Things I Don’t Remember

As if I needed it, there was drama over the Memorial Day weekend.

I was at the Jersey Shore (stronger than the storm, bitches!) with my family – well, most of them; Sister 2, BIL 2, Youngest Neph and Shiny New Niece were elsewhere. Anyway, I was at the Jersey Shore, and Sunday night we went out to one of the local establishments – my parents, Sister 1 (BIL 1 was at the house with Twin Nephs), Sister 3, her boyfriend, three of her friends and their boyfriends, and a pair of former neighbors who have been friends of our family for nearly 20 years now. It was a nice night, not hot, not crowded. We were dancing. I had maybe four drinks? In three hours? After dinner. Vodka tonics on ice. Some guy at some point came up and started dancing with me, in which I was not the slightest bit interested, so I humored him for maybe 3/4 of a song.

Somewhere around 10:30, I bought beers for two members of our party and a drink for myself. I delivered the beers. I  took a sip of my drink. And then I rather suddenly realized I needed not to drink it. I felt weird. Sure, inebriated, but not dizzy, not room-spinning, not hot, not nauseous… just weirdly drunk. Instead of sipping my drink, I started sticking my fingers in it, pulling out ice cubes and chomping them. And then I put the drink down on the bar, turned to the bartender and asked him for water. He gave me a cup full, I laid a dollar bill on the bar (because the end of my drinking should not mean the end of a bartender’s tips if he still has to fetch my requests)…

…and that’s the last thing I remember.

Well, the last thing until I came around, sitting with my legs straight out in front of me on the curb outside the bar, with three paramedics in my face and an ambulance behind them, Sister 3 to my right and the rest of our party lined up on the sidewalk behind me.

Apparently, during the few minutes between me laying a dollar bill on the bar and sitting on a curb surrounded by emergency medical personnel, I collapsed.

According to my sisters and the family friends, I went limp and Mr. M had to catch me. He was holding me up with his leg and arms when Sister 1 came over to ask what had happened. She says I never closed my eyes, but I had turned gray and unresponsive. She and Mr. M shared the burden of my body weight while Mrs. M, who is a nurse, grabbed my arm and found me clammy. They tried to get me onto a chair, but I slid off it. The bartender vaulted the bar to try to help. Mr. M and Sister 1 picked me up and carried me out of the bar.

They say I started to come around as soon as they got me outside, but I don’t remember the beginnings of that. They say the medics asked if I had my ID on me and I told them it was in my back pocket. I told them my debit card should be back there, too, but it wasn’t – they found it inside on the bar, which is odd, since the bar only takes cash. (I’ve checked – the card number has not been used by anyone but me.)

What I remember is answering the medics when they asked me my name and how many fingers I was holding up. Then I turned to Sister 3 and said, “What happened?”

She had her hand on the back of my head, stroking my hair, as she answered me. She was very calm. She did a great job for a 23-year-old who had just watched her 36-year-old sister collapse for no real reason.

I was so alert, I could tell the medics exactly how much cash I had in what denominations in my back pocket. When they couldn’t find my pulse in my left arm, I told them to use my right because the veins in my left tend to roll. Given that degree of alertness, they didn’t transport me. BIL 1 had come to get us, and I vaguely remember climbing into the car, though I don’t remember getting out at the house. I stayed awake and talked to my family for about an hour, just to make sure I didn’t have some other weird episode. I felt boozy, but still not dizzy, not nauseous, not room-spinning drunk – none of those awful things you feel when you know you’ve had too much. I drank a ton of water and went to bed. Sister 3, sharing the room with me, woke me up a while later to check on me and have me drink more water. I woke up in the morning with a monster headache, a little dizzy… two cups of coffee and a two-hour nap straightened me out.

Then I was fine. Tired, but fine.

We wondered if I had been drugged. Had the guy who tried to dance with me slipped something into my drink? I never put a drink down – I need something in my hand when I’m out – like a prop, a security blanket, something to do with myself. But I drink slowly. Sister 3’s boyfriend remembers that the guy had tried to “grind” me, and I had told him no and walked away. I don’t remember that at all, though I do remember that I didn’t dance with him long. I think, if I had been drugged, the effects would have lasted longer.

