Tuesday, September 29, 2009

God Preserve Me from People in Queues!

On the way in to my office this morning, I went to the bank. I normally go into the Commercial Teller Services, take a number, sit down and wait my turn. Depending on the time of the month (not mine!) this can be anything from five minutes to two hours. If I think it looks like it's going to be a two hour wait, I leave and go back the following day. I don't have a great deal of patience!

This morning I had to go to the Customer Services Teller - I say teller because although there are six cubby holes, one is lucky if two are manned!. This means standing in a queue. Sometimes there are several lines snaking around the bank - all starting at different points and each queue is kept 'in line' by a barrier as below:

queu barrier

I have no problem with queue barriers but I have a problem with security guards who make you go all the way round to the entrance of your particular queue barrier when there is no one in the queue to begin with. Just try to unlink the rope or do a quick hop over the rope! Put a person in uniform and they want to rule the world. Not only that! When you come to the end of the queue as in next up, there is a mark on the floor which woebetide you if you so much as put the tip of your pointed 5" heels over!!

So there I was this morning waiting in line. There were nine people in front of me (no number, no seat - just a queue) waiting mostly to conduct foreign transactions which take enormous amounts of time.

Here's my grouse! Not the queue or the long wait but the person behind me. I always leave quite a space between the person in front of me and myself. I am sure they need breathing space as indeed, I do. So why is it that every time I stand in a line, the person behinds me insists on shuffling up and getting as close to me as possible? I take a small step forward and they move with me. The girl behind me today was obviously studying. She was holding a text book and every now and again it jammed into my back at waist level. She was short - very short! I turned to look at her. She did not look up from her book. I sighed a loud sigh. She did not look up from her book but started talking to the book. I know it was the book because she was that close!

At last I was next so I moved up. No one in front of me. She moved with me! I turned and glared. She ignored me. I moved again - out of the barrier zone and over the red line. The teller glared at me! I glared at the teller! "Say something if you dare" I thought. No one dared!

I don't know about you but I believe a distance of three feet between bodies is acceptable when standing in line!

What do you think?

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Leopard Does Not Change Its Spots

Yesterday, I had an extremely short interaction with someone to whom I was once very close.

In all good faith, I instigated it.

Within minutes I wished I hadn't.

It is quite amazing how feelings of anger, hurt and pain that one thought were long forgotten raise themselves so quickly.

So once again, I am reminded of why the person that I was once so close to is now and has been for a very long time, my ex husband!!!!

He probably feels the same way about me!!

You Have got to want to change

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Don't Want Lemonade!

When I’m mad, I clean!
When I am really, really mad, I clean. I clean more than usual! Things that don’t need cleaning because they are already clean!
When I am really well and truly pissed off, I clean. I strip things that don’t need stripping, I clean like a mad woman.

We have just come through a three day weekend, Monday being a Public Holiday as it was Eid. I was mad for three days. My apartment is spotless.

The truth is that I have been mad and unsettled for a while. With one thing and another, the last few weeks have been somewhat fraught. I haven’t divulged much to anyone and that is how it will stay because things will improve, I will get over the drama and with God’s grace live to tell the tale.

Apparently I am very good at listening, giving advice and making the right soothing noises when necessary. My daughter does not know how both she and I can stand in a supermarket line (not together) and before we reach the check out, have heard the life story of the person standing behind us! In my case it could be that I am coming from a training day and have forgotten to take off my badge which gives my name and my organization. I suppose some people gravitate towards people wearing a tell tale sign of anything remotely religious although it happens when I am sans badge as well. I don’t know what my daughter’s excuse is. Maybe it’s because she’s stunning and people (especially men!) gravitate towards her and spill the beans thinking that if they give her a sob story, she’ll feel sorry for them and end up on a date. Fat chance!

I digress.

