Thursday, October 29, 2009

Women's Rights

I am always amazed, or rather disconcerted, when I hear or read of a woman being "ALLOWED" to do something. Perhaps it's because I was not raised in that type of culture/era, where women need permission to do whatever it is they wanted (I do not think my personality would lend way to someone blatantly dictating what I do in my life; in some countries it is what it is...and the price for resistance could even be death!)
Although it happens in many places around the globe (read "Inside the Kingdom" by Carmen Bin Laden for a really in-depth perspective) lately I've been drawn to the story of the women in Mali (the 7th largest country in Africa).
They have been fighting for over 10 years to have their laws changed, yet their President Amadou Toumani Toure refused to sign the law and returned it to Parliament for review (his reason? for the sake of national unity! Apparently he was in support of the new law but the protests by Muslim groups have forced him to send the law back for another review).

President Amadou Toumani Toure
(Google Images)

What unity? Ok, so their laws prohibit discrimination against color, race, language or gender, however female genital mutilation (a.k.a. FGM), violence and trafficking in women are still serious issues in Mali.

Female genital mutilation is common...yes COMMON, and is performed on girls between the ages of six months to six years. Spousal abuse, rape and sexual harrassment are also common, not to mention prostitution, which is legal.

Marriage and Divorce is another big issue in itself. In the United States alone, people jump in and out of marriage faster than a cat in water. Try having your marriage arranged for you when you're as young as nine years old! Girls under the age of 15 can marry with parental consent or permission from a judge. Add to that the complications which arise from FGM and you have a recipe for disaster during childbirth (infections etc).
As for divorce? Women have to pay about $60 (which is a substantial amount of money to them) just to start the process. (The cost to initiate divorce is that high in order to make it almost impossible for them to do so).

Under the new law, women no longer have to obey their husbands, they have equal rights and the minimum age for marriage is raised to 18.
Apparently, mostly Muslim groups are against the new laws (more than 90% of Mali's population is Muslim) hence all the controversy.

So, how can you help? There are many options available...from buying their products so the funds could be donated to the women in Mali to hosting a fundraiser event yourself.
Now I know in these crazy times there are a lot of scams out there and people are skeptical about donating, especially with the economy the way it do a little research.
Here's a site to get you started:
And if your finances are a bit strained right now, then volunteer. There are always ways to help.

Remember: One person cannot do everything but everybody can do something!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tickled Pink Event Premiere!

This past Sat I attended Tickled Pink. An event hosted by my girl Natalie Lamming, and Anika Thomas, to support Breast Cancer Awareness.

Natalie and I
(do you see my little pink top underneath? :)

It was a fun event considering all the raaaaaaaaaaaaaaain and I was very impressed by all the talent in the room!

Khalilah Music did some 'conscious' music and the acapella segment really showcased her beautiful voice on a powerful song she wrote about Darfur.

Khalilah Music

2Intrigue was in da house and did a rendition of "Halo" that would make Beyonce proud.


Kevon Carter did a nice tribute to the one and only MJ accompanied by Shawn Noel on guitar.

Kevon Carter

Shawn Noel
(he was grooving so much I couldn't get a good shot of his face!)

And my absolute fav was Kerry D Drummer!!! This dude is absolutely SICK!!! Do you hear me???
He is phenomenal and he KILLED his performance!

Kerry playing along with the DJ
Whatever the DJ played, Kerry was ready with the rhythm

Jeanille Bonterre was the hostess/emcee for the night and did an absolutely fantastic job.

Here's Jeanille, pretty in pink!
 (and we found out that we both love the same restaurant!
Hey good food is good food!)

There were also some very touching moments...a poem read by Nats and a few heartfelt words from Anika and Natashia (a breast cancer survivor).

(I heart Natalie's dress!)

Anika Thomas
 whose grandmother passed away from the disease


And some other highlights of the night:

My cousin about to inhale some hor d'oeuvre
(yes it runs in da fam!...and by the way, they had a delicious saltfish - a.k.a. bacalhau - pastry that I am going to track down where I could order those from!)


Why was this sign in the ladies bathroom? After all I think we were inside a church hall.
(Please ignore the alcohol seen in any of the photos!)

3. A lady in the bathroom complimented me on how well I wash my hands! Now you know things are bad in this country when someone is impressed with how you wash your hands.
PLEASE take all the necessary steps to stay clean and healthy people esp. with the swine flu season still looming around.

My crazysexycool cuz and I...........wonder where we'll head to next?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Music, The City & Galia Arad!

Jay-Z and Alicia nailed it with their tribute to NY..."no place in the world that can compare".
We (in the Tri-state) are so lucky to be able to enjoy NYC anytme we want!
Recently I was invited to an AES music party in the city by my girl, Galia Arad. The food was great, so was the music, and we met a few, uhm, interesting people. We laughed so much that night and had SUCH a good time!

Galia and I at the party

I DID mention the food, right? Well, here's Galia and I more focused on the food than anything else.

Galia inhaling something with tzatziki sauce

Me, taking advantage of a sausage!

THEN this weekend I went out to Banjo Jim's to hear Galia perform and I dragged my aunt along (EVERYONE appreciates great music!!).
She was delighted to have met, and I quote, the "beautiful" Galia with such a "beautiful" voice!

(Galia at Banjo Jim's)
uh, no idea whose head of hair is in this shot!

