An Erection and a Pay Cheque

(What I Did On My Summer Holiday Pt2)

 

Dominica Morning

Our merry band made its way home safely. The summer sail to Grenada and back, viewed through a lens of distance and time, was life changing. I now realise that I’m not entirely useless around a boat. I know that no matter how much you love your partner, separate cabins is the only way to go on a 40ft lump of fibre glass floating around on the oggin but above all I learned that sobbing on the bow of said lump is perfectly normal. Stressful times need a release valve. I’m not going to sugar coat the experience. There were tough times. There were occasions I sat in my cabin listening to the flights passing overhead and wondering if I could make it to the airport and catch the first flight home to Antigua. Thankfully with the help of the people we met, the places we visited and the friends we made I was able to give myself a kick up the arse and remember my good fortune to even be able to live here in The Caribbean let alone leave land for 3 months and sail towards the unknown horizon. I certainly haven’t become complacent; most days I still need to pinch myself, but life on a boat turned the volume up to 11. I got to see, taste and smell even more awesome landscapes, flavours and scents. Here awesome is used in the truest sense of the word not the “Oh my gaaaad this waaaaaffle is arrrrrrrsam” sense. How can anyone not be overawed when walking through a rain forest with monkeys screaming over their head through the rain forest canopy? Who but the truly dead inside would not marvel at the ability of Grenadian bus drivers to cram 25 people into a bus designed to carry 16? Only the most jaded, cynical or zombie brained humans would not be overwhelmed at the cornucopian backdrop when walking through a country where no one should, in theory, starve; where every road and path is lined with fruit ready to pick straight from the trees and bushes.

The sailing itself was sailing. We sailed to places, we didn’t die, we anchored, moored or berthed, and we set sail again. In between we lived. We breathed in whatever each island had to throw at us. I danced from my soul at carnival in Grenada. I swear I probably ovulated fully for the last time in my life during J’ouvert – the first morning of carnival where everyone descends on the road to a soundtrack of thumping base, dragging boots and screaming exclamations of freedom. A place where all the men seem to look like Usain Bolt and ask your permission to dance, if you say no, that’s accepted and they move on. Other men should learn from that. The places we anchored, hiked and explored reads like a list from a National Geographic publication.

I won’t bore the shit out of you by describing the squalls, anchor drags or shitty passages because quite honestly, they bore the crap out of me and I was there. The memory I take from the past summer needs to be positive because if its not, I probably won’t set sail on a boat again. The jury is reconsidering its verdict on that but I’m sure it will be a majority verdict in favour of a trip somewhere.

What I wouldn’t recommend to anyone is having their menopause on a boat. I know I should have said ‘her menopause’ but John has been on as much of a learning curve as I have. It is a stage in life and marriage we are experiencing very much together. There have been times where I have thought that I’ve been going insane and when John has asked me to describe how it feels? The best answer I had at the time was, “I don’t feel like me inside my head anymore and I can’t do anything about it.” Whether because menopause is one of the final taboos or whether it’s just something women are expected to get on with, I felt ill equipped to rationalise and understand fully what was and is going on. To deal with the daily rollercoaster of changes ravaging my body and mind is bad enough but to contain that in a 40ft vessel is less than ideal. All the online advice to eat well and exercise is not always possible. Getting ashore is one obstacle, what’s available once you get there is another. Ramen noodles, corned beef and sparse rations of tinned vegetables were the best I could muster at times.  I suspect tiny agitations become amplified in these surroundings, exemplified best when I threatened John with divorce in St Lucia. This wasn’t just a threat. I had a well thought out cunning plan and I fully intended to execute that plan. At least I wasn’t planning to execute him. Having read tales of sailing couples ‘going missing’ at sea, I sense a back story.

I have always been proud of my mind, my common sense and my ability to think my way out of any situation. There are days I possess none of those things. Anxiety attacks, palpitations, hot flushes, forgetfulness, stinking rancid periods (when they happen and hell, that’s a roulette wheel, roll up roll up, place your bets, when she floods, nobody knows) but most of all what I find terrifying are the times when I simply have no energy to eat, move or engage with other people. This isn’t depression. The moods pass as fleetingly as they begin. Compound this with the memory of my Grandmother going completely interstellar mental during her menopause – I mean the woman lost the plot. She tried carving up the house with a bread knife a few days before we were due to go on a family holiday. I say she lost the plot, she never had much of a storyline anyway; her themes were a pedestrian tale of tyrannical family rule and sociopathic whims. So as you can imagine, every time I feel like my stable reality is slipping away I worry that The Grandmother is possessing me from the beyond. I know it will pass and I’ll come through the other side complete with wizened womb and obsolete ovaries and I cannot wait for that stage. It’s this bit in the middle that I am not enjoying and I hope that the more I talk to other women going through the same it will stop being a taboo subject. I used to boggle at young girls who hadn’t been told about puberty and periods and how I thought we’d got past that in a western culture. Now I boggle at how we women don’t talk openly about the other great change in our reproductive lives.

