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.

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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.

Letting Go

From 20 feet away, I saw her looking out her front window, as usual, with folded arms resting on the sill and cradling her head.

I exhaled. Ella was asleep, so I moved stealthily. Good morning“, I heard as soon as I was within her line of vision.

“Good morning Miss Ella,” I replied muttering under my breath, “you have inbuilt motion sensors?”

“What?” she asked.

“I was saying, ‘everyone is fine at home, thank you.” I’d planned to add that to my greeting since she normally asked about my family and while I was replying, she would search for another topic to lengthen our conversation.

I quickened my pace hoping to be out of earshot before her 89-year old brain could react but she was fast.

“Not going to church this morning? I will tell the priest you are off to do the devil’s business,” she chuckled.

“No service this morning,” I replied. Time was ticking on my full schedule while her only chore was trapping passers-by into long conversations but I couldn’t ignore a lonely old lady dressed in her Sunday best on Tuesday.

“Senility isn’t wrecking my brain; it’s loneliness,” she said “old age is a bitch. Eat, drink, look out this window; that’s who I’ve become. No one to chat with, unless someone like you pass by and spare a minute with an old bird.”

My head dropped in shame. I left an hour later, my soul at peace but my schedule wrecked and my heart broken from looking deep inside old age.

She’d spoken with pride about being able, as a single mother, to pay her children’s fare so they could migrate to jobs in London during the 1950’s. They send me money now but I need to feel loved, she’d said, her eyes filled with tears.

“Was I right to let them go? ”

P.S. I wrote this partially true story for the trifecta which challenged writers to produce a story of between 33 and 333 words using the word ‘bitch’ defined as “something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant”. 

Should I have cut my story at three paragraphs before the end and add more words conveying feeling earlier? Or would that be over done? Please tell me?

All hail electronic friendships … down with traditional friendship

English: happy friendship day

Are you in the right group? Are you compatible with the others within your circle?

You may think the answer is ‘yes’ but suddenly you have an awakening that straightens you out. You ask yourself: financially, emotionally and intellectually, am I properly matched.

Examining yourself within that framework can be revealing. In fact, I’ve learnt that such an examination should be guided by what others think since this shapes their attitude towards you. You may consider yourself an equal but they may see you as the group’s football not purposely but because you sit on a low rung of the financial, emotional or intellectual ladder.

That is why I believe that traditional friendships that thrive on physical contact are overrated and are losing importance. An ‘electronic friendship’ is focused on the common areas between persons and the matters that are likely to cause division are downgraded in these modern ‘distant’ relationship.

Social media widens your circle of contacts, expanding areas of interests, places and races from which you can draw friends. Differences in time zones instead of reducing opportunities for relationships are now broadening them. Whether your sleep pattern classifies you as an early bird or an owl, you can tap into the computer and find someone anytime for a chat.

On a recent television programme a group of mental health experts promoted the view that social media and other digital technology tools were causing people to be more distant with each other and was therefore breeding loneliness and leading to an increase in cases of depression.

I strongly disagree.

During my recent awakening I’ve realise that my electronic friends are not interesting in things external to our common areas; and having a variety means all areas of my life are fulfilled. They encourage me and seldom put me down. Traditional friends on the other hand disappeared with negative changes in my fortunes; loss of my job, declining finances and so on.

So off, I go nurturing my electronic friends.

Sex on the first date, anyone? What about if I gave you a gift?

Film poster for Casual Sex? - Copyright 1988, ...

Today’s Jamaica Observer on-line forced me to recall a discussion which years ago kept several of my friends locked in discussion for many months. It seemed then that the conversations in every group – no matter the permutation- would reach the point where someone would ask: “Why women can’t have sex on the first date without someone bashing them?”

The ‘with-it’ women argued against “old-fashioned sexist ideals’ as they agitated for equal rights with men. “We are working for ourselves; we are in careers similar to men, we are independent, why can’t we screw men on the first date if it feels right.”

Those taking the moral high ground would quote the Bible only to be slapped down by others citing the very Bible as support by using the story of David and Bathsheba or other Bible heroes who had concubines.  It was usual for this Bible discussion to be doused by someone who would simply say: “Why intellectualise, if he looks hot, and I feel hot why not out each other fires.”

Of course, comments about sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies would be thrown around and these would lock horns with arguments about condoms. A winner could never be declared but this was never, I think, the point of the debates.

