A Turn of the Tides

Today is the last day of my first week on my new job.

I.  Am.  Exhausted.

My commute ranges anywhere from 50 to 100 minutes, each way, depending on the day, the traffic and the route I take.  I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m tremendously grateful.  It’s a good job, with a lot of opportunity for growth and advancement and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  I’m just really tired.

I have less than one month’s expenses left in my savings account and I was moments away from making the dreaded call to my sister to find out if it was still an option for me to move to New York to live with her and her husband, four kids (a fifth on the way), their cat and miniature pony, when I got the call for this job.  It’s the job I referred to in my recent post.  The one I didn’t get.  It seems their first candidate, for whatever reason, didn’t pan out.

Last week, I went shopping to buy appropriate work clothes.  I plan to get promoted sooner rather than later so I’m implementing the “dress for the job you want, not the job you’ve got” philosophy.  And since I didn’t have to wear dress clothes in my last job, it’s been well over a year since I’ve dressed for work (other than the white-dress-shirt-and-black-slacks penguin suit I wear when I’m bartending).

I haven’t gotten up this early on a consistent basis, in a very long time, and tomorrow I have to get up early again, though a little less early.  I’ll probably get to “sleep in” until 7:00. I’m bartending (and lead/sign-in person) tomorrow morning at the Cal football game and I have to be there at 9:00 in the morning.  Tomorrow night I have a date.  That’s a whole different post for another time.  And then Sunday I have an outing with Lil’B.

Who needs rest anyway?

2014 New Year’s Resolution… Failed Already

I guess it’s good to get these things out of the way early.  Heh!

I had a plan.  It was a good plan.  A great plan even.  If I do say so myself.  And I do.  Because if I don’t…  who will?

As demanded by my nephew, age 2 1/2.

As demanded by my nephew, age 2 1/2. My sister has a strict rule against pictures of her children appearing on the internet, but I’m pretty sure a photo of the indistinguishable knees of her only male child would be considered harmless enough to not cause offense, if she even knew this website existed.

You see, it’s like this.  Back in April, after I was offered the short-lived disaster of a job I had this year, and negotiated a start date that would allow me to take a much over-due trip to visit my sister and her family, including four children (my nieces and nephew), two of whom I had never seen in person, I decided that it was the opportunity and excuse I needed to invest in a fancy new 35 mm digital camera.  I’ve always been interested in photography and wanted to learn more about it and with a digital camera I’d be able to see the immediate results of my attempts to improve on technique and composition.  I bought the camera and took it with me on the trip, and of course, as soon as I took the camera out on the first day, the children started being children and wanted to take pictures themselves, and tell me what pictures I should take (my nephew kept saying, “take a picture of mine’s knees”), and insisted on seeing the pictures the instant they were taken.  Very few pictures were actually taken on that trip because the camera posed such a distraction and any hope of getting some candid, true life photos was dashed on the first day.

Over the summer, I decided to take a photography class at the local community college.  I knew from other’s experiences that this class would teach me not only how to compose a good quality, artistic photograph, but also, how to use editing software to make the picture look even better.  A few days after I registered for the photography class, I decided to register for the first level, beginning swimming class and soon after decided that both classes were too much to do all at once, at the time.  Ultimately, I decided that the swimming class was a higher priority because I wanted to be able to find a place to go to swim for exercise and once I had that covered I could be swimming for exercise while I learned to take and edit good quality photographs in a later semester.  That is still the plan, although when classes start up again in a couple of weeks, I’ll be taking the next swimming class with the hope of getting more effective and confident in that skill.  Photography will wait until Summer or Fall Semesters.  The camera sits in its case for weeks or months at a time without getting used and I’ve never finished reading the owner’s manual, or the “Photography for Dummies” book that I purchased and lugged all the way to New York and back with me, without ever cracking the spine.

During my most recent previous stint of unemployment, I began participating in a “photo-a-day” program run by the author of another blog, using just my iPhone and an Instagram account I haven’t even looked at in months.  When I started working, I found myself far too busy and far to pre-occupied to keep up with it and I let it drop.

Recently, my urge to learn to properly use my camera has returned, as has my desire to practice and build my skill.  I have also wanted to get back to more regular posting here on this site, and not have everything be all gloom and doom and woe is me as the last several months have been.

