Saturday, April 10, 2010

The progression of skills...

I'll edit this later, but something just happened to make me think of this topic...

So I was in the shower and after I finished getting squeaky clean, I opened the curtain only to see one of the lovely, (bigger than your thumb) Jamaican cockroaches that come to visit now and then crawling around on the floor.

When I first got here I was hard pressed to catch one of these suckers which seem to move with the speed and grace of The Flash, despite their mutated size.

A year in I could catch them with likkle effort, but even after a few stomps or whaps with a shoe, the suckers still either ran away or at least limped on!

Today I grabbed up my trusty flip flop and gave a toss; the first one deflected off a chitinous shell, but the second throw got the blighter dead to rights! Like a ninja I ended that creepy crawlies life with a deadly knife throw...well flip flop throw, but you get the point.

So there is one skill I know has progressed along this almost 2 year journey; the likkle cockroaches back home don't stand a chance!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Roller Curtster

Those who know me best, (and those people are rare) know I've been through the mill over the past 7 years or so; they also know that no matter how much I gripe, growl or groan I'm always going to keep moving forward.

Wife leaving, dog put down due to cancer, job vanishing due to angry boss and nasty investors fighting and then said nasty investors liquidating 300 people, two of my favorite houses being sold off because of prior mentioned events; yep it's been rough ride on the roller coaster of life.

I moved, changed my life around and said goodbye to 18 years of the dread insurance game; I found Colorado and it was good. While there I did have to move on from another lover, left another dog behind, (at least she was still alive) and it all had to happen like some Twilight Zone version of my prior experience...that was rough, but less so than the first time...guess it's like riding the same roller coaster over and over; it's still got the same twists and turns, but you know what to expect after the first time.

I loved Colorado; I loved being a bum and doing what I wanted when I wanted and how I wanted! The freedom of those last 2 years of my 3 years in the Enchanted Valley of Northglenn, Co will live forever in my memory as the golden age of Curt.

There were issues of course; I don't lead that charmed kind of existence that has moments of perfection. No, even during my moments of perfection there is some hair out of place, or loud stomping pompous ass making noise above me 20 hours out of every day...but I can deal with that if everything else is golden.

Money running short and jobs in shorter supply I started to think of what ride I should go on next; I had always wanted to join the Peace Corps; in fact I had done the paperwork in my late 20's just before I met my ex wife and left the PC line for that new attraction.

So being free and amazingly unencumbered of emotional or monetary debt, I joined the Peace Corps and left for Jamaica in July of 2008; just prior to then my mom passed away unexpectedly at the end of May. It was rough and the USPC almost didn't let me take my assignment, but I convinced them it was the right time for me and off I went.

I was sworn in to service on August 28th 2008 and thus began my first official year of Peace Corps Jamaica. I was in for an amazing ride; the people I met, places I went and things I learned about myself, my culture and then others and their culture are experiences I will not only keep a life time, but will take a life time to sort through.

I planned to go home for 1 vacation during my 2 years in Jamaica; the plan was August 11th through September 2nd. Then my father got sick and I was called on the 27th of July to rush home to his bedside. I arrived on the 28th and he succumbed to his illness just two days later; suddenly I was a 45 year old orphan... my mind was like a poor little Oliver, "Please sir, I don't want any more!"

While I was back in the USA I realized just how much I loved America; my home, my culture. Watching the USA from Jamaica we seem so ridiculous; I mean all the BS with movie stars and politicians and people stomping people into the floor to buy a new X Box...but then I came home and I was just blown away by all that we have and what we've done with it.

We Americans are goofy sure, but after living abroad for over a year I realized that all humans are just young babes in the universe and we're just crawling around trying to learn how to take those first few steps. I had lived for a year in a culture just starting to roll over, after being born to a land that was already up on it's hands and knees rocking.

So when I could step back for a few moments from the loss of my father, I was able to notice that I felt more love for my family than I had in ages, relished the time with my friends in a way I hadn't in years and when the air turned cold one night and I could smell fall inthe wind, my very spirit smiled. This was my home; not one state, but the the very state of being...American.

