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You Want a Social Life, With Friends. (And an apology.)

29 Nov

Hi. Hello. I am here, and I am going to write something.

Before I do, I thought it right for me to apologize for an issue that has been needling me for quite some time now. No, I’m not going to apologize for my six month absence. I might kind of try to explain it though, so hold your horses.

My apology has to do with some things that I’ve written in past posts about fat bodies. In one post, about that terrible wedding I was in, I implied that the kind of awful bride was unattractive because she is fat. I later went on to snidely describe her second husband as “probably weighing 600 lbs”., which again, was my attempt at negating the fact that she found love and marriage for a second time. “Yeah, another person wanted to marry her, but just look at him.” I was saying that without saying it. Probably because I was/am a coward.

In another post, the name and content of which I can’t recall and am both too jittery and lazy to search for, I claimed that proof of my self-love was the fact that I don’t weigh 300 lbs.

I am sorry for writing those things. They are examples of the hatred of fat bodies – including my own – that I’ve internalized from a variety  of sources. I am working at ridding myself of that hate. Tumblr has been a priceless resource in my learning that fat bodies have value, are deserving of love, are beautiful, and can tell us nothing about a person’s health, abilities, or self-esteem.

Surprisingly, no one called me out on the things that I wrote. But maybe someone read my hateful words and was hurt. I couldn’t let that possibility stand without acknowledging how sorry I am, how much I am trying and want to change, and that I am asking for forgiveness. Please forgive me.

I’m leaving those posts up as they are (considering I can’t even find one of them, ugh) and hope that my future pieces will demonstrate my growth and sensitivity since writing them.

Thank you for sticking around as I grow.


 

You Want a Social Life, With Friends

You want a social life, with friends.

A passionate love life and as well

To work hard every day. What’s true

Is of these three you may have two

And two can pay you dividends

But never may have three.

 

There isn’t time enough, my friends-

Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends-

To find the time to have love, work, and friends.

Michelangelo had feeling

For Vittoria and the Ceiling

But did he go to parties at day’s end?

Homer nightly went to banquets

Wrote all day but had no lockets

Bright with pictures of his Girl.

 

I know one who loves and parties

And has done so since his thirties

But writes hardly anything at all.

-by Kenneth Koch

 

I never thought I’d be the type of person to have a favorite poem. I just didn’t think poetry was for me, wasn’t sure that I liked it all that much, the work of Langston Hughes and Shel Silverstein being notable exceptions. And then a few years ago I read Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s 2005 memoir Encyclopedia of An Ordinary Life.

In it she mentions that Kenneth Koch’s You Want a Social life, With Friends is her favorite poem and told a funny story about meeting its author. I read it over and over again, and the next time I was at work, I made a too-dark photocopy and hung it on my fridge.

You Want a Social Life, With Friends resonated with me. I was someone who was chronically lonely, felt confused and like a failure when it came to her career. I was absolutely convinced that “everybody else” had managed to master having fulfilling work, romantic love, and meaningful friendships. I did take solace in Koch’s assertion that “What’s true is of these three you may have two and two can pay you dividends but never may have three.” So, all I had to do – like the Disney villain I am deep in my cold, dark heart – was sit back and wait for my friends and acquaintances to suffer some loss, of a lover, of a job, of friends, because no one can have it all; look, I have proof!

I didn’t really want anyone I knew and liked to lose anything. But I desperately wanted all three for myself, and the poem was a reminder that life is full of sacrifice and compromise and comes without guarantee. Of anything. I remember feeling a chill of foreboding each time I read it after first finding it. I’d find some way to have all three, dammit! I’d beat the odds!

Now, here I am, 35 years old, feeling as lonely as ever; feeling as unfulfilled at work as I hoped to never be.

Part of me believes that there is still hope. That if I can maybe put myself on a writing schedule, something will come of my questionable talent. My current job may even allow me to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in professional writing for cheap or free. The work piece could potentially, someday come together. Maybe.

As far as love and friends? My hope meter is running on empty. Over the summer I did things that made me think “This. This is the moment when the pendulum swung to the other side with such force that I don’t think I’ll be able to move it back.” I let people borrow money, I stopped wearing contacts, and I went on a solo vacation. These events signaled to me that I was barreling towards spinsterhood at a frightening speed.

The money thing was a mistake. I should have known better. I’ve watched enough “Judge Judy” to know that owed money will destroy relationships despite one’s best efforts. Not only have I stopped asking for the money, I’ve stopped communicating with the people who benefited from my foolishness. I don’t think that they’ve noticed. And to be fair, I was – I am – seething under the surface, trying to hide my resentment, my disappointment, how used I feel. I didn’t tell them about my feelings. I didn’t hound them for the cash.

