Life after 30

This world is mine

For all the time

I can turn any stone

Call any place my home

I can do anything.

Use the Force, Jamiroquai

So I’ve been freaking out about turning 30 for at least a month now. All things considered, I don’t feel any different now than I did two days ago when I was still a twenty-something, but I find the finality of it a little hard to adjust to.

I can’t remember feeling so stressed out about turning 20. Actually, to be honest, I can’t remember turning 20. It wasn’t as significant as 18 and not as terrifying as 25.

But a decade is a lot of living to go through. It’s sped past in a haze of books and protests and flaky men and interesting fashion decisions.

And ten years later I don’t feel older but I do feel a lot wiser.

I still don’t consider myself a grown-up, possibly because people still refer to me as “the chile.” In truth, being a grown-up is a terribly overrated thing. Being a grown-up is really all about responsibilities and expectations and the disappointments that come when you refuse or fail to live up to these.

I have resisted most if not all attempts to make me a serious frowny lady who wears pumps, pantyhose and other instruments of female repression.

I’m not too sure why. I suppose my life would have been a lot easier if I’d gone down a less odd road.

It occurred to me in the midst of my pre-birthday funk when I was wondering how my life had turned out like it had and why another birthday was approaching and my bank account looking just as empty as it had in previous years.

When I was 25 I used to say every day that I didn’t want to turn 30 still engaged in the daily reporter grind, locked into the wage slavery of a full-time job and conspicuous consumption of house, car and fetes.

I look back and see how the universe opened the way and here I am five years later, a full-time professional protester of no fixed abode and neither chick nor child to show for it.

And if I didn’t have the pictures to prove it, I would think that my life for the past five years was a dream, with a few nightmarish bits put in for good measure. How I managed to climb the Great Wall, trod through Babylon-don, cruise the Adriatic, scale the Swiss Alps, march in Chatham, and generally have a fabulously detached existence is beyond me.

This time around I think I’m going to be a little more clear to the universe and try not to doubt so much that nothing in my life happens by accident.

That said, the best plan for me, it seems, is to make no plan at all. To see what turns up and go with the flow.

Sometimes I wish that what turns up is a big pile of dirty capitalist cash that I can use to fund all my subversive little revolutionary projects.

In the dark and frequent hours when self-doubt grips me by the throat and threatens to snuff out any positive thought, I wonder if I can manage to balance my life between being someone that cares and someone that earns a livable wage. I wonder if I can really open myself to the abundant blessings rather than cursing the poverty and the loneliness that come with rejecting social norms.

I guess at some point I’ll have to suppress that Aquarian predisposition to be out in mental orbit most of the time. Or use the orbit time to plot a course that really leads me where I want to go, wherever that is.

I’m going to focus on the positives of being a dread hippy and not second guess my interesting fashion decisions. I’m going to embrace the flaky men and understand that they’ve taught me some interesting lessons about how I see love and how much I love myself.

The challenge for the next year, five years, the rest of my life is to just enjoy being me. A human woman feminist writer tree hugger activist meggie artist drama queen fashion outcast photographer traveller lover friend sister daughter auntie perhaps one day mother dancer deejay…the list gets longer everyday. The possibilities of me are endless.

