Why I am surviving eight years of underemployment in recessionary times

Bible Study 1

Bible Study 1 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

All my passed-on relatives are precious to me in their individual way. Today I remember that quiet, soft spoken gentleman, my grandfather Carpus “Jack’ Cossey, whom I called ‘Dad’ like everyone else in his multi-generational household.

“Dad, lend me $2 ‘till tomorrow, please” I said.  Now, that took lots of courage and enough desperation to be willing to endure a two-hour lecture about the virtues of saving and the dangers of ‘licking out yuh money’, topics that were lost on me, a teenager.
But I am lucky this time as he fishes into his self-made, draw-string, blue demin, wallet-size bag and extracted two silver dollars which he examines carefully and slowly counts at least four times. Struggling to hold my patience and inwardly swearing, I reach forward to take them.

He hesitates again and then said: “Bring these back  tomorrow, as I gave you. Two silver dollars; not eight 25-cents pieces, not …”.  Without raising his voice or stressing a syllable for emphasis, he carefully spells out the combinations of two dollars until he finally runs out.

He then places the silver dollars, deliberately, one after the other, in my now tired outstretched hand, and returns to his newspaper and Bible where he continues to compare world events with Bible verses as he prepares to throw down a fire and brimstone sermon on those souls gathered at Sister Gay’s or Bannister’s or wherever  is  his next preaching assignment.

Thanks Dad for hard lessons without them underemployment would have ‘buss my tail” .

(PS: non-fiction)

Praise me neutrally or inanimately … nah. Give it to me real!

Perhaps it is the Caribbean in me or more precisely the Barbados in me, but when someone publicly hails me up as beautiful, I smile a ‘thank you”. Here, in my region, we don’t seek a thigh gap to be beautiful; our role models of beauty are not yet prescribed by a man-made industry but are varied. The determination of beauty is very much in the eyes of the beholder.

So why should I be offended by such a comment focusing on physical beauty?  It seems that in the United States, this is a source of annoyance. Yet that is a country where the fashion and movie industries push beauty in a sea of reckless materialism. Are their comments the manifestation of an effort to pull back one side by unwittingly decimating it? An all out tug-a-war of two sides, is it?

On two recent occasions, United States President Barack Obama was ridiculed for referring to feminine beauty, both times, intelligence and beauty were part of his comment,  directly or implied. When the President said California Attorney General Kamala Harris happed to be the best-looking AG ever, an avalanche of verbal spears flew in the same way they did when he said his daughter had grown into” strong, smart, beautiful young women.”

I asked myself: was the outcry encouraged by those who cannot subtly or directly stomach black beauty and black intelligence. Is it a fear thing? No, they say it is a feminist thing. Then why are these women wearing make-up and why are they not merely going to the store and taking an outfit based only on size and price?

How can calling a woman beautiful subtract from her intelligence? Aren’t the two mutually exclusive? Why should a black woman’s beauty be muffled or muzzled?

I imagine their perfect world, where (even in bed ) the only compliments will be ‘you have a sharp brain’ . Ouch, that would be degrading, a touch too close to the physical. You’d have to give her /him a side look. Nah, that would parallel flirting and be condemned as sexual harassment.

I suspect that only acceptable comments would be: ‘that project or paper or garden bed etc. was well done.” Let’s get on with the inanimate praising.

Why concern myself about the US behaviour, I’ve asked myself.  I do so because in this era where digital communications facilitates cultural penetration at a higher speed than previously, this template of neutralism would soon be transmitted into Caribbean Community cultural.

I love that we can say: “he is so sexy and so bright” (if we believe it) and men can say “you go it” whether they mean beauty, brains, a winning personality or whatever appeals to their fancy. But in the US, keep your mouth close, don’t look, walk with eyes in the air and if in bed, do only a body jump.

I am stumped here, so I’m asking just to be politically correct with my US friends, can I say to a parent, your baby is cute? Or is the correct compliment in this genre: “he’s talking, that brain is developing”?

