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 ~

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 ~

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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

Updated Oct. 27. 2016

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 eight 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 ~

Don’t Be Ashamed of Depression, Don’t Be Afraid To Live

Hope1In my last blog post for 2013, I Kicked Her Butt, I wrote about some of the darkest moments of my year and how on reflection, I realized that those dreary days were outshone by the unconditional love, invaluable time spent with and unwavering support from my family and closest friends. Above all, it was my relentless faith in God, long instilled by my devout Christian mother, that enabled me to appreciate the blessings amidst the storm. The latter was the mindset I adopted as the dawn broke on 2014. Like for many other people, the start of the year signaled exciting new possibilities, dreams being fulfilled, a spirit of invincibility, renewed hopefulness. I felt armed and ready for what I declared was going to be the best year of my life yet. But before I could even celebrate my birthday at the end of January, everything that could go wrong in every sphere of my life started to go wrong. Read more…

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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I Love That Dick

"It's like his dick talked to me." (Photo credits: compliments Google Images)

“It’s like his dick talked to me.” (Google Images)

There’s a scene in one of my favorite movies, “Love Jones,” where the character Nina played by Nia Long says to her friend Josie (Lisa Nicole Carson): “It’s like his dick talked to me.” This quote best sums up the effect a certain man has on me. He has a way of reaching deep inside of me, of touching me in ways and evoking feelings like no other. He’s the type that keeps me up all night, going at it for hours and the more I get, the more I want. I never tire of anything he has to offer. With him, it’s an art; when he puts it on me, it’s like everything is perfectly scripted, flawlessly dramatized; couldn’t be better executed. I lie there, or sit, sometimes stand depending on the hold he has on me and in those moments, I become lost in his world.

A few have come close, but no other man has consistently or for as many years as he has, connected with me on all these levels. He, this man, this “Dick,” is one of a kind. This is no common dick, this is what my Bajan and by extension Caribbean people would refer to as “a proper Dick,” so yes, I have to capitalize. It’s the kind of Dick you want to sing about to all your girlfriends, the kind you wish you could tell your mother about, the kind that makes you scream, smile, the kind that makes you cry because it’s so damn good. It’s also a Dick that’s married. Read more…

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…

I Still Hate Dating

20130816-223835.jpg

His first email said, “Hi gorgeous.” I looked at his profile and was as unimpressed by his foreign relationship with proper spelling and grammar as I was with his not-so-easy-on-the-eye physical appearance. This didn’t surprise me; I’d come to expect such on BlackPeopleMeet (BPM).  I swear, this online dating site’s commercials oversell its product. But as I said in my previous post, “I Hate Dating – Part 1”, I’ve adhered to the advice of my friends to do what has become convention – pursue love online. This post highlights my encounters on BPM.

I didn’t respond to his email. He took that as a challenge. Over the next two weeks, he followed up with similar emails lauding my “beauty,” saying that he’d like to get to know me. After the first week, he even remembered to introduce himself: “I’m Will.” I continued to ignore him. Perhaps indicative of his name, Will persisted, finally sending his number saying, “Call me.” I’d had enough of Will. I decided to send him my “template” rejection email. It’s a message I usually reserve for men who send lovely emails of interest, but who really don’t tickle my fancy. I’d put my PR skills to the test in tailoring this message so as to avoid sounding insensitive or unappreciative of any man’s advances toward me. Some men have even responded thanking me for said message, with one writing, “That is by far the best rejection I’ve ever received.”

Will was not having that. He immediately responded cursing me out as if I’d  asked, “Is it in yet?” He said I was ugly, called me “a f**k**g Internet slut and then blocked me. I showed his email to my friend Avril who I was visiting at the time in DC and we both had a hearty laugh. I was game for some more fun. Clearly, Will had forgotten that he’d given me his number. I told Avril that I was going to grant him his wish. Surprisingly, he answered my blocked call almost immediately.

Will: “Hello.”

Me (In my purest Bajan accent): “Yuh know who is a slut?”

Will: “Who?”

Me: “Yuh muddah!”

As Will stammered with a response, I told him who I was and wished him a great day. His tongue was still tied when I hung up.  Avril and I doubled over in hysterics, “I bet he doesn’t try that again,” she said. Read more…

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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 ~

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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 ~