Adventures of a Youth Blogger (2): Dr. Keith Rowley

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On the 27th April, 2017 I attended a One on One discussion with the Honourable Dr. Keith Rowley on his memoir From Mason Hall to Whitehall. He was interviewed by the Bocas Deputy Festival director Mr. Funso Aiyejina who clearly stated that it was an opportunity to see Mr. Rowley in a personal rather than a political light. Surprisingly, it was not the usual story of a beam of inspiration and burning desire to put pen to paper which led Mr. Rowley to write his book. It came about as a positive response to an unfortunate circumstance.

The publicity that came along with his involvement in the General Elections of 2015 meant that he was interviewed regularly. On one occasion, he was subsequently described as having a middle class upbringing which he stated was not true. It dawned on him that many people, including his family, did not know enough about him outside of the political arena. It was then that he decided to write From Mason Hall to Whitehall to fill those gaps

He read from the chapter entitled ‘My Common Entrance Near Miss’ where we were able to gain insight into his difficulty in reaching to a point of eventually being able to do the Common Entrance examination.  He described this great stroke of luck as ‘a matter of fate’.

One particularly comical incident which he shared was typical for young, adventurous children with some extra time on their hands. After getting into trouble, Mr. Rowley and his friends slipped cardboard into their shirts to brace the impending share of licks. Much to their misfortune, an onlooker revealed the secret which led to them having to remove the cardboard and receive their punishment in full. The audience exploded with the laughter of those who would have undoubtedly had similar experiences.

The second reading came from the chapter entitled ‘My First Visit to Trinidad’. He was 8 years old the first time he visited and although Tobago was just next door, he described the great culture shock that he experienced. He lived in Laventille with his mother and fought through difficulties such as the lack of pipe borne water. Shortly after, he responded to a question from the audience about inspiring others through his writing and he responded by saying, “You shouldn’t put a lid on how high you want to climb”. It was evident then that this could have been his mantra moving through life and partly the reason why he was able to rise above the many obstacles he encountered.

Lastly, someone asked Dr. Rowley about finding time to write given his busy schedule. He stated that his best time for writing was between midnight and daybreak and he encouraged us all to find a quiet time during which to write. ‘There’s something inspirational about the quiet of the night.” he stated.

The time proved too short to delve into as much detail as we would have liked, nonetheless, everyone in the audience was able to witness and share in the fondness with which Mr. Rowley recalled his childhood and his journey through life. We were also able to appreciate his decision to expose himself to the vulnerability that naturally accompanies one’s decision to write about the most intimate details of their life.

Go grab a copy and get to reading!

Adventures of a Bocas Youth Blogger (1)

This year I was fortunate to be part of the inaugural group of Youth Bloggers for the NGC Bocas Lit Festival. Although there were a number of events leading up to the actual festival, the first event I attended was the opening reception which took place on the 26th April at the 101 Art Gallery, Newtown.

Just before arriving at the Art Gallery, I had collected my package at the National Library and so I held my bag firmly as I walked in nervously. I looked around and noticed that everyone hurled familiar names across the room, this was then followed by an exchange of hugs and greetings. I felt like the lost child at the grocery store and so I sent out a message to the group of Youth Bloggers and Giselle informed me that she was on her way.

Meanwhile, I had perfected my ‘save me from the torture of my solitude’ face and I think that must have encouraged Nicole Dennis-Benn to engage me in light conversation. I learnt of her interest in writing as well as her highly acclaimed book, Here Comes The Sun. It was a privilege to meet this esteemed writer and walk away with a sense of encouragement fostered by one who understood the musings of a young, amateur writer.

Giselle arrived shortly after. While we spoke, I decided to put on my Youth Blogger badge and I gained greater confidence along with the realisation that I was given the opportunity to truly contribute to the event and to interact with many writers and professionals in the field.

