Doldrums

A Retrospect Pt. 2

I once said that you gave me strength. That every time I spoke out, it was in your voice. So when I left you in the past, I became lost. And this lost-ness is how I defined myself. As I gained weight, I lost the urge to dress like you. To seek out if you were still lingering somewhere inside me. I was a teenager the last time I wore a dress. It belonged to Jessica and she had left it behind in my room. And when I wore it, the comfort I felt shocked me. Scared me. I saw you smirking in the mirror. I took it off and that was that. I buried you in a chiffonier-shaped coffin.  

July

I begin a weight loss program. My meals are timed. 10 minutes for eating. A 5 minute break. And if I’m still hungry, another 10 minutes. I slow down my chewing. I allow myself to savor the food. I begin exercising. I begin tracking my weight. It’s a slow process, but the weight begins to dip ever so slightly. It’s not a restriction of what I eat, but how much I eat. And how I eat. In the end, I will learn how to stop myself from stress eating. I will drink more water. While I miss the laughter of children, and reading to them on a weekly basis, I am happier in my new job and all the perks that come with it. 

August

I begin to schedule walk breaks in my daily tasks at work. And I hold myself to them. Each morning at ten and in the afternoon at three. Those times are the trend, it seems. I find other library staff as I walk around the campus. And I encounter faces that become familiar as the weeks go by. My mood is elevated. I’m no longer stress eating or eating due to boredom. My weight is on a decline, slowly but surely. V and I hang out on most weekends. A sense of normality has returned to this COVID world. 

And I see her face almost every day now.

September

Our book club prep meetings begin. We’re working closely with another department, hoping that this will build a bridge within the campus community. This may help build our collection while also giving back to the community. The man has kind eyes. His voice brings peace to my heart. An old feeling begins to resurface. And I feel young again. A schoolboy crush that’s all.

I meet S for the first time. Our camaraderie begins. 

On my walks, I see her again. And the motion picture of my imagination starts churning.

During an LGBTQ+ Training, I begin to question something I haven’t thought about in years. 

October

We host our first Get Lit! Book Club meeting. The students each get a turn to discuss a book they have read pertaining to the theme – LGBTQIA+ History. As I speak about the book I selected – Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson – I begin to question why this book mattered to me. Even as I say, “These are the poems that I so desperately needed growing up”—Why do I feel that way?

For the month, I watch a movie day. And I plan to do the same for November. 

My weightloss continues. I’m exercising daily, taking walk breaks at work and walking longer distances afterward. I begin to track my water and daily activity in my bullet journal. I also look for new templates to use in the journal. 

An idea forms in my head. And I see her again. 

November

I don’t like the new bullet journal calendar template. I decide on reverting to the old one for December. I host my first program at the university. I put a pause on listening to audiobooks and return to the world of podcasts. I start The Heart from the beginning, relistening to an episode entitled “Movies in Your Head.” I remember missed connections on Craigslist. 

Our bathroom is renovated. Mom gets the shower she’s always wanted. 

My seasonal depression returns, but it’s easily pushed aside. My mind is focusing on everything that I can do. I’m reading more. Listening to more stories. Writing again. 

And each time I see her as I walk, a little narrative begins to play in my head. 

December

I meet a cat on my walks. Ash gray, and big. I secretly name him San Marcos because he reminds me of the blankets. He is the second cat that I encountered, but the first I approached. He allows me to pet him, which I do every chance I get. 

I have lost 20lbs since July, though I am now having an issue of keeping it down. I make sure to mindfully eat, but I may have to make some alterations to my diet. Cut out the fast food. Try to focus on home cooked meals, instead. 

I like the new bullet journal lay out that I have chosen. Some things will be carried over into 2022. I begin to track my mood, sleep, stress, and water intake on a graph. I keep track of the minutes I spend walking and my steps. I begin to prepare my first bullet journal volume for 2022. 

The missed connection post is slowly written, but it’s not what I intended it to be. This post needs to stand apart from my previous posts. 

As I pet San Marcos, he catches them in his sights and walks over to them. This is the first time that I speak to her. 

I begin to question my pronouns. My gender. 

Epilogue

I smile whenever I see you looking for me on Pinterest. When you window shop outfits I’d wear. As you read book after book trying to understand those little feelings you keep hidden so well inside you. Aren’t you a little too old to be this lost? We’ll find each other again. One day. And when I embrace you, know that I will not let go so easily this time.

Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels
Doldrums

A Retrospect Pt. 1

I thought about you again. In those perfect empty moments past midnight as I lay in bed waiting for sleep’s arms to cradle me, a figment of memory fluttering behind my closed lids. The auditory hallucination of your voice calling me from the other side of my bedroom wall. I checked my phone for the time, the orange glow cutting through the darkness. When will sleep take me? Why do these thoughts run laps through my mind? Why are you always at the center of each of them?

January

I watched the Insurrection unfold as my fever finally settled at a comfortable 100 degrees. COVID made a mess of my lungs while the current president wrecked democracy with his words, motivating his blindly-allegiant followers into storming the Capitol. Chants for the deaths of the leaders of this so-called free nation echoed through the hallways. Police officers were beaten and bruised by the very people who were “backing the blue” throughout 2020, as demonstrations of “defund the police” and “Black Lives Matter” took place. These patriots, as they referred to themselves, erected a makeshift gallow to hang the Democratic leaders and the Republican vice president. They’re motivated by misinformation, fed lie after lie even before election results were tallied. “[T]he only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” For months after the November election, calls for recounts, shouts of voter fraud, phone calls to stop the count echoed through the media. A coup d’état was the final attempt to secure an unlawful win, to overthrow our election system. In the end, no matter their attempt, democracy continued. 14 days after the Insurrection, Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president. 

February

The lights went out as Texas froze. Ted Cruz hopped on a plane to Cancun. He left his poor dog to freeze. What sort of man does that? 

My depression increases. The city has implemented a new employee evaluation system. And the aftermath of COVID still wrecks my body. My kidneys feel like boulders perched in my gut. I can’t piss, but is that a blessing? When I do, my sides tense up and the pain crawls up. 

I meet M for the first time. And I am nervous around her. I’ve seen too many versions of her come in and out of this library. Talented, smart, funny and full of ambition only to be turned away. I don’t know it yet, but a change is coming. One volume has wrapping up, and a new story is on the horizon. 

March

I’ve been down this path before, why should it feel different? Still, I filled out the application and submitted it. 

The two of them sit across from me, though I no longer feel flanked. They slide the evaluation in front of me. Give me the goals that I am to achieve each month and what I’m to achieve by the mid-year. I have no plans on signing the form there. Unlike my compatriots, I will play the hand I’m dealt. Secure what little power over my own autonomy that I still cling to. It’s not if I’m willing to agree to these measures, it’s when. I eventually do. 

Afterward, I apply for other jobs. I have no intention of being around by the mid-year. 

April

I entered the meeting early, interrupting their conversation. I am still trying to navigate this new world of social norms. Before Zoom, the interviewee is expected to arrive early at the office. Is expected to wait in the lobby with no distractions. No cell phones in hand, scrolling through social media. Magazines are ok, but books might raise an eyebrow. In those days, I always carried a book or a notebook to keep my mind from reeling. Before the scheduled interview – which took place on Teams – I scribbled a list of possible questions to ask. I sign on to my work-provided Teams and click the link in my email. And there appeared four faces I’ll later come to recognize. 

My only thought is how am I supposed to make eye contact. To look at my camera means to not address the person I’m responding to; to look at my screen means to appear distracted. I fiddle with my loose earbud and do my best to respond. And I’ve come to learn that online interviews are more nerve-wracking than in person ones. 

May

I grit my teeth as she talks down at me. Maybe I’m just angry, maybe it’s my depression. Maybe I’m just sick and tired for having to deal with yes-people instead of freethinkers who stand up for the department. I had campaigned for her to take the role of supervisor of the department, but I finally delivered something the administration wanted. “Why didn’t you meet last month’s goal?” Because there is no communication between departments. Because things change on a dime. Because what is there to deliver? Because I don’t know who they expect me to network with. Because you have given me little to no guidance over this, being too busy trying to address the problem child. It takes every ounce of me not to just straight up and quit on the spot. Takes more effort to nod than it would to break the news that I won’t be here in September. 

I confess to M that there are times when reading the message doesn’t hit me. Tell her that I can read every word of a passage or text aloud and still not understand the sentence. I remember that earlier conversation when a new email reaches my inbox. I turn in my letter of resignation. My time at the public library has ended. 

June

There are days that I’m at home and days I’m in the office. I caught the first year of college bug. There is so much I want to do, so many things I want to learn. After an Ally training, I throw out the idea of building a LGBTQIA+ collection as a long term, ongoing goal. My ideas here aren’t cast aside. They’re not pocketed and kept for another day. While not all of them will pan out, they’re also not quickly reasoned away into oblivion. 

