Letters from Grenada

confessions of a reformed tourist

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truthful tuesday

I’m an arrival/departure junkie.

There’s really nothing sweeter than http://iqbroker-trade.com/iq-option-for-pc-windows coming back to a place I left a year ago. Fights and grievances evaporate, everything appears shiny and new, and I find myself appreciating details I might never have noticed if I lived here all the time. People are happy to see me, and instead of uncomfortable conversations about what I’m doing to make a living, we chat about my fabulous tan.

One of these days I’ll have to settle down. Pick a country and stick with it for a few consecutive years. Like a grownup.

But not yet.

me o’clock

1. I never thought I’d say this, but I haven’t done much of anything on the internet https://iqbroker-trade.com/iq-option-for-pc-windows for the last year. I still post from time to time, but I haven’t written anything of substance (here) in ages, and lately I go weeks without even checking my email. This time last year I was posting fifteen times a day.

2. I still think about the internet – and the people in it – all the time, it’s just no longer in the same kind of demented fervor omigawdimmamisstheparty breathlessness. I’m quite sure this means I’m no longer addicted.

3. Now that I’ve overcome my internet codependency, I’m slowly paving a digital path for myself, one that I can travel in a healthy manner. I’m in no hurry.

4. The internet and I can’t be codependent any more than my favorite scarf and I can, but still. I project and personify because it amuses me, not because I don’t know the difference.

5. I really hope Donald Trump runs for President, because his humiliation will be awesome to watch.

6. The other day I was craving Starbucks, which, naturally, does not have a franchise in Grenada. So I melted a candy bar and added it to a cup of instant coffee, and BOOM. Tastes just like home.

7. I don’t even drink Starbucks. I also don’t eat McDonald’s or Pizza Hut or Taco Bell or any fast food, really, but I crave all of them like crazy when I see commercials. That’s why I learned to make deep dish pizza from scratch.

8. Thirteen years ago in Paris, I met Margaret Atwood and had a chance to talk to her at length, but I didn’t, because I was scared and also somehow thought it was an opportunity I’d have again. Past me was silly, and should’ve worn more comfortable shoes.

9. Speaking of Margaret Atwood, I just finished Oryx & Crake. I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy love stories about the end of the world.

10. To Bean, everything on TV is either cartoons or the news, except for Futurama, which he says is both. I think I’m going to appropriate that, and refer to everything in life as that’s fun or insipid as cartoons and everything else as the news. Except for this post, which is both.

a water story

P. had been living in Grenada for over five years http://www.iqbroker-trade.com/iq-option-for-pc-windows the day she got the first water bill.

At first, she thought it was a bookkeeping error, one that the utility would sort out on its own. But the bills continued to arrive, and she decided that even though she couldn’t possibly be the responsible party, this was a situation she could not ignore. So she called customer service, and explained her problem, that they were charging her for water even though every drop of water used by her household came from the rain that fell into her water collection tank, that she wasn’t even connected to the municipal water supply.

After much transferring and even more holding, she finally got a manager on the line, who explained that the utility had rights to all the water on the island, so they were billing her for her estimated water use. Her rain barrel, the manager insisted, was besides the point.

For a moment, P. got so angry she thought her face might spontaneously combust. But she’s a clever lady, so she thought for a moment, slowly let out a cleansing breath, and said,

“Fair enough. If you control the water, cut off the rain over my house.”

This happened about four years ago, and I’m happy to report that the sky still rains into her tank.

a few hours ago

I was standing in my kitchen, contemplating a sink full of dirty dishes and admitting to myself that I’d really love to put the chore off by calling a friend to chat, but that I can’t – easily – because I’ve been out of touch with everyone for over six months, long enough that the only person who still emails me is Al Gore.

I felt tears burning in my nose, and I let myself feel sorry for myself for about 90 seconds, but that’s all, because I have better things to do, and if I wanted a birthday party, dammit, I should have planned one.

Bean, the almost-five-year-old amateur psychologist, looks up from penmanship practice to ask me why I’m crying.

“Mommy’s only crying a little bit. I’m OK. I’m just sad because my birthday is tomorrow.”

He nods, wise and understanding. “You’re sad because it’s not your birthday right now.

Which wasn’t the problem at all, but it was funny, and I laughed, which banished my tears for real. Then I washed the dishes, and we both got dressed for the beach, even though it’s raining, because we are not easily distracted from our dreams.


I’m trying to find my “just right”.

I’ve always been sensitive about how I write about Grenada, the things that happen to me and around me, and especially the other people involved. There are some tales that I’ll never tell, and others in which I give once-real-life characters fictional cloaks that I hope will protect them in the unlikely event someone who knows them discovers my stories.

It was easy to do this when I was in the States, writing from a distance. It felt safe. But now, back here on the island, it doesn’t.

For example. I’d love to vent the whole horrible and hilarious story of trying to get the police to take an interest in my stolen laptop, but I don’t want to become a target. (They never did take an interest. I got it back without their help.)

I’d also enjoy sharing today’s indignities, suffered when I went to Immigration to get my visa extended, but as angry and righteous as I might feel about the utter lack of professionalism I encountered, I’ve learned not to bite the hand that’s holding my passport.


I hate Word with a burning, unbridled passion. Not only is it clunky and slow, it makes inane “corrections” to my spelling and grammar.

So, mostly I used TextEdit. TextEdit is my jam. TextEdit and I like-like each other. TextEdit and I are kissing in a tree. 

Alas, TextEdit has a fatal flaw. No word count, and sometimes a girl just really needs word count. For ages now, I’ve been meaning to find a simple, light text editor that also has a word count function. But I never actually looked, because I figured it didn’t exist, and that if it did, I’d have to pay for it, and it wasn’t *that* important. So I kept using TextEdit, and whenever I really needed to count my words I’d copy and paste into Word, giving myself a french pedicure during the time it took the program to load. 

