What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
Another urgent email containing a list of companies desperate for me to apply, as per the Subject line. You want me? You want me that bad? Fine. Let’s see what you got…
Oh. Director of Blah Blah Blah for a sports agency. Need to be a “winner” and able to engage athletes, their managers and entourage. Next!
Creative Content Manager for a medical group. Should be able to conduct research (yes) write technical papers (ooh) critique drafts for academic journal submission (ooh yes) analyze policies regarding the pharmaceutical industry (ohh baby) manage blog and email content (ooh right there) and work alone or with minimal supervision. Yeah Daddy! Don’t stop!!
Requirements: PhD. Waa waa waaaaa
Now here’s a winner: Contract Writer for a market research group. Satellite position; that means, I can work naked during the summer months! Research trends, behaviors, motivators for a given sub-population. Shit. I’m a fiction writer; I do that all the time! Work with editorial staff, manage other writers? Pffssshhhttpppptttthhhttttttt I got this.
“Upload resume.” Really??
When I double clicked on the closest thing to a current resume in my Old Life Directory, my system prompted me with, “What application do you want to open this file with?” It’s THAT old!
Check this snapshot out…
Slow down, Superstar! Did I *actually* use this resume content? Did the last gig *actually* hire me using this douchebaggery?? Oh my living gawd, am I an egotistical asshole. Well, was. Well, maybe. I dunno.
Not an egotistical asshole. Just an asshole.
I love my reinvention as a creative writer. I love that, if I’m forced to assign a title, it is “Published Author.” I also love that I have three years’ documented experience as a creative artist so I can pursue “Editor” and “Writer” and “Content Manager” contracts without hyperventilating.
But yes, I need a little left brain love every once in a while. I do this, troll for research/analysis gigs, pretty often, and if you need someone who’s into that, baby, holla at me, because I love turning raw data into salient strategies. Statistics, market trends, matrix builds, primary data collection…? Ooh…I just felt a chill run up my spine! It’s a special kind of Strange I am totally into.
The rest of the dusty resume was an enjoyable laugh. Some highlights:
I wore construction boots. I remember the division manager had to special order my steel toe boots because of all the field personnel, I was the only specialist of the female persuasion, so they didn’t have my size in stock. I wore them whenever I was called off site to wherever the computer-mounted trucks were stationed, proudly rocking pink camouflage boot laces to compliment my fluorescent vest.
I froze my ass off in the name of science. On the way to the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania to conduct qualitative data collection, I got caught on the summit of one of the many mountains of the Appalachian Range. A commercial truck had jackknifed at the foot of the mountain, and, of course, the road I was on was the only passage from one side of the mountain to the next. It was the longest, most prayerful two hours of my life.
I was a shorter, fatter Remy Danton. As the DOC representative at the State Building, I essentially spent all day lobbying House members to support our mandatory campaign in their respective districts. Power walking in heels was a norm, as well as delivering the solid, two pump, “Wanna wrassle?” handshake. To this day, people are taken aback when my wee hand comes out and delivers them a lightening bolt!
Nothing like spring cleaning while streaming Netflix in the background. I had the P!nk Truth About Love Tour going first and then Madonna’s MDNA Tour. Two great shows, two performers I’d love to see in concert. Then I thought, QUICK! Top five concerts…GO!
“Can you pull together eighty bucks?” My girl is breathing hard into the phone as she asks me this. Of course, hood tendencies make me think she’s in a pinch. So before I ask who’s holding the gun to her head, she explains, “I just got two tickets to Janet Jackson!!”
So she’s not dying and I’m about to see one of my idols. I respond with “Whew!” and “Yes!”
Now. Lemme SPLAIN something here. Janet Jackson and I are best friends. Ever since Control, I’ve been on her dance crew. As soon as I graduated from high school, I was going to join Janet’s European tour, be Tina Landon’s choreography assistant, and never look back.
Flash forward to 2001, and, well…I’m a software engineer instead of a dancer. :(
Not only are we seeing Janet, but our tickets are for THE FLOOR. Yes! Room to demonstrate the years of training to my master. Oh Janet, look this way! Please do “Rhythm Nation”, please do “Rhythm Nation”, that’s my tightest routine. And the demigod delivers. I break that shit down LIKE A NINJA.
