The Audacity of English

"This is America, and our only Lanaguage is English". Apparently not YOUR lanaguage.

So there you have it.

I’m going to try to make this a very short post, but please forgive me if I ramble on. First, some background.

I was born in Puerto Rico, with my parents being from the tiny island nation of Dominica. My first language is English, with my second Spanish. That’s all the background you get! *Closes book*

So you can see why sentiments like those expressed in the previous photo irk the $#it out of me. As an American citizen, and seeing that this is “The Land of the Free”, I would like to be able to speak Spanish to my Spanish-speaking friends. Without having to pause to cuss out the person glaring at me across the sidewalk.

I had one beautiful experience where walking down the street with my best friend; we were having a very lively conversation is Spanish. A street performer who caught wind of our conversation (I doubt he understood what we were talking about); paused his guitar-playing session and stood up. With a glare, he bellowed “Boy, you in America, and in America we speak English”. The first two seconds was shock; followed by absolute anger at the ignorance of this idiot. Needless to say, I had to be hauled away from the site before I could punch the ignorance out of him…

We live in a country where most of us who think we can speak English, really can’t (Me included. Catch me after 2+ cups of coffee, after 2:00 in the morning, or with less than 6 hours of sleep, and I can’t spell to save my life!). So I’m particularly sensitive to when folks decide to let their stupidity shine through and speak for them. I understand that for official business some degree of English is needed, but don’t tell me I can’t speak anything but English. That’s all.

Don’t believe me when I say that the English only proponents can’t do it?

"Alls We Can Speak is English". I bet!

"Respect Are-Country Speak English". Wait, what???

"Make English America's oficcal Language". Yeah, lets...

I rest my case…

– Photo credits: The INTERNETS!

New Beginnings

Fireworks for a fresh new start!

I’m baaaacccckkkkkk! *Try reading this in the voice of the old lady from Poltergeist (You know who I’m talking about!)*

So, I’ve long left this blog to sleep, and it’s time to breathe some new life into it. I still think I need an outlet (both positive and negative; Yin and Yang, you know), and so I’ve decided to keep this sucker alive.

I hope you enjoy the new look, and please feel free to leave your comments! Do enjoy this blog, and keep coming back for more!

~RasTommy

Pumpkin Kitty loves Elena.

Pumpkin has something to say!

Missy Pie and Mr. Sir

A Mr. Pumpkin Kitty Post…

As I lay here on what has become my favorite sleeping spot…

I reminisce about my deep love and affection for Mr. Sir and Missy Pie. These two are truly the loves of my life. They saved me from certain death when they adopted an old man like me from the shelter and then nursed me back to health when I nearly died from and respiratory infection. I love them so much and I show that affection in different ways depending on who I’m with.

I just like to snuggle with Mr. Sir.

Now as for Missy Pie. I like to do creepy things to her feet when she gets in bed. But most of all I like to catch her off guard like in the middle of the night or when she’s resting on the sofa and slip her the tongue. You see, I…

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The BVI Chronicles

It’s funny just how much one can forget their childhood, especially when you move away from home and into a completely different culture. It’s even more amazing just how much you get back, when you return; how easy stuff just seems to come back to you.

I’ve recently came back home to the Caribbean (only for a short while, of course), and already, I’ve gotten into the old habits that once plagued me as a tween; emptying bottles of Ponche Kuba with my dad (an eggnog analog), eating local fruits that you can’t find in the US, and chowing down on Turkey Pelau (a rice-beans-meat meal, with herbs and spices). Ah, I missed this life before embarking on the quest to become an educated astronomer.

Ok, so by now you’ll probably want to know about how to make this Pelau, or how to make juice from the Soursop. Be forewarned, though, there’s no exact measurements or times here, so experiment to make this your own!!

