Sticks and Bones

The first part of a chronicle of a crush-turned-obsession. I'm sorry, Julie.

To experience this in natural reading order go to A Bright, Ironic Hell: The Straight Read .

Also, try Satellite Dance and Crystal Delusions--Parts 2 and 3, respectively--complete.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thank God There Were No Seagulls Screaming (7/10/08 Thursday)

At lunch yesterday in the breakroom Julie said, "How do you like it so far?" I had the book open in front of me. Julie was at the next table. I didn't at first realize she was addressing me. Though I'd rehearsed my reply to the expected query, I was caught off guard by the impersonal address. I told her I like it very much but hadn't yet settled into the book's rythms. I asked her if she had trouble pronouncing the Welsh, because "I like to be able to pronounce what I'm reading." She replied that she "picked it up" in her reading.

I've figured out what I want, how I want this to go down: I want Julie to get a crush on me. I want her to do as I did and suddenly realize how much she really likes me; that I'm attractive and nice and have a lot in common with her. Maybe, in the midst of this revelation, she'll realize how solicitous of her I've been and be flattered by it and, perhaps realize also that I've had a crush on her all this time.

But what if she did develop a crush on me? How would I know, or even suspect? What if she does right now and is performing her own agonizing dance of cloaking subterfuge? You know what? In my life, that's how things happen.

I had a Julie moment today that had me as close as ever to confirming her crush. On the desk, two minutes before the hour and the changing of guard, I'm helping a patron. Aware of the time, I glance over my shoulder when the workroom door opens, and I recognize Julie's figure in the periphery. I know she's out here next. But instead of hearing a polite offer to take over, I see a DVD slowly slide onto the counter beside me and the hand retreat. I don't interrupt my work with the patron, but the work doesn't require all my attention. I peek at the DVD. The Mighty, which, of course, has in it Gillian Anderson. I chuckle to myself and finish with the patron, then start to the back, DVD in hand. Through the window in the door I see Julie approaching and time my entrance to meet her in the doorway. There I stop her with the upraised DVD and a question. In the doorway we are forced to within inches of each other. I ask, "Did you do this for me?" She turns her face up to mine and replies, "Yes, I did. I knew it had Gillian Anderson in it and thought you might not have seen it." "I haven't. Thank you." She passed through. In that moment that I asked that question I held my gaze on her left eye, dark blue with a tiny black dot on it, and was glad the Fool had the Wise Man's wits about him--that is, around his arms and legs and stuffed in his mouth--because I just might have kissed her. I settled for not being able to eat but about half my lunch. Yesterday, too, I was unable to finish my lunch. That had been right after Julie had asked me about the book.

Stacey told me after work that when Julie was hired just over a year ago Gay-Lynn was bubbling over with the hope that Julie and I would pair up. She also said that Chris today, with no prompting, said, "Maybe we should try to get Dion and Julie together."

I don't know when Julie became attractive to me, but if I were ever to actually pinpoint the date I might be shocked. Every day I recall a new instance from a more distant past that indicates a growing affection toward her. I remember the moment now when I first saw her: I was at the front desk when Julie came in and told me she was here for her interview with Tammy. Perhaps I was sizing her up relative to the job and not her general attractiveness when I found her lacking. Perhaps she saw that as I handed her the clipboard with the interview questions attached and urged her to have a seat, because I've never forgotten the look in return. I've also never been able to interpret it--intense, cautious, dubious, incredulous, maybe none of that--but it certainly wasn't love at first sight for either of us. Or was it? Nah.

There's a Difference? (7/8/08 Tuesday)

I'm enjoying the book.  It's good to know there can be literature within a genre that makes no pretense of transcendence from the genre.  I will make no attempt to talk to Julie about this book.  As a test of her interest, I will wait on her initiative, though I'm still waiting on that relative to The Waterhorse  movie and the Hamish MacBeth series'.  Why should this be any different?