My siblings and I have an interesting habit of not being into the same kind of music, ever, so it was history in the making when the three of us made this concert our first together. We’re already adults, mind you, my siblings each parents and me a full-time tia. The best part of the whole venture was watching my sister tease her hair out to stratosphere level. You know we’re going to a ’90s rock concert, not a ’80s rock concert, right? Didn’t stop her.
The concert was meh as is figured for rap-rock-white trash fusion. You know who opened for them? Godsmack. Yeah! That Godsmack. They were ridiculously good and much more memorable than Monkey Mask, Britney’s Ex, and the Bizkettes. But the three of us, hanging out, as kin, now that was fantastic.
That skinny dude can SANG. And what luck to experience that voice in such an intimate venue. I was with two of the most annoying Puerto Ricans on Earth, but blessed be, the moment their brethren hit the stage, they both shut the fuck up for the duration of the show. Now that’s power! This was pre-J. Lo Marc Anthony, top of his game. That night, we drove home in what seemed to be a Category 18 hurricane. At some point on 635 I was certain we were gonna crash and die, and I still remember thinking, ‘but at least I caught a helluva concert’.
My first boy band concert. With adult supervision. It was polite, enjoyable from the distance we were at.
NO ADULT SUPERVISION. This was the year Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch were opening for NKOTB and my crew was not gonna miss out on that! We’re standing about 14 rows back from the stage, and the decent member of the crew laments we’re too far away. So I look at my girl, she looks at me, we both heard our friend complain about the distance, so we commence to crowd control. While I snatch girls by the collar and hair and toss them to one side, my girl is throwin’ ‘bows to clear the other side, and we get from row 14 to row 4. The final distance not so much physical work than bellowing, “MOVE DA FUCK OUTTA DA WAY!!” to visibly terrified German girls. Yeah, hooligans at a New Kids on The Block concert, I know, I know.
But timing was perfect. Marky Mark just hit the stage, just stood mere feet from us, and just dropped his pants. HOOAH! Mission: Accomplished!
QUICK! What are YOUR Top Five Memorable Concerts? GO!
This is a tough day.
The day prior, I spent two hours assessing all that’s brought me to the case that I am today, and with the unlock of that vault, the visions, the faces, the incidences all start rushing back to the limelight. My mind, always going, always processing, is working this fresh batch of latent emotion into the combine, making last night’s dreamscape a Who’s Who of nightmares.
I woke to terrible news having nothing to do with me.
The worst feeling a woman can have, the loss that’s uniquely our own to bear. While I couldn’t reach her I reached out, knowing she’d fallen, and she needs to know she can depend on me. I’ve done a horrible job demonstrating reliability recently, but it doesn’t change the rules of Sister Code.
We women consider ourselves independent and self-reliant, but it is in these moments regarding motherhood that sisterhood must be invoked. It is the loneliest place to be, the mind, when the womb is in trouble, and it is unfortunate that even the most sympathetic, caring male in our lives can’t possibly understand what it feels like…the loss of the light within.
I kicked myself hard for paying more attention to a female antagonizer then following up with my friend yesterday, somehow my lack of check-in caused this. She’s scared out of her mind and I’m conducting a senseless war?
Drop my sword on my e-enemy, rush to raise my shield over my beloved friend, and block the arrows volleying her way. That is sisterhood.
Continuing on flaunting my ChickBro status this week, with a dash of celebrating Women’s History Month, I’m gonna share one of my favorite sports memories.
Picture this… Mannheim. Germany. 1992. Freshman year of high school, Mannheim American High School Homecoming Week.
It’s Powder Puff time.
I had been chomping at my bit for this since Freshman Initiation. The MAHS Seniors put up a grand advance, but we 8th graders going on to 9th grade returned with an offense that would’ve made General Douglas MacArthur proud! And amongst shrapnel of shaving foam and egg shells, I distinctly recall a CERTAIN Senior doing the two-eyes-pointing-at-her-then-at-me thing as she and the other defeated cleared the battlefield.
It’s Powder Puff time. Freshmen vs. Seniors. And she and I are both on the field.
Coach serving as referee circled us freshman to one side, seniors to the other. “This is flag football, ladies. No touching, no tackling.”
Eyes shot lasers across the demarcated center field line. Clearly none of us heard that.
Coach drags his hand across his chest. “No hitting the letters on your chests.” Clever way to say, ‘no tit punches’, Coach. Snarls exchanged across the line. Clearly none of us heard that.
