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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« and sometimes, looking back at your past is just plain weird | Main | the alex of it »



Well, that just bites. I often say that despite the fact that we have NOTHING here, we are safe. I shouldn't take that so for granted (though, today I did lock all my doors for a bit and did not feel absolutely safe, but I am feeling better now).


I don't even know how you reconcile that even against the good stuff. You're entitled to vent. But please do stay safe, so that I don't have to come down there and kick your ass.


Hi Karen first off I live here and did not know there is a MAC store I need to get out more I guess :o) and second I truly understand you its the one thing about my country that makes me sad and makes me contemplate leaving sometimes and what kills me is that there seem to be no solution in sight...its getting worse.
truly understand your need to vent its frustrating this feeling of helplessness....cheer up I just try to be safe the best i can and pray alot.


is is amazing how often we feel the need to apologize/justify ourselves when we need to speak ill of our world. sis - you are every bit as entitled to do so.

and damn, thats a big one. the feeling that all the blessings can be taken away by one fear... my mother in law is grenadian (near yall, right?) and having done research (because i want to take kai there to meet her great-uncle soon) i am seeing that reality, too.

i cannot pretend to thoroughly understand, for i am not in your shoes, but i do remember you posting about a service person (?) casing your home and i felt your fear. we are soon moving to trenton, nj and having heard about the serious gang activity there, i am omitting anything majority red or blue from my babys summer wardrobe. it kills me to do it... we all feel very real fear... and you never need to apologize for needing to voice it. (or to rant about anything else.)


My heart goes out to you. How many fruitless conversations I've had on this very topic with my brother (who still lives there) and my parents, who plan to retire there in a few years. I remember growing up, the front gate to my grandparents' house was locked with heavy chain and key every evening by seven o' clock, almost like a self-imposed curfew...and this was over fifteen years ago. Things indeed seem to be getting worse based on my readings of the Trinidad newspapers online and I worry about my niece, who is just about Alex's age, growing up there and facing even worse conditions.

There's so much more I could comment on regarding this, but I'd like to keep my blood pressure down for the moment, thank you : ). In the meantime, according to my brother, all you can really do is try to be aware and take ample safety precautions. You can't live in fear or consume too much of your time by worrying about this. I think you approach this with the right frame of mind by focusing more on all of the positive aspects and blessings in your life.


Every conversation I've had recently with someone who's studying in Trinidad or whose friends/family are studying in Trinidad involves discussion of someone getting mugged or robbed or otherwise assaulted. I've always said that I don't think I could live in Trinidad or Jamaica because I don't think I could deal with the constant feeling of insecurity, and I wonder how people who do live in those places manage.

Those weren't comforting words at all, I'm sorry. I hope that you and your family and friends, if you can't have safe, at least manage to stay well and protected.

(On my last trip to T&T, I was wandering through some mall or other and I saw the MAC store; I nearly hyperventilated, I was so excited. Sadly, they were sold out of all my colours.)

dave / higher powered

No problem.
My EX who lives in San Fernando lost a brother last year. He was 30. Found murdered on the docks.
He lost a best friend last month. Murdered at the age of 34.
They were both robbed and left for dead.
Vent away.


Hi Karen, I can understand how wearing that might get. When I was in Ethiopia last June to get my daughter, there were protests over elections. About 30 people were shot by soldiers RIGHT in a area of town we had to drive through that very same day to go get our daughter's visa. There were open-bed trucks bristling with soldiers carying machine guns all over. The cabs were on strike. Many businesses were closed. At one point when my 13 yo old and I and my 2 youngest were walking along the street, a child tossed a rock toward us-- it just missed me. He was just a child. And it was barely more than a pebble. But it, combined with everything else going on in the city left me feeling so unsettled.


That seems quite a good reason to bitch. I do that over a lot more trivial things..

But if you need t remind yourself about the nice things. Check the colourdrained januari-in-europe pictures I just put on my blog!


I am so sorry Karen. Vent away, I say.

