Instead of getting a certain amount of vacation days, sick days and personal days at my company, we get a pool of them to use as we see fit. The upside of this is the flexibility in how the days are utilized. For example, if we’re healthy as horses all year, the 3-5 days normally granted for staying home watching The Price Is Right can be used for an extra week of vacation. The downside is that you end up saving the days in case the flu hits or some miserable cold which makes a 14 hour day in the office impossible. Which ultimately means that by the month of December, everyone is usually over-flowing with “PTO” to use (paid time off). You can only carry over a certain number of days per year, meaning there’s a lot of empty desk chairs come this month.
As I’m prone to annoying head colds throughout the year, I tend to fight through them until a “really bad one” comes along and as a result, have almost never been out, even when feeling like complete crap. I’m always worried that there could be something worse coming and then what would I do? Plus, why waste one of these days when I’m feeling like crap when I could save that day and use it to sleep in, go to the movies, go shopping, go to the gym, etc.?
Now that it’s December, I realized there was an obscene amount of days to use. Suffice it to say, I could have practically taken the month off. The problem is that everyone else wants to use their days too so the question of coverage prevents us from all doing a simultaneous mass exodus. Yesterday was my turn to burn a day, and it was glorious. I slept in until 7:15 AM, a luxury these days, when Wally woke me up begging to go outside. We did our morning walk and I watched as people in suits and dresses with knee high boots skirted around us to head to the subway or jump into a cab, rushing to get to work. There’s some sort of sick pleasure in being dressed in sweatpants and a down coat knowing I have the day off while watching others head off to their jobs.
Once Wally was walked, fed and safely in bed with The Husband, I finished off the holiday cards, went to the post office, did a grocery store run and did some holiday shopping. I wore my sports bra all day in the hope that this would be one less hurdle in getting to the gym, but turns out this was not as motivating as I had hoped – I never made it there. It was pouring and pretty miserable out the entire day. But this didn’t stop me from marching up Third Avenue with my umbrella, browsing all of the overpriced Upper East Side shops with their holiday sales and displays. It was hard to keep the smile off my face. I could be a professional day off shopper. I think the best part of the entire day off experience was not getting knocked into when I walked around stores. Not being elbowed by pedestrians on the street who mindlessly pass by and forget there’s a human to be mindful of. Not waiting in lines at the grocery store on a Sunday morning with the rest of the 9 to 5 crowd doing their weekend errands. The Husband, who gets to join the alternative schedule universe, often tells me how nice it is to do every day activities outside of night and weekend timeframes, but I had no idea.
So now it’s Saturday, and the major errands are done. The presents are wrapped, the apartment is clean and the dog is bathed. We’ve got a holiday party this afternoon and miracle of miracles, the hostess asked me to bring the chocolate chip banana bread that I brought the same party last year. Since nobody has ever requested anything that I’ve ever baked or cooked before, I considered this an honor and took the request very seriously. The only problem is I had no idea how I made the banana bread from the previous year. I searched my recipe box and nothing rang a bell. I dug through drawers thinking maybe I printed it off a website, but still nothing. Then I realized it may have been a Pillsbury banana bread mix that I used. So I went to 3 grocery stores and couldn’t find a single mix for banana bread. YIKES.
I went to one of my favorite recipe websites and found what seemed like a promising recipe: Banana Banana Bread. People who made the recipe regaled this dessert as amazing. I got the necessary ingredients at the grocery store and spent last night baking away. The apartment smelled incredible. I wanted to create a candle out of that smell – butter mixing with eggs, brown sugar and flour. YUM. The scent wafted through the living room, our couch cushions and even into the hallway or our building. I was so proud that I created it. Usually, I’m jealous of the cooking smells that come from other apartments, but this time the smell belonged to me.
When the loaves came out of the oven and the chocolate chips oozed out on the top, I had to beat The Husband away from taking off an end sliver. After the required cooling period, I popped out the loaves and immediately wrapped and secured them in aluminum foil. Barely able to keep my eyes open, I fell asleep before The Husband could suggest putting on a House Hunters in bed. At 1 AM, I heard a loud crash. I was convinced that The Husband had snuck into the kitchen and attempted to open the banana bread only to trip over something and knock a glass bowl off the counter. Too tired to investigate, I was back to sleep in a matter of seconds. This morning The Husband told me the sound was him knocking a tray over that I had moved to an odd place during the cooking process. We need a bigger kitchen.
Anyhow, it was an extremely busy day, so I’m looking forward to some down time with the family. I’ll let you know how the banana loaves come out. If you want the recipe – here it is: