Spring Break 2016 (Big Bend National Park)
I didn't start planning an actual Spring Break trip until like 4-6 weeks in advance, so even though some of my friends expressed interest in joining me, they weren't able to get the time off. So I headed out on my own. I'd always wanted to go out there to see what kind of starry sky a “certified dark sky” locale could offer me. And back when I'd been working up in Canada, Matt had been going on and on about his trips to Terlingua (the nearest 'town' to Big Bend) where they'd go drinking and star-gazing and mushroom-tripping. So I thought the national park would be a fine backdrop for trying out some mescaline. And the third thing I wanted to do was try out my newly finished Man Cave, an 18' tipi. It was a bit excessive for just camping out a few nights by myself, but it seemed like the occasion called for it. So those were my 3 goals for the holiday week. Stars, trip, and tipi.
My sewing machine blew up the night before I headed out, so I was able to exactly 'finish' the tipi, though some safety pins shored up the last few stitches well enough. But that snafu delayed my departure by a day and I didn't know it, but that delay made me miss the last clear night of the week. I got out to the park Tuesday afternoon and the ranger that was issuing the camping permits wasn't exactly the friendliest. Since all the regular campsites had been reserved long before I'd made my plans, the only option left was to go 'zone camping,' where you just go pitch your camp somewhere in some general area. She got on my case about how zone camping wasn't just overflow camping and how last year we zone-campers had caused too much damage and obviously I hadn't planned my camp-out very well, etc. I think she realized she was getting carried away, because she excused herself and some other ranger helped me out. There were a couple regular sites still available, though they were extremely remote and on the river, at the end of a 4-wheel-drive road. He was warning me about how there was a chance that the road might wash out from that night's incoming thunderstorm and that it'd probably take me an hour and a half just to drive the 16-mile-long dirt road. With me driving my poor overloaded 2WD truck and camping by myself, I wasn't too pleased by his outlook. But I didn't have any other option, so I took it.
I was able to make it out there in my truck, but the winds were gusting up to 40 mph due to the incoming storm, so I didn't even attempt to erect my big heavy tipi. It was all I could manage to pitch my regular tent and arrange things so that it wasn't being flattened by the wind. I did go cycling in the late afternoon and check out the river and rode to one of the trailheads. Back in camp, after sunset, I realized just how complete the darkness and silence was. With an overcast sky, there was absolutely no light in any direction and there was no sound buy the wind. And then it started raining. I ate dinner and attempted to relax in my tent but the constant pattering of raindrops on my rainfly had me constantly wondering how bad it was going to get and if I should bail on this campsite, or the entire trip.
I must've been awake until at least 2 am, too anxious to fall asleep as long as it was raining, but I eventually did. Although the rain had been constant all night, it hadn't been heavy and the roads were in good condition. I drove up to the Chisos mountains in the center of the park and although I just intended to take a quick look around, I ended up spending my day there. It was amazing. Most of Big Bend is either the river valley or the desert floor but going up into the Chisos was such a change of elevation that it was 30 degrees cooler and wetter and it was literally and island of forest surrounded by desert in every direction. It was amazingly scenic and immediately obvious why they made this place a National Park. The mountaintops were shrouded in clouds and in the basin near the top was a picturesque lodge. I have to stay there next time I come. After a day of hiking through there and taking so many pictures that I exhausted my camera's battery, I relocated to a desert campsite that evening (considering there was an 80% chance of thunderstorm that night).
I had some college-age neighbors at this new campsite and I made some small talk with them as I set up my camp before the sun went down. I thought I'd be sociable with them so I made a quick trip into town to buy some liquor and mixers. When I got back though, they'd retired to their tent even though it was only 8 pm and didn't seem too keen on mingling by the campfire. So I tried having a drink myself. I don't know if it was because I was drinking a different brand of rum, but my drink tasted awful, no matter how much mixer I added. I wouldn't realize till the next day that the mixers I'd bought in town had expired back in February 2015. So instead I drank my cactus juice, optimistic that I'd be seeing the Milky Way that night. I had played it safe and made a moderate dose of juice, so the effect was more mild than I'd hoped for. Still, at the peak of its influence, it was starting to feel pretty amazing. I can only imagine how phenomenal it'll be when I get the dosage dialed in just right. Although there was no longer any rain in the forecast, the overcast sky still lingered. Occasionally I'd see a random star peek through for a few seconds or a minute. It was a long night of star-gazing blue balls.
Sometime around three am, some howling coyotes woke me up. I could make out Scorpio overhead, but it was still hazy and obscured. That's the closest I got to seeing my stars. :T
I broke camp before dawn since I needed to be in Terlingua early to join my rafting trip. Since I was just one person, I couldn't pick my own trip. I had to join some other group's trip. The only one available was the Hot Springs route, not the famed Santa Elena Canyon trip that I'd been hoping for. It was me, the river guide, and a family of three. Although the hot springs trip wasn't all that scenic, it was fun to make multiple stops to enjoy the hot springs along the Rio Grande. And now I know which campsite to reserve so that I can have a private hot spring at my disposal. After a pleasant picnic lunch near the (???) homestead ruins, we did enter a small canyon which partially satisfied me. We got off the river around 5 pm and I momentarily considered spending another night in the park on the off-chance that the skies might clear that night. Although there were some breaks in the clouds, it didn't look like they'd be leaving any time soon. So I packed up my gear and left the park, heading up to Abilene to stay in a hotel and take a hot bath and re-acclimate to modern convenience.
I didn't accomplish any of my three goals for the trip, but I'm okay with that. I still was amazed by the park and now I know exactly how to plan for next time and make it awesome. So it was actually kind of good that I went alone, it allowed me to work the kinks out and get an idea of what expectations are realistic. I certainly do hope I can convince some friends to go, or better yet, take a special gal with me. The grandeur of that park has a undeniable impact on your thoughts and perceptions; you can't help but feel that you need to share those thoughts with someone else.

