Have a bit of Ambition

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Image from Project Life Mastery

 

With the start of a new year, people generally take the time to reflect on what they’ve accomplished in the previous year and make plans for the new one. There was a time when I would consistently make New Year’s Resolutions but then I stopped for a while because I thought any change that I wanted to make, I could make immediately.

However, there are some things that require that powerful four letter word- T-I-M-E. Maybe you would like to go on an exotic vacation but you are making car payments and need to wait until those 5 years have expired, maybe you want to apply for a new job but the position you’ve been eyeing requires years of earning a professional certification or degree. So, with this in mind,  it is wise to think about the opportunities that come with a new year.

Maybe you always wanted to learn Spanish, there is probably registration going on right now, maybe you want to go back to school, you have months to get ready for the next semester. Take advantage of these opportunities. Continue reading

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I made it :)

I made it through my 2017 Book Reading Challenge. I read 11 books. You can check 2017 Book Challenge and UGGGHH! 2017 is coming to an End! for a background on my reading challenge. I am glad to report however that I exceeded my goal. I complete The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde and George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

I am so proud of myself to have been able to unveil what has been in books of great renown. The books I’ve read this year, I believe, have their reputations for good reason and I feel am so thrilled to be able to say I know what these books are actually about.

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Finding my Black Beauty

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Painting by Lois Mailou Jones from Katie Lazo’s Art Blog

 

I have been becoming more comfortable creating my identity. I have been shaking off more of the ideals placed on me by others and ideals I have placed on myself. In relation to my blackness, I have been feeling more confident in believing in the beauty of my blackness even when support from others is lacking. Continue reading

2017 Book Challenge

From the beginning of time I’ve said to myself that I want to be a “well-read” person. However, that hasn’t been going too well. I do read a lot of random ish and know a bit about books that are likely to make any list of books that you should read. The thing is I’ve barely read any books cover to cover. The chagrin at this admission is overwhelming. To combat this shame, I’ve decided to actually take the time to do the things that I think are admirable as opposed to passively view reading or any other activity as something out of reach.

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I decided to put myself on a challenge to read 10 books this year after reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in May. A flatmate told me that the movie was “sweet” so I watched it and decided to read the book after. It was then that I realized that even though I planned to read the book for years and knew that it was well acclaimed, I still needed to know in short order that it was going to be an enjoyable book. I wanted to know how a book ended before I read it and that is a desire that I am still battling with. Continue reading

Insecure Season Finale

Yes, this post is hella late so let’s get right to it.

The season finale of HBO’s successful show Insecure was dubbed Hella Perspective as the show displayed what was happening in the lives of key characters- Lawrence, Molly and Issa.

 

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Lawrence showing up at the apartment he once shared with Issa. Photo from Spoiler TV

We see that Lawrence actually pursued a relationship with Aparna but he is battling insecurities as he knows that Aparna slept with a co- worker and she seems to be quite comfy with said co-worker to date. Mr. Lawrence just does not know how to be single and is walking about bruised from Issa cheating on him. He gets into an argument with Aparna in his car over her relationship with the co- worker when Aparna sees a call coming in from Issa on Lawrence’s phone and she walks out. Oh and I’m ready for Lawrence to walk out of this show because he is hella boring.

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Molly at work meeting. Photo from YouTube

Moving on, we see that Molly is back to seeing her therapist (YAY!) and decides to open up herself to the possibility of dating the brother with the “pastor’s body.” This is where I had to say nay. I saw people on social media saying that Molly should give this man a chance after the previous episode but I do not believe in forcing feelings in a relationship. Yes, be open to the possibility of doing things outside the norm but please do not force the feelings. Molly, open up yourself to possibly seeing this guy romantically but do not try to conjure something that isn’t there. All I could see coming from someone doing something like this is hurt, pain and possible cheating because you find out later on that you really are not interested in the person on that level.

