Thursday, February 24, 2005

Paris Hilton Xposed!

G'morning all, it's Thursday and I have to tell you that I am excited++! Why am I excited? simple, I don't have to go in to the office tomorrow!!! Though I do have to spend 4 hours sitting around learning about cluster computing at a symposium tomorrow...but that's ok, no long drive in to work :). In fact, the symposium is right around the corner from where I live [walking distance if I still believed in walking].

Anyhow, if some of you have been following the news lately, you'll see that Paris Hilton had her mobile phone hacked by some unknown hackers. To make matters worse, they posted a bunch of phone numbers and e-mail addresses for quite a few celebrities whom she had stored in her phone (some popular names include Eminem, Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Christina Aguillera, Ashlee Simpson, Vin Diesel, and Li'l John). In addition they found some pics of her as well, and let me tell you, the girl is a straight up freak! She had nekkid pics of herself kissing some other chick.

Anyhow, not that I really care much about Paris Hilton and her twisted self, but something about the whole lifestyle of the rich and famous bugs me. People spend their lifetime struggling to make something of themselves. Folks spend their lives working to make ends meet and still never gain the wealth and prestige that these people gain in a few months...why do entertainers make billions of dollars per year while educators, folk of great intellect, oftentimes find it difficult to make ends meet? Why do little kids get to drive Lexuses, Land Rovers, Bimmers and live in multi-million dollar mansions before they can even speak proper English while so many folk spend their lives struggling to eat some bread and will never be able to do better than an apartment and a bus ticket? What the hell is up with that?

My folks once told me that if you work hard then you'll succeed. They were right in on sense, because you never really measure success by the amount of money you have...but still, I'm human and I have needs, wants and desires...which is probably why it upsets me when I see folks who don't know what it is to struggle being revered as divas by those of us who do!

{nuff said}

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Concentration Test ;)

G'morning folks, hope everyone is doing well this morning :)...It's Wednesday and Friday is payday, so things are looking quite promising thank God. Anyhow, I don't have much to post this morning, I do have a lot to say, just not enough time! Anyhow, I decided to let off a little rudeness on the fellows this morning in the form of a "concentration test".

Note that this link is not worksafe friendly and it does contain a bit of nudity, so be warned! Anyhow, here's the link: Just a note that I am very good at this concentration thing btw ;).

Chao and have fun y'all!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Is it Carnival time yet?

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog yesterday and wished me a speedy recovery...I think all your support helped as I'm feeling 110% better this morning! Now, many of you have been wondering why in the hell I'd order a pizza when my stomach was killing me, so I'll tell you. See, when I get sick, I have a very strong dislike for food...but once I feel better, I generally tend to have a craving for the first food that I see (anybody else out there have those urges?) whether it be on the telly or in real life; anyhow, the first thing I saw when my appetite came back was a fat Italian fellow eating pasta on some god-awful Mobster meets Yakuza henchman flick! Hence, I had a craving for Italian food, which lead to my subsequent pizza purchase...

Anyhow, is it Carnival as yet? I was driving to work this morning and pulled up by a stoplight next to this bone-white señorita in a late model Camry. She was listening to Will Smith's latest single "Switch". It's a pretty awesome jam still and the dance to it is hot! Y'all needz to check out the music video! OK, now that my gratuitous Fresh Prince plug is over...suddenly, I heard "Cent, 5 Cent, 10 Cent, Dolla!" Yes to R.A.S.S. the girl was playing Dolla Wine by the Taxi Gang I believe? Correct me if I wrong. Well, to rhatid, the Dog did start to "get on bad" inna traffic! After all, I am Jamaican you know, and it don't matter where I am or what I doing, if I hear a song from the Caribbean in this little rural state where I reside, I don't care, I going dance! A hoa!

So, after my little dance thing, I begin to realize that I reaally miss Carnival in Jamaica! Now, I'm not a hardcore type of Carnival-goer still, but I do enjoy my share of the Calypso and Soca that pervades the atmoshphere at around this time (and the fine-looking ladies are definately an added bonus). Oh well, I can't expect to get too much coverage of the events from up here, so I'll just have to rely on the Internet and the kindness of my fellow Jamaican bloggers to keep me posted as to what songs, dances, costumes, and events are the hottest these days--I think I need to find a job that allows me to take my vacation during carnival time so that I may go to yard and enjoy! Or better still, find a job in FL that will afford me the opportunity to be home every few weekends for some well-deserved partying!

Have a great day all!

Monday, February 21, 2005

I Better

Well, not 100% better yet, but getting there! Spent Friday kneeling in contemplation at the porcelain alter. Saturday I felt much better, though I could barely eat a thing and my stomach hurt like's amazing how much bad television looks great when you're at the brink of insanity. Pebbles and some of our friends went to Columbus, OH for an engagement party of a friend of ours, leaving me at home to get into all sort of trouble--like ordering a pizza and making an unholy mess of the living room! Sunday I felt much better though, the body was still tired and my mouth still felt like I had eaten a plastic shoe, but the stomach didn't hurt as badly and I didn't want to pass out every few minutes. Today, I'm back at work, busily grading papers that I was too sick to grade on the weekend and having all sorts of mad fun. So, yes, I feeling better...though not completely 100%

Hey, you know what, I'm really dumb. Can you imagine, I pass a farm every day going to and coming from work. They have two white horses, huge muscular beasts that look like they were born to pull carts and so on [I forget what you call them]. Anyhow, I could not figure out why the horses were brown in the morning and white in the evening, I just assumed that they were naturally white and had gotten muddy overnight [they really did look dirty in all fairness]. Well, being the astute moron that I am, I finally figured out that the farmer does not have two, but six horses! four brown and two white and I guess they rotate them between the different grazing duh! Just more proof that I am indeed an idiot!

Anyhow, thanks a million for the comments left on my blog re: getting well soon! Dr. D. Leave Mel alone before I have to go back and expose your little dark secret! Ok fine, you all beat it out of me! If you are really interested in finding out the Doc's dark secret, click HERE. Some of you already know of it, but for those of you that don't, be prepared!

Have a great day folks!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

I Sick

Yes, I sick :(. There's this weird little stomach virus going around and I fell victim to it. Yesterday was impossible, I barely made it through teaching, fortunately I have a TA now and I got him to take care of my last class for me so that I could go home to be sick. Anyhow, not much to write now, going to go back to bed...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Story Time Again!

G'morning folks, hope everyone is doing well on this bright, cold, snowy Friday morning! Looking forward to the weekend still, especially because a group of us will be travelling up to Columbus, Ohio for the engagement party of one of our closest friends. The transportation has been worked out, the room has been booked, and we're almost set to go! Anyhow, I don't have much to post this morning, so I thought I'd let off another story on you all, it's entitled "The Bus" and it chronicles some of my more exciting experiences as a young Jamaica commuter! Hope you all enjoy! Have a great weekend and be safe!

