Island Soul City Dreams

I love New York, but my heart has a Caribbean beat. It pulsates to the traditions of my people. Attuned to the rhythms of this City, I stay West Indian to the bone. I reflect. I analyze. I speak my mind. ~ I Keep it Irie ~

Men, Please Stop Calling Women Hot

Hot Blog

In my book, it’s not physical attributes that truly make someone “hot.” 

About a year ago, I came across a video on my Facebook timeline of Nigel Hayes, then 20, and a sophomore forward for the Wisconsin Badgers, where he was caught in a slightly embarrassing situation. Well, I thought it was cute. But he, having realized that what he thought he’d said in secret to fellow players during a press conference was actually relayed over the microphone, quickly covered his face.

Hayes had spotted a stenographer for ASAP Sports, 40-something Debra Bollman, and was so enamored by her, he whispered to his teammates, “God, she’s beautiful.”

As I browsed through the comment thread, I noticed several people — both males and females — echoing exactly how I felt about his actions. And as I revisited the video in preparation for writing this post, I reviewed the comments on YouTube, again seeing responses that captured my take on the incident. One commenter, The XXI, puts it as thus: “Man I gotta take the habit to say “God she’s beautiful,” instead of “God damn she’s f**king hot.”

Yes, I love that Hayes’ instinctive response was to say beautiful and not hot. It comes across as if he were describing the entire person, inside and out, although it doesn’t appear that he knew Bollman personally. It comes across as if he saw her as a complete woman and not merely as an object of sexual attraction. Young Hayes came over as genuine, sweet, appreciative of the woman before him, respectful. What especially appealed to me is that he didn’t sound “thirsty.”

I hate it when men sound thirsty. I hate it when a man calls me hot, especially when I don’t know him and even more so if it’s a man who claims to be seriously interested in courting me. No men, I don’t want you to call me hot. I find it neither flattering nor does it validate my sex appeal, nor who or what I am as a woman. Were a man for example, to say he finds my intelligence, wit, industrious nature, fortitude and other intangible attributes hot, that, I would find complimentary.

Some men don’t get this. They think that because they tell a woman she’s hot, she should simply accept what they deem the “compliment” and move on. Men like Marco. I dated Marco on and off for a two-year period a few years ago before and during grad school while living in New York City. He was a lot of things I adored, but never ready for a committed relationship. So over time, I stopped communicating with him. I recently moved to Washington, D.C., and as it turns out, Marco beat me to it by a few months. We reconnected virtually and he invited me out to dinner to, in his words, “welcome you to D.C.”

It was delightful reconnecting with Marco. I remembered all the reasons why I’d liked and dated him, from his smarts to his inimitable sense of humor, ambition, his overall magnetic charm and yes, to keep it real, his enthralling physical attributes. We discussed our history and evaluated why “we” didn’t work as a couple before, our current respective relationship statuses and goals and we concluded that the time was ripe for us to give it another shot. A real shot this time.

I made it clear that a solely physical relationship was the furthest thing on my mind, that obviously that type of interaction will become a reality once I’m committed to someone, but at present it’s not what I seek. Marco said he was on the same page with me, that he wanted to court me, to date me, that he wanted for us to truly become one, for us to get married and have children. That from hence forth, he’ll be working toward that. For once, he sounded serious and I took him that way.

The next day, he practically disappeared, citing he’d been very busy on the job. I too had been busy at work, but had reached out. I decided to not sweat it and just responded cordially to his text which came at the end of the day. The following day out of the blue, he texts, “You’re hot.” No “Good day, how are you,” or “Have a great day,” or “Let’s plan to meet up again.” His message totally turned me off. I’m not saying he’s thirsty. He has no reason to be. But he sounded thirsty, purely carnal and I didn’t feel flattered.

I told him all this and explained that had he said something like, “Hi beautiful,” that would have come over as more appreciative of the whole me. I further explained that if he’s as serious as he claimed to be about building something with me that he needs to understand and respect my position on this matter. That whether his intention was “pure,” that I don’t like to be addressed in that manner. Marco disappeared for more than two weeks, no response, no returned calls, nothing.