I am mad. I am upset. I am bordering on the edge. If I were to tell all my woes some of the responses I would get from friends would be much the same as those I’d give them were they in my shoes. That doesn’t mean to say that when I sympathize I do it lightly. I don’t. I mean everything I say as I am sure anyone giving me advice in this time of stress, would. We all go through difficult times. Difficult times however, in most cases, don’t last forever. To make life better for the sufferer we cluck, say the right words at the right times, dry the tears, offer tea and sympathy, wine and sympathy, tell them they need ‘me’ time and even sometimes, say something that the injured party does not want to hear.

Presently I am tired, overwhelmed and I’m beginning to feel bolshie. I want answers now.

I don’t want to hear that things will eventually get better, that I have no need to worry over my husband’s health (deal with the problem – you’re the doctor!), that I don’t need to worry because it seems my husband is having difficulty dealing with the diagnosis, that the specialist cannot see him for another three weeks, that my children will be fine, that the family business is suffering dreadfully as a result of this so called global financial crisis, that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, offer it up, put it in God’s hands, that if you are patient it will be better in a few weeks, that the air conditioning engineer cannot come until Tuesday afternoon and we may have to replace the condenser unit, that we are bathing in 100 plus degrees with no breeze, that the washing machine isn’t, that there are people out there far worse off than I am, that we have been through far worse and survived to see another day blah...blah.......blah.............

Most of all I definitely do not want to hear that when life deals you lemons, make lemonade.

Pass me a bunch of grapes.

White Grapes

Without wishing to sound ungrateful thank you very much, I don’t want lemonade!

I want champagne!

Veuve Clicquot Vintage

Monday, September 14, 2009

Donna Mae Greaves Published At Last

Last Saturday I was honoured to be present at the launch of my friend Donna Mae Greaves’s first novel “At Last’. It really was so exciting! A beautiful occasion held at the National Library here in Trinidad.

Together with my daughter, I was the ‘youngest ’ at the event having only known Dee for three and a half years whilst some there have known her since primary school. Having said that I have to add that we all know, as we go through life, we meet many people. The e mail that circulates tells us that some come for a season and some come for a life time but all come for a reason. I firmly believe that. What it doesn’t tell you is that when some people come, one feels as though they have been in your life forever. And that is how it has been with Donna Mae. I feel as though I have known her forever. Whilst I cannot profess to know every detail of her life as some who were there last night, I know of some of her ups, some of her downs, of the times when she almost gave up and had to be given a good talking to, her anguishes and her joys. And as time went on and I came to know here more and more, I got to know about ‘the book’. Apart from knowing that ‘the book’ was a ‘romance’ I had no idea of characters, the story line or where it was set.

What I came to know was that ‘the book’ took almost five years to write. That is dedication. I learned that it was so long at one stage (she gets carried away!) that it had to ‘be stripped’ to prevent it turning into a saga. The word ‘saga’ is my interpretation from conversations I have had with the author.

Once written, publishing houses turned it down. I suppose the reality is that ‘an unknown’ is a risk. Add to that that the author is a black Caribbean woman living in the small nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Hell fire, some people think that Trinidad is part of Jamaica. And supposedly educated people at that. In a byline here, after I came to Trinidad, I received regular letters from an English girlfriend who although addressed the envelopes to me in Trinidad, would always ask me how life was in Jamaica. This lady is well educated and with her husband owns and runs a well known, global company whose 1978 flagship product was a
versatile central site IP server. My ex friend travelled the world promoting the company’s product and yet she didn’t know where Trinidad was. Granted there are at least three in the US alone but they don’t have ‘West Indies’ as part of their address.

I digress which as most of you know, is my wont!

Publishing Houses. The result of being turned down by both ‘white’ and ‘black’ publishing houses was devastating. Donna Mae, as she related in her speech decided that ‘the book’ was destined to stay forever on her hard drive for her enjoyment only. Even when a friend tried to cajole her into sending it to a publisher that had accepted her, Donna Mae procrastinated. Cut a long story short, it was the friend through a quirk of fate who submitted Donna Mae’s manuscript to the publisher because obviously realizing ‘the book’s’ potential, got thoroughly fed up with Donna Mae’s ‘okay I will’ and never following through. Self doubt?

