At about 9 am tomorrow, my phone will buzz with a reminder to check in online for my flights -- first to Atlanta, and then to Tokyo. I'll be twenty-four hours away from departure.
I feel like twenty-four hours is not perceptibly closer than I've felt all week. The time available to watch what I need to watch, write what I need to write, read what I need to read, teach, answer emails, prep the next class, leave my teaching assistants what they need in my absence, and button down everything in sight has been severely limited since I came roaring off my weekend of leisure four days ago. I've been ticking off items on my to-do list and trying to tackle emergencies and unexpected tasks along the way without being caught short on the essentials. It's been non-stop, dogged work.
After a last TV writing gig this evening (subbing for a fellow writer who happens to be abroad himself this week), and a last class tomorrow at noon, and a last meeting immediately thereafter, I'll be free to spend my final waking hours before departure working directly toward my trip. Packing, filling my iPad with papers to grade, adding my unread Instapaper items to my Kindle, checking and rechecking my list. And then I'll be off, and there will be no more chances to do whatever it is that I've forgotten to do.
I love that feeling -- letting go of everything you can no longer affect. I've been more than diligent, as I think my co-workers will agree, not letting my impending trip be an excuse to foist things off on others. I'm taking work with me (most notably, fourteen freshman papers to be graded), but that's the only task that couldn't wait. I'm even doing something I never do in my connected, always available life: I'm setting my e-mail vacation auto-responder.
Sometimes a different form of work can almost be a vacation. I'm going to be in conference sessions all day, every day while I'm gone. But even that can be a respite from the rapid shifting from task to task, the constant on-call status, of my normal life.
Plus, when I walk out of these conference rooms, I'll be in Tokyo. No matter what kind of work routine you're coming from, that's got to be refreshing.