The birthday ideas are still swimming through my head, none of them landing in the net.  I'm toying with a simple flower or two.  Will she even work that day, though?  I thought of taking that whole week off, depending on how audacious the Fool lets me be about a birthday gift--the more audacious, the longer I should take off.  And by audacious I mean the relative likelihood of my giving away the game.

I've given up listening to baseball on the internet, and I almost never watch TV.  Even my reading has taken a turn from the Scottish track I've been following for more than three years.  Have I now dedicated myself to the pursuit of Julie? or have I simply become obsessed?

Obelievious (7/7/08 Monday)

So, when does a girl notice a boy's got a crush on her? I showed Julie A Morbid Taste for Bones. I just finished the Hamish MacBeth series, and will tell her that, too; and, god, don't I moon enough at her yet to make her squirm? She's got to figure it out; she's not oblivious. Is she disbelieving? Does she not want to believe it?

Anyone But Woody Allen, That Is (7/6/08 Sunday)

When I said at the beginning, “I must accept a certain degree of all my shortcomings,” the one at the front of my mind at the time was vanity, in the sense of what others thought of me. Now, I find that it’s very important what at least one person thinks of me. Last week I got my hair cut, well before it was out of control. I’m washing and conditioning it with ever-more expensive salon product, and tarting it up a notch with peppermint hair oil. And now I’ve bought a body powder to augment the toner and moisturizer (and exfoliant) that I use religiously on my face. I all but strut in my new jeans, feeling very comfortable and sexy. But does anyone notice (much less Julie)? I even take my shirt off when I’m outside in the garden so that I might even out the cycling tan. I remind myself to laugh at the guy in the mirror.

It occurs to me I should be preparing myself for rejection. I can hold out till September 9, but I can’t promise I won’t give away the trick at the that point. (The bit is like taffy in my mouth already.) I don’t know how; I just expect it. It’s what I want, isn’t it?–one way or another. This long suicide is really only about fear of rejection, despite all the other faces I put on it. I want a sure thing, and I already know there’s no such thing. To prepare myself for rejection, though, is to expect it to a not small degree. That’s me, expecting failure. It’s a question of maturity. Am I ready for a relationship? Never mind failure; I’m not sure I should succeed. Is there freedom in a relationship? Yes, but will I allow myself to have it? Can I allow myself to be myself? Can I not worry about how good a boyfriend I’m being? Can I not be so vain about it? Big questions for a neurotic. Help anyone?

And–-I’m not really sure about this–-it’s probably not myself as much as Julie whose feelings I dread hurting. I don’t want anyone else involved in my pain. Perhaps that’s why I’ve prolonged this whole thing-–aside from all the practicalizing I’ve done to avoid committing to my feelings–-or, rather, acting upon them. Well, yes, it would be awkward to admit to Julie, someone I have to work with every day, that I feel fondly toward her. But do I want to go to another job so I can tell her from a safe, “professional” distance? I want to be with her. Why wouldn’t I want to work with her? All these questions, I know, serve only to convince myself I’m a fool bound for failure. I am not a fool. Am I? If being up at midnight on a Sunday–-now Monday-–making grist for the nightmare mill qualifies me, then go ahead and brand me. I guess the distance from Julie of a three-day weekend. ... I don’t know how to finish that; I should be in bed.

In Bobby's Shoes (7/4/08 Friday)

Julie’s birthday is September 9. I won’t forget. I will break from my policy of not-signing co-workers’ birthday cards, but only pseudonymously. I’m working on a good one to sign “Bobby” for Robert Carlyle. It will have to be obviously (but accurately) Scottish and peculiarly Hamish MacBeth. Problem: He doesn’t have a catch-phrase. How about “When will my Bonnie come over the ocean? Bring back my Bonnie to me”? I think it will work after I put a kilt on it and add a “C.” to Bobby. At first I was thinking about “Just have a really good, really, really good, really good time,” and sign it “Bryan.” But if she’s not a Roxy Music fan it could fall on blind eyes. Now I’m determined to put them both on there-–not to confuse her (she’ll be able to match the handwriting), but to be playful. I’ve almost decided to give her something, too, but I can’t figure out how to give her something even half-special without her doing the math. I’d like to give her a tiny bottle of scotch, but besides the inappropriateness of alcohol in the workplace, it would point only to me. I’ll keep the brain wheels rolling on that one. September! Can I make it that far?