Dr. Sandra KnightThose views roamed through my brain as I read the passionate plea of the chairman of Jamaica’s National Family Planning Board (NFPB), Dr Sandra Knight: “… for sex to become a part of a context where it’s not a man-meet-woman-and-go-to-bed situation …
“where (Jamaicans) are thinking about (their) families, and thinking about a mate with which to have a family.”

I asked myself, how many people having casual sex are thinking about a life partner? Aren’t they either satisfying an urge or having sex for transactional reasons? To find an answer, I tried hard to remember the details of those past fierce and friendly debates that revolved around the right time to have sex. This mental search produced flashes of friends and acquaintances, who bravely confessed with smug smiles to enjoying sex-at-first encounter with someone they didn’t care to see again. It was just satisfying a primal desire.

Today, some of them are married with children and are now preaching from that moral high ground. They even scorn the ‘third date rule’ which media reports suggest that western cultures use to determine the ‘sex date’ or the appropriate time for a new couple to ‘go all the way’.

I agree that anyone who took a path, they later recognised as dangerous, is likely to encourage others to avoid that route but I believe such guidance should be laced with empathy, or it is likely to be rejected.

I can’t help but wonder whether we are too self-righteous in our approaches, to reap the full potential of our programmes.

To me, the Gleaner story is not only a Jamaica story but a Barbados story, a Caribbean story. Therefore I look at the many messages promoted by my mother’s and grandmother’s generations which were aimed at taming the sexual behaviour of the then  ‘wuffless (worthless) young people.’

These elders dished out condemnation and advice although the village held many examples of a man having two or more families at the same time: one at the house where he slept with his wife or recognised partner and one or two more in homes where he did not spend a whole night but was the chief financial and sex provider  as well as the father of several children. The ages of these children bore evidence that as one woman was hugely pregnant, he was doing his best to impregnate  one or two others.

Seeing this, the message from those older folk was hypocritical and I wondered if that affected its potency? All these things, I pondered.

In Jamaica, the 2012 HIV/AIDS Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviour Survey showed that 53 per cent males and 23 per cent females surveyed had sex for money or gifts since the last survey in 2008.

Poverty has encouraged transactional sex; a woman would give someone ‘a piece’ in exchange for money, food or some favour needed to properly provide for her children.  I do not know the Jamaica situation intimately but in Barbados, there are now some cases of young people -boys and girls selling their bodies to buy the latest gadgets; popular brand shoes and bags. The buyers are not people of their own age but older men and women, some in church and others in dance halls. Our messages are usual towards the sellers but what about the buyers? A market need both supply and demand to flourish.

Is it about poverty? To me it is about the definition of poverty. The United Nation Development Propgramme defines poverty by income per day but under peer pressure, poor is seen as not having those things that are owned by the ‘average’ person. It is somewhere entangled in that mess of  “longing to belong” and thrives in our materialistic world, where overpriced brands and unnecessary show pieces can be used to judge a person’s worth.

We therefore need to relook our message to ensure that they are compatible with today’s realities; that when we speak we do so with sincerity and empathy.

This sincerity must lead us to target men in our programmes with as much vigour as we target women rather than to behave as if women are the only gatekeepers of our countries’ morals. I say so I note Dr. Knight’s concern that more Jamaican young women were lowering their standards to sleep with multiple males in exchange for material possessions. This statement in light of figures that show 23 per cent of women compared with 53 per cent males were having transactional sex.

Babysit my child… Not me!

I have never babysat my children and I never WILL!” my friend was ranting, so I was quiet allowing him to defuse his emotional bomb.
What could I say? I was unsure where the outburst came from and more importantly what it meant. So like John Keats’ naughty little boy, I stood in my shoes and I wondered.
He was livid which was unusual. ‘Tom’ is a peaceful, mild-manner soul who up until then I thought was impossible to provoke, but I had done so; I hit his emotional anger main. So I flipped through the mental pages of our conversation looking for the point in the script that led to this outburst, which I was now fighting hard to crowd out.
A few moments ago, I was talking to him about the rewarding learning experience I had as part of a small supportive group that attended my friend’s defence of her doctoral thesis. She had researched love-power and its effect on gender roles in contemporary middle class relationship. My female bias was evident as I emphasised that society had slotted certain domestic chores under the female category and even top middle-class ranking career women in the Caribbean were still following this categorisation. So, why was he getting so upset?
“Women are just as responsible. In fact, you are the chief offenders, I hear it every time one of you says it and it grates me!” he said.
Yes, that is it! In a small footnote during our conversation, I mentioned that people, men and women used words that keep the culture going but I had not gone into detail rather I had ploughed into other evidence.