Don’t paint everything racist look beyond for the uninformed

Sometimes in the developing world, you are so caught up with your country’s second-tier status that you start to believe that the people in the developed world are sophisticated and their comments well-reasoned. I came back to reality when reading comments on MSN.com regarding Black History Month. It also reinforced to me the importance of having information about a subject ahead of commenting.
I laugh very loud when I read “What about White history month you racist SOB’s” and “someone please inform me as to when is White History Month. Guess I just have been missing it every year for 73 years. Surely it is also a very important celebration, right.”
Gracie Mansion, Rev. Martin Luther King press ...Readers jumped on these commenters’ case, calling them racists but how can you do that? What I detected from these posts are a lack of knowledge and  inquiring minds, albeit  extremely lazy ones. The commenters should have asked themselves the same questions they posed first, or the reverse, why a Black History Month. In this day of quick Google searches, they would have received that answer as well as what was done by the promoters of the idea to get the February declared as Black History Month. The latter would have shown them the route which they could take towards agitating for a White History Month or a month about anything, else for that matter.
As I continued to read I start to wonder what the chat will be in October when the United States observes LGBT History Month that includes National coming out day. One poster described Black History Month as one of the most racist things in America, only second to Martin Luther King Day and I wonder if he will see LGBT as most an anti-heterosexual day. He argued that “Black will never be treated and considered equals until they stop feeling the need for special treatment,” so what will be his advice to LGBT.

LGBT Pride Parade San Francisco 2009Having a month to celebrate an event or to focus on a subject or a people does not lower the status of another event or subject neither does it prevent new events or subjects from getting the same treatment. Moving a cause to the forefront of national focus require people with courage and strength in their convictions to take the long and difficult road to such achievement. Some however, find it easier to set at their desks and spew venom. What are you a talker or a doer?

Plot loses its self

Diana couldn’t raise herself from the floor, she was too light-headed. George didn’t turn to help. He stared into the distance, his fingers, as if attached to someone else, stabbing the piano keys.

She slipped back into mental darkness where all her dreams; those joyful adventures cruising the world; proudly watching their daughter become a doctor, wife, mother- transformed into a toxic dose of disappointment, poisoning her system.

She saw her husband facing her, yet not looking at her; both erect and tensed neither reaching to touch the other or utter a word; both falling slowly, emotionless into an abyss.

(P.S. Remember I said I wanted to see if I have a creative writing cell within me. To do so, I am answering a challenge to write a 100 -word piece that  based on picture and adding it to my earlier piece of “self-Plotted2”.

Please tell me what you think of this!  Should I have omitted paragraph 2?)

Mouthing off over a big hole

“US$25.6 million?  To redo Harrison’s Cave? That money should go to developing projects to ease poverty; like building factory shells to attract investors and bring jobs, unemployment over 10 per cent.”

“Maude, hush, the cave attracts tourists and bring in money to spend on all those things.”

“Tourists, what?   First, you have to spend money encouraging them here. Things tight in the big countries too, so you have to give them discounted holidays. Before we recoup that repair bill, we will have to repair again.”

“Girl, you ain’t no economist or financial analyst, you didn’t even go to college. You think our Prime Minister’s stupid; we’re getting tourist dollars including entry fees to the cave. They buy from souvenirs from the shop that covers the cave’s mouth, too.”

“Spend money? Not these tourists nowadays. I don’t have letters after my name but as a hotel maid, I know what’s going on upfront before the analysts. They look at the picture afterwards as figures; I talk to tourists as people. Visitors ain’t spending, they aren’t even buying a postcard not when it is cheaper to take pictures as souvenirs; they don’t have to buy or develop film no more. Souvenirs? Most of the trinkets at that shop are marked “Made in China.”

“Maude, you’re behaving like an opposition politician, and they aren’t so negative about this.”

“Only Saying, the tourists don’t buy a lot from us … they’re into circulating their own money. We buy food and everything else from their countries so they can get what is familiar when they get here. Tourism is the reason we import 75 per cent of what we use in this country.”

“So if you’re against tourism, why you don’t find another job?”

“I’m speaking facts, I’m not against them. I’m saying a developing country CAN’T AFFORD TO spend thousands for tourists to go down a glorified hole to see the earth’s guts.”

