Friday, 21 April 2017

I don't got the answers

I peer outside the window, and it's foggy. The streetlights have become a muted orange behind the wispy white clouds. Outside is mostly silent, there's never much hustle around my apartment building. I turn around and peer at the endless boxes and suitcases that now encompass my room and wonder how exactly I'm going to get to my bed without stepping on something important or sharp. I made it. I look at my notebook, preparing to study for an exam tomorrow that really could determine the entire outcome of my university career and my laptop.

Instead of studying, the glow of the laptop reminds me of Leli. The girl I've always felt I was, but never quite knew who she was. Leli, I've always imaged, to be my end goal. Leli is the person, that once it's all said and done I want to become. I want to know she was proud of what we did. I did? She did?

There's a twisted relationship I have with this blog, and quite honestly I'm still trying to understand it. The last time I made this glorious comeback I was freshly unemployed, confused, lost, stressed, sad and a little hungry. I can safely say I'm all of those things yet again.

When a 17 year old Leah started this blog four years ago I was fresh out of high school and embarking on my university career. Now that career has come to an end, I've recently quit my job because I am moving, I've cut all my hair off and now rock a small afro, have seen three new countries in the world since then and have never experienced quite as much happiness, stress and anxiety than I have this past year. Adulthood is ridiculous and this doesn't make any sense.

I'm financially unstable, broke, indebted, sad, hungry, excited, worried, angry and all around discontented.

However, what I'm not--which I was this time last year-- is afraid. Despite the absolute endless, abyss of uncertainty my life is at this specific point in time. What I'm not, which is something I've never been so comfortable with, is afraid of it.  Fear is something that has crippled my movements my entire life, and I don't doubt at some point or another it will rear its silvery shining head ready to ruin my fun again. But for right now, I've never been any more ready to face this world broke, bald and unkempt.

Anyways, I've got an exam tomorrow and I'm afraid of failing. Talk soon.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

An Open Letter: Hey, Little Black Girl

You live in a world where extra melanin comes with a heavy price. Your black skin, thick hair, broad nose and full lips are expensive, baby. But I'm excited for you to experience it. Let me tell you what blackness is.

It's the colour of your skin. It's going to separate you from bigots, but unite you with love. True, indescribable love so deep within yourself-- your bones burn with sensation too. 

It's our food. Blackness is united all across the globe, though we're not all the same. We were born Jamaican, and that is part of our blackness. Ackee, fried dumpling, East Indian Mangoes, coconutes and the beach. 

Your speech. Some people that grow straight hair from their scalps and seem to constantly be asking you a question, are going to love it. They're going to make fun of you, but that's just because they're insecure. They were embarrassed of their own parents accents once upon a time, and they project. It's a thing that hurt people do.

Here's what we can't let happen.  

Don't ever lose your culture in this world. Your blackness, is so much more than the colour of your skin. It can be everything you are if you want it to be. Don't lose your culture, your language, your reggae music. Don't let this society drain you of the hood you bring.

Don't let them scare you. They're going to. Sometimes you're going to feel like a carcass amongst vultures.

Don't let them ignore you. 

Being you isn't going to seem fair. Having to work so much harder, better and louder for the same attention is going to weigh down on you. Having to constantly worry if people's attitudes towards you are racially based is going to tire you out.  Feeling your work isn't recognized will hurt. Being scared to say too much will frustrate you. 

But little black girl, you have a mission. To work, prosper, live and smile in a way that makes the next little black girl's experience easier. Every time you smile in the face of adversity, you remind another piece of coal that pressure only makes us diamonds. 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Tears Are Warm

Tears are warm. But they fall nicely as a welcome against your scorching cheeks. Your eyes wish only to cool the warmth of sadness that causes blood to rush so forcefully to your face.

Hands are cold. Hands get clammy. They hurt in the middle, your pulse gyrates. Your heart beats with consistency of a gallop, and you just want to stop. You'd like to stop feeling so much. You'd like to wake up with the same vigor that's in your bones, in your soul. You're not sure what feeling exactly you'd like to stop, because a part of you loves the fact that you're feeling.

But you're tired. So, very tired.

You often have bouts of feeling, much like a flu. You never quite wake up with the warmth of tears or blushed cheeks on most mornings. Often you wake up with a gentle sea breeze. You're not happy, but you're not sad. Which usually means, you're still a little sad. You're not feeling right now, and you hate it. But then you start to feel and you get overwhelmed, but you're also scared. Petrified.

You're introverted. Telling your feelings to people you aren't extremely close to doesn't come easy. It's simply not your nature and you hate yourself for it. The regret of the one, two, three, four and five that you let slip away might not ever leave you. You allow things to cut deep and then you heal slow. You take it each minute at a time, and let the salt sit in your wound.

Feelings are lukewarm. It's hard to enjoy emotion a lot of the time, because they're hard to understand. Wrap your head around the fact that someone has made you feel. They have made chemicals in your brains do things beyond your control and now you're left to sort them out. That's what it is to feel.

