Preamble: The title of this blog came to me on November 6th but has really been building for a few years.  The overwhelming truth of it occurred the week leading into the U.S. Presidential elections when I was getting notices and emails about various election results parties across the G.T.A, the majority of these invites were sent by black people and the events seemed to be targeting black people mostly.  The clincher was one invite which read “You can watch the second coming of Barack Obama at…” I almost fell off my chair.  This meant more to people than I had been accepting. It was very clear that this post which has been building for years now needs to be written.

Why Heroes

Within the past year and 1/2 there have been some significant losses to the “black community” (these quotations need explanation, more on that later), we saw the death of Dudley Laws, then Charles Roach and most recently Lincoln Alexander.  All three had impacted the Canadian landscape in different ways and arguably all three have some sort of Hero status among their friends/family/followers.  Hero is used here in reference to a clear iconization practice among all peoples, where we attach value to some people over ordinary persons because of some accomplishments or change they have effected that we think was extraordinary and maybe insurmountable or unfathomable at the time they did their thing.  This hero-worship usually stands for reverence as well as inspiration.  For black people whose bodies have been subject to numerous holocausts and who have had to struggle in the western world to prove their worth, having individuals who have accomplished something (sometimes anything) is taken for inspiration.  In Lincoln Alexander’s case it was seeing representation of a black person in the political arena, in Dudley Laws’ case it was having a person who would advocate for and fight against the injustices being dished out to black youth in Toronto and in Charles Roach’s case it was having the image of a lawyer who was immigrant and who was relentless in advocacy.  The sad thing about these losses is that regardless of what we may individually think about these men they bare very little resonance for black youth today.  They were of the “past” you see…and they had no time to translate their impact for a current generation whose “Heroes” surface daily in pop-culture mostly.  Have I answered the why? Doubtful!

It is clear to me that people need someone or hopefully some people to look up to.  This is for motivation, for legacy, for telling our histories or for inspiration.  The problem is that my traditional purview of heroes omits the very obvious stand-ins (fleeting heroes like cultural icons such as Lil Wayne, Drake, Usain Bolt etc.) that serve as heroes today.

Enters Barack Husein Obama

In The U.S.A. there have been discussions on this man who now gets a 2nd term at President.  What they have not possibly studied or discussed is how many black Canadians and for the purpose of this conversation–Torontonians follow him, hang on his every word and secretly wished they could have voted for him and that he was their president. Why? Foremost and obvious he is black! Not simply his colour but all it represents as some have said to me “imagine his little black girls running in their white house”, “he is the first black president and they can’t stop him”, “now little black girls and black boys can look at him and know anything is possible”, “Canada probably won’t have one” and so on.  It is really the possibility of possible that mints someone as a hero/heroine!  It is this possibility that Obama represents that caused the numerous election watch parties and the cheers that went up from Toronto when he won both times.  Of-course nobody ever frames the conversation around the evils that a U.S President engages in and sanctions instead it is a good thing and that’s that, no critique allowed.

Back to Canada…Don’t we have Heroes?

I am sure there are people who would qualify under the pseudo-definition I have been positing here.  The missing piece though is that everyone or at least a majority must be aware of the Hero.  Their name must be touted and their fame must be known, much like a saint about to be canonized there needs to be proof or record of their heroics and much in line with the fast-paced trending of social media they must be relevant to the now! This last criteria messes with the Heroes of the past even our most recent past.  You see in Canada we have Viola Desmond (our version of Rosa Parks), Elijah McCoy (inventor Extraordinaire–the Real McCoy), Mary Ann Shadd (started the first integrated school in Canada), we then have a slew of people to list including decorated soldiers, sprinters, musicians, politicians etc.  The list is however not well known and outside of awe-inspiring stories like “The Hanging of Angelique”–by Dr. Afua Cooper, the narratives or storytelling about the Canadian list pails in comparison to that of the Americans.  The reason for our less enthusiastic storytelling among black Canadians is varied and may need a second blog entry.  Suffice it to say, I think the process of assimilation into a “Canadian culture” and a resistance to break down the full story of a racist (shhh…this word is not allowed) struggle-filled past for blacks in Canada has had significant impact on interpretations of heroes and heroics.

What happens in the absence of Heroes?

