Monthly Archives: November 2008

Looking for Christmas. A list.

1.I found a grey hair. I was checking in the loos at work. The light is perfect for that particular function and I saw it. Tried to surreptitiously pull out without letting students/staff think I am going mad.


2. I have decided to have Christmas spirit this year. However this cannot start until December 1st. Until then I am ignoring all the trees, decorations, music and tinsel that seems to have spread throughout Trinidad.


3. Despite wanting spirit, it will be hard to achieve with no real tree ( I need to sweep up pine needles, it is part of the fun.) Also hard to feel Christmassy while hot. I may need to bake a lot and invite people over to eat, drink and be merry.


4. Also hard to find said spirit with cash flow issues that will prevent shopping. This is, after all, traditionally the main event that putts me into debt before the new year. So need to be imaginative. Very.


5. The combination of grey hair and 2009 being the year of all holy things turning 40 is a bit stressful. Need to get my head ( and hair) around that. Need to turn all Californian and “embrace” it. Find somewhere to put the rage.


6. Don’t want Christmas tree if it will make the tiny pile under it look even smaller. Answer might be to get one of those tiny trees. Will make pile appear bigger.


7. I will turn up the air conditioner and drink hot chocolate and marshmallows. Tradition is tradition.


8. I will go to the beach. A lot. Let’s have a tropical Christmas. Might as well.


9. Two more weeks and then school’s out! Can’t wait!


10. Two words. Tinsel and Rum.

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lessons learnt swimming at midnight

There are certain undeniable truths. Husbands always miss one thing on the shopping list, and champagne is always better in a bubble bath.

There are also deals made that are universal, like the one that says that because the woman gives birth, the guy always drives the babysitters. There is also the deal that says a  “wife shalt not be naked before men other than her beloved.”


Skinny dipping at midnight is one of the more pleasant experiences life has to offer.  Saturday late at a party the birthday boy jumped into the pool. It was all Boxer shorts and cannonballs. Then one by one everybody else was jumping in and this is where the boy/girl divide became apparent. G jumped in with all her clothes. So that was 1 out of 3 girls in. She looked happy but a tad uncomfortable in those wet jeans.

 

 I wanted desperately to go in but had some underwear issues. I couldn’t jump in with clothes because being wet in clothes is an abhorrent sensation. Hate it. 

But. No skinny dipping ( which was what I wanted to do.) Not nice for the hubby.  So I thought of a great plan. Underwear no bra. ( I had on a small strapless one. Would look very weird and plus my underwear wasn’t matching and it always has to match.) No. hubby not into that. (still weird). In the end I was all undies on and it was lovely.. Just skinny dipping … would have have been bliss.

 

Even swimming in undies, kickers, smalls, whatever,  is a problem. Pulling jeans over wet thighs and a wet pair of M&S’s finest ( in joke for the Brits, there) is not comfortable. I really I am very attached to my comfort. See no point whatsoever in being uncomfortable. So now I was going home in partially wet jeans and a totally see through top, wet bra shining through. Hair wet, raccoon with mascara and muddy feet. But so happy!

 

If your babysitter is also a student, you can’t really go home in sopping clothes, stumbling all tipsy and wonky.  They would either think I was really cool or they would lose respect for my authority. Hmmm.

 

Will find out soon enough.                                                                            

 

nightswimmingDidn’t look that good. Sadly.

 

 

 

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love poetry for teens

Teaching love poetry to teenagers is funny. They pretend they are not touched, shrugging off the romanticism with the “it’ll never happen to me, I’ll never feel like that” glance. But deep down, as complicated and terrifying as love seems, it is all they really want. It is all anyone really wants. I told them that we would be dividing love poetry into Meeting, Mating, Living together and Parting. They cringe with the Mating part. Find the Meeting a little corny and seem strangely reassured by the Parting selections. This one by ee cummings got them going:

i like my body when it is with your

   body. It is so quite a new thing.

   Muscles better and nerves more.

   i like your body. i like what it does,

   i like its hows. i like to feel the spine

   of your body and its bones, and the trembling

   -firm-smooth ness and which i will

   again and again and again

   kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,

   i like,, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz

   of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes

   over parting flesh . . . . And eyes big Love-crumbs,

   and possibly i like the thrill

   of under me you quite so new

 

Despite the fact that it is written as a 14 line sonnet, it is a poem that follows the pattern of sex; the breathing, the hesitation, the speeding up, the slowing down. My students, sweet prudes that they are, were ever so slightly freaked out by the “shocking fuzz of your electric fur”.  I tried to get them to imagine describing a kiss. Writing about intimacy without being cheesy or pornographic is really hard.  

