Ear Annoyance

Ever since the week of my birthday, I’ve been experiencing diminished hearing in my better ear, the left one. After a few days of this, I made a panicked call to my ear specialist’s office, because the last time that happened, it was because a hearing bone-eating tumor had shown up on my eardrum and I had to have a pain-in-the-ass two-part surgery to remedy the situation.

Call my gun shy, but I don’t take many chances these days.

My doctor got me in right away, but spent about ten minutes prodding around in there only to determine it was business as usual in my inner ears. I was, and am, relieved to hear that, but all he could say about my hearing loss as of late was to remind me that I’m almost certainly always going to have a bit of that. The two surgeries didn’t go completely as planned in the end, and so I will always have a bit of fluid in there that shouldn’t be, causing my hearing to fluctuate at times. He couldn’t say why it’s been happening so much lately, but if he’s not concerned about it, I guess I shouldn’t be, either.

It’s been tough though, because it does affect my day-to-day life, and it’s been particularly stressful to meet a slew of new co-workers under these unpredictable hearing conditions. Restaurants and bars are harder than they were before, and I’m constantly fidgeting with that left hearing aid to turn it up, only to realize it’s already at top volume.

I’m glad there’s no tumor, and I’m very glad I don’t need surgery, because after my Groupon benefits runs out April 30, I won’t have health insurance until July. There just doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to fix this, and that’s frustrating. It’s been a month, and while the loss isn’t constant, I also never know when it’s just going to dip out without warning.

Meanwhile, I’m glad I got into my doctor before losing my insurance, and again, he didn’t see any cause for concern. I’ll just have to hang in there for a while and hope the situation rights itself soon.

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The Liz Lemon List, at Age 28

Also, if he could look like the Pie Maker from "Pushing Daisies" that would be great. But maybe with a beard?

Also, if he could look like the Pie Maker from “Pushing Daisies” that would be great. But maybe with a beard?

In the past I’ve updated versions of a list I once wrote, based on a speech from “30 Rock,” as made by one Liz Lemon. I’ve decided it’s time for a new version, because I made the last one when I was 25, and my God, do I feel like a different person now than who I was then.

At 28, I am tired of putting up with a lot of things. I’m less concerned with whether or not a guy likes pickles or Death Cab for Cutie, and more interested in whether or not he’s had the foresight to start a 401K. I am an old lady now, and I want old lady things.

Not all of these observations are referring to my most recent relationship, and most of them are either a composite of more than one person’s past actions, or are simply hypothetical. More than anything, these are about myself and the things I’ve come to realize I want and need, as well as the things I’ve decided I just will not put up with anymore because I have no time for such crap.

There is something about my personality that makes me seek out the gruffest, most curmudgeonly people I meet, and do everything in my power to win them over. My “type” of man is surly as hell, it turns out, and hates everyone but me. I’ve definitely dated guys that break this type, but the ones that fit it have long seemed so damn attractive to me for some reason.

You know what else is true about the surly guy? He hates hanging out with my friends or making polite conversation with new people at brunch or even GOING TO BRUNCH or doing anything that wasn’t strictly his idea. To hell with surly guys.

And so, a list:

  • I want someone who’s motivated and actively working toward some kind of self-improvement or self-fulfillment. I cannot sit here and hold one more guy’s hand while he complains about how he hates his job/apartment/other non-permanent factor without doing anything about any of it.
  • I want someone who likes me and likes lots of things about me and mentions to me those things a LOT. Contrary to what you might think, I will not tire of hearing how awesome a guy I like thinks I am. I just won’t. I need to hear it, and way more than once.
  • I will not stand for bad behavior toward my friends. A guy doesn’t have to love every single one of them but goddammit if he’s not going to be polite to them on the most basic human-to-human level.
  • I want someone who cares about other people and strives to make a difference in some small way, whether it’s donating time/money/pro bono graphic design skills/a kidney.
  • I am at the point in my life where if a guy doesn’t ever want to get married or if he hates kids, it’s a conversation that should probably happen sooner rather than later. (These were definitely not questions I was asking anyone, including myself, at 25, but this is info that matters now.)
  • Dude best not be allergic to cats at this point.

