Tag Archives: maxwell

Death and taxes.

22 Apr

“Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

-Benjamin Franklin

There was a time when men were kind. And their voices were soft. And their words inviting. There was a time when the doctor prescribed Adderall. And the world was a song. And the song was exciting (as were most things when one is on Adderall). There was a time. Then it all went wrong.

I have felt this way on the inside for a good. . . two thirty years or so. If only I could feel that thin on the inside too. I mean, the inside is where it counts, right? Source

Okay, okay, so I’m mad late with the whole “Les Miserables” movie craze – Was it a craze? I mean, I saw the movie three times, twice in the theater; saw the show once on Broadway; watched the 25th anniversary concert probably 10 times or so, and regularly sing the soundtrack in the shower, but “craze” is a strong word. – but haven’t we all felt like a starving, hairless, toothless, altogether desperate, 19th century French prostitute dying of consumption?

It can’t be just me. I can’t be the only one who thinks that “I Dreamed a Dream” accurately sums up all my internal, narcissistic misery. I thought that God would be forgiving! I was once young and unafraid! Some dick took my childhood in his stride. . .  when  I was 20. Tigers probably do come at night, which is why I don’t ever want to go to a jungle or to a poorly supervised overnight at a zoo! And life has officially killed every motherfucking dream I’ve dreamed. Also, can we all agree that yes, Anne Hathaway is very talented, but still REALLY easy to hate just because. . .  everything? Okay, great, thanks.

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So like the responsible adult I am, I went and had my taxes done. I’ve gone to the same woman for a few years except for the Turbo Tax Conundrum of ’08. I like her. She’s competent and knowledgeable and chatty and personable. It’s never a surprise to me that a great deal of my appointment is spent looking at pictures of her grandkids or exchanging recipes. She’s just that kind of person. On this visit, I must have made a comment about my weight and how it’s gross, a bad habit I’ve been using as a crutch when I run into people I haven’t seen in a while. I  haven’t been quite this big in a few years, so I always try to jump the gun by saying something along the lines of “Hi ______! Great to see you! How’s things? Oh, that’s wonderful! Oh, me? Well, I gained a ton of weight, and I’m still single and childless! And get this, I’ve been living with my parents since September! Can you believe it?!? Can you?!? CAN YOU?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!” It’s important to me that people know that I know what the hell I look like and that I am wholly aware that I probably didn’t look this way the last time I saw them. If they’re going to talk about me behind my back, it’s not going to be about how delusional or deep in denial I am. Well, not about my physical appearance anyway.

I made some comment about my weight and how I was going to start working out again and blah-blah-blah-I’m fat-blah-blah-blah, and then she mentions that she lost 38 pounds two years ago and everything was going great; she was on Weight Watchers and walking miles a day and then her daughter was killed in a car accident and she gained back 45 pounds and now she wants to die. She gasped “I hate myself!”, put her face in her hands and started to cry. I was flabbergasted, as she told me all of this pretty much exactly as I’ve written it here. I started to cry too. I probably shouldn’t mention this as I’m pretty sure that most of my readers are people who know me in real life and I don’t want anyone freaking out or being weird with me, but mention it I shall: I cried because of the obvious pain she was in from losing her child, of course. I also cried because it made me think of my own parents and how hurt they’d be if I decided to end it all, which is something I’ve kept in my back pocket as an option for years now. It’s my escape plan. I was going to do it if nothing improved by the time I hit 25, then I pushed it off to 30, and now I’ve realized that suicide is SUPER inconvenient for me for a ton of reasons not limited to my commitment to “Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta”, but I’ve got a 35-37 age range floating around in my twisted brain as a just-in-case. But seeing somebody’s parent weep in the middle of an H&R Block over the death of their child made me replace her face with my mom’s and I felt awful. I reached for her hand and held it for a while. She apologized; I asked her what for. She showed me pictures of her dead daughter’s child and husband and offered me some Pirate’s Booty. I declined.

After the appointment, I thought a lot about what had transpired between us. She shared quite a lot with me; her son-in-law is remarrying in a few months and she doesn’t know how she’s going to make it through the wedding. Her husband has never been more loving or thoughtful or romantic, even though she’s fat (her words); she’s going on her first vacation in years to see her best friend and they’ll spend every day on the beach. Because I am a narcissist, I thought a lot about myself too. I thought about the fact that if I died, that would be it for my parents. There would be nobody left. Neither of them have siblings; as I’ve mentioned over and over and over again, I have no children or husband. I was so sad for them. I wept, blasting Maxwell’s “Lifetime”, my go to “My life is OVAH!” song, through my car stereo as I drove around town, mourning my own death that hasn’t happened yet. And then I got angry.