Mrs. M. wonders if it was some sort of freakish medical event that was exacerbated by the drinks. Honestly, I wonder that, too. Someone told me my blood pressure had been 134/60. That’s odd for me; I’m usually around 100/70.  As I went to bed that night, I said a little prayer that if there was something wrong medically, it would be a quick and quiet death in my sleep. Seriously. I said that prayer.

I still haven’t figured it out. I’m waiting for my medical insurance to kick in, and then I’ll go for a physical and let the doctor know about this incident. I’m sure I’ll get a lecture about alcohol, but I’m no more than a moderate drinker on a high-intake day. Who is taking a break for a while.

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Rendezvous, Then I’m Through With You

One of my friends wants to set me up with her friend’s neighbor.

Liz doesn’t know about what’s happened with Jack. In one of those classic crazy life twists, she actually knows Jack from about 15 years ago when they worked together, but she doesn’t know much about him. She knows we were good friends, but that’s all, and she used to tell me all the time that she thought he was a great catch.

Sigh.

Liz had emailed me the other day, telling me that she thought either our friend Alicia or I should go out with this guy, Ben. She particularly thought I might be interested because he’s a classical pianist and violinist, and an economist, to boot. Given my love of classical music as a singer and my pseudo-wonkiness, she figures this is right up my alley. He’s also a runner. Because apparently everybody is a runner these days. The only problem, as she sees it, is that he’s short. She doesn’t know how short, because she doesn’t actually know him.

“I’m told he’s taller than Peter Dinklage, but shorter than me,” she told me.

So that means he’s between 4’6″ and 5’10”. I’m 5’7″ barefoot.

Well, that’s not the only problem. The other problem is that my heart is currently sitting on my counter in a blender.

Also, he lives an hour away from me, and I just can’t stand the thought of going back to driving back and forth after finally ridding myself of my 100-mile-per-day commute. But that’s really neither here nor there. Although it does add to the list of reasons I slump over when I think about this idea.

So why even consider it, right? Well, that’s the thing. It’s not that I have any interest in running the risk of attaching myself once again to someone who, in a month or a year or a decade, will walk away. I know I don’t have the stomach for dating at the moment, starting over with getting to know someone from zero, investing time and energy into something that ends with a whimper or a thud or an explosion, but ends nonetheless.

But I know that I am dangerously close to never trying again.  I feel like there might be a delicate balance, and that if I listen to the voice that tells me not to bother, I’ll shut it all down for good.

I ran into Rick the other day at work and he was telling me something that doesn’t matter because all I could think was that I have to keep it professional or I’ll get stuck again, falling for someone I can’t have. Every time I have to ask him for information on a project we’re both involved in, he responds to my cold email with a phone call. Someone says something nice about me in his presence? He leaves me a handwritten note at my desk. I send out an email to the people involved in the project? He replies just to me. We went on a site visit for the project the other day and while everyone else was talking amongst themselves about planning an event (which we don’t have a role in), we wound up standing off to the side together. I looked up and he was looking at me from behind his RayBans.

It helps that it’s difficult to have a meaningful wordless exchange when you’ve both got sunglasses on, but I suddenly remembered what he once said about me wearing his, and I had to walk away.

I can’t get stuck again.

So, what do you think? Should I tell Liz I’ll go out with the economist musician runner (damned runners)? Swallow the trepidation, dose up on anti-anxiety meds, drink a couple glasses of wine and pretend I have the emotional energy required? Is that fair to him? Or should I spare us all the struggle?

*In case you’re wondering, the title of this post is a reference to the ’90s Eve 6 song, Inside Out. “Wanna put my tender heart in a blender, watch it spin around into a beautiful oblivion/Rendezvous, then I’m through with you.”

The Crazy

So now I’m pissed at my best guy friend for up and Facebook-friending Jack after YEARS of not giving half a shit about him and frankly disliking him for the way he treats women.

Brad friended Jack. What the fuck. We all worked together once upon a time.. Brad left back in 2007 and literally has not talked to Jack since. And NOW, now that Jack is getting married, now that Jack has done so much to hurt me, now that Jack is somewhere between the love of my life who I lost and the object of my most penetrating hatred… Brad has friended him.

