Date Of Mirth :(

Earlier today, after pulling many strings I considered myself very fortunate indeed to be granted last-minute immediate appointments to get the new electronic birth certificates that Trinidad now uses, in preparation for an unheard of appointment tomorrow at 8am to apply for the equally new ‘readable’ passport. So, I took my happy, somewhat-at-times spoiled ass down to the office, ignored all the stares that resulted from both my hair and special treatment and walked up to the window to handle what should have been routine at best business. Nope; this is Trinidad!

For the past forty-something-odd years, I have been (erroneously, it seems) celebrating my date of birth on November 18th. Today, thanks to the slip of someone’s hand, we will now have to move that date up a notch – yep ladies and gentlemen, I am now the holder of a brand-spanking-new electronic birth certificate saying that I entered this world on November 17th! WTF?! I shit you not! Never before have I ever encountered a conversation, seen any documentation that indicated there was ever any discrepancy associated with my date of birth! Oh… and it seems that the passport I currently hold, which could NOT have been issued without the birth certificate I have always used as proof of my existence and that my parents were actually mine, will not be sufficient to correct this error! Wow!

So as I am now embroiled in this conundrum, I, for the first time, am faced with the reality that so many have encountered in varying degrees – having to prove or disprove an aspect of their reality – their history. As I sit with the frustration of having to put my hand on records that pre-date computers, I cannot help but to now acknowledge how victims of identity theft must feel. I highlight this example because for the first time, I too have to find a way to prove to someone/a nation/ a state that the truth of who I am and what I have, until now, taken for granted, is indeed accurate. I, like them, have to validate an existence and disprove someone else’s mistake.

Until today, I have never realized how important it is to me that everything, every.fucking.thing. that I know about myself, my history, my existence, is unsullied and protected! Every day of my life thus far, I have woken up knowing a few certainties about myself: (1) my name (not to be confused with the names I’ve been called in moments of anger, passion or envy, (2) my heritage – who my ‘people’ are, (3) my age – celebrated every year on the same date, (4) how and who I love, (5) how and who I serve. Certainties. This snafu, which some may consider minor or simply an irritant, has for me, brought to the forefront the ease with which our sense of ‘self’ can be affected.

So, I am now the proud owner of a birth certificate that bears the birth date of someone I do not know. To have it corrected to again reflect what I have lived for the past some-odd-years will take quite a bit of jumping through hoops; but jump I will. Protecting one’s identity, the components that one has either been born into or has assimilated along life’s journey, should never be trivialized. I want my date back! MY date! I was born on November 18th; and I will be damned if I allow some bureaucratic incompetence to strip me of that absolute!

Will Never Again (Arrogantly) Ask: “You And Whose Army Will Stop Me?”!

Last evening I was a guest at a fancy-smancy (aka black tie) military dinner that was very well attended and chock full of many generations of service people and their guests. As I anticipated, this event spawned the fodder for today’s post. Here’s why.

Yesterday I was introduced to some of the protocol that the military (this event was Army) has established and which of those time-honored traditions still remain. Believe me when I say that this civilian almost committed quite a few faux-pas; sigh. Okay, let’s address this:

I was the guest of the second most senior ranking official in the room, so naturally that meant that I was seated at the ‘head’ table (“go big or go home”, baby); but, little did my unruly ass know that that carried quite the responsibility! Let’s start with my choice of cocktail. Well, no cocktail for this lady, I am a beer drinker; and, I prefer my beer ice cold and straight from the bottle, if you please. Well, you should have seen the server’s face! He leaned over and whispered to me, “Sorry, I can’t do that”. Ha-ha. I kinda-sorta knew that; just really wanted to see how he would have handled it. I got a glass and pretended to be a proper lady J

So now I’m a few beers in and am in need of satisfying my other appetite – sitting wondering why we have not been served dinner. Guess what I was explained – not one of our asses was getting any food until the #1 arrived! What?!? Yep… no head honcho, no muncho! WTH! Okay, when I wrapped my head around that, I then obnoxiously (in my mind) started to chart the time-line; see, cause this event was touted to begin at 6pm and here is was after 9pm! So I’m thinking, knowing that we can’t eat without your presence, either you just don’t give a damn, or, you’re using this opportunity to remind everyone just how damned big your dick is! Hahaha. Wow!

So, we waited. And, while we waited, with now a few glass-encased beers in me, I decided, shit, I’ll dance! You guessed it – dancing not slated to happen yet; and especially not from a lady at the ‘head’ table! I almost lost it then! And, sure did ask my friends to please let’s move to one of the less restrictive tables J . So when “His Dickness” (only in reference to the afore-mentioned; he was a very nice man) arrived, we were served. Food was okay. Sigh. Then, the speech; then I was allowed to shake my ass.

