Monday, 19 December 2011

Sunset in Barbados

I just finished my first semester at UWI, Cave Hill, Barbados. It was quite the challenge but turned out much better than I expected. It taught me a lot about myself, Barbados and people overall and it gave me a new appreciation for the region and especially my country- Jamaica. So while the sun sets temporarily on my first time to Barbados, this is a summary of what I have taken away with me.

I learned that there is something to being open to new things, people and adventures. I now have new friends that I never would have met otherwise. I saw some beautiful beaches (Beaches in Barbados are all open to the public and they are GORGEOUS and clean. Pictures are further down in the post). I tried new food- UWI, Cave Hill has a “week culture” where every island gets a week that they showcase the things about their island which makes it special and I didn’t try as much as I wanted but I did try some. I must say that the island that comes the closest to home in terms of preparation of food is Belize. Bajans have a specialty called macaroni pie which is essentially baked macaroni and cheese but they add ketchup. The thought is quite off-putting to my palette but the secret is to get a Bajan to home-cook it for you. My neighbours, who have become family, made some for me and my housemate, Nico and it was DELICIOUS! Oh, I need the recipe!

I learned that there is a very ugly side to competition- whether in law school, a reality show, the work world or just life in general. It has taught me to be very careful of people and to be very mindful of my things. There are people out there that do not care for you to succeed even if it has no effect on their own success. Or maybe it does and I just think differently. There are people who are quite content to try and rob you of your blessings or the results of YOUR hard work.  Also, no matter how genuine of a person you are, selfish and manipulative people are bound to find themselves in your life. It is for you to identify them and act accordingly.

My word of advice: 1) Always remember, “what is fi yuh cannot be un-fi yuh” so if you are to be endowed with something, you will be and no one can take that away. Just have faith.
2) Never let ANYONE make you feel that you should not stand up for yourself and defend your own property. They will do their best to make you out to be a villain but when you are in the right and the truth is on your side, you will be protected. “Men who act in earnest need not worry about consequences”- Marcus Garvey

Oral Sex in the Caribbean: Todos anyone?

We all know how taboo oral sex is in some parts of the Caribbean. We also know how much the act is being performed behind closed doors despite the taboo. It’s the rampant performance of this act that I assume has led to its decline in taboo-sity. Yea, I made up a word. And what?

Being a Jamaican I am well aware of how imperative it is to “bun a bowcat” (a bowcat is someone who performs cunnilingus) and not drink from the glass of one who has performed oral sex or who has kissed someone who has performed this act (the latter is often referred to as a “lickiback”). It does get confusing, however, when more and more men greet you by offering you oral sex. Forget names and numbers, they simply strike up conversation for the first time ever by proposing to kiss you on the second set of lips. Oh, my! What is happening? Then there is the change in tide of conversations where men are more proud to declare that they do engage in the act in day-to-day verbal exchange. Is it that we are evolving as a nation or is it that we are becoming more perverse? I guess it depends on who you ask.

One of the most common things people would tell me about Barbadians was that the men there quite openly dabble in the oral arts, to put it gently. I’ve heard that they will “nyam off mi foot” which was quite disturbing but I assume it was to emphasize how much they enjoy giving oral sex. I also heard that a woman has not had oral sex until she has had it from a Bajan man. I guess all the openness gives more opportunities for practice and practice makes perfect.

Skip to a party thrown by Belizeans while I was in Barbados and a conversation about the topic of oral sex. There was a group made up of mostly Jamaican women and Belizean men. We brought up how Jamaican society is as it relates to oral sex- the whole “behind closed doors” culture and how it’s fast changing, we spoke about what we have heard of Bajan men. The men had been gearing joking insults at each other by implying which one gave oral sex and the usual back and forth that men never seem to fall short of finding fascinating. And then came the question “How are Belizean men when it comes to oral sex?”. The answer: Todos.

