Have merSEA!

Well my Son-son is 11, in standard five in primary school and about to write the big Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam this Thursday. According to Trini culture and lore, this is the most important exam of a student’s life, destined to make you or break you depending on which secondary school you are headed when the results come in. Parents cry, teachers lose hair and the children drill mathematical formulae, grammatical exercises and seemingly endless compositions up until the dreaded day that they aim to get their first choice out of four. Cue ominous voice:

may_the_fourth_be_with_you_by_themooken-da1apux

http://themooken.deviantart.com/art/May-the-fourth-be-with-you-606841449

Knowing that he is prone to anxiety, I laid all the pressure on Son-son on standard four and eased off the valve considerably. As the date draws near, I think I am more anxious than he is. However my anxiety stems from the fact that I am completely FED UP! of the preparation for the exam. I’m so thankful that his teacher is so meticulous, another parent told me some time ago that he has a ‘system’ to churn out boys to perform at the SEA exam. But at this point if I see YET ANOTHER quasi difficult poem, I will scream. I think a couple of nights ago was the last straw.  He came and said he read the poem and didn’t understand it. So I took a look. This is a poem called Children’s Song by R.S. Thomas which he had to read and answer about ten questions:

We live in our own world,
A world that is too small
For you to stoop and enter
Even on hands and knees,
The adult subterfuge.
And though you probe and pry
With analytic eye,
And eavesdrop all our talk
With an amused look,
You cannot find the centre
Where we dance, where we play,
Where life is still asleep
Under the closed flower,
Under the smooth shell
Of eggs in the cupped nest
That mock the faded blue
Of your remoter heaven.
 
Ronald Stuart Thomas
Dafuq is subterfuge??? ‘Remoter heaven’??? My poor child!
I mean honestly, I get the gist of the poem, but I think it’s a bit much for an 11 year old to find extra deep metaphorical meaning in a high stakes exam. I understand that the poem is usually the difficult part of the exam but have mercy, this or any poem like it reads like stress! The questions that followed were even worse.
So these last few days I haven’t been harping on him at all partly because I think he’s reached his zenith and partly because again…me…fed up…. He had practice tests for the past two Saturdays and beyond that I gave him a free pass to the TV and the games on his tab. Of course everything was done in moderation so he also had to clean inside my car and do his regular chores as well. I don’t want this SEA pressure to fold him in even before the exam.
Thursday morning I plan to wake him up, act as normally as possible and not make a big deal about it. On our way there, he may get a Bruno Mars karaoke session, lame jokes in the car and I’ll kick him out with a hug and a ‘good luck dude’! If I get the butterflies, they’re going to remain in stasis at the very least until he’s out of my sight. I hope I don’t wig out. This SEA can’t drown us both.
Bless up
TMIDM

Leave de people zaboca!

My neighbour has a huge avocado tree.

 

Zaboca
“Avocado = Zaboca”

From the beginning of the zaboca season I have been peering out my louvres watching with anticipation as like the years before this, many a fruit lean over on my side of the fence. In this age of Facebook Tasty videos and Pinterest recipes, I eagerly began to concoct many uses for said zaboca when they land on my kitchen counter.

And so it came to pass that the fruit on my side became full. My mother came to visit, reminded me that when the skin looks dull you pick it,  then proceeded to make her way off with one. My husband was repeatedly harassed to pick the high ones. My older sister appeared, did her thing and promised to return. Meanwhile I had zaboca wrapped in newspaper and with gremlinz disliking and husband eating when he felt like it, I eventually enjoyed with bake, pelau, toast, tuna and even by itself. I considered it a luxury. A zaboca is at least $20 anywhere you go yuh know!

Anyway enter my 7-year old Mam’zelle…..

One random afternoon: “Mummy, you know that pear thing?…….I think you should stop stealing it…:”. Me: “‘scuse???”.

