Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Truth

“All we can do is arm ourselves with what we know to be true…our feelings”

I got this snippet from a profound but much longer comment made by a character in some television show I was watching. I wasn’t quick enough to get the whole of it, and because I wasn’t home with my own TV that I could go back to the spot and listen to it again, I lost most of it. But it was enough to get me thinking…

Are my feelings true? How can I be sure?

When I was young, I thought I loved someone, but now I’m thinking I didn’t, and I fear I don’t anymore. At least, not the way I ought, or the way that is expected of me. Were those feelings that led me to make life-altering decisions wrong? Or are they wrong now, and am I just in the throes of a serious emotional mid-life crisis? How does one know anything about oneself?

Some things about myself I know to be true. For example, I know that I would be mortified if I ever let someone see me fall apart…which is why, in recent years when it has happened, a little piece of me has shriveled up in shame that the pain, the hurt, the anger were so overwhelming that I could not run and hide fast enough. But under normal circumstances, as far as human pain can be seen as “normal”, you will never know that I am hurting.

I know that I have become a person I never knew I was, and I know that really what that means is that I have always been this person, but she had been subdued, beaten down, repressed, by expectations — my own and other people’s — and now she is a demon on each shoulder, egging me on to things that burn me up with shame and regret. And yet, I know I have it in me to end her reign of terror…but I’m afraid when I do, I’ll go back to being the milquetoast I spent most of my life being. And I’m so tired of being ordinary in my own eyes.

I know I have a great deal of potential as a writer. Sometimes the words I write sing at me with the depth and power of their beauty. I recognize it with that impartial part of me that also used to read students’ essays, and still reads clients’ stories, and can tell the bullshit from the butter, the diamonds from the dross. I know that if I set my mind to it, and work my butt off, I can do great things with my “pen”. 

I know that I have beauty — notice I did not say I am beautiful, for that is a matter of opinion, and those come a dime a dozen, depending on who you ask. But I have beauty in the way I see others, in the way I am truthful about how I see myself with my heart, in the joy I find in people, in the love I offer freely and with all my soul. Those things have beauty. 

Knowing then who I am — a flawed woman bearing beauty in her innermost parts — how can I learn to trust my feelings? How can I begin to see their value as truth in my life? How can I live the second part of my life as a whole and fulfilled human being, in tune with her feelings and living bountifully because of them?

Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?” And elsewhere in Scripture, it is said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” 

I’d like to know the truth, please…

Copyright 2014

High School Reflections, 2

When we left Barbados in the summer of 1974, I was devastated. All my friends were there, and I understood myself in Barbadian terms, although I was also well aware of my expatriate status.  I was not, however, the only expatriate in the school.  In my class alone, I was one of four ex-pats.  Betty Martinez, a brilliant student, was Trinidadian.  Robin and I were Jamaicans.  And there was an American girl, whom I can still see clearly in my mind’s eye, but whose name I do not recall.  She was a “fast’ one…way too mature for her years, and always on the make.  Or at least, that was the persona she presented to the rest of us.

When I got home to Jamaica, we moved to the country, and I was even more lonely, because the few people I knew were all in Kingston.  I wrote many, many letters to all my friends that summer, and we bemoaned our fate.  I couldn’t study Spanish and French like I wanted to, with English and History, because they weren’t going to make a Spanish class if enough students didn’t request it.  And they didn’t have Latin for ‘A’ Levels, so I didn’t even bother to ask.  So my 'A’ Level subjects were English, French, European history, and General Paper (freshman comp in American universities).

Manchester High School was a coed school, so not only was I having to acclimatize myself to the country, but also to boys.  Ugh!  That was a misery in every way.  it took me a whole year not to cringe when a boy was around.  They were…unimpressive, both intellectually and personally.  (What?  I’m trying to be nice!  LOL!)  I got used to them eventually, though.  Some of my classmates in those two years were (and forgive me if I don’t remember most of their surnames) Joy Deerr (she was my best friend in that school, and yes, that was her last name), Dawn, Daughn (yes, spelled like that), tall Tony (Dawn’s boyfriend), short Tony, Gary (he was the Head Boy and I was the Head Girl), Sharon, Richard (who liked to tease me mercilessly), Patrick, and Helen.  These are the ones whose names I recall.  My principal was Mr. Gunther, and the French teachers who took our 'A’ Level class to Haiti for a week were Ms. Sutherland and Mrs. Mewa, a Trinidadian.  My English teacher was a Scotswoman whose first name was Sheena.  I can’t for the life of me remember her last name.  I liked her handwriting…I can still see it in my mind.

I went back to Manchester High School to teach for a year after I graduated from UWI with my degree in English.   It was interesting to return as an adult, and still have some of the students remember me.  It was lovely, in a way, to have that as my safety net before I branched out and left home…for a while.

Here is the MHS crest. 
The school’s motto is "Sic Luceat Lux”, which means “Let your light so shine.” I guess I was meant to be, to carry, to shine as a light, since both my schools had those words in their motto.  I hope I have been, and continue to be so.

Alumna, Manchester High School, Mandeville, Jamaica, West Indies

High School Reflections, 1

I’ve been looking into my past, specifically my high school past.  And among other things, I found out there is an association for alumni for the high school that I went to for five of the seven years of high school in Barbados.  It was a girls’ school when I went there (it is now coed, and no longer at the same site).  I’ve been looking around, trying to find things about them, about my school, and happened upon this gem, which I still remember, and can sing from memory…my school song.