King and Queen (7/3/08 Thursday)

Early this week I noticed half a dozen Ellis Peters’ on the sorting cart. Julie was manning the window, and, knowing her for a lover of British mysteries, and suspecting her of being a fan of Ellis Peters, I said to her, “Someone’s on an Ellis Peters jag.” “Oh,” she replied, “Brother Cadfael is one of my all-time favorite series’.” Inwardly, I smiled at my perception.

Last night–-we work the same shift Wednesdays-–I asked her where one should start reading Brother Cadfael, and what kind of background knowledge one might need beforehand. She told me of Cadfael’s background and of Maud and Stephen’s battles for the crown. I was rapt. Today I’ve ordered A Morbid Taste for Bones from the Fairfield branch. Eventually I’ll take Julie up on last night’s offer to lend me her DVD’s of the book adaptations, though she said Tuckahoe carries them. She seemed eager to lend them, so I think it’s important that I take her up on it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You Mean Like Kudzu or Athlete's Foot? (7/01/08 Tuesday)

I saw little of Julie today--she works late, I early on Tuesdays--but for a significant moment. At four o'clock I took a few minutes to scarf down a cheesestick in the breakroom before shelving. Much of the late crew was breaking for "dinner". Sitting nearest the room's entrance, I saw Julie approach. I smiled, she smiled. She stopped at the arm of my chair. I could have touched her dangling hand with a lift of my pinky. I looked up at her, she down at me. "I'm starving," she said, "and I didn't bring food." Her voice was low, addressing me solely. "Are you going to beg for some?" "I was considering it. But, you know, there are some frozen dinners in the freezer that have been there since even before I cleaned out the refrigerator. I think I'll go for one of those," "Oh, definitely go for it."

That was the extent of our exchange. I'm aware that it doesn't appear significant; and I've vowed not to unduly inflate an innocuous moment with inferential importance, but we're closer--that much is true. How about if I just refuse to say how much closer I think we are? At first I thought, "She's coming around," but that became distasteful immediately, as it I were chasing a trophy, that the hunt were the thing and not the quarry. And if the quarry doesn't know it's being hunted, then it's being deceived. Of course I don't want to trap Julie. I want to grow on her as she has on me. I want the distance between us to close in; I don't want to have to cover the entire distance myself. It's been both endearing and maddening to think that she hasn't a clue as to my affection for her. The questions I grill her with on the desk should make it feel like a date if only she displayed a like interest in me. I wish someone else could tell I had a crush on Julie. That would be delicious. With all those women there with their famed "intuition", their obliviousness of the situation has to be downright collusive.

You Don't Need to Pin It on Me--I"ll Just Put It in My Pocket (6/30/08 Monday)

An excellent Julie-day today. I managed to be solicitous but with good reason, open and spontaneous, and genuinely caring. We had only an hour together at the desk, and it wasn't our most intense engagement, but it came after she'd already spent nearly the entire previous hour out there as backup. She was a bit frayed at the ends, but in good humor when she came back out for an encore. Of course, I was eager to converse, but I was also determined not to force it. That was not difficult to accomplish, as it was another busy hour, though I somehow managed to avoid a card registration, while Julie had at least four. I felt badly for her, and when I was relieved by Jennifer to go to the window, I looked sadly back at Julie. I even started a step back toward her, about to offer to relieve her till her replacement came out, but I knew Mike was waiting at the window for my relief of him. But I couldn't go straight to the window; Tammy's next interview had arrived that hour, and I'd sat him down to wait. At four, the end of the hour and my time on the desk, I needed to seek out Tammy and let her know he was here. So, when I got to the workroom I told Mike the situation, hoping he'd head out to the desk straightaway, but, apparently, I had understressed the need for Julie to be relieved, and Mike seemed determined to stay put till I'd returned from my search for Tammy. Then, in a strong voice I didn't recognize as my own I said, "Mike, could you go out there and relieve Julie? She really needs to get off the desk. She's been out there nearly two solid hours and could really use some relief. James could you cover the window while I track down Tammy?" The results were immediate, positive, and wordless: James and Mike switched out, and I went for Tammy, who I found still in her previous interview; this I informed Mr. Thompson, her four o'clock. Just as I reached the workroom, Julie all but staggered in from the desk like a returning soldier. I could've sworn I heard cheers. I said to her, "I had to pull some strings to get you off the desk," and Greta said, "Yeah, he was yelling and waving his arms. ..." Julie looked at me. "I guess it's you I have to thank." Embarrassed at seeming to want to take credit, my mind stumbled in reply. "Well it wasn't really what I was after, but I'll accept it." All Julie needed to say at that point was, "What were you after?" to make me blurt out, "Your undying love!" or something equally as compromising to my cover. Ah, but she didn't.

