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Friday, December 28, 2012

Imperfect Perfection?




Excess fat, wrinkles and sags that reveal the effects of time.  C-section scars, pot bellies, sun-fried flesh.  Yet, proudly they strut, in bikinis that hang on for dear life.  Wait, she's nearly darn perfect!  Toned arms, legs and wash-board abs.  Strength exudes from her every muscle.  She enters the sea while her husband and infant look on.  But there is only one of her and so many of them.  If this is representative of us - the human race - what does it say about our never-ending quest for perfection?  Is it all futile?  It seems that as a specie, we are more imperfect than we are perfect.  If we are all destined to deteriorate, to fall apart, to get on the moving sidewalk of gradual but consistent decay, why is it so difficult to accept our joint destiny? We can rest assured that on this this journey, we will not feel isolated.  After all, there will be countless fellow travelers with the same destination.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Barbados




Water so intensely blue that you know it could never be replicated in a Crayola factory. The sun, uninhibited by clouds, stings your skin from roughly 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Sand like I've seen nowhere else.  So fine. Mixed in with crystals of pink, or maybe it's red. This is Barbados.  From the moment you step onto the beach, you get the sense that you are stepping into a postcard.  I'll say it again - the colors!  Those astonishing colors.  So unreal.  But they must be real, because my eyes, as well as my other senses suggest that they are.  What do we do first?  We'll be here only for a few days.  All of this beauty is a limited resource, then it's gone and I'm not sure when I'll experience it again.  I sit under an umbrella chair and just take it all in.  It's very early in the morning, and the beach is practically isolated.  A few vendors setting up their stalls.  A lone runner.  A couple of heads in the water that bob up and down to the rhythm of the waves - sort of like the floating balls that help fishermen to locate their fish pots.

I sit back, almost uncomfortably.  I fear that if I get too comfortable, I will take this for granted.  I don't want to take it for granted.  I grew up around great beauty.  I grew up with the Caribbean Sea.  I saw it everyday and after a while, I took it for granted.  It was the reality of my life and I expected it to be there whenever I looked out my window.  Then one day, it wasn't.  I was in a new land and I felt like a part of me was absent.  I wasn't sure what it was, since everything was so new.  My family was far away.  So were my friends and everything that was familiar.  Then as I started to adjust, I dawned on me - the water.  Where is it?  I can't live without it.  I don't want to.  Actually, I can and I have, but it's been difficult.  So here I sit, taking it in and realizing just how lucky I am to be in this moment.  I'm not sure how much time passed.  I sat and my son played in the sand.  He built structures with his new sand bucket.  I so want him to connect to all of this the way that I do.  I want what I hope is his innate islander to emerge.  I want him to feel right at home in this place.  He gets my attention and I join his castle-building endeavors.  Slowly, the beach gets more populated.  I'm a little bit annoyed that I no longer have this all to myself.  But then again, I understand.  I just hope that they appreciate this as much as I do.  Otherwise, they don't deserve to be here.

The shadows of the umbrella had shifted. I am now fully exposed to the stinging of the sun.  I could just get up and move the chair, but I don't want to.  I feel thirsty.  There is only one thing that can satisfy my thirst.  Coconut water.  I'm not sure where I can get some.  I coax my son into coming with me to look for it.  Reluctantly, he follows, but only after I promise that we will return to his construction site soon.  I walk over to the Rastaman sitting under the almond tree. I ask him where I can find some.  He tells me that there is a guy who sells it right here on the beach.  He rotates his head, cranes his neck. He tells me that the coconut man is not here yet.  "How soon do you need it?", he asks.  I want to tell him right now.  It's an emergency.  I've waited a while for this.  Instead, I tell him that I can come back later.  He is curious about me.  He can tell that I'm a fellow islander, but he does not know which island.  He knows I'm not from Barbados. Trinidad?  St. Lucia maybe?  I tell him Dominica.  Well actually, I grew up there.  I was born in Antigua.  My grandfather was from Barbados.  Or so I've heard.  I don't know him.  He died before I was born.  But it does make sense.  After all, my last name is common here in Barbados.  Not Dominica, not Antigua, but Barbados.  He's satisfied with my response.  He smiles at me and welcomes me home.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gray Skies on Academic Lane

                 

Pursuing a PhD is sometimes not fun.  Maybe I say this because I feel so drained after the mid-semester chaos.  Two statistics midterms for me - one in class and closed book.  Papers to grade.  Class preps for the course that I teach, and a paper to defend in a few weeks.  I am burnt out.  I want to sleep.  I wonder why I'm here.  I'd like to be somewhere sunny, with beautiful beaches.  Barbados maybe?  The grayness of this town, the smallness, the blahness.  This journey will continue.  I know it will.  I will make it continue.  But right now, I want more than anything else to take a detour.  Nothing extensive.  Just a week or so. To see how real people live.  To get the hell out of this bubble for a bit.  Maybe Thanksgiving?  Kayak.com, here I come.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Summertime in the Vineyard

I meant to write this post a while back, but the semester started and took over my life.  Last month, at the end of my conference in Boston, my family drove up to meet me so we could take a mini vacation before classes started.  My husband had a long-standing invitation from a friend to spend some time with them on their lightship in Martha's Vineyard.  Let me tell you - you haven't lived until you've spent time on a luxury lightship!  The owner of the ship bought it from ebay, in an effort to save it from being sold for parts.  Then, he and his wife completely immersed themselves into converting it into the work of art that it is today.

