a power walk."
"I just need to do my workout everyday."
"Well you get up with me in the mornings and do your routine while I get ready."

And you know what is the sweetest thing? Someone commented on my pasta photo that I better watch my waistline with too much pasta. You know what he replied? "I am watching it and loving it."

So there! I am blessed to have a man who loves me just as I am, but who is also willing to support me when I want to make improvements.

I think I was smart to marry a man who would at least hold me accountable to being fit, even though numbers on the scale don't bother him unless they pass 3-0-0. That was his all time high. I don't think he knows what 300lbs look like on a 5'6" woman, but I do appreciate his generosity.

Anyway, I am no longer depressed. I wasn't depressed really, I just used the word out of term. I was having "a case of the mean reds." I am over it now. You know me, I like to get rid of bad energy... that stuff causes cancer.

Yes I have about 40 lbs of fat to lose this year. That is less than 1lb per week. It's doable. It is achievable. Note that I said fat... I may not end up being 40lbs lighter. I don't want to be skinny. I just want a lot less fat and much more muscle, especially since I have lost a lot of muscle mass since I slacked off when I came off TV. This time at least I have a sexy workout partner at least twice a week and a motivator for the remaining 7 days.

I am tired of yo-yoing. I want to lost the excess and maintain a lifetime fluctuation of no more that + or - 5lbs.

You know what I had for dinner? You guessed it. The high fibre/high protein cereal mix.

Hait- An op ed piece by John Maxwell

John Maxwell was my Media Ethics lecturer while I studied for my undergraduate degree in Media and Communication at CARIMAC, University of the West Indies. He has always bee a hard hitter. You can see why.

No, Mister! You Cannot Share My Pain!

John Maxwell
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Jamaica Observer

If you shared my pain you would not continue to make me suffer, to torture me, to deny me my dignity and my rights, especially my rights to self-determination and self-expression.

Six years ago you sent your Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to perform an action illegal under the laws of your country, my country and of the international community of nations.

One of the survivors of Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Haiti.
[Hide Description] One of the survivors of Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Haiti.

It was an act so outrageous, so bestially vile and wicked that your journalists and news agencies, your diplomats and politicians to this day cannot bring themselves to truthfully describe or own up to the crime that was committed when US Ambassador James Foley, a career diplomat, arrived at the house of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide with a bunch of CIA thugs and US Marines to kidnap the president of Haiti and his wife.

The Aristides were stowed aboard a CIA plane normally used for 'renditions' of suspected terrorists to the worldwide US gulag of dungeons and torture chambers.

The plane, on which the Aristides are listed as "cargo", flew to Antigua - an hour away - and remained on the ground in Antigua while Colin Powell's State Department and the CIA tried to blackmail and bribe various African countries to accept ("give asylum to") the kidnapped president and his wife.

The Central African Republic - one of George W Bush's 'Dark Corners of the World' - agreed for an undisclosed sum, to give the Aristides temporary asylum.

Before any credible plot can be designed and paid for - for the disappearance of the Aristides - they are rescued by friends, flown to temporary asylum in Jamaica where the Government cravenly yielded to the blackmail of Condoleezza Rice to deny them the permanent asylum to which they were entitled and which most Jamaicans had hoped for.

Meanwhile, in Haiti, the US Marines protected an undisciplined ragbag of rapists and murderers to allow them entry to the capital. The Marines chased the medical students out of the new Medical School established by Aristide with Cuban help and teachers. The Marines bivouac in the school, going out on nightly raids, trailed by fleets of ambulances with body bags, hunting down Fanmi Lavalas activists described as 'chimeres' - terrorists.

The real terrorists, led by two convicted murderers, Chamblain and Philippe, assisted the Marines in the eradication of 'chimeres' until the Marines were replaced by foreign troops, paid by the United Nations, who took up the hunt on behalf of the civilised world - France, Canada, the US and Brazil.

The terrorists and the remains of the Duvalier tontons and the CIA-bred FRAPF declared open season on the remnants of Aristide's programmes to build democracy. They burnt down the new museum of Haitian culture, destroyed the children's television station and generally laid waste to anything and everything which could remind Haitians of their glorious history.