I’m so pissed I’ve tried four ways to contact Brad and tell him he needs to tell me why I shouldn’t be pissed.

Meanwhile, what did I do? Well, I went to Jack’s Facebook page, of course. We’re not friends, but some of what he posts is public. Including the new pictures of him and Gwyneth and the story of how he proposed during a marathon training run and “she gets her wish that I stop calling her my training partner.”

Memo to Gwyneth: he called you that all this time because he was HIDING YOU.

“We couldn’t be happier!” Jack says.

Good for you. Who are you, by the way?

Another memo to Gwyneth: the trail you were running on when he proposed was the one where I took the picture that’s framed in his condo. I gave it to him for Christmas in 2011. That’s my handwriting on the matte. He loved it. Loved it. I’ve never seen him react to anything with as much gratitude and emotion. I bet he never hung it because you would see it and ask about it. But it’s there somewhere. Hang it, please. So you have a reminder of where you fell in love. And where you got engaged. So he has a daily reminder of how he treated the woman who gave it to him.

I have called Joey and messaged Angie telling them I need them to talk me down given Brad’s move. And to once again stop me from sending Jack a really hateful message. Oh, it would feel so good. Here are some drafts:

You are going to ruin her.

OR

I heard you were marrying Gwyneth, eight months after throwing away ten years like it was nothing and telling me you were not capable of sustaining a substantive relationship. Good luck. You’ll both need it.
OR
How long were you sleeping with her and spending nights with me? When you cancelled on me Christmas night, telling me it was something that made you sick from dinner, was that because you were spending the night with her instead? Does she know you spent the next night with me? The night I gave you the framed photo of your running trail?
I kind of wish I could post a comment on his “could not be happier!” FB page that simply says, “Whatever.”
But I know that all makes me the smaller person. I know I’ve actually crossed into the Crazy that I always envied other women for being able to pull off. Brad says Jack contacted him via Facebook last week about tickets to an event and that’s why they became friends. I call bullshit. Defriend him now, then. You don’t even talk. I need to know that my best guy friend, who has been supportive and thoughtful and derisive of Jack, isn’t dividing his loyalties. Like Jack did.
Facebook is so unnecessarily… whatever.
I’m so upset I can’t even find words anymore.

Who Wrote Every Radio Song Ever? I’d Like A Word.

I’m at the point now where I think that all music with words in English needs to be banned from my earshot, and I’m talking to rom-coms on television trying to convince the stupid women in them to stop falling in love with the guy who can’t make up his mind.

I’m smart enough not to attempt the radio or most of my music collection. I usually have Pandora going on my laptop (the internet music service, not the band) while I’m cleaning or cooking, but I didn’t do it yesterday while I was frantically dusting and scrubbing and washing on deadline because having one neighbor over for dinner turned into a party of eight and I hadn’t cleaned in two weeks. But I had to go to the grocery store for tomatoes and mixed greens, and everything that played over the speakers high above my head was about love or breakups, or came from the standard 1990s collection of wedding songs.

So for now, I can’t go to grocery stores. Or watch Sunday afternoon television. Or see a random issue of People Magazine, because Gwyneth Paltrow is on the cover as the most beautiful woman in the world. (Which, let’s be honest, is nauseating even if Jack’s future wife didn’t look like her.) I also have to avoid everything relating to baseball (Jack’s passion), horses (long story, multiple chapters), several streets and restaurants, an entire television station (another long story with multiple chapters) and a lot of non-rom-com movies.

And certain cocktails.

And church.

Ralph Lauren Blue. Listerine Pocket Strips.

And, weirdly, zebras. He’s afraid of zebras. Not that I see zebras a lot, but when I do, I instantly think of Jack.

I’m taking to heart a lot of what friends have said – including blog friends – about Jack’s impending marriage and what it means, or doesn’t, about our relationship and about him. I just got off the phone with Joey, himself heartbroken over the breakup of his first real relationship in years. He somehow was the first one to get through to me that it doesn’t matter what I knew about Jack before, and it doesn’t matter what Jack thought about his capacity for relationships before, and it doesn’t matter what I understood before. Jack has changed. That’s all that matters.

