Friday, July 17, 2015

Diary of a Spinster, Part 3

Today is a difficult day. 

I've been depressed, rejected, defeated, hopeless, lonely, and sad for the last couple of weeks. If I'm being honest it has been months not weeks. Sobs of sadness have been uncontrollable at times. For the last few days I've managed to regulate only letting two or three tears to escape when I talk about it before swallowing down the pain. 

That's acceptable. I can deal with two or three tears. 

I guess we were supposed to make it. We were supposed to be one of those small percentage of couples that ride off into the sunset towards happily ever after. I reflect upon it now, I see the relationship from a different angle and light... 

In late November or early December, Jeff shows me his mother's engagement ring. He tells me his father gave it to him after meeting me for the first time in October of 2011, only three months after Jeff and I started our relationship. In one short weekend his father met me and gave his approval. As Jeff tells me this I am sitting on my crossed left leg on the bed with my right leg dangling off the edge and my toe tips touching the floor. In my head I do the math, for over three years Jeff has been holding on to this ring. 

I burst into tears and crumple in half. 

In a flash the almost three and a half year relationship surges through my mind. I see our first anniversary on the beach in Mexico. I relive the excitement, nearing the second anniversary, when Melodie tells me, "My Daddy is going to marry you. He told me." Then the third year Jeff spent unemployed. I am inconsolable because I think to myself that not one time in our entire relationship was good enough to propose; not once. I thought he didn't have money for a ring and then it never happened. He made excuses that when Gay Marriage becomes legal is when he would marry me so I didn't know what to think other than it was never going to happen. 

He tries to explain. He says exactly what I'm thinking, "There just hasn't been a good time." 

I wail with sadness. 

He continues, "I planned on proposing when Nick and I got back from Philmont. I was going to talk to Nick about it while we were out on the trail....but then Linda kidnapped Kaela and he was...we were all dealing with that and I didn't get a chance to talk to him. I was going to propose to you on your birthday when we came back. But it didn't seem right for us to be celebrating when the kids are mourning because Kaela has been kidnapped."

"So you let Linda win, again? And there's never been a good time? Not one good time in three fucking years? You're a grown ass man, Jeff. Men make decisions. Men make it a good time. As a man if you wanted it you would have found a way in all of that time."

I didn't want him to affirm my questions. I didn't want to make him feel like shit. I wanted him to confirm how I felt, not that there hasn't been one good time to propose, but that I am not good enough to propose to. I want him to tell me the true meaning of not a good enough time. Tell me I'm not good enough to marry.

I die a little more inside. 

He locks the ring away, his tone changes, quieter, serious, darker, "Look, I wasn't trying to hurt you. That wasn't my intentions. That's not what I wanted to do. I don't know why I did that. It was a mistake. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have.... I'm excited, and I'm nervous, and I'm sick over losing Sammie because Clif asked me for permission to marry her." 

That, like many nights before and many more to come, I cry myself to sleep, alone. 

This afternoon at lunch I run into Leafy and Doc Studdard at Jason's Deli. I say hello. He gives an feeble attempt at an excuse as to why they are in Memphis. I pretend I didn't hear about the warrants out for his arrest. He asks how I'm doing. I say, "Okay." The second question out of Doc's mouth, "How is Jeff?"  

I stop like a deer in headlights. 

"How is Jeff doing?" He repeats.

I shake my head, trying to etch-o-sketch the question out of my mind but it's too late. The tears start streaming out of my eyes, "Um...I don't know." I take a deep breath to calm down but it doesn't work because I see the look of confusion on their faces, "We broke up." The tears start coming quicker.

"Awe, I thought y'all were gonna make it..."

But before he could finish the rest of his statement and without saying goodbye I was halfway across the restaurant with the visions illustrated above shooting through my memory. 

I guess we were supposed to make it, but instead today is a difficult day.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bucket List 2015

Starting last year I wrote a bucket list or as I like to call it Adventures. My goal is to accomplish at least 12 items off of the list and write about them. Last year I completed 18 adventures, I only blogged about one. 

This year I'm at a stagnant pass. I've completed some items, but none of them are really adventurous or blog worthy. 

I'm looking for partners in crime or leads to complete some of these tasks. I would appreciate any help. 

The ones in black are currently being worked on. The ones in black and highlighted pink I've completed. Don't worry what is under the yellow.

