Friday, April 28, 2006

O-R-E-O

In the fifth grade my mother, society dame that she is, decided that I should be a junior debutante in her sorority's cotillion. From January to June, I spent two weekends a month learning a dreadfully boring dance routine of the step together clap variety, set to John Lennon's "Imagine." Along with approximately fifteen other elementary school age girls from various schools around the Albany area, I prepared to twirl and prance for the delight of the community's finest. Practice would last for two hours or as long as our young attention spans could handle, then we would be released to play amongst ourselves as the debutantes practiced their dying swan courtsies under the critical eye of the drill sargeant choreographer. Play time was always when the drama started. Putting fifteen girls in one room and telling them to play nicely is like putting a guppy in a shark tank and telling them to sing "Under The Sea." It ain't gonna happen. Games of hide and seek, innocent at first, always devolved into shouting matches and insults hurled faster than a major league pitch. And what would always begin as an evenly matched fight, always evolved into a fourteen on one gang up. And without fail, the one would always be me. Because despite all of their differences, the other girls could always agree on one thing, I wasn't like them. My speech was a bit too proper and peppered with a few too many "awesomes" and "likes" and "totallys." My school had a name, not just a number. I listened to Bon Jovi instead of Slick Rick and couldn't quite do the Roger Rabbitt. So one afternoon, after a particularly heated confrontation the oldest girl in the bunch looked me in the eyes, pointed a finger in my face and said, "You ain't nothing but an Oreo." It wasn't an accusation, it was a verdict. My skin may be the color of mocha, but I was as white as the cookie's cream filled middle. In a desperate attempt to defend my blackness, I rattled off random facts about Garrett A. Morgan, Marcus Garvey, Josephine Baker, and any other significant figure in black history. Needless to say, I was less than convincing.

Even though my mom was born in Harlem, raised in the Bronx, and spent the majority of her career teaching in inner city schools, when it came to raising her own children, it was suburbs all the way baby! I grew up with green grass, trees, and quiet streets. The night sky was so clear the stars looked close enough to touch. Deer sometimes trekked through the woods behind my family's four bedroom, two and a half bathroom, two car garage home. I grew up in the bosom of suburbia surrounded by Beckys and Suzies and Mollys, not a Shaniqua, LaTonya, or Dawnisha in sight. Becky and Suzie played jump rope, not double dutch. Becky and Suzie had posters of Dylan McKay on their walls, not K-Ci and JoJo. Becky and Suzie watched Dance Party USA, not Soul Train. I was a quintessential product of my environment. My parents did their best to expose me to as much black culture as possible. They set up play dates with other black children, forced me and my brothers to enter the annual Black History Month Essay Contest (I won three times in a row), sent me to African dance class at a ghetto community center, and even joined Jack and Jill to widen our network of black friends. I grudgingly participated. I never felt comfortable around other black children, often being ostracized for the music I listened to and the ability to properly conjugate my verbs. The junior debutantes were a lot nicer about it than the girl who pushed me on the sidewalk and mashed my face into the dirt. I may not have looked like Becky and Suzie, but I was most at ease in their presence. With them, I didn't have to try to talk differently or be someone I wasn't. It wasn't that I didn't realize that I was black. From an early age, I knew that my hair didn't blow in the wind and my skin didn't turn red and peel on a blistering July day. Plus, there was always some obnoxious kid in my class to call me Cocoa Puff or Tar Baby, in case I forgot that I was many shades darker than everyone else. But, my personality and interests always fit better in the lily white suburbs than they did in any urban setting.

As I got older, things slowly changed. In junior high school, all of the black students peppered throughout the district converged in one building. Instead of being the only, I was now one of thirty, which was an exponential increase. I built tentative friendships and added some color to the mix. I was introduced to the beauty of Yo MTV raps and Cross Colors clothing. I may not have been able to use "wack" in a sentence, but I knew all the words to "Ain't Nothing But G Thang." Scarred from prior experience, I was still hesitant when meeting other black teenagers, but for the first time I felt like one of them.

By the time I reached high school, my friends were an even mix. I spent just as much time with the AquaNet Addict (white girl) as I did with Stumpy (black girl). The objects of my affection were equally diverse ranging from a Kurt Cobain (I really loved him) look alike to a Larenz Tate knock off. Gradually, the scales began to tip and by 12th grade I was gravitating towards all things black. The ease with which I once related to white people shifted, and I found myself more at ease roaming city streets than I was walking through the halls of my school. I craved contact with people who looked like me. Bit by bit, the creamy white filling in the Oreo was vanishing. And I did whatever it took to downplay the little that remained. On three way phone call hook ups, Jailbait would tell disbelieving guys, "Liz is definitely black. She only sounds white." I did my best to back up her claims.

When it was time to go to college, I made the choice to continue my foray into blackness and applied to the Ujamaa Residential College, basically the black dorm. I thought the transition was complete, until I called my soon to be roommate and had to inform her that I was indeed black. Under the watchful tutelage of Chesty LaRue and our suitemates, I learned how to wrap my hair, bought my first bubble coat, got acclimated to the South Bronx, and perfected a believeable black-cent. I was a far cry from my suburban beginnings and loving it. I consciously carved out a distinctly black existence for myself. I pledged a black sorority and moved within black social circles. After growing up in a predominantly white enviroment, I no longer felt as though I could relate to Becky and Suzie in any way, shape, or form.

One of my biggest issues with moving to Grand Rapids was the lack of diversity (i.e. black folks). I assumed that without a sizeable black population, I couldn't find friends, a hairdresser, and a decent place to hang out. Somewhere along the way, I forgot where I was from. I'm the girl who watched Kids Inc. every Saturday and thought Madonna hung the moon. Zack Slater was the love of my life at one point, until Luke Perry took his place. I pinch rolled my jeans and thought Beverly Hills 90210 was totally awesome. It's like there are two sides of me and until now, I never thought they could meet. It was either/or, never both. But now I'm starting to wonder why. Contrary to what I've told myself, I still have a lot in common with Becky and Suzie. Just as much as I do with Shaniquah and Dawnisha. For the first time in years there are white people in my life who are more than classmates and coworkers. They are friends and confidantes. I'm once again cool with being the only black chick in the crowd and blasting The Dixie Chicks from my car's speakers. Because of where I grew up, I can navigate through two worlds that rarely ever meet. I've finally learned that I can still be a black woman through and through, even with all of my white girl tendencies.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Homecoming

In the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham a never named character resembling a camel/bird/dog hybrid repeatedly tells Sam I Am, "I do not like green eggs and ham." He doesn't like them in a box, he doesn't like them with a fox. He does not like them in a house, he doesn't like them with a mouse. He does not like them here or there, he doesn't like them anywhere. That is of course until he tries them. Turns out, he does like green eggs and ham, he really likes them, Sam I Am.

