Archive for the ‘focus’ Category

fyah Fridays

I know I said I’d say nothing about the election in the States other than my post a few months ago. But over at blackgirldangerous she’s killing me softly all over again. Were I American I don’t know if I would have voted or who I would have voted for; what I do know however is that if I did vote for Obama I’m pretty sure I would not be celebrating. And celebration is what I see a lot of. Our memories are far too short… this has been a complicated presidency, and seeing someone who looks like it us should not make us cease to question the very ludicrousness of the process, or even the position. In the Caribbean, many of us small islanders especially have had the benefit leaders that look like most of population… a face, familiarity is not enough, so let us be cautious as we change our facebook profile pictures, hoop and holler. When we celebrate what we perceive to be lesser evils we tend to forget the evil part…

So carnival in Trinidad is coming up* and I’m filled with joy** and sorrow***. DJ Rawkus brought me great joy this week with his 2013 Soca I Heart T&T selection. It’s positively frightening that there’s so much soca so early in the season but it’s certainly warming my heart in the mornings. Tillahwillah breaks down the importance of win’ing as an act that links diasporic African Caribbean people to the continent. It’s a pretty compelling argument/ realisation. She goes further to say that the instruction-oriented soca is actually a way of controlling women’s bodies. I *fully* get this point, I must say however that feting/ parting/ dancing in carnival is one time when I don’t mind the instructions… it’s the one time I embrace and enact large pieces of heteronormativity just because when I fete, the last thing I want to do is think.

By now you know me and talk about books. I went to a reading by Nalo Hopkinson which
was followed by her being interviewed by two young writers who also shared their work. Nalo is incredibly personable. If you ever have the chance to see her, get on that. She read from her young adult novel Chaos and spoke about power and privilege in the literary world and the importance of writing what we know to be true even if it conflicts with the mainstream messages we get. She raised the point that when we write our characters that are other- queer, people of colour, with disabilities etc. we are writing real people’s lives. We’re not playing it up for playing it up’s sake, real people live life as other. I think Junot Diaz’s quote sums it up nicely. The presence of other is not a threat, it is difficult for many of us to accept this but other is not a threat, we are often a threat to other.


my struggle with violence

A month ago a parent of a preteen asked me if The Dark Knight is excessively violent. I emphatically responded, “not at all”. I rewatched the movie a few days later, a movie I’ve watched many times  I was near dumbfounded by how violent the first 10 minutes were- the gun violence, the criminal activity, the language, the betrayal… I have pretty much accepted how desensitised I to violence I had become but I didn’t realise it no longer registered. I thought I was of the “oh that’s not scary, I’m not jumping out of my seat, or covering my eyes” garden variety instead that garden variet had a side effect, instead of being unimpressed by the violence, I just no longer think of it as violent. Looking at it with the eyes  of a parent made me much more sensitive to the level and amount of violence throughout the movie.*

I struggle with violence. It’s not that I’m inclined to violence… at least I don’t think so. I had the compulsory and thankfully short-lived physical altercations with you my younger sister until she got taller and stronger than I was. In primary school, I may or may not have had instigated a few tussles with boys in my class that got them into more trouble, since I ran in tears to teachers. Following pre-adolescence, I cringe in real life when I see people get violent, but I almost crave it in my entertainment. Sports, or soap-opera esque sports do not count, those are presented as real. I mean for the cinema experience I tend to enjoy violence. I can’t handle the romantic comedies, or anything too real which leaves out drama, so give me the action and I’ll take it in most forms- straight up, with comedy, thriller or maybe even some suspense.

But this is a problem. Why? B/c clearly I am allowing myself to be co-opted by the glorification of violence in media that makes us less likely to notice, be affected by, and respond to violence that we experience. witness, participate in and practice in our every day lives.

One of the few Independence celebrations I attended in Trinidad, was the Military Tattoo Exhibition. This may have been my first mistake, but was baffled me was how many children there were. It was clearly a family, and child friendly event. The marching displays, the bands… those were fine. However, the tactical displays- the reenactment of the “jokey bad boys” in the hills or on the block who had to be “dealt with”. Who were advanced upon with such care and precision. The dramatic portrayal of the “jokey badman” being tear gassed, shot, hurt and killed was met with delightful screams by the thousands of children present. This is a problem.

As far as I am concerned it’s not enough that the “good” guys won. We know enough about police corruption, policing of the poor and working class worldwide to know that often it is never quite as clear cut as the good and bad. But far more troubling than that is the fact that those same screams of delight come when adolescents watch movies where the “bad guys” win and outsmart whatever the law enforcement may be. We may think we’re glorifying law and order, but in fact the true focus, the true glow is around the violence and winning, regardless of what side you’re on… and I’d argue, what methods you use.

