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)

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)

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

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)

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?

Can’t toot my blog horn, ‘till it gets a hate button

“Why do you blog?” Avram asked. “Is it because you’re out-of work, you’re a rejected journalist?’

That got me pissed so I let my temper fly. I ranted:  “Blogging is better than journalism, if you subtract the monetary gain. Toot. Toot, it gives a horn to toot even if you don’t want to toot it for me.”

A hunting horn in Eb with a Bb stopping ventil...

A hunting horn in Eb with a Bb stopping ventil/ Cor de chasse en Mi bémol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People from Panama, Vietnam, de North Pole,  de South Pole, people that never know I cud write a sentence when I did a journalist, read me.“Numba two, no blog readers doan search for my phone numba and call me cursing me stink, stink; telling me ‘bout my muddah, doan mine they never see she.

“Numba 3, business people and politicans doan call my boss and say I should write ‘xyz’ like they in my mind or is my intellect.  Nobody doan fume to higher-ups: ‘I am pulling my ads because she wrote such and such…’ Nothing so, buddy!

“It add up to I get likes from readers, I is a boss analyst, a boss writer, a boss story teller. I don’t get no hate,” I tooted.

“Likes? What likes you talking bout you does get muff hates,” Avram said. She started she own rant:

“I check out your site and muff people visit but the foolishness you write left dem speechless, you doan see they doan say a word in the ‘leave a comment’ slot. More to besides one day 47 people visit you and only one click ‘like’ dat is 46 or more than 99 per cent that hate the dribble you write.”

That one floored me, I failing as a blogger, so I try to comfort myself by boasting that I getting traffic cause most of the tings the WordPress people say about increasing traffic I have covered.

“Covered what?’ Avram said “you minding dem wordpress people and ‘blog-napping’ people by hooking your blog to their Facebook accounts. Traffic? They ain’t even reading you if not your followers would equal or be more than your Facebook friends.

“And when it get to following de Daily Prompt, half of them outside your league, you can’t respond. Like today, they tell you to “toot your horn” what horn? Horn about likes? Horn about traffic? Your horn hoarse, girl! De only horn you ever had is a Bajan horn. Ha! Ha!”

(In Barbados, a person gets a horn if his or her partner is unfaithful. In Bajan parlance, we say: Mary put a horn in Tom. Translate: Mary was unfaithful to Tom. Vincentians use butt instead of horn.)

Horn Luggers

Horn Luggers (Photo credit: Randy Son Of Robert)

Self-plotted – Number 2

Diana drifted into consciousness to find George frenetically fanning her and mumbling the “Lord’s Prayer.” He was not a church goer and this was the only appeal to God, he knew.

Alternately, he’d passed a vial of smelling salts under her nose. She hated smelling salts but he felt it was exceptional at reviving people who’d fainted.

Realising she was alert, George raised his index finger to his lips  said, ‘I know’  and strolled towards the music room.

Soon the notes from the piano filled the house – harsh and violent. He was escaping, as usual. She’d married to a stranger who communicated through things.

(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 contains, “the notes from the piano” and adding it to my earlier piece of “self-Plotted”. Tell me how you think I am doing. Criticise me, laugh at or with me but please tell me your reaction. I am listening! Thanks!)

Paperless office … Ha, ha! Gotcha traitor.

Angela Aspen was willing to sacrifice her life.

“Take me instead of Princely Pine, I am softwood too,” she begged but the man in the big boots – aka Mr. Tablet Logger- consulted his handheld computer  and placed an orange neon sticker on Princely’s trunk.

What could she do? She had grown very fond of Princely. They did not share DNA nor did she have papers formalising their relationship but Princely was as much her offspring as if he had grown out of her roots like one of her many clones. She and he were joined by their hearts which were now being ripped apart by Princely’s imminent dislodgement from his spot a few feet away from the edge of her canopy which was his home all his life.

“Human beings seldom fulfil their promises, except those that lead to destruction of lives by war or by wreaking the ecosystem,” Angela Aspen cried.

Judas Hangs Himself

Judas Hangs Himself (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She was inconsolable. Her leaves, renowned for fluttering and trembling ever since Judas Iscariot hanged himself from one of her foreparents, were now quaking out of control.

Panicky and in pain!

She had given Princely hope every time Mr. Tablet Logger passed their way. Countless times, she reassuringly told the pine that he was young and by the time he was matured enough to go to the pulp mills, the humans would have long fulfilled their promise, thanks to digital technology.

Her thoughts drifted back to the day of the promise, about three decades ago when as a sapling she felt the growing excitement and hopefulness that was sweeping through the tree farm. She knew very important news was being shared because all the trees from every family in Tucky Timberlands- the Oaks, Birches, Spruces, Pines, Firs, Larches and Hemlocks – no matter their heights or flexibility were bending sequentially to each other like sports fans doing the Mexican wave.

Angela had heard about the wave from the gigantic elders who could see into the stadium, a few miles away. They had seen jubilant soccer and cricket fans celebrating in that fashion and had practised the motion. Afterwards whenever the wind blew strong, the whole of Tucky Timberlands ‘Mexican waved’ in celebration of any event that suited their fancy, for example the change of a season or the achievement of a goal by a tree or animal.

That day in question, they were Mexican waving, unaided by wind but spurred on by a desire to spread gripping news. She wondered what could be so important.

