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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One Foot In Texas, the Other In Wisconsin, Both In Virginia (12/31/08 Wednesday)

I've had a few suggestions to make a novel of this mess, but mess it will likely remain. I don't have an ending or the imagination to make it up, and I can't begin to make Julie real. I just don't know her, and I never will without her cooperation. I'm having a difficult enough time, anyway, defining the border between journal and blog. I'm not even convinced there can be one. the audience has changed; I don't know who I'm writing for anymore. Sometimes, I don't even know what I have to say. This doesn't seem so much a crossroads as a deadend. But I can't stop. The first paragraph of the previous entry was supposed to stay in my journal, but I couldn't let it. I resent the audience's influence. I want to write without fear again. What more damage can be done? If what I've written has labelled me, how much worse can the label become? The fear may be more appropriately the reader's. What do I have to fear from the reader, no matter how closely associated with me or anyone mentioned here? I've only ever expressed myself, and if I've been read wrong then I've been read by the wrong readers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Retreat Under a Cloak of Invisibility (12/30/08 Tuesday)

I ignored Julie today, but I never wanted to. I started to say good morning to her but she'd just put the phone to her ear, and since then I have been afraid to look at her, for fear of old feelings. She could have greeted me moments later as I was pulling holds to delete. She passed close with the pick list cart. I didn't see her till she was by. People do that, though--"not see" you. I do it (obviously), but I don't know why. I think it's rooted in self-worth. It's never about the ignored person. I feel some pity for myself when I do it.

I worry about the old feelings resurfacing. Though considerably quashed by Julie's unequivocal non-reciprocation, they linger, and I let them, having given up trying to talk them away, which is simply an oppression; and oppression, of course, always produces rebellion. All I can do is remember how she feels about me. I don't hope, I don't look for signs. At lunch Saturday she sat across from me. I started to make something of it, but where she sat was her usual place, so she either just preferred that seat and didn't care who sat across from her, or she didn't want me to think she was avoiding me by sitting elsewhere. I didn't flatter myself with the second option, and didn't even begin to entertain a third, more fanciful and advantageous option. This is a struggle, with no end in sight. Not before I leave, anyway. In the meantime, avoidance seems the best, if not the bravest strategy.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Gave a Child a Gun (12/28/08 Sunday)

Julie is still often on my mind, but in a context much different than in the months before this one. It's with a retrospection--not nostalgia--that I see her now. Or, rather, it's her I'm seeing myself through--not looking from her eyes--I still can't do that--but reflecting from her. Much of what I feel is shame. I think of the little things I did for her before declaring my affection to her at the coffee shop, and how she accepted them innocently, as a friend, not suspecting, apparently, my higher motives. It's then that I feel a cheat, a fraud, a manipulator; that I took advantage of her acceptance of my dishonest attentions. But could it have been otherwise? I still don't know for how long I'd been harboring my attraciton to Julie before I declared it to myself. Was it my duty to have told her sooner in order to preclude the dance of deception? Or was it simply my duty to keep it to myself or to believe my mind when it told me, innumerable times, that there was nothing in Julie for me? I tried to trust my heart, but my heart was not up to the responsibility, and my head could not find its way through the heart's smokescreen. Shame is too harsh an assesment, though. How could I have done differently? This entire endeavor was an experiment--in what, exactly, I'm still working out. Maybe candor, overarchingly. Much of what I've said here could not have been said without the heart's voice, could not have been expressed through clinical thought. Embarrassment is a better word than shame for what I feel in looking back on all this, for the hurt I feel is all in my pride. The indignation was justified to a degree, until it became less about the injustice done to me than the damage to my ego it tried to mask.

I'm not sure I want Julie off my mind. She is still a powerful catalyst for my writing, if only as that reflection of myself. It's not the vestige of attraction that keeps me clinging, but of losing a reason to write. Julie is the symbol (the icon?) of that, and likely will be until I have accepted my mistakes with humor, compassion and understanding.

I remain intent on leaving Twin Hickory, regardless of my emotional adjustment. It can't but help. Even should Julie complete the adjustment with me being there (if she hasn't already), my not being there would simplify the emotions in the workplace. Chris answered my email with a willingness but not a commitment, citing family obligations. I'll have to push it, nail him to a day and time. He closed his reply with, "I only wish you the best." Strangely, my initial reaciton was not cynical. It was not till a few moments later did I think, "Is that what telling Julie about the blog was, doing what was best for me?" I can't afford that attitude, but neither can I let him dictate terms in any way. He has to make time for this conversation. Tammy won't be back for another week, and I've heard nothing from management about my request. The timing has not been good, with holidays interrupting work and people taking time off, but it's no less imperative to me than ever.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Somewhere to Plant the Flag (12/26/08 Friday)

Now, think about this thing I've been calling "obsession" all this time: Has it been anything more than overthinking? That's what I've been wondering since Shawn equated the two the other day. I told her then that the thinking was to keep the emotions from taking over. Considering the alternative, Julie would be glad to allow me the obsession. If I'd let the emotions have their way, the humiliation would have heen hers as well, and spectacular. Tuckahoe would not be anywhere near far enough away. Can you say Witness Protection Program? Eventually, The Fool actually won out, but it wasn't for a lack of effort to contain him. He simply mutated, like a virus, adapting to my rational strategies. I mean, what but a perversion of rationale would have made me believe taping that picture to my bike was a benign thing? The more I think about it, the less I can believe any of this was about Julie, but that she was the reason I gave myself to keep obsessing. This dichotomy I was overseeing was what was truly fascinating me, not Julie, but without her there was no battlefield on which to stage the fight. Julie was the proverbial street I had to take it to in order to give it a context outside the abstract, to give theory a practical test. I have not begun rereading the journal, but I don't think it will belie my memory of some important points; e.g., I never actually imagined Julie as my girlfriend, and I never thought I was in love. Given the reins, The Fool could not have helped but whip those horses right over the cliff into the Grand Chasm of Humiliation.

I'm not looking forward to work tomorrow any more than I have been all month. I'm not thoroughly resigned to "faking it," am not sure how well I can do it on even a rudimentary level, whatever that would be. Matt says it's less an artifice than a bravado, which he defines simply as a refusal to be cowardly. With that in mind, I may pull it off. Tuesday's avoidance did nothing to restore me to the good graces of my coworkers. It felt cowardly and should not be tolerated in the future.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

As Long as the Audition Is Closed (12/25/08 Thursday)

I was very down yesterday when Shawn called. My birthday had been disappointing, at least at work, where, I admit, I'd have liked more attention. But what had been around came back around, and I got what I deserved, I suppose, for being indifferent to everyone else's birthdays.

I probably hadn't talked to Shawn since last Christmas. She'd read my blog. I'd told Mom about the blog but suggested she not read it. She googled me and found it, but adhered to my edict (I think), instead urging Shawn to read it. Mom was worried about me; it's why I took so long to tell her anything about all this. Shawn understands what I've been going through and offered insights (many of which I'd already offered myself but couldn't quite process), essentially validating much of my surmise. What Chris did he very likely did for attention. Julie had never given him that, and he had just the thing (my blog) with which to get it. My outcasting was a natural consequence, as the vindictive rallied 'round the "victor." But it's important I don't retreat into sullenness and indignance or act the kicked dog, or I'll be treated as the aloof, self-pitying outsider I seem to be. "Fake it till you make it," Shawn said, a tactic I've been ill to use, but would obviously get me closer to closure and conciliation than the way I've been going about it. I was so close to feeling a part of things at work--accepted--that this blow dropped me below ground level, and I've been petulantly reluctant to climb out of the hole to start the climb again. But this is my chance to be a bigger person, to stop whining about the injustice, turn that immovable cheek. This is not a wall in front of me but a speed bump.

Kevyn arrived near the end of my talk with Shawn. Along with a care package of teas, coffee and a double-casked Balvenie, she brought her own brand of advice. I hadn't told her of the blog exposure, and I did then. As had Shawn, Kevyn understood, having, of course, grown up in the same emotionally barren household. Kevyn has experienced the backbiting immaturity of office politics, and her reactions have cost her more than one job. But the most recent incident raised her consciousness above those reactions. She realized how much wiser and more mature she had become since she first allowed someone to push the emotional buttons to which she'd been reacting for so long, and now was high time to put tha wisdom and maturity to work. Kevyn loves her job, as I do mine, and she was determined to not let the 27-year-old Kevyn pull the rug from under 51-year-old Kevyn. I have to do the same if I'm to grow from this and return to the fold. Who knows how old this Dion is that I've been allowing to rule my emotions. Perhaps that's been the whole Wise Man/Fool war. I have to grow up.

I have a lot of work to do, most dauntingly to reread the journal and pick out the delusions that propelled me through this, the truths I ignored in order to perpetuate the delusions, and the points of growth to nurture. I am willing psychologically and emotionally, but the intellect balks at the apparently necessary methodical approach because it goes against my preferred, organic approach, wherein I trust my unconscious mind to glean what my conscious mind needs. I am not my own best audience. There but for one reader, James (Hinckley), I've been let down by my audience--not feedback, no comments or advice. If I could play that role from another viewpoint than my own, I could teach myself something. Could I cultivate that role?

Sized Dork-and-a-Half (12/24/08 Wednesday)

Mom and Dad didn't call yesterday. Shawn left a message, and I talked to Kevyn. Colin sent an ecard. I went right to bed after tucking in the girls. Emma made me a German chocolate birthday cake. Keely gave me an echeverria, Claire gave me an Ugly Doll (Wage) keychain and lighthouse picture, and Emma gave me a pair of hand-massage balls. The cake had eight candles. They sang me Happy Birthday, and Emma said, "Make a wish!" "Peace" was the word that sprang to mind, but I pushed it aside and asked for my move to Tuckahoe to be granted. I blew out all the candles.

I've been writing my farewell email in my head for quite a while. I want to have it down on paper long before I need it. I have no intention of burning bridges with it, though I would hope to never have to set foot in there again. There are many people there I have worked with a long time and never did me any harm, many people I'm fond of, but too many of whom I'm not. I can't spin my way out of the reason I most need to leave, and it's become more obvious every day: I have to get away from Julie--Chris, too, but I've never needed to kid myself about that. It's become clear this week that I'm just another person there to her, and I can't accept that. I accept that she's not attracted to me, but not that she'd as soon not talk to me, and that attitude is obvious. I said not long ago that I'd always read her wrong, but I'd actually rarely read her wrong; otherwise, why all the agony over her apparent indifference? I simply didn't want to believe. This whole thing has been a great self-delusion. Maybe that's the real embarrassment I'm trying to get away from. This letter will not be delusory, to myself or others, and cannot be hurtful, either, not because no one deserves to be hurt, but because denial can simply spin it into sour grapes. I want to be frank without accusation. I think what I really need to do is write an email to the indifferent and gossips, another to Julie, and another to Chris. But if I have to stay....

As I was gearing up in the break room for the ride home last night, Chris, on his way out, stopped and said to me, "Dion, I know you hate me right now, but I hope you have a good time tonight for you birthday." I looked at him and said thanks without smiling. Before I fell asleep last night I decided I have to talk to Chris. He may not want to, fearing my wrath, but I want to clear the air, I want to like him again, I want answers, and I want him to think--out loud--about what he did. I trust him to see the wisdom of the encounter along with the inevitable discomfort. If I am to be stuck at Twin Hickory I can't hide or be resentful, and though I will never be to Julie what even my lowest hopes can no longer expect--someone she can easily kid with and talk to--perhaps Chris and I can recover what we once had. I do not want to fade into the woodwork. I do not want to be just another one of those creepy social misfits that just does his work and goes home, never touching anyone in any way but with their repulsion as a result. I wouldn't expect to be a great fit at Tuckahoe, but at least there's no one there whose presence engenders shame or resentment. That and the ease of the commute could be huge ameliorators.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cross, Nails, Hammer--Let's Do It! (12/23/08 Tuesday)

The book survived the throw. Same for the record cabinet. Nothing hurt. Too bad.

Woke up at four fifty years old. That was not the reason I was awake. That's just when I've been waking this month, to the intercranial music of impotent rage. Got the obligatory card at work with the obligatory inscriptions. I tossed it in the recycling. Then I changed the wallpaper on my computer to Patrick McGoohan as No. 6.

I've said I don't want to be a martyr, but I won't let this lie. How could I? Have I had closure or redress or so much as an acknowledgement that I've been wronged? But there I go again. Should I be other than angry and hurt? Not if I feel that. Not if someone can tell me why I shouldn't be. Swept under the rug. I think that's why humans invented rugs--to hide emotion, truth and the Right Thing. It's an awfully lumpy rug. What Pandora unleashed was a dripping faucet compared to the torrent unleashed by a tear in the Hiding Rug. Wouldn't I love to make that cut.

No, it can't just go away. Chris came in exclaiming, "It's Dion's birthday!" I didn't acknowledge him. And I won't before his conscience sweats enough to make him address me about.

On the signup sheet for tomorrow's breakfast, I wrote "Crow." Greta asked if it would be fresh or frozen. I told her, "Leftovers."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Finally, I Threw It (12/22/08 Monday)

The vestige of attraction is still attached. The things I used to do conscious of Julie's presence I still find myself doing, but without meaning they are little more than habits. I hate habits. I found myself, on the way in, hoping to be seen by Julie on Nuckols. It was a sarcastic hope. This vestige and its attendant habits are, likely, little more than that.


The second half of the day was nearly unbearable. People--the Whisperers--who never gave Julie the time of day before this all came down are suddenly her best friends, and Chris was sickeningly chummy. And by the way she played along, you'd think he'd saved her life. (I'm trying very hard not to throw this book across the room. I can hardly unclench my fists to write.) I'm not so jealous as angry. And hurt. I'm nothing--nothing to Julie, nothing to Chris, nothing to anyone there anymore. I used to have friends, and I thought Chris was one of them. I will NEVER understand why he did what he did. And all the rationale I get from anybody is, "Wouldn't you want to know if someone was writing about you?"! Does anyone have a fucking BRAIN?! (Don't throw the book. Unclench your fists.) Why do I have to have one? Why do I allow myself to talk myself out this madness called conformity? Why can't I accept the idiocy that has shunned me so that I might be one of them? I hate thinking. I hate feeling.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Is That How I Lost All That Weight? (12/21/08 Sunday)

Last week I cancelled the eharmony subscription. It can't happen that way, and I always knew that, but desperation is a fool. Why should I be more desperate than I've ever been? I've been lonely my entire life, and lonely is lonely--lonely at ten is lonely at fifty. The time lost pursuing Julie factors in, but that can't be recovered, and I'm not eager, anyway, to leave my self behind in another pursuit. I need to recover whatever else I've lost this year besides time. I'm not ready. And I knew, seven months ago today, that pursuit was a bright, ironic hell that I couldn't possibly emerge from without burns and sun-spotted vision. But there was the challenge. I took it on, it beat me up. I can't take it on again. I risked humiliation because I thought I had a chance and thought I had some control over the situation, but I never had any of that and never will. It's just not up to me. That ironic god can play its stupid pranks on me, but the last time it yanked my pants down I stepped out of them and left them in a heap. What dignity I have left is all mine, and I'm in no hurry to dissipate it in another fruitless effort. I have a life to live, alone or otherwise. If love wants to come along it knows where to find me--not that I'll summarily let it in. No game, my rules.