“It’s not fair,” I thought. “They have families and lovers and close friendships and now my money.” I was in communication with them until September, when the people in question suddenly stopped their correspondence. I hoped that I’d hear from them on or around my birthday; they owed me at least that much. I heard nothing. The idea of initiating contact with them makes my heart pound, my gut churn, my hands tremble. The realization that I lent the money with so many invisible strings attached makes me feel ashamed.

How is this a sign of my spinsterhood? I’m like the rich old aunt that never married, who eats store-brand canned soup and has to make it home in time to watch “Jeopardy!”. No one comes around until holiday time, because they know Auntie gives the best gifts, the poor sucker. “I mean, she’s got nobody, hardly any expenses. What does she need all that money for anyway? I’ll send her a card.” The card never comes. I open another can of chicken and rice and set up the TV tray in the living room. Alex Trebek always was a handsome man.

So that’s two friends I’ll never hear from again, or am doomed to have awkward, sporadic contact with when they feel like paying Auntie a pity visit.

The contacts thing and the vacation thing happened simultaneously. I planned a last minute, somewhat haphazardly planned vacation to St. Lucia. I’d never been out of the country alone before and I knew that if I waited until someone could go with me, I’d never travel. I spent five lonely days at a luxury spa. The island was beautiful, the weather lovely, the people damn nice. My tour guide hit on me; it was really uncomfortable, especially considering he did it after telling me that Tyler Perry movies send necessary messages of ‘warning’ to those wacky black women that want to be independent and self-sufficient and in charge.

I met two nice English ladies old enough to be my mother, one also named Ambrosia. We chatted a bit and shared one night of cocktails and a meal together, then spent the rest of the time awkwardly waving to each other across the resort. I was seated at the communal table for other solo travelers on some other night and had an Asian-fusion four course meal with a lady elementary school principal from Canada. It was both better and worse than it sounds.

There was a young, fat, attractive American girl I hoped to befriend. She was alone, was wearing a fatkini, kept her nose in a book. The fact that she made bold fashion choices and liked to read had me sold. She never noticed my smiles, which in all the sunlight and happiness surrounding me may have made it look like I had a bad case of indigestion. I was too chicken to go over and say hello.

On my second day there, I realized that I’d left my contact lens case somewhere in America. I’d recently purchased new, large, bold frames, but have always felt ugly in glasses. I can’t see without either contacts or glasses, so I had no choice. I had to feel ugly for four days in paradise.

I never bothered to renew my lens prescription. I’ve been wearing my trendy glasses full-time since August. On one had, with my nose ring and natural hair, I’m at times convinced that I look okay. Like maybe I know people that live in Brooklyn or smoke weed out of decorative glass pipes or am vegan.

But then other times I’ll catch my reflection in some shiny surface when I’m off guard or try to take a selfie and the person I see looking back at me is a sexless nerd, who read in her hotel room in a foreign, tropical country; who got suckered into lending substantial amounts of money in the hopes that somebody would love her best; who sat and watched other people dance on the last night of her vacation, wearing her ill-fitting glasses while a stray cat took pity on her and kept her company.

I don’t really like that person so much.

She reeks of desperation. Her bug-eyed stare screams “I want a social life, with friends! A passionate love life, and to work hard every day!” I wonder which one of us screams the loudest.

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I’m full of shit.

7 Aug

The more polite, scholarly way to say that is there is a great disconnect between what I say I want and what I actually want.

I suppose I’ve always been that way. I desperately wanted siblings or for there to at least be children that lived in my neighborhood when I was growing up, but if that happened, then those other kids wouldn’t let me play “Orphanage-World War II Rescue-Glitzy Musical-Dramatic Death Scene-British Street Urchin-Let’s See if We Can Catch a Frog We’re Too Scared to Actually Touch”. So maybe it was better that I spent a lot of my time alone because I got to do whatever I wanted.

Now I’m an adult female type person that says she really, really wants to catch the eye of a man that is a suitable substitute for the rapper Drake. There is a part of me much larger than I’d like to admit that thinks I might actually have a chance at catching the actual Drake’s eye and whatever STI he may or may not be carrying when I attend his concert in October. I’ll be in the seventh row, I have a vagina, big boobs, a butt that is/looks big depending on the outfit I’m wearing, an okay face (if you like Bruno Mars), and Rihanna-ish hair. I seem to meet his general criteria.