The short answer is to look around at the impact on the identity-seeking, self-loathing and self-killing present among today’s youth.  The other answer includes noting that the void will be filled in the absence of heroes.  Remember the stand-ins I mentioned earlier, they take the space, Obama takes the space and other less favourable options take the space.  Arguably it may not be a bad thing to fill the space up with other things, I just get really worried when the absence of heroes means mis-representation takes the place.  My blog entry is really about my concern for the “black community” which we can all agree is neither monolithic nor congruent but which is still seen as a whole.  I am concerned that while I bash hero-worship I see where it is relevant if only in combating the alternative, which is a dismal future for blacks in Toronto.  As I watch our generations drift further and further apart in terms of what we deem important and worthy of preservation I see each generation clamour for their own heroes and we all seem to be getting it a little wrong.

The U.S. Election results 2012

Posted: November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Talk-di-tings: I know it may be too soon for some because the celebrations and jubilation abound.  But I am a contrarian, skeptic and any other title I garner after this post.  1st if I knew Pres. Obama I would congratulate him, he accomplished his goal. 2nd If I could whisper in your ears I would say, stop being caught up with politics and politicians.  They are not for poor people whether through policy/friendships/partnerships or deeds and last I checked poor people are actually the majority. I would also whisper that every American President is in service of the structure and not the people. 

The Truth

Votes have never meant accountability despite what BOs acceptance speech says.  On a simple level it is doubtful how much this president can shift or accomplish with a Republican House (same situation as 2008).  On a complex level America’s problems were created by the impossibilities of capitalism and these cannot and won’t be fixed.

On a simple level the majority votes went to the nicer personality of the two servants of capital.  On a complex level the election was complicated because some people started to wake up to the fact that priorities and policies of both parties are not too distinct.  Sure Mitt is a job-killer/exporter and warmonger but Obama’s administration is drone central and wall street concession-maker.  Apples and Oranges you say??  So enjoy the merry-making but brace yourselves for solutions which will sacrifice the poor and people of colour on the alter of capitalism.

The imperfect storm coverage

Posted: October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

In a world of tweets and re-tweets, posts and re-posts we find the coverage of Storms whether they are Sandy or other, taking some weird turns.  Today October 28th as there is a clear and present danger to NYC of Sandy there emerges fake images of the Storm.  So whether these folks are Photoshopping or copying from movies like “the Day after Tomorrow” or other films the doom and gloom is in the air.  Makes me wonder strongly about coverage and the loss of Journalism.

It has been my reluctant submission that Journalism is dead (I could date its T.O.D. but let us just say it pre-dates the 2000s).  This death of journalism has renders coverage the realm of every and anybody within certain paradigms of course.  So in a storm setting we see small stature reporters hanging on to the microphones for support while the newly minted I-Reporters send along pics from their porch or Photoshop.  Meanwhile the media which have lost their News compass seek to be the first to post, re-post, re-tweet and “breaking news” tag these images.  Who determines that this gets a go?

The way I grew up was certainly friendly to silence.  From the adage “children should be seen and not heard”, to the literal silencing that attended each un-welcomed or unsolicited utterance; in church, in school and in home.  You see as a girl child I learned well through various institutions about when to speak and when to be silent.  Soon like most, I learned to be quiet and I have been very good at it.

So… What does Silence have to do with Rape?

It has everything to do with it.  In fact for a rape to be successful the attacker counts on their victim being silent, yes in many cases they take extra precautions like gagging and bounding to ensure this silence. However, deep down they know that the victim is that much more frightened by their command of silence and the repercussions of speaking that they will uphold the silence.  It is because of the pressure of the silence why rape/incest and pedophilia victims never report, are afraid to come forward with their story.  If breaking silence is rewarded with becoming an outcast, people looking at you like you carry leprosy, not being believed as in the case of many incests it is hard to encourage anything but silence. If silence is imposed on all things even the good it becomes confusing for a person to feel secure in breaking the silence.  It is silence that keeps the offenders powerful and which allows them to do these heinous acts over and over.

