Thursday, 24 August 2017

Welcome to Hahvard!

I love the start of Fresher's Week. Sad as it may sound, I'm excited to see all these (young, boy, are they young) faces arrive at the hallowed gates of Harvard, and begin to settle in. Parents and students alike, are in a mad dash to get into their dorms, buy a fridge, a mat, and get their bearings amid the sprawling mass of buildings.

As a Cambridge resident for the last eight years, I've been privy to this crazy rush every August. But, this year was a little more special.

Malia Obama is on campus. She moved into the halls of residence at the same time the eclipse was taking place. (Good move on part of the Obama's. Whilst folks were busy looking to the heaven's, they moved their little girl in with little fuss).

However, I do wonder, actually, I hope, she manages to enjoy college life. I would imagine there is a greater burden, on her shoulders, than most students, to do well. Although, I'm sure the Obama's would protest loudly, will professors, ever so slightly, give her special treatment? Will she make real friends? I think it's important that her experiences, here at Harvard, are without falsehood.

It's a nerve-wracking time for all, (which starts with being given just twenty minutes to off-load all of your stuff to your dorm building!) But, I'm sure Malia has been well schooled (pardon the pun) in how to handle all of this.

I certainly hope she can pop down to Staples, grab a slice of pizza from Pinocchio's, pick up a bottle of water from CVS, and even get a Curious George t-shirt, without fear of being stopped, photographed or just stared at. Now that she's arrived, I wonder if all the business'/places she visits will replace the "Mark Zuckerberg was here", with Malia's name? Hmm...

Regardless, to the class of 2021, welcome - but please don't hog all the tables at Starbucks with your books!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

As Time Goes Bye

Unbelievably, it’s been four years since Mum passed away.

July first had started out happily, and then it came crashing down around me, when Hubby had the unfortunate job of breaking the devastating news to me.

Yet, it still seems like it happened just a few weeks ago.

I always thought the notion of time healing or easing the loss would be a thing to cling to. The brutal truth is, it hasn’t, not really.

A lot of that has to do with the little miss. As her 4th birthday approaches, it’s a sad reminder that I no longer have neither mum or dad around to tell them all about the lots of little things which are sweet, frustrating or funny, that she has done. They would have loved to have been told about every single moment, as any grandparent would.

Possibly the hardest part of mum not being here, is not being able to talk to her about when I was young. Granted, she wouldn’t have remembered everything, but, it would have been nice to pass on stories and memories of me, to my daughter, when I was her age.

I endeavor not be melancholy. So, each year, I listen to the music mum enjoyed, and try to do something to honor her memory. I miss her advice, her hugs, even her silly jokes. I just miss her.

“There is no death, daughter. People die only when we forget them,' my mother explained shortly before she left me. 'If you can remember me, I will be with you always.” Isabel Allende

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Brown Like Mommy

The other day whilst using Mommy as a climbing post, the little miss, stops, and looks at me. She then pipes up that she wants to be 'brown like mommy'. I smiled and said, 'you're beautiful just as you are.'

But my mind was screaming 'no!'

Initially I was going to respond, that she would need to spend time in the sun (to get this dark) and then I thought best not to say that as putting sunscreen on her would be a nightmare and not to mention skin cancer etc..

Regardless, the real reason for not wanting her to be brown like me is simple.

People still make judgements (about me) based on the color of my skin. And living in America, I want to ensure her life to be as free from prejudice and hate as much as is possible.

With Trump in power, the racial tensions that have been hidden behind political correctness and politeness is now allowed to roam freely. Visiting the state of New Hampshire recently, I was slightly perturbed to see huge signs of support for Trump. And from that point on, when we stopped in a restaurant, shop etc. I made sure I spoke, so they would hear my very British accent.

Wrong on all levels as I should be accepted as I am and I shouldn't tar everyone with the same racist brush - but I have to be realistic.

I live in a place where, as I'm darker than my daughter, I'm seen as a nanny. (Thankfully, there is a community here in Cambridge, so people see me day in day out and the majority know who I am and who is my daughter.) Yet step outside of this cocoon and I'm made aware that I'm different color. Something that I didn't have to think about whilst living/working in London/Croydon.