And then it hit me!  The great idea!  The perfect “solution”!  “Photo-A-Day” meets “posting 365” (or whatever the hell they called it) meets new inspiration for both more and better photography AND more and more cheerful writing…  I decided I would pull out the photography books and read a little bit of them each day, and I would combine that with the photo-a-day prompts from Fat Mum Slim and everyday, I would take a picture that is prompted by the Photo-A-Day prompt and post it on this here bloggy thingy.  I would write a post about the photo if the spirit moved me, or I would just post the picture with a minimal explanation/caption and let it stand on its own.  Every day.  For 365 days.

I’ve already failed.

I wasn’t going to get too bogged down in the details of actually starting the plan on January 1st.  It’s already 2:00 in the morning on January 2nd, so you see how well that worked out.  But I was going to do a post for every picture and a picture for every day…

I worked last night.  For the first time in more years than I can remember, I worked on New Year’s Eve.  I would far rather have been out celebrating somewhere, preferably somewhere far away, like Las Vegas, or Sidney Harbor, but I need the money, and New Year’s Eve seemed like a good opportunity to earn a lot of tips.  (It could have been a lot better than it was, but the whole experience is a separate story for another post.)  I didn’t get off work until 1:45 AM.  One of the other bar tenders who happens to live right down the street from me and I rode BART home from the city together and I gave her a ride from the station to her house.  She invited me in and we had a two plus hours over-due celebratory glass of champagne and chatted for a little while before I went home.  I arrived at home around 4:00 AM at which time I took a shower.  I’ve never been able to go straight to bed after either arriving home, or taking a shower.  I need time to settle in first.  Plus, I had “nerd things” to do with my tip money.  I briefly entertained the idea that I just wouldn’t sleep until bedtime on January 1st, because I knew that what happened, would happen…  By 6:00 AM I was exhausted, could barely keep my eyes open and had no idea what I was seeing on the Netflix DVD I was watching.  I gave up and went to bed, slept until noon and have not had the slightest inclination to sleep again.  This is a scenario I do not want to make into a habit

When I woke up I was hungry and didn’t have time for “what should I cook for lunch”.  I needed to eat immediately, so failing all other options (or rational consideration thereof) I ended up eating a couple of Eggo toaster waffles.  Once the waffles were gone and the dish was washed off and in the sink (the dishwasher is full of clean dishes and I haven’t put forth the effort to put them away yet) I went to the living room and sat down.  It was only then that I pulled up the schedule of prompts for the photo-a-day program and saw today’s prompt:  lunch.  I couldn’t even think of a viable and reasonable way to cheat.

Sometimes it’s good to set the bar low right up front so you only have one way to go from there…

Getting On With It

Once again, I’ve been sitting on a “post” that I wrote weeks ago and e-mailed to myself  but never posted.  And once again, I feel like I can’t move forward until it’s been posted.  Some of what’s here is no longer relevant.  That will be explained eventually.  Meanwhile, I must get this posted so that I can move forward…  somehow.

This was originally written on October 2, 2013.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The noise and the supply of bullshit seem to be unending.  It’s abundantly clear, now, that The Guy doesn’t care about me in the least.  I shouldn’t be surprised.  I shouldn’t even be hurt by it.  But I am.  He fed me this bullshit song and dance about talking to people about the disruption, but he remains just as guilty as the rest, and just as guilty as he’s always been.  Seems like utter hypocrisy to me.  He, the one person I’ve spoken to at length about this problem, doesn’t care to be cognizant of his contribution.  So why would he believe anyone else would.

He just walked by my desk and said good morning.  Why?  What’s the point?  He doesn’t talk to me at all, except to say hi and bye.  Sure it’s polite, but we are past polite.  I can’t stand the sound of his voice.  The sound of his laugh.  I hate seeing him.  I wish I could get out of here and NEVER COME BACK.  I can’t wait for that day.

Only it has to be under my own steam.  There’s no way I can survive being unemployed again now.  It’s just not possible.  Yet, my boss is threatening to fire me, when you boil it down, because I’m depressed.  She says I’m being unkind to people, but she can’t give me an example of it.  All she says is that it’s “a tone”, it’s “intangible”, but “it has to stop.”  I really do not know what she’s talking about, as I have made a concerted effort to be as neutral as I can manage with people.  I’m not happy and I don’t have the power within me to pretend to be.  Of course it’s not OK to be rude to people and it’s not my intent to be, but if I’m doing something wrong, I don’t know it, thus, the reason I need specific examples.  (Meanwhile, I’ve actually received several complements from my customers recently, telling me what a great job I’m doing and how invaluable I am to the organization.)

