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.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Road (3/13/09 Friday)

There has been no rational resolution to all this, but perhaps it's past rationale and has decided for itself that it's over. The inadequacy of that statement is an ironic summation of itself: It doesn't need saying. I am over Julie, just not the feelings for her. I still want her attention but make less effort every day to get it. I like to see her; I like to look at her, but I won't interrupt my work to do so or position my task to put her in my sights. It's mostly a conscious effort--not to avoid her, but to remember why I'm really at work--but it becomes easier, more natural. I suppose I'm faking it, but I guess I'm making it, too. I am still envious of the people she talks to, and I still wish she held enough interest in me to initiate conversation, but I am beginning to form useful, rational mantras to chant to myself when the feelings arise that help calm me and subdue rising resentment. I don't say them with bitter resignation, either, but with as little attitude as possible. I seem to have a regular slot on the desk with Julie Thursday nights. I hope it stays. Tonight I asked after her mom, who has moved to a rehab center. I hoped, out of habit, to have her ask after me, but stated to myself that there was no reason she should. There was no anger, no feeling that she would or should talk to me, bu a realistic resignation based (finally!) on what I knew of her. There was simply no reason to resent her being who she was.

I will say this is the end of this journal, and saying it makes it so, because there's little else more pathetic than hanging on too long. Perhaps resolution has been reached, imperfectly and at least in spirit, without irony, or the expectation of it. I'm convinced resolutions yet to come will now come more easily. On that new road I've taken I'm no longer walking backward, but before each step is a bend around which I can't see. I'll just try to enjoy the scenery.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yeah, But Where's the Ball? (3/11/09 Wednesday)

Tammy wasn't in Monday till late, so I asked her yesterday if she knew Done had been removed from the roll. She sighed and said, "Yes. I guess I have to talk to you about it." The committee had told both Ahmed and Tammy, and Tammy half-expected Ahmed to bring it up to me Monday. Anyway, the story goes: Somebody on the committee clicked through to Book Monkey Says but didn't stop there; they even read the comments by a reader who simply calls herself "Girl." That's as far as Tammy got in the story before I all but screamed "What?!" Tammy felt I was "ganged up on," and I am reluctant to speak the words lest I rally behind them and a wall of righteous indignation. I'd rather laugh at the irony, but the best I can do is tighten my jaw and shake my head. Tammy said I could get back on the roll if I hid BMS from Book Monkey's profile, but that would defeat the purpose of Done being on the roll, so I must content myself with what success I mustered while it was visible (112 profile views and counting).

I took another step as well: Julie's blog is not on the roll, but she left it up on the computer at the front desk. I made Book Monkey a follower. there's nothing personal on her blog, and not something I'll continue to read. She can make the connection easily enough, but I don't care (of course, or I wouldn't have done it). I'm just having fun. she won't read BMS once she knows who Book Monnkey is. She can think as she likes from there. Perhaps this is no way to put her behind me, but I consider it a compromise to cold turkey. I have removed her picture my bike, and at night when I awake with anxiety and her face before me, I push the face aside and get back to sleep. Spring is coming fast, and I want to experience it; and I'm looking forward to a summer of own this year. It's been nearly ten months since I first put pen to paper about this. As well as I fabricated the inspiration for all this ink expenditure, I should as easily find real reason to write. There is no good logic in that statement, I'm aware, but it sounds good. I've already accepted that I don't need a reason to continue writing, just, perhaps, a reason to finish the blog.

I suppose I am a blogger now. It's the only community I feel a part of, accepted fully within, wherein I can speak and be heard and respected, and where the rules are not so rigid that I have to feel every act of natural individualism is a rebellion against the culture. Normally, given that freedom, I would rebel even against that, for no reason probably than to rebel. But if rebellion is to have meaning it must have a goal beyond its own preservation, as must the blog. Have I reached the goal?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Instead of Them Cutting Me (3/09/09 Monday)

Where am I? What has all this come to? It's so difficult to judge my progress that I don't feel far from just calling all this a failure. Certainly, it failed to gain Julie's affection. In that respect, it went on about sixty thousand words too long. I'm looking for positive, but I just can't find it. James, I guess--I gained James. But I didn't gain my self. I sublimated my personality to be someone I thought Julie would like. Where am I now? Where's the rest of me to hang on this skeleton? Was this all just an addiction? Is cold turkey the only way to put this behind me? It might be the only way my self-esteem will survive, but doesn't it denigrate, marginalize all this writing to just throw it aside? I expressed myself. Was I paying attention? It's the "investment" question again: Am I trying to make something back when I should be cutting my losses? If I'd answered that question honestly in regard to my pursuit of Julie, I wouldn't be asking it again in regard to anything else. But when have I ever cut my losses?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Where's My Irony Now? (3/08/09 Sunday)