The entire episode nearly, selfishly, overwhelmed me with a pride ironic to the compassion spontaneously unleashed on Julie's behalf. I think I've said all I can without cheapening the moment by basking in my heroism.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Do You Think It Matters How I Rub It? (6/28/08 Saturday)

With time together neither at the desk nor in the workroom, Julie and I were rarely in the same place together all day. Not even the same lunch hour. But I didn't avoid her or studiously or (in any other way) ignore her. I gave her a bright "Good morning!" when she came in. At the turning of an hour late in the day, Julie, as we all do, checked the schedule for the next hour's duty. Upon finding she was to be on the window and, turning to it and seeing no one there, she asked, "Who am I replacing?" and consulted the schedule again. I was sorting a cart. "Dion," she said. I'd already looked up upon hearing her voice, and when she scanned the workroom our eyes met. I don't know which of us smiled first, but mine was an unabashed beam, I'm sure, and hers nearly did me in. I'm trying hard not to wishfully see what's not there, but it's become harder since then.

Why Isn't Nirvana on My GPS? (6/27/08 Friday)

So, how do I become me? As if I hadn't been asking that question since I was a kid. How do I push that terrified kid behind me and take charge of my life? The best plan I can come up with is to pretend until it becomes natural--that is, give up one pretense for another: pretend not to be the terrified kid but the confident man. What the hell is a confident man? I can't even make eye contact, for god's sake. As close as I've ever been to confident is arrogant, a pretence of confidence. Of course I know change is not as simple as a few tricks and appearances; it's organic. What am I gonna do, start psychotherapy? But I have a feeling that the repair I need is more about letting go than deconstruction and taking possession. Not about forgetting but moving on. And I don't have to know where I am to just go, but I do if I know where I want to go. Where's that? It's that place where I just do the right thing, for no audience, no applause, no credit; with no care for appearances or impressions; where I don't pass judgment, where I feel good for someone instead of envious and cynical; where my eyes and my mind are wide open. Should I know where that place is? How important is it to know that before I embark?

I did not spill the beans last night, though I scrutinized every conversation within earshot for an opening. Even two beers--one of them a 10% stout--was only enough to loosen me up. Indiscretion, apparently, comes into play somewhere around blotto. Maybe I'll try that.

But in a Nice Way (6/26/08 Thursday)

The way I act around Julie begs me to consider how I might appear to her.  My behavior is of someone self-conscious, self-absorbed, and quietly crying for attention.  Needy.  My hope to be noticed by her is an arrogance, an insecure puffing-up.  There is nothing to gain from this besides a label of "odd."  Who wants odd?  And yet how do I give her attention?  How do I care beyond getting what I want?  How can I leave my self behind in order to understand Julie?

