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 ~

Archive for the category “Sugarcane Sentiments”

A Part of Me Died Today

Today marks two years since I lost my dear Uncle Moses. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him and think of him. Continue to sleep sweetly, Uncle Moses. Our family is not the same without you. I, rather, we will always love you.

Island Soul City Dreams

I had today’s blog post all planned. Over the past couple days I had been preparing another product – Caribbean-style to share with you. And while it’s not exactly a culinary treat, I’d hoped it would have brought some cheer. But this morning, I awoke to the sad news of the death of my Uncle Moses in Barbados. As my mother asked the words over the phone, “Are you sitting down?” I started screaming, “It better not be my Uncle Moses, not my Uncle Moses.” It’s no secret to anyone in our family that among my mother’s 10 siblings he was my favorite. He was my grandparents’ third son and the child born just a few years after my mom.  Had he lived to see his birthday on May 9, my Uncle Moses would have turned 52.Google Images

I struggle to find the words to write as I eulogize my Uncle…

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2013: I Kicked Her Butt

I wanted to write a blog post about the hurdles I’ve had to overcome this year, about the many frustrating days when I felt lost, alone, like I had nothing, when I was clueless about my next step in life. I wanted to write about the nights when I cried till my eyes almost bled, till my throat was parched and my head throbbed with pain, till I writhed in agony on my carpeted floor, clutching a worn out teddy bear wondering if my prayers were going on unheard.

I wanted to write about how I’d questioned whether or not I’d wasted $70K doing my master’s at Columbia University, only for almost three years later and with a total of 15 years experience as a journalist in print, broadcast and online media, I have yet to land a full-time job in my field. I wanted to write that I’d been feeling like my career was in limbo, that as much as I appreciate the freelance journalism jobs that come my way, they don’t provide the stability I need, adequate visibility for my talent, the challenges I seek, or the opportunities to help others or effect positive change.

I wanted to elaborate on my previous blog posts regarding my luckless dating in New York City, about how a few of my girlfriends got “booed” up this year and I’m happy for them, but sad for me that the year has come to an end and I’m still single. Yes, I wanted to bitch about everything in my life that is seemingly not happening. But the more I reflected on my year, the more I realized that it was not filled with failures, or regrets, that my year was bankrupt of nothing. Rather, my 2013 has been rich with smiles. Smiles brought to my face not by material gain, not by tangibles, but by the people most dear to my heart. Read more…

I Love Her And I Don’t Care What You Think

UPDATED NOV. 30, 2016

I’ve been in love with her from the first time I laid my eyes on her. No, I’m not talking about loving my mother, or my sister, or grandmother. But she means as much to me as these special and most important women in my life. Just like them, she has been and forever will be tied to my heart, my soul, my existence, my legacy. She has been with me from my very humble beginnings and she never lets me forget that, no matter how long I’ve not seen her or how many miles apart we may be. She and I have a bond that many of my friends and even some of my own relatives can never understand. A few of them actually envy our relationship.

From my happy childhood days growing up in a tiny village through my rebellious teenage/secondary school years, into my soul searching young adulthood living in the “heights,” to now as I’m trying to live the dream in this concrete jungle, she has remained my rock. She has been always one to inspire me, to show me that no matter how small, unknown or seemingly insignificant to others I may be, that I can make a big impact in this world. She has taught me some of the most crucial lessons in life: about family; friendships; romance; sex; fortitude; work ethic; career; sacrifice; selflessness. She helped shape my personality; my gregarious, “cool under fire” nature; my sarcastic wit; my no BS attitude; my go-getter spirit; my faith in God. Read more…

Doing It With Love: A Sweet Soca Story

I was a teenage student in my native Barbados when I bought my first album. In fact, it was not one, but two albums and they couldn’t be more different. One was “Tapestry” by Carole King and both the album and artiste remain among my all-time favorites. The other album, released in 1993, was by Square One, a top local Soca band and it was entitled, “Square Roots”. “Tapestry” was on CD and “Square Roots” was on cassette. I was mainly able to listen to the former when I was at home with access to the CD player. But since we were still in the era of the Walkman, I could listen to “Square Roots” to my heart’s content. From the day I took that plastic off the cassette, I was locked on to Square One’s infectious rhythms, be it as I traveled on the bus, walked around my neighborhood, or hung out with friends where we’d unplug the headphones, play the music out loud and sing and dance along. As was the Bajan saying back then, “Man, I stretched out dat tape (cassette)!” My favorite track on that album was a slow to medium tempo tune, “Special”, because it simply made me feel that way.