Haitians don't know that without their help Latin America might still be part of the Spanish Empire and Simon Bolivar a brief historical footnote.

Imagine, Niggers Speaking French!

About 90 years ago when Professor Woodrow Wilson was president of the USA, his secretary of state was a fundamentalist lawyer named William Jennings Bryan who had three times run unsuccessfully for president.

The Americans had decided to invade Haiti to collect debts owed by Haiti to Citibank.

General Smedley Butler, the only American soldier to have twice won the Congressional Medal of Honour, described his role in the US Army:

"I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half-a-dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long.

General Butler said: "I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. ... My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical in the military service." Butler compared himself unfavourably to Al Capone. He said his official racketeering made Capone look like an amateur.

Secretary Bryan was dumbfounded by the Haitians. "Imagine," he said, "Niggers speaking French!"

Smedley Butler and Bryan were involved in Haiti because of something that happened nearly a hundred years before. The French slave-masters, expelled from Haiti and defeated again when they tried to re-enslave the Haitians, connived with the Americans to starve them into submission by a trade embargo. With no sale for Haitian sugar, the country was weak and run-down when a French fleet arrived bearing a demand for reparations. Having bought their freedom in blood, the Haitians were to purchase it again in gold.

The French demanded, essentially, that the Haitians pay France an amount equivalent to 90 per cent of the entire Haitian budget for the foreseeable future. When this commitment proved too arduous to honour, the City Bank offered the Haitians a 'debt exchange", paying off the French in exchange for a lower-interest, longer-term debt. The terms may have seemed better but were just as usurious and it was not paid off until 1947.

Because of the debt the Americans invaded Haiti, seized the Treasury, exiled the president, their Jim Crow policies were used to divide the society, to harass the poor and finally provoked a second struggle for freedom which was one of the most brutal episodes in colonial history.

Long before Franco bombed Guernica, exciting the horror and revulsion of civilised people, the Americans perfected their dive-bombing techniques against unarmed Haitian peasants, many of whom had never seen aircraft before.

The Americans set up a Haitian Army in the image of their Jim Crow Marines, and it was these people, the alien and alienated √Člite who, with some conscripted blacks like the Duvaliers, have ruled Haiti for most of the last century.

When I flew over Haiti for the first time in 1959 en route from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, I saw for the first time the border between the green Dominican Republic and brown Haiti.

First-world journalists interpret the absence of trees on the Haitian side to the predations of the poor, disregarding the fact that Western religion and American capitalism were mainly responsible.

Why is it that nowhere else in the Caribbean is there similar deforestation?

Haiti's Dessalines constitution offered sanctuary to every escaped slave of any colour. All such people of whatever colour were deemed 'black' and entitled to citizenship. Only officially certified 'blacks' could own land in Haiti.

The American occupation, anticipating Hayek, Freedman and Greenspan, decided that such a rule was a hindrance to development. The assistant secretary of the US Navy, one Franklin D Roosevelt, was given the job of writing a new, modern constitution for Haiti.

This constitution meant foreigners could own land. Within a very short time the lumberjacks were busy, felling old growth Mahogany and Caribbean Pine for carved doors for the rich and mahogany speedboats, boardroom tables seating 40, etc. The devastated land was put to produce rubber, sisal for ropes and all sorts of pie in the sky plantations.

When President Paul Magloire came to Jamaica 50 years ago Haitians were still speaking of an Artibonite dam for electricity and irrigation. But the ravages of the recent past were too much to recover.

As Marguerite Laurent (EziliDanto) writes: Don't expect to learn how a people with a Vodun culture that reveres nature and especially the Mapou (oak-like or ceiba pendantra/bombax) trees, and other such big trees as the abode of living entities and therefore as sacred things, were forced to watch the Catholic Church, during Rejete - the violent anti-Vodun crusade - gather whole communities at gunpoint into public squares, and forced them to watch their agents burn Haitian trees in order to teach Haitians their Vodun Gods were not in nature, that the trees were the "houses of Satan".

In partnership with the US, the mulatto President Elie Lescot (1941-45) summarily expelled peasants from more than 100,000 hectares of land, razing their homes and destroying more than a million fruit trees in the vain effort to cultivate rubber on a large plantation scale. Also, under the pretext of the Rejete campaign, thousands of acres of peasant lands were cleared of sacred trees so that the US could take their lands for agribusiness.

