Friday, December 07, 2007

Running Free of the Chicken Coop

I TOOK TODAY AND MONDAY off. I only got 5 days due to my signing on in the latter half of the year, and it took me a few months before I used the first one, partly because I was busy, but also because I didn't particularly notice being busy. Not a bad way to be. Not like the last days of the salt mine, where the only reason I didn't take my vacation days was to get cashola for them. Otherwise I would have saved them all up until mid-March and then taken them all, and the severance, with a hearty, Doppler-shifted "Fuck yoooooooooouuuu!"

At the current place, however, I've enjoyed being there. So I've been a comparative laggard in taking my time off. Now, of course, there's a mad sprint to expend it all on the part of the staff. Especially for my immediate boss and the art director; the former couldn't take any of her many days during the 4 months when they were down a person (the very gap I filled), and the latter spent the summer embroiled in the redesign of the magazine. He in particular will have worked only about a month by the time November and December both flutter into the cosmic recycle bin, due to his playing catch-up.

I have taken my Friday and Monday off with purpose. Please raise your hand if you've seen Goodfellas. Recall the music that began the "Sunday, May 11th, 1980" section? Yes, "Jump Into the Fire" by Harry Nilsson. "I was gonna be busy all day," as Henry Hill said. I had a legal pad full of tasks to accomplish for my holiday party tomorrow. No taping bags of dope to a drug mule's leg or selling guns to Robert De Niro or (sadly) making a shitload of Italian food. Though the Italian food will arrive tomorrow, courtesy of the catering crew of a local restaurant. No, in this case I had a number of places to hit across Bergen County, and the best way to accomplish this was to have the entire day to myself.

I had a sinking feeling, on Thursday, that I might lose the chance. I felt a bit run down over the course of the day, which was made worse by the long day I put in (I had to update the magazine's website before departing, which took until 7:00). Worse, one of my eyes seemed very red. I wondered if I was going to be the victim of a one-two punch of a cold and pinkeye. I beat a hasty retreat to bed once I finally got home.

My eye looked better the next day, and I went with glasses rather than contacts to give it a rest. I felt less fatigued, but on the off chance it was due to overtraining and getting a little less sleep than is optimal Wednesday night, I deferred the first-thing-in-the-morning exercise for the afternoon, my favored workout time back during my layoff. I would either do my Saturday 30-minute elliptical workout or go ahead and perform the leg and shoulder muscle exercises ordinarily slated for Friday.

Fortunately, once I got oatmeal and tea into my system, I felt much more chipper. I moved all loose paper and other junk to my bed. This cleaned up all surfaces in the rest of the apartment so I could get a rag or duster onto them. It would also force me to address all of this shit — bag it, file it, or shred it — before sleeping tonight. Nothing like an ultimatum.

Next, I composed a list of destinations, mostly in Paramus, to snag gift cards for my grab bag. I have a tradition, for those guests who want to exchange gifts but who neither have expressed a preference nor have an Amazon wish list, of putting together a clutch of gift certificates/cards and letting folks pick'em blind. Everyone loves a clean gamble.

Snow began falling as I traversed the area. I grabbed Chik-Fil-A at Paramus Park a few stops along the way. I didn't see any of the dozen or so police cars and the helicopter the radio had warned would be present at either Paramus Park or the Garden State Plaza, in a supposedly longstanding security plan that had nothing to do at all with the recent shootings at that Omaha, NE mall. So at least I was spared some tooth enamel at gritting my choppers at such an example of money-burning security theater.

I got home around 3:30 feeling well. My eye was still clearing up, and the worn-out feeling had long subsided, so I donned gym clothes and hit the club. The weight area was nearly dead, so I grabbed the opportunity of a well-paced workout and did my usual Friday work. This completed four weeks of the new program, with progressively (read as: slowly) better eating habits to go along with it, and this morning the payoff was a weight of 225. That's 15 pounds lighter than the beginning of the year. If I improve my diet further and stick to the gym plan, I might lose two or three more before New Year's. Of course, this is not something I can afford to stop: It's a lifelong need.

After finishing a strong workout (moved up my reps in all areas by a little), I returned to my lair and continued to clean. Also snagged a few decorations for the place as well. All that remains is vacuuming, waxing the kitchen floor, picking up the hot food, and waiting for this little place to fill up with friends.

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