Category Archives: Rants

Christmas Musings

By now several of you reading this are feeling the effects of ingesting an average 7000 calories per day for the better part of a month or so. My yoga pants are now skinny jeans and every maxi dress is my new best friend. I might also need a new liver but every drop of Prosecco was worth it.

This is also the time of year when most Trinis realise they have no chance in hell of losing the Christmas weight before Carnival, and panic sets in. I literally broke the scale when I stood on it yesterday. (I’m not even kidding. The plastic window cracked and pinged off the bathroom wall.) I interpreted this as A Sign and immediately purchased Jorge Cruise’s Happy Hormones, Slim Belly off Amazon.

A good portion of this week was spent lying in bed nursing a post-Christmas cold (inevitable result of forced close proximity to germ-harbouring friends and family) and reflecting on a frenetic Christmas season. Christmas is my favourite time of year. I love everything about it – the food, the music, the fellowship – everything. Well, almost everything. Why is it that far too often Christmas brings out the worse in us?

Take driving for example. Why do people drive so badly at Christmas? Do The Powers That Be circulate a secret memo at the beginning of December mandating cackahole driving and dickhead parking? How else can one explain the upsurge in straddlers, those wonderfully considerate drivers who take up two parking spaces by straddling a white line instead of parking between two lines? And let’s not forget the Pushmattees who force their way into a congested intersection effectively blocking movement of traffic in any direction.

My irritation with Christmas driving is eclipsed only by my aversion to Christmas shopping. Shopping of any kind is a major challenge but food shopping in December is a nightmare. Supermarkets turn into dangerous places. People get real ignorant when it’s 6pm on Christmas Eve and there’s only one tin of cranberry sauce left on the shelf. I had to share a six-pack of sorrel shandy with a fellow shopper after we reached for it at the same time and neither one of us wanted to let go. He’s lucky I wasn’t desperate.

Emotions are particularly close to the surface at Christmas time. Forget road rage – trolley tantrums are the new public hissy fits. Try cutting into a checkout queue that snakes along the aisles. You’re likely to be beaten to death with a frozen ham.

Retailers capitalise on our hunger for consumables by opening new stores in time for the Christmas rush. There is something mesmerising about an “Opening Soon” sign. No surprise then that like the rest of the sheep I shuffled through the welcoming doors of the latest mega supermarket in my neighbourhood.

What I love about mega stores – you can literally buy anything from a can of soup to a computer in one spot. What I hate about mega stores – unless you know the layout you can spend two hours trying to find toothpicks.

Eyes pointed upward, we push our trolleys uncertainly down the aisles simultaneously trying to read the signs to find what we came for while being distracted by an enticing array of goods we don’t normally buy. Roasted red pepper pesto with almonds? Oooh, yes please. We end up taking twice as long to complete a simple shopping expedition and spending three times as much as we intended.

Isn’t it about time supermarkets had one-way aisles? Instead of jockeying for position in the pasta section wouldn’t it make more sense for us all to be moving in the same direction? Think of the trolley tantrums that could be avoided.

Let’s say you manage to successfully navigate the shopping and traffic quagmires. The real trial of the season is the family gathering. As much as we love our relatives, they also irritate and infuriate us. Tempers flare easily at Christmas time, particularly when alcohol is involved. Long held grudges have a habit of boiling over with the turkey gravy.

We all have that uncle or cousin who thrives on drama and needs no invitation to dominate a family gathering. This is the family member who turns up drunk for Christmas lunch, tells off-colour jokes, and confesses (loudly) to sleeping with their sibling’s spouse before passing out in the sherry trifle. This season my relatives in England provided the family punch-up and dammit, I wasn’t there to see it.

My mother looks forward to Christmas Day with a malicious glee. It is a golden opportunity for her to criticise my every action; from my cooking to the way I style my hair. It was gratifying therefore to see the genuine delight in her eyes as she opened my Christmas present to her, an ipod. Of course she couldn’t help giving a backhanded compliment: “This is the first time you actually gave me something I asked for” #OyVey

By Boxing Night the food coma is wearing off and most of us have had enough family bonding, thank you very much.  We cling to the promise of New Year’s Eve and the opportunity to press the annual reset button. My New Year’s Eve was far from exciting. I spent it policing my property thanks to my teenage daughter and her friends throwing a rather noisy party at our house. The neighbours who didn’t hate us before now do; and those who did, feel justified in calling the police the next time we throw a party.