By this time, it’s close to midnight; folks are tired (and probably still hungry), so the place started to empty. That’s when I learned of yet another protocol; and one that quite a few military broke last evening. I was speaking with the host at that time – so no one should have left until he did! Yes sir; in the military (similarly when at a function with other Heads of State), it is considered quite poor form to leave prior to their leaving. And, the more I think about this one in particular, I both understand and appreciate it. How rude they were last night! And, I can only imagine the dressing down that will be coming down! When I asked the question about what happens if either the honoree or the ranked official preferred to stay for a lengthy period of time, I was told that it is then their responsibility to announce their intention to do so and give permission to anyone who would like to leave before they do. Protocol.

Believe it or not, the reason all this resonated with me was not solely from a rules and regulations basis; what it did was highlight to me the value in honor and respect. A culture such as this one establishes and reinforces not only the fact that there is such a thing as hierarchy; but it forces us to acknowledge and live up to what we should have been taught at a very young age – respect. The military has its protocols – civilians (should have) its etiquette. You know what that is – it’s the guideline that lets us know what is acceptable – in public.

See, it’s important I think that I say “in public”, because quite frankly, I could care less what you do and how you conduct yourself when in the privacy of your own space. However, when you place yourself in the company of others, conducting oneself in a manner that is deemed non-offensive and respectful should be implemented! Sadly, I think as a society many have turned their backs on the importance of not only holding oneself to such standards; but certainly in rearing our children in a like manner. The shame of this is, most of us do not then accept the responsibility that our actions bar us from entry into the paths of life we desire. What protocols and etiquette do is place us in a much better position to not only interact with persons from myriad cultures and walks-of-life; but it also helps to increase our ability to inoffensively navigate by infusing us with a capacity for neutrality when applicable.

So even as I ate very late, was forced to sip my beer from a glass (as opposed to throwing my head back) and had to schedule shaking my ass, I absolutely appreciated being in an environment that has long-since established a behavior and standard for itself that is meant to not only honor its uniform and those who wear it, but extended to and expected the same from everyone around. Quite the education!

Damn… Nothing To Address!

This morning, I heated some pastelles (Trini Christmas delicacy), poured a glass of sorrel (Trini Christmas drink), took my tab to the balcony and sat down to write to you all. That was five hours ago.

Listen, I am wishing you all a fantastic weekend; I do trust that your holiday season is unfolding in precisely the style you all would want it to – mine is. I promise to try again tomorrow; but, I am feeling so good down here, that I can’t even conjure up some shenanigans to rant about J

 Okay, have to go get gussied up – have been invited to a black tie military affair (and, it just so happened that I brought that “just in case” black gown with me). But, please stand by – I have a very strong suspicion that this evening will be providing quite the bit to address at a later date 😉

“Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect…”

Eat, Drink And Be Fury ;)

Come on…you didn’t really think you weren’t going to hear from me today; did you? Late start – had to deal with a delay that had me sitting in the airport for six and one half hours, alternating between picking my nose, talking to random people and trying to hold it together just long enough to get past security before they realize I was indeed a “loose cannon”! Ha-ha; but, I made it. Now, I am in Trinidad, looking forward to loving on my daughter, spending time with family and friends, eating a lot, drinking even more and all-around just taking the time to rejuvenate and replace some of what was taken from me over the past few months.

I am wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah and a Fantastic whatever else you can dream up to celebrate at this time of the year! I am beyond thrilled to have had the opportunity to share some of it with you; and, even as there were the moments that hurt, were uncomfortable or downright pissed you the fuck off, I trust that as for me, they were each and every one of them worth it!

Listen, get out of here! Go be with the people you love; I’ll wait J

Have an amazing day everyone! I’m about to get pretty in something long and flowing (yup…about 1000 degrees here!) and for the next few days, listen to the most amazing word in the English language – Mommy.

Me.

“Here’s Looking At You, Kid…”

IMG_20141220_221826So, just now while I was contemplating getting out of bed, I peripherally heard on GMA that Joe Cocker has died. Okay…I am sure yall knew about this occurrence in “real time”; but, my ass is a student, so yesterday, the only thing I was studying, were the terms I needed for my last final! Anyway, when I heard the news, I was compelled to hear (and download) his iconic rendition of “You Are So Beautiful”. My God!

So, that is how my morning has started; and, here I am. Most of you know this song; do yourselves a favor and listen to any rendition of it (there are a few). I listened this morning and my heart did something good. It made me realize, especially in the wake of all that has been happening to and around us, that there is so so so very much to be grateful for! I am smiling now as I think about all that I have in my life that makes me so incredibly happy!

Like you.

Indeed. I do not say this tritely (I promised from day# 1 to never insult you with some trite shit!) – I cannot, I will not, I prefer not to “do” any of this life without all the bits and pieces of people woven beautifully into my experiences. Shit! That would make everything so very dull indeed! So, “thank you’ for being here. I cannot help but to recognize that, as we approach Christmas Day, while we are all running around trying to buy the perfect ugly sweater (and not because we’re cool like that; but only because we’re last-minute like that), I have already gotten from life, the most incredible presents – your presence in my life.