A year ago today Jane and I started officially dating. We'd started a couple weeks before, in truth, but it was one of her idiosyncracies that we wait until Februrary 1st. Losing her was easily the biggest disappointment of the year and the fact that it took me an unusually long time to get over her speaks to the depth of what I felt for her. Of course, in hindsight I realize we were not compatible. Neither of us could/would adapt to the other. Me because I believed I was right and therefore stubborn, she because . . . she couldn't. One of the big lessons I take away from being with her and corroborated by my first semester of teaching is my real need to grow in terms of empathy. Simply because I'm right doesn't justify being inflexible. Oftentimes human life doesn't submit to one standard and frankly, it's not always worth it to stick to that one 'right' path. Occasional detours into irrationality or weakness aren't the end of the world and spending that time and effort to accommodate others will help me to begin to understand perspectives that I would normally dismiss or judge out-of-hand.
I really thought we would've lasted more than six months. It felt to me like we had something strong enough to sustain us for longer than that. But it doesn't matter; the outcome would have been the same either way. At the very least I wish we could have salvaged a friendship out of the rubble of our relationship. I can't help but wonder why that didn't happen, seeing as how Jane is friends with so many of her earlier exes. I wonder if I did unknowingly hurt or offended her so much that even a platonic friendship was inconceivable. I guess I'll never know.
I hope she's found someone that makes her happy and satisfies all those fears and doubts she had. I could never tell if unhappiness dogged her or if it was I that created that feeling.

