January 17, 2001


My face has that collapsing-in-on-itself appearance again today.

Every half hour or so, I pull my little mirror out of the top desk drawer and give myself a furtive once-over, hoping that maybe things have improved. So far they haven't. My skin seems tighter today, somehow ... as though there isn't enough skin for my face (and what little I DO have is sort of tough and lifeless). My eyes look swollen and bruised, and there is an entire interstate system of teeny-tiny highways and freeways running beneath each of them.

I look like a Satsuma orange, refrigerated two days longer than necessary.

I know what the problem is, of course. I'm still recovering from yesterday. I don't bounce back from days like yesterday with the speed and resilience I used to. Yesterday literally sucked the juice right out of me: between coping with Franz and coping with assorted sinus/allergy crap, I excreted more bodily fluids yesterday than a fourteen-year-old boy in a locked bathroom.

(I went through an entire box of Puff's Plus in one afternoon. That's how bad it was.)

Today, fortunately, promises to be less dehydrating, physically and emotionally. Franz is offsite for the first half the day, and I have him fully and safely booked for the second half of the day. I'm staying busy and I'm staying focused -- mostly I'm preparing Reception Area Hell for my replacement, whoever she/he turns out to be -- and I'm toting a little bottle of Calistoga Springs with me, everywhere I go. I've refilled my water bottle four times already and it's not even noon yet.

Of course, the bad news about drinking bazillions of gallons of water, all day long, is that I have to pee constantly.

The good news is that I have to pee constantly.

This gives me an excuse to simply *disappear* every once in a while. Usually I hop on the elevator and ride upstairs to the fourth-floor bathroom. There is a perfectly good ladies room right across the hallway from where I sit, here in Reception Area Hell, but I prefer to use the one upstairs. It's familiar, for one thing, and you don't need a key to get in, and I already know which stalls have the most interesting graffiti. Plus it tacks another three or four minutes' worth of *commute time* onto my bathroom run. And frankly, the more time I can spend on the elevator/in the bathroom/away from Reception Area Hell/out of the line of fire, the better.

At one point Jim caught me in the hallway, coming back from another bathroom run. "The position is available if you want it," he said ... meaning, if I want to move back upstairs and work for him, the job is open. He met with Franz briefly, late yesterday afternoon. I assume that part of the discussion revolved around me. But there has still been no formal offer made.

"For what it's worth," he said, "everybody really wants you to stay on here."

Basically I told him the same thing I've been telling you for the past few days: that I'd like to see something in writing (and that it wouldn't hurt if the words "window office" and/or "salary increase" appeared somewhere on the offer letter) ... and that although I'll consider his offer, I'm going to continue looking elsewhere, just in case ... and that I don't plan to make ANY decision until at least Friday, and possibly not until next week ... and that I'm still not totally convinced that four floors is enough space between Franz and I.

"I need to be completely divorced from Franz," I said flatly.

Jim nodded. "I understand," he said. And I think it's true. I think he does understand. At least, he understands what is motivating me to distance myself from Franz. I'm just not so sure he understands exactly HOW distanced I want to be.

"Well," he said, "let me know what you decide." And I promised him that I would "think" about it, and he went back upstairs and I went back to organizing my office, and that was pretty much the end of that for today.

That's OK. I'm not in any rush. I have a feeling that events are unfolding precisely the way they're supposed to.

In the meantime, all I know for absolute certain is that the absolute instant I get home tonight I'm going to peel off my suit and my pantyhose and my uncomfortable undergarments ... I'm going to kick off my stoopid uncomfortable shoes ... I'm going to fill up the bathtub, almost to the point of overflowing, with fresh, clean, clear water ...

.. and then I'm gonna drink it.

throw a rock