I haven't worked with her all week.  If she hasn't switched again, I'll maybe get a chance Saturday.  I miss our time on the desk together.  I'd like to let her know that, or at least that I enjoy our time together.  The big trick for me would be to do it without coming across as creepy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

There's Still the Toaster Option (6/25/08 Wednesday)

When I ponder the possible strategies I wonder why my brain has been invited to this party--this is an affair of the heart, after all. The brain--the Wise Man--invited himself. Of course, the Fool doesn't want him here, and look at the mess he's made of my mind (and stomach). Without the Wise Man I'd have already pulled the trigger of the gun to my head. But I don't accept the tortuous suicide, either. Is there no voice that can speak from between these extremes? It's not my voice if it exists.

Chris and Stacey and I and a few others are going out after work tomorrow night to celebrate Chris' birthday. If the company's right I might discreetly spill the beans. I'll have a beer or two (Stacey's driving), so maybe I won't be so discreet. I'm sure Julie won't be there.

I feel less confident every day that I have half a chance of gaining Julie's affection. How could she feel anything for me and not betray it; or not notice the betrayal of my feelings for her? I've got to solve this. Which is it, Julie?

Jerk, I'd Like You to Meet Jerk (6/24/08 Tuesday)

Another day without a word to Julie, another day of studious avoidance of contact with her, another day of yearning for her presence. She seemed almost somber. I won't (yet) flatter myself that it's my fault. I wanted to ask her how she was doing, but I didn't feel we were there yet, where one is allowed to show a sincere compassion toward the other, and Julie doesn't seem to be one who easily gets close to someone or allows others close to her. Regardless of the impact I'm having on her feelings, I'm being a jerk. And I know a jerk when I see one. It takes one to know one. I reached that moment of self-amusement today, but it was yet more evanescent than yesterday, and was followed immediately by a plunge into an icy dark premonition of endless repetition, doomed to push this rock up the hill every damned day.

Stacey was somewhat more receptive today, as I was little bit more assertive, if awkward in expression. I feel some slight relief--when I'm not feeling guilty for being a jerk. I caught Julie's gaze a few times; I can't easily describe what I saw in her deeply blue eyes. Was there expectation, hope, hurt confusion? It haunts me. All I've given her this week is a couple of stiff grins, which doubtless reflected my own stupid social inadequacies and total muddle of emotions. What am I doing?

Just Go South About Halfway Through the Earth (6/23/08 Monday)

I really can't take much more of this. Somehow, I've come to feel I'm hurting Julie. I'm bound to be sending mixed signals. I think more and more, "How could she want a guy like me? How could she respect me?" For a moment today I was amused with myself as if I were watching a sophisticated comedy-romance. The feeling quickly passed. I didn't say a word to Julie today. What am I doing? Not doing? How do I get out of this? I still can't get any relief. Stacey's still the only person I can talk to about it, and I just don't feel she's got that much to offer in the way of empathy--practical empathy, anyway. And who else can do that for me? I just can't carry this burden. Even if I could just find out if she felt anything for me, I'd have a sense of direction; I could move, instead of vibrating between extremes, powerless to move a step one way or the other. If I found out she hadn't feelings for me without her ever knowing how I felt about her, I could turn away my attention, as I'm not interested in humiliation, which I've outgrown. And, too, I don't want to get anywhere through flattery, or be pitied, so she can't know how I feel about her until I know she feels the same. I couldn't otherwise work with her any longer. But who will pass my anonymous notes? It's Hell I'm in, a bright, ironic Hell.

Or Maybe Just a Toaster in the Bathtub (6/21/08 Saturday)

Friday at work was torture without Julie--almost as bad as if she'd been there. I took on the aloof-tortured-teenager pose for most of the day, breaking free now and then briefly to laugh at myself. I imagined someone having a crush on me and me not noticing it, then wondered why I might not notice. I concluded that it was one or both of two things: either I wouldn't expect anyone to have a crush on me, or I'd feel no attraction toward that person. So, is Julie clueless, or is there just no attraction to me? If there were any attraction, then knowing how I feel about her would make a positive difference. But how do I know without telling her? I have a choice of suicides: The long, slow one I'm putting myself through keeping this secret, or Russian Roulette, where I pull the trigger and pray a flower comes out of the barrel instead of a bullet.