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the winners of the CODE’s Burt Award. A short but informative opening address was delivered by Marina Salandy-Brown , founder and Festival Director of the Bocas festival, followed by the results. In third place was Trinidadian writer Lisa Allen-Agostini for her unpublished novel Waiting for the Bus, in second place was also a Trinidadian by the name of Kevin Jared Hosein for his unpublished novel The Beast of Kukuyo and first place was awarded to a Puerto Rican, American based writer, Viviana Prado-Núñez for her self-published novel, The Art of White Roses.

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Picture with Viviana Prado-Núñez, winner of the CODE’s Burt Award 2017.

A rush of excitement and heartfelt congratulations flowed through the room after the announcement of the winners.  A small group of Youth Bloggers stayed and socialised afterwards. We spoke of our interest in the festival and the events we hoped to attend.

It’s quite nice to have someone share or comment on your blog post but it’s an even greater experience to meet and interact with individuals who share your interest and passion for writing. It’s unfortunate that areas such as the arts, culture and writing are often undermined by the general public. Nonetheless, amidst the pollution of unappreciated art forms and unfair criticism, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest was already proving to be a breath of fresh air.

Stay tuned for more post festival thoughts!

Check out the Bocas Lit Fest:

Website: Bocas Lit Fest

Bocas on FB

Twitter: @bocaslitfest

 

 

 

Selective Literacy

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It appears to me that this is one of those cases where I should politely start by saying “well I can only speak for myself…” knowing full well that I would have already began speaking on behalf of at least 80% of the Trinidadian population, when I say it seems that we are selectively literate. I’m not sure if this is a case where you fake it (ignorance) till u make it and then you can’t stop faking it (full fledged ignoramus). What I mean by this is, I would like someone to explain this new age phenomenon of choosing when to be literate. I’m not talking about pulling push doors dumb or ordering a KFC sandwich without the combo dumb and not even simply buying one shoe in Payless’ BOGO sale dumb. Rather, I am referring to those individuals who display behaviours as seen in the picture above, as they skillfully tried to present a masterpiece entitled:

‘Paper Model of Mt. Everest’ *not to scale*

Perhaps the person responsible for emptying the bin failed to recognise what was happening or maybe it was after hours, we don’t really know. What we do know is that surely if we guard the paper in our pockets then at some point we will find a bin. One day I went to use the ATM and I was surprised when the machine asked me whether or not I would like to have a receipt, I thought it was quite thoughtful and impressive. I only now recognise the reason for that feature. Good job guys! *commence slow clap*

Now don’t get me wrong, I am aware that some individuals are in fact illiterate and in no way am I trying to make a joke of those circumstances. Rather, I am highlighting that our literacy is definitely not something we should take for granted or ‘switch off’ for our selfish convenience . A sign clearly states ‘keep this room clean’ and yet many people chose to reside in Oppositeville, Population:completely lackadaisical. If ever there was a reason to SMH this would be one of them. Of course this could never be the only example of such disregard for clear signs and one’s environment, so let’s move along.

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This sign says ‘Place Umbrellas Here’ but when I looked in, it was full of garbage. Since some people had filled the umbrella holder with their garbage, I was forced to walk around with my wet umbrella as it dripped behind me leaving a trail of water droplets as if it were a re-enactment of Hansel and Gretel… SMH

All it would have taken was for one person to drop a piece of paper and in no time it became a dustbin. If only my bank account could follow suit and multiply the little money I would deposit ever so often.


#financialgoals #growbabygrow #mommaneedsanewpairofshoes #maybe2ifitsBOGO

Many signs around us are slowly turning into amber lights and so although we see them and we know what they really mean we choose to ignore, just as we speed up when we all know that amber really means slow down and proceed carefully. Unless of course you’re a true true Trinidadian (see picture below) .

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Now, I’ve saved the best for last and even now, to the end of my rant, I admit that even I have fallen short of fulfilling this simple request. DRUMROLL PLEASE…..

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Apparently it’s not enough to use one of the following, more appropriate alternatives:

  • Don’t touch vents
  • Doh touch d vents
  • Do not adjust
  • Refrain from touching vents etc.

