ANXIOUS AND DISTURBED
Written: November, 2019
She thought she had a little problem. At first she didn’t care. And she didn’t tell anyone. Not that anyone would care. Because who does? When things are bad, doesn’t everybody disappear? As if they never knew you? But that didn’t bother her either. She couldn’t stand people. In fact, she was in this position because she wanted to be as far from people as she possibly could.
That’s what money did.
Kept you alone.
Money was freedom.
She had three goals: No landlord, no employer, no husband.
Done and done.
Until the trade went awry. And it always does, doesn’t it? At first, it’s not bad. Thirty percent down. You tell yourself you’re gonna come back. It’s going to be okay. And so she took a week and waited and then averaged down with the rest of her money. But … it still went away from her. Far away. Quickly 75% down in her portfolio came the reverse split. 10 for 1.
This was horrendous.
But nothing a few bank loans couldn’t cure. Because if she was on margin, she would have blown up by now. Another account. Imploding like the wind. But by this time, she wasn’t trading the boring stocks: the twittah … which she rode from 14 to 28, or retail stocks, Tiffany which was always a good trade and Bebe… no, she had escalated to volatility. The mack daddy of trading. This was like going from smoking pot to freebasing crack. The gap up the gap up THE GAP UP WAS PHENOMENAL. INCREDIBLE. A wave you just wanted to ride AND RIDE. She’d go long a mere two thousand shares in the aftermarket the night before and by 5 am California time, she’d sell and clock 4 large. 4 thousand dollars. And she hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. You think with that kind of P&L on a daily basis; making that much money before the market even opened, you’d call it a day. You’d leave it alone.
But no. Because there was a long day ahead.
And that ticker and CNBC and the stock message boards were calling her name… The constant moving, changing, up down in out all over the place, the highs, the lows, kept her hooked. She loved it. She loved to trade. Lived to trade.
It became all she ever cared about.
And she loved it like she never loved anything in her whole life.
At first it was magical and then it was medicine, and then it was misery.
And that’s where the bank loans came in. Because what goes up, has to go down, doesn’t it? Yes, in everything – except VOLATILITY. Volatility decays. It goes down and down and then reverse splits again. Rinse repeat.
If she was smart, she’d realize you only short volatility. You never average down. You put in a stop loss, take the hit, and then you short the pop.
But she couldn’t take the hit.
Something about admitting she was wrong…
Don’t get emotional was rule #1 in trading. Along with many other rules: hope is not a strategy, don’t fight the fed, etc. etc.
But she wasn’t one for rules.
No… she had magical thinking: it will come back, I will come back, I’m a fucking trader. I can and do beat the market on a daily basis. And this time will be no different.
But this time was different.
She called the bank and this was now her fourth loan. But these were smart loans.
“It’s not a loan,” the Bank executive would tell her, “It’s a cash advance on your credit card.”
“I understand,” she’d reply, trying to hide the desperation in her voice. Don’t let them hear that you need this money…. You need it like a drug… and if you don’t get it… you’re gonna fucking die…
“But there’s no interest, correct? Not for 12 months?” Voice steady. Good.
So who’s the fool, she thought. They are. I’ll trade out of this position and pay back the bank before the fucking interest kicks in, so don’t even try to act like you hear this desperation in my voice. Because there’s not. I am in full control. I’m a fucking trading. Do you hear me? A TRADER.
“Okay and you say you wired the funds?” she asks, watching, waiting, her bank account opened on her computer and she keeps refreshing, refreshing, waiting, waiting, but they are not there…They are not coming.
“Well, I don’t see the funds!” Now she’s getting a little unwound. Where’s the money, huh?! You said it was immediate. I NEED IT NOW MOTHER FUCKER! NOW! WHERE ARE THE FUNDS?!!! She watches TVIX, the volatility ETN that she trades which is up on her other screen and she wants back in at 40 but it’s going higher…. 41…42… She needs to buy a lot more to take her average down, but lately, her average doesn’t even MOVE. She’s holding other lots at 120! 120! But she’ll never admit this to anyone. No, that’s too high. Almost impossible to trade out of. Nobody comes back from that. And the market’s been on a fucking tear. Now you have the Fed pumping billions into a market that’s at all time highs. Does this make any sense? Does ANYTHING EVER MAKE ANY SENSE?!”
But then – the money hits.
And the funds are there.
Before she can even catch her breath, she clicks “transfer funds” on her iTrade account. With one pull down menu, her bank account instructions are already there and she hits “transfer 40,000.” And BOOM. Itrade shows the money! It hits!
CHA-CHING. WITH LEVERAGE IT’S FOUR TIMES THE MONEY SO IT LOOKS LIKE SHE CAN TRADE WITH $160,000.