Two month autopsy
I've finally gotten past the proximate issues and can see the ultimate issue. I don't believe that Jane was really that into me to begin with. Everything makes sense once I consider that possibility. As I had been trying to conclude my thoughts on our relationship, I was continually stumped by a few facts. She'd said I was only the second man she'd ever thought of living with, she'd strongly wanted me to tell her that I loved her, she wanted to look at houses and think about baby names together. All of these indicators of strong feelings, how could they completely vanish within the space of a few weeks? That's what confounded me. At first I assumed that I'd done something terrible that destroyed them but after continuous review, I couldn't see what that could have been. Only recently did I consider that maybe those strong feelings weren't actually there to begin with.
It makes sense though. She wasn't initially interested in dating me, wanting to just be friends at first. And then once I'd somehow changed her mind on the matter, she was temporarily excited and enthusiastic. But her feelings were still somewhat shaky or uncertain. I think that's why she insisted on receiving so many romantic gestures and constant re-assurances from me. As long as I was feeding her this emotional support it would be enough to reinforce her lukewarm feelings for me. And that might've worked for a while. But a mere two weeks into the relationship she was already expressing fears that we'd break up. I was confident about us but she already had some unspoken reasons to believe this. The seeds of our end were already sown in her.
Despite my efforts to change and be the type of man Jane wanted, I could not provide enough romantic support to make up for Jane's doubts or insecurity. As things went on, I tried harder but Jane became less and less satisfied. Her requests increased in quantity and magnitude as she needed more and more to make up for her growing dissatisfaction. The relationship became unbalanced as it began to focus more on her needs and desires while mine went ignored. I was being asked to do more and was receiving less in return and I grew frustrated. Once my frustration began to influence my behavior towards Jane, it began to reinforce her unhappiness and we entered a cycle of discouraging each other. That marked the end, though it took a few months to finalize it.
Compared to the list of requests Jane had of me, I only truly had one. My request that she change her sleeping schedule got to the heart of the imbalance between us. I was struggling to change who I was to suit her and the one simple request I had of her, she would not bother to attempt. I don't know whether she was incapable of it due to her OCD tendencies, or if she chose not to out of selfishness. It doesn't matter though. The consistent theme throughout our relationship was that I, with my own desires and needs and hopes, was always second-place to her own comfort and convictions. The list of instances that illuminate that fact cannot be denied. We weren't partners who equally took and gave to each other. I naively thought that we could grow into such a couple; I thought we could build something permanent but Jane's emotions weren't sufficient to give us a strong enough foundation for that.
I think I understand why Jane wants nothing to do with me now. Even though she proudly claimed that she's friends with most of her exes, she essentially no longer acknowledges my existence now. That hurt me, but I think I understand why I warrant this exclusion. The demands that I placed on Jane revolved around making her healthier, physically and emotionally. To take control of her sleeping habit would have opened up so many more activities and opportunities to her, it would have allowed us to have a more mutually satisfying relationship, it would have reduced the threat of losing a job due to oversleeping or napping or tardiness or working from home, it would have increased her metabolism and reduced the incidence of migraines and other miseries related to her sedentary lifestyle, it would have . . . allowed her to take control of her life, rather than just surviving at this ebb. In asking her to grow, I was compelling her to face the deficiencies in her life. If I'd provided more emotional support, she might've been able to tackle them, but without seeing any initiative from her, I wasn't about to stretch myself further to undertake that task.
After two months of being ignored my her, I've de-friended her on Facebook. It was beginning to feel like a repeat of the last half of our relationship; one-sided affection for someone who wants none of it. I still care for her and wish I could help her, but I have to conclude that I'll get virtually nothing in return aside from some diplomatic words of thanks. I hope that she finds peace within herself and happiness with whoever she eventually finds to be with but I can't continue to let myself care for her. I can't continue to invest so much thought and emotion in her. I have to get past her. Although I can't control my dreams about her, I can close my thoughts about her.

I had the good luck of starting a long-term substitute teaching job last week. The principal was in a pinch, as a pregnant teacher was going on bed-rest earlier than expected. That was in my favor as the principal only had one day of warning in which to conduct candidate screenings. I've been teaching chemistry these past couple of weeks. It's not my ideal position, but I'm beyond grateful to have this opportunity. It was remarkable how quickly my mood improved after a couple days. Knowing that I'd now have a regular full-time paycheck coming my way banished the ever-present worry of my mounting debt and even two weeks later, I can still feel the palpable relief.
I entered the school year five weeks in, so once again I'm at a disadvantage of the students and other teachers having found their groove while I'm scrambling to learn names and the culture of the school. Since I'm only a substitute I don't have quite the authority and privileges that would help me fully commit to and integrate myself within the school/department; it's like living in a hotel room. I know it's not permanent so I don't commit myself 100% to it; Honestly I'm not capable of it even if I wanted to. I know I need to try, to impress my colleagues and superiors so that I can parlay this opportunity into a future career possibility. It's just a bit of limbo I guess.

