October 2008

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alex's life book

  • In early 2006, I began creating a life book for my daughter, Alex. Click here for links to articles describing my experience.
  • And for those of you who are more digitally inclined, in late 2006, I recreated key pages of Alex's lifebook for an article I wrote for AlphaMom, using Scrapblog.

    You can see the final digital result (and leave comments, if you'd like!) here.

what's been on my nikon lately

  • And you can view my favourites here.

if i'm not here, i'm here

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This post is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Thank you.


What I take away from this (other than a chill or two down my spine) is wonder that you are able to feel comfortable there, particularly with a small child. :( How do you balance the fear against the beauty, and come out somewhere that you can live out each day without looking over your shoulder all the time?


oh karen...my heart breaks again.

i have lived in some rougher than rough neighborhoods while on summer mission trips both in the u.s. and abroad while in college. i've always felt bad that i *can* leave at anytime, while the people i have come to love and learn a great deal from don't have any choice but to stay. how much deeper must the pain be when their blood courses through your veins, and this is your homeland.

when i read about that too close to home story about the kidnapping, i wanted to send you plane tickets myself. i mean, houston and london may have issues with crime, but they don't have numerous, random kidnappings; it would be on the news. that's just not normal crime. that's unchecked, out-of-control, criminals know there is no real penalty, and the rest of the world doesn't care, lawlessness. and i mean, if someone felt that comfortable doing all that in your garage with no fear of being caught, perhaps that is because they had a weapon to greet whomever dared interrupt them. and how can somebody just push their way into your HOME. that is your HOME.

k, i'm worse worried.

and yet, i know it's a process...that you have to work all this out as a family. i'm praying with you, love.

i have to mention that the photo is breathtaking. i don't know if that's appropriate given the seriousness of the conversation. but it is. i don't know how you do it.


I learned about the crime problem shortly after you moved to Trinidad. You wrote about your home so beautifully that I went and researched traveling there, then read the local newspaper online, wanting to hear more about this place. That paper read, oddly, like a cozy, small-town paper, but a small town suddenly facing a sudden and drastically noticeable rise in murders, kidnappings, and other unpredictable burst of violence. It was a strange mixture.

I'm so sorry that has touched you and your friends in this way. Your post is beautiful, but frightening, too. I think your readers will get very anxious if suddenly you don't post for a few days.


Oh god, so scary. I am sorry you're so effected by the crime. Does it matter much in what areas? Are you in a crim ridden area? That sucks and I'm sorry.


Great post, with great balance, Karen. I feel a conversation coming on!:-)We'll talk ;-) The rum punch is on me this time. (You know I make the best in the world, right?!

Love ya! Dad


Dad is the sweetest.

Oh Karen, my heart hurts for that poor family. That is beyond horrific. I hope you can figure out what is right for the three of you.

dave / higher powered

TT has always had its share of crime, like anywhere else. When I was last there in 2002, the kidnappings were running rampant. What a shame.
Having lived in many countries, the 2 most crime-free places I've experienced are ...
Malta and Newfoundland.
Both former British colonies.
But then, so is Trinidad.


Oh Karen, what a heart-breaking post. I feel so awful for your friend and the family of the victim.

I had almost this exact conversation with a friend and neighbour last Saturday night. When I meet people here in Calgary, they are always stunned that I left such a warm and beautiful place to move to such a cold country. (Not that this country isn't magnificent and beautiful in it's own right, but......) I try to explain that in spite of all the reasons why I love Trinidad - the people, the way of life, the culture, the beauty - I don't think I could ever live in there again. It's hard for me to find the right words to explain to my friends here, in this very, very safe, small town of 1,000,000 people, the kind of fear and anxiety that living in a country with this level of crime brings on. I have to say, that while I love visiting on vacation, I never, ever, feel relaxed or safe once night falls.

Trinidad has always had a relatively high crime rate. Even as a child I remember that people in our neighbourhood would come out in the morning and find their windshield or tires missing from their car and everyone had a car alarm (this was in about 1975). But, the level of violence seems to have just skyrocketed in the past ten years or so.