A big part, maybe the biggest part, of why I’m unhappy, depressed now, is because of him.  He is directly responsible for breaking me.  I’m not saying I don’t have any responsibility for my circumstances, of course I do, but he was reckless and irresponsible and he toyed with me and my emotions.  He created this situation and I’m the one left to deal with the aftermath.  I’m trying to do just that, I’m trying to deal with my issues.  I’m doing the best I can.  But these things take time and my boss is not interested.  And now she wants to extend my probation, like that helps anything.  We’re never going to see eye to eye.  We’re never going to agree on how things should work.  We’re never going to agree on what “this industry” is like, or what “good customer service” looks like.

It’s just hopeless.

I NEED TO GET OUT!

~~~~~~~~~

On Friday, October 18, 2013, five and one half months into my six months probation, I was informed that I was “a square peg trying to fit into a round hole”, (that’s an actual quote), and that I was being “released during probation”, which pretty much means they can terminate my employment without notice, without warning, and, apparently, without any documentation of a problem.

The meeting with my boss and the HR representative (someone I had spoken to multiple times about the issues I was having with my boss and my concerns for my well-being, and who never once offered any sort of supportive or encouraging advice) took place at 3:30 that Friday afternoon.  Just half an hour before everyone was to meet up at a local brewery for happy hour to celebrate The Guy’s birthday.  Two separate calendar invitations were sent out about the happy hour and two separate calendar invitations were declined by me.  I’m sure he didn’t expect me to attend, but I can’t help but imagine that some people were surprised I wasn’t there and must’ve asked about me.  Either way, I know that my boss sent out a terse e-mail the following Monday morning informing the entire staff that I was not longer working there and to come to her with any outstanding or new requests.

I’ve never seen or  heard from The Guy since that day.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  I can’t imagine what his response was to the news.  Probably relief, though he’d act like he was sad for anyone who’s paying attention.  I can’t imagine he acknowledges any sort of responsibility on the subject, even though he does hold some.  It’s just as well really.  I don’t know what I would have said or done if he had contact me.  I need to wash my hands of him, and this is the only way to do it, but it still makes me a bit angry.

(Ironically, as a direct result of conversations that took place around the difficulties at work, I’m taking an “anger management” class right now.  That’s a whole post in itself and I’ll discuss it further later, but one of the concepts in this class is that “anger isn’t real”.  They suggest that anger is just a mask for pain whether it’s physical or emotional.  That said, I wonder why I would be hurt that someone I don’t want to have anything further to do with wouldn’t bother to check on me after finding out I had been let go?)

Regardless, I am out of that situation, away from him, never have to see or speak to him again.  I can start to “wash that man right out of my hai–”  oh.  Well, you get the idea.  (I wonder if anyone will understand that reference without clicking the link.)  I no longer have to deal with the stress of a job that was never right for me in the first place.  I don’t have to deal with a boss who is chaotic and disorganized and disrespectful, and sexist.  I don’t have to deal with the film of grit and filth that was a permanent fixture on my beautiful new car, from the asphalt plant or sand factory, both of which were on the other side of the fence from the parking lot.

All of these are good things.  Nevertheless, I am still unemployed, living in one of the most expensive parts of the country, with a brand new car (and payment, gas and insurance to go with it) and not nearly the resources I had the last time this happened.  If I don’t figure something out pretty damn quickly, I’m going to have to make some drastic and very unpleasant changes, I’m just not sure I can face.

Anyway, my first priority these days is earning money and finding a new full time job, but I think about this space often.  Maybe now that I’ve gotten the last of these written-elsewhere-and-emailed-for-later-posting posts posted, I can come back here more frequently, even if it’s just to post short updates on the current goings on in my life…  like this:

First day with full-time glasses.

First day with full-time glasses.

Because There Are More Problems in Life Than Love

I’ve been at my new job now for about three and a half months.  Long enough, I think, to have a feel for how the foreseeable future will go.  I’m disappointed, to say the least.  I was so optimistic when it started out.  I wanted to believe that I had found a good place for me.  It was presented to me as an incredible opportunity to help establish the Facility Management department for this new organization and really build something that could be great…  Not unlike the opportunity I thought I was presented to build something really great with The Guy.