 

Finally I got a poem that had them all excited. (Well, at least the girls. Not sure I am going to get the boys into this one.) It is called Without You by Adrian Henri:

 

Without you every morning would feel like going back to work after a holiday, 

Without you I couldn’t stand the smell of the East Lancs Road, 

Without you ghost ferries would cross the Mersey manned by skeleton crews, 

Without you I’d probably feel happy and have more money and time and nothing to do with it, 

Without you I’d have to leave my stillborn poems on other people’s doorsteps, wrapped in brown paper, 

Without you there’d never be sauce to put on sausage butties, 

Without you plastic flowers in shop windows would just be plastic flowers in shop windows…

 

It continues in this vein, bringing private jokes and popular culture to the corny “luv” poem table. Homework is to write their own Without You poem. From what I have glimpsed it is good stuff!

 

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Perks of the job

A few, and I mean just a few, of my students have read my blog. They are some very special students who spend lunch time in my classroom and who I like so much for their intelligence, liberal mindedness, maturity and their determination to be themselves despite the onslaught of peer pressure all around them. They are a unique group. Rather than watching Gossip Girls, this lot loves the wry humour of Scrubs and they own Obama T-shirts. They read, paint, write poetry and BLOG! It turns out that ever since I told them about my blog a few of them got inspired and decided to start blogging themselves. It’s funny because like most teenagers they do not enthuse openly about much, keeping it low key is way cooler. So I didn’t know if they had even read my blog, much less liked it. Now I see that it has sent them off on a creative journey and I couldn’t be happier.

This morning I read two of the blogs and they are good! Their voices come through; they keep it real, funny and at the same time in their regular low key way their view of the world shines all over.  These kids are only 14 and 15! They are smart, insightful, creative and excellent writers. If they are like this now I can’t imagine what they will be doing at 35. I hope they continue to let their voices be heard and stay true to themselves and never succumb to the shallow and petty concerns of many of their peers.

I will be heartbroken to leave them. But at least I now have their blogs to read so I can keep track of their brilliance from afar.

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Playing in a fishbowl

I live in a fishbowl. 

Our sun room (indoor porch) has three walls of windows and we live on a corner. We can spy on our neighbours, the joggers, the dog walkers, the teens, the skateboarders, the soccer players, but they can also all spy on us.

 

 

 

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We spend many Sunday afternoons drinking wine and playing scrabble. It is a beautiful room to “lime” away an afternoon. It is the reason we rented the house.

Last Sunday in the middle of a scrabble game, I stared at the rain and looked outside. I realized I had fallen off my short lived scrabble throne. There was a time when Cassandra and I were the same level. We would always play within 5 points of each other. It was an addiction. I remember saying that it would be short lived. At one point one of us, probably her, would zoom ahead and take over. Sure enough and thanks to many hours spent on scrabble.com she has now turned into The Scrabble Maven.


 

 

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It is not a case of me winning occasionally or even coming second in a game of 4, but how many points will I lose by. How embarrassing will it be?  Suddenly the fishbowl is revealing scary secrets. I am the English Teacher losing at Scrabble.

For awhile I was getting good. Words I could never see were suddenly there! I was great with the laddering and the 3 letter words, all strategic and clever. I knew all my KA and QI and ZA words. Problem was practice. I told her “ either I give up work or you give up scrabble.com. I cannot keep up with you!” It was making me feel stupid and was just not much fun. Finally with the 62 point word “SEQUEL” I felt my crown slowly slip off my head. How could our friendship survive?

 

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I think we might need to find something else to do in the fishbowl.

 

 

 

 


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The Perfect Day

Not perfect like you’re at the top of Kilimanjaro or you are scuba diving for the first time but perfect like the perfect burger or finding $20 in your pocket. This was a perfect day.

By exception I played hookie. I had a sub teacher in anyway ’cause I thought we were heading to the beach house early, there was no point telling her about my change of plans. So I got up, taught an excellent and highly patient 3 hours and by 10.15 I was in the car heading to the beach.  F and I seemed to slip though the rain drops as we dodged an impressively dark cloud only to land on a hot but breezy Maracas Beach. It was empty save for a few surfers taking lessons. I had never been on a weekday and this was simply gorgeous. Knowing everyone was at school scratching their heads made it all the sweeter. 