Julie's mother had a severe stroke the previous weekend. I hadn't known when I asked her Wednesday if she'd been snowed in. She answered, "No, but I wish that was why I was out." I was puzzled, but slow to respond, and she was gone with a cart before I'd gathered my wits. Julie appeared very tired the next day. Angie told me about the stroke. The last hour Thursday I spent on the desk with Julie. I asked quietly after her mom. She was not reluctant to talk, though she must have by then answered the same questions several times. She looked at me as she did; her eyes were red-rimmed and moist; her voice didn't waver, but she sniffed lightly a few times. That hour humbled me, threw into relief my arrogance and petty meanness in judging her character. Julie had always been an object, not a person. Finally I felt the compassion for her for which I'd sought. It began the re-evaluation of this whole project and the consideration that it was over.

The blog I created to replace Book Monkey Says as the representative of the Web 2.0 exercise made the blog roll this week and was removed this week. I had not been forewarned or brought onto the carpet to have explained to me why this would be done. It was just taken off the roll. It was called Done and contained two posts and a total text of three words. The first post, "Week 2," said, "Done." The second, "Week 3,"about RSS feeds, read, "Read. Fed." When I discovered the blog removed I added "Up." Book Monkey is the author of Done, though not in persona. A click on his profile reveals his other blog. In the few days Done was on the roll Book Monkey received eighty-three views (now, two days later, ninety-five), no doubt nearly entirely from library personnel, as I have not claimed it online. Of course, I don't know how many or who clicked through to Book Monkey Says, but someone did, and many more than just the moralistic brown-noser who flagged it. How indignant can I be? Henrico County is not the forum for my agenda, and since talking to Julie about her mother I have not been exactly zealous to forward it or to have Julie read Book Monkey Says. She does not appear to have, but I can't be sure, and at this point would be embarrassed, if not ashamed, to find that she had.

A Bright, Ironic Hell is winding down. Perhaps my feelings for Julie aren't as moribund as I've recently stated, but they have changed beyond the scope of the blog. I don't know what, if anything, has been resolved. I loathe loose ends, but this is not a novel but a living..."living" what? (Something else to resolve?) There will be loose ends because only time will allow me space enough to see the seasons for the year, the transitions and growth. I have reread the blog to the point of meeting Jan (that being the "manuscript"). I tried to read it as an outsider, and I achieved that about as well as could be expected, so I got a broad view of intense doubt despite a sometimes razor-sharp clarity: A firm, intuitive grasp was often reasoned away from all believability, often becasue I simply didn't want to believe it. How many times I said she couldn't be interested in me is virtually uncountable, but I wanted to believe I was wrong, that Julie was somehow "playing" me, "compartmentalizing," instead of being indifferent to me. I couldn't accept the indifference. I pressed for a reaction, hoping/expecting it to be positive. Getting exactly the opposite reaction pressed me into a prideful corner, out of which I tried to fight with indignation. Now, here I am, with nothing I wanted, but perhaps everything I deserve. What that is, I might determine with another reading.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

So, What Will It No Longer Be--Bright, Ironic, or Hell? (3/07/09 Saturday)

I doubt that I ever really wanted to live in a bright, ironic hell, but it was easy to believe in. It was easy to create and perpetuate, too, especially as its foundation was subconscious. Conscious effort--what I "knew better"--seemed destined to subversion by an ingrained negativity: What I knew to be true and right was undermined by a history of poor results--an almost automatic self-fulfillment of a prophecy of doom. Well, a lot of things are easy to believe, and without proof of any of them being the right or wrong thing to believe, why not believe what you choose to believe, and choose to believe positively? Because I'm a skeptic, I suppose. But I don't have to be a cynic. Can I choose to be happy? and if I do does that make me happy? It can't be that easy. But why not? Why even reason it out?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Begending (3/05/09 Thursday)

I forgot to post yesterday's journal entry yesterday. I'm beginning to wonder how much writing is left to do on the blog. I wonder, too, if the blog itself is perpetuating my angst, if I'm reaching for agony to write about. What if I stopped? I can't stop writing, but what now am I writing about? I am a cynical person, but I don't want to be that way, and A Bright, Ironic Hell has been a long justification of my cynicism. That attitude won't change overnight, but it can't change if I continue to celebrate it. I am past the crossroads--I've already taken a turn--but I'm walking backwards, looking at it.