“Seniors, take it easy on the smaller women.” Coach had a right to declare that. Most of the Senior class of 1992 were Pacific Islanders. I’m not saying they’re big. I’m saying. They are BIIIIG WOMEN. I was rocking a buck fiddy myself those days, so I can comment thusly.
“Alright, let’s have some fun out there!” We clap in unison to break, and take to field position.
I, having just tried out for cheerleading (making base of course) and tried out for volleyball, of which the Islanders ruled, I was ready to show them these thick thighs in motion. I squatted down to join the freshmen offense, ready to guard my QB, and I watch as Ol’ Revenger, at the last minute, switch places with the senior in front of me. She gives me that nod, that ‘payback’s a bitch’ nod.
Play is called, I lurch up and forward from my squat with my arms crossed, elbows out. She’s meeting me with the same ram. And, SMASH! The girl runs right over me.
Flat on my back.
That. Was. AMAZING!
The play continues without me. Seniors are cheering, so I guess it was an incomplete. I pop back up, get ready for the next play action. The seniors are talkin’ mad shit, but I’m just smiling. I ache, but it’s a good ache. We set along the line of scrimmage. “You ain’t scared?” she half mocks/half compliments across from me. She was one of the volleyball tryout judges. She scored me for JV, ideally to be my team captain.
Play is called. I’m having the time of my life. Lots of whisteblowing from coach, because we didn’t catch the part where we couldn’t knock, punch, pinch, smack, squeeze to get to the flag. We’re soldiers’ kids, whaddya expect?
My father got his PCS orders, so we ended up moving to America after freshman year. But man, did I enjoy playing football! Title IX, while in effect, must’ve not hit Texas yet, so I couldn’t try out for high school football, but I TOTALLY would have, and I totally would’ve stuck with lineman.
I’m happy that school girls participate in and excel at high school football, and many female professional athletes are condoning high school athletics as a form of empowerment. While I missed out on continuing my love for playing football, I will continue to support young women in all sports.
What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
So this happened this past weekend:
And what was so weird about it was, I put no pressure or heat on the frames. As casually as any of you lenswearers would slide a pair of glasses onto your face, that’s how much pressure I applied, and, PLACK!! They just…fell apart.
But the event made me remember another inexplicable demise of something very necessary at a most inconvenient time:
[Cue Law & Order SVU's dun dun dun!]
It was Memorial Day Weekend, 2012, and I was in Washington, D.C. to attend my sorority daughter’s wedding. I hadn’t seen my daughter or her chapter sisters since 2008, and hadn’t done anything sorority-related since, so this was going to be a reacquiantance/presentation moment for me. Gotta look good for the sorors!
So in my arsenal of outfits I included a pair of pumps I’d had since 2003, worn on very few occasions but they were crowd pleasers: black stiletto open toed pumps with a delicate ankle band, trimmed in gold with colorful, gilded flowers dotting the sides and back. Sooooooooper cuuuuuuuute.
I arrived at the Crystal City hotel midday, and attempted to contact my daughter but of course, day before the big event, she’s not going to be available to entertain me. I knew my granddaughter was standing in her wedding party, who I had yet to meet, but also not available. The only other sister I knew from our time at Vanderbilt University was also in the wedding party and likely unavailable.
Sucked hard for me, because D.C. ranks high in Cities I Like To Rawk My Balls Off In. So fine, no one around, not gonna bar hop alone in downtown D.C. (I’m crazy, but not THAT crazy), so I opted to curl up in the middle of my bed. I believe Die Hard was just about to start on one of the cable channels.
A text message bleeps my phone: where u at auntie?
Ohh snap. My niece! I figured since she’s part of the wedding party, she’d be too tired to hang out. But I had forgotten: she’s MY niece. Hits me with her room number.
My text back: Be there in 15.
She greets me at her door and we close the four-year gap in our lives with a big hug. I meet the other sisters in town for the wedding, not in the party, and finally, my grandbaby, proving she’s related to me, without question down to hang out for the night. After small talk we decide to bar hop with some other wedding attendees more familiar with the local haunts. I went back to my room, switched into Night Mode with the Crowd Pleasers on my feet, and we went our merry way via taxi to a segment of P Street where the other people were going to meet us at.
