Under the Rainbow

It’s funny how things can turn, almost on a dime.  I sat in Deb’s office last night, smiling and happy, and telling her about how much things seem to have changed over the last six weeks, since I started my new job.  I’m confident in my work.  I’ve had an easy time of making friends with the people who work around me.  (A bunch of us are going roller-skating after work in a couple weeks.)  I’m out to pretty much everyone, and comfortably so.  I’ve fairly well tolerated the inefficiencies and poor co-ordination of some things that go on there.  I’ve taken, relatively in stride, the fact that the things I believed to be the reason I was hired, my “expertise” in such things as moving large groups of people and managing all the issues that come with that, had been relatively ignored, due to the timing of my arrival.  (We were hip deep in a 60-person move when I started.)  I’ve met someone with whom I have a lot of chemistry and genuine, mutual attraction.  I’ve been relatively adept at letting the little things slide off my back.

Monday night at dinner with Lil’B, for reasons that are too random and confusing to explain, we began talking about Vincent van Gough and bipolar disorder.  One of the activities in the kids menu he still gets was to draw a picture of a character from the menu after they had just visited the Louvre and he decided he wanted me to draw the picture.  I’m not really sure how Vinnie came into the conversation, but as I was using one of the only two crayons they gave Lil’B to draw the picture, the yellow one (I held the red crayon in my other hand), I was telling him about my drawing, about the Louvre, and about Vincent van Gough.  I drew a living banana, with two twig legs, and a suit coat, with lapels and long sleeves.  He had a yellow face, with a protruding nose and he wore a monocle.  I told Lil’B about the emotional troubles that Vicente had and how unappreciated he had been because people couldn’t understand how he was so up one minute and so down the next.  We discussed the fact that he likely thought himself a terrible artist (something I learned form a little educational documentary I watch called Doctor Who).

The assignment was to draw the character right after they left the museum, so as I was putting the finishing touches on the picture, LIl’B asked me why I had used only the one crayon.  Just as I reached the point of telling Lil’B how in one of his fits of deep despair, van Gough had cut off his own ear, I switched to the red crayon and our debonair, snappily dressed, monocled banana-man suddenly gained a bloody gash on the side of the head where, once his little banana ear had been.  The boy in Lil’B thought that was pretty cool.  The innocent and naive young human being in him, the one who has never been exposed to the kind of emotional turmoil that Vincent van Gough went through said, “so he was crazy.”

As I was trying my best to explain to my young friend how, mental illness does not necessarily mean crazy, that there are plenty of people in the world who experienced these types of mental illness but who would not qualify as being “crazy” and that, in fact, I have struggled with depression, even during the time I have known him, but that I was not crazy, it occurred to me for the first time, that I was not depressed.  Not just that it was at bay.  Not just that it’s lingering in the shadows waiting to destroy me again.  For the first time since I could remember, I did not feel like I was struggling against Depression, working to keep it at bay all the while knowing that it was just over there, just beyond the great barrier waiting for my next moment of weakness, to take over.

I shared this with Deb last night.  But I tempered it by telling her, “I’m not dumb enough to say that ‘I’m cured’.  I think it’s dangerous to make such claims but right now, things are good.

And then today happened.

Only….  Nothing particularly special or significant happened, just a whole lot of little things.  I told a friend t0night, via text message, “I think I’m just having a moment.  Several things kinda crumbled (not caved, just crumbled) in on me this evening and I’m just trying to deal.

“I think I need a hug.  Well, a hug and some company and some comforting…”

A whole lot of little things piled up on me all at once, right around 5:00.  Because I’m now hourly, and didn’t get to work until around 9:00 this morning, I planned to stay until six…  I was there until 6:45.

