Thursday, January 27, 2005


That was quick. It's not even the end of January, and already my intention to make this year the year that I controlled everything and did things my way has been destroyed.

"Torrie" had told me about her sister when I met her. She said that despite being only about 280 lbs, she decided to get the stomach-stapling surgery mainly because her husband thought that she was too fat. She said that she was in the hospital due to complications from the surgery, but that she was coming out of it. Then over a week ago she went into cardiac arrest. Torrie reported that she was recovering from that very well, and doctors said that she would be out of the woods soon if she continued to progress.

This past Monday night, Torrie's sister went into cardiac arrest a second time. This time she succumbed.

Literally minutes before Torrie found out Monday night, we were online together hammering out details and arranging my second visit to Minneapolis this coming weekend. Everything is in place if I still make the trip--the airfare, the hotel, the times that I arrive and depart. Torrie has all that information in her posession. We had it all figured out.

It is all so meaningless right now.

The decision to still make the trip is all on me. I asked Torrie how she felt about me coming up there. She said that if I still wanted to visit, it was fine. I may not have decided to even consider coming if not for something small Torrie said through her tears. She said that she still wanted to see me. That means a lot to me, that she would want to convey that through such a tough time. It would still be an awkward situation, considering that she can't possibly spend that much time with me this weekend (especially considering arrangements are this weekend as well), and any time she does spend is time I am taking away from her grieving with her family. She really should be with her family at this time, not worrying about some guy she's only met once. But I am leaning towards going because I want to be there for Torrie in this time of need. I feel that if I back out now, I would send a message that I only want to be around her when I can get some tail, and as selfish as I have been vowing to be from now on, that is not true at all. I enjoyed every second with Torrie New Year's weekend, not just the time in bed. So I think that if I fly up there only to hug her for a few minutes as I arrive and again as I leave, at least I was able to comfort her for a little while. She possibly may want to spend more time with me, just as an escape from the circumstances. And that would make me feel so good, to be there for her to focus on something else for a spell. Basically, I feel that there is no right or wrong decision I can make. The very first thing I did was put it on Torrie whether she still wanted me there, and if she didn't, I would have easily respected her wishes. But I haven't received any indication from her that she doesn't want me to come. So I probably will.

I won't even comment on what Torrie's sister's husband must be thinking right about now. Okay, maybe I will. I just can't imagine deciding to walk down the aisle with someone and decide later on that there is something about that person that is so offensive to you that you would want them to surgically change it. If it was that bad, why did you marry her? And if her weight wasn't that bad but got out of control over the years, again, why did you marry her if your opinion of her could go so low because of a few extra pounds? To be honest, I shouldn't be speaking on this, because I don't know either person and I probably don't know anything close to the whole story. But if the details I have are correct, I'm disgusted for him, I'm angry as a man who wouldn't think of altering the appearance of a woman I claim to love for better or for worse, I'm stunned trying to imagine what Torrie must be going through, losing a sibling because of this, and I feel a little sorry for the guy because if he has a heart at all he's going through absolute hell in his mind right now and always will.

In other more personal news, my job interview Monday went about as bad as humanly possible because the place was five blocks away from the bus stop and I had to stomp through inches upon inches of snow in dress pants and shoes (and those of you in Chicago know about the snow we got last weekend), and as a result I was a physical and basically emotional mess when I finally arrived ten minutes late. I was told by the man interviewing me that he would call me that evening if he wanted me to come back for a second day. I'm still waiting for the call. A learning experience, I guess.

Next week begins the semester from hell, where the man who waited ten years to go back to school for fear of failure takes on four classes at once. All together now: What the hell was I thinking?!? I know it will be a lot of hard work, and that was why I planned to go to Minneapolis this weekend, because I didn't know when the next time would be when I would have the chance. My timing stinks. But it doesn't matter now. There are way more important things to think about right now.

My next post will be after my trip to Minneapolis.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Poker Face

Well, unemployment has allowed me to play a lot of poker, online and live, for play and for money. And apparently I need a lot more practice before I amount to anything. It's getting to the point where it's rare for me to win more than a couple of hands in a tournament. That sucks. My problem seems to be aggressive play, both using it and defending it. I am not nearly aggressive enough when I have good hands, so when I do make a big bet people know that I must have something because I usually don't bet much at all, and they fold, leaving me with winning hands very small in chip size. Then, when I have a decent hand, I have to decide whether to play against someone making a huge bet, and the vast majority of the time I fold. It's a long learning experience I will have to go through to become good enough to someday participate in the World Series of Poker, and it looks like it will be an expensive series of lessons. But it's my dream right now, and I want to pursue it. Poker is a hell of a game, and I want a piece of the action.

