Monday, February 21, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Social: It was a hard slog after my mother died. My dad turned with full, religious conviction to scotch and mallomars to survive. I drove home every weekend to make sure he didn’t pickle himself. A lot of men get married within a year of losing a spouse, but my dad just seemed to take it harder as every day went by, so I spent a lot of time driving back and forth. I had a boyfriend I will describe as “inexplicable” – everything about the relationship was wrong. I don’t know why we got together; I don’t know how we stayed together; I don’t know how any of it happened, but it did. We loved each other, but we fought and we seemed to be constantly hurting each other in one way or another.
Sports: I ran with religious fervor. I completed 4 marathons before I turned 30 – again, with the sole ambition of finishing and not getting hurt. My last marathon was New York in 2000. After the race, I met my brother, went back to his place and took a cold shower. Then I went to the airport, got a flight home and was at work, pain-free the next morning. I don’t even know my time.
Career: It was pretty much in the bag that I would change careers after the requisite grieving period had passed. I tried, and failed, to tell myself that disaster banking was my fate, but I never believed it. What finally pushed me over the edge was something that had nothing to do with work at all.
That boyfriend I always fought with? He didn’t want me in banking either, and he was always after me to try to change jobs somehow. We were always at odds with each other, always arguing. I broke up with after a year, and it was a dark and stormy break up. Lots of rage and recriminations. A certain amount of stalking and scary highway interceptions. In other words, my basic nightmare.
I put up with this for a few months before I encountered him in my front yard at 7am and yelled at him so loud that my neighbors called the police. He fled before so as not to get arrested.
A few months after the yard incident, he hanged himself. His family blamed me, and to this day, they will not acknowledge me even though I have tried to reach out to them a number of ways. I have sent cards, letters. I didn’t dare go to the funeral.
I don’t blame them. It was my fault, when you consider how unhappy I made him. I made him feel bad about himself. I made him feel as if he were not good enough for me. I made him feel like a loser. Then he died. No wonder they blamed me. Whatever the meaning of his death, I have paid for it over and over again on the wheel of karma.
One result of all this was that Kerry (that was his name) left me money to go to graduate school. I gave it back to his family, of course, but I did apply to graduate school to get an MA in English. I had no clear idea at the time whether I would be able to get teaching work; I just knew I couldn’t do the banking thing anymore. I spent two years getting my MA and instantly got a job – really good luck there – except not, which I will explain next time I sit down to write.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Letter to M: The Dark Time
My plans to move to NYC forestalled, I moved back in with my parents. I lived with them while my mother completed treatment for the recurring cancer, and I got menial temp work so the main focus stayed at home. Then one of my menial jobs offered me a promotion – a whole $24,000 a year. The catch was I had to move to Raleigh, NC, and that meant separation from my mother. I reluctantly took this job and moved. But not before I had a really not so nice boyfriend who taught me many lessons about lying and how unseriously people take that particular sin. I still want to egg his car.
On $24,000 a year, I could afford a two bedroom apartment overlooking a lake, a car, a cat and as many “Carolina Blue” cups as they would sell me at “He’s not Here” – a bar in Chapel Hill where I did most of my socializing. As luck would have it, a few of my sorority sisters had gone to graduate school there, so I had a social life waiting for me when I arrived.
Career: If my career has one unifying principle, it is “if you are unhappy, quit.” I quit about one job a year for a while there – all while I was doing b-c lending. I am sure you know what this is. It has its moments, but it is generally depressing work, and I did it for both retail and business customers for many years. Work out loans. More work out loans with absurd balloon payments secured by tracts of swamp land and abandoned yacht slips – the yachts already being gutted and disposed of. Depressing restructuring jobs that included sucking all the equity out of real estate holdings for people in their 50s. Good times. The problem with the work was more that I was bored than anything. And with years of underwriting experience and a loan authority of 2,000,000 and NO education in the field, you have to set your sights low. I got into the business by accident. I got out on purpose – but that comes later.
Family: We knew in early October 2005 that my mother was dying, so we all came home. For a few weeks we took shifts. I wish I could say we handled it with more grace, but we drank scotch and cried. The night before she died was my shift. I sat up with her, trying to think for ten hours what to say. In the end I said nothing, and when my brother came in the morning to take his shift, I thought to myself, “if she goes after this, I am ok with it.” She died two hours later. She was 52; I was 25.
They tell you not to make any major decisions for a year after a major life event – death, birth, divorce, relocation – so I didn’t. I worked the depressing job and I waited. But not for long.
Social: I had two really, really nice boyfriends. One was (literally) a rocket scientist. We broke up because I didn’t want to move to Houston and he wanted to get married – and that was just way too much maturity for me. The other was an engineer and we broke up because of something silly – I can’t remember what. But they were both excellent and I had all my Chapel Hill friends.
Sports: I ran and ran and ran and ran. There were farms around my parents’ house and I ran past so many cows. Those cows all looked at me as if they had no idea what I was running from. I never thought of running in actual races but I ran all the damn time.
Consider yourself up to date through 1995.