When I started my job, my boss was in the middle of moving a big group of people from the main site of our parent organization, into our satellite location.  I understood and accepted that in the middle of this project was not the place to involve a new employee who didn’t know how anything got done in the organization.  It would have taken my new boss longer to introduce and explain things to me than it would take to do them herself, so she did.  She did give me small tasks along the way that contributed toward the project; tasks which gave me enough insight into what she was doing to see that there were some definite inefficiencies.  One of the matters that was focussed on in my interviews was the fact that I had ten years experience in Facility Management and had done a number of large scale project moves for my previous employer.  I’ve dealt with multiple outside Facilities Groups, IT groups, outside move coordinators, moving companies, furniture companies, etc., etc.  I know a thing or two about moving a hundred or so people all at once, and I know what’s pretty standard operating procedure for moves like this, because I’ve seen the same tactics and techniques used, over and over again, among all those different entities, without fail.  So when I saw that my new boss wasn’t using these techniques in this large scale move, I saw an opportunity to make some suggestions and utilize my “expertise” to help make things easier and more efficient in this new organization.

When my new boss asked me to create a spreadsheet for the telecommunications group that would be dealing with the relocated workers telephone needs, I asked her why were were starting from scratch, and after explaining to her the industry standard of a single spreadsheet with all the information for the move, which is then shared (after being frozen – no more changes) with all the functional groups, thereby reducing the likelihood of human error, her immediate response was, “Oh we can’t do that here.”  When I asked why not she said, “They won’t go along with it.”  Then, as I was recreating the wheel, because “they won’t go along with it”, I pointed out what I felt to be some missing information from the spreadsheet she had me making, and her response was, “I don’t think they need that.  I don’t want to confuse them.”

(As a quick side note, in my early 20’s I worked for about 3 1/2 years in the telecommunications industry.  A lot has changed in the ensuing years, but I know a bit more than the average Joe, about how these things work.)

The day that the phone tech came to do the phone work, it was a complete cluster #@(%, and when it was finally sorted out, the tech told me, next time if you could include blah, blah, blah in your spreadsheet, it would help clear this up really quickly.”  In case you really didn’t already see it coming, “blah, blah, blah” was the information I told my boss I thought we should add and she said she didn’t think they needed.

I could now go into a whole long list of examples of what’s been happening in the three months since, but really that one sentence summed up the whole thing.  She doesn’t think this, or she believes that.  I make it a habit not to question the advice or opinions of people who know more about the subject at hand than I do.  If the opportunity presents itself, I will ask clarifying questions to educate myself, but I do not question their judgement.  My boss questions everything.  And she makes decisions about things that she is not an expert on, frequently.  One such instance of this, resulted in me, as the person who is actually managing the project, and on her orders, questioning the judgement of the person who knew more than I did about the issue at hand.  I was forced to ask the contact for a new quote for something because my boss didn’t think the dimensions originally quoted were necessary.  The contact was offended by the inquiry, gave a very gruff explanation to both myself and my boss, about why the dimensions she had quoted were the recommendation, (all things, by the way, that I had already told my manager) and in the end, we left the quote as was, but not before I alienated the contact (who happens to be the property manager for the building we’re in – someone I have to deal with frequently) and wasted everyone’s time unnecessarily.  All because my boss wouldn’t accept the judgement of someone who know more about a thing than she did.

Last December, while I was unemployed, and finishing up what turned out to be a single semester of college classes, I was diagnosed for the first time in my life with having Attention Deficit Disorder.  I was quite surprised by the diagnosis, but it also explained a lot of things that I’ve struggled with my entire life.  Like the fact that I am incapable of blocking out distractions and annoyances.  I overhear conversations at restaurants and comment about them to my table mates only to find that they don’t know what I’m talking about.  I hear absolutely everything that goes on around me.  Always have.  As it turns out, this, among many other things I’ve experienced are classic ADD symptoms.

This is relevant to the story because, in my job, I’m sitting in a cubicle, something I haven’t done for 11 years.  Not only am I sitting in a cubicle for the first time in over a decade, but it’s a pretty small one.  There’s not much storage, and by the nature of my job, I’m responsible for lots of little things.  And I literally mean things.  Sitting on my desk right now, are five iPhone5 cases, waiting for someone to ask for them.  There’s a box of AA batteries, because randomly and frequently, people come to my desk to ask if there are any AA batteries anywhere, but my boss doesn’t want to add them to the community supply room because they will disappear.  I have a box of badge holders, and after-hours access cards, because people randomly stop by asking for one or both of those things.  I still have all the old files from the Project Manager whose desk I inherited.  He’s the one who managed the development of the space and operation we’re currently running, and he was expected to hang around for a while, only during the three weeks between my accepting the position and starting my job, he announced and then left to take a new job at another division of the organization.  I haven’t just trashed the files because I can imagine there is bound to be some valuable information in them, but I haven’t had any time to review them and find out, either.  Clutter is the enemy of the ADD mind…

