Self Prophecy

If poetry is honesty, I must be brutal
It has been too long and I am no longer what I used to be

Like the old lover
“It’s okay,” my wife will tell me as I clamber awkwardly off her
“We had a good run.”
Like my talent
Left me useless, and spoiled all the rest I’ve been hung out to dry with
Like colours in the sun.

Should I?

Robyn Rants: the Modern Man

A Google search for 'modern man' returns mostly pretty boys, which totally proves my point.

Marginalization has been the buzz word for males in Jamaica for a few years now. Women are lamenting the lack of ‘manpower’ in universities and in the home; papers have been written and studies have been . . . studied. The concept is so old hat that it’s become one of those issues that are only discussed and not addressed.

But how can this problem be swept so easily under the fabric of society when young men – beg pardon, yuuts – are parading around with their pants halfway to their knees, jeans tighter than mine, their faces bleached out because ‘everybody love a brownin’‘ and cubic zirconium studs in not one, but two lobes?

I don’t even care that I’m starting to sound like an old woman, moralizing to all and sundry, because there is an even deeper issue in the attitude of the women – beg pardon, di gyal dem – who traipse around after these boys like dem frighten fi man. Certainly, some deeper moral and ethical issues are at play here, vis a vis the raising of one’s children to not be complete asses. And I, for one, am intrigued by how far this downward spiral will go. If so many boys continue to be unambitious, trigger happy louts, then girls ‘have no choice’ but to lower their standards (if they weren’t already scraping the bottom in the first place) or find themselves single indefinitely (the horror!).

But from the point of view of an irritated female, I am sick of seeing the debilitatingly gauche overtures of these wayward ‘boys’ and tired of watching my sex debase themselves through association and uncalled-for desperation. If I had the chance to say one thing only to the misguided youth of Jamaica it would be this: grow up.

But not the type of growing up that little children do all too frequently here. Growing up doesn’t mean advertising your sexuality; it means learning to respect the rights of other people. Growing up doesn’t mean scamming or killing to feed your family; it means acknowledging that there are legal ways to get the help you need. It doesn’t mean being the ‘don’, the ‘big man’ or even the ‘world boss’. Nor does it mean being a cog in the unsatisfactory machinery of our so-called democracy.

Growing up means realizing that you are the means to change your world. . . for the better, or for the worse. It’s up to you.


{28} I know I’m getting Older when…

..when I start actually thinking about getting older.

Just last Saturday when I was on break at dance class, I happened across the group of younger dancers hiding out in a spare room. They were occupied with play-doh and their own innocent world of magic, and when I entered everybody stopped talking. It was like a grown-up had walked in. When I asked them if I could see what they were up to, I got a resounding NO.

I remember the days when kids that age would have loved me. Would have loved playing with me and making up silly stories, and making me plaster on play-doh fingernails, too. Not so any more. It’s like I’ve crossed an invisible line into grown-up land. Like I’ve lost that aura of youth which is so obvious to little children. I am not one of ‘us’ anymore, I’m one of ‘them’.

But strangely, growing up isn’t as dramatically devastating as I expected it to be. Without fanfare, without recognition, I’ve passed quietly from the world of playmate into the realm of caretaker. Not a friend, but a mentor.

It’s a sobering thought, that I can’t stop this getting older business, that it’s happening even if I don’t want it to. But, even stranger, I’m not sure I want it to stop.

{time and relative dimension in unversity}

The thing no one tells you about summer is that you have to go back. Everyone always talks about exams being over, being free until the next semester, getting a job, school friends going away. But no one really mentions that you have to go back home, or what happens when you do.

Being in university is like stepping into a TARDIS and getting a glimpse of your own future. It’s time and relative dimension in a space that is beyond what you’ve come to know in high school and college. It is, for most of us, the chance to stretch your wings and see just how far you can fly from that nest. You learn much more than what they tell you in the didactic halls of academia, and you adjust to living on your own, with an entirely new set of people. You do this for a whole year, alone, independent and then you go back home. It’s like telling a bird that’s just learnt to fly that he has to stay in the nest for a couple of months just because. The impotence is frustrating.

As a commuting student, I’ve been in the nest all along, but I’ve still had the opportunity to fly whenever I wanted. With the onset of summer, I’ve been trapped here, mostly because it feels like there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do. After acclimatizing to the constant rush and nonstop motion of the school year, summer feels like the most insidious of doldrums.

University, no life, changes you. Makes you grow, makes you regress, makes you abandon old ways in favour of new ones (if you’re doing it right). And coming back home is like taking two steps forward and one step back – there’s still net forward motion, but how long is it gonna take you to get there? You’re back in your old neighbourhood with old friends slipping into old habits that you’ve grown out of now. You don’t want to regress, you want your college friends back, you want that feeling of independence and calling your own shots, you think you’ve lost it.