The Bus

It was an age of high adventure. A time of epic struggles between good and evil where brave young boys and girls battled fierce, carbon-monoxide gasping creatures with names like Encava, TATA, and ¼ million. OK, fine, I suppose I’m trying a bit too hard to romanticize one of the more traumatic, bittersweet periods of my life…my days as a commuter on the Jamaican bus. I’m not talking about the days of the “Jolly bus” where the government ran the bus service under the name JOS (Jamaica Omnibus Service) nor am I talking about the more contemporary scenario where the government runs the buses under the banner of the Transportation Authority. No, I’m talking about the in-between years when we had neither JOS nor Transportation Authority. I’m referring to a time in the late 80’s to mid-90’s, when the government had culled the JOS from their portfolio and decided it would be in their best interest to contract the service to groups of private individuals. Let me take you back to a time long before the articulated buses from Germany, an era where there were no tokens or swipe cards or conductors sitting in little glass-encased booths collecting fares. Let me tell you of the days of high adventures as a commuter on the Jamaican bus system.

Now, before I can talk about my own adventures as a commuter back in the 80’s and 90’s, it’s important for you to note that all buses had some sort of name in those days. For example, there were buses with names like Caribbean Queen, Israel, Prince Machoperi, Exterminator, African Princess, Viceroy, Shaka Zulu, and Stone Love. Each and every one of these buses had their own unique personalities and the drivers and conductors that operated these machines were oftentimes regarded as celebrities in our eyes. One of the most popular buses that ran the Half-way-tree to Papine route was a bus named Stone Love. Stone Love gained its popularity for a number of reasons. For one, it was named after one of Jamaica’s popular sound system. Secondly, the conductors were pretty decent guys, plus the owner used to hire some of the hardest drivers on the road back in those days. But, the most important hook for Stone Love was the fact that it had one of the best sound systems back in the day and they always seemed to have the latest new dancehall tunes, which was a big plus for most young boy or girl.

Such was Stone Love’s popularity that boys from J.C. would actually walk up to Papine to get a seat on the bus and then spend the better part of their afternoon riding back and forth from Papine to Three-Miles, listening to the music and dancing. Yes, it was like a club in Stone Love back in those days! There were some buses that we would never take, no matter how late we were, or how urgently we needed to arrive at our destination. For example, there was a tiny bus on the route which didn’t really have much of a name, but we J.C. boys dubbed it the “Patty Pan”. The bus was extremely low, really slow, and had no music or entertainment whatsoever. It was so low in fact that a person of average height found it quite difficult to stand at full height in this bus. But the main reason why this bus was a nuisance was because it was all sheet metal and it tended to attract heat, coupled with the fact that the engine box was right inside of the bus, next to the driver’s seat. The seats were hard and uncomfortable, much in contrast to the plush, cushiony ones found in buses like Stone Love.

I had a friend we used to call Naggozed, for no better reason than because he used to live in Naggo’s Head, Portmore. That boy new the specifications for each and every bus that ran on the Half-way-tree to Papine route and he could tell you every detail from what each bus horn sounded like to when the buses had been modified to increase their performance. Such was our dedication to the buses back then! Now, I wouldn’t say that I was very picky when it came to which bus I took; I just wanted to hop on one and know that it’d get me from school to Half-way-tree in time for martial arts class, though I must admit that I’ve avoided the “Patty Pan” a few times.

Now, getting into a bus was a completely different story altogether. For the most part, the probability of getting a seat in a bus coming from Papine was slim to none, because people would oftentimes wait at the bus depot in Papine where the bus terminated and, as the bus was unloading, they would struggle bravely against the great surge of rushing, annoyed people trying to get off the bus. The more adventurous ones would grab on to the bus window and pull themselves into the bus. Sometimes, when you had a huge backpack, or other equipment such as a T-Square for Technical Drawing class, it was quite inconvenient to try and get into the bus, so you’d look out for a friend or classmate and pass your bag to him through a window. The only slight disadvantage with that is that there was no guarantee that you’d actually get on the bus and you’d better hope that the person you handed your stuff to was trustworthy enough! One of the most impressive things to see was when the odd occurrence of an empty bus arrived into a bus terminus. It was amazing to see men, women, and children alike chasing the moving bus, hopping on to the steps, then pulling themselves into the vehicle by using the guard rail or the door as a level of sorts. Such were the things that had to be done just to get into the bus.

The conductors themselves were interesting folks. For one, they were masters at taking a bus that could legally seat 32 individuals and have standing room for 28 other passengers hold twice that amount or more. This task was easier to accomplish than one would think. Logically, the 32 seats would become filled quite rapidly. Once the seats were filled, the conductor would force as many people as possible on both sides of the aisle, which would be 28 or more, depending on how tightly packed the individuals were against each other. Next, a second row of people would come in and stand behind the group already inside the bus. Sometimes, depending on the width of the aisles, a fifth row could be made. Of course, there was quite a bit of spaces on the steps of the bus to hold quite a few additional people. The concepts of personal space and physical comfort were quite foreign to the typical Jamaican commuter back in those days. Now, when the buses were loaded with three times more than the prescribed capacity, it meant that many conductors and drivers could easily make a profit by skimming from the total fares collected, which still wasn’t bad business for the bus owners, since they were making supernormal profits anyway.

As a young boy growing up in a homophobic nation, one of the most frightening prospects of getting crammed into a bus is that you may either find yourself pressing against another male, which we usually avoided like the plague, sometimes having to resort to astounding acts of agility and amazing feats of strength just to keep your body at least one inch from the other person. On the other hand, if you have a man standing behind you, you’d still have to attempt similar feats of flexibility, since there’s no guarantee that he would be able to avoid pressing up against you. This sometimes entailed tilting your pelvis and arching your back, much to the discomfort of the person sitting in the seat below you, who more times than not, would probably spend the better portion of the ride becoming familiar with every aspect of your groin area. On the other hand, if it was a woman standing in front or behind you, then the one-inch gap was not as important!

Now, the closeness issue on the bus was sometimes good and sometimes bad. For example, if you were lucky to be on a bus like Stone Love and there was a really nice girl standing in front of you and the music was just right, then both of you would probably enjoy a nice little bumping-and-grinding session all the way to your destination (though sometimes if her destination happened to be further than your destination, then you might actually stay a bit longer), listening to the music from the likes of Shabba Ranks, Josey Wales, Pinchers, Professor Nuts, and General Trees. Sometimes, there were a few freaks on the bus that would make the experience less than pleasant for some women. For instance, one morning I was on a bus and I saw a strange looking Rastafarian get on. It seemed somewhat unusual that the bus was quite empty, yet he chose to stand right behind an elegantly-dressed office-styled woman. The Rastafarian kept on giggling and jerking up and down, causing the people to wonder what he was up to. Suddenly, he laughed out loud and the woman screamed out in horror. All this time he had been rubbing the juice from a mango on the lady’s expensive jacket. Realizing what he had done, he forced his way through the front of the bus and ran off, with a sly, toothless grin on his face.