Minion to do my bidding.

In addition to the clutter, there is also a nearly never ending stream of noise.

On one side of my cubicle is my boss, who frequently calls out my name to talk to me over the cube.  She asks me for information, or how to do something or, if I have done something, or to please do something.  She frequently asks me to go check something, or go find out something.  Quick, little things, that generally shouldn’t take long (unless someone sees me walking around and wants to take that opportunity to ask me a question or request some service I don’t have a chance of remembering when I get back to my desk) but which are interruptions to whatever I’m doing at the moment.  And as a person with ADD, returning to a task after having my concentration disrupted, and picking up where I left off is nearly impossible.  (I’m aware that lots of non-ADD people have similar issues, but not many ADD people don’t.)  Most of the time, these requests from her, seem very much like she’s trying to wrap up whatever she’s working on and this little piece of information is crucial to that, but having to go and get it would derail what she’s doing.  I totally get that, because I tend to put off going away from my desk to get information, so that I can finish things that I’m working on, and wouldn’t I love to have a minion that I could send out to do my bidding.  But see, unlike the minions who spend their “downtime” playing games and pulling pranks on one another waiting for some instructions, I am actually diligently working on my own tasks and projects that were given to me by the same boss who is now sending me on her little gofer runs.  When I return to my desk after, I’m lost and it takes a while to get my concentration back…  if I can do it at all.

On the other side of my cube, is a really sweet woman who I have a lot in common with, in terms of our backgrounds and how we came to be where we are in life.  I like her a lot, I enjoy my conversations with her.  She’s one of the reasons the office celebration of my birthday happened.  And when her birthday came up a couple of weeks later, I made sure that we did something for her.  Everyone loves her.  She’s awesome!  And, she has zero internal dialogue.  Absolutely everything that enters her mind, comes tumbling out of her mouth.  And she does it at a normal speaking voice.  She would do it whether anyone was around or not.  People frequently come to her desk to talk to her, both about work stuff and not.

The office is a former factory, and it was decorated with an industrial look in mind, only, usually when that’s done the ceilings are much higher.  This building was finished with only slightly higher than standard ceilings, and zero ceiling tiles.  Maybe this doesn’t mean anything to you non-Facility Management types out there, but one of the biggest reasons to have those tiles, is to absorb sound.  It prevents the noise from the air conditioning units and duct work above from carrying into the work space, and it prevents the sound of the voices of all the people in the office talking at the same time from reverberating around the room.  WE DON’T HAVE THAT!!!

There have been a couple of smaller moves that have taken place sense I started my job, and I have had nothing to do with any of them.  Well….  That’s not true actually.  I’ve not been involved in the planning of them, but my boss has happily handed off the menial, manual labor tasks that related to them.  For example, I got to order, assemble and distribute “welcome kits” of office supplies to the desks of the new occupants; something that took hours of my time, caused me to sweat like a pig in work clothes and environment (something I absolutely HATE and makes me very cranky) and in the end proved to be a waste of time as the people we were moving in were not new to the organization, already possessed most of what we offered, and most of them discarded the items the day they moved in.

And speaking of manual labor, there have been a number of things that I am responsible for that were not discussed in my job description, or in my interviews.  Things that, had I known, I would have thought twice about taking the job.  For instance, I’m responsible for receiving, sorting and delivering the mail every day.  I’m also responsible for receiving, opening, sorting, recording, and distributing any and all packages that come in.  I’m responsible for keeping the office supplies inventoried and replenished, and as if that weren’t bad enough (at least it is to me,) the supplies are located in ELEVEN different places in our four story building, because on a whim she decided we needed office supply way stations spread around the building so people didn’t have to walk so far to the central supply room to get them…  in our four story building.  These tasks can take anywhere from half an hour to six hours depending on the day and what we’re receiving.

I am the highest paid mail room boy in the area, but my job description doesn’t even mention it.  Meanwhile, my job description does mention lots of other things which I’m still held accountable for, but barely have time to get to.

