May 28, 2002
Recovery Issues


Tuesday morning, the day after Memorial Day.

There are two "dentist appointments," a couple of "stuck in traffics" and an intriguingly nonspecific "feeling icky" waiting for me in my voicemailbox when I get into the office. Two of my Dirt Company co-workers have decided not to come in at all today. Another is mysteriously AWOL. Everybody else is obviously still on Holiday Time: as the morning progresses, I sit at the front desk and watch them straggle into the office, one by one: none of them looking at all glad to be here, none of them looking particularly well-rested, a couple of them acting downright snarly when I remind them to sign in. ("I'm here, aren't I?" barks The Main Nerdy Geoscientist Guy, looking a little Stachybotrys Chartarum Green around the gills.)

This office has clearly been infected with a case of "Three-Day-Weekend-Itis."

I'm sympathetic. I honestly truly am. If anybody around here understands how hard it is to disconnect from a long, lovely holiday weekend and plug yourself back into the boring workday world, it's me. During my Drunk-and-Dysfunctional Days (read this: the first twenty years of my professional life), I would routinely call in and plead 'stomach flu' or 'collapsed ceiling' or 'dead Grandma' on the first morning following a three-day weekend ... mainly to buy myself an additional eight or nine hours' worth of Puke-and-Pillow Time. 

Even now that I'm sober, I still face end-of-the-holiday-weekend *recovery issues.* Recovering from too much sunshine and fresh air, for instance. Recovering from three days' worth of comfortable shoes, twenty-minute showers and minimal Maybelline. Recovering from restaurant lunches and Bed Picnic suppers. Recovering from three days of no phones, no paper cuts, no smarmy Minolta salesmen calling me "ma'am."

Or -- as is the case today -- recovering from sixty-six miles on a Butt-D-Luxe.

I must confess that it's taken me ever-so-slightly longer to bounce back from Saturday's marathon forty-mile bike ride (plus six miles on Friday night, and another twenty on Sunday morning) than I had expected. I'm not talking about physical pain. In fact, except for my battered right knee -- and some residual stiffness in my hands from maintaining a death-grip for five hours -- I seem to have come away from the ride with very little in the way of actual injury or whine-worthy discomfort. A couple of naproxen sodium and twenty minutes in the bathtub with my whirlpool thingamajig on Sunday night, and I was practically good as new. Mostly I've just felt sort of tired and quiet and depleted for the past couple of days ... like a crumpled tube of Crest Complete, squeezed nearly dry. It's as though I pushed myself to the absolute limit of what my soft, squooshy forty-four year old body can do, and then I pushed a little beyond that limit, just for fun.

This is not a bad thing. It's actually pretty amazing, when you think about it. It's just taking a little more effort to recover from than I'd anticipated.

It's not quite as bad as a hangover, of course. I'm not sprawled across porcelain this morning. Nothing is broken or bleeding or on fire. There are no empy wine boxes crammed into my bottom desk drawer ... no new TOS violations waiting in my e-mailbox ... no Oregon City Police Officers knocking on my door, politely inquiring after my welfare. Still, I can totally empathize with my co-workers, especially the tiny handful of them who are looking a lot like *I* used to look after a holiday weekend. It took every *Willpower Molecule* I possess to keep from picking up the phone at 5:47 a.m. this morning, calling my boss at home and announcing that I've got the stomach flu/that my ceiling collapsed/that my grandma died (again), just to buy myself an additional eight or nine hours' worth of "People"-and-Pillow Time. What finally got me out of bed and propelled me into the shower was knowing how my unscheduled absence would screw things up for JoAnne today. My reputation for professional reliability has become very important to me in recent years. I went for twenty years without one, after all.

Besides: I want to save my precious stockpile of sick time for an authentic emergency.  Like honest-to-god stomach flu. Or an actual collapsed ceiling. Or (knock wood) a legitimate family crisis.

Or like the Monday morning after I ride my first FIFTY miles.



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it should be there on thursday.