Turkey Pelau

So here are the basic, no measurement ingredients:

  • Turkey, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Rice (I find the parboiled works best)
  • Onion, Garlic, Red & Green pepper, chopped
  • Red Kidney Beans, canned
  • White sugar, for browning
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • And of course, water!
  1. Heat a small amount of Olive Oil (~ 1 Tbsp.) in a deep pot. When hot enough, put about the same amount of sugar and caramelize.
  2. When sugar has turned brown (no black from burning!), put in turkey pieces and coat as best as possible; this gives you the colouring and a base for the taste of the dish later on. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add onions, garlic, and pepper, and simmer an additional 1-2 minutes.
  4. Pour in enough water depending on how much rice you want to add (I find that 2 cups water to 1 cup rice works best). Bring to a light simmer, and cook meat for at least 30 min.
  5. Add kidney beans and rice, stir, and cover on low heat. Stir occasionally to cook evenly.
  6. When the water is absorbed, your meal is cooked!

That’s it! Enjoy, and look out for more of the BVI Chronicles! There is way too much to put in one post at once! If you tried this recipe, let me know in the comments what you think!

– RasTommy

The Lessons Learned…

Everything starts anew...The lessons learned today…

It’s been a hectic week, most of it through fault of my own, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Or rather, I’m planning on skipping straight to the end…

I miss my home, my people, my way of life. I hear the call of my Caribbean when I go to sleep at night, and wake yearning for the touch of the sun. I wake to my own sun, Mon soleil, my wife, my best friend… I think I have infected her with my love for the sun, sea, and sand, or maybe, she’s had that all along and didn’t know it.

I was so full of emotion last week, so angry, frustrated, afraid, lost, confused. For how long have these feelings lingered? How long have they festered there, serving no purpose but to take up valuable space? I have thought for a week, and for some reason, I can’t seem to gather my thoughts, or even convince myself that there is a solution for whatever ails me. Come to think of it, I’m always full of emotion. It started with positive, optimistic feelings. But as the days wear on, optimism is replaced by skepticism, negativity gobbles up what was once positivity. What happened?

I think I was a bit too quick to give up on myself. We all do at some point. If not, how do we grow? How do we learn to pick ourselves up? Isn’t that what it means to grow?

It is now Monday, exactly one week since that hectic week. Had a talk or two; all mingled with the very intuitive conversations that I have with my own, beautiful, personal sun… And at the end of the day, the lessons that I have learned…

  • I have forgotten how to be positive, and let the problems of everyday life get me down. I treat them as obstacles, when I should instead treat them as training exercises. Exercises on thinking positively. Negativity has clouded my mind over the next few years, and the silver lining seems tarnished. Wax that rust, and let the light shine through! I’ll hold my head high, and treat myself with the respect that I expect others to have for me…
  • The sole purpose of education is to educate things unknown, broaden horizons, and teaches to think outside the box. Inadvertently, it also effectively wipes out the imagination that we were born with. Don’t let anyone snuff out that light of imagination, the wonder of creativity. We are humanity, and we are who we are because of our ingenuity. No matter what others say or do, or what they might think, we are all geniuses within our own right.

Experience begets experience, and such is the nature of learning. The lessons learned today…

The Eradication of A Species… Just Because!

 

The "unofficial" symbol of Puerto Rico

The "unofficial" symbol of Puerto Rico

“Coquí is the common name for several species of small frogs endemic to the archipelago of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands,onomatopoeically named for the loud sound (sometimes reaching as high as 100 dB)[citation needed] the males make at night, even though only two species make the sound “coqui”, the common coqui and the mountain coqui. The Common Coquí is the unofficial symbol of Puerto Rico.

– WikiPedia”

In my native Puerto Rico, I remember falling asleep to the beautiful chirping of our island’s enigmatic forest (and city alike) dweller. Being lulled to sleep by coquis by night is an experience that you can only have for yourself; it’s quite hard to explain to someone else…

A Puerto Rican living away from home will long to hear these frogs at night, in place of the traffic and blaring horns of the big city, preferring to sleep by these chirping sounds to that of sirens and trains in the distance.