With Biggie Irie of Barbados.

Me with Biggie Irie of Barbados.

Like most Barbadian teenagers at the time, I loved the band Square One. Many of my girlfriends and I had a crush on its cute lead singer Anderson “Young Blood” Armstrong, while our male peers were infatuated with his gorgeous co-lead vocalist Alison Hinds. Square One was the epitome of energy, had wicked drum and bass lines, scintillating keyboard harmonies, tantalizing steel pan melodies and vocalists that commanded the stage and sent the audience in a frenzy. They were Bajans playing “our” music and had quickly become a national treasure, earning the moniker, “Soca Ambassadors”. One could imagine my excitement the year after buying their album, to meet in person members of Square One. Read more…

To Me She Was Carolyn

Were she still alive, Barbadian calypsonian Carolyn “Tassa” Forde would have turned 44 today. I originally wrote the following tribute when she died in 2011. I am reposting now on the occasion of her birthday. Happy birthday Carolyn! Continue to sleep sweetly, my friend. You are sorely missed.

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The late Barbadian calypsonian Carolyn “Tassa” Forde.

To me she was Carolyn. Not because we were bosom buddies or lifelong friends or even socialized often together. In fact, we were none of those things. Yet, to me, she was more than Tassa the entertainer: gifted singer, charismatic calypsonian. To me she was Carolyn because we shared a mutual admiration and respect for each other. So on a wintry Thursday when my mother called from Barbados to say, “I have some sad news; Tassa, the calypsonian died last night,” I screamed, “Oh no, not Carolyn!” I could not help it; I cried.

I stopped calling her Tassa, perhaps, within a few months after we met in the mid 1990’s. I’d only recently started working as a reporter at The Barbados Advocate and I was extensively covering the entertainment beat through which I met Tassa – as part of the line up of the House of Soca calypso tent. It was easy to be drawn to her dynamism on stage. Away from the crowd and the lights, her energy was even more magnetic. It was this presence: a gregarious nature; sharp intellect; delightful laugh; quick wit and compassionate spirit that drew me to Carolyn. Read more…

My Favorite High School Teacher – A Reunion

It’s with bittersweet feelings that I write this piece. As I type, I’m sitting in my “window seat” on a Jet Blue aircraft which took off from the tropical shores of my beautiful homeland Barbados to return me to my adoptive home – exciting, but wintry New York City. Moments ago, as the blinding sun beamed through this tiny window, I squinted to get my final glimpses of paradise, clicking away on my iPhone camera to preserve each image for posterity. Even after almost a decade, every time I leave Barbados, I cry. Yet, I am always eager to embark on the new adventures the Big Apple has to offer.

This was my most emotional “home for the holidays” trip. Much of my time was spent with my immediate family, visiting relatives, dear friends and long-lost friends. Not that I don’t usually do so, but it featured more prominently on this occasion, with me limiting my usual attendance at countless social events. I reunited with people I had not seen in 10, 15 and in some cases almost 20 years. I met new additions to my family or friends’ families – children born since I moved to New York. I connected in person with Facebook friends who have now become friends, ran into former journalistic colleagues who’ve been promoted or have changed jobs, and saw folks that I’d almost forgotten.

Enjoying the view from Speightown boardwalk, Barbados.

Enjoying the view from Speightown boardwalk, Barbados.

I was warmly welcomed into the home of my first boyfriend’s parents; his mom still keeps a framed photo of me. One of my best friends and his wife took me out to an exclusive event, another drove me around the island showing me all the developments that have been taking place in my absence, others invited me over for lunch, dinner and even to stay over, and some took the trek to rural Barbados through potholes, sparsely lit streets, along cane fields and off the “main road” to my mom’s house just to see me.