What followed was a confirmation that it was indeed the zaboca she was talking about, that I shouldn’t steal it because it’s not mine and that the tree isn’t growing on my side so I mustn’t take it. You can well imagine the mix of emotions, from ‘ay ay, just so?’ (*confusion), to ‘papa!’ (*pride), to ‘daiz not true’ (*denial) to ‘oh gorm ariite nah’ (*shame/resignation). To be honest I wasn’t feeling too shame nah! 😀 but obviously I knew what she was saying. I keep talking to her and Son-son about these things and it is refreshing to know that the repetitiveness and the preaching about morals and values stick. I just didn’t expect it to backfire on me! Ha ha! Lesson learnt.

So what did I say? Well I tried to worm my way out of it and told her that the neighbours didn’t mind, we have an understanding over the years. I wouldn’t feel any which way if I saw my neighbours picking mangoes from my ginormous tree, it’s not like I can get them across there anyway. She said I must still go across with my bag and ask. I compared it to the plum tree that drops plums all over. She defended and said the zaboca didn’t ‘drop’ and that I was picking it. “But it on my siiiiiide!!” I protested. She said that it didn’t make it right and when I picked them I was supposed to put it back over the fence…..(fat chance of that happening…..$20 for one eh!!). I did relent and say that I would stop picking them (but I’m taking them when they fall!).

I guess I never stepped back to visualise how it would look to her but I’m super glad that she’s so observant and capable of making independent conclusions. I must be doing something right even though in her eyes I wasn’t perfect at that moment. I’m glad she was able to call me out on it too but she was always fearless and defiant in her own way which can be admittedly frustrating at times.

In the mean time anyone fancy some guacamole for dinner with me tonight?

Bless up

TMIDM

As The World Turns

 

*dusts off cobwebs again…….

So much has changed that I had to actually go back to the About Me section of my blog and switch up a few things…most notably that I’m no longer dreadlocked, no longer a student and now a Trini Mom in the Middle of THREE children! My world is still spinning on its axis though.earth-spinning-rotating-animation-25

I cut my locks simply because they were getting too long and I felt like I needed something new with my hair. It’s so strange how people react when you cut your hair, I cut it Christmas last year and people STILL ask me “why I cut it” and “if I’m growing it back”. I get that locks is an “investment”, to some it’s a spiritual thing, to others a statement. To me it was just my hairstyle, not a measure of my blackness or a way to fall into a trend. I cut it, if I feel like it, I’ll grow it back, meanwhile the Earth still turns.

 

hair
I am not my hairrr…

I finished my Postgraduate Diploma in Education (yayyyyyy!!!!) which took up ALL of my spare time. I couldn’t even spare time to blog, the guilt was too much! It  was such an INTENSE programme crammed into less than a year that there were times I felt as though I was losing my mind. Sleepless nights, split personalities, loss of brain function…the works…And in the middle of essays, research, teaching in other schools and sitting through three-hour long evening sessions, I still had to pretend to adult: routine to uphold, two gremlinz to see about, household to maintain and of course my job to do. I’m done my life is back to normal, the world is still turning and I’m so glad I got out in one piece…..well maybe not ONE piece…….

bb
New gremlin!

So there is some talk that the DipEd would impact your personal life in various ways. I’ve heard of marriages, mental breakdowns, divorces and pregnancies. I found out I was pregnant in the middle of the programme which initially was very difficult for me to deal with as I had ZERO intentions of having another baby. I eventually got over the shock and simply went with the flow. To be a little more honest I didn’t really “feel” pregnant until my programme was done. I guess I dealt with it by putting it on the back burner, let my brain compartmentalise in order to function…..

This Trini Mom in D Middle of it all has had it to deal with over the past year or so. Hopefully within it all I can continue doing a better job in documenting it here. In the meantime, life spins on.

Bless up

TMIDM

TIME

Jeezanages…….

It sure has been a while hasn’t it? Ah too shame but you know what they say, Sometimes life gets in the way of having fun…..

Now I think Time is the most powerful force on the planet. I doh even know if Time is a force but it’s clearly pretty important and damn near priceless because we are all using it, some wasting it, racing against it, begging for more of it, wishing we could go back in it, wondering where it went and trying to spend the remainder of it the best we could.