Despite the cackahole driving, trolley tantrums, and family drama I had a great Christmas season and look forward to doing it all again this year. By December I will have forgotten how long I spent standing in queues and how frequently I swore at other drivers. All I will remember is the delicious aroma of Christmas food, laughter, and the overwhelming sense of relief as I sat down to Christmas dinner surrounded by those I love most.

Happy New Year everyone.

 

How was your Christmas season? Do you have a tale of woe/mirth to tell? Please share in the comments below.

 

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Excuse Me While I Butt In

Yesterday, Wednesday 12th November 2014, Kim Kardashian attempted to break the internet. If you don’t use social media you may have missed this. Well, the internet didn’t break, but Kim did manage to add a crack (pun intended).

Today Kim threw a pair of melons in the mix; and just in case we weren’t sure, showed us where North came from. Not surprisingly this sparked an internet and talk show frenzy of outrage and admiration, in almost equal proportions. Meanwhile the producers of Paper Magazine are gleefully rubbing their hands together and counting the ka-ching.

Here’s my take: Well played, Miss Kardashian, well played. Kim succeeded  once again in manipulating the media and getting exactly what she wanted – all of us talking about her. Love her or loathe her, Kim is a marketing genius. She knows exactly what she is doing. Before you start hating on me, hear me out. I am NOT debating the morality of Miss Kardashian’s actions; nor am I arguing what she did was right or wrong.

People who say Kim K has no talent are wrong. THIS IS HER JOB PEOPLE. Kim’s job is self-promotion and she’s exceptionally good at it. Whether or not this is a worthwhile, honourable, wholesome profession is a whole ‘nuther discussion. Kim figured out at a very young age that her body was the key to her fortune. She branded it, exploited it, and sits that big booty on an even bigger pile of cash as result. Do I envy her? No. Do I wish I had her money? Hell yeah. Let’s get real people. Who doesn’t want to win the lottery?

Kim earned widespread condemnation for choosing to pose nude. “She has a child! She is a mother!” screamed the trolls. Really? I wasn’t aware women stopped being sexual beings post-motherhood. If so, I didn’t get that memo.  And do people honestly believe that women working in the “adult” industry don’t have husbands and children tucked away at home? Puhleease!

Several women in public life have posed nude or semi- nude, garnering praise and admiration in the process– Demi Moore, Janet Jackson, Jenny McCarthy, Pamela Anderson, Marilyn Monroe – the list goes on and on. Are we condemning Kim because she is already so overexposed?

Kim K irritates people because she is good at (apparently) doing very little. We not-so-secretly resent her ability to make millions through self-promotion while the majority of us working stiffs struggle to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. It is difficult to respect someone so obviously self-serving but I do admire her business sense.

“What will she tell her daughter when she grows up and sees those pics?!” Kim will tell North: “Mommy made a lot of money when she was young and pretty and that’s why you got a Lamborghini for your 16th birthday.” All jokes aside, who are we to judge the long-term effects of Kim’s career on her child? I try to be a good mother but I am hardly the Perfect Parent. WHO IS??

Many people believe Kim’s pictures were offensive and racist because she was naked and oiled; in the same manner African slave women were presented for sale, minus the chains. They argued that as the mother of an African/Armenian/American child, this was an insult to baby North.

*Deep breath* …If you look for racism in everything you will find it. Hand on heart I do not believe Miss K considered the possible racist connotations of the photo shoot. Kim is clever, but not very smart. I am sure the decision to use baby oil was based on “OOOH that will make my skin look fantastic!” Don’t assume that because Kim is married to a black man she has any clue of what it is like to experience the world as a black person. Baby North West will open Miss K’s eyes to several truths that no amount of money can overcome.