After the Flood

Norman Manley used to say "River Come Down" when his party seemed likely to prevail. The Kreyol word Lavalas conveys the same meaning.

Since the Haitian people's decisive rejection of the Duvalier dictatorships in the early 90s, their spark and leader has been Jean-Bertrand Aristide whose bona fides may be assessed from the fact that the CIA and conservative Americans have been trying to discredit him almost from the word go.

As he put it in one of his books, his intention has been to build a paradise on the garbage heap bequeathed to Haiti by the US and the Elite.

The bill of particulars is too long to go into here, but the destruction of the new museum of Culture, the breaking up of the medical school, the destruction of the children's television station gives you the flavour. But the essence is captured in the brutal attempt to obliterate the spirit of Haitian community; the attempt to destroy Lavalas by murdering its men and raping its women, the American-directed subversion of a real police force, the attacks on education and the obliteration of the community self-help systems which meant that when Hurricane Jeanne and all the other weather systems since have struck Haiti, many more have died than in any other country similarly stricken. In an earthquake, totally unpredictable, every bad factor is multiplied.

The American blocking of international aid means that there is no modern water supply anywhere, no town planning, no safe roads, none of the ordinary infrastructure of any other Caribbean state. There are no building standards, no emergency shelters, no parks.

So, when I write about mothers unwittingly walking on dead babies in the mud, when I write about people so poor they must eat patties made of clay and shortening, when I write about people with their faces 'chopped off' or about any of eight million horror stories from the crime scene that is Haiti, please don't tell me you share their pain or mine.

Tell me, where is Lovinsky Pierre Antoine and ten thousand like him?

If you share my pain and their pain, why don't you stop causing it? Why don't you stop the torture?

If you want to understand me, look at the woman in the picture (above), and the children half-buried with her. You cannot hear their screams because they know there is no point in screaming. It will do no more good than voting.

What is she thinking: perhaps it is something like this - No, mister! You cannot share my pain!

Some time, perhaps after the camera is gone, people will return to dig us out with their bare hands. But not you.

Copyright©2010 John Maxwell

Haiti - a historical reference

The hate and the quake
Published on: 1/17/2010.
Nation News, Barbados


BY SIR HILARY BECKLES

THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES is in the process of conceiving how best to deliver a major conference on the theme Rethinking And Rebuilding Haiti.

I am very keen to provide an input into this exercise because for too long there has been a popular perception that somehow the Haitian nation-building project, launched on January 1, 1804, has failed on account of mismanagement, ineptitude, corruption.

Buried beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda, out of both Western Europe and the United States, is the evidence which shows that Haiti's independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy.

The evidence is striking, especially in the context of France.

The Haitians fought for their freedom and won, as did the Americans fifty years earlier. The Americans declared their independence and crafted an extraordinary constitution that set out a clear message about the value of humanity and the right to freedom, justice, and liberty.

In the midst of this brilliant discourse, they chose to retain slavery as the basis of the new nation state. The founding fathers therefore could not see beyond race, as the free state was built on a slavery foundation.

The water was poisoned in the well; the Americans went back to the battlefield a century later to resolve the fact that slavery and freedom could not comfortably co-exist in the same place.

The French, also, declared freedom, fraternity and equality as the new philosophies of their national transformation and gave the modern world a tremendous progressive boost by so doing.

They abolished slavery, but Napoleon Bonaparte could not imagine the republic without slavery and targeted the Haitians for a new, more intense regime of slavery. The British agreed, as did the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese.

All were linked in communion over the 500 000 Blacks in Haiti, the most populous and prosperous Caribbean colony.

As the jewel of the Caribbean, they all wanted to get their hands on it. With a massive slave base, the English, French and Dutch salivated over owning it - and the people.

The people won a ten-year war, the bloodiest in modern history, and declared their independence. Every other country in the Americas was based on slavery.

Haiti was freedom, and proceeded to place in its 1805 Independence Constitution that any person of African descent who arrived on its shores would be declared free, and a citizen of the republic.

