Rum and Change

Transitions are complete shit.

Lately, I’ve read so many online diatribes about inner peace and the law of attraction. You know what Elizabeth Gilbert, suck my dick. Big magic my butt. I’m figuring out how to be both grateful for what I have and pissed off at what I don’t, it’s realistic. Yet frustratingly there is no symbiosis, you have to be one and the recommended choice is usually; be grateful and shut up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware of how fortunate I am. But in my case awareness paves the road to guilt and guilt is ruining my life. There is so much guilt to feel, why did noone tell me this would happen in my late twenties? I am in a constant state of confession; oh it’s my fault, oh I messed up again, oh I should have known better.

The one good decision I’ve made is moving to England, I left my small island and I moved to a bigger one. More opportunity and such. I am grabbing at it like a panda in a bamboo bush. Kind of in slow motion. But unlike the great panda, I don’t have time for that kind of shit. I need an income.

The job market for creatives is there, it’s just difficult to break into. The interviews I’ve had have blue-balled me significantly; “If it’s any consolation….it was down to you and another person, the other person just had more experience…”

How much experience does a creative person need to have exactly? Mozart composed from the age of five and got a job playing for royalty. I mean, what do I need to do? Must I trudge through horrible jobs that I hate and that kill my artist soul to gather the relevant experience?

I don’t know if I can do that, I’ve done it. I’ve run for coffee and been shouted at over the phone. I’ve tackled shitty emails and unprofessional twits. I once glued feathers to tiny hats for 6 hours. I have experience.

Also, I feel like a freak. It’s something I will always endure, I have resigned to the fact that as my cousin put it; you are a whitey, a creole, a Trinidadian.

Living in that skin in a foreign country is difficult, it brings up all kinds of interesting interactions. Case in point, I had an almost interview with this Rum company called “Duppy Share,” a Caribbean rum start up based in London, that was looking for a “head of mischief.” What?  At first glance, I was relieved. Oh Caribbean people, great. Then, oh Caribbean people, they’ll judge me even harder, crap.

I had nothing to fear because the founders are not of Caribbean origin. Rather, they are more alabaster than a Santorini village and very English. As I navigated through their website, I realized that they were essentially piggy backing on my regional culture for profit. I clicked on the heading, “The Duppy.” Curious as to how they defined what I’ve always known as a Jamaican ghost.

WHAT’S A DUPPY?

DUPPIES ARE DARK CARIBBEAN SPIRITS OR GHOSTS.  ORIGINATING FROM JAMAICA, DUPPIES ARE THOUGHT TO LIVE AT THE BASE OF COTTON TREES AND HAVE A SPECIAL LOVE OF RUM.

THE ANGELS’ SHARE

AS A SPIRIT AGES IN BARRELS, A CERTAIN AMOUNT IS LOST THROUGH EVAPORATION OVER THE YEARS.  KNOWN AS THE ANGELS’ SHARE IN SCOTCH WHISKY PRODUCTION, THIS IS FAR TOO TAME FOR THE WORLD OF RUM…

THE DUPPY SHARE

CARIBBEAN LEGEND HAS IT THAT THE DARK DUPPY SPIRITS SWOOP BETWEEN THE ISLANDS STEALING THE BEST SHARE OF THE RUM.  SPIRIT MASTERS, SKILLED IN THE FINE ART OF BLENDING, THE DUPPIES TAKE ONLY THE BEST.

THIS IS THE DUPPY SHARE.

EH HEH? First of all, there is no such thing as a “Caribbean Legend,” West Indian folklore is usually specific to an island’s history, therefore one is usually not like the other in totality.  Secondly, they forcibly mated two completely different cultures to create their own little marketable bastard. I was offended, I’m pretty easy going (thank you Paxil)  but this, this pissed me off.

Did I want to work for such humans? Who probably only know Caribbean life as what they see from a hotel lobby or through tourist’s eyes? Don’t get me started on their saccharine fascination with rum, more of an annoyance. Masking the flavour with every mixer known to earth and dumping it in what looked like a hipster’s goblet. No, that is not my Caribbean, that is an insult to every breezy Trinidad evening I tipped two caps of  Angostura Vat 19 into a glass tumbler and filled it with coconut water and ice for one of my Grandfathers. But, desperation breeds a great amount of tolerance I’ve found, so I applied to their “head of mischief.” I did. Shoot me. I did the dance, I completed their preliminary exercises through gritted teeth, I gave it my all. I figured, hey maybe I can help legitimize this band of cultural robbers.

Radio silence, that’s what it has been for the last month. My creative soul is aching for the risk I took going against my convictions and at the same time surprised that I felt so defensive of a place that mostly pisses me off. But it pisses me off because it is more than just a patch of land full of rum stealing spectres and sugar cane. It’s complex and difficult and full of wasted potential. Folklore is still prevalent there and very much a part of certain rural collectives. It’s an integral aspect of my childhood as well. I still look for Mama D’leau when I swim in a fresh waterfall pool. Go to my past blog Very Superstitious for more weird things I do in the name of Trini folklore.

But I’m running out of money and I need something that can finance the beginning of a life on this bigger island. During the lulls I do writing courses, some better than others. At one, the tutor hailed me as the reincarnation of Jean Rhys and at another, I wrote the worst short story I have ever written. The tutor there looked at me the way she probably looks at litter.

The writer in me is crying out, I can hear her every morning/afternoon  when I get up and every night when I try to fall asleep. I need to work on my book, but I can’t seem to because I’m busy trying to sell my soul for profit. Desperation breeds tolerance for many things, including going against yourself.

So here I am. The sad, little, artist duppy in me is stuck in a muddy transition, covered in unanswered emails and an unfinished book. All the while the outside flesh and bone is trying to be grateful and pissed off at the same time, because I have a kindly-given roof over my head but I’m turning my back on what I love most to start a life on my own. I don’t know.

Tell me what to do.

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