(no subject)
Once again, I can't sleep. I continue to swing between two trains of thought. I look back on my mistakes and wonder what I could have done differently, how could I have avoided losing her; avoided driving a wedge between us. I have many regrets about how I behaved. The weekend Layla died was a big one. The botched week we spent house-sitting together. How I made a point of resisting as she pushed me to say I loved her or to join her in daydreams about living together or the possibility of kids. I look back at moments like these and see how easy it would have been to have done the right thing but I was stubborn and did what I thought was 'right'. I agonize over these failings.
On the other hand I take the bitter medicine and try to convince myself that even if I'd made the best choices, our relationship would have collapsed eventually anyways. Jane is a slave to her psychology and her medication (willingly or unwillingly, it doesn't matter). Even though she cared about me so much that I was only the second man that she'd ever wanted to live with, that wasn't enough to overcome her biology. I loved her when she awake and truly present (her goofy antics and witty sass and intelligent sparkle) and I began to hate when she was asleep. Not only did it make me feel unimportant and interfered with so many of my aspirations for us, but it would also cast a long shadow on our waking time together. The migraines, her aches and pains, the nightmares, her slow metabolism which only served to further extend the effects of the medication; to me it seemed so obvious that many of her troubles were rooted in her dependence on these drugs. I wanted her to be healthy and alive and alert with me, not constantly narcoleptic and unhealthy. I could have educated myself on these matters of her psychology and these drugs, that might have made me more considerate and forgiving. But even if I had come to understand and accept that aspect of our relationship, I know I would have been unsatisfied with the type of relationship it was beginning to dictate. It would have closed the doors on things I wanted us to be able to do and how I wanted us to be. Even if I could have learned to live with it, I would have had to sacrifice much of what I wanted in order to keep her. Sooner or later, that would have ended us. As this relationship was nearing its end I thought that if we could just hang on until we were employed again, that would force Jane to assume a normal sleeping schedule and that would resolve my biggest concern about us. But then I think back to when we were both on a 9-5 schedule and realize the problem was still there. The rationale and the excuses were different, but it still came between us. So job or no job, the outcome would have been the same. I couldn't have accepted the life that would come with being with Jane and she couldn't change who she is.
When I can convince myself of that conclusion, it seems irrelevant to wonder if I could have truly become the man she wanted me to be, communicative and emotionally supportive and effusive. I don't think I could have ever satisfied those needs of hers. As I look at our relationship I realize that it placed an emphasis her desires and needs. It wasn't quite as severely unequal as the relationship I had with Liz, but it was unbalanced. From minor mundane matters such as whose music we listened to to larger decisions such as whose house we stayed at or whose family and friends we spent more time with. Granted, this imbalance could have stemmed from the possibility that I simply needed less than Jane. I felt at least that my demands were modest, consistent, and few. Also, the imbalance may have been my own fault. I was too eager to please Jane and make her happy so I may have prioritized her needs too much. To this day, I don't understand Jane's disinterest in me. She always said she wanted me to open up more but whenever I'd venture to share something with her that was important to me, she would take no interest in it or disparage it outright. She said my music sounded like women orgasming (while we always listened to her NIN and 90s playlist), she never read any of the books on my shelf (though I read multiple books of hers and her articles as well), she never wanted to watch, let alone play any of my games, even the one I said was the most beautiful one I'd ever played and had inspired me to put 40 hours into sewing a costume of. We watched her movies but none of mine. She declined my invitation to go to the theater to see a movie that reminded me of her. When Lilly and I cosplayed, she didn't once rouse herself to see my project as I was working on it or join the family on the day we wore them. The books I bought when we went to the bookstore she dismissed as being 'depressing'. It was like she was always apathetic or negative about what mattered to me. Is it any wonder I was reluctant to share with her?
She always wanted so much emotional affection and reassurance. Notes, texts, phone calls, emails, instant messages, presents, flowers, gestures. I didn't ask for any of that. I was touched by them and cherished them, but that's not what I wanted from her. I wanted to feel that I was important to her, that she was interested in me and respected me. But most of the time I felt subordinate to her needs, unrelenting as they were. I felt like I wasn't an equal partner in this relationship. I think that was the true root of my recurring frustration. We built the relationship to satisfy her. I'd sit through the painful nightly ministrations for her quirky satisfaction, I reduced my expectations in order to accommodate her minimal sex drive, I worked to incorporate her rational and irrational requests into my own behavior; the focus was on what she wanted/needed. It became more unbalanced in the denouement of our relationship as she began to pull away while I increased my efforts to woo her back. I could never dispel my frustration though, because subconsciously I was aware of the imbalance of effort and affection and respect. I wasn't consciously aware of it during our relationship and I'm kind of surprised about that. I would have thought I'd be keenly sensitive to such a situation after going through it with Liz. But I wanted to be with Jane so much more than I wanted to be with Liz and our good times together were so much better too, that I think that changed my perspective and heightened my tolerance to any inequity in our relationship. I don't know if I would have become consciously aware of this imbalance if we had stayed together. Perhaps so. That frustration was probably my coalescing awareness that this relationship wasn't fair. I helped make it unfair.
Jane made the correct decision when she asked me to stop coming to her shows. Her reasons are different than mine, but I agree that that was the proper course to take. Despite all my efforts to convince myself that this relationship was not sustainable or fulfilling for me, I still want to be with her. And that's why I shouldn't be with her, not even as a friend. Not now anyways. But I still can't help but wonder, What would have had to be different about us, for it to have worked? I can't help but feel that we were so close to being just right for one another. I feel that we almost had it and not knowing the answer keeps me from getting any rest.