Anyway, we see Molly being a good friend to Issa and the two ladies dressing up in traditional Moroccan garb (Issa got the man’s garment while Molly got the lady’s wear, lol :D) as Issa could not afford to go on an exotic vacation. We also see Sister Molly trying on some lingerie and opens the door looking like she’s ready for some action… and who’s outside the door? Dro. 😦 😦 😦 NNNNNNOOOOO!!!!! I really do not get what Molly sees in Dro. She knows she cannot have a flourishing relationship with this man so why is she still messing with him? If it is just sex, we saw that she had no issue in that department in previous episodes so she needs to just let No… I mean Dro go.

 

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Issa supporting Kelli at marathon. Photo from Colour

Then we reach Issa. Issa decidess to move in with her brother because she cannot afford the rising rent. She has to do a final walk through and her brother gives her a ride back to the old apartment. Before moving out, Issa told Lawrence that he could come and collect his “bouch” between a certain time because she wouldn’t be there. But when Issa came into the house she saw Lawrence there where they had a heart to heart discussion that many people said was needed. I’m the type of person who doesn’t need an apology to forgive or move on but Issa and Lawrence benefited from the discourse as Lawrence FINALLY said that he wasn’t ish for the past two years. #growth The two tell each other that they love each other and Lawrence begins to leave but turns around, drops on one knee, asks Issa to marry him and their future just goes on to be sunlight bright… in Issa’s head. But Lawrence bids Issa farewell in real life.

Then we see Issa showing up at someone’s house and we could foresee that living with her brother would have been problematic because he is just tew much (spelling deliberate) but when Issa shows up at the house, who answers the door? Sexy body Daniel and Issa says, “I’m sleeping on the couch” and Daniel nonchalantly responds with, “I know.”  Some persons online were disappointed in Issa “going back” to Daniel but I see no issues. She has a history with Daniel that made her feel comfortable enough to cheat on Lawrence with him, she and Lawrence are over soooooo…. what’s the problem?

Miscellaneous happenings:

  • Issa got demoted at work for failure to report Principal Gaines’ prejudice whereas Frieda got promoted.
  • Tiffany is pregnant.
  • Kelli is on a fitness journey.
  • Molly is looking for a new firm.

I think it was a good show that tied up a major loose end between Issa and Lawrence but left space for new happenings. We still don’t know if Dro is really in an open marriage, we don’t know if Issa is going to end up hurting Daniel or catching feelings for him, we don’t know if Issa is actually going to take a risk and finally get a job that pays. There are endless possibilities. I love how while this show addresses issues in the Black community as we saw with Lawrence being fetishized, unfair pay not only for women but black women and had subliminal messages with Molly sporting the “Trayvon” hoodie, I think that this show allows black women to just be women. Not role models, hood rats, prostitutes or anything extreme. Black women are portrayed as normal, regular, shmegular women and I like that.

 

Awaiting Irma in Antigua

On September 2, there was news of a hurricane looming in the Atlantic, but it was too far away for me to start worrying. I mean the possibility of the hurricane being a 5+++ definitely was not something that was on my mind.  So that night, my family went out for an absolutely wonderful dinner at Coconut Grove restaurant located on Dickenson Bay’s beach. As we ate, we looked over at the water and couldn’t help but take note of how close the tide was coming onto the sand. I know this generally tends to happen at night and no, it is not my hap to be at the beach at night to notice any changes in this process but my interest about the hurricane increased.

As the week rolled in, I learnt that Irma (as by now you would have known the name of the now infamous system) was constantly strengthening. I believe that it was on Monday that I watched our hurricane watch become a hurricane warning and my anxiety and feeling of helplessness surfaced. The general manager of Antigua& Barbuda’s state media sent me the notice and I forwarded it to my sister. I was simply informing my sister of what was to be as I had no power of diverting this storm. My voice couldn’t calm the ocean and I knew prayers had been lifted up by persons to many gods before their imminent demise owing to natural disasters or man- made evils to no avail. However, in my resolve that what would happen will, I just hoped for the best.

