I’m always very intentional when selecting yearly planners, and this year was no exception. Last year, it was “La vie est belle” (Life is beautiful), and it turned out to be an extraordinarily beautiful year. Nothing was planned, except for a trip to Aruba which was booked in December of 2018. But even that was booked on the spur of the moment, when I realized I would be subject to the biting cold of a long winter, and some time in the tropics would do me good. As serendipity would have it, I exited the morning of a torturous week for Quebeckers, characterized by -30 degree temperatures and ice everywhere. I did not miss it. I was too at peace being here, in this quietly intoxicating paradise.
I left well-tanned and smiling 🙂 🙂
I had commenced the year having afternoon tea at the Ritz Carlton in Montreal. It was deeply appreciated at the time, having worked through the Christmas holidays at the Crisis Centre I was employed at.
A bit of luxury is the perfect antidote to stories of human misery, which I am a daily witness too. Any other kind of work leaves me feeling dead inside, incapable and useless, and not really serving a purpose. I think I was put here on Earth to use my intellectual capabilities to solve human problems, guided by love and compassion. But I am no saint: Unconditional love is a fallacy we would all like to believe in. The problem is people come up short of our expectations, theirs and ours, and deviance/brutality are unfortunate instincts within us. The caring and enlightened among us mitigate these instincts. There are those who choose darkness willingly, and I have seen too much shit to feel compassion for those perpetrators. That in a nutshell, is my world. I still try to see the beauty in life and find joy in it, despite its complexity and problems. Keeping a curious mind and a sense of adventure is what keeps me alive. At one point, I just wanted to find peace outside of myself, and I planned a trip to Japan, based solely on what I felt emanating from youtube videos. It is now my favourite country in the world to visit. I miss it on a daily basis. I fell in love with it from the moment I was greeted by genuine kindness and smiles at the Narita airport. It is now a part of my heart.
This kind, old gentleman bought me some scrumptious BBQ meat.
We sat next to each other in Shinjuku, and I very un-self-consciously made a loud “Mmmmmmmmmmmmm” sound, when I had my first bite. We laughed, and then started communicating using my Lonely Planet Japanese Phrase Book and Dictionary. I showed him this picture of Sting and me, and he asked me if Sting was my husband! LOL 🙂 🙂 🙂
Saturday March 16, 2019, marked the end of nearly 8 years of daydreaming, when I finally met my FAVOURITE musician, EVER!!!! He is the celebrity who I admire the most, and never fails to uplift and inspire me, when I am feeling down or not. His music complements all my moods, and I have a shrine to him in my living room 🙂 Hee hee. I bought this photo frame for our intended photo together, since 2013. And I drink wine from his estate in Tuscany, whenever I find it available.
Back to Japan, this nice woman helped me find the Cooking Sun school in Tokyo. She was walking her dog when I asked for directions, and she accompanied me straight to the school! 🙂
And these lovely women, taught me how to cook Japanese food, specifically Kaiseki cuisine, which is a multi-course haute cuisine.
I made this:
Can you tell, I really enjoyed Japan! 🙂 🙂 🙂
I have always been enamoured with the most famous Japanese woman in the West, Yoko Ono. I have a lot of respect for her work, and some of it was featured at Centre Phi in Montreal.
She was always an artist and an activist. That is why John Lennon fell in love with her. She was never vapid nor stupid, and always fought to be herself. She was called ‘ugly’ so many times, by people who thought she should look White. That woman is an inspiration to all women everywhere: Be your fucking self.
Me in Japan, being my fucking self.
Yoko was actually the one to coin the phrase “Woman is the Nigger of the World”, which subsequently became a song that she and John Lennon co-wrote. It set off a firestorm of controversy when it was released in 1972, but prominent Black Congressman Ron Dellums, defended the couple and the concept stating:
“If you define ‘nigger’ as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society is defined by others, the good news is that you don’t have to be black to be a nigger in this society. Most of the people in America are niggers.”
I understand why Yoko fought and continues to fight for the empowerment of women everywhere. Everyday, when I go to work, I am confronted by stories like these. These stories were submitted for Yoko’s Arising Project, which invites women to send in their testimonies of the harm that was done to them, because of their gender. They are incredibly strong survivors.
How do I make sense of the work that I do? I do not believe in the concept of ‘God’, as is purported. I honestly cannot love an “all-powerful” and “merciful” God, which allows such wanton abuse and injustice. I think that people cling on to the stories that they were told as children, because it gives them a sense of security, certainty and identity. To examine the flaws in the narratives would push people to unravel possibly everything they had ever been taught, and thought that was real, and that is too arduous an undertaking. So people persist with their ideas of God, and whatever it is makes them sleep at night. I don’t find God particularly useful. What I do find comforting, is this truth: There is a counter-balance to the negativity in the world, and it comes from our hearts, human and animal. There is an intelligence and capacity for love in all of us. Some people choose to call this God–I don’t. Stories of Jesus, Jah, Krishna, Allah, whatever, are just window-dressing around this force. The stories don’t really matter. The songs and prayers do, because they communicate what we truly feel as human beings, and what we wish for. Our prayers come from us. Our songs come from us. The divine is within us, not without, and no story can ever replace your own.