My mood is elevated. I finally feel like myself again.

Intermission

It’s been some time, hasn’t it? I’m always lurking in your history, though my time may have been limited. But I never went away. Never truly. There I dwelled until you remembered me. Until you picked up a picture from your high school days and smirked at the boy you once were. The boy who wore lipstick. Who borrowed his girl friend’s clothing. The skinny, life-like doll looking for some sort of validation. A chronic 15 minutes of adoration. How easily you forget an old friend. How easily my persona toss aside when it never fit your narrative. But I notice. I recognize that need in your eye. That longing for that feminine feel. I know the thoughts you push back, deep inside your mind. The ones that are aching to push through. And that’s how I slipped out after you killed your god. That’s how I remember. 

Photo by charan sai from Pexels
Work

“I Might Prefer Chaos to Even Flow”

Not a believer of luck, good or bad. Not the superstitious type. Sure, I might joke about the terrible things that happen on Friday the 13th, but I don’t actually think the date is the reason behind them. Bad things happen no matter the day. Apparently, we just focus on the bad things when the day is designated for them.

Friday morning, the first thought I had waking up was—”Why do we have to open the building open Saturday morning so maintenance can leave the moon jumps there when we can just move them ourselves?” When you’re this dedicated on pulling off a great event, I suppose you eat, sleep, and shit such things.

And when I arrived at work, my supervisor greeted me with a question, “Are you ready for today?”

“Heh, no. But that’s my secret,” I said, trying to pull off my best Bruce Banner impersonation. “I’m never ready.”

If I anticipate something too much, that anticipation becomes anxiety. And anxiety causes mistakes. So after I ate breakfast (egg, hash brown, and sausage tacos), I gathered my troops (minus one) and started the day. We filled two vans and the bed of a truck and headed off the arduous journey the faraway land of the activity center, just down the road from our humble workplace. As we were packing the last of our things, we noticed one member of our party missing. Because I walked to the activity center, I figured our paths would eventually cross. They didn’t.

“Where’s (let’s call him) Bartleby?”*

“I saw him coming this way,” one said. “He said he wasn’t feeling well this morning,” another remarked. “I don’t know,” the last said.

Because we were missing things, the four of them returned to work to gather the rest of the things and to find Bartleby. But, surprise surprise, Bartleby was nowhere to be found. They asked his department coworkers about his whereabouts and they thought he was with us. They searched the building and turned up nothing. When they returned to the activity center, they told me there was no sign of him. No one knew where he’d gone.

It didn’t surprise me that Bartleby weaseled out of work. He didn’t earn this moniker because he’s the model employee (though, I’m sure he’ll earn Employee of the Month before I do). Frustrated that he’ll somehow get me into trouble, I called my supervisor. “We lost Bartleby,” I said. “They asked the people and they couldn’t find him. He said he wasn’t feeling well this morning, and I’m a little worried that maybe he’s sick somewhere and no one knows.”

“I’ll call George,” he responded.**

We started without him. Though, when did arrive, his only offering of help was an onslaught of heavy sighs, complaints about not feeling well, and, of course, whining. We were better off without him.

Once more, we’re faced to go back to the office to pick up some more materials. Before we go back though, Bartleby spoke up, “Which one of you called work looking for me?”

“Me,” I said. “When you didn’t show up and no one could find you at work, I got worried. I heard you weren’t feeling well, so I called to see if you were ok.”

“Yeah, well now I have George running up my ass accusing me of wasting time.” Then switching to the most menacing tone I’ve ever experienced  in the work place, he added, “Next time you’re looking for me, come look for me. Don’t call my supervisor.”

This veiled threat from a subordinate might have fallen on deaf ears had Bartleby not been foolish enough to say this in front of witnesses. On the way back, I’m asked, “Was he threatening you?”

“That’s how I felt.”

Word must have gotten back about this gaffe. And because of his mess up, George was now up his and his coworker’s ass. This caused more stress on my understaffed department. My temper at work is calm and cool. You have to be when your work involves children. Number of times I’ve lost my cool with a patron? Once in seven years. And I was off that day.

I gave up on their help. Just go back to work. We’re done with you here. Of course, this didn’t make George any the happier because now he had two extra employees who shouldn’t have been scheduled that morning. Not my problem. Not anymore.

