There may be trouble ahead

If I expected anything to cause me problems with running it would be my foot, but my most recent problem has been completely unpredictable. It’s my stomach. At the risk of giving far too much information, there have been two instances in the last two weeks where the morning after an evening run I’ve had a visible amount of unusually dark colouration in something that should not have a visible amount of unusually dark colouration. Dr Google suggests it’s likely to be bleeding somewhere in my upper digestive tract, which seems a bit alarming. The first time it happened I brushed it off as a one off, but now it’s happened twice I’ve got myself a doctor’s appointment because I’d quite like to not die.

I don’t have any other definite symptoms but there are a few things I’ve noticed. Recently there have been a few times when the day after a run I’ve felt a little bit ill. Sometimes I have felt a little bit light-headed (although not while running). Then there’s also the fact that over the past few months I’ve unintentionally lost a few pounds and I’m not managing to put them back on. And last but not least my sex drive disappeared a while back and hasn’t reappeared yet. None of which are particularly interesting by themselves but put them in the context of the first paragraph and maybe they are. Maybe it’s been going on for a while in a less detectable fashion and I’m gradually becoming anaemic, which would explain these ‘secondary’ symptoms.

But I have to say that I’m not particularly worried. I’ll be surprised if it’s something serious. Inconvenient, maybe, but not serious.

The other thing in my life is of course The Office Crush, which I’ve not really written about for a while. A quick summary of this is that I am doing a lot better with it. I’ve lost most of the stress from it. It’s still going nowhere, she still has a fiancĂ©e, blah blah blah, and I know all this, but I still enjoy being around her. I decided to exercise some self control this week and try to chase after her attention a bit less. It went well, mainly because she still gave it to me anyway. But I don’t really understand why I did it. Sometimes I feel hesitant to indulge in her attention too much because either I feel like I shouldn’t, or because I don’t want her to think I’m too interested in her. I find her quite hard to read in the sense that I don’t know if she thinks it’s strange how much attention I give her… because, objectively, a 30 year old man giving a 43 year old woman a lot of personal attention is a bit unusual and by now she should really have a few suspicions as to why… but I did get a smile out of her when she first saw me this morning, so maybe she enjoys it. It’s an ongoing conundrum for me to try to keep sight of the middle ground.

A notable thing is how different I feel when she is around and when she’s not. She worked from home on Thursday. I felt bored, demotivated and I just spent the day wondering why I was there. I was working on a broad, ambiguous task that hadn’t really interested me and instead of figuring out the ambiguity and seeking clarification from my manager I spent most of the day on the internet. On Friday she was back in and I was completely the opposite. Not only is she the highlight of my day, she is also the main reason I feel for going to work. When she’s not there, I wonder why I am. Not a very healthy situation, but I suppose a lot of people find work incredibly dull and only really enjoy the social side of it.

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Neuroma updates

It’s been quite a while since I wrote a neuroma update. For the past few weeks I’ve been wearing some insoles with a metatarsal dome built into them. Unfortunately I forgot to make a note of when they actually turned up, but I think it was four weeks ago.

Since then I have definitely seen an improvement in general pain levels I’m getting. I’ve been wearing them for walking and running and I’m running about 25-30km a week now without any real issues. I still get a bit of discomfort from it, for example, one day last week I had it aching like a bruise for most of the day, but that’s perfectly manageable, and I have had weeks without even that.

In other running news, someone at work started doing Couch to 5k last weekend. He got more than he bargained for when he announced it as he didn’t realise I was a keen runner. I think he was looking for support and admiration, not encouragement to carry on with it. I told him that it doesn’t get any easier, you just better at ignoring the feeling that you’re going to die, which, incidentally, describes my run this morning, but maybe it’s not always true. A few months ago I was the only runner in the office but since then we’ve added two serious runners and now the c25ker, if he sticks at it. Somebody else who shall remain unidentified piped up that maybe she should start c25k too, but somehow I can’t see her following through on that.

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Brexit

So I am told, it is now one year until brexit. You’d think that being almost two years since the referendum, as the date draws closer we’d see some kind of progress but what’s actually happened is that everyone who hasn’t lost interest has been repeating the exact same arguments over and over again.