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First, we had to get the BEST SANDWICH IN THE WORLD. This is a Shark ‘n Bake. It is a delicious fried bread stuffed with either shark, shrimp, cheese or just veggies. Coriander, garlic sauce, dressing, sliced pineapple and pineapple “chow” (spicy, garlic and sweet) top it all off. It is a speciality of Maracas beach and heaven in a bun.

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I sipped a Green Sands Shandy nice and slow, while I watched the waves and thought about how I can never leave the Caribbean.  I had a good look at the beach, the palm trees and the fact that there was no one blocking my view.

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There was some swimming, some jumping waves and some running with the dog. All this before 1pm on a Friday.

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The sky turned gloomy and a cloud came to cover our spot, but still this was my perfect day and no rain was going to spoil it. 

There is nothing like sleeping under a tree, a warm breeze playing with your senses. There is nothing like swimming alone in the sea, not worrying about any renegade boobs falling out of bikini tops during a particularly high wave.  There is nothing like being dried by the sun. There is nothing like a warm shower to wash away the sand, a happy family dinner, movie night and fondant brownies to nibble. 

Sometimes perfection is in the little things.

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Counting my blessings

Things that make me happy:

 

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Since we live in Trinidad we can always have beautiful flowers at home.

 

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This is what we do on a sunday afternoon.

 

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If I walk out of my house, turn left and walk 5 minutes this is what I see.

 

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This sleeps in my bed.

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This is my view at work

 

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This is work.

 

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This is friendship.

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Rut

People have friends for all different joys. Some people are just perfect for long Starbucks coffee mornings and shoe shopping. Some are the ones you want to lie on your bed and chat with, pretending you are 10. Then there are the friends that let you clean out their closets and the others that you shop, eat or see Alvin Ailey with. Some are just perfect for chatting about the kids or moaning about your thighs. Sometimes, you find a friend that wraps it all up into one. When that happens it is magic. Best friends don’t try and change you or make you go to the gym. The best thing is when someone just understands what you need and loves you warts ( or wobbly bits) and all.

Being in a rut is awful. Nothing is getting you moving. You know you should shake and move, and you hate the guilt of the sofa but climbing off it is just too hard. Occasionally there are bursts of activity and inspiration. Moments when “Aha!” is more than just the sound made after finding that lost shoe.  Ever so rarely a glimpse of what could be comes through. But then the cave closes again and you’re back in the rut. 

My rut lasted awhile.  Once or twice I caught myself looking out of the window and sighing. In my manic moments I baked a lot but quite frankly I was bored and couldn’t snap out of it. Then one day ( and I am not kidding, it happened on a Wednesday) I decided I wanted to be a teacher. My biggest regret had been my teaching degree. A miserable experience that put me off teaching and wasted 3 years of my precious 20s. Suddenly I needed it, wanted it and was off running around trying to re-activate my expired teaching license. Once I started work the sun came out. I had found out what I wanted to do and I was out of the cave.

My friend Cass is in a rut. I keep telling her to be gentle with herself. It’s good that she feels guilty because that means eventually she’ll move but in the meantime she can stay in her rut. One day she’ll wake up and know what she wants. It happens at a different time for different people. In the meantime I’ll visit her in the cave whenever she wants. And I’ll bring chocolate.

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Trinidad needs a new day

I am not even American and I feel proud. America is like my best friend who has been disappointing me of late.  In fact we haven’t been speaking for awhile. Now I feel like hanging out again. I am not naive and don’t believe that the troubles are over but the very fact of voting for him is a strong indicator that times are a changing. I do not want to wax lyrical about how we are tipping into this new era and I don’t want to add a voice to all the others in the danger of turning something very real and touching into a cliche. I will say that when I went into school today it felt like the world had changed. Yes, the odd cynic wondered how long this might last and a few Republican students threw some sour grapes into the mix but even those people were smiling.  Everyone was happy. Everyone was slightly electric as if we had just entered the future.

Trinidad is absolutely thrilled about Obama, as is most of the world. So my question is, why is Trinidad so inspired by someone else’s leader? They vote but don’t believe in their leaders, yet they’ve placed a whole lot of hope in Obama’s hands. They are not inspired here since there is little faith in the promise of change. While the US is ripe for a new vision, Trinidad wants it but perhaps is not ready. In Obama’s acceptance speech he spoke of a victory over apathy. Apathy is ingrained over here and there is an overwhelming sense of “what’s the point?”.

 The American people have spoken and they have said “Enough.”

When the Trinis speak they do not demand change. Why is this? How can there be apathy in the face of unreasonable crime. There have been 436 murders this year and counting. Where is their Obama?

 

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