It’s hard, though, to synthesize that with everything I know about him for the last ten years, and what he’s told me about the ten years before that. It’s hard to believe that after ten years of showing him what love is, and nearly 50 years of his own life, it only took eight months for him to completely turn around his whole understanding of himself. The only way his marriage will work is if he really did turn that around within himself.

What still hurts is that, when I asked whether I had any significance in his life, he had no answer, which meant the answer was no. I asked him that more than a year ago, and I’m still not over it. I have realized that there were lies and there was hiding and there was evasiveness and there was a fundamental lack of respect for me after all the years we were so many things for one another – but that doesn’t mean I don’t love him anymore. I don’t wish he were marrying me instead of Gwyneth –  not because I don’t love him or can’t imagine it, but because he’s hurt me too much. But I can’t understand, at bottom, why he didn’t have the respect for me that I had earned.

I’m angry with myself, too. I have been, I guess, for a long time. It’s another thing I made peace with and now it’s come back, in light of the change in conditions that makes me wonder what was true before. I’m angry that I let myself love someone who wouldn’t love me, even though I tried more than once to stop and I couldn’t. I’m angry that it wasn’t the first time. I’m angry that I considered his feelings above mine all the time, that I avoided showing him the fullness of how I felt – good or bad – because I didn’t want to scare him away, and in the end he walked away anyway. Who wouldn’t have seen that coming? I’m mad at myself for hiding the nature of that relationship from even my closest friends other than him, because I knew they wouldn’t approve, that they would warn me it was a bad sign. That’s what I would have done, too, if it were them instead of me. I’m angry that I was happy loving him and only thinking, or guessing, or hoping that he loved me.

I have learned a few things, yes. And I applied some of what I learned with Rick. I’m hoping those are lessons I won’t forget. But I worry about what effect this will have on me in the future, should I meet someone else and have the stomach for anything more than “hello.” I made a conscious decision, at more than one point, to trust Jack. I wonder now if I will be able to do that again, or if I will struggle with it so much that whoever he is will be discouraged.

And the memories that float to the surface unbidden – I’d like for them to stop. Images and impressions and senses and jokes and looks and touches and the indelible mark of his condo and the smell of the air there when I walked through the door… now when it flashes, she’s in the room, too. It knocks the wind out of me every time.

Day six. Breathe in.

Vapor

Jack is marrying Gwyneth.

It’s not a dream. It’s not some weird hallucination or some silly rumor. It’s true.

Jack is marrying Gwyneth.

Brad is the one who told me, God love him. He emailed me today while I was working and said that there was a rumor going around that I wasn’t going to want to hear, but that I would probably want to hear from him before any other way, and that he was probably going to have to tell me on the phone. I asked him if I would need vodka.

“I think you’ll probably be okay but you might plan on a glass of wine.”

Pfft. It’s like he doesn’t know me at all. “I always plan on a glass of wine,” I replied. “That just means it’s Tuesday.”

Of all the things I couldn’t imagine it being, this was nowhere near the periphery.

Jack is marrying Gwyneth.

Brad told me the word had gotten out after Jack mentioned his “future wife” at an event the other night. Apparently then the Facebook chatter started – chatter I never saw because I’m not friends with either of them now. Apparently they’re not engaged officially, but are getting engaged officially soon.

Apparently a lot of things.

I was in my car when Brad told me this and I had to adjust my rearview mirror to see my own face. This is not an overstatement: nothing in my life has ever shocked me as much as this. Nothing. Not even when a boyfriend got married to a woman he had barely known before me, who lived a thousand miles away, less than eight months after breaking up with me. And I literally fell over when I heard that.

Jack didn’t want to get married. Ever. To anyone.

Jack spent years telling me I was his ideal. I thought if he would ever marry anyone, he would have to at least date me first. I thought Gwyneth was just the latest part of his pattern of almost loving someone and then walking away. I felt a little sorry for her. I thought, when he told me in September that he wasn’t capable of sustaining a substantive relationship, that he must be right.

Jack and I haven’t spoken since then, when he abandoned our friendship entirely after heartfelt and honest entreaties from me to save it for what it was – ten years of something truly extraordinary. He told me he knew he had caused me great pain and would take steps to repair it when it was no longer so painful for me.