The news was filled with updates on this beast named Irma. I couldn’t hide from her. She was too big and had her let her presence be made known to too many for me to avoid being reminded of her increasing, unprecedented power. People who would barely post to Facebook posted stating their absolute fear of facing a hurricane that was a category 5. The sounds of people making their preparations added to the sense of urgency. However, on Tuesday morning while I made last minute preparations as my mom, my sister and myself were going to head to my aunt’s to ride out the storm, I found it difficult to move. I was glued to the radio. Local meteorologists warned the Antiguan& Barbudan people that even if the hurricane was to make a last minute shift north, it would not be of much benefit to us because the system was so big we were still going to be quite close to the eye of the storm. However, my sister came back from work early as workers were dismissed earlier than usual to make preparations and it gave me the strength to do what needed to be done to see the “best” results after the storm.

Our shutters were closed, our furniture covered and pictures and trinkets taken down from the walls and we headed to my aunt’s home that is located more in central Antigua. Mind you, we don’t live close near the coast or in low lying areas, however, we just wanted to feel as safe as possible and thought that moving would have been the best option and the added company would have provided solace under such unfavorable circumstances.

My aunt’s 6 boys were over at her place including her newlywed son and his wife who hails from Barbuda. Every one was just wondering what the outcome of what this category 5+++ hurricane would be. I told my sister that if we made it out alive, we would have made it through the storm successfully. I started envisioning our house being cast to shambles or at least our roof being blown off. We’ve never suffered those circumstances in precious storms but Irma was not like prior storms. She was in a category of our own.

Around 8 p.m., the electricity went off and I felt like the beginning of the end had started. During the days before the storm and especially on that Tuesday, it was exceedingly hot. The night was also quite warm… and quiet. There was consistent light rainfall that I cannot remember the starting time of. I could hear the winds start to pick up as it edged towards 9 p.m. and there were some gusts that caused my heart rate to increase because I imagined that the weather would only get worse. At this time, most of my cousins had departed in different quarters of the house and her eldest son was asleep in the living room. My mom, sister, aunt and myself laid down in my aunt’s bed (it’s a big bed :D) awaiting what we were sure would be an epic arrival by Irma. From time to time I would head into the living room where I would see my cousin sleeping which was quite understandable because there was not much action going on. Around after 10 p.m., I believe, we looked through the glass door in my aunt’s room and saw one of my aunt’s neighbors outside. 😦  Some of my cousins had come into the bedroom, wondering why the neighbor was outside… and where was Irma. At around 11: 45 p.m., I started listening to a local radio station, Vybz FM where an international meteorologist provided updates and said that we could expect the storm to be at its strongest at 1 a.m. and at 3a.m. , we could expect hurricane conditions to weaken and continue to weaken at 5 a.m. Time seemed to go quickly and I remember my aunt and me checking her phone at 12:30 a.m. and feeling convinced that we would not feel the brunt of Irma’s wrath as it was so quiet, she would have a lot of work to do to become a monster at 1. However, I still couldn’t sleep and listened on as people called in to the radio station saying they were fine although someone said that his roof had blown off and he was calling in from under his bed but I am not sure whether this incident of a house being damaged to that extent in Antigua is confirmed. As persons from the eastern side of the island checked in on the radio station as safe, my aunt reassured my mom that our home would be in tact when we returned home. Four of us, listened hopefully as we laid on the bed.

It was just before 2 a.m. I believe when the deeayj said that he wanted callers from Barbuda to call in as he wanted to hear how they were faring the storm. Shortly after he said that it appeared that all contact with the sister isle had been lost. At 2 a.m. in Antigua, it was almost completely quiet. The rain had eased up and the wind had been stilled for a moment before rain started falling again. I felt that we were going to be okay. I was put at ease and I eventually fell asleep.