Of course, now there is nothing to look forward to at work. Though the furor has died down and the gossip-mongers are no doubt on to the next humiliation, I was not given a viable option to move on. It won't end for me before I'm out of there for good. At Hinckley's going-away Friday I gave Chris the cold shoulder, and Hinckley wasn't thrilled to see him, either. But Hinckley doesn't have to deal with him anymore. I don't want to be a petty jerk, but am I supposed to just let it go?

No, let me just blog my anger and frustration until a "friend" runs to Chris to try to protect him from me! Like I can even be a jerk relative to Chris' action against me. By the standard he's set, I could never be a jerk by simply ignoring him. I don't think I could be a jerk short of blowing up his car. If I have a cheek to turn it's not moving. Maybe one day I'll find the silver lining in this cloud he's drawn over my life, but until then I'm going to carve out a pound of his emotional flesh. That just might replace what he's ripped from me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Journal Is Lennon, the Blog is McCartney (12/20/08 Saturday)

With now having to compromise my candor on the blog, and seeing no reason to do so in my journal, I will have to split the two up. Ironically (of course!), it's a matter of integrity: I have to say what I feel and think as honestly as I can express my emotions and thoughts. Unfortunately, in only one of the two media (if they are, indeed, separate media) am I free to do that without fear of its use in a petty, vindictive manner against me or anyone I mention. Many things I didn't write in the journal becasue I was committed to post them publicly, and that was a disservice to myself, at least. I will reclaim my journal's candor and in the blog cultivate the fine art of insinuation. I will always be honest, but only in my handwriting will there be full disclosure. In the blog, italic paragraphs will denote writing not in the journal. I have no more fear of gossip--the damage has been done--but I won't allow anyone I care about to be dragged about, or anyone I despise to find cause for libel. I have withheld mention of Julie to a stifling degree, but no more--in my journal. That should satisfy Chris, future totalibrarian. Oh, have I crossed the line already? I guess I just haven't gotten that "fine art" down just yet.

I asked Tammy a last week if a trade could be orchestrated with Tuckahoe, sending me over there for someone who would like to work at Twin Hickory. I just am not comfortable and may never be, given what I know about certain people there and what they think of me. The move would give me a chance to live a mile from work and never have to rely on even my bike, much less someone else's car. But it's doubtful anything's been done, or will be for at least two weeks, as that's how long Tammy will be out, and I don't think she ever spoke personally to Ahmed about my request. Besides Stacey and Hinckley, Bethany and Angie know my intent, though I didn't tell Bethany any more than that I was "no longer comfortable" at Twin Hickory. Jeff, of all people, asked me if I was leaving. "Chris told me a couple months ago you were trying to get transferred," he said. I didn't answer him, not knowing how without fostering further inquisition, and just walked away. I don't care who knows I want to leave--better they know now and hear the truth from me than get it shredded/reconstituted from the rumor mill--but I'd rather expend my energy promoting the truth than quashing the lies--that's the second bird dead on that stone's throw.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Or Smart, Handsome, Witty, Muscular, Sane...? (12/18/08/ Thursday)

As the work day looms my gorge rises, my shoulder tightens. I don't know how to deal with this, given that pretense of any sort is an unattractive option. I don't want to further poison the workplace with my attitude, and to alienate myself with aloofness won't help that cause. I will make no attempt to fit in--that's never worked without a loss of identity--but I would like to be accepted as I am, on my own terms--not exactly how it works in a workplace. And, of course, that's not up to me, so it won't happen. A few people accept me on my terms, but others--including at least two important "others"--have not and, I dare say, will not. that's plenty enough poison to make a work environment toxic. The only thing to look forward to today is the possibility that Tammy's talked to Ahmed about my proposal, and that something good might come of it. If she has and it won't, I will remain in my hell to endure as best I can until an opportunity arises.


Tammy has, sort of, started things rolling: She's told Hillary but doesn't know if Hillary's told Ahmed. Who knows how long this will take. In the meantime, I've just about given up trying to be a model, or even friendly, coworker. Without an organic understanding of what I need to do besides pretend, I've decided, for better or worse, to just stay in my bunker. I should never have poked my head up out of there in the first place, but raised my helmet on a stick to take the enemy fire. At least then I'd have the lie of the land and could have planned accordingly. Julie might be affected, but I doubt it and don't care. She never wanted my attention, so this should be preferable to the stupid questions and the embarrassments. Besides, caring only makes it harder, and since I've read everything else about her wrong, what good is there in speculating? (My shoulder tightens.) I'll get over this, but I'm not confident it will be in a mature and healthy way. But who's ever accused me of being mature?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Through Shit-Smeared Glasses (12/17/08 Wednesday)

What will I see now when I see Julie? I'll see the embodiment of my embarrassment and the object of my delusion. The shame of my immaturity and the disappointment in what Julie turned out to be. A beautiful woman and a long road on which to get away from her. The vestige of attraction will dangle like an obsolete digit. I can cut it off by pretending to dislike her and shunning her, but that's petty and unfair. Atrophy is slow and ugly, though. I want it off. Nothing is going to happen--nothing for the scandalmongers to sink their fangs into, anyway. I have to take the pretense in the other direction. You already know how much I hate that prospect. But there will be no "fun" with pictures--they've all been thrown away and the disc erased, all without ceremony, hesitation or regret. There will be no fun with anything, though if I were allowed to joke with Julie about it, I would. That would certainly minimize the hurt and help me not take it so seriously, because it's not the rejection that's serious. But that's not all that's between us now, and I can't make up for the rest of it. In every practical sense, I'm over Julie. I'm just not over the attraction, and there was never anything practical about that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dear Santa (12/16/08 Wednesday)

Overheard a bit of conversation: One woman asked another about a particular relationship. The other said, "I know he's attracted to me, but I'm not really attracted to him. I wish I was. He's a really nice guy. Maybe if I hang out with him more, he'll grow on me." There's hope for one guy out there, anyway. Should I tell him? Isn't it his right to know someone's talking about him?