And she’s LOVING LIFE RIGHT NOW.
I’m back. I’m back mother fuckers so get out of my way.
“Thank you so much,” she says to the bank executive but she’s clicked off she realizes before he even hears her.
She looks back at the TVIX chart.
It’s flashing green and red… and orders move by fast and slow, and it’s a hypnotic blur of figures and numbers, charts and graphs, and she grabs her mouse with the ease of the way Adam took the apple from Eve, and buys in.
Buying 930 tvix, market! BOOM!
She gets printed at 43.32. Much higher than she wanted, and you can’t use your margin money because they won’t let you, it’s too dangerous, too many people implode trading volatility, but who cares, who cares! I’M IN MOTHER FUCKERS SO LET’S GO!
* * *
It’s 8:15 pm and she rolls into the restaurant. She’s late but he’s lucky she’s even there she tells herself, and he’s waiting, already sitting at the table waving.
She quickly looks around, checking out the crowd, is there anything better here, anybody she would like to fuck. The answer is usually an inevitable, no. And as she sits down at the table, one quick glance at this guy, she asks herself the same question, and it’s also an inevitable no. This guy is a cousin’s friend. “Oh, please Jolette, he likes you so much,” she said after they met at her birthday party. The birthday party she didn’t want to go to out in Berkeley. And the one she brought another guy with to and nobody seemed to understand that she was already with somebody, but he was just another nobody, but usually when you show up somewhere with a guy, it cuts down on the attention you get, sometimes. Not always, but sometimes. And attention was something she loathed. She more she got, the more she wanted to hide. Hated to be watched, observed, analyzed.
But that’s what it seemed that all anybody ever wanted to do. But she’d usually get the last laugh. Never doing anything anybody wanted to. “Sure, okay, sounds good” were usually her last words. Along with, “Sounds great, I’ll be there.”
Only to never come, never show up, never be accountable.
Why should I be?
Other people needed people. Other people needed validation, praise. She wasn’t one of them. The only praise she needed was the green she saw in her account when she was right on a trade.
And that’s all she ever needed…
“How are you?” she asked, after he hugged her, tightly, smearing his cologne all over her.
"Good, great,” he said, launching into a diatribe of his meeting earlier. And like a switch, she turned it off… not even listening, looking around for the waitress so she can order a drink. She was starving too. It was October and the clocks had just turned so technically it was really 9:15 pm… and tired and hungry is never a stellar combination. Plus, the markets gapped up at the close as they have been for the past four months with the fed and the central banks rigging the whole deal. And TVIX closed lower than she bought it at with the bank loan and she was not happy
So now she was really underwater.
Underwater in the trade.
And underwater sitting here at the table with this guy she can give two F’s about. Why go, why bother with this?
Because I couldn’t sit around at home any longer and watch green futures all night. Or porn. She had been porned out. Guys think girls don’t like or watch porn. News flash: we do. And they provide, with a little help from ourselves, the perfect orgasm every time. So this guy is rambling on and on, and by this time, some fried calamari has arrived and she’s watching him devour it with his fingers, and he licks his thumbs from the oil that’s dripped all over the plate.
And it’s disgusting. And she’s appalled. And now he’s telling her about some lady in the workplace who pulled down her pants in from of him. “And all I see are these black pubic hairs coming out of the top of this white granny underwear,” he says, “and she goes, 'do you want some of this?' So I say no, and the next thing I know I’m fired from my technology job. I’m a victim of the ‘ME TOO’ movement,” he claims, and then boasts how he’s going on “CNN” to “tell his story.”
Jolette listens with a blank face and wonders by this point if she’s heard it all. She’s only 27. But the stories from these idiots are enough to make her feel 90. There were guys who tried too hard and then there were guys who didn’t try hard enough. She couldn’t figure out which was worse. Probably the ones who didn’t try, who couldn’t be bothered, the good looking ones; the guys who waited for the girls to drop into their lap. The lazy ones. They were worse. They had no balls. No game. They would never trade. Could never trade. Couldn’t fathom it. Little babies. But this guy, she couldn’t figure out which category he fell into – maybe the pathetic category.
Or I am just pathetic for sitting here?
She wanted to devise some story, to make up some lie to get up and leave after her grilled salmon was finished, but she didn’t have the energy. Just sit it out. And endure.
Just like she would sit out the trade.
Times would get better, she told herself. They had to.
* * *.......