I was angry that I couldn’t ever kill myself without causing irrevocable damage to my parents. I was angry that my only escape from a life plagued by depression and crippling loneliness was no longer, was never an option. I was angry that I’d let myself get fat and cut my hair, making me invisible and undateable. I was angry that my parents couldn’t have had just one other kid so all of this pressure to make them happy didn’t fall on my shoulders. I was angry that the nice H&R Block lady with the dead daughter hated her body, because I was pretty damn sure that mine was bigger than hers, and if hers makes her hate herself, what must she feel when she looks at me? I was angry that I was angry at the nice H&R Block lady with the dead daughter. I was angry that Maxwell won’t ever finish his blacksummer’snight trilogy. I was angry that I will always be alone and there isn’t any escaping it.

I went to the gym after driving around and crying. I’d made an appointment with a personal trainer because I’m serious about trying to make my body smaller and hopefully, healthier, and wanted to get going right away. When I got there, a disheveled, trembling man with long, greasy hair introduced himself as the man who’d be “training” me that day. He seemed familiar to me, but it wasn’t until I left that I realized who he made me think of:

I met Uncle Rico. He has not aged well and knows very little about weight training. Source.

The experience was pretty terrible. Uncle Rico wouldn’t make eye contact with me and I started to think he wasn’t physically capable, and I felt terrible that I was annoyed by what may have been outside of his control. He kept telling me that I had “great form” whilst he looked in the opposite direction as I pretended to use what was essentially an Ab Roller. Eventually, I told him that I was pretty sure I could figure out the rest of the equipment myself and that I’d like to do some cardio. I thanked him for his “help”, shook his hand, and sprinted to the nearest treadmill.

I hadn’t paid any attention to which treadmill I picked. I was overcome with anxiety and just wanted to get away from the weight area and the stares of the South American men in street clothes lounging on the benches. It took me a few moments to realize that I’d chosen a treadmill directly in front of a mirror. I stared at myself as I attempted to walk/jog for the first time in probably two years, and I didn’t like what I saw. I was the heaviest person in the gym. I was the only person there alone, except for maybe Uncle Rico, but he worked there. All around me were families, couples, and friends, yelling over the noise of the machines in Spanish and Portuguese while I huffed and puffed alone. Between the heartbreaking experience of filing my taxes and the seemingly futile exercise of. . .  exercise, I lost it. I cried as I walk/jogged for 20 minutes in the middle of a downtown YMCA. It was probably the only time I’ve been thankful to be fat and out of shape; I was sweating so much from my forehead that it was impossible to tell that I was weeping. The expression on my face is always that miserable.

I went home and soaked in an Epsom salt bath because I read on some skinny idiot’s blog that it’s supposed to pull all of the toxins out of my body that are making me fat and depressed. I avoided my parents because I was still angry at them for keeping me alive against my will and for not being able to give me the baby brother or bitch older sister of my dreams. I spent the rest of the night lurking on Instagram and Tumblr, making myself feel absolutely worse as I watched the evidence of the greatness of the lives of everyone else scroll by.

I will go back to H&R Block next year. I will go back to the nice lady with the dead daughter. I will try to remember to not mention my body, though I hope that next year’s version of Ambrosia will be streamlined and pocket-sized and I won’t have to. I hope that the nice lady will find happiness and peace by this time next year, even if her grief is still sitting in the back of her throat just waiting to be let out. As for me, I guess I’d like to find happiness and peace too. And a different escape plan.

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Constant craving.

19 Jul

So, today was pretty great. Via a post on that social networking site, I inadvertently outed myself as a lesbian. Now don’t get excited; I love the ladies, but I don’t love the ladies. But I once had a friendship that was so intense that writing about it now, it reads to the untrained eye as though I am reminiscing about an ex-lover and not a former BFF. I think that says a lot about my friendship with Zora.

I met Zora while she was working the desk at my gym. She was exotic looking and had a great weave and terrific clothes. I was immediately smitten. I’m quite shy and rather insecure – shocker, I know – so making new friends (and reconnecting with old ones) can at times be an anxiety-ridden exercise in futility for me. Especially if those potential friends are black women. I’m more used to being mercilessly teased or shunned by black women than befriending them. It’s a problem dating back to puberty, if not before. I don’t know what it is about me exactly and I don’t plan on using this particular post to try to figure it out, but I’ve never rarely felt truly accepted by other black women. I’m sure many of you couch psychologists are tapping your chin and saying “Hmm. Must be something about her relationship with her mother.” Okay, sure. Parent blaming is easy and fun! Let’s just go with that for now. (Sorry, Mom.)