So imagine my surprise when I came across an interesting article, and eventually a website that opened my eyes to the atrocities being committed against one of nature’s (in my opinion) beautiful creatures:

AS OF January, 2008, the coqui frogs are still under attack in Hawaii. Millions of dollars have been spent to spray the jungles with acid and caustic lime (calcium hydroxide) in order to burn the frogs to death.

It takes 45 minutes to kill coquis with acid or calcium hydroxide, a painful and inhumane practice that also burns lizards, spiders, insects, birds, cats and dogs, plants, and anything else unfortunate enough to be in the spray’s path. 

Ok, I’m going to play the Devil’s Advocate for a while here…
You wake up (suddently?) one day to realize that a species not native to your environment has show up, and for some reason it creates the most horrible sound at night that prevents you from sleeping. So the first thing you do is to write a letter to your congressman man to (erradicate/obliterate) this new nuisance by declaring it a “plant pest”. I am  angry that this damn thing has shown up on my doorstep and is making the most horrible (understandably?) noise that I have ever heard. Hmmm… How to get rid of it? I know! Let use a chemical bath to burn them to dea….

I have to stop, because even the thought horrifies me. It reminds me of another event in world history, that was even more appalling, and leaves me to wonder if we have actually made any progress as humans.

¡No seas idiota, cabron! If the frog breathed fire and burned people alive, blew your cars up and charred your homes, yo puedo entender… But a plant pest? Is that the best you can come up with?

Look, just do me a favour, and educate yourself a bit about this frog, before eradicating the little guy, just for the sake of “I don’t like his song”. Hawaiiancoqui.org, as well as El Boricua, are just a few places to get information about this frog. 

For those who’ve never heard the coqui’s song, here’s a great clip:

Do you really think the Coqui is a pest? Please let me know…

 

 

T.

Memoirs of my Alma Matter (Part 3 of 3)

The symbol of Dominica

The symbol of Dominica

The last part of a 3 part series… Here goes…

“The fourth and fifth years in high school I enjoyed the most. During these two years, I got to know my classmates very well, especially those in my science classes. I have really learned to appreciate the friendship of my classmates (although they sometimes seemed that they could care less! Anyway, life’s like that!).”

In the fifth year, there were three really hip fellas in the science classes, the Boyz ‘n the Block: Jim J., Fernandelle B., and I. We became Mrs. Isaacs’ favourite boys (I wouldn’t know about the girls!), and whenever we had any problems, the three of us came together for solutions. This truly, I will not forget. Anything else not mentioned are faded memories. Except two:”

“Lois C.! A very sweet cousin of mine. Which I could give (share) all my problems to. All my secrets. All ‘Bef’ I can come up with. She is very nice to be with, at home or at school. God Bless her for the hospitality she has given me.”

“And last but not least, the last day of school. This was very restless. Before I arrived at school, I met Vernanda, Norma, and Giséle, going to shop for gifts for our teachers. I (being the adventurous type) went along. We arrived back to school about 9:30 AM that day. The last two periods, we had one of the best school leaving ceremonies Grammar School has ever had. Some good features were our modeling, the Play Drama Club, Doctrove’s karate moves, and our teachers’ imitation entitled ‘Guess Who!'”

“The same afternoon (May 7th) we got back together and went into the town to get some ice cream. Then we came back to school to reflect on old times. Some of us were dancing to slow songs. Of course, I was too! I was sitting fooling around with a pair of shades when Vernanda took them of and told me ‘Let’s dance.’ My heart skipped a thousand beats (well, maybe not that much). Why? Because I didn’t know how to dance. Anyhow, when we were dancing, I told her she was the first girl I have danced so close to. And guess what? She did not believe me. I wonder why. Anyhow, I ended up dancing four songs with her, and my! Were they great! I still feel a love for her, but does she? I doubt, my friend, that this is infatuation.”

“These memories may seem to be a lot of bull, but to me they are like silver and gold, for I have no hope of reliving them. See ya!”

“My Personal Glimpses of the Dominica Grammar School. 15th May, 1993.”