Take this issue up a notch

Recently in my homeland there was a spate of rapes, 5 females in St. James one of them an eight year old, in the same week there were at least two more reported incidences (note the distinction of reported versus unreported), girls who are living in children’s home were attacked on their way home from school…talk about a double whammy of violations (more on that another time).  I don’t want this post to become about my homeland–Jamaica since where I work in Canada each September the rapists return, oh they have already done 2 attacks that were reported and September isn’t done yet and did I tell you that they stick around until late November and these rapist I am convinced are not caught since each year they return (yeah I believe they are the same people–more on that another time).  Recently I posted on my Facebook “a girl child ain’t safe in a world full of men” but if I am to be honest and fair it is not just girls and men are not the only offenders.  Comes back to my earlier detour on silence, for it is silence why we first think of women as rape victims unless we live in certain places where rape is an act of war against all especially women and children.  Fortunately the recent spate of violence did not fall into the silence trap.  Not only were the crimes against the females reported but there was symbolic action taken by all at home.  The entire country (Jamaica) on Friday engaged in civil protests, wearing full black in most instances and chanting words like “real men don’t rape”.  While it may just be a public outpouring of disdain it was significant because usually when we are able to gather in these ways it is for useless politicians or for dances.  So in many ways I felt the country grew especially given technology which forces us to do like I am doing now–hide behind a screen and type exegesis about issues we will probably not impact.  The people, women and men; stood against these heinous acts of violence and it was noticeable, it wasn’t silent and it was a start!

This start is what is needed globally as silence about crimes is not golden!  Next we need to take these issues up a notch.  Breaking the silence is important but I fear there is way more work to be done. We need to be honest! Honest about our collective culpability in the silence and creating the environments where acts like rape find a breathing ground.

Can we be Honest?

Is it possible to be honest about the societies we have created which breed acts like rape?  The media and the mores of the land and our institutions are all culpable. The mores that call nature “mother nature” then rapes and plunders the land, the mores that see women as things to conquer/own/possess.  The media which feeds the mores, painting pictures of women as possessions, they come with your hot cars, they come with your cigarettes, your new shirt, ties, hair gel and more.  The media which through cartoons and other images relegate children to odd spaces where they silently absorb messages, video games where rape and other violent attacks are just a milieu unexplained, content void of discourses about good touch bad touch but instead filled with heroes (all white males) who are good for us, will rescue us and who doesn’t like when we are “bad/naughty”.  The music which becomes absorbed as norm has every possible reference about self-hate and misogyny even presented by female content-makers. In dancehall music it has gone to sickening proportions from daggering, to romping shop to countless other scenarios where the male antagonist is only interested in sexual acts with the seemingly willing female (note I keep using female, really I want you to think in patois –Fe–Male, what is that about?).  Mores and media tell us what is normal, how to act and then they get re-enforced by institutions like our families, our churches our schools and our offices. Do you even wonder why it is hard for children or alter-boys to speak about the fondling from priests?  Do you even wonder why some teachers or other authority figures like coaches are found in sex scandals or pedophilia rinks? Do you wonder why the boss feels it is okay to be inappropriate with secretary or other subordinate staff? Do you wonder why victims of incest go many years without talking or allowing the memory of abuse?  Do we ever wonder why the offender doesn’t seek help at the impulse of becoming an abuser? These things all work in concert! Silence–Mores–Norm–Silence!

Let us end the silence!  Today let us call it all out; from our role in it, to the impossibilities society has set up for children to fight back and speak out, women to be safe and for offenders to seek help before offending. We can’t expect to stack the odds against change and then hope for change.  Victims must feel they will be honoured, heard and respected if they speak out!  Antagonist must know that we will not ignore their deeds by heaping layers of cop-out on them! We should all be safe in this world and the good news is we can all impact this shift. 

Be honest and Break the Silence…that would be golden!

Gun talk…

Posted: July 22, 2012 in Thinking aloud
Tags: , ,

This past week has been harrowing for many as in Toronto we heard about shootings from bar-b-ques to drive-by.  In Aurora, Colorado we heard of what is being touted as “the biggest shooting incident in USA history” (these statements are of-course void of a knowledge of history).  There is therefore no time like the present to talk and further to talk –guns.

If one feels they have the right to bare arms I wont attempt to dispute them I just wanna know what kinda war are they preparing for when purchasing 6000+ rounds of ammunition? And why is nobody asking the purchaser of these bulk ammunition the same question?