Anyway, I met Zora and was intrigued by her glasses-wearing, and constantly changing hairstyles, and chic clothing paired with a large, visible tattoo. After being weird for a few months, I eventually approached her and struck up a conversation that was more in-depth than the small talk she graciously initiated with me on a regular basis. My favorite musician of all time (except for maybe right now) had just released his first CD in eight years. I carried it with me everywhere I went, so sure I was that it would evaporate into the ether much like he had so many years ago. The majority of his fans are black women, so I nervously asked her if she was familiar with Maxwell while holding out my copy of the deluxe version of BLACKsummer’snight. Zora screamed and reached out for the CD as if I were presenting her with The Holy Grail and said “Am I familiar with Maxwell?!” and that was it. All of a sudden I had my first black female BFF in a very long time.

Zora and I were immediately inseparable. We spent so much time together that people assumed we were related. I guess I should have been suspicious that a grown woman – Zora was four years older than me – with a child was so willing to spend so much time with me so quickly, but I was excited by the attention and affection and acceptance and pushed any apprehensions I had about our very sudden connection from my mind. Finally, someone wanted to be with me all of the time! We worked out together, went shopping – even grocery shopping – together, ate together, slept together (no scissoring, though). If we weren’t together, she was just a phone call or a text away and she always answered. We were each other’s missing piece. No one understood me like Zora did and no one understood her like I did. I finally got to know what it was like to have a sister! Nothing could keep us apart! Well, not nothing. Zora sure did like the company of men.

During my first go at friendship with Zora, there was a new man around every month. Zora had a hard time getting rid of one before starting up with another, so there was always lots of juggling involved. It was all so exciting for me to watch. At first. I even attempted to set Zora up with an old friend of mine. It went really well, until it suddenly didn’t, and I cried with her and cried to my friend, begging him to call her again. I told him how much his rejection of Zora was hurting me. How could he do this to us? I felt responsible for her heartbreak and she went ahead and let me.

Our relationship was so intimate that we were bound to fight and hurt each other’s feelings. You always hurt the ones you love the most. Right? First, it started with her regularly snapping at me when she was in a bad mood related to yet another issue that had arisen between her and one of her admirers. Then, she’d start saying the most hurtful things to me about my own trouble with dating. And what was I guilty of? Well, I wasn’t expressing myself; Zora could never figure out what I wanted. I was aloof and mean. We’d go back and forth, screaming and crying, making up and buying each other things to show how sincere our apologies were. During an argument at a Maxwell concert sparked by a ridiculous misunderstanding, I challenged her to a fist fight. I saw Zora as every black girl who’d ever pulled my hair, said I was corny, that I wished I was white; as every black woman who made fun of my clothes, the way I spoke, the things I enjoyed and was interested in, and I had had it. It was me against every mean black female I’d ever encountered and Zora was just the unfortunate effigy. We did not come to fisticuffs, but my pre-fight trash talking was pretty bad ass, if I do say so myself. Zora would later tell the story and imply or flat-out admit that I had scared her. Hearing that little old me had scared a tattooed, tough black girl from Brooklyn was all the vindication I needed. The incident brought us even closer together. For a little while.

We broke up the first time after she left me alone with a strange man after a night of clubbing. There’s quite a bit more to the story, but the bottom line was that though nothing happened to me, I was hurt and shocked that my Zora cared so little about my safety and well-being, all so she could get her rocks off with some guy she claimed to not even like. Things got ugly, and I returned every thoughtful gift she’d ever given to me by leaving them all in a paper bag at her front door. She called me heartless and told me to stay away from her. I told her she had nothing to worry about; I never wanted to see her again.

We’d been friends for less than a year, 11 months to be exact. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t make things work with her. It was all my fault. I was too needy and too demanding. Maybe I was even jealous of the terrible men that came in and out of her life; hell, no men were coming in and out of mine. Months went by and it was Christmas time. While doing some holiday shopping, I came across one store that was very creative in their decorating by using peacock feathers. Zora loved peacock feathers. I missed my friend. There wasn’t anyone else like her. We were perfect for each other. She wanted me around. She wanted me. I picked out a blank card adorned with feathers and wrote everything I felt. I told her how sorry I was, mailed it, and waited.

She got in touch with me by text message about a week later. She missed me too. She suggested that we meet at one of our favorite restaurants. I was so nervous; what would Zora think of my natural hair? Would she notice that I’d gained weight? Should I wear one of the outfits she helped me pick out? The dinner went off without a hitch. We started out catching up like old friends, making no mention of the fact that the last time we’d spoken to each other we’d sworn to never do so again. Eventually, things turned emotional. Zora mentioned how hurt she’d been by my rejection of her. She didn’t know what she’d done to make me so angry, but vowed that we’d never let something like that happen again. I had to promise to communicate my feelings and not hold them inside. I don’t remember whether or not I made her promise me anything. Dinner ended and she wondered if I wouldn’t mind doing her a favor. Could I follow her on a 45 mile trip that evening? She had to return her boyfriend’s car to the rental place in some other town, but first had to pick up the boyfriend’s car from another, other town. It’d mean so much to her if I could. That feeling of suspicion and apprehension that I had felt way back when started to creep up, but I told it to STFU, my BFF was back. BFFs do crazy shit for each other in the middle of the night after not speaking to each other for almost a year. And so it began.