I told Bethany outright yesterday that I had a "big crush" on someone, but I left it at that, and she didn't bite. I'm convinced that I just have to let on to more people (that I trust) if this ball is to get rolling. I would love for her to find out without me knowing she's found out; though for that to happen I'd have to leak it to someone I didn't trust not to pass it into the "wrong" ears; but the person I would normally confide in is someone with whom I have a rapport; i.e., someone I trust. Hmm. This is becoming something of a life's work, isn't?

Shifts (6/19/08 Thursday)

Yesterday was something of an avoidance day. I had one, slight, unavoidable encounter with Julie, and afterwards had a knot between my shoulder blades. Today wasn't much better, though I really did want to spend some time with her. I was disappointed to see on the day's schedule that we wouldn't be forced near each other. And, she had the early shift, whereas I had the late one, so we only had four-and-a-half hours of concurrent time in the building. The topper, though, was finding out that she'd switched tomorrow with Mary Lou. I'm not real eager to go in--or to dress very nicely, in my jeans and my tightish t-shirt. I always feel good in those togs and probably swagger a bit. Tomorrow I'll likely be a mopey slouch.

So, apparently, Bethany did not relay the message I so cutely tried to send Saturday. I'm already scheming to drop other hints to other people.

Yes (6/18/08 Wednesday)

I started a book last night: The Crofter and the Laird. When I opened it a bookmark fell out. It was from Borders Book Shop in Ann Arbor. Julie once worked for Borders in Ann Arbor. Is this getting stupid?

Show Me Yours (6/17/08 Tuesday)

Yesterday I watched the entire first season of Hamish Macbeth. Today I bought a CD/DVD of Trashcan Sinatras, Julie's favorite Scottish band. My efforts to worm my way into her affections is another track than the one I was on. Whereas once my reading took me to Scotland, now it takes me there with Julie, and being there seems secondary to the company.

Tomorrow I go back to work, and of course I'm eager to see her, but I feel unready to, as if in the meantime all the clues have fallen into place for her, and whatever eagerness she has to see me is only to ostentatiously expose the Fool. I have a feeling it will be an avoidance day. I'm becoming impatient and want to drop more clues in order to expedite the process; only now I'm thinking I want Julie to be the last one to know, though I will try to at least feign ignorance myself. Now that Stacey knows I wonder how much it's killing her, or if some silly machinations are whirring in her brain. And I want Stacey to care that way. I want her to want to do something about it. I want her to search in my and Julie's faces for the spark when we're in the same room. I want to see her trying hard not to start something. I want her to show that she knows, and not just show me. But she has to believe she's still keeping my secret.

Agley (6/15/08 Sunday)

Yesterday was Julie-intensive. Three times we spent hours virtually alone together--on the desk and trading off back-up and window. I feel we get closer every hour together, as long as my tongue doesn't get tied or I try too hard, and those moments were mercifully rare today. I managed to cancel out the two evils--the extremes of attention by--somehow--concentrating on my work.

(Though I don't want to get ahead of things, I've already imagined the scene--after professing our mutual affections--in which I explain the Promethian [Herculean?] effort of restraint. Julie's reaction in this scenario is one of sweet amusement.)

For several days I'd been holding back a quip to use Saturday. With Julie in earshot I'd let someone know I'd taken off this coming Monday and Tuesday, expecting a response in the line of "Any particular reason?" Well, the opportunity for it to go down that way didn't arise, but just before lights out I wrote on the white board by my name, "Back Wed." The last three people to file past it toward the back door were Julie, Bethany, me. Julie didn't see it, but Bethany didn't let me down. "Do you have any plans?" But Julie had just turned the corner when I answered, "No, I just need to get away from Julie." Julie heard her name, though, and was further piqued when Bethany, incredulous, laughed. Julie, apparently sensing being made the butt of a joke, said, "I beg your pardon?" I knelt to pack my saddlebag. Not looking up, I said, "Bethany asked why I was taking Monday and Tuesday off"--at which point I expected Bethany to come through again and fill in the rest. She didn't, I didn't, and Julie didn't ask again. It seemed as if she didn't want to know. Then we were all out the door, and as my bike was parked in the direction opposite the cars, we quickly parted, with me muttering, "Well, that worked!" Still, I hold out hope that Julie asked Bethany what I'd said. At the very least a seed has been planted, maybe, if not with Julie, Bethany.