When you've been saying the same thing for so long, it's hard to know whether you say it because it's true or because it's what you've always said. For almost four years, I have been telling anyone who will listen that my life is in New York. My friends, my family, my favorite places, my heart, my very being, everything resides in the Big Apple. It's the rationale I give when begging my employer for a transfer and the answer I feed recruiters who look at my Michigan address and ask why New York. However, I'm starting to wonder if it's still true after searching in vain for that life the last time I was home. I looked, but it was nowhere to be found.

When I moved to the Midwest in 2002 to start my post collegiate life, I left behind my best friends, family, a nonstop social life, and a budding romance with the Idiot, before he made me cry. From the moment I stepped on the plane, I wanted to turn and run back. I wanted to dine at Dallas BBQs on 72nd Street with Chesty LaRue, or dance on a boat sailing through the Hudson with Flatty Girl, or catch a comedy show in the Village with Jailbait. I wanted my grandmother to give me twenty bucks for a Metro Card and an extra fifty just because. Most of all I wanted to be anywhere with the Idiot, to be with him in the city that I loved. I came home as often as possible, so as not to miss a moment of the life that I still considered to be mine. The thought of a birthday party, graduation, family gathering and the daily comings and goings occurring without me was almost unbearable. I thought I could hold all the moving parts together over hundreds of miles, until I came back to reclaim what was mine. I guess I stayed away too long. As much as I hate to admit that it's possible, life went on without me. People got older, grew up, and moved on, completely rearranging life as I knew it.

As I prepare to finally make the move back to New York, I'm struck by the fact that I won't be returning to the place I left. The landscape has changed dramatically. It started when I lost the Idiot three months after I moved. For a long time, that loss only fueled my need to come home. I was positive the distance tore us apart and convinced myself that moving back would put us back together again. It took me a long time to realize that while we probably ended prematurely, we would've ended regardless. Less than a year later, Chesty LaRue packed up and headed south of the Mason Dixon line, leaving me without one of the essential partners to my many crimes. Next, Mr. Wonderful moved across the Atlantic, leaving me without a convenient location to crash. Then Jailbait decided she was going to be all that she could be in the army just as she finally came of age to really enjoy the city with me. My living arrangements are one thing that haven’t changed. I can always go back to grandma’s house. Unfortunately, as of June 2005, I no longer have a grandmother to come home to. My beloved New York existence is slipping from my grasp piece by piece, replaced by unfamiliar people and places.

At 19 years old I started a love affair with New York City that rages to this day. The second I set foot in the city, all is right in my world. I am home. That feeling of home is one of the biggest reasons I want get a U-Haul and just go. Every other time I have moved, I’ve always had to start from scratch. New friends, new church, new places, new life. But NYC was supposed to be different. I always thought I could pick up right where I left off upon my return. That somehow someone had held my spot, and I could slip right back into my space. But that’s not reality. Reality is, I got up and lost my seat and when I do finally come back I will need to find a new one. The remaining vestiges of my New York life are quickly disappearing. College friends are heading out of state for grad school and even Flatty Girl is looking to make a transition. The Idiot is right where I left him, but it’s best to just leave him there once and for all.

New York City will always be the happiest place on earth in my eyes, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s still my home. Is force of habit keeping me attached to a city that’s no longer mine? If the New York City I knew and loved is vanishing before my eyes, what am I coming back to?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Murphy's Law

Everything was going too well. I lost 11 pounds. My bank account was resucitated. My vacation was wonderful. I found the perfect white purse and even more perfect white sandals. Life was humming along nicely. I even came home from Miami to an unexpected refund check. Maybe that check was the straw that broke the camel's back. Maybe it tipped the scales too far, and balance needed to be restored. Whatever the reason, ever since 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong and worse.

It all started with the funny smell that pummeled my olfactory nerve the second I lugged my suitcase in the house. The scent of wet dog and garbage converged on my poor nasal passages alerting me to the fact that something was wrong. I checked the kitchen and the sink was empty and the garbage had been taken out. I had no idea what could be wrong, so I left the windows open and hoped the aroma was the remnants of a rotting meal that had since been brought outside. But like my parents often did when I was a child, I was pointing the finger in the wrong direction. When my roommates (just got a new one) arrived home, they showed me the real culprit. The basement was drowning in an inch of water, lovely stagnant, bubbling, brown tinged water. I attributed the problem to the ever problematic roots that like to grow into my main pipes and called Mr. Rooter to fix the problem. After wasting enough water to hydrate the Sahara, Mr. Rooter determined that my pipes were A-Okay and charged me $24 just for showing up and doing no work (which makes me wonder how I can find such a gig).
First thing the next morning, I called the city in an attempt to blame the problem on a sewer back up. Unfortunately, the sewer wasn't to blame either. Turns out, my trusty water heater decided to overheat then throw up all over my basement. FUCK!!!
Knowing the source of the problem was a good thing, learning about the remedy has sent me into a tailspin. Replacing the water heater was damn near $600 bucks. But then there's the clean up. Since the water had been sitting in my basement for approximately 72 hours, I now have millions of microorganisms as pets. Yippee! I hope there's enough kibble in the cabinets to feed them all. Fortunately, I found out that home owner's insurance will cover the damage. Unfortunately, there's a $1000 deductible. FUCK!! Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck!!!
It's not that I don't have the money. I've been saving for a rainy day, and it fucking poured. The thing is, I don't want to spend over $1500 on home repairs. That's $1500 that I can't put towards a car, or moving expenses, or a yacht party with strippers. What the hell am I going to do with a water heater? Cold showers would probably do me some good.
On top of this calamity, I got a heartfelt "thanks but not thanks" letter about a job, I was just sure would get me back to civilization. It's back to the drawing board, searching job postings, submitting resumes, interviewing, ass kissing, and so on and so forth. I hate this process. To add insult to injury, several hours of searching monster.com have shown me that even with a B.S. degree from an Ivy League school and 3+ years of work experience I'm not even qualified to be a junior administrative assistant. FUCK ME!! Please.

