Friday, January 20, 2017

i'm scared....

what if the economy crashes.

what if women rights are diminished.

what is someone legalizes the right to tell me what is or is not best for my body.

what if I lose my job, because the country goes bankrupt.

what if the price of gas rises. 

what if my 'blackness' becomes something people can hurl hateful words towards.

what if a wall is built.

what if racism and sexism and homophobia are normalized.

what if there is a rise in hate crimes (especially towards Muslims).

what if the Affordable Health Care is repealed.

what if we go to war.

what if there is another shooting.

what if Russian had implict role in the election.

what if we take 17 million steps back in the wrong direction

what if we don't survive "this" whatever this is

I am scared. I am petrified. And please don't tell me that I shouldn't be afraid. I am scared. I am petrified and I am not handling any of this well.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Women's March

This Saturday I am attending the Women's March in the city. I have never felt so much disdain, disgust and hopeless since the election results and I want to be a part of something important. My mom is a mini history buff. Growing up she would make my brother and I learn about dead presidents and other historical figures. I have and always been proud to be an American because I recognize that our freedom is unparalleled.

But as a minority and a women, I also recognize that these freedoms were not always so easy to obtain for people like me. Until a week ago I used to read under the American Flag that faced my reading chair. I bought it soon after Sean graduated from the Navy because I was feeling super patriotic. Even after the Sean debacle, I still found solace in the colors and the stars and the stripes. I felt comfort for the country of my birth and now my choice.

This weekend I took the flag down. Folded it properly and placed it on the top shelf of my closet. It may return when i feel decency and democracy has return. In it's place is now a quote by Tina Fey. 

I was told not to worry, that things would not be so bad but dammit all to hell if am not feeling a little less confidant in this county I love. Dammit all to hell, as I scratch my head in  bewilderment. Democracy seems to be falling apart around me and everyone is shrugging it off as the new norm.

So I've decided to March this Saturday. And any and all Saturday's after that. I've decided to get involve and use my voice for good.  I've decided to voice my concerns. I may not have voted for this candidate but I am a citizen of these states that he is so flippant in disregarding

I am nervous and anxious and honestly, maybe even a little scared. But the stakes feel too high to let that get in the way of what's right.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays

I got the quiet, blissful Netflix filled Christmas of my dreams!

                                                                 Happy Holidays ya'll.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ice Princess


Got my first parking ticket because I didn't know there were snow ordinances that frown on cars being parked on the street during a storm. 

I spent the better part of today, shoveling my car out of what can only be described as a car igloo and now my arms and back are sore. Oh and I have to pay my county $20 bucks for disobeying the law. 

Annoyed, cold and tired I made myself some spiked hot chocolate and watched the snow fall from the sky for about an hour. It was peaceful and unnerving.

I am ready for this month to be over. Christmas is a week away and as always I am more Grinch than Elf. My aunt is pissed at me because she wants me to spend the whole weekend at her apartment despite the fact that it is infested with roaches and my cousin Michelle is in no shape to be around anyone(she is now being homeschooled because her fake shakes are a distraction at school). 

I told my aunt  that I am sort of an adult now, with other holiday plans and while I do not mind spending a few hours with them on Christmas Eve I had other plans for Christmas Day. She called me out for being a disrespectful niece, though I think the main issue is that she is treating me like her daughter instead of tending to her actual daughter who she continues to neglect. 

It sucks that I don't have any actual plans on the day of Christmas outside of spending the day at my own house, opening presents and eating food. But honestly this is what I would prefer to do. I am still super anxious and cranky about the state of the world so the holidays feel like a mirage or worse a fog and I am sort of ready for the air to clear and for things to come into focus again. 

But I will try to enjoy the holidays as best as I can. Even though, I never want to see snow again thanks to shoveling it the whole afternoon, I must admit being curled up in bed, under the warmth of blankets with Christmas music playing in the background is heaven in a lot of ways. Pure heaven. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

5 Years Gone

5 years ago my best friend took her life.