Another experience that I will never forget is the day that I hopped on to the step of a bus because I was running late for training and simply didn’t have sufficient time to wait for a less crowded bus. I ended up standing right behind a short, chubby woman with short thick Jeri curls. Now in the early 90’s, it was a big thing to have Jeri curls, like Michael Jackson, even though it was a goopy, greasy, nasty mess. It wasn’t unusual to see men and women walking around with paper towels folded around their shirt collars held in place by paper clips, an inelegant solution to the dilemma of “Jeri Juice” ruining the back of your work shirt or jacket. Now, the woman in question seemed unable to support her own weight, and she leaned the bulk of her bodyweight into my chest. I wasn’t too concerned, since I had a good grip on the guard rail by the step and I knew that the closed bus door was strong enough to hold our combined weight. Besides, I had been working out with weights for a couple months now, and I was pretty strong and plus, the driver was playing a few Sanchez tracks, which helped to ease the discomfort of the ride.

Most of you who’ve ever driven on Old Hope Road know that right after the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant you come to a deep round-about and you probably know that most drivers would probably be braking up and gearing down at or around the Kentucky entrance in order to actually make it around the sharp corner. Well, not this driver, he decided that he had sufficient skill to make it around without slowing down. The surprising thing is that he did, but not without those of us on the step have a heart-wrenching moment as we saw the vehicle tilt down at such a sharp angle that you could literally count the grains of asphalt in the road. The lady in front of me lost her balance and fell back into me. At the same time, I struggled to tighten my grip on the guard rail and brace my legs against the door. Her head flew back and connected me square in the mouth, giving me an ample mouthful of the dreaded “Jeri Juice”. I hacked and I coughed and I spat, but nothing could get the god awful plastic chemical taste out of my mouth. I didn’t go to training that afternoon; instead I hopped off the bus at Liguanea and walked home spitting all the way, a huge dark splotch of “Jeri Juice” embellishing the front of my navy blue uniform shirt.

One of the worst things that one could do on a bus was forgetting his or her bus fare. Aside from getting a sound tongue-lashing from the ‘ductor and his cronies (sometimes it was impossible to determine how many conductors were on one bus) you would oftentimes find yourself unceremoniously ejected from the vehicle, which could be good or bad, depending on how dangerous the area in which you were thrown off was. Don’t get me wrong though, sometimes some conductors made folks get away with “free rides”, so they weren’t all bad. Now, back in the day, it was really cheap to take a bus and 50 cents could probably get you most places you needed to go. However, there were some people that made it a habit of trying to get out of paying for rides. For instance, there was a little guy who used to ride the bus all the time and he’d get his bus fare by picking the conductor’s pocket and then paying him back with his own money, telling him to keep the change! Another gentleman who always seemed to take the same bus I took in the morning had an even better scheme. He was always immaculately dressed in a business suit with a nice looking tie and he spoke with in almost too-perfect English with just enough of a hint of a British accent to sound like a man of great distinction. His game was simple; he’d always tender a 100 dollar bill to the conductor, who would never have that much change in the morning, especially for something as small as 50 cents! Day in, day out, I watched this man perform the same trick and get away with it. His trick lasted only for a time though, as one morning a conductor, who’d gotten wise to his plans set up for him. As he stepped into the bus, “Good morning, can you possibly break a Concord?” To which the conductor replied, “Sure man, no problem!” The look of shock on the gentleman’s faces as the conductor presented him a bag full of 1 cent coins that totaled up to exactly 99 dollars and 50 cents was perhaps the most amusing I’ve ever seen. When all the passengers began to laugh at him was the first time I’d ever seen a black man blush! He always had his 50 cents bus fare after that.

In order to be a good commuter, you had to develop a sixth-sense and an almost cat-like set of reflexes in order to warn you of dangers in the bus. For example, if you hear two people arguing loudly, then you’d better move as far away from them as possible, since you’re never quite sure when fists, guns, knives, or acid will come in to play, therefore you had to make sure that you could get away from them and off the bus as quickly as possible if need be. It was amazing to see how quickly 60 or more people crowded together in a packed bus could find so much additional empty space to get out of the way or hide when a fight broke out in a bus. One of the biggest dangers to commuters at the time was the constant threat of pickpockets and other petty thieves preying upon unsuspecting victims. There were a few ground rules that you had to follow. First, you’d never put your wallet in your back pocket or even in your backpack, unless you didn’t have anything of value in there. Next, you’d never want to wear much jewelry, particularly gold chains or expensive watches, since they were the first things to catch the eyes of the thieves. In addition, you’d want to stay as close together to your friends or classmates as possible, and always be vigilant for suspicious movements. But above all else, if someone comes to you with a knife, acid or, less commonly, a gun, give him whatever he wants.

Sometimes no matter how perceptive or vigilant you are you can still fall prey to the sleight of hand artist. For example, my friend Ronny, who was as alert as they come, was one day standing in a bus when a man came up right next to him. Ronny considered himself to be a “sweet boy” or ladies man, so he was busily whispering a long string of “lyrics” in the ears of a girl from Mona High. At that time, it was a fashion trend for boys to sometimes have afro-picks in their back pockets, particularly given the way we wore our hair in the flat-top “Kid ‘N Play” style back in those days. After all, you’d never know when your hair would get a little bit messed up and you’d have to comb it out quickly before you went to meet that special lady (or even before you had a remote chance of encountering some fine young ladies). Well, while Ronny was busily talking to the young lady, Mr. Pickpocket was busily pulling the comb from his left back pocket to use as a tool to pick his wallet from his right back pocket, all within the space of a few seconds. Poor Ronny, didn’t realize that he’d lost his wallet until the conductor came around demanding bus fare and he realized that both his wallet and his comb had been stolen. Fortunately for him, the girl liked him, and was willing to pay his fare in addition to hers.

One of the most frightening experiences for me on the bus was when I had taken a number 27 bus from EXED Community College to see my mother at work in New Kingston. Somewhere between the intersection at Stanton Terrace and Hope Road, two men got on the bus and went to sit all the way in the back. For some reason, I had decided that I didn’t want to sit in the bus that day, even though there were only 10 people or so in the bus, so I had decided to stand at the very front of the vehicle, next to the driver and the conductor. From the corner of my eye, I began to notice the men moving from seat to seat, though it seemed odd that one would always sit next to someone and the other would sit behind them. As the bus rolled along Lady Musgrave Road, I heard someone in the back scream out “Tief, Tief!” and I turned around just in time to see both men running full-tilt toward me with their knives drawn. It turns out that they had been robbing folks on the bus all along, threatening to cut them if they made any noise. As I saw the men running towards me, I panicked and hopped from the moving vehicle, just missing the edge of the first man’s knife blade by an inch or two. Suddenly, a third man emerged from the back of the bus in hot pursuit of the thieves. The man never caught up with them, and they made off with a few hundred dollars and some jewelry, but thank God no one was injured during the hold-up.