“My children are mine as much as they are hers; I cannot physical carry them before birth, but I do afterwards. I am not a hired hand!”

I knew he was calming down because he was zeroing in on substantive bits of his argument. He was logical.  I was pleased because he confirmed that I never referring to him performing his fatherly role as baby-sitting. Perhaps I never did because babysitting isn’t part of my culture. In my lower-class rural Barbadian upbringing of extended families, when parents, usually a single mother, were going out, children remained at a home with an older sibling or went to a relative or a neighbour –whose relationship with the family was so close that you did not know that you were not blood relatives. The script used was “You gine by Aunty X or Momma G, she keeping you till I get back.” Keeping by practice meant caring and loving as if you belonged to that family unit. Babysitting is therefore not in the forefront of my vocabulary; it is one of those words popularised with cultural penetration through movies and books. It conjures up in my mind teenagers earning pocket-money.
Some of us therefore in Caribbean, particularly Barbados, use words that reinforce these stereotypes. Without deep thought, we choose words to suggest that men help us in the kitchen or in the laundry room for example, as if it is exclusively our duty.
Watch your speech and see how actions will follow suit and stereotypes changed.

Do you use words that encourage role stereotyping? What are they? Do you think women and men should have society prescribed roles?

Acting out “War on the earth” for Xmas … Peace on earth, why?

bellxmas

Christmas reaps havoc on the earth “Peace on earth, goodwill to men?   Stupse!!

As we mad-scramble through shops grabbing the latest gadgets to wrap as gifts; decorations to Yuletide-enhanced our homes or as we  rush through supermarkets with carts overloaded with food, do we remember, Peace on earth or goodwill to men?
Hold the  ‘Peace-on-earth’ part in your mind while visualising the increase in garbage that Christmas behaviour brings.  Don’t counting the garbage that comes from the cleaning up of surroundings that people do at this time of the year. I am speaking about the packaging that engulfs the items we buy; the plastic Christmas trees, the live trees cut down and later burnt and so on.
In other words, I am speaking about the long list of environmentally unfriendly things that we have to dispose of as a result of our Christmas celebrations.  Our Christmas behaviour does a lot of damage to the environment; it is a big problem in our small Caribbean countries where we are battling with landfill and other sanitation related challenges. So my advice to the environment is beware, instead of “peace on earth,” it is “war on the earth” season.

If you add the “goodwill to men” phrase to the peace on earth, what is the result?  Our Christmas behaviour is incongruent to the message of Christmas.

A1Capture

Check out the aggressive behaviour of shoppers, snatching shopping carts and later ‘must-have’ toys from each other; shoving through shops aisles in a race to reach the cashier, first. Then they burst out of the doors and drop a few dollars penitently in the Salvation Army kettle. Is that for absolution or is it the biblical pieces of silver?
The answer lies in their action on the way home; blaring horns at drivers that tarry a second at the change to a green traffic light and cussing pedestrians, including the elderly and children that walk ‘too slowly’ on the zebra crossing.  In the Caribbean, it is “why the F&@K you can’t stand home?” or “ why de R&@S H$%$ you din left home dem children?   Enough say!!

Is  peace on earth a ‘no no’… in this world of unceasing war ? 75px-PeaceOnEarthFilmWe have war zones like the Middle East and here in our Caribbean, there have been so many homicides that a United Nation’s official labelled the region as one of the most world’s most violent; high level of domestic violence in our homes, too depressing!  In history lessons we read about cease fires at Christmas during war with soldiers playing friendly football against each other; that IS history.

I am leaving you to think about Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Man”, this Christmas. That it is in the Bible and you are not Christian is insignificant; if you are celebrating Christmas, don’t you think you  should understand its message? Sorry, you may be celebrating Xmas or following the crowd, but consider giving yourself the think gift.

Why sweeten the sweet?

A pedestrian walks along a remote road lined w...

A pedestrian walks along a remote road lined with sugar cane. Saint Philip, Barbados. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dark, I had to talk to you. It is about this sugar thing, I don’t mean diabetes but brown sugar, de type my daddy used to boil down at Three Houses factory; de type dat you tell me my great grandfather, Judge Maynard used to help mek by stoking fire at Three Houses. Every way I go I finding muff, muff sugar.

It is like Bajans recognise that sugar is no longer king here and they want to restore it back to prominence. Or perhaps they heard the Minister of Agriculture say that we are not selling anymore sugar to Europe but will use our production for local consumption, so out of patritoism they feel they have to consume all in one mouthful.

