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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No, Not Okay (6/29/09 Monday)

This is one of those times when I just stare at the paper for twenty minutes or so, slack-jawed and barely breathing, before starting to write; when the entire first paragraph is temporization, a running start. I'm still running--where's the starting line? It's not a dearth but a surplus of thought that paralyzes the pen.

"I'm not going to try talking to you, anymore" was an interpretation of my note that came to me last night, and I decided I had to debunk that, first chance. Ten o'clock, Julie took over for me at the window, announcing so while turning her back on me to get something from the cabinet above her desk. I said, pointing to the cart of books, "These are check-condition." "Okay." "And there's probably quite a bit more in the bins." "Okay." "How was your ride back Friday?" i asked her back. "Okay." (What does that mean?) "Okay?" She finally turned but didn't look at me but with a brush of her eyes and a glancing, forced, tight-lipped smile. "Uhm-hm." Every aspect of her told me not only that she had no intention of telling me more but also, "Go away."
I did. What more could I say? What could I ever say to someone who didn't want to talk to me? The same hour Julie picked up a call. It was for Greta, who was not in the room. Julie left the window to find her. She did not ask me--the only other person in the workroom--to watch the window for her--a breach that she would not have dared to make in normal circumstances.

Again, I am on the edge of distress, yet no course of action presents itself to me. What happened? I can't be convinced that the note in itself had a strong bearing on her attitude. Distasteful as speculation is to me, it is all I have by way of an answer, gossamer as that might be. Her bike had been parked inside, where everyone gathers at the end of the workday to leave together. She may not have been the first to see that slip of paper taped around ther hand-grip, and was very likely not to have been at least annoyed, and given the pretense of work-place propriety she tries to maintain, that was probably a floor I laid bare as she stood upon it.

Is there really anything I can or should do? Is this sudden feeling of defiance I have justified? Is it defiance at all? Did I do something wrong? I mean, besides fall in love with someone who'd as soon have nothing to do with me. What have I done wrong in this whole year-long quagmire of misplaced feelings? But I repeat myself.

As I thrash in my cage, my blood pressure setting records for anything on the outside of a vacuum, I think of my only escape as writing. I think that I could be writing my nights away, putting my energy toward getting out of the library by means of my only obvious talent. Then I wonder what the hell I'm going to write, and I let go of the bars, lean my cheeks against them and stare, unseeing, at freedom. This--whatever this is--is all I seem to know. What is it worth?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Taciturn for the Worse (6/28/09 Sunday)

"Ugh! I can't talk to you!"

Julie rode her bike to work Friday, and I desperately wanted to talk to her about it. I couldn't muster a word till four o'clock, then Judy interrupted us. I left the note around the hand-grip of her bike.

All day--all week--my blood pressure was so high as to prompt people to ask after me, my face being deeply flushed. It's probably like that now as I only fitfully write. Maddox--the nicest guy in the world--showed concern Thursday, and I told him what had been bothering me, but without mentioning Julie by name. I said, "I'm having difficulty--" and choked up. I didn't let the tears come, but at lunch Friday I sought a place to cry, but--practical me--I didn't want to come back with red eyes, however better it might make me feel. Instead, I plotted on either begging off the rest of the day or taking off Monday. I didn't leave early, and I will be in Monday. At the edge of distress, knowing how desperately sad and regretful and self-hateful I would feel over the weekend if I didn't claw my way out of this lead shell of taciturnity, I asked Julie how her commute had been. Then Judy interrupted to ask Julie to go to the desk to cover a hole in the schedule. That had been my last chance. That's when I wrote the note.

I realize it could be interpreted variously, and I considered other words, but I stuck with how I felt. Julie will say nothing, I will say nothing. I'm not trying to start something. I'm not going to provoke her into giving me attention. This may be an intolerable situation for me, but it's not her problem at all--at least I don't want it to be.