When the time came to get back on the airplane and head back for my second year in Jamaica it was rough; this roller coaster of a life I have been living the past 7 years or so seemed like it was ready to pull into the loading station and stop to let me off for a while...but I had said I'd ride until the end and those who know me best know I'm in it to the end, win or lose.

I'm in a new place this second year; I moved from the middle of Jamaica to the tip; changed from a business town, to tourist stop and from friends and familiar faces, to a whole new set of people and places. Up the hill and down I plunge; stomach in my throat, hands gripping the cross bar as I try to keep my head from banging around from side to side. It's thrilling and scary and you want it to keep going and stop all at the same time...

In 8 months I'll be leaving Jamaica; I have no clue what comes next; like a walk through Six Flags, you wait in a long line, talk to your friends and then climb into the next roller coaster and see what the ride is going to be like.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

STFU PETA! -or- Plants are people too!

“PETA wishes Obama hadn't swatted that fly”

[Squeezes bridge of nose, takes a deep breath of life and blows it back out again.]

“PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside.”

[Feels reality slipping away, and not in a good way.>]

You have to be kidding me. This can’t be real…has to be April 1st again and the time here in Jamaica has just FLOWN past.

[Checks date on computer; covers face with palm, since it is in fact June 18, 2009 and not All Fools Day.]

Nope it’s real; there are people in the world this insane.

Anybody who knows me will agree that I am a fan of animals. I am a bit of a Dr. Doolittle in fact and have petted cats and dogs that others swear are either too shy or too ornery to be handled by anybody other than their owners. I adopted a greyhound and crusaded for greyhound rights when I heard how terribly they were treated.

I’m not a vegetarian, I eat meat, but I agree that the animals don’t need to suffer while they are alive and can be killed in ways that do not give, (or prolong) suffering…I’m cool with that; good Karma.

I don’t begrudge those who chose to live free from an animal based diet. I applaud those who do so for reasons of health, and even those who, (un-judging of others) do so because they do not wish to cause the death of animals.

But this is too much. No really; shut the flying fuck up PETA and get a grip on the insanity you are spewing out these days! You’ve gone from being a viable group of people looking to help find rational rights for animals to a flat out psycho ward full of dangerous and delusional morons.

I’ve long held that those who do judge others on eating meat are wrong in their beliefs; sorry but everything that isn’t dead on this planet is ALIVE folks…EVERYBODY MUST KILL SOMETHING TO LIVE; period. Shut up; you’re wrong…it’s a fact. Plants are living things and you kill them to eat them and thus live yourself.

Plants give us the very thing of life that all other things on our planet need to survive; oxygen. Last I checked, you can’t live more than about five minutes without breathing, but you can most likely live a good long time with a few less flies on the planet.

(Notice please that I said a few less flies; other than a recent interest in the genocide of mosquitoes, I don’t advocate killing off an entire species of anything on our glorious globe.)

I get the concept that a carrot isn’t as cute as a cow and I’d rather have a pet puppy than potato, but when you start telling me that a fig has less of a right to life than a fly, A SHIT EATING, DISEASE CARRYING FLY…it’s time for you to go. If a life is a life and all should be saved from death by digestion, then we should kill nothing to live and it's time for us ALL to starve to death; better that than become like PETA.

There are plenty of animals (and plants by the way) that need our help just to survive; flies will be here long after we are gone from this place. They will buzz around our corpses and plan families in our gray dead eyes no matter how many we swat during our lifetimes, flies are the lords in the end.

So take a few deep breaths to regain your sanity PETA; consider the (now dead) cumquat your about to swallow and suggest a Venus Flytrap to our President; it's the oval office of life.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Be careful what you wish for; Angry Werewolf!

People seem to like the way I write; in fact people tend to like the way I write better than the way I express myself out loud. I make this point because many of my family and friends ask when my next blog will be posted and I just shrug and avoid the page like the plague because there is a lot of internal editing going on every time I post here. We of the Peace Corps are, (among other things) ambassadors of sorts and with that part of our job description comes the duty to mind our p's and q's; those who forget themselves sometimes find their words are unwelcome in certain circles.

Today I woke up, read some news from back in the states and my jaw clenched, my teeth ground and my fingers got that angry itch that said, "Time to express yourself and don't hold back on the hot pepper!" Today, me nah easy; today Hulk is mad!