Yeah, I’m feeling mushy today; none of that ranting. I feel like falling in love…again. I feel like walking and holding hands. I feel like looking up at you – only to find you were already looking at me. I feel like every corny line of love that was ever uttered! I know you all are not surprised; you’ve realized by now that I am (possibly) too in touch with my feminine side. Ha-ha. Yes, I admit to being a woman who prefers and opts to live very very close to her soul; for me and subsequently for you, it is where all my magic emanates from J

Now I feel like James Brown – “I Feel Good…” Hahahahaha. I truly do. Listen, I gotta go; need to run to the shoe-guy, then work, get my hair washed, pack – I got stuff! Sending you all great big juicy, noisy, sloppy, wet kisses and the most encompassing embraces you may need. Listen to the song; recommend others that I should listen too (but make sure it makes me feel like this). Ha-ha. Have an incredibly fantastic day! We’re here! Fall in love. Renew your love. Share your love. Reinvent some love. Give me some love.

Damn- what a day (and, it’s only 8:00am)!

Love.

#CanYouHearMeNow?

Sigh. I pray for and send the peace that surpasses all understanding, to the family and loved ones of the two police officers murdered yesterday. Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, these words are so very trite in this instance and should have been beautifully uttered at your retirement celebrations; but, it is all I have – “thank you for your service”.

Are we happy now? Do these executions bring back the men in whose names these murders were supposedly done? Or better yet – can we fucking breathe now?!

I am incredibly saddened and angered by these killings. These men were doing nothing more than their jobs; never realizing that they were being set up by a coward – shit… by a nation of cowards – to breathe their last breaths. And make no mistake – that man who killed them (yes, I know his name, but it will never appear on these pages) – that man who, before murdering these men shot his ex-girlfriend, was the fool holding the gun – while our anger, inciting words, misguided actions and a mentality of denial of culpability – placed our index fingers on the trigger!

Again I say, there certainly are instances and documented realities that substantiate that there are discrepancies in the treatment of people of color as it stands in relation to others. Yes. But similarly, there are also instances that, if we were to stop and educate ourselves, we can point out where the reverse is also true. So what do we say then? Oh yes, I know, “we” say, “the only reason “we” behave badly is in response to the treatment “we” have endured for so long!” “We” say that, “it is only in response to the violence perpetuated upon us that “we” come out swinging!” “We” say that, “we” are forced to rob, loot and kill each other because “the white man” has forced us into lives of poverty, desperation and a survival of the fittest!”

I say to all that, “we” have become a culture of excuses and mediocrity. “We” have taken a reality of racism and segregation that began with our fore-fathers and that many have fought (and, in some ways, won) to change and have latched on to it in an effort to excuse ourselves from the responsibility of our own actions! “We” have and continue to use this as the reason “we” do not get the fuck up and work; because, “why should “we”? The ‘white man’ won’t give me a job no how!” Well actually, with that vocabulary, matched with that mentality, this black woman won’t give you one either!

Yes, I’m mad as hell! Listen, if I am railing against what I opine as a collective ignorance, I too need not indulge in singular stupidity. So, I will not state that our world is devoid of racism and that each of us gets what we deserve; but, trust me when I say, “we” would not like it much ether if we did all in fact “get what we deserved”! But, I digress. Yes, we sadly live in a world that, in spite of all its strides toward a more equally beneficial finish line, still litters the course with booby-traps that seem to have “our” names on them. Indeed, when we look at the divide in employment opportunities, levels of education, housing, to name a few, there are discrepancies that are glaring. Certainly enough to at first make “us” scared, then angry!

But, it is this anger that we need to address; because this anger and how it is relayed, is what will determine how we all get out of this state. Think about it – when we get angry, let’s say in our relationships, if we both started to break things, or in any way lash out, what the hell does that solve or achieve – except a whole lot of broken dishes, holes in walls, or, heaven forbid, holes in faces? At some point (and hopefully that ‘point’ comes sooner rather than later), in the interest of achieving any positive outcome, a conversation is what is needed; many, if the person we would like to hear us is a bit, well, hard-headed. Listen, take it from a former dish-thrower, the only take-away from that behavior is your temper, your violence; the initial cause of your distress becomes lost in your subsequent noise.

So, what now? What happens now if, heaven forbid I need to call 911 for an emergency; will they think twice or thrice before responding because, well, I DO live in Bed-Stuy? Will they now (rightfully) wonder if all emergency calls are so-called emergencies, designed simply to lure them to their deaths? So now, without my consent, I can potentially be left victimized and unprotected because, in the name of Eric Garner and Michael Brown I have been placed on the “us” side of “us vs them”?

No one deserves to be murdered; no one! But, the response to what “we” may perceive as an injustice is not further injustice! Please, we need to find a different way. We need to employ a better method. Yesterday did not need to end that way for those men and the people that love them. Today does not need to begin with us all now falling victims to the misguided decisions of some. We certainly do need to relieve the pressure that seemingly cuts off the fresh-air-flow that some in society feel; but not this way. Please.

“An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind…” Gandhi.

 

 

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