#memphisblogger #memphisfamous

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Comfort

Yesterday evening The Silver Fox and I went on a walk together. When she goes on walks she likes to cut the corners. I like to walk around like I'm working crosswalks, making a giant bubble. In order to keep up with her I have to jog the corners. 

As we are approaching a corner I cut behind her and begin jogging. I look to my right because I hear her footsteps falling in synch with mine. 

"Hey, why are we jogging?" she asks. 

"We aren't jogging. I'm jogging to keep up with you cutting corners."

"Oh. Well you better catch up," she cackles as she cuts the corner while continuing to jog. 

"I'm made for comfort not speed; comfort!" 

That being said, as of this morning I've worked off 10 pounds of comfort. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Diary of a Spinster, Part 2

July 1, 2015

Last week I had a rare evening off and took the opportunity to attend a Zumba class in Bartlett with my amazing sister-in-law. After nine months off from all exercising, except recently beginning to walk, because of my severe sinus infection, I thought I was ready to try dancing, in lily white suburbia, with the beautiful Stepford housewives of Bartlett. 

I know many people see me as the confident, vivacious Averill with a smile on her face. I just haven't been feeling it lately, or at all. When I walked into the mirrored studio I instantly felt out of place. For the most part, the women had flat stomachs to match their flat-ironed hair, make-up on, and excessively large sparkling diamond rings on their lefts hands. In contrast I have the roots visible on my curly hair, a face void of color, a stomach the shape of a toad belly, donning old workout clothes with holes, and a barren ring finger on my left hand. I am an embarrassment and that is not what I want to be to my sister-in-law. 

I'm just not there, I'm in my head until I see myself bending over in a booty popping pose and then I'm in the mirror. I'm definitely in the mirror. My entire stomach is reflecting in complete profile pressing against my faded pink tank top in the floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall mirror. Every time I glance at myself it and I get bigger. My reflection is eclipsing those reflections of the people in the back row. I move to give the lady behind me her own mirror space, but she rotates and hides behind me like a shy moon orbiting a planet. 

I want to quit dancing because I suddenly hate it. I hate myself. I loath my reflection. I hate my body for betraying me by being incurably sick for so long. I hate this sudden bout of indigestion that is creeping up the back of my throat. I fight the urge to hastily grab my belongings before I vomit in the middle of the laminate hardwood flooring. Instead, I take too many water breaks to fight the indigestion, mentally break from the mirror, and recover from a lack of exercise. I'm just not in the moment. I'm not myself. I'm not happy. 

Much to my delight class finally ends. My sister-in-law invites me into the conversation she's having with her workout friend. SIL is always making sure everyone knows they are included. I love that about her. She asks, "What are your plans for the evening?"

Like a dope, I answer honestly, "Since I had oral surgery and my mouth hurts so badly I'm going home to take a Hydrocodone and go to sleep. If the meds wear off and I wake up early I'll take another one and sleep in tomorrow."

"Oh, she must not have kids!" exclaims her workout buddy. "You must not have kids! It must be nice! You're going to sleep in too?" she scoffs. "She must not have a husband either! It must be nice to sleep in! You must not have a husband either! You don't have a husband either!?" She laughs.

I fought back indignation. I wanted to respond in the classic Jerry Springer guest phrase, "You don't know me! You DON'T KNOW ME!!" I wanted to tell her those are her life choices she's made and not to be mad because she might have settled and now feels stuck. I wanted to make a flippant remark that it must be nice to not have to work and have your husband pay all of the bills. But most of all I wanted to tell her, "No I don't have a husband and in fact my boyfriend of almost four years is recently an ex-boyfriend. I wanted her to know the main reason I chose to attend class tonight was to avoid crying myself to sleep at six o'clock in the evening because I'm hurt, I'm lonely, and I'm broken. Maybe I just want human interaction to keep my mind distracted. But that isn't enough because I'm reminded that I'm a spinster and I don't have children because my body is just a useless sack of skin that refuses to produce offspring. I wanted to thank her for making me feel even more worthless than I already do on a daily basis all because I take the opportunity to sleep in after having oral surgery. But like I said, I already do that job quite well. 



Instead, I manage a smile as I ask if the water fountain across the room works. I refill my blue Nalgene bottle to guzzle another 32 ounces of water  while stifling the tears, and swallowing the self-loathing, anger, and disappointment for a few more minutes. I'll let it out when I get in the car. 