For the first time since slavery had commenced, Blacks were the subjects of mass freedom and citizenship in a nation.

The French refused to recognise Haiti's independence and declared it an illegal pariah state. The Americans, whom the Haitians looked to in solidarity as their mentor in independence, refused to recognise them, and offered solidarity instead to the French. The British, who were negotiating with the French to obtain the ownership title to Haiti, also moved in solidarity, as did every other nation-state the Western world.

Haiti was isolated at birth - ostracised and denied access to world trade, finance, and institutional development. It was the most vicious example of national strangulation recorded in modern history.

The Cubans, at least, have had Russia, China, and Vietnam. The Haitians were alone from inception. The crumbling began.

Then came 1825; the moment of full truth. The republic is celebrating its 21st anniversary. There is national euphoria in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

The economy is bankrupt; the political leadership isolated. The cabinet took the decision that the state of affairs could not continue.

The country had to find a way to be inserted back into the world economy. The French government was invited to a summit.

Officials arrived and told the Haitian government that they were willing to recognise the country as a sovereign nation but it would have to pay compensation and reparation in exchange. The Haitians, with backs to the wall, agreed to pay the French.

The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical assets, the 500 000 citizens were who formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services.

The sums amounted to 150 million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France in return for national recognition.

The Haitian government agreed; payments began immediately. Members of the Cabinet were also valued because they had been enslaved people before independence.

Thus began the systematic destruction of the Republic of Haiti. The French government bled the nation and rendered it a failed state. It was a merciless exploitation that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society.

Haiti was forced to pay this sum until 1922 when the last instalment was made. During the long 19th century, the payment to France amounted to up to 70 per cent of the country's foreign exchange earnings.

Jamaica today pays up to 70 per cent in order to service its international and domestic debt. Haiti was crushed by this debt payment. It descended into financial and social chaos.

The republic did not stand a chance. France was enriched and it took pleasure from the fact that having been defeated by Haitians on the battlefield, it had won on the field of finance. In the years when the coffee crops failed, or the sugar yield was down, the Haitian government borrowed on the French money market at double the going interest rate in order to repay the French government.

When the Americans invaded the country in the early 20th century, one of the reasons offered was to assist the French in collecting its reparations.

The collapse of the Haitian nation resides at the feet of France and America, especially. These two nations betrayed, failed, and destroyed the dream that was Haiti; crushed to dust in an effort to destroy the flower of freedom and the seed of justice.

Haiti did not fail. It was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth, both of which continue to have a primary interest in its current condition.

The sudden quake has come in the aftermath of summers of hate. In many ways the quake has been less destructive than the hate.

Human life was snuffed out by the quake, while the hate has been a long and inhumane suffocation - a crime against humanity.

During the 2001 UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa, strong representation was made to the French government to repay the 150 million francs.

The value of this amount was estimated by financial actuaries as US$21 billion. This sum of capital could rebuild Haiti and place it in a position to re-engage the modern world. It was illegally extracted from the Haitian people and should be repaid.

It is stolen wealth. In so doing, France could discharge its moral obligation to the Haitian people.

For a nation that prides itself in the celebration of modern diplomacy, France, in order to exist with the moral authority of this diplomacy in this post-modern world, should do the just and legal thing.

Such an act at the outset of this century would open the door for a sophisticated interface of past and present, and set the Haitian nation free at last.

l Sir Hilary Beckles is pro-vice-chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, UWI.

The past that haunts

I dreamed about him again. The one who shattered my heart into a million pieces- damage that has taken days, weeks, months, years of surgery, psycho and physio therapy to regain a semblance of normalcy. But like a survivor or trauma, I have flashbacks that deeply unnerve me. They happen in my dreams.

It's easy to be collected when conscious, but it is in the realm of the unconscious that I seem to unravel.

It was a pure love. A true love. One that desired nothing but validation. But how can one be validated by another who cannot validate himself?

His words seem to haunt me like a curse: "No matter where you are, whether you are married, I will find you." The selfish bastard who could not see beyond himself. I have let him go in tangible ways. I made him take me to the airport when I first migrated from Jamaica. I knew it was our final goodbye. He was the major reason why I wanted so badly to leave my country and settled for the Island Behind God's Back. We do not speak. I have nothing to say. I have asked him not to make any contact. But still... he haunts like a curse.