When I was a kid, I used to like jumping from high things. I didn't necessarily like the jumping part but instead the sensation of falling was what I craved. The way the air suddenly gets trapped in your lungs on the way down and you feel weightless and afloat all at once.

The last few years in many ways have felt like the falling part except without the fearless pleasure of my childhood gusto. Instead, the fall has been more of a uncontrollable tumble and the air that is trapped in my lungs burn and ache. The fall does not feel weightless, it feels like drowning.

5 years ago my best friend took her life.  

We met on my first day of 7th grade. I had just moved to South Carolina and I felt the nervousness throughout my whole body that day. I was new,  not only to the school but to the town and the state. I was so nervous I thought I was going to die.

Maybe she noticed my awkwardness. Maybe she saw an opportunity to make friends with someone who didn't know she was the least popular girl in school. But at lunch that day, while I tried to be invisible and blend in, she sat down next to me and introduced herself. She had big frizzy hair and a mouth full of metal. She wore a shirt with horse on it and said I talked weird so that made me interesting.

She became my first and only true friend in South Carolina

5 years ago my best friend took her life.

We went Trick or Treating for the last time in the 8th grade. We were at that annoying age where we wanted free candy but felt too old to dress up for Halloween but also too young not to dress up and enjoy ourselves. Our friend Melissa's dad agreed to drive us around if we wanted to still go, so at the last minute we bought costumes and went Trick or Treating.

I dressed up as an angel in all white. Marie dressed up as a scary clown because she still did not equate Halloween with dressing provocatively. That night after hitting up several houses, I got my period in the back seat of our friends pick up truck and bled through my costume. I was embarrassed  and felt betrayed by my body. I felt even more tragic because I was dressed as an Angel the irony was heavy. Marie lent me her jacket that so I could wrap it around my waist. She also laughed and said this wouldn't have been an issue if I just dressed up as a devil instead.

5 years ago my best friend took her life.

We decided to join the AV club together our Freshman year of high school. This decision of course solidified our nerdiness but we got to hang out in the library during homeroom and lunch while also skipping mandated assemblies unless we were needed to video tap the events.

Along with the AV club, we joined the Debate team together. I was taking Speech class because I had a crush on the teacher and I was Honors English so I couldn't take his English class. Marie was a natural debater because she liked to disagree with everyone. Even though I was taking his Speech class, I initially declined my teachers invitation to join his Debate team. He thought I wrote well and had an eloquent voice and wanted me to be a part of his team. When I refused he went and asked Marie to have me join and because she was convincing I attended a Debate competition once.

The debate team carpooled to this event in a town a few hours away from us. I was nervous because I had only given speeches in front of the team and my teacher. He and Marie seemed most eager about my debut and when I failed to win any awards that day they both encouraged me to come with them to the next debate because I showed potential. I remember telling my speech teacher that I didn't plan on taking him up on that offer. He seemed disappointed by my rejection and on the way home, I slept on Marie's shoulder on the way home, while she teased me for being such a baby

5 years ago my best friend took her life. 

In the 11th grade our math teachers son killed himself. We knew her son Kyle because his older brother Barry was in the AV club with us. He was weird and withdrawn and only seemed to open up around Marie. She volunteered with Barry at the local animal shelter because he was 18 years old, and was her adult chaperon during their visits. When his brother Kyle, a freshman, killed himself were both shocked and confused because Barry seemed more susceptible to that kind of tragic end.

Our whole AV club attended the funeral out of respect and curiosity. We had never been this close to death before, it felt like our tragedy and spectacle in a lot of ways.The wake was on the weekend and Marie was allowed to drive her moms new car to the church. Inside,  we sat with the media club in the back and judged all the classmates who attended that never spoke a word to Barry or his brother.

We could see Barry and his mom from our seats. There was a perverse curiosity to them now and also a strangeness that we related to.We talked briefly to Barry afterwards, asked him if he was okay and said that we couldn't wait for him to return to school.

And then Marie and I grabbed food at this hot dog place nearby, dressed all in black.

5 years ago my best friend took her life.

