Hell of a marriage…

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I recently came across an article titled “Marriage is made in Hell” by Laura Kipnis, a Media Studies professor at the NorthWestern University. She presents marriage as an outdated and in some respect constrictive institution. I hate to think that I am as cynical as Kipnis, but I found myself agreeing with her observations. I came to the conclusion that marriage must experience a major overhaul to remain relevant in our ever changing society. A report by the Globe and Mail showed that in 2008, more than 40% of marriages ended in divorce, a 2% increase from the previous year. Marriage has its advantages, some of which are highlighted by Kipnis, but it has also proven to be a prison of broken dreams and desires for many people.

     Kipnis suggest that a successful marriage requires the denial of personal desires and goals for the union. She identifies some of the sacrifices that marriage demands, and I know many women and men who have endured discomfort to honour their wedding vows. My parents are an example, as they struggled for many years to keep their union together. Being leaders in the church, they felt they had a duty to set an example and fight for their marriage. Their stubborn attempt to stay together made home a living hell, and my sisters and I had to endure many fights between our parents. When they finally separated, we experienced a side of our parents we never saw before; they morphed into real people who loved every day of their new lives. Dad bought a red car, a colour my mother hated and mom travelled to Haiti, a destination my father forbade. It was clear that being single allowed them to fulfill desires they were denied when married. I would go even further and say that the separation had released them from a match made in a personal hell.

  The comedian Chris Rock jokes that the wedding reception is a set up, as couples will never again experience “the high” felt at this ceremony; it is all downhill after this point. However the ceremony is not alone in creating a false sense of reality. Women who grew up with images of Disney princesses riding happily ever after into the sunset with Prince Charming, are given a rude awakening when the glass slipper does not fit. Men who are caught up in the world of sitcoms, where every problem is solved within 20 minutes, will also find reality to be bitter. The very idea of being husband and wife harbours unrealistic expectations. There are many instances of couples who have lived together for many years separating soon after they get married. This is an indictment on marriage, as the couple proved that they had the ability to stay together outside of wedlock, but having made it “official”, heightened expectations and ruined the union. These couples can be accused of bringing damnation upon themselves by getting married.

With marriage rates on a steady decline and divorce rising, it is safe to say that many people have opted out of this institution. Its benefits are easily duplicated, making marriage redundant. The society is changing along with our values, and marriage still holds true to its core which fits perfectly in the Victorian era. The celebration of individualism, education, capitalism and “singledom” has allowed people to aspire for more than the title afforded to them in wedlock. Is it hell? I wouldn’t go as far as saying that, but I know that unless you are masochistic, discomfort and sacrifice are not appealing…and it R the truth.

 

Construction City!

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Toronto has 5 seasons; spring, summer, fall, winter and construction.

There is always something being built, renovated or demolished in the city.

Though this is inconvenient for residence of Toronto, it is a sign of a healthy, growing city.

Welcome to Construction city.

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This sign by Dundas Square prepares motorist for delays and detours.

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What more is there to do on a finished building? Well, maintenance is essential for public safety.

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Dundas and Jarvis awaits the completion of another condo. Construction City is headed for a name change…Condo City.

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Pedestrians are appeased with graffiti art for the inconvenienced caused by all this construction.

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No, this is not the entrance of a haunted house, it is a pathway for pedestrians secured from falling objects.

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Construction zones over lap in the city’s skyline.

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Detour…take this right, construction zone ahead.

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A maze of steel, helping to finish this building.

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Tower of Babel? Who knows, at the rate this is climbing we may touch the heavens soon enough.

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Danger due to….Construction!

Advocacy….a yahso nice

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I had no previous knowledge of the artiste Potential Kidd or his hit song “Yahso Nice”, until I was asked to sign a petition protesting, Lime’s, use of his jingle in their most recent promotion. I have since listened to the song and to say I am revolted would be an understatement. The singer explicitly describes a sexual encounter with a female and goes further to assert his heterosexuality with the line, “before me turn a batty man, me prefer turn a raper” and all this is punctuated with “a yahso nice”.

Lime for a mighty long time has been relegated to the back of the line with respect to telecommunications in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. Therefore, it is no surprise that their desperate marketing department would jump on a catchy slang to attract a younger clientele, not realizing the damning effect this will inevitable have on the society. However, Lime’s ill-advised move  allowed the power of advocacy to be revealed once more.

Socially conscious Jamaicans took to social media to campaign against the message of this song and even more so, Lime for legitimizing this message by buying into it. This endeavor quickly spread across the world, with people as far as the Netherlands, Brazil, Peru, Canada, the USA and our brothers and sisters in the Eastern Caribbean  chiming in on the imprudent step on the part of the struggling telecommunications network. It is also notable that several organization such as Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL), Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), which advocates for minority and disenfranchised groups in Jamaica, also stood in solidarity with the cause and asked for Lime to do the noble thing. Within a week, Lime had reneged on their contract and Potential Kidd made a public apology, all of this due entirely to a small group of advocates.