So, there it is! Quite embarasing in some places, but I was a kid then. Does this sound anything like your teenage memories (for you ’70’s babies out there)?

PS. – Did you like this story? Good. Now go read Junot Diaz’s “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”, you won’t regret it!

T.

Memoirs of my Alma Matter (Part 2 of 3)

My high school, as I remember it!

My high school, as I remember it!

If you’re reading this second part of my memoir, then, nope, I did not make a mistake when I titled this page. My first post is indeed “Memories of my Alma Matter“; for it is indeed a my memories, but this is as well a memoir. Here is the second part…

“These teachers had an influence on me, in that they all helped my fellow students and I to reach our goal. Mr. Coipel, also, had such an effect, giving me two demerits and one detention, for what? Oh, forget that!”

“Third form in the Grammar School are now faded memories. However, I remember a very important aspect of my life; meeting a girl, which maybe was not the best in other people’s opinion, Giséle E. C. S.. You’ll hear later!”

“The last two years at the Dominica Grammar School were indeed enjoyable. I really discovered my love for these sciences during these years, especially Chemistry.”

“My list of friends grew rapidly. I never really had trouble with my classmates, but sometimes they made me really mad.”

“For example when Lynora F. and Mignon R. ganged up on me, criticizing my closeness with Giséle. However, I take these as jokes now.”

“Jim J. and I grew very close as friends, and his friendship I enjoyed during the past years. The science classes consisted of the best students (contrary to Ms. Isaacs opinions, however), the ‘Untouchables’. We have survived a lot, and I’m sure we can survive the worst. We’ll come back to this, however.”

“Giséle S.. I really met her through one of my classmates in third form, Robert. We began talking to each other, and soon we got very close to each other. It has been said that in love, people tend to deny one’s faults, not so with me. For one, she probably believes that because she has been blessed with money, that everyone else is also. She is also impatient most of the time. She is also known for building very thick walls between people she doesn’t like and herself.”

“Enough of the bad. Like I said, ‘There is a little bit of good in everyone’. Giséle has helped me cope through most difficult times (and persons, like Mr. Paquette). Giséle, has, to some extent, showed appreciation for me but then again, who knows? However, I still love her (yes, even though she’s caught up with Eric!), and I will never forget her.”

“There is another person who has made my stay in the Dominica Grammar School a very enjoyable one. This dude is very cool and caring. Productive, he;s one hell of a guy. Of course, non oter than Fernandelle B. I really got to know him during our last two years of our schooling together. He has what it takes to be a friend, and he has been the best friend I’ve ever had. I hope we remain the best of friends forever. Peace, bro!”

“The teachers of the last two years are as follows:

  • Social Studies – Ms. Graham (a teacher who loved to give an essay!) and Mr. Francis (a rather cool guy!)
  • Maths – Ms. Jones (a very good and caring maths teacher!)
  • English – Mrs. Durand (the most favourite teacher I’ve ever had) and Mrs. (Ma) Harris (the teacher that has been a constant bore to our class!)
  • French – Mrs. Nation (a very good and caring teacher, I must say!) and Mrs. Didier (a pain in the neck, man!)
  • Chemistry – Mr. Bertrand (a teacher dedicated to his work and his sudents!)
  • Physics – Mr. Paquette (man, he was such a pain in the neck our class decided he didn’t know what he was doing!) and Mr. Austrie (a teacher who deserves all the thanks he can get for helping us out greatly. Three cheers!)
  • Biology – Ms. Isaacs (a teacher I have grown to like very much not only as a teacher, but a very close friend!)

Ok, another break to this unexpectedly long memoir… Check the last part out soon!

T.

Memories of my Alma Matter (Part 1 of 3)

DGS Crest

“Mens Sana In Corpore Sano”. A sound mind in a healthy body. I can think of no better way to begin the memories of the high school that has changed my life, the place where I made the beat of friends. If you are a DGS alumni reading this, you know exactly what I am talking about!