At 5:00 the last two people in the immediate vicinity of my desk (two of the four-person Communications department – a group of people who communicate very effectively…  and frequently…  and from great distances…) left and I was alone to concentrate on whatever I needed to do.  It was then, in the deafening silence, filled only with the sound of the air conditioner kicking on and off, and my own addled thoughts rolling around in my skull, that I realized how much I had been struggling.  Not that the work is too hard, or that the people around me aren’t awesome, because it’s not and they really are, which thrills me.  It’s that with my particular set of circumstances (I was formally diagnosed with ADD six months ago) it can sometimes be really difficult for me to focus on what I’m trying to do.  Suddenly the list of things I needed to accomplish before the day was over was daunting.  Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that this is not a new predicament.  Suddenly, I was distraught, and even a bit angry, with what a mess my very small, very cramped, very not-my-own-private-office-like-I-had-for-8-1/2- years-at-my-last-job desk was.  Suddenly, I was upset that I feel like my talents are being wasted, because I spend at least half of most days processing and delivering mail and packages (something that was not discussed as being part of my duties in my interviews or hiring process); all day every day subject to the random whims of our customers who don’t have any means of requesting things other than approaching my boss and me directly and interrupting whatever we happen to be in the middle of; and the other half of most days struggling to concentrate on what I’m doing over the constant bombardment of voices.  It’s not that they’re not talking about work, because they generally are.  And it’s not that they’re not friendly people, because they definitely are.  In fact, it might be easier if they weren’t, because then I wouldn’t want to be part of the conversation and I do.  Which makes it a complete distraction.

I sat at my desk, organizing, as best I could and growing more and more frustrated by the limitations that I have in my ability to do my best work and the list of projects that have been asked of me, that I simply can not get to because I’m overwhelmed with the little stuff that in the short term is high priority to people as they request it.  I spent half an hour, trying to get some semblance of control over the situation.  I got rid of some clutter.  I sort out and filed my e-mails so only current and relevant things were in my in-box.  I made a to do list for Monday, and I cleared my white board and made three columns on it: one for daily responsibilities, one for short-term projects and one for long-term projects.  I put completion percentages next to each project and put a sad face next to the 0% complete for the Emergency Response Team development project that is currently at the very bottom of my list of priorities, even though I would like it to be at the top.  Finally, I packed up and walked out for the night, despairing with the knowledge that I must talk to my manager on Monday about finding a way to mitigate some of these issues.  I need to ask her for somewhere else for me to sit.  A desk that will be quiet enough for me to focus on my work when I’m able to be at my desk doing it and which will take me away from the noisy, but fun Communications group and “the guy”, because I can’t get any work done when they’re around, and knowing fully that there’s a very good chance that there will be no where for me to move.

I drove home thinking about “the guy”.  Which, to be fair, is probably overselling it a bit.  The truth is there’s been little more than the two of us circling around each other, and around the idea of becoming an us, which I suppose makes him more of “A guy” and not so much “The guy”.  I’m frustrated.  I know what I want…. I think.  But I can’t figure out what he wants.  And every time we talk and I just about have him opened up and ready to be forthcoming he dodges and I’m left in the dark again.  He’s an expert at avoidance and if I didn’t understand it so well, I’d probably be pretty pissed, but I do, so I’m not.  I’m just annoyed that we haven’t managed to work through it yet.  I was feeling disappointed about his lack of response to a text message I had sent, and about the fact that, while he acknowledges that there is “unfinished business” between us, he has not made any moves to finish the business, and when I do, he just avoids.

And I realized I was feeling really lonely and low, and that if I could just hang out with somebody and talk about it I might feel better.  I reached out to three different people including The Guy via text, just really needing a bit of interaction, period.  None of them responded to me.  One still hasn’t.  One responded within an hour of my text but didn’t offer much in the way of comforting or consolation.  And The Guy finally acknowledged my first text hours after I sent it, but disappeared pretty quickly after.  All of which is to say that I’m absolutely giving them the benefit of the doubt.  It is after all Friday night.  Most people have social lives on Friday night.  Just because I don’t, doesn’t mean people are obligated to respond.  I realized that I’ve only had one person extend an invitation to me in months, while I’ve extended a number of invitations, most of which have been turned down.  And now I’m wondering what’s so wrong with me that people only want to be my work acquaintances but not my friends and, apparently, not my boyfriend.