But you haven’t. That feeling is still there, waiting for you to pick it up and dust it off. You’re still independent, you can still call your own shots. You didn’t become independent because you went to university. You went to university because you were independent enough. There’s a reason they don’t let five-year olds in that place, you know.

While summer might feel like the doldrums of university life, they’re really not. Think of them as a self-serve gas station. You’re just filling up to take on the next year of independence and life-changing experiences.

Year of the Hatchling

It appears my nocturnal habits need revising if all I can think of to do with this bout of insomnia is to write not one, but two blog updates. Caffeine, you are a cruel mistress.

Since I’m up, I may as well catalogue the fun bits of school year 2010/2011 o/c The Year I Didn’t Die (Surprisingly). My jokes seem to sour with the lateness of the hour. As does my rhyming. I wonder how hilarious this will be when I read it in the morning (which it is by the way – almost three. Goddamit, coffee). If I had to name it properly, I think I would call this the Year I Stepped Out of my Comfort Zone. Hatchling was a word I’d thought up some weeks ago. As in “Hatchling: A Robyn Spreads Her Wings”. I’m copyrighting that. . . as soon as I figure out how. 2010/2011: Year of the Hatchling. I like it. Has a ring. By the by, typing like this is going to give me Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (median nerve compression, median nerve carries A and C fibres, CTS results in parasthesis and pain up to your elbow /geekery).

What I Learnt in the Year of the Hatchling…

1. I learnt to survive in a school where I had to make all new friends, networks, relationships. I had to get to know the teachers, and let them get to know me. I had to establish a persona I wanted to maintain. As it turned out, that last was secondary to all the other roles I had to assume; I was so focused on being myself that somewhere along the way that persona established itself.

2. I entered (and placed) in my first (and hopefully last) pageant. I placed second. This is a Big Deal. I have an aversion for public displays and pretty much fought the entire concept every step of the way. Why stick with it? “Wha nuh kill, fatten”. And it certainly fattened, er, strengthened my character. I’m still mildly amazed (and this isn’t narcissism, just a humble dumbfoundedness) at how beautiful I looked on coronation night. I was glowing (mostly because I never even expected to be in the top five, much less second). That experience taught me to seriously value myself, never underestimate or put myself down because sometimes (most times) other people see something great in you that you don’t.

3. I made friends, great friends. I always hear that college friends will be your friends for life and honestly, I’ve never put much stock in it. My best friend is still my best friend from high school, and I understand that relationships and people change, but that doesn’t mean I was closed off to making new ones. My strategy is simple: sit and wait. You’ll figure out soon enough who you want to be friends with, without jumping the gun too early. And it worked. The friends I have now, I can relate to (as we say so often here) “on a different level”, which is absolutely fabulous when it comes to sanity management and crisis aversion.

4. I fell in love. I can hear the snorts of derision and cynicism already. No wait, that’s my own mind. It seems like every girl goes away to university and “falls in love”. . . with a jerk. Not always but usually. Like there’s something intrinsic to the female psyche that makes us interpret all the noxious stimuli as being “perfect”. Well, I’m different. (Snorts, derisive or otherwise, are actually quite rude, you know). I’m well acquainted with the theory of personal fable, and the probability that at the end of the day, I’m not all that different from every other pathetic sap out there who’s desperate to be loved.

Being in love (or whatever it is my neuronal cells are telling me this is) has taught me acceptance. To accept myself as I see me, with my perceived flaws and graces (and there are graces). To accept that he sees me so much better than I see myself (not an insignificant feat – I’m blessed with more than my fair share of vanity). To accept him as he is, because who he is loves who I am, and why would I want that to be any different?

5. I proved to myself that I can do this. And that’s really all school has ever been about for me: a constant battle of wills between my brain and the prescribed curricula. I was pushed into the sciences “because I can do it”, pushed into medicine “because it would be such a waste of my talents to do Literature”. It was rather effortless pushing, because I love a constant mental challenge, but I still have bouts of yearning for a Literature degree. I still see myself becoming editor-in-chief of a publishing house. I still see myself writing. And yet here I am, biting my nails in anticipation of this semester’s grades, still awake at three in the morning studying for a Neuroscience final, wondering with no little curiousity what lies ahead for me in the next five years.

Because what I’ve learnt from this uphill struggle is that I am in possession of three inalienable instruments: inner strength, insatiable curiosity, and an amazing support group.

What else does a hatchling need to survive?