[What I didn't post Thursday (written after I got home that night):
It's official: I am now the last person at work with whom Julie will have a conversation. She was talking with Scotia today. Don't I feel special now?]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Line, No Bait, No Catch (6/25/09 Thursday)

It's not yet ten-thirty in the morning, and I'm drinking whisky--not out of distress or despondence but just because I want to. I've had breakfast and coffee. I've showered (but not shaved) and tended vigorously to my increasingly complex hair regimen. Now it's time--a couple hours before work--for whisky. I've nearly finished my fourth bottle this year, three more than usual. My inclination to drink it has become almost an imperative in facing down That Which Need Not Be Named. As imperatives go, it is a savory pill to swallow. (I believe I'll swallow some more.)

I wonder if Mr. Gold--Mr. Gold of the mutual amorous hopes--would join me. It seems now I see him every day in the library, and every day I want to introduce myself as a member of a society of common interest. I would like to sit down with him, if not over whisky, at least coffee, and discuss the focal point of our hopes. I know he's been rebuffed, but how? How much has he spoken with Julie? and her with him? The looks he and I exchange I have yet to fully decipher. I know how I look at him--with knowing and curiosity--but does his look self-consciously reflect that? or does he see something of the same in me? What's to gain? Who cares? Mike says he's a retired journalist. Surely as such he would be interested in reading my riveting reportage on our favorite subject. Or perhaps I don't give Mr. Gold enough credit in being able to do what I have not; that is, give up the idea of Julie as a paramour. To give him that credit would discredit his commitment. Oh, no, Mr. Gold, you aren't going to marginalize Julie's worth and denigrate my commitment by just shrugging off her rejection! I won't let you. Aren't you hurt? Have you no pride? Do you really believe there are other fish in the sea? Sure there are--fine catchable fish--but don't you want the white whale? Come on, Ahab! you know Moby Dick's the only fish for you! Wouldn't you as soon die as give up? Hey! come back here! I've got a boat!

Perhaps I should stop drinking now, an hour later and closer to work. Perhaps I should take the bottle with me, in case Mr. Gold comes in.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sympathy Waltz (6/23/09 Tuesday)

I keep talking because hope doesn't die. Hope, the biggest, most ignorant fool of all. Hope doesn't make me any smarter, but it does make me happier. Reason may be the reason hope goes away. I can't stop reasoning, but maybe I can pause it when hope rings me.

Tuesday morning through lunch--Julie- and stress-free. After that it seemed impossible to avoid her, but I survived it much better than most days with My Mid-Life Crisis. At one o'clock we were at opposite ends of the workroom, she at the window, I at backup. But as we both had bookdrops to empty, we both had books to sort onto the carts on the battlefield between us. I took an assorted armful into no-man's land, scanning for the enemy, spotting her with juvenile fiction. I opted to unload my CD books onto the nearer cart, nearer aisle. I bent to put a Grisham on the bottom shelf. I rose as Julie rose from the other side. It was Groucho and Chico facing off in the mirror scene in Duck Soup. All that was missing was matching nightshirts and caps. We stared at each other a moment (how can eyes be navy blue?) before she said sharply, "Hello." I was the deer to her headlights. "Hello," I finally replied, surely without expression. We immediately turned from one another and headed back to our posts. There were no casualties, no victory claimed by either side.

The courier mail came, and Julie returned the favor of two weeks ago and helped me unpack it. It was a strange dance of reconnoitering side-long glances and intricate patterns of avoidance. Though I was becoming as hot as before, I also became increasingly amused at the care she was taking to avoid my personal space. We truly were dancing, with me leading. When the window called her away I missed her and wished her back. She didn't return, but at the end of the hour I was to replace her at the window. I marched up sheepishly and diffidently--from the same rostrum from which I declared to her "This cold-shoulder stuff has to stop," all I could do was stand there like a little boy with a message for his teacher. "Are you my replacement?" she said. I barely said, "Mm-hm," then, "Thank you for helping." "Sure." I don't know if she looked at me because I didn't at her.