I’ll get over it, like I always do.  But still, not exactly the smiling, happy go lucky, better than I’ve been for a while, guy I was last night.

Also, right in the middle of writing this post, and when The Guy finally got around to responding to my texts, my Internet crapped out due to an outage in the area…  When it rains it pours…

Metal Mouth (No More)

It’s a pretty momentous day here in the Riggledome.  And by “momentous”, I mean something that matters a whole helluva lot more to me, than it does to you…

In a conversation last night with “The guy” (and yes, there’s a “the guy”… after a fashion at least – there’ll be more on that later…  sometime… probably) we were talking about fitness and exercise.  When he’s not learning and developing people (there’s a cryptic detail about him), he works part-time at a local gym teaching boot camp and spin classes.  We were discussing my personal ideal fitness goals and he said, “If you want a different body, think about WHY should your body change.  If you never run up and down stadium stairs, why should it not look like an office worker’s?”  My response was “Because I’m a shallow gay man in the Bay Area and I want to look like it?”

All of that is to say that, like most everyone, I have a fair amount of vanity, and insecurities about my appearance.  I know!  It’s hard to believe!  I had always hated my smile, and didn’t like the way my teeth looked.  For whatever reason I have a slight and barely perceptible misalignment of my jaw which resulted in some crooked and prominent canine teeth.  I always felt like I had fangs and didn’t want people to see them.  I never smiled with showing teeth in pictures…  When I allowed pictures to be taken… at all.  Once I got a job that paid decently and some good health insurance options, I subjected myself to the process and began Invisalign treatment.  It seemed like a great thing, especially for a vain person.  No bulky, ugly, metal teeth.  Straightening what’s crooked.  What could be wrong?!?

It didn’t work out so well.  It requires a lot of commitment and dedication and in the end (3 years later) I had run through the whole process, hadn’t achieved what I wanted to and couldn’t go any further with Invisalign.  I had the choice to either be happy with what had been achieved, or go to an orthodontist and get real braces…  I bet you can guess which one I chose.

I got my braces off nearly a year ago and have, for the last year, been wearing retainers the vast majority of the day.  That, in itself was pretty momentous, but now, after so many years of this process, I am officially free!

Sure, I’ll have to continue to wear my retainers at night.  Everybody who has ever had braces has had that instruction (a lot of people don’t do it), but wearing them at night is a far cry from wearing them all day every day!

I’m free!  I’m free!  I’m free!  (Can you tell I’m happy?)

Freedom from metal mouth (during the day at least)!
Freedom from metal mouth (during the day at least)!

WOE: Mentor

The Write On Edge prompt for this week was simply the word “mentor”.  Now those of you who’ve been around for a while and already know a thing or two about me, might have suspected I would write about Lil’B and my mentor-ship with him.  You might be surprised that my relationship with him is not the first thing that popped into my mind.  Those of you who have really been around for a while, I think I might have written about this experience once before and if this is old news, I’m sorry.

Do you have a mentor, or are you a mentor for someone else?

Now write about an experience with your mentor (or the person to whom you are a mentor) that shows us what that relationship means to you.

500 words maximum, please. And remember, this is a non-fiction prompt.

 

My family moved three days after my seventh grade year started.  I walked into the school office where I was enrolled in the school and given a class schedule with mere minutes to spare before the tardy bell on my first class and the secretary told me how to find my first classroom.  Somehow I was expected to make my way from class to class entirely on my own after that.  I really don’t even know how, but somehow I managed to get from one class and classroom to the next that morning.  And I either managed to do it without ever being tardy, or I looked sufficiently shell-shocked that my teachers had pity on me that first day (I never had detention.)

Finally, after my third class of the day, it was time for lunch, or so the NCR copy of my class schedule told me.  The problem was, unlike the rest of the line items of my class schedule, this item listed no room number other than “CAF”.  It seemed simple enough though, I would follow the rest of the students in my class.  Surely we would all be going to lunch at the same time.  Surely we would all be going to the same place.  Only it wasn’t just my class in the hallways.  And it wasn’t just time to wander to the cafeteria for those who were in the halls and very soon, I lost track of the heads I was following as they bobbed through the crowd.

