Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Write or go mad?

This is my hour of the day. In the dim light just before the tropical day breaks bright open. The thoughts swirling around the back of my mind for days now may be ready to come to my fingers. "May be?" - I never know until I am here - fingers to the keys, butt on chair. The sleek shiny surface of the new Mac is a tactile impediment. This computer feels like a new brain... almost empty. Some people like a clean desk. I long cultivated the ability to be amid noise, clutter, people and children talking, dogs barking. It was a survival mechanism in a newsroom, or having a desk in a corner of the living room.

The process of writing is not so complicated. In pajamas or office wear, you look like you are doing nothing. You look like you might be asleep except for fingers clicking keys. Inside you worry, have I read enough (meaning have I done enough research), should I have made a more detailed plan, was there someone else to talk with, another place to have gone. Should I have project managed this? But those are worries not thoughts.

Here you are, ready or unprepared as you are in life, and the only thing to do is start. The first word, the first sentence, the first paragraph. Perhaps you will come back later and delete most of it, change it, reach a different place, a new conclusion. But this is your hour, your time. The light is growing, birds waking up. The dogs have gone back to sleep. It's almost time to have a banana or breakfast. Is this all you have done?

The brain feels like it is the only part alive. There's urgency now. And a list of things to knock off - perhaps you can come back to it later today - after lunch, before dinner? The best prospect might be to wait for another pre-day.

But wait, you've started! The thoughts are lining up along the brain stem. Don't lose the thread. Keep the sentences coming. Write every day. A blog if you must. Write, re-write, edit, repeat. You are making the matrix for your life.

When Pat Bishop was making music, she was also painting, but she was writing all the time. When I am cooking, I am making recipes in my head, and writing about food.

So, my daughter, when you are swimming with the fishes, measuring small organisms, doing the tedious and mundane, or having adventures in some far corner of the world, shivering in a train station, alone, tired,  or happy and energized, think about this - you are writing your life. The process of putting it down in a paper, a blog, a status on fb, is a matter of sorting, connecting the random cards in a game of sequence.

Friday, September 9, 2011

State of uncertainty

I've always been afraid of police. A completely irrational fear that exists alongside fear of being locked up, fear of not being good enough, fear of being found out, and so on. The idea of police makes me trembly and wary. It's not that I think they are bad people in the individual sense. Those that I have dealt with recently were courteous, helpful, even friendly folk. It's just that once I know you are police, I look at you hard, wondering what goes through your mind about me. Do you sense that I too am a criminal at heart? I have the same irrational fear in front of immigration officers, soldiers and some security guards.

Every time I have to visit a police station, my heart thumps in my chest. I probably remember every single occasion that I've had to present myself, timidly, expecting to be bouffed, and trying to be careful and polite.

So I bolstered my courage to go to our community station to request the pass so that I could drive to the airport to meet the daughter arriving at eleven. A perfectly normal outing, except we now need permission to be on the road between 11 pm and 4 am.

Me: Good morning, I came to request a curfew pass. My daughter is arriving at the airport tonight and I have to meet her.

Woman police officer (WPC) in well-pressed uniform to corporal in dark blue sweater sitting on bench behind me: Who supposed to give out passes?

Corporal: You could do it. I will sign it if you want.

She fetched a photo copied blank curfew pass, and a big notebook. I showed her the travel itinerary, my TT ID card. She filled out the pass with my information.

Corporal: Only you must drive the car. No one else.

Me: My husband could accompany me? Do you need to see his ID?

Corporal: Don't need that. Only you driving.

Me: Does my daughter need to get a pass in the airport? Does this pass allow me to go and come?

Corporal to WPC: You responsible. (To WPC) Write on it in red, 11 pm to 4 am

Me: Do I have to display it on the windscreen?

WPC: You just have to show it if you get stopped.

She turned the big ledger towards me for my signature next to name, address, contact number. I am still perplexed at how simple it is, how little information is actually required (not even the car make or number), no passenger information. Is a badly photocopied piece of paper going to get me through police checkpoints?

WPC to corporal: I signing the pass...

As I receive the letter sized sheet, the corporal says, I'm not going against the officer, but you could display the pass somewhere.

I ask for their names, and in police style, they give their surnames. I leave, still feeling uncertain and inadequately covered.

As it turned out, I drove through deserted streets to the highway (not a hotspot) - busy as ever. The airport carpark is full, and people are standing around the terminal (as usual) waiting to meet their family or friends coming off flights. Many of them have the lettersize sheets in their hands. Going back home, my pass taped to the inside of the windscreen, there's one checkpoint - a WPC smartly uniformed and everyone else (the men) in jeans and t-shirts - at the junction to our hotspot region. The valley seems unpeopled, not another car on the road. It's an eerie nervous quiet, being outside during curfew. The state of emergency feels like someone is always looking over your shoulder. But who?