Packing panic and Norway neuroses

I’m sending this from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, were, alas, our flight to Newark is delayed. We think we’ll still be able to make our connection to Oslo. We think….

I’m glad I crack myself up, because I’ve been having a lot of laughs at my expense over the past couple days. After planning a trip to Norway for more than a year, Wessel and I are finally on our way! As always, the last few days before leaving on a longish journey (18 days) are the craziest. I understand how the anxiety of leaving home for several weeks is enough to inspire the now-trendy “staycation.”

The location was Wessel’s idea, the highlight being a bicycle tour on Lofoten, an archipelago above the Arctic Circle that I’d never even heard of. Now that’s exciting! Since then, it was ranked in the top five of best-preserved islands by National Geographic Traveler.

We “bought” tickets with Delta Sky Miles almost a year ago, always an ordeal. Although we knew Norway was expensive, with the dollar so low and the Norwegian Krone strong, sticker shock got the better of us. So what began as a vacation with a travel story thrown in is now a working vacation, with three alternative-energy stories planned for Ode Magazine and two travel stories planned for the Boston Globe.

So, back to packing. Despite my frequent travels, I’ve never learned to pack light. I’ve taken classes, bought books, written stories on how to do it, but I seem to be a lost cause. This is a trip with work, play, warm weather, cold weather, outdoor, indoor activities. The usual. I put way too much thought into everything, trying to predict my every need. Then there was the choice of reading material. I changed books three times (settled on “What is the What”) before chucking the whole idea and going with four unread issues of The Sun Magazine.

Here’s the part that really cracks me up, and I wonder if others do the same thing. Suddenly, two days before leaving, I had to finish everything I had put off for the past three months. Filing, sending long overdue emails, cleaning a room. Meanwhile, I wrote a small book for our house/dog sitters Paul and Michelle, with about 12 headings. They came over twice for tutorials. I was very relieved that they scored well on last night’s pop quiz.

But the final hour today was the most outrageous. Even though people will be staying at the house, I ended up in the kitchen finishing every half-eaten thing in the refrigerator, things that had gone untouched for a week. When it was the agreed-upon time to leave for the airport, Wessel found me standing over the kitchen sink frantically eating half a leftover orange, juice dripping all over. “OK, hon,” he said gently, placing his hand on my shoulder as if I were a mental patient, “we really need to go now.” First, I had to put the peels in the compost. And then, finally, we were off