I am over him. I certainly don't want him back. I just haven't been able to forget. I am not certain that is such a bad thing. It's just fucking annoying.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A new way to think about creativity



I got this from a writing group based in Atlanta that I am a part of. Harlem Mama took me to a meeting last year and it felt good to be among like minds.

This is for everyone with a book or any other creative project in them.

A new way to think about creativity



I got this from a writing group based in Atlanta that I am a part of. Harlem Mama took me to a meeting last year and it felt good to be among like minds.

This is for everyone with a book in them.

Beef Soup for Cloudcutter



There it is... tonight's pumpkin beef soup. The white thing is boiled dumplings and there is of course lots of pumpkin, beef, potatoes, carrots, thyme and pimento.

I guess I am killing two birds with one stone: cooking meals and practicing my food photography.

Tuesday's child

Today is Pumpkin Beef Soup Day in my kitchen. It takes forever for the beef stew to cook but it is such a lovely meal. I am feeling kinda soupy these days, can you tell?

Today's Green Juice

Romaine Lettuce
Celery
Pak Choi
Parsley
Carrot

Back in front of the camera

A Trini guy (Trinidadian) is putting on a weekly Caribbean theme night at a night club here and he has asked me to do some promotional interviews for him for use on facebook and his website when it launches. So tonight I will be heading there to help him. I am doing it pro bono, but at least it gives me a chance to practice. Haven't been on camera in a while and I miss it. I find that even if I take long breaks, the momet the camera starts rolling, I am back into character.

Full Circle

I have actually reviewed my approach to getting work and have decided that I will only target jobs that really interest me and not just vacancies I am competent at filling. Therefore, for the most part, I am targeting broadcast production and presentation gigs. I am best suited in a creative environment in which I have an outlet for creative expression and meet with like minds who speak the same language.

Media credits and photography are not as hard to reuse in different markets and I enjoy them.

Monday, January 18, 2010

No ordinary Monday

Today I resumed my workout routine after a 5 month break. I can't believe it's been that long but time flies when you are having fun or doing nothing.

Yesterday I was told that a group of 4 in the complex were starting a six week weight loss programme and they invited me in on it. It starts Wednesday. Everybody is doing his/her own programme with a few rules: six meals per day, lots of water, min 20 mins exercise 3x per week for six weeks with a weekly weigh in and before and after measurements and body fat calculations. I am stoked. Especially since I was doing my thing on my own anyway. This at least gives added motivation.


I am doing a six week rotation of Slim in 6 by Debbie Siebers. This is a 6 day rotation for 6 weeks. Here is how it goes:

Week 1
* Start It Up!
Introduces you to the basic Slim Training moves for burning calories and reshaping your body. (25 minutes)

Week 2
* Ramp It Up!
Helps you burn more calories each day to accelerate your results. (48 minutes)

Week 3,4,5,6
* Burn It Up!
Takes slimming and toning to the next level to complete your body reshaping. (60 minutes)

Because the programme increases in intensity for the first three weeks and you are burning after that for at least an hour per session, results can be very impressive if followed religiously and if lifestyle changes are made.

Note that I am not trying to get to my fitness goal in 6 weeks. I just want a 6 week jump start instead of going straight for a 3 month programme, which I will follow up with, changing programmes every 3 months to avoid plateaus and overuse. The overall plan is to work out 6days per week everyday for the rest of the year, hit my top fitness level by August 1 and be toned to (MY) perfection by December 31. I will then go into maintenance mode which is 2-4 times per week for the rest of my life. That's the plan. It's not a short term plan. It's a long term plan.

It therefore means no babies just yet. At least, not until the night of December 31, 2010. Not that we are ready for them anyway. I need to get in shape first don't I? Otherwise I will be packing 250lbs post pregnancy and that is a recipe for postpartum depression.