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
~Maya Angelou


I love Trinidad to death (lived there for 4 years while at UWI) and that is the number one thing about it that makes me so sad. When I was there (88-92) I never felt unsafe, (well just a couple times when there was a spate of rapes on campus) but I know it has changed totally since then. Not much more I can say but take heart and stay safe :)


I am from Panama, and I miss it terribly. I sometimes dream about moving back, but the issue of safety is a very real one there, as it is for you where you are. I may still do it, but I dread that feeling of having to constantly watch my back again.


I feel for you, though I'm also happy for you that you get to be home. :)


K: I have, for all of my life, struggled with feeling unsafe and feeling watched. This quote by Helen Keller has helped me find my own own inner strength -- perhaps it can help you.

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.... Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
Helen Keller, The Open Door (1957)

Janet in Albuquerque



I was born, grew up and lived in South Africa until 5 years ago. We grew up with "burglar bars" on the windows, security gates on the doors, not going out alone at night EVER, driving with windows and doors locked, looking over your shoulder with mistrust at anything behind you etc etc etc. I thought it was "normal". 5 Years ago, I met and married my husband who is a US Citizen. I moved here (NE Ohio) and I have never had to lock a door in my house, I don't have to lock my car when it is parked inside of my garage, more so, I don't have to lock my doors when I drive somewhere because car-jackings is so few and far between here that when it does happen, everyone is dumbstruck. I can drive to the supermarket at midnight and be safe and check my mailbox at the end of the driveway after 9pm without insident. Rapes are not common here, and I feel if you use a little common sense in your everyday life, you are relatively safe. That being said, I LOVE my country of birth, am proud to tell people I am from South Africa, but I LOVE the safeness and way of life in the States (or rather NE Ohio) much more! I understand how you feel!


For a minute, I almost forgot that you aren't a super hero. Courageous Karen with wonderful parenting tips, inspirational words and fabulous photo-taking ability.

I am so sorry that you feel so vulnerable. It must be sun flares or something that is bringing all of this to a head. I'm living in an apartment while we wait for our new house to be finished and the upstairs neighbors are loud! I have complained to the management several times and yesterday they were given a letter telling them that on their next infraction (i.e. - next time I complain about the noise) they will be evicted. Yikes! Five dudes all under the age of 22 angry at the family downstairs for getting them in trouble? I was TERRIFIED yesterday.

I know that this doesn't compare with a concern that you must face daily, but I can certainly empathize with you about this more today than I could just a couple days ago. I'll pray for your saftey and as someone has mentioned before: please be cautious and safe, but try not to live your life in fear.


Everyone is entitled to a day of complaining on their blog, especially about something this serious. Hang in there!

Burton Emmanuel

Please know that much of what you do is not venting, but rather grieving for liberty lost. Social safety is the connerstone upon which rests the enjoyment of our liberty,and by extension the unfettered quality of the happiness and peace of mind that comes with such liberty. If for the sake of safety we all could no longer engage our bodies, hearts and minds in the things that bring us deep joy,or restores harmony to our sprits, or reveals our sense of the balance and the connection we all share with nature, then we would have lost a tender and pure part of our own humanity. Keep the faith.


Vent away, my friend. I feel for you. I moved into my neighborhood 12.5 years ago. While it is in a city, it was a fairly nice area. The neighbors had all been here for YEARS, they were like family. Now much of that has changed. Our beloved neighbors have ALL moved away. No one chats to one another when they see each other outside. No one helps one another. It is NOT the same.

Some of that stems from the heightened activity I see outside my windows. Lots of teens/young adults roaming the streets after dark. Are they causing trouble? Well, not that I can see. But in MY way of thinking, a kid should be INSIDE after dark...who's watching out for these kids? Why are they allowed to be out til all hours? Are they being taught that their actions have consequences, that life is fragile, that it is valuable? I wonder.

