Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Day - January 20, 2009

I wrote this as a Facebook note on January 21, 2009, the day after Barack Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States. Feeling a little inspired and nostalgic and hope to have a repeat of this priceless moment come January 2013 (I know the election is this November. I'm talking about the swearing in.)

I couldn't quite cry yesterday, even though the tears were thisclose. They just couldn't fight their way past the gi-normous grin on my face! I smiled so much you'd think I was standing there right beside the man! I just couldn't help it.

At work we took about 3 hours off to watch it on TV, and I just couldn't do anything afterwards. Or before (thank God for the CNN/Facebook hook-up!) I had to soak in the moments, great and small, of this historic day.

We drooled over how gorgeous and absolutely regal Michelle was in her lemon/olive/teal ensemble. We gushed over how adorable Malia and Sasha were as they smiled and waved.

I watched as he made his way down those steps at the Capitol, a never-before-seen look of nervousness/tension on his face. I watched as all my co-workers willed him to smile, and when he finally did, it was as if the sun had come out. We broke into spontaneous applause.

I forgave Aretha's voice. It wasn't at it's best to me, she was probably so emotional. I could feel that. I choked up when the instrumentalists played. I saw that exchange, where he turned to look at the quartet playing and his eyes stopped at Michelle. I saw when she reached out to squeeze his shoulder. I grinned when he fixed the block for Sasha to stand on so she wouldn't miss her Daddy being sworn in. "This is for you." I cussed when the Attorney General flubbed the oath. I smiled when Barack paused and they corrected it. "I, Barack Hussein Obama,..." Oh my GOD! We stood up and cheered.

The poem was not as impressive as I would have liked (in the moment. Seeing the words in print will be definitely more effective for me), but his SPEECH! It was like a good ol' Sunday morning sermon in some ways. I was nodding, smiling, saying "Yes." I might have even lifted my hand a couple times!

I listened and smiled through the benediction. When the Reverend said "Bless the angelic Malia and Sasha", Michelle looked over at them, probably wondering, "What angels?" I smiled.

I watched the parade and almost plotzed when I saw them come out of the car, "The Beast". It was beautiful to see them walking together, the way they held hands and when they separated, the way their hands automatically found each other. But I was a bit scared, truth be told. I loved when his high school alma mater marched by during the parade and he gave them the "hang loose" sign (you can take the boy out of Hawaii...). I missed the rest on the commute home, but I almost swooned as I saw them enter the Neighbourhood Ball together, Michelle absolutely stunning in that lovely ivory gown, her entire being aglow. "Just how good-looking is my wife?" Beautiful! He was very dapper in his classic tux, so handsome. "At last", I appreciated Beyonce's rendition of this classic. She's starting to grow on me, but I digress... The First Dance. I saw so much love there, such oneness.

The girls were said to be having a High School Musical movie night. I'm envious (yes, I love HSM too!). I fell asleep watching the recap after 10, but with a prayer on my heart that God guides and protects them all, that He works His will through this wonderful man that He has elevated to this position.

I have faith that everything will be alright. God Bless Barack Obama!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Usain Bolt is a legend in his own eyes... And that's good enough for me

Dear people with your underwear in a twist because Usain Bolt has the audacity to call himself a legend, which Jacques Rogge doesn't endorse;

The man has repeatedly said 'I will consider myself a legend if I can defend my Olympics titles.' This is even after the term was handed to him after his mind-boggling exploits in Beijing. BOLT thought it premature to have that honour bestowed on him because he wanted to prove he could do it all again. Well, he did just that, in the process, becoming the first person to win back-to-back 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles. Bear in mind that Bolt has also successfully defended his World Championship 200m crown and has won other medals at that level as well. In addition, he has set five individual world records and three with the relay team. He's a former World Youth and World Junior champion, becoming the youngest WJC winner at age 15. His WYC 200m record of 19.93, run at 17 years old, still stands. At 16, he was doing some serious 'big man' times.