When I finally heard from him, he argued that it was fine for him to act carnal merely because we had a dating history and that I was irrational in my response to his comment. No consideration was given to the fact that his comment did not sit well with me and why. It especially did not work for me because no, he wasn’t saying hot in the sapiosexual sense and no, that’s not what I want to hear from a man who’s trying show me he’s serious about being serious in pursuing me.

What exacerbates the situation is the fact that he disappeared after I’d voiced my opinion, instead of having an adult conversation on the matter. To me, that further makes the point that it’s not me the person – inside and out- he was trying to get close to, but me the “hot” object of his sexual attraction. Do I think I’m hot? I’m hot alright, hot as in mad that some grown men don’t get that some of us grown women don’t find it hot that you call us hot.

~ I Keep it Irie ~

 

Farewell My Beloved NYC, Hello New City

Hello DC

They say NYC is cold? Not as cold as this place lol!

The one phrase I’ve heard over and over prior to and living in New York for more than a decade has been, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.” I’ve always thought New York was the toughest place to live. But gosh, I love this amazing city of blinding lights and so over the years I kept pushing on, no matter the challenge. And those of you who know my story, know there have been many a challenge.

These past few weeks have shown me more than ever just how much New York has made me grow, the strength it has given me, the lessons learnt, how it has enhanced my indomitable will to succeed, to go after my dreams, to never give up.

Yes, through smiles, tears, courage, fears, friends made, friends lost, dreams broken and some fulfilled beyond my imagination, moments of doubt and steps in faith, New York has given me far more than I ever could have imagined when I boarded that American Airlines Flight 1384 from a tiny beautiful island called Barbados, leaving all my family and dearest friends behind.

So as I bid farewell to New York City and say “see you later” to all those who’ve contributed to all I’ve become, to every Samaritan along the way, I say, “Thank you. One love and God bless.” Though now a couple of hundred miles apart, I hope you can continue to be a part of what remains an amazing journey for me in this country.

My new city has in my experience thus far, “done got New York beat” on merely surviving. Everything costs more here. Everything. Rent is far more exorbitant (although I do love the fancy amenities of swimming pool, roof deck, patio and more). Groceries are a prettier penny and one even has to pay for the plastic bags in which to pack them.

Gym membership is at least three to five times more than what I paid in NYC. Public transportation runs me a buck or more per trip than New York’s. Restaurants tax 10 percent unlike 8.875 percent in the Big Apple. And worse yet, I can no longer walk outside onto a Brooklyn street and get a nice mani/pedi for $19.99! I now have to fork out at least $50 in this new town.

Anyway, as I said, New York has prepared me well for whatever challenge may come my way. And so to my new city, I embrace an incredible career opportunity and I bring my NYC lessons, grits, curiosity, discipline, sense of adventure, hopes, dreams and faith in God. Someone living in my new neighborhood recently said to me, “If you want a friend in DC, get a dog.” _______________

~ I Keep it Irie ~

Food.jpg

First meal I made in this city, one way of surviving – more home-cooking, less eating out. Baked sweet yams/potatoes rubbed with my homemade virgin coconut oil, a dash of cinnamon and a lil organic honey served with baked cajun salmon and steamed vegetables. 

 

A New Chapter Begins For Me; It’s Handled

Channeling my "Olivia Pope," 'cause in 2016 I'll be approaching any challenge with, "It's handled."

Channeling my “Olivia Pope,” ’cause in 2016 I’ll be approaching any challenge with, “It’s handled.”

On this my “25th” (*cough*) birthday, I want to briefly testify of God’s grace in my life. I had no plans to make any of the following information public anytime soon, but I see the need to share it to encourage those of you “going through” to NEVER give up on God.

The past year was one of my most challenging ever – in every sphere of my life! I gave up a “safe” job for what I thought to be a better opportunity but it turned out to be otherwise. I met and fell in love with what I thought to be an amazing man, but he trampled all over my heart and even impregnated another woman. I found myself jobless, financially challenged, heartbroken and broken, dealing with what I like to call “immigrant issues” (some of which I know my fellow US transplants have encountered) and overall going through a dark period of depression, at times shutting close friends out. My faith was tested beyond measure. Sure, I continued to post photos with my ever present smile, but offline, away in my solitude, the tears scarcely stopped.