We all looked at each other wondering if we heard wrong. There was clearly an inside joke among the men and all us women stood on the outside staring awkwardly at each other. Eventually, someone cleared it up. We all know that when it comes to sex, there were different levels- vaginal, oral etc… Belizeans apparently are not partial. Todos = everything. That is to say that they take the art of pleasing their women seriously and they will do any and everything. Then I heard that the more facial hair a male has around his mouth, the more he dabbles in oral sex. Excuse me, what?! THIS slayed me. We all started looking at the men with the goatees and the full beards and it went from snickers to vulgar outbursts of laughter. That conversation was quite edifying and I hope to never forget, especially if I happen to be in Belize. I can’t imagine how many laughs I’d be in store for when I see a man sporting the scruffy look. All I can say is that I must assume that Belizean women are some of the most content in the region.

P.S. All questions pertaining to women performing oral sex were deflected. One thing at a time, people! J. Until next time….

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Science of “Doing Road”

Disclaimer: This convo will be hard to understand if one is not familiar with Jamaican patois and especially Mavado's song "Do Road" . The post picks up in the middle of a group chat on BBM.

N: Dem nuh know u nuh dealid nutn str8, dawdie?

J: Dem clearly nuh know... Pawdie

T: Uwi a fish. BURNS my SOUL for dem

J: Suh inna real life mi fi call ppl "pawdie/dawdie" & doh feel ridiculous?

T: Yes, u!

T: And hotskull

N: I call______ such. He usually threatens to never carry me on the "endz" as a result but he seems unable to grasp that whether on his endz or not, it's is pertinent that I "do road"

J: =)) =D

T: Lmao!

J: As stated in the portable pawdie booklet

T: Do road!

T: Please ensure that the young man understand the terms and conditions lest he gets "dash ovabode"

J: When 1 "does road" is the cutting like a "samari swoad" a simultaneous activity or a reaction of having done road?

N: The booklet is also available for download to BB or iPhone versions 4s or higher. There is also an app where one can proceed to "cut like a samurye sode"

T: The "samurai swoad" action is dependent on the context of the doing of said road

N: In section 4 (a) (ii), it clearly states that for one to be cutting like a samurai sword in the same time n space as one is doing road, one must have previously or have strict intentions to dash a bwoy overboard

T: I concur. Also the dashing of a bwoy overboard must also tie in with the "come back wid mi ting load" element

T: Once one has "loaded" said thing then and only then may they proceed to the dashing

T: A tad complex really

N: Truly. But one must learn the proper methods lest one does road inappropriately and makes a fool of one's self and end up banished to a life of cake soap and colouring books. *shudders*

J: No seriously, maw bawl.

T: But why? We are trying to "set di code" so we can clearly understand the concept of doing the road

T: Hear, hear Miss N. Only a "tuggie lawd" can readily know the difference

N: Let it be noted that it is essential that one's dogs lack food as well. Doing road with dogs who have food is quite tacky. Takes away from the intention and purpose of the "Do Road" Act 2011

T: That's an excellent point of information! Also, someone need to get your head confused as well

T: It is imperative that all factors of doing road are present of said action will fail

N: Ahhh, yes. Doing road may sound simple to the layman but a real mcCoy knows the intricacies.

N: A toast to the gully god himself, Mavado, for enlightening us

T: *applause*

Look, Ma! I’m on TV. My journey Through Island Queen (Part 1)

So I kinda sorta entered a bathing suit competition turned reality show. I kinda sorta ended up being very glad I did. Suffice it to say that I am now a star and will proceed to display the most grotesque of star attitudes. J Ok, so maybe I’m not a star but the stuff that came before it is true. I must warn you, these posts will not be filled with the Miss World pageant kind of spiel. I am nothing else, if not real. 

I entered this competition called Island Queen. Mostly by happenstance.  I saw the flyers on campus but the words “Reality television show” glared at me and I didn’t like the idea. Still, I’d found myself more open to getting new adventures since being in Barbados so I thought this would be great to experience and document via my blog. Skip to some other events when it was made clear to me that, for reasons unknown, people did not want me to enter and so my interests piqued.  Some made it clear (though I’m sure they thought they were being subtle) that they didn’t think I had what it took and some made it clear that they just weren’t in support. I tend to, at moments I can’t predict, do things just because others don’t think I should or because they don’t think I can. I can be quite stubborn and rebellious- sue me.

