Friday, February 29, 2008

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost published this in 1923, constructed in the iambic tetrameter, this poem was a favourite of Frost's and he considered it his "best bid for remembrance". Frost's poem has come represent many things to many people, Pundit Jawarhalal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, is rumoured to have kept a framed copy in his office.

This was one of the poems that I had to deconstruct in university for Introduction to Poetry which every student of English must do. As someone who has a more than passing acquaintance with depression it has much meaning with it's references to darkest evening of the year and the lovely, deep darkness of woods and long sleep. It is quite beautiful but it is also frightening because one interpretation is that this poem is about suicide. I don't know if this was Frost's intention, dark woods and trees were a preoccupation of the poet; but despite or maybe because of it's seeming darkness, Stopping by the woods has become a part of popular culture and has been quoted in many movies, television programmes and cartoons. Every so often, when I become weary I re-visit it. As a writer, I admire the simplicity and poignancy of the verse. And I know, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Wail, wail, knash, knash, ack! In case I was in any doubt that I was over the hill, my ride home yesterday destroyed any illusions I might have been harbouring. Do you know it's been 25, count 'em, 25 years since Michael Jackson released Thriller! Bloody hell, where did the time go! They've just released an anniversary edition. For goodness sake, they were playing Beat It at my high school graduation a year after this album was released. Okay, I sort of realise that the music I listened to as a teenager has been relegated to the "classics" station but when I think "classic" rock or whatever I think of the Beatles, the Eagles, California dreaming/surf or heavy metal as played by Zepplin, Who, Ozzy and Black Sabbath etc. They were around playing arenas before I was born, well, the Beatles and the Stones anyway.

You know how awful it is to realise while grooving to Lovestoned that Justin Timberlake is almost young enough to be your son...well if you was really, really active in your youth and I'm not telling. I'm not ready to trade in my motorbike for a rocking chair. Of course, I should have known that the downward slide was well underway when I started to dread going to all night concerts and crowded bars.

Breathe, breathe, it's going to be alright, even if you do remember when Michael Jackson was a black man and big hair was the order of the day. There are good things about getting older though, that pesky self doubt has been replaced by the certainty of knowing you are always right. No matter what. Because I said so. Hah, do you know how long I've been waiting to be able to say that with conviction. Now I can and no one looks at me and falls over laughing, my laugh lines ( I don't have wrinkles) entitle me to belong to that club. I also don't feel in the least bit guilty about not wearing high, high heels all the time or not being a size four. What the heck, I'm older, I'm entitled to some middle aged spread dammit! I can also listen to opera and the classics, sit around read my book and drink red wine instead of frantically planning the next lime and the next lime without being at all concerned that people might think I was dead if I wasn't out one night of the week.

Haha, see, this is liberating. Think I 'm going to haul my (toned) butt down to the CD shop and get me another copy of Thriller, it'll be nice to hear Vincent Price rapping after all this time. And for all you young punks out there sneering, let me remind you, as you sample away, many of the huge so-called hits over the last ten years have borrowed extensively the music of my generation. Why don't you come up with some stuff of your own eh.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Who sen' mih out dere. Yes, I ventured out into Port of Spain again. In four inch heels no less. As cute as they are, dusty purple, round toed with gathers, ankle strap and a teeny bow, four inch heels are four inch heels and are not made for stalking around uneven pavements. Especially not pavements with people domiciled on them. Damage to my shoes aside, I find it intensely disturbing that a man could die in a drain by the side of a busy street and no one notice for ages as happened earlier this week.

I am surprised? Nope. it's just another symptom of our decaying society. As the wealthiest Caribbean country we have one of the worst track records when it comes to health and social issues. I've come to the conclusion that Trinis love being martyrs otherwise we'd be a lot less accepting. As we stumble along the road to 2020, lined as it were with the Waterfront Development, Government Campus and other visible monuments to our success as a first world nation, I wonder whether anyone is paying attention to the fact that our "civilisation" is falling down around our ears.

