Friday, September 23, 2011

Stolen Livelihood

RIP my babies!

My livelihood was stolen from me on Monday, 19th of September 2011.  Right after school, we drove to Lange Park to get a bite to eat at Shakers Bar.  We got their about 7:10PM and left at about 8:00PM.  During that interim, someone broke into our car via the back glass and stole my my laptop, my school bag, and my make-up bag. Gone.

On returning to the car, I got into the passenger seat like normal and Dale walked over to his side and in a confused tone said "But, I didn't leave the window open.." The sharp realization stabbed him quickly as he exclaimed "They broke into the car!"  Shocked, I turned around quickly saying "What did they take?" as my eyes fell on the empty space in the back seat.  "Your laptop and school bag." I was in a state of disbelief.  I couldn't cry and I couldn't react.  It was that feeling of wishing you had made different decisions or wishing your could turn back time that hung in the air.  Utter disbelief.  Disbelief soon turned to devastation.  It was only on our way to the police station (yes, we had to go to them) that I turned to Dale and said "But my make-up bag was in the trunk right?" and again that slow realization dawned on him as he said "No, they got that too."

Now, can you really picture a thief or the type of person that would do something like this, going home and reading the expensive Linguistics textbook I had just happened to have borrowed from a friend that day or making any use of my coveted make-up brushes?  They grabbed the bags thinking there was money or items of worth in there, but those bags were only valuable to me.  As I stared at the ratty notebook of the girl next to me in class the next day, anger overtook me.  I take pride in my school work, my notes, my textbooks.  The weekend prior to the theft, I had spent my time getting my notes in order, printing extra information I found online, as well as the worksheets and readings from my lecturers.  And here is this girl, not giving a shit about her work, barely taking notes and my organized information filled notebooks are gone.  The weekend prior to that one, I spent my time converting all my pigments and foundations into 3 gram jars for ease of use and storage.  Those are now all gone as well.

Honestly, I could live with my laptop being stolen; my portfolio pictures, my essays, pictures of my first and only nephew, my memories.  I equate it to a laptop crashing and wishing you would have backed up your files like you were supposed to.  It wasn't even password protected.  I feel exposed.  My school books could be bought back and my notes could be acquired again, but hoss when I realized my make-up bag was gone.. I was in a mess.  It took me years to get those brushes.  They've been purchased at various places at various times.  And they weren't cheap!  I've contacted the companies to which my stuff has been stolen to see if they can assist in anyway.  No shame in asking, right?  I can either get a no or be ignored.

I don't know where to start to pick up the pieces.  It's going to cost me a lot of money to get back what was lost.  Money that I don't have and money that I can't work for either.  My tools are gone; I can't work without my brushes.  Luckily, there are a few kind people out there in this world who have offered their assistance and to them I am eternally grateful.  I received many kind words from people I barely know and honestly, got more understanding from strangers than I did from my own friends.  So thank you to everyone who has reached out, I really do appreciate it.

Right now, I'm stuck somewhere between stage 4 and 5 of the 5 stages of grief.  Depression and acceptance.  I'm trying to count my blessings and not my problems, because the situation could have been a lot worse.  The whole car could have been stolen.  A life could have been lost.  I'm grateful for what I have, but still feeling the devastation of what has been taken from me.  There are a lot of emotional highs and lows (like there isn't enough of that on a daily basis).  The recent theft and rape in Central was also a wake-up call.  As the Constable in Chaguanas Police Station was explaining to Dale what the next steps would be for us, my eyes fell on the theft/rape write up.  The words "continuously raped" starred back at me as I instantly felt like a fool.  Here I am, crying about my brushes and this poor family is suffering from something that can never be given back.  Even if they catch the perps, which I hope to God they do, it's not going to take away the trauma or the memories.  My material items can be replaced.  It may take me awhile, but that's nothing compared to what those two women are going through.

So folks, please be careful when you go out and take the necessary precautions, even if they seem silly.  And sometimes even that isn't enough, because some of us aren't even safe in our own homes.  But still, pray for our country, pray for yourselves, and your neighbors.. even your enemies.  Believe in the power of prayer, it's magical.


On a another note, some of the things taken from me were very distinctive and I'd appreciate it if you saw anything that you would contact me.  I still have hope!

-My laptop is a black Gateway Laptop, but I swear I don't think there's another one like it in Trinidad.  It has a wood grain pattern that I've never seen anywhere else.
-I had Sigma brushes, Sonia Kashuk brushes, Sephora brushes, Bare Escentual brushes, and Posh brushes, so if you see anyone selling these anywhere, please let me know.
-My 2 bag's were both from H&M from a couple of years ago, so again, I doubt there are many of these in Trinidad.  One is a huge black purse, with a purple interior and the other was an even bigger shiny black snakeskin bag with a burgundy interior.
-And as tiny as this detail is, I had a compact mirror that was very near and dear to me as it reminds me of my mum.  It golden, with a cherub (which is basically a baby angel) on it and a red gem button that's pressed to open it up.  I'm SURE no one else in Trinidad has anything like that, because I've had it for many, many years.