So when the feeling struck me to go for it- I’d heard that the concept of the show has changed, new sponsors were on board and there was more of a focus on the advocacy theme- I sought to get information. It was on the flyers but I didn’t take notice until the final day of the deadline so I was a bit worried. Many thanks to my housemate, Nicolette Wright, for her help and support from the get-go- she was vital in me getting information and getting in touch with the people in charge. So I send in my application and was told I’d have an interview the next day. I expected as much.

I did some research on past seasons and began getting intimidated because the girls of the previous cycles were GLAMAZONS. My petite figure would already have a challenge in a “regular” pageant-esque situation, I can’t imagine that they’d select me against girls of this stature. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have confidence issues with my body. I love my small frame. I am, however, very aware of how I am viewed in certain fields and in the world of modeling or anything similar, short girls are not first choice. I’ve never had model dreams so this has never affected me. And now I find myself in this scenario. *sigh* I became unsure but I still went through with it because it’s worth a shot. I figure if I get through, it’s because I’m supposed to and if I don’t, it’s because I’m not.

So I do my interview and it seemed like my personality was charming enough- I am pretty cool! Haha! *deflates head* In all seriousness, I felt good about the interview. In the days that followed, I started reflecting more on more on how I’ve heard the show was in the past and I started feeling discouraged about entering. When the motivation of being stubborn runs out, you better hope some other type kicks in because you’ll find yourself in an unhappy situation. A couple days after, I get told I wasn’t selected. Womp, womp. Actually, I felt an odd sense of relief. Blame that on me talking myself out of it. I told my housemate that “It’s a sign”- something I say A LOT- because if I was to do it, I would have been selected. Hey, at least I tried. Skip to some days after that, I’m told that I actually was selected and I was told I wasn’t due to miscommunication. *raises eyebrow* OhhhhhKAY! Aite, so now I’m stuck. I had put that out of my mind. It was clear that I was expected to just go with this news as if the miscommunication never happened. I had a couple seconds’ pause and then that voice in my head said “It’s a sign, remember?” So I was now a contestant for Island Queen 2012

A few weeks later, I met the rest of the girls. Most were Bajans and three(including myself were Jamaican). The first one whose name I remembered was Deanne because she was quite chirpy and asked my name as soon as I sat down. She reminded me of myself. SHe was petite too. Goo, small girls! Then I remembered Nisha because she has gorgeous eyes and then I remembered Daisy because her name is a flower.  I later met some more of the staff/people in charge and then came the final step- signing away my life (LOL). So it was done. I was officially in the competition. No going back now. I had a feeling I was in store for a LOT. Stay tuned for more….

You can follow me on Twitter: @Nasylum

You can follow Island Queen on Twitter: @IslandQueenBim

The Plight Of The (University) Student (During Exams)

Disclaimer: This post was written in the midst of my first set of exams at Cave Hill (Barbados) in my second year of law. Let me set the scene:- I am a law student reading for my Bachelor of Laws at UWI. I am in the Cave Hill programme which means I am away from home. Law exams are 100% finals and you have 2 hours to do 3 essays. That’s right. Your fate is decided within two hours and you have to write as if you are already a legal scholar because that is the caliber of person that will be marking your paper. No pressure, right? Now on to the post.

You’ve found yourself staring into space and you’re pretty sure your mind should be filled with some edifying thought and yet….it’s not. You snap back to reality and realize this has been happening more and more lately. Could you be developing early onset dementia? Is there even such a thing? What are all these papers doing---? Oh, that’s right, you are not experiencing memory loss due to some physiological malfunction- you are, in fact, in exam mode. You get up to look in the mirror and you see the physical manifestation of the mental and emotional stress that your body has been under, most of which you cannot legitimately be expected to control. I mean, who goes through exams looking normal and, dare I say, attractive? Show them to me; I’d like to have a word with them in a dark room.

 Now, as you go through life, you begin to realize that tests are a significant portion of it. If you have academic dreams, you realize that these tests are standardized and that THEY WILL NEVER END. One would think that eventually, you get used to them and will thereby be able to coast after a while, no? One could not be more wrong. Exams are weapons of mass destruction used to weed out the weak and break the strong. I care not how they package them, exams are evil.

