Sankofa.

Sankofa: “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.”

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Sankofa: “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.” (Wikipedia)

04.02.2013

Today is an old friend’s birthday.  We’ve not spoken in a very long time.  Our friendship never really ended; life happens – work, marriage, kids, military, etc. and our lives took different directions.  Like everyone else addicted to connected to the world-wide web, I got on Facebook and got an alert reminding me about my friend’s birthday.  His settings are such that no one can write on his wall, but can send a private message instead, which I did.

I rarely view other people’s walls or pages, but I decided to be nosy skim through his friends list.  I don’t know 98% of the people on his list, but I recognised a couple of old, familiar faces.  I didn’t click on their names, but it got me thinking about where I was then, and where I am now.

I wonder about those people not because I’m nosy (well, I’m usually not nosy), but I wonder how they’re doing and if they’re still in the same place, physically and otherwise.  I look back and I’ve changed a lot since then.  Back then, I was deep into church yet filled with anger & negativity.  Those people, looking back, were ultra-religious and ultra-conservative.  Now granted, I had some good times with those people – hell, one of them wound up being my longest relationship ever – but that part of my life, and those people, can stay back there.  If I remained where I was, physically and otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  

I’ve done so much since then.  I’ve been through so much since then.  I live in another country, a life-long dream fulfilled.  I’m now agnostic, and aside from my friend, his wife, his sister and another friend, I don’t speak to any of the people from that time in my life.  I’ve seen different places, done different things, met different people, made many mistakes, learnt many things.  And while I don’t miss that part of my life, I appreciate that era for keeping me focused, out of trouble, and on the straight & narrow.  I take those things and carry them with me… not to stay stuck, but to sustain me as I move onward & forward.

Here’s to looking back on life.  Here’s to dropping dead weight distant memories of those who are in your lives for a reason and a season, no matter how short the season.  Here’s to being insane crazy scared brave enough to move to another country.  Without looking back every once in a while, one can’t move forward to new experiences, people or places.  And I’m glad that those things landed me where I am today – in the United Kingdom and in a whole new world.

Cheers.

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How have your experiences in the past led you to where you are today as an expatriate?  Did you ever think that you’d be living in another country?  

Short commercial break: Trayvon Martin.

This isn’t a 100% travel- or expatriate-related post, but it’s important enough for me to stray away from those topics for a second.

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https://twitter.com/#!/spinstercompass/status/181834199068721152

(written March 17, 2012)

Trayvon Martin.

This isn’t a 100% travel- or expatriate-related post, but it’s important enough for me to stray away from those topics a bit. As an expatriate, it’s important to me to keep abreast of current events in my home country. The following story is also one of the reasons why I left the United States and, therefore, somewhat relates to my expatriate experiences. I’m going to keep this post short because Trayvon Martin’s story infuriates me to no end, and I refuse to read or listen to anything about it until this cold-blooded racist asshole killer gets locked up. However, I wanted to give this story another platform so that it can reach all corners of the earth if possible.

When I first heard about this, I read that the scumbag killed an innocent & unarmed Black American 17-year-old named Trayvon Martin because he looked suspicious in the neighborhood… even though his father lives in said neighborhood. I checked to see if this boy had any criminal history because sometimes, people protest certain things even though the person involved was less than savory while alive, but of course this boy has no criminal history whatsoever. Then I read that when police searched the 17 year old’s body, they found a bag of Skittles & a can of iced tea – no weapons whatsoever. (I guess that Skittles & iced tea are really fucking lethal weapons that either I didn’t know about or described as such in state or federal legislation since I moved over here, unbeknownst to me.) Then I read that this scumbag is still walking the streets 1 month after he gunned down this innocent & unarmed Black American boy who went to the corner store to buy his little brother some candy & something to drink. As a matter-of-fact, this scumbag just started college courses to study criminal justice!

Who looks more dangerous?
Who looks more dangerous?

Now do you understand why this infuriates me? Now do you see why I refuse to read or listen to anything about this until this scumbag gets locked up & sentenced to no less than 25 years to life?

I’ve said enough; I feel the fury & rage again so I’ll end here.