Donna Mae Dee won’t mind me telling you that she is in her early forties – she’ can’t complain about that because post launch, it’s in the Sunday newspaper. Her book is not autobiographical although some before reading it, will think it is. The jacket says that the novel is set in Trinidad. It is actually set in Trinidad and New York.

As the mike went round the auditorium on Saturday evening and people shared their stories from childhood to now about Donna Mae, I was struck by her determination and perseverance, by her loyalty to friends and most of all by the love that everyone there has for her. Don’t get me wrong. She is much like the rest of us in that she is ‘no angel’ at times but it was so heart warming to be there and be part of such an intimate gathering of family and friends who shared wonderful stories.

As people talked J K Rowling came to my mind. I read once somewhere that Harry Potter started in a notebook whilst JKR, a single mother on benefits sat in a steamed up cafĂ© with the one cup of coffee she could afford, scribbling away as her child sat in a pushchair beside her. I was also reminded of how the first novel of many successful authors still sits in many an attic gathering dust. I wonder how many publishers have kicked themselves because they ‘missed’ the secret ingredient that anther publisher picked up making the book they had turned down, into a best seller.

Donna Mae, if you are reading this, I wish you all success with “At Last”. Even if you are not reading this, I wish you every success. Enjoy and savour every moment.

I know the second book is already in the works – let’s not make it another five years in the writing!

Love you to bits!

Published at last | The Trinidad Guardian
12 Sep 2009 ... Donna Mae Greaves launched her new book At Last, yesterday. Greaves, 42, has been working on the book for the last four years. ...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Our House It's Sunday Again!

I now realize just why my husband offers to cook on a Sunday. Actually he cooks most of the time but because I am at work during the week and some weekends, when I'm home, I like to cook. It's also probably got something to do with making sure that I spend sometime playing wife, mother, housekeeper, chef, nurse, chauffeur et al so that no one can accuse me of neglect!!

So there we are last Sunday once again. Actually it was Saturday evening when husband asked me what time our daughter was working the following day. It didn't really go like that. It was, "What time is your daughter working tomorrow?". I am forever amused at the 'your daughter', 'my daughter' and 'our daughter' tag that comes out of his mouth depending on what she has done or not done! I told him to which he replied:

"Seeing she doesn't start 'til twelve, you can take her and if you like, I'll cook".

I like!

Sunday morning 'my daughter' and I don't have to leave as early as she would had 'her father' been driving her! Those who read last week's 'Our House' know that my husband thinks my Chevy is a golf cart - according to 'his daughter'!

However, before 'his daughter' and I leave, there is a huffette!

Daughter: "Mummy can you measure?"
Me: "Measure?"
Daughter: "Yes, measure!". Rolls eyes to heaven.
Me: "Yes. What do you want me to measure? You?"

This is not quite so stupid as it sounds as she is to be a Maid of Honour at an upcoming wedding and I know there has been talk of dresses, flowers, seamstresses, cake, cost, venue, decor and all the other things that one has to think about when planning a wedding. I also know that she has taken a page from one of my magazines of old and is using a Valentino design on said page, for the bridesmaids' dresses.

Daughter: "Are you sure you know how to measure because you can't sew?"
Me: "You sure you want me do do this?" Clenched teeth.
Daughter: "Yes please".
Me: "Right! Bring the tape measure, paper and pen".
Daughter: "You have the tape measure".
Me: "You want me to measure you or not?".

Daughter goes for the things it takes to measure. I won't even go into the the conversation whilst the measuring is in process but there is a suggestion that perhaps she would like to stand up straight. As I write this I realize I have to add at least five inches from waist to floor as I did not allow for shoes! 'My five foot seven and a half inch daughter' will look as though she is expecting a flood if the dress is made using my figures!