I knew then that I would never hear from him again. But I never, ever could have imagined this.

She’s 22 years younger than him. He’ll be 50 next January. Could that be why he’s doing this now?

What was I – his trainer?

How long had he lied to me? One morning when I woke up in his bed, in July of 2011, and saw a t-shirt lying near my feet that I hadn’t seen the night before, and asked him where it had come from… when I thought for sure she had worn it, somehow, months before I knew they had some sort of relationship, I thought it for sure, and he said it was just a shirt he sometimes wore to bed… when I smelled it to see if it smelled like a woman before he came back into the room… when I knew he never wore t-shirts to bed… had I been right, all the way back then? A year before the last time I saw him? Almost two years ago now?

How long had he been spending nights with both of us?

How could he?

Years ago… how many years ago? eight?… I remember sitting across from him at a table outside our regular hangout. We had never touched beyond a hug goodbye. I loved him already, but it was controlled. I remember thinking that if I put my hand on his chest, he would disappear. He would fade like vapor under my palm, before my eyes.

Six years later, I knew how solid he was, how real. It seemed impossible that he could disappear for me now. Even if he changed, even if the touch went away, he could never disappear for me now.

And now it’s like he’s vanished. Like none of it was ever real at all. Like it was never more than mist, mirage, oasis. Like it was someone else’s life. Like that movie, “Midnight In Paris,” as if I’d gotten into a car at a particular time in a particular place and found myself in another dimension, not to be believed… but so very, very real, and so immensely pivotal to my life.

He has been past-tense to me for months. I don’t remember exactly when I fully accepted that I would never hear from him again, but it’s been months. I thought I might be finished crying.

I still dream of him. I feel a sting at certain times during Mass, times when I always used to give his name to God, times when I always used to think of holding his hand.

It’s terrible of me to think that this is only happening because he’s nearing 50, because she’s cute and blonde and 27 and likes to run, because her mother has cancer and his mother died of it when he was 17. It’s cruel of me to think the connection is that cheap, that it is built on something so easily found with a million other people. When what we had was so…

What? What was it?

Was it anything?

Did I spend ten years in love with someone who wasn’t real?

It’s cruel of me to want to send him a message with three words: “Is she pregnant?” when I don’t want to know. It’s cruel of me to want to send him a message telling him nothing has ever shocked me more and no one has ever hurt me more and I have never loved anyone more, and then telling him to never reply.To want to ask him how long he lied to both of us and whether he still lies to her. To ask whether she knows about me. To ask her whether she knows about me.

None of it matters. And I know, if I were her, I might think that, after all, I‘m the one who gets him, swearing to God and all who are present, to love, to honor, to cherish. That, after all the decades of love and loss, I’m the one to whom he has promised himself.

Somehow, now, I have become the vapor under his hand.

What’s the Best Wine Pairing for Foot?

The second week of my new job basically involved me stuffing my foot in my mouth and seeing just how far I could shove it down my throat without vomiting all over someone’s desk, and other awkward occasions.

Don’t get me wrong – job’s still good. People are still nice. Me? I’m kind of an idiot.

My new immediate boss started Monday. It just so happens that, in the ongoing adjustment to restructuring our department, he wasn’t hired until after me. Not a big deal at all. But he has to get up to speed with how things are working so that he can then oversee how things are working. Pursuant to that, he had an informal staff meeting on Tuesday morning at which I opened my fat mouth and implied that I understood things that, being on my exact seventh day of working at the university, I, of course, did not, in fact, understand. This has long been a problem of mine. My natural air of confidence makes me seem as if I know what the hell I’m talking about, when in all actuality I’m totally making shit up half the time, and the other half I only think I know what I’m talking about, but I say it with such poise and certainty that people believe me. This is essentially how I’ve managed to convince anyone at all that I’m a grown-up.

And usually that’s harmless. But in this case, it ruffled the feathers of someone who’s been there way longer than me. Approximately 19 years, 11 months and 51 weeks longer. Because I thought she had new help with a client, and I was very wrong. She still does all the work herself. Yet I sort of came off as telling her she was wrong, instead.