The emergence of the Mercedes buses yielded a great new set of opportunities for us boys. Buses like Stone Love and Shaka Zulu, though entertaining, could never compete with these buses when it came to size, comfort, and raw power. Some of us boys used to have an amusing time when we invited girls out and told them that we’d be traveling in a Mercedes. Of course, they were less than impressed when we walked them over to a shiny, white Mercedes bus and paid their fare as well as ours. Of course, they’d be angry, but they couldn’t call us liars either…they were riding in a Mercedes after all. One of the distinct advantages of these Mercedes buses was that they were the perfect large-capacity people movers and so impressed was the government with their design that they took it a step further and ordered several of the larger, articulated versions of those vehicles. It was amazing seeing the drivers handle these huge, twin buses with the giant accordion-looking pivot point in the center. Nothing was more amusing than standing inside the pivot point and seeing it twist and turn as the driver maneuvered through the windy streets of Kingston. In fact, the fleet of Mercedes buses was quite an upgrade from the Encava’s and TATAs that we were used to, though we still loved the vibes that could be only found on a bus like Stone Love.

Eventually, I grew up and began to rely less and less on the bus, since I had earned my drivers license by then and either drove myself or relied upon the kindness of other friends with automobiles. Later, after I migrated to the United States, I lost complete touch with the Jamaican bus system, though every year when I return home I’m more and more impressed to see how the transportation system has reformed and expanded and the buses no longer seem to be as overcrowded anymore, though I suppose the high availability of relatively cheap imported automobiles from Japan helps to alleviate some of the burden on the transportation system. The government has stepped in and taken charge of the bus system once more, which can be either good or bad depending on your perspective. Looking back at these memories of the Jamaican bus system, I have to say that they were certainly bittersweet periods of my life and I like to think that these experiences have somehow helped to make me a better person, more appreciative of the less affluent aspects of Jamaican social life. Though I’m at an age now where I’d rather not take the bus, I can look back at these memories and smile, for those were truly days of high adventure.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Is Shaka Fault!!!

OK, so this is a relatively late post, but I've been grading all day and am now at the point where I wish to strangle 51% of my class, but more about that another day. OK, you know what, I was just thinking about a post that Mad Bull did about the new fighting robots that the military plan to deploy in Iraq, I think they're called SWORDS or something to that effect. Anyhow, for some reason I began to think about war in general, and somehow I came up with the idea that Africans had the right idea about early warfare until the birth and subsequent rise of Shaka, king of the Zulus.

Now, if the hit miniseries "Shaka Zulu" is anything to go on, one would note that wars were more like sports for the Africans back in the day. Each tribe would bring their families, their weapons, and so on. The battle pretty much was something to the effect of each side throwing spears which, more times than not, would miss the intended targets and even if the target was hit the probability of a fatal blow would be extremely low (though not impossible). In the meantime, tribes would punctuate the heat of the battle by taunting each other while eating food and drinking juice. At the end of the day, whatever the war was over would magically be resolved, now that's my type of war!

Now, imagine if our local gangstas (or shottas as we Jamaicans sometimes call them) had that same perspective? Imagine, a Jamaican turf war where you would bring your case of Red Stripe, pan chicken, and roast pork! Imagine seeing the local dons and their people wetting up each other with anything from super-soakers to water balloons. Or better yet, imagine police and criminals involved in harmless paintball shootouts all day long and at the end of the day both parties collectively decide whether or not the criminals should go to jail. Oh what a wonderful world that would be! Less death by violence, more festivities, and an all-round good time! No, I'm not high, I'm just sick and tired of all the war, crime, and fear that terrorizes our nation. There has to be a better way, there just has to be. I haven't lost my faith in humanity just yet.

Anyhow, have a good day folks!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Little Tuesday Morning Poetry

G'morning folks, hope all is going well with you all thus far, and I trust everyone had a really good day yesterday! Anyhow, I just felt like sharing a little poem that's been inside of me for sometime now just waiting to come out, not too sure if it works still, but let's give it a shot!

My Spirit Will Be Free

You may mock me, scorn me, or even try to break me
But as long as I'm alive, my spirit will be free

You may torment me, belittle me, or even strip away my possessions
But as long as my will is strong, my spirit will be free

You may imprision me, enslave me, or even try to steal me
But as long as my thoughts are my own, my spirit will be free

You may torture me, cut me, or even try to burn me
But as long as my heart still beats, my spirit will be free

You may shoot me, you may stab me, or even try to kill me
But as long as my bloodline endures, my spirit will be free

You may take away my family, my friends, or even my name
But as long as my good deeds live on, my spirit will be free

Know that you can never squash the fire that burns within my soul
For my flame has been burning since the beginning of time

Understand that I am a man above men, though never above God
I am African, I am Caribbean, I am American, I am European, I am Asian

I am all things to all men
And once humanity lives on, my spirit will be free

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day to all the ladies that read this blog! [Note that I'm not saying a word to you guys out there!] Here's hoping that you all have a great day filled with much romance and pleasantries. Now, back in the day when I was at EXED Community College, Valentines Day was an opportunity for me and my crew to dress all in black and bitch about "the man" [i.e. whichever political party was in power at the time] and his injusticies. It was a day for us to all sit together in the Village listening to Black Sabbath, Nirvana, SoundGarden, and Nine-Inch Nails. Yeah, we were rebels for sure. Back in the day we used to laugh at anybody who dared to wear red and white [especially if it were a guy]. Yeah, we were rebels without a clue for sure!

Last year, I inadvertently broke the sacred code :(. I accidentally wore a red shirt to school...well, it wasn't red, well, not exactly. It was burgundy. But nonetheless, I broke the code man! And you know what, this year I'll be paying for my transgression 100-fold! Can you imagine, we have a faculty/staff meeting tonight scheduled for 6:30pm!!! That means I get done teaching at 4:00pm and have to spend an extra 2.5 hours in my office doing Lord knows what! [oh yeah, I have an exam to write for one of my classes tomorrow]. Can you believe it folks? That means I won't be home to Pebbles until close to 9:00pm! Nooooo, where is the justice? Oh well, I broke the code, so now I pay the price [though rationally speaking, things like this happen when you're all grown up with a job :)].

Here's a li'l supp'n supp'n for the ladies

Anyhow, the weekend was great, simply marvellous! I broke my diet sadly, though I guess the fact that my birthday was Friday sort of made it impossible not to! Oh well, it's back on the wagon come next week. Didn't feel too good physically on Saturday, head was hurting like crazy, dizzy, eyes burned. Figured that it was from exhaustion coupled with my new change of diet. Still managed to spend the day at the mall with Pebbles and we even managed to see Hitch with Will Smith in the evening.