I have seen the chosen material - two materials - samples have been stapled to a card. Very pretty. Beautiful colour in fact. I just couldn't keep my mouth shut, could I?

Me: "You will have to take the samples to the seamstress because I have a feeling that you'll something heavier than that chiffon".
Daughter impatiently: "That's not up to me. I'm not in charge of that".

I over-react! Yes, I definitely over-react! "Don't take that tone with me"
Daughter: "What tone? All I said was.............."
Me: "Enough"

Can't leave it there, can I? Before I know where I am, daughter is asking what has she done now, husband is laughing and is heard to say, "she hasn't taken her tablet this morning".
Daughter: "Obviously not!".
Me: "You take your daughter to work".
Husband: "Fine by me".
I can hear him and 'his daughter' giggling!

I eventually cool down, my husband tells 'his daughter' that I have been in this country too long, the dust settles and I back-track. 'My daughter' and I leave for town. It's a pleasant drive until we come to the part where I see that once again, the other side of the highway is closed for resurfacing.

Me: "Oh hell, not again!".

At least this time I have money and water. Decide after dropping off my 'my daughter' that I will drop in on 'my son' who lives 'in the West', the west being a posh part of the island. People say that I live in a posh place too. I don't. It's an over-priced area and I call it 'the reservation'. Go figure! I am not racist.

Drop daughter, drive to son's, use his computer to shoot off some work-related e mails, catch up on the last week's activities, chat with future daughter-in-law, decline lunch and make my departure in rain thinking that by now, highway will have re-opened. Wrong!

Sit in traffic just as last week although this time I don't make my own detours. I stick to the signs and stay behind the truck which is churning out the diesel fumes that will possibly kill me far more quickly than the cigarettes I used to smoke! Yes, it's hot but not quite as hot as last week. Maybe three degrees lower.

Husband has not called to see where I am, how I am, if I'm alive, if the car is drivable or if I'm stuck in traffic. I suspect he knows I'm stuck in traffic and is expecting me to come in, like last Sunday drenched as I can see in the distance that in my area, there is heavy rain.

Well not this Sunday sunshine! I am coming home, very dry, wearing all the clothes that I left in.

You want to cook on a Sunday lately because you know there are road works?? Fine! I'm coming home to eat lunch and for nothing else!

And you can go and pick up 'our daughter' tonight!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Poetry Wednesday

Those Who Have Died

This poem is not mine. It was written by Staff Sergeant Andy McFarlane, 47, who is serving with the Territorial Army in Afghanistan. He accuses ministers of ‘hiding’ when bodies of fallen troops are returned home. The scathing verses, written from the front line, attack politicians for avoiding the ever frequent ceremonies held when the coffins arrive back on British soil.

The father of two from Bicester, Oxfordshire, England wrote another poem, ‘Sunset Vigil’ after the death of eight soldiers in the space of a twenty four hour period in the second week of last August.
The poem was posted on Face Book and emerged on the 17 August after a weekend which saw the British death toll in Afghanistan rise to 204 and following the release of data showing that July was the bloodiest month for injuries.


The leviathan of the sky does land
In England's green and pleasant land.
Its cargo more precious than gold
The body of a hero, bold.

Once the giant's engines stopped
The cargo ramp is gently dropped
Carried by six on shoulders true
The hero is saluted by the crew.

The coffin draped in Union Jack
Is slowly carried out the back.
Out of the dark and into light
Slowly down the ramp and to the right.

The six approach the hearse all black
And place the hero gently in the back.
The six then turn and march away
Their duty has been done this day.

Politicians usually have much to say
No sign of them near here this day.
They hide away and out of danger,
Much easier if the hero is a stranger.

The hearse with its precious load
Moves slowly out onto the road.
The floral tributes line the route
While comrades snap a smart salute.

At the edge of a Wiltshire town
The cortege slows its pace right down.
The streets are packed, many deep,
Some throw flowers, most just weep.

The crowd have come to say farewell,
The church bell rings a low death knell.
Regimental standards are lowered down
As the hero passed through the town.

