Life Lesson #315: Honouring commitments

You know that feeling you get when someone makes a promise to you and then breaks it? It sucks, doesn’t it? And yet we keep doing it to other people.

During preparation for the unnamed dance show I’ve been intensely rehearsing for, there’s been a couple dancers who went AWOL after being selected for pieces, as well as dancers who no longer want to be in pieces they’ve been rehearsing. That’s just not right. You made a commitment when you showed up for auditions; you can’t default without an explanation and you certainly can’t default at this late stage.

I used to do this kind of thing all the time, I’ve been there. I’d say yes to everything at first and then as time went and things really got hectic, I’d have to drop something at the last minute. I’d feel awful, and whoever I was letting down would usually be pissed. It’s a habit I’ve been trying to break, with some success.

The thing is, that kind of behaviour doesn’t do anyone any good. It makes you look bad and it totally erodes your integrity. People stop trusting your words because your actions are saying the opposite. And then you get the reputation of a flaker when you could have gotten the reputation of a responsible, reliable person just by saying no.

This is as much a reminder to myself as anything else.

Saying no doens’t necessarily mean you don’t want to, it just means you can’t right now. Know your limits before you agree to anything so you don’t end up disappointing people or killing yourself while trying not to disappoint people.

Just say no.

Montego Bay is a city of

Montego Bay is a city of oldies but goodies. It is a testament to faded glory fallen on hard times, the ageing beauty who primps and prevaricates in an effort to conceal her wrinkles and rolls of fat. It is a city where close-ups reveal cover-ups, where everyone knows someone but no one really knows anyone at all. It is the city of unmet expectations, heartbreaking realizations and unending speculations. Here, dreams flourish and perish in the same breath. Here, the bar is set so low it crushes spirits; and the word on the street is: escape.

Escape poverty
Escape school
Escape prison
Escape your job
Escape your bills
Escape your baby father
Escape the rules
Escape the streets
Escape the country
Escape this life

Ours is a city of unsatisfactory repatriation, untimely remuneration and. . . occasional salvation. The motherless barrel child ran away from home and is now trying to sell you guineps at fifty dollars a bunch on the side of the road. The government clerk supplements his income with lists of phone numbers and a voice his own mother wouldn’t recognize. And every Sunday the churches on every street corner sound clash with the cars that drive by blaring dancehall tunes. The fashion segment is of course a contest between the skimpily clad too-young girls in the cars and the sedately dressed, mothball-smelling mostly retired congregation in the pews.

We are an endless line of failed attempts marching inexorably toward that graveyard of cities and towns, stripped of our dignity and left to wither.

Yet we are a city of sunlight-and-sparkling-water, with fathers who love their daughters and bosses who think to give brawta. Where our concerns are never as close as the coastline; where we can always afford to have a good time. Where morality overlaps like shore and sea. Montego Bay, ah, Montego Bay, times is hard.

But so are we.

Happy new year

I was so happy to come back to a silent hall and university in early January. Most of the residents were still at home for the holidays, and the few stragglers left were of the working variety and did almost nothing to disturb. The entire campus was blanketed with the calming quiet of absence.

And then They returned.

Suddenly my evenings were punctuated by shouts and yells from one corridor to the next; the bathroom stalls were always full and the lines for everything got longer. Cooking was no longer a solo affair and the study room was never empty. Here, people. There, people. Everywhere, people – people!

They were all telling me “Happy New Year” for some reason. It’s January 20, I want to tell them. The year is already more than twenty days old. That’s practically a lifetime for house flies. It’s not new any more.

image: solariad from deviant art

Mostly I just want to retreat into some quiet enclave of obscurity.

on Hypocrisy

Google defines hypocrisy rather succinctly as

The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.

I mostly fall into this trap when I claim to have moral standards and beliefs that I want to adopt, but I’m just. . . not quite there yet. Like arguing that I’m totally considerate to my friends, but neglecting to call them and say hi or tell them when my team is doing a procedure we all need to see.

I also fall into this trap when I’m not quite sure how to explain what I believe so words fall short of actions and it looks like I’m trying to pull the wool over your eyes when really I’m just trying to get it out of my own. But my actions are pretty consistent when it comes to beliefs.

On the other hand, my actions are totally erratic when it comes to standards and behaviour. Guilt tends to force me to act contrary to normal for a little while . But then I slip back into my old habits, and all my pretty speeches are centred around who I want to become, not who I am right now. (And, really, which one’s more important? The first one, of course).

But is that really hypocrisy, or just a standard failing of human character?

Another type of hypocrisy happens when the person identifying the hypocrite is herself a hypocrite and the very act of calling someone on their hypocrisy only serves to underline that fact even more. They are pretending to stand on some moral high ground when really they’re about as superior as Anakin facing down Obi Wan after he got his legs chopped off. And nothing irritates me more.

the (real) perks of being a wallflower: (party of) one

Open secret: Halloween is an excuse for  15 year olds to dress up as legal adults.

Kingston’s Halloween parties are crawling with neon phalluses wielded by tiny lesbians and curvy brunettes wishing they were Mila Jovovich a la The Fifth Element. Also, an inordinate amount of dubstep. Which is good for nodding an appendage, but rather awkward to dance to. Alice and a couple ninja!white rabbits seemed to think so too because the crowd started calling for slacker music i.e. music with actual lyrics.

The first thing out of her mouth after the introductions are over is, “I thought you were over here doing coke.”

I like to think I imagined the hint of disappointment in her voice.

She shrugs over our bewildered laughter. “I mean this being Pilleaters* and all. And then she was rubbing her nose, so I expected to see it cut up on the table.

“Don’t do coke,” she adds. She points at her friend (who’s with us). “He’s gonna do coke.” We laugh uncertainly again. “Don’t let him make you do coke,” she says to his girlfriend, and then disappears to eat, drink and prop up a support beam for the rest of the night.