Please, I beg of you, sign this Change petition. While I’m not listening to or reading about this unless real justice gets served, I suggest that you read more/do your research about this senseless & needless killing on your own. And if you feel so moved, raise hell about this case. One way that you can do that is by calling Sanford (Florida) Police Department’s Bill Lee at (407) 688-5070 (overseas – 001 407 688 5070). Tell Bill Lee to arrest George Zimmerman, the scumbag who killed this boy for no valid reason. Call Bill Lee until he can’t take it anymore. As for me, I’ll repeat this one more time:

I refuse to read or listen to anything about it until this cold-blooded racist asshole killer gets brought to justice. I don’t want to hear anything less than 25 years to life. Anything less is unacceptable.

UPDATE: Over 1,000,000 signatures. GREAT!!! 🙂 http://www.wesh.com/r/30738229/detail.html Keep on signing, keep on calling, keep on raising hell.

New York Times op-ed piece http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/opinion/blow-the-curious-case-of-trayvon-martin.html?_r=1&src=tp&smid=fb-share
I’m not the only one blogging this. http://showedupandshowedout.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/trayvon-martin/
Witnesses to his death heard his cries before he got shot http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/15/2696446/trayvon-martin-case.html
Audio – 911 call http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmnqKotpSD0
Change.org petition to arrest this scumbag killer http://www.change.org/trayvon
MoveOn.org petition to arrest this scumbag killer http://www.moveon.org/r?r=272971&id=37516-14438746-KyhaBix&t=2

Just another day on the IRT.

(This post title is from a movie that I’ve heard of but never saw before, Just Another Girl On The IRT.)

Growing up in New York City, I’m quite familiar with traveling on an intricate public transportation system. Its rapid transit system is one of the oldest & the largest in the world, carrying millions of passengers daily. And a few of those passengers are quite colorful. For instance, a pole dancer graced riders with a performance (YouTube video) earlier this year. There are also musicians playing everything from African drums to mariachi instruments to steel pan drums and everything in between. There are dancers doing everything from break-dancing to acrobatics, self-proclaimed prophets & preachers proclaiming that the end is quite near, and even sub-human pieces of shit jerking off in front of and/or on people people who masturbate and/or expose themselves to innocent passengers.

In less-developed nations, some people ride with live animals on certain modes of transportation. Transportation in these countries is already tricky because of overcrowding with people sometimes sitting on top of each other, so if you add a few chickens to the mix, public transportation is one hell of a ride in these countries too.

Coming from a major city, and having been to a few different countries ranging from extremely wealthy with efficient modes of transportation to less-developed with a van that comes on time if you’re lucky, I’ve seen & experienced a range of interesting rides. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see some ridiculous shit interesting stuff on public transportation over here. Here are a few examples:

– A man got on the bus with his pit-bull. It wasn’t a service dog; it was just a man with no disabilities bringing his pet pit-bull on the bus with no objections from the bus driver. He was nonchalant about it and (thankfully) had it on a leash, but I wasn’t too happy about them sitting across from me. It was a crowded bus so I couldn’t move elsewhere. 😐

– A man got on the bus and began drinking alcohol & smoking marijuana; a few passengers moved away, including me, and I reported him to the bus driver and he got off 2 stops later. That’s right – I snitch.

– One man in a nearby neighborhood is notorious for getting on a certain bus or buses drunk, first thing in the morning, during daily rush hour. Luckily, I’ve only been graced with his presence once. He likes talking about Babylon & Jamaica, and he loves cursing in front of young children on the way to school.

Babylon drunk.
This 'diamond in the drunk' said that he'd fight everyone in Babylon... during morning rush hour no less.

– Yet another man got on the bus with his young daughter… and drank a big can of beer.

Drinking beer on the bus with his kid: totally appropriate.

Drinking alcohol on public transportation has been banned in a few places in England, but clearly some people don’t care.

– A man was being verbally aggressive on a bus one weekend as I was heading to my friends’ house. The bus driver refused to move from the bus stop until or unless the man got off of the bus, which is understandable because there are plenty of signs that explicitly state that any form of abuse against public transportation workers is not tolerated. I got annoyed along with a few other people, told the man I had somewhere to be at a certain time, and to either pay the fare & leave the driver alone or get off of the bus because he was inconveniencing everyone. After extra uproar from other passengers, he finally got off. (Jerk.)

– The singing bus driver during morning rush hour. He was hysterical. He sang old-time gospel songs with an operatic voice. I was on his bus twice. At the end of the route, the passengers gave him a round of applause. I laughed my ass off. (I don’t even speak in the morning, so he had to be hilarious for me to laugh that early.)