Miss Kardashian is cashing in on her assets. More power to her I say. Looks fade, asses droop, and breasts sag. Thirty years from now Kim might look back on her actions and think “Maybe I shouldn’t have done that.” Then again she might be sunning herself on a luxury yacht off the coast of St Tropez and thinking “F*ck you biatches. I had the last laugh.”

What do YOU think?


The Tipping Point

Someone somewhere at some time wrote the rules of tipping. Someday something will drive me to study said rules. Until then, I blunder forward in ignorance.

A little person (I don’t know what is the politically correct term; I just know I can’t say dwarf or midget) packed my groceries last week. She was so short she could barely get the bags into the boot of my husband’s SUV. So I ended up helping her.  Short on change (no pun intended), I gave her all I had – the magnificent sum of TT$3 (US 50 cents). She gave me a look, which quite clearly registered her disdain, and I shrank to two foot six.  Sheepishly I got into the car and drove off feeling guilty. I had committed a tipping offence. I am a repeat offender.

A few years ago I shared a van from Toronto’s Pearson Airport to my hotel downtown with other travellers. At my destination I offloaded some Canadian coins my father had given me on the van driver. He studied them, looked up at me and remarked sarcastically “Haven’t seen one of those for a while!” Oh, the shame…

I have a vivid memory of exiting a London black cab aged 11 or so with my mother and hearing the cab driver shout at my mother ” Don’t you people give tips?!” That sharp rebuke stung me to the core and left me with a morbid fear of being considered cheap because I am black.  I’ve gone so far as to apologise to taxi drivers when I don’t have enough money for a tip. But is an apology enough? Is it ok to express your regret and move on, leaving the other party disgruntled? Or should I hand over my vex money and hitchhike home?

When it comes to dining I firmly believe it is unwise to piss off the wait staff, particularly if you intend to visit the establishment again. Bad tips leave bad memories.  I’m convinced an uncomfortably large number of disenchanted wait staff would cheerfully leave a DNA imprint in my entree should I be regarded as miserly.

My husband, who clings to a dollar tighter than Cersei Lannister holds onto a grudge, thinks differently. As far as he’s concerned, people are paid to do a job. What do they need tips for? I try to always leave something. Memories of that cab ride haunt me.

I live in a country where tipping is the exception rather than the norm, so I am always a bit flustered when persons demand a tip. On a recent trip to Panama, a taxi tout actually chased my husband and I to the car and opened the door to demand his reward for pointing us in the direction of the taxi stand.  Fearing cab cartel reprisal I hastily handed over five bucks.

Contrast the Panamanian tout’s attitude with my T&T experience last month in the car park of a doctor’s building. After helping me fold my mother’s walker and get her into the car in pouring rain, the security guard refused a tip, insisting I was making him feel guilty for doing his job.  I cannot win.

Why can’t Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet publish Country Tipping Tips? That would prevent idiots like me from annoying the natives. Who to tip? When to tip? And how much? I’m not ashamed to admit I need help distributing small change.

Until the Tip With Confidence bible is written, perhaps you guys could help me? Share your tipping advice and mishaps in the comments below. You have to be better at this than I am.


The Horrible Mother’s Mantra

I am a horrible mother.

I will go through your possessions and invade your personal space on a regular basis.

Your phone, computer, iPod etc. are subject to inspection at any time.

I will enter your room without knocking and rifle through your belongings.

I will smell your breath for alcohol and check for signs of illicit drug use.

I will talk to you every day and take a personal interest in all your activities.

I will listen to what you say and what you leave unsaid.

I will meet your friends and ask probing questions about their backgrounds, their parents and their home life. I will embarrass you.

I will follow you on social media and keep up to date on all the latest trends in music, fashion and deviant behaviour.

I demand that you stick to the agreed terms for curfews, use of my car, and spending of my money.

I demand that you respect me and my house.

Soon you will be an adult with your own home and the freedom to live your life as you see fit without my approval.

Until then you can make me a better mother by rendering the above personal incursions unnecessary through your responsible behaviour.