As if all that weren't enough, Bolt is one of only seven athletes IN THE WORLD to win titles at all levels of international competition. No Americans are on this list, despite their dominance over the years.

Whether or not you want to call him a legend is up to you, but Bolt has achieved what he believed would get him to that status and who are you to tell him that he isn't? He wasn't asking anybody to agree with him. Reading some of the comments below this article, I had a great laugh as I realised some people think he's actually UPSET that Rogge has questioned his legendary status! Dear folks, the man has much better things to do than belabour what he believes is a moot point. He is in no way seeking Rogge's or anyone else's validation because he has already achieved his STATED goal.

From that perspective, I believe he is fully justified in ascribing to himself the accolade of 'living legend'. They say self praise is no recommendation, but I believe his work speaks for and recommends him, and has been doing so since he was a teenager. Is he a bit brash and cocky? You bet. Can he get out of line? Of course. Is he intrinsically full of it? No. He loves the limelight and loves to put on a show and there is nothing wrong with that. Look how the crowds eat it up wherever he goes! While I sometimes want to muzzle him, this is not one of those times. He absolutely does not need to 'prove himself' in other athletic events to deserve the title of legend. Did anyone have the effrontery to ask Muhammad Ali to take a crack at playing football? Should Sergey Bubka have perhaps tried his hand at the high jump despite his 35 world records, six World Championship titles and Olympic gold medal in the pole vault? Is the question then the quantity of Bolt's achievements? I guess he should qualify for the 2016 Olympics and pull off another unprecedented triple win before he is 'worthy' of the distinction, right? I don't think so. That would certainly be great to witness and it would only make him an even bigger legend, in my opinion. And the issue cannot be invincibility, because neither Ali nor any other of the other 'more deserving' athletes has a perfect record.

Bolt is the kind of naturally gifted athlete that can excel in any sport he tries. Here in Jamaica, we have seen his exploits in charity football and cricket matches. In fact, cricket was his first love. Can you imagine if he had not been called to track and had become a fast bowler? He would have certainly set records there too, maybe become one of the greats. He has said he would like to try the long jump at some point and I believe he would be great at that as well - something else for constant (hypo)critic Carl Lewis to hate him for. In that case, I say go for it and rub it in his face! Bolt has also said (whether in jest or seriously) that he wants to try out for Manchester United Football Club, and I have no doubt he'd be excellent in the Premier League. NFL pundits have even salivated at the prospect of having his speed on display as a running back. The man is just that good an athlete.

It might irk some people (especially non-Jamaicans who are not au fait with our ways) to see Bolt even being considered on the same level of greatness as Ali or Jesse Owens. However, the common thread is that each man has done something unprecedented in his respective event, something so spectacular it can only be described as... legendary.

Will the day come that somebody else eclipses all that Bolt has accomplished? No doubt about it. That's the way the world works. Things and time change and each generation produces its own set of stars that shine brighter than their predecessors. It is no cause for hard feelings or cries of 'too much pride'. The man knows his place in history and is prepared to assert it, even if no one else will. He is not afraid of his greatness and if it offends anyone, tough luck. You don't have to like him or agree that he's a legend, but one thing is certain - you can't erase his name and exploits from the annals of history.

Yours sincerely,
Jamaican track fan

Friday, July 13, 2012

Returning Natural... My hair journey (abridged)

I'm a part of a natural hair group on Facebook called Natural Soul Sista, started by my college friend Loretta. This has been a great way to share info, pics and inspiration with a community of sisters (and a couple brothers) from across the Caribbean.

One of the sistas, Caron, has a lovely blog called Island Girl Curls, where she documents her own journey and also features the stories of other naturalistas. Well, this week was my turn :) I've shared a shortened version of my journey from natural to relaxed and back and the feedback has been great. You can check out my feature here and give Caron your support as well.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Daddy is not infallible

If you have kept up with my rather sporadic blogging, you will be well acquainted with my daddy issues. This is another one of those blogs, but with a different tone. I think.