Most importantly I learned to respond to questions with vague answers and deflect the question back. After all, nobody cares what the answer is anyway. 

Diary of a Spinster, Part 1

June 26, 2015

I'm not your typical person. 

I wasn't allowed to date until I was 21. My Mom wanted me to finish college before I would worry about men, marriage, or children. It didn't really matter anyway because I was never asked out in junior high, middle school, high school, or even college. 

Sure I had crushes, all unrequited; I come on too strong or I'm just weird - haven't quite narrowed it down yet. The Silver Fox tried to convince me that men were intimidated by my beauty. That only made the hurt worse because I did not believe her; I could not see it myself. During those years I don't just think but believe, "I am hideous and deformed." I believed God just forgot about me and didn't make another half for me. Since men weren't interested I just assumed I was an asexual being. Because no men came a callin' my mom questioned my sexual orientation in her trademark manner, loud and invasive, "What are you, a Lesbian?" 

I met WF at his 26th birthday party. I had just turned 22 a month and a half prior. He asked me for a 'birthday kiss' and I obliged. We immediately started dating. In less than two weeks of dating he said, "I love you," to me. That's not weird, right? Because love is love. Cue the cartoon hearts and sappy music. 

 Of course in the moment he declared and professed his love to me he was crying, sobbing over his ex-fiancĂ© that he'd seen for the first time in years since their break-up. Barbara had just rejected him, again, after he begs for her to let him return to Seattle with her. 

But he told me he loves me! Although I was hurt, I let my heart make the decision not to break-up with him instead of my head. After all it was my first and only 'I love you.' 

I brought him home to introduce him to my parents. The first sentence out of his mouth to my parents was, "It's nice to finally meet my future ex-in-laws of my future ex-wife." 

He is pompous. They instantly hate him. 

I loved him. 

He was my first love. He gave me scrunchies for our first Christmas together, I've always hated scrunchies, but I still loved him. I loved him in spite of his boastful one-up stories. I loved him even though he never kept a job. I loved him and his addiction to politics. I loved him even after his car was repossessed. I loved him regardless that he declared my childhood religion a flawed and false doctrine. I loved him and his elitist superiority. He reminded me on a regular basis that my weight and body are disgusting, but I loved him because love forgives flaws and clearly he forgave mine so I could overlook his. I loved him. He made me feel like shit about myself so I lost weight so he could love me more easily. He bragged that rehab didn't work on him and his thirst for alcohol survived and I loved him. He cheated on me and my heart shattered. 

I cried. I cried from the betrayal. I cried because my future plans had been eradicated. I cried because I was flawed and wasn't good enough to keep him. I cried because of failure. Then I sobbed because he was my first love. Insecurity set in and a sense of worthlessness did too. My sobs became uncontrollable. My mom would hold me as I fell asleep at night and when I'd wake up crying she'd be there to console me. 

I was a photography student. I tried to control myself at school, but I found myself crying in the dark room. The tears weren't as stealthy as I tried to be. One of my classmates told on me for crying. The professor, Patti Lechman, confronted me. She took me out into the privacy of the empty classroom to ask who had died. She questioned if I was sick or had recently found out I had a disease. 

Neither of those were the answer. 

I managed to tell her that my now ex-boyfriend cheated on me then dumped me for the much bigger, unattractive version of me, Carol. That name curled my upper lip and made me snarl. 

Lechman said, "Good riddance to him. Put the trash out with the rubbish." She said she wanted to share something with me as she reached up to her head. 

I thought she was going to touch her temple, but she ran her fingers underneath her hair and slid a wig off of her hair-splotched scalp, "This is a reason to cry. I have cancer. I have a reason to be curled up in a ball, sad, crying, and giving up. But I'm not. I have a life threatening disease and I'm making it. I'm not giving up. I'm fighting. You have a broken heart and that's much easier to heal from than cancer. You take that into consideration when you're feeling sorry for yourself." 

It's been twelve years since Lechman took off her wig, she confided a very shocking secret and I learned an incredibly important lesson that day. It's something I often remember while I'm going through difficult situations.

Although the circumstances have changed, I have found that the devastation of a new heartache has only intensified with time. I'll get over this broken heart, it's not cancer, and I'm taking deep breaths as I count my blessings. 