I love you unconditionally and will defend you with my dying breath.

This is the mantra of horrible mothers everywhere – parenting with love and discipline.

 

 

 


Wait Till Your Father Gets Home…

A departure from my usual light-hearted fare, but sometimes I just need to speak my mind. Non-Trinis may find my Trinbago Dictionary useful. Be sure to leave your comments after reading! Enjoy.

 

Much has been said about Miley Cyrus’s recent appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) and her new raunchy persona. While watching a clip of the controversial performance on YouTube I remember thinking – “If that were my daughter I would slap her so hard”.

My talented young cousin Battymamzelle wrote a thought-provoking post about the racial implications of Miley’s performance. A perspective which I do not fully share, but interesting nonetheless.

Forget about the twerking. Twerking is nothing new.  Here in the Caribbean we have been wukking up for generations. It irks me however that a sizeable portion of the US population think they invented the move because it’s new to THEM. (Those of you old enough to remember the oohing and ahhing over Bo Derek’s hairstyle in 10 know exactly what I’m talking about).

Questions swirl around my head about Miley’s very public embracement of her sexuality. What does Liam (Hemsworth) think? What does his family think? He and Miley are supposed to be engaged, after all. But more importantly – what do Miley’s parents think?

Publicly, Miley’s parents have expressed nothing but love and support for their daughter. Rightly so. But I want to believe that privately they are gritting their teeth and harsh words have been exchanged.

At twenty years old Miley has the right to do whatever she wants. She is legally an adult. I wonder though – did Miley consider the possible impact her performance would have on her parents, and if so – did it influence the actual presentation at all? Somehow I think not.

The issue here for me is – at what age do we stop being under parental control?

I want to argue that for many of us, particularly people of colour, the answer is never.  There are many things I would never ever consider doing because if my mother found out she would kill me.

Black parents live by the Bill Cosby motto – “I brought you into this world and I can take you out”. I dodged countless pot spoons and slippers as a child.  The scent of disapproval from my mother still strikes fear into my heart. As West Indians we have the added pressure from all the relatives constantly reminding us – “Don’t make the family shame!”

If at age twenty I had climbed onstage in  a worldwide broadcast and simulated masturbation with a giant foam hand – my parents, aunts, and uncles would have collectively jumped on me and beat the black out of me. Even now – despite her Zimmer frame – I’d risk serious injury from my mother. When you live in a society where the extended family is a norm; adult offspring live at home; and many generations often live under one roof; it is hard to escape that sense of family responsibility.

In Trinidad and Tobago we are identified by our familial alliances – Greta’s daughter. Indra’s sister. Nazir’s mother. My blogger cousin Battymamzelle recently pointed out that there is no such thing as six degrees of separation in T&T. The most you will get are two. Everybody knows you AND your family and they are quick to report on the slightest perceived infringement of the T&T Broughtupsy Code. Forget about the middle class – T&T only has two social strata – ghetto and stush. Guess which one so-called Nice Boys and Girls don’t want to be identified with? The result is that long after we stop pitching marbles we still feel obliged to do what our parents want.

I am not putting forth an argument for full parental control from womb to tomb. But that sense of responsibility to those who raised us – and fear of disappointing them – has stopped many people (myself included) from doing something which they might later regret. It didn’t stop me breaking into a public swimming pool in Cambridge at midnight to skinny dip with a group of friends but I figured there was NO chance of my parents ever finding out. Oops…

Billy Ray Cyrus admitted a few years ago that he spent too long trying to be Miley’s friend instead of her parent. “How many interviews did I give and say, ‘You know what’s important between me and Miley is I try to be a friend to my kids’? I said it a lot. And sometimes I would even read other parents might say, ‘You don’t need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.’  Well, I’m the first guy to say to them right now: You were right. I should have been a better parent. I should have said, ‘Enough is enough – it’s getting dangerous and somebody’s going to get hurt.’ I should have, but I didn’t.”

Here’s the thing – your children will make and break many friendships as they grow up. But building a healthy respect for the parental bond and influence? You’ve got one shot. No do-overs. Get the parenting right and the friendship will follow.