Travels In Nihilon (3/04/09 Wednesday)

Woke with a familiar headache and a stiff neck. The hip I couldn't sleep on was one I had to walk on all day yesterday. The main streets were cleared of snow then, and I was determined to pedal in so I'd be able to top anyone else's whining travails and because I didn't want my mode of travel to come up wanting in comparison. But the neighborhoods had been left to nature's devices and, therefore, me to my own. I trudged through the park in the granny gear, bouncing and crunching through refrozen bootprints, wincing at what sounded like my tires shredding, but when I emerged from the park's backside I was faced with an icy downhill and the choice of falling now or falling at speed. If I could keep my balance to the bottom--a very tense prospect--I still would be unable to stop, because even touching the brake would mean falling. But I was already starting downhill, so I touched the brakes and fell over. So, I have a road rash on my left hip and a slight lateral whiplash. I keep looking for the bruise on my hip, but I just don't bruise. I suppose in another fifteen years we'd be talking hip replacement.

Julie wasn't at work. I think she got snowed in. I could have found out from Judy, but I want to ask her myself. In order to finish off these moribund feelings for her I have to suck it up and be the person I should be with everyone else, all those other people I never had a crush on. Five days without her makes that perspective easy. I can't pretend her presence won't alter it, but I think it's important that I try. It's not just a pretense, but a sacrifice of pride, and why should I cling to that?

What does that make of The Admittance? Can I really be in love with Julie and still break away from the feelings I once had for her? I have to doubt I'm in love. Was The Admittance true then but no longer? Can it work like that? But as it seemed unquestionable upon its appearance, it seems as much so now. Should I just let it be?

I dreamt of Jan last night. It seemed we were in a small city (Winchester?). We met by chance, but soon after a friend of hers chanced upon her as well, and they sat at a table and chatted. I stood at a far end of the coffee shop waiting impatiently for her to come to me or at least beckon me, but finally left to explore. I fell in with a group of tourists, about six Italian men, speaking their native tongue, not noticing me. We passed many strange, modern shops. I did not get back to Jan, and she didn't find me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not Citric (3/2/09 Monday)

Snow replaced the rain yesterday afternoon, and now there are several inches of it this morning. I slept last night wihout setting the alarm, and no one's called me from work wondering where I am. I will have to trudge up to the store, but that should be the only venture I will have to undertake outdoors today. I'm grateful for another day off. My attitude toward Julie and the women of the workplace is nearly acid. If there's a question any longer of what Julie is a symbol of, the answer is the chip on my shoulder. She manifests what I've always resented about "dating"--the man's obligation to present himself for approval, the tacit implication there being that woman is the judge of man's worthiness, her standards being the only ones of value: Man is only worth what woman allows him. So my acceptance by a woman is contingent upon my conformance to her standards, my own standards being irrelevant. I refuse to play that game, and I refuse to stoop to tit-for-tat. I am an individual, not Men. Julie is Women, and that's not how I want to see her. I don't want to think at her, "If you never say yes, you deserve to be alone. What makes you think Prince Charming will come to you? How can you be sure you can recognize him? or that he exists? or that he could possibly find you?" but I do. Because I am bitter, and bitterness makes me feel like just another loser in a long line of them who brought her the wrong glass slipper. Should I pity her instead? Should I just not care? What double standard am I trotting out to judge her by?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

J for J (3/01/09 Sunday)

Unusually, for a Sunday, I showered when I got up. I probably wanted a few minutes to myself before facing the kids. I held off posting the last paragraph of yesterday's journal entry. I can't quite explain why (especially since the radio's on and the kids are talking to me). Simply (and beside the real reason), it wasn't a good paragraph, unfinished and digressive. But I couldn't finish it; the digression appropriated the promise of the paragraph, making it impossible to fulfill. It was the promise I made, though, to extact revenge or at least fight for my dignity at work that brought me up short of posting the paragraph. I suddenly felt that indignation again that I thought I'd reasoned away, and I was angry that I hadn't gotten past it yet--another failure of the mind to rationalize the emotions. And I knew, besides, that I couldn't make good on the threats without a serious and sudden improvement of my assertive communication abilities. Book Monkey, too, was on my mind when I woke up, as it was when I went to bed. That promise I will keep: Book Monkey will be known.

I have not heard from Jan, and the old fear creeps back: She's read BIH and thinks that she means little more to me than a distraction from Julie. Sometimes I wonder that myself, but there's much more to Jan that I like and appreciate than there ever was to Julie. I'm excited to know Jan, and eager to know her better. I do, indeed, want to replace Julie with her, but because she can be the friend Julie can't. Replacing a negative with a positive is a good thing, right? (It would be nice, too, to have someone to talk about, to gloat about at work.) If I take my worries out of paranoia mode I worry about her. She can't live long on her credit card without a job. I hope she's made inroads into alleviating that situation (and that it's happening in Richmond). What more can I do?