For many years it was my policy to not make friends at work. Hindsight wishes I'd stuck to it. It's felt good having someone to talk to at work, but it hasn't paid. Who can one trust? to not talk to others? to not leave? Chris talked, and Hinckley's leaving. Stacey is yet conspicuously silent regarding my recent travails. She doesn't know how much she's saying anyway. She knows what Chris did, and she knows how I feel about it, but she doesn't want to lose any of the friends she's made at work. She hasn't lost me, just some of my respect. She'll work harder not to lose Chris than to keep me. Has this cost her Julie or Jennifer? If it has, she can ask Chris to pay up. After Hinckley leaves this week I'll be on my own there. I'd rather be on my own somewhere else. I don't expect what I've asked of Tammy to come to pass; it's a lot to ask; but I hope I have an idea when I get back to work Thursday which way the ball is rolling.

I won't play the martyr. What, after all, is the saintly cause? There may be something noble in my indignation, and certainly ignominy is ill-deserved, but I do have something to answer for, if only to myself. This was never anyone else's business, but I couldn't keep it to myself, and my exhibitionistic attitude drew down my defenses and better judgement of who I could trust. Was it the best way I could have pushed the envelope? What was I actually pushing? What was the challenge I was trying to meet? Resolution. I needed to hear the truth from Julie. She finally said, "I don't feel the same way about you." To have said that in Stir Crazy, instead of leaving the door open to hope by sparing my feelings, would have gone a long way toward obviating this ugly conclusion. Expressing her fear then, as she finally did last week, of all this exploding down the road, would have defused the bomb. I don't take hints. Tell me the truth. Yes, I'm different. I'm not every other guy. I'm only hurt that she couldn't tell. The truth was all I really wanted.

The Flag, a Sky-Blue Field with a Centre Charge of a Silver Book Under Crossed Pens (12/15/08 Monday)

It's a relief to be over Julie. The precise point at which it happened was at the latest coffee shop encounter, when she said she hadn't read much of the blog but had read "enough" to find me obsessive. Yes, she was one of those readers. Right then, the scales that had clung so tenaciously to my eyes finally dropped off, the mystery of Julie was not so much solved as dissolved, as a cloud--just a wisp of my imagination--the subtlety, the depth now sharply outlined and easily plumbed: challenge over. No challenge = no fun = no attraction. But I'm being a bit too easily petty. I have not plumbed Julie's depths, and I don't pretend to even have scratched the surface, but I've scratched enough to know there's no value in digging further.

I reread a few weeks back and couldn't find this obsessive monster. It's one thing being over Julie, another to live with an unfair and derogatory label. I wake with a heart racing with anger. The chip on my shoulder grows heavier daily. I've lost a lot of weight I could ill afford to lose. I've been constantly hungry but not eager to eat. Finally, this week, I had a hamburger, twice, after several months without read meat. I'm still hungry, alway hungry.

It's time to move on, and I've set the ball rolling--and this time it's not a downhill snowball. Nor is it a Sisyphean rock. Shame I can't talk about it yet, given the gossip's disregard for propriety. Perhaps you can ask Tammy out to lunch, pump her as you did Julie last Wednesday.) Ask me, and I'll tell you--or you can just make something up; it will be a better story. Do the same with the three days I've taken off. Forget that I planned this a month ago. As a mental health break it's a week late but still welcome. Call it what you want. I know the truth.

I make a conspicuous point of still writing at work. It's important to show I'm not cowed. Even if I don't write in it I keep it before me, open, on the table before me at lunch in the breakroom. It is a symbol now.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Trade You for My Privacy Back (12/14/08 Sunday)

Or maybe you're not reading it. Between the exposure to Julie and my beration of the readership, the alienation could be complete. I abhor writing about writing, but I have some kinks to work out if I'm to find direction for the continuation of this project, and I have to do it out loud. I've always despised pandering to an audience, as well, but I found I needed one to believe I wasn't talking to myself. But my audience was imaginary. the chance of an unadvertised blog being stumbled upon was infinitesimal, I thought, so I could safely pretend someone was reading it and I could construct that reader from my own standards: intelligent, thoughtful, sensitive, insightful. Then I found that I had a quite real readership, at least some of which had none of those ideal qualities. What better should I have expected from an internet culture? But I was harsh in my criticism, at least to those readers who might fulfill my standards. An exhibitionist needs his voyeurs, after all, and bloggers are both. I am not a blogger--I continue to maintain that--but I am a writer, and I need readers. That's a difficult admission, and now that it's said I hope I can forget about who that readership might be. The writing is still about me. It's not up to me to entertain anyone with this. You want to be pandered to, go just about anywhere else.

A few days ago, I checked the only statistic concerning the blog that I know is available to me, the profile views. I hadn't looked at it at least since August. Then it was in the low teens, I think. This time it was 117. I checked yesterday, and it had five more (excluding mine). How many are reading? How many following? I thought of adding a widget for compiling followers, but I don't want to collect readers. I just want to know how many are reading. Why no comments, either? (I should ask that of Chris. Wouldn't that have been the easiest way to tell me what he thought? He had my permission to read it. What was he afraid of in telling me his judgement of me? What greater gain was there in telling Julie?) I imagine the average blog reader feels a duty to leave their scent marking--if they want to you to read their blog, and I made it pretty clear in my profile that I didn't care about their blogs. That's not likely to change; I don't write because there's an audience; I write because I have something to say.

What I have to say now, I'm not sure, and I need a catalyst. Consider that Julie was only an infatuation, and it might seem easy to find the next springboard--into what, though? i wonder with a smirk. Where's the next humiliation to strive for? Because, that's pretty much what I do: push a challenge till it's met or it vanquishes me ignominiously: my life. Maybe one day, when my pride has been entirely erased by the multitude of humiliating defeats, my efforts will be ennobled by a success I can allow myself to have and savor. I say "catalyst" now, when I used to say "inspiration." That's the difference now, isn't it? What is that difference? Depersonalization and abstraction. I don't need another infatuation, or even an object. Do I need anything besides something to say? Catalyst found.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A God for the Rest of Us (12/12/08 Friday)

I think of how this writing project was not allowed to come to what I considered an organic conclusion, wherein my gradual personal growth weens me from the infatuation, and I realize how little control I ever had over it. I thought and thought, then did stupid things; and others who did not thinking at all did the stupidest things. There is no defense. Every day, I believe less in any kind of personal control over my life. I told Julie Monday, "That's just the way things work for me." She politely tried to pooh-pooh my attitude with, "Dion, don't say that," but I wiped a backhand in front of my face as it to erase my statement, then said, "If there's a god, he's a bitter, spiteful god." That got a laugh, but I don't know what kind--doesn't matter. Now I think that's about what I've been dealing with ever since I became cognizant of the machinations of irony in my life: Not a predeterminant or even a guide, but an omniscient reactor; not a force that will take one by the hand or so much as offer advice, but one that lies in wait for one's earnest effort, upon which it effects its own perverse resolution. That is my god. And, fittingly, now that I've come to this belief, it becomes self-fulfilling--like any deity: Wind him up, let him go! In my ironic way, I have become "religious." (I grin.) I have my meaning of life, and it's worthless.

The best I can do is play its game, feed it with my intentions, hopes, and needs, then see what comes out its other end. I can neither embrace it nor resist it; by its nature it is impervious to conscious force. It needs no faith; I didn't create it; it is not God. I can't anticipate its denouements--I will be pantsed. That's just the way it works. I suppose all I can do is take its pronouncements with humor--a tall order so far.