(Postscript: This was written for Trifecta competition which asked bloggers to produce a post including the word ‘mouth’  defined  as:

3: something that resembles a mouth especially in affording entrance or exit: as

Related articles:

How Long To Pay Back $51 Million Barbados “Investment” In Harrison’s Cave?

Harrison’s Cave Reopens ( Barbados Government Information Service)

Coming out with all … powered by social media

Someone I knew came out. Nothing new but she is an ordinary person and I always associated ‘coming out’ with celebrities so her public declaration surprised me. In fact, I never understood coming out.

“Was I still inside, I asked my buddy who snapped that I was insensitive to gays. Honestly, I was provoking him into discussing the issue, to help me figure out why make the announcement.  Was it necessary?

“To have to come out suggested that you are different,” I say, ‘in any case is coming out only for gays?”

“It means you were keeping a part of your life private and is now making it public,” he replies.

“Why,” I ask.

“Are you a child that you have all these whys,” he answers and returns to his reading leaving me to ponder.

I’ve always thought that gay people and everyone else should follow his or her sexual orientation in choosing a partner and introduce that person to the important people in their life. So I never understood ‘coming out’ apart from the cases of celebrities, into whose lives outsiders feel they have a right to poke.  After all the speculation, a celebrity is likely to say ‘this is the story, takes it and leave me alone’.

I argue with myself that all relationships are kept private during the delicate early period and when you reach the couple stage, you allow it to become open. Some people you seek out to make an introduction, like your best friends or parents; others find out naturally. You don’t deny it, you admit it with pride.

Is that coming out, I ask myself. I instantly think I am wrong because ‘coming out’ suggest a public announcement.

Then I thought once more about this ordinary young mother posting her female lover on Facebook and proclaiming “me and my boo” to the world wide web of people.

Perhaps her reason is the same as that of the celebrities: “let the people talk and get over with it.” The avalanche of criticisms, congratulations, that peak of gossip/discussion will soon decline to a few whispers and then silence. Why walk slowly up the hill of gossip and hidden partnership when you can race to peak and head for normalcy?

I recalled a manager who announced to a staff meeting that his marriage was over. Two months later, it came up during a discussion on invitations for a staff function and it was discovered that workers who were absent from that staff meeting did not know of the separation.  The news had lost its gossip value so quickly that in an office known for rumour mongering, the otherwise juicy bit of information was squeezed dry by the announcement and did not spread outside the meeting.

So the manager came out. Is there a life lesson here for all of us, I asked myself?  Apart from our sexual orientation, we keep some ‘personal matters’ private while the public speculate, should we ‘come out’?

Pregnancy was one of these private matters, years ago. In the Caribbean, you would tell your inner circle that you are pregnant; the others found out naturally as your body grew. Now everyone is coming out with their pregnancy’ check the scans of the four week old blip. I know of the start, finish and mid-streams of many love relationships; I know where everyone is going or went; what they cook and if they got drunk or had a spliff.

Thanks to Facebook and other social media tools we are coming out with everything. We seem to have a desire to bury privacy and expose our every step to the world. Is that why my ordinary friend came out? Was it that necessary? Was the natural road too hard to follow? Is it a fad; a mimicking of celebrities? I am still trying to understand.

Cutting the Best Thing out the Sliced Bread Cliché

In today’s Daily Prompt Michelle said: Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread! What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?’

To me, there’s only one answer. This post which you are now reading called: 

Cutting the Best Thing out the Sliced Bread Cliché

English: cadifus

Whoever inventing the saying ‘best thing since sliced bread’   may be sadly watching for the slow descent of their phrase. He or she shouldn’t be sad for where else can the phrase go after rising to the peak status of cliché. Plateauing is the next stage or descent.

I believe the sliced bread saying is on the plateau, held back from a descent mainly by pre-college writers and a few other people. In secondary school days, my friends and I liked clichés, we thought they were cool. We felt like blooming literary giants using them.

Once all 25 of my fifth-form classmates wrote the words, greatest thing since sliced bread – in an essay called ‘A day in the life of a washing machine”. Our English teacher upbraided us  but now I think she should’ve been ashamed for setting us that cliché-type assignment.

Since then, I have read or heard many college professors, experts and writers bash clichés. On the internet, many articles discouraging cliché use. Here is a sampling.