The cortege stops and silence reigns
The townsfolk feel the family's pain.
The nations' flag lowered to half mast
Our brave hero is home at last.

WB 2

When the bodies of the fallen are returned to the UK they pass through the small market town of Wootton Bassett. If the town had had the money to build a proposed by-pass, although mentioned in the Doomsday Book, it would never have found a place in history. Lack of funds to divert traffic has had the unforeseen consequence of turning this otherwise obscure market town in Wiltshire into a national focus for honouring those who have given their lives in the service of their country.

The ceremony that has grown up in Wootton Bassett is as simple and moving as the coffins themselves, wrapped only in the Union flag. As the hearses approach, the tenor bell of St Bartholomew's Church begins to toll. Business stops while shoppers and shopkeepers join the crowds lining the pavement. When the cortege reaches the war memorial, the president of the British Legion says a single word – "Up" – to mark the moment when ex- and serving members of the forces should begin their salute. "Down," he says 60 seconds later, as the hearses move on.

wooton_1438875a Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our House Just Another Sunday!

I left my desk earlier than usual last Friday afternoon as I had decided that after one of the most frustrating and disturbing weeks in my five years with this organization, I needed some ‘me’ time. I had called my hairdresser during the morning and asked her what was the latest time I could come to the salon. I told the colleague-from-heaven that I would leaving at 2.30pm but I was still at my desk at 3.15pm.

Sunday morning.

Me to husband: I will drop N to work.
Husband: That’s fine. I’ll cook.
Me to daughter: What time are you leaving?
Daughter: Eleven o’clock.
Me: Okay I’m taking you.
Daughter: Quarter after then!

Tells you something! She says my husband drives a car as though he’s driving a golf cart! I have somewhere in the past, blogged my thoughts on his driving!

So there we are, a couple of hours later driving to town. We see that the other side of the highway is closed. Oh oh! Roadworks. Make mental note which route to take on return journey so as to avoid the back up traffic waiting to come back onto highway. Drop daughter and detour. Big mistake.

The drive home on a Sunday should have taken me twenty minutes at most.

An hour later during which I have made a couple of catch–up phone calls I am still sitting in non-moving traffic. Non-moving because all the drivers had had the same idea as me. The air conditioning in my Chevy isn't. It is very, very hot. The temperature in the car has to be in the region of 100 degrees – the same temperature as in August in the Middle East at 6.00am. No breeze! When I am moving I am inching forwards at less than nought miles an hour. No water with me. Look in purse. No money! Can’t be possible!

A road on my left. Large vehicle starts to inch out and pull in front of me. Traffic is crawling and all of a sudden the large vehicle is followed by four more. Hold up! This isn’t fair! I see a bank to my right so that means an ATM machine. No I am not stopping. I will get to the highway soon. Another big mistake

Traffic is at complete standstill. Had enough. Decide to make a u-turn and a hundred yards later, make a right turn. Whew! Traffic moving. Great!

Traffic moving for all of thirty seconds. Call husband.

Husband: “Well it’s road works!”
Me: “Great!”

Sitting in another non-moving line. It is after noon and the temperature outside is rising. Definitely beach weather! The temperature in the car has to have risen another 10 degrees. Beginning to get desperate and start rummaging in my handbag again. I have to have some money somewhere. Ah hah! Find a twenty dollar bill! In real money all of USD 3.333333. Now traffic is stationery and I cannot see anywhere to spend my money on water!

At long last and a few yards later, a shop or rather a-hole-in-the-wall on my left. Pull in. Jump out of the car in relief and make my way into this ‘parlour’. An old lady of East Indian descent is sitting this side of the caged counter, holding her head in her hands and is fast asleep. The heat has obviously got to her! A large ‘fridge stands to my left and I try to open its door. The thing won’t open and then I see the lock. This tells me that I am in an area that I shouldn’t be in!! Ask for a bottle of water and a Coke, am offered a straw, exchange pleasantries with the toothless guy behind the cage and not wanting to appear as though I am in a hurry or afraid, stroll back to car and watch standstill traffic in disgust. This is not good for a Sunday morning. Get myself back into the line of virtual standstill cars. Over next ten minutes do a couple of detours but everyone has the same idea. Finally make the road leading to highway and decide to ‘sit it out’. Drink water slowly and ignore the Coke!