What am I Waiting For?

Having taken advanced classes during my first two years of high school, there was room in my 11th grade schedule for an elective. I decided to take Writer's Workshop, a class meant to tap into the creative genius in teenage minds. Under the tutelage of the wise Dr. Danaher, we crafted literary masterpieces filled with every writing device known to man.
A few days ago, while digging through my boxes, I found the 1997 volume of Visions, my high school's literary journal. Included in that year's edition are two pieces I wrote in that class. A short story and a poem. Now, I love to write, but I don't do poetry any longer. It's too much effort to be that creative and not have it sound like self conscious tripe. I stick to prose cause it's easier. This is the last poem I ever wrote. I loved it then, and I love it now. Moreso now, because I love to see where I was and compare it to where I am now. Some things changed, others didn't. But overall, it's still me. Present commentary is in parentheses. Enjoy!


Waiting
I am waiting for spring to come (it's here, thank God!)
so my feet can be warm (they're still cold)
I am waiting for "Tall Women's" jeans
to be tall enough for me (they hang in my closet now!)
I am waiting for this song to leave my head (oooooohhh baby when you talk like that, you make a woman go mad....)
so that another can take it's place (You've got, you've got, you've got what it takes to make me leave my man, it's hard to control myself, it's hard to control myself...)
I am waiting for the courage to say how I feel (I got that now!)
and for someone else to feel it too (my readers usually do)
And I am waiting for things to be the way they used to (they never will be)
For memories of "One Potata, Two Potata"
to once again be a reality
and for everything to be alright again.
I am waiting for my secrets to be discovered
and secretly hoping they will be. (not so much anymore. let's keep them hidden)
I am waiting for self confidence (got it)
and waiting to be free of fear (not there yet)
I am waiting to figure out what I want and when I do,
I will wait a little longer to go after it (I know what I want, and yep I'm waiting to do something about it)
I am waiting for the perfect day
and for forever at the same time. (still waiting)
I am waiting for salty streams to stain my face (they've left trails on my cheeks)
so I can be aware emotions (very aware now)
And I am waiting to understand
why three little words mean so much to so many (I know why now)
and waiting to see what they will mean to me (they can mean everything, and still not mean enough)
I am waiting for background music
to highlight every major moment in my life. (still waiting on this one, although I'm starting to think it's logistically impossible)
And I am waiting for him to ask for my number (he asked)
so I can laugh and say, "No!" (I said yes)
And I am waiting for the shouting to stop
and for listening to begin (hasn't happened)
For quiet calm to descend
and wrap the earth in its velvet embrace
And for anger to pass into the night
like a distant dream. (maybe someday)

Friday, April 21, 2006

On Vacation

Hey all!

I am on vacation for a few days of fun and sun in Miami. I had planned to leave four new entries (one for every day that I'll be gone. I was even going to make swear an oath to only read one per day.), but sleep superceded blogging. I should've known that I couldn't work, get a wax, go shopping, watch Top Model, do laundry, balance my checkbook (click here for that story) , write a committee report, pack, untwist my hair, and write four blogs in one evening. For some reason I keep imagining there is an "S" on my chest. Sorry to leave you hanging. I promise to make up for it with pictures and tales from South Beach upon my return. Feel free to enjoy the archives until then (no really, please read them. They're lonely). Thanks for stopping by!

Liz

P.S. My bank account survived the carnage and I'm back on a budget. Sort of.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Oh, To Feel That Way Again

When Dylan chose Kelly over longtime girlfriend Brenda on 90210, the woman scorned shut herself in her bedroom and put REM's "Losing My Religion" on repeat. Tired of hearing Michael Stipe's whining every minute of the day, Brenda's twin, Brandon asked his sister why she insisted on playing that particular song over and over and over again. Brenda explained to him that that was the song playing in Dylan's car the first time they broke up two summers ago. At the time, she thought nothing would ever hurt that badly. Unfortunately, this new pain cut deeper, burned hotter, and hurt a thousand times more. So she listened to that song hoping to feel the way she did back then, because that pain was more bearable than the one she currently felt. Damn, that Brenda was a GENIUS!
In high school, no one did unrequited love better than me. Hell, even Angela Chase managed to get her lips on Jordan Catalano a few times in the boiler room before he dumped her for not putting out then boned her best friend Rayanne Graff (FYI: I am still campaigning for the return of My So Called Life). But me, I never had that kind of luck. So I yearned and pined for boys who either didn't notice me or didn't want me. I built big dreams in my head and let my heart ache for them to come true. I vented, I stalked, I cried. Oh, it was all so deliciously dramatic. In high school, love is drama, evidenced by the proverbial lunch room break ups and school dance meltdowns complete with all the melodrama a teenager can muster. I figured if I couldn't be part of a real drama, I could always be the star of the theatrics in my head. And what a star I was! Sitting in my room, listening to a pathetic soundtrack that include such maudlin classics as "Glycerin," "You Were Meant For Me" and my absolute fave "How Do I Live," I swore that wanting someone who didn't want me back was the worst pain known to man.
Turns out, I was wrong. Wanting someone who used to want you back, but doesn't anymore is a thousand times worse. I've always said that finding someone you like at the same time they like you is almost an impossible feat. One party usually misses the boat. A few years ago, I thought I managed to accomplish this impossible task for the first time in my life. He liked me, I genuinely liked him. All was swell until he changed his mind. Words cannot describe how badly it hurt. For the first time in my life, tears weren't enough. My heart broke, and I felt it fall apart piece by painful piece. Confusion, lonliness, anger, and an overwhelming desire to forgive converged on me like a tidal wave and the only person who could stop the onslaught was the one who caused it in the first place. At that time, I wished I was still in high school. I wanted to trade the current anguish for the past drama. Compared to the new grief, high school's trials were easy and I desperately needed an easy way out.
It's been almost a decade since I've done the unrequited thing. I don't have the energy to sustain a one sided romance. I'm an adult and adult heartbreak involves real loss. Sometimes they don't love me anymore. Other times I don't love them anymore. And oftentimes love just isn't enough. I can't decide which is worse. But I do know that missing what I never had was more of a sweet agony. And when I'm missing something that I once had, all I want is to feel that way again.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Before the Tears