Through it all, as challenging as it was, I relied heavily on my faith. I thought of all the trials God had brought me through, times where I, in this country not having a single relative or my closest friends here felt alone, painfully lonely, lost, had no solution to the challenge at hand and figured “it’s a wrap” but somehow, He came through. And so over the past few months, I kept challenging God to order my steps, to open up new doors and to teach me to “wait on Him.” I also realized that it was OK to swallow my pride and to let my close friends in, to request their help, to tell them what I was truly feeling and going through and to ask them to pray for and with me for a much needed breakthrough.

God doesn’t always answer prayers in the manner and time we want, but it’s my testimony that He delivers in ways that far exceed our expectations. As I celebrate this birthday, this new year – my 25th for the umpteenth time – God has brought me to what is in many ways a new chapter in life: An incredible new job at an outstanding company working with some of the world’s best journalists; a fabulous new apartment; a new address – in a fantastic new neighborhood. And yesterday, for the first time in a while, I got my first bylined news article as seen here , for NPR, no less!  I’m both scared and excited at the possibilities ahead. But most importantly, I’m thankful and give God all the glory.

My favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 40:31: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Friends, no matter what your situation, please don’t give up on God, ’cause He won’t give up on you.

Please check out video below for highlights of the people, places and things in my beautiful Barbados that made Christmas Holidays and start of 2016 extra special.

~ I Keep it Irie ~

I am Enough

For a moment there

You made me doubt my worth.

I thought I wasn’t good enough for you;

Thought I was too short, too small

Too poor, too un-American

Too unaccomplished, too unattractive

Thought I had the wrong job,

The wrong dreams, the wrong goals

That nothing I am or have could measure up

To your ideals and expectations.

I thought I wasn’t enough.

 

You said I wasn’t your only one

And you had no such plans for me,

Your revelations were devastating.

I wondered how to change your mind,

Thought I needed to do things differently,

That I had to be a better me.

I agonized over it, cried over it,

Became consumed with it

“Why doesn’t he want me?”

I thought about it, prayed about it.

“How could I be enough?’

 

Soon enough I got the answer,

A reminder:  I am enough.

All five feet two inches, 120 pounds of me,

Forged by faith, fortitude, sentimentality,

A sharp mind, selfless spirit, indomitable will

And a heart overflowing with love,

I am enough.

Enough beauty inside and out,

Enough smarts, passion, enough ambition,

Enough empathy, enough loyalty.

I am enough.

 

I’m enough of the things

That make me wonderfully uniquely me.

Nurturing enough, sweet enough,

Witty enough, sarcastic enough,

Enough of a talker, dreamer, crier, writer,

A big enough smile, big enough personality

Enough of all a woman needs to be;

Homemaker, professional, supporter,

A listener, friend, daughter, sister, aunt,

I am enough as a lover, a mother, a wife,

As a faithful servant of God,

I am enough.

Heck, I am more than enough.

by Maquita “Queenie” Peters

~ I Keep it Irie ~

For Larry’s nephew A3. 

I am enough.

I am enough.

Why I’m Not Leaving My Abusive Relationship

Photo Credit: Google Images.

Photo Credit: Google Images.

I have an abusive man. He abuses me on various levels. But I’m not leaving him. Before you’re quick to judge, you ought to hear our story. Thereafter, you can be swift and merciless with your feedback. Given how often I’ve blogged about being single and my quest to find love, it may come as a surprise to many who know me to learn that I’m in a relationship. As one can understand, it’s challenging to speak about my dysfunctional union. Unlike most abusive relationships, however, I don’t take my man back primarily for the good he does to pacify me after a battering, rather, I stay with him because every time he gives me a beat down, I learn a lesson; I’m the better for it. He keeps me on my toes, he’s the epitome of tough love and despite the tears he occasionally causes me, I couldn’t see my life without him. At present, I know he’s the one for me and I pray to God daily that things will work out between us.