I was caught away from the window once that hour when a car pulled up, and Julie answered the call. I let her finish it, and when she did she looked at me. I tried to thank her, but when she smiled my lips moved but no sound issued. Oh, hope! Hope saw that smile, such a one as I'm sure it would swear it had never seen. Pride saw it, too, but what it saw was sympathy. Sympathy was the music to our dance among the mail bins. Julie isn't indulging me. She cares. What it is she's caring about I don't know, and I'm not sure I want to know. She's thrown off the cold shoulder. Neither am I sure I want to know what hope I'm hoping. Hope certainly doesn't want to know.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hope Is Rope (6/22/09 Monday)

Julie has reverted to the cold shoulder. She can have it, because I've had it. It's not up to me anymore. I don't want things the way they were; I want them the way they can never be. How can I keep wanting that? The words are slow in coming because I don't want to repeat myself, and I don't think there's anything otherwise to say. The best I can do is pretend to care as little as she does. It is not all up to me, not if she cares. And if she doesn't, why should I try at all? That's where it stands as I prepare to shut up about all this. There will be no intervention or confrontation with her about this or anything else. I don't need to talk to someone who would rather not listen. But I've said nothing new, and if I'm giving up, why keep talking?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Not Even to Tell My Grandchildren (6/20/09 Saturday)

The absence of and physical distance from Julie has engendered a certain nostalgia this weekend. Every moment together is impossible, replete to bursting with the unsaid and unsayable--the very things I dwell on once given the breathing room. Again this week, we didn't speak (I think my last crack was fatal), and were only once forced into prolonged contact--ten minutes of packing mail that produce from each of us an utterance that was only half meant for ourselves. Inches away, she bent to pack a box. Her hair parted from her neck. I wanted to plant the lightest kiss on the exposed nape. But's that only how I think of that now. Then, that neck was a taunt, and those unsaid words roiled through my veins. But I don't know what those words were, so I can't regret not saying them. Somehow, the scene is touchingly humorous as I write. If only that attitude could fortify me against the dread that will begin tomorrow night; but it's the only such recent memory of Julie that doesn't browbeat me. I've been thinking of our last meeting, and the more I do the more I feel I had only been indulged. I was confessional and over-disclosive, and she was the mom trying to say the right thing to the sensitive kid. Nothing nostalgic there. I'm not sure I can get far enough away from that memory to find amusement in its recollection.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Can You Imagine All the Questions I'll Have at My End-Life Crisis? (6/17/09 Wednesday)

If there weren't Julie, would I be having a mid-life crisis? Was it just waiting for a Julie to project itself upon? Was it inevitable? Would it have taken another form? or latched itself upon some other object? I think it would have tried to attach itself to a great many objects, but only briefly to any one of them, the objects quickly proving to be without sufficient depth. I strongly considered a tattoo for my fiftieth, and I would love to shave my head and start what's left of my hair all over, but am averse to doing anything that says "Look at me!" (Though I suppose that eschewing haircuts altogether since the Train Wreck rather smacks of that, anyway.)

No, if there had to be an object for my mid-life crisis, it had to be Julie, who alone has been capable or sustaining my fascination. I've wondered many (usually bitter) times if she were worthy of my fascination, but did I pick her for the role? I've steadfastly maintained that it was not merely the convenience of her proximity and availability, but I have to admit that I've never convinced myself of that. How could I but to note that there have been and are eligible female co-workers who have held no sway over me whatsoever? Poor Julie--in the wrong place at the right time. She continues to fascinate me, to my own chagrin and frustration, and every day finds yet something else in common to add to a list grown impossibly long for a pair of "incompatible" people.

How long does a mid-life crisis last? How does it end? What makes it stop? If I stopped being in love with Julie, would that be the end of the "crisis"? or would I need a new fascination? When will I ever get the chance to answer those questions?