I was accepted to the University of Pittsburgh (but went to a small school in Philadelphia before transferring to USC my freshman year) and Marie got into Clemson.  Our acceptance letters arrived at the same time and we were both excited to put high school behind us.

We were selling candy to raise money for the end of year video the AV club was in charge of producing. Instead of trying to sell to students we primarily hit up the teacher and guidance counselors. That year we were called the Skittle twins because of this venture.

 We decided to hit up our Speech teacher during lunch and after making a sale we told him the great news about our college acceptance. He was happy for us but also but worried because "how are you guys going to survive college without each other". He said we were like two peas in a pod because we were so inseparable.

It was the first time, the thought crossed my mind that going to different schools would mean I wouldn't have my best friend around. But I knew that it wasn't Marie he was worried about. She would do fine. She was a super genius and willful. It was me he addressed his concerns to. It was me he was sure would not survive.

5 years ago my best friend took her life. 

Senior Prom! We didn't want to go because the only boys who showed interest in going with us were the few from the AV club and even then they didn't want to really go with us. They made a bet that we couldn't look like real girls in dresses and stuff and because we were defiant and secretly want to attend Prom we told them "bet!".

My mom owned this dress little black dress from the 80's that i was obsessed with wearing. It had silver traps and flared out at the bottom. I didn't want to make a big deal of prom, so i decided to wear that dress instead of having my mom buy me a new one. The day of, I went to the hairdresser to get my hair done. She was overbooked and by the time she got to me she put so little effort in my hair my mom and I walked out angry.

Marie showed up at my house an hour before the event. When she got out of the car I was struck by how beautiful she looked. It was also the first time i'd ever seen her in a dress and the care and attention she went into dressing up let me into a secret about her...that she was like any other girl who wanted to look beautiful on her big night. My mom took a picture of the two of us. I looked uncomfortable and sweaty with this ridiculous unkempt hair and Marie looks happy and beautiful.

We arrived at the Prom early and of course the only other students there were the nerdy awkward kids and a few teachers. Everyone gasped when Marie walked in. It was her moment, so I stepped aside and let her soak it in. Our history teacher came up to us first and said we looked great, followed by my crush the Speech teacher and then our AV buddies circled around Marie and gawked at her in awe.

We only stayed at Prom for 10 minutes. This is not n exaggeration. We wanted to be seen and then as quickly as we could we ran back to the parking lot, decided to drive to Walmart for PJ's and then grabbed burritos to bring back to my house. That night we had a slumber party in my living room and watched Medium on NBC

5 Years ago my best friend took her life

I was fucking livid. This kid we both knew named Spencer decided on Senior Night (a night were all the graduating seniors accepted their yearbooks and were thrown a small party in the cafeteria) that he wanted to tell Marie how much he hated her. We were sitting at a table in the far back of the cafeteria, just the two of us because surprisingly all of AV club friends ditched us,  and he and another friend came up to us and wanted Marie to personally know she was a "bitch". Spencer was in the AV club with us and sure Marie gave him a hard time but every one did.

The verbal attack was unprovoked and I remember him having to be pulled away by some other kid because he wouldn't stop lashing out.  Marie was red-faced but resolute and brushed his attack off as just some lame attempt to get back at her. I was fucking livid because it was our last night together as the graduating class of 2004 and this guy we thought was a friend wanted to ruin it.

When we collected our yearbooks, i was so mad I only let Marie sign it. Sure I had other friends but she was the most loyal and dedicated and a note from her was the only note I wanted. As I was signing her yearbook she pulled out the small wallet sized senior photo she took a few months earlier. She wanted me to have it, because "like i know we are still going to be friends but I just wanted to you to have something". I felt awful because I planned to give her something as well; an edition of an Annie Prolux book that she didn't own. Prolux was her favorite author and I saw this novel in a used bookstore. I paid for it with my own money and planned to gift it to her that night but i forgot.

I still have that copy of the book in my house. Alongside Marie's photo.

