Dear Tara,

I found e2 today while digging around old internet haunts. This is the only one still alive. We knew each other back then, back when we were both in love with each other and our respective SOs and how they both used denial to ignore the way we couldn't help looking at each other. That longing was unnatural. It belongs to fourteen year bodies touching each other for the first time.

We were also in love with our own limitless potential.

Old e2 posts explode memory. It's like the smell of tapioca sliding up olfactory pathways to my limbic system. Tapioca only eaten at my grandmother's. Tapioca the magic treat that was magic because it only existed there, grandma's home the only place I ever ate it, back when the world was still a folded piece of paper, close, tight, warm, small, the walls known, the barriers comforting. Smelling it now in my son's school lunch room and I called her Granny and slept on that futon with the itchy wool cover that faced that enormous wood-paneled color TV with the bunny ears sucking invisible concentric signals completely alien to space. I went thirty years without remembering that. Then tapioca.

I have a son now.

He looks like my SO and he's beautiful. I know you know this because I remember how badly you wanted to have sex with my SO, and me, and her and me, and how when that didn't work out and only you and I had our moment she understood and we all continued with our lives together for another few years until you faded into that terrible hole that time keeps digging in all our souls, the one that makes aging so unbearable and beautiful and sometimes smells like tapioca.

I'm middle aged now.

I take prescription drugs.

I have a card for medical marijuana.

I've read every book I told you I wanted to read, and many many more.

I teach literature just like I said I would even though it's nothing like I said it would be.

I think about death almost every day.

Death pulls everything inward like a rubber band that has been stretched too far, then snaps back with unbelievable force. I feel that snapback every morning when I wake up. It pulls everything inward at the speed of insanity.

This is not a midlife crisis. I don't look at nineteen year old girls and think screaming anal sex. I don't masturbate in college parking lots in my hot red sports car. I am not bored. I don't regret most decisions in my life. On the surface I've done quite well for myself, considering the starting line. Below the surface though?

I hate everything about myself. I try not to. I meditate. I remind myself what good I've done and what good I am and how lucky I am to be surrounded by so much love and relative comfort. The thing is, I have to will myself to remember those things.

Something is not quite right.

I've pushed myself to my limits like they always told us we should do, but found those limits wanting.

Part of me wants to die almost as much as part of me wants to live.

Part of me wants to return to that night when you begged me to paint you with your eyes wide and tongue extended and then after how I held you and how I noted that the holding part was the thing that made you uncomfortable and how that wasn't good and how you agreed and wished some other man would have told you that long before I did, and I said ok but please don't stop begging me to paint you, and you laughed and held me back warm and eternal in that stolen moment from our separate trajectories.

Like tapioca.

Rancid_Pickle and the Pumphouse Blues

Chapter Two: Three Degrees and Four Franklins

Like most of the folks in the flyover US states are experiencing, it's an arctic wonderland outside. Three degrees with enough wind to drop it to a (mumblemumble) below zero. The pumphouse thermometer indicated the temps had dropped below 32F, so I knew something was wrong. Then it showed the temp went back up to 50, so I thought perhaps it was a hiccup with the remote thermometer.

It turns out that the heating equipment was spewing out its last breath of fire. It hovered around 33, so I thought it was OK because the thermostat clicks on at 32F. When I got up to do the usual things every few hours, I turned on the faucets, which showed there was still no issues with the waterline. It seemed fine at 3am, but at 4:30am I knew it was frozen. A slight trickle of water and no pressure. I filled my Brita filter pitcher with water so I could at least have coffee in the morning.

When I got up, I figured I might as well go out to the store and replace the heater and thermostat even if they turned out to be functional. Figured I would be proactive for once. I also picked up some extra pipes in case any cracked.

The person who originally built my well pumphouse was a cheapskate. They used crappy oriented strand board 4ft by 8ft sheets instead of actual outdoor-rated plywood. They painted it with indoor paint that mostly washed off the first good rain it saw. When the door fell off last month, I put a sheet of plywood up with screws. I figured I would rebuild it next Spring. No such luck.