I can really understand why you wanted to live there and to show Marcus and Alex your culture. I always feel very sad when I think about my childhood and my country and the fact that my children will never really have an in depth knowledge of my culture. I think that is why your blog has resonated so much with me. In some small way, I am living vicariously through you. You are a lot braver than I am, though.

I hope you can figure out what is right for you and your family, and I, too, pray for peace.


Oh Karen, I had absolutely no idea. You post has stunned and saddened me.

Maria Morris-Burke

A difficult post to write and a difficult one to read. Blogging brings the world closer for all of us. I had no idea about the criminal element on your beautiful island. Please stay safe and hold your beautful little family close.


What a wonderful post. I found you through Mir.

When you said "we had lived in Houston," I knew exactly what you meant. Wow.


Dear Karen,
How strange life is.... Here I am, a 21-year old college student in my apartment, fellin kinda homesick for my Trini Christmas season and meh parang, when I should be staring at my Biochem textbooks! Just a quick google search for "trini christmas", and somehow I stumble upon your site. Intrigued by the cute picture of you and your family in the Christmas tree ornament, I begin browsing your blog. Well, let me tell you that I started at day one, and just finished reading Dec 2nd's entry at 4:21am! Thank goodness I have no class tomorrow, or is trouble!
I want to tell you that I have been captivated reading all the twists and turns that your life has taken since you started writing...and your daughter Alex is too sweet!
Your post on Sept 28, "Peace", like the other Trini lady wrote in really had a significant impact on me. I have been away from Trinidad for almost four years now; I left at 18 for my undergrad degree at Hopkins. Now, I am a Trini to the bone, and I desperately love Trinidad. It really pains me to hear all the accounts of crime and bacchanal going on at home, but you see, I am from the generation that has grown up in this.. I am unlike my grandparents who lament the loss of the ole time days. It is hard, I admit, with all the corruption and inefficiency of the government, judiciary and police, but I never knew it otherwise; I try to put it in perspective.. anything, no matter how big or small that occurs in a population of just over 1.2 million people is cause for headline news- in the States you are buffered by the size of the population here, but it exists just the same. For Trinis, is always another lime, another fete, Christmas and Carnival around the corner to distract people from what is going on. And I agree that it is terrible; my family has experienced the effects of the current situation like so many other people.
But I beg to differ. I hate that Trinidad gets publicised in a negative light to outsiders, and I hate when ignorant colleagues at university make jokes about life in "the islands" when they don't even have a clue what they are talking about. Both my grandfather and father left Trinidad to study in the US and UK, and I am doing likewise. But, like they have, I plan to return home when all is said and done. Yes, we do have our problems, like everywhere in the world, but is still a beautiful place. I know that it would be the worst if in the future, my children do not know Trinidad or their Trini culture, and I applaud you for introducing Alex to her Trini roots. It is funny how when I was leaving for university, I thought I would be cool, no problems, but I underestimated how much I love Trinidad! As Denise Plummer sings in her calypso: Nah leavin', meh navel string so deep and freedom doh come cheap... is here where conceive meh, is here I go dead!
That's just it.. Trinidad is home to me. Is whey I born, is what I know. With all the bobol and confusion, I will take it any day over anything else. The other thing that many of my friends studying abroad talk about is the sense of obligation we have for home... to give back to the communities and people who shaped us into the adults we are today... we are products of the society that formed us, not of the host societies that we are 'passin through' right now. The way I see it, if all of us fled home and settled abroad, who is left to take care of the country; if the intellectuals and forward-thinking citizens of developing countries leave and go to the developed, then they only go to make the rich countries richer... what happens to us then?
But, I understand that people have a right to be happy, and a right to make their home wherever in the world they choose to be, and to feel safe. After all, it is one world. That's just my 2 cents!
Please keep up with your tremendous work; it is indeed an inspiration and a pleasure to read. Listen, you had me hooked for more than 4 hours!
Have a happy Christmas and take in some parang for me.. oh lawd I cyah take dis cold weader no more nah... finals better hurry up and done so I could get home quick quick for meh ponche a creme and meh ham!
Take care! :)

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