Monday, June 15, 2009

How Much Lower Does the Pendulum Swing to Reach the Pit of Despair? (6/15/09 Monday)

Who was that guy who had it so naturally under control yesterday, who had it all figured out? He left town under cover of darkness after selling me that bill-of-philosophical-goods. How many times have I had it all figured out? How many times have I convinced myself of the course I should take? or of the attitude I must have? How many courses led to walls? How many attitudes have stuck? I'm sick of hearing myself talk. The words are getting cheaper and cheaper. From one day to the next I swing from hope to despair, hope to despair--but the hope isn't nearly as high as the despair is deep. I suppose I'd be bipolar if I wasn't mired so deeply in one that I couldn't climb the heights of the other. I'm even tired of saying stuff like that. I do have all the answeres, but I've forgotten the questions they belong to. (I've probably said that before, too.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Prison or Fortress? (6/14/09 Sunday)

What changes may have been wrought by Julie's Facebook page Friday were too subtly manifested for me to detect Saturday. At least, they defy my description. I felt no different--the same dread/hope of seeing her, the same avoidance, the same awkwardness with necessary interaction, the same furtive glances and heavy sighs. I can allow that there has been a change, but I'd rather not look for it or embrace it but let it do as it will, as it must. I noticed only that my pride was much subdued, though even that is so vaguely defined as to be ineffable.

Julie And I spent a silent lunch together in the breakroom. I didn't finish my food but stared out the window for long stretches between reluctant bites. I left halfway through the hour.

Megan and Sofiya were on the desk when I came out as relief. Sofiya motioned me to take over for Megan. I was disappointed to be left with Sofiya; we'd have nothing to say to one another. I adjusted the station's ergonomic train wreck--shoving the monitor back, pulling the receipt printer and mouse closer--when the door opened, which didn't register in my aural brain before "Sorry, Sofiya" and the creak-clunk of the chair on the other side of the register signalling Sofiya's departure and Julie's arrival. My first instinct was to say, "Tammy's made a big mistake" (in reference to the scheduling), but my little voice said, "Too soon." Instead, I sat, glancing, sighing, staring through Children's and out their window into the wall of trees at the street entrance...until Julie said, "It's slow for a Saturday." I looked over--she was leaving her seat--and I said, "Aw, don't say that"--she was rounding the far counter--"not without knocking on wood or something." She reached under the marble countertop and rapped on the panelling. "I think it's too late," I said. Julie inspected the flyers, salvaged precious rubber bands from the wastebasket beside the self-check and returned. Patrons kept us busy after that.

Of course, it's tempting to elevate that hour to Event, crown it with significance, but like everything else yesterworkday, I'll choose (as I chose then) to let it ride. Believe it or not, I'm not fond of analyzation, but sometimes the questions are too loud, the confusion too demanding of resolution to leave unattended. Attention to them is often stressful and not often productive. Raretimes, though, I don't induldge their urgency. Yesterday in living and today in writing, I chose to ignore the noisy pair. For someone who has always believed in the ability of the unconscious to glean the essence of experience for its unique needs, I have spent a lot of time since this started not trusting that belief. By no means is that trust entirely restored, but maybe by adding a brick now and then I can make it too strong to knock down with the huff and puff of neurosis.

Maybe another brick. ...

Suddenly faced with one of Julie's steel-rod stares, my eyes goggles and my cheeks puffed and blew out an exaggerated sigh. It was a coincidence, my action unrelated to her stare, yet it was, nonetheless, the right response. I saved the laugh for myself a few minutes later.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fatebook? (6/12/09 Friday)

We haven't spoken since I said goodnight Tuesday. She won't even look at me. She won't make eye contact.