(no subject)
I've been trying to keep myself busy this week. There's just no other option, really. This week all of the school districts began their teachers' inservices and all the other training that occurs just before the school year kicks off. Ninety percent of the job openings that were there last week are gone now. So it doesn't look like I'll be able to find a teaching position this fall. I've started applying for substitute positions. Substitute teaching won't give me the relevant teaching experience that I need, but it will keep me afloat financially for the time being and it may give me a foot in the door should any openings come available later in the year. It's discouraging though. I'm going to have to dip into my retirement once again. I'd allocated the last of my savings to get me through to the end of August, by when I'd assumed I would have landed a job. But I'll just continue to tread water here.
I sent out over 30 applications, searched 15 school districts, got myself certified in 3 “high need” areas, and went on 8 interviews. None of that amounted to landing a job though. I know my interviewing style could be improved, but I'm stubborn about being honest about who I am rather than trying to sell myself. And maybe I should've been less rigid on staying in the DFW area. I'd told myself I simply didn't have the funds to relocate somewhere else. But now that I've run out of options and am countenancing using my retirement again, I realize that was always an option. The only thing in DFW that I couldn't leave behind was Jane, but that's no longer relevant.
Substitute teaching and tutoring in the evenings should keep me afloat. I'm just . . . so tired of being in this situation. I owe so much to my brother's generosity, but I'm so sick of living here. Being cooped up in a messy house with no means or occupation of my own, I'm just tired of this limbo. I want a career, I want my own home, I want my own mate. I'm so unsatisfied.
I have too much time on my hands. That's not making this break-up any easier. I try to keep busy, even though I have hardly nothing to occupy me. I'm trying to throw myself into finishing Lola's commission, but my depression makes me so apathetic and listless. And when I finally do get into the groove of working on something, at the first sign of difficulty or failure, I give up. My good spirits and optimism/resilience just aren't here right now. I need something else to occupy me. I'm tired of dwelling on what I've lost. I don't want to cry any more. I'm getting sick of this version of Cody.
I'm tired of feeling this way.

(no subject)
That's how I knew it was definitively, completely, utterly over.

Jane's comedy troupe was doing their last performance. The structure of it was, no troupe could win more than 4 times in a row. This was their fourth performance. So no matter how good they did, this was the last time. I went, of course. I'd been invited and they were a good group. Aside from non-relatives, I was the only consistent groupie. The challenger duo was exceptional. Jane's group was pretty good. I sat with Nan, as per usual. But somehow I missed the explanation/whatever following the performances. I hadn't bothered to submit my vote as I assumed that the outcome could only point one direction. It was a brief exposition; according to Nan, Jane's group won again.
In my own words, Jane's group's main advantage was that it was slower paced and more approachable than the challenger's razor-sharp efforts. Once again, Sally was the group's Hail Mary pass, crawling in like an amputee. And Jane turned the show around with one great quip.
So their group won, for what it's worth. This time around I'd actually taken the train to the show so I was genuinely checking the time to see when I would have to leave. At this time of day the train only runs once every half hour so I couldn't be too casual (?) about it. As we were all departing though, Jane and Nan inquired as to where I was parked/situated/whatever. They volunteered to give me a ride to the train station where my truck was parked.
I sat in the back seat. My buzz was still fluent enough that I could interject into their conversation as was appropriate, but there weren't many opportunities for my input. The conversation primarily centered around the night's performance and then angled towards more mundane matters, such as Nan's doctor's appointments or how the animals were doing. As all that was going on my eyes were continually fixed on Jane's profile. I could see her luminous skin, the nuances of her profile, her lustrous hair . . . but not once did she divert her gaze towards me. Always she looked forward. She never looked back to see how I was doing; never cast a concerned look behind her. If I had met her gaze just once, for a moment, I would have felt something. But I never saw her eyes. They looked beyond and above me. That's how I knew.