My man is CJ. I first met him in the mid to late ‘90s, while still living in my native Barbados. And not to sound cliché, it was love at first sight, at least for me. Physically, he was unlike any other I’d ever seen. I watched him in awe from top to bottom, like a magnet, he drew me in. He was full of life, bright, bold, smart, sexy, educated, worldly, well put together, accommodating, simply mesmerizing. Our connection was beautiful and organic. With him, I felt like I was at home. AIas, I was already committed to another and wished to remain loyal, so as difficult as it was to tear myself away from this new and exciting man, I had to part ways with him. Little did I know then, that we’d meet again in the not-too-distant future. Read more…

On Turning 40, Er I mean “25”

They say life begins at 40?;-)

They say life begins at 40?;-)

When I was a teenager, ages like 30 and 40 seemed really old. When I marked my 25th birthday (for the first time), I felt as if I were grown, that I knew all about life. When I finally turned 30, I thought, “Oh my gosh, where did the years go?”

My 30s have been my most challenging, most exciting, most memorable years; the years in which I’ve taken the most risks, suffered the worst heartbreaks, took my career and education to a higher level, the years in which I’ve matured and learnt the most. In my 30s, I truly discovered who I was and the kick-ass tough stuff of which I’m made.

Reflecting on when I was 21, I thought that by now I would have long been married, borne my twins, living in the proverbial house with a picket fence, ably guarded by my brown Labrador Retriever and black Rottweiler. As an old adage goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” For sure, God had and has completely different plans for me than I envisioned.

As I approached my birthday, I’ve been overcome by conflicting feelings. On the one hand, there’s been a sense of unaccomplishment about certain aspects of my life, there’s been a feeling that I am unofficially saying goodbye to my youth, and there’s just the incredulity that I’m already this age! I still feel as if there’s a little Caribbean girl trapped inside, waiting to grow up.

On the other hand, as I reminisced about my journey from St. Vincent to Barbados to Trinidad to Canada and to the USA, as I thought about the relatives and cherished friends I’ve lost along the way, as I grieved with my friend Moni who recently lost her dear mom, and my “bredren” Bertram (25) who only last week buried his beloved mother (who died two days before her 48th birthday), the reality of my own mortality hit me.

I’m reminded of what a blessing it is to awake to a new day, what a miracle it is to be able to celebrate another birthday. So today, I will not wallow in self-pity about what is missing from my life, but I will give thanks. Thanks for all I’ve achieved by the grace of God, whether tangible or intangible. Thanks for all the wonderful people, the angels in my life that have held my hand at whatever leg of this journey. Thanks that on January 30, many years ago, Victoria gave birth to her firstborn, and that four years later on that same date she gave me my best birthday gift ever, my sister Sancia. Thanks that my sweet, loving mother nurtured me into the God-fearing, fearless, faithful woman I am today.

Yes, today, I give my heavenly Father thanks for opening my eyes on this my 40th er, I mean 25th birthday. #Fab40

~ I Keep it Irie ~

P.S.: While in Barbados for Christmas and New Year’s, I launched my birthday celebrations and used the opportunity to ask my longtime friends there, some of the people who know me best to share their favorite memories/reflections of me and thoughts on our friendship. I recorded their responses on my iPad and iPhone and made a “movie” of it with a soundtrack that’s my testimony. Click on this link and check it out. I promise, you’ll be entertained. Thanks and one love.:-)

Life is a beach - especially at 40.:-)

Life is a beach – especially at 40.:-) Photo taken at Sam Lord’s Castle Barbados Christmas Holidays ’14-15.

A Reflection: My Time In Israel and Palestinian Territories, The Conflict Now

With Pastor Alex Awad outside of his East Jerusalem Baptist Church. Awad's family is one where members where expelled from Israel.

Me with Pastor Alex Awad outside of his East Jerusalem Baptist Church. Members of the Awad family were expelled from Israel.

Growing up in the Caribbean in both Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, my friends and I played with sheer abandon on miles of forest green pastures. Be it a game of cricket, football (soccer), hopscotch, tug-of-war, “red light, green light” or “puss puss catch a corner,” we sometimes played from early morning till the golden sun sank beyond the horizons of our tranquil tropical shores. We ran through gullies reminiscent of orchards, where we climbed or “pelt(ed) trees” to fill our bellies with juicy fruits of the season. In the summer, we often soaked breadfruits in our crystal clear seawater then roasted them on the beach, sometimes gutting them to insert pigtails and when we took them charcoaled off the fire, we garnished them with locally-made Mello Kreem butter and washed down the delightful delicacy with some cool lemonade or freshly picked green coconut (water).