I made a Facebook account to get Faith to talk about her mom, but she seems to be backing off, says her mom is "shy about these things." I won't press it. Julie is on Facebook. I knew that already, from when Chris, her rescuer, prodded her to get on there. I don't know if Facebook tracks profile views, so I also created a dummy account--fake name, school, birthdate, etc., to peek at herpage with relative anonymity--an ethical lapse of judgment, I know, but I paid for it on my first visit. What I found was someone who hardly needed me in her life for all the friends she had already. Of course, "friend" on the web does not imply friendship, but she's not the reclusive little old lady that I more or less took her to be--wanted her to be. I was numbed. All I could feel was sad for myself. By late afternoon, thought of Julie could not raise my temperature or my longing for her. Would I have anything more to write? Was this the end of my feelings for her? It might not be quite a void I'd be stepping into, but at least a change I'm not to ready make, a shift from something that I could always count on--painful as it has been--to a new unknown--a kick out of the nest. I'm not ready, because there has been no "literary" ending--no full-circle, no tied-together ends. It's just a car left in the backyard that will eventually grow a tree through its roof. Not even a twist, like we're brother and sister--which would at least would explain why, despite her "French" heritage, she's so interested in Scotland; and it might also account for my lack of sexual attraction to her--her body was never a factor in my interest in her. Oh, how glib I am now, at he end of a day that alternated blurringly between catatonia and blinding rage. Perhaps there was a catharsis in there somewhere; or I'm just spent. Or maybe there are no other feelings that I haven't exhausted. We'll see what feelings I have tomorrow, at work, with Julie.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mantra, Mantra, Who's Got the Mantra? (6/9/09 Tuesday)

"No regrets." That should be my new mantra, I thought today as I unloaded the mail (alone!). Then I remembered the other ones--"just keep quiet, no room for doubt," when I was steeling myself to ask Julie out; "no scripts, no scenarios," as I prepared for the "date"; et al--and how flimsy they proved to be in the face of a lifetime of self-doubt, and I chuckled softly to myself. At least I able to laugh. I have evoked "no regrets" three times now, and it has each time buoyed my confidence. The second time came today when Mary Lou said, "Dion's got it under control." I said, "I'll have it under control until Julie gets here." The remark was met with a laugh, and by the time Julie got in for the second shift I had realized two things: Regret at not speaking my mind is a catalyst for my anger; and going "public" with my feelings for Julie dissipates my resentment while helping me find the humor in it all. Maybe I can't yet exactly celebrate being in love, but why should I resent it? (I have a feeling I won't be long in trying to answer that.) And as it's no secret, why should I hide it as if I were ashamed of it? If I talk about it openly--especially humorously--it shows a matured and mellowed attitude toward what had been a serious humiliation. Now, I'm not letting Julie in on this just yet; that is, I'm not going to crack wise about it with her around unless I'm speaking to her, and in that case she will be the entire audience. I don't know why I would give her that deference (I'm hearing Eno's "Julie with...."), except that perhaps I want her embarrassment all to myself. I believe that my remarks to her flatter her, if only to a small degree, and that I would cheapen them if I broadened their audience. But that could simply be hope talking, hope of gaining romantic ground. Also, the knowledge of her dislike of this kind of personal stuff in the workplace puts me at a respectful distance from going tabloid with it. I feel I need to regain some trust from her after my remarks of the past two Mondays. Julie and I didn't exchange so much as a glance, much less a word, in our four hours together until I left work: She packed mail as I packed my saddlebag and squeezed into the bike shoes. Already, I was hearing "no regrets," and as I approached the door I said, "Goodnight, Julie." Her back was to me--or, rather, her butt was; it was all I could see of her bent over a bin. She half rose and half turned and looked up at my smileless but open face. "Oh. Goodnight, Dion," she said, smiling, and her gaze fell to my legs and then back around to her work. I'd caught her by surprise--I'm a quiet walker, and I hadn't exactly addressed her face when I spoke--but there seemed, also, a wariness in her eye contact. I'm glad I didn't have a line prepared, because "no regrets" might have set back the cause. That would be the ironic end to that mantra.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pride Comes Before the Summer (6/8/09 Monday)

It seems the best I can do right now is sit crosslegged on the sofa, listen to the dying traffic and watch the light leak away. What I'm trying to do is reflect on the workday, but it's painful. I've had days like this, and one not so long ago, but I don't think the words about it were so hard to come by.