I am still going to cook goodies though and experiment in the kitchen. It just means that I will invite people over for dinner. I don't want to be a slave to fitness. I just need to get back on track and stay there. Simple. It takes one word: Commitment.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Johnny Cakes (Jamaican Fried Dumplings)



I made these as requested by the hostess for a Jamaican brunch last weekend in Sharjah. She is a fantabulous cook, but admitted that her fried dumplings were not the best. Having earned high marks from ESC for mine repeatedly, I agreed to do them for the brunch. Mine are light, flaky and delicious. I use Imelda's recipe. This was the first time I made so many. All of 1 kg flour. I don't cook according to recip so I just estimate things. Smartly, I decided to do two different batches instead of making a big one that flopped. Not one was left. That little missing piece was broken off by someone on the way to the table.

Seafood Pasta in Cream Sauce a La ESC




This is a shrimp and mussel dish that my hubby cooked up for me. The delights of having my very own personal chef! I call him my short order cook (to his chagrin) because he is very compliant and can cook elaborately in a jiffy. I love pasta and his experience working in an Italian restaurant is quite handy. I know Italians eat much more than pasta, but usually, I just ask for pasta too keep things a little simple. He says he will make Ravioli from scratch for me one day.

The sauce was made iwth heavy cream, piccorino romano and parsley added at the end. Shrimp and mussels we sauteed in EVOO and onions and garlic first.

Tiger Shrimp Tea



Tiger Shrimp Soup with Okra. Kinda like fish tea but milder on the "fishy" bit. Full of pepper and spicy. Fish "Tea" is so named because it is a light broth and all other Jamaican soups are thick. We call every hot beverage "Tea" in Jamaica. So don't be surprised if you ask for "tea" and someone asks, "Cocoa Tea, Milo Tea, Chocolate Tea, Mint Tea?" We even have a popular reggae artiste who goes by the name "Cocoa Tea."

The shrimp was less "fishy" than regular fish and I used one whole. I also cheated and had chicken in there for additional stock without having to use more shrimp to flavour the pot. Instead of Jamaican scotch bonnet peppers, I substituted with hot green chili peppers.

ESC loved it so till he went back for seconds. He thought it had more than a mild aphrodisiac effect. I think it's mind over matter. Dude just gets trigger happy when I surprise him in the kitchen. But you wont hear me complain!

Escoveitch Sprat



Think of a ceviche with onions, carrots, hot Jamaican scotch bonnet peppers, pimento/all-spice/Jamaican pepper, cane vinegar but with fried fish instead of raw. It is an Easter treat in Jamaica. I am way ahead of Ash Wednesday this year. ESC loved it so much that he grabbed the entire bowl and offered me the heads.

Sheer Almshouse's Crusty Harddough Bread




This is my first attempt at baking bread. Imelda does it all the time and is my inspiration for breadmaking and general cookery. I said it was the last time... until I tasted it. Yumza!

Tell story fi peas soup

Peas Soup is a Jamaican tradition from the array of Saturday Soups cooked in homes across my island home. Saturday is market day and we celebrate the freshest ingredients by pretty much putting them all to simmer in a big pot of soup.

Our soups are meals unto themselves. Filled with dumplings, carrots, cho-cho (christophine), potatoes, sweet potatoes, dasheen, cocoa root, any yam available, and "meat kind" ranging from beef stew to chicken to salt-ting (salted beef or salted pig tails) and if it is peas soup, either red kidney beans or pigeon peas. Sometimes a combination of fresh beef and 'pig tail' is used; fresh beef and salted beef, or just fresh beef or chicken on their own. Chicken foot soup and "fish tea" are categories all on their own either loved or despised and all soups but the latter must be thick and full bodied. In fact, the rule of peas soup is that a wooden spoon must be able to stand on its own in the centre of the pot when done.

I love soup. So does ESC.

So today, I am making my own peas soup for the very first time in over 4 years.

This time, I had to salt fresh pig tail farzin to say, dose tings not available in Muslim country. I had to travel far to get me some piggly wiggly curlies imported from Kenya.

I am also making Jamaican harddough bread from scratch- for the first and probably the last time until I get a proper standing mixer. My hat goes off to Imelda. There is a reason why it is called harddough.. you knead it backside till yuh hand dem hurt yuh hard hard. But because I missing home so much, I seem to be craving things I never make and am willing to go an extra 50 miles to get them.