I think I need to cut down on my trips round the capital city, they're disturbing my zen and ruining my shoe heels. Maybe if I hide in my ivory tower I too can avoid the unpleasantness at least until it's time to sit in the traffic to go home. Sorry, didn't mean to be a downer but you know, the destruction of my shoes heels must stop, oh yeah and if we could fix the other stuff, that would be nice too....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


It's a love thing...

Let me start by saying, I do not have an Imelda Marcos complex, I own only 43 pairs of shoes. I am nowhere in the class of my friend Mark who stopped counting after he got to 150 something. One of the girl's in my department who, at last count, I think mentioned 300. She must have a shoe room.

I think my weird relationship with shoes stems from a childhood cruelty of having to wear Clark's Mary Janes when I really wanted to be running around in flip flops or barefoot. After all, I spent most of my time up trees, in the duck pond and other like activities. Girly shoes and clothes certainly did not fit the lifestyle. My mother, a woman surrounded by a whacking seven brothers must have had all these frustrated longings to dress up her little girl who really just wanted to be one of the boys. I suspect however my mother might have preferred this situation to have continued when I became a teenager to escape my constant whining for pretty shoes and clothes to go to parties in. Let's just say the primary school caterpillar turned into the high school social butterfly, not however the type that John Waters made movies about. I was Ally Sheedy to Lisa's Molly RIngwald.

Buying shoes started to represent independence for me or so I like to justify it. I could never have afforded the range or variety that I see my friends getting their kids now. In my day, you had school shoes, usually brown Mary Janes or later, white sneakers and going out/church shoes, some awful white things as I recall. In between there were the ever present flip flops or a pair of sandals. Quite damaging to my emerging girl psyche.

My first job didn't pay well but Ate Logo was my best friend, all kinds of real leather shoes. Who knew you could buy colours other than black/brown/white/navy blue! Oooh it was heaven. In my line of work you have to look a certain way and I do the needful but the part I really enjoy is the shoes. Some people are into fixing up their houses, some people collect cars or jewels. I like to look at my happy little collection with rainbow colours, different heel heights, styles - strappy, pumps, peep toes. Whoo hoo. This addiction to nice shoes if you will is not fattening like chocolate, depending on what I buy, not as expensive as fine art or jewellry and they make me feel good. What's not to love.

Monday, February 25, 2008

An then...

You know I've alluded elsewhere on this blog that my office is next to a POS prestige school. There are days however, I wonder if the administration of the school knows what goes in their cafeteria. Now despite what you might think, I don't really pay a whole lot of attention to what takes place outside my window unless it affects us over here. But I have to tell you, the on-going soap opera of the people next door! Wow!

I and my staff who meet in my office from time to time, have intimate knowledge of the people's business, conducted as it were at top volume. Most days we hear about the travails of man and wife as they sometimes put the Young and Restless to shame. I'll spare you the sorry details but we try not to listen but it's hard to miss. I've even had people on the phone comment on it so that should tell you.

Today, they're in full cry and I have to wonder again how deaf are the school jefes. And why would you ventilate your business like that to all and sundry? Do they enjoy the drama? I wonder what the parents who pride themselves on the "prestige" of this school would make of this...or the fact that the little darlings walk over the roof onto our wall and through the fire escape route to "break biche". But that's another story. On occasion we have thought that we might have to call the police or somebody to intervene in the warfare in progress though has sounded like someone may yet kill someone, I fervently hope it never gets to that.

You might think that I spend the day minding the business of next door but quite frankly, I would happily miss out on the almost heart attack prompted by the unexpected sight of a disembodied head suddenly appearing on the wall outside the lunchroom.

Driving my life away

As Carrie in Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker used to sit on her bed and tap out her by-line on her trusty Mac every episode. Women all over the world wanted to be Carrie, never mind she looks somewhat like a horse in cooky clothes. She had great shoes, interesting boyfriends, and seemingly, a life. Her job was almost an afterthought. She wrote a book in between romancing Big, Mikhail Baryshnikov etc hanging out in cool bars with her cool friends dammit! Who knew you could do that?
Fortunately Carrie is a fictional character loosely based on the life of her creator Candace Bushnell and I content myself in knowing Ms Bushnell probably had to work at it a lot harder!