CAUTION!!! Heavy Sarcasm Ahead

This maxi driver was clearly tired of saying the same thing. He was probably tired of seeing hands stretching above only to realise that they weren’t in fact reaching for the bell and he had had it with replacing vents which are so easily broken by the Hulks that walk among us.  He took matters into his own hands, walked up to the ‘Sign printing for Maxis’ shop and said something like this, “Hello good day. I’m tired of people touching the vents and so under each vent can you please write the words ‘please don’t *insert pseudo expletive here* touch vents’? with three exclamation marks please and thank you”. Unfortunately for him, I don’t think it would have had any greater effect than other popular alternatives and I am indeed speaking from personal defiance.

Why don’t we read, interpret and conform? Why is it so hard to follow simple rules and instructions? Why do we as Trinbagonians choose illiteracy? It’s about time for us to bottle some of the national pride we conveniently adopt on one of our many national holidays so in times like these we can release an ounce of national pride as well as concern for others, just enough to be consciously literate in doing something that will benefit us all in whatever way. I would therefore suggest that you remove the term ‘selectively literate’ from your social resume and stop making it something to boast about.

Rest in peace dear heart

Being an involuntary heart donor leaves you lifeless.
I was willing to share my heart with you
but in the end you left and took it entirely
Boldly and without remorse as if it had always belonged to you.

My mind threw out a life jacket for my heart but it was rejected
and by the time my heart decided I really needed it
I had already drowned in the ocean of you.
I should have followed the compass of my conscience
while sailing the treacherous waters of your presence.
It was too late when I realised that I had sacrificed smooth sailing
the moment I handed over the steering.

They say one day someone will hug you so tightly
That all your broken pieces will stick back together.
When did you replace that glue with water?
How did u convince me that a chokehold was the hug of a lover?
Love made me blind and so you were my leader.
Well here’s to starting over.

My heart was beaten so it was no longer beating
I was barely alive but no longer living
Now I’m left dead,
Because a body without a heart
is a corpse that has lost it’s reason for being.
And what could be more frightening?

Today I buried you in the graveyard quietly,
in the space where my heart used to be.
The place where lovers go to die.
The place where painful memories reside.
The place where broken dreams unite.

To the person who once meant everything,
You hurt me to the core.

I stand in black
In the darkness brought on by the shadow of your empty promises.
Now I must pay my respects.
Although you were my one and only dearheart,
All I can say to myself now as if it were an apology is

Rest in peace my dear…heart

Mixed Signals

 

img-20160830-wa0013_liWe are all too familiar with mixed signals, sometimes much to our detriment, embarrassment and social suicide. From the most trivial ‘Is that person waving at me or someone behind me?’ to the more gut wrenching ‘Does he like me or does he like me like me?’ Let’s face it, regrettably, mixed signals and awkward situations are things we cannot seem to escape so we learn to live with them. Given that nice introduction and all, I would like someone to explain to me the situation that is happening in the picture above.

*dramatic pause for a moment of deep reflection and contemplation on life*

So…..will the real Slim Shady please stand up? (if she don’t catch that reference she too young for you bro, RUN!!) Ok ok but seriously, I could not help but laugh when I saw this ‘corrected’ error because of the random thoughts and questions that ran through my mind.

  • These two items aren’t even remotely related in terms of packaging. Hmm very suspicious.
  • Is this an exotic hybrid of sweet peppers? Fresh, goat sweet peppers…yum!
  • Is this sweet peppers or fresh goat? Can I use a lifeline please?  I’d like to ask the audience….jk we can all see that it’s clearly fresh goat.
  • Why wasn’t your hand placement higher so as to facilitate the appropriate correction of this error?
  • Ripping off the old label would have meant redoing the entire plastic wrap so lemme just slip this here real quick. Haters will say it’s laziness but we all know it’s called being ‘thrifty’ because all of a sudden you do care about saving your employers even more money than they already make.
  • Wonder what else they mixed up the labels on? #boycottoverpricedgroceries #babylonsystem #whosayhomegarden
  • Etc. etc because we all know I’m an overthinker

It’s not that I care that much about grocery store labels but if I didn’t care then what would I blog about right? Take a look at the next image.