The gist of the evening: bar, drink, other bar, drink, club, flirt, drink, other club, dance. And again, we’re along P Street, not venturing any more than two blocks to visit venues. But while we’re at the last club, I feel a bit of a hesitation on the bottom of one high heel. It looks as if the sole was pulling away. I discount it as latent effect from the friction of dancing and keep winding my waist.
Last call at the bar, then city ordinance kicks us out, and we’re on the streets of D.C. loitering with other club bunnies. I am ANCIENT compared to these spry twentysomethings, so while they’re harangued by every other dude exiting the nightclubs, I stride over towards a brownstone intending to rest my weary body on a stoop. That’s when I hear STTTTTRRRRIIIIPPPPP! The entire bottom of my shoe pulls off! One of the ladies pauses her sorority strolling along P Street to assist me, by ripping the rest of it off. Then, because she thinks in the macro sense, she relieves my other sole, so that I can walk evenly on the residuals. That sister is going to run a nation one day, mark my words.
But then it was painfully obvious why shoes have soles in the first place, and any attempt to walk along the wide, cobbled sidewalks that are uniquely D.C. was causing me duress. Finally, a fleet of flying taxis and I spot The Red One, the red taxis will run you to Alexandria and Crystal City expressly. I clop clop clop from the brownstone towards the taxi, and that’s when I hear, “You are looking mighty fine this evening, Miss Lady.”
I stop my enflamed feet, stagger to balance on these Borgia-esque torture devices and plant my hands on my hips. “Yeah? Well I’m not feeling mighty fine.” Then I call over to my niece, “I’m gettin’ in this cab. Ya’ll comin’ or what?” I pay the gentleman caller no heed and continue forward, for as I continue to walk on these threadbare devices, they’re just falling apart. I’m feeling the sides of the shoes flap away, the ankle band now a clumsy means of keeping a semblance of shoe attached. Once in the cab, the shoes disintegrated.
Never in my life had I done the Walk Home From The Club With No Shoes On thing, but I had no choice.
But it gets better folks.
Next day, Wedding Day. I had bought a new pair of shoes to compliment the cobalt blue dress to compliment my daughter’s wedding colors. The entire time at the church, lovely. The entire time at the reception, lovely. It wasn’t until we went to the vodka bar along DuPont Circle that my shoes decide to fall apart. I’m beside myself. The Crowd Pleasers, fine, we’ll chalk it up to expired warranty. But I literally JUST BOUGHT THESE A WEEK PRIOR!
Mystery. Complete mystery.
His hand slowed its feverish massage as his laughter grew.
“What the hell are we listening to?”
I stop my humming and open my eyes, lifting my Galaxy to my face.
He shakes his head and keeps moving the mouse ball, putting the finishing touches on the design I made. A complete overhaul of my book cover. It’s beautiful.
“What’s so funny?” I ask.
“It’s just that when I left here, you were listening to Otep.”
I smile. “It’s my thing. Country music is where I go when I need to bring the rage down.”
He’s right. A few hours prior, I had sat at his workstation. I had Marie’s artwork framing the screen. I had a blank Photoshop layer precut to the background artwork in the center. And I had the roars of Otep, Killswitch Engage, Rammstein carrying about me, helping me bring my rage to resolve.
And from resolve begat beauty.
I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a living fact. My online persona constantly engages in controlled folly, and much of that folly comes from my actual persona managing the ebb and flow of the disorder. I found over the last few years transforming from shadow artist to true artist, having PTSD is a gift. A strange one, in that it can be a crippling situation if not managed, but when it’s harnessed, it can become a powerful source of creativity, sometimes bucking you crazy, but at the end of the ride, you’re left with a masterpiece.
If my actual persona was not the skilled master of the ol’ Put The Stick Down, the design flaw I had to deal with yesterday would’ve sent me into a vortex of fury. I chose to convert my dark thoughts into a working plan. You know what, if you don’t like it, change it, I said to myself. I knew what I wanted to create, but I didn’t have the equipment. Made some contacts; finally, the guy who did my photo shoot not only had the full suite but he didn’t need to use it for the day.
At 2:37AM my time I sent the completed design files, the proofed manuscript, and reference files to the publisher, then I passed out. Today, whatever latent malevolent feeling I have about the ordeal is going to get exorcised out productively. I’m thinking, jog around the park with Bobby, go read my book on the pier, and listen to something that goes like this:
Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be