It was a pretty decent movie still and we enjoyed it for the most part. But guys, I warn you from's more of a chick flick than it is a comedy where the dude has the skill to get any lady he wants as the promo might suggest, ya feel me? Don't say the Dog didn't warn you now! Speaking of movies, I was surfing around the Sony website and guess what you get when you mix Samuel L. Jackson, XZIBIT, and Ice Cube? You get XXX 2 of course! Better believe it action fans, Ice Cube is the new XXX, XZIBIT is his sidekick, and Samuel L. Jackson is well, the badly maimed hardass from Part I. Guess what else? Rob Schneider is back as Deuce Bigelow...again. To think that they'd have killed the movie when they had a, of course not! They done gone made a sequel and they even brought back Eddie Griffin ^sob, sob^, but this time it's soooo different, cause they're ho'ing in Europe. Go figure.

Anyhow, that's my weekend update/movie review...I had planned to bitch about/compliment the insanity/genius of Strange Love as well, but I need to be up in the morning to get to the office, so I'll save my rant for another day! Have a great Valentines Day each and every one of you (yes, you too fellows!) and here's hoping that you take extra special care of that special someone in your life. If you're single, remember that there's a special someone in your life as! Love yourselves folks and remember that you each are God's special gifts, for there is only one person exactly like you!

Big up and nuff respec'

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Birthday Bliss + Late Night Vex

Bwoy folks, I tell you that the one named Pebbles good you know! She masterminded the best surprise party that I could ever have wished for! Now, this is how it played out: I get off work at around 4ish, so before I pull out of the parking lot, I give her a quick holla on the cellie. "Yo Pebbles, what's goin' on?" "Nothing much, just finished cleaning the house for your birthday!" So at this point, I'm thinking to myself, "Hmmm, I guess she's gonna have a surprise party waiting for me at home!" So of course, I'm all excited and make it home in record time. Pull up to the parking lot and drive around, none of our friends' cars are to be seen, so of course I'm beginning to have my doubts...not a problem still, apartment complex is big, they hid them somewhere else. So, I walk in to the apartment, all the lights are off, so I'm preparing myself for the surprise. Put my bag down. No shouts of "surprise!". Take my jacket off. No shouts of "surprise". Take my pants off. No shouts of "keep it on!" [OK, I didn't really take my pants off ;)].

Anyhow, there is Pebbles waiting for me. Of course, my first question is "where the cake at?" No cake. Oh well, the other faculty and staff had a cake for me earlier, so no big deal. Next question, "can I order a pizza for my birthday?" Expecting, "No baby, you're on a diet!" or "Let's go somewhere to eat!" I get, "sure why don't you get the largest one, my treat". So at this point I'm really convinced that there's no surprise party for me and when Pebbles presents me with my birthday present (a 256 MB JumpDrive), I'm finally convinced that my birthday will be spend quietly at home in front of the television [it was snowing earlier and I was still exhausted from the training, work, and the commute to go anywhere].

Anyhow, at around 7:00pm, I hear a loud banging noise on my door...of course, because I'm a dumbass, I think to my self..."Rass, is immigration that?" Then I'm like "Wait a sec, I'm legal here!" So, assuming that it's my pizza, I go to open the door only to find most of our friends standing outside with a huge cake and huge grins on their faces! OK, so at this point I'm like "what the f*&k!, I can't believe that y'all played me like that!" To top it off, Pebbles suddenly emerged from the linen closet with all manner of treats! Chips, salsa, soda, you name it! Much fun was had, lots of talking and bonding and living it up....all in all, it was one of the best surprise parties of my life! Thank you Pebbles and thank you friends!!!

Anyhow, the party wound down after a while and we ended up saying our goodbyes at around 11:30pm or so. Great fun! Anyhow, I went to check my e-mail and what I found was a bit vexing to me. Can you imagine folks, a girl that I knew from way back in the day in Jamaica, we're talking about late teens-early 20's. Now, we weren't ever really good friends per se, and we hardly even spoke! I mean in 8 or 10 years, we've only seen each other like five times tops! Anyhow, she sends me an e-mail out of the blue, telling me that she knows it's been a long time since we spoke and she's in a bit of a jam and needs $100. Now, tell me something people, what would you do in a situation like this? Mark you, I'm not saying I have $100 to give anybody, but in a way I feel bad about not helping out my fellow human, but on the other hand, it feels really suspicious, so I don't know what to do...especially since she didn't give me a clue as to what it was about. I put it to you my fellow bloggers, what should the dog do?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

Crap, woke up this morning at 6:45am to a telephone call from my aunt Prudence wishing me a happy birthday. Dang, I can't believe that I'm 28 already...seems like just yesterday I was 27 :). Don't have too much planned this morning still, gotta wake up my brain, go teach, come home and relax for a while, go back to bed. Muscles still sore from the training, but I won't let that get in the way of the birthday. Not sure what I'm gonna do tonight, probably sleep...but we'll see how the evening goes! Anyhow, since I have nothing too much to post about this morning, I'm gonna share a little joke that was sent to me by one of my sistrens recently:

Number One Idiot of 2004

I am a medical student currently doing a rotation in toxicology at the poison control center. Today, this woman called in very upset because she caught her little daughter eating ants. I quickly reassured her that the ants are not harmful and there would be no need to bring her daughter into the hospital. She calmed down and at the end of the conversation happened to mention that she gave her daughter some ant poison to eat in order to kill the ants. I told her that she better bring her daughter into the emergency room right away.

Number Two Idiot of 2004

Early this year, some Boeing employees on the airfield decided to steal a life raft from one of the 747s. They were successful in getting it out of the plane and home. Shortly after they took it for float on the river, they noticed a Coast Guard helicopter coming towards them. It turned out that the chopper was homing in on the emergency locator beacon that activated when the raft was inflated. They are no longer employed at Boeing.

Number Three Idiot of 2004

A true story out of San Francisco: A man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the branch and wrote "this iz a stikkup.Put all your muny in this bag." While standing in line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller's window. So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to Wells Fargo. After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he wasn't the brightest light in the harbor, told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America. Looking somewhat defeated, the man said, "OK" and left. He was arrested a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America.

Number Four Idiot of 2004

A guy walked into a little corner store with a shotgun and demanded all of the cash from the cash drawer. After the cashier put the cash in a bag, the robber saw a bottle of Scotch that he wanted behind the counter on the shelf. He told the cashier to put it in the bag as well, but the cashier refused and said, because I don't believe you are over 21. " The robber said he was, but the clerk still refused to give it to him because he didn't believe him. At this point, the robber took his driver's license out of his wallet and gave it to the clerk. The clerk looked it over and agreed that the man was in fact over 21 and he put the Scotch in the bag. The robber then ran from the store with his loot.