But what of the ending? Are we there yet? Not by a long shot. Hinckley asked, what now? about the blog. "Do you know what form the blog will take?" "I don't know. Maybe when my indignation fades, I'll be able to figure it out." "That could be a while." Well, it's been a short while, my indignation has faded, slighty, but I have figured it out. You're reading it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

But Take the Hands First (12/11/08 Thursday)

There are a lot of things I may never understand about all this. It all starts with, What did I do wrong? This is not an indignant rhetorical question. I've asked it enough times aloud to know that even the people who have judged me can't answer it. What is this judgement? and why has it been so roundly accepted? Is this what people ther have always thought of me? What makes me reasonably judged to be dangerous? Did anyone who read the blog not feel this way? Am I really alone in this? or are the sympathetic afraid to show themselves and therefore admit they'd been reading the blog? (I used the word "mortified" several times with Julie the other night in reference to what people might know about me from their reading of the blog, but I don't really feel that anymore. It just doesn't matter.) Can they tell me what I did wrong? It would be nice to believe that someone besides Hinckley had read with any understanding, but a lot of things would be nice. It wasn't understood. Once a judgement is made there is no room for understanding.

The reason I may never understand is that there is no rationality. There is no Good Reason. Has anyone thought? I'm down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass at the same time. The prevailing logic is none at all, and the norm is insanity. Off with my head! At least then I can be as clueless as everyone else.

Chris said I was going over the edge, that I couln't write about everything she did and wore--I stopped him there, challenging him to find that in the blog. For god's sake, I haven't so much as looked up her library record, something many another coworker has no conscience against doing. I don't know and never cared where she lives. I wouldn't know her age if Stacey hadn't told me. Where is this edge? He said I can write what I want in a journal, but I can't let just anyone read it. Figure that one out. I'm not yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. Can I tell anyone I want? Do my rights only extend as far as not leaving a paper trail? Is that why the gossipers have been immune? Or is the determination of rights based on who's being talked about? Talk about Dion all you want, but talk about Julie and you've crossed the line!

A couple weeks ago, I pondered aloud to Stacey, "I wonder if Chris ever read my blog." She said he "probably doesn't have time." I said, "I figured either that was the case, or he has read it and thinks I'm a freak." Well, the truth is out. I forgive Chris breaking my trust--I have to, because Gay Lynn forgave me the same mistake--but that's all that's forgiven, and likely ever will be. I can't get back what he's taken; I can't collect all the pieces scattered carelessly about the library. the best I can hope (hope!) is that they will eventually be ground stainlessly into the carpet.

The Pod Mentality (12/10/08 Wednesday)

It was Chris. He told Julie. He'd been reading the blog and thought I was a threat to Julie. He heard all the gossip, too, but apparently didn't feel it was a threat to me. He came to me yesterday because "it" was bothering him. He told me I couldn't write whatever I wanted--this from a future librarian! Chris, whom I never judged for his adultery, judging me for expressing myself! telling me Stacey and Hinckley were doing me a disservice as friends. Fine service you did me, Chris. Fine, stupid, unsophisticated readership I've got--read just enough to judge me, not enough to understand me. "He's good," someone said about me (to someone else) about my writring. "He should write."

Hypocritical voyeurs, all of you. Cultural leeches. Do you require someone else's blood coursing through you to give you life? Fat enough now? "Wouldn't you want to know if someone were writing about you?" (subjunctive mine) I've been asked repeatedly. Only out of curiousity and vanity; and I certainly would not be alarmed if it were someone I knew writing it. What do you think I am? Of course I'm obsessive. So are you, pretending the things you arrange are putting your life in order. All the presidents' heads are facing the same way in the cash register, so life is perfect. The books on the shelf are all exquisitely aligned, so so are the stars. Your house is immaculate, so your parents love you. I'm not pretending: My obsession is my emotional development, my growth as a human being. I don't fill that hole with books, TV, internet, drink, food, classes, pets. I fill it with earnest thought about what is important, the essence of the meaning of my life. I come to truths I don't want to see and struggle to accept them. I fail, time and again, but I don't deny the truths, painful as they are; no amount of cultural cotton candy is going to obscure them. What are the truths you avoid, that you don't even look for, that you refuse to recognize when they come to you unbidden? What the hell do you know about yourself that places you on The Mount? Just another of the daily lies you live by.

I am the subject, Julie was the object. (Note the verb tenses. It will be the last time I deign to explain myself to the lower rung of "intelligence.") This is about me; Julie was the catalyst. If you knew how to read you'd not only know that but you'd know I was moving away from that agent.

Tell me what it's like to live only vicariously, to despise your own life so much you have to seek out or make other lives more pathetic in order to feel some worth, to have no concept of worth beyond what is offered for you purchase. No, wait--I already know, and I've long since grown out of it. Not that it's paid (speaking of worth); the idiot's irrational, immature and inconsiderate behavior always trumps the intelligent, rational, and mature--simply overwhelms it as a mob, tramples it, ensures the endurance of its own race. It's just like sleep, I hear. I wouldn't know; I keep my eyes open.

What's One More? (12/08/08/ Monday)

In deference to Julie, because it would have been posted on the blog, I decided not to post her invitation to meet. I didn't want the whispers. As yet, I can't recount the meeting--probably never will. At best, I can say that I am depressed and sobered and left with a lot to work through. With any luck, I'll be able to keep Julie out of it. My deepest hurt is to have made her uncomfortable and distrustful of her actions toward me (lest she give me the wrong idea). I have to discover how I did that, and why. I have a lot of shame to work past, but how do I stop punishing myself for it and get on with the recovery? I joked once about this being a twelve-step program, but maybe I'm not far off. I'm sure the answers are in the journal, but I don't know if I can read it again.

The first thing I know is that I can't carry this to work; I can't wear this mission on my sleeve. Things will be as normal as I can make them seem, until they really are. It will be an immense strain, hiding my self behind smiles and pleasantries, but it will be an artifice much more productive than the last. But there's another mine field: Dedicating this effort to Julie's comfort, I'm objectifying he again. Oh, I can't talk about this anymore tonight. I just can't make sense to myself, and that means I'm telling myself lies.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stop Me! (12/07/08 Sunday)

I never got to normal with Julie, never got to be myself around her, and now it's impossible. And with Hinckley leaving soon, I'll be virtually friendless at work once again. Stacey is a friend in her way, but she's young and can't really empathize--sympathize yes, but not empathize. She hasn't even offered an opinion, because of deference either to my feelings or to my "wisdom." Either way tastes like dishonesty. Cautious Mike might be supportive and closer to my age, but I know my actions and tactics have puzzled him at times. I'm sure it strains his vast diplomatic faculties not to call me a fool. I can talk freely with Tammy, but so can anyone. We have no special bond that would bring us together outside work to just hang out over a drink or a cup of coffee.

Once again, work becomes just work. Who's worth getting to know at work that will let me? Who would open up to me? Who would share more than facts and anecdotes? Who would come closer than arm's length? No one. That's why it's safe for people ill-attuned to and distrustful of their feelings to get along with people they don't actually care about. That's how they can without conscience ask someone how they are and hope they don't get an honest reply. Serial killers can be just as polite, and no more forthcomong with their feelings--until they kill you.

I've written the email. It was not difficult to write, though it lost about two-thirds its original bulk by completion. In the first draft I let the anger flow, but did not make a specific accusation. The second draft retained much of that, because I was concerned that she might refuse the invitation, at which point I would be left high and dry with my emotions, that she wouldn't know how much she's hurt me. Here's what I finally wrote:

I would like to talk to you about your disclosure to Julie of my blog. I would like you to tell me, in person, honestly, how you came to know about the blog, why you felt it necessary for Julie to know about it, and what you thought would be accomplished by the disclosure.