You give yourself pep talks or you get them from your support group (family, friends etc). You make study timetables and try to manage your time wisely. You tell yourself “You can do this!” so many times, yourself starts replying “Shut Up!” You begin to realize… are talking to yourself way too much for it to still be considered healthy. You look around for solace in your colleagues and classmates and it hits you- we are all in this together but we are all alone. Melodramatic, huh? Well, if you have not experienced melodramatic moments during exam time, I’d like to see you in a dark room as well. This post is to let you know that your plight does not go unnoticed and it may or may not pay off (no sugar-coating) but, just so you spend less time beating up on yourself for things you cannot control, here are some givens about exams periods which you should just accept and adjust to

Monday, 31 October 2011

Dear Black Men (A Letter From A Black Woman)

I am writing this to explain to you why black women have become frustrated. I am writing this to tell you that you need to “shuckle up”, get your act together and, not for us, but for your own damn selves. Understand (for we have shown you) that we may feel that we don’t NEED you but we STILL WANT you. Let that be enough for you to look in the mirror and deal with your issues.

I want to first apologize for emasculating you over the past few decades or so. Please know that it was out of frustration and a lack of maturity in terms of coping on our part. Absentee fathers and a lack of male role models for our sons are heart-breaking. It has left GENERATIONS with daddy issues and no solutions to those issues. It is so much so now that our young men and women are making claims to success saying they did it “despite” their fathers being gone rather than “because” their fathers were around. I know this is not the case for all but it is the case for too many. A lack of great options for partners among our own is disappointing, to say the least. Checking out the other side should be because we want to, not because we feel we have to. We (women) have tried our best to deal and we think we have done a great job given what we had to work with but we can do so much more if we worked as a team, as a community. There is far much more left to do.

I want to secondly ask you to look at the part you have played in perpetuating the cycle by not showing up. Where are you, black men? Your women and children need you. Yes, I said it- we need you. I’m sure it has been great to frolic with the other sides who appreciate you for your inherent black assets and this is by no means a call to segregate but in your preoccupation with being objectified glorified for simply being born with a high dose of melanin or with being presumed to be well-endowed, you have proceeded to neglect those born of you- you have proceeded to segregate yourself from your family. Is it any wonder why you have a hard time feeling welcome at home?

I want to thirdly plead that you stop disrespecting your own and I am speaking specifically to your attitude toward black women. If our own brothers, fathers and lovers do not love and respect us, how can we do that for ourselves? Don’t get me wrong, some of us have figured it out but it has, by no means, been an easy task. Anyone who says it was is not appreciative of the wide scale pathology of the black woman. It would be much too cliché and unnecessary to get into the images displayed so flagrantly in the media of black women. We all see it; we all know what it is. You (black men), of all people, know what it is like to try and lift yourself up in a world where everyone else is set on tearing you down. Please stop. You are hurting yourself as well as us when you treat us in such derogatory ways. We cannot love you like how you profess to need to be loved if we do not love ourselves. You are us. The only separation is genitalia. You cannot get anywhere when you are stepping on your own toes.

Lastly, I want to say that this is not a cry to be rescued. But to be honest, black men AND black women need some saving. This is asking for a partnership. This is asking for understanding, compassion, humility, love and respect amongst our people. If you do your part, I can promise that we will do ours. Take back your crown… we can don ours alongside you.

To all my black kings who were raised by and set out to raise black queens and kings, I salute you
To all my black kings who show their queen their love every possible moment, I salute you
To all my black princes working hard to be a black king, you are halfway there. Continue
To all my black men who have not yet come into their own and are denying themselves of their own royalty, I await the day you take your rightful, majestic place

Friday, 21 October 2011

Nice Guys Finish Last? Oh, really?

This post is typed out of sheer frustration. I am tired of hearing men complain or try to use this as an excuse to be an ass. Get away from me with that. And, in truth, I can’t blame them alone- there are women out there who are hurt, bitter or just plain messed up who feel that bad boys *coughs* jerks are “so HOT!”. Well, so is an iron- play around with that, why don’t ya?