5 years ago my best friend took her life

The summer of my sophomore year (college) Marie invited me to a water park with her and her boyfriend Josh. Marie's college life made up for high school and middle school years. She had a core group of friends that she hung out with regularly.  She was excelling in all of her classes and given amazing research opportunities with professors who saw her potential. She moved into her own apartment and adopted a puppy. And she had a boyfriend, her first boyfriend . She lost her virginity that year and was in love which meant she talked about him all the time. I was envious of her relationship. I wanted a boyfriend, I wanted to be annoyingly in love and instead I was spent most of college anxious and alone.

Marie was desperate for this outing to work out. She needed me to like her boyfriend and vice versa but I often felt abandoned by Marie during college. We talked less, were living two separate lives and I was honestly very envious that things were working out for her. I was happy, don't get me wrong, but I wished college was the best years of my life as it seemed to be for Marie.

That day the three of us went on every ride imaginable. Marie was able to balance her attention between the both of us better than she had before, but there were still moments when I caught the two of them escaping into that magical naive place where they gazed at each other and only the two of them existed.

During one of the rides, I almost drowned. Literally. I am not a good swimmer and this ride included insane waves that caused me to panic and sink to the bottom of the pool. Marie saw me struggle and swam down and grabbed me. She yanked me out of the darkness and dragged me to safety. The rest of the day we spent on the lazy river and she held on to my inner tube the whole ride because she was afraid to lose me again.

5 years ago my best friend took her life.

Marie accepted a job in North Carolina and I moved to New York soon after our college. The spring before our big moves we decided to visit our old Highschool librarian (who we both adored) and buy her a  gift to show our appreciation for her guidance. We bought two small bears: one a Clemson bear and one a USC bear and planned to surprise her at the high school.

We didn't know though that our college spring break and their high school spring break was the same week. So when we got to the school we were annoyed that there was no one there. Of course, this didn't stop us from wanting to achieve our goal. We decided we would instead break into the school and leave the gifts on her desk so that we she came back she'd have them.

Breaking in was a lot easier than we thought (it's the south, nothing is locked) but when we got to the library there was a maintenance man inside. We tried to explain why we were there but he didn't seem to care.

He was more confused by us wanting to leave the bears though for Mrs. Wimberly, who retired the year before. We didn't know this of course, because we failed to stay in touch, so we thanked him  and left with our bears in tow. Marie said I could hold on to them and that maybe we'd get them to her another way.

I still own the bears.

5 years ago my best friend took her life.

Marie was quickly advancing at her job in North Carolina while I was struggling with my retail job in New York. But she envious of my social life because she felt alone in North Carolina. She broke up with Josh before she moved and most of her college friends became text buddies.  But I talked to her everyday for hours. We both were struggling to adjust to post-grad life, so we found a lot of comfort in each other. And I was happy to have my best friend back, though she still frustrated me from time to time.

I felt closer to Marie post college than I ever did while we were in High School or College. We were so vulnerable and unsure about our future that I think, we were glad we both had each other. She talked about wanting to visit me in New York and I wanted to come visit her in North Carolina. She admitted she felt unfocused and thought about joining the Air-force for structure. I told her I wanted to move home because maybe New York was a mistake.

We'd watch tv on the phone together and talk about our future selves. She was going to marry a lumberjack named Zayne or Dayne and I was going to write a book about us. She helped me work out the plot and the characters and encouraged me to set writing goals. I was struggling with character names, so we both spent hours on the phone going through baby names together for future characters.

I came across the name Carrick in one of these books and liked it so much I told her I would name my kid Carrick. "imma call her Carrot, you know this right?". We already discussed that she would be the aunt/godmother to my kids and it was her job to love and make fun of them. She didn't want kids, just a lumberjack and a cabin in the woods and lots of animals. She said Carrot and I would always be welcomed.

The summer before she died, we decided to read Jane Eyre and were both surprised by how much we liked it. Our last conversation was about the TV shows Bones and a new work friend she was hanging out with. She was so lonely in North Carolina, and she complained a little about the fact that she worked primarily with men who didn't like being told what to do because she was so young and a woman.  But that was always Marie's problem, everyone was threatened by her. Everyone thought she was a know it all. But she always dealt with that in a way that I admired. The fact that she talked often about loneliness was something new though.

