Family, Lost and Found

The older I get, the more I’m convinced that the running joke with respect to my family is that, yearly, I either (a) meet new relatives I didn’t know I had, OR (b) “find” cousins I met – and lost touch with – long ago. 

It turned out to be the latter, when the phone rang last Sunday evening.

As the walls in my folks’ house tend to be quite thin, I overheard my mom pick up the phone in the kitchen and start talking to someone named Christine, unsure of who it was …

Followed by the “Oh my God!” and the increase in the volume of her voice when she recognized who it was. 

And I must admit, I was taken aback as well.

The last – and first – time I saw my cousin Christine, she was nine years old and skinny. I was only six, probably equally as skinny, and visiting some of my mom’s side of the family for the first time in my entire little life.

I don’t know if we were as thick as thieves when my mom, little brother and I visited for those three weeks, but from what little I can remember, we certainly ran around a lot together in that short period of time.

And to this day, there’s one story my mom will never forget, nor let me live down:

Picture it: Jamaica, the summer of 1983. Michael Jackson’s Thriller was huge. Kentucky Fried Chicken was still edible. And one day Christine and I decided to have a little fun with my aunt’s cat.

Keep in mind, the cat in my aunt’s house wasn’t so much there as a pet as it was to help catch the mice.

I don’t remember the details which brought this about,*** but one thing led to another and we decided to take the dear Cat With No Name and put him somewhere special.

Namely one of my mom’s big, tan suitcases.

My mother found the cat later on in the afternoon, in the suitcase, in the closet. We didn’t completely zip up the suitcase, so the poor thing – understandably petrified – had shat over most of the shoes in the closet and inside the suitcase.

To say she wasn’t amused was a GROSS understatement. Needless to say, I’ve never done anything like that again or since.

Incidentally, I also really like cats.

But I would never see Christine again. I heard dribs and drabs about her through the years through my mom, who would get news about her whereabouts from time to time through my uncle Ucline.*

Fast forward about 25 years, and I now know she’s alive and well. Speaking to her briefly, I found out that she’s now in Connecticut (probably Hartford where, from the sounds of it, there’s a sizeable Jamaican population, which includes relatives from my dad’s side**), with three kids, working as a legal assistant while waiting for her green card (don’t ask me how this works – I’ve no idea).  

And the strangest thing? About three weeks before she made the phone call to our house, she and a co-worker were having a conversation and ended up on the subject of cats … prompting her re-tell the very story that brought us together in the first place.

That Sunday evening, she mentioned that her phone call was prompted by the fact her own kids are getting older and starting to ask questions about where they came from, and who their family is. 

If I could talk to them, I’d say, good for you. Not just because I think family should be one of the most vital things a person should know about him or herself. But because you’re helping people like me rediscover and re-connect with people I shouldn’t have lost touch with in the first place.

Fingers crossed she gets her green card, so that maybe one day I’ll get to see her again and make up for lost time. 

 

*His real name is Harold. If you’re from a West Indian family, you know most people have two names … or you know this if you’re from a culture where a lot of family members get a “second” name.

**A prime example of what I’m talking about. I didn’t really know about them until I met some of them last year.

***Christine says it was because either she or I wanted to take the cat with me back to Canada …

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D’s Artsy Finds

 

So, in my jumbled, neurotic state of mind this week, I completely forgot to do my good deed for the blogosphere and take a couple moments to big-up a couple of my creative friends and colleagues in the arts with some online material I think you should check out.

So please allow me at this juncture to return to my senses and redeem myself.

The first shout-out is to a work-mate of mine who, in May, set up his own museum. In his home.

Thaaaat’s riiiight.

Now open for exhibits: The Museum of Ornamental Post. Loosely fashioned after another home museum in Germany, the MoOP showcases many a creative piece of mail art in rotating exhibitions (see photo above). The global mail art community now has temporary place to call home.

The other shout-out is to a friend of mine, an arts columnist with lots to say. If you want, trip on over to her MySpace page, where she’s written her latest piece on the new documentary film Global Metal, being released this Friday.

So if you’re bored and need a little art-spiration, head on over and comment or contribute. I’m sure they’d appreciate it 🙂 .

 

One Poopy Facial

Speaking of early-week poopiness …

Although this has probably been floating around for months, I heard about this “new” craze last week …

Apparently there’s this treatment – said to be new to North America but not to Japan -that’s catching on in New York. 

It’s called the Geisha Facial and the main ingredient is said to be nightingale droppings.

That’s right – bird poop. I kid you not.

According to a couple of the things I’ve read, they sterilize it, mix it with water and then paint it on to the skin.

The owner of the spa which offers this, um, unique treatment, says that the nightingale poop has a natural enzyme which breaks down dead skin cells and exfoliates. She goes on to say that geishas in Japan actually use it to remove their make-up.

So how much does this magical treatment cost, you ask?

At the New York spa where it’s offered: $180.

That seems almost as ridiculous as that crazy-expensive coffee made out of civet cat poop.

Ahh. The price people will pay for shit.

A “WTF?” Monday

I’m not going to get into the particulars what fuelled what I’m about to write.