It has often been said that guns don’t kill people…people kill people.  While the statement sounds technically sound because after all it takes a person to pull a trigger right?  isn’t there something inherent in the mechanism of guns that are murder-causing..like the bullets etc. Just wondering out loud!  What about missiles?  I suppose they don’t kill either??

We live in a society where gun crimes have become normalized through various mechanisms.  As a former student of media I could argue about the numerous violent images that the average child is exposed to before they get to age 10. I could wax prolific quoting documentaries like “Why we fight” which speaks to exposure of youth to gun toys; from water guns to G.I. Joe and soldier toys.  I could talk about violent movies which glorifies the gun user as victor from Westerns (OK Coral, Good the Bad the Ugly) to ____insert the latest action flick you may have seen.  I can’t find room to list the pieces of art, rap songs, dancehall songs, country songs and more which assert and propagate gun use. All of these I have no doubt impact the outcome of some young killers and gun users we have now! However I am more curious about gun use as political and cultural norm.

Gun Norm…

One of the tools of colonialism and now neo-colonialism is the gun!  The project of spreading “democracy” has clearly only been enabled by the use of the gun.  In numerous countries the fight for a political vote encounters a gun.  In practically every country ‘security’ is kept by the gun.  The “war on drugs’ is being assisted by the gun.  The “war on crime” involves the gun.  Are you getting my point?  Our day-to-day is pervaded by the use of guns.  It has become norm. In fact if you saw a police person in uniform without a gun you would immediately notice something is missing.  It is such a norm the youngest humans can identify and make the gun synonymous with their existence.  It should therefore come as no surprise that there are gun crimes daily.

Ending the Gun talk

It is irrational and almost impractical to expect that there will not be a juxtaposition of state-authorized gun use and other gun use.  The right to bare arms while selfish and initially racist in its motive must be called into question.  It appears that we are a highly delusional species when we seek to outlaw some gun use and not others.  How do we end it?  Be really honest and seek to do the most drastic culture shift in history, remove the gun from norm!  This is where I am delusional if I think that shift will ever happen!  Where fear exists gun use will much more persist.  I wrote because I do not own a gun, have no intention to own one but know very well that it would be no safer in my hands than anyone’s.

Editorial Talk-di-tings: Mi a watch unnu and this Gun talk! Each time a caucasian commits a heinous gun act we hear about their family background, their education, where they lived and if they did good in the past, then the whopper comes “it must be psychological”. I will not contend with whether the fella who committed the murders in Colorado was mad, for sinting wrong wid him fi sure! My contention is that whenever there are gun crimes by black men/sometimes boys, nobody stops to address their possible psychosis, nobody visits their family home with the intent of proving that they were once loving little boys, nobody combs through their school records hoping to see less than drop-out, yet at the end we get a whopper they must be Gangstas/Thugs! I won’t argue that either, but I just wanted to point out the difference in the gun talk! We want gun control for “odd” shootings but none for the “others”! SMH!!

Every time I travel I lose my strength!

Needless to say traveling post-9/11 is no longer fun at the very best you just hope to get to your actual destination and safely and with your luggage.  Whenever I travel and have to contend with immigration officials at border crossings or ports I switch gears and my inner field negro emerges.  I am filled with manners–No Sirs, yes Mams, okays and varied nervousness that I hope a secret sensor won’t detect.  The funny thing is I am not-guilty of anything, in-fact as far as threats go I am a fly!  But I am uniquely aware of my powerlessness!

In my mind I call the immigration folks ‘toy cops” but in my deeds I call em Massa!  and in these instances the colour of the agent does not matter (they are all perpetrators of the system).  They have ultimate power to determine if I even get to my destination more so than even the pilots.  Recently it occurred to me that even the flight crew which I tended to give respect/awe where also potentially a part of the Massa class.  A friend of mine was removed from his flight for ‘attitude” recently, and just hearing about it I feel I broke out in hives (I did itch).  Now the flight crew is officially going to be getting some more yes sirs and mams from me.

You may be wondering like me why have I seemingly yielded to this passive persona in travel?  The quick response is, what choice do I have?  After all I neither have the priviledge nor the power to overcome being put on a no fly list.  I do not have an interest in being further separated from bonding moments with family and friends who live nowhere near me.  I have not heard anybody contesting this power dynamic, which has led me to feel I am the only one having a problem with it so I better “hold my lane”.  If anybody were willing to join me in impressing upon the powers that be that like the Patriot Act (and other similar docs) there is something inherently wrong with infringing on “freedoms”.  If we were to argue that our supposed safety has come at the expense of common sense and general freedoms, who would listen?