As much as I have spent half of my professional life churning out words, both as a writer and as a manager with hundreds of reports/memos etc I'm not half as lucky as Carrie. Sure, I own some great shoes but no where near the Manolos or Jimmy Choos and not a snowball's chance in hell of getting near them. But I don't let that bother me, after all, they're only shoes right. Right?

Nah, as I sit whiling away my life reading interminable reports, writing yet another useless communications plan that will be ignored or cleaning up the fall out from the ignored plan, I am warmed by the thought that my life has some meaning, some purpose to it. I'm not quite sure what right now but I'll get back to you on that. As I sit in traffic trying to get to the office every morning losing years off my life I know that my contribution to nation building will not go amiss, never mind that it takes me half an hour to travel three feet. Or else why would I do this? Unlike Carrie, mine is a higher calling, a mission if you will and I will not be deterred by the indifference, surly staff or bad customer service. I almost feel like Mel Gibson in Braveheart, FREEDOM from the tyranny of (insert name of organisation here), freedom for the workers......

Okay, you're forgiven for thinking that I lost my mind while watching the Oscars last night. You can attribute my above lapse to 1) the copious amounts of super spliff that my neighbours smoke under my bedroom windows, lack of sleep caused by said neighbours loud partying at 4:30 am three days in a row, the cumulative effect of carbon monoxide fumes from the traffic or the noise being made by the teenagers at the prestige school next to my office, so loud that they drown out anyone on the phone - did I really have a conversation if my lips were moving and no one could hear me?

So I think in the interest of maintaining some balance in my life, I will have to go visit A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do ay.

Friday, February 22, 2008

It's been how long?!

What a week this has been. My fellow management grunts and I have seriously considered a hit on a colleague who shall remain nameless. If something happens to him I had nothing to do with it, I take the well being of my karma seriously. On a much nicer note, having not spoken to any of my particular high school friends in something like twenty odd years I heard from two of them in the same day. It felt REALLY good. Neither live here anymore and were a little surprised to find out that I did. Okay I was the last person expected to stay here what can I say, times change. I came back and all that.

The last time I'd spoken to Shirley twenty years ago, she and hubby were getting ready to go off to the States. They now have three kids, two of whom have had near death experiences. Shirley was a sweet girl and she's grown up to be a lovely, strong woman. I'd stumbled across a contact for her on the Internet and we've been e-mailing since Wednesday. I was so happy she called today, it really took me back. And then this afternoon Mark called. I haven't spoken to him since 1984. No he was not a boy friend, he was one of the gang. Marks's stepmother used to breed Doberman Pinchers which contributed greatly to lifelong love affair with the breed. Oh yeah, now you know when I did O Levels. Well we certainly had some times then.....

Ah, it was the Big eighties, we all had big hair, oversized clothes - man we had no fashion sense at all! Madonna was going through her lace/net/rubber bracelet phase, ugh. I shudder when I see some of those pictures though I admit, I still get a kick out of my streaked hair. It was fun. Never mind the weed/coke pusher on the corner, the music was happening and we had some terribly good times in Dairy Queen and were thrown out of KFC on more than one occasion. In those days we could make a portion of fries and a large coke last a long time. And that was for four of us. We didn't have a lot of money but we sure as heck had a lot of style and we conquered our world best we could.

In the twenty some odd years since we've all gone our separate ways Shirley, Annie, Lisa and I -we've been married, divorced, had kids or not, had a lifetime of experiences that make us who we are. And yet, there is still something that makes me smile when I think of these girls who I spent so much time dressing up with, sharing my dreams, gabbing about boyfriends, breaking up with boyfriends, failing exams and moaning, passing exams and going to Dairy Queen. Let's not forget "breaking biche" to go the movies or hang out at various houses with parents at work. These girls and a few other people represented some of the best moments in my life and I'm thankful to them for putting up with me.