Monday is a full day with Julie, and this one was replete with her, if mostly in my head. When the courier mail came in, I was scheduled for holds and Julie for backup. I waited until Julie wheeled the transit items to the back to pack for the outgoing mail, then started unpacking the incoming in order to extract the holds. she usually takes quite a while and there was a lot to pack so I thought I could knock out the incoming before she got back. But the mail kept coming, and before long I could hear the empty cart rattling closer and closer. I paused with a handful of books to look at her. she looked at me but didn't say anything. I expected at least a "thanks for helping" or something and began right then to panic. I already knew I'd be unable to speak with any sense. When she finally spoke to me after putting the cart away, she said, "Are you sure you want to help?" My reply was just a sort of gurgle that she must have taken for a "huh?" because she repeated herself. "No, I don't really want to be this close to you," is what I needed to say, but what came out was, "Well, I'd like to get my holds." My heart was thudding out of my chest, and my skin was sizzling. I couldn't look at her, I couldn't speak, as we worked within a few feet of each other, sometimes out of the same bin. I was in an agony of desire and self-loathing. I wanted to scream and cry. I wanted to shake her and yell, "How can you be so goddamned casual about this! This is killing me! Stop mocking me! Stop acting like nothing is going on!" But I emptied bins and filled carts, sweating and trembling and feeling more the inept fool than I ever have. The stack of empty bins towered over me on the handtruck as I tipped it back. Would I get a "thank you" then? No. Julie turned her back to empty the bookdrop.

It was lunchtime when I finished sorting the mail bins in the back. Julie was filling the electric teapot when I entered the break room. I put my stuff at my usual seat and passed her at the sink to get a spoon from the drawer. I stared at that spoon as I sat heavily, then I said, "Don't let me do that again." "What?" "Don't let me do that again--help you with the mail. Too close." She chuckled lightly and said, "Well, you volunteered. So, thanks." It didn't sound like gratitude but indulgence. I couldn't eat for half an hour, then slowly choked down each bit of my pbj. My heart still raced, and the hands covering my face still trembled. I was little better the rest of the day--worse, for not having anyone to talk to about it.

Julie might think by now that I have nothing to say to her that doesn't remind her of how I feel about her, and she's just about right. The more she pretends otherwise, the more I have to remind her. She has got to at least laugh with me about this. It is not all up to me--and don't dare ask me why! because I don't know. Halfway is as far as I can go with her, and she's not covering the rest of the way because she doesn't give a damn. Yeah, yeah--she doesn't have to do anything--I'm tired of excusing her, rightly or wrongly. And, yeah, I shouldn't speculate on her feelings either, but I wouldn't bet against my judgment. If I'm being hard on Julie, let her tell me. I'm being hard on myself, and that's all. Its' the kind of talk that the ignorant thought was harmful to Julie six months ago. I told Chris then that I didn't hate him for blowing my cover, but I'm not sure I didn't lie. I at least hate myself for feeling that I might have. I haven't done the magnanimous, noble, christian thing and forgiven him, but the only reason I think I should have is that it is the magnanimous, noble, christian thing to do--turn the other cheek. Pride is destroying me. It sure gives me enough to write about, though, doesn't it?

Monday, June 8, 2009

(Dis) Connecting (6/7/09 Sunday)

I tried this past week to reclaim some music from Julie. XTC was first--Mummer, then Skylarking. It didn't work--"Grass," "Great Fire Burning," "Love on a Farmboy's Wages"--every one of the love songs rang ironical. Julie introduced me to Trashcan Sinatras, so them I'm trying to take from her altogether or, rather, remove her from them. Again, failure. I'm not close to trying Prefab Sprout. Yet the music I play has little interest to me if it doesn't connect me with my situation. I'm doing the opposite of distancing myself from Julie--more unhealthy and pathetic behaviour, more hopeful delusion. Maybe I want the pain.