It was over that fast. She accumulated six figures in credit card debt on eight different credit cards. The interest payments were rolling in and then the reverse split was announced. The SECOND for her. They took TVIX from 15 to 6 in a matter of weeks. Jolette sat every day watching her money erode before her eyes. It was surreal. Not that it was happening, but that it happened that fast. Not to mention the earlier pain of watching it tank from 86 to 15; at least that took nine months. It had been a grueling year. And with the Fed coming in with their BLATANT REPO MANIPULATION, it was the nails on the coffin. It was done.
Every day, her head hurt. Her stomach hurt. Everything hurt. She felt like a useless, worthless piece of shit. A LOSER. She poured her mind into her website where her dream was to showcase her trades and travel the world tasting lattes. She learned a lot during this time; coding, analytics, and working with her webmasters, she finally got advertisements up and running. She had the first website to achieve this feat out of all the other bloggers. Jolette had taught them. She had figured out how to write the code in an ad.text file and told the technicians and engineers where to upload it on the backend. And they got it all working. Her website was monetized. When she set her mind to something, there wasn’t anything she couldn’t achieve.
Millions, one or maybe two, who’s counting, down the drain, and now there was this debt. She would lie to people as to how much she was down. It’s like drinking; when your friends ask “How much did you drink last night?” And you say, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe a bottle of wine,” but you know it was more like three or four. And then some tequila shots. But who’s counting. And what’s a million dollars down? Or was it two? But then again, who’s counting? It’s over. And she wasn’t playing the blame game – she had no one to blame but herself.
That afternoon as it’s all completely going to shit, with no mercy from the banks because they weren't loaning her any more money, Paul called. He wants to come over; he needs to use her “landline.” Jolette, one of the few people who kept a landline going, kept it as a convenience yet rarely used it. Because who wants to talk to anybody anyways?
“I’m busy, Paul,” Jolette says. Cutting him off. She was sick of him, bored. She watched him a few days ago on CNBC. He’s a renowned analyst covering the semiconductor space for ABLX Securities, one of the largest firms on Wall Street. He looked good. Confident. Assured. Spoke well. Hell, even she would buy the stock he was pitching if she had any dry powder left, which she didn’t.
“Come on, Jolette, it’s really important, I’m downstairs.”
“You’re what?” And then her doorbell rings.
Paul is such a pain in the ass. She buzzes him in. And moments later, he’s standing at her door.
She hands him a black cheap fold out chair and her remote landline, then shuts the door on him. “I’m working,” she says.
“You won’t let me come in?” he pleads.
“Use the phone out there,” she repeats, referring to the hallway. Like a dog.
She’s not about to let him in. She rarely let people into her apartment. She needed her space. Plus, she didn’t want the energy of the air interrupted. Paul didn’t have bad energy, he was just depthless. There was nothing to the guy. Yeah, he was good looking and had a lot of money; the sex was pretty good. It was the afterwards she couldn’t stand. The changing of the sheets, the dealing with the nonsense small talk, dealing with him. And Paul always wanted her to attend social events and galas... No. No way, Paul. Sorry. Find some other girl to go with you because it will never be me.
She’d see him all over the Society pages with this girl or another. It never bothered her. Jolette stopped caring a long time ago about a lot of things. Maybe it was after the accident of her mother, or when her college boyfriend beat her. The guy who came from a family of doctors. He was in med school training to be a doctor himself. They were living in Houston after spending the summer in Mallorca and Jolette despised Houston and being so far away from the ocean. She had no idea of his level of drug use until after she was living with him. And isn't that how it works? You never really know somebody until it's too late. Until you're trapped with them. On the day she left, Jolette would never forgot the look on his face as he stood in handcuffs. It was that fork in the road. “What do you want to do, press charges?” The police asked. Jolette stood there bleeding and broken and thought only of his medical career. She didn’t want to ruin that for him. The world needed more doctors and everybody deserved a second chance. But she would never be giving him one. "If you’re not going to press charges," the officer said, "then go now and get as far away from here as you possibly can. I watched my father to this to my mother my whole life," he said. "It only gets worse."
Jolette shook her head in agreement.
She would go.
She couldn’t return to Connecticut where she grew up. Her father said, “If you leave and go to Houston now, then you will be disowned. I will not be there to bail you out next time.”
So there was no going back. She had $1,000 dollars to her name and bought a one way bus ticket to San Francisco, California. She didn’t know anybody there and was 23 years old. She’d start over; get a job, get into grad school, and after three years and a Master’s Degree in healthcare, she quickly learned that she didn't like that industry. And unless you were the CEO of a major conglomerate, there was no money in it either. So she learned how to trade. Started with a small account and grew it tenfold. And then the implosion.
So when she slammed the door on Paul’s face, she didn’t feel any remorse. She wouldn’t let herself get sucked into another guy’s problems, codependency or whatever other issues were lying underneath. She was over it. She had herself to rely on. And that became enough.