At around 8 the following morning, we drove home. Confident that we had a home to go to and an Antigua with some level of normalcy, we could think about our regular plans and interests because Irma was now a thing of the past. We had made it out alive and with no damage to property. A statement from our prime minister was forwarded to me stating that we were all spared… but then, later on, Prime Minister Gaston Browne visited Barbuda by helicopter being the one to enlighten us that Barbuda’s housing stock had suffered 90% damage in his estimation and that a toddler had lost his life. Barbuda, located 61.5 k north-west of Antigua was a completely different scene from the damp but in tact properties in Antigua. It was devastating. Even though I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of a desolate Antigua on Tuesday morning, it was difficult to imagine it actually happening to people in the sister island considering that we were safe in Antigua.

 

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Barbuda after Irma Photo Credit: ABS Television/ Radio FB page

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Barbudans leaving Barbuda. Photo credit: ABS Television/ Radio FB page

 

However, in the midst of it all, the Antiguan people pulled together to evacuate the people of Barbuda and to provide the needs for Barbudans. I might write another post about the outpouring of support shown by my people as including it in this post would make it longer than I would like. But what I learnt was that sometimes in life, you will have no control over what happens to you. It doesn’t mean that you are trying to victimize yourself or that you are making excuses, but there are situations in life where all you can do is hope for the best. In this case, residents of Antigua were spared but we could have easily been in the same state as the people in Barbuda. Life doesn’t provide us with reasons as why some things happen to some and why some things don’t and it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with you. It’s just life, we’re only human and we don’t have control over it all.

My first Insecure Review

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Photo from Hidden Remote

So, I absolutely loved season 2 episode 7 of HBO’s Insecure- Hella Disrespectful. The scene opens with Issa recalling her experience to Molly of giving Daniel a blow- job and getting his semen in her face. I could tell from the low energy that Issa was giving that her reaction to what transpired between her and Daniel had a lot more to do with what was going on with her internally than what came on her. Pun intended. 🙂 Anyway, Molly tells Issa that she’s still “seeing” Dro. Issa is a bit taken aback by that but the best friends promise to stay out of each others relationship business.

Issa is headed to work and winds up sitting next to a Latino student who she sees studying for PSATs and recommends that he signs up with We Got Y’all for additional assistance and learns that Principal Gaines told the student that the program was full, bringing back to mind the problematic sentiments that Principal Gaines has about persons from the Latino community. Issa is seeing that students are being affected by his opinions because he is actively turning students away from getting needed help.

We then learn that Lawrence and “work- bae” Aparna have been seeing each other outside of work and old girl already ran ahead and told co-workers about it. To me, that seems to be problematic but Lawrence lets her down easy and tells her that he has just gotten out in a relationship and he’s trying to take things easy since he’s already made the mistake of rushing into romantic situations too soon. But Aparna does not seem to understand that people can be emotionally unavailable as throughout this episode I thought that she was doing waaaayyyy too much.

What ties everyone in the show together is a birthday party being for Derrick- Tiffany’s husband. Everyone is invited- Kelli, Molly, Dro- and dear wife, Candice, Issa and Lawrence. Tiffany did give Issa a heads up about Lawrence being at the party and Issa takes to Facebook to do a check up on him- well, she tries to do a check up because she learns that she has been blocked. Anyway, she tells Tiffany that she is a- okay about Lawrence being at the party.

Before the party, we see Issa confront Principal Gaines about him turning away students but Gaines is dismissive of Issa, saying that she can do whatever she wants with the program. We also see Aparna essentially invite herself to the party after Lawrence said he’d be late for their date because of his commitment to go to the birthday celebration. Now, I am not a social butterfly but who does this? Most people who are new to a relationship and mind you, Aparna and Lawrence barely even know each other much less to be giving each other labels and Aparna is setting herself up to go to an event with a possible love interest where his ex is going to be and the mutual friends of the former couple are going to be and that just sounds hella awkward but Aparna is all for it. We also see Dro talking to Molly and Molly showing discomfort at learning that Dro’s wifey will be at the party.