This has been going on now for over a year. Until last night, when I decided I’d actually do a thorough search for the kind of program I need. In under ten minutes, I found it. It’s perfect. It has word count and a few other useful features, but it’s light and loads really quickly. It’s also free.

And it’s called Bean.

memorial day

My grandfather was a veteran of World War II. He’d been on the Normandy coast, though he missed the gruesomeness of D-Day proper. 

In 1998, when I visited the graveyard there, I walked down to the ocean and collected some sand for him. I filled an empty film canister. (Remember those?) 

It was an eerie experience. I’m sensitive to psychic disturbances, and I could almost hear the crush of souls hovering in the air over Omaha Beach. When I got back to New York, I visited my grandfather and told him what I’d felt there. He was something of a mystic himself, so he understood. He believed in stuff like that. He was an inspired carpenter, and he often said that his creations just sprang forth from the wood. His hands were tools, he said, but whose tools, exactly, he was never quite sure.

the infant mayor of westerhall bay

One night when Bean was about eight months old, we took the subway from my dad’s house in The Bronx to my friend’s apartment on the Upper East Side. He was still Snugli-bound back then, so it was an easy trip. Pleasant. Fun. 

We had a good night. He found her stash of cat food and stacked, knocked down and restacked the cans with unbridled glee. They were the best blocks he’d ever seen, and to this day my friend jokes about stocking up on cat food before Bean comes over. 

We left after dark, and walked from her apartment on 77th Street to the 86th Street Subway Station, where we caught a Uptown 6. It wasn’t too cold and I’m totally comfortable in New York City, so I didn’t hurry. I couldn’t see my son’s face, because he was facing out, forward, which was one of his requirements by that time, that he be allowed to see as much as possible of the world around him. 

The lights and the people, the shouts and the music, the squeal of the trucks and crosstown busses and the rumble of the subway beneath our feet. These were all things Bean drank up, but his favorite thing by far was all the people, especially the ones walking their dogs. I am certain of this even though he was too young to speak, because my boy’s face has always communicated on a plane far beyond mere words. 

He was used to being popular. He was born in Grenada, where everyone knew his name. Neighbors called to him when they passed our house and saw him out on the verandah. People, as far as he knew, were always friendly, bringing him a mango, or a cookie, for no other reason than they had one to share and thought of him, the infant mayor of Westerhall Bay.

That night I saw New Yorkers through his eyes. Their heads down, their eyes hooded, their pace quick; busy, busy. He tried to engage them all. He threw out the only hooks he had, hoping to catch them with his eyes, bait them with his toothless grin, reel them in with his tiny, gummy, waving hands. 

Not a single person even made eye contact. 

Finally, in frustration, he turned to me and asked with his eyes. Why, Mommy? Why don’t they want to play with me?

I brought my lips close to his ear and whispered, Because it’s cold and dark, and they want to get home as soon as possible. They don’t know any better, baby.

“break stick in your ears, or what?”

West Indian slang for ejaculate (both the noun and the verb) is “break”. I thought, at first, that this was kind of weird, but the more I thought about it, the more it made perfect sense.

Break? Break. Break! Yes. Exactly.

There’s also a saying, something that you ask people who are just not hearing what you’re telling them. If you find a person is obtuse or bull-headed or just needs to be reminded of the same damn t’ing over and over?

“Break stick in your ears, or what?”

I was so proud of myself when I sorted that one out. And I thought it was pretty hilarious. To ask someone if they had semen in their ears that was keeping them from hearing properly? That’s a real knee-slapper. I wondered if such an idea could be acceptably translated into the American lexicon. I made tentative plans to appropriate the concept, incorporate it into my personal idiom.

About a year later I realized that I’d completely misunderstood, and that the break stick question is actually asking if someone stuck a stick in your ear and broke it off, leaving the end of the stick in there, making you half-deaf. There’s some subtext there, and its juiciness is eclipsed only by its yuckiness.

I wasn’t proud of that realization, but rather relieved that I’d never explicitly stated what I had thought the slang phrase meant.

The learning curve when you live in another country actually gets steeper as you reach the top. When you first arrive in a foreign land, you’re overwhelmed by all the differences. The accents, the food, the daily words and actions that are small to you but hugely insulting to the lady in the market who sells you breadfruit or the taxi man who picks you up at the airport. After six or so months you get to a point where you think you’re on the level. You know the secret handshake. You get the joke. You stop worrying about embarrassing yourself. And it feels great, understanding and being understood. You breathe a sigh of relief, and you get comfortable.

But then a year or so later, a funny thing happens. One day you’re minding your own business when a memory is triggered, something that happened in your early days, probably something someone said to you, and suddenly you understand what they really really meant. The details aren’t important, but it’s a facepalm moment for sure. You groan, wonder what else you missed and try to convince yourself that your faux pas has been forgotten.

That moment when you first truly comprehend the steepness of the learning curve is a mixed blessing. Because from then on you know enough to know that you’re still a lifetime of layers away from truly getting the joke, and that maybe, just maybe, you always will be.

bean’s birthday

My brother has one of those video cameras with a little screen that you can flip around.

I guess so that you can use it to tape yourself? Yeah.

He brought it out on Tuesday to record Bean blowing out his birthday candles and opening his presents.

At first he kept the monitor where he could see it, but then he turned it to face Bean, who got a huge kick out of seeing himself.

He started monologuing.

My brother asked him if he knew who he was talking to. Bean just looked at him. I think he sensed it was a trick question.

My brother said,

“The future, Jack. You are talking to the future.” He paused. “Do you have a message for the future?”

Bean thought for a moment and then grinned, obviously pleased with his answer.

“Yeah! NO BITING.”

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