Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Darnit! Tagged again

Well lightening has struck again, I've been tagged by the Slacker. Seems my shoving him to write in 2009 has resulted in some turnabout. The object this time is to open yourself up and tell 20 things that might not be well known. Damn it, I liked it better when I had to pick non existent pictures out of my computer library. Strangely, though I write about me here it's really not about me if you catch my drift. Okay, bite the bullet and get on with those cringe worthy things that are so carefully hidden beneath the facade of Wallah.

1. I like chocolate too.
2. At heart I'm a marshmallow, crusty on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside.
3. Sucker for little kids
4. Though I wear four inch heels all day most days I prefer flip flops
5. I would never wear a suit if I thought I'd get away with it.
6. A pint of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia or Dublin Mudslide and a good movie is my idea of a good time
7. I stopped swimming in open water when some people I know were lost at sea.
8. I hate karoke or however you spell it
9. Sushi, one of the five food groups
10. Yes, I do like the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever and not ashamed to admit it
11. Nailpolish colour of choice, OPI's I'm really not a waitress
12. If I didn't own my current car I'd probably be driving a pick up
13. And breeding dogs instead of doing this
14. Slacker is one of my favourite writing partners
15. There are days when I contemplate being something where I'm not the one having to make the decisions
16. I collect notebooks
17. If you can't have good sex, why bother
18. I think intelligent men are better than men who are only good looking(though it helps when they nice to look at too!)

I've run out of stuff...these are the folk that I'm tagging:

Marcus aka Coffeedude...time to start your own blog bro, get to it
Sexypink, yes you, stop writing about other people's work and write about you and yours for a change www.sexypink.wordpress.com
Blue, that means you're double tagged by both Slacker and me, write woman, write. www.trinigirlblue.blogspot.com
Gabriela, because you always have so much to say but sometimes don't...http://seisdeenero.blogspot.com/

Monday, January 26, 2009

Are you being served?

No, this is not going to be a diatribe about what passes for Government service, whether we are being adequately represented to anything such thing. This is a back to basics about how one person can make a difference.

First off, going to the supermarket used to be a form of recreation. I love to walk up and down the aisles, admire the displays, check out new stuff, and wonder at how I could use things to create great dishes. Of course, that does not mean I buy a lot or even go very often. But over the years, it's gotten to be quite a chore. The rising price of everything, long lines, surly or indifferent check out staff who fling your groceries down the counter. Due to geographic location, the choice is limited to HiLo, the biggest supermarket chain on the island or the corner shop, which is by no means cheaper. When I lived out east there were a plethora of family owned and operated places to choose from and many a bargain to be found. These days, with everything else going on, grocery shopping is one of those things that has to fit into the few free hours, either late in the evening on the way home before HiLo closes at 8:00pm or on weekends when there are wall to wall people.

And so, it was this weekend, after a heavy day of roaming around with the girls I found myself in HiLo. It was early evening, lots of people standing at checkouts, carts filled to the brim. Mine was my once a month shop so I expect some grief and I wasn't disappointed. Oh, the check out girl was pleasant enough; they've started providing stools for them to sit on again so that must contribute to their well-being. Before they stood the entire shift. Ever try being on your feet for eight hours; well you might be cranky too. While waiting to pay, the check out boy came up. Before he started to bag he turned and enquired about my health, how my evening was going and made polite conversation while continuing to bag. He treated my goods with respect. When he was done, walked me to the car, unloaded, wished me a pleasant evening while holding my door open for me. What a change! He was quite the gentleman and I found myself appreciative though not a fan of small talk. He made me smile and it is to my eternal shame that I didn't get his name.

He happily pocketed the dollars I gave to him as a tip but those were small compared to the gift he gave me, for a brief moment, he made me believe again. Yes, there are people who take pride in their work, no matter what it is, it is important. The next day I had cause to visit a different HiLo in the neighbourhood. To my surprise, the check out lady was extremely polite, two in a row, wow. Makes such a marked difference from the treatment at the Glencoe Rituals.

Rituals is my normal coffee stop, I generally stick to the one in St. James or the one in Nicholas Towers, they have the nicest staff. Generally, the folks on Maraval Road and Briar Place are competent, if not terribly friendly and Frederick Street is always so busy that they barely have time to say hello but they generally do smile. As you can see, I'm not a stranger to the chain. However, the store in Glencoe is another story. It is as though a miasma of doom hangs over the place. The staff there is the unhappiest I've ever seen and they are generally curt, indifferent or just plain don't care. Sorry, I don't need that bad will dispensed with my coffee, it tends to stick. Reluctantly I went in on Sunday, they were open, the counter totally empty. After standing there for five minutes, I gave up and walked around to the Vie de France counter. The girl reading the papers at a table barely looked up before telling me that the counter staff had probably gone to the office. Not her problem her whole attitude indicated. The rest of the staff looking on. The place was entirely EMPTY. I gave up and went back to my car, a sour taste vowing never to stop there again because it was always bad.