Souls can adapt. Souls are very quick to feel cold in the cold and warm in the warm. A lot like denim. Souls are very much like denim. When you've walked out on a cold day with a denim jacket, it grabs the cold and holds it to your body. It's almost as if inside your denim is colder than the rest of the outside world. Sometimes it seems like a soul may be hurting more than the blow it took. But you don't know. I don't know, either.

But, the sun is warm as well. It will always remain warm and will always shine outside for you to find. Lay in the sun.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Mean Girls

I hate having to write something like this. I'm a firm believer in women standing for women and us being here for one another, but the undeniable scientific proof that 'mean girls' are a reality is hard to ignore. It's always baffled me. How people can just seemingly so naturally, so easily mistreat another person for no apparent reason. It's hard, it really is to take crap from someone and be treated so terribly for no reason.

I've been told by several friends, it's not me. Which, I mean maybe it's not. I volunteer and work with a group that I deeply love. I love what I do with them, love what they stand for and everything about doing it but recently I've had to really consider stepping away from it because I can't deal with the overwhelming feeling of mistreatment and exclusion I feel from another set of girls in this club, who are part of the executive team-- as am I. So, supposedly we're on the same team, seemingly peers; but not really. I remember at an event we had last year, I was going to sit at a table with one of the executives and she kindly advised me to go and sit with my own friends. When she's around the rest of the girls just also become very cliquey, ignoring all others and it's incredibly off putting. I'm a naturally introverted person and a FIRM believer in not fighting for anyone's approval, so very quickly I became a bit of an outcast because I refuse to try and force myself to be a part of something I'm not. There's no reason to. I don't beg for friends, and why would I ever want to be friends with people like this? The clique mentality disgusts me. This is not to say having a core group of friends is a bad thing, it's more the idea of being exclusionary to somehow assert the dominance of this group. It's vile.

When I initially joined this group I joined with some other new people, whom due to circumstances have not been able to stick around. Granted, I love the members. I love the guys of the executive team. I love so much about this club, and the opportunities it has provided me but eventually you have to move on right? How long do you hold onto something because of what it did for you in the past? Joining this club was honestly one of the best things to happen to my university career, and my life in general. I got the opportunity to do what I love, attend incredible events, meet amazing people--who regardless of what happens after this is over I'm grateful to have met. I've opened my eyes to a world of opportunity and an industry I never knew existed which has shaped my future in very real ways. Very tangible ways.

I'm also a firm believer in you being responsible for what you do. If I quit, that's on me and no one else. This is a huge part of my life and provides more positives to who I am than negatives and I certainly WON'T let a cliquey group of popular girls make me disappear.
But Mean Girls need to be eradicated, it's a vicious cycle, that while I understand its origin, needs to disappear. I hate to even be using the term, but they are real. I've never ever been treated this way by a group of men before, it's just not somehow wired in them the way this competitive, pettiness is wired into some females.

Whatever though, Karma is real as well. And so is rewards for determination. I'm not going anywhere. And if you're reading this and dealing with some mean girls who are trying to make what you love difficult: do what you love even 40 times better than you're already doing it-- nothing shuts people up like talent.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Don't take all the advice you're given.

I heard the other day a man said, "I like to listen to what everyone has to say. I think everyone has a little bit of wisdom they can share." Without sounding like I'm completely full of shit, I'd like to pleasantly disagree with this.

I listen, a lot. I do. I love hearing other's stories and their experiences, but I can't say I fancy other's advice too much as often they feel overstated. How can someone so far removed from myself and who I am possibly have useful advice to share?

During this year off, I worked for three days at a call centre. Sat in the cubicle with my headset on, mindlessly dialing, a man around 5'5", scruffy dirty blonde hair, a leather jacket reeking of cheap cigarette smoke sits next to me. I don't find him particularly attractive, but I am intrigued by why he's suddenly appeared at this odd hours. It was just after 7pm. He introduces himself and asks me what brings me to this call centre. I tell him I'm just looking for some easy money. "Well that definitely what this is," he says, "Are you in school?" Yes, I'm a third year comm major. "Nice. That's a good degree. Lucrative. What do you wanna do afterwards?" He pauses to take a call and we get told off by a supervisor about 'chatting' between calls. The supervisor walks off. I'm not sure, I tell him. Right now I'm really just trying to finish this degree and get the hell out of school.
He says that's not a good plan. He dropped out of his major in economics, and has worked at the call centre for two years. He's back in school now, but advises me to do the same. Drop out and find myself. I'm not sure if the intent behind that advice was well-meaning, maybe it was, but it is awful advice. Firstly, who told him I'm lost & in need of finding anyone? Who told him I hold that belief, that who you are is someone who needs to be found? When did I say I didn't like my studies? I'm not sure where I'm headed afterwards, but I love my program and I'm good at it.