The whole thing is extremely tedious and it’s remarkable that something which could have such far reaching effects has become so boring. So far, nothing has changed and the government has been pretty strict about refusing to identify anything that might change. Probably, the longer it takes for details to crystallise the less likely it is that there will be any fundamental change, but who knows really?

The state of the parties seems to be that the Conservatives want brexit but the leadership doesn’t, Labour doesn’t want brexit but the leadership does, and the Lib Dems have disappeared off the face of the earth.

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Week

Sleep this week could have been better. I woke up at 5:00 on Thursday and again Friday. I’m starting to understand now why people go to the gym or go running at what seems like silly hours of the morning. Running at that time might be a bit ambitious due to the fact it would involve going outside, but I’m becoming very tempted to get up at 5:00 on the days I wake at that time and go downstairs and lift some weights.

We shifted the clocks 1 hour forward this weekend. It’ll be interesting to see what difference it makes. I’m guessing: none.

In the last few months I have lost a bit of weight. Most people would be pleased with that, but I now have a BMI of 20.7. I know why I’ve lost weight, it’s because when I started having anxiety problems a few months ago one of the effects was that I had trouble eating. So I ate less. I’m quite active and I have to eat a lot. I seem to need to eat a lot more than most people. People at work, even quite large people, don’t seem to eat nearly as much as me. I eat probably the equivalent of four meals a day and I still find it hard to put on weight. But for the first time in the last few months, I have been getting REALLY hungry late mornings and late afternoons. So that’s good, I think.

So, the office crush and my general state of mind…

I really feel like I’ve let her go a little bit. Only a little bit. But enough to take the edge off. Enough to make me calmer.

I had a success on Friday. Usually she leaves about 15 minutes before me. On Friday she didn’t, and as she showed no sign of moving I was considering going for the later train instead on the reasonable chance that this would have us walk up to the station together. I decided against it in the end. I couldn’t really work out what I wanted from it so it just felt like the wrong thing to do. Importantly, after deciding not to, there was no guilt or frustration, no feeling that I’d declined a challenge, which is definitely progress.

I get a bit more insight into her life. She looked very different on Thursday because she had her hair up, which I’ve never seen her do before. Being the keenly observant person that I am, I worked out that it was because she hadn’t washed it. She looked a bit of a mess, although no less attractive. She told me later that she’d been out all evening at her son’s rugby practice and had then overslept. Apparently she usually gets up at 5:15(!) to get her children organised. She was having a bit of a whinge about not having enough time, and on that particular day, she definitely looked like a woman who did not have enough time. I’ve been aware of it all along but it’s a more concrete reminder that the woman I see at work is probably very different to who she is outside of work. I see it when she gets a phone call from her daughter, wanting something or generally making life difficult; she suddenly goes from a professional woman to an exasperated mum trying not to run out of patience. This is something I find a bit difficult because it’s confusing to be attracted to the woman I see at work while not really knowing as much about the rest of her and feeling that I probably wouldn’t be as attracted to the rest of her. I see her at her very best. It’s hard to make sense of that. I never really used to understand the idea of a woman with youngish children working full time (except through financial requirement, obviously), but I can imagine it has a normalising effect on her to go out every day and spend that time around other adults and generally lead an adult life.

It all makes me wonder how long she’ll stay though. Her commute is longer than it used to be and she might decide it’s too much.

I feel in some ways that I’ve outgrown this company. The recent doomed project I was on is evidence enough of that. As soon as I saw how it was being managed, I was in disbelief that we actually run projects like this and it really lowered my opinion of the company’s practices. Sometimes it seems like my boss has a resistance to just doing things professionally.

But since she started, she’s made the workplace a much more interesting place to be. If she does leave I wonder if I will still think there’s anything here for me. She has changed my perception of the office, I think I would find it disheartening to continue to go there if she wasn’t there. It’s still true to say she is the most interesting part of my job. I don’t think this is really avoidable; the people you work with have a huge effect on your overall experience at a job, but in this case, it does make things a bit precarious.