They are “dull and unimaginative for the reader or listener.”

 “Clichés are dishonest. Clichés rob the reader of a true reading experience. It’s a Big Mac instead of filet mignon. It’s all gristle, no meat.”

“What was once a clever or interesting way of saying something has been used so much that it no longer has any force. It is a lazy way to speak and to write. Please, please take pity on those who read your text or listen to you speak, and do not use clichés,” http://englishmistakeswelcome.com/cliches.htm screams at us.

So we try to avoid the ‘best thing since sliced bread’ and his friends.  But as Review Review explains, “Sometimes it’s hard to spot a cliché. How about, “She burst into tears.” Is this a cliché? That’s a tough call.”

Like chameleons, these sneaky fellows slip into our writing, especially when we are being descriptive. Now, hunters are on the attack. Websites like University of Richmond’s Writing Center enter the picture armed with tools for cliché DNA testing and expulsion.

“When writing, question any comparison or image you are about to use,” advises the University of Richmond.  “Is the phrase you’re about to use one that you’ve heard frequently in casual conversation, newscasts, and advertising? If so, it is probably a cliché or on its way there.”

Some experienced in writing have made the cliché hunt easier by providing lists.


Cliche (Photo credit: Tom Newby Photography)

A few people are still on the cliché-side, though. The Review Review sees a place for them. “Normal people talk in clichés. Your characters probably talk in clichés. That’s, well, normal,’ it said.

“Clichés in internal monologue are okay too, but don’t overdo it.

Writer Dell Smith says: “I use “clichés as placeholders when I write a first or second draft. While tapping the emotion of the moment I may not know the perfect words to use. Later, I’ll come back with more objective eyes and manhandle these words down to their core meaning.”

A reprieve for my slice bread friend?

Maybe not, it has another problem. It contains bread. Nutritionists have people considering whether factory bread slicing can fall under the ‘best thing’ category. Slicing white bread? If this bread is not the best thing for healthy living then factory slicing which increases its convenience may not be good. Oh dear! My slice bread friend is between a rock and a hard place (gotcha).

Not all bread types are health risks, among those favoured are 100 per cent whole grain, rye, pumpernickel and cassava bread. In addition, eating a uniform portion, such as a factory-cut slice, is better than having to hand slice resulting in a large chunk on your plate. Factory slicing may therefore be helpful and with healthy bread, better, so we have preserved some of the value of the sliced bread and keep that cliché on the plateau. If fact, we may be able to say without causing raised eyebrows that this article is the ‘best thing since sliced bread’ that the writer was ‘thinking outside the box”. Ha ha!!

What do you think?

Related articles:

Let us now praise… the cliché (boston.com)

Why me… why so much pain?

One look into his bulging eyes and my heart burst under the weight of sudden excruciating pain. I open the door  with a “good-evening’ that conveys my faked cheerfulness.  He replies faintly audible in a voice strained by the residue of conflict.

I know he’s always unsettled by his demons who never release him from their grip though at times they slacken the pressure. Today, somehow, somewhere they’d run amok.

I want to know what happened yet I don’t want to know. He feigned normalcy, perhaps wanting to extend this rare patch of peace we’ve been experiencing recently but his manner betrays him. Every few minutes his chest rises aggressively, his nostrils flares and he fights hard to concentrate on eating his dinner, which today is his favourite boiled fish and vegetables.

Little calm exist in this stormy existence which I call motherhood that is my life. Depression is a regular companion so today I ball myself into a tight foetal wad and welcome it into my bosom as I lie in bed. What gave him these inner raging demons; why does he resort to settling his arguments with threats and fists? Where did I go wrong? Was it the long hours at work in his formative years? Other single mothers did that too but with good results, why not me?

Was it because a woman can’t father a son? Was it my choosing of the wrong sex partner turned absentee father but never caring dad? As usual my brain is too swamped to process and analyse any information. I know the past can’t help me; it can’t be erased so I skip the introspection and strain my brain to thinking about sources of help.