So as I look forward to another horrific trip where I am scanned, poked, prodded and interrogated I will try to be greatful that the few “massas” I will encounter don’t have physical whips…cause I really couldn’t handle that Noo Sirr!

I will Miss Whitney Houston from the music scene…in reality been missing her and what she represents since the 90s.  Whitney’s voice was a force.  I used to get upset when she would perform inconsistent with her records and now in hindsight I realize I was upset with her losing perfection (and by default her battle with addiction).

I have now in her passing admitted that while I loved Dolly Parton’s version of “I will always love you” because when I was younger I used to watch Kenny Rogers and Dolly’s TV show and that is how she always signed off the show, Whitney blew that song away!  I did not say it before because I felt it would take away from my views on Dolly’s version and I am known as a rigid music purist.  But Whitney saaaanngg that song!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JWTaaS7LdU

Now with Whitney gone, Michael gone and the myriad others I have many an ode to good music.  It is gone, not forgot but definitely gone.  I can now only cling to the moments when artists like an Adele emerge but know that they will have much shorter musical lifespans. With Whitney gone, we wake up to the reality of the dying music industry where records don’t sell in millions unless by fluke or major marketing and where people consume everything in soundbites and 1 min clips.  Sad sad sad…and so I miss Whitney and all her talent represented.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixB-pxLB30o&feature=related

R.I.P. Whitney Elizabeth Houston and all those who died leaving good music behind…

If I believed in Soulmates the person I would get, chose or find would…

The concept of Soulmates

Do soul-mates really exist? I have wondered every-time I heard the term, does such a thing exist or do people just ascribe the term to whomever they have settled with. It is not shocking that the concept has Greek origins, since I have always found that Greek mythology has somehow always surfaced in my life and acted as the bane of my existence (if you know my real name look it up). So according to a quick internet search–“The concepts of soulmates arose from Greek mythology. According to the story, our ancestors once had 2 heads, 4 arms. They did something to offend a god so that god punished them by splitting them down the middle, resulting in the creation of humans. As a punishment, we are condemned to spend our lives searching for the other half, our soulmates.” Already it starts rocky this soulmate journey, why are we forced/condemned to spend our lives searching for the other half? Searching is hands down a most annoying action!

Soulmate, Smouldmate just show up!

If I were to have a soulmate he would probably show up and hopefully while I am ready to receive him.
This man would show up as Honest, not in the “I don’t think you look fat in that dress” kinda honest but in the “I get scared sometimes but believe if we work hard we could make this last” kinda honest. The “I am afraid to let you in but really want to’ kinda honest.
He would show up as Ambitious, not in the I need an expensive car kinda way but in a setting and achieving goals kinda ambitious.
He would show up as Political! Not in the “I always try to vote for my party” kinda way. But in the ‘I am aware that even the personal is political’ kinda way. That his woman is that one that identifies strongly as black and female and Jamaican and some days African and will probably be too intense/passionate about any one of these on any given day, but he won’t need it explained kinda political.
He would show up as Happy, not in a smile once in a awhile kinda happy but a joy that extends beyond the daily grind kind of happy, the I won’t sulk and puff but greet each issue as a challenge that can be conquered, the I stop to acknowledge the roses and my blessings so far kinda happy, the I don’t have a short fuse kinda happy.
He would show up as Smart. Yes the I have read a few books kinda smart! The I appreciate education and KNOWledge kinda smart. Yes the I will work smart and not be workaholic kinda smart, where I don’t need 10 hustles on the go to make my life successful kinda smart.
He would show up as a Lover! Not in the ‘I can hit it good” kinda way (though I am sure that has its merits), but in the I embrace every orifice of the woman I am with, even the flabby, non-makeup-ed parts. In the I can just be in my woman’s presence and I am filled kinda lover. In the I’ll take my time to know your likes and dislikes kinda lover.
He would show up as a Partner! Not in the let’s sign a contract kinda way (though that may have its place). But in the I am not afraid to consult with or share with the person I am with on matters great or small. In the we have to work together at every aspect of this relationship from household chores to savings to purchase decisions to that awesome tag team that parents can do on their children kinda partner.
He would show up as Love! Not in the buy her a ring and plan a huge wedding day kinda Love. The Love he is would show up in commitment, in gentle words, in caring about someone other than himself, in not anticipating reciprocation but glowing when it comes, in speaking truth in the safety of our Love, in the letting go to be held Love, in the special wink, smile or kiss that others would probably miss Love, in the not afraid to hold hands and cuddle Love, in the wanting to shout it from the mountain top but whisper it in everybody’s ear Love!

