Ramen Answers

•January 21, 2019 • Leave a Comment

The plans were tentative at best.

“Let’s do ramen.” I suggested to an acquaintance whom I hoped to get to know better: we were either destined to become good friends or mortal adversaries and I was hoping that a good face to face conversation would tip the scales one way or the other. The invitation was a whim- I figured it would be shot down or brushed off or ignored. But at least I would have tried.

The response came in the form of a photograph of a ramen shop. A real one. In the city. Walking distance from work. Was this a game? Was this a tacit form of “yes”?

I clarified what location it was.

Location confirmed.

Ok: we had a Where.

My luck with getting a response through social media was not good, so I didn’t want to dick around with a lot of “when is good?” and “what works for you?” So I picked a date on the calendar and a time I thought I’d be able to manage after work and tossed it into the air like a clay pigeon.

“Monday, 21-January, 7pm.” I said. “Be there or be a polygon.”

“What if I want to be there AND be a polygon?” Came the response.

Was that a yes? I didn’t know. I felt hopeful.

“Then you’re a ramen rhombus.” I responded. “A ram-bus.”

Maybe my use of puns frightened him. There was no further response. I supposed, all things considered, that no news was good news. If he showed up, delightful. If not? Well, at least I’d enjoy some ramen. And he had two weeks to shoot it down or to suddenly, magically, have better plans with more interesting people about more important things.

There was no further response.

The day came. Today. I tried to temper my optimism: he still had eight hours in which to cancel. Six hours. Four hours. Two. He could always choose just not to show.

But the longer I went without a “no” the more hopeful I got. Maybe it would all work out: wouldn’t that be a story to tell? Wouldn’t that be a treat for the week?

The hour came. I walked to the place. The restaurant was mobbed. I stood a little distance away from the crowd, just watching. Hopeful. They say the test to find out if someone is really interested in you is to arrive fifteen minutes early and see if they’re already there: if they’re eager enough to see you to get there first.

Nothing.

The time came.

Nothing.

I had my answer. I’d been stood up. The ram-bus was a square.

I ordered myself some ramen.

I’m upset, of course, and hurt, but I suppose I’ve got the answers I’ve been looking for. And at least I’ve got ramen.

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Fall Through

•January 20, 2019 • Leave a Comment

It’s a glamorous life I lead.

It was scheduled to be a busy weekend: meetings, parties, dinner with my sister, appointments, etc. Going into the weekend was like approaching a cliff of To Do and I didn’t even have a list.

Most of it fell apart.

People got sick. Meetings got cancelled. Get togethers fell through: it felt like all my best laid plans were slipping through my fingers. By Sunday afternoon I had reached my limit: we were supposed to go to a friend’s birthday party and I just couldn’t get up the gumption to leave the house. I messaged to say we wouldn’t make it, then spent the rest of the afternoon wracked with guilt: I’d given my word (I’d RSVPed!) and I wasn’t impeccable to it. It wasn’t that I had something better to do: I just couldn’t handle one more plan going haywire on me- especially one that would involve a lot of socializing with people I didn’t know very well.

I spent the afternoon at home injecting electricity into my skin with a home electrolysis kit as if performing some form of modern day penance. But I still feel guilty about not going.

It wasn’t until the sun was going down that I ventured out of the house for the first time all day to go for a run, which seemed to sooth my buzzing mind. I ran home with my face towards one of the most extraordinary sunsets I’d ever seen, and my back towards the rising Blood Wolf moon. For a minute I just stood on the sidewalk out in front of the house watching the colors fade as the evening wind blew out of the west and rustled the fronds of the date palm across the street. And I thought maybe it would all be ok.

So it was a weekend of things falling through, but I’m hopeful that the coming week will be more auspicious. It is shaping up to be a busy one, although who knows: clearly my plans are at the mercy of capricious gods who have agendas of their own. Maybe they will decide that it is more important for me to be present for a sunset or to bear witness to the eclipse of the moon. Or maybe it is a reminder that I’m merely human and should remember to be humble about my word and about the true limit of my power in a vast and complicated universe. And maybe to forgive myself and others for falling short now and then.

Sunset From a Co-worker’s Office

•January 19, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Luck

•January 18, 2019 • Leave a Comment

The ground was littered with pennies, thirty nine in all, and in spite of the rain, I felt compelled to pick them up one by one.

Must be my lucky day.

Considering the rain, it didn’t seem especially lucky, but I was willing to think positively. The bus came right away. The bus didn’t leak. That was luck enough for me

At the end of the day, I boarded the bus again to go home, transit card in hand to pay my fare, but the driver waved me past due to a faulty card reader.

Guess my luck is holding. I thought.

At the transfer, it occurred to me that if I decided not to swipe my transit card at the station’s card reader that I would’ve gotten my whole ride for free. It would have been easy to do- the drivers didn’t check for transfers on that line and more than once I’d seen other riders stroll past the card reader without stopping and no one could really know the difference.

But I would know, and I would feel guilty: I could afford to pay the fare, I might as well actually do so.

I swiped my card. The light on the reader turned red. I stopped; swiped again. Still red. Insufficient funds. I’d known that it was getting low but I thought I still had a ride left before my stored value ran out.

As I refilled my card at a nearby kiosk it occurred to me that my luck had been holding out: if the driver on the express bus hadn’t waved me through I would’ve been standing in the rain for another twenty minutes before the next bus arrived. And if I hadn’t been honest enough to swipe my card at the transfer I never would have known the card was empty and would have had to refill it during my morning commute the next day no matter how late I was running.