Is it really so hard to ask, are you being served? Is it too much to want good service? Not if you want a job it isn't.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Country road take me home....

I've tagged by Argentum Vulgaris who thinks that I need some more pictures....since I don't keep a lot of photo images on the computer that I use to write this blog, I had to look, this is the fourth pic in the fourth file as per instructions. This little quiet road is actually the one of the main thoroughfares on the island on Mustique. It goes up the hill, past the Great House one part leading uphill to the Village where Mustiquians live before winding down to the dock where the shops, supermarket and Basil's bar are located.

Mustique is generally a quiet island, the main form of transport is the mule. No, not the four legged stubborn creature who generally does what it wants. A mule is sort of like a golf cart but noisier; a glorified buggy powered by something that sounds like a lawnmower engine! It is as fun way to get around though, wind blowing in your hair, waving at people who pass you by.
Other than that, you walk, ride or bum a ride with one of the teeny mini buses that belong to one of the houses or the hotel. What can I say, it's a small, albeit hilly, island.

It's not an easy climb up this road, even the fit huff a little as they go up and down. I like it because when I've walked down to the waterfront I usually have an ice cream cone as compensation knowing that I will walk off the calories to go home. And that's the other thing about Mustique roads, even though they sometimes appear to be going nowhere, they all lead somewhere, sometimes to people's private land...get off quickly, they don't take kindly to 'stormers' as we say here, that would you trespassing, never mind that there is no gate or fence to tell you that you might be. Hint, house is a dead giveaway though.

Now that I've done my duty, and you know a little more about the West Indies, who shall I bestow the honour on...hmmm I know, my list is going to be sort of regional!

1) Wudzdescene- my fellow commentator on things Trinidadian; she takes interesting pictures and can be persuaded to talk about them
2) Slacker, heck why not, haven't rattled his chain in a while
3) Angry African, in the hope that we might get some dancing or barbecue pics!
4) Hmm, I'm having trouble picking just one more person! How about Annie Paul writing out of Jamaica.

Go to it guys!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The audacity of hope

Today, as everyone on the planet within range of a satellite feed is aware, the 44th President of the United States will be sworn in. He is not white. A first for a nation that claims to be one of the most progressive. Much has been written about Barack Hussein Obama. What is universal is the amount of qualities, emotions and hope that is being placed on his shoulder. He is like Icarus soaring, but like the winged one, he must watch out for the sun, for as it warms it also can scorch. We shall see how long his honeymoon lasts.

Mr. Obama is being hailed as a saviour and a lot of other things. His persona is measured, he's got that statesman thing down pat and we all respect him for it. In the days to come he will face an economy in trouble, foreign relations crises and of course, the burden of hope. That brings with it unrealistic expectations. There is no denying his dynamism, he embodies those qualities that people hold great, that and his ability to keep calm in the face of provocation will stand him in good stead. However, we must remember that in fact, he is a man with the same human frailities as the rest of us. And cut him some slack and help him along. Mr. Obama has reminded many of us what it is to consider country before self, he has evoked the spirit of many past leaders who marched along this road, Dr. Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. Even those of us who are not Americans can relate to his call for service.

To digress briefly, it was while walking through the dark lanes in Mustique, unlit by electric light that I realised how bright the stars are at night. Thousands of them twinkling against the velvet, navy blue sky providing the light for the way home. In Trinidad you are hard pressed to see the stars because the country is always so brightly lit. Flying over at night, the contrast between the forested areas and everywhere else is astounding. There are so many lights you can pick out houses etc almost as clearly as in the day. But you miss many things too. When are blinded by the brightness you fail to detect nuance, or those things that cannot compete.

Maybe in touting Mr. Obama's star we miss some of the reality of what is truly special about him. Only time will tell. To the man who has, just by being, changed the world, and his family, Godspeed and Good Luck.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Song

Just sing a happy so-ng
A simple little HAPPY SONG

I have officially lost my marbles. Or maybe I hope that I have in order to justify the current seeming craziness that is going on. Certainly, that would make some of this more palatable. No, you can't know what it is, if I told you then I'd have to kill you. Convinced now are you?

Since coming back from the pebble I am more and more convinced that the LIAT plane bypassed Trinidad and landed in LaLa Land or an episode of the Twilight Zone. Seemingly intelligent people are doing some incredibly nonsensical things, I don't understand it. Or maybe it is that vacation softens your brain?