Whether he is a soulmate or just a good man honest enough with himself to know when he is ready for me..he would show up! I am already his soulmate or smouldmate possessing all the things I highlighted above and more.

We’ve lost hold of our cultures, identity and influence because we did not fight:

MUSIC

I go through an almost weekly assessment of myself and my passions and my fears of the things being lost.  Each time I listen to reggae and its offspring dance-hall I have a conversation in my head about the direction and the loss.  I get particularly guarded and worried when there enters into the arena a new non-Jamaican phenomena or artist affiliated with reggae. You see for me Reggae is to Jamaica as Calypso is to Trinidad and the Bald Eagle and Star-spangled flag/banner is to USA.  So each time I get a video about the newest Japanese dance-hall queen or latest German reggae artist I do a little cringe.  I remember standing in the presence of a Canadian reggae artist who boasting about his tours in Europe highlighted that the bands who backed him in Europe (“full-a white guys”) were so good at and serious about playing reggae that they played better than even Jamaican bands.  Needless to say I almost blew a gasket and so walked away, ’cause I know he could not be for real.  How could he even hope to compare these guys skills to the likes of Steele Pulse, Aswad, Third World, Chalice, Gumption not to mention recent additions such as Raging Fyah etc.

But now in hindsight I must admit he was heralding what is a shift in the culture that I must acknowledge.  No longer is Jamaica the hub for reggae, with the advent of internet and its by-products like Youtube and Twitter etc. our music and cultural art form–Reggae has gone far and wide and in the process I fear has lost its heart.  The reggae I fell in Love with is a revolutionary form even in the hands of dance-hall artists it moves and shifts understandings and platforms.  Yet this form is no longer in our (Jamaicans) control.  We’ve lost it because we did not fight for it… along the way we gave in to the flattery of it spreading globally, we were happy to count the money earned from touring it and we certainly considered it high compliments when others consumed it, copied it and owned it.  I will not argue that these new sounds our appearances don’t sound good or are not palatable. I will however argue that copies are not the same as originals.  We did not fight to keep it as our own, we never sought to control how it was developed or consumed and now we wave farewell to it daily.

INSTITUTIONS/ORGANIZATIONS

So many have been lost over time that I dare not seek to list them.  We lost organizations that once served as advocates and conduits because we did not fight for them. This category is unique because in some instances we lost some organizations because we fought against them.  I cannot express how many times I have sat in on meetings or heard about the downward spiral of community groups where the catalyst for the loss were our own people. There is always the lack of a good board of directors, the absence of a shared vision or direction or worst the lack of interest or extreme apathy among the users or stakeholders.  Sometimes one is forced to wonder if the organization was valued!  For if it were deemed valuable or useful surely we could have mustered up enough energy to salvage it??

Sometimes the fight is also external whether loss of funding due to government cuts (we were too dependent here) or outright campaigns against them whether on ideological, political or racial bias.  Our over-dependent organizations become engulfed by monetary woes sometimes because we did not fight for financial stability or a growth plan.  We sometimes lose because we did not fight to have our voices heard on a political scale, if you assess black organizations in N. America they are riddled with lack; from lack of interest in political wranglings to lack of know how about representation.  While we are on “black”; we sometimes resist the fight for forging our identities amidst the minority motif, we sometimes fail to fight for equality for fear of further pissing off the establishment and then we lose.

We’ve lost because we did not fight…

Here we go again!

Posted: November 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Here we go again…comes to mind each week of each month of my existence. From the political scenes which are riddled with insanity and racist rhetoric to the work week of same old players doing same old things.
This week was such a week! I will not expound on the details here because it is not the point of this entry etc. Here’s what I learned by the end of the week—an outlook can change. So here’s to me attempting to be more proactive about the things which perplex me and declaring “bring it on”!