Faith at Good Foods wants to fix me up with her mother, and I'm open to it. Faith has read the blog, and she had her mom read some it. Her reaction, according to Faith, was along the lines of "interesting." I don't know what that means. Faith lives across the street, a few doors closer to me than Stacey, so all I know is that it would at least be convenient to see her mom. That's hardly a reason for a relationship. I don't know anything about her except that she's shy. That's attractive in itself, but it's not enough, of course. If after reading my blog she's still interested in me, I suppose that's a big plus, too; after all, who wants someone who's in love with someone else? I believe I could get over Julie if I had another woman near my age to talk with--not about Julie, but about just about anything else--hang out with, be with, do things with, do nothing with. I hope she's open to at least a cup of coffee or tea (but not at Stir Crazy!). It would be nice to be with a woman who is being open and not pointing a ten-foot pole at my chest. I certainly don't want this to be about getting Julie's wraith out of my heart. I want this to be about connecting with someone who's worth my time and energy, which I don't think is really a tall order. I can say, "All I want is honesty," but I know that's not easy for most people. I can only be honest myself and hope that it's at least appreciated, if not entirely reciprocated, though how I can recognize the former without the latter, I don't know. What makes me believe the connection won't be difficult to make is knowing that Faith's mom is not Julie; that's halfway there. My basic task, with Faith's mom or any other prospective relationship, is to make no comparisons with Julie--though god forbid they should love Trashcan Sinatras!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

But Feel Free to Email Me with Suggestions (6/6/09 Saturday)

Julie was back yesterday. We still said nothing to each other, and the only eye contact was a confrontation. I stared in her eyes as we were approaching each other in the workroom. She tilted her chin toward the side on which I was about to pass her, and her eyebrows rose just-perceptibly. I felt as if I were being taunted or dared to speak. I didn't. Over the course of the day the knot spread across the back of my neck. It's still there today, another full workday with Julie. Since "thinking about you," not a word has passed between us that didn't pertain directly to work. It's been dark. It's defeatist and pathetic to resign myself to this state, but how do I get out of it? Yesterday, "it's up to you" never entered my mind, but I heard it very early on today. Most days I resent it, and today is one of those days. Each time I tell myself, "she knows," I have to remind myself of what she knows; and now I also have to ask, "How is that important?" It's fading. I'm losing grip of it. Yet as I do I am experiencing vague fantasies of Julie coming around, warming up to me, talking to me, wanting to know me. Those have to go away if I'm to prevent myself from doing something catastrophically stupid to effect their realization. I can't entertain that kind of hope. I have written "My Mid-Life Crisis" on the back of her picture on my fender. I figure that's in the category of She Knows, so seeing that won't elicit any more than a puzzled look from the clueless, a smirk from the clued-in, and a roll of the eyes from Julie. Hell, what more could I do, at this stage of the game, that could produce more than benign effect? It's best I don't try to answer that.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Is Santa Listening So Long Before Christmas? (6/4/09 Thursday)

For the first time in the two years we've worked together Julie took a sick day. I'm sure it is not something she would do frivolously or deceitfully, but I had no details and none were offered by Judy or Tammy. I didn't ask. I was disappointed and empty to see the word "sick" by her name on the schedule and a squiggly black line marked through her duties. I know that my vanity is predicated still on her audience, so her absence made me rue bothering to shave, or even coming in. But I thought, Well, at least I can relax. Not true. There was hardly a moment without her presence in my mind and no moreso did I find comfort from that knot in my neck. I'm really not alive without her, am I? I will no longer argue with love--rationality is irrelevant. It just doesn't matter that she feels nothing for me. It doesn't matter that I "understand" that. How could she have believed that telling me that would relieve me of my feelings for her? I am in love with her, and it sickens me to be so. I'm possessive and jealous. I miss her when she's gone, and I can't stand to be around her. There is nothing healthy in this. I want it to stop.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Sleeves Are Too Short If I Can't Step on Them (6/03/09 Wednesday)