The presumably unintentional understanding (at least I assume it’s unintentional) that is established every time someone new comes to work in the building is that if they need anything at all, just ask me or my boss.  Every new person get’s a tour of the building, and that tour always includes the locations of our desks and the introduction that we are the people who “take care of everything in the building”.  I have heard more than one person tell the new employee “If you need anything at all, these are the people to talk to, and now you know where they sit.”  The problem is, we don’t really have a viable alternative to offer them.  (Speaking of industry standards, I don’t know of another Facility Management operation anywhere, that doesn’t have some sort of ticketing request system for people to submit there service requests on-line.)

Because we are introduced this way, and because we don’t have an alternative to offer, people – especially brand new people – really do just come up to our desks and interrupt what we’re working on to ask for what they need.  Mostly little things that simply aren’t that urgent.  More often than not, they’re things that people should be asking their immediate supervisor for.

I really like the people I work immediately around.  I haven’t been able to say that for a very long time.  But it’s true.  They’re all friendly people.  They’re all nice.  I had barely even been working there for a month, but when word got out that my birthday was happening, a bunch of them took me out for drinks after work.  I genuinely like them!  And I completely can not function around them, work-wise.

In the earliest days of my employment, I told the chatterbox behind me about my ADD.  I didn’t do it to make her feel bad, or to complain about her.  In fact I don’t remember how it came up, but I told her about it and she acknowledged it in the context of the conversation.  She knows it’s an issue.  Not long after that, I told my boss the same thing.  I told her that I’m really struggling to focus and concentrate in the environment.  In a subsequent conversation I reminded her of the ADD, and the difficulty I’m having being able to focus on my work, because of all the noise, and the constant interruptions.  She asked me what I thought the solution was, and I told her, unfortunately, I thought I probably needed to move.  She told me that if I moved then she had to move and asked me to give her some time to think about a possible solution.  I did.

Last week, in the middle of a meeting with her, I asked her about it again.  “I know we’ve discussed this before,” I said, “and I know you’ve heard me, but I can’t tell if anything has come of it.”

Before I could say anything else she said, “This is about the noise and distractions.”  She didn’t sound angry, but she didn’t sound particularly positive or helpful about it ether.  In the end she offered to let me “try on” another specific desk in the same suite and see if that helped.  If it did, she had no objection to me moving into it.  But in proof that she doesn’t really understand or get what I’m telling her, the cube she offered up, is right by the entrance to the suite, along the main route from the opposite side of the suite to the shared kitchen which is three desks down from the cube she offered me, and not enclosed in the least.  Plus it’s just outside of the office of one of the loudest people in the whole suite.  I haven’t tried it out yet, because my laptop has been on the fritz and I’m not going to move my whole desktop and two monitors for a “try on”.   But IT will return my laptop tomorrow and I will try the new desk, so that I can speak with authority about whether or not it helps.

 

Round Two

Go ahead and imagine the scantily clad woman holding a giant card with a big number “2” printed on it, prancing around the border of the ring, in high heals …

I mean, if that’s what you’re into…

 

“What are you still doing here?” I asked him as evenly as I could manage.  I wasn’t exactly happy to see him, under the circumstances, but I didn’t want to be uncivil to him, as I promised I would not be.  Besides, if we have any chance at all of being “friends” it’s got to start somewhere, right?

That’s the same argument I made to myself when I questioned whether or not I really wanted to go to lunch with him the other day.  That turned out well, right…

He stood there, hands on the edge of the counter with his head hanging down and looking at me sullenly.  I repeated the question, and after heaving a heavy sigh, he said, “I’m going in a minute.”

“Okay,” I answered, continuing to sort through the papers on the counter in front of me.  He asked me what I was doing with them.  They were related to a small, but important task that I had needed to accomplish for the three days, but hadn’t had the time to get to.

 

The Bay Area Rapid Transit system or “BART” is having issues.  Some union that they’re involved with has decided to go on Strike, starting Monday, and there will be no service for an indefinite period of time.  They went out a month or so ago for four days, and my 8 mile, usually 15-20 minutes commute was taking closer to 45 stressful, fuel guzzling minutes.  Some days longer.  I told my boss on the fourth day of that event that I was going to start taking my company issued laptop home with me so I could work for a couple of hours in the morning and then come in when traffic had died down.  She was fine with it, but as it turned out to be the last day of that strike, it didn’t even matter.  I spoke to her yesterday afternoon and proposed the same arrangement, to which she agreed, as long as I had things to work on, which I do.  Plenty!

As I was preparing to go home last night, I looked at the stack of papers in their folder, frustrated that another day had gone by and I couldn’t get this simple task accomplished, when it suddenly dawned on me; I’ve got lots of tasks that I have to struggle to get to because of all the distractions and interruptions I deal with on a daily basis.  There will be no distractions and interruptions while I’m working at home next week.  I can get the nagging stuff done then, as long as I plan ahead for it!  I took the stack of papers that I needed to sort and scan and walked to the counter in the open Kitchen, near the scanner.

 

