Book Clubs and Bozos

Rebel Women Lit (Jamaica-based book club) finally has a Mobay chapter and I was all over the first meeting.

There were three of us. And despite the book on the table – Marlon James’s Black Leopard Red Wolf – the meeting was delightful.

Well, except for the gatecrasher who wouldn’t stop offering unsolicited opinions on a variety of topics not related to the book at hand. Gems included:

“The Bible is a great book – you should read it”


“I really think you’d like Cowboy Bebop”

and not to be outdone,

“Don’t you think people are too sensitive about everything these days? It’s like you can’t even make a joke without someone taking offense”

I am not making these up, you guys. They’re actual quotes from an actual stranger who sat down with a group of women discussing a book and felt that was the best moment to go full Kanye West.

And if you guessed that he was a man, you’d be right.

Specifically of the cisgender heteronormative variety. (You know, those people).

When I reflect on the experience I think the universe was just trying to give us the pinnacle of feminist experiences. I mean, he was only the biggest stereotype ever to walk into a cafe. We couldn’t have planned that if we tried.

In the moment though, we were all paralyzed by politeness into exchanging glances that said “Can you believe this guy?” for TWO WHOLE HOURS.

(We could not, in fact, believe him.)

Despite the interloper, we enjoyed ourselves. I have some strong opinions on the book – we agreed it was a polarizing story – even though I didn’t make it past the first twenty pages. Some other time I’ll write about why we all need to stop reading books just because they’re popular (life is too short to read shit that doesn’t spark joy).

For now I’m glad my social calendar is evolving. And if this first meeting is any indication, I may not always be on board with the book picks but I’ll always show up for a bookish conversation.

And coffee. Coffee is non-negotiable.

Dear Patients: Please Stop Asking Me for Sick Leave

Dear Patients,

Please stop asking me to write you sick leave and then getting disgruntled when I say no. If I don’t think you’re sick enough to stay home then that is the medical opinion you have paid/waited in line for. If you don’t like it you can go and pay/wait in line somewhere else. Please stop asking us (doctors) to compromise our ethical standards (and potentially risk losing our license to practice) for your benefit. It’s considered fraud. I wouldn’t show up to your place of work asking you to break the rules; I only want you to extend the same courtesy to us.




While we’re at it, please stop asking me to write your prescription in someone else’s name. It’s not just that your boyfriend clearly has no medical use for the vaginal inserts I’ve prescribed for you, it’s also insurance fraud. Thank you.


Ode to Cat

My cat turns one year old this month, and I love her more than I ever thought I could love another living creature. I love this cat more than my mother. More than my partner. And though my mother would be a little annoyed, my partner is unfazed. Perhaps because my cat loves him more than she loves me.

Cat comes first. Her delight at dismembering roaches, frogs, lizards takes first place over my delight at having a floor devoid of tiny animal guts. Her disgust with hours old cat chow takes precedence over my sad attempts to ration her (expensive) food. Her desire to be on my lap right at this very moment even though I have to get ready for work supersedes my need to get ready for work.

Cats aren’t usually paraded as the most affectionate of pets but it is a goddamn miracle whenever she chooses to hop into one of our laps at the dinner table. The ensuing nuzzle-and-purr I am convinced are mere tools to ensnare us even further and I wish I would resist (especially when she hops off to bring a cockroach home and it inevitably runs across my bare feet) but she is just so precious dammit.

Of course I get mad at her. She destroys the furniture, bites my ear when I don’t wake up on time to feed her, scratches my feet at play, and have I mentioned bringing creepy crawlies into the house? But even in her craziest, sprint-across-the-house-at-2am-for-no-goddamn-reason moments I still manage to lose myself in her huge – eyes (the crazy eyes) and that faint meow so unique to her.

She widens my heart one feline stretch at a time, indulges my need to cuddle, teaches me about acceptance and patience and selflessness. She’s everything I ever imagined a cat would be (plus some other things I never thought of – roaches, again).

Now excuse me while I put some alcohol on my fresh claw marks.