Galia, with her sis on vocals :)

Her cd staaaaays in my car! I luv her voice and her songs and I am so excited for her on her journey. Already looking forward to her next cd! "Ooh la, ooh la baby, ooh la, ooh la baby, ooh ooh ooh oooooooooooh, ooh la ooh la la!!"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Living Legends

It is a very humbling experience to be in the company of a living legend. Your mind tends to wander, well mine does at least, as to what makes that person the way they are...absolutely fascinating...and as you hear their story...when you reallllly listen, you find that it simply took courage, perseverance and an inexplicable amount of fortitude.
Well I have been fortuitous enough to have met a few people that have the qualitites of a "living legend". However, in the past few weeks I have met two very interesting women in the music industry, who despite eeeeeeeeverything they've been through, they are successful and guess what...happy!
Meet Morgan Ames...
Morgan was a guest speaker at a music workshop I attend in the city, hosted by the one, THE ONLY, Ann Ruckert!
It wasn't the first time I'd met Morgan; she had been a guest speaker before, but this time she shared her life story as opposed to just her music career.
She has worked with so many exceptional people (Quincy Jones, Vanessa Williams and Bette Midler to name just a few) and remember "Sister Act"? Yup, she has worked on that too!
Yet, what was most impressive about Morgan, was her life story. Yes, she has worked with the creme de la creme in the music and film industries, but she has overcome so many obstacles in her life to get her where she is today.

Morgan Ames right next to me and seated below her is Lady Ann Ruckert. Also, pictured here are very talented songwriters/musicians in NYC whom I have the pleasure of sharing time and space with on a weekly basis.
(Click on pix if you wanna see us up close and personal :)

Then there is Diane Schuur a.k.a. "Deedles"...
Diane is a Two-time Grammy Award Winner, and an incredible jazz singer and pianist. Ms Schuur has performed with phenomenons such as B.B. King, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder! (and I don't know if you've ever heard of QUINCY JONES, but yeah, him too!)
Now Diane's story was so overwhelming to me because she was blinded at birth due to an accident at the hospital! When you hear HER life story, you will NEVER EVER complain about not being able to do anything again! She played and sang for us as she regaled us with snippets from her life. This was a HUGE slice of humble pie for me who is still struggling to become a virtuoso on the piano, ok?! :)
And by the way, I know at the beginning of this blog I mentioned TWO interesting women...but I have to pay homage to the powerhouse that is Ann Ruckert.
When you meet her you would never think that such a pleasant lady would have such a fighting spirit. She has a heart of gold, but let me tell you, I would NOT wanna be left alone in the ring with her! :)
She has helped me tremendously as a songwriter and I luvvv her dearly. This paragraph certainly doesn't do justice to such a wonderful person but then I'd have to write a book...My Life with Ann or something like that.......hmmmm!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

10 YEARSSSSSSS????!!!!

Today marks my 10 year anniversary... my job!!!

Yes, 10 years!!! That's longer than most marriages these days! :)

At first I felt some trepidation even acknowledging that...after all 10 years is a looooooong time! For the millenium generation, that is totally unheard my Generation Y co-worker said to me today "That is craaaaaazy!"...BUT I decided to acknowledge it because it is a blessing (considering the state of the economy today) and for me it represents stability, growth and many great memories.

Of course it hasn't all been a walk in the park...
I have quit (only for a day - they did ask me to return - hey, they know a good thing when they see it! :) Seriously though, I would NOT advise anyone to go that route. It happened to work for me at that time because I added value to the company and I felt I should stand up for what I believed in...I also had a temporary loss of sanity because I went home thinking "wtf did I just do??" lol)
I have seen people come and go - and at one point it was such a revolving door that I could almost bet on who would stay, who'd quit or who would...let's just say expire lol (Booming voice in the background "You have been eliminated!" DUN DUN DUN <= dramatic music inserted here! lol )
I have experienced back-stabbing, lost 'friends', seen people trade real friendships for a dollar and I have witnessed the power of Power.

But in life, just as the tide ebbs, it flows...
I have gained a wealth of knowledge. What was just a job to me in the beginning, was a lifestyle for some of the seniors here and I grew to share that passion. I moved around in so many different departments until I found my niche and really enjoyed what I did.
I became so passionate about it that it became extremely stressful at one point, and now it is calm once more, and as life sure is cyclical, it is back to being just a job. I still work diligently but I have learned that my job no longer defines me. Life comes first!

Let's not forget the lifelong friendships with which I have truly been blessed. Two of my best friends no longer work here but have moved on to other fascinating aspects of their lives. And if it wasn't for this job, I would not have met these two amazing women (pictured below).

(In the center of two phenomenal women,
Johanna to the left, to the left :) and Ana on the right)

I have been through all the weddings, holidays (do you have your Halloween costume yet?), babies, changes in management, divorces and yes, sadly, even funerals.

But it has all been a great learning experience for me and in hindsight I have actually enjoyed these past 10 years, because it simply means I have lived.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why you should always dress nicely and of course wear clean undies! ;)

So I attended my high school reunion back in September here in NYC.
During the Summer I re-connected with a friend from high school (Lauren) and we decided to attend the reunion together.
For some reason we thought we would see people from our formative years. Turns out that ANYBODY who attended WGSS at any point in time could attend.
Well only 3 of us represented our graduating year but it was fun meeting people from many years before and
after us.
Several weeks later my good friend, Jo, (from Trinidad, where I attended high school by the way) told me that I was featured in a local newspaper....WHAT?????
Then the calls, texts and e-mails started pouring in as people saw the article.
I had NO IDEA that not only would the article be published but also a photo of me talking maaad ish to the photographer (of course! lol).

(Me, talking ish, top left)

Thank goodness I decided against the hoochie dress that day!
At least when my family saw it, it was something they could be proud of! :)
Click link if you'd like to read the article...