The cashier promptly called the police and gave the name and address of the robber that he got off the license. They arrested the robber two hours later.

Idiot Number Five of 2004

A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waving revolvers. The first one shouted, "Nobody move!" When his partner moved, the startled first bandit shot him.

Idiot Number Six of 2004

Seems this guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So, he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. It seems the liquor store window was made of Plexiglas. The whole event was caught on videotape.

Oh, that smarts.

Idiot Number Seven of 2004

Ann Arbor: The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 12:50 A. M., flashed a gun and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.

Please note that all of the above people are allowed to vote

Have a great day folks and an even greater weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

How do you read your blogs?

G'morning's once more snowing here in Little Big City and I'm pissed off and hurting. Pissed off beacuse of the snow and the cold (Jamaicans weren't designed for temperatures below 75 degrees says so right here on my manufacture label, wanna see it???). Hurting because I'm sufferring from the pain and stress of the previous two days worth of training. The chest aches, the biceps and triceps ache, the back feels like it got run over by a Mac truck. Heck, I'm in so much pain that this morning some dude bad-drove me and I could barely manage to raise my arm to flip him the bird (I did get it up though, no matter how bad it hurt). Oh well, the pain and soreness feels good in some weird way, it helps to remind me that I'm alive!

Anyhow, not much to do this morning, just teach one more class and prepare a test for tomorrow's class and then drive home in the snow. Cho man, mi cyaan tek dem white sprinkle sprinkle you nuh! Was reading a few blogs, managed to finally update my blogroll, and generally having a good time reading your posts. Kami wrote about a mouse in the movie theater, which was pretty amuzing :). Reminds me of the time I got into a fight with a rat a few years back. The critter was huge! Looked like it had been lifting weights and shooting up on 'roids! I remember seeing this rat just strolling leisurly across the floor of my house. I stomped my foot to scare it, and it just stopped and turned it's head at me as if to say "doan' bother me now man, I busy!", then it just kept on walking. So, I stomped my foot again and the rat responded in the same way. Of course, at this point, I was annoyed out r@$$, so I stomped and stomped and stomped (not even Kirk Franklin could "STOMP" like me!). The rat just turned around, looked at me for a second, and just started running straight towards me. You know that the damn critter had me standing on the chair which I was sitting on for 5 minutes!!! Never again will I mess with a rat!

Anyhow, I've digressed from my point...before my mind strayed, I was saying that I really enjoy reading all y'allz blogs and sometimes I really wish that you folks had more mundane things to write about! It would give me an excuse to ignore your entries, but my God, there is so much talent in the community that one can't help but read each and every blog on his blogroll on a daily basis!! How do you all cope with all that blog-reading? Drop me a comment and lemme know!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

To Train, To Grow, To Be Strong

Good morning fellow bloggers, hope the day is going well for you all so far, but if it isn't, then I hope that it'll get better as the hours tick by. The title of today's post, "To Train, To Grow, To Be Strong", is somewhat of a tribute to my re-entry into the world of physical fitness. Yes, I did it, I finally did it...I paid my $37.50 and finally joined the gym down the road from my apartment complex! (aren't you proud of me Yamfoot?). I finally decided that it needed to be done, not just because I want to look better, but because I want to re-capture that aspect of my teenage and early 20's that I enjoyed and because I need to keep myself healthy and vibrant for a long time to come!

Thanks to all of you who commented on my poem, I really appreciate the feedback, and I'm glad it touched some of you! After all, I do write because I enjoy writing, but what good are my words if others aren't enjoying and being inspired by them? Anyhow, I'm really glad that I started training again...I haven't had the spirit to exercise or take care of myself for quite a while; I guess it had to do with a variety of personal issues, primarily my grandmother's passing. Somehow, I just gave up on life for a while, let the depression grab a hold of me, got a little too friendly with the bottle (nope, I'm not an alcoholic), and generally allowed myself to wallow in the murky waters of self pity and despair...18 months is way too long.

But all that's over now and, as the poem says, I'm a warrior and I must fight, though the battle seems hopeless. I've decided that from here on out I'm going to change the quality of my life. I'm going to change the way I eat and live. I'll be 28 on Friday, 2 years more and I'll be 30. My dad has already warned me about the difficulty of losing weight in my 30s and also reminded me that diabetes runs in our family. Yes, I know that death will come for me someday, that is my fate, but until then I'll just have to keep on maintaining and not doing anything to welcome him to my doorstep anytime too soon...after all, I'd still like to see my kids and grandkids some day...but if Mr. Death comes knocking, I'd like to be able to say, "Hey man, I had a good one, no regrets!"

Anyhow, enough of this philosophy lesson, a friend of mine was telling me about one of her friend's adventures with a fishbone this weekend. Can you imagine, the man was having dinner and swallowed a fishbone...a 9-inch fishbone mind you. Can you believe that the darn thing went down into his stomach, puncutured his oesophagus, and almost hit a major artery, which would've resulted in death! Now, I suppose that the moral of the story is to never, ever eat fish (at least the boneless kind), but I beg to differ and I refuse to let this story stop me from eating my beloved steam fish and bammy at Port Royal when I'm next home (well, if the diet permits). The fact is that you'd have to be eating pretty damn fast in order to swallow a 9-inch fish bone that would cause that much damage! Even I, the king of inhaling food, knows that you don't eat fish so fast! Anyhow, just a cautionary note to blog friends, especially Stu, to be careful when eating fish! Next thing you know you'll be on the table going under the knife!

Anyhow, I man chat too much, so I gone...gotta go do some class preps and see if any students e-mailed me. Have a good one y'all! And remember, comment generously :).

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Hidden War

Last night as I lay asleep, somewhere between this world and the next.
I had a dream of days long passed, and battles long since fought.
I dreamt that I was once young and reckless, wild and carefree.
I dreamt that I stood once more upon the bloodied fields of battle,
The crowds chanting my name.

I dreamt that the spirit of war was with me once more,
And I was a man above men.
With flesh and steel, I carved my name.
A truly great warrior for all times.

And so I roused from restless sleep, haunted by my dream.
For deep within the soul of me, I know the warrior sleeps.
For though I've long put down the tainted implements of war,
A battle still rages within me,
It is the hidden war.

I fight the demons of my past, the spirit of failure and despair.
I fight like there is no tomorrow, I fight like a man possessed.
For though I know that I cannot win and death is my only fate.
I will not let myself silently fade away.
For I am a warrior, born and bred, and I will fight to the very end.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Story Time!