I am in a persistent race with time simply because I value it so much so I don’t like to waste it at all. I am hustling every single day and at the end of each day I still beat up about what I should have done or what I could have slipped in. Then I plan for the next day and the cycle continues. Some people (read: my husband) get annoyed by this but it is simply the way I am wired. I hate leaving home late, I am always strategizing the distance and time to and from places, trips to run errands, workouts at the gym. Imagine I haven’t gone to the new Chaguaramas boardwalk yet because I seriously dread the outcoming traffic and I won’t even be the one driving! One of my closest friends suggested “Parang on the Boardwalk!” And as much as I’m a Christmas baby and I love anything Christmas-related and not to mention FREE!, my response was “Do you have a boat?”

Now October is the month of the year where I always think about Time, it’s my reflection month. My two gremlinz go up a year, Mamzelle on Thursday, Son-son exactly one week after and this year he is entering double digits!!! The big 1-0! (Cue ensuing staring into space trying to recall all memorable moments and frantic watching of baby pictures from now until next week…..) These days I casually observe them even more, I look at how he’s almost my height and she’s getting thick in the legs like me. I listen to them as they watch TV and enter into this university-level discussion about why pirates are fake, or why Flow trying to teach people Spanish in smart. I watch her storming his room and sleeping on his bed every…..single…..night and as frustrated as I am about this, (dis chile doh like to sleep a full night on her own bed at allll!!!) clearly neither of them seem to mind. In time to come that will change so maybe I should just cool it.

I try to remember what my freedom was like before I had the gremz and sometimes come up short. I know I went out and partied a lot but I can’t recall what I used to do in my spare alone time. I tend to study what the future would be like once they grow up and buss out God spare life. These days I’m starting to envision them in secondary school and wondering what their career specialties will be, my version of putting it out there in the universe I guess. I remember once I was in a deep reverie about them having their own children and their own lives and then I would be old and then die and they would have to put flowers on my grave in Lapeyrouse and I wouldn’t be around to watch them anymore and to tell them that I only want lilies and not dem cosquelle chrysanthemums that always appear on coffins in these wide-ass bouquets which I hate. I won’t lie, I shed actual tears during this stream of consciousness that happened only in my mind with my obsession about time. It didn’t help that I also had PMS.

Although October makes me stop and think, there’s no sense in me telling myself that I will slow down to smell the roses, this only happens when I’m on vacation. I keeps it real but neither will I ‘sleep when ah dead’ either. Life is about maintaining balance I suppose and I am certain I’m not the only one who feels the same. In the meantime I’m living and the clock is ticking.

WWW.TRUTHFORLIFE.ORG

Bless up

TMIDM

About Trinidad Carnival…….

impressivemagazine.com

Random musings I’ve had over the past month or so heralding the greatest show on Earth:

  • I love Carnival, the excitement, revelry, anticipation, joy, splendor, colour! but something this year was lacking.
  • The soca music this year left much to be desired. I’ve found myself waiting and waiting for the great ones and save a few I could count on one hand (‘Like a Boss’, ‘Lucy’, ‘My Home’…), there wasn’t a selection of music to raise the pores.
  • Machel Montano is not doing it like a boss, he is simply a boss…the end. The passion he has for soca music is what puts him ahead of the game. Other artistes don’t exhibit the level of near madness with their performances, this is why Machel is ahead. Everybody else battle for second.
  • When did I become priced out of fetes? Being a member of the middle class (read: working poor) means that I can no longer afford fetes I used to attend (that $850 for Central Bank’s All Inclusive fete threw me for a loop)…and no I’m not taking out a loan….and no, I did not save up all year for Carnival….and no, I’m not paying over a grand to party even if I could…but yes, if that ticket is free :). I know I’m in a minority.
  • I looove Kiddies Carnival but whyyy Lord is the sun so hot on Carnival Saturday as opposed to Monday and Tuesday? I skipped it for that reason (thankfully the gremz didn’t play) and chose to go to Bunji Garlin’s children’s show in Arima Velodrome instead….which will probably never see me again…more on that later…
  • This Monday Wear thing is a runaway horse, it’s putting so much pressure on people to wear decorated bikinis like when the Carnival gods decided that sneakers were out and boots were in for the road. If I were playing mas this year, I would wear a tank and spandex boyshorts for spite.
  • You see this thing where you party in the night an go to work the next day normel normel, sometimes two, three nights in a row?, I can no longer achieve that feat.
  • Calypso Fiesta Saturday usually finds me on my couch for the entire show, eager to hear the picong*. This year, some delivered, others need a re-definition of calypso.
  • If I see my daughter swaying her hips while dancing which may be considered to be Trinidad wining, I will not condemn her. She does this in addition to the jumping, waving and hands in the air. She is a dancer so when the music hits, her whole body moves including her waistline. If however, her butt is rolling and rolling and she’s dropping it to the ground and that’s all she is doing, twerking song after song, I will drop the mic on her. I don’t know when parents will realize that this shit isn’t cute and this was in full display during the children’s show last Saturday. I was highly annoyed and it added to the lack of snacks (children party with no popcorn!?!), short performances and the whole rushed vibe of the thing. But hey the gremz seemed to have fun so what the hell.
  • I’m not in costume playing mas this year and I don’t miss it. I don’t know if I should feel scared that age is creeping up but I’m watching the pics of people having a ball on the road and I feel no pangs of longing or jealousy. Maybe I’m over it? We’ll see next year.
  • Finally, I still can’t believe I’m going to work tomorrow! Such a thing has never happened in recent memory! I don’t think I’ve ever gone to work the day after carnival, it’s going to be so strange. I may not know how to function after I get my ashes.