We had spent time on the ship before, but not while it was docked in Martha's Vineyard.  What an opportunity!  To be on the water off the coast of an island - my dream life indeed, as those are two of my favorite things.  It was everything we thought it would be.  MAB was especially enthralled.  After all, he likes all things red, and this has to be one of the largest red things ever.  Plus, there were other kids to play with.  Plus, the ship has countless rooms that make for the best game of hide and seek ever.  Plus, he could roll in the sand, wade off into the water, and cruise around in a kayak.  He thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Me? I enjoyed it as well, but in my own special way.  With lobsters and ice-cream and many naps in random locations on the ship.  What can I say?  I was exhausted from the conference!  Thankfully, there is nothing better than sleeping to the rhythm of the waves, especially when it is on a luxury ship.  Overall, it was a relaxing trip....until it was time to leave.  We got in the wrong queue for the ferry, missed our ride to the mainland, got on another ferry that took us an hour away from where we were parked.  Thankfully, our hosts arranged a ride for us with a coast guard officer who shared his stories of wild rescues during treacherous storms.  It was like interviewing a cast member of I Shouldn't Be Alive! We are truly blessed to have people like him who are willing to risk their lives for others.


The Nantucket Lighthip


Views on the island

We love the beach

our room - the photo does not do it justice!


Views on the island

Views on the island

Friday, September 14, 2012

Flashback Fridays

Dominica the Beautiful
Either 2005 or 2006

These photos do not do justice to the beauty of this island.  I will be adding some more in the near future.


Scotts' Head

Delices

Friday, August 24, 2012

Flashback Fridays

Honeymoon Island Beach - Tampa Fl
Dec. 2010


Enjoying the beach, even when it's cold

sunset


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Boston, Baby!




Street Dancers on Newbury Street


I love cities.  I love the energy of cities.  It’s a certain something that is hard to understand, unless you are a fellow urbanite.  It’s the street dancers, food stands, outdoor dining.  Nicely-dressed strangers in a hurry to get somewhere important.  Sirens - it is truly amazing how silent silence is without the assorted sounds that are the soundtrack of the city.  Sure, it’s not for everyone and some things about city life can be downright unpleasant, but really, the good trumps the bad.  And believe me when I say that small, quaint towns have their hidden horrors.  Obviously, I’m extremely biased and more obviously, I really enjoyed my time in Boston.  In fact, this city could now be on my shortlist of potential places to move to when I graduate.
I was in Boston for my field’s annual conference, so I had to get figure out a way to balance the work with the play.  After the heat and meat of San Antonio last year (what is a non-meat eater to do in such a city?!), I was truly excited about this location.  Boston did not disappoint.  With my love for all things old, I was in my element:  I gawked at the beauty of some of the oldest architecture in the US.  As luck would have it, I stayed at the Fairmont Copley – pure decadence, with it’s intricate tile mosaic floors and generously gold ceilings.  Did I mention that this year is their 100th anniversary?
I strolled along the Charles River and absorbed the tranquility that comes whenever I am near water. I wandered into public buildings.  My all-time favorite – the public library.  Generally, I love libraries.  Something about the works of thousands of great minds, clustered together in a common space.  The energy excites me.  This library was even more special though.  All I will say is that if you ever find yourself in Boston, the public library is a must.  If you love marble floors and painted ceilings, visit the library.  And if the weather is nice, set aside time for relaxing in the courtyard – undeniably a hidden gem.  If you get hungry, there is even a café, with a décor as delicious as we would hope the food to be.  Speaking of food, I ate well and I ate lots of it.  Thank you, Newbury Street for giving me so many options.  Thank you, Boston for being amazing.  For restoring will to return for another grueling semester.





Gondolas in Boston?!

Lobby of the Fairmont Copley 

Courtyard at the Boston Public Library

Grand Entrance to the Boston Public Library

A proper Jamaican meal!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flashback Fridays

Wiltshire County, UK
May 2012

Best know for Stonehenge.  Spectacularly beautiful countryside, with its bright yellow rolling hills of rapeseed oil, unmistakeable from the sky, blindingly stunning from near.  Perfect English weather, an apparent rarity, and appreciated all the more for this reason.





Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why Write a Travel Journal


Journaling on Lake Titicaca Peru - 2007


Usually, I keep a journal when I travel.  Ole-school style - pen and paper.  It is not the same as writing a blog, because there are things that I say in the book that I would never record in the public domain.  I write whatever is on my mind.  I write about what I see and what I eat.  I write about what I enjoy and what frustrates me.  I find that this helps me to reflect on my experiences in real time and to appreciate the tiny bits of beauty all around me.  And as an additional bonus, it's always great to look back on those entries years later and see if and how my overall outlook has changed.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Distractions on Academic Lane

The academic journey can be grueling...draining...mentally exhausting, and sometimes the only thing I want to do is something non-academic.  Like refurbishing something old.  The latest project is an antique school desk for my son.  We found the perfect desk at a used furniture store and with a bit of research, found out that it is from the earlier part of the 20th century. My son wanted red, we thought all red would be too much.  Here's what we came up with:

We forgot to take before pics, so this is the best that we have

Stripped!

Progress

Even the bolts got some tlc

Refinished back rests
and finally....




Flashback Fridays

Taquile Island - Peru
2007


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Clocks of London

             On my recent trip to London, I couldn't help but notice that there are clocks everywhere!  Old clocks, new clocks, ornate clocks, simple clocks.  Ok, that was a bit corny, but I couldn't help it.  It got me wondering - did all of these clocks provide some kind of insight in British culture and/or values?  Growing up in a former British colony, I remember remarks about the their obsession with punctuality.  With so many clocks, how can anyone ever justify being late?  As you can tell from the photos below, I developed a bit of an obsession with taking pics of these clocks.  The plan is to combine into a collage of some sort.  Since I am pressed for time, it won't happen anytime soon, so in the meantime...



AND THE MOST FAMOUS OF THEM ALL.... BIG BEN!