Jan. 10, 2013

Tobago Lessons

Don’t worry about tomorrow (this has its limits: plan to get to airport on time [from Althea’s experience]).

Let go of the world a little.

The care and feeding of a male.

KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Lots of time on Tobago for a relationship (few things to focus on)

Chickens, dogs, goats wander around. Nothing like seeing goats running on a beach.

Frigate birds. Parrots in flocks (I didn’t see them). Big lizards. Fireflies. Tons of birds. Great ecology.

Cocoa grows here and some people make chocolate.

Traditional society; women less free.

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WHO AM I?

Focused on MY needs and interests. I NEED to be free, independent and autonomous.

Very smart. And creative. Express my originality fearlessly and without excess (useless, self-pleasing) concern for others. Not sentimental (usually).

Freedom to me: freedom to travel. The freedom of ALL travelling people–Gypsies (not necessarily ethnic Gypsies)–to travel and not be forced to settle down.

Never having to become sedentary, settled.

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When I go into a new place, it’s blurry. I notice very little at first. I’m afraid; I have a sense of danger. Not calm; nervous. I can’t SEE* things (*I mean with my eyes); I can’t pick out even big details. I get a general picture, and I notice what I think I need to notice in order to be safe, to survive and to communicate effectively with others in my environment.

I try to hide my process. I don’t want  people to know about this aspect of Autistic perception because they may not understand, and I might be stigmatized.

After a while (a few days), I begin to notice my environment. I begin to assimilate the details.

Autism is characterized by a “unique brain process (that is) easily disrupted….” In order to make MY OWN UNIQUE sense of what I am perceiving, I have to take my time processing any new environment without disruption or interference. Time alone facilitates this, as does the careful choice of companions, activities, and places.

I strive to exert some control over my environment. This helps me.

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On Who One’s Sex Partner Is

1.)     This has become a competition to have and to be the most desirable sex partner (the sexiest).

2.)     Everyone asks themselves: “How sexually desirable am I?”

3.)     And “How sexually experienced am I?” (Am I a good lover?)

4.)     This has all become a big ego trip in some cultures. It’s all about ME: my needs/desires/self-image/social image/social status. It’s sick.

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I am slowly becoming someone who helps others to find their ONE TRUE LOVE. I am no longer someone who is looking for her true love; I guess I have found him (who is it?).

Now, I am an old woman, retired from the sex-and-love game. I am still very interested in enjoying sex, and I still fall in “love” frequently, just for fun. I feel better now. I never liked that whole sex game.

I used to be open to just about any man who wanted to sweep me off my feet (i.e., have sex). I thought, “This could be THE ONE!” I gave them all a shot (literally)! This was not a good thing (in some ways it was good though: physical pleasure, giving love, accepting others into my “space”). The only possible men who could be my ONE LOVE are two, young guys I didn’t even have sex with.

Now I am making a tactical retreat from the spectacle of and the battle for sexual status and relationship envy. It’s for my own benefit: retreat leads to peace and love. I want to throw my energy into the ongoing struggle between humanity and Nature (wilderness and wild animals). (While humans are part of Nature, we are to fight and try to destroy Nature.)

I am learning to look at men as friends, brothers, sons, fathers, not just as (potential) lovers or partners. Some of these men are on the side of Nature in the battle for the Earth, and it behooves me to see them honestly, without any ulterior, personal motives.

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I just got back after having a beer at Lisa’s little outdoor bar next door to Neil’s house here on the leafy outskirts of Scarborough, Tobago. Lisa is from Trinidad, and a year ago, she married an older guy who she’s known for a long time and they moved here to where he’s from: Tobago. She opened the little store (mostly alcohol) and outdoor bar ( about 5 tables) under a big tarp.

