Tomorrow I'll be on my way to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport for my annual trip to the regional religious studies conference. Since I came to Arkansas, this March weekend has become a familiar tradition.
But there are a few differences from years past. The conference has moved across the street to a new hotel. More importantly, I've got a new role. I'm now the secretary-treasurer of the region, meaning that I have to make decisions, distribute agendas, prepare reports. What used to be a weekend of self-directed scholarly and recreational activity, alternately stimulating and relaxing, is now a non-stop schedule of business meetings.
Case in point: I won't even get to check into the hotel tomorrow until I've had two meetings. My colleagues are picking me up at the airport to go visit yet another hotel that might bid on the conference for 2010. Then we're having a working dinner as soon as we get back to our host hotel. I might be in my room by 9 pm ... and there's an 8 am meeting the next day.
Packing for such an event is an exercise in highly unlikely contingencies. Workout clothes and athletic shoes? Sure, why not -- although there's no hour for a visit to the fitness room on the horizon.
Dallas will be 82 degrees, sunny, and a high pollen count tomorrow. And I'll be buckling down to work.