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Boredom

I had Thursday to Monday feeling pretty normal, which is huge.

Tuesday was not so good but there’s a reason for that: I was really bored at work. The doomed project has actually disappeared from my radar because the client has basically cancelled it. Bit of a surprise but not really. If I was the client I would have cancelled it too. It’s the right outcome really. If we had scraped through then my boss probably wouldn’t have learnt anything from the experience. So now I’m in the lull between projects. In the last few weeks I went from relaxed to frantic and now I’ve moved onto bored. Some pacing would be nice.

I’ve always had trouble with being bored at work. Sometimes it’s OK and I just ride it out by browsing the internet, but other times I seem to become insular and frustrated. Sometimes I just have no patience for it. When it happens I feel my chest tighten and that’s it, it’s embedded itself and it’ll take a while to get rid of it.

The interesting thing is that I projected this frustration onto the Office Crush. I centred it on her, even though it’s really nothing to do with her. I have felt this way plenty of times before, before I even knew her. But it’s ironic really because just after it started coming over me we had an amusing chat about kitchen politics, and until I sat down to write this and had to think about exactly how today went, I had forgotten all about it. I was doing OK in the morning, she seemed a bit grumpy/stressed and we hadn’t talked much and I was content with it, but by late afternoon and after a day of boredom, I was mentally putting it all on her. The emotions timeline and the events timeline are completely out of sync. If she is going to be a part of my life, even if only my work life, I have to become better at managing my own emotions.

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It ends?

So it finally happened, she mentioned her wedding plans. I knew it was coming. I knew she was engaged because I spotted the ring on the first day she was here, approximately 5 seconds after thinking “wow, she’s attractive!”, blissfully unaware of the emotional roller-coaster upon which I was blindly embarking.

But this is the first time she’s actually said it and I expected that when it finally happened it would feel like a bit of a blow, or a lot of a blow to be more precise. I was actually getting frustrated earlier on in the day before it happened. With her, with me, with life, I don’t know. Some combination thereof. I was starting to wonder if I needed a new job to get away from her. I had tried to empower myself earlier on in the day by making the decision not to talk to her unless she instigated it. It didn’t help my mood when I heard her mention the word wedding, but I wasn’t exactly in a great place to start with. So I sat there quietly all afternoon pretending to be busy, not feeling particularly empowered.

I went for a run in the evening. I went out feeling unhappy and I came back feeling calm. I didn’t know what to expect the next morning. I woke up really early and couldn’t get back to sleep, but that’s not particularly unusual. By chance, it ended up being just the two of us in the office for the first 20 minutes after I arrived. Before I’d even sat down she had asked how I was and exclaimed “you were quiet yesterday!”. We ended up talking all that time before anyone else came in.

And… it was fine. At the time and afterwards. I’ve felt relaxed for the last few days. Three days in a row now, for the first time in weeks.

I didn’t know how it would affect things. I didn’t know if it would make me go cold on her, probably to her complete confusion. Or if it would cause more internal conflict in trying to deal with her. But it’s been fine. Maybe this is what I needed. I like her and she’s fun to talk to and I still see her as a bit of a personal challenge, but now I have a more definite barrier in my head that it’s not going to go any further and I can accept that. I never thought it would anyway but I guess a bit of uncertainty can cause your imagination to get excited. The longer term is, of course, no more and no less uncertain than it was before, but my imagination is more interested in tomorrow than next year. The short term now looks like a settled matter and maybe that’s a form of closure.

I expected to at least have some more mixed feelings. It confuses me a bit that it seems simple so far. It makes me wonder if there’s more to come. Part of me thinks that my whole attraction to her makes no real sense and therefore it’s probably a blunt biological way of telling me to hurry up and find someone, and there’s not really anything special about her so it probably wouldn’t work out anyway. Another part of me finds the idea of letting her go completely incomprehensible because she is literally the only person I’ve ever felt so strongly about, so she must be very special. Neither side seems to be winning at the moment. We’re going for a more moderate “she’s still there, and nothing has really changed, but don’t expect anything to happen”.

So I suppose we are in a tentative OK, but wait and see stage.