I hope when I emerge through this tunnel of confusion that my creativity returns and my acid tongue finds some alkali because I actually found myself at a social gathering last week telling men in my company that women no longer need them because we have electric tooth brushes. I know, right? I mean I know I’ve been guilty of telling people that John and I ran a sex dungeon just to shut them the fuck up about how we made our retirement pot but seriously, electric tooth brushes was a retort too far even for me. I suppose he and his male companion were asking for it. I’d sat quietly for about an hour listening to them discussing how relationships with older women should be conducted. I chirped in, after a couple of sipping rums mind you, that they needed to get over themselves because since the invention of the electric toothbrush men really need to bring something more to the party. I was told we still need men to provide for us. Sigh and eye roll. I said that as long as the toothbrushes are rechargeable, preferably solar powered out here, then they would have to bring something more to the party than an erection and a pay cheque. Yeh I know, I don’t think I’ll be invited back for a while.

Roll on leaving this perimenopausal state of insanity, not just for my sake but also for the sake of our elderly neighbourhood Lotharios.

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An Erection and a Pay Cheque

(What I Did On My Summer Holiday Pt2)

 

Dominica Morning

Our merry band made its way home safely. The summer sail to Grenada and back, viewed through a lens of distance and time, was life changing. I now realise that I’m not entirely useless around a boat. I know that no matter how much you love your partner, separate cabins is the only way to go on a 40ft lump of fibre glass floating around on the oggin but above all I learned that sobbing on the bow of said lump is perfectly normal. Stressful times need a release valve. I’m not going to sugar coat the experience. There were tough times. There were occasions I sat in my cabin listening to the flights passing overhead and wondering if I could make it to the airport and catch the first flight home to Antigua. Thankfully with the help of the people we met, the places we visited and the friends we made I was able to give myself a kick up the arse and remember my good fortune to even be able to live here in The Caribbean let alone leave land for 3 months and sail towards the unknown horizon. I certainly haven’t become complacent; most days I still need to pinch myself, but life on a boat turned the volume up to 11. I got to see, taste and smell even more awesome landscapes, flavours and scents. Here awesome is used in the truest sense of the word not the “Oh my gaaaad this waaaaaffle is arrrrrrrsam” sense. How can anyone not be overawed when walking through a rain forest with monkeys screaming over their head through the rain forest canopy? Who but the truly dead inside would not marvel at the ability of Grenadian bus drivers to cram 25 people into a bus designed to carry 16? Only the most jaded, cynical or zombie brained humans would not be overwhelmed at the cornucopian backdrop when walking through a country where no one should, in theory, starve; where every road and path is lined with fruit ready to pick straight from the trees and bushes.

The sailing itself was sailing. We sailed to places, we didn’t die, we anchored, moored or berthed, and we set sail again. In between we lived. We breathed in whatever each island had to throw at us. I danced from my soul at carnival in Grenada. I swear I probably ovulated fully for the last time in my life during J’ouvert – the first morning of carnival where everyone descends on the road to a soundtrack of thumping base, dragging boots and screaming exclamations of freedom. A place where all the men seem to look like Usain Bolt and ask your permission to dance, if you say no, that’s accepted and they move on. Other men should learn from that. The places we anchored, hiked and explored reads like a list from a National Geographic publication.

I won’t bore the shit out of you by describing the squalls, anchor drags or shitty passages because quite honestly, they bore the crap out of me and I was there. The memory I take from the past summer needs to be positive because if its not, I probably won’t set sail on a boat again. The jury is reconsidering its verdict on that but I’m sure it will be a majority verdict in favour of a trip somewhere.

