"Wicked witch or evil stepmother?" I finally asked and grinned proudly at my own humorous nature.
"Snow White," she replied after rolling her eyes. "With your dark hair and pale skin and the red top and flowy sweater."
"Oh," I sighed, reaching to cuddle her with grateful affection as we continued to walk.
"I know," Adam said as we held my end of year review. "But I guess you'll eventually be less emotionally involved. Focus on family and kids and, um, a dog."
"Wait," I replied, leaning forward across the table. "I ask you for advice on how to conduct my professional life - be effective while remaining sane - and you give me 'enjoy your dog'?!" And we laughed.
"I'll give you this," he said after a moment. "You are exceptionally talented - smart and passionate and focused and willing to lie, steal and cheat to get your way." I ducked my head in thanks and he replied I was just like him. "But you have this innate goodness that's offended when people are wrong. Or they disagree with you."
"Disagreeing with me is wrong," I protested quietly and he winked at me.
"I love working for you," I offered before winking back.
"You need to do something important outside of here," he advised. "As someone who likes you personally as much if not more than I value you professionally, I'm saying you need to find joy in your family or faith or something and let all these work problems be more peripheral."
"I don't know if I can," I told him.
"I know," he replied.
"Katie?" Sibling called from across the cafeteria.
"Sibling?" I called in return.
"Did you pick a date in March for your thing? she asked.
"No," I replied.
"Do you think it will be near the beginning or near the end of March?"
"I know not," I shrugged. "I haven't asked. Maybe the middle of March! Why?"
"Because I didn't want you to pick the middle of March," she sighed and I giggled before asking her why she didn't just start with that statement.
"I feel like you're herding me," I told Doug. "Like I'm a sheep," I paused to decide I'd make an excellent sheep, "and you're a border collie and you keep nudging and nudging until I give up and go where you want."
He nodded thoughtfully and tightened his arm around my shoulder, demonstrating some of the behavior to which I was referring as he tried to pull me closer.
"Eventually I will bite you," I warned then decided I might not make such an excellent sheep after all. "I have control issues," I offered, slightly apologetic.