Anyway, my retort to “Nice Guys Finish Last” is always “Because they are running in the wrong race”. Looking at this analogy on the most literal level, it is clear that if you are nice, it means you play fair and if you run in a race with not-so-nice guys, they won’t play fair- they’ll trip you and do whatever it takes to sabotage your race. Run a race with guys who are on your level. A class two track athlete wouldn’t run in a race with Bolt and then get mad when he gets left in the dust. It goes without saying that if it is a race with only nice guys, then a nice guy also finishes first. Now, when we take it to a more figurative level, it means that if you are a nice guy and you are pursuing a girl who is into bad boys or, more specifically, who is NOT into nice guys (there are girls who like both. Go figure), you are bound to lose.

My question then is: why would you even try to get that girl? It’s not that serious. Find another one. Stop setting yourself up for failure and then taking it out on the next nice girl or batch of nice girls that you will no doubt come across. The whole “I’ve been hurt so I can’t open my heart again” schtick is so old, it was never new. We’ve all been hurt. Ask Mary J., ask Adele, ask Drake. J I kid. Grow a vagina and toughen up. It’s not a good look.

And, for the girls who lead these nice men on and take out their hurt or damage on them, please stop. You make it really hard for these men and for your fellow woman. It perpetuates a cycle that will never end really and, in the end, you all end up miserable whether you settle down or not. If you like bad boys, jerks, assholes, that’s cool but just make that clear from the get-go. I respect people who are honest about theirs. When you tell it straight from the start, no one can cast blame on u fairly. The way I see it, nice people rarely seem to want nice people. Apparently nice is boring. That right there tells me how wrong your thinking is. Well, if being played and hurt and embarrassed is what’s exciting, continue to count me out. Bad boys are lame. They are lazy and sloppy and the only thing they spend time on is deciding how to play games and get more punani apparently. *yawn* Dogs do more with their brains. And if you’re worried about being alone, truth is, you probably need to be. And if sex is your concern, porn is free online….or so I hear. Get a puppy and a dildo and you’ll be happier. You’re welcome.

And good girls, stop going bad…unless you’re role-playing. No man is worth changing yourself for the worse. No person is. There are good men out there, great even. Just be patient and be smart. And figure out how to love yourself in the time being. It really pays off in the end.

Stop thinking that drama is necessary in your relationships. Stop thinking that it has to hurt to be real. Stop pursuing people who aren’t interested. The thrill of the chase can’t be that vital. And if it is, I see you’re a lost cause and this post did nothing for you.

Nice is not a bad word. Check the meaning. Stop treating it like that. Run the race that is meant for you and you'll get the gold. Cheesy, I know

Remember, Happiness is the point of it all J

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Conversation with a Bajan woman

In the faculty lunch room last week, I met a fascinating Bajan woman and we discussed a few topics that I found interesting which I’ll share with you.

  • The first topic is Relationships and Security
On this topic, she made it a point to tell a colleague that we can’t have the full Bajan experience unless we get a Bajan man while we’re here. Mark you, her partner is not Bajan.
“Bajan men are great partners- they’ll give you their money easily and if u cheat, they’ll just drink.” This last part was significant because other men from different cultures would react much differently apparently. Which brings me to her next  point:
“Never date a Vincentian, a married man or a police. A Vinci (Vincentian) man will chop u up; they can’t take a hurt.” These three categories of men to be wary of were given to her by her mother, she said, and “If it comes out o my modda mout’, it mus be true”
As it relates to the other two categories
“Police men are always broke. From the day they join the force to their last day. They spend the money on flashy cars and all these expensive things so nothing’s left for you”
A male friend of hers who was present also made a point to say that Guyanese police are also on the poorer end of the spectrum but that this is due to how low they get paid. He said they protect you in the day and commit crimes against you in the night. “That’s why our police are so well taken care of- our government knows better” This male friend is also Bajan.
“If you dealing with a married man, know your place. Don’t call that man after 5- the man is eating with his family. Never disrespect the main woman. He’s been stringing you along for 2-3 years for a reason! He’s not gonna leave his wife for you. After 4 years, he’s gonna drop u ‘cause he doesn’t want u to bring he (him) to court and sue, 5 years are coming up.”
 For those who don’t realize the significance of 5 years in a relationship, it means you are now common law relationship in the eyes of the law. But this only applies if you have been living together the entire 5 years.