G'morning all! Happy Friday to everyone and best wishes for a wonderful, safe weekend! Last night I was thinking to myself, "what haven't I done on my blog lately?" Well, it sudddenly occured to me that I haven't given y'all a story for sometime now. So, I decided that since today is a day to relax and unwind, I'll give you a little story that I wrote the other day. Hopefully it'll help ease to work tension and put a little smile on your faces. Anyhow, without further ado, I give you my latest short story entitled:

Bad Word

Do you remember the first time you ever cursed a bad word? Did you do it out of curiosity? Did you do it to shock your family and friends? Or were you just a misguided youngster who felt compelled to repeat a strange word that you’d heard from some random schoolmate at the most inopportune of moments? As much as I’d like to perceive myself to be an oracle of great intellectual capacity, I must confess that I fell prey to the third, and most naïve, forms of cursing—carelessly using a word without a priori knowledge of the nature and context of said word.

March 8, 1985 will always stand out in my mind as the day my derriere died. My Friday morning began like any other typical weekday with my grandmother forcing me out of bed at 6:00am to take a shower and me alternating between rounds of dozing off and empathic pleas of “soon come, just give me 5 minutes more!” At 6:15am, my grandmother gets frustrated with trying to rouse me and goes for the “big guns”, in the form of my uncle, who begins the rousing process anew with a series of increasingly forceful jabs to the shoulder and kidneys, which I manage to ignore. After a while he grows weary of the jabbing technique and goes to the ticking of the feet soles routine, but I forcefully flail my legs as fast as I can, causing him to rapidly retreat from the room. I’ve learned from experience that an 8-year-old with wildly swinging feet is one of the most dangerous threats to certain “sensitive” areas of the adult male’s anatomy. He leaves at around 6:25am and I enjoy five minutes more of sleep until he returns with the glass of ice cold water, which is strategically poured down the back of my neck, shocking my entire neuromuscular system into full activity. Of course, I must pay further for my earlier transgressions, and I am unceremoniously dragged from bed by my ankles. Futilely, I attempt to maintain my grip on the bed frame, but nature is against me. In a duel of strength between a 60 lb 3’ tall 8-year-old and a 220 lb 6’4” tall 29-year-old, the 29-year-old will usually win.

As I am dragged from my bedroom to the television room to the living room and all the way through my grandmother’s bedroom to my final destination, the bathroom, I am forced to contemplate whether or not this humiliation is truly worth the additional 25 minutes of sleep. “Yes, it is”, I finally decide to myself. Half-an-hour later, I’m showered, shaved, dressed, and sitting at the table eating breakfast and reading the newspaper. Oops, sorry, wrong person, that’s my dad. I’m showered, dressed, and sitting at the table playing with my breakfast and making a wonderfully creative mess of my surroundings, much to the annoyance of my father, who believes strongly that cereal is much better as a meal than being oddly misshapen miniature automobiles smashing into each other and exploding into millions of tiny, powdery particles. Finally breakfast is over and my father and I head toward the car. It is now 7:30am.

As we drive through Hope Pastures towards Old Hope Road where my school, Mona Prep, stands prominently next to a small greenhouse and plant nursery, I feel the regular Friday morning butterflies forming in my tummy. Today is Physical Education class, and I fear and hate P.E. more than words can ever express. Will coach force me to do hundreds of pushups and sit-ups today? Or are we going to have to run lots and lots of laps around the field? Or worse yet, would we play football and I’d be on the “skins” side, thereby forcing me to remove my t-shirt and expose my horribly chubby belly and over-developed boy breasts? I try to pretend that I’m ill, but my father knows me too well, and I find myself standing in front of my classroom at 7:40am.

By 8:00am all my classmates arrive at school and the teacher arrives 6 minutes later. The first class for the morning is geometry, which I am horrible at. I’ve had a new geometry set for every year that I’ve been at Mona Prep, yet the only thing I can think to do with it is remove the compass and protractor and pretend that they’re both kung fu masters fighting each other. Usually this goes on until I either stab myself with the protractor, or my teacher, Mrs. Pink, walks over to my desk and chastises me for being an “idler of no mean order.” Reading class is much better, since I’m already quite capable of reading at a more advanced level than any of my classmates. Spelling and Dictation follows and I’m happy because this class is generally quite easy for me, whether or not I remembered to study the words or read the passage beforehand. Writing class isn’t so good, since I’ve never really been able to wrap my mind around writing in cursive or “join-up” as we call it. Math class is a nightmare, though it’s gotten quite interesting since I’ve learned how to divide, so now whenever I have a problem that I don’t understand, I just divide all the numbers and hope for the best. An attempt at an answer is better than no answer at all in my honest opinion. At around 10:30am, I realize that I’m an hour and a half away from the dreaded P.E. class and I feel the cold lump in my stomach coming back again. I’m not much of an athlete, and it bothers me to know that the pretty girls in my class are watching me make a complete idiot out of myself, while swooning over the tall, muscular athletic boys who are the bane of my existence. My Drawing and Religious Studies classes flash by too quickly and somewhere between attempting to create a drawing that captures the right amount of shadow on a green plastic cup and vaguely hearing a story about Cain stabbing his brother Abel in the belly-button with a metal spoon, though it could’ve been a knife, I’m forced to come to terms with the fact that I’ll have to go to P.E. class and actually exercise.

Finally, the appointed hour arrives, and we form a neat line and file out of the classroom toward the P.E. field where coach is anxiously awaiting our arrival to begin our torture…err, training session. Today is worse than I expected, coach is having us do some unusual drills which entails running from one end of the field to the next, doing 10 pushups, and running back to the starting point as fast as possible. I’m paired up against the “other fat kid”, one Jerome Thomas, because there is a strong belief by coach that it takes one fat kid to beat another fat kid in a race…though the logic of this argument still defies me even to this day. I decide that I don’t want to be beaten by Jerome, because I don’t want to be labeled as the “slow, clumsy, fat kid” by my classmates. As coach shouts “Go!” I take off as fast as I can, leaving Jerome in a cloud of dust. I make it to the end of the field as fast as I can and attempt to do my pushups. 1-2-3, I hear Jerome’s heavy breathing behind me. 4-5-6, he’s getting down next to me to begin his pushups. 7-8-9-10…I’m done! I attempt to rise to my feet, but my legs feel like jelly and I collapse to the ground. “Boom, Boom, Boom”, Jerome is busily slamming his fat stomach into the ground as I force my legs to move. I hear my team cheering for me in the background and the excitement causes me to work even harder to stand up. Suddenly, I hear a low chuckle, as Jerome springs to his feet almost too gracefully for a fat kid and begin his run toward the home stretch. I finally get my legs working again and take off after him. It’s a photo finish and no one is ever quite sure who won the race, though it was rumored that Jerome beat me by a stomach.