Daniel calls Issa to apologize for their situation as Issa preps to go to the party and Issa seems to be forgiving him until my boy decides to say, “I guess we’re even now.” Daniel, sometimes you just need to shut your mouth. He turned the situation right back against his favor. Issa curses Daniel out as she thinks what the incident happened on purpose and storms out into her brother’s car to head to the party. All of this foreshadows what we know will be a mess of a party.

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Photo from HBO

The party is going on and Tiffany is doing the most as per usual talking about her getting Derrick high- end Cuban cigars, Kelli is being Kelli and Molly is a mess. Molly is so shook when Candace reaches to hug her that she spills her drink and Dro’s disgusting self volunteers to get another drink for her. Anyway, when the guests begin to assemble at the table, Molly drops to sit next to Dro who pulls out her chair. However, Tiffany informs Molly that there is a system set up and Molly needs to get in formation and sit at her designated seat. Shortly after everyone is seated including Issa, Lawrence walks in with Aparna. Lawrence says that he didn’t know the event would be that formal but he opts to stay and introduces Aparna who tries to drop a cringe- worthy joke about being the random girl to show up.

Throughout the night, there is conversation that indicated to me that Lawrence didn’t really have an identity or anything going for him. He’s asked how he knows the hosts and his response is- he knew them through Issa. There’s a conversation going on about a building close to Issa’s apartment and Issa and Lawrence identify the place simultaneously as Popeye’s. All of this had me side- eyeing Aparna because how could you not feel uncomfortable in this situation?  After Tiffany raises a toast to her man who she loves so much, Issa walks out to be followed by Derrick. Aparna, girl can you not see that this guy isn’t over his ex?

Anyway, when Lawrence approaches Issa and begins to apologize for bringing along Aparna (which I thought was sweet) Issa starts insulting Lawrence and telling him that he’s full of shit and Lawrence responds with Issa cheating on him but Lawrence is not much better because he has also ran over people’s feelings like Tasha and he’s about to do the same to Aparna in my estimation. I don’t condone cheating but the older I get, the more I realize that cheating isn’t black and white. To me, Lawrence was campaigning really hard for dat knuckle (Antiguan term for cheating.) There is nothing attractive about a man sitting at home not doing ish and not being ish while your partner supports both of you. I don’t think that Lawrence and Issa have to get back together but I want them to be able to take responsibility for their actions and grow from it. Anyway, Lawrence throws the lowest of blow by calling Issa a ho shortly before Miss. Aparna runs in on them and Lawrence and her take off who he winds up kissing later on (he’s out to do more damage.)

In other news, Dro and Molly meet up in the bathroom and Molly is like, “OMG, you and your wife look so good together.” And Dro continues to fill Molly’s mind with sweet nothings by saying that despite how he and his wife may look together he and Molly are still “us”. Like what the hell does that even mean? After their rendezvous, Dro advises Molly to wait back to get out of the bathroom to avoid raising an alarm.  Now, that would have made me feel like trash if I was Molly and I would be even more suspicious about this “open marriage” situation because if they are open about their doings why is it that we are creeping around? Do the rules of their relationship stipulate that they don’t mess with people the other partner knows? And in any event, I would still find it shady that he is having sex with me while his wife is literally in the other room. That indeed is hella disrespectful, open relationship or not.

Issa goes home to find that there is a pending rent increase and winds up smashing her apartment in sheer frustration. It also made me think that she could have been saving money during the time she was supporting Lawrence and although she did cheat. But through it all you could sense Issa being utterly dissatisfied with her life and just needing to get it all out and I can relate to that.

This episode was the best that I’ve seen and was a redeeming factor as some episodes this season had the characters being absolutely insufferable. However, this episode just showed them as frail, hurt humans trying to maneuver this thing called life and made me tolerant of the missteps that they have taken.

Police pon Patrol!