(no subject)
Just five minutes after I posted my last entry, Jane texted me. I knew it was her instantly; no one else texts me at 1:41 in the a.m. Upon seeing her name on the screen, an anxious bolt of hope shot through me. I opened it and read that the ice-maker connection I'd installed a few weeks ago had busted loose and Jane couldn't turn it off. According to her, the valve under the sink couldn't turn it off and I knew that the water shut-off in the front yard was locked. I offered to come over, but she couldn't wait the 40 minutes it would take for me to get there. She called the fire department and they handled it.
I came over the next day while she was at work. I had installed the water line so I felt responsible for what happened. I spent a few hours there, including a couple of trips to Home Depot. Nan was asleep the whole time, so we didn't talk. I got everything fixed up by 4 in the afternoon. I thought I'd wait around until Jane got home so that I could explain what to do in case this happened again, plus I thought I should wait to see if the repairs held. In that idle time I noticed that the photos of Jane and I were still visible around the house. I told myself not to interpret that in any optimistic way; most likely she just hadn't gotten around to putting them away. It was a bit difficult to be there though. I simultaneously wanted to stay and flee. Without Jane that house was just too full of memories.
Around 5:30 Jane texted to see how the repairs had gone. I updated her and asked if she was still at work. She said she'd have to stay till six so I told her I'd head out then. She replied, “You're driving now? What about traffic?”
I responded, “Well yeah, there's no reason for me to stay.”

So it's been two weeks since Jane and I broke up. Whereas the first week was an open, bleeding wound, this week could be categorized as scar tissue. No longer painfully tender, but a silent reminder of trauma. I rarely cry any more. But the sadness is still there, always. I know she's much further along in her post-break-up transition so I don't bother her with my troubles. I still miss her terribly though. The nights are the most difficult; that's when the loneliness is most acute. Normally she would be the one I'd talk to, with whatever crossed my mind. Now that I need someone to share with, my go-to confidant is gone. I miss her. Just knowing that there was someone out there that . . . cared for me, meant so much. Now it's back to being completely alone and independent. Yes, I live with my brother, but I still have to bear my own shit. I needed/wanted that soft connection. A heart to connect to. Jane asked for more than I could give, yes, but . . .
I hope she's doing well. I know that I couldn't provide what she needed and given her history, she might not find a man who can. But that's neither here nor there. Despite whatever faults I may ascribe to her, she is a genuine loving person and deserves as much in return.

(no subject)
I went to Jane's improv show tonight. I could cite many minor reasons for going, such as: she and her group are funny, I enjoy stand-up, she would appreciate the support and input, she invited me so it would be polite to go, I could use a laugh, etc. The underlying motive though was that I wanted to see her again, in any way, shape, or form. I wasn't 100% sure that this would be the best idea, but I psuedo-rationalized it by saying that it would be good for my recovery to see her doing what she does best, without me.
I had a few drinks on the way down. Like I said, I don't normally drink when I'm depressed but I thought I might need some outside help to dismiss the dark clouds that have been following me, something to mute the negative thoughts that have been playing on loop. I got to the club about 10 minutes early. Nan was waiting in the front. We made small talk about their pets, Jane's new job, Nan's health, and such, while ignoring the elephant in the room. Nan was glad I had come and expressed that Jane would also be thankful. The usher called everyone in and we took our seats in the theater. [“When I read your post I felt terrible.”] As we were waiting for the show to start, Nan asked me, “Are you two really over?”
“According to Jane, we are.” Despite the relaxation of the alcohol and my commitment to be strong, I could feel the tears wanting to well up.
Nan continued, “Jane would kill me if she knew I was telling you this, but she says that she really misses you. Now she's got no one to share with.” She said more but it was hard to make it out with the music playing overhead.
I merely nodded. It didn't seem appropriate to share with her how devastated I was feeling. She began to say something else when the houselights went down.
The show started and the improv groups were excellent. The challenger team went first and they were on point. Fast, creative, and animated, I really liked their work, though they did change topics very abruptly which I felt lost the audience momentarily each time. Jane's group did as well as they ever do; Sally (the team's sparkplug) seemed a bit subdued tonight. It was a close match. I filled out my ballot for the challenger but abstained from turning it in. It turned out that Jane's team won which means they'll be returning next week. So I may come back for that.
After the show everyone moved to the lobby. I sat with Nan and we talked about the show for a few minutes as we waited for the comedians to come out. The conversation ebbed and I considered leaving before Jane came out. I could easily have said that I needed to catch my train back home. But I knew that Nan has trouble walking and that Jane would want to pull the car around, but this wasn't the sort of neighborhood where a girl should be walking alone after dark. So I stayed. Eventually Jane emerged and we three talked of comedy for a bit. I then walked Jane to her car. We avoided any delicate topics, mainly just talked about the show. She thanked me for coming and said that she was a bit surprised that I had. I shrugged it off, saying that, “Regardless of what's going on with us, you and your group are really funny.” We got to her car and I told her to take care. She asked me to give Lilly a kiss for her.
As soon as we separated I could acutely feel that cavity inside of me. I don't know if this venture was good or bad for me. I'm home now and that sadness is still there just as before.