I'm not a masochist. At least not anymore. I haven't been for a long time. I stopped believing that love has to hurt in order to be real sometime between my 20th and 22nd birthday. I don't want a guy who can be nice, I want a guy who really is nice - with a touch of sarcasm thrown in here and there for kicks. Assholes need not apply.
Since I graduated from college, I have done a lot of crying over men, with the majority dedicated to the Idiot Who Made Me Cry and The Guy Who Shouldn't Make Me Cry. I have wounds that have healed and some that probably never will. In spite of it all, I can still look at both of these men and honestly say that they are great guys. Huh? Great guys don't make girls cry. Oh really? Well think about it this way.
Before they made me cry, they made me smile all the time. Before the tears there was laughter, tons of it. The very thought of them sent my stomach into butterfly induced spasms. They called every night and talked to me until I fell asleep. And when we were together they never let me sleep outside the comfort of their arms. They indulged my whims and met my needs. They were my refuge and solace when being away from home was more than I could take. For a little while they were my home until it all burned to the ground.
Sometimes I still get homesick. Great guys screw up all the time and it hurts a hundred times more because when it's over you know exactly what it is you're missing. I don't miss being hurt, being ignored, being neglected or crying myself to sleep. I don't want any of that ever again. But everything that happened before the salty streams stained my face, all of that I would keep forever.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Scared To Look

There is something important I need to know. The information is at my fingertips, a mouse click away. Yet, I hesitate, apprehensive about what I will find. But I've been in the dark for weeks, and I can no longer function like this. Ignorance isn't bliss, it's total paranoia. The damage is done and I must now look at the carnage. I don't want to, but I have to check my online banking statement. Lord, help me.

Five months ago, I resolved to be more fiscally responsible after hearing a thought provoking sermon on money management. I wasn't a financial train wreck, but there was definitely room for improvement. Immediately, I cut out unnecessary expenses like my unused gym membership and premium digital cable. I siphoned more money into savings to cover any emergency expenses. Most importantly, I resolved to get rid of all credit card debt. On a Sunday in November, in front of the entire church congregation I cut up my platinum Visa card and my Macy's charge card (my other cards had been lost when I left my wallet in a NYC cab). Starting with the smallest debt and working my way up, I vanquished thousands of dollars in debt in less than five months. I made a commitment to only buy what I could afford outright. I was on my way to financial freedom and it felt great.

It's amazing how quickly things fall apart. In a mere three weeks I have undone almost all of my progress. Well, maybe it's not that bad, but it sure feels like it. It started with a $110 pair of Lacoste flats I bought in an emergency (my feet were killing me, I had no choice), and has since snowballed out of control. I have been operating as if I have no budget, padding my wardrobe, purchasing trips, and eating out at every turn. Buyer's remorse is prompting me to return some of my purchases, however the meals are a wash cause they're already in the can, literally. Completely clueless as to how much is actually left in my account, I have begun operating on the "hope this works" plan. I hand my check card to the cashier then hope it works. Thus far it has, but I fear my luck is running out. But even worse than all the spending was going back on my vow to live credit card free. In a moment of extreme weakness, unabashed love, and sheer stupidity I opened up a new credit card. Damn that 10% discount promotion!

Okay, I need to suck this up and balance my checkbook so I can begin to undo the damage that I've done. But I just can't bring myself to do it. I'm scared to look.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sweatin To the Oldies

I have been a lazy bum for the past 11 days. A bump on a log gets more physical activity than I have been getting lately. I have no motivation to let Billy Blanks torture me via Tae Bo Boot Camp and Carmen Electra's Strip Aerobics just isn't moving me. But, if I want to look more like Flipper and less like Shamu on Miami Beach next week, then I've got to do something. So tonight, I hopped in my car, and headed downtown for 80s night at The Drink to dance off all 800 calories I consumed today (this Passover diet is killing me. Why does yogurt contain yeast?) Yes, I have to work in the morning. Yes, cigarette smoke will cling to ever fiber of my being and I'll be too tired to scrub it out when I get home. But sleep deprivation and stage I lung cancer are worth it, just to spend the evening in the company of my dancing friends.
The minute I enter The Drink's smoky confines and hear "You Spin Me Round" blaring from the speakers, I know I am where I belong. It's almost midnight, but the dance floor is sparsely populated. Most patrons are still at the bar. The geeky skater boy with the buzz cut and glasses is jerking his lean body in time to the synthesizers. He won't leave the dancefloor the entire night and will dance all by himself until the lights flicker on. Standing at a nearby table is the 6'3" drag queen in the making who I see whenever I come out. He sashays through the club, looking less than comfortable in his hot pants and hooker boots. For some reason he feels the need to caress my midsection whenever we cross paths.
I immediately recognize a familiar face. I don't know her, but I know she sets the soundtrack to my Sunday nights at Billy's. Tonight I look at her, really look at her, for the first time. Her smile says her life is anything but mundance. She looks fascinating, like she has the most fabulous friends, endless dates, and little free time. She stands out in her little black dress with a neckline that takes a dangerous plunge. Her high heel sandals are the perfect complement. Raven hair contrasts her pale porcelain skin. I wonder if it's natural. Regardless, she is striking, even though her perfect features don't quite equal pretty.
The music changes. Everyone loves Duran Duran. I'm hungry like the wolf all over the dancefloor. Less than two feet from me is a man using his beer bottle like a mic. Our eyes meet and we serenade each other. This is our routine whenever we see one another. I keep trying to figure out if he's gay. He doesn't prance like the other gay guys, but he dances too well to be straight. His t-shirt is too tight to be straight, the jeans too loose to be gay. I decide he must be bi, then try to fend off the drunken Justin Timberlake lookalike who humps my left leg. He tries to palm my ass and for a split second I wonder if he's trying to pick my pocket. Oh well. Michael Jackson is playing and I'm a PYT.
Suddenly, an angel appears in the form of my favorite dance partner. Long, dark, and lanky his hips are liquid and our song is playing. I spin, I twist, I shimmy. Wham is everything I want. The heat is now palpable and I can feel every stitch of denim against my hips and thighs. I need to rest. I leave him to dance with her. She is blonde and slinky with an incredible ability to channel 1985 trends into 2006 style. Their limbs intertwine, but never tangle. She sways with him then away from him in perfect synchronicity. I wonder if they are choreographed.
My heart slows, my body cools, and I'm back in the middle of everything. Couples rotate around me. Boy and girl, boy and boy, girl and girl, they swap pairs on every beat. I'm dancing with myself, hands in the air, smile on my face, without a care in the world. This is the best calorie burn ever.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Replacement

