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.
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