In sixth form I had a teacher who struggled to impart worldly wisdom to my year group. One of her many little mantras was “Changing the world is as easy as speaking up”. This is basically advocacy, a refusal to remain silent even when the odds are stacked against you.  The willingness to speak out against immorality even when it has become the social norm. To stand up for the rights of those who are unable to stand for themselves. Fighting for a cause, even when you will not be an immediate beneficiary. This latest testament of advocacy has renewed my faith in the act and will find me being more aggressive in speaking out, for and against….you should too, the world can only benefit from this…it r the truth.

Stranger than fiction…o_0

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I pledged never to write about the people around me in my blogs. This is if we become friends and they stumble upon it eventually, that would be awkward. However, I have to write about my experience last night which still has me pinching myself.

Last night I had an encounter with a random girl, she might as well have been a ghost because I don’t know where she came from, neither where she went after.

I live in a shared space with five men. We all have our own rooms, but we share bathrooms and kitchen area. Now this situation lends itself to so many stories, but we will have those on another day.

This particular Saturday I sat down to dinner of curried chicken and white rice. I heard a knock on my door and there was this red-head waving to me in the doorway. This is unusual, because I have never seen a woman in this house. She introduce herself and was kind enough to apologize for the alcoholic fumes leaving her body because it is her day off and she has been drinking, so she maybe drunk. Wait, it isn’t awkward yet.

She said she smelled my dinner and it smelled so good that she was wondering if I have any more so that she may have some. Please understand that this is a common joke among Jamaicans back home. We will ask to share in a stranger’s meal as a compliment to how good it looks or smell, but will definitely not accept after the polite consent from the cook. A Jamaican friend of mine shared how he was severely beaten by his mother because she caught him accepting food from the neighbours; What made it worse was that it was a dumpling… that warrants the death penalty in Jamaica. This tacit rule is rooted deep in our culture and we all blindly obey it without thought to question its origin. Anyway, back to Miss Thing….I nervously laughed at the request and she laughed too, but I became confused because she was looking with expectancy. I said to her that I don’t have any left as I only prepared for one . Now please understand my surprise when Miss Thing takes the plate from my hand and starts eating….as God is my witness it r the truth. She shovelled too clumps of chicken into her mouth before I even registered what was happening. She handed me back the plate while informing me she graduated from George Brown with a Food Management degree and my dinner is very tasty… as if I didn’t know; I told her thanks with a smile.

She goes further to take my cup and begin drinking. At this point I started looking around for a hidden camera because clearly this was a prank, it had to be. She then steps beyond me, sits on my bed and starts shooting questions at me about where I’m from and what I am doing in Canada …looking around the room as she speaks. Then Miss Thing removes her shoes, so I say, “This feels so surreal, like I am in an updated version of Goldy Locks and the three bears.” She responds, “…but there are only two bears,” and starts to cackle…0_O She eventually left, well not before taking some more of the rice and giving me a high-five. 

Can somebody explain to me what happened? I’ve never had this experience in my life and I am too shock to be angry. Can anybody say if this has happened to them and if I should expect more encounters like this? Clearly I am not in Kansas any more Toto…and that r the truth.

Pro-choice vs Anti-Choice

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As early as the sun rose in Toronto I was deep in a discussion around abortion. Let me hasten to say, I am not an advocate for abortion, but I think it should be an option made available to all women; there is a difference. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is not taken with the same leisure as that to shave the eye brows or dye ones hair, it must be a painful dilemma. I believe this should be respected and the woman given the opportunity to make a decision in the best interest of her and the foetus. People who advocate against abortion are called pro-life, but I really believe they should be called anti-choice, because that is exactly what they are doing; denying women options with regards to what happens to and inside their bodies. I have no issue if you are against abortions, no one is forcing you to have one, so why prevent those who desire to partake?

Let us face it, the world has almost 7 billion people, with a large percentage malnourished and suffering. You want me to think a divine creator will hold it against you because you did not add to this pool of drowning souls? We are using non-renewable resources faster than we can find a suitable replacement, because the world is overpopulated. We will not end up on an endangered specie list any time soon.

The conflict is heightened by the inability to decide at what point life begins; in the womb or after birth. Personally I believe “life” begins at birth. The foetus may be ALIVE but it is not a LIFE. If a census was done in a town that has a pregnant woman, would the foetus be counted? The argument is that the child could die before it is born, however, terminally ill patients in the hospital are also counted, they could die too, so what’s the difference? Is it that one is born and the other unborn? 

I was born a liberal to a very conservative family and many times my mother and I have clashed over this issue. I remember one heated argument we had, I turned to my younger sister and told her if she ever needed an abortion I would give her the money. Needless to say, my mother was livid…exactly what I wanted :D. In another instance she shared with me how she had talked a friend out of having an abortion; mom was so proud of herself. I pointed out to her that this woman was in her mid 40s, had seven children already, was a grandmother, she was unemployed and to make it worse her husband struggled to provide for them…this never moved my mother to see logic, instead she pointed out to me that God’s knew this was going to happen and he allowed it…0_o. Shortly after this, my mom migrated and the friend had a son… Would you believe my mother had the nerve to share with me how her friend was having a hard time catering for her 8th child? I said to her that she should be sending money for the baby and she was livid…again….exactly what I wanted :D. I understand and respect my mother’s viewpoint, but at the same time still hold firmly that the pregnant woman should decide. How many of you having voiced you opinions against abortion have actually visited a home or even given support to a family that has too many children? I have actually heard the argument put forward by some anti-choice people that women who had sex are aware of the “consequences” of this act….ahhm, at what point can we comfortably consider a child a “consequence”? When is it acceptable to view a child as pennant for bad decisions made by adults? How pitiful Consequence Pennant Jackson would be in a home where she is unwanted.