Whether our boys and girls look at officers jumping out of helicopters and think, “that bad!”, or they play Call of Duty and boast about their body count or beg their parents, older siblings and cousins to carry them to a movie they should be seeing, or stay up past everyone in the house to watch it even though they are not supposed to, imitate mobster characters they see on tv, or real-life dons they see on the block they are becoming more and more desensitised to the violence every day.

We/they are more likely to:

  • look at a song like this and say it’s just a song as opposed to recognise the violence both implicit and explicit in it
  • not be alarmed when we see a man assaulting a woman on the street**, or we might be taken back but never think to call the police
  • ignore our neighbour excessively beating their children on a continuous basis, b/c that’s private business
  • hear about police violence in our region and turn the dial without a second thought
  • watch the wreckage and debris in other parts of the world as the results of violence and dismiss it as life in “those parts”
  • be quiet.

I am not advocating censorship,  I’m not saying ban the music, ban the video games, ban the movies etc. I am however advocating critical engagement. We need to encourage ourselves and our children not just to recognise that it’s make beleive, but were it to be believed, it would have real effects on people’s lives. We need to talk about the fact that it is violent, what the messages are behind the violence, why we think they are so, and why we are so complicit with them. These are not easy conversations that I propose but they are certainly necessary and continuous ones. We can no longer afford to see violence and dismiss it so quickly.

Shout out to all the people taking action out there:

* Reason #452 not to have children: Too much hard work

** Please don’t tell me they were fighting, he was hitting, she was cowering.

#3 f’d up people you admire- personal, regional & iconic

Our 3rd installation of the f’d up series features our sensational 6

sharing 3 people they think are pretty f’d up:

who they are + how/where we met + how they’re f’d up + links to the original video + links to their works around

fyah links- tv

I love tv. It’s not a love-hate relationship, it’s a pure love relationship. When I in school I was only allowed to watch television from Friday evening to Sunday evening. My parents knew what they were doing and/or they created a monster b/c that weekday deprivation meant I glommed onto the set for hours at end on the wkd.

This fixation followed me post-parental lodging. Now I don’t have a television, it was an adjustment at first until the advent of reliable online television. Now I almost always have a tab streaming a tv show or a movie in the background regardless of what I’m doing- emailing a friend, writing this post,  researching for a paper, scratching…. Anyway this post is a tribute to a different kind of television w/ I sometimes love but can sometimes be drawn into. Web tv.

I’m starting with this show b/c though I had my reservations from the start based on the second promo, I’m not a fan of the “I’m not/a ….” statements. I warmed up quickly as I watched the show b/c I’m fully awkward and could sooo identify with the main character. I cooled off considerably when it became heavy on the relationship side and even more when it came to the response to the use of the word “tranny” on the show. But I’m all about second, third maybe even fourth chances it’s season 2 time people!

Speaking of Issa Rae… have you been watching Black & Sexy TV. h/t trendsettah. Let me tell you how The Couple and The Number are hilarious. I certainly prefer The Couple, I find the dynamics of the two super relatable. For The Number, it has more of a sitcom feel which always depends on some sort of shaming for it’s humour. I’m tabling the analysis of the heterosexism and sexism for another post.

Okay… And completely out of left field. I love Web Therapy. I wasn’t a fan of Lisa Kuddrow on Friends (yes, I used to watch Friends) but on this show she’s hilarious. There are many reasons I shouldn’t like it, the representation of therapists is sketchy but she’s HILARIOUS. I love and delight in awkward humour and humour of oblivion.

And back to readily identifiable shows I’d like… Have you seen The Peculiar Kind? It’s a pretty cool interview/ segment/ clip show with queer poc in NY. It has a great feel. It’s nice to see different faces representing queer poc i.e. the real world versus the token queer poc you see in most tv shows that bother to remember/ represent the community.

Any other good webtv I’m missing out on?

like a paediatrician I have little [pey-shuhns]*

I am officially one of those people who is consumed by thoughts of how lazy I and people in general have become over time. Technology and convenience are making our lives better in many ways and ruining us in others. We have lost of all sense of patience.

Bottled water. The people pushing this agenda AMAZE me. When I was going to school there was no such thing. Now they would have me believe that if I’m not hydrated all day every day I’m slowly killing myself and my body. You know what they’re really really selling? Plastic and over active bladders. Just b/c you could drink some water doesn’t mean you’re thirsty, waiting until you get home won’t kill you. Don’t believe the hype.