So it wasn’t big luck, but I’ll take what I can get.

Inner Loud

•January 17, 2019 • Leave a Comment

“Wow, you’re really silent.”

“Who me?”

It took me a minute to realize that the new temp had been talking to me. The Powers-That-Be had decreed that we would now share an office with one another, and mostly I didn’t mind her: she didn’t smack her lips or talk on the phone, but she did have a habit of talking to herself in the kind of full volume declarative statements that halfway sounded like she was taking to me. I’d looked up from my work more than once only to realize that she was thinking out loud and that my input was not necessary.

“I live alone.” She went on to explain. “So I think out loud- talk to myself, sing…”

“Ahh.”

I appreciated the explanation, but I didn’t really need it: the office was full of out-loud thinkers who carried on a kind of one sided conversation with themselves to stay focused and to solve problems. Occasionally I would share the office with the little Russian lady from accounts who spoke a nearly continuous string of sibliant whispers as if she were slowly losing air pressure as she worked.

I, however, was not an out-loud thinker. I was an in-loud thinker. And evidently the new temp had noticed.

“Not you, though.” She said. “You are silent. You don’t let anything out.”

I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to say to this, so I didn’t say anything. I got the feeling that my apparent lack of gregariousness bothered her, but I was there to work, not to be a sounding board, I didn’t feel compelled to change. Silence didn’t bother me, and since much of my inner narrative is riddled with curses, I don’t think she would find me to be any better company for sharing my thoughts more freely.

It did make me realize how loud my inner space is, though. I’d never really stopped to think about it before. Silence doesn’t bother me because I’m not usually listening to it- I usually have my ear turned inward on whatever mental conversation that I’m having with myself, or on the simulated dialogue of encounters past and future, real and imagined, as I work through all the contingencies.

I can think or I can speak. I have trouble doing both at the same time. Or rather, I have trouble making small talk because it takes away precious concentration from the thoughts I’d rather be thinking. Especially when I’m also trying to focus on cutting payroll at the same time.

So I expect that my new office mate finds me to be rather poor company, but that’s alright: she’s very sweet as everybody else likes her so she doesn’t lack for new friends to talk to who will make better conversation that me anyway.

Carryover

•January 15, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Photo by Nik Adler

I could still feel the effects of yesterday’s volatile mood shift in the morning like a kind of mood swing hangover. It was another early morning: the Curmudgeonly Lion had to be out the door nearly an hour earlier than normal so I dragged myself out of bed at the first alarm and went to make him a lunch. And then once I saw him out the door I laid down on the couch for another twenty minutes. I rested more than I slept, which was probably just as well considering that my dreams continue to be works of fractal complexity. I can’t remember the content of them when I wake up, only that they were a lot of work.

It was another rainy day but I did my usual walk and focused on my usual work and ate my usual lunch. My mood stayed level through it all. I managed to make a little progress on some of the later chapters of my book whilst studiously ignoring the chapter which I’m actually supposed to be writing. I’m not sure if that counts as progress or procrastination.

And now I’m headed home, damp and cold and fighting a headache, but otherwise feeling calm. When I wrote yesterday’s post, it was in an effort to be more open about my struggles with mood lately. I was reminded of how lucky I am to have friends and family to reach out and check in and make sure I’m alright in these low moments, which help them to feel less lonely. And I hope that by writing these things out and putting them onto the public forum that is the internet that other people going through the same things might feel less alone too.

Eruptive

•January 14, 2019 • Leave a Comment

It was a little after five in the evening. I was sitting at my desk at work watching the clock tick down towards the end of the day. My mind kept wandering: work was slow and I was trying to use the downtime wisely: to write a letter or a blog post, or even just to avoid falling into my own mental oblivion of intrusive insecurities and overthinking.

Why hadn’t I heard from this friend in a few days? Why did that friend go out without me? Why hadn’t anybody noticed my haircut?

This last thought seemed to strike a nerve somehow. Suddenly I felt myself getting teary about it.

No one has said anything. No one has even noticed ‘something’s different’. You get half your hair cut off and nobody cares. Nobody cares about you. Nobody notices you-

The intrusive thoughts were gaining steam now, and even though I didn’t believe them they just seemed to get stronger and stronger.

so much for making a big change so people will notice you’ve changed.

Somehow, that was the one that got me: the sense of futility. Why bother? No one notices anyway. I’d been doing my best to breathe through the feelings, but now it was becoming too much. I fled to the bathroom and took shelter in the farthest stall where I could put my back against the wall and cry with deep, irrational, choking sobs that bent me in half.

Why?

I wasn’t sure. I’m still not sure. A co-worker came into the bathroom with her seven year old kid- off school because of the teacher’s strike. I struggled to keep my hysterics silent: I didn’t really want an audience for this. They babbled blithely on about counting in Spanish while I silently tore myself in half three feet away.

By the time they were gone, so too were my tears. I emerged from the stall with swollen red eyes and a red nose and washed my face in the sink until my eye makeup was gone. I wasn’t sure what came over me or why, but I was glad that it seemed to be gone even if it left me feeling wrung out and confused. I’d been feeling pretty good of late- more even keeled than I’d been in a long time and then suddenly this.

So I’m not sure what’s going on with myself at the moment. Sudden plunging mood swings aside, I don’t feel particularly despondent or frustrated. I spent the weekend around the house (not working like I thought I was going to have to do). My health seems to be good. I’ve been eating fewer sweets and drinking less alcohol and generally being pretty good about my exercise…

Just don’t know where this was coning from.

 
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