We had our little tiffs too as children often do: like when I’d throw a pebble (or as we say in Barbados, a rock stone) at a boy for teasing me about being short or making fun of my name calling me, “Mosquito.” But never anything violent. Later, we’d all joke about it and all was forgiven. My friends and I were free to run in and out of each other’s homes, our respective parents feeding each child like their own. We were raised in a village, by a village. I cannot imagine nor would I wish for a more peaceful, happy and careFREE childhood.

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My 12-year-old nephew in Barbados walking along the peaceful village in which I grew up.

On the contrary, just three years ago I set foot in the Middle East for the first time. I was there in my capacity as a tourist, as a pilgrim, but above all, as a journalist. One cool spring day, my fellow reporters and I made our way from Jerusalem to the West Bank after passing through checkpoints manned by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). We’d arrived in Hebron. After Gaza City, Hebron is the largest city in the Palestinian territories and home to hundreds of Jewish settlers. On these streets where almost every corner seemed to feature an Israel soldier, rifle in hand, the rules are that Palestinians walk on one side and Jews on the other. Palestinians aren’t allowed to cross the other side.

We – visitors to the area had the freedom to walk on both sides. As we looked to our right, where the homes of Palestinians were stacked high together, we noticed, they were all fenced in, doors bolted and locked from the outside not allowing for exit to that side of the street. (Their only exit to the “streets” on which they could walk was via skillfully maneuvering across each other’s rooftops.) And each window was fitted with a barricade, with somewhat of an extended ledge and there in that area, we watched children at play– confined to those few square feet. As we caught the attention of their little faces and wondering eyes, the reality of their “captivity” hit me and I recalled my freedom on my island paradise at their age. I was moved to tears.

My colleagues and I, appalled by all this, took photos, recorded videos and voiced our concerns about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about how many in our noble profession, especially the American media never paint such an account as we were experiencing. Soon it was lunch time and our group of about 20 was famished. The only place nearby to get sustenance was the quarters belonging to Jewish settlers. Otherwise, we had to send a Palestinian from a local store into the Palestinian living quarters−as we could not enter there−to get us some food. As visitors, we weren’t allowed to actually enter into their quarters, although we could roam the surrounding streets and even got a tour by a spokesman for the Jewish settlers of the Caves of the Patriarchs, also within that vicinity. We were told that the food was at least 15 minutes away and then a wait for the orders to be filled. We all looked at each other, looked toward the Jewish settlement and back at each other and decided, despite how hungry we were we could wait for food from the Palestinians.

Religion has long been said to be the key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and many argue that the related issues: security; politics; human rights; and “territory” all stem from religion. Prior to my traveling throughout Israel and the West Bank, prior to sitting on a bus and having the fully armed IDF come aboard and inspect my credentials, prior to walking along the streets in East Jerusalem with my Muslim friend and fellow reporter in her hijab and having Israeli police stop us just because she appeared to be “Arab,” prior to meeting Palestinians whose families were thrown out of Israel or killed as a result of this ongoing conflict, prior to coming face to face with the separation wall that prevents Palestinians from entering Israel without authorization, prior to sitting in a room with and hearing and interviewing members of Hamas, prior to meeting with top religious leaders of various faiths in the Holy Land from Judaism to Christianity, Islam and Druze to The Bahá’í Faith to hear all sides of the story, I had a completely neutral stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

To see all this first hand, to experience for only a few minutes what many Palestinians endure every day, is a shocking, sad feeling; which though I appreciate, I don’t wish ever to “endure” again. Moreover, the conditions we witnessed led me to believe that no child should grow up like this. And just like my friends and I were free to frolic on our Caribbean beaches, certainly, no child should meet such a tragic death as recently reported here in The New York Times of those four little boys killed while playing on a beach in Gaza.