That was July 2011.

5 years ago my best friend took her life.

I was in the city with a boy named Josh (a different Josh), who wanted to be a graphic designer and had a tattoo on his chest that he keep showing me. On the train ride to the city he gave me a formula for wind because I said I wanted a tattoo soon that reflected something that inspired me. He looked like James Franco and a week prior he asked me to go to the city with him to pick up some equipment for a school project.

Normally I would not have gone because of nerves. He was so attractive and nice and interesting I could not understand his interest in hanging out with me. I only said yes out of spite. Marie and I had not spoken in weeks. Suddenly we went from talking every day to complete and utter silence. I thought maybe it had something to do with her new work friend because she ditched me in college when she got a boyfriend, I just assumed the same thing was happening.

So i went to the city with Josh, because if Marie could ditch me for a dude I could find solace in one too. But Josh was super young and I knew right away that he was the sort of guy who was self involved because he only talked about himself. But was so pretty and it felt nice to be around someone who wanted my company even if just to gloat.

After picking up some old cameras, we stopped at a pizzeria for lunch. Our hands were greasy and sticky but I remembered watching people pass by and then turning my gaze back to Josh and wondering how I got here at this moment with this boy. But this moment of calm is interrupted by my phone ringing and when I look down I am shocked to see that it is Marie.

But the shock is quickly replaced by anger because i am really pissed at her because it's been 5 weeks of me attempting to call and text her only to hear nothing back. And i'm with James Franco and I don't want to take the her call because I know this moment is rare. That I may not get another chance to hang out him and eat pizza in the city and enjoy this feeling that things are coming together.

So i let it ring. I don't pick up the call.

I have never admitted this to anyone.

I called her later that night but she did not pick up. That was the last time she ever tried to reach out to me. This was September 2011. 3 months later, almost to the day, she killed herself.

5 years ago, on a cold Tuesday morning,  my best friend took her life and it still feels like I am falling.

The air continues to rush into my lungs and I am struck numb by the gravity of her death. I blame myself in many ways for not recognizing the unusual pattern sooner. That i mistook her silence for something else and that when she reached out to me randomly I was unavailable. I feel guilty for not being a better friend, for not telling her more often that she was my anchor and rock. I feel guilty that she died thinking she wasn't necessary in this world despite the fact that in all my future fantasies she was a part of it.

5 years ago my best friend took her life and a little part of me went with her. I miss her everyday. I think about her everyday. I wish she was here everyday because she was the truest friend I ever had even though we were complex and argumentative and stubborn. I resent that her life is just reduced to memories that are becoming more and more sporadic and unverifiable. I hate that she'll never get to experience things that make existing better. She was the only other person outside of my immediate family who felt like home to me and since her death I have felt without one.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

26 + 5

Happy Birthday Amanda Marie.

Monday, December 05, 2016


Since arriving back to New York from my amazing Thanksgiving home, I've mainly been in contact with my aunt who keeps bugging me about Christmas plans. I am not going to lie.... I am desperately trying to get out of spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day ( i don't mind one or the other) with my aunt because it's really just her way of getting me to cook breakfast, entertain my now pre-teen cousin,  help clean her house and now drive her all over the place. It's not that I don't enjoy spending time with my family but lately the holidays with them seem less important. My cousin Michelle is more concerned with her cell phone and my aunt just wants an extra adult around to help out.

If I can be honest there was something magical about waking up in my own bed the first Christmas in my apartment and since then I've anxiously wanted to spend at least Christmas Eve or Day in my own home. I was soooo poor that first year and my apartment was not even furnished yet alone decorated but I made due. I cooked lasagna and opened presents, I listened to Christmas music and watched all the Harry Potter movies. It was great and if I had a bigger place I could see myself hosting Christmas for family and friends because I've suddenly become a domestic goddess.