And I tremble to think of people who do NOT lock their doors, no matter WHERE they live. I grew up in a small, affluent town, and we never did, either. But in Dec. of 2000, 3 members of my family were murdered in their beds...and boy, that has changed a lot of things. It is much HARDER to feel safe, now. And being a parent makes me even more wary.

Oh, boy, that's a lot of gloom and doom! I am SORRY that you don't feel safe. Why is T&T in that state, may I ask? I am truly wondering...I am NOT up on politics, etc. But since YOU live there, I would like to know. Is it poverty? Lack of education? Lack of responsible upbringing? I would like to know.

You all are in my prayers...not feeling safe is NOT nice. Took me a LONG time to be able to go to sleep at night after losing Rachael, Kyle and Kitty!

Hugs from Nancy & ShaoXi in VERY damp and chilly CT!


That sounds like a more than valid reason to vent.

About 7 years ago, we were offered and seriously considered a job in Guam. It was an exciting and beautiful country. We ended up talking with some families who had been there, done that with Guam, and the consensus was that it was too dangerous. Crime was insane there.

I often wonder if fear kept us from having an amazingly positive experience. We will never know, because we turned the job down.

So, I hear ya. Rock and a hard place.



Nancy --

How absolutely horrible for you. I'm so sorry for your loss.

The crime in Trinidad -- absolutely inexplicable. There is certainly poverty, but Trinidad has always had poverty, and unlike many other places, the poverty isn't crippling, you know? The country itself is quite affluent -- there is a lot of oil and gas here, and Trinidad is actually the biggest exporter of natural gas to the United States. I don't know.

What is also inexplicable is what the government is DOING about it. Nothing seems to happen. There are no arrests, and frankly, there's so much corruption in the police force, I'm not sure it's wise to rely on them for any help, either. The situation seems pretty hopeless.

But yes, life goes on. And we try not live in fear, while still keeping our wits about us. Thanks for your (and everyone else's!) great words!



Thank you for writing this. My daughter lives in Antigua with her husband. She was mugged for her purse during an afternoon in a busy part of a town. For her this was a loss of innocence for her. That is her main complaint too the feeling of not feeling safe any more. It breaks my heart. She feels the problem in Antigua is the massive poverty and a huge divide between the have and have nots. They have decided to leave and go to Canada.


Vent away, Karen.

It's that fear, that something bad happened to somebody you know, that makes Aruba stand still when there is a "Breaking News" bulletin on the radio.


I just moved back home to Trinidad after university.
And I have to admit, it isn't the same as it was 4 years ago. I mean, the people are still great, place looks more developed.
But crime was never the huge issue it was when I left. So it is strange to me, re-adjusting to a new Trinidad after less than 5 years of being gone. My only hope is because violent crime hasn't been occurring at the levels it is now for that long, maybe things will go back to normal. We really aren't used to this at all. And yes the govt has real idiotic schemes in terms of direct crime fighting. I hope that their education and poverty alleviation and family development programs will help relieve the problem.But I suspect we should only see the results of those in the medium term.

I do understand all of the Southern Caribbean has seen similar rapid increases in violent crime at around the same time as Trinidad. Antigua, Saint Lucia, St Kitts, St Vincent...they are all bawling about it. And even worse for them, they need to cover it up for their tourism industry. But that doesn't make me feel reassured here in Trinidad to know that our neighbours are having problems too.


I'm so sorry. I didnt know about teh crime in Trinidad. Everyone has problems and has a right to vent those problems even if they live in a tropical paradise. Vent away!


Oh Karen, we understand that you are grateful for everything you have, but of COURSE, you can still vent. I vent about stuff far less important than our safety and I know how lucky I am.

We moved from New York City last year, and when deciding where to live, I have to admit that I chose a sleepy suburb because of its amazing reputation for safety. Not because it is exciting, 'cause it's NOT, but because I was tired of feeling unsafe all the time. I'd walk home from work in the city looking over my shoulder all the time and I hated it.

Anyway, I hope this improves for your beautiful country soon soon soon.

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