It's common knowledge that the best way to get over one person is to start liking someone else. It worked pretty well in 8th grade when I didn't want to like the Juvenile Delinquent anymore and decided to aim my affections at his Scumbag Friend. I had a thing for white boys in flannel and Doc Martins (thank you Kurt Cobain). Replacement therapy worked pretty well, until I realized the Juvenile Delinquent was still my heart's desire. The only drama this change of heart created was the internal variety since neither party was interested. Over the years, I continued to implement the replacement strategy, with similar results.
Freshman year of college, my first (and only) official boyfriend (I like to stick to gray area "quasi-relationships" because they make it easier to star in my own personal soap opera) was a replacement. After months of futility spent trying to work my way from being Jockboy's friend/sidekick/personal lackey to being his girlfriend, I met the sweetest guy in the world. Sweetheart adored me in a way no one had adored me before, so I was more than happy to be his one and only. So I did what any girlfriend does, I spent hours tying up my dormroom phone whispering sweet nothings in his ear. I told him I loved him and did naughty things to him in his bedroom while his mother watched TV downstairs. This guy made me feel wanted, secure, pretty, and all types of wonderful. Who cared if he he wasn't in college, didn't play football, wasn't 6'1", and didn't drive a white Ford Explorer? I guess I cared a whole lot, because I still thought about Jockboy. CONSTANTLY.
The problem with replacements, is that more often than not they fail and you're left right back at Phase I mooning over someone who's probably not mooning over you. Replacements don't push the old feelings away, they only cover them with contrived feelings that you convince yourself are real. What I've come to realize is that I'm never looking for just a replacement. What I really want is an upgrade. Someone who is bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, sexier, richer and better than what I'm desperate to leave behind. I didn't find that freshman year. When I measured what I had against what I wanted, it didn't compare. I'm ashamed to say this now, but the fact that one man treated me better, didn't compensate for the other being better looking and more high profile. Actually, that's the reason none of the replacements ever really replaced anything. They weren't better than the original.
A few years ago, I found what I thought would be the perfect replacement for the Idiot. The Upgrade was taller, just as good looking, made more money, had a bigger apartment, drove a nice car, was smart, funny, got into all the good parties, called when he said he would, and best of all was interested in me. I thought I hit the jackpot. But lying in bed with him one night, I started staring at him as he slept. It wasn't there. I couldn't see all the grand possibilities that I saw whenever I looked at the Idiot. I came to realize that even though The Upgrade went beyond my standards, the Idiot set those standards in the first place. The Upgrade couldn't compare. I didn't want an upgrade, I wanted the original basic model that I fell for in the first place. From that moment on, I would always gaze at The Upgrade and think to myself:

You're dark, like him
You're tall, like him
You dress better than him
You're in better shape than him
You don't make me cry, like him
You don't ignore my calls, like him
You don't look at me, like him
You don't see me, like him
You don't hold me, like him
I won't love you, like him

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

This Was No Accident

Love isn't an accident. Love doesn't just happen. Love doesn't work itself out. Love takes work. Love takes time. Love takes a conscientous effort. I absolutely hate it when someone says, "You can't help who you love," or even worse, "You can't control feelings." That's bullshit. A cop out people use when they realize they've fallen in love with the wrong person. I've made falling for the wrong person into an artform. No one says, "I knew better," more than I do. But never in all of my knowing better have I claimed that I just wound up head over heels one day, the result of a freak accident that occured while I slept. I can honestly say I never intended to fall, but it would be a lie if I said I didn't fall on purpose.
Don't get me wrong. I know that love can't be controlled, made to conform to what we want it to be. My heart has kept right on loving long after my head has told it to stop on more than a few occassions. But control was lost only after the decision was made to relinquish it. When I first started dealing with the Idiot, I remember the exact day I knew my feelings were involved. I remember sitting with Chesty LaRue in a restaurant in midtown Manhattan and realizing, "oh shit, I like this guy." I knew that there was about a snowball's chance in hell that it would work. But I chose to keep seeing him. I chose to indulge the way I felt. And when it blew up in my face, I wholeheartedly blamed him (righfully so) for being an asshole, but I never once blamed him for making me care for him in the first place. I did that all on my own.
Before you can fall in love, you have to have the "A-ha" moment. That moment where you realize "I might like this person." At that moment, you have a choice. You're standing at the edge of big a cliff, and you can either back away from it and stay on solid ground, or you can fling yourself off that precipice and pray to God that person catches you. Once you jump, there is no turning back, you're in a free fall where your emotions, happiness, and potential hearthache is in the hands of another person. But before the fall, there's always a choice to love or not. To keep going or turn around. Most times people barrell right over the edge head first, not giving it the least bit of consideration. It can make falling in love feel like something that just happened. But it didn't. There was a choice made, to not think and just feel. Sometimes that choice works, but more often than not it comes back to bite you on the ass. My cheeks are littered with teeth marks.
Some might say that when the "A-ha" happens that you have to follow your heart. Well, if your heart is anything like mine, it gets it wrong a whole lot more than it gets it right. Right now my heart is telling me to order a Pizza Hut Pan Pizza with extra cheese. I doubt my waist wants me to listen. Sometimes what we want isn't always good for us. That's why we need our heads to tell our hearts "no," before it's too late. Before our heart rules everything we do and we're trapped by all of its mistakes.
Yes, it sounds romantic to think that someone can't help but love me, crave me, need me. It's a rush to think that someone can't not love me. But when I really think about it, I don't want that. I don't want anyone to love me even when they don't want to. I want someone to put their heart in my hands, not just fling it in my direction. I want someone to say, "I'm choosing to love you."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Get Over IT