Since ESC is not a pork eater, I will use fresh beef with just one tail for a likkle sumpting extra.

I may also bake a pumpkin pudding that I saw online. If it comes out well, I will post it here and give you the recipe.

It seems like yours truly will be spending all day in the kitchen.

Weekend free paper bun

Can I tell you? Mi nah lie. Sometime him just upset mi soulcase, but most time, mi just haffi just thank God for the man mi married. What make? Well, for starters, we really honestly sincerely genuinely enjoy each other's company. No joke. No need for an agenda either, though doing things together is also much fun... we just like each other.

So every Sunday morning, which is the beginning of the Middle Eastern work week, we both hug up in bed and get mushy and dont want to part. Luckily, because he is the most senior chef in his restaurant, his days off (2) coincide with the weekend so we get to see friends who would not have been available otherwise. He often goes into the office for at least a portion of one of his weekend days but we try to work such demands around our plans.

We have also been getting lots of invitations to dinner parties and get togethers. Dubai is the place for married couples and families. He says he has never had so many invited here, with people actually trying to plan around his often times very unpredictable schedule. I have heard many women complain here that it is hard to be single in Dubai. I guess some single people lyme differently from married people and people who have people who are waiting on them at home, or have to get up and get children fed and ready for activities may not want to party all night till daylight but are they really mutually exclusive? I didn't have half as many couple invitations when I was since but in the Caribbean, the marriage statistics are much less. So I throw it to you...

Are single people and married people incompatible in terms of lyming "hanging out" agenda and procedure?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Finalmente

I finally submitted my business card in order to be added to the list of wedding photographers at church. Now we just sit and wait and say a few prayers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New years resolutions?

Have you made any? What are they? I would love to hear all the exciting things you have planned for 2010.

This is the first time in years that I haven't really penciled a list of things to achieve in 365-6 days. I couldn't think of anything except:

"Just live."

But as I walked around the apartment in my cycle shorts looking as cute as a chocolate muffin, it became apparent that I had to revisit the single resolution. I still don't want to bog down myself with a list of things I feel I must achieve but there is at least one thing that stands out. Bellytwo is back (Imelda's moniker for my softy belly).

I revisited the plans I had for the decade... and those to accomplish before turning 30 and I realize that they were good, realistic plans all along and even though I have accomplished many of them, there was one thing that needed CONSISTENT attention: MY FITNESS.

So I married a chef. We both enjoy food, though I may just have the edge on him, especially since I fancy eating off his plate in addition to mine. I must say that ESC is in way better shape than me. My 20s have been a roller-coaster ride and I haven't yet been able to find consistency in a life that is anything but consistent and predictable.

And yes, the overarching excuse I gave myself over the decade of yo-yo fit and flab spurts is that I would be in my best shape EVER at 30. Note the preposition. Not "after," not "during," not "by." "At" 30.

Turns out I have seven months to go to hit "at 30." Turns out that 30 may also coincide with honeymoon and exotic vacation (as long as we can recover from the two tickets worth of money I gave away to the pick-pocket at the supermarket yesterday). OK bright people, a candy for the first person to get my first resolution for 2010.

You guessed it!!

To RESOLVE the fitness issue permanently and be in my best shape ever AT 30.


Just so you know... that is like a million little resolutions all packed into one.

I have another on the professional front:

To print, frame and sell my photos and continue to manifest my God-given talent through my photography and make some money.

That's it. Only two. No need to climb the Himalayas or swim the Nile. Just bust some sweat and push myself outside my comfort zone. If you know anything about big changes like I do, you know that it takes many little ones to accomplish them. Perhaps then fittest ever at 30 and selling fine art gallery prints are in some ways my Himalayas and my Nile.

I don't want to make any pronouncement to ESC. I don't even want him to see me exercising (which will be difficult since we share a studio apt). I just want the compliments when he notices that I have regained some flexibility here and there and my butt stands up more in my jeans and I have exchanged my stomach (Bellytwo) for abs.

When do I start?