Talk to your kids. I’m willing to bet twenty years from now when Miley looks back at the video of her VMAs performance she will wish her mum and dad had said to her “I brought you into this world…”

At the end of the day, we are all the product of our parents and the degree of control and influence they have/had over us.

But that’s just my opinion. What do YOU think?


It’s My Country and I’ll Rule How I Want To

The world is in trouble. Islamist rebels light it up in Mali. Guatemala court orders trial of former dictator. Government Ministers openly defy the Prime Minister in St Kitts and Nevis. Kim K has a wardrobe malfunction. The established rules of civilisation and government are not working. I’ve had enough of poor governance, rising crime, and worldwide idiocy.

My solution?  Start my own country. I have my eye on a tiny Grenadine isle. Think about it – my own private Paradise Island with white sandy beaches, lush vegetation, and the perfect year-round climate. There’s room for 2000 citizens. You can apply for citizenship once you meet the immigration criteria and agree to live by my rules. I promise to be a benevolent dictator. Who’s with me?

Forget about party politics, elections, coalition governments and minority opposition. There will be no need for any of that in the Republic of Abbuccet (pronounced Ah-buck-et). In fact, politicking of any kind will be banned and punishable by death. The Citizens Rule and Prosper party (CRAP) will be the only political voice permitted in the country.

Abbuccet’s legal system will be a based on a hybrid of martial and sharia law. I suspect citizens will have few problems obeying the law if stealing an orange results in losing a hand and driving on the shoulder warrants a gun butt to the head.

It goes without saying that citizens of Abbuccet will be taxed to within pennies of a full pay check. Independent wealth will come in handy. High taxes – a small price to pay for a government that provides the best of everything free – education, medical care, housing, childcare, weekly wine rations (It’s my country. I can do what I want and in my world wine is a necessity).

As all benevolent leaders should, I will keep the citizenry constantly informed of decisions that affect their day to day lives. They can voice their opposition of course. Free speech is welcomed. Opposers however, will be beheaded. Every town and village, no matter how small, will have a public execution square. Did you miss the part about mar-sharia law?

Imagine the benefits of living in Abbuccet. Mondays will be banned. Mandatory three day weekends and state funded BFF (Brain Fart Free) neighbourhoods. Kate Middleton’s visits to The Gap to buy leggings will not be reported as headline news. People will be paid to come up with good ideas that benefit society. Wasn’t that the point of democracy? It didn’t work.

I know you are dying to apply for citizenship but before you do, make sure you meet the criteria. There will be a non-refundable application fee of USD$100,000. What? A girl’s gotta eat. As proof of your commitment I’ll also need a minimum two strands of Patrick Dempsey’s hair. No I haven’t got a thing for Dr McDreamy but he looks like he could spare a few locks.

If you are a former or current politician, convicted criminal, reality TV star, or a Kardashian – don’t waste your time. You will not be welcome in Abbuccet. But if you are willing to work as part of a team to form a new society based on mutual respect   – and dedicate a room in your house to a Daniel Craig Shrine (my country, my rules), then show me the money. The application process will be swift and let’s face it – given the state of the world today, being ruled by CRAP in Abbuccet doesn’t sound half bad.

Help me develop a Citizens’ Charter. Please post your contributions in the comments below.


Madman or Martyr

I tried and failed to stop myself from commenting on the Kublalsingh issue. I know some people will deride and dismiss my opinion, and I will most likely be labelled a PNM sympathiser. For the record I am a supporter of NO political party, despite voting for the Congress of the People (COP) in the last general election. I am however a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, and I am horrified by the unfolding tragedy which has gripped our nation’s attention over the past fifteen days.

Like many people, I initially dismissed Dr Wayne Kublalsingh’s hunger strike as that of an attention-seeking madman. I couldn’t see the point of dying for a highway. His protest was pointless and would do nothing to change the Government’s position. To me it seemed like a stupid way to die when so many persons the world over are desperately clinging to life.