I have talked to Tammy about this, and she has offered her office and her presence to help facilitate this meeting. I would like to do this at our earliest mutual convenience. I want to resolve what's not already irreparable, regain some respect for you, and get back to work.
I couldn't keep out the hurt entirely. It just wouldn't leave; plus, it should appeal to both her conscience and her pride and impress upon her the importance of this matter to me.


What if I'd never been told? If someone who cares about me hadn't warned me, would I have been better off, blissfully ignorant? Questions Julie could ask herself, as well. How little the wiser either of us had to be! I was better off with the devil I already knew, and Julie could have (I hope) easily continued tolerating my attentions, which would have diminished to nothing eventually on their own. Funny, I was so close to that up to the time the fuss broke out that I had nearly convinced myself that it would run its course and disappear. Then, one indiscretion kicked again and again, until the sleeping lab became a snarling rottweiler.

Was there not a time when writing of unrequited affection was a noble art form? Now it's creepy and scary. I always thought I was living in the wrong time, where art is sequestered in it's playroom while the grownups do the important stuff like kill and destroy. Thank god I was found out--and just in time! Do you think it was wise to let me off without at least disabling my hands? They had to know I would write again. Think of the damage I could do, the feelings I might express!

There's no doubt of what Julie thinks of me now: I can't spin endearment from attempted censure--not unless I'm OBSESSED. But where is my shrine to her? or so much as a picture of her in my home? Julie's action my have been prompted by a visceral reaction, but we can't deny that emotion contains truth we can't come by rationally. The truth here is, "Dion?! Eughh!"


I logged onto the work email here, to invite Jennifer to talk, when I saw a message at the top of the list from Julie. There was no message line, and the preview pane took forever to load. It was sent at four-thirty Friday.

For another day, at least, I will hold off on sending Jennifer's invitation.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Team Pandora (12/06/08 Saturday)

Yes, I'm a sensitive person; that is, I'm aware of and attuned to the myriad stimuli life puts before me. It does not mean that I hurt when someone doesn't like my shoes or that I cry when someone isn't attracted to me. It does mean that I know when I'm patronized and condescended to. I'm not a raw nerve to be dulled with flattery. I'm not a house of cards afraid of a stir of air. "Sensitive" is not an adjective exclusive to the emotions. I'm a sensitive thinker and a sensitive seer, as well. Don't think that I don't see an evasion in words, eyes, or actions. I am also aware that others are sensitive in less subtle ways, are raw nerves or card houses, are threatened by candor and speechless eye contact. I am not fond of compromising for them. The compromise is not mine to make. Which is more valuable to comunication, candor or timidity? Which one needs to be compromised to effect effective communication? I will be the one to seek resolution because I'm the one that deserves it, because the the timid will not compromise their fear in order do the right thing.

But the damage is done, and I'll never know its extent. What I can't control I should let go, right? Should. When did I ever do what I should do? There's nothing to do, though, that I can see. Nothing to plan or stratgegize. It hardly even seems to make sense to talk to Julie, not just about this, but about anything. Where has my interest in her ever gotten me? Fascinating aned unique she may be, but.... I'm trying to not like her. It won't work. I'm angry at Jennifer and embarrassed. How I'll ever not be embarrassed, I don't know. I can't see a future without embarrassment. Strange, to be punished--for what? Julie's eyes looked almost black this week, especially when they pretended not to see me. I managed to contact them a couple times. I was looking for something, but I couldn't find purchase. You know, if she could just face me and tell me how this has made her feel, I could get on about life. Woudn't it help her, too? That's probably for how long I'll be embarrassed--until she talks to me about it. Forever. I'll get some sort of closure on the matter from Jennifer, but Jennifer opened a box only Julie can close. And she won't--I'm sure of that. How can I feel so bad and not have done anything wrong? That's what silence does: creates doubt.

Give Me the Meat, Instead (12/05/08 Friday)

Just a miserable day at work after two hours of sleep. Never spoke to Julie, and she only spoke to me to tell me the situation at backup, from which I was relieving her. Two cups of mate, one of green tea, and a tall, black Starbucks did a poor job of propping me up. Though it probably means nothing to Julie, I felt ashamed of my obvious avoidance of her. I'm still mortified to think of what she might have read. There is nothing in my words to be ashamed of, but they were never meant for her to read, and I performed the verbal equivalent of a Full Monty in front of anyone I didn't invite to read it. What she could know about me now nearly makes me physically sick. Yet, another reason I pulled the restrictions is to allow her to read it if she could possibly stomach any more of it. It may be difficult not to see her in the audience, but I need to block her and the rest of them out of my mind if I'm to maintain my candor. I'm torn between respect for Julie and my freedom of expression. But who's privacy was invaded here? Becky said it was fair for Julie to know about the blog because it was about her. I countered that, on the contrary, it was about me. She also considered the presence of Julie's voice to be grounds to involve her. I said nothing then, but now say, It was my conversation, as well, not a cup to the wall, and I reported it as best I could recall it. This blog is mine. I take full responsibility for what I say, and I try to be as fair as one perspective can be. I am not malicious, but I will say things from pain that I will regret later. Anyone can comment, but no one can ask me not to write. I have always wanted other perspectives on this. You know the perspective I want most, though.

Yet how soon will all that be moot? How long before that blind, cretinous beast, Attraction, loses its grip? I heard a few of the crew, all women, swapping stories of the intrepid fools who dared to ask them out and how they beat them off. Must be nice, I thought, to wield such power. "Nice" guys, all, I bet. Oh, no--no bitterness here! Hearing stuff like that makes dating, for men, seem an exercise in humiliation. When does a woman deign to give a man her attentions? I'll bet that even women as shy as myself will still wait for the perfectly confident man to come along and not empathize with the guy just as awkward as herself (because she doesn't like herself). And she can get that guy. I will not get that woman. Trying to predict the irony, I wonder what I will get, and how, but I can't recall what I've asked for or how I want to get it. Like I wanted to get Julie perhaps. How was that? I don't know; I wanted to win her in so many different ways that either the woman I do finally (and I mean finally) get will somehow come at me from every which way or just the one I considered the least likely. Whatever way that will be, I will be pantsed by irony.

I haven't forgotten about Jennifer, But I've cooled down to a more conciliatory temperature. I've decided to email her to invite her to talk. The tone must be serious but not frightening, compassionate but not yet forgiving, non-accusatory but not neutral. I want to convey that I was hurt and disappointed in her and would like to know why she did--or rather give her a chance to let me know what happened and how she came about the knowledge of my blog. I want to tell her that it hurts me to believe that she did what I suspect and that I would rather not believe it, but if it's true I'd like her to be honest with me. I don't know exactly what or how much I will say of the matter in the email, but I will be conciliatory. I may have an ax to grind but not a vendetta.