  • Then we tackled the issue of security in relationships
My friend was present and she has been with her partner for over 6.5 years. I was teasing (with 50% seriousness) her to get married and get her benefits.
“You don’t need to get married. Just make sure your name is on the bank account. Two years in, my name has to be on that bank account. Every night I’m there doing my womanly duties and nothing? *laughs*”

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." Thank you, Steve Jobs. Rest In Peace

You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Culture Shock: Politics at Cave Hill

Let me preface by saying that I didn’t experience much in regards to the political atmosphere at UWI, Mona where I did my first degree. Suffice it to say that the fact that I’ve had to pack up my life and move to another country has made it so that I kind of have to be more involved in certain things as it regards extra-curricular activities and such.

Now, at Mona, I would vote when it came time to do Guild Elections and the most I would know about candidates is if they were close to a circle I was in or not. More often than not, they would be outside of my circle of friends or close associates and so I would know so little of them that I could not tell their names different on the ballot. At Cave Hill, given that the campus is smaller, even though the candidates are not in my circle, I’ve already (in my month here) come to know more about these people than the ones back home.
The specific election I will address is that of the “lower positions” (the words of an executive member of the board, not mine) in the Law Society- 1st and 2nd year Law Representative, Education and Mooting Chairperson and Cross-Faculty Representative.

I first noticed tension when one of the nominees (people volunteer themselves to run) who was Belizean announced himself for candidacy. He was clearly a favourite with those who had been in the Cave Hill Law Program since year one. Those of us who had just come aboard in our second year had little to no clue who he was but he was met with cheers from those who knew him. The next class, one of my colleagues from Mona announced his name to be in the running for the same position. Those of us from Mona cheered, much to the annoyance of others I came to realize. The third candidate did not announce herself during that class but she offered herself for help with getting handouts and such for those who had been experiencing problems- good tactic.

After that class, a big hoorah happened when a couple supporters of the Belizean decided to provoke some of my Mona colleagues. They jeered their support for their candidate over the assumed candidate for all Mona people. The manner in which this was done was joking by a couple of them but the incident went on so long that it really started to push buttons. Comments like “They’re the minority so they don’t matter” were aimed at the Jamaicans and this set off a firestorm that even 15 minutes later had not really cooled. I must admit, it is hard for me to come to terms with the fact that an individual can invade your personal space to a level that only a Siamese would, point in your face, shout and laugh at you then turn around and flash you off and YET end up telling you “Don’t take it personal”. And here I was thinking Jamaicans were abrasive.
It seems to me that a major difference here is that getting physical is not always about something aggressive but, as I said, it’s hard to wrap my mind around it. I’ve seen it happen with Bajans as well as Belizeans. Someone bounces you quite hard and does not even look back at you. At home, an apology better be offered up quickly or “It a go be war!”

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Am I Troy Davis? Or am I Khajeel Mais? Am I even significant?

I asked this question as I observed the views expressed  by black people the world over in the final 24 hours leading up to the execution of Troy Davis. I’ve read too many articles about this case, almost all of which were drenched in bias either for or against the stance taken by the state since the arrest of Troy Davis. As a law student, this case really hit home because it brought to the forefront a very controversial issue within law: the death penalty- yay or nay? I will not pretend to truly have set position in regards to this issue. I have, in the past, said that I am all for it but then I had certain conditions that had to be fulfilled before that would be “okay”.

I recall having serious debates with colleagues of mine about this issue. We, of course, looked at cases like Pratt V Morgan and Attorney General V Joseph and Boyce where the major concerns of “cruel and inhumane treatment” and the right to appeal came up. The guidelines adopted by courts under the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was garnered from the cases of Pratt V Morgan and the resulting principle was that anyone convicted of murder and sentenced to the death penalty had the right to exhaust all appeal options through all courts in the hierarchy in an effort to have their sentenced commuted to life imprisonment. I will refrain from giving details in these cases because it is not a lecture and I am mindful of the fact that non-law student readers are present.