The Bible … for God alone knows, through pray He can help … the internet for 24/7 spiritual guidance. My browsing brings me to an article, When our children go astray. It tells of parents with similar troubles but life differs from fairy tales and the guarantee of a good outcome; the dreamed turnaround of a love one isn’t on that page.

Disillusioned, I am barely able to read it completely or objectively. Fear of the unknown grips me; flooding my whole body, turning my feet to liquid. No tears come to my eyes, though I’d welcome their release but my bladder is full.

The dreaded official knock comes. Bang, bang on the door. I know that knock no matter whose knuckles are doing the pounding; I know who’s there, no matter who’s wearing the uniform. Panic completely invades me and as I open the door my bladder empties itself of all my grief.

Tribute to Doverock: another Moses in the ultimate Promised Land.

Today Daily Prompt says: write your own eulogy. Here is mine.

Eulogy to Doverock

Good morning mourners, I am getting more ‘Goodbyes’ today than I’ve ever had”hellos”. That speaks volumes to the networks of my friends whom, I  believe, most of you are here to support.

My non-cyber space friends were few, three to be exact. I hid behind my computer, an anti-social blogger, writing posts hoping to cheer up the world, to make the world think and to make the world act. At times, I sought to educate or integrate; other times, I aimed to entertain or simply agitate.

My soul mate Caribbeanmarvel, often described me as an enigma; someone antisocial yet pro-social and expansive. But I did not see myself in descriptive terms. I was not an adjective rather I was a Caribbean woman on a mission, a modern day Moses leading thousands of followers  along the virtual timeless, borderless communication route towards the promised global village but unlike the Biblical Moses, my followers were not of one race or from one place.

English: Moses Sees the Promised Land from Afa...

English: Moses Sees the Promised Land from Afar, as in Numbers 27:12, by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I attracted and sought after people from all classes, nationalities, cultures, races, creed and sexual orientation. With my blog as my staff, this modern day Moses shared perspectives among my diverse group of followers, parting the sea of ignorance, freeing those enslaved by discrimination and ridding the world of pockets of bigotry.

I was not always liked or respected. Some people sampled my offerings and left without a comment not even to briefly acknowledge that they’d liked  or dislike what I had provided. Caribbeanmarvel, the describer, was always calling me a tenacious character; and would remark on my ability not to be thrown off by a man or woman’s fickle behaviour or disagreements over my ideas and methods.

Let me give you an example. Once I took a break, to read and research, so I could be better at my task but some people found a replacement. They said they had another hero. They went on to like someone else, in fact to worship someone who was freshly pressed, she was gold minted. But I forgave them and welcomed them back.

A friend said to me, “You are a sucker for punishment; and to think you are not paid for this job. All bloggers are egomaniacs, though and you are the chief among them.”

So mourners, this journey of blogging to a better tomorrow is a hard one with no thanks. I believed that by getting to know each other through blogs and other social media, we will lead others to the promised land of a globalised world, where mankind equitably share all the earth’s fruits.

I have gone to another place, but I hope you will draw from my experiences. To help you, I’ve summarised ten simple rules that helped me. Store them on your iPad, or any tablet of your choice.

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

  1. Remember that as a blogger you are both a follower and a leader. No other positions are more important than these.
  2. Do not believe that your opinions are supreme. No one has all the answers, no one is always right.
  3. Do not misuse anyone’s intellectual property.
  4. Take time off from your blog- to read, research and explore.
  5. Honour fellow-bloggers and visitors to your site. Reply to their comments and say ‘thank you’. By doing so, others will respect you and your days as a blogger will be rewarded.
  6. Be honest in your criticisms though sensitive enough not to kill another blogger’s spirit.
  7. Be faithful to those who you follow and your followers. Visit their blogs, comment on their posts. Don’t ignore them for months while you enjoy yourself with other bloggers. Provide good quality, well edited posts for your followers.
  8. Do not steal other people’s posts; re-blog, if permitted.
  9. Do not purposely misquote numbers, facts, and figures.
  10. Do not covet your fellow blogger’s freshly pressed award; his or her trifecta winner’s logo or any other blog challenge trophy ; his or her sense of humour or turn of phrase.

Your beloved departed is resting in peace and will rise in glory, Amen!

P.S. written for Daily Prompt: Dearly Departed.