Jolette went back inside her apartment and watched the ticker. TVIX hit new lows every minute. She scrolled through the message boards. She was the joke of them now. Everybody knew she was long and lost and the jokes were aplenty. But that didn’t bother her either. Just look at my website and click on the ads so I make money off of you. And I'll have the last laugh. She was making money, but it wasn’t enough. So she began to apply to jobs. Brokerage firm jobs. Anything that involved trading. She’d start on the ground floor and work her way up. There was no other choice.
Jolette could hear Paul’s voice through the door. He was talking about a stock and the buy recommendation he was coming out with. She knew she could milk Paul, she always had. She borrowed tons of money from him in the past, 40k here, 25k there. She’d always pay him back and what’s a couple grand between friends. But now she could ask him for more money and trade ahead of his announcement. But no. That was unethical. A classic case of insider trading. Illegal. Jolette believed in karma. Some things in life just weren’t meant to chance.
She brought Paul a glass of water. Standing over him, she watched him. He sat in the wooden chair with his head leaned back against the wall. He looked tired, worn out, like his job was beginning to take a toll on him. Maybe he was losing control, just the same way Jolette lost control. Things in life can go awry so fast; one trip to the doctor for a routine checkup could wreck havoc with bad news, or one misstep in a car can cause an accident that’s life changing. Jolette is well aware of this and always believes on many levels that she is blessed. With a guardian angel or two watching over her. Live in the moment, she'd tell herself. Do I have a roof over my head, yes. Am I alone and free? Yes. Is there food in my cabinet? Check. Then all is good..
Paul sat confidently, with two legs set on the ground. He looked sexy sitting there, continuing his phone conversation as if she wasn’t even there. Jolette could tell so much about a man by the way they sat and the way they walked. She was a master observer of human behavior. People behaved like stocks, with predictable reactions, patterns, and fluctuations. And Paul, with his legs spread apart and his eyes staring up at her, looked strong and weak at the same time.
Jolette brushed her hand over his thigh. He grabbed her hand and put it over his crotch. He was hard. She could hear the other guy yelling through the phone. Margins, revenues, numbers were mentioned and argued about over and over again. Paul brushed his hand through his hair, exasperated. Jolette, wearing short shorts and a t-shirt climbed on top of him. She rubbed herself against him already wet. She leaned down and whispered in his ear, “Does this feel good?” And kept going despite the fact that Paul was ignoring her, “Does it, Paul?”
Paul leaned farther down in the chair so she can keep going, giving her more space. “I understand,” Paul concludes, closing his eyes, as Jolette moves up and down on him watching his eyes roll back in his head. She takes the phone from Paul as his conversation ends and lets it drop to the ground.
“Paul, can we do this here?” she asks. Little girl voice. The voice he loves. The voice she manipulated him with over and over and over again.
“Yes.” She unzips his pants and at the same time, slips out of her shorts. She sits down on him again and with experienced fingers, lifts him inside of her, playing with him, teasing him, slowly, and Paul, going with it, presses her down on him harder, grabbing her by the waist, "Ride it, I want you to come all over me."
It was on and Jolette smiled inwardly. She controlled the pace, the angle, and once she leaned forward and pressed herself against him in that certain spot, it would be over. She wants it to last, she tries to wait..and DING goes the elevator, and in seconds those elevator doors will open and somebody’s going to be coming down the hall... Instead of stopping, Jolette keeps going, fast now, picking up the pace, squeezing him harder beneath her whispering Paul, paul paulllllllllll and then the fire doors burst open and Jolette and Paul turn to look at the neighbor, a single girl who lives in the three bedroom next door, and they all catch eyes and the girl turns away, taking out her key and enters her apartment as Jolette, mid orgasm, let’s out a groan and collapses into Paul. Paul, stunned and spent, looks back at Jolette like a deer in the headlights.
Jolette grins, climbing off of him. She goes back inside and locks the door. She walks over to her computer and checks her emails. One particular email catches her eye. It’s from ABLX Securities.
She landed an interview...!
They request that she call immediately and Jolette realizes Paul still has her phone.
She opens the door, grabs the phone off the floor and shuts the door again.
“You’re not going to let me come in?”
But she’s already heading for the shower. Then she’d return the call to ABLX.
Maybe things were about to turn around after all.
* * *
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This is a work of fiction. All the characters and occurrences herein are the product of the author's imagination. Though real life locations feature as settings throughout the work, the incidents that occur herein are exclusively fictional. Any similarity in characters or events to real life people, living or dead, or actual occurrences, are coincidental.
Copyright, Juliana 2019