Without looking up from my work, I answered, “I’m sorting them so I can scan them into a couple of emails and deal with them on Monday morning.  What’s happening right now?”  I asked the question so quickly after answering his it was almost a part of the same sentence.  I put the papers down and looked up at him waiting for an answer.  He just continued to stand there with that dopey look on his face.  “What?!” I asked again, slightly bothered.

“I don’t know,” he said, “you just seem so unhappy.”

Actually, I felt quite a bit better than I had the day before, but that’s not really saying much.  There are a number of factors about work that have had me really stressed out and this emotional turmoil with The Guy has only added to the stress and tension.  It feels like there’s been a lot of tension in the air in general and I don’t know if I’m imagining it because I’m so tense, or, as I’m afraid might be the case, it’s just wafting off of me and affecting everyone around me.  I just looked at him.  I didn’t know what to say.

“I feel like it’s my fault,” he said.  Fucking genius, that one!

“I don’t think it’s unrealistic or unreasonable that I would be hurt and angry, six hours after being told what you told me,” I said, referring to our text argument on Wednesday night.  “The fact that you think I shouldn’t be, just pisses me off more.”

“No, I guess it’s not,” he said.

We ended up talking for over an hour.  It was one of the most emotionally open conversations he has had with me.  I suppose, in some ways it was for me as well.  I’ve always been honest and sincere with him, but I’ve also not said a lot of things that I knew he would have a hard time hearing.  There was no reason to hold back any longer.

He changed his story, not for the first time.  He claims he didn’t say, “not ever”.  To be fair, I don’t remember word for word what he said, I just know the gist of what he said and the tone of his voice.  The “ever” was implied, if not actually spoken.  He said that he thought about me the entire time he was in the UK.  He and his friend were “running around at all these different sites,” and all sorts of events and the entire time, I was on his mind.  He couldn’t understand why that would be.

“I have thought about you, every minute of every day, since I met you,” I told him.  “The difference is, you think it’s a bad thing.”  The look on his face caught me off guard.  He seemed genuinely surprised by that.  “Do you even understand what I meant when I told you I ‘completely fell for you’?” I asked him.  “I haven’t said it because first of all the word terrifies me, and secondly, I knew you couldn’t handle hearing it.  The Guy,” (obviously, I used his real name here), “I fell in love with you!  It’s stupid, really.  It shouldn’t have happened.  There’s no logical, explicable reason for it.  But here we are.  This doesn’t happen to me.  But I thought you were worth taking the chance.”

I think if I had exhaled a little more forcefully, he would have fallen over.

One of the most tragic things about this situation for me, is that something new happened in me and I thought he was worth taking a chance.  Something new happened in him and he didn’t think I was worth taking the chance.  The fact that he doesn’t think I’m worth taking the chance, is probably why I was wrong about him.

There are a lot of things I need to sort through, now, things he’s said to me over the months that I have to figure out.  It would be better, of course, to not rehash any of it and just let go, but that’s not really how I function, especially not with him right in front of me every day.  Even if I made the “decision” to do just that, it wouldn’t actually happen anyway.

He opened up a lot last night and a lot of the aspects of his damaged psyche that makes him who he is came to light.  The recovery he’s claimed to be in for the last seven years, is really just an explanation to use to when offering up excuses for his lustful behavior.  He admitted that his efforts in that arena have been minimal at best.  Which lead to the revelation that he lied to me right at the start, when I asked him what his intentions toward me were in acting the way he did.  “So you really were just trying to get in my pants.” I said.  “You really just wanted to fuck me.”  When he nodded, I climbed down off the counter, picked up my papers and walked away.

I finished at the scanner and walked back to the kitchen.  I was silent for a long time.

“The bottom line,” I told him, “is that I have never lied to you.  Everything I have ever said and done has been completely sincere.  But I’m no magician.  If you think about me as much as you say you do, that’s because at some point along the way, something happened inside of you and I started to mean more to you.  And that scares the shit out of you!  But it’s all! Inside! Of you!!

 

We went back to our desks to pack up and go home.  It took me longer, but that’s not a surprise.  When he walked past my desk on his way to the door, he stopped.  He just looked at me for a minute and then without a word, he walked into my cubicle, put his arms around me and pulled me to him.  With my head against his chest, I listened to his heart beat while I put my one free hand on his back and squeezed lightly before giving him the thanks-for-the-hug double tap, but he didn’t let go and neither did I.  It felt amazing to have his body pressed against mine, again.  It’s a feeling I’ve missed and longed for.  It’s been three long weeks since the last time I felt that.