Everything was a block of ice, and now I need to replace a cracked 83 gallon pressure tank. Four hundred bucks, plus installation if I don't want to lay down and play with it in the cold. Too bad Santa didn't leave one under my Christmas tree this year.

I did my best to bypass it, so hopefully I will at least have some water if I can get the pipes to unfreeze and they still work. We'll see, but I don't think my 2017 luck will improve.

Here's hoping both of us, you and me, discover that 2018 is a vast improvement over this year.

Today I am very angry. Last night I had another weird dream, unfortunately I don't remember any of the details. I woke up around five, decided to go back to sleep, and my alarm jolted me out of a dream state that took me a while to recover from. I laid in the blankets wishing I could call in sick, but I've done enough of that lately. I don't know where I'm at as far as the point system at work and I really don't care except I would like to avoid future meetings with my boss and management. I'm almost never in at nine. It's a great time to start work, I missed most of traffic, I was able to sleep in a bit, I would love to start at nine more often, but usually I have to take my daughter in to school and I'd rather drive from school to work than back home and out to work again. It will be wonderful when she can drive and that headache is off of my list. When I got to work my boss gave me a hug and told me my birthday present was waiting for me and I should tell the front end if I didn't like it so I could switch it out for something I did want instead. On my way into work I had been thinking that I should stop at the store on the way home and pick up a new calendar. She bought me the same one she had purchased for her daughters, I almost started crying it was so beautiful. It isn't anything I would have bought for myself, last year I went with a black, white, and gold theme that I really liked, but this one is more meaningful because it came from her and I know she doesn't usually spend this on gifts, and what was really cool to me is how she mentioned that it was an impulse gift, but it felt right.

When I got into work we were talking about my role as my friend's Romance Coach. She joked that she had signed up for my program, but had never gotten the guy, and I told her that she was confused if she thought that the job of a romance coach was to get the guy. When she asked what the point was I told her that any coach should be able to see beyond where you can, and help you reach heights you may not have been able to achieve without your effort combined with their vision. It's never about getting the girl/guy. It is always about getting to a point in your life where you are able to meet your needs on your own; to live a full and interesting life as a single person, and to invite another person in only when this person is adding depth, richness, joy, perspective, or other positive qualities to the ones you already possess. People should be able to meet or interact with you and say, wow, this person is really cool, I'd like to spend some of my very valuable time getting to know them better. Often I hear people grumbling and saying things like, well so and so has this or that, in my friend's case she's bemoaning the single life and looking at all the couples she knows. But when I asked her how many of those people were in healthy relationships, she nodded at me. Later on my boss told me I was right when I had said that two of the women we work with are having emotional affairs with men at work. How is that good for anyone?

She's told me that I'm the friend who has the most fun, and the next time I talk to her I'm going to remind her of that. We don't need men in our lives to have fun, to enjoy work, to go out, we really don't need them to do anything for us which is probably one of the reasons neither of us has anyone special at the moment. I get my intellectual needs met through conversations with my online friends, I read, I write, my children are complex and have a variety of interests, they're very intelligent and most of the time I would rather hear their take on a situation than half of the adults I know. My real life friends are affectionate, I can go to museums, the theater, PT, I can take classes on practically anything and learn things that way, logical people have a larger place in my mind and thought processes because I admire and value them in a way that I can't explain, but it's different than the way I value and admire the S types. I have a very small need for romance in my life and can easily meet that need on my own by traveling to a small town and walking through mom and pop type shops. I could be better about managing my money, but this is another thing I can do on my own. It would be great to have a partner, but that person doesn't have to be a male I'm attracted to, it could just as easily be a friend or one of my siblings.

Today my boss and I worked on our inventory. When the assistant manager title came back the woman who has the job was tasked with reducing inventory. My boss asked that everything in back get stickered with a price and that everything that could be put on the shelves, should be. This is part of our daily job and why I would argue against anyone being promoted to take over these duties, because if people are ordering strategically, people are following our red dot system, and they're facing the way that they've been trained, inventory management becomes everyone's task and not just the job of one person. I'll take some of the responsibility because I failed to see where I could have done more. This is why I just love working with her. She's so ridiculously logical and efficient without condemning me for things I didn't do that I could have. When I apologized for not doing more she told me I work circles around people who are there four times more than I am and I know that this is true because the full time people were there today, and I couldn't really point to anything that they did the entire time we were all there. They acted like they were doing things, but even when they saw my boss coming out with products to see if we could make room on the shelves they found ways to avoid being helpful.