Wouldn't mind winning that $10 million prize at the World Series of Poker either. $10 million for winning a card game? Only in America.

I have an interview with some outfit this coming Monday out in Hillside, so wish me luck with that. I'm sure you can tell how thrilled I am with that. Honestly, you can tell when you're going for an actual opportunity and when you're going to put your resume in the big green file cabinet and nothing more, and that's my feeling about this. But as you can read in my previous posts, I have been wrong about so so many things.

Just watched the PBS documentary "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson." Johnson was the first black world heavyweight boxing champion back at the beginning of the 20th century. Words can't describe how eerie it was to see a story about a big, bald, broad-shouldered, smiling black man with dimples who had a serious taste for white women...and wound up being jailed for it. The laws of the time made it illegal to transport women across state lines for "immoral purposes," but that was meant to discourage prostitution, not stop a black man from traveling with a white companion. But because they couldn't find a "great white hope" that could beat Johnson, they cut him down in that manner. I knew that it was not always safe to drive around with the white women I have dated like I was. I didn't know just how unsafe it used to be. Jack Johnson resembled me in many ways, and to see his story left an impression on me, mostly that I shouldn't take criticism of my dating choices from anyone, because he had to go through tons more shit to spend time with whom he wanted to spend time. I actually have it good. I haven't been harassed or accosted once while out with my dates. And for that, I have never been more grateful.

Speaking of being out with a white woman, "Adrienne" this past Sunday became the first woman I have ever hosted in my apartment who didn't wind up with her clothes on my bedroom floor. Adrienne is someone I started talking to around the same time I was trying to get together with "Jane," so on a smaller scale she has now experienced the heartbreak that is my life. At least she wasn't around for the other events of my 2004. But Adrienne knows everything, she knew that I switched New Year's plans after Jane canceled to go meet "Torrie" (she didn't approve of my juke move from one stranger to another but ultimately she said she was happy that I wasn't alone), she has met my friends, and she knows that I wind up in bed with the women that I spend time with. But she's not that kind of girl, and I respect that. We watched movies and cuddled on the couch, but I didn't put my hand anywhere that it shouldn't have been, I didn't put my lips anywhere at all, and a good time was had by all. So we appear to be on the road to being really close friends. Didn't know I was capable of just being friends with a woman. Am I maturing? Am I a wimp? Am I attempting to be faithful to Torrie even though I haven't seen her (except on her, is she a sex bomb!) since New Year's? Stay tuned for the next episode of "As Planet Dre Twists and Turns."

(That was horrible, I know...)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

End Of An Era

I still can't believe I am unemployed. It was almost ten years ago that a woman in charge of an employment agency took a look at the math scores I posted on a test she gave me and suggested I try for the price reporter position at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. The jobs I had before then were not fun and not very good. A day labor stint, a week at a cafe (ironically a block from the CBOE, but at the time I knew nothing about it), a couple of months at a Woolworth's...not good times, not good times. So I didn't honestly expect to get the CBOE job when I applied, especially after the math test I had to take for the position. Difficult? No, not at all, simple addition and subtraction of fractions. So what was the problem? I didn't finish the test in the alloted 20-minute time limit because I spent the night before with my girlfriend. Hey, it was the first night I ever spent with a woman, and I wasn't going to miss it for anything.

Despite the incomplete test, I was hired anyway. I held on to that job for my life, especially after moving out on my own a couple of years after starting there. I really needed the job then, because I wasn't about to move back with my uncle and his family. Too crowded. But my mistake was not attending school while working, and now that I have been laid off, I'm basically in the same situation that I was in when I first got the job in February 1995: An uneducated black man looking for work that won't require me to do any actual labor, because I'm so out of shape that physical work isn't an option. The only difference is, I have some work experience for my resume. Big whoop.