Lisa had a lot to say about how women are treated here in Tobago (“sheltered” and very controlled by men and other women), in Trinidad (better than in Tobago), and in Nigeria, where she lived for 3 years with her first husband, a Nigerian doctor whom Lisa met in New York. Men can cheat on their wives here, in full view of other men and women (these are people who know the man’s wife), and the wife will never be told about it. The errant husband can even take his other woman to parties attended by the couple’s mutual friends; no one will breathe a word to the wife. But should the wife appear anywhere in public with another man, her husband will be told about it immediately, by both men and women.

Many women, said Lisa, are secret drinkers. Women here on Tobago don’t go out on the street alone (they drive), and many women here don’t drink in public. But they may drink at home (and in public, they may pretend they never drink alcohol). If men get together to “lime” (party), any woman who joins their little all-male limin’ will probably be told by her husband to not say anything to anybody. These women have stern faces at parties, but it’s not how they really are. Often women will ask Lisa for a soda or a “dark cup” to disguise the alcohol they want in it. Lisa teases them until they realize they are being silly; she encourages women to be themselves and do what they want.

Lisa’s Nigerian father-in-law was a mean, traditional man who verbally abused all women (especially his wife). When Lisa was eating dinner with her father- and mother-in-law, she spoke out at the dinner table. “Shut up, Woman,” said the father. Her mother-in-law hung her head and shut up, and Lisa’s husband said nothing. Lisa went on and told the rude, stupid father just what she thought of him and how sorry she felt for his wife.

Her husband’s entire family lived together in the one compound (i.e., on the same street) in Abba. They had separate houses, but privacy did not exist. If Lisa and her husband had a fight, the family knew and mediated. They meddled in every aspect of Lisa’s life. If Lisa wore a “revealing” dress, her father-in-law made her put on something more modest. Lisa finally left. She had no kids, thank god.

I’m glad to have this new friend. Lisa is a good person who knows that abusing and oppressing women is wrong. She lives according to her own mind and heart, and her new husband knows her well and accepts her as she is. Yet Lisa is able to shake her head and laugh at human foibles. She says, what’s important to one person isn’t important to another, and some women have learned to live with repression; it doesn’t bother them.

In the early mornings, Lisa sits outside her tiny store and says good morning to people passing by. She says some people think too much of themselves to say good morning back. Some people look like they are thinking, “Don’t say good morning to me because I won’t say it back.” She says good morning to them anyway. And, if people are looking away from her and purposely ignoring her as they walk past, Lisa says, “Be careful you don’t fall down, and ‘Good Morning’.” Ha ha. She’s a smart firecracker of a gal . Lisa’s not mean or petty; she doesn’t hate people. And she doesn’t let anyone or anything get her down.

She says I should find a way to do more sailing to places I want to go to in the world. Lisa’s also wise about saving money, and I would be wise to emulate her.

Lisa says that any woman who has “made it” here in T&T is independent, meaning without a man who tries to hold her back and hold her down. A Trinidad TV news show this evening had a segment on women Soca stars. In interviews, “Saucy Wow” and a new, young female Soca star said that men dominate the field and women are not respected. They are not even given women’s bathrooms at most venues (they have to share with the male stars and their retinues).

Women are selling themselves short, said Saucy Wow. They think aligning themselves with the male stars will help them. “They have to pay their dues,” she said. Women have to put forth their own power and talent. It’s a huge struggle and, as in every industry, women have to work much harder than men to prove themselves and succeed.

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From online article on Philip Kaufman’s 2012 film Hemingway and Gellhorn:

“I became more and more interested in Hemingway and this wife who was a great writer,” the director explains of the film’s origins, adding: “The more you read of her the greater you felt she was as a writer, but you felt she was almost relegated to be a footnote in history as Hemingway’s third wife.” Kaufman, however, wanted to shed new light on the lesser known female character. “This was a stellar woman. Maybe she was the greatest war correspondent man or woman of the last century,” he says.

Instead of focusing on the ubiquitous Hemingway, Kaufman chose to center the story around Gellhorn and portray Hemingway through her eyes and through their relationship.

“Who is this woman? This Hemingway wife and how did she become this brave woman almost into her nineties covering every war, every battle zone in the world? And what was her relationship to Hemingway ?”

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