So, it's come to this: today I took a sick day.

Don't get me wrong -- I was actually not feeling well today, as evidenced by the fact that I slept pretty much through until 1:00 this afternoon. I needed the rest, because it was a Very Bad Weekend. I hurt my ankle (and I'm still a bit gimpy), and I didn't have fun at my cousin's birthday party, and the weather was crappy, and I had a headache. When I woke up I knew I was in no shape at all to face the world, so I decided early on that I was going to call out.

And I don't regret it, either. I only get 10 sick days a year, and this was one of mine. I haven't called out yet this year, so I'm pretty far ahead of the curve relative to the rest of my department anyway. But I have to be honest: I didn't just call out sick because I was, you know, sick. I desperately needed a Mental Health Day.

Everybody needs a Mental Health Day once in a while; I wish more companies were like the County of Northampton, where my Dad works. They actually give their employees Mental Health Days -- I think they get three a year, or something like that. Of course, they pay their people absolute shit, so I guess I don't actually wish more companies were like the County, but I think you see what I'm getting at: Mental Health Days are Very Good Things, and more companies should offer them as benefits.

Then again, there is the argument that is made where I work, that there is such a thing as "vacation time," and that when employees need a little R&R, they should feel free to use their vacation allotment for that. Which I don't disagree with, in principle, but I also sort of do take issue with that. My mental health is just as important to me as my physical health; why shouldn't I treat all illnesses the same way?

What all of this is coming down to is that I have come to the realization that I need a vacation. Or, as the one, the only, the Samuel L. Jackson might say: "I need a mutherfuckin' break on a mutherfuckin' plane." The signs have all been there for some time -- the difficulty sleeping, the irritability, the dire desperate need for some goddamned photosynthesis. But what really drove me over the edge? Was last week, when I came so unglued that I was speaking, thinking, and writing in poetry. Oh, yes ... my nervous breakdowns are performed in iambic pentameter. (Don't try this at home. I am a trained professional nutjob.)

So, when I finally woke up today, I had a Hot Pocket and a shower, and then I got on the horn to my travel agent, and sonofabitch, I booked a trip. I'll have to use my "real" vacation time for it, but it will be well worth it, believe me. The countdown has already started, and I'm practically already packed. I'm just waiting for the Lands End shipment to come with my new bathing suit in it. Because that, and clean underpants, and a toothbrush, are all I am planning to take with me.

I don't to give away to much about where we're going, but I will give a few hints. But before I do, here is what I will do on my vacation: Lie in the sun. Drink mojitos. Read. Sleep late. Take pictures of palm trees. Drink mai tais. Chase lizards. Swim in the ocean. Speak another language. Drink daiquiris. Dance. Laugh. Listen to my iPod. Drink Cuba libres. Like myself again.

And what I won't do? Think about work. Use my cellphone. Speak in rhymes. Regret a single second.

Want some clues on where we're going? I already gave you some, and I'm not allowed to go to Havana (boo, sanctions!), but here are three more, as promised: Island in the sun. BĂ©isbol. David Ortiz.

Hasta la vista, baby!

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