All the same, I bring these cases up to say that my opinion on the Troy Davis case was formulated bearing the justice system of my country and region in mind. That should have been the first red flag for me because a major difference to note is that Troy Davis was tried under the justice system of the United States of America. Their laws and methods of carrying out justice are quite different. Their justice system is based on federal and statutory laws. In the Caribbean region and the United Kingdom, the justice system is based on common law as well as statutory laws. Statutory means official documentation of laws on the books for our states. Each country is a state. So basically, the way they do things and the way we do things are different.
Cruel and inhumane treatment was thought to be what a man experiences when he is on death row for a certain amount of time. The traumatic psychological effects that a man would experience with each passing day- the uncertainty of when your number would be called, getting nervous and fearful each time the guard walked toward your cell- was thought to be too much for any man to be put through, horrendous crime committed aside. As such, based on the fact that it is a breach of a constitutional right to be surrendered to this kind of treatment, it was then established that any man who was on death row for more than five (5) years (3.5 if no resort was made to human rights bodies) would have his sentence automatically commuted.
As I said before, our justice system is based on common law (based on decisions of cases that have set precedence rather than statutes) and operates differently than that of the American system. They have no such rule or principle to follow that is akin to the Pratt V Morgan principle. There have been many theories about the decisions being due to the fact that Troy was a black man and that the state in which he was tried was one of the most racist in the country. How much of that is true, we won’t ever really know. What we do know is that some sort of injustice was served and that the facts do not add up.

There was just too much doubt.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

UWI, Cave Hill: It's no Mona- my first day of school

So I experienced more disorganization. I was slightly unamused. Others were far more irritated but I was preparing myself for this for a while because I had received warnings. I was told that if I thought UWI, Mona was efficient, Cave Hill would amaze me. The sarcasm in that was not lost on me. From the people in Administration approaching at their own leisurely pace and then addressing you as if you were begging a favour rather than requesting what you were owed and promised to the campus bookshop closing indefinitely at about noon due to some issues with the system. There was no sign placed on the door to inform us of this though which I thought was the least they could do. Alas, this was another thing that made me realize I’m not in Jamaica any more. With every issue me and my classmates would have, we’d be responded to with “Welcome to Cave Hill” by those who’ve been through it before. *blank stare*

What I came to learn really quickly though is that the experience you get from this opportunity or circumstance (depending on how you look at it) will be determined by the attitude you approach it with. Honestly, the “hostility” from staff here is no more than that of staff back home. I’d actually say they’re not as bad as those back home. The only real drawback is the system that they have. It seems a bit backward. For example, you have to “renew” your student identification card every year which is really having it validated by getting a sticker put on it with the new school year. I see that this could be beneficial in that students who have not paid their fees would not be able to access benefits that are intended for those who have but at the same time, you have to join a long line just to get a sticker and you have to be in line with students who are getting theirs for the first time who will, no doubt, take longer. And while I’m on the topic of getting new id’s, at Cave Hill, you have a total of six(6) hours per WEEK in which you can attempt to do this. Now, you would think that they’d allot more time for this at least at the beginning of the school year seeing that you cannot access some services on the campus without your id and there are a good amount of new students each year.

But I digress. An important thing to bear in mind is that while some of the admin here don’t care, some of them do. At the end of the day, it’s about getting the most out of your time here- most importantly to leave with the degree you will have no doubt sacrificed for and then to have as great of a cultural experience as possible. The key to survival here is to not stop asking for help until you get it. It (balancing school and exploring and frolicking) has been done before and it has been done with great success so it can be done again.

Pit: I had to stay on campus longer than I intended. Well after classes had ended AND I was broke already on my second day here.
Peak: A couple of our classes were actually cancelled J

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Pics from BIM All-Island Tour

Mini reunion of Jamaican students

On the extreme right is the current Guild president, Odwin Trenton

Some of the Jamaican students at Cave Hill

At the Sunbury Great House

My knight armour

Cameras from olden days

Eye stuff from olden days

More eye stuff from olden days

This is a swimsuit circa......olden days

Olden day potty

*throws holy water*

This is a tiny chair. Don't let the angle fool you

Asked Jeff to stand next to it to show perspective

You are reading right- it's a punishment chair

*Throws a gallon of holy water*

In real life, this looks soooo creepy!

*gasps* A black doll!

A wall of maps of Barbados

I wanted to show some of the paintings that had black people in them

These chains and whips do NOT excite me!

Um..... Torturous much?

The NON-AC buses

The view is SO awesome in real life

The Rock. The island of Barbados used to be as high as the top of the rock apparently. The Atlantic Ocean fixed that.