Eventually the news wave reached Angela. She learned that the only friendly and trustworthy human beings they all knew, the nature lovers, had been talking about a new development that would lead to a paperless office. The environmentalists, who were camping in the woods, said the development was causing much talk and their peers were joining leading business and financial experts to debate the implications that night on Radio 640.1.

Bob Braden plots the future of the paperless o...

On the dot of 9:00 p.m. when the campers turned on their battery-powered radio, every tree leaned in to get the facts first-hand and they cheered at the prediction that a paperless office was only a few years away. This, they heard, would be accompanied by recycling programmes worldwide that would see used paper transformed into usable materials.

The woods erupted in thunderous applause; branches and leaves snapped, breaking away from their hosts in glee. Everyone felt suddenly free; all the other plants and all creatures in the woods resorted to their primal sounds of merriment as they joined the tumultuous rejoicing. So loud was the noise that people in the nearby towns and villages called the meteorological office asking whether a typhoon was in progress.  The humans did not address him but Bullish Birch proffered an apt reply: “Fewer trees will be destroyed, the ecosystem MUST rejoice.”

But today, sapling Angela Aspen had grown into  “Disappointed tree” Angela Aspen and yet again she was mourning loss. She bowed her top so low that like Judas she kissed the clones that look up from her roots.  It was an accidental kiss of betrayal that happened because she was so ashamed to have believed mankind’s promises. She had only done so because the environmentalists were so positive about the outcome of man’s technological inventions.

Now she wanted to give up. She had grown weary of gaining and losing companions. Oh, how she had betrayed Princely Pine and all the trees that looked up to her for advice and hope. She cried out loudly, her voice echoing in the distant: “Take me! Take me! I have gained Judas’ character, I have caught his virus.”

But the logger with the big boots and tablet ignored her pleas. He moved on to chat with a worker in green overalls who displayed the company’s logo proudly on his left breast.

Princely saw Angela’s pain and opened his branches to form a specially conduit.  Normally when the wind filtered this special intertwining of branches, a cheerful tune would fill the woods and Angela would chuckle loudly and dance. But Princely’s unhappiness was so great that his branches responded lethargically and the song that escaped was a haunting dirge. More tears slid down Angela’s bark creating a pool of loneliness, desolation and hopelessness  that covered many of her clones.

The willowy aspen was almost friendless. Over the years, saplings were planted or they sprung up; they matured, were felled and carted off to become paper, lumber or fuels. But she remained to produce clones for Tucky Timberlands. Some said she was lucky but she felt she was a Judas and today underlined the fact that she was a helpless traitor like him.

The situation was hopeless for all trees in the farm, Angel thought.  She had reached that conclusion, a few days ago when a strong wind swayed her head so she got a peek into Tucky Timberlands’ office.

It was cluttered. Several stacks of paper documents were piled high on desks. There were also scores of files filled with paper receipts, bills and contracts as well as lots of containers of pencils and pens. The volume of paper bothered her most.  She had seen more paper in that one five-second peek than she had seen in the same office many years ago when she lived next door in the  nursery as a seedling.

In addition, the aspen had overheard a nature lover lamenting that nowadays every house had a computer and printer and householders were always printing something. He had added that every person who could write a sentence was calling him or herself an author and the number of self-published books was growing exponentially. Thanks to the same technology that was the promised route to  ‘paperlessness’.

So Angela knew the inevitable was happening. Her days with Princely Pine were ending. She thought about falling on Mr Tablet-Logger, as his punishment for sending Princely to the pulp mills. The logger was no match for her; she could take him down any time.

Aspens in Autumn, Elk Mountain Ranch, COAs she considered her next move, Angela saw Mr. Tablet Logger looking intently at his computer.  “They will need fewer workers, soon,” he said.

“It says here that ‘Google and a group of other  companies are encouraging users to help the environment  while saving  time and money this year by adopting a New Year’s resolution to go  paperless’.  The Paperless Coalition, which also includes partners HelloFax, Manilla,  HelloSign, Expensify, Xero, and Fujitsu ScanSnap,  is asking users to sign an  electronic pledge to go paperless in 2013,  and invite others to do the same.”

“I know this will mean fewer of us. Demand is going to drop more than in the 2009 recession when newspaper sales fell and things looked shaky for the industry here. Fujitsu is also bringing out the latest version of their ScanSnap line. Say it will bring the paperless office closer to reality.   Fewer workers, layoffs  … ” Mr. Tablet Logger grumbled unhappily.

He looked grim and afraid, so Angela roared with laughter as she imagined him getting his comeuppance. She was so excited that she didn’t hear his companion, Tory retort: “Yes? Heard that before!”

Here it says that ‘before encouraging people to go paperless, and particularly inferring that electronic services are better for the environment, Google and others need to examine their own impacts and perhaps might reflect that, on balance, print and paper can be a sustainable way to communicate’,” Tory countered.

“It is big business against big business, you think they will ever be a paperless office?  No, not unless trees get up and form they own multinational corporations.” He put his iPhone into his back pocket and walked towards Princely armed with a chain saw.

(P.S. Hi readers… here is my attempt at writing fiction. It was motivated by the paperless announcement. Tell me what you think. Criticism will help me grow. I am listening.)