I think both sides are a bit wrong really. I’ve previously expressed exasperation at being so attracted to someone so much older than me but if I’m honest it’s not a huge surprise. The surprise is the intensity, not the person. She is exactly my type. I’ve always found older women more attractive than women my own age and it just so happens that we are apparently quite personally compatible, which, for me, feels like quite an unusual thing so it’s not unreasonable to think she’s special. The attraction does make sense, just not the intensity. But I don’t think either of us could easily fit into the other’s life. She has two children, she smokes, she seems a lot more outgoing than me. I would find all of that hard. The children especially – not just for the obvious reason but also that whereas I’m the same person at work and home, she is almost certainly not. So it probably wouldn’t work out, but not because it doesn’t make any sense.

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Work

Work improved a lot this week.

The work I was incredibly negative about last weekend actually started working properly on Monday, which is pretty much a typical software estimate. I didn’t expect it to and became quite apathetic, but as soon as I stopped caring, things started coming together. We found some other problems which are pending investigation but my boss seems very pleased and doesn’t seem to regard them as really being my problem anymore. Just in time for my pay review! Will I be back to my usual project soon? Maybe…

The office crush came back after a week and a half off and made me feel like I was back at square one, although, actually, square one was terrible and it’s not quite that bad.

I realised that I am mixing several issues with her and this might be why it has been so difficult. And intense. I have seen my relationship with her as a chance to grow as a person, socially. Well, not so much a chance, more of an obligation. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I have grown. If she’d started five years ago I would have thought “what would she see in me?” and that would have prevented me from talking to her much. Now I have a lot more self confidence, except, paradoxically, it seems I am still just as insecure. Five years ago the insecurity would have stopped me from forming much of a relationship with her. Now it drives me to form a relationship with her. Explain that.

But I have that same chance with a lot of people I work with, with whom I’ve never made the effort to establish much of a personal relationship, because, you know, I don’t fancy them so I never had quite the same amount of motivation. So that’s the new plan – I make that effort a little bit with everyone (or at least, people who will be receptive to it). Maybe not as much as with her, but enough to relieve some of the self-applied pressure. I have written before that there has often been a negativity driving my interactions with her because I feel bad if I think I am shying away from any personal challenges. I can expose myself to the same challenges with other people too, so let’s try separating it from her, or at least spreading the load.

So far it has worked well. Or… I should rephrase that. Whether it will make her any easier to be around is something that will become clearer in time, but I have learnt that one of my coworkers is having physiotherapy for problems with his lower back/sciatic nerve, one of the interns is going through a long interview process to go into machine learning at a bank (I didn’t quite understand the application of machine learning…), and another one really likes a TV program called Mr Robot and lots of films I can’t remember the names of, including the one he really wanted me to watch. Also, he really likes to talk.

Confusingly (for me), later this week she started dressing up a little more – like she did when she started and was presumably conscious of making a good impression. The lipstick and high heeled ankle boots are back. She stopped wearing lipstick after her first or second week. I actually thought when I first saw her the first day she dressed up that she must be expecting to be in a customer meeting, but no. Is she trying to impress someone? If so it’ll be a very short list as two of the more likely suspects weren’t in this week. We actually had what I can only describe as a ‘moment’ on Friday when she said something fairly innocuous to me as she was leaving but there was something about the way it happened and the way she locked eye contact with me and directed it purely at me instead of including the person next to her … and a particular word choice … that made it seem very personal. It surprised me at the time and I didn’t know how to take it. I still don’t. The person next to her started laughing to himself so he obviously thought there was something unusual about the way it happened too. It’s not likely she knows I have a crush on her. It might have vaguely occurred to her as a possibility because I have accidentally given the odd hint, but nothing incriminating enough that she’d have any confidence in such a suspicion. So I know I shouldn’t read too much into it, and even if it went exactly as I remember it (possible, maybe even likely) and even if she intended it to happen exactly like that (much less likely), it doesn’t really change anything. She still has a partner and kids, she still smokes, and workplace relationships are still a terrible idea. But it really does add to the confusion, which does make things a bit harder.

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