I have recently discovered a “memoir” of sorts that I had filled out at my graduation in ’93 from the Dominica Grammar School, and I was actually amazed at some of the things that my friends wrote to me before leaving. Makes me wonder what sort of memories I placed in their books, and if they even have those books with them anymore! Of particular interest, I found a few paragraphs of “memories” that I wrote about, and I thought that I should share. This I mainly do in case a fellow DGS in cyberspace sees this, please leave a comment so we can communicate!

The following is just as it was written, almost 15 years ago. As silly as I think most of it is, I thought it important to leave it as is. After all, how will you be able to gauge how much you you’ve grown, if you can’t see where you’ve come from?

“I entered the Dominica Grammar School on the 4th of September, 1989. I will never forget the day I saw this great school building, founded by “The Greatest of all Builders”. I remember coming in through with a present good friend of mine, Jacelyn B. and her mother (I still remember Jacelyn turning and twisting, watching me momentarily, while my mother and her mother spoke).”

“The principal at this time was Ms. Harris, a very sweet lady, and the best I’ve ever met. SHe was kind and gentle to those who showed respect, however harsh on the irresponsible ones.”

“The school seemed strange to me four years ago, however, I have grown to love my second home very much. When I entered Form 2-3 (now the classroom next to the staffroom), I came in ‘Tortolian Style’ (for I had just migrated from Tortola), with my girly bounce, and one rolled up exercise book in my back pocket. My two first friends were Jim J. and Ashworth B.. I still remember that they both gave me a seat in their two-seater desk. I was very shy the first few weeks, but gradually I came about.”

“I also remember the instant crush I had on Alma J., which led me to serenade her with two letters within the first week of my entrance. Donnerson D. was my medium, in which I used him to pas my letters. nfortunately, Alma has never replied to any of my two letters, and I still await!”

“Next person I had eyes for was Eula N. Little did I know that by 1993 we would be so close as friends, (maybe more!), that it would be very hard to say goodbye! It started when our homeroom teacher (Mr. Coipel, a very odd-tempered fellow) put us to sit together. I learned about her, that she was easy going, kind, loving.”

“The rest of the students I got to know better throughout the years, sometimes, in some misunderstandings.”

“Like the time I got mad at Agnita for trying to fool me into falling in love with her with her dreamy gazes. However, we have grown up and put these aside.”

“Come to think of it, I’ve never had any real trouble with classmates. Anyway, I remember falling in love with Vernanda, My! How sweet she was, and still is! A recent occasion, (which I will talk about later), made me realize that I still love her. The glances that used to be shared by us, the long stares, sometimes distracted me from my work. The relationship ended rather abruptly, but I was able to cope with it. Strangely, I don’t know the reason why she “dumped” me, but I don’t think I’ll ever know, as she refuses to tell me when I ask. Anyway, girl, I still love you, and I always will.”

“Our teachers at this time (September ’89 – June ’93) were as follows:

  • Mr.Balleti (an american peace corp, very good Mathematician, and very caring)
  • Mrs. Bruney (a very small teacher, but big in personality. We bugged her ’til she refused to teach our class! She taugh English by the way!)
  • Ms. Mondesire, our Social Studies teacher (very loving, and still one of my favourite teachers)
  • Ms. Christian, our French teacher (very kind also, but hard on her French!)
  • Our Arts & Craft teacher, Ms Burton (very talented and gave me morale to do my best in art)
  • Our integrated science teacher, Mr. Coipel
  • and our Spanish teacher, but I cannot recall her name… Oh, yes, it just came , Mrs. Lockhart (A very troublesome, pain in the neck about Spanish!)”

Ok, I realize this is quite a large piece, so I’ll break it up into sections… Call these reflections Part One! Scroll down to read Part Two!!!

T.

A New Face…

Ahhh… Now that’s better! I just slapped a fresh coat of paint to this blog; I’m afraid the last, although beautiful, was just a tad too dark and stank! My purpose here is mainly to exude cool and positivity, so I think this theme outta suit my mood better…

I hope you guys like this one better… Chat you in a bit!

T.