What I wouldn’t recommend to anyone is having their menopause on a boat. I know I should have said ‘her menopause’ but John has been on as much of a learning curve as I have. It is a stage in life and marriage we are experiencing very much together. There have been times where I have thought that I’ve been going insane and when John has asked me to describe how it feels? The best answer I had at the time was, “I don’t feel like me inside my head anymore and I can’t do anything about it.” Whether because menopause is one of the final taboos or whether it’s just something women are expected to get on with, I felt ill equipped to rationalise and understand fully what was and is going on. To deal with the daily rollercoaster of changes ravaging my body and mind is bad enough but to contain that in a 40ft vessel is less than ideal. All the online advice to eat well and exercise is not always possible. Getting ashore is one obstacle, what’s available once you get there is another. Ramen noodles, corned beef and sparse rations of tinned vegetables were the best I could muster at times.  I suspect tiny agitations become amplified in these surroundings, exemplified best when I threatened John with divorce in St Lucia. This wasn’t just a threat. I had a well thought out cunning plan and I fully intended to execute that plan. At least I wasn’t planning to execute him. Having read tales of sailing couples ‘going missing’ at sea, I sense a back story.

I have always been proud of my mind, my common sense and my ability to think my way out of any situation. There are days I possess none of those things. Anxiety attacks, palpitations, hot flushes, forgetfulness, stinking rancid periods (when they happen and hell, that’s a roulette wheel, roll up roll up, place your bets, when she floods, nobody knows) but most of all what I find terrifying are the times when I simply have no energy to eat, move or engage with other people. This isn’t depression. The moods pass as fleetingly as they begin. Compound this with the memory of my Grandmother going completely interstellar mental during her menopause – I mean the woman lost the plot. She tried carving up the house with a bread knife a few days before we were due to go on a family holiday. I say she lost the plot, she never had much of a storyline anyway; her themes were a pedestrian tale of tyrannical family rule and sociopathic whims. So as you can imagine, every time I feel like my stable reality is slipping away I worry that The Grandmother is possessing me from the beyond. I know it will pass and I’ll come through the other side complete with wizened womb and obsolete ovaries and I cannot wait for that stage. It’s this bit in the middle that I am not enjoying and I hope that the more I talk to other women going through the same it will stop being a taboo subject. I used to boggle at young girls who hadn’t been told about puberty and periods and how I thought we’d got past that in a western culture. Now I boggle at how we women don’t talk openly about the other great change in our reproductive lives.

I hope when I emerge through this tunnel of confusion that my creativity returns and my acid tongue finds some alkali because I actually found myself at a social gathering last week telling men in my company that women no longer need them because we have electric tooth brushes. I know, right? I mean I know I’ve been guilty of telling people that John and I ran a sex dungeon just to shut them the fuck up about how we made our retirement pot but seriously, electric tooth brushes was a retort too far even for me. I suppose he and his male companion were asking for it. I’d sat quietly for about an hour listening to them discussing how relationships with older women should be conducted. I chirped in, after a couple of sipping rums mind you, that they needed to get over themselves because since the invention of the electric toothbrush men really need to bring something more to the party. I was told we still need men to provide for us. Sigh and eye roll. I said that as long as the toothbrushes are rechargeable, preferably solar powered out here, then they would have to bring something more to the party than an erection and a pay cheque. Yeh I know, I don’t think I’ll be invited back for a while.

Roll on leaving this perimenopausal state of insanity, not just for my sake but also for the sake of our elderly neighbourhood Lotharios.

What’s Behind The Square Window?

Christmas

 

Most British children who were allowed to watch television from the 1960s onward will remember Play School. We had a selection of toys presented to us who could apparently speak through their human companions; Little Ted and Big Ted – who I’m sure were gay or maybe that’s just me. There was Jemima – a throw back hippy rag doll and her evil counterpart Hamble. I fucking hated Hamble. If Hamble were a person she’d have been that dodgy looking woman down the end of the street with 50 cats and a house that smells of ammonia, stale cabbage and burnt tapioca pudding. Finally we had Humpty, a rotund character. I’m not sure we’d be allowed Humpty as a toy today because the program makers could get accused of being fatist. It’s because of Play School that I developed an irrational fear of feet. Some middle aged woman presenter did a sketch on feet. Her feet were minging, I mean disgusting gnarly bunioned beasts. At least that’s how they looked to my 5 year old eyes. I’ve never really recovered and I’m wondering whom I could sue?

Everyday on Play School we were invited to look behind a window of the house and a story would emerge from the image that came slowly into focus.