I planted it firmly with Stacey Thursday night after work. Tired of her respectful distance, I finally said, "You know that secret I told you? Well, you don't have to keep it from me," and I told her the object of my crush. She was delighted and said she'd been hoping this would happen ever since Julie showed up. Now I suppose it's up to Julie to oblige her.

Jullian (6/6/08 Friday)

My quandary has manifested in a couple of different ways recently. It started out as feigned indifference and ended up as a playful attention. I much prefer the latter.Frustration and grudging resignation brought on the first attitude, with depression and surlyness. It felt cruel. One day I barely acknowledged Julie her presence, and my shoulders were in a knot. I didn't treat anyone much better. (Sometimes the Fool and the Wise Man are one and the same.) But I recognized that attitude as the same one I utilized as a teenager to such spectacular non-effect--that aloof apathy that was supposed to set me apart as a cool loner and attract that discerning girl who could see through all those phonies the other girls hung all over. But I suppose at that age the phony that cared was preferred to the phony that didn't. Anyway, this time around I decided to care. I solicited advice from Julie on things about which she knew and cared: I asked her about the Hamish MacBeth TV series, because I knew she liked Robert Carlyle ("I'd marry him if I could") and because we're both Scotiaphiles. Of course, when I draw her out I get to know her better. She's never asked any like questions of me, but the Wise Man has chosen not to care, not to take it as a sign or indication of her level of affection for me. Rather, I understand--or choose to understand--that that is her nature. She's shyish and seems to keep much of herself to herself. I can't take that personally.

At lunch in the breakroom Bethany remarked how a year ago many of us working here didn't know or hardly knew one another. "Like, I didn't know for the longest time that Dion had a thing for J--" My heart took off, but my mind overtook it: How did she know? Why does she have to blurt it out with Julie right here in the room? Did Stacey tell her? Why? Why?--"Gillian Anderson." The biggest part of me wanted her to have said "Julie."

How Many Fools Am I? (5/29/08 Thursday)

Stacey wasn't at work yesterday--at least I didn't see her, but she would have sought me out to thank me for feeding the cat if she'd been there. When I got home I walked across the street to make sure her car was there. It was. I was surprised she hadn't even called me. Apparently, I wanted her to. I've speculated (no doubt wildly) that the cat swept the note off the counter and under the fridge. Or maybe Stacey's just absorbed in herself. Now, if she doesn't ask in the car today on the way in. ... I'm determined, even if she does ask, not to tell her who my crush is on. I'd rather she speculate and never be sure than to know and have it color her relationship with Julie, with me, and with Julie and me.

There is much evidence of my wisdom in my restraint in this matter (including calling it "this matter"). I'm reluctant to allow any emotion to reach rarified heights, choosing instead to step back from them and amuse myself with their irrationality. A tendency of mine in past infatuations is to feign indifference to the object's presence and my feelings toward her. It's happening this time around as well, but not without a grinning remonstrance to myself. I'm two people anymore, the Fool and the Wise Man--or maybe I always have been--the latter amused by the former. The Wise Man has finally outgrown the Fool, can finally step aside and let him pass, the better to observe his missteps. Though, of course, the Wise Man is no mere observer, but does the Fool know he is being watched, much less manipulated? The Fool might be grateful if he weren't a fool; and the Wise Man would not be so well amused. I'm grateful for the Wise Man's growth, and nearly as grateful for the Fool's lack of it. But I don't enjoy the pangs of foolish reaction before the wisdom rationally calms it, and I would like to shorten the distance between the two, sever the tangle that momentarily confuses the Fool with the Wise Man. Perhaps that is actually putting distance between them. But as they spring from a common source, that may be asking for schizophrenia, the denial of the Fool as a responsibility of the Wise Man's.

