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…

Call Me Coach

This week, on Glee, there was a subplot story line, in which Coach Beiste admits to having feelings for a guy who “doesn’t think of her like that.”  They then presented a montage of scenes in which the guy in question is clearly flirting with Coach Beiste or suggesting a date with Coach Beiste and in every instance she is completely oblivious to what’s really going on.

These scenes were comical, to be sure, and of course, as an outside observer, it’s easy to see what’s going on.  But I started to think about it.  I put myself in Coach Beistes cleats (which wasn’t really that hard to do) and I wondered, “If you’re someone who doesn’t fit the norm of what society thinks a person should be ; if your self-esteem is so low – at least in the area of romance – how likely would you be to be able to recognize the signs?”  I’m pretty sure that I’ve had my share of Coach Beiste moments.  I’ve been completely oblivious to signs when someone was flirting with me.  Add to that, the fact that my Gaydar is shot and I’m in a pretty bad way.

I once wrote a post about lunch with a guy, Kevin was his name – how cute would that be (barf) – who had invited me out to thank me for being such a big help to him in a work related capacity.  He worked for the local University of Phoenix campus and I had enabled him to come set up an information table in our building lobby on multiple occasions.  To this day, I do not know if that’s all that it was.  There’s a realistic possibility that I was on a date and didn’t even know it.

I’ve written more than a few times about Jesse the fire fighter who, apparently, liked my eyes and then never gave me the time of day again.

Enter Brendan.  You might notice that it’s now November and that means yet another round of emergency drills have come and gone.  At some point in the past year, I gained responsibility for the Building Emergency Response Team at an additinoal building.  It’s a small group of people.  My company has an educational theater group that travels around to schools putting on, well– educational theater.

This October, when I requested volunteers to help observe our emergency drills, a few people from the other building volunteered to help us out.  We had a pre-drill briefing at the beginning of that week and Brendan was in attendance.  He was the first person in the conference room and he was very attentive.  I admit, I thought him a little strange at first as he was completely focused on me and what I was saying, something I’m definitely not used to.  He maintained eye contact with me the entire time, something else I’m not used to.  He smiled whenever I looked at him or spoke to him.  Being from another building, he asked me if I’d show him what we’d be doing the day of the drill; take him on a miniature tour of a floor. He followed and stood close when we talked, again always maintaining eye contact.

The day of the drills he came back to the building and was very friendly.  We talked a lot during downtime, and I got a really strong sense of chemistry and connection.  I was sure he was interested in me.  And while the idea still scares the crap out of me, I was interested in him and willing to see where that could go.

We always have pizza for all the volunteers at the end of the fire drills and as I was collecting the critique sheets and letting people know when and where the food would be, he hesitated and then said he was probably not going to stay.  “I have to watch my…” his words trailed off as he gestured to indicate his general torso area, adding “I’m a man on a mission.”

I told him we always have salad too.  “You can just have one or two small slices of pizza and then have salad,” I told him.  We always have a lot left over and if he didn’t come have some he was just going to leave us with even more after the fact.

He thought on this for a moment and then said, “Well.  I was going to skip the gym tonight, but I guess I could go on the treadmill for an hour.  And maybe I could take some home to my hubby.”

I did my best to convey no reaction to this revelation and said, “Yeah, you could do that.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  I’m not interested in getting involved with a married man.  But still…

A week later Brendan signed up for a Safety Training class I attended.  When he walked into the room where I was already seated, he made eye contact with me and smiled and then walked right past me and sat at the other end of the table.  I was disappointed.

The Educational Theater Group is celebrating its 25th anniversary and they had a reception last night.  As part of the Facility Management staff that maintains their space, and as the Emergency Response Program coordinator, I was invited to attend the reception.  There were lots of good reasons why I should go to the reception, and I’m glad I did, but the truth is, I accepted the invitation with the hope of getting to spend some time with and talk to Brendan.  I didn’t see him at all until close to the end of the event and when I did, he was guiding a costumed character around the space.  He seemed really happy to see me and gave me a hug and then…

The conversation fell flat.  I felt incredibly awkward and had no idea what to say.  Before long, they moved on and not long after that, I went home.

And then there’s Ed.  Ed is the supervisor/account manager for our Janitorial Service.  I meet with him most Thursday mornings to do an inspection.  Physically, Ed possesses many qualities I’m attracted to.  He also has a very friendly and outgoing personality.  I like talking to Ed.  I do not like doing Janitorial Inspections.  And he knows it.  But they’ve been delegated to me and so he and I walk a floor and he makes notes of things he sees that need attention, usually catching more than I do, because I don’t know what to look for in the first place.

While we walk, Ed and I talk about random things that have nothing to do with Janitorial Services, and while I do not feel like I know Ed, I feel like we’re friendly.  A month ago, due to multiple conflicts on my schedule, I e-mailed Ed and told him I was going to have to cancel our next few appointments.  He e-mailed me back saying, “Not a problem. I know you’re quite disappointed.”

“Completely crestfallen,” I replied.

Ed and I were scheduled to meet for the first time in weeks today, but he called me yesterday to verify that we were still on and then told me that he had a bid walk for a contract to do this morning and asked if it would be okay to push back our inspection.  I was fine with it.  I’m never disappointed not to have the inspection.  Ed said he’d be at my office at 10:30.

By the time my noon meeting rolled around and I hadn’t seen or heard from Ed, I figured it was a safe bet that our inspection was cancelled.  When I walked back into the office at 1:30, I was quite surprised to see Ed in John’s office.

One of the things that appeals to me about Ed is that he always wears a suit.  No one around here expects him to and he is, apparently, not required to by his employer, but he tells me he prefers to wear suits; and he wears them quite well.  When he and John came out of John’s office, I walked over and took hold of Ed’s arm, found his watch under his shirt sleeve and said, “Well, it looks like it still works.”

Today Ed is wearing a textured, light grey suit, a white shirt and a blue and gold striped bow tie; a real bow tie which he tied himself.  He looked really good.  I had to look at something at K’s desk and he had to finish his discussion with John and then he came over to the counter at K’s desk.  I told Ed he was much too late for us to do an inspection and I was about to go get some lunch.  He asked me where I was going and said he’d walk with me.  I told him I was just going to go across the street and get a sandwich to bring back to my office, and again he said he’d walk with me.

In the elevator, I reached up and moved the edge of his bow tie out of the way to see if it was tied or clipped and he said, “Oh yeah, baby, that’s tied!”  He watched four you tube videos over the weekend to learn how to do it.  I asked him if he’d been hitting the gym (this was a topic that had come up in previous conversation.)  When he said no, he asked why.  I said, “You look good.  You look fit.”  He said, “Yeah.  If you’re gonna wear a bow time you have to walk tall!” (So true.)  Being of Asian heritage, he is not a tall man, but he hides it well.

Ed walked over to the deli with me, chatted with me while I waited for my sandwich and then walked back to my office with me, for no business reason whatsoever.

Many times I have wondered if he might be gay.  Many times I’ve been sure he wasn’t.  I know nothing about his personal or romantic life.  I may be imagining it all, but sometimes when he leaves me, I think there’s some interest, some possibility.  Other times he leaves me and I’m sure it’s all in my head.

Just call me Coach.