Friday, June 09, 2006


With increasing frequency and regularity the words "I'm burned out" keep springing to my mind. I hold on tightly to Sunday night as it inevitably slips through my fingers and melts into Monday which blurs into Tuesday, then Wednesday, Thursday moves with a little more speed and finally Friday. Each day becomes an endurance test - I need to concentrate until lunch, I really need to finish this project before I can leave, if I can only make it to Thursday there is only one more day, is it time for the weekend yet? It doesn't help that work has slowed down. Yes, slowing down can be bad. I am less efficient, more distracted and the clock moves as if the gears are covered in molasses. The weather has cooperated to reflect my burned out mode with a gray sky, endless rain and temperatures in the 60s. I have successfully ignored my two alarm clocks twice in a week. Perhaps this is why I am planning not one, not two but three definite upcoming vacations and planning ahead for the holidays with a couple of other plane tickets to be purchased.

Yesterday I was looking forward to attending my firm's annual summer party at Central Park zoo. Good food, sad animals (I won't go into how lucky those animals in Madagascar were to escape, especially if one of them was a polar bear) and socializing and comiserating with colleauges, what better enticement - maybe the open bar if I drank. My day was planned well. The party was starting at 630 and at 5 I was pretty well situated for leaving on time. . . until I ran into a partner in the pantry. He had asked me to join him for a meeting the next day and rather than telling me several hours (or perhaps days) earlier what was needed to prepare for said meeting, he chose a 545 pow wow. I had to scramble to pull together pleadings, find marketing materials and place orders for copies and did not leave the office until just after 7, but still time to attend the party.

Stepping onto the elevator from the 18th floor I felt relief that I was making such a timely escape, until the elevator dropped just below the 11th floor. I pushed several buttons as the three other passengers offered their opinions on the situation, when the doors didn't open I pulled the alarm. Soon a voice told us they would call the maintenance people to come back to the building. We were not given details. Initially I was upset, furious even. Mostly at the two partners who lacked the forsight to plan ahead rather than create emergencies. Why was this happening to me? But when another passenger was interrogating the voice I decided to go inside my head because anger wouldn't help. I sat on the floor to wait. Another passenger started speaking VERY loudly on his cell phone in Spanish. I couldn't take it. I pulled out my ipod and played Beck's Sea Change to help me relax. I then pulled out my moleskin notepad to scribble random thoughts, record the time I entered the box and give myself something to focus on. I had no one to call, no one was waiting for me, no one was expecting me, no one was missing me.

An hour later the doors were pried open. I was wearing a skirt and I chose to hop my butt up onto the just above waist-level floor rather than disgracefully and awkwardly attempt to step on someone's hand. My fellow hostages and I did not bond, we barely talked to one another trapped in a square box for an hour. Much to his surprised embarrassment I did lead the loud cell phone talker to believe I understood enough Spanish to comprehend his half of the conversation. I threw back at him that he was planning a trip to Costa Rica where he was from and that he was explaining to his listener that we tried to pry the doors open but go in trouble. Most of this was a lucky guess from a few words I heard before drowning him out with Beck. He was mortified, I think he must have said something about me. I arrived at the party close to 830, didn't find anyone I knew and ate very little because I didn't like sitting at a table alone. The experience fueled my burn-out.

This morning as I walked to work with my head down, speed walking down Broadway, a changing intersection light caused me to pause briefly at the corner of 56th and something made me look up. Despite the gray clouds there was sunlight filtering down and illuminating one billboard that read:
"You know that happy place they tell you to visualize? It exists."

Next Thursday is vacation number one: Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. I don't think Tennessee is my happy place but I think it will tide me over until July when I go to Guatemala. But after the crazed morning I had today I am not sure I can wait a week, I need to go there immediately, which is why my office door is shut, I am basking in the sun's rays shining through my window, enjoying a Dr. Pepper, listening to Moby and considering leaving work early - like at 5 or 6. I think I can last just two or three more hours.

1 comment:

tiff said...

i get caught up in your great stories so much that i forget to tell you what a great writer you are. you really are great and engaging, and i feel like a little piece of my soul is living in NY with you.

i'm sorry you are burned out. that is a terrible feeling and slow work makes it all the more salient. i'm looking forward to reading about your vacationS!

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