But the thing is, if I’m to believe Black urban gossip blogs and Instagram and twitter and tumblr and the amount of times I’ve been pushed out of the way in nightclubs, I don’t actually want Drake or any guy who thinks he’s anything like him. If I’m to pay attention to the discomfort I feel when I watch twerk videos on YouTube or try on bodycon dresses or wear lots of make-up or try to take selfies or pretend I care about designer shoes and handbags, I don’t actually want Drake or any guy who thinks he’s anything like him.

I set an alarm to remind myself to watch the televised announcement of the 12th Doctor on BBC America. I’m upset that I still haven’t been able to get my library card since moving, but relieved that my voter registration was taken care of. My favorite article of clothing in the whole wide world is the cardigan; I was going to wear what I think is a sexy dress to the concert, but I was thinking that maybe I’d wear what I wore to work today because I felt cute and sexy in it: a cropped cardigan, baby-doll top, and skinny jeans. I walked out of a top designer outlet in disgust at the ridiculous prices. I have no business setting my sights on a rapper.

I feel like if I were a better, more exciting, more normal Black woman, I’d be sexy and fashionable and good at taking my own picture and then I’d have a sexy, fashionable boyfriend and have sex and be normal and wouldn’t have to have a blog or care so much about things and I’d finally lose weight and be beautiful again. The end. I feel like my life was very much headed in that direction many years ago. If I’d stayed on that path I’d maybe be a popular Instagram “model” and figure out how to take those pictures where you stand to the side to show off your plump ass and how flat your stomach is and pout your lips just so and get, like, 1,000 ‘likes’. But instead I got fat and depressed and didn’t have a choice but to work on my intellect, but I’m lazy and not good at math or science so I only got so far.

My problem is I still want what 19 year-old beautiful, thin, popular Ambrosia was entitled to in a man. I’m afraid of ending up with what 33 year-old uglyish, fat, lonely Ambrosia deserves, which is apparently nothing, or some tragic Al Roker/Wayne Brady hybrid. I want sex and excitement and danger and also thoughtfulness and stability and a face I think is so handsome and biceps that are strong and a belly that is smooth and cute and a booty and intelligence and so much laughing.

I’m just really terrified of settling for the first nice man that takes me on a date. It’s back to that whole childhood want again; I desperately want to be loved and desired, but if it’s by the wrong guy that would be so terrible. So I set my sights on an unobtainable celebrity and focus myopically only on meeting 6′ tall Black men of a certain complexion with facial features that have to be just so in order to avoid dealing with my overwhelming fear of either ending up alone or with some Nice Guy that I’m not attracted to, don’t love, but that there isn’t anything actually wrong with and TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

I know that this post was all over the place and perhaps poorly written and awfully hard to follow, but I needed to attempt to get these thoughts and feelings out. And now I have. So I am a little less full of shit than I was before.

Eggs in one basket.

20 Mar

It was SUPER weird seeing the wonderful Joy Nash in the opening. . . fat joke. . . on “The Mindy Project” this week. I love her, both of the hers, actually, but there was so much about the scene and the “humor” in it that made me want to punch my thin mom more than I usually do.

ANYHOODLE, it’s been a while, huh? I’ve been crazy depressed and junk, so while I had a ton of HILARIOUS posts floating around my brain, I couldn’t muster up the energy to write them in between binge eating, sleeping, and not sleeping. One of the things I’ve come to love about having depression is the constant thinking that accompanies the weeping and screaming at loved ones and staunch belief that life is a cruel joke punctuated by broken dreams and interactions with terrible people. I’ve thought a lot about the stuff that’s happened recently that I didn’t believe would ever actually happen, so I figured I’d write about it passive-aggressively, semi-anonymously, in list form, on the Internet. And awaaaay weee gooo:

Things I Didn’t Believe Would Happen But Ended Up Happening (non-exhaustive list):

  • That a friendship with a decade younger performer-type person that was also a work subordinate would not only end, but end badly. Note to self: the phrases “We have so much in common!” and “We are going to be such dear friends!” will foreshadow an ugly turn of events, particularly when uttered by those that pretend for a living.
  • That I’d be knocking on the door of 300lbs. Okay, perhaps I’m exaggerating A TID, but I am certainly running late on my way to its house.
  • That my friends would rally around an asshole who thought blackface (yup, still not over that) was a great idea, subsequently shunning me, a person with YEAR-ROUND blackface. (Also, I left this part out originally because I’m a sucker who thought this would all work out much differently and didn’t want to be “too mean”, but that dickass had the audacity to compare his tasteless, thoughtless, inherently racist BULLSHIT to Sir Ben Kingsley playing “Ghandi”. God, it feels good to finally reveal that on a blog that everyone has stopped reading months ago.)
  • That I’d not only have more money in my savings than I do in my checking account, but that it’d be THOUSANDS of dollars more. Look, something positive!
  • That I’d inadvertently make wardrobe choices/have wardrobe preferences that would result in my dressing like the bastard love child of Mr. Rogers and Zach Galifianakis and be sort of really okay with that. A SECOND positive!
  • That in 2013 I’d be somewhat obsessed with Justin Timberlake. And also maybe Beyonce but I’ll never admit it.
  • That I’d want to know how many eggs I have left so I can plan accordingly.