Dutty Politics

“I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.”
bell Hooks

As if the UNC wasn’t already such a colossal waste of space and daily adding more ammunition to Papa Patos’ ever enlarging sense of self-importance, they had to come and make things worse.
As if it wasn’t already bad enough that they are a sham opposition and their incessant fumblings and foibles aren’t enough of a jeopardizing of our full experience of democracy, whatever that means in this little neo-colonial playground of the rich and gormless.
They had to come with the dutty wine politics.  They had to put an ad for their Carnival fete in the newspapers with their rising sun logo stamped just north of a red girl’s yellow and orange panty.
Okay, okay I concede. So it was equal opportunity objectification.  There was an African girl in a ripped t-shirt and a UNC logo between her breasts and an Indian girl in a batty rider shorts with a logo like a slap across her face.
And of course the red girl in the middle, just to the right of poor Roy Cape with the sun rising out of her yellow panty.
Well yes.
We really reach where we have to go when the political parties start buying into the ‘sex sells’ folly.
Every nubile, flat bellied, pretty faced agency brown girl in Trinidad is ripe for the picking.
Ripe for the auction block.  Suitable for to be plucked, splayed, filleted for public (read male) consumption.
There’s nothing wrong with freeing up, liberating women from the enslavement of clothes and those passé Victorian puritan notions of decency, right?
I suppose I should forget the patriarchy and that women’s bodies are always the point of contestation.
I suppose I shouldn’t be alarmed that a political party, an institution of power and authority has jumped in the gayelle and joined the fight to have ownership of women’s sexuality for its own purposes.
Sex sells even as more little girls pose for camera phone porn in their class rooms.  Sex sells even as young women between the ages of 15-24 contract HIV because they haven’t the words nor the power to negotiate condom use with their macho Trini men partners.
Sex sells, ent? And the ad for the UNC fete of the year is bordered with the words one dollar, over and over.  That’s the value UNC puts on the bodies of young women.
Sex sells, well if that isn’t the cliché of Generation X, I don’t know what is.  Because I’m not putting water in my mouth to say that it’s not so much that sex sells, baby, it’s that women’s bodies are so highly sexualized in our advertising, our music and videos that we can’t see ourselves as anything else.
I look at that ad and I try to figure out what is supposed to be sexy about it. I ask my bredrins and they can’t see it either.  Because like so many other low grade, poor quality sexism posing as advertising, there’s no real sexiness to this thing.  No portrayal of sexuality that celebrates the goddess in us.  No creative odes to femininity, no delightful sensuality, no subtle desirability.
‘Sexy’ women selling everything from cars to half limp political parties is not fecund. It’s feculent, stinker than the smell of smelting and corrupt officials circling like well-dressed cobos.
No sah, it’s the same predictable, emotionless, lowest common denominator, formulaic like a bead and sequins bikini band. Like every five cents snack box soca and the poor misguided little boys and girls who think that this is their ticket to stardom.
I reason with some people.  They say, you know how it go.  Some little upstart in the party must have convinced the older heads that this was a good way to get to the young people.  Because everyone knows that young Trinbagonians only have sex on the brain.  Everyone knows that a sun rising out of a yellow panty is the key to political power.
Hold your corner and wine down low.  That is the real secret.
Talk about who have the best pipe and skin your teeth plenty and people will like you.  Talk bout sleeping with the devil to gain power and for sure you have a place in the hearts and minds of the party faithful.
We really reach where we have to go, I telling you.  We reach the lowest of the low, lower than the lowest rung of a limbo pole.  Lower than the La Basse. Lower than the dry season trickle of the East Dry River.
Dutty wine politics is taking over.  I wonder how many girls are going to break their necks for more visionless politicians to come to power.

One for Uncle Ellis

I heard the news about Uncle Ellis on Thursday and it struck me again how these people always choose to go in the Carnival season.
It’s as if the other jumbies get restless around that time.  They miss them, the old talk, the jam sessions, the lime.
I only ever knew Uncle Ellis from a distance. From back in the days when I was new to this media thing and his nephew Tony gave me a bligh on his WEFM station.
They came with the territory, Uncle Ellis and his brother Aldwyn who we all called Pa Chow. A soca man and a mas man.
Days playing mas with Minshall.  Pa Chow building kings.  Uncle Ellis steering Charlie’s Roots to be one of those cutting edge kind of bands that you can’t put your finger on just what so different or so special about them.
In a country where we like to put people in boxes, where African people must sing and dance and Chinee people must mind shop and Syrian people must sell clort and Indian must plant garden, Uncle Ellis stood out.
Plenty talk about soca mafia.  Two generations of talk about who sell out to the Chinee.  And I shake my head and laugh because if you don’t know your value who is going to know if for you?
Before soca mafia there were artists dying in poverty.  There were steelband clashes.  There was Spoiler drinking himself to death and pan men losing their minds on coke.
Before Uncle Ellis there was this crippling self-doubt about who we are what talents we have to offer the world.
Now we don’t have young people wanting to be soca artists anymore.  Now we want to be stars.  We want to ride a rhythm and wave a rag play in some nice all inclusives up town.  Do a video and get big up on Synergy and Tempo.  Push a big Lexus like Iwer, pull down some warm advertising dollars.
And I wonder what Uncle Ellis could have done about it.  What his nephew Tony could still do.  If there is anything that can be done.
I wonder if anybody from the Ministry of Culture ever asked Uncle Ellis what he would have wanted in a Performing Arts Academy.
Another Carnival coming on faster than 160 beats per minute. And the same Carnival questions there, unanswered.  The same problems there, unresolved.
And Uncle Ellis gone to the big Carnival of the sky.  He’s managing a band starring Kitchy and Uncle Andre and John Isaacs.  Maestro’s there too and Roaring Lion.  Uncle Ellis holding reasonings with Brian Honore who I see coming with a dreader than dread Smelter Robber mas. Shorty I is trying his best to get them to behave in the Lord’s house.  Clive Bradley is conducting.
I regret that I didn’t think to record some of those late night studio sessions when Blakie or Rudder who pass through.  I regret I didn’t get to ask all the questions that now keep me awake.
I fear that we are losing all these wise people, without first hearing their stories.  Just sit and listen to them for hours and hours.  If we really are serious about forging a civilization, then we do ourselves a disservice by letting Uncle Ellis go before we have a chance to absorb some of his wisdom.
Uncle Ellis gone and I mourn the passing of yet another historian, teacher, keeper of our stories.