No matter what side you fall on, the reality is that the current state of affairs in Gaza, as well as overall between Israel and Palestine, is indeed cause for great concern. My stance now? NOW more than ever, there’s a need for a resolution—a PEACEFUL resolution. And soon. This is my prayer for Israelis and Palestinians at home and abroad.

~ I Keep it Irie ~

The Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem - one of the most sacred sites of the Jewish faith. My colleagues and I folded pieces of paper with our prayers and placed them here.

The Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem – one of the most sacred sites of the Jewish faith. My colleagues and I folded pieces of paper with our prayers and placed them here.

Delicious Home-cooked Caribbean Meals

Most of what I eat is home-cooked by me. And pretty much most of those dishes are native to my beautiful homeland Barbados and the wider Caribbean region. Be it breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, I almost always have a taste of my beloved Caribbean spicing up whatever I cook. Over the past few years, I’ve produced vlogs and photo stories sharing recipes of many of these dishes with my growing circle of American and international friends. I’m happy to share some of those creations now in this photo gallery.

From Bajan salt bread, jam puffs and our national dish “Coucou and Flying Fish,” to Trinidad-style dhalpuri roti and chicken pelau, Jamaican jerk cuisine and dumplings, to and Vincy-style coconut drops, hot cross buns and peanut brittle, I present an array of my delectable homemade Caribbean dishes. My diet is predominantly fish/seafood and I occasionally eat chicken, so the photos will reflect this. All photos were taken with my trusty iPhone camera.

Should you require a recipe for anything you see, please don’t hesitate to ask, I’ll be happy to share.  So, please tell me, what is your favorite Caribbean dish? Comment below!

~ I Keep it Irie ~

He Raped Me Now He Wants To Be My Friend

 

Say No to Rape

I am a rape victim. I’ve never written or spoken publicly about this ordeal. But almost half of my life later, the traumatic experience stills haunts me. I always cringe during rape scenes in movies or TV shows. I look away, sometimes close my eyes till I think the horrific action has passed, or on occasions challenge myself to watch the scene, only to break down in tears. I have had nightmares of the tragedy, visions so real; they disturbed my slumber – for years. Frightful flashbacks of not just about being taken against my will by someone I trusted, looked up to and called friend, but of the real life nightmare of the consequences of my speaking out against my rapist.

In the “world” where we both existed at the time, I was a “nobody” with no influence, he, a powerful man known and respected by many within and around of our spheres. As with many rape victims, my personal and professional reputation suffered. I was the one under the microscope, doubted, accused of making up stories, of trying to destroy a beacon in society, of looking to cash in on big dollars, I was threatened, mocked, bad talked, blacklisted, scared out of my wits.Through it all, I held firm to the truth and I trusted that in time it’d truly come to light.

Unbeknownst to many, one of the key reasons I decided to leave my beloved Barbados, my home, my dear family, my closest friends and the only life I’d ever really known was to escape the pain of living in the same land as this man. I needed to get a fresh start on life, to pursue new dreams and hopefully one day to have forgotten that lowest point of my life. The man who raped me left me nursing physical, emotional and mental wounds. Alas, to this day, I still bear scars of the latter. How does one forgive a man who has caused such damage?

It’s been at least a decade since I last laid eyes on my rapist and almost as long since I’ve made New York my home. From time to time, since Barbados is so small and I still have a solid network there, I hear about him. In particular, just a few short years ago, I heard that he had raped again and was far more severely penalized than in my case. Still, like back in my time, he was again spared the wrath of imprisonment.

One would think I’d be delighted in what many called my vindication, but my emotions were saved for empathy for the victim and her family. I have some idea of what she went through and what she was up against. I’ve never wished “bad” for my rapist, although at times I’ve hated him. I’ve just always felt sorry for his wife, family and for the other victims I subsequently heard of, who unlike me, didn’t have the guts and voice to speak out.

My life in New York, amidst some hurdles, has been happy, prosperous and progressive. God has placed many angels here in my path and on the academic, professional and domestic/personal front, I couldn’t have made a better choice than to emigrate. I’m now Ivy League-educated, a graduate of Columbia University; I’m a more talented writer and journalist – from WCBS Radio 880, to The Root at the Washington Post, to Black Enterprise and WNYC Radio, I’ve worked at some of the best media organizations in the U.S. and further honed my craft. The temper tantrums of my early 20s including my then tendency to curse are no more; I’m a more loyal daughter, sister, auntie, niece, cousin, friend and girlfriend; I’ve made friends from several states and almost 50 different countries. I’m a more faithful follower of Christ.

