The Helium Chronicles

Let’s think beyond a single post written with a single focus, and lean toward the “weekly” part of “weekly writing challenge”: you’ll start your post today, but revisit and add to it over the next several days.

MONDAYJuly 2014 Vacation 068

The sound of “helium” escapes from a Motorola cell phone. It’s a pleasant sound (in theory), one that manages to awaken a sleeping subject. This morning, at the start of the dreck that is called Monday, I dread helium as it officially signals the end of vacation. Catch-up and the daily grind await at the office. I don’t want to get up and wonder why I didn’t take one more day of vacation. What was I thinking?

My mind wanders back to miles on a mountain bike, flames from a campfire, perfect weather, and good food that is bad food. Similar to summer, vacation is never long enough and never overstays its welcome. Why can’t vacation be as long as cabin-fever February in the Northern Hemisphere? The past week begins its trek toward a distant memory, one that can only be recalled in photos and what a 50-something year-old brain can retain.


Helium is not as annoying as the previous morning. I am able to greet the day with some enthusiasm. The daily grind at the office picks up speed. The boss brings in cherry cheesecake. I surround the cheesecake with garlic bundles and drive the stake of a fork through a much healthier piece of chicken. A text exchange with Natasha ensues.

How’s the headache? Any better?

“Still hanging on. Took Tylenol.”



BTW, the avocados were brown on the inside 😦

“Oh well.”

Life is not especially exciting today, especially for Natasha and her headache. The evening is awash with laundry, grocery shopping, and early to bed for a tired friend.


Helium barely awakens its subject and is placed in snooze mode. I don’t want to get up, perhaps due to the weather change. It has gone from a humid, 90-degree Tuesday evening to a cool and dry 58-degree Wednesday morning. Sleep-in weather, not get-up weather. I lay in bed and think about the smile-inducing dream I had as a child when I lived in a cottage on the beach and rode a beautiful white mare on glistening, wave-washed sand. Today, there is no cottage on the beach and thy orange steed has two knobby tires. An iron horse once was underneath, but that is now a memory and another dream – the dream of an adult who once again wants wind in her hair and the therapy of a few hundred miles. If only I could ride again. If only…

A shower drowns the dreams in a warm mist of work-day reality. Off I trudge to the salt mines to fill up the coffee pot and maintain some semblance of organization.

Natasha’s headache is gone and she texts a picture of French toast and tells me of its yumminess. She is so evil. I ask if she will deliver to the office and all she can do is text “LOL.” Hmpff…evil, I say.

THURSDAYAvocado 010

Helium, you are so rude. Can you see that I want to sleep? Why must you always make noise at 5:20 am? Where’s your sleep mode? No, I don’t want to know about Facebook updates, I want to snore…geeezz!

Thank goodness there is an avocado in the refrigerator for today’s lunch. I love avocado, especially on a salad or in guacamole form. Add a few sprigs of cilantro and a favorite salad dressing or tortilla chips and I am in heaven. I stay away from mayonnaise and cheese, so avocado takes its place in egg salad, on BLT’s, and in the Cubano pressed sandwich from a local deli. Yum. Fabulous. Thursday’s avocado has the correct feel of ripeness. It will taste great with the chicken and greens. I hold the green goodness in my hand as I walk out the door, on the way to recon with stacks of paper.

Later…the California healthy fat is on a salad and I am “good to go” for the rest of the afternoon. The garlic bunches are still on guard around the cheesecake and the boss brings in watermelon to pay penance for his sins.


The sound of helium is a friend, as it signals the last day of the work week. Helium gets a friendly swipe across its face. Eight more hours in a 10 x 12 plastered box – herding numbers, letters and information gone astray – doesn’t seem too harsh. I can do it. As with every other day, the radio within the box barks out rock and roll, in between ramblings of a morning host and repetitive commercials.

“School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all” ~Alice Cooper~

Hmmm…seems appropriate, although I will have to return on Monday (unless I possess a winning lottery ticket); I’d prefer the office is not blown up; and the bosses never ever give me dirty looks (that I know of).

It’s a difficult row to hoe, that of a responsible adult. It’s a Monday through Friday event that makes one appreciate the weekend and the freedom to “sleep in” if one chooses. I choose. No helium on Saturday. No helium on Sunday. Unless, of course, I want to get up early and go camping or biking.

Helium is told to shut up for two days. It rests and so do I.


16 responses to The Helium Chronicles

  1. nrhatch says:

    Clever and fun post! There is nothing better than a series of days that do NOT begin with the buzz of an alarm.

  2. I hope you have an awesome weekend, Mary. My alarm plays an electronic “Here Comes the Sun”, and I can’t listen to that song in any form because of it.

  3. M-R says:

    Terrific weekly diary, M-J ! Are you aware of the difference between your and our vacation setup ? – shall I make you weep, or not …? No, I won’t, because I have enjoyed reading this so much, and it would be unkind to reward you with something that made you grind your teeth. 🙂

      • bikerchick57 says:

        That’s awesome. Most businesses here start employees out at one or two weeks vacation. I have many years in at work, so I’m up to six weeks vacation and a few personal days. It’s still not enough though! 🙂

      • M-R says:

        Well, there you go, M-J: that’s something we are not told ! – that business about your being able to build up to a seriously good period of leave when you’re with a company for long enough ! As far as I knew, you lot get only a week or two p.a. and that’s it ! I can’t wait to set the next boaster straight, Downunder ! 🙂

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Well, that’s me and my eons in state government. I’m not sure what the private sector is giving out these days.

  4. I loved getting another peek into your life – without the white stuff. I am coveting that photo of the chairs around the fire (well, not coveting the photo, the actual,/em> set up) in this wintry Southern Hemisphere July.

  5. joannesisco says:

    A skillful summary of the week back at work after vacation.

    … now I have this strange craving for avocado 🙂

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