Have a great cool down!

TMIDM

*Picong or Piquant is light comical banter, usually at someone else’s expense. It is the way in which West Indians (particularly those in the Eastern Caribbean) tease, heckle and mock each other in a friendly manner. However, the line between humour and insult is fine and constantly shifting, and at times the convivial spirit may degenerate into more heated debate and perhaps, physical altercations. The ability to engage in picong without crossing over into insult is highly valued in the culture of calypso music. (Wikipedia)

In loco…

are you my mother

NOPE.

On this Universal Children’s Day 2014, I told three of my students that they were behaving like realllll jackasses and I put real stress on the ‘jackass’ as much as my Trini tongue could muster so that it sounded as caustic as I felt. I was also very loud, one of the usual tones used when I have to ‘dispense justice’. You know like long time when you used to see the F-word written in public transport but spelt with an ‘O’ instead of the ‘U’? That kinda enraged tone.

I recognise that children have rights. I recognise all 37 of those rights including the right to health, education, a good family and standard of living, play and protection from abuse. I recognise that without these rights children are doomed. What I don’t recognise or rather what I don’t ‘see’ with the human beings under the age of 18 that I encounter on a daily basis, is an acknowledgement and appreciation of these rights.

I don’t normally descend into the quasi-obscene but sometimes the shock value is absolutely necessary. I told them they were behaving like jackasses because a teacher was in class and they decided to pelt each other with paper, one of which struck the teacher on the forehead. What made it worse is that this is my form class, what made it even worse is that I am also the acting Dean, and the icing on this particular dessert is that these children know me and know the kinda shit I don’t stand for so why raise the beast with this horseplay nonsense especially if you don’t do it in when I am teaching?

You know there’s a saying that as a teacher you are in loco parentis which means you take the place of the parents with those under your charge. To be honest it’s not only a saying, it’s also a legal requirement. So sometimes I feel that if I am in loco of your parentis (and as a Spanish teacher this term is especially thrilling), I should act that way. SO! if your parentis feel like it is ok to play de ass in school, me, as your parentis (in loco) will greatly beg to differ and I will open my mouth to indicate such. So if my children whose rights I should respect, coming to school with no pen but combing hair and brushing shoes in class, I feel I should say what I need to say as I am in loco parentis. If my children, whose rights I should respect, are leaving their free textbooks home and writing all subjects in one notebook so their bags will be light, I feel I should say what I need to say to point out the error of their ways. If my children whose rights I should respect, do no homework and submit no assignments, yet somehow end up in bacchanal and fights, I feel I should do what I need to do to steer them in the right direction because clearly school is the wrong direction? Clearly you doh wanna be here? And this does not even begin to touch the surface of gambling, sex acts and narcotics on the school compound in other schools in this country. If I’m lying God strike me down. Thankfully it hasn’t reached there in my neck of the bush.