Barack Obama is going to be our president; I personally am thrilled and I'm sorry for those who, (for other than purely political reasons) aren't. I was filled with a new hope, (no not Star Wars) and I started to think, "Perhaps this world is growing up at last; were getting past issues that have no real merit or meaning and getting on with our lives." Then I read the news from back home on my laptop and I said, "Oh fucking hell, no!"

It's a tale of two stupidities and while there was loss of life in both, only one really sucked my hope near to dry and made me ashamed to be human once more.

In Valley Stream N.Y. a temp worker is opening the doors the day after Thanksgiving. They call it Black Friday, but in the name of my fellow Jamaicans and our president elect I'd like to change it to "Stupid Human Friday" and leave even unconnected color labels out of the equation. This man, Jdimytai Damour was a temp worker and most likely just trying to earn a bit of extra cash to live and/or for the holidays; what he got instead was a wake up call and then a Wake.

The wake up call came in the form of a throng of greedy and incensed humans who, milliseconds after Jdimytai opened the flood gates at Wal Mart(tm), came rampaging into the store like riders on the storm. He was killed by the people he was there to serve; crushed to death, dun-dead. Husbands, wives, children, grandparents, your doctor, lawyer and perhaps even a religious figure or two stormed the place in a flood of humanity that washed over this hapless victim of avarice and trampled him to death! They'll bury him soon; have to, dead you know.

I was stunned to silence, (a rarity for me); a human being was trampled to death by other seemingly normal humans! This was not a wild stampede of wildebeests or crazed elephants on a safari, it was men and women. This wasn't in the midst of some natural or man made disaster where fear and terror could have been used as a (poor) excuse for setting aside our humanity and compassion for our fellow beings; this was shopping! A man was killed so somebody could fucking tickle Elmo.

The depths of human depravity do not end there; forgetting the pregnant woman or others who were hurt, (because most likely it was while they were stomping on Mr. Damour's skull) we come to the brain trusts who then complained when told the store was closing. Yes, much of this killer herd of human cattle bleated out objections like, "I've been in that line since yesterday morning!" and then kept shopping; a man is torn, bruised and bloodied and dying on the floor and they need to get a sweet deal on an X Box.

The police are looking at video tape of the incident, but say it isn't likely they'll find the exact people who used poor Jdimytai as a springboard to savings. I don't understand why they are trying to find just a few people; they need only arrest every worthless sack of water and bone who entered those doors and ignored the man on the ground, while his co-workers (bless every one of you who tried to help him) attempted to get him out of harms way, only to be trampled a bit themselves.

Senior Vice President Hank Mullany of Wal Mart was quoted as saying, "Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate event occurred; our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted." He was forced to say this of course, to try and mitigate the impending lawsuit landslide which will be coming his way. People already made noise that there weren't enough security guards there; security guards are there to stop worthless and desperate people from stealing, not knock sense into humans who should know better than to turn a fellow Homo-sapian into Eggs Benedict!

This is certainly a time I hope nobody wins a single frivolous lawsuit; I also hope Wal Mart is honorable, (or at least smart) enough to pay this man's family for their loss. I also hope that said family doesn't give into the greed which killed their loved one and try to get more; Wal Mart didn't kill Jdimytai Damour, his fellow human beings did.

There were other incidents less horrific around the US of course and the greed of low priced goods and services didn't only hypnotize the tramplers; as one story pointed out the tramplees were equally as stupid: "A woman reported being trampled by overeager customers at a Wal-Mart opening Friday in Farmingdale, (about 15 miles east of Valley Stream store) Suffolk County police said. She suffered minor injuries, but finished shopping before filling the report, police said." Oh you go girl; get that half off on a waffle iron before you have your broken foot set!

Now I said, this is a tale of two stupidities and here is the second; it actually makes me less angry than the first, other than the location of the incident and who could have gotten caught in the cross-fire.

Across the country on the other side of the good old US of A two men and their feisty female companions were shopping on Stupid Human Friday at a Toys 'R Us store in Palm Desert California when a disagreement caused the two ladies to put up their dukes.

In this case the fight wasn't over a reduced-price Transformer Doll(tm), no this altercation was pure animal rage brought on by one person unhappy with another person scratching in what they perceived as their sand box.