Soon, I'll again revel in the fact that I'm not a typical person. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

West Virginia Black Bear

The Black Bear is the state animal of West Virginia. 

I was a senior in high school when I lived in the East Pear Ridge neighborhood in Huntington, WV. It was a half a day of school and I was charged with picking up my baby brother from EPR elementary school. 

My mom called the house from work. This was a time before cellphones. It's doubly important because she never called unless we were in trouble or had a chore list to complete. She worked across the street from East Pea Ridge at Kmart on 64, and she was frantic that I needed to keep Trey inside the house and be extremely careful when I pickup Blais​e. She said there had been a Black Bear cub wandering around the Kmart parking lot. Nobody had spotted the mother but they are ferocious in protecting their babies. Before we hung up the cub had crossed Highway 64 and was walking up East Pea Ridge.

Sure enough, I go outside and this bear cub is walking up our street! He crosses down the hill, we lived on the top of a mountain but in West Virginia they just call them hills, and makes his way through the wooded neighborhood. 

I drive five street over to the elementary school to pick up Blaise. By that time the bear cub had made it to the elementary school playground! Animal protective services was called, so were the police and fire department. They barricaded us in the parking lot to stop traffic. They encouraged us to get out of the car to watch the excitement unfold. Blaise and I had front row seats to what happened next. 

The bear cub, scared, lost, and confused climbed a tree. The animal services shot him a few times with a tranquilizer gun. We watched as the bear cub became drowsy and fell from the tree. They tagged him and eventually released him back into the woods. Nobody was harmed from a lost, wandering bear cub. 

This is one of my favorite memories I share with Blaise. I can't imagine how scarred I would have been had this bear been unloaded upon with a shotgun. Shameful, just shameful. 

Of course this young bear became irritable, he was being hounded by paparazzi and followed. He's used to living his bear life, not bothered, in the woods. What has changed in 19 years that a young Black Bear is gunned down by a police officer in Huntington, WV instead of being tranquillized, captured, and released back into the wild? 


http://www.wsaz.com/home/headlines/Bear-Sighting-in-Huntingtons-South-Side-309926321.html?device=phone&c=y

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Only a Three

I told my best friend this week that every aspect of my life sucks sh*t except for my relationship with her. She laughed and in the way she does saw the good side, "At least I'm a positive." 

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon I'm really struggling with going into work at the DayJob tomorrow. On Friday the Interim Vice Provost came down into the basement "to have a frank conversation with everyone." He proceeds to tell us that he has taken it upon himself to change the rubric for how employee evaluations are scored. The scores are going to remain on a scale of 1-5: 1 is unsatisfactory performance, 2 needs some improvement to meet position requirements, 3 meets position requirements, 4 frequently exceeds position requirements, and 5 is distinguished performance, with decimal points being used as intermediate values to the nearest tenth. However, appraisers will now be grading on a harder scale, a truer scale, a more honest interpretation of employees work, the good as well as the bad. 

He says matter-of-factly, "Nobody is a 5. A person that is a five is glowing - they can do no wrong. And frankly, I shouldn't see many fours either. Most everyone should and will be rated a three. So we won't be seeing overall performance ratings of 90s. Your rating will drop drastically."

I have plenty of issues with evaluations such as the fact that I have never been given goals to reach, merit raises are non-existent, and rewards systems such as Award certificates are neglected. But here are my main issues with the whole situation. If I am going up for a position against a person in another department that is continuing to be rated as a Rock Star and the hiring supervisor looks at my Performance Appraisal and I'm only achieving a 3, I could see where they would have a hard time choosing me. It is going to harm our staff more than help us. I'm not saying to blow smoke when there isn't a fire, but let's be real, some people do aspects of their job and they are on fire. Secondly, he came downstairs in his starched Oxford, with the rigid, wrinkled fabric stretching and pulling so hard that the buttons are straining to stay locked in their holes across his gut, to kick us all in the ego and morale. Each word in his statement beating in, 'Don't fight, don't get up. Don't even bother to strive for a five. You're not a five, you won't be awarded a five. You're not even a four.' That was the least motivational and absolute opposite of team building speech I've ever been forced to attend. 

I'm here to say, I'm not a three. I'm an 11 damn-it! I won't continue to be held to the mediocrity of a three. But, I will definitely need a leader that sees the value of their staff, not just envisioning us as warm bodies meeting position adequacy.