There are many stories I can write about these “reunions” and over time I probably will, but the one I’ll share with you today is when for the first time in 15 years, I saw my favorite teacher from secondary school (high school). For each of us, I’m sure no memory of that pivotal period of our lives is complete without the thought of at least one teacher who in some way positively impacted our lives. As a student at Louis Lynch Secondary (formerly Roebuck Secondary School), there were a few teachers I admired, who helped mold me into the person I am today, but there’s one only one I called my favorite teacher. His name is Addison Cadogan. Mr. Cadogan was my Social Studies teacher. He taught me from first form – age 11 – until my graduation. I could go back to those early years and tell you why Mr. Cadogan holds such a special place in my heart, but I have a more recent memory that will show you why!

Read more…

Her Death Taught Me To Live

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” ― Rose Kennedy

This past April, I wrote the hardest piece I have ever had to write. It was my Uncle Moses’ eulogy. Moses was my favorite uncle and one of the dearest people to my heart. He succumbed to cancer of the liver at age 51, less than a month before his birthday. But his was not the first eulogy I wrote, nor was he the first loved one I lost. I have lost too many loved ones to count. Death is never an easy thing to handle, especially for someone as sentimental as me and as a person who loves HARD.

From my early 20’s to now, I have lost several loved ones ranging ages 14 to 72 (my grandfather included) to various types of cancer. When I was 26, I bade farewell to a close friend from childhood, Lemuel – the first person to teach me tolerance and an unconditional love for anyone regardless of their sexual orientation – to AIDS. A couple of years later, my beloved 14-year-old cousin Alex died of a heart attack – two weeks before Christmas. Yes, I have had many moments of donning black dresses, signing books of condolences and being in a funeral march. But the one that haunts me most is when I lost my best friend. At the time, we were giddy teenagers high on life.  She was three months my senior and to this day, I have not met another person with whom I’ve shared more in common. Read more…

Tears And Prayers For My Father

My father has always been one to disappear from my life. The first time he did so was shortly after my teenage mother told him she was pregnant with me. Over the next few years, he would suddenly “reappear” and without warning “disappear” again.  These so-called “appearances” were never in person, but rather through telephone calls and letters across the ocean from his home in neighboring Trinidad to mine in Barbados. His “here today, gone tomorrow” routine made for a rocky relationship between us and led to my mother raising me as a single parent. It would take almost a quarter century for him to finally appear physically before me.

During my young adult life, my dad and I eventually and miraculously built not just a parent-child relationship, but also a very dear friendship. We evolved from hostile father-daughter interactions to a daddy who doted on his beloved first-born and a daughter whose heart danced on answering the phone to hear her father’s sweet singsong Trinidadian accent. It seemed then as if my dad had retired as a magician – he was no longer pulling disappearing stunts. For almost a decade he remained a constant in my life and albeit late, I came to know and love what it felt like to have both a mother and a father. Three years ago, my father again disappeared for what might have been the final time, as today I fear he’s dead. Read more…

Why I Call Mine, ‘Bajan Brown Sugar’

The one thing I am most proud of is my Bajan Brown Sugar.  If yours were as sweet as mine, you would be boasting too. Even as a little girl, I knew I was blessed with something special and over the years, many men and even women have lauded me on this priceless asset. Their actions alone indicate how they feel, but they further reassure me with words like “what you have is a true treasure.” It’s amazing the things they all do for me – just because of my Bajan Brown Sugar.

I have heard many people; especially men call theirs all kinds of names. After all, that’s their prized possession. Read more…

A Part of Me Died Today

I had today’s blog post all planned. Over the past couple of days I had been preparing another product – Caribbean-style to share with you. And while it’s not exactly a culinary treat, I’d hoped it would have brought some cheer. But this morning, I awoke to the sad news of the death of my Uncle Moses in Barbados. As my mother asked the words over the phone, “Are you sitting down?” I started screaming, “It better not be my Uncle Moses, not my Uncle Moses.” It’s no secret to anyone in our family that among my mother’s 10 siblings he was my favorite. He was my grandparents’ third son and the child born just a few years after my mom.  Had he lived to see his birthday on May 9, my Uncle Moses would have turned 52.Google Images

I struggle to find the words to write as I eulogize my Uncle Moses. My tears today could fill an ocean. Whenever I think of my Uncle Moses, his perfect smile first comes to mind – glistening white enamels against pretty pink gums and a dimpled cheek.

Yes, he loved to smile, especially when he saw me. I’d walked into a room and from the moment Uncle Moses noticed me, he would exclaim, “My niece. My beautiful niece, come and give me hug.” Read more…

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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 ~

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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 ~