As the women played out a scene from Rocky Balboa, their men scratched their heads until one came up with the great idea of flashing his gun. Sadly, the other guy had a heater too and he wasn't about the bling, only the bang. The second man pulled and fired, sending the first guy running like a sissy to get away.

Hey genius, don't carry an instrument of destruction if you're not willing to use it; keep it in your pants, or better yet turn it in to your local police station. Anyways I digress.

When the gun-flasher couldn't get away from the shit storm he started, he pulled his piece and fired back; the end result is two women bruised and bloodied but alive, have lost their macho boyfriends to the way of the gun. I don't know about you, but I think a heated debate over a Star Bucks hot chocolate and a pumpkin cookie is a much better way to settle an argument.

As I said, this story makes me slightly less angry because it's just four worthless twits beating on and killing each-other; only the fact it happened in a damned toy store really pisses me off. I mean, you can't take this shit out to a nice back alley or abandoned building; you have to go where there are happy kids and stressed out parents who may end up dead due to your neanderthal ways?

Neanderthal ways; this brings me to my closing point. We always say, "Really? This is 2008 I can't believe this is still happening!" I bet in 1008 they said the same thing and I'm guessing that Cro-Magnons grunted out, "Really? it's 500,000 BC; I can't believe these things are still happening, were not Neanderthals!" But we are; underneath our 120,000 years of "modern evolution" were still children on this planet and it shows.

I'm not going to give up hope; I'm flawed and fractured myself, but every day I try to put down the rock and pick up the pen. I joined the Peace Corps to renew myself, my hope and my world; I only wish in my quest for a peaceful evolution, I don't forget myself and trample somebody on my way to a pattie and coco bread.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Capturing Beauty

I've never been a huge picture taker, I'd go on tangents now and then when I realized that I hadn't taken many in a long time. I'd chide myself when I'd fail to capture the beauty around me, or I didn't have a pic of my friends, so here in Jamaica I've tried to be on top of the picture thing as my AA battery habit can attest to.

I lived in Colorado for 3 years prior to coming to Jamaica and yet somehow, despite falling in love with her and exploring all over her mountains, I never quite stopped to realize all the beauty that I couldn't capture with my camera. This odd realization only came upon me here in Jamaica, at a greenhouse when I noticed butterflies in a way I'd never seen them before.

I caught movement out of the corner of my eye, as my counterpart and a greenhouse farmer were discussing calcium deficiency in tomato plants; the momvent was a flock(?) of white and yellow butterflies, dozens of them, flying about the roadway. On a normal day this would be a beautiful sight, something you could catch with your camera and show your friends, but this was also something else; because of the wind and the numbers and, (no doubt) forces I don't comprehend, the little beasties were swirling around like a gossamer tornado. They moved almost too fast for my eyes to follow, much less my old Olympus 4mp camera to capture. I lowerd the screen from my face and just watched, enthralled by the beauty of the dance.

This was a moment in time and unique for me alone, since nobody else there seemed to take notice or care. I was there to bear witness to this mini cyclone of butterflies and then the moment was gone forever. I wish others had been there and had seen it, because words can't describe the scene with true justice and I just couldn't capture it on my camera.

This moment made me reflect on other times I found myself in the same position; moments in time where something amazing happened and I had been lucky enough to see it.

In the nature park with Jeannine and Hobbes the Wonderdog; I look up and (almost out of sight) see flashes of silver glinting in the mind boggles as I watch because, what I'm seeing LOOKS like a school of fish swimming in the ocean, but in reality had to have been some kind of birds, because the blue they swam in was the Illinois sky. I never saw the like again, and yet I can close my eyes and recall it vividly.

So while amazing photographers like Josh Hunter and Becky Mobley may capture 1000 words worth of inspired photos, my brain still holds the captured beauty of things uncapturable by machines alone.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The randomness

Okay time for some randomness.

Mosquitoes suck my nose; figuratively for sure and if I'd let them literally too.

Never work 25 yards from a KFC; the smell makes you hungry and sick at the same time.

Wherever you go in the world, the fast food is the best tasting and worst for you.

Devon House isn't Oberweis Dairy, but it's the next best thing.

There is no place like A Time and a Place; Tony rocks! (

I feel bad for the dogs here except when I'm trying to sleep...