But as the days wear on and the rhetoric becomes increasingly heated around this issue my sense of discomfort is increasing. I am simply not comfortable watching a man die. Every morning I tune in to the local TV stations wondering if Today is the Day. I find myself breathing a sigh of relief that his increasingly emaciated and visibly weakened frame is still moving.

A friend of mine today described Wayne Kublalsingh as “a pest, a fraudster, and an idiot who deserves to die”. This sentiment is apparently shared by many, including our Minister of National Security who recently called upon Kublalsingh “to hurry up and die”. When did our society become so callous? When did we lose our compassion for those with whose opinions we do not agree? Have we become so jaded by loss of life that we no longer care for anyone apart from our own loved ones? Is our prevailing attitude “The highway doesn’t affect me so why should I care about Kublalsingh?”

I disagree with Dr Kublalsingh’s chosen protest method but I fully support his right to protest. I cannot help but admire his strength in the face of overwhelming opposition. As this hunger strike continues I realise This Man Means Business. Kublalsingh is not backing down. Do I believe he is secretly scoffing sandwiches and guzzling Gatorade? I am not putting my head on a block for any man. I have no doubt he is fully aware of the effect images of his ravaged body is having on the public psyche and he is actively courting media attention. But his courage and belief in his convictions are astonishing. Are you prepared to die for a cause? I know I am not.

As misguided as you may believe Dr Kublalsingh to be; irrespective of whether you agree with him or not, he is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. He does not deserve to be publicly ridiculed and maligned by Government Officials. He does not deserve to have his family described as a cult for standing by him. His supporters do not deserve being hounded by counter-protesters who looked suspiciously like professional protesters (paid for by whom?). He does not deserve to have his opinions dismissed as irrelevant and unimportant for the sake of expediency.

Serve the people, serve the people, serve the people – who said that? Certainly not the Prime Minister who sat and applauded at the United National Congress (UNC) public meeting in Debe while her ministers disrespected the citizenry and deliberately misled the audience. Could this be the same woman who wrote to Vilma Kublalsingh (Wayne’s mother) of her “personal grief” over the “self inflicted suffering of Wayne Kublalsingh”?

Despite what the government would have us believe, the Re-Route Movement is NOT against the construction of the highway. Their protest centres on the unpublished technical review of the project, and the proposed route for the Mon Desir to Debe section which would destroy local wetlands. It is difficult to ascertain if the Re-Route Movement’s objections have any merit because so far we have not a decisive answer from the Government on the issues raised.

This Government’s response to criticism or objection of any kind is to attack. Forget about a counter response which addresses the issue in a systematic manner and outlines government policy. That would be too dignified. Instead, denigrate and disgrace the critic. Shoot the messenger and destroy the message.

One thing is clear about the Kublalsingh issue. It has illuminated the true characters of politicians on every side of the political divide. Members of the Government are either publicly abusive or woefully silent as their colleagues heap insults on Dr Kublalsingh and his supporters. The Leader of the COP, Prakash Ramadhar, issued a statement distancing the COP from the statements made by cabinet colleagues at the UNC public meeting in Debe. Frankly Mr Ramadhar, this was not enough. Meanwhile members of the Opposition PNM rub their hands in glee as the People’s Partnership digs an increasingly big hole to fall in.

And then there are Dr Kublalsingh’s supporters – a motley crew of True Believers, civil society activists, trade unionists, failed politicians, persons with a political axe to grind, and self serving-individuals who see this issue as a chance for them to regain the spotlight.

I do not believe Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar should meet with Dr Kublalsingh. It would set a bad precedent. On the other hand, in the interest of transparency and good governance, the Government should consider meeting with civil society groups to hear their suggestions for ending this unfortunate impasse. At the very least this would help the government to recover some modicum of dignity after engaging in a very public and vitriolic dogfight. For a government which swept into power on a tide of goodwill the People’s Partnership has done an extremely efficient job of turning public opinion against them.

As I write this I hope to God Wayne Kublalsingh is still alive. I cannot contemplate the ethical dilemma the Government – and society as a whole – will face if he dies. Whatever the outcome of this situation, the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway will be a permanent scar on our nation.

 


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