I have however, developed much better dress sense thankfully. I have also had some other very good friends who I've lost along the way, but that's okay, I had them. Best of all, though most days I wear the corporate suit and toned down hair and at a time when I'm questioning some of the crap in my current life,thanks to Shirley I am minded of that girl who's anthem was Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride". I am reminded that in me there still beats the heart of a true bohemian, who in her dreams has cherry red hair to go with my bunch of dragon tattoos.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Blogging 365

You know when I started this blog, it was really to write about the more positive aspects of what was going on around me. I figured there was enough negative crap out there, why add some more. It's not turned out that way I'm afraid. There are many days when I face my keyboard and rant. One of the reasons I don't post so often is that it's very easy to get caught up in a cycle of ugh and not so much the other stuff. And I'm trying not to do that.

Today, I reluctantly ventured out into the streets of Port of Spain. Having teetered from the Library back to my office yesterday, wearing four inch stilettos, canary yellow if you must know, I was loath to experience the capital city up close and personal again. Let's face it, the sidewalks are bad and the addition of vagrant do and vagrants can be hard to take. But out I sallied, admittedly today's shoes were a tad more practical. Comparatively speaking that is, they're brown suede, peep-toe wedges. And gorgeous they are too.

Port of Spain used to be a nice looking city before it was overrun by ugly concrete monstrosities and the ever present stench of drain and vagrant. But clearly we like it like that or we'd make someone do something right. And as I made my way up the narrow, cracked sidewalk, constantly having to move out of the way of hordes of surly, ill mannered, "prestige school" going children hogging the entire pavement, I wasn't really surprised that we allow our capital city to look like a dump. If the so called cream of the crop were so rude and ill trained why are we amazed that no one holds anyone to account. But I don't blame the kids, after all, they're just emulating their lovely parents who have been known to park indiscriminately on both sides of the road. Who stop dead without warning in the middle of the street blocking all traffic, to fling open their car doors to either let off or pick up the little teenaged darlings. This behaviour is repeated around the corner at the primary school as well. Start them early I say!

These and other like rituals are enacted daily around our fair country. Women drivers who do not acknowledge when someone stops to let them out, or drive so badly they make you wince for them. Taxi drivers, clerks who steups at you, the list is endless. Buddhists believe (to simplify) the world is a mirror, what you put out comes back to you. The more negative you are, the more toxic your surroundings and I believe there is truth in this. Think about it. Isn't your day a whole lot nicer when someone does something nice for you or acknowledges when you do something for them? Of course. So when you have a bunch of rude, awful, unkind, discourteous folk what might you get. You think?

Monday, February 18, 2008

De Boissiere House

I am pissed. I could could get vex about all the stupidness that goes on here. Cutting down the hills for endless ugly house, traffic, stupidity, bad drivers; we all know the list is endless. A day in the life "paradise" is often fraught. I want to remind people sometimes, when they talk about making this country a "hub of commerce" or a "first world nation", this is where people come to escape the worst of those types of places.

We so damn lucky here we take everything for granted not acknowledging that it may all be gone before we blink. Lest I slip into nostalgia, I do remember a time when kids rode their bikes on the street, you knew your neighbours and people actually showed some courtesy to each other. And I'm not even that old!

Instead,we seem to have adopted the worst behaviours and lost our sense. On Saturday I drove with a friend, another woman, to Chaguaramas. I love being on or near the water and we went there to breathe. In a way it was almost like being in a different world. My friend and I, while enjoying the ambience and reminiscing about a time when we could actually get out of the car were saddened to note the incursions being made. This is the Caribbean that people outside long for, the trees, water lapping against the shore, sunlight, quiet. When I worked outside of Trinidad my colleagues were all envious that I had a ready escape back to something they considered divine.

I wish they knew. Instead I breathe the carbon monoxide fumes, have respitory illness due to the polluted air and sick building syndrome. I watch while our beautiful historic buildings are swept aside to make way for featureless, concrete monstrosities with no personality, no identity. Nothing to celebrate the very differentness of "we".

I'm asking you if you read this blog, visit the link on the right and see for yourself what we might be losing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

50 years of Grammy

Hey did anyone catch the Grammy's last night? I fell over laughing when Vince Gill, white bread country boy, dissed Kanye West. I don't care how talented people say Kanye is, I think he's full of shit. His ego is so large it's amazing it could fit in the room. There were truly famous people in there. Learn some humility bwoy, when you get like the Beatles or Ray Charles and your music is an institution then you can boast like you've been doing.