But it's a strange feeling, being jobless. I'm thinking in my mind what's going to happen when my rent comes around at the end of the month. I will be ok this first time, but what if I'm out of work for a significant amount of time? This was part of the bad feeling I was trying to avoid last year when I asked first "Karen," then "Sarah" if I could move in with them when I lost my job. At least if I had those plans, I could concentrate on the move and knowing that I had someone that was going to be there for me and help me find work in that town, plus I would be splitting bills and rent. Now? Well, I went to the unemployment office Monday; that went smoothly, took about an hour. I'll find out what my benefits will be through the mail. I looked on some online sites for work, but there's always something just not right about the data entry positions I'm focusing on finding. One job seemed perfect but was too far out of the city, and I don't drive, so the job has to be within public transportation limits. Another job required a degree to apply even though it sounded like something I could do with ease. Another had hours that would just barely overlap with the evening classes I'm already committed to for the next semester. Another was a desk job at a university in the city, which certainly sounded like something I could do...but it was third shift, 11P to 7A. Yikes! There's no way I could get my body used to working at 2A and not sleeping.

In other words, it ain't going good so far.

Last Friday was my last day. It was very weird knowing that a lot of people that I said goodbye to and shook hands and exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses with were folks that I would never see again. It was more significant than leaving grade school or high school because of the time frame. Ten years at this place. Some people were there when I started and are still there now. Some people I saw every single day, and now they are totally out of my life. Some people I saw every single day, and never said a word to them, yet I will miss them anyway. It's something that probably hasn't even hit me yet, what with all the uncertainty about my next step. But after a few weeks I expect the withdrawal from the routine I went through for so long to really hit me. Right now it just feels like I'm on vacation, because I didn't leave the house then either. But I'm never returning to 400 S. LaSalle, not in a week or two weeks, not ever. And it's not sad, it's not making me angry, it's just...very weird. I'm ready to win Powerball right now, so that I won't have to worry about my future anymore. Boy, what perfect timing that would be.

Oh, and I'm not bashful about begging...if anyone has a job for an uneducated black man, hit me up.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

"I Have The Dick, So I Make The Rules"

What a New Year's weekend.

What a crazy past year.

What a crazy life.

What the fuck?!?

I still can't believe what happened this weekend. "Jane" and I had been having great conversations leading up to what was supposed to be the first of many good times spent together New Year's Eve in Lexington, KY. Before Christmas, the last time I spoke to her was Christmas Eve, and everything was going well. I wasn't able to call her over the Christmas weekend because I was spending time with my folks. But she was on my mind the whole time, and when I came back home Monday, I was getting more and more excited knowing that only five days remained until I traveled to see her.

But this is me, and this was still 2004, the worst year of my life. That Monday Jane sent me an e-mail saying that she was pulling out of the meeting, and not for some legitimate reason, like her daughter was sick, or she was sick, or her mom was sick. No, she was pulling out because she just had "a bad feeling" that something bad would happen if she came to meet me. I spent the next few days talking to Jane on the phone and begging her to see my side of things, how bad I wanted to meet her, how nothing bad was going to happen, how I had already put out for the airfare and hotel for no other reason than to come see her. No dice. She just had a bad feeling. She tried to tie her daughter into this "bad feeling" shit, saying that it would be two whole nights that her 18-month-old would be staying with her father, and she was just so worried because it would be the longest she had ever been separated from her that long. I tried to come up with all kinds of solutions. I told her that I would get another room just for them and she would never be out of her sight. I had my friend Cassandra speak to her for 15 minutes basically serving as a character witness for me. I begged her to just come meet me, out in public at the airport so that I wouldn't have the chance to do anything bad to her, not that I wanted to. I told her that she wouldn't have to go to the hotel with me, much less stay with me overnight. Just come meet me and somehow justify the money I was throwing out to come meet her. The best I could get was "I'll reconsider." But by Thursday night, she still gave no indication that she was going to make the trip.

What was I to do? This was the last thing I was expecting, and it was such a shitty end to a shitty year. This year 2004 started with me standing all alone at Buckingham Fountain in very chilly weather watching fireworks ring in the new year while couples and groups of friends huddled with each other all around me. Meanwhile I was standing there with my hands in my pockets like Michael Jackson at Disneyland. That was because my girlfriend, "Karen," was nowhere to be found, not answering my attempts to contact her. Two months later the image of my girlfriend wearing almost nothing and posing next to her female best friend for an internet swingers group would pop up on my computer and send me into a mental tailspin. My fuckbuddy "Sarah" would rescue me from that pain and invite me to give my love and trust to her, only to tell me near the end of the summer that she was rescinding her offer because she needed her space when she wasn't being beaten and dominated as a form of sexual pleasure by men she hardly knew. Autumn brought two nights of sex with a co-worker, who thought so highly of me that she talked freely about giving her boyfriend a blow job and swallowing but refused to put her mouth on me even when I asked. So just when I couldn't feel any lower about myself, here's Jane saying that I sounded like the perfect man for her and telling me how flattered she was that I would come all the way down to Kentucky to meet her and oh, how much fun and great sex we were going to have. And she knew all about the year I had and how horrible I felt about being all alone last New Year's after thinking that I was going to have someone there with me. So what, her actions were saying to me. I still don't care enough about you to consider keeping my end of the deal.