I try not to kid myself that I made any romantic inroads with my "thinking about you" crack. I've embarrassed/flattered Julie before, but I finally came to understand that however I made her feel at that moment was not a reflection of how she felt for me but about herself. I feel good for having made her feel that way (if I can even flatter myself that much), but I know that it doesn't necessarily increase her affection toward me. In fact, if we're ever to get to "normal" again, I may have set us back a step. In retrospect, it was a good thing to have furthered the conversation by mentioning the movie, bringing to earth any thought of lofty romantic intention--hope for it on my part and fear of it on hers. Yesterday, though, was definitely not a step forward. We made no contact whatsoever with either eyes or voice. I glanced at her several times, but only once when her back wasn't to me. I sat in front of her, at Angie's desk, doing holds one hour, and finished sweaty and with a knot in myh neck from the effort of trying to work when my mind was behind me. Another day of that is likely ahead of me today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

And for My Next Trick, I Will Convince Myself to Not Read Anything Into It (6/1/09 Monday)

Of course, my approach to the new work week was as predicted. How could it have been otherwise? Naturally, as per Mondays, I rode in with Stacey. When I got out of the car at work without helping put the shades across the windshield she chided me for shirking my duty. I scoped the parking lot entrance for a familiar car. I didn't see it. "Sorry," I said, "I just like to get inside before Julie pulls up." Inside, I went straight to my work, pulling old holds for deletion, hoping to lessen my chances of contact with Julie. By the time I was back in the workroom Julie was at the window, setting up. That meant I could do my job an entire expanse of room away from her, at the discharge counter--until I was done with the express holds and had to collect the old drive-up holds from under her nose. I started on the outside with the shelf unit between us. As I knelt I heard myself mutter, "It's up to you," and was surprised to not find any bitterness in the statement. Still, I was determined to not greet her. Instead, as I moved around to her side I said, "May I squeeze in here?" Slightly startled, having not heard my carpet-muffled approach, she said, "Oh. Sure." As I rifled through the books. I became as determined that she sould ask me about my week of as I was to not initiate conversation wih her. Then Julie said, "Did you have a relaxing time off?" I was so surprised and happy that I could have snatched her up and planted a wet one on her. "Yes, I did," I said, and my head got louder and louder with "Do it! No regrets!" I obeyed and said, "I was just reading and writing...[DO IT!!] and thinking about you." (YES!!) I said, "Sorry," immediately, but I wasn't. It was more like apologizing for a bad pun I couldn't help making. But she giggled! Not a dismissive, barely indulgent "tsh," but a genuine off-guard giggle. Score! I bet she blushed, too, but I couldn't look at her as I dipped to finish my job on the lower shelves; and I could tell, anyway, from her laugh that her back was to me. Not exactly emboldened by my little success but definitely giddy, I said, "I saw a movie you might like." I stood up, and she turned, and I almost forgot how to speak, much less what I intended to say. "The Flying Scotsman, with Johnny Lee Miller." Only through sheer willpower was I able to continue speaking and looking in her face. "It's about, uh, Graeme Obree--" "Who?" "Graeme Obree, champion--world champion cyclist in the nineties." Gah! Finishing that sentence was like finally breaking out of the water and gulping down air. She said, "I'll have to get that, especially if it has Johnny Lee in it." I took the holds back to the discharge station, where I sat heavily and used two shaky hands to lift the mug of chamomile tea to my lips. "She knows," I whispered--"boy, does she know!" The tea was no help at all.