Jerk Chicken is misnamed; call it Godly Chicken!

We're dropping to 47 of our original 52; everytime you go away, you take a piece of me with you.

If your white hat gets red soil on it, grab a handful of mud and make a red hat, it's never going to be white again.

Dying your white hat with mud is more fun than you would think.

I want all mosquitoes dead, I want their families DEAD!

A cold shower on a hot day is ALMOST as nice as a hot shower on any day.

Flooding still sucks and flashbacks to my Skokie house are haunting me 'til this day.

If you think the driver can't possibly fit another person in his cab the joke (and most likely the person he just stopped for are) on you.

My kingdom for a woman over the age of 30...

Comic Books sent to Jamaica by your best friend are like chicken soup from your Nana when you have a cold.

I can work as a greenhouse laborer, water dripper installer or a sand raker; mad skillz learned in the PC.

If you hear a scrabbling, scratching sound at a closet door, walk the other way; nothing good is going to come from opening that door.

D&G Grape is the new Coke.

Damn now I want a Patty and Coco Bread WITH the D&G Grape.

Um, it's almost lunch time and I've got to go now...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Overdue; it's a slacker's life.

Sure, I should have started this blog a long time ago...but I'm a slacker. In fact, I'm busy avoiding packing and writing a report, (which is due for my PC duties) by starting this blog, so you can see the extent of my slackitude.
There are many great blogs being written by Peace Corps Jamaica; this isn't one of them. I'll put up some links for those later on, but for now just idle here a while and do what we're told is one of a volunteer's greatest talents: practice patience.
It's been an exciting ride so far; the staging event was fun, the first two weeks of training were hot, humid, time-warping goodness, mixed with mind numbing lectureness.
I've met 51 amazing people during this period; they at times amazed me, humbled me, frustrated me, cracked me up, laid me low and flat out made me glad I was a part of this group. The 3 group mates who left us each deserve a hand for being wise enough to know what they wanted; each will be missed and should know just how much.
I have to admit, I'm a bit worried. Those of you who know me will understand when I say the good luck (my APCD calls it skill) I've had with my home placement and job placement is nothing short of amazing. Being a person used to the 1 on the dice rolls and the wrong card drawn from the deck, I tend to get jumpy when things go as well as they are. Mosquitoes and other varied and annoying bug bites aside, I can tell you that I'm happier than a guy in the midst of a foreign culture, (and nowhere near a beach, while on an island) should be.
My new family members are rather like my old ones; funny, sweet, opinionated, great cooks, so-so cleaners, protective, and loving. I've been accepted into a home, a routine and a life; my gratitude for their trust and kindness grows almost as quickly as my meal portions.
My co-workers are also kuul; my supervisor is a great teacher, amazing farmer/window maker and a funny guy. His beat up old Toyota racer is faster than all your namby-pamby Evo's and WRX's back in the states and reminds me of the Millennium Falcon...she may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts.
The association members I work with impress me daily; being from USA, land of the specialists, I boggle at their almost unanimous ability to be farmer, architect, builder, scientist and business person. You could learn a lot from a Jamaican greenhouse farmer; I know I will.
Jamaica is a wild and wonderful place; the cab and bus rides are a paradox of ha-ha and boo-hoo to my American expectations; the cost is amazingly cheap, while the bust-a-ride condition of the cars and the body scrunching "smalling up" can make me yearn for a solo cab ride. The driving skill needed here would test the limits of even the most talented US driver; I'm glad I don't have my motorcycle here because well, I'd be pushing my near-legendary "Death Luck" to its limit. I'm annoyed daily that I can't drive however; come on PC dudes, I have the "The left side is the right side and the right side is suicide!" thing down by now...
The people are not at all what you think and the country is nothing what you've seen. There is more of me in everybody I meet than I would have ever expected, and I'm proud to be a small part of these big people. You need to wrap your mind around an island culture to understand the reason things are so different here; all news is local news, the whole island cheers their successes (just be here when Sir Bolt wins an Olympic race to know what I mean) and they curse their failures as one. I look forward to learning more about everything and everybody Jamaican; I'll write it here in the days...well okay, weeks to come, (I'm a slacker after all.)