Waiting by the Library One Freezing Morning

The pressed kiss of my buttocks
against the cold concrete is mediated by
the thin cloth of my jeans
This bench is a parasite
Across its placenta of 96% cotton and 4% spandex
it steals every molecule of heat
from my begrudging ass

In games of waiting I am a sore loser
with muscles aching and contorted from
spasms of shivering
teased out by every cold breeze
each of them lovers – must be
to garner such
instantaneous, overwhelming reactions

The wind caresses my face with ice
kisses the tip of my nose with frostbite
attempts other intimate contact
I would like to defer

There is nowhere to run,
only the cold confines
of this damn stone bench
pressed up against my backside
like some
unsolicited dance partner

I cannot wait
for this waiting
to be done.

Look who’s cooking now

I don’t cook. I’ve never been good at it, never had to be good at it really. All those years my friends were learning to cook I spent with my nose in some book after being shooed out of the kitchen. I wasn’t even allowed to boil water (until the sixth grade), and knives were sacred, untouchable objects. Then later, when my mother and grandmother realized un-domestic I was becoming, they tried to salvage the situation. But it was too late. I was already quite comfortable not cooking, thankyouverymuch, and had no inclination to get oil burns or slice myself by accident or any other horrible thing than can go wrong while one is engaged in this cooking business.

So when I left home in September, I had made up my mind to survive the next two years on macaroni and cheese and sandwhiches. My aunt didn’t bother to hide her amusement at my determination, but I was unfazed! Me, cook? Never! I have since come to realize that this is exactly the kind of statement fate finds supremely amusing.

It started with rice. Innocent enough. I’d cooked rice before, no sweat. Besides, it’s just plain rice. That’s not even real cooking. Then I was boiling dumplings. That required mixing flour and water with some degree of skill. I should have caught the warning signs but I was too excited by the prospect of trying something new to notice that I was slowly getting closer to what might be construed as domesticity.

Before I knew it, there I was cooking country style chicken and rice and peas and serving my so-called determination on a plate (with vegetables on the side). Just this weekend I made curry chicken, and it was good. I never thought it would come to this, that I would willingly spend hours slaving in a hot kitchen over a pot that I hoped would turn out well. This is what living away from home means: you end up doing things.

On the bright side, I didn’t actually cook any of them from scratch.

When going to a hockey game in Mona, Kingston

Tips on being a spectator from someone whose only prior experience involved a TV and a sofa.

Bring the biggest, warmest sweater you own. Or that someone else owns. I froze my butt off almost literally yesterday from sitting on the metal bleachers. Nor was I wearing the warmest of blouses. And jeans don’t help.

Bring a cushion for you tush-on. Like I mentioned, the dangers of butt-freeze are clear and present. Protect your gluteus maximus with a cushion, or a bag with no breakables like glasses tucked away in invisible pockets. Be especially careful of glasses.

Expect it to get very boring very quickly. The games started out whizzing by at super speeds, but by the time the last match rolled around I was counting down the seconds. Patience is a tropical virtue. Nobody likes to be waiting when they can’t feel their toes.

Bring hot food. All those movies and series I watched where spectators took Thermoses full of soup to night games obviously went over my head. I was left cold and starving for the two hours it took them to finish playing. Learn from my mistakes.

Keep your eyes on the action. Sitting in the stands is actually very distracting. You’ve got the Bajan trio in front of you discussing everything from Rihanna to the exchange rate; the irate council member at the back having a “private” conversation in stage whispers; and the pissed off and injured members of the girls’ team who keep lambasting their team mate. Keeping your eyes on the ball – or at least your favourite player – proves difficult, especially when good plays disappear in the blink of an eye.

Be enthusiastic. It’s easy to forget your frozen appendages, your empty stomach and your splitting headache when you’re on your feet cheering for your favourite player. For someone who knows absolutely nothing about hockey, I was actually kept enthralled by the game because I was enthusiastic about that one player.


I hope these encourage someone to come keep me company on the bleachers next time.


Time wasting, like sleep cycles, probably wasted on the studious

Don’t fall asleep.

