Saturday, August 28, 2010

Land of the Free.

In the time I'm supposed to take to read an essay written by someone brilliant and with the surname "Fuchs".I had been asking God to ease me up on scripts with high explicit language content, and he insisted tonight that i laugh to myself. Today has been one of those all-day-in-bed sick days. Tonight is for work I suppose. Being the West-Indian-laden neighbourhood that this is, it's no secret that Labor Day is coming around. The fella across the road (clearly a DJ) has been blasting calypso, soca and reggae since 7:16am (room curtains pulled all the way open, speakers facing outward)and is quite happily going into the evening....oh wait, i mean...morning...

Yesterday I sat in the bus that took like 15mins to get to my stop because of an accident ahead causing traffic, and a fire behind causing back-up, crowded and 5pm direct-sun, warm. A middle-aged man boards and makes his way to the elevated part of the bus at the back and shouts praises to God in both English and Spanish (as he sees fit), with a half-yankee islanded accent, as he struggles his way through the crowd.

He begins quoting scripture once he gets to a comfortable position in his make-shift podium, and a nice man offers me an inside seat, so I thank God silently for a resting place. The preacher is calling for "Amen's" and "Alleluia's" and makes sure that every two lines that he blasts has rhyming effect. He is shouting. I have a headache, the girl who is now next to me has a pair of headphones on.

He goes on to announce that the bus is a 'tough crowd' because no one is responding to him, and that one should not deny Christ in public. The girl next to me finally turns around to him and says that she has no problem with his preaching, but that he should take it down and not shout so loudly. He tells her that she needs to have respect for a Minister of God, and that he will praise his God as he sees fit. That she should humble herself when the word of God is being delivered. Another man joins in and says that just as how he respects his rights to preach on a bus, he should respect his right to a peaceful afternoon. The preacher goes on to tell them that he has freedom of speech and freedom of religion. A small quarrel begins. They all dismount the bus at the next stop, each of them more unhappy than when they entered.

Here lives the greatest irony of America, in the question of rights and freedoms. Lines, boundaries and the question of 'how far'? The biggest recent eruption of this question being the Mosque issue at ground zero over in Manhattan. The same country that pushes the equality agenda, still selectively discriminates. Because of the influence of post-modernism in a land of no absolutes and no definite truths, there is no black and white of equality (of course, no pun intended), and striking balances will always be a grey area. Somebody always wins or benefits more than another.

I would also want to take the time to acknowledge the efforts of the twins (Brendon and Brandon) and the rest of the smiths. Although we never agree on anything (j/k guys), I really appreciate the fact that they are young people who are willing to get the dialouge started (at least on Sexual Orientation). The whole issue of rights and living as a society and how do we deal with things as a people is important. love all of you dearly. *hugs*.

I only have my opinions. complete with my own biases and short-comings at times. But I do learn, and every lesson is a gift. I pray only that God makes me all the more wiser by them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the feminine minus the fangs.

The odds of a rasta trinidadian tapping you on your shoulder in a near rush-hour Manhattan street corner, while waiting for the light to change. The randomite calling himself Collin. The discomforting awareness of minimal media exposure on a small island, makes it almost believable that he "knows you from somewhere". I do the safe dismissive thing to do, and he takes offence and starts to list out for me why he is an independent, 21st century, black and obama-nated, green-carded trini man who wishes to and is eligible enough to become a 'friend' of mine. God should forgive you when you lie for your the sake of your own safety as a woman.

I realized last night that there was a connection between what we as Catholics know as the 'Stella Maris' (latin for- 'Star of the Sea'), a title used for the Virgin Mary and Yemanja/Yemoja/Yemaja deity of the orisha tradition, goddess of the sea and patron deity of women. Mary is seen as the mother of all, Yemanja is seen as the mother of all the saints. The difference between them would be their measure of divinity by the both groups. The Virgin Mary is not believed to be a goddess. I stood staring at the sea on Saturday for a long time as I always do. The sea is just as feminine as the moon.

I thought I had applied for a black college. Still looking for my kind. Still looking.

Finally, I've located a capoeiera class. Fingers crossed that the class times fit my schedule.

Into the train this evening entered two black men with drums, playing for money. It made my day. was too short. The recession is doing it to people here. regardless of colour and all prior ambition.

Tomorrow, another day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Set Apart.

It might seem or come across as being the largest possible betrayal of West-Indian self in the history of Trinbagonian green-cardism, but I don't know why it became taboo to go to the beach here, and the bigger sin, to go swimming in the water. The same Atlantic would find us here a few degrees lower than what we may be accustomed to, but just as salted and as clear as we would have it.

New York is the dream of globalization riveted into one society. Yesterday someone said that the Chinese and Haitians are always so 'cliqueish' and never go beyond their own parameters. There was a sizable Chinese family next to our spot at the beach yesterday, at what i think was a birthday celebration. Tai chi/yoga sessions, traditional dance, (lots of) lo mein, mahjong, and what i thought to be the largest collection of fortune cookies I have ever seen. From the youngest to oldest, all involved. Maybe it's because of the way they choose to organize themselves, but they were no more a 'clique' than we were as a group of about 50 Trinbagonians with our 20 something dishes and calypso. You keep to what you know. What you know is comfortable. Who you know gives comfort.

Much of the Trinidadians here who were able to become immigrants before the post- 9/11 clamp down, seem to all be stuck in the era of smutty calypso with their brass-based, double entendre melodies. The pre-cursor to soca music maybe. Labour Day is coming up soon...and I'm not sure yet of what that means for me. Undecided.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


There is a Haitian woman sitting in the cedar pew in front of mine, well dressed, and makes me wonder how she got her make-up on so perfectly. Her loa sits on her right side, and seems to be pestering her for the entire duration of the Mass. Some times their exchanges seem casual, at other times, she turns hostile towards it (if it is an it). Tells it that he/she should be listening to what the priest is saying (who happens to be a sizeable white man speaking creyol fluently)....but if I were a loa...

The bus today is welcoming for weather like this. At this stop, a medium height African-American man, slim in his 50s with all-grey ungroomed facial hair, the scent of prolonged roaming and a hinting of alcohol in his speech, boards the bus with two larger-than-life duffel bags, that look like war garrisons made from tetrex cloth. He is wearing what looks like a woollen collar from an old jacket,that spread from behind his two ears on either side, like some insects do. Today he is in a baseball jacket, and an embroidered Chinese pants, stopping before his ankles, waiting for the place where his old school nikes start. He stands at a pole near to the middle of the bus and he is a ninja. He holds to the post and ducks down at every traffic light, street traffic, and mumbles silently to himself, that they might find him. Now the bus driver is not happy.

It is 10:14am. I am sitting alone in the train, with a mother and her two daughters across from me, a young unmarried man, obliquely opposite me. A man in a jacket, shorts and thick black rimmed glasses with a back-pack on one shoulder is on the other end of my bench. We get to a stop, and he gets up from his seat and walks to the door of the train, looks around onto the platform, but doesn't come off, the doors close back in, and he is still standing, looking outside. There is a horrid smell that crawls under my nose. The younger girl's entire face clenches and looks at her sister. Seeing each other's reactions, they look to their mother for a confirming eye. we all look around at each other, the mother looks at me and we are all, laughing inside, containing breaths and laughter. soon we are all giggling and looking down the cabin at the man standing at the door. at the next stop, they all get off, and the young man looks at me and holds his nose while he gets off. I laugh, until I realize I alone am left in the cabin, with the trail and the joke. He who laughs last I suppose.

copyright © 2010 Arielle John