But it's hard to explain that to people. I have yet to meet anyone who understands my desire to be alone on Christmas. It's not necessarily the Christmas blues, but there is a stillness about the month of December that I like to take a moment and pause in. But i'm rarely allowed to do this because being alone during the holidays is socially unacceptable. Kat was absolutely suffocating during the holidays and my Aunt is more demanding of my time and resource during this month.

Since Marie died I've accepted that December is going to be tough for me. Because of this I try and compensate for how shitty I feel by making the holidays as cozy and light-hearted as possible.  I decorate and bake cookies and watched campy holiday movies. That's mainly even why I like spending Christmas alone. When I am surrounded by people, it's like I remember suddenly that one very important person is missing and it's hard to reconcile the beauty and magic of the holidays with the devastating realization.

During the month of December my thoughts of Marie are always front and center most days, especially today. Marie's birthday is tomorrow and as I was sitting at my cubicle, I suddenly felt this awful pang of sadness. It's like there is this cloud over my head which makes it impossible to think of anything else except her.

I am surrounded by people with regrets. People who feel they've missed out on something . Just the other day Heather texted me in hysterics because she is turning 30 in a few days and regrets how her life turned out. "How is this my life? I think my would be completely different if...", yadda yadda yadda. I listened of course, I empathized, I tried to give advice and after she calmed down a bit I retreated to that place in the clouds that hangs over my head.

I am a person who accepts the decisions I eventually make. Sure it takes me a long time to get to that place of acceptance but I rarely think about what "could have been's" when it comes to relationships or situations. Sure life could have been different if I went to Med School, it also could have been different if i stayed in South Carolina instead of moving to New York, it could have been different if I pursued a career in publishing that I so adamantly thought I wanted, it could have been different if Sean choose me.

But dwelling on "could have's" does not help with "what is", so I don't have obsessive thoughts about the sliding doors of scenarios. I believe things are they way they are for a reason and because time travel is not an option, I have accepted my life at 30 as something in progress. But I must admit there is only one fixed point in this thought process that does not apply: Marie.

I wonder all the time what life would be like if she was alive. I wonder who she would be today is she decided to just live and exist. I wonder what her life would be like on the other side of this tragedy. What version of womanhood she'd encompass. Maybe she'd be married with kids. Maybe she'd finally have a house in the woods with the lumberjack of her dreams. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Selfishly I can't help but ponder my own existence as well if she was here. I am almost certain we would still be friends in some capacity. But I am so aware of how much I have changed since she died, that I feel envious of whatever imagined life I could have led if she had lived. Maybe, maybe, I would have turned out differently. I wonder what I could have accomplished in the two years I was paralyzed by grief. I am curious where the path would have led me had I not broken down right in the middle.

Because if I can be honest Marie's death has changed me. I am kind, I am gentle but there is a stiffness to me now, or better yet, a numbness that I have yet to shake.I  am  unable to relate to people. I cannot commit to one thing or person because I know how quickly things can change. I am too aware of how that the rug can be pulled from under I am always prepared for the worst before I even consider the consistency of calm. I am sad and sullen and jaded by the loss. Of course sad and sullen and jaded do not define me, but I recognize it is a part of me.

And I regret that she isn't here. I miss her immensely, but mainly i am filled with regret. I didn't get to her in time and I knew, I knew that something was wrong because I felt it. But I waited too long to see the signs, and by the time realized that something was seriously fucked up, I was just too late. And I wonder all the time, if things would have turned out differently had I been a better friend. If she had known that I was in her corner no matter how terrible things were going in her life. I regret that she felt so alone and that she'll never know that I looked for her and sought her out and tried to find her but she was always just one step ahead and out of reach.

Tomorrow is her 31st birthday.  Tomorrow i'll get up and go through my day and try to keep it together because focusing on the "maybe" will undue me. But tonight, I'm okay with sulking and contemplating the maybes. Tonight, i feel okay mourning her "what if's" because my best friend was phenomenal and complex and just the worst-best person I've ever known and I wish she was here. Everything feels a little duller without her.