I got a call from my older sister on Wednesday morning informing me that Daddy was in the hospital, had actually been admitted Tuesday night. He had not been feeling well from Saturday, but being who he is, (and being a man...) he decided to wait until Monday to visit the doctor. 

At first I was mad because of the unnecessary risk he had taken, then I was madder because my sister found out from a stranger, not the family members who knew what was going on. Then I panicked. 

My mind latched on to the words 'admitted' and 'hospital' and almost immediately jumped to the worst possible scenario. And I started to bawl and heave and hyperventilate. Because as much as he rides my last nerve into the dirt, he is still my father and I still love him and I don't want to contemplate losing either of my parents. 

Remember in my first Daddy blog I'd said something about not being sure how I'd feel if I lost him? Turns out that feels kinda like being body slammed by a sumo wrestler and then having a sequoia fall on my chest. I totally lost it for a good, long while.

Anyway, long story short, I got today off and went to the (gross, nasty, yucky, icky) St. Ann's Bay Hospital to visit him. And I was not prepared for the sight of my father wheeling one of those IV bag contraptions. I was not prepared for how weak he looked. I mean, I know he's pushing 60 and he's no longer in the prime of his life, but I was not prepared to see him like this at all and I don't know how I didn't start wailing down the place. 

I don't know what exactly the problem is, but I know it had something to do with his blood pressure skyrocketing and high cholesterol. Naturally, he wouldn't say more than, "I'm alright." And no amount of prodding or nagging would get any more information out of him. It wasn't visiting hours, so I didn't get to question his doctor. He's hoping to be discharged tomorrow, but he can't even stand for 10 minutes, so I think that's a no-go.

My mind is in a tailspin right now. I don't know how to handle this situation. The not knowing what's wrong. Seeing him not well. I didn't even know he had hypertension! The worst part was seeing him lying in that hospital bed. My father, in a hospital bed! I'm still trying to process that, while my mind simultaneously tries to block out that image.

I'm glad I wasn't there when my baby sister (12 going on 30) came by, because I'm told she started bawling and God knows, I'd have surely flooded the property then.

I will continue to pray that whatever this illness is, it can be managed with medication and diet modifications. I'm really hoping that he's ok, but my mind (or the Devil) keeps causing me to overthink and over-analyse. 

I hope we all come out of this experience closer, even though I know he won't suddenly turn into Mr. Share My Thoughts and Feelings. I hope it's a turning point for us all. 

And I hope I never have to visit St. Ann's Bay Hospital for any reason ever again. Still trying to get the scent of the place out of my olfactory nerves. Ugh!

Please, say a prayer for him as you read this. I'll greatly appreciate it.

PS: Thanks also to Keresa who found her inner human being and reined in my panic session. Cheryl, your tutorial worked! :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

My First 5k

I must admit I was terrified when I heard that my company was signing up for the Sigma Corporate Run. I was never an active child, preferring the company of a book in a quiet corner to the fields of sport. I didn’t do so well in high school PE either, pretty much failing my way through, what with my clumsiness and laziness. I call myself a professional spectator, watching other people sweat and kill themselves while I cheer/yell from the couch.

I worried a lifetime of sedentariness would come back to haunt me, especially as I didn’t even begin to train for the event. But come race day, I was psyched and ready for action. My only goal was to finish on my two feet, not laid up in one of the ambulances there to take care of the sick and unfit. I didn’t plan to finish dead last, either!

I didn’t have any kind of strategy in mind as the group of walkers (what, you thought I ran??!!) set off to a house version of Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ (I kid you not. KMT!). I had a walking partner, a friend of a friend, and she helped me keep pace. I tend to walk kind of fast naturally, so I was able to maintain a brisk rate throughout. I didn’t stop once, never cramped up or felt unable to continue. I told myself I could finish in under 90 minutes and that’s exactly what I did. I finished in just over an hour – 1:02:56, to be exact. AWESOME!!!!!