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Which came first, the pancake or the sausage? Some may argue that animals were created first but I bet they’ve been having pancakes in heaven’s breakfast buffet since forever. Anyway, did this sausage not have a particular name before the invention of pancakes? If the word ‘pancake’ is an adjective in this scenario then I am quite perplexed. Is the pancake describing the batter used to cover the hotdog? Is it describing the type of sausages often eaten with pancakes? I NEED ANSWERS!!! This screams mixed signal and quite frankly I think they were doing a great job with the name corn dogs (maybe those originated in China #nochill).

Finally, allow me to draw reference to another example in which I was also very confused because whereas there was no question as to the product displayed, the prices were all different.

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Now, I would have liked someone to explain to me this manner of foolery as all three brushes had a different price. You can’t see the price on the last one but I promise you it was different and they clearly are all the same #76307 face brush. I was unable to count the bristles to see if perhaps some had more and if that would account for the variety in price. If I were to use a very accurate comparison I would say that the pricing gun is our consciences and the brush is ourselves. Some days I look at myself and I’m like YES!!! I am a studio master! *see label on packaging* I see a banging body, great hair and a cute, radiant smile that’s just as shiny as the silver part of the brush and I know to myself that I’m worth a whopping $31.95. Other times I feel hideous and I don’t look in the mirror for fear that it may shatter and ain’t nobody got time to clean broken glass when you’re busy crying over spilled milk right? On these days when my bristles are ruffled and I’m exhausted, my market value is reduced to $29.50. Granted the evident exaggeration, I know I’m not alone in this fight. I see you over there, you personification of a #76307 CALA face brush. We even give our own selves mixed signals, do you love me self or do you not?

Lesson time kiddies! There are many instances in which mixed signals drive us insane because we don’t like the uneasiness of uncertainty. Trivial issues pass quickly but in instances that have greater implications and require a bit more thought then my advice to you is to relax, clear your mind, be positive and know that everything will work out in due time….. or will it? See what I did there? #mixedsignal #plot twist. Just kidding! Keep your chin up and keep going because things will all get clearer soon enough!!!

Stop, Listen, Act, Repeat

Speak Lord your servant is listening… to her favourite song,
Reviewing her ambitious goals once again,
Sighing at the mountain of bills on the table,
Stressing over the difficulties at work,
Searching for the next high while struggling through the inevitable lows

Speak Lord your servant is…
Listing all that she has yet to do,
Offering prayers of empty and selfish petitions,
Sinking into a superficiality that knows no bounds
But mainly, ignoring you through the noise cancelling headphones called society as it repeats its soothing playlist of comforting lies.

Stop. Listen. Act. Repeat
Since we’re used to patterns and comforted by routine

Stop rushing through the life that you long to wholeheartedly live
You’re a living,breathing paradox
Trying to live life as you please then crying out to God on your knees
And while your heart speaks your mind hears the opposite
And when your mind reasons, your heart fails to capture it
Do your thoughts travel so far that the distance creates a language barrier which stifles understanding?
So you never come to understand the meeting point for where you are and where you’d like to be
And you can never merge who you are with who you are meant to be
Stop waiting for the right moment when this is the moment you have right now
Stop pursuing what can only provide temporary relief
Stop applying bandaids that never cause your scars to breathe and heal
Stop and listen

Listen to the voice of the ever present optimism
The one buried under the blanket that you’ve woven together with your fears, worries and failures
There’s a voice that never lies, a voice so sweet and soothing that whispers saying
Listen to me
Come to me
Cling to me
Soften your heart to cultivate and understand the words that are meant only for you
Let them bloom and may they inspire too
To provide direction in the journey of life.
And when we are tempted to stray,
May they be the flowers we stop to smell along the way
Listen and act

Act as if you have already received all that  you unceasingly hope and dream for
Be thankful if you don’t knowing that the best is what’s in store
Be the one that brings a positive change
To eliminate the same negativity we’ve all helped to create
If faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains
Then we have the ability to reorder the scenery and liven up the surroundings
Why wait to then live in regret?
This is change and it goes step by step
Direct my paths so that they always lead to you
In everything I say, think and do

Speak Lord your servant IS listening
And if ever the waves of life overwhelm me and I need to retreat
I’ll know that you are there to make me complete
If ever I’m lost saying, “It’s too much, I’m weak and I can’t do it.”
I’ll stop,listen,act and repeat.