Tomorrow. (Go ahead-laugh all you want). I am going to warm up my body for the rest of the week on the Slim in 6 routine and then get going with a 6 week cycle starting Sun with six days on one day off. I may do two cycles then do a round of Power 90 and a 90 day round of Power 90 Master Series. Who knows? I may even start tonight!

Fact of the matter is that both resolutions really will allow me to "Just live!"

Pickpocketed in Dubai

Now ... I haven't been able to get over it myself. It happened last night. I went to the supermarket and after nearly 3 hrs of shopping (it's expansive and I am meticulous) I left lighter than I went. Close to 1000USD lost plus two drivers' licenses for two different countries, some business cards, my metro/bus card and the purse that my Amazonian Goddess cousin gave me in NY right before I came here.

So... I am most upset. But mostly with me. I was damn stupid. I let my guard down. There is a reason why I have never been pick-pocketed in my life even though I am from crime central- I am street smart. At least, I was.

Right now, I am just a silly housewife who has managed to lose the remainder of her entire household budget (including bill payment) in one go... money that her husband works his ass off to earn. He is taking it supercool. He is the quintessential Easy Skanking Chef. In moments like these, I come face to face with a man who has so much character and that I am really happy that I picked him of the lot. But lawd.. it bun me. It hurt me man. Everything.

Now having managed to find the pigs tail (pork tails) two days before and bacon and pork belly, all we have to eat is pork and seafood and one cornished hen for the rest of the month. Luckily I have roughly 100USD that I didn't withdraw that will help me to buy things like flour, eggs, milk and chicken.... and I will most definitely have to go back to eating every single meal from home. We were supposed to host friends for an oxtail supper (overdue from November) but I dont know if I will be able to swing it since the damn thing is so expensive. I will definitely buy some kidney beans though because with all this salted pig tails (which I have salted myself) I see a LOT of red peas soup and stew peas in my very near future.

Luckily, the pantry wasn't empty... we only needed to get meat and more veg really. I have enough rice to feed a village... it's just the fillers.

I was going to make him harddough bread from scratch last night but couldn't since I ended up having to leave everything in the basket at the supermarket. I could have used the debit card if only it wasn't also in the damn purse.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Behave like an idiot and stupid things happen to you. Why did I not leave some of the money at home? Why did I not carry my BBT (bag between tits) like I always do? Why did I, a street smart girl from Kingston manage to be stolen out of house and home in one fell swoop in a country that is not known for violence? I let my guard down. NEVER again!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Testing 1, 2, 3

Just testing to see if comments are allowed on this post... no need to reply.

A Scrapbooker is made!

I got her the prettiest purple scrapbook with blue green ribbons. She loved it! She has been taking pics of all her visitors so now she has something to stick those pics and all her cards, etc. She is excited about the project and eagerly started on it as soon as she opened the gift.

I wish scrapbooks were that pretty when I was her age. I had to settle for the school-grade plane red stapled one from Kingston Bookshop with white leaves. She is an avid reader so she has gotten many books. So this one gets her imagination going in an entirely new direction.

I am not certain why comments were removed from the previous post- I didn't adjust any of the settings- but let's hope that it is back for this one.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Starting 2010 right

We have been talking. Lots and lots and lots and lots. And we have been spending almost all of his free time together. We have been going places and learning new things together. And everything improves as a result.

He even managed to get me to agree to have 15 people in our studio apartment for a send off party for one of his kitchen staff.

We had three parties in 24hrs. The staff party, a Jamaican brunch in Sharjah (a neighbouring Emirate to Dubai) and a party at a beach side residence on Palm Island.

Church is a must this Friday. It's been too long. He agrees. The alarms are set both for bedtime prior and wake-up time on Fri. Friday is Sunday in the Muslim world so all religious meetings are held on Friday- even Christian. Sunday is the beginning of the work week which runs until Thur.

We got a phaleopnopsis (Sp) orchid and a copy of Enid Donaldson's "The Real Taste of Jamaica" as gifts from Jamaican families here. So I am going to Ikea to get a pot for the orchid. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it. I may come back with a magazine rack and some other organisation pieces.

I am also going to visit my 9yo friend who is in hospital treating an infected finger. She is a treat and I know that hospital stays are hard on children. I cant figure what to get her yet... I think I will try to find a scrapbook.
 
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