On top of that, there was a covert kerfuffle over my title. Now, I can’t help what my title is. But I was hired with that title even though my associates, who do exactly the same job as mine, don’t have it. Naturally, they wondered what the difference was. They were told, before I arrived, that there was no difference. Joanne told them that. She hired me. She also told my immediate boss, Ron, that I have a leadership role over the others. Therefore, he kept coming to me for things, making me look like the new boss’s favorite. And she keeps talking me up like I’m the second coming.

Oh, please stop. It’s so nice to be valued and appreciated, but please, please lower the bar of expectation. I don’t know what I’m doing. You know that, right?

Then, last night, I went to a dinner in honor of some prominent graduates. Seated at my table were one such graduate and his family, along with two men I’ve met in the last two weeks – both clients I work with. The man to my immediate left was someone I hadn’t yet met. I asked him what he does within the university.

He’s the vice-provost.

Which is awesome, since the Office of the Provost is another one of my clients.

This was after I met the president of the university and couldn’t help but wonder if my v-neck was cut a little too low. Which I had been wondering all day. Which means the answer is probably yes.

In other news: Rick brought something up to my officle while I was in a meeting. I saw it briefly when I ran back to my desk to get something we were talking about. Then I wound up coming back to get what he’d brought, because we’d started talking about that. He’d stuck a Post-It note on it: “Sending you gifts (with a purpose). Enjoy.-Rick.”

I controlled the heart flutter, I think. Because it was just information on a construction project the university is doing. And a pen pimping said construction project. It wasn’t, like, roses. I did need the info.

But… I mean… the pen…

Anyway. I emailed him later to let him know his timing was perfect because we were discussing the very thing he’d brought to my officle while I was in the meeting. Then I asked for some quick information on the event he was attending. Except the event was the next night. “That’s tomorrow,” he replied, as I had known two hours before, but had forgotten. “Right now I’m stuck in traffic heading into the city for a dinner. If it keeps up like this, I might just bypass the dinner altogether.”

At first I thought nothing of it. Then I did some geographical calculation and realized that the city is south of the university, and the town where he’d been staying with his parents is north of the university. “Bypassing” in this case means continuing southward without stopping. And the town where he had lived with his girlfriend is south of the city.

So now I’m pretty sure he’s back with her. Which, by the way, is exactly what I have been telling myself all along, for the sake of my peace of mind. Supposedly. But I think he mentioned the “bypass” on purpose. Which I willfully ignored. Because this is a professional relationship. I will not wind up in the Friend Zone. And I will not ask questions.

After all the Foot I’ve tasted this week, I need to keep my mouth shut, anyway.

The First Week

You guys. I finished my first week of my new job.

First of all, did you know that you can work somewhere where people are all really nice and nobody is snarky? It’s true. I mean obviously it’s only been a week and everyone is probably on their best behavior and also really excited because wow, do I have a lot of responsibilities to take off their hands. I’m not complaining. I like being busy and I am going to know soooo many people. But no fewer than three officemates have told me I have entirely too many clients within the university. Like, triple what I should have, apparently? So that’s exciting. I’m looking forward to failing them all miserably.

I spent the week doing important things like having meetings with major players in university administration and also figuring out how the hell to work the phone. I couldn’t even log into a computer until Wednesday, so I was re-learning what it was like to write things out longhand and not be able to send email. I could place and receive calls, so that wasn’t a problem… I just didn’t have voicemail until Thursday.

I had to make a copy once. That was embarrassing. Here’s me, college-educated, working at a university, 16 years as a professional, and I couldn’t figure out how to make the copier go.

You need a code.

Aha.

But now? Except for not understanding why the printer that’s directly under my desk doesn’t print, and not knowing where anything I print actually goes, everything is up and running! I even figured out how to find someone else’s scheduling calendar in Outlook. In my previous career, there was nothing like this. I didn’t know computers had made it possible for me to see the scheduling calendar for literally every blessed person on staff at a university.

I find it a little creepy, to be honest.

On Tuesday, I asked the administrative assistant if we had any of those big desk calendars – you know, the ones with the big squares for each day so you can write a bunch of stuff in there? I was teased for not just doing it all in my phone, but my phone is always dinging and buzzing about something and I start ignoring it, so that’s not really the best way to go. Anyway, the AA told me she’d order me one.