"Get over it." That's what I hear all the time. What you really mean is get over him. You may not believe this, but I already have. I did that a long time ago. I don't want him anymore, and I don't love him either. I don't long for him. He's not the man for me. If that's the case, why do I still talk about him. Why do I still reminisce about the perfect first kiss and the awful goodbye. I'm not in denial, I swear it. The answer is simple. I am over him, I'm just not over IT.
IT, is so much bigger than him. IT is us, or rather what we were supposed to be. IT is the plans I made that will never happen. IT is the feelings that no longer have a home. IT is every single vision I had of a white dress, a bouquet, and happily ever after. IT is the wonderous possibilities that were obvious from day one. IT is the promise we made when we both said, "I'm not going anywhere." IT is the laughter, the comfort, the ease that made us think this was right. IT is all the what ifs and could have beens. IT is the hope that this really could be it. IT is now a dream that will never come true.
So now I ask you, how do I get over IT? Please tell me, because I would love to know.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Chosen One

I often like to say, "I know who and what I am. And I'm okay with it." It sounds good, confident yet defiant. Totally bad ass! The words are true. I am smart, outgoing, sexy, self absorbed, desireable, neurotic, funny, impulsive, a handful. And I truly am okay with all of it, because I know that basically, I'm all around great. But somewhere, buried not so deep beneath the surface, is the young girl who didn't know who and what she was, and was never okay with it. Somewhere in me resides the girl who was never "that" girl, but always wanted to be. In me exists the girl who was passed over time and time again for not being enough. Passed over for not being someone else. As kick ass as I am, the young girl never went away.
As long as I can remember, I've always wanted to stand out, be the one people noticed and coveted. In nursery school I would try to put diapers on my four year old body in futile attempts to be like the babies all the caretakers doted on. I wanted to be cooed at and told how adorable I was. I wanted them to swing me onto their hip and carry me around like the 2 year olds. I was always told, "You're too big to be carried."
When I got to kindergarten, I went to a babysitter after the AM session. She was an older lady who cared for several children, including one of my classmates. One of her charges was a little girl a year or two younger than me, with the longest light brown hair that cascaded down her back in big curly tumbles. Her face was round, her cheeks were pink, her eyes like saucers, reminding me of a living doll. One afternoon, I watched as the babysitter and her daughters tugged at the little girl's braided pigtails and told her how cute she was. I reached my hand up to my hair and felt the stubby braids my mother fashioned with my short nappy hair, secured with big elastic "knockers" and decorated with barretts. I too had cute braided pigtails, or so I thought. When I approached the babysitter to show that I was just as cute, I was informed, "No. Your hair isn't pretty like hers."
Even at that young age, I was astute enough to realize that I wasn't going to be "the cute kid." I was too tall, too dark, with the wrong hair, and a gap toothed grin. I stopped trying to be "the cute kid" and decided to be the "smart kid." I was smart, but not smart enough to go to the 1st grade classroom for reading class. That distinction went elsewhere. As I got older, I tried many ways to be "that kid." I thought I was going to be the fastest, until I came in last place at the all district track meet. I thought I would be the most creative, but I wasn't chosen for the creative writing field trip. I thought I was going to be musical, but I was placed with the 2nd violins, instead of the 1st. I watched as the chosen children shined, basking in the glow of being the right one, being the best. I craved that same attention, and resorted to being loud, weird, and militant to get it. People would often look at me and say, "You're just doing that for attention." I would ferociously deny the accusations, secretly knowing they were right.
As an adolescent, I watched as all of my friends were chosen. Now, not by teachers and parents, but by boys. As much as I loved best friends like Jailbait and Stumpy, part of me hated going out with them. I hated standing aside, a spectator to all of the attention showered upon them for being everything I was not. Parties were torture as song after song played without one guy attempting to grab my waist and share a dance. Basketball games were disappointments when I could walk through a crowd of football players completely unscathed. I ached for any validation that I was worth wanting.
Over the years that validation has come. The funny thing is, when you've spent the majority of your life being rejected, it's almost impossible to believe when you're actually accepted. You get the overwhelming feeling of "Who? Me?" Rejection becomes a dish best served chilled, that while very bitter to taste, over time gets easier to swallow. Anything different can make you choke. I've gagged more times than I care to remember, especially in relationships. Over the years, I became convinced that the type of man I wanted would never want me. Men with looks, charisma, personality, humor, and more didn’t go for girls like me. Now that I’m older, they do. I’m always shocked, paralyzed by disbelief. “That girl” always gets “that guy” and I’ve never been “that girl.” I can’t help but think there must be some type of mistake. Maybe he thought I was someone else or maybe he has no other options, any reason makes more sense than he likes me because to him, I am “that girl.” So I put these men on a pedestal, grateful that they saw fit to want someone like me. Then I wait. I wait for them to change their minds, because I know they will. They’ll realize that I’m not “that girl” when they meet “that girl.” I scare myself with those thoughts until they come true. The rejection comes in one form or another, and I swallow it whole.
Sometimes acceptance comes without a caveat. I take it, but it’s often not enough. When you've never been anything to anybody, it makes you want to be everything to everybody. It's not enough for the people that matter to think that I'm amazing, the ones who don't matter have to as well. That's the reason why I want men to be attracted to me, even when I'm not attracted to them. My beauty must be in the eyes of every beholder. It's the reason I long for a promotion in a job I don't even want. I get a pang whenever I receive notice that another one of my peers is moving up the ladder ahead of me. I don't want the position, I want the prestige. I want to be labeled as a star, even though I could care less about the people labeling me.
Yes, I know the person I am, with all of the splendor and glory it entails, and I have learned to embrace it. But, knowing who you are isn't a remedy for insecurity. Knowing who you are doesn’t erase knowing what you are not. It’s the things that I am not that eat at me most. But I realize that I can’t be someone I am not. If that means getting passed over, so be it. If no one in this life ever chooses me again, I will be just fine as long as ultimately, I choose me.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Close Encounters of the First Kind