A guy I work with asked how I was and I told him I was angry. He gave me a look that said he didn't believe me and then asked me as if to verify that I was in fact, actually mad. I told him I was and then he said I could vent if I needed to, I told him it was probably an unrealistic expectation to rely on people who were hired to do the duties that were in their job description. A vendor that few of us love came in yesterday to take down the blue rack that our former General Manager had said she could install on the edge of our desk. They screwed it to our desk and then she was upset that I didn't have instant access to an electric screwdriver. I have pretty strong wrists for a woman my size, I couldn't get that screw to budge and neither could the GM we have now who is taller and stronger than I am. Before the rack came down she wanted to walk through the aisles and see where we had placed her products. I don't understand why whoever put in for shelf tags left a single item on the shelf instead of migrating the rest of the products over, but maybe they ran out of time. I hate being controlled. I grew up with very controlling parents, this is something I watch carefully in myself because it is a terrible thing to do to another person. I have no control over where things are placed on the shelves and do not make changes unless I am asked to unless the change is fairly minor and I think it will be approved and even then I'm careful because I've gotten into trouble for this before.

When my boss asked the assistant manager to call this woman so we could get a check, her assistant balked and that is the definition of insubordinate behavior to me. When your immediate superior asks you to do something, you do it, and you do not argue with this person. I have trouble with this type of thing myself, my boss had told me to take the products up front, I told her I was going to file the paper I had first, retrospectively I can see that I should have left the paper for later, or asked instead of telling her. I think the main difference here is I was explaining why I wasn't immediately cooperating, I wasn't trying to get out of the work I was being asked to do, or shoving the blame on someone else. Later on the assistant asked me which number I had used to call, I explained that the woman had been in the store and I hadn't needed to call her. I had done what had been requested of me, I had made it clear that we would not be accepting new products until we received credit for the old ones, I probably could have signed for what she had brought, but this woman has made our lives so unpleasant and has proven herself untrustworthy so I decided that we needed credit before getting billed for anything new. I wasn't going to let product leave without a check, and I wasn't going to let her dictate what sits on our shelves. I was polite, but firm, and she did thank me when it was all said and done.

This woman has serious issues and I hope for her sake she gets some help. At first I wondered if it was just me, but apparently nobody else really likes her either. She's very arrogant, condescending, controlling, high strung, self absorbed to the point of me thinking she is actually narcissistic, this woman has absolutely no warmth in her, she's aggressive without being assertive, and everything about her gives me an extremely bad feeling. Be competitive, but play fair. She's sneaky, underhanded, vain, she probably has a degree of intelligence, but so far nothing she's done has impressed me much. One of her products burned my face when I tried it and the other one she tried shoving on me smelled so bad I refused to touch it. I have an acute sense of smell, her products smell the same to me, she thinks she's done something cool and maybe I'm not giving credit where it's due because she developed these products and was apparently somewhat successful marketing them to our former GM, but none of them have impressed me on any level since they're all things I could make for myself at home using the same ingredients she does. I'm done for the day. I have tomorrow off, I'm going to pick up treats to take to PT and use the rest of my day to sit back and just relax. I'm debating whether I should just drive home now, or stop back at the store as long as I'm out and the sun is still shining. I feel calmer than I did before. I needed to write. Thanks for listening.

Until next time,


P.S. I'm really proud of myself for telling someone how I felt when they asked. I'm even prouder of myself for getting my work done despite the raging inner storm. My unicorn friend was sick and now I'm worried about her. I hope she's okay.



Me: "If I'm this upset, I can't imagine how furious you must be."

Her:  "I signed up for this." I looked over and saw two of the other people in my department just standing there chit chatting. That broke my heart. 


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