Thanks for your assistance and kind words.  Please be safe my Glories!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fashion Conformity: Dare to be Different

Today, we take a break from our regularly scheduled weight loss program to bring you a rejected article.  I initially wrote this for a Trinidadian online magazine (twice!), but it seems that we're not a match made in heaven, no hard feelings... but, thank goodness for blogging and self-publication!

Make it work!

Many people often stop themselves from dressing “out of the ordinary”. Fashion may seem like a small part of the big picture, but being a trendsetter, actually takes a lot of courage and confidence.  Choosing to be different is choosing to utilize your own voice. Many of us go along to get along and often play it safe when it comes to expressing ourselves through what we wear, but the question is, why?

According to social psychologists, there are two main reasons: the desire to be liked and the desire to be right (I learned that in my Intro. to Social Psych class, who’s an attentive student?? I am, I am!!). Approval and acceptance is something that we, as human beings, crave, even if that means altering our behaviour to meet others expectations in an effort to appear more “likeable.” We also tend to get a sick self-satisfying pleasure from being right. Unfortunately, we seek it out from others’ opinions of “right” and “wrong.” The more uncertain we are about something, the higher our chances of being influenced. Be careful who you seek advice from, because you just might end up with a vajazzled vajayjay if you seek advice from the wrong person (consider yourself officially warned).

I tried a little “social” experiment of my own last semester at UWI. I took a basic, wire headpiece that I made in my Carnival Studies class and put it on my head. I walked around campus observing people as they observed me. People could not stop staring. My own friend walked behind me in silence trying to figure out what was going on with my head.  My lecturer, Dr. Skeete (awesome lecturer btw, no brown nosing here.. just truth), stopped midsentence in class and said, “Ok, now that’s interesting. Is that a new style or something?” She was so confused that she lost her train of thought and couldn’t remember what she was lecturing about.  One man even went so far as to ask me if I was receiving adequate signal.  Rude Trini’s again nah!

This small addition to my outfit caused people to stop in their tracks, stare me down, and peaked curiosity to the point that people couldn’t help but comment. No wonder it’s difficult for people to break social norms. Conforming is so much easier.

So, how do we overcome this need to conform? Well, I’m no social psychologist, but common sense tells me a great place to start is to stop looking for approval from others. 

Before our current State of Emergency, I was in St. James getting my burger fix.  There was this badass chick with a dyed Mohawk and a face studded with piercings on a motorcycle not too far away from the burger cart. The Burger Delight man and his family were catching rel kicks from heckling said badass chick on the hog. It made me wonder, if they can harass her, who is me?  She looked like she could annihilate the burger man and his entire burger flipping family, yet that didn’t stop them from talking.  Trini’s doh have cover for they mouth, that’s a given, but the goal is to stop caring.  Don’t be afraid to be you.  Fear is for chumps and you ain’t no chump!

Companies like Colour Marketing Group and Colour Association of the United States, get paid BIG bucks to colour forecast, which is predicting what colour trends will take place within the next couple of years. Now, they don’t just pull random colours from a hat, it’s not that simple.  They look at a number of factors that can affect what colour might be “in” for the years to come. Once the final choices are decided upon, the shades are printed onto a palette and distributed to thousands of retailers for companies to manufacture products (everything from clothes to accessories to home decor) that will coordinate across the board, therefore influencing everything we buy for the next few years.  Changes your perception of freedom of choice, doesn’t it?

We seem to have this distorted pre-colonial notion that whatever is from “away,” is what we should be wearing.  Instead of waiting for fashion trends to come down to the island, we should be influencing the masses with our island flavour.  My friends from NY were so excited to come to Trinidad to get “unique” pieces, when I had to wake ‘em up and let them know most of our stuff is coming from where they reside!

Yes, Trinidad’s fashion industry is stepping up its game.  We have our Peter Elias, Claudia Pegus, Christian Boucaud, and Meiling, and we can’t forget Anya Ayoung-Chee who’s rocking it on Project Runway (don’t forget your hash tags when tweeting peeps #PR9Anya), but ya’ll realize there is no Caribbean Vogue magazine? The cluster of islands in the Caribbean Sea, in which we belong to, has no representation in the world’s leading fashion magazine. We can change that.

And what about the everyday guys and dolls on the streets who can’t afford the designer clothing?  Fashion is expensive, style is not!  Late fashion trends trickling down from “away” onto our local store racks all tend to look like clones of one another. Amongst the sea of Mohawks that’s plaguing Trinidad, it’s hard to tell one Mohawk guy from the next.  The other day I stopped the wrong Mohawk guy thinking he was the Mohawk guy from my Visual Arts class, but in actuality he was the Mohawk guy from my Lits class, who gave me a weird look when I asked him about the stained glass project that was due that day.  See how confusing that was?  There’s no individuality.  And in that, people get lost in the crowd.  I cut my once long black hair into a short a-lined blonde streaked bob and now I stick out like a sore thumb.  Is that a bad thing?  Don’t know, don’t care.

People always make assumptions based on appearances.  It’s the first thing we register when we meet someone. But, guess what? They’re going judge you and think what they want regardless, so why not do what you want and wear what you want regardless as well?  It’s your life. Don’t let other people stop you from being you.