I found myself back in the hallway near the office, completely lost.  I held the grubby paper in my hand knowing that I was supposed to be in the Cafeteria, but having no idea where that was, when I heard a voice form behind me.  “Are you lost?” she asked.  I turned, expecting to look up at the teacher but surprised to look her straight in the eye.  She looked grandmotherly to my twelve-year-old eyes, with curly hair and big square framed glasses.  After pointing me toward the cafeteria, which happened to be just down the hall and sending me on my way with a pat on the back, I was grateful, but thought little else about the kindly woman who had helped me.

I ate my lunch as quickly as I could, having spent half my lunch period looking for the cafeteria, then made my way to my next class, Music.  Lo and behold!  I walked into the kindly teacher’s classroom.  Music very quickly became my favorite class of the day and I spent many afternoons after school in that classroom, helping clean up and organize.

The next year I spent my first class each day as a student aid.  I chose the music teacher as the one I would assist.  Though my family lived only a few blocks from school, I was always a few minutes late to class (some things never change) – and yet, I never had detention.

 

Another Quiet Week-End

Not too much to report this week-end.  After work on Friday, I stopped by Karin’s house to drop something off for her and ended up staying for three hours, hanging out, having dinner and, of all things, talking religion… go figure.

I slept late on Saturday and then took my recyclables to the recycling center.  I buy way too much Diet Pepsi, so I pay way too much in California Redemption Value (bottle deposits), not to take them in and get my money back.  Every few months I load up my car with trash bags full of aluminum cans and plastic bottles and take them in.  Yesterday, I got just a few cents shy of $45.00 so I’d say this is a worthwhile exercise.

After I dropped those off, I went to Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits to get some… well, chicken and biscuits.  I was feeling the need for a little comfort food.  It helped a bit.  I spent the rest of the afternoon just relaxing and hanging out.  Watched all the regular television on my DVR.  Watched a Netflix DVD, original Doctor Who, the episode where Peter Davison relinquished the role to Colin Baker (not that anybody knows or cares about that), and then I watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog.  It was pretty good and funny, right up to the end, and then it got a bit weird.  Oh well.  I even got some recreational reading done.  And in spite of all that resting I still managed to stay up way too late last night.

I slept in this morning, but woke up to a very nice voice mail message from Gene who, sadly, returned to San Diego today.  I got up and watched last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Maya Rudolph (very funny) while I ate my lunch and then it was time to get ready and head out.  Today was Lil’B day and we went to the movies.

I occasionally ask him if there’s anything in particular he’d like to do and he almost always says, “I don’t know”, which comes as a surprise to exactly zero people, I’m sure.  But last Monday night, when I was taking him home after dinner, I asked him if he had anything in particular in mind that he’d like to do this week-end and after a moment’s contemplation he told me he wanted to go see Journey 2, The Mysterious Island.  This is not a movie I would have opted to go to on my own, but Lil’B rarely expresses a specific desire of any kind so when he does, I like to try to make sure it happens.

I posted this on my Facebook page:

About to watch Journey 2 with my Little Brother…  I may have to watch this movie through my fingers!!!

I thought this movie was going to be filled with over-sized creepy crawly things and that my skin would be crawling by the time it was over.  There were a couple of instances with enormous centipedes, some massive spiders and a couple bee’s large enough to ride (I’m allergic to bee stings so they always oog me out!) and of course a lizard as big as a house, but all-in-all the movie wasn’t terrible.  It actually had a pretty good story that should have been pretty entertaining but it was not as well executed as it could have been.  Too bad.

I spent the rest of the evening cleaning up my Twitter account.  Deleting people who have either been inactive for a long time, or who do not follow me back and therefore aren’t interactive.  Or at least I did until Twitter started having technical difficulties and now here we are!

It’s a long week-end and mercifully I do not have any big plans tomorrow.  Officially, it’s not a holiday for me, but my company is kind of weird.  We have multiple entities that all co-exist, but the employees are on different payrolls.  Since my office building is owned and operated by the Northern California Region which considers Presidents Day to be a holiday, the building is closed, but since I am not a Northern California Region employee and Presidents Day is not a holiday on my payroll, I am required to take the day off and use one of my four float days for it.  I don’t really mind though.  I used to be a Northern California Region employee and I had the holiday but no float days.  Now I have four float days but lost this one holiday.  So I choose to look at it, instead, as though I have three float holidays and continue to have Presidents Day off as a paid holiday.

I texted Michelle earlier today to see if she wanted to go see This Means War tomorrow but as it turns out, it’s not a holiday for her.  So I guess I should just be grateful.  And I am!

Grilled

Strangely, I’m almost as nervous writing this as I was as it was happening.

I had a date last night.  Well, anyway, I think I had a date last night.  It kind of felt like a date, not that I can be counted on, reliably, to say what a date feels like.  I don’t know if he felt like it was a date.  Maybe I just met a friend for dinner…  I think it was a date… A nice date.

There is a gentleman, Gene,  that I have been acquainted with through various forms of social media for close to two years, I would say.  We became acquainted on Twitter and struck up a friendly banter.  He started reading my blog and responding to what he saw directly on twitter and eventually we began e-mailing each other.

Gene is a very kind man and he made a great impression on me.  About 18 months ago, I had a dream in which he played a prominent (though relatively innocent role) and I tweeted about dreaming about my “twitter crush”.  This resulted in a series of e-mails between us in which it was clear that we were both interested in knowing the other better.  The problem is, we are “geographically undesirable” (He lives in San Diego, I live in Oakland, approximately 500 miles apart) and, both of us being practically minded people, a long distance relationship is simply not in the cards.    But we made it clear that if ever and whenever we were in each others back yards we should get together for dinner or coffee or something.

This week-end his nephew is participating in a debate tournament at UC Berkeley and Gene made a point of being here early enough to spend some time with me before getting wrapped up in his family stuff.  When he told me he was coming this way, I was really excited.  I wanted to see him.  I wanted to spend some time with him and get to know him better.  Our relationship has been a little one-sided in that he reads my blog, but he doesn’t write one and he’s very private with the stuff he posts on Twitter and Facebook.  I was excited about the prospect of getting his undivided attention and grilling him on all the things I didn’t know about him.

But as the weeks passed and the time drew nearer, I became more and more nervous.  I wanted to meet him, but what if he wasn’t what I was expecting?  What if I wasn’t what he was expecting?  What if I had misjudged him?  What if he wanted something from me that I wasn’t ready to give?  Was I ready?  Did I want to be ready?  Would we?  Wouldn’t we?  What would I do if it…  ahem, came up?  I went back and forth on that and to be honest, I never really arrived at a conclusion.  I don’t know what I would have done if I was faced with that decision last night.  Fortunately, I wasn’t, and I think it’s for the best.

The truth is, Gene was a perfect gentleman.  He was almost everything I thought he would be, and in the ways that he was different, he was better.

We were both nervous.  We decided to meet for a drink before dinner and to be perfectly honest, I was shaking like a leaf (whatever that means.)  Stupidly, I wondered if I would recognize him when I saw him, but the minute I walked in the door, I knew him.  It was comforting to know that he had been as nervous as I was–  well, maybe not as nervous, but he was nervous.  We had a glass of wine at the bar and talked comfortably for a little while.  And then were seated and had dinner.  It was a fascinating experience to be able to talk so comfortably and freely with someone you’ve never been face to face with, but I realized we really already knew each other.  Certainly more than I thought we did.

After dinner, we shared a piece of cheesecake (really the one inevitable outcome of the evening) and then we walked along the boardwalk for a little while as we talked.

It was oddly hard to say good-bye, though it was time and had to be done.  I can’t speak for Gene, but for me, it was that much more disappointing, knowing that while we’ll continue to be friends and hopefully grow closer now that we’re “real” and not just words in a box, there’s still so much distance between us.