On a lighter note, this artist taught me everything I needed to know about beauty and gender as a construct.
I went to my first drag-show in October of 2019: RuPaul’s Drag Race. Those people with dicks, taught me everything I needed to know about fierce femininity, and how absurd and fluid the construct of gender really is. “You have a dick, therefore it follows, you must present yourself like this. And conform. That is what being male is.” HELL NO! Those queens showed me that anybody could be “feminine”, if they so desired. I think one of the artist’s roles is to fuck with “reality”, to show it isn’t so real after all. It is an illusion we humans create, and then expect strict adherence to. Drag and RuPaul further awakened in me, the instinct to be fierce and female, whether that involves wearing make-up or not. It’s not something that you need to wear on your face. It’s something you just have to be. And Ru reminded me of the importance of play.
“We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”
We’re all acting roles. All wearing a costume. Follow the truth and find out what is real.
I was born on the island of Trinidad, in the Caribbean. I was very happy to leave, and am never particularly happy to return. It’s beset by bad governance and a conservative, religious mentality, which I find quite stifling. On the surface, it’s very liberal: Carnival, drinking, poom-poom shorts (short-shorts), easy interaction between males and females, a high-level of freedom of speech etc. But abortion is still illegal. Homophobia is rife, but diminishing thanks to local activism and outside influences. You’re still regarded as peculiar if you are an atheist like myself. You can blend in properly if you shut your mouth. But I have never yearned to NOT give my honest opinion. It still represents to me a place to escape. The island measures 80 km x 59 km, and confines me in physical, intellectual and spiritual ways. My true home is Canada.
My favourite city in Canada is Montreal. I am spectacularly privileged to be living here. I discovered things about myself that I would not have discovered anywhere else. I evolved in ways I could never imagine, just because of my immersion in the French language and culture. And this is why, I feel very palpably, identity is a construct, and I don’t cling on for dear life to it. There are certain things that will always affect the way in which people see me, and how they might treat me: The fact that I have a vagina, brown skin, was born in Trinidad and Tobago, am from the Indian community there etc. I am cognizant of those things, but I do not allow them to define who I am. I don’t deny them, but I try not to get bogged down by them, and get on with the business of actually living: Doing what I want to do. Interacting with whom I want to interact with. In the end, we are just our thoughts and feelings, and how we treat people. I am very mindful of what I’m thinking and feeling, how I am communicating with people, and how I ultimately act.
I earned the right to live in this province of Quebec, and hell, I enjoy it! After many years of struggle, I finally have the life that I want, and am doing what I want. I committed to my own joy and manifested it. I chased happiness, not money, and now I have all that I need to create the life that I want. All’s well that ends well, if you don’t die prematurely and stick to your goals.
2020 will ultimately be more of the same: Stick to my goals, while making self-care a priority. I want to lose weight. These photos are on my fridge: One of Sting at 67. One of me at 22.
I have already started. Fat today, fit tomorrow is my motto! 🙂 It’s pretty simple: More smoothies, more workouts, less meat. I would also like to write more blog articles and compose more music. But all in good time: There is no rush. No need to be stressed. I already feel rich, having the freedom to be my true self, and being loved for her. It’s not easy balancing all of the demands in our lives. I refuse to get flustered and overwhelmed. These are the aspects of my life which I have to prioritise, and I need to simplify rather than complicate things. Exercise, writing and musical practice can be deferred sometimes, because I have to:
- Keep enhancing my communication skills in the French language. I support people in distress. I cannot flake out and say “Fuck it.” This is non-negotiable. People’s well-beings are on the line. I absolutely don’t need to feel guilty if I cannot workout or play guitar before work. I need to be functional from the time I go in. If my brain is not calibrated I have to kickstart it in French. Serving other people’s needs before mine, is very important on the days that I work.
- I need to eat sensibly. I will not lose weight if I eat unhealthily, so I make the time to meal-plan and cook. Again, no guilt if I do not work out or play guitar on those days.
- Time with friends: As much as I want to be fit or perfect my music composition, I also have emotional needs. Love and friendship fulfill me and are necessary for my survival. I can be fat and an amateur musician and still be happy. But I will never be happy being fit, successful and having fake friends. So I have made my choices.
Activism is also very important to me. I will continue to pay attention in 2020, and agitate for change when called upon. I saw David Suzuki last year and attended the climate strike in Montreal on September 27, 2019. I will continue to support the planet’s fight for justice, equality and survival.
My 2020 planner has some useful reminders for every month. I will share the ones that resonate most with me.
I do not know what will happen this year. There is a spirit of adventure that continues from the last one, with a lot more rootedness and contentment. Despite all of my travels, and my enjoyment of Montreal’s fine-dining and artistic scenes, I am truly happy being in my own apartment, in my own company. My favourite place is my living room, and I love wearing my red robe. Love and peace is what I feel here, and I wish the same for you. Happy 2020! 🙂