Spelling duz nut matter…part tree (3)

I once knew someone from Cuba who spent a great deal of time thinking that garden slaw was really written as ‘garden’s law’.Given the fact that English would not have been her first language, we can safely say that it’s a mistake which can be excused and laughed off even a few years later. In these cases of overlap with foreign languages we tend to be more understanding so I was really taken aback when I stumbled upon the following sign a few weeks ago. Funny enough, the picture I’m about to draw reference to is also slaw related hmmm…. very suspicious indeed *insert out of context reference to Illuminati conspiracy theory here*.

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Firstly, I would like to know why the ‘&’ sign is imitating a one legged dollar sign, but as you will soon realise, this is the least of our worries. I was then tempted to give this blog the title of ‘Artistic Representation of a Dumb Blonde’ but my conscience stepped in somewhere to remind me of a few words and phrases such as care,morals, tact and of course the need to always be polite so as not to offend.

download-2However, my biggest concern is that I would like to know from whence cometh the spelling ‘coldslaw’. It is slaw and it is cold so why not right? Wrong! Even the pronunciation of that ‘d’ is highly unnatural,  (say it with me slowly….. colllDslaw, now laugh at how retarded you sound having said it more than once) it just takes too much effort and if it’s one thing we specialise in here in Trinidad and Tobago is using the least effort possible. Can I get an amen?

  • Paving roads?… least effort possible
  • Giving back pay…least effort possible
  • Any government related business….least effort possible
  • Customer service…..ERROR 404: NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER

Also, is that spelling of barbeque (BABEcue) supposed to be some sort of sick reference to the pig in the movie Babe? because…. #bbqpork #bbqpigtail #dohsaydat. If not then what is so great about it for it to be called not just BABEcue but ‘special BABEcue’ hmmmm. Now, being the person that I am, I purposefully passed back a few days later to see if there was anything special on the menu and by anything special I mean any incorrectly spelt words. I was not disappointed; see for yourselves.

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Well, well, well, what do we have here? There was absolutely no indication that this was a Chinese restaurant and yet they are serving ‘butterfly BARKED chicken’. hhahahahaha Then they want to say that Chinee people don’t sell dog but when you look at the sign, survey says…… BARKED! Who let the dogs out?? Definitely not these people because apparently they were on the menu that day lol.

Or maybe this is just a long lost nursery rhyme that we never learnt, because if the cow could jump over the moon and the dish could run away with the spoon then who’s to say that the butterfly can’t bark the word chicken or that chicken can’t be butterfly barked? Absolutely no one, but have no fear because if your taste buds have yet to acquire the taste for man’s best friend you can always have the BABEcue special for $25. It changed from special babecue to babecue special, kudos for the variation in word order now work on that spelling. Needless to say, I won’t be able to blog about these things if everyone spelt every word correctly, if everyone took those apparently long and excruciatingly painful 60 seconds to simply review and correct their signs before putting them on display. Thank you to all my unsuspecting providers of blogging material.

Stay tuned for part four of this series!

Dilemmas of a masochistic lover

Why do I keep going back when I know how it will end?
You are the junk food that I poison my body with time after time
So good but yet toxic in great quantities
And I have taken you in abundantly in greater doses than I was able to digest
And now I’m physically upset from the excess
Even mentally upset from just the thought of you
Has love turned me into a masochist?
But you see, love does not thrive on pain
So then it must be a crazy spell of infatuation that has me under a curse which I cannot escape

Your eyes are endless in wrapping me in
And your presence is like quicksand
So the more I try to get away the deeper I fall into your trance
And we go back and forth in this endless dance
But now the music is coming to an end
And the onlookers have all cleared
So I’m left in the middle of the dance floor alone yet again
While you whisper to someone else ‘May I have this dance?’