There were a couple times on the route that looking at the sea of people ahead of me was kind of intimidating, but I found myself wondering how many of them I could pass on the way. I began to target people – the little old ladies (come before me? Never!), mothers pushing babies in strollers (ditto), kids (no matter how much energy y’all have today, I’m passing you!!) and JPS and Student Loan Bureau workers (bun a fire!!!!) At the 4k mark, I got a sudden burst of energy and started going around the slowpokes and several of the people in the above categories.

As we came off Ruthven Road unto Half Way Tree Road and I could almost see the end, I sped up even more but, unfortunately, so did everybody else. Some of the people I had passed power-walked past me, including folks from the much-hated SLB, but I was undaunted. I had the finish line in my sights. I rank the moment I crossed it, arms outstretched like I had won the danged thing, right up there with my college graduation. I am extremely proud of myself and I wear my souvenir Sagicor ‘Finisher’ dog tag with all the pride of an Olympic gold medal. I earned it!

Of course, by the time I got home, all the tension had set in, meaning everything on my body that can hurt is still in pain.

This event marks a turning point for me. I actually dragged my aching bones out of bed at 6:15 this morning to walk and I must admit, after a rough patch, I felt pretty dang good! I’m going to use this momentum to kick-start Project Summer Body 2013, see how many of this extra poundage I can shed and clean up my eating habits, as I had pledged to do for my New Year’s resolution. I’m also thinking ahead to next year’s event. I’m not too keen on running, but I should be able to start jogging by the end of March (p-a-c-i-n-g myself). If I’m at the place I hope to be by then, I’ll definitely be taking my place on the left side of Knutsford Boulevard, heading north. The runners totally got the better music anyway, leading off to ‘Party Rock Anthem’!

Oh, and Reggae Marathon 2012 (ok, 10k. Not pushing it!), you're in my sights, too. Who's with me?

(Photo by Keresa Arnold, who insisted I credit her. Happy now, miss?) 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Confessions of Diet Non-starter

I hereby confess:
  1. This blog is being written as I chow down on Pizza Hut cheese sticks smothered in cinnamon icing. While looking at my Sigma Corporate Run t-shirt and bib.
  2. I should really be ashamed of the amount of junk I've eaten over the past three weeks, but I am not. Sorry.
  3. Cast your minds back to my last official blog, where I spouted off at the mouth about revisiting my eating choices and going vegetarian for the month of February. Today is the 16th and the most veges I've eaten all month are two paltry lettuce leaves and a tomato.
  4. I ate two Burger King meals on Monday. I'm really sorry about the second one. It was eaten at around 11:45 pm. My arteries are still weeping.
  5. I've drunk soda. Several times.
In my defence:
  1. My bread, flour and rice are whole wheat.
  2. I did 30 minutes of cardio Monday morning. Ok, 25.
  3. Although I haven't kept up the exercise routine, I've been doing A LOT of walking lately. That should count for something, right?
  4. I'll be participating in the Sigma Run, so that should count for something, right? My aim is to not come last or finish on a stretcher in an ambulance.
  5. I'll be making a concerted effort to do better in March, I promise. 
  6. I'm still going to do my vegetarian month. In September, April, June or November. 30 days of suffering doing something good for my body.
  7. My entire office is going to start Meatless Mondays next month.
To whom it may concern, please forgive me for my dietary lapses. I promise to do better in future.


Friday, February 3, 2012

(Re)Introducing Tracey

Hi everyone. This is my third blog. Or fourth, if you count the one I did for my Online Journalism class, which I've imported to this one.

I have been trying to find the right name for my personal blog forever and I think I've finally got it. Writing ain't easy, despite the fact that just about everyone not in the field thinks they can do it. I've seen these people crash and burn. Writing don't play!

So, in my bid to attain perfection in my craft, writing, overthinking and rewriting has become my process. Ok, who am I kidding? It's been my process since high school, when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I'm hoping to drop the middle part in time, but that, too, is a process.

For the people who have been following my personal musings for a long time, I apologise about the number of new blogs I've asked you to follow. This is the last one, I swear. I think...

Stick around for the goodness!