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 tag “Island Soul City Dreams”

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…

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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

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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…

I Hate Dating – Part 1

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I hate dating. Even more so than I hate job hunting. But apparently, I’m much better at marketing myself as a wife-to-be, than I am as a potential full-time staffer for a journalism job. Sure, I love the flexibility that comes with being a freelance journalist, but I’d much rather the stability of full-time employment with benefits. Alas, the latter is becoming increasingly challenging as the mass media evolve more and more into a digital platform. Several news organizations continue to restructure/lay off or close down, and many simply opt to hire freelance/contract/part-time or per diem workers to save dollars. A shocking reality check on the challenges we the fourth estate face, was the recent sale of The Washington Post by its owners to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. Like me, I’m sure hundreds of journalists across the US and beyond, are wondering, “Who’s next?”

My friend Ato, who works in the industry and is pretty savvy with his predictions – albeit as a broadcast television track and field analyst – told me this past spring that in 10 years journalism will not even be a college major. It hurt to hear that, but my relentless job hunt convinces me that as usual, Ato’s words will come to pass. Still, I can’t imagine myself being happy in another career besides journalism. From my first foray in the newsroom more than 15 years ago leading to 10 years as a full-time reporter, to this day there are few things in this world that give me joy like being on the beat as a journalist. So I’ll keep the hustle on as a freelance writer, while aggressively seeking that dream job. It’s a task far less dramatic than trying to find love. Read more…

Children And Testing – The Bajan Edition

At Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados 2013 getting goodbye kisses from my nephew Nicholai before I returned to NYC.

At Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados 2013 getting goodbye kisses from my nephew Nicholai before I returned to NYC.

My sweetheart sister Sancia pissed me off this past week. And if you know me, you know she’s my world. Born on the day I turned 4, I consider Sancia my best birthday gift ever! I’ve loved her from day one, and growing up, even though I was always the smaller one between the two of us, I always felt like her protector, like a big sister. She has always been a darling, thoughtful, generous, bright, one of the most naturally intelligent people I know, highly intellectual, compassionate, she possesses a sharp wit, and just like our mother, is fortitudinous beyond imagination. Like me, she loves a good laugh. Unlike me, she’s tolerant of people and their BS. Whatever our similarities or differences, my mom constantly says we have made her extremely proud. One of us has also made her a proud grandmother – my sister, with her gifted son, my beloved nephew, Nicholai. I’ve previously blogged about Nicholai in “I Got Mail – A Handwritten Letter”  and in “My Little Track Star.” Just like his mother, Nicholai is tied to my heartstrings. There is very little either of them could do wrong by me. Over the years, as siblings do from time to time, my sister and I have had our differences, but whenever it came to her differences with anyone else, be it our mom or Nicholai’s estranged father, or whatever challenge Sancia has had to face, I’ve always found myself in her corner.

On Wednesday, the results came back for the Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination, popularly referred to as the Common Entrance Exam or the 11+. The exam is taken by primary school students for placement at any of the island’s 22 secondary schools and tests their skills in English, math and composition writing. Here in New York, the equivalent (of sorts) to the 11+ might be considered the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test taken by academically and artistically gifted students. Unlike this select group of students, in Barbados, however, every pupil that turns 11 by August 31 of an academic year must take the 11+. The higher their test scores, the better their chances of securing a coveted place at one of the more prestigious schools. Again, for my New Yorkers, consider the competition for and prestige of schools such as Brooklyn Latin School, Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Tech, Staten Island Technical High School, and Stuyvesant High School etc. In Barbados, the elite or older secondary schools as they’re called include: Christ Church Foundation School; The St. Michael School; The Lodge School; Combermere; Queen’s College (QC), and the institution that has traditionally been number one – Harrison College (HC) a.k.a. Kolij. Harrison College has produced five of Barbados’ seven prime ministers and its students hold the record for winning the most government scholarships and awards to pursue tertiary education. Nicholai gained entry, or as we say in Barbados, “passed” for Harrison College. He is disappointed. My sister is depressed. Read more…