But all I’ll say is this: this morning, I got an e-mail with respect to something that I posted about recently. And all I want to say is this:

I’m weary. Nay, TIRED. Of being written off by guys. T-I-R-E-D.

I’ve been dealing with it most of my life. I was the girl who never dated in high school. Or university. I’ve always been the Friend of the Girlfriend. It’s a supporting role I know well. Be upbeat and quirky. Crack jokes. Befriend everyone. That’s my personality.

But there have been one too many times where I’ve met guys – irrespective of whether I like them or not – and later on in our friendship, I find out that they actually kind of liked me when they first met me, but didn’t do anything about it. Didn’t say anything. Didn’t try to get the message across. Nothing.

Putting myself in their shoes – which is where I feel I am right now – I might understand why. Who the hell wants to be rejected? Really, it’s the worst feeling. Like being punched in the gut, or having someone grab a hunk of flesh and twist it as tightly as they can.

Or maybe I’m just as oblivious as they are and they’ve been trying all along – I just didn’t notice.

I so far know of two people who have come out and told me what they felt. One I dated briefly. The other I thought was crazy weird. But I will never fault them for being honest. They’ve been the only ones.

Today though, I was a bit stung. No, I’m lying. I was very stung. And then I became angry.

I don’t think I’m the most attractive woman in the world. Or the smartest. Or the most charismatic. And I don’t consider myself a wallflower.

I kind of pride myself on not chasing guys. That’s just not me and it kind of makes me feel weird just thinking about it.

But, it seems, apparently being chill and low-key isn’t getting me anywhere.

Maybe I wish some guys – or at least the ones I’m attracted to – would man up.

Or maybe I should just woman up.

I know this’ll subside. Someday I’ll laugh about it (apologies to N.E.R.D.) , but right now? Hmph.

Here’s the song in question I’m talkin’ ’bout. (It probably doesn’t fit my situation. Or maybe it’s the angry beats that do it. Anyway, I LIKE it.)

P.S. This may disappear after a while. I hope not. But apologies if it does.

That Summery Feeling (Or, Looking for Trouble)

I know I’m in summer mode when it hits me.

By it, I mean … you know … that yearning to completely abandon all sense of routine and responsibility as one knows it. That feeling that makes you want to lose it. To just completely roam the streets all day and all night.

It’s never the same day every year, but for me it falls around the same time – usually around NXNE weekend – when the weather is perfect, I’m no longer wearing socks with my shoes, and I’ve gotten through an entire day coat- or jacket-free (with maybe a sweater for inside the office).

Today – Wednesday – was that day.

It hit me right about the moment when I walked through the front door of my parents’ house. The sun was still out and starting to set. Most of the windows were open and a wonderful breeze was wafting through the house.

I breathed in … dropped my bags … and immediately used every thread of self-control (which I believe has always been faulty) to stifle the urge to stride out the front door, and towards the closest bus stop to make the long trek towards the nearest patio downtown.

It’s only a matter of time before my concentration at work (which is barely there anyway) completely evaporates for the next 10 weeks or so.

This is what I sometimes hate about being (1) an adult and (2) in a home so far away.

It’s like I’ve got a nerdy accountant and an alley cat living inside me, and as soon as the latter awakens and is ready to stray, the former shoves her in a cat carrier and only lets her out on weekends.

It would really just be easier if the accountant gave the alley cat a nice, big scratching post. Or her own apartment half-way between suburbia and downtown, complete with hefty downpayment and enough money to pay her mortgage for a year.

Yeeaaargh.

(I cannot wait until I can move out.)

The Dap = True Love

Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

Sure, Barack Obama clinching the Democratic presidential nomination last week caused the hairs on my neck to stand up on end, in a good way.

But seeing the above picture on the big night in question made me positively giddy, and reinforces why I think the Obamas are awesome.

This shows they’re a team … they support each other … and, well, they’re cool.

You know how everyone has dealbreakers when it comes to what they look for in potential mates?

For me, the dap is a potential dealmaker.

Seriously. If you can dap or high-five me in everyday interaction and not feel ashamed, consider yourself on my list.

It just might be on like Donkey Kong.

(Just do me a favour: please don’t call it a fist bump, or a knuckle bump, or whatever. That’s what unhip people in my industry call it. If you do it by accident the first time, I’ll let it slide. But do it again, and we’re strangers.)

Loquacious High Five, Houda Nonoo!

Here’s something that caught my eye …

Last week, the king of Bahrain made a relatively progressive move.

The lady you see to the left – Houda Nonoo – was appointed to be the tiny Arab kingdom’s next ambassador to the United States.

No big deal, right? Except that this businesswoman is now:

(a) the first woman appointed to the job, and
(b) possibly the first Jewish ambassador in the entire Arab world.

Nonoo – when she’s not doing business, dividing her time between London and Bahrain – is also the first Jewish woman to head the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (not affiliated with Human Rights Watch).

Now, Bahrain  – a pro-Western nation sitting in the waters between Qatar and Saudi Arabia – is not without its issues. It presently doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Israel.

But in a nation of half a million people -where Jewish citizens presently number only 50 – this news ain’t too shabby. It’s definitely a start.

Big deal, for real. And it’s about time.

*smack*

You can read all about it right here for yourself.