Zora wooed me like an expert. We’d take day trips that she’d carefully planned to new cities and states and they were to this day the best dates I’ve been on. She knew my other friends never did that sort of thing and she made sure to remind me. She’d show up with unexpected gifts to let me know that she’d been thinking of me. She introduced me to her boyfriend and his entire family as her best, best friend. She got on me about my weight, so we’d cook healthy meals and exercise together. She was on soul duty, too, taking me to church with her on Sunday. I was practically living at her house and she wanted me to have a key to her place. She wanted me again and I was dizzy with infatuation.

I’m sure you can see where this is going, but I didn’t. Or maybe I didn’t want to. Zora would step out for “15 minutes” to have a talk with her boyfriend and not return for three hours, leaving me alone with her dog, who was an amazing little guy, and bewildered dinner guests. She’d tell me she was coming to pick me up to go on one of our dates, so I’d make myself even more unavailable to my other friends and wait by the phone for calls that never came. She needed to borrow my laptop, my vacuum cleaner, my crock pot, my DVD player, all to cater to her demanding, finicky, and mysterious boyfriend. I was growing more angry and resentful by the day. I was a BFF scorned. And Zora was going to hear about it.

After waiting for her, yet again, having been forgotten about for hours, she called me, giddy about something the boyfriend had done or said, though the last time we spoke, which was during a rare date I was on, she was in tears about his cruel treatment of her. I decided that that was it. This was my time to communicate. I mean, I’d promised her that I would. This was for the sake of our friendship! I got out maybe half a sentence before she hung up on me.

She refused to take my calls, so I left her hysterical, enraged voice mail messages. How dare she ignore me? How dare she leave me waiting for hours, only to tell me about spending time with that guy like nothing had happened at all? Wasn’t I enough for her? We had made promises! I had made promises! I was only doing what she asked! She sent me text messages in response, telling me that I was crazy, that I was angry, that I was nasty and hateful. She couldn’t understand why I hated her so much. I responded by telling her I was done and that I wanted my shit. She threatened to leave my things out on the street. I threatened to tape her key along with her name, address, and bra size to a men’s public bathroom wall. I didn’t really; I was only creative enough to threaten to throw her belongings in the dumpster outside my building. That was about a year ago, and I haven’t seen or heard from Zora since.

I initially decided to title this post “Constant Craving” as a play on the whole being mistaken for a lesbian thing since the song to some is/was the lesbian theme song, sung by the lesbian of lesbians, k.d. lang. Reading and thinking back on my relationship with Zora, I can see why one would think I was involved in a romantic relationship with her. The gifts! The jealousy! The time spent! The feelings! The promises! The only thing we were missing was sex.

I decided to keep the title because I can acknowledge that my relationship with Zora shows that I have, ahem, a constant craving. Not for delectable fish tacos, but for companionship. For a relationship filled with understanding. For a friend that I share cultural/ethnic/racial similarities and comprehension with. For someone to desire my presence a hell of a lot. For someone to make me feel like I might be Number One in their life. For someone to make me feel wanted. For someone to want me. I don’t think my constant craving for those things makes me unusual nor does the fact that I fell so hard and fast for a person that I thought was able to offer me those things in a platonic way. They’ve never been offered to me romantically, not even as a ruse to ultimately get sex. But that’s for another post.

Zora is not to blame for our two failed attempts at friendship. She was right; I was angry a lot of the time. I was aloof and wouldn’t or couldn’t communicate. I think I was jealous, not of the men (I already told you, I’m not a lesbian), but of the fact that she got men so easily, even if at great personal cost. I was probably too demanding, but it’s hard to feel like you’re Number One and be suddenly and repeatedly demoted. But friendship can’t give you everything. Which sort of means I’m screwed if things don’t change for me very fast.

I miss Zora, I truly do. She made me feel special in a way that few other people ever have. She was creative and warm and loving and generous. We went on wonderful adventures together and even when we were just hanging out, we still had a great time. I miss her so much that it hurts. I won’t be sending her any more sparkly peacock cards, though. As much as our friendship brought out the best in each other, it seemed to bring out the worst in us in equal measure. I’m still not entirely sure why. I hope someday that I’ll feel as loved and as cherished as Zora made me feel when times were good. I’d be a lucky girl if I could feel that again in friendship and in romance. Or maybe I need to learn to not crave so much so deeply, so constantly. I’m pretty proud of myself for being able to both admit that I miss my friend and that it’s not a smart thing for us to be together. I’m not even angry at her or about the situation anymore. Not really.

Though if I’m going to be perfectly honest, it does piss me the hell off that bitch still has my crock pot. Damn. Ain’t no song for that.