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 “Life in New York”

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.

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.

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…

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 Prince That Really Was A Frog

I was recently betrayed in the worst way by someone I trusted and about whom I cared deeply. It was such a hurtful ordeal, that for a couple of weeks, I blocked out the “world” and retreated to a sanctum of depression. Well, initially, it was utter depression; drowning in a sea of self-pity, beating myself up about what I could have done differently, wondering where I went wrong and asking the perennial question, “why me?” I was in dire emotional turmoil, almost beyond consolation. At such times, there are perhaps only two people in the world who can break that barrier to help me see any silver lining. It was inevitable that I’d reach out to them. But amidst all the storms of my life, I’ve always been able to find that inner strength, or, maybe it’s my faith to which I turn to begin to feel that calm. I’d end up doing so once again. Read more…

I Got Mail – A Handwritten Letter!

Dear Aunty: A handwritten letter from my nephew, Nicholai.

As I do must days, as usual, I got mail today. But it wasn’t the usual mail. Okay, maybe my Verizon mobile bill was part of the usual mail, as was the alumni correspondence from grad school, but the “via air mail” envelope with a postage stamp from Barbados – that was definitely unusual. Breaking the seal, I opened far more sunshine than beautiful Barbados boasts in its 365-day-a-year of sea and sun. I opened a handwritten letter from Nicholai, my 10 year-old nephew. The first thing that grabbed my attention was his impeccable penmanship. From the carefully poised address and date in the upper right corner, to his salutation, “Dear Aunty,” to his endearing sentiments and descriptive storytelling, I marveled at Nicholai’s expertise with ink. But what impressed me most was the clarity with which he expressed his feelings and his command of the English language: grammar, syntax, punctuation etc. In this digital era where crafting thoughts can now be encapsulated in tweets of 140 characters via a computer, tablet or mobile device, these skills exhibited by Nicholai and in particular, the handwritten letter are almost seen as a dying art. 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 ~