(no subject)
After last night's final blow, I vented a little on Facebook this morning. Nothing venomous or pathetic, just a statement of what's going on with me: the break-up, being broke and giving up on Dragon*Con, and my continued bad luck in finding a teaching job with the school year just about to start. I received quite a few messages of support and consolation and a handful of friends reached out even more than that. I was touched. The messages were heart-warming, even though they can't do anything to really ease my depression, they . . . helped in a way.
This afternoon Katherine sent Cameron to pick up some bourbon that she needed for cooking. He came back with that bourbon and an extra bottle of rum for me. It was an odd surprise. He's trying to help, I suppose. But I only drink in pleasant situations; I wouldn't dare risk mixing alcohol with my current emotional state. I'm almost considering it though.
The past few days I've been doing what I can to keep myself distracted. That means reading, playing games, watching TV, playing more with Lilly, just anything to keep my mind preoccupied. I was playing a video game this evening when Lilly got up a few minutes after her bedtime. Usually she just goes to the bathroom or asks her dad for some water. But this time she came to my door and asked, "Uncle Cody?" That was atypical.
"Yes Lilly?"
She pushed open the door and asked, "Why are you not friends with Miss Jane anymore?"
How do you explain a break-up to a three-year-old? Lilly was really fond of Jane so I'd been dreading this question. I suppose the topic must've come up when Cameron was putting Lilly to bed. The best answer I could give Lilly was, "Because I hurt her feelings really bad."
"Because I was mean."
"Did you say you were sorry?"
"Yes, I did. But . . . she doesn't want to be my friend anymore."
Lilly didn't look like she really understood or accepted my explanation, but I couldn't think of any other way to describe it better. I miss her too, Lilly.

In ruins
It hurts all over again. I . . . was holding out some hope. When I had sought to talk to her shortly after the break-up, she said that she needed time to make this decision, without being swayed by emotions or the sadness of break-up. She said we'd 'talk soon'. As of a couple days ago, her Facebook status still showed us in a relationship so I thought she was still considering things. But I looked just now and it says 'single'. Just like that. One word and it's done. I keep looking at that word, dumbfounded. She didn't say anything further to me, there wasn't any notification; I've just been deleted. Is that it? Is that really it?
I'm still in shock how quickly this happened. We had difficulties sure, but the speed and magnitude of her change of heart has stunned me. Five days before we broke up, she was still asking if I could come over. Three days before we broke up she seemed happy when I came over. The day before we broke up we had good times, slept in the same bed, shared our meals, shared our time, shared our shower . . . there was nothing I saw that said this was our last week/day/hour together. And in the space of four days I've been deleted. I haven't heard from her at all. I just . . . can't comprehend how things changed so quickly. I mean, was I truly so oblivious that I didn't see any indication that this was it, that our time had run out? Had she really given up on our relationship so long ago that once the last words were said, she could instantly and dramatically flee? I thought we both cared for each other but apparently I was a fool. I was still committed to something that had become a hollow act for the other person. I didn't think I was so easily disposed of.
If I cared for someone so strongly and without any true fear right up to the very last minute, how can I trust my feelings in the future? If I was caring for someone who wasn't actually there anymore, what does that say about the depth and sophistication of my relationships? That I can be content with a charade? I just don't understand any of this. I thought we meant something to each other. How could I have missed the truth by so much?


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