I had just begun to write this email, brain scorched with caffeine but still mostly cognitively inoperative, when Hinckley visited me on my second tour of backup. He whispered, "Angie sent me to give you this rather cryptic message: She told me to tell you 'not to worry'." That's all he knew, he said, except that in some form or another it came from Julie. My first interpretation was "no hard feelings," but he came back and told me, "off the record," what that meant. It was an irrelevant point, one that had Julie pursued would have brought trouble--from me--upon herself, and one with which she would have gotten no help from management, anyway. Nothing I didn't know, already. I told Hinckley I could have done without the elaboration. I'd felt good about "not to worry," but the next statement removed any trace of worth or resolution from it. I'd like to know in what form this conversation between Angie and Julie took. Who started it, and was it meant to convey information to me. Unless Julie's been reading the blog since this flap arose, she doesn't know that Angie is sympathetic to me. If she does know, then she needs to talk to me, not throw me a bone I'd long ago finished chewing.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bottomless Just Might Be Deep Enough (12/04/08 Thursday)

The ironies pile onto ironies, grow from them like crystals, until the source is buried deep inside, inextricable. I always get what I ask for, but boy do I get it. I get pantsed every time. I will never see it coming, and a belt is no defense. Who do I pray to to stop this farce? (And what irony have I put in motion with that statement?)

Before Julie, Jennifer was the last to know. Seems I've been entertaining half the crew for a couple of months or more, ever since, apparently, I left it on the history at the front desk. I hope it's been a good show, a rollicking joy ride. I'll bet you got a good laugh about "I don't mind as long as I don't know." I told Hinckley, "If nothing else, at least they know there's another writer in the house"--if only one that is "obsessed" and "scary," as I've heard yours truly called this week. Really heats up the ol' aortic cockles, don't it? Ah, my sweet, voyeuristic audience. You got the show in two media, didn't you?--live performance and reportage. Which have you enjoyed more?

But Jennifer is not off the hook. In fact, I've raised it higher off the ground; so she can try to squirm off, but she can either further impale herself or take the plunge. Sounds cruel, doesn't it? I'm not cruel, just angry. I don't want to hurt Jennifer, not even as much as she's hurt me. She did what she thought was best for Julie--didn't think hard enough, but had good intentions. Of course, what were her intentions in stealing my blog from over my shoulder? She didn't discover it two months ago or she would have told Julie then. But why did she tell her? Why did she feel Julie had to know? How much did she actually read? Did she not notice that I was hyper-aware of my own actions and state of mind, that I could never allow myself to hurt Julie? (That's the kind of reader that gets books banned.) No, she's still got her talking-to coming. I'm going to ask Tammy to facilitate, though. I told Tammy tonight that this talk had to happen. She suggested the third party and her office. I said, how about everyone, in the meeting room, obviate the gossip and stage-whispering? She was concerned about my being too aggressive. I am, too, frankly, because I want to be sure I say all my peace, and I don't want to reduce her to tears before I get an apology. I told Tammy, though, "I'll be the first one in tears," because I am still beyond belief that anyone could do what she did and think it was a good thing, that I was some dangerous stranger preying on the imagined affections of some defenseless little girl. Did she have to punish Stacey and Hinkley by their supportive association with me? Yes, they're hurt. Do they deserve to be? Do I deserve to be? I don't know how (or if) Julie is hurt, but I suspect she's mostly creeped out. I made some unfair conjectures, such as about compartmentalizing, in anger and frustration (with myself), but that was how I felt. Because I felt that way at that moment, was I a danger? If that's not a rhetorical question to you, then you aren't a very good reader, either.

Good luck convincing me I'm the bad guy. If I leave my bike unlocked, do I deserve to have it stolen? Is it a thief's right to steal? I removed the permissions on the blog after only a day because I decided not to be cowed by thugs into barring my windows and bolting my doors. I've already been stripped bare; what more can be taken from me?

Can I say I'm over Julie? Will you believe me this time? "Obsessed" is not term of endearment, not even to a "scary" guy like. Hey, even creeps have dignity--if not a hole big enough to disappear into.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What's a Pound of Flesh Going for These Days? (12/04/08 Thursday)

Anger has worn down my indignation to a raw nerve. I'm very hurt that someone would invade my privacy, especially in such a public manner. And one of the last people in our group I would have suspected is at the top of the list of people left to blame. There are only two people who haven't yet been absolved, either by interrogation or obvious nonengagement in the affair--Megan and Jennifer. Of the two, it's easy to believe it's Megan, but I think she's only guilty of revelling in it. Jennifer, though, had opportunity, very specific opportunity: She sat at the computer next to me one day last week as I was transcribing onto the blog. I knew she was there, and I made no attempt to hide the blog title by scrolling down. Looks like she failed the test. But it's one thing reading my blog, which, without my permission I don't mind as long as I don't know (obviously), but it's another to broadcast it, especially to the person it could hurt the most, and leaving me with nowhere to hide, wearing only transparent emotion.

This woke me at three a.m. I pretended to try to get back to sleep for an hour before getting up to do this. I am still angry. I didn't get the fight I needed yesterday. I'm still after it, and I'm not waiting for it to come to me. I'll teach that class Julie attended Tuesday, though I might cross the line into aggressive. Hinckley told me Greta was told by Julie, so Greta will be my next target--if I don't get a desk hour with Jennifer first. I don't plan on being subtle or private. I'm going to extract my stolen privacy in public, steal it from someone else. This may be a non-actionable issue to management, but it is very, very far from resolved.

Perhaps letting this lie would be the most dignified thing to do, and I would be acting vindictively to pursue it, but I won't do the noble thing this time. I won't just let guilty consciences stew. We all know justice is not passively meted out fairly but must be forcibly extracted from the status quo. Don't tell me that becasue no action was taken against me for expressing myself that I have been fairly treated. I can't have back what's been taken from me. Was that bit of me superfluous? an appendectomy? Not to those who took it. To them it was valuable--if only as entertainment--and will remain so. But they have no idea of the value it had to me and how their use of it has degraded it. Shrinkwrap the Hope diamond and hang it from a peg in the hardware store as a glass-cutting tool!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

And in This Corner, Weighing Nothing--Nobody! (12/03/08 Wednesday)

First chance this morning, I restricted permissions on the blog. Wish I'd thought of it yesterday afternoon. Emailed Matt at home and Hinckley at work to let them know they'd have to log in to read it. Asked Hinckley what it was like there. He said the atmosphere was taut and he was getting some hard looks, but scared them away with his own. He said Hillary came down to get Greta for a meeting but could be certain there was any connection. We exchanged a couple more emails, indignant anger escalating, before I came in. I was prepared for a fight--my adrenaline was through the roof when I got on the bike--but none materialized. I met Julie at the door, and she greeted me without chill. Hinckley greeted me with a fat envelope. Inside were printouts of county policy relevant to my situation. I felt like I was going into court.

Nobody in the workroom said hello to me before Hinckley himself very pointedly did so. I made eye contact with everyone that would look at me. Nothing happened. After all, what could they do, since this all began with an invasion of my privacy? I talked to Julie a couple more times, asked about her class and such. On the desk with Angie, I bluntly asked her if she knew what started this stuff. She said she overheard it and went to Hinckley. She was uncomfortable with the information and wanted him to give me a heads-up. She didn't look at the blog, and I thanked her for that.

It's lunch time now, and Julie's on the desk for her last hour. I have a post to publish. I can't believe Julie read the blog, by her demeanor, but I'd like to think that she has and understands. I should expect her take it like she's taken everything else I've dished out to her. The class she took yesterday was "Communicating Assertively."

