Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Exhaustion Physical and Mental

I AM TIRED. No, not the lassitude of a recumbent emperor who has lost interest in the scrambles of his courtiers. I'm talking a molecular weariness in mind and body. A reckoning surely is at hand, most likely with my bed.

It's been a series of late nights. Saturday, the excellent Ratatosk hosted a boardgame night. Another member of the game gang and Amy joined us for dinner, and then the evening turned to saving the world in a harrowing round of Arkham Horror. Despite our best efforts, too many gates opened amid the misty hills and shadowed gambrels of this mythical Lovecraftian town, and Azathoth, the blind idiot god seething at the center of the universe, impinged upon our dimension and cast Earth into a doom of shrieking madness.

Midnight coffee and cookies took the edge off.

I arose late on Sunday. I had gotten Hellboy from the video store, and about halfway through, my friend M. called. She has been sending me pages of her graduate thesis to proofread, and she is under severe time and work pressure with final projects for two other classes competing for her attention. She explained how she was running into problems with some of the older art she had color corrected some time ago. I'm less skilled than she is at Photoshop (don't tell my future employers that), but more important than my technical help was my just listening. I told her how cohesive her work thus far had been, how I was able to understand her hypothesis, and that the prototype she had commissioned would put her far ahead of her competition in the class. I encouraged M. to take a moment to write down her remaining tasks. She reported having trouble focusing from lack of sleep and the stress, but I know she works well from a hard list, so I advocated drawing one up. She apologized several times for interrupting the film, but I wanted to make sure she knew she was doing solid work. She was an excellent supervisor and coworker when we were one cube apart, so letting her know how much she rocks is the least I could do.

I was surprised to see the time when I hung up. I left the DVD for Monday night and hit the hay. I had plans for the morning. M. was going to slide me some more proof PDFs to review. I had a date at WFMU to help get the Marathon mailing out. I actually reviewed one PDF before sleeping, then finished a couple more as the morning sun streamed through my window.

I took the train to Hoboken for the first time since March 30. I had forgotten how much individual train tickets cost. On past FMU visits, I merely used my monthly train pass on NJ Transit and the light rail system in Hudson County. I hung onto the receipts in case my taxes this year actually get itemized. (Normally I don't have enough individual charges to warrant it.)

I always enjoy pitching in at WFMU. I donate to the fundraising Marathon each year, but work often prevents me from donating my labors. Considering I'm much more free for the short term, I answered Volunteer Director Scott Williams's call for help in getting the massive mound of Marathon swag out the door. I appreciated the chance to help, and the opportunity to get the hell out of this apartment for a day.

I couldn't have picked a more beautiful one. It felt like late spring out, in stark contrast to the Monday prior, when the nor'easter was still ravaging the area. With my date at FMU not until 10:30, I got to Jersey City early and took a stroll through the lower leg of the new financial district. I sat on a riverside bench next to the massive Goldman Sachs tower and read the Wall Street Journal as Manhattan ground to full life in the distance. It was tough to concentrate on the paper with such a peerless view.

Work at WFMU was actually more physical than I had anticipated. The mailing comprised bumper stickers, T-shirts, and prizes (mostly CDs) given as mid-show prizes to lucky pledgers. It was the T-shirts that did me in. I learned how to fold a shirt properly, which required me to reach in ways I don't ordinarily reach. By the end of the evening, my lower back was surprisingly sore. The walk back to the train was more of a shuffle. Embarrassing.

I watched the second half of Hellboy after I ate dinner, and then chatted a little more with M. From the previous two days, my bedtime was artificially late, so I wasn't tired by the time I hung up. I read for a while, then finally dropped off.

I forced myself to get up at a normal time, because I had two teleconferences with the career counseling folks. One of them, on interviewing, was actually one of the best ones I've listened in on so far. The other, on starting one's own business, was like listening to a timeshare huckster. Good or less-than-good, both took time, and by 4:00 I was feeling drained.

But the fun wasn't over! Tuesday and Wednesday are gym days, so I got my arse in gear and trekked over. My back wasn't sore any more from yesterday — a good thing, because back muscles get hit today. Hit them I did. I pushed on all fronts, especially my back and biceps, and left the gym feeling like I'd emerged from a spin-dryer. Awesome.

I think I've got just enough oomph to get the DVD back to the store and do some laundry while watching Sunday's Sopranos. After that, I will drop like a dynamited chimney.

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