I thought I'd driven in the wrong place arriving at Piarco on a work related mission the other night. The trees that are normally markers for where the car is parked were all gone. What? Security risk you say. To whom exactly? Hey, you're looking out for the Red Robin, thanks! No need to cut down the trees though. The airport, which already looks like a sterile wasteland with all the grey paint and icky tiles, now bereft of the softening influence of vegetation. It looks like you've arrived in some place other than the Caribbean. There is no warmth, no colour, no...ALIVE. This in a place that has given birth to a Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Emmy Award winning designer, Peter Minshall, Carnival, Geoffrey & Boscoe Holder, Carlisle Chang, Heather Headley, Geraldine Connor, Steelpan. No wonder all the people who work there are usually kind of sour. As for the trees, all in aid of a bunch of people who won't be coming through there anyway because they're all going to the old terminal that is being refurbished at the taxpayers expense.

Fellow blogger Franzomenz has already detailed many of the other LaLa moments so I'll leave you to read her. She's much more entertaining. Every time someone mentions "belt tightening" to me, the back of my neck scrunches up because it seems that it only applies to the few. For all the talk of hard times people are spending money on Carnival fetes, expensive costumes, fete clothes etc. There are people who have already paid off their costumes even while they scrimp to buy food and pay their bills. Clearly good sense at work.

You know, if I keep going along this path, it's going to lead to a bottle of vodka or me banging my head against a wall. Too depressing so instead I'll stick to singing a Happy Song and trusting that tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In passing

The front page of the Monday newspaper carried a story about four men whose boat overturned at sea. Two had been found and the Coast Guard were looking for the other two. Those of us who are familiar with the sea around this island know that the possibility of finding anyone alive after more than twelve hours is small to none.
I first met Floyd Lucas when we were both twentysome year olds with a passion for the environment. At the time, Floyd was the president of UWI Biological Society and I was the secretary of some or other environmental group. Nicole Leotaud, another environmental activist introduced us; there were a bunch of us who were known to picket, write letters/petitions and if necessary, chain ourselves to trees or lie down in front of bulldozers, we all knew each other with varying degrees of familiarity. I wouldn’t say Floyd and I were friends; we were colleagues, activists and acquaintances.
In the ensuing almost twenty years since then, I’d run across Floyd from time to time, still working for the environment so it was no surprise to learn that he’d been out on a job. I am extremely saddened by his demise, we learnt yesterday evening that his body had been found, and my condolences go out to Carol, his wife. The environmental movement has lost another champion and we are all the poorer for it. Floyd’s death has become yet another salutary reminder to live with passion, doing the things you love, being true to yourself and most of all, making the most of the time we are given here on earth. Godspeed Floyd.
I’d found the Monday paper in my usual stop at the St. James Rituals. I like the girls there, they know me, we talk about their lives, kids and how they are being affected by the changes going on in the world. On many days they are a gentle start to my mornings which can often turn into chaos. One of the regulars, an old retired gentleman walked in and while he and I exchanged our usual banter, Adanna, the master barrista waited patiently with his order. He, like me, has the same thing every day unless she persuades us otherwise. Turns out that he’d been in on Saturday morning, stayed awhile and after he left, the ‘customer’ who’d been sitting at a table near the counter, turned into a bandit and held them up.
The robber got the day’s take and her mobile phone, something she could ill afford to lose. My heart wept for those two young women, going about their business trying to make a living to take care of their children. The fear and shock must have been high but there they were, back at work on Monday. The sparkle had gone out of their eyes but they still managed to greet us, their customers. In that moment, I despised even more what we have become; the robbery took place on a busy main road at 9:00 am.
In the last year, several of my occasional breakfast stops have either closed down or stopped offering the service because of economics. I miss the ladies at Sweetness who provided homespun wisdom with the bakes and buljol. Last night, at a small birthday lime for my best friend’s brother, we were all talking about how we have been affected by the world economic downturn. We all knew that this was probably going to be one of the last of these types of limes we are going to have this year. One of our number manages a bank, in the past couple of months he’s seen his benefits cut, his blackberry returned etc. Slowly we have all downscaled, even those of us who were not particularly extravagant to being with. I cannot foretell the future, all I can do is live in today, but I know, it is to live without expectation, take it as it comes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's a beautiful day

Isn't it amazing that the very same people who will denigrate your skills or trash your work are usually the same people who will call you when the need something fixed or a problem solved? There was a time when I was constantly on call for work. Every time there was a situation or somebody couldn't figure out who to dump stuff on, well, you know. At times my job was to be a problem solver, as event manager we worked weekends, holidays, whatever. One night a DJ that we were working with asked, does it really matter if the napkins were yellow or blue, would it be the end of the world. The answer was no but in the moment, a lot of energy was expended; it's like that in a lot of jobs, all those things we HAVE to do but not really. Unless you're in one of those professions like medicine, air traffic control etc, there are few reasons to work 24/7. But you know something, all those odd jobs left me with a large skills base. It takes a lot to faze me, but I had to learn to not work all the time.