If I could offer you on piece of advice on relieving boredom in an examination, not falling asleep would be it. The benefits of not falling asleep have been discussed by many students, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis other than my own meandering experience.
Sincerest apologies to Mary Scmich.
Hum your favourite song.
Rock back and forth, casting darting, suspicious glances at everyone who looks your way.
Try to use telekinesis to make the clock move faster.
Watch people.
Draw something.
Erase it.
Draw something else.
Spend time planning ridiculous blog entries like this one.
Sketch a cartoon.
Play doll house with your pens and pencils.
Write a story.
Count the number of tiles in the ceiling.
Leave funny notes on your exam paper for the invigilators to laugh at.
Measure your pulse rate.

And lastly, check your answers over exactly one minute before the end of the exam. This never fails to induce a last minute panic that you can do almost nothing about.


How to not feel proud that you can still fit into the jeans you’ve had since high school

Also, you look nothing like this.

Look at old photographs
There is nothing like remembering you first wore these jeans back when you looked like a stick and could pass for a boy to take all the joy out of fitting into them now. People who only noticed you to laugh at you back then will certainly not notice you now that you’ve filled out just enough to activate the stretch factor in your pants.

Realize that not putting on weight is synonymous with having no life achievements
Everyone who’s anyone puts on weight. Consultants. Mothers. College students. Your lack of weight gain is a sign of underachievement not successful dieting. Stop starving yourself and start stuffing on the pounds, you anorexic wannabe.

Remember that high school was only 5 years ago
It’s not really that big of an achievement to say you still fit into jeans you bought seven years ago. Some people make clothes last for decades. That’s just good fashion economy, not a claim to fame. You’re not old enough for this to be surprising. Yet.

Tell yourself that it really means you’re stuck in a rut
Clearly if you’re still wearing the same clothes you had in high school, you’re not really moving forward with your sense of style. And since your fashion sense is a good indicator of other areas of your life, you’re obviously not getting anywhere with anything. Chances are you’re still taking remedial English and pining over that boy in your History class.

The moral? If they don’t fit, don’t sweat it. If they do fit, congratulations. Puberty hasn’t set in yet.


Age is just a (legally binding) number

I'm 31 years old! 31, I tell you!

I went to buy a phone once at a legitimate Lime dealer (maybe it’s the legit stores I need to watch out for, hmm). When I’d found the phone I wanted, I went to ask about it. Then they told me I’d need some form of identification. Flabbergasted, I asked if my university ID would work. No. They needed national ID, like a passport or a driver’s license. Now, the government hasn’t yet decided to let me loose on the streets of Jamaica (wise decision) and my mother is hardly likely to let me walk around with my (expensive) passport just to buy a phone.

So I asked them half-outraged, why they needed ID anyway. The lady shrugged and muttered something about the government. The guy standing with her had been watching me and he spoke up. How old are you anyway? Nineteen, I replied, resisting the urge to add ‘but I’m old for my age’. He snorted. Try fourteen next time.

My boyfriend was the only one who cracked up.

{srs bznz and finger-penises}

For my holiday job this summer, I’m working with some international students here on a research exchange programme. We’re doing topics like Cervical Cancer and Male Sexual Behaviour/Acceptability of Male Circumcision in an private interview format, which pretty much leads to lots of hilariously awkward moments.

Case in point: One of the girls I work with was relating a story about an interviewee who needed some clarification on the idea of circumcision.

Researcher: So, are you circumcised?

Interviewee: Yeah man!

Researcher: So would you allow your son to be circumcised?

Interviewee: Well, yeah man. You know seh a woman can circumcise a man, doah?

Researcher: What?

Interviewee: Yeh, when you deh have sex and di woman roll back di ting . . .

At which point the researcher interrupts and explains, using her fingers, that circumcision is a permanent surgical procedure.

He seems to get the idea and even tries to assist her demonstration with his fingers but the researcher, ever-cognizant of the boundaries of propriety, pulls back with an indignant ‘Uh-uh, get your own finger-penis!’