I think that’s what’s up for now. It’s strange how much can change in three years.

A fond farewell, x2

On our Columbus trip.

On our Columbus trip.

Last fall, Sarah told me and our friends that she and her husband Dave would be moving back to their home state of Utah in the spring. I heard her then, but didn’t really process it until around Christmas, and now I am freaking out because she leaves in a month.

Then, a couple weeks ago, Evan, a friend I met at Groupon but got to know through Kevin, let me know he will be moving back to HIS home state as well, which is Washington. He’d talked about this plan as a possibility, and I absolutely understood the appeal of it, but I remained in denial until he said it for sure.

This winter was a beast, and while I know Sarah’s plans were in motion well before the Polar Vortex(es), I still hold it accountable somehow. It broke a lot of us, and while it’s finally starting to warm up (this upcoming week being the exception, from what I hear in the weather report) this had better be the best summer EVER in order to make up for it. But it won’t be the same without Sarah or Evan.

Like I wrote recently in my Groupon reflection post, I met Sarah when I was assigned to be her cube mate. As the story goes, I insulted Utah on about day four, but we still managed to become the very best of friends despite this. Having friends at work is important, but three years later, Sarah is so much more to me than a former cube buddy. She, along with our third Musketeer Stef, has been around for a lot of life changes both good and bad. I will always treasure the bonding experience we shared while road tripping to Columbus last April so she could be part of a comic expo there. We stayed with my Columbus aunt and uncle, she met my dad, and we listened to possibly the entire discography of Rilo Kiley when we weren’t swapping stories and learning about each others’ lives.

It’s hard to describe our friendship, other than to say I consider myself extremely lucky to know her. The powers that be clearly knew what they/it were doing when I was plunked into a desk by her. I have to believe stuff like that happens for a reason, because she has directly and indirectly helped make my life so much richer.

Evan and our friend Becca.

Evan and our friend Becca.

Evan and Kevin moved to Chicago together five years ago, right after graduating from Whitman. They packed what they could fit into a moving truck and drove across the country, from eastern Washington to Chicago, over two-and-a-half days. Evan was a manager in my department at Groupon and actually was one of the people who hired me. It was a little awkward when Kevin and I first started dating, since my new boyfriend’s best friend was kind of my boss, but after a while I was lucky enough to get to know Evan well outside of work.

There were so many nights where it was just the three of us, drinking on the small back porch of my apartment, watching bad action movies, sitting around the table playing board games, or just watching video after video on YouTube well after 1 a.m. I heard their stories from college and after a while I felt like I’d been there with them and knew the cast of characters like old friends. It was actually really tough when Kevin and I broke up, because I knew I wasn’t going to get to see Evan nearly as much anymore. And now I’ll have to split the next two weeks or so with the rest of his Chicago life. At least I’ll have someone I know in Seattle now — I’ve never visited there before.

These two leaving Chicago seems to signal the end of an era, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel unsettling. I know it’s only natural for people to take on new chapters of their lives, but I feel like so many things are ending at once: My time with Kevin, with Groupon, and now with Sarah and Evan.

I hope it means other things and people are on their way, but even if that’s the case, they’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill.

Saying goodbye

This photo misleadingly represents what this post is about

This photo misleadingly represents what this post is actually about

I had my first day at work this past week, and I like it a lot so far. I want to write about it, but that’s going to have to happen another day. What I want to talk about now is what I left behind.

I wrote a bit recently about my thoughts on leaving Groupon, but my last couple of days there seemed worth writing about separately.

I celebrated my third “Grouponiversary” Feb. 28. It was the longest time I’ve spent working at one company. Last Monday night, it occurred to me that few people in my department would be in the office on Wednesday, my actual last day, since most of us work from home that day, so Monday night I made some muffins and sliced some fruit for a next-to-last day breakfast. I sent an email to my department Tuesday morning and CC’d a handful of other people I’ve gotten to know over the last three years and invited them to grab something to eat from my desk.