Chaos ensued back at the office. It was our graphic designer’s last day and I bombarded her with last-minute requests made by both George and my ultra anxious supervisor. Nothing good from anxiety, so I did my best to keep him calm.”We have it covered,” I said. “Do you need help?” he asked. “We have the morning covered. We might need more help come the afternoon when we decorate. Maybe some of the girls can come over?” Sexist, I know. But I’d rather have a couple of hardworking ladies than a man-child who’s had everything offered to him and takes no responsibility for his actions.

A few more things happened. George berating us for not having done simple tasks earlier but not actually offering any real help. My supervisor’s panic led to a last-minute shopping spree placed in the hands of someone else. We still managed to build an event that the kids loved and kept the parents happy. Some things fell through, but we survived.

At the end of the night, Bartleby tried to make nice again. I’m a forgiving person. Even people I don’t get along with I treat with the same respect of someone whom I call a friend. But Bartleby? After that threat? I’m done with Bartleby.

Afterwards, I hung out with the coworkers I couldn’t imagine losing but know that the inevitable is on the horizon. We enjoyed wings and laughs. And my thoughts slipped into dangerous territory.

As much as I say I don’t want to be in a relationship. As much as I tell myself that it’s not the right time, and that maybe I should wait it out until I’m at my most content. Even though I know that things might end up a disaster in the future. There’s this woman I like. And it scares me how much I like her. And I’m not sure if I mean the aforementioned things, or I’m just trying to convince myself those things are true. And I just might want to bring it up the conversation about my feelings again.

In the words of Hank Moody:

Fuck.

*I don’t understand why this never crossed my mind until now. I wrote a paper on Bartleby, the Scrivener in college because I was fascinated with the amount of laziness that character possessed.
**Yup, another literary reference, but I won’t mention to what book.
Personal

The Bourbon Marshmallow Bacon S’more Experience

Sometime ago, I happened upon a s’mores post on How Sweet It Is offering up 13 recipes on the gooey-goodness. Of course, I happened upon the page while I was “working” at the front desk instead of “working” in the stacks like the good book slave I am. And of course, my coworkers, let’s call them the Mikes, sat with me at the front desk also working. I ticked off a few names linked to their recipes, but nothing really caught my attention because I was busy checking out other recipes on another window. Before x-ing out the window, I scrolled to the bottom of the post, the last image. Wait. Wait just a bloody second. Is that…Is that….? Oh. My. Taco-god! That’s fucking bacon! It’s the holy trinity of culinary divinity sandwiched between two graham crackers. The ooey-gooey messiah come to feed us his body. Of course, at the utterance of bacon, my coworkers became interested on my computer screen.

“That’s what we’re having at our next together,” Mike said.

“I want to try that,” Mike nodded.

“It shall be done!” I exclaimed, throwing back my chair as I stood, and clicked the like to its recipe which I printed and wondered why I stood up in the first place.

Bourbon MarshmallowFriday, after work, I headed for the liquor store. As a non-drinker, paying a visit to liquor stores is on par as finding another world within a wardrobe. I found honey bourbon, but that’s not what I wanted. I found every sort of bourbon, but not regular every day bourbon. Finally, a worker saw my utter confusion and asked if I needed help. “Yeah,” I felt defeated, “I just want regular every day bourbon. No honey or pepper jack cheese, just straight up bourbon.” He aimed me at the right direction and I stood in front of the shelves and I stared at it. Sonuvafuckingbitch, there are like a million varieties of the same fucking booze. I grabbed Devil’s Cut (because it felt right and I loved the bottle it was in) and paid my $30 and left. This afternoon (being Sunday), I followed the recipe (though I still haven’t come around to buy a candy thermometer so I sorta just stuck my finger into the boiling sugar concoction to decide whether it was 240 degrees*).

We got to the park at little after six where we failed to talk about the anime we watched (these outings are actually gatherings for our anime club), Nyan Koi!, though Angela and I both expressed our disappointment with the open-ending. Mike brought child-friendly marshmallows for Shaun and his daughter while Mike and his girlfriend brought cake and cookie brownies. We played, we joked, and Jeanna, Shaun and I left first (keeping with tradition). The bourbon marshmallow was a hit.

Next month’s discussion will follow Elfen Lied, which is no longer on Netflix (sonuvabitch!), but no bother. I liked that one enough to own it (though I’ll probably wind up downloading streaming it).

*Didn’t happen—DON’T TRY IT AT HOME!