Next morning. On my desk. “It’s not very pretty, but there wasn’t much of a selection,” she said apologetically. As if I need a pretty desk calendar. I’m still in shock I got something I asked for immediately and without question. I come from a place where they line-item veto $0.26 worth of staples on a supply request.

I did not make that up.

Oh! And I have an officle. That’s what I call  it. Hard C, like “cat.” It’s not quite an office because it doesn’t have a door, so it’s more like a cubicle, but bigger, and there’s a window! Remember how I used to work in a basement? Now I’m on the fourth floor with a window. Right there! Big ol’ view! Blinds I’m allowed to adjust whenever I choose!

And you know what else? I can be away from my desk for hours and nobody questions whether I’m doing my job. In fact, they assume I’m doing it, by being out, having meetings and getting familiar with campus. Which is exactly what I have been doing when I’ve been away from my desk, except for the four hours of my life that HR owes me for the timesuck that was orientation. Three people in this session, including myself, and it took four freaking hours. I’ve never seen so much PowerPoint in my life. And soooo much paperwork. Just to exist. Just to get on the payroll. At a state university, you have to fill out 427 forms and they can’t put you on payroll until they get allll  of them back. Including your retirement selection, your health insurance selection and your fingerprints. Yes, you have to be fingerprinted. Which should be reassuring since it is a place that shapes young minds.

Oh, but you can get into buildings and work and stuff before they find out whether you’re an ax murderer. You just can’t get paid until they’re sure you’re not.

On Tuesday, there was a breakfast meeting that featured actual hot food. Eggs, home fries, sausage, bacon… plus pastry, fruit salad, yogurt, coffee, water, juices… and the whole meeting was called solely so that the boss could thank everyone for working so hard. Apparently she does this every couple months.

What?

Previous career: there might be an email from the boss once every three clusterfucks saying how glad he is to work with such smart people, but that email would be lost in a shuffle of 4,281 other emails about how we suck. And on Fridays there might be a rumpled brown bag of bagels and schmears of cream cheese all over a table in the breakroom. Tops.

People kept coming by all week and asking how I was, how things were going, telling me how happy they were to have me there, and offering help all over the place while I get acclimated. One guy, the guy I share a wall with (he has an office-office) left me a donut while I was at a meeting, and then came back and confessed he thought he’d gotten me a croissant because I seem more like a croissant person and donuts are too pedestrian. (He’s right about my preference in pastry.)  I learned he had not gotten donuts and/or croissants for everyone. Just some people. He also threw a Ferraro Roche candy on my desk. Clearly he’s trying to butter me up.

Now, those of you who have been playing the home version of my particular game of life might be wondering, “But, thesinglecell… what of that man you dated, Rick?” Well, I had decided, on my first day, that I would go say hello. His office is one floor below mine and he did help a lot and encourage me a lot when I was up for the job. But he wasn’t around that day. I saw him Tuesday instead. We sat in his office and chatted for at least half an hour, mostly about university- and legislation-related stuff. The next day, he came up to my officle with a newspaper in his hand, to show me (rather triumphantly) an article about a national effort to accomplish something we had worked on together on the state level for victims’ rights. We had nothing to do with the national thing, but it did piggyback off of our thing, which was pretty cool, and he was totally excited about it.

And then on Thursday, one of his big projects landed on my desk. It falls under the purview of two of my clients. I needed to get more info, so I emailed him, told him I was now on the project and asked him for whatever pertinent facts he could provide.

“I”ll stop up in 30 minutes,” he replied.

Ten minutes later, he was in my officle. He could have just emailed me, but he came up. And now guess who’s going to the site visit and the groundbreaking for the project? Me. Also him.

We looked at each other.

“Who would have thought,” I said.

“I know,” he said.

See, I really was hoping to minimize the number of times I have to see him all dressed up in a suit looking incredibly hot and stuff. But noooo. Right from jump, we’re pushed together again, after two years of strange pushings-together that seem (to those of us who are hopeless romantics slash terribly cursed in relationships) fated to lead to more, despite inner turmoil that has already pulled us begrudgingly apart.

Oh, universe. You are just hilarious.