When I say eggs, I don’t mean the kind that come in a cardboard box and are delicious hard boiled and eaten with green olives. I’m talking about my baby makin’ eggs all up in my lady box. My ovaries. As I do with most things, I decided to take my cue from television. It all started years ago; the thought was first planted in my pea-brain when Miranda’s gynecologist declared that she only had one working ovary. Most recently, it was the episode “Eggs” from this season of “The New Girl” in which Jess and CeCe take a blood test that will determine whether or not they can continue to fart around about their feelings for Nick Miller or should panic and enter into an arranged marriage even though they are probably still in love with Schmidt, but since network television finds brown-on-brown love relationships silly, hilarious, and terrifying, that storyline will fade and weird, vaguely racist sex with him will start up again before the season ends.

I was hoping that this blood test that determines the amount of reserve eggs a woman has wouldn’t actually exist outside of TV Land and that my gyno would condescendingly chuckle and pat my hand when nervously I asked her about it, but it’s for real and I went and got it. Last week, what appeared to be a 15-year-old boy took a few vials of my blood so that I could learn incomplete information that I would be able to do little, if anything, about.

I discovered during the research (a five-minute Google search) I conducted for this post (but not before having the blood test, ’cause that would have been silly!) that though this test can tell a curious broad like myself how many eggs are floating around in my – Uterus? Vagina? Eh, let’s go with liver -, it cannot determine what kind of shape they’re in. So it could be like when I was still living alone and would have three partially full egg cartons in the fridge: lots of quantity, but low quality, since two of those cartons were at least a year old. Maybe my liver will be overflowing with ovaries, but who knows whether or not they’re still fresh and will be delicious scrambled?

I never thought I’d be the kind of woman to worry about this sort of thing, considering the fact that my having the option to reproduce seems to be as likely as my being Blue Ivy’s babysitter, but I found myself starting to wonder. I don’t want to offend anybody or whatever (honestly, I don’t care, but figured a nice, normal person would start by writing that), but I find the idea of choosing to parent without a partner because you think time’s running out and you want your “chance” to be a mother dumb as shit, and yes I’m looking at you, Ann Perkins. I NEVER thought I’d be a woman who would even consider that life because kids are expensive and annoying and it takes a village to totally screw up their lives. I figured if I never married, I’d never have kids. And yet. . .

I find a tiny part of myself believing the lie that will make seasons of “16 and Pregnant” and  “Teen Mom” continue on into perpetuity: no one likes/loves me, I want someone to like/love me (forever), so I’ll have a baby. I want my parents to have the opportunity to rub my face in how cool and fun and awesome they’re likely to be as grandparents. I want to know what some kid of mine will look like, particularly whether or not it’ll inherit my sweet potato pie face and googly eyes. I want to complain about how exhausted I am to my childless friends and make them feel guilty and lonely and left out and useless. I. . . um. . . want my chance to be a mom before time runs out.

Or do I? I don’t know. Really, I don’t. I’m pretty damn sure that I don’t want to do it without a husband. But I also don’t want to spend my life wondering “What if?”.

I’ve been home sick all week, with a mysterious combination of symptoms that have made me believe that I’ll die before Easter and that the only thing my body is capable of producing is poop, sorrow, and occasional vomit. You can imagine my surprise when a VERY excited nurse called to tell me that not only do I have plenty of eggs in my liver, I’ve got more than the normal amount. I fucking aced that test with extra credit and everything. I’m the valedictorian of the ovary reserve school. I thought learning the “good news” would encourage me to take a shower and do a load of laundry once I can walk and stand again and log on to Match and see what Creature from the Black Lagoon has made my profile his favorite this month. But other than a brief feeling of relief, I didn’t have much of a reaction at all. I mean, it’s kind of like finding out that you’ve won a lifetime supply of eggs from Costco, but oh, P.S., to keep things interesting the expiration dates on the cartons are blacked out, you’ve got no room in the fridge for them, and somebody stole all your frying pans and ripped your stove out from the wall. So yeah, you’ve got all these eggs, but what the hell are you supposed to do with them?

What indeed.