Play School and its window stories are similar to living here in Jolly Harbour. Behind each of our condo doors lies a novella in itself. Dickens would have had a field day and if I had any sort of self discipline I should sit down and type a weekly saga of events. Scrooge was positively Mr Fezziwig compared to some of the miserable shites who live around here in the winter.*

Antigua is a rich vibrant explosion of colour and people. Jolly Harbour? Not so much at times. The comradery experienced during our hurricane season seems to have died a death. Our resident tourists have returned; old scores, petty resentments, bitching niggles and gripes resurface for their annual airing. It can be a dangerous place to live for the idle handed. It can be very easy to fall down that rabbit hole and never escape. I can now understand why some ex-pats throw themselves towards charitable deeds; it staves off the temptation to live on an existence of gossip and backstabbing. I’m not saying that Antiguans aren’t prone to a good old gossip. 10 minutes under the tamarind tree at our local beach will give you an intimate insight into those who are no better than they ought to be, but the ex-pats seem to take it to a whole new level. Some of the resentments people hold against each other can last 20 years or more, or so it seems and all because someone’s patio is one third of a tile bigger than they think it should be. A prime example is Brun-fucking-Hilda. Short version of who she is: A lady who unofficially looks after a few villas in our street for some elderly Swiss homeowners. She has zero social skills and she screams at contractors, tourists and other homeowners as if she owns the whole damn village. One of her particular pet hatreds, of which she has many, is people parking on the driveways of the empty villas. For 7 months of the year there are approximately 4 fully occupied houses in our cul-de-sac and the rest of the time we have renters drifting in and out. So naturally builders and contractors park in any available space. It’s not the crime of the fucking century. It’s not like the parked cars are permanent fixtures – unlike one homeowner who took it upon himself to build a doorway through to his neighbour’s balcony just because he felt like having an extension to his property – parking a car temporarily is not the same as commandeering someone’s balcony as their own. There again, if that’d been our house, and someone wanted to have through access to our balcony and bedroom I’m pretty certain that we’re both in agreement on this, John and I would just have taken to having sex on the balcony or making sure we did our anal ablutions in full view.  They’d brick up any doorway pretty damn quick, unless they’re a very special type of pervert of course. Anyway, Brun-fucking-Hilda decided she’d had enough of the riffraff on the unused drive so she annexed it off with another of our neighbour’s plants and tied together scratty pieces of string in order to establish border rights. NO ONE WAS FUCKING THERE! NO ONE HAD BEEN THERE FOR MONTHS! When confronted by us regarding her evil plan she waffled that she couldn’t understand English and scuttled off back to her home in the hills. We haven’t seen her since. The actual homeowners are lovely and on return were horrified to learn their home had been looked after by someone that clearly embraces psychopathic tendencies. Peace reigns supreme in our little corner of paradise. I can’t say the same for the rest of Jolly Harbour. The residents association is battling the same old battles but the long-term residents just plod on with life knowing that in 4 months time or less, everyone will pootle off home again.

Thankfully The Yuletide Spirit does indeed live amongst us yet. We had a group of Barbudan evacuees living down the street following the devastation on their island. When we asked one of the beautiful little girls how things looked after they’d been over for a weekend to assess the damage, she just in a matter-of-fact way pulled her tiny finger across her throat in a resigned gesture; all gone, nothing left of their beautiful family home. Later that day we saw Hayley and her friends again. Their energy and zest for life is infectious. They bounced down the street to fuss Holly and Fred. The girls found us hunting out our Christmas decorations and dived into the boxes and promptly decorated our house from top to bottom. We had no tree at this point and we told the girls we’d be back in a few hours with a tree. Much excitement greeted the tree. Once again they set about adorning our plastic symbol of winter evergreen beautifully. We were taught a Calypso Christmas Song and our tiny home was ringing with laughter, noise and joy. John was forced to learn to play ‘How Will Santa Get Here’ on his guitar. The fact he couldn’t play  it perfectly within 5 minutes caused hysterics amongst the girls. Eventually we were all jumping around the house singing.

Our home calmed down to a dull roar and Hayley asked where are our presents? I told her that we don’t buy presents for each other anymore as we have everything we want and need in life. The girls were not happy about this at all and I was chupsed severely. They left our house deep in discussion. About half an hour later they returned with tiny gift-wrapped packages. They placed these parcels solemnly around the tree and called John in from outside where he was fixing something on Mahalo. He was instructed to open these shiny packages. In each gift was a small toy, a bangle, some crayons. Each girl had taken one of their last remaining precious possessions and wrapped them carefully for their neighbour because they were sad that he wasn’t going to be visited by Santa.