As I sit against the wall recovering from my exertion, Nicky McEwan, the most popular boy in my class comes over to me and says “Good race Evans, I think you should’ve won!” I thank him profusely, feeling a warm, mushy feeling inside of my stomach. After all, Nicky McEwan didn’t just talk to anybody…you had to be somebody for him to even look in your direction. “Hmmm, maybe he wants to be my friend and maybe he’ll be interested in introducing me to some of the pretty, popular girls that he hangs around with.” Suddenly, Nicky says to me “Hey, Evans, I have a question for you. When you cut your finger, what type of liquid comes out of it?” To which I replied, “Blood”. “OK, good, now what type of material is your shirt made out of?” “Cotton”, I said, after all that was what my grandmother told me. “No, what you call the material that they used to make your shirt?” “I guess its called fabric” I said. “No, think of another name man!” “Oh, you mean cloth?” “Exactly!” replied Nicky. “OK, Evans, when you put them together, what do you get?” “Blood Cloth”, was my reply. Suddenly, Nicky began to laugh, a loud and raucous sound it was, almost making you feel ashamed to be next to him. In a flash, he was at coach’s side, whispering something in his ear. Coach nodded and Nicky walked away from him. After class, coach called me aside, and told me that Nicky had told me that I had cursed a bad word and I had to do pushups. Of course, I had no idea why Nicky would tell coach such a lie, but it didn’t matter, no matter how much I protested, Nicky was right and I was wrong, so I made up my mind to do my 30 pushups as quickly and silently as possible.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon glaring at Nicky for telling lies on me, but I knew that I couldn’t do a thing about it, since he was bigger and stronger than me, and he was a teacher’s pet anyway. The rest of the school day flew by quickly and I managed to get over being upset at Nicky and more excited about the weekend. The end of school finally arrives and I find myself sitting outside on the freshly painted blue wall that runs around the perimeter of the playing field, waiting for my father to pick me up. As I sit reading my book, the principal comes up to me and says “Hello George, how are you doing?” “Fine miss,” was my automatic response. Mrs Vida Chambers had gone to school with my father and now she was the principal of my prep school. I knew her quite well and I’d often spend many hours in her office. She asked after my dad and spent a few minutes talking and laughing with me. Suddenly, in an awkward attempt at being funny, I remembered the joke that Nicky had given me that day and decided to try it out on her…

By the time my father arrived to pick me up, I was sitting outside on the wall gently massaging the fleshy parts of my bottom while trying to suppress my tears while contemplating how it’s possible for your principal, a close friend of the family, could turn from being friendly and playful in one instant to being the beating machine from hell in the next. When my father asks me why I’ve been crying, I quickly fabricate a story about me getting into a little fight with an older boy at school over my lunch money…there was no way in the world that I could tell my father that one of his closest friends was a child abuser!

Finally, we arrive home and my father drops me inside and heads back out to work. I hug my grandmother and tell her the usual, mundane things about my classes and how well or poorly I’m doing in them. After a while, she tells me that she needs to go and find a cloth to dust off my shoes before I set foot inside the house. Suddenly, my brain misfires and I say to my grandmother, “I bet you that you’ve never seen a blood cloth before Grandma!” In a flash, she grabs me from the chair and starts spanking me one my already sore posterior. I begin to cry and scream, asking her why she’s beating me for no reason at all and why it seems as if everyone is a child beater of late. It then dawns on her that I really had no clue what the term “Blood Cloth” meant in the context of Jamaican swear-words. Suddenly, it all made sense to me, “Blood Cloth” was a bad word and that is why I was constantly being brutalized by seemingly rational adults.

Flash forward into the evening where I’m riding my bicycle in the car port and talking to myself. “I can’t believe that I got into that much trouble today just for saying Blood Cloth”…”Blood Cloth, Blood Cloth, Blood Cloth, I didn’t know that was a bad word!” Suddenly, my aunt Penny appears from nowhere and grabs me from my bicycle. “Boy, why are you cursing bad words in this house?” “But I’m not cursing bad words auntie”, I tried to defend myself, but she would not have any of it, so I was once more subject to my third beating and fourth punishment of the day. Little did I know that the worst was still to come.

My aunt Penny got around to talking to my aunt Prudence, who was so upset at me for cursing in the house that she beat me again. When my uncle Don came home from work both my aunts ensured to tell him immediately of what I had said, so I received my 5th beating on his behalf. Finally, my father came home from work and was told of my transgressions by my uncle, which ultimately led to beating number 6. My butt has not been the same since that beating marathon and sometimes, when the nights are cold, I can feel each and every one of those six beatings over and over again.

One would think that I’ve gotten completely over the idea of cursing after all the beatings I sustained that day, but they are as far from the truth as possible. Now I curse for all reasons imaginable. I curse when I’m happy. I curse when I’m sad. I curse when I’m bored. I curse when I’m hungry. I curse when I’m in the shower. I curse when I’m in the office. In fact, I curse so much that people sometimes wonder if I’m addicted to cursing. In a way I am, since it allows me to express a whole range of feelings and emotions in a few short, simple words. After all, cursing, especially Jamaican cursing is an art as much as it is a science. While scientists busy themselves in their labs trying to decode the DNA patterns, I keep myself busy researching trends in the patterns of Jamaican swear words and evolving newer, novel ways of optimally combining the diverse sequence of words to express a diverse range of emotional structures. After all, everyone needs to release a good “blood cloth” or two when the occasion arises. After all, a Jamaican’s bad words are sometimes equally as potent in dangerous situations as a gun or a knife could be.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Of grants, birthdays, research, and stress

Wow, is it Thursday already? Seems as if the weeks are going by more rapidly than ever! Not that I'm complaining still, in fact I welcome the rapidly moving semester, since it means that we're moving closer and closer to my favorite time of year--summer! Still not sure what my summer plans are going to be as yet though, do I teach or do I come to yard to work construction. I prefer the latter, since it means that I'll be able to link up with folks like the good Doctor, Yammie, Princess P, and anyone else from the blogging crew who'll be in Jamaica for the vacation!

Anyhow, thank God it's Thursday! The week has been a crazy blur of teaching, research, grant seeking, and overall stress...but a good kind of stress, if such a thing is possible. It's funny how the 1-hour drive to and from work that I used to loathe so much have become my fact, I look forward to hopping in the car, cranking up my Sizzla CD, and let my thoughts take me wherever they wish. In fact, yesterday I came up with a new title for myself--I'm a neuronslut. Yep, I guess it comes of living the so-called "life of the mind", where your success comes from convincing people that you know a lot about stuff that you vaguely know anything about, or think you know more than you do. God bless academia!

Speaking of the life of the mind, much work has been done this week in the way of grants. Have a potential collaborative grant in the fire with a few other professors from the college, plus a new curriculum grant idea that I proposed to committee this morning. Got lots of positive feedback and it sounds like there is a great deal of potential there, especially when the folks began dropping some big names who would be interested in such a grant! Thank God for this evening and Friday night though, because I need to de-stress++ this week for sure! Oh well, its a wild and crazy world in which we academics live, work, and play...but it gets the bills paid and the students are pretty decent, and at the end of the day satisfaction is what it's all about!

Here's to all of you teachers out there!

(btw: in case you're wondering, my birthday is gonna be on the 11th of this month, so I thought I'd let the world know for once!)