My tough times here have taught me how to do without the frills, to survive with the bare essentials; I’ve become a more rounded cook and baker; I’m more disciplined about my fitness and training. This island girl who loves sunshine, tank tops and flip flops has learnt how to embrace Old Man Winter. I feel accepted, admired, respected, and cherished by my New York “family.” I have a greater sense of appreciation and love for my homeland Barbados and by extension the Caribbean. Overall, New York has made a damn fine woman of me, or better put in the words of the late iconic Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal woman, that’s me!”

So in part, to my rapist, I say thank you. Thank you for stripping me of my dignity, for robbing me of all I had as a young woman, a young reporter, a young Barbadian. For in taking all this from me, I can recite Maya Angelou again:

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise …”

In taking everything from me, you drove me out of my country to another, to reinvent myself, to become a better person. Oh no, am I saying thank you for raping me, that you were right to take me against my will, but like so many of life’s ills, sometimes there is a silver lining. I heard that your past indiscretions are now behind you, that you’ve been forgiven by many among the powers that be and you now hold a most prestigious position on that beautiful island where I teethed, bruised my knees as an infant from learning to ride a bike, had my first date as a teenager and for many a day with my 20-something friends basked on unspoilt white sand beaches and swam in crystal clear waters. Congratulations to you.

So it may appear that I should forgive my rapist, right? That life has since then more than rewarded me, that I’ve been blessed and I ought to finally let go and move on? Truth be told, I long forgave him. And even though I still shudder at the thought of rape and rape scenes on the small or big screen, I’ve thought less and less of my rapist these past few years. That is until today.

This morning, I logged on to my Facebook and of all people from whom I should get a friend request? My rapist! Admittedly, a few years back, he’d sent not one, but two friend requests, both of which I rejected. I figured after the second time, that he’d got the point. His audacity at a third request leaves me shocked, more than slightly annoyed and unfortunately took me back to that devastating experience – he just never seems to understand “NO.”

I may have forgiven him and I may have had a great life despite what he took from me, but I am NOT and will never be ready to again let him into my personal space or to call him “friend.” I just can’t do that.

~ I Keep it Irie ~

What do y’all think, should I block him this time? Do you think forgiveness in this regard means letting him into my social networking circle? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks.

Beautiful Dreadlocks Styles

In one of my first blog posts Stop Asking Me Foolish Ish Bout My Dreadlocks, I wrote about some of the annoying questions people often ask me about my hair. On the flip side, almost as frequently as I get these questions, I’m also complimented on my lovely crown. I give much credit to my stylist Joyce for helping me nurture my long, beautiful tresses over the past decade. As far as I’m concerned, Joyce is the best dreadlocks stylist a.k.a. loctician in Brooklyn and perhaps even New York City. I’m particularly biased as she hails from my homeland Barbados, although she has made NYC her home for more than 20 years now.

I was introduced to Joyce by my friend Billy in late 2002 while I was on an extended visit to NYC. I had recently cut all my relaxed hair off and was proudly and happily sporting my own natural curls. The ultimate goal was to start dreadlocks, a dream I’d had for many years. Billy had dreads and his stylist was Joyce. He recommended her as the one to get me started. From day one, I was pleased with Joyce’s work. Her inimitable talent, combined with her professionalism, integrity, candor, and overall amiable nature, ensured that in me, she’d have a lifelong client.

Today, I pay homage to the genius of my stylist Joyce by featuring a gallery of her artistry with my hair over the past six years or so. Disclaimer: Most of the photos were taken with a camera phone and not originally intended for publishing. There are a few photos where I did my hair myself, but I still give credit to Joyce because I learned my techniques from her, and obviously for helping me to  have a healthy head of hair with which to get creative.

I love my beautiful dreadlocks and I thank Joyce for all the love she pours into them.

Leave your questions (but not foolish ones lol) and comments below.

~ I Keep it Irie ~

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