After a year of having my eager-to-please personality returned to me covered in shit, I finally decided to do something for me. Fuck everybody else, I was going to find company for New Year's Eve this year. It would hurt Jane when I told her, I knew this. But as far as I'm concerned, she had her chance. She had me spending money that I really don't have to meet her ass, only to decide way after the fact that she was uncomfortable. How fair was that to me? So I was going to do what I wanted to do, whether it was fair to Jane or not.

Enter "Torrie."

Torrie had been flirting with me on another group for a couple of weeks. She was a new member, and one of the first posts she wrote once she joined was to me, to tell me that she liked a big black man with a shaved head, that she was in Minneapolis but had visited Chicago and loved it, and that she wanted to chat sometime. Showing a maturity level that I normally wouldn't, but I really was being faithful to Jane, I told Torrie the 100% truth: that I thought she was hot, that I was flattered by her attention, and that I loved her tattoos, but that I was meeting a young lady on New Year's Eve for the first time and I was focusing on her and making sure everything worked out with her. Torrie said fine, but if she "didn't satisfy my hunger...I'll be here for ya." And I left it at that...until Jane canceled on me for no good reason. I wrote Torrie and let her know that I was now free for New Year's and that I would come see her if she was still interested, or she could come see me. She said she was interested but short on money, so coming to Chicago was not an option. Wouldn't you know that the eager-to-please me invited her to come down anyway and I would handle her financials? She declined, then warned me that there are a lot of golddiggers that would take advantage of that, so I should be more careful. And she is right. Putting out and doing all I can to accommodate a woman got me nowhere all year long.

Torrie and I first spoke to each other over the phone on Thursday, Dec. 30. I waited that long to call her because I was giving Jane every opportunity to change her mind. And I would have told Torrie if Jane gave me the green light, because Jane was first. But once I spoke to Torrie and heard the things she wanted to do with me and to me, Jane lost her opportunity. Actually, she would have lost it even if I had not made other plans because it would've been impossible for me to get the ok from her Friday, go home after work, get my bags, and make the 5:50P flight. (By the way, Jane did try to do just that, calling me Friday afternoon to inform me that she was reconsidering. I flatly told her to not worry about it, I had other plans. She hung up, stunned.) So Thursday night I canceled my United flight to Lexington, made a NWA flight reservation for 5:00P to Minneapolis, booked a room for two nights at the Hampton Inn in a nearby suburb, and hoped and wished as hard as I could that Torrie would be there when my plane touched down Friday.

She was.

She looked just like her picture, short reddish-brown hair, big full lips, and a deep voice to match her larger-than-life but still sexy features. She was 30 years old, 5'8", 220 lbs, and knew exactly what to do in the bedroom. We met after a half-hour of looking for each other once I arrived in Minneapolis. It's a big airport. And waiting outside wasn't pleasant: Temp in Chicago when I took off from Midway--about 45...temp when I landed in Minneapolis eighty minutes later--19! But the weather was the only bad thing about the weekend. The Happy New Year countdown and kiss was great, the blow job before I fell asleep was great, the sex the next morning was great, her pussy tasted great, the loud sounds we made as we came over and over may not have been so great to the other folks at the Hampton Inn that weekend, but it was great for us. In short, I have absolutely no regrets about making the trip, even though just a few days ago I was in love with a different woman. I don't usually do New Year's resolutions, but this first one was easy to keep: Stop doing things to please other people, start doing things to please myself. And despite my efforts to make Torrie squirt all weekend, don't be fooled: I didn't go up there to make her happy. I went up there to make my cock happy. In fact, I had to buy a t-shirt that I saw up there that was so perfect in describing the attitude that I must have from now on if I want to protect my heart from being broken again. And the shirt was in my size, too. It simply said: "I have the dick, so I make the rules." When I let the woman in my life make the rules, I always got screwed. From now on, I'm doing the screwing.

Not that Torrie has any complaints about that.