The keys rattle for a few seconds before the door swings open. He comes home to strangers. There's a quick introduction. He's cute, not my type - too short - but cute nonetheless. I wonder if he thinks I'm cute too as he bypasses the living room and opts for the comforts of his bedroom in back. His roommate follows, leaving my friend and me on the couch in front of the blank TV screen. I look at her. It's late, I'm tired, and I'm here because of her. Because she needed to talk. The club is not the place to complete unfinished business, but a Manhattan apartment is, even after 4 a.m.
"How long are we staying here?" I ask.
"Well me and him really need to talk," she answers.
This is going to be a long night. I settle into the cushions and get comfortable, adjusting my top so neither of the "girls" spill out. Bras weren't meant for shirts like this. The boys come back. Two of them, two of us. Two pairs is only a winning hand in Poker, not real life. He's tired, but he sits with us anyways. He talks. His roommate sulks and I can tell she's gonna have to do a lot of talking to make it better. But not yet. It's movie time. I've already seen Coach Carter, but I'll watch it again.
She whispers to his roommate. He whispers back to her. She takes him to the back. They will have their talk and I will have the couch to myself. Even trade.
"Do you mind if I sit over there with you?" he asks me from his perch on the loveseat.
"Not at all."
I curl up to make room and he sits on the far end.
"You can stretch your legs out if you want," he offers.
Why not. My feet rest on his lap. Yep, he thinks I'm cute. I watch the movie. Damn, there are some fine men in this movie, especially that tall white boy.
"You comfortable?" he inquires.
"Mmmmhmmmmm," I purr, nodding my head slowly. "Are you?"
"Do you mind if I lay down too?"
"Not at all."
He stretches his feet towards my end of the sofa. It won't work. We both knew that when he tried, but the polite option must at least be attempted. I know what he wants, so I give it to him.
"You can lay on this side too," I tell him.
He's quick to take me up on my offer. I move forward. He crawls behind me and contours his body to mine, chest to shoulders, stomach to back, crotch to ass. I curl my legs to his knees, making us the same height.
"Can I touch your hair?" he wonders. I know it only looks enticing, like a large ball of cotton waiting to be squeezed. In fact, it's dirty, in need of a shampoo, deep conditioning, and a trim. I say yes because I don't care. He plays with the tight springs, pretending they feel good to the touch. He wraps his other arm around my torso, and I snuggle, pretending I want to be there. The sun rises as the movie ends. It's time for bed. He gets up to go to his bedroom.
"You don't have to sleep on the couch."
I follow him to his bedroom. A warm body in a warm bed is better than nobody on a lumpy couch. I sit on the bed, but he stops me before I can lay down.
"Do you want some shorts and a shirt to sleep in?" He offers, not to make me more comfortable, but to make his mission easier. Basketball shorts slide off faster than jeans. But it keeps up the pretense that we are going to sleep. I change in the bathroom, feigning modesty. He's waiting for me as I crawl under the unnecessary covers. My head hits the pillow and my eyes close. He pulls me close and we contour again. I'm tired. Falling asleep like this is all I want. He wants more. He moves against me and I can feel him rising.
"Has anyone ever told you that you've got a really nice ass?"
Laughter is the only appropriate response. It comes out as a girly giggle. This is ridiculous. He pushes against me harder, holding each thrust against my ass longer than the previous one. I move away slightly. He cups my breasts and I move back towards him. Good counter. I don't have to participate, he's doing enough for both of us. His breathing is heavy in my ear. I wonder if this is all he wants. When he moves on top of me I know that it's not. I make room for him between my legs. The clothing between us makes it okay. I'm not worried. Dry humping is kids play (literally). His weight is on me, but it doesn't crush me. I can feel him through his shorts and mine. He shifts and rubs against me in fluid motions that grow increasingly intense. He's anticipating something he won't get, but I wrap my legs around his waist and squeeze anyways. It's something to do. He could stop at any second and I wouldn't care. He pushes my borrowed T-shirt over my head. He places his mouth over my nipple. I don't feel much, but I moan anyways. He keeps going and it gets better, but not much. I want my shirt back, but he wants my pants down. That's a problem. This is going too far. I don't even know his last name, I'm not really interested, and I haven't had a bikini wax. This was not in my plans when I left the house the previous night. I grip the shorts' waistband. He tugs at them from the bottom. He wins. He goes 2 for 2 when he gets my panties down too. FUCK!!! I'm not supposed to be naked. I squirm away. He slips down my body, his face hovering at my belly. I cross my legs in an attempt to hide the jungle growing down there. He wouldn't. Oh, but he would, and he does. He pries my legs apart and places his face in the untamed wild. Shit! This needs to stop. I try to move away, but the movement gives him the impression that it's too good for me to handle. He cups my hips in a vice grip, forcing me to feel everything. I can feel it, but I don't know if it feels good. He hits a new spot and I know for damn sure that one feels great. I look down at the top of his head. Our eyes meet for a moment before I lay back again. Why didn't I get a wax when I had the opportunity? This is embarassing. So embarassing I can't finish. I know he won't stop until I do. I moan louder and begin to shake my right leg. I writhe against him, then scream "Oh Shit!!" into a pillow several times before one elongated scream. My performance is convincing so he comes up for air. I watch him pick a hair out of his mouth. Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck. Where are my clothes? He reaches for a condom before I can reach for my shirt. Aww hell no!!! I push him off me.
"I'm not fucking you," I state.
"Why? We're both adults. It feels right. I'm not judging you," he coaxes. I hate that bullshit line. This is NOT happening. I put his clothes back on my body.
"I'm going to sleep. I'm tired," I tell him.
He respects it for three whole minutes before he grinds against my ass again. I let him, knowing the process will begin all over again. He feels me up, trying to turn me on. I let him. It feels good, but not good enough to change my mind. I lay there as he tries. In an attempt to show me just how fun participation can be, he takes my hand and places it down his pants. Not bad! I give him a few half ass strokes before removing my hand. He asks if I want to kiss it. Ummm, not so much. He's getting nothing out of this. I suck in bed right now and really don't care. I didn't come over with the intention of being "good." And I damn sure didn't come over there to be bad for a couple hours either. Is it time to go yet?