I have to wonder these days if people know that the point of Halloween as a festival was to scare ghosts away, not give them STIs. Or maybe evil spirits will be terrified of stronger spirits and the thought of a coyote ugly morning after.

protip: you should always know exactly what you’re drinking.

secret: no one ever does.

I believe you should have the kind of relationship with alcohol that always leaves you wanting more. Alcohol shouldn’t be the abusive lover; alcohol should be the mistress you call up at 3am when you’re alone and horny. Alcohol shouldn’t be the solution to your unhealthy relationship; on the other hand, if alcohol is your only unhealthy relationship then you’re pretty much golden.

But I’m just glad my mouth has stopped feeling like tequila’s bitch.

* –  names changed to protect myself from lawsuits.

Dear Lord, what are we WEARING?

I had an exam today. Let’s not talk about it.


I had three distinct WTF moments while walking through the streets of downtown Mobay this evening.


I was walking behind a cruff (translation: young Jamaican male with pants at his knees walking with a limping ‘bad man’ gait) when a girl passed him going in the opposite direction. He put his hand out and let it trail along the girl’s body as she walked by, and she turned around to look at him. Now I imagine at that point, she had one of two things on her mind: “Ah smaddy mi know dis?” or (and her subsequent expression makes this one more likely) “Wha dis eediat bwai ah come touch me up fa?”


Carey is shown at a picnic with the computer e...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the same time, the “eediat bwai” is throwing her the most pitiful ‘come hither’ look I have ever had the misfortune to witness, almost like he’s saying “I know you want some of this.” What? No. No, thank you. Ever. Guys, have more class! Girls, don’t be afraid to tell a boy some bad words when he puts a hand on you without your permission!


The next two WTF moments are actually the same thing, occurring hours apart. I passed two girls on different streets wearing what was basically a shirt and panties. I could see their butt cheeks jiggling from under the hem of the shorts spanky pants.  I know it’s summer, and I know we’re a tropical country and it feels like the sun has a personal vendetta against anyone who steps outdoors, but for the love of all that is decent please do not put your jiggly bits on display. Especially when they’re unattractive.

And that was my evening. After walking out of that exam, my day couldn’t go anywhere but up.


Are you as grossed out as I am by people who wear revealing clothing? What about guys who touch girls they don’t know (and the girls who let them)?


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.

Bleaching vs. Tanning

Pictured: identity crisis.

Do you remember that scene in Final Destination (I don’t remember which one, I never really watched them) where the girls gets fried alive in the tanning bed?

(If you’re from Jamaica) Do you remember that girl/guy you saw on the side of the street who’s face and neck were about five shades lighter than their arms?

It occurs to me that people are just never satisfied with their lot. Black people want to be whiter and white people want to be blacker. This logically extends to fat people want to be skinnier and skinny people want to be fatter (at least here they do). On one hand dissatisfaction is the mother of innovation; if we were all complacent the human race wouldn’t have much forward motion. But on the other hand people really need to learn to be happy with themselves.

The real point of this post though is to point out that bleaching and tanning are two sides of the same coin. We make a big fuss about the psychology behind one and let the other slide because it’s mostly practised by snobby rich girls.

What’s the point? They both need help.


In transit III: to the little boy in the taxi

I can’t promise you there will never be any bullies in the world, and I can’t promise that the people who are supposed to look out for you will always do their job. I can’t promise you that counting to ten is the best way to control your anger. And I sure as hell won’t tell you that you gotta put up with people’s crap and bottle everything up inside of you.

Because sometimes fighting back feels damn good, and sometimes it hurts you a whole lot more than they did in the first place. So you gotta figure that one out on your own. But I will tell you and promise you and pray that talking to a stranger in the back of a taxi on your way home is the a step in healing the hurt that the world dumps on you. And I will hope against hope that you won’t break, no matter what they throw at you.

You are doing great so far, kid. Don’t stop now.


The stranger in the back of the taxi

iRasta: FAQs

Credit to zigbone on Deviantart

Something I get asked every day (in various obnoxious, outraged tones of voice) is “Why you locking you hair?” The asker is usually mortally offended on my behalf that I would ‘mess up’ my ‘pretty hair’ for such a ‘low-class’ (insert any other derogatory adjective here) hairstyle.

To which I’ll usually take a few seconds to come up with a witty retort, fail to find one and respond (lamely!) that I actually like the style, hate combing my hair, etc. etc. These are the top four questions I get asked regularly.

1. Are you locking you hair?
Yes! :D

2. WHY?
Because I think locks are a great style for someone who wants to keep their hair natural. My roots might look fuzzy (especially when I’m a few weeks late for a styling appointment) but at least I have the comfort of staying true to them.

3. But your hair is so pretty!
That might be true but it’s still hell to manage! This question really gets my goat because it’s just a perpetuation of the classism we have here in Jamaica: people with ‘pretty hair’ don’t do certain things, don’t act a certain way. People actually get upset that I’m ‘ruining’ my hair by doing this, when I’m really just giving my hair the freedom to do whatever the hell it wants.

4. And your mother’s okay with it?
My mother wants to lock her own hair! It’s on her list of things to do with her hair (right before cutting it way short and right after what she’s doing with it now). My dad, too. Sometimes I love my family.

Whenever someone with processed/permed/creamed hair or someone with extensions/weave asks me these questions I get more than a little annoyed. You can bet no one gave them grief for their decision to chemically ruin their hair or put other people’s hair in, and yet I get all kinds of weird looks and consternation because I’m doing something Jamaicans have been doing since post-colonialism.

Bottom line: it’s my hair, so I get to choose what I do with it (short of cutting it all off, because I might wind up without a boyfriend if I go that far). ;)