My soon to be ex-manager, whom I despise, had some advice for me too. Firstly, it's a massive thorn in my side when people assume they know anything about my degree and more importantly what I'm doing. Especially people with no possible way of knowing. She is a manager of a fast food place who didn't even finish a (college) course in Social Work. Where does she get off telling me what I need to do to accomplish my degree? She laughs when I tell her my major because she says I need to be good with people, and I'm not. Yes, because that's all a communication major needs to be 'good with people.' Mind you her definition of good with people is to smile more. I fail at hiding how I feel about a person. If I hate you, you will know it. I physically can't smile in her presence, my disdain runs that deep. Communication is about understanding people, and proceeding as such. Less about fake smiling all the time and more about analysis. Communication does not only involve me talking to people all day, because surprise surprise we don't only communicate with words. As a matter of fact almost 90% of what we communicate to others doesn't come from our mouths. We can write, sing, use body language and create. Still communications. Yet, somehow...she thinks her advice is even remotely warranted, appropriate or useful. I should hand her one of the last paper I handed in and ask her opinion...even she even manages to understand past the introduction.

You're going to encounter a lot of people throughout your life. A lot of them are going to try to give you ill advised 'advice', in an attempt to deal with some personal mistakes they've made and some of their own regrets. Everyone's got advice, but trust when I say not all of it is worth listening to.

Monday, 7 December 2015

I don't eat meat.

I've intended for the following string of posts for at least the next month or so to just be a series of explanations as to what's been going on with me over the last year; because I've gotten up to quite a lot. One of the things I've spent six months of the last twelve doing is revamping my diet. No more meat or eggs. Dairy is on the way, but we haven't completely beat it yet.

Now, I'm not sure how much I've previously gushed on here before about my love for food, or the fact that I am Jamaican, but my diet is a huge part of who I am. Food, constant supplies of it, makes me who I am. I'm 99% burrito 0.5% air, 0.5% other. However, this was a necessary things do and eventually will be a necessary thing for all of us to do.

I was simply educated about the meat industry and what it is doing to the world. Beef production is the largest consumer of fresh water on the planet. One pound runs about 2,000 gallons. Which means one quarter pounder burger took an incredulous 500 gallons of water to make. That figure scared me. Earth's supply of fresh water is scarce, water scarcity is already a very real thing and yet we're using THAT much water on....beef?

Granted, I'm also a compassionate person. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for animals, I was just always blissfully ignorant to just HOW poorly these animals are treated, how they are skinned and murdered alive, neutered, caged and the conditions they're suffering in.

Economically, this industry isn't even feasible. We feed a cow about 16 times more food than it is able to then provide for us.

I can't make anyone change who they are or stop doing what they like to do or see the bigger picture. It's not my place too. That's a personal decision. But something about suddenly living your life according to a moral standard you've set upon yourself is remarkably rewarding. Seeing a problem and deciding passivity is not the answer, gives a sense of pride that's hard to truly explain. It's nice to feel I'm making a difference, you know? I'll save about 30 animals a year. And each week I don't eat the average five pounds of beef the average North American does that's 10,000 more gallons of water that we ALL have to use. That's rewarding. That makes my heart sing.

Singing hearts make me hungry, so I'm going to have a veggie burger and some fries and veggie gravy and some soda. Because at NO point in this post did I say I was suddenly healthy, or care about how hard my heart struggles on a daily. (Okay, I lied I'm slightly concerned). All I said was, I don't eat meat.

Learn for yourselves:



Sunday, 29 November 2015

Don't Touch me, I'm a Barista.

One of the many adventures I've embarked upon in the past year I've disappeared from the internet is becoming involved in the minimum wage, retail scene. Lucrative, I know. I assure you everyone I know who's ever abandoned something they love to work minimum wage in ANY job is very happy they did it and have no regrets.

Presently, I work as a Barista in a fairly well known Canadian coffee shop. I won't say the name because I don't know what the repercussions of that could be, but if you're Canadian: it's not Tim Hortons and that's probably all the hint you need.

The job itself is probably on the better end of what it means to be a young person working for hourly compensation. Making coffee, when people know what they want, is fun and I work with mostly great people. Except two. We'll call them Chantal and Shannon. Because, those are their names and don't care enough to give them anonymity. They're probably two of the most hard souled evil people you'll ever meet or have the displeasure of constantly being around but nonetheless, I do it.

I got the job only in an attempt to pay off a trip I'm hoping to go on next summer. I've already done that in the month and a half I've been there, so I can assure you my Barista days are limited.
This job was an important experience to have though, and along with my other jobs that I've decided were worth doing this year and I'll tell you why.

I've always had a hard time coming to terms with University. Depending on how long you've followed this blog, which I started when I began my studies you'll see I've been very up and down about what I'm studying and if I really should be here. However, I am SO eternally grateful I decided to stick it out and these minimum wage jobs have assured me why.

I work with a few older people who weren't given the opportunities I have to be able to go to school and are stuck in this job I'm doing just for some travel money. I can quit whenever I want and I will be okay and they don't have that luxury. They have to be spoken down to by Chantal(s) day in and out.
Outside of the connections University has allowed me to make, my extracurricular involvement, I know my degree is something that will give me leverage to jobs like this and people like Chantal. I know it will put me in a better position to be able to do what I love with likeminded people and find my way in this world.

This isn't a guarantee. Nothing is, but surely I have more of a fighting chance with my degree than without and that excites me.

It really does take doing a bit of what you hate to truly appreciate what you love, and fighting until the ends of the earth for it.