Cell phones. When is the last time you arranged to meet someone somewhere and were very vague about time and location b/c you knew that when you got there you could just call/im and figure it out from there. Ever have your phone not work and/or run out of money on your phone (big up to all the prepaid ppl!)? Whatever did we do pre-2000 (pre-2006 for me) to meet up with people? We were specific and expected people to commit to being there when they said they would be.

Movies. This is largely as a result of growing up in a small Caribbean island. I’d see a movie adverstised on television and think, “oooooo.. I’d like to watch that”. The excitement and anticipation built as I hoped it would come to the cinema in the weeks to come. If it didn’t I hoped in the months to come it would come to one of the movie channels my parents paid for (fyah- not to good kind- for Showtime, the Movie Channel and all others I didn’t have). Today, I see something advertised I immediately look for it online with a great sense of entitlement. I in turn experience a great deal of frustration if I can’t find it.

Information. There is nothing that I should not know. I grew up with parents who valued knowledge and could afford encyclopaedias. Any question asked was almost always met with, “look it up”. I HATED that response and would often avoid asking anything b/c it meant having to look it up and telling them what I found out. Now. Psssssh anyone says anything I’ve never heard of and wiki/googling their backside to disprove them. One, this is bad b/c I’m looking up information that really does not matter. Two, why in the world must I know everything? It’s not possible or necessary.

Email. I wish a fool would not respond to my email in a timely manner. I may be one of the last 1000 people with a cell phone that has no email but let me tell you I know you have it on yours. You know what that means, when you email me I expect a prompt response. Now why should I expect this? Just b/c you can respond to my email means you should? As the person waiting on a reply I feel as though the answer is yes. As a reasonable individual, I need to let this go. Increased contact has greatly increased my expectations.

Tv online. Remember when you actually used to make time for your favourite tv show? Friday night for TGIF was a staple in my house. I went through an NBC must see tv phase too- no judgement. Now? I couldn’t even tell you what days some of my favourite shows come on. Why? B/c I refuse to watch commercials, have to sit in front of a television at a specific time and be unable to pause my show in case something comes up. I watched a sitcom tv the other day. It was ROUGH. Imagine not having the attention span for a 30 minute sitcom with commercials b/c I’m too accustomed to being on gchat, Skype, wiki-ing someone’s backside, Google Reader and facebook-ing while watching my tv shows.

I do believe it is that great sense of entitlement to have everything at once when I want it is ruining me. I’m busy trying to figure out how to keep it in check myself, but I’m not seeing any hope out there. Any ideas anyone?

*misquote from Ian Kamau, September Nine Vol 2

Fyah Links Friday

Friday is here and it has been a helluva week. Got a parking ticket, spent too much money, can’t find my camera, missed a deadline,  been reckless with my eating and yeah,  I’m sure you get the picture.

However the redemption and salvation of the week is here and I want to share some of the few interesting links I came across.

Free learning yall! There’s almost something for anyone on this page and it’s a great link to browse lots of different online learning programmes for those of us ( me) who need to take active steps towards graduate education.

Live strong I have been on this site for a while and love it. It has great resources for healthy living in general and is great for vegetarian/vegan/pescatarians like myself.

So happy to learn about the Frida fund grantees. Inspired much? Congrats to the grantees and to the Frida fund for your awesome work.

I have been out of the loop in terms of music for a while. My friend introduced me to DJ Private Ryan‘s podcast link where you can find lots of new and old stuff nicely packaged for download.

How do they know my life???

ATM Horror Stories

I had a nice cheery Things-I-heart-about-this-time-of-year post in my head but then I went to the ATM this morning and was immediately brought back to reality.

Shit is expensive, everything is expensive, no apparent rhyme or reason, just plain expensive. I generally try to watch my spending, I would get into a nice rhythm with a decent month end account balance and then something happens and I have to spend $800 of of the blue and my budget is shot to hell.

Usually that financial shock is usually a car or medical expense and and it is generally absorbed but this time around I went on vacation and spent ALL ( I mean ALL) my money. So now it’s the week before Christmas and I am looking at my ATM receipt in shock and horror.

I should get paid sometime this week ( all my fellow Caribbean civil service workers I know you feel me) so I will get stuff for the loved ones then but I will need to budget wisely for January. for reals.

This post was late because I actually downloaded a budget app for my phone and entered all the receipts I could find and I hope to track my spending for the next month or so. I wanna tally up every bottle of water and coffee and every other random little expense because I need to get my shit in order.

I will be 30 in less than a month and big things shall be poppin so I need to have some money so I can keep my swag sauce dripping 🙂 And by swag sauce I mean a down payment for a house 😀

Fyah family, I am hoping yall can encourage me, any software or financial websites or general good advice is welcomed.

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