Have you ever gotten on a treadmill and the speed gets too fast? You stumble to keep up as you try to find the off switch? That’s been my life since Labor Day. A treadmill I can’t turn the fuck off. I’m tired, I ache and I’m starting to think that flying off the back and slamming into the wall would be better than continuing to sprint.
In my eight years of being in this business, I’ve always had an end of year blitz. I won’t bore you with the details but a lot of companies renew their benefits on the first of the year. It keeps things simpler for the employee and it allows the employer time to make annual budgetary decisions before the year begins. Fascinating, I know.
This year’s been different because of two major factors. First, Aetna sat on their January 1st pricing for two weeks. This meant I had two less weeks to prepare data for all of my clients with January anniversaries. Math problems were never really my strength but you don’t have to be an MIT grad to understand the outcome. The second issue is my dad's gone and drummed up individual business. He walks with a walker, prefers I sit in on meetings to translate his mumbles and then he has the audacity to have one of his best quarters of production. Ever. The relevancy of this tidbit is that I’m the go-to-gal with the application process. He seals the deal but I'm the only person who can get the deal delivered.
“You sound tired,” my mom said when I rang her in Florida earlier today to tell her something.
“I am,” I admitted.
“Why? Oh wait, hold on. Caryn, is that where I turn for TJ Maxx? Caryn’s in the car. Say ‘hi’ Caryn!”
“Listen, I’d love to experience retirement with you two but I have to get back to work. See you in two weeks.”
I hung up the phone and glanced at my Day-By-Day New Yorker Cartoon calendar still flashing November 29th. I haven't had the time to tear off the days. I let out a sigh and then redirected my attention to the three-page list of tasks that needed to be completed sometime before the end of the day. I didn’t have evening plans . And even if I did, I’d have canceled them. Again. Just like I’ve done almost every night since the trees shed their leaves.
Friday night I was invited to a Kickball shindig. It was a gathering of around sixty people catching up and winding down. Stumbling out of the office at half past eight, the last thing I wanted to do was shlepp into the city to be social. So, I bought some chicken salad at Wholefoods, went home, put the food in the fridge because I was too tired to chew and then curled up on my sofa and fell asleep.
Saturday I was invited to a chic party being thrown by a chic friend. I declined the invite, knowing full well I've been chic-less for many months. My hair's in need of some styling, my roots are in need of some coloring and my ability to carry a conversation about anything other than health insurance is pretty limited. Instead, I went over to my parent's house and had Outback take-out with my dad.
I stood in front of my refrigerator last night, my pale face illuminated by the dim glow of the bulb in the back, and scanned my dinner options. Grated parmesan cheese, a bottle of Riesling, organic catsup, margarine, yogurt five days beyond the sell-by date and an onion. I grabbed the cheese and a fork and made a meal of Reggiano. Then, for the first time in I don't know how long, I suited up for a half hour on my treadmill. The real one. That plugs in and has an off switch.
On the 23rd, I head south for a few days. My dad turns 65 on Christmas so the gang's gathering in Sarasota to celebrate his birthday. Before leaving the office on the 22nd, I'm changing my email and voicemail messages to inform clients that I'll be out of the office and out of reach until January 2nd. I'm packing up my laptop with the hopes some creative energy will return once I get out from under the burden and stress of work. I'm putting this book and that book in my duffle so I can jump start my burnt out brain with other people's brilliance. And when all else fails, I'm sprawling out on a chaise on the lanai as the sun dips below the horizon and doing some mindless Sudoku while sipping some Shiraz.