I also solicited audiobook suggestions, since I plan to listen to books on my iPhone during my commute. (Thanks for all the suggestions!)

That morning I brought in a bottle of sparking wine that was leftover from my birthday party and bought some orange juice, but no one opened either Tuesday. On Wednesday, I emailed the three people I could see in my row who were there that day and asked if they wanted a mimosa.

I am terrified of opening sparkling wine — always have been. When my co-workers accepted, I grabbed the bottle out of the fridge at work and saw two sales reps at the break room counter.

“Could one of you open this?” I asked, holding up the bottle. “If you do, you can totally have a mimosa.”

One of the guys did, and I told him it was my last day. He wished me luck. Three of my co-workers and I sat and sipped before my exit interview at 11.

At 2, I had a meeting with my manager scheduled. It had been set for the day before, but she changed the date after I put in my two weeks’ notice. I sat in the usual small meeting room we usually had our bi-weekly check-ins in, and when she got there, she asked if I wanted a coffee.

We went to the cafeteria at work, which has a barista on staff, and she got me an iced coffee. We sat and talked for about a half hour, and she gave me some advice and wished me the best.

It was nice.

I stayed longer than I meant to on my last day, taking my time packing up my belongings into an IKEA bag headed for Schaumburg. I chatted Kevin intermittently throughout, as I have done nearly every day for the last almost three years.

He and I met at orientation on our very first day at Groupon. While we didn’t start dating until three months later, his friendship has been closely tied to how I felt about working there at any given moment. We chatted each other links to interesting articles and funny videos throughout our time there, even after we broke up in January. On the days when one of us was sick and/or out of the office, the other’s absence was noticeable. Some people might think that working with your significant other would be stressful, but it never felt like that for us.

But things are different now.

On my birthday, my two best friends in Chicago held something like an intervention for me. I think they knew that Kevin and I still talked to each other a lot, but neither of them had realized how much — up until this past week, he and I talked nearly every day, even if only for a few minutes on chat.

They suggested I take this first month or so at my new job as a real fresh start, and not just in terms of employment. I knew they were right.

I told him a week or so before I left Groupon that I wouldn’t be talking to him for the next few weeks, after I started my new job. He was sadder about it than I would have expected. But then again, it’s becoming more and more likely that another close friend of his is about to move out-of-state, so between that and my emotional distancing, he’s heading into a rough few weeks. I feel terrible about that, but I also know I can’t fix it.

If I could fix the things that don’t work with us, I would have by now. I have to remind myself of that a lot.

We’ve been apart for almost three months, but every day I think, even if only for a second out of the day, that this was all a terrible mistake and we never should have ended it. I think it without meaning to, without really understanding the weight that glint of a belief carries. And then, I have to remember why we’re not together, and how we may never want the same things or be on the same page.

It hurts a lot. I’m trying to make it hurt less.

I know this sounds stupid, and maybe this has just been coming to me in waves, but today it feels like we’re broken up.

First, I slowly accepted that I was single. Eventually I started to kind of like it.

Now I finally feel like he really isn’t my boyfriend anymore. This apartment is not where he lives, and he is not privy to the everyday details of my life anymore, nor am I to his. We are no longer people who talk every day and share both our serious and our mundane thoughts. We are people who, at one point, knew each other better than anyone in the world did, and now we are people who might someday manage to still be friends.

Our great, arrogant plan failed. You can’t be friends with your ex in the way you tell yourself you can be.

I chatted him minutes before I walked out of Groupon for the last time on Wednesday.

“I am glad I met you here,” I said. “No matter what.”

I said I’d talk to him in a few weeks.

“Bye Kevin,” I said, and I left.

That was three days ago and this is the longest I’ve gone without talking to him since we got together. It’s hard not to text him whenever I think of something he’d find funny, or to send him pictures of the cat looking insane/cute/insanely cute. My friends have offered to be the ones I send stuff like that to, and I’ve been doing my best to take them up on that offer.

2014 has been a year of change so far. I am hoping to get my feet completely back on the ground soon so I can start enjoying the new life I’ve been building for myself.