The Abyss

This time I left evidence. Unlike the other times, now he'll know that I was looking for him. He'll know that he didn't just pass through my mind on the heels of one thought before being chased away by another. He'll know that he was my mind. And my mind was ruled by the heart that doesn't want to let him go. Instead of hiding behind the computer screen and checking his online status, just in case, I called him and let it ring and left a message. I had to let him know.
For a month, I let it ride. If he wanted me, he knew where to find me. He didn't come looking. I know the rules. Don't chase after someone who won't chase after you. Don't hold on to someone who won't hold on to you. Don't fight for someone who won't fight for you. Don't, don't, don't. For weeks I didn't. But too much time passed without a word. A month can turn into never again all too easily. The rules were broken when my heart started to break at the possibility. He was slipping away and I had to catch him before he fell into the abyss.
The abyss is littered with the vanquished, those never to be heard from or thought of again. The abyss is final, there is no return. It's where the liars, cheaters, heartbreakers, and forgettables went. They vanished into the abyss without a trace. He doesn't belong there with them. He didn't do what they did. He was better. He doesn't deserve to be forgotten and I don't want to forget him. I still care how his day went, his jokes still make me laugh, and I still want him to listen. We started too good to end up this bad. I know he's going, but I don't want him gone. I will hold on until he lets go.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Just Thinking

It's after midnight and I feel compelled to write. There are a million and one ideas running through my head, but they're scattered. A thought here, a quote there, but nothing cohesive. Yet and still I feel a need to just say something. The ideas don't make sense yet, and they won't for a while. So I'm at a strange place, I'm writing with nothing to say. There is no story, there is no point, just a need. I will write and that is it. There will be no editing, there will be no clarification. Just my thoughts as they come to me. I've never done this before and I wonder where it will lead.
My mind skips a lot, from here to there, past to present, present to future. An idea hits and leaves soon afterwards. Sometimes the idea comes back again and again until it becomes more than just an idea, it becomes a passage. Other times the ideas vanish as quickly as they come. That's the thing about ideas, unless you make them concrete, they're fleeting. Feels like a lot of life is fleeting. Happiness, knowledge, self assurance. It all comes and goes. Sometimes I wonder if my love for words will be fleeting too. I used to love him and him too. I don't anymore. When I love, I can't imagine not loving and when I stop loving I don't remember why I loved. I don't want to lose what I love now because my love flits and flies and finds something else. Maybe that's why no one can love me and not stop. I haven't learned to do it myself, why should I expect anyone else to. I'm depressing myself with this line of thought and it needs to stop.
On another note, blogging with nothing to blog about is dangerous territory. Can't be tied up neatly, and it often goes where it's not supposed to go. Yes, I'm revealing. I tell a lot. But it's calculated. I know what I will and won't say before I say it. This time I don't. Will I say something I shouldn't? I probably already have.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Hiatus

I was tired. Tired of disappointments, tired of obsessing, tired of sobbing myself to sleep, tired of everything. I could take no more. My happiness, my focus, my thoughts, my entire life was stifled. I desperately needed a break. So, on February 29, 2004 I gave up men for thirty days. No phone calls, no emails, no IMs, no dates, no number exchanges, nothing! Clubs were off limits to keep from even entering the mating environment. I was shifting my energy elsewhere. Men had taken up way too much of my time. Coaxing, convincing, caring, crying, carrying on, commiserating, craving, conversing, climaxing, cooling off, conniving, crushing, calling, caving, I had done too much, with only a tear soaked pillow and fleeting memories to show for all the effort. I refused to let any man occupy a single thought for an entire month. I was fasting with all that it entails, including prayer and Bible study. I needed strength and purpose to make it through thirty days and God was the only one to give it to me.

The tricky thing about trying not to think about men is that it only makes you think about them more. Having to remember not to remember only makes the memories rush faster. And rush they did. Memories haunted me, chasing me into sleep and welcoming me awake. The harder I tried to push them away, the faster they came. I began counting the days, until I wouldn't have to not think. I concentrated on putting together thoughtless minutes hoping they would become thoughtless hours. Needless to say the fast didn't work the way I planned it. But there was no way it could have. I couldn't focus on God when I was focused on escaping men.

Two years later, I'm tired again. But this time something is different. Disinterest has replaced disappointment, disenchantment traded in for disgust. Basically, I could care less and would rather not be bothered, period. I’m not trying to take a step back, I’m already disengaged.

I guess this has been coming for a long time. I haven’t been genuinely interested in anyone for months. Being embroiled in dating dramas or at the very least having a crush has always been a staple in my life. There is no one for me to like and using memories to fill the void just isn’t working for me. Living off recycled feelings from relationships that have long since died has become beyond pathetic. It needed to stop before I disowned myself due to an inability to respect myself in the morning.

Meeting someone new is a hassle I’m unwilling to endure. I know the situation is bad when I’m on an international phone call with my other half, Jailbait (many men could’ve gone to prison before her 18th birthday) complaining, “He’s too nice. He wouldn’t stop complimenting me.” When Flatty Girl made us a new friend last weekend, the fact that he was 6’5” with an uncanny resemblance to Khalil Cain (Raheim from the movie Juice, for those of you who don’t know) – meaning he could get it – wasn’t enough to make me care for more than 20 minutes. Dates are more like interviews and I’d rather save the Q&A for someone who’s gonna pay me every other week. In junior high, a successful party was measured by how many boys I danced with. Now, a successful night at the club is measured by how many men I can avoid. Dancing by myself tends to burn more calories than deflecting the wandering hands of a horny dance partner. Guess which one I choose.

I’m not so na├»ve to think I can’t be dissuaded from my disillusion. But I don’t want to be. I know myself well enough to know that I’m most vulnerable to temptation when I’m caught off guard. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve said, “But I wasn’t even interested in him at first,” after losing my clothes in freak dating accidents. Luckily, I already know who to stay away from and it's really no chore to do that. So, I find myself in familiar, yet new territory. I’m more than tired, I’m sick and tired, with an emphasis on the sick. Lately, men have started to make me itch (not down there). I’m hanging out on the sidelines, but this time I’m not wishing I could play the game. I’d rather occupy my time with anything else. I’m fasting again, but screw 30 days. This one’s lasting indefinitely.