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redeyechicago.com

Getting Back from Vacation Like Waking from a Coma

Stephen Markley

2:10 PM CDT, June 25, 2012

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Have you ever been away on an extended trip? I’m not talking about months or year-long travel, just a vacation that’s more than, say, ten days. Coming back home is like waking up from a minor coma. Here are six things I noticed when I finally got back to Chicago:

1) Stewart and Colbert did not suspend their shows. I have three weeks of Comedy Central fake news shows to catch up on, and if I could just make a quick quibble about the two best half-hours of comedy on TV: these guys always seem to go on vacation right when the rest of us are at our politico-escape craving zeniths, yet whenever you take a vacation, they just keep on trucking.

2) NBA basketball is over. Stupidly, I scheduled my Iceland trip so as to miss basically the 17 or 18 most important games of the season. I landed back in the States just in time to see my nemesis LeBron James win his first championship. Sure, I’ve got the draft coming up, but this is the sports low point of the year, when baseball remains in its dog days and football and basketball are nothing more than dreams of distant lands. Watching ESPN from July through September is about as interesting as reading one of those classical book mash-ups, only instead of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” it’s more like “War and Peace and Instructions for Operating a Pneumatic Drill.”

3) There’s a new stop sign at a road near my apartment. You don’t understand. My buddy Joe was dropping me off after picking me up from the airport, and he stopped at this stop sign, and I had to reconstruct brain fragments I never thought I’d need again to remember if this stop sign had always been there or if the city of Chicago really had decided to put a stop sign here in the three weeks I’d been gone or if I had somehow traveled back on my plane to an alternate reality/time/dimension like in that “Twilight Zone” episode where they see a clay dinosaur and the New York World’s Fair. I’m still not convinced it’s not the last one.

4) The presidential campaign still sucks. Oh my God, it was nice to not have to hear about this thing for three weeks. It’s not just that it’s the same old political food fights, but it’s that somehow this campaign is… boring. That’s the only word I can think of. It’s dull. It’s ponderous. Sapped of the revolutionary nature of his candidacy in 2008, Barack Obama is left to campaign as the guy you have to vote for if you want a reasonable adult in charge, and watching Mitt Romney—a guy who owns a dancing Olympic horse, more homes than I saw in the entire city of Reykjavik and wants to cut taxes for people who own dancing horses—is like watching a walking incarnation of what a reader of The Nation thinks a Republican would look, act, and be like.

5) Some awesome girl or girls moved into the apartment below mine. I got back late Sunday night to find that our porch had been cleaned and this nice porch-like dining set-up added outside. I don’t know how to properly describe it because my brain was so immediately discombobulated by not seeing the accumulated flotsam of fliers, newspapers, and garbage cluttering the steps. I’m scared of these new girls because no doubt they think everyone living in the building is a degenerate, when really the number's more like 52 percent. I hope I somehow live the rest of my time here without ever seeing them so that one day I may convince myself that they’re just figments of my stressed imagination, the Brad Pitts to my Ed Norton.

6) I have a wildly overdue library book—just like if I’d been in a coma!