The catholic church as we know is anti-choice, they have even made an offer to women contemplating abortion to take the child to them after it is born….this raises my eye brows higher than Joan River’s hairline. Not only is the catholic church viewed negatively for how it “handles” children, but if they want to take care of unwanted children, look how many are already on the streets. What are they doing about them? Why not use the resources available to provide for those already here? What irritates me most is this is coming from a group that is against contraceptives….seriously, in this day and age.

I have also played the “what if…” game with people. They ask me what if my mother had an abortion, what if Mary had aborted Jesus or Beethoven’s mother terminated her pregnancy…I am willing to play this game with them and ask what if Stalin’s mother had an abortion, what if Charles Manson’s mother had one, how about Napoleon, Gaddafi, Hitler, damn, since we playing this game, how about George Bush… would we be better off had their mothers’ aborted them?

The debate on abortion will not cease, it is an issue of ethics and can be argued strongly on both sides. It all comes down to the reproductive right of all women, she should have the right to decide what happens to and in her body. I know I will never be faced with this decision myself, but I have many friends and family who may find themself at this cross road… My advice is to get as much information as possible and weigh your option to ensure you make the best decision…and that r the truth.

What If…?

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What if I were BLACK?
Not smooth, rich black, grinning black,
but coarse BLACK,
abrasive and obscene BLACK.
The make you cringe type of BLACK,
Would we be friends…?

What if I were HIV+?
Not victimized, poor thing, HIV+
but “brought it upon himself” HIV+.
Messed around, sexed around, slept around HIV+,
Would we be friends…?

What if I were CRIPPLED?
not faulty machines, accident crippled,
but broke the law, had my ass clipped CRIPPLED.
CRIPPLED due to disobedience,
Would we be friends…?

What if I were DULL?
Not shy, stay by myself dull,
but a sad DULL, no jokes or dramatic anecdotes DULL.
DULL u scurry to escape from as it draws near,
Would we be friends…?

What if I were GAY?
Not happy, suave, well groomed gay,
but angry GAY, loud, defensive GAY.
Pelvic bone in your eye shoving GAY,
desire the smooth finish of women’s clothing GAY,
Would we be friends…?

What if I were an ATHEIST?
Not agnostic, flat out ATHEIST,
call you foolish for believing ATHEIST,
regard as ramblings, eternal soul ATHEIST,
Would we be friends…?

Life MAY NOT take me down this road,
so perhaps what I should ponder is,
WHY are we Friends…?

R.I.P. Whitney…:(

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I’ve never lost a close friend, until today. Whitney is dead.

She died and it felt like a friend I grew up with was taken away from me and tears leaped from my eyes.

U don’t have to know me on an intimate level to know I love Whitney; pre and post Bobby. Give me Whitney, she can do no wrong no matter how wrong she seems. She for me is music.

The genesis of this love-sick fascination with Whitney was her vocals. The raw grit that exist in her tone. The ability to hit notes that some people only dream about and can only perfect while taking a shower. Most importantly, the fact that she can do it live trumps everything and makes her the greatest in my eyes.

I became conscious of Whitney around age 6, the video for “Greatest Love of All” was the trigger and man was I shot. Not only was she gorgeous, but she had the type of voice that made your hair stand on end when she hit that “love of aaaallllll” note.  My mother had similar earrings to those she wore in the final scene, u know the big ass ones with diamonds all over it? Yes, I must confess I would often pin these earrings to my ears and pretend to be Whitney with a towel wrapped around my head and hair brush in hand. This is the hold she HAS on me. I would act as both adult Whitney and child Whitney as they walked unto the Apollo stage to merge into one in that classic video.

Whitney continued to blossom as a mega star and my love and devotion grew deeper. I use to look forward to award shows to see if Whitney would perform. If u think she is good on record, u have not heard her live. This woman sang with her entire being, from the glue of her wig to the sole of her feet she delivered while looking impeccable. Oh for the Bodyguard years when her voice had fully matured and was at its peak. How many singers u know can stand before a microphone, orchestra in the background, spotlight on them and they rip the concert hall to shreds? This art died in the early 90’s and we may never see it again in our lifetime. I‘ve seen every movie, every tv show, watched thousands of interviews on youtube which Whitney did and say this without reservation that she is my friend, she is a major part of my life.

I really did love this woman, saw past her imperfections and accepted her with all her flaws because they made her beautiful. I carried this love for Whitney and am never afraid to defend her. I read once that God repairs the broken wings of angels, well,  he had to call in Whitney for a tuning of her voice. No matter what she did, how she died, NOTHING can erase the impact she had on music and that r the truth.