Now don’t get me wrong eh. Teaching is a vocation i.e. not something to be trifled with. This is why I could allow my emotion to shine forth in the way I feel will be effective. This is why I have to keep impressing upon these human beings under 18 that school is the only way out of the poverty that they are all desperately seeking to escape. But it only works if you put the work in. If I didn’t care, I would simply teach my subject for my particular period and the effort stops there. However, this feeling lasts up to the very point where I realize that my sanity is being endangered, in which case I draw the line and remember it’s only two humans that have passed through my vagina and I need to keep my atoms together for them and that third one that I share a bed with. At this point I stop being the inspirational ‘Lean on Me’ Morgan Freeman and become this guy:

Bless up

TMIDM

Germageddon

-

Ebola is at the forefront in many ways than one and you know when things are bad in Trinidad and Tobago when people start making up jokes as a coping mechanism.  So overheard a caller on the radio today: “You go by the doctor to find out if you have Ebola and the doctor tells you well hear nah,  you don’t have Ebola but you’re HIV Positive! which then makes you shout for joy: Thank you Jesus Thank the Lord!”. The radio announcer says he knows he shouldn’t be laughing but it’s funny because the thinking is at least you can live with HIV…sigh….Imagine the biggest debate in Trinidad and Tobago regarding Ebola is if to cancel Carnival in 2015…-_- Carnival yuh know, dat is what people studying!!!

10686618_879559012056605_750753635583562808_n

Everything is a joke in this country. That’s how we deal…..

This deadly disease is on my mind because germs are transmitted so easily as far as I see. No amount of pitchy hand-washing campaigns by the Ministry of Health and hand-sanitizers on sale in exotic fragrances of Japanese Cherry Blossom and Midnight Pomegranate can sway the fact that germs still bounce from here to there. People still sneeze and cough wildly in public, in taxis and buses and still talk animatedly over food being sold (watch your doubles vendor). Today I saw one of my students sucking her thumb and it dawned on me that it’s a habit that can exacerbate the germ-spreading much like biting the nails, both of which are mostly done so absent-mindedly, both of which are ever-present in schools….yikes….

I’m no germophobe but my mother always clued me in to germ-spreading when I was growing up so much so that I was forced to “see” germs being spread. So I used to press the button in the bus with my knuckle, open doors with my forearms/elbows, hold my bag on my shoulder when I have to use a public restroom, pump the soap with the corner of my wrist and I have hand sanitizer in every one of my handbags and my car. I’m not perfect with it and I certainly won’t reach my mom and her level of OCD where she takes grocery cheddar out of the plastic, washes it and then proceeds to slice……..yes…….I’ve talked to her about that.

My daughter Mam’zelle sucks her thumb, a habit she picked up before she breathed air. When she was born she was searching wildly for the finger by the mouth so much so the head nurse exclaimed “Aye Aye! She fass! Look she suckin finger! Chile yuh jus’ born!” I’ve never cut the habit with her because I too know the sweetness, so too my husband, same issue, same hand, (is thumb-sucking genetic?) and I figure she will cut that out very soon. She doesn’t do it in school which tells you the level of pride (or shame) that she has. So when I pick her up and I don’t hear her antics in the car, I know she’s sucking the thumb as though she suffered withdrawal and de feeling so sweet but then I have to yell about germs and cleanliness, rinse and repeat the following day. Sometimes she asks me “Can I suck my finger now?” or she would casually ask if I have hand-sanitizer as if we’re talking about the weather (“oh, by the way…”).

It’s all well and good with the common cold and sundry other mutated forms of viruses that I can battle with doctor visits, meds, excessive talking and frenzied harping and hand-washing but Ebola??? Who am I against a disease that is dismantling West Africa, is one-up in the US, crept into Brazil and made it’s way into Spain and Germany’s news headlines? I am praying to God that Ebola doesn’t make its way into Trinidad and Tobago because we are studying Carnival and at our very best I don’t think we are anywhere close to handling it the way we should and if it’s one thing about this country, ting does realll spread.