I promised myself that I would not fall in love again
While my mind agreed, somewhere along the lines my heart inserted the word ‘unless’ into the clause
And by the time I realised, I had already fallen for you

So I wish I could tell her it’s a trap
That I’ve been down that road before and it’s a dead end
But maybe you’d have some luck
Maybe you’d be the one to restore colour to that fading rainbow
So you can find your pot of gold
Maybe I was the problem

I stand here broken when I thought there was nothing left to break
Im broken
Like the silence that I have broken with my screaming outbursts of pain
Medicine can only curb physical pain
But there’s no emotional quickfix, no cure for heartbreak
I long to destroy the boomerang that you’ve placed on my heart as it makes me come back to you
Each and every time without fail
Let my fear of you truly make it the last time
This is without a doubt my final goodbye

Relationship Math

Let’s review some lessons

Listen up, take notes

Class is now in session

 

We started with a universal set in a world that was ours to treasure

There was a point where we intersected

However, we soon found ourselves in two separate circles

We no longer had anything in common

 

Question #1

We were different in the numerators of our personality

And the parts of myself that I gave to you were never enough to make you whole

You always wanted to be greater

So how can the two become one without a common denominator?

 

Question #2

All I have is one heart and I shared it all with you but you didn’t appreciate it.

How many broken pieces am I now left with?

Too many to count

So the problem can’t be solved

 

Question #3

BODMAS

Brackets, orders, divide, multiply, add, subtract

You placed me in a bracket so I was easier to manipulate

And dished out orders as a means of control

This divided and diminished the love I had for you

And only multiplied my doubts

Which added to my fears and confusion

This could only lead to your subtraction

You have to be taken away as you are an unnecessary distraction

 

You are so negative that you cancel all my positive efforts

Your hurtful words are like recurring decimals in my mind

They’re never ending

You surpass the limits of disappointment on a scale of one to infinity

You’re an abstract and incomprehensible entity

 

Somehow I feel as though there’s someone else in this equation

And that unknown variable is x

Specifically your ex

Your ex plus me plus you could never equal us

I don’t want to be caught in a love triangle

While you challenge me to look at it from a different angle

But to me it just seems like you’re more than friends

It can’t just be all in my head

 

The probability that you would leave was always greater than the chance that you would stay

Unfortunately I realised when I had already given it all away

I know what the answer should be but I don’t know how to work it out

I’m stuck thinking of what this could all be about

 

So all I seem to have are questions without answers

All we seem to create are problems without solutions

These are all things we could have dealt with, if you only paid more attention

If only you weren’t always absent

So …

Maybe it’s not that u can’t do Math accurately

Or maybe it’s me

Maybe we’re both strong in Math and what’s really weak is our Chemistry

I pray,wish,hope,long,trust

I pray that your wandering eyes lead you to appreciate the wonder of true love

I pray that my vision be purified to gaze in admiration at the aura you manifest by being imperfectly perfect

I wish to savour the unique essence that only you possess and be satisfied by the fullness of how great you are

I wish you taste the sweetness that life has to offer and that in sampling what is not desired you hold firmly to all that is good

I hope that your touch is ever present to reassure me of all I already know and calm my deepest fears

I hope that my touch is always gentle and warm to eradicate the coldness of life’s challenges and speak volumes when words fall short

I long to inhale and experience the calming effects of mutual love and appreciation

I long to strive to be everything you need so you can breathe in all that you crave for and rightfully deserve

I trust that when I speak you hear me,
That the words not only enter your ears but travel further and are understood by your heart and embedded into your soul

I trust that when you speak they are always words of truth that water any drought in my mind and give life to new outlooks

I
Pray,

Wish,

Hope,

Long,

Trust.

Do you?

 

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