– The children. Ahhhh yes, the wonderful cherubs. The screaming babies & crying toddlers in their gargantuan carriages [better known as pram(s)], and temper-tantrum-throwing children are an absolute delight during morning & evening rush hour.

Twirling kid.
This cherub twirled around the pole on a crowded bus while whining loudly. His mother sat next to me, oh joy.
Another darling little cherub, standing on the seat with Mother Dear's permission (sitting next to her).
Temper tantrum.
This cherub threw himself on the floor, and Mother Dear had to drag him off of the bus.

– A former expatriate & friend of mine, who was studying here but has now repatriated, got into a physical fight with a drunk woman on the bus. The drunken dame heard her accent, asked her where she was from and upon hearing the answer, began name calling & cursing. In spite of this, my friend was calm and tried staying away from Dame Drunk-A-Lot. Dame Drunk-A-Lot kept it up, along with purposely stepping on her foot 3 times… and after the 3rd time, my friend slapped her in the face.

What are your colorful stories in your part of the world? If you’re an expatriate, what are some differences that you’ve noticed between public transportation in your home country and your current country? Do you have public transportation stories and if so, are they more colorful in your home country or your current country, or are the stories just as colorful in different countries?

Life savers.
Life savers.

Run-in.

A few days ago, my job gave me a courtesy car. I got a parking ticket within hours of getting it because I had no idea that I couldn’t park in front of my damn house without a permit. As annoyed as I was about it, nothing that happens with this car will probably top the shit that happened today.

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06.07.2011

And on the other hand, without a gun they can’t get none
But don’t let it be a black and a white one

Fuck The Police by N.W.A. (very graphic lyrics)

A few days ago, my job gave me a courtesy car. I got a parking ticket within hours of getting it because I had no idea that I couldn’t park in front of my damn house without a permit. As annoyed as I was about it, nothing that happens with this car will probably top the shit that happened today.

I left home to get to work and would’ve been on time had this situation not happened.

I turned on the street needed to get to the main street. While driving on the left/wrong side of the road is confusing, it only takes a day or two to get used to it, depending on the driver. (Blog post about my 1st drive on the left/wrong side of the road later.) So I drove and tried getting on the junction that turns into 3 or 4 lanes and goes on the main street. As I did, a van pulled up on the side of me and damn near hits me. The driver honked at me and purposely braked. As a result, I held the horn and honked for a long time (probably over 10-15 seconds). He kept braking on purpose and I kept honking.

Then suddenly, and I didn’t realize this at first, the driver stopped the van. He got out of the car, came up to the car, called me a “fucking cunt” and goodness knows what else, and spat toward me.

You read that correct. He spat towards me. Had he come 1 or 2 steps closer, the spit would’ve landed on me.

I was absolutely furious. I rolled down my window and said “Fuck you! I’m calling the police.”

It just so happened that the driver was pulling into what (I think) is a hardware store just a few feet away from where this happened. I pulled in right next to the van and called the police while he walked into the store as if nothing happened. I can’t remember everything I said, but I do remember describing the driver and giving the license plate number on the back of the van. As I was speaking to the operator, the driver tried to talk/yell at me. I got loud and started crying angry/frustrated tears.

“How fucking DARE YOU spit at me. I’m not from here. You wouldn’t know that because you were too busy fucking spitting at me! Fuck you! How fucking DARE YOU! You don’t fucking spit at me!”

And I just kept talking. Meanwhile, the operator tried telling me to calm down and speak to him, but I wasn’t paying much attention. Also, someone who works in the store tried to come out and get in between us, but I moved away from that person. I wasn’t trying to get physical so there was no point for that person to get in between a goddamn thing. The driver, being the asshole that I’m sure he is on a daily basis, said

“I didn’t spit at you! Where’s the spit?”

I said

“You fucking liar. You didn’t spit at me? You’re a fucking liar. How fucking DARE you.”

The police pulled up and I got off the phone with the operator. One officer spoke with me and at this point, tears were still pouring because I was furious and I felt helpless. If I was home, I’d feel a hell of a lot better standing up for myself, especially since the police at home carry guns while the toy cops here don’t (except certain teams & under certain circumstances). I told him what happened, explaining to him that even if I did cut the van off, I didn’t mean to because I just began driving here a few days ago. In the meantime, another officer attempted to move my car out of the way. (It’s a hybrid and he didn’t know what he was doing, so I moved it myself.) The one officer I spoke with, went over to the driver and spoke to him.