What About Me Me Me? (5/30/08 Friday)

Telling Stacey about the crush was sound in all respects, and I feel no burden lifted whatsoever. I underestimated both Stacey's discretion and self-absorption. She is keeping too good a distance. It's probably not too hard for her to do; she has her own concerns, after all. I'll give her those, of course, but it would be nice to get some attention, to talk about me. I at least want a sounding board. That's not been Stacey. We just spent the evening together--three hours--and not one mention of my overarching concern. Perhaps I need a little assertive self-absorption of my own. That doesn't help me with tomorrow, when I work with Julie again and probably even share a desk hour. I'm afraid the Fool is going to get wise and rationalize his way around the Wise Man. The Fool always wins--and ruins it for everyone.

Heavy As Ever (5/28/08 Wednesday)

I didn't tell Stacey about the crush Thursday, but I told her. I fed her cat while she was away and left her a five-page "note" entitled "What I Did on Your Spring Vacation," in which I chronicled my visits to her apartment, concluding in ironic off-handedness with "just one last thing": I told her I had a "crush on someone at work" and reiterated the self-debate on whether I should tell her about it, finally concluding that I wouldn't tell her. (Cute, huh?)

But I don't feel very much unburdened for having done it. Stacey was to have gotten home yesterday. I more than half-expected her to call me last night. It's hard to believe she wouldn't have, if she got home okay. I hope she doesn't think we can talk about it at work.

Let Me Not (5/22/08 Thursday)

The burden isn't lifted, but it may be lighter; but that could be as much from talking to Julie yesterday as from writing. Of course I didn't broach the primary subject on my mind (you kidding?) but just getting her talking to me about herself gets me closer to her. Don't expect me to rhapsodize over her or "count the ways"--I've grown too much to imbue such talk with objective quality: We all feel the same things in this situation and attribute solid qualities to cloudy ideals. No, she's not the most perfect, beautiful woman whoever floated across a meadow; there's just something that attracts me to her, and I refuse (now) to enumerate, much less analyze those traits.

I ride with Stacey today. I may try to tell her, but not till the way back this evening. I won't see her again from then till Wednesday, and, even better, she won't be back to work till then. It may kill her, but it'll be good for her.

Inspiration (5/21/08 Wednesday)

I won't dwell on the passed time. I stopped writing because it seemed self-indulgent and personally unproductive. But as I've come to understand that I must accept a certain degree of all my shortcomings as my nature--i.e., not strive to be perfect--I must accept, too, the need to write once in a while, for whatever purpose or to whatever end.

I write now because I have no one to trust with what I need to tell someone: I have a crush--an infatuation, to be less teenish-- with someone at work. It's Julie, and it seems to have come on suddenly--that is, its growth was unnoticed until it blocked my view.

I suppose it's not so much that I can't trust someone else with this secret, but that it wouldn't be fair to burden anyone else with it. Stacey would be severely tested to keep it to herself, though, for me, she would; and Mike, though he would absolutely not tell anyone else, might himself have some feelings for Julie, and I'm not sure that upon hearing my confession, he would confide the same in turn but for respect for me would either step aside emotionally or quietly resent me.

I tried to tell Mike last Friday, when we met for a casual dinner, as we unoccasionally do, but I never got up the courage or found the opening that allowed the topic to come up on its own.

Stacey has been out of touch lately. Though we are close, her almost child-like self-absorption often precludes me sharing my own life details with her. I haven't come close to broaching this subject with her.

I have nothing to lose talking to Matt about Julie; he doesn't know her, doesn't work with us. Maybe that's why I haven't tried telling him. Or maybe it's the anticipation of sober advice that makes me hesitate. I feel full enough of my own sober advice. What I want is relief of this burden, yet I can't simply give it to someone else. I certainly can't tell Julie. I'd like to believe that if anything is there it will flower, but I'm not confident, and less so every day, as I find more "reasons" and "indications" pointing to her lack of interest in me, and more faults in myself that justify it.