Stay safe and be wisely informed. Pick sense from nonsense.

Bless up

TMIDM

I just gotta say…

Thank God for the birds.

wiwords.com
wiwords.com

When I attended primary school in Port-of-Spain I had to get up at the rosy hour of 4:30 a.m. to get ready since I live in the east and we all know how loooovely the traffic is on the “East-West corridor” between 6am and 8am. It was not too difficult to  arise from slumber primarily because of a Keskidee  which lived in the lime tree outside my bedroom window. Every morning my sister and I would hear the shrill call and response: ‘Keskideeeeeeee! Keskideeeeeeee!’ which became our complimentary alarm clock courtesy Mother Nature herself.

I currently live in an area filled with fruit trees from mangoes to ‘five-fingers’ (carambola) so naturally there are birds EVERYWHERE. Technically I live in an aviary. My alarm is the track from the Rise and Shine video which I mentioned in a previous post and which basically tells me to get up and haul ass to the gym. By some truly extraordinary event my phone was off and thus no alarm was heard. I woke up on point though and after a moment of panic-realization-hesitation-resignation, I smiled and thanked God for the birds.

Bless up

TMIDM

P.S. If you attended primary school in Trinidad and Tobago in the eighties and experienced the joy of Boyo and Carla in the Republic Reader aaaand had heavy doses of choral speaking fed to you, you would remember this poem:

I know you by your yellow vest
You little keskidee
That suits so well that clean brown coat
That cling so close to thee

The little ring upon your head
That forms a little hat
Why if you stood with all the other birds
I would know you just by that

And if for fun you hide yourself
So that I could not see
I’d know you still, you pretty thing
When you sing…
I hear you sing…

Keskidee…
Keskidee…
Keskidee…

Random memory recall…..:)

Back in the Saddle

gym-exercise-friend-phone-confession-ecards-someecards

So my at home fitness plan isn’t going as well as expected. 😦 It wasn’t totally my fault but I admit I was derailed by laziness and end-of the month eating shenanigans which included outings, a wedding reception and my own wedding anniversary which brought its own version of calories, carbs and fat in the form of a guiltless,well-deserved Italian dinner. My mom was measuring me the other day to sew some work clothes and I (secretly) balked when she wrote down the sizings. Not to mention  pair of pants that I haven’t worn in a while left me doing the skinny jeans wiggle to get into. I didn’t need much encouraging to realize that I needed to kick myself into high gear and (finally) haul ass to the gym.

I hate the gym. I hate the grunting and people pretending not to scope you out but who secretly throw glances your way.  I hate the fight down for machines. I hate the clanking of weights by the men and I hate the post-workout selfies by the women. IT BLASTED ANNOYING!!!…….but I started back. One evening last week, I gave in to desperation and thankfully I wasn’t going to train that day because I was severely startled by the SHEER AMOUNT of people there that afternoon. Why de hell it had so much people (women) there was beyond me but I figure it has something to do with the fact that Carnival bands launch already and clearly this year’s theme across the board is “Hail to the V”:

10532562_10152551950576163_7037046779607520150_n                 Tribe-Vice

And well of course……

Fantasy-BlackSwan

 

(Photos courtesy Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Costume Photos. For these and more check the page on Facebook here.)

I am sitting out Carnival next year.

So I’m back in the saddle for my own personal fitness and in order to avoid the sycophants, I’m going to the gym in the morning from as early as 5 a.m., a feat never done before but I’ve accomplished three days of rising and getting there by that hour and I’m damn proud of myself. Additionally I don’t feel the pressure in the day to train in between seeing about the gremlinz. The only thing is that when I start back work in September for the new school term, I may have to go even earlier. I have help though. The following video wakes me up every morning. I grabbed the audio and set it as my alarm so I’m roused from sleep by one of the most motivational get-it-done-now exercise speeches I’ve ever heard in my life.  Take a look:

I think at some point my husband will get annoyed hearing this every morning but doesn’t it make you feel like instantly bursting a sweat? I’m getting it done man!

Bless up

TMIDM