The Queen’s College School Song

Quiet and ordered hours,
Work and leisure and play.
Here are the budding powers
Growing to greet the day.
The world waits on her way
and the gates swing slow apart
And around us rises the stir of the fray
But it comes not into our hearts.

Here we train for the future’s race,
Here we look into learning’s face.
Here we sit at her gracious feet
Who steels our strength for the nearing fight.
When we arise with our arms complete.
We shall carry the light, we shall carry the light.

Life is a road to tread
In dust and labour and heat.
But the light shines over our head
And the cost of the goal is sweet.
What of the weary feet
If the heart beat high to the end?
What if the past has known defeat?
The future is ours to mend.

Here we measure the morrow’s aim.
Here we kindle the morrow’s flame.
Here we learn for the love of our land.
Handled and made for the service of life.
We shall lift our lamps with a loyal hand.
We shall carry the light, we shall carry the light.

This is the QC school crest.  Our school’s motto is “Fiat Lux”, which means “Let there be light.” 

I loved that school.  My principal was Dame Elsie Payne (only a ‘Mrs.’ when she was headmistress in my years there), who was herself an alumna of the school.  Looking back on it now, after all these years, still makes me smile, though the pride is mixed with nostalgia and some pain.  (What memories of my youth are not infused with pain?  None.)

I still remember the names of a few of my friends from there: Dawn Allen (née Clarke), who was my best friend, Jennifer Anderson, Beverley Yearwood, Heather Medford, Robin McPherson, Betty Martinez, Ann-Marie Moore (the equestrian), Mona Edwards, Fiona Williams, Wendy King, the school’s champion sprinter for all her years there.  Dawn, Mona, Fiona and Wendy are still in Barbados, though I know Wendy left for college (she was at UWI Mona, Jamaica with me).  Fiona is a lawyer now, Mona owns a flower shop, Dawn is married with children.  I found Dawn again briefly, twenty-seven years ago when we had to go to Barbados to get our green cards to come to the US.  It was lovely to catch up with her.  I wish I could, again, and with the rest of the crew.

Alumna, Queen’s College, Barbados, West Indies

Saturday, 12 July 2014


"I might be a little bit in love with you."

You look around.

"Yeah, you.  Is that so hard to believe? Or is it just distasteful to you?"

You shake your head.

"Don’t worry.  I’m not asking you for anything."

You smile.

"Really!  I’m not. Nor am I expecting anything. I’m no fool!"

You gaze at me silently.

"You always were the quiet one.  And you know what they say, don’t you?"

Your smile is wider this time.

"Yes.  Silent river runs deep.  I just wish I knew what you were thinking!"

You raise the drink to your lips and sip.

"I guess it doesn’t matter, though.  Whatever you’re thinking, it’s not about me."

You throw back your head and laugh.

A bell jangles somewhere, and I blink.  Shit!  This is getting worse and worse.  I cannot keep doing this.  Making up one-sided conversations between me and you, the man I’ve been crushing on this whole year is not the way to win friends and influence people.  Nor you, for that matter.  Especially since you don’t even know I exist.  None of those gestures or smiles were even aimed at me, for goodness sake!  These people must think I’m crazy!  It’s a wonder they haven’t called the insane asylum to come get me already.

I turn my eyes back to where you’re sitting with your friend.  He says something to you, and you laugh again, and turn your head.  Our eyes meet for the first time in recorded history.  I gape like a fool, and then you break the contact.  You call for the bill.  I ease myself out of the booth I am sitting in, and hurry to pay for my own meal.  This first real contact has rattled me. Rushing by your table, my head in a whirl, my eyes focused on the cash register, I fail to see you check me out.

Maybe I need to stop coming here for lunch, I think, as I rush out to my car.  I can bring a salad or a sandwich with me.  Or go to MacDonald’s.  I don’t need to eat at a fancy eatery.  It’s not like we know each other, and now that you’ve seen me, if I show up tomorrow, it’ll look like I’m stalking you.  I ignore the voice that asks “Well, aren’t you?”  Shut up, I tell myself.  Just shut up!
I am almost at my car when I hear an unfamiliar male voice.

"You dropped this," it says.

I turn around, startled, to see who is speaking.  You’re standing there with a slip of paper in your hand.  I look around.

"Yeah…you," you say.


Copyright 2014

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Blank Spaces (A Collaboration)

(A collaboration between a friend on Tumblr, Peregrine ( and me.)

It’s not as though there is
a right or wrong way
to fill in this blank space.
It’s not a quiz.
And yet,
it says so much
that I see “lost”,
and you see “luckiest”.

What does it mean?
I see the hole.
You see the donut.
I am yin.
You are yang.
I am the blank space.
You fill me in.
We are interconnected.

It isn’t a question
of what’s right and wrong,
but of the responses
we’ve been trained to live.
In how many ways,
have you been filled with
you’re the “least,”
the “littlest,” the “lowliest.”

But my mouth will fill you
only with the “loftiest” words.
My eyes will only see
the “loveliest” in you.
And always, in all ways,
will I fill the “loneliest” places in you,
the “lustiest” places in you,
the blank spaces in you, with my love.

~ Peregrine and KDB

Copyright 2014

(Peregrine's is in plain text, mine is in italics.)

(Picture Source: prostoslozhno)