Sudden pain in both shins. Dehydration setting in. No way to go except forward. Sun is relentless. Panic. Fear rising in throat.

To self: “Keep calm”
Back to self: “How can I keep calm? I feel nauseous. What sort of an idiot am I going to look if I get out of the car now and start throwing up? Tell me that!”
To self: “Keep calm”
Back to self: “Rescue Remedy in handbag”.
Take Rescue Remedy
To self: “Pain in shins getting worse.”
Back to self: “Stop panicking.”

Traffic inches. Traffic lights signaling the highway are in sight. Too far away for my liking! The heat is almost unbearable.
Self: “Clothing! Tight clothing. Remove tight clothing. Now!”

Unhooks bra. Removes said item of clothing. Tosses it on seat. Don’t care who sees. More Rescue Remedy and more water. I can breathe a little easier.

Self: “God! God, are you there?
Back to self: “God is always there. Pray”.
Self: “Please God do not let me faint at this wheel. Please stop the panic. God, do something!”. Must get the air conditioning in the car fixed!

Traffic inches forward and the three cars in front of me led by a huge four wheel drive of some kind turn off to the right. Traffic lights are a little nearer. Still not near enough but oh there are clouds in the distance. Dark clouds. How long before the clouds reach me?

I am suddenly further forward and I see a huge black, four wheel drive of some kind, driven by an uppity looking woman attempting to pull out directly in front of me from a road on my right. She is followed by the same vehicles which had earlier turned off. Thought they knew a short cut, did they? I am tired of vehicles nosing their way in front of me over the last half hour on this stretch. I shout out of my window:

“Don’t even think it lady! Don’t even think it!”.

Highway is coming closer. Please don't let this be a figment of my imagination. Lights change. I make it and look to my right. The highway is open and my last couple of hours during which I thought I was going to die or at least faint and end up in Emergency and Casualty could have been avoided. Between my driving past earlier and dropping my daughter, the highway had been reopened! Don’t care anymore because I am now on the highway, traffic is moving, sun has disappeared, there is breeze in my car and drops of water are landing on my windscreen.

I take the flyover, breathe deeply and realize husband has not called to get a low down on progress. I drive into torrential rain. One windscreen wiper is working. The driver’s windscreen wiper!

I am on the inside lane, window down and now afraid that I am going to lose the working windscreen wiper.

A six wheeled cab minus trailer thunders past me in the centre lane. A deluge of water comes into my car via the driver’s window with such force that I am momentarily shocked. My poor little windscreen wiper cannot take the force on the windscreen and for a few seconds I can see nothing. Absolutely nothing!

Me: “God? What is this?”
God: “You asked to be cooled down”
Me: “Like this?”
God:”What? Are you questioning me?”
Me: Silence!

A few minutes later I drive into hot sunshine once again. By the time I pull off the highway, although the inside of the car is still very, very wet my tee shirt is drying out. My hair is drying from the breeze. I do not look as though I have been to hell and back.
My knees are shaking, I feel nauseous. I know I am dehydrated but I look fine. A bit green around the gills but nevertheless, fine.

I am sitting at traffic lights again. The sun is beating down relentlessly yet again. My right arm is red from the sun and drivers are fouling me up again! I am less than two minutes from home. How am I going to convince my husband that I had just been through a nightmare?

I eye what’s left in the bottle of water. Should I? Shouldn’t I? No conversation with God this time. I’m on my own.

Oh what the hell!

I lean over, open the bottle and pour the remaining water over myself.

He is going to know by my appearance, what I have just been through!!
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