My NYC Subway Pet Peeves

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I am 5 feet 2 inches tall (almost) and a meal or two over my regular weight at 120 pounds. I consider myself a big person. My friends say I’m not. But they might be wrong too. If the daily commuters on the train are anything to go by, I’m actually invisible. How else does one explain a 6-foot-2 man standing behind me on a crowded train refusing to remove his backpack and letting it rest less than gently on my shoulders? Or what other reason could a 300-pound woman have for trying to squeeze herself, a life size handbag and an extra tote into the space left empty next to me in those tight two-seaters? And about the chick that stands in front of me chewing gum with such voracity that her alveoli are about to collapse and my eardrums are on the verge of bursting from her loud popping? Don’t even get me started on the youngster across from me who evidently has never heard of earphones and blasts his iPod, while singing and bobbing along to the dissonance. Some days, I swear it’s a conspiracy, like all the commuters are out to get me, like they’re putting on display every pet peeve of mine. Such are the happenings on the biggest entertainment platform and world’s largest rapid transit – the New York City Subway.

Read more…

Meet My Worst Enemy

My friend and fellow journalist Sumit and I saw these T-shirts in Jerusalem, Israel and just had to buy them: "Write Your Own Story"

My friend and fellow journalist Sumit and I saw these T-shirts in Jerusalem, Israel and just had to buy them: “Write Your Own Story”

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” ~ Jack Canfield

Recently, I’ve not been able to write. Not due to any lack of ability or scarcity of topics. Nor have I lost motivation, that’s still there. Writing remains one of the few things in this world that makes me totally happy. I fell in love with writing as a child. Over the years, that love grew and writing became the ticket to much of my progress – from achieving high academic success to earning my livelihood. Writing has also helped me to forge and maintain beautiful friendships, pivotal business relationships and a dynamic network of connections worldwide.

When I sit to write, I can escape to another universe. I become lost in the creative process and whatever is going on in my life, whatever emotions are controlling me, I could either totally shut them out as I write, or vividly capture every feeling through words. I express myself best through the written word. So why then have I not been able to write? I am afraid. Read more…

The Power Of The “V”

V-Power.

Photo Credit Google Images.

From the time I was a little girl growing up in Barbados, I was always told that there’s power in the “V”. Today, more than ever, I’m convinced of this. Not that I didn’t buy into it as a child. After all, being raised in a devout Christian family, church was a significant aspect of my life. It was there, perhaps more than any other place, that the message was instilled in me that my “V” was a very sacred thing. It was preached that my “V” was to be cherished, well-cared for, guarded against any “slackness”, that it had a special purpose, that God Himself had ordained how and when it should be used.

My “V” was intended to create something beautiful, to bring forth life, and if I did a great job with the product of my “V”- this gift – my legacy will be secured long after I’m gone. I was cautioned that not any and everyone was worthy of my “V”. I had to save it for the right time, right setting, right recipient, and when the stars aligned for all these factors, giving of my “V” would be a euphoric moment, a freedom expressed like never before, I’d reach low and high octaves and might even be moved to tears with the emotions taking hold of me.

Read more…

You’re An Enigma

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Why can’t I get over you?

Despite everything,

I miss u like crazy!

A day doesn’t go by

Without thoughts of you.

I get mad sometimes

When I think of the hurt you caused

Deserting me when I needed you most.

I tell myself you’ve given me

More than enough reasons

To let go, move on and forget you.

But inexplicably, I’m still in love with you.

To my chagrin I admit,

I love you unconditionally.

It’s like you stole my heart from day one

And I’ve been fighting a losing battle

Ever since to retrieve it!

I want to and need to let you go!

I’ve tried with all my being.

I’ve prayed that you be

A distant memory, if any at all.

I’ve sought every measure of distraction

Compiled all your heartless actions

To fuel animosity toward you.

I’ve struggled to forgive you

As you’ve proven yourself

Less than human and unworthy

Of my friendship and love.

Yet though my head screams, “Let go”

My heart says, “I’m all for you.”

Why can’t I let go?

-by Maquita “Queenie” Peters

~ I Keep it Irie ~

For KMEM.

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Haunted

I’ve been sleeping with the lights turned on;

It feels less lonely that way.

I’ve been sleeping with the lights turned on,

It makes his side of the bed seem less empty,

That now cold space where he used to lie down,

Where he’d taste my lips and we’d become one, 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 ~