The Fool, Winner By Knockout! (12/02/08 Tuesday)

Hinckley, empty-handed, looked lost when I encountered him in Children's on my way back for another load to shelve.

"What's up?" I felt I had to ask him.

"Oh." He sounded startled, though he'd seen me. "Nothing. At least I don't think so. There's a bad vibe back there."

Fifteen minutes later he confirmed it. We had a rare hour on the desk together this morning and talked mostly about what I'd been doing lately, passive-aggressively forcing the issue with the picture and possibly sparking a confrontation. He was cautiously supportive of my what-have-I-got-to-lose attitude. I told him I didn't really want a confrontation, because I'm not good with them, but if I'm headed for one I have to assert my reasoning for bringing it on. Now I think I've declared war without a weapon. Hinckley approached me in juvenile fiction. I had a half-dozen Cam Jansens in my right hand.

"I hate to say this," he whispered, "but that confrontation you were expecting might come sooner than later."

My heart leapt. "What!" barely still a whisper.

"There was a lot of low-level whispering back there involving Julie and a couple other people. They know about the blog."

"The blog! Oh, my god! Not the blog! That's the last thing I want! How do they know about the blog?"

"I don't know."

This was not a hammer. This was a wrecking ball! The blog! Hinckley expressed his reservations about telling me this at the moment I was wishing he hadn't. I asked him who he overheard, and he told me, I think with some reluctance. I speculated on the discovery of the blog, then dismissed it as irrelevant. I worked for a while longer after he left me, but couldn't concentrate. If there was any music to be faced just yet I wanted it over with. No amount of extra time was going to steel my nerves for it.

Julie was at the window. I emptied the cart back onto the main one. The 24/7 cranked up. Julie passed within a few feet of me to retrieve its offering. Though I expected nothing from her, I cringed. Shakily, I opened my desk drawer for a tea bag. Gay Lynn entered the workroom.

"Dion, may I see you in my office for a minute?"

This was worse.

She started by telling me how hurt she was by my breaking her trust. I looked, but there were no holes anywhere. She said she'd heard that the picture was being "seen in several different places." I bristled at the speed and scope of gossip and rapidly protesteth too much , but finally ended saying, "The picture is only one place, and that's on the front fender of my bike."

"Well, please take it off." She sympathized with my feelings for Julie but was concerned with the repercussions of her own indiscretion in giving me the picture.

I apologized again, and again, to what seemed little effect on her disappointment in me, and rose to promptly do her bidding. I unceremoniously took an Exacto to the tape and removed the picture without rancor and no small amount of shame.

There was an hour left of my day to consider what I'd done, what I'd allowed to happen. The more I thought the broader the implications seemed to stretch: My friends there are now co-conspirators, to start with. And though I am personally more mortified than I've ever been to know that uninvited people are all but reading me naked, I'm sick that Julie could be looking at herself through my pathetic eyes.

Oh, god, I didn't want this to happen! Or did I? I told Hinckley later, "I didn't get what I wanted, but I'm about to get what I asked for." And I did ask for it. Why? Why didn't I consider what would so obviously happen if I so broadly broadcast my feelings--especially at work? All this thinking, all this reasoning, to justify what? Hurting and embarrassing people I care about. All because I couldn't cope with my own feelings. I've often speculated on Julie's capacity for tolerance for my inept solicitude toward her; now I wonder about her capacity for forgiveness. But I don't want forgiveness. I can't believe I deserve it. Oh, what haveI done? Nothing left to lose? If only I'd more seriously asked myself what I had to gain. Dammit dammit dammit!

It will be difficult showing my face tomorrow, but I can't simply slink my way in. I am in no way ashamed of my blog or anything I've said in it. But how will I face Julie? She's bound to have at least sampled the blog. There's no way I can pretend otherwise. With everyone else, yeah, but not with Julie. Thank god it will be a short day with her, but it will still be the longest of my life. How could it be much better for Julie? If I thought my coffee shop declaration made things awkward between us (though I probably overstate that), this could be beyond the pale. (If only I could believe that I was self-flatteringly overstating that, as well.) As tolerant as she's been, she's certainly now entitled to tear me a new one. I've never stopped wanting to know how she feels--as opposed to thinks--and now is the best time yet to find out. I'm not prepared for what I might hear, because I don't have delusions that any of it will be good, but I'm prepared to listen; and, maybe, for once in my life, I can be sympathetic.

Now that the blog is exposed, my candor is compromised. I don't know the extent of its exposure, how many people at work will read it, but if I had wanted everyone there to read it, not only would I have invited them, but I would not have exposed myself so baldly. I wanted to express myself by the only means at my creative disposal, but not everyone would want to know me that well. When I subtitled the blog, I really didn't know what it meant. The second clause simply followed the first. Now I understand it: If my heart is on my sleeve, then my head will be on a stick--cause and effect. How unconsciously prescient. I knew all along, I just wasn't telling myself. I know myself better than I thought; I just don't let myself know it.

But, suddenly, I don't care what anyone thinks of me after reading the blog. It's me, and that's all it is. Who, besides Julie, has conscionable reason to confront me with anything they've read? For better or for worse, this is who I am. After reading this, could anyone say they know anyone else better (or want to)? My speculations on Julie's character will be misread by some as truth, but for all I know about her I don't know her at all. I told Hinckley on the desk today that before the Whole Foods lunch I hadn't truly appreciated Julie's uniqueness. As yet, I'm sure I still don't, fully, but I came away then with a much greater respect for it. What have I done with that respect?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"No, I Wouldn't!" (12/01/08 Monday)

Eventually, I found some normalcy today. Julie wasn't at work--at a class and then STEP training, I think. Stacey wasn't back from her trip, so I had to pedal in. I was anxious to have Julie see me on the road. When I didn't see her car at the Nuckols 295 exit, I prayed she hadn't beaten me to work. When I didn't see her car I rolled to the back door and parked, front fender turned outward. But even after I'd changed she wasn't there. I looked at the schedule: She wasn't there, either. That's when I grew sullen. That wore off in a couple hours, though, and I felt more relaxed than since the moment after Julie said, "Yes, I would!" There was no doubt of the cause. I began to know what it could be like without her there forever. And I'll have the first half of the day tomorrow without her. How much equilibrium can I restore before then? How much more of my self can I reclaim?

Thomas saw the picture on my fender. I gave him a wink and a grin when he said, "Who's that on your front fender?" If I wanted to keep it a secret, Thomas' knowing would be the last thing I'd want, but I couldn't be gladder he made the discovery. He can tell whoever he wants, Julie included. I won't give him express permission, but he certainly has my blessing. I'd like to pretend I don't know she knows. I'm sure Thomas wasn't the only one who saw that picture today. Ahmed told me my helmet and gloves were on the ground, and when I went out there to pick them up I found my bike moved so that the front wheel was only inches from the door, under the tag sensor. Jeez, I was hoping to be subtler that that. Of course, I don't know if Julie's seen the picture. I'm a little worried that if she finds out about it from someone else that it might embarrass her. I don't want that. (This, after I just said I didn't care if Thomas told her!) I also don't want Gay Lynn to regret giving it to me.

Watched Charlie Chaplin's The Circus with the kids yesterday. How often I've fantasized about being Julie's hero! or at least a hero in her witness. But would I be man enough to give her to the other guy?