But Dark, they misunderstand the Minister because it isn’t like Barbados has lots of choices. It is costing us more to produce one tonne of sugar than the price the international market is willing to pay but the Europeans were doing us a favour. They know they exploited their former colonies excessively, so they owe us, and were buying our sugar expensive when they could get it elsewhere at a cheap price.

Anyway, the rest of countries quarrel and threaten them so the Europeans agree that they will soon be paying us whatever pittance is the going rate on the world market. But that is another story and yes, I was ‘peeping under myself’ I should’ve said the Agriculture Minister played a public relations trick on Barbadians but it is general elections time so I am holding those thoughts close to my chest. I will tell you about our sugar policy in another post, but I want to tell you about misusing sugar, now.

Dark, I know you will say it serves me right because by example and by word you taught me not to buy already cooked food but I was supporting a cause, so I bought two stew dumplings and you know how I love them. I ate one; a single one.

Dark, it gave a belly ache out of this world; I was rolling up on the ground, crying long water out my eyes. Rashidi took pity and gave me a dose of black pepper in hot water but I was bawling so he handed me some peppermint essence to wash down the black pepper tea and then he went outside searching for gully root to boil so I could get lasting relief.

Those stew dumplings were really conkies because they contained more sugar than corn; more sugar than pumpkin; more sugar than coconut. You know what else had my stomachin an uproar? I know this one will shock you so I will whisper.

“The fish cakes had in sugar. As God is my judge that is the truth!”

I will never lie to you about something so serious. It was tantamount to being sacrilegious. It was blasphemy in fishcake town, if ‘fishcakians’ petition the Director of Public Prosecutions to start a trial against the fishcake maker, I will testify.

I wanted to tell you about something else long ago but I know I was disappointing you so I zipped my mouth but I am confessing now. Earlier this year, I went from church fair to church fair and bought pudding and souse. Good thing, I don’t eat pudding stuffed in pig belly strands instead I choose the one cooked in a pie dish.

Nowadays, they washing the ‘pig guts’ with soap powder or blue soap; you used natural water, lime and salt or a tip of vinegar. Not these new fashioned folks! I saw them with the soap and my friend tasted the soapy flavour but I don’t eat strands so it is the sugar in the mixture that got me.

Today’s pudding sweet, sweet, like sugar cake and brown like chocolate; at every fair I attended that is the going flavour and look. Sweet and savour like Chinese food but I am a West Indian, I want all savour even if it contains lots of pepper. I threw away many dollars in pudding. Oh how,  I miss your cooking!

This sugar trend is a serious matter though, not only because of my wasted money but Barbados has many cases of diabetes.

Remember Joe Muggs, well his son, Donville is Minister of Health. You know Joe (for me, Mr. Inniss) is dead. You must know because you must have heard him over there by now, Joe don’t keep his mouth quiet. Donville is like Joe. Donville speaks his mind although being a politician will push him to bend the truth, but  like a loyal Philippian (from the parish of St. Philip), he speaks the truth generally, so I will let you read the Government Information Service story which quotes him.

While noting that the prevalence of diabetes in adults in Barbados stood at 16.4%, Trinidad and Tobago 12.7%, Jamaica 12.6% and Belize 12.4%, he (Donville) said, “Our region, and Barbados in particular, has the highest prevalence rate in the Americas.”

The Health Minister also gave some startling figures on the disease … pointing out that it was the third leading cause of blindness here; that major and minor lower limb amputations averaged almost 200 per year, with Barbados being regarded, over the years, as the amputation capital of world.

He added that 40% of persons on dialysis had some kind of diabetic-related kidney disease, and … the average length of stay for a diabetic patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was 17 days, whereas the overall average stay was 6 1/2 days.

So you see the situation is bad. Many organisations, including work places and churches have started health promotion campaigns;  Government too. The television station carried infomercials about living healthy including the merits of keeping fit and the dangers  of the high salt content in processed foods but not a word about sugar use.

We make it so like rum, we have to use it excessively; that seems to be the ethos.Bathsheba, St. Joseph

Sweet Barbados as shown by this scene at Bathsheba, St. Joseph. Compliments: JProject2k2 Production Presents

Barbados is sweet already, so why sweetened the sweet? Anyway, I will talk to you later, I am waiting to hear what everybody else has to say but your comment will reign supreme. Love ya, Dark, the real brown sugar.

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