 That my friends, is Christmas.

 Have a good one, however you choose to celebrate.

 *If you haven’t read any Dickens you must do so, immediately. Put him on your bucket list and if you don’t at least try, fuck off you miserable fucker (all those literature/ language lectures and seminars were not wasted on me, oh no!)

Fuck Off and Fuck Off Some More – or There’s a Storm A-Coming.

Uhoh

It’s hurricane season. This means different things to different people. To those who spend just five or six months a year here in Antigua it means very little because they’ve all jetted off back to wherever is home for the rest of the year. To the people who are here all year round it means it’s time to start watching the weather forecasts, but for those who have boats still in the water it’s time to panic like fuck and run around in the style of Chicken Licken. Some folks head south out of the path hurricanes generally take, some try and get into a boatlift and some, like us, leave the starting blocks like Usain Bolt when the wind so much as hints at a sniff above a zephyr to check moorings.

 I guess the quiet time and hurricane season can unsettle people living on this tiny rock. I can only assume it rattles certain chemical balances in peoples’ brains given the complete and utter codswallop that appears in my social media timeline right now. Here’s a little rant on that very theme.

It’s a strange unfathomable thing. Why would anyone move to a country in The Caribbean and start promoting a racist agenda? I appreciate some of my acquaintances may well be the full tin foil helmet but that’s not really an excuse or justification to be an out and out racist shit bag. How can people live with, work with and have family members who are married to Black Antiguans go around supporting some bullshit racist agenda that white people are being systematically wiped out by a global conspiracy to get rid of white people. I’ve news for those of you who support white supremacy. White isn’t all that, and guess what? We are outnumbered anyway, get over it. Where’s this rage coming from? It’s all because of some dumb troll on Facebook. I suggested to an online acquaintance that she might like to fact check her sources – she posted a comment regarding white Europeans being wiped out by strategic migration by peoples from The Middle East and elsewhere. Seriously? Really? Fucking hell! I politely responded that she might like to check her sources, you know just in case she was a click bait victim and nudge her away from sharing white supremacy crap – I do the same to people who like sharing brain-fart posts from Britain First et al (I’ve not posted a link to BF because they have the intelligence of a used condom, they are spunk-trumpets of the first order and even typing their name renders me nauseous). Then, whoopee, joy of joys, someone commented that said acquaintance was making a valid point and she proceeded to kindly show me a link to ‘facts’ supporting the theory. These facts were found in yet another white supremacist website, in fact after a good hour of searching online, all hits to this so called theory lead to guess what? More right wing racist agenda spouting bollocks. I replied to the troll, I know, big mistake but I did anyway. I said that I don’t care about the migration of humans because all humans have migrated in some way, whether through choice or displacement to which I was given another website to ‘fact check’. I ended my dialogue with the troll by saying, “Not interested, not engaging further”. She fired back with, “Where are you from”. Now there’s a loaded question, simply packed full of nasty intent. Thankfully I’ve had no more correspondence with that “Where are you from?” person and the tin foil helmet wearer is deleted. I should be more careful who I add in social media, some of the nicest people I’ve met in person support some of the weirdest shit online. It’s a sad thing though; the aluminum-wearing weirdo is probably a really nice person but shit, she’s gullible to click baiting and appears to enjoy the company of closet racists.

 I seem to spend a lot of time getting angry at little things at the moment, although racism is not a trifling matter. I suppose in busier times I’d scroll on past and think, “fucking moron” and pass no comment, but because it’s quiet here in Antigua I have a lot of free time and idle fingers find a fight. *Note to self, Trish you’re not insane, you’re passionate*

Maybe my rage-o-meter is set to extremely volatile at the moment – no, not because I’m menopausal, which I am, that’s a pure joy-ride it really is and I will bore the tits/moobs off you at a later date with that. – no, I’m set to explode on a weekly basis because I’ve been watching the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. I will not give a literary critique of the book – cop out I know, but you know what, this is my blog so fuck off. What I will say is read it, seriously read the book and as a little note to anyone who reads it and is in politics? It’s a warning, a cautionary tale it’s not a fucking woman hating wank fest manifesto to deplete women’s rights even further.

Think I’ll go for a swim now, I’ve raged on long enough and even Holly and Fred are looking a little worried that I might spontaneously combust.