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 NYC”

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.

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.

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…

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…

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…

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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 ~