I'd stopped watching the Grammy's a few years back, they stopped being interesting or maybe I'm just too old to appreciate what passes for music these days. Okay, I still love music, I buy CD's and download's but I find there are very few thing now that have the staying power of many songs that we consider standards. Last night proved that in some ways, many young "superstars" were paired up with icons. Let me tell you, Rihanna looked stupid next to The Time, and the Time is one of the campest bands around. Beyonce and her weave were pale in comparison to Ms Tina Turner, that sister can move. Oh Beyonce gave it a good shot but Tina's husky rasp, fabulous figure (she's over sixty!) and cool moves were amazing. I want to be her, when I grow up!

And can anyone say yay for Amy Winehouse. The singer, under pressure for her drug taking, was denied an entry visa to the US to perform, cleaned up with her song Rehab. It's sad that Amy is probably going to be another rock n roll statistic but damn that girl is good! Amy, I hope you do go to rehab and are around a long time but if not, then that's what was meant to be.

You certainly couldn't beat Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and John Fogarty belting out standards like Good Golly Miss Molly and Great Balls of Fire. People were up and dancing. It was infectious, you know rap might be the thing but it sure as hell does not inspire all kinds of people to get up and dance. These songs were around long before I was born as was much of the Beatles music. They were my mom's generation but Let It Be is still one of my favorite songs of all time. Largely for the same reason I like Eminem, the music speaks to me.

To everything there is a season and music is most representative of this. But it is delightful to know, even though it has been thirty years since the Beatles stopped performing together, their music continues to reach new fans. Tina can still shake it with the best of them, and Josh Groban may yet turn out to be one of those voices with staying power. " You better be good to me, that's how it's gotta be......"

Thursday, February 7, 2008

For Blue

I didn't play mas this year. Again. For the third year in a row. If that were not enough, I didn't do ANYTHING Carnival. Okay, I know, it's so not like me or who people think I am. But you know, people change and all that.

I confess, I haven't changed that much, I just couldn't get into the whole thing this year. The importance of manic feteing, overpriced costume, same old, same old.

Has Carnival lost it's wonder and magic for me? I had a lot of time to contemplate that while slapped on Cream Silk paint in my front room. Lay off me with the Cream coloured paint thing, it's very soothing. The therapy involved in balancing on a six foot ladder with a wonky knee is endless, you concentrate. You also realise how really, really, trust me on this, really, grotty that front room gets from all the road traffic and then it dawns, I'm breathing in this stuff, ARG. The cogniscent part of my mind was playing with the idea of abandoning house and hound and hightailing it down to a mas camp, at that stage any mas camp would do and mortgaging what was left of my soul for a costume.

I only just managed to contain myself, largely spurred by the extra large credit card crisis brought on by a retail therapy trip to Target/Macy's/Nine West et al. It was hard. I was awfully depressed for quite a while, and at that point, it was only Sunday. And then I thought of my fellow blogger Blue who was experiencing Mas for the first time as a non-spectator this year.

I remembered my first time climbing into costume, I think I was about 11 or so. It was Red Cross Kiddies Carnival, we charged around the stage, private school kiddies playing at "mas" before it was hip for "our kind" to be doing so. It was Indian mas and we had a ball making those costumes, sticking on the sequins, gold dots and feathers. Those costumes were so beautiful in our eyes, of course now, looking back you have to admit they were pretty lame in comparison to the other kids who were veterans of the Kiddie Mas. Those kids had an arsenal of mummies, grannies, uncles etc, all committed to the cause. Now they really had a good time.

It is that early memory that keeps me going. Even though I had featured in several school plays, theatrical efforts of the young and desperate, mas was entirely different. Liberating even. All those things that my pre teenage self wanted to do but couldn't. I had a long hiatus between that experience and my adult costume but Carnival has always been for me, the one time I truly am free, to be.

So Blue, I know you looked fab in your costume, and I hope that you had a truly wonderful experience, one that will stay in your memory as a good time. See you on the road next year!