The driver lied.

The officer came back to me after speaking with the driver, who admitted that he cursed at me & called me names but lied and said that he never spat. I said

“Sir, I have no reason to lie. I wouldn’t be sitting here crying in another country, lying about this. I’m telling you, the man is lying. He spat at me.”

The officer looked on the car and said

“Well, I don’t see anything. He must have bad aim. Did any land on you?”

Me: “No sir. But had he come a step closer, it would have.”

I remember the officer asking how long I’d been driving. I said

“Here or in general?”

“Here.”

“Just a few days. My job gave me this courtesy car a few days ago. But I’ve been driving for years, sir.” (Because if I was a shitty driver, that’d justify the driver being a scumbag & calling me a fucking cunt & spitting toward me. Right.) The officer also said that “independent witnesses” and the driver said that I kept honking at him, the driver admitted to cursing at me because I was honking at him, and – here’s the kicker – the store workers said that he’s a regular customer at the store. My response:

“Of course they’re gonna vouch for him! It’s me against them! I’m telling you officer, he’s fucking lying. I don’t care what he says to those people, he’s lying.”

“Was anyone else in the car with you?”

“No sir, I was on my way to work.”

At some point, the officer said that the police wouldn’t do anything about this situation. “We’re just gonna take everyone’s details. I’ve given him a warning. Is that okay?”

“No, but what can I possibly do.”

“How would the police handle this if you were back in the States?”

I was too upset, and trying a bit too hard to hold back extra tears, to give an answer. I just shrugged and said “I don’t know.”

He asked if I needed a ride home because I wasn’t in a good state to drive, and I said no. I was still close to home so it was pointless. Besides, nothing would help anyway. I got in my car, reversed & turned, and the officer went to block traffic so that I could get back on the road.

As I waited for the officer to block, the driver walked to the van, looked at me until he got into the driver’s seat, and smirked at me. I was too upset to say something aloud like “Fuck you” or “Don’t let me see you in the street, scumbag”, but I damn sure said it in my head. When traffic stopped, I told the officer that he was smirking because he knows he was lying about spitting. I drove back to my house, still crying, and parked.

Since I don’t have a parking permit yet, I went around the corner to pay for parking for an hour until/unless I could find a side street with no permit needed. When I came back to the car, a traffic officer was in the process of writing a ticket across the street from the car. I said

“Sir, please don’t tell me that you’re writing a ticket for that white car.”

The motherfucker stared at me for a minute, then asked me not to shout at him. I was visibly upset and (by this time) had a headache, so shouting wouldn’t help with the headache. (In other words, I wasn’t shouting at the motherfucker.) I told him that I wasn’t shouting & wanted to know if he was writing that ticket for my car because I’d just gone around the corner and had proof that I paid for parking. He explained that I had to park right in front of the ticket box and couldn’t park on my street. I was too upset & furious and felt too helpless & disrespected & low to argue with the motherfucker, so I just said “I can’t win. Ever.” and walked to my car with more tears.

I parked in front of the stupid box for about 1/2 hour and cried while trying to gain back some composure. My co-worker D, who I called & spoke with a few times during the situation, called me again and told me to try finding a parking spot on a street with no signs, if I could gain enough composure to drive. I waited a few minutes, drove off, and was lucky enough to find a street near my house where it’s unnecessary to have a parking permit. My American colleague’s husband called me to see what happened (I’d asked D to speak to her at the office) and I cried some more, then I slowly walked back to my street. A walk that’d normally take 2-3 minutes, took 10 minutes because of a mixture of tears, headache, and feeling like shit.

I stayed home for the rest of the day; despite taking a nap, my headache lasted all day and throughout the night. I tried calling family back home, but of course, no one was available. That made me feel abandoned & even more helpless. I was so annoyed that no one was there for me, I decided I didn’t even want to talk about it any more. I didn’t, and still don’t, feel like rehashing the story over again. That’s most of the reason why I’m writing this entry: all of your answers are here.

But it’s never that simple though. The rest of the week hasn’t been all that wonderful either. To be continued in another blog entry…..