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Photo from medium.com

 

Today, I went to a hotel with a friend to collect a check that he was owed as he has a band that plays at the entity. As we arrived at the hotel, he gave his brother (who was driving the car) the instruction to pull over to the side to speak with the security. As my friend opened the door to speak to the security guard, the guard already started to shake his head indicating the negative. I sat in the car thinking that my friend hadn’t even started speaking as yet but the security guard already assumed and exhibited that whatever it is that we were there for, he could help us. However, my friend communicated his business to the guard and another worker called inside to verify that indeed there was a check for my friend to go and collect. As my friend sat back in the vehicle, he said, “He nah even mek me talk. He already min a shake he head. Me nah know when arwe aguh lub people who ah arwe own skin color. He just see four black people inna di car (another young lady was in the vehicle) and he start behave so. If arwe min white, me sure he wouldn’t deh ah act so.” What he communicated in standard English is that the man already had a negative reaction from seeing four black people in a car at the hotel, however, if we were white, we would get different treatment and he wonders when black people are going to start loving ourselves.

Living in an island that is populated primarily by black people has made me aware that there is  a policing of black people that goes on within our borders and oftentimes, we are our own oppressors. As much as I am aware that we have been systematically targeted for failure and being socially stagnant by the “white man”, sometimes I feel like black people being able to make something of themselves, push down barriers and have access to places that were unofficially reserved for whites is an affront to some black people. My sister said that once she went to a restaurant and wanted parking and the security guard denied her entry, however, when some white people arrived, he allowed them entry and said, “Ah dem hab di money.” Also, I had an experience at a cosmetics store that sold a foundation that I was fond of years ago. When I requested assistance from the store clerk, she asked me why I decided to come during cruise ship season. 😐 Let me tell you something about Antiguan people, Antiguan people love spending money and living life. If there is a gift exchange, Christmas season, Valentine’s Day or the birthday of a loved one, black, Antiguan people would frequent that cosmetics store that doubles as a perfumery. Antiguan people aid in keeping that store open. Antiguans have complained about tourists coming off of cruise ships and just browsing stores and not buying anything, however, when a black, local shows up, I was quarantined to the side and ridiculed for daring to be in the store around the same time that tourists would be present. In another situation, my sister went to a store to purchase a cellular phone and she told me that the sales clerk appeared to be offended that she was purchasing the phone in store when there are cheaper alternatives. She said the sales clerk said, “You know you could have purchased the phone online unless you are a lawyer.” She said she felt like the clerk wanted an explanation as to how she was able to afford the phone.

I’ve heard of wealthy, black Americans receiving the “nigger treatment” which is promised to awaken them to see that regardless of how successful they are, the white man still sees them as niggers. But how about how we see ourselves? When you work hard and honestly for your money, no one has the right to question how you decide to spend your money, where you go or the treatment you deserve. We shouldn’t see ourselves through our former enslavers to determine how we are treated, however, it seems that some black people enjoy policing the lives of other black people because seeing other black people thrive is an affront to them. I have heard a lecturer in Jamaica recite having similar experiences in Jamaica where her presence in certain stores is unwelcomed as she is a black, nappy haired woman. We as black people sometimes like to see our black brothers and sisters berated because it somehow makes us feel better about ourselves. We try to invalidate the success of some black people and remind them of their state of “niggerness”  because we just cannot live with the idea that the nappy headed boy from down the road has managed to make something of himself. As Popcaan would say, “Dem nah war we fi own no asset.”

We as black people should go off duty… actually, we should quit policing other black people. We more than any race know how difficult it is to progress in this world. When we see someone moving up in life or hell, even ENJOYING life for crying out loud, we should not perpetuate racist, segregationist ideals that infringe on their right to go up the social mobility ladder or to simply enjoy the pleasures of life. The mentality of liking to see people do good but being full of anger and hate to see people do better than us needs to be eradicated. We are all created equally and deserve to be treated  with respect despite our socio- economic position and regardless of the color of our skin.