Last evening was great, several friends got together for an impromptu lime. It was our second in two nights, limes that revolved around good food, talk and sharing. We kicked back and connected, to share the things that challenged us, for companionship, to enjoy the moment, it was great. No pressure. Then the phone rang, mine is always on. And here's the thing, once upon a time I might well have dropped my whole life and gone a-running but not this time. I had a commitment to my evening, especially since I have to work this evening.

To make a long story short, I won't go into all the internal workings and rumblings because this year is going to be positive, but this was an opportunity to maintain some balance in my life. And you know what, I made the choice to do that, because if I do not, then I am responsible for the degeneration of my life. Other people can only abuse your time if you let them. In the last ten years a lot of friends have died of "lifestyle" diseases like cancer or heart attacks, some of them before their fortieth birthday. I know a lot of people who put off living their lives until their twilight years, only they didn't have twilight years. The truth is that you have to make memories now, because now is all we have.

Today has been spent hanging those paintings that have been sitting in a pile leaned up against the wall for the past three years. Clothes packed away, kitchen restored to order, little things but they give a sense of satisfaction and order. Sure I've been working in between, when the phone rings with the questions and requests, but there is nothing that cannot or should not wait until tomorrow. No one's life is at stake if I don't drop my life and run around doing whatever. It's not a bad feeling.
My dog is happy, I have a greater sense of well being for taking the time to honour my own life, it's a beautiful day.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Being back

As you may have noticed, I've been giving the blog a rest. When I started this, it wasn't my intention to negatively review life in Trinidad but in the last few months, that's what it started turning into. Not that actively commenting on the problems, issues and situations that occur here is a bad thing, but really, it was beginning to get to the point where it was dragging me down. Nowhere is perfect but maybe I am too close to the ground, it's hard to accept some of the these things.

Going away last week, I found out how tired I was, of everything. The break was very welcome though not long enough. Two days back on the job feels like there was no break at all, you being to actively question why? I think it's about being slowly but inexorably ground down by the mechanics of living. All those days with no water and not knowing when it was coming back, power outages, traffic and more traffic, waiting and waiting for service. Various friends who'd been victims of some crime or other, or subjected to shootouts on their street, innocent bystanders. The newspapers with the count of who's dead, inflation, always the bad news. How many more friends and relatives felled by bad health care? Being accosted by the every growing number of vagrants. Constantly feeling unsafe. How much more to stomach?

This is not who I want to be, always the negative. This year I returned to Sarah ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance. It was a book that helped me though a tough time in life and for some odd reason hadn't really looked at since. It's easy to discount self help books or scoff at things as being new age, but I've always believed that we are responsible for our own recovery, whatever it takes. Simple Abundance is about learning to recognise the positive things in your life. I've found that it's easy to blame depression for all my ills, after all if I'm sick then I'm not responsible for my actions, it becomes easy to accept that as an excuse for a lot of actions as opposed to saying okay, maybe this is my own negative attitude or fuckup. I'm not saying that's what everybody else does, this is just about me.

Sure all the stuff mentioned above are valid but how about all the other things that do work? So I've started writing down my five things every night, the positive things that happened to me today or came into my life. Even those days when there don't seem to be nothing, I list things like my health, dog, roof over my head and you know what, it makes a difference. If you only ever see the negative things in life that's all you're ever going to get. If anything is going to change, I'm going to have to open myself to the possibilities, so here's what universe, ready and waiting. Bring it on.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

For auld lang syne my dear

We'll take a cup o' kindness here my dear,
For old lang syne

The very familiar strains of the Robbie Burns classic poem are echoing across the Bay as the last of the fireworks light up the night sky. And though I don't know most of the people, everyone is yelling happy new year and there is a frenzy of hugging and kissing.

So much hope that things will be better, for a night the financial crisis was forgotten, the usual cares and woes, instead we put on our glad rags and had a lovely dinner and then giggled, danced, complained about the DJ....made some resolutions, broke a few, happy.

In those early morning moments,under the starry sky, the sound of the waves faint against the sound of Dancing Queen, the year fresh and new, and with a heavy application of coffee,I resolved to make the most of life, live without regret and to try to be postive come what may.

Happy New Year everybody!