Summer is never my season (hate the heat, the humidity) but I'm definitely not looking forward to it because I don't want my daughter to get a tan. Yes, she doesn't have the, as Hubby calls it, 'northern paleness', he has, but she has enough color.

I know and have seen the struggles to apply for a job, walk into a bar when the first thing people see is your color. I don't want the little miss to be the token employee (employers have to ensure they have recruited a diverse number of people.) I don't want her to feel a hundred pairs of eyes stare at her when she enters a room. When she's older, I will of course, have to discuss the intricacies of having a parent of color. But for now, I let sleeping dogs lie.

Instead of being happy that she wants to be like me, I'm quietly discouraging her from something that is part of who I am. I'm this color because of where my ancestors were originally from - pigmentation shouldn't define me, yet each day I'm reminded that it is.

Her innocence of a simple want of being 'brown like mommy' is sadly tarnished.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Inauguration 2017

Everything about Trump's presidency is set to be unique and it seems that his inauguration is following suit.

With recent, scathing, comments made by notable Democrat, John Lewis, it looks like Mr. Lewis and forty plus of his peers will not attend the swearing in of the 45th President. Is this correct? Reading some of the tweets, they are not attending because they won't support a man who is derisive and happy to ignore any Russian involvement in the US elections, amongst other reasons.

I understand this, but it's a ceremony that shows the peaceful transition of office. Should they not promote this ethos? Rather than staying away, stand strong in front of the man and say "you may be there, but we are here, we will fight for the American public, we will stand strong and united and show you, bullies can't win."

It's a worrying time and also a confusing one. I'm the first to admit that even after seven years of living stateside, I'm still some what bewildered by American politics. And, it makes me wonder what the forefathers would think of his presidency, the inflammatory words he used to gain the highest seat in the land. Which leads to the question some have asked, what will his speech contain? It's a chance for him to inform the public of his intentions - but what exactly are they? So far all I've seen is his tweeting prowess and lack of propriety when it comes to international relations, as well as employing people with questionable backgrounds.

Trump's disdain of the press also has people concerned. He hates them, calls them dishonest. But he's fine with them when they're promoting him. Can't have your cake and eat it. Obama, Clinton and Bush on average, held 15 press conferences when they were president elect's. Trump has held one. He may think he's showing the press who's the boss and if he wants to say something to the world, he can through his tweets. But it shows complete disrespect for journalists throughout the world and how unprepared he is for the job. He can't handle press conferences because he just doesn't know how to answer tough questions. He needs to learn quickly that he has to answer the hard questions as well as the soft, fluffy ones. It's going to be a very quiet Correspondent's Dinner next year.

When a President should be using his 'power' to unite a torn, hurt country, it's frightening to see he puts his own wants and desires before the people. With all this criticism of Trump and his 'unprecedented' ways, we as a nation, have accepted this man as the next leader of the USA. What does that say about us?

Saturday, 31 December 2016

What a Year

I appreciate that this post won't be the first or the last to lament on how 2016 will be an unforgettable year. And unfortunately, not in a good way.

From the untimely deaths of so many talented, kind, generous artists - the musicians, the writers, the producers, the comedians, the actors, the thinkers - the list seems somewhat endless. As someone on Twitter said, "2016 has officially killed the 80s".

Perhaps the most shocking was the political turmoil that gripped both here and across the pond. Brexit was, in my mind, straight out of a Monty Python farce, just not funny; and Trump gaining power? Someone needs to take his phone off him. I could wax lyrical on the matter but a good friend of mine eloquently wrote: "...He hasn't even taken power yet but since the election he has publicly dismissed the CIA and the UN while happy to align himself to Putin's Russia and support Israeli encroachment on Palestinian land. He is a racist, misogynistic, egotistical, power mad man with far less intelligence than he credits himself with. He has always considered himself #1 & put himself first and I don't believe he will change when he takes office..."

Time will and can only tell what his presidency will be like. I'm also hoping for an impeachment. This is a man who loves money. And he as to give up all links to his company - can he do it? Will he?

With all of these surprises of death, political controversy, continuing war, an onslaught of fake news, and pain, it's been difficult to remember the good times. And I have had quite a few...

The little miss starting, and loving every minute, of pre-school, how much she has grown both physically and mentally, receiving useful, encouraging criticism from three literary agents on my novel, chats with my nephew (even if he is 2 and a bit) sister and brother in law, my brother spending Christmas with us, catching up with friends and family. So much love and support from Hubby.

I suppose there has to be a balance, the Yin and Yang. It doesn't have to be amazing and earth shattering all the time.

So I'll take this opportunity to thank you for reading my posts. For letting me know your thoughts. I'm looking to next year to travel a bit more and make more of a mark in the literary world, so watch this space. I sincerely wish and hope that 2017 is a year that brings everyone more love, laughter and lots of sparkle.

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Christmas and the Toddler

With a toddler, Christmas becomes (even) more exciting or perhaps more worrisome?
As one of my favorite holidays, it’s certainly exciting. The tree, the decorations, the fairy lights – all will prove to be an enjoyable (and dare I mention possibly expensive) time ahead.
And even though the Christmas season is not quite with us, I’ve so far noted the following things…
  • Santa exists. Especially when you feed the line of “let’s get rid of some of your toys so Santa can consider leaving you a new one, maybe two.” The response? “Okay!”
  • Invariably the introduction of the jolly Saint Nick leads to the repetition of; “so Santa will come to my house?” and “Santa leave me presents?” every few hours.
  • Ideas on how to get on the ‘Nice List’ can come from films. Inspired by Arthur Christmas I said to the little miss, “see how the elves scan to see if the child is good, well, that’s what will happen come Christmas Eve.” It was only afterwards did I wonder if she would become freaked out by a bunch of small people with weird ears rolling into the bedroom armed with scanners. Ah well…
How the myth continues: I’m either a genius or very good at being deceptive…
  • Whilst out and about the other day, I noticed some Christmas wrapping paper and so did the little miss. I asked her “which one do you like? Frozen or Minions?” “hmm, Frozen. I love Frozen.” “Okay, I’ll let Santa know so he can wrap your presents in it.” (I'm going with genius.)
From my withering on about the fat (sorry, weight challenged) bloke in the red and white suit and how I'll let him know what's going on, I'm certainly giving the impression that I have a direct hotline to the man. Not a bad idea I suppose. I'm just wondering what will be my bargaining chip come December 26th!
Oh and a final point...erm, teach (your) toddler the CORRECT words for Christmas songs. I'm regretting singing "Jingle Bells, Santa smells, Rudolph did a pooh...!" Whilst we had a real belly laugh over it, she is now repeating the lines rather a lot. Thankfully, her pronunciation isn't great...

Thursday, 20 October 2016

And the 45th President is...

I can see why people like what Trump is saying.

In the final presidential debate he was not necessarily eloquent, but he said the right words and phrases that appeal to the people who feel downtrodden by an economy that only seems to help the already rich, believe immigrants are better off then they are, a failing police force and don't like the US involvement in various wars.

Listening to the CNN political commentators, two of whom are Trump supporters, give their feedback afterwards was fascinating. Fascinating because they all heard the same talk but received it differently. The majority of the panel were up in arms that he did not (and would not?) accept the election results. And comments of 'hombres' and 'nasty woman' were also banded around. These were regarded as a slap in the face to the democratic process and the American way.

But one thing I heard and was an interesting point. They all commended Trump on how he presented himself at the beginning of the debate. He was calm, he answered questions and then towards the end, he interrupted Hillary, talking over her (yes, she did the same..) he used offensive language (and I'm not just talking 'hombres', I'm referencing the part where he said 'babies are ripped out from the woman'...) and behaved like a little boy who has been told he won't be getting ice-cream.

His rhetoric has to be applauded - how else did he become the presidential candidate? Yet it has incited violence, intolerance and uncertainty. Are these really the qualities (the American) people want from their president?

Does America really want a President - a person who will represent one of the largest economies in the western world, who will represent all its citizens regardless of class, color, or creed - who can only be civil for 40 minutes?

If Trump wins, I foresee a huge drop in the dollar, Putin rubbing his hands in glee and the rest of the world hanging their in head in dismay. If he doesn't win, then there will be angry, violent outbursts against immigrants and people of color and general disobedience.

The mud slinging, the insults, the lies, the back tracking, the lack of clear polices and how they will be executed/introduced has made this presidential campaign an ugly and dreadful one.