When he finally let go, he just whispered, “Good bye” and walked away.

…and Other’s Require More Effort!

I hadn’t really intended to resume writing at this site just to disappear for a month, but the last several weeks have been tremendously, and unexpectedly busy.

My new job keeps me very occupied, which means that, unlike my last job, I have not had any time for messing around at work,  (well…  I say I haven’t had any time for messing around at work…  I have managed to find a few minutes here and there for some “messing around”…  But that’s another story for another time, or maybe not…).  I certainly have not had time for writing blog posts!  On top of that, my evenings and week-ends have been pretty hectic as well.  Making time to write blog posts has been nearly impossible!  When I’m not working, which has been mostly on Saturday’s I’m hanging out with Lil’B, or other friends, or shopping, or whatever…  And when none of that is going on, I’m often engaged in the ongoing text-a-palooza with “A Guy” that has been, in equal parts, ripping my heart out, and showing me a world of possibilities I never believed existed for me.  He is less so “a guy” now, and more so “the guy”, though it’s still really complicated and not without its share of frustration…  But I’m getting ahead of my self and it’s much too late to get very far into that tonight.  Besides, I’m still processing and not sure what or how much to say.  So apparently I’m just a big tease…  But then again so is he…  Er, what was I saying?

There are a lot of things to write about and I really must make the time to get it in, but for now, there’s this…

In the early middle of June, I went one Saturday afternoon to K’s house in Berkeley, for her son’s graduation party/barbecue.  At the end of the party, I was in the kitchen packing up the things I had brought along, when K’s father, in from Arizona for the event, said, “Kevin?  Is that your car out front here?”  I confirmed that it was and he said, “cause this guy just smacked your car!”  Now my car was parked at the curb, at the edge of K’s driveway, with at least 20 feet of open curb between my rear bumper and the corner.  Remember that.  It’ll be important in a second.

K and I ran out to the street to see what had happened as the late-model Honda Accord drove away from the scene.  he drove halfway down the block, turned around in a driveway and then parked his car at the curb.  Seeing K and me standing there, he strolled slowly, and with empty hands, back to where I was standing, behind my car and examining the damage.  The first words out of this guy’s mouth were, “Oh, sorry.  I thought I had enough room to park there.”

I turned around and looked at the expanse of curb behind me and said, “Um, I think you had plenty of room to park there”

We surveyed the damage to my car and it was minimal.  I told the young man, “It doesn’t look to bad.  I’m sure it won’t be too complicated to fix, but I should go ahead and get your information.  Do you know he actually rolled his eyes at me, and then sauntered back down the street to his car to get his insurance information?!?

My Honda Insight, Damaged Bumper, Taken outside K’s house, Berkeley, CA

A week later, I had dropped my car off at a body shop to get the damage repaired, and I was on my way to the Hertz Local Edition lot to pick up my rental car.  When the driver pulled into the lot, I saw it right away.  The car of my dreams…  all most.  They had one white, Convertible Mustang on the lot (I don’t care for white cars, but otherwise it was great!) just waiting for someone to pick it out and drive away.   I was meant to be that someone.  My whole life a Mustang has been my dream car, though I never really thought I would be a Convertible guy.  Since it was an insurance replacement (my insurance policy covered $25.00 a day), they were offering discounted rates.  I don’t know what the Mustang would normally cost, but with the insurance company discount, it cost only $40.00 a day including Taxes.  My portion was only about $15.00 a/day.  When the lady at the counter told me that, I had only one response:  “Why not!  It’s time to kill the dream, anyway!  Let’s go for it.”  I thought the likelihood of it living up to my expectation was pretty low, so once I had driven one, I wouldn’t be so excited any longer.

I picked the car up on Friday morning, and I already had plans to go on a photo expedition on Saturday, with K.  (In April, just before starting my new job, I went to Albany, NY to visit my sister and her family, finally getting to meet, not only the new baby baby, but also, the nearly three-year old I hadn’t gotten to meet at that point.  Before going on that trip, I bought a fancy pants new digital 35 millimeter camera and I’m itching to learn all of its secrets.)  Naturally, while we were out, I had to have some pictures of the Mustang.

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The Mustang which did nothing to destroy my dream!

I had that car for a week five days, three of which were rainy, which I thought was completely unfair of Mother Nature.  The rain tapered off on the third day, but it was still a bit cold.  I didn’t care.  I had a Mustang for only a few days.  I was not about to lose a single precious moment in that car!

Driving the rented Mustang with the top down on the first available opportunity.  It was about 60 degrees, but I didn't care!

Driving the rented Mustang with the top down on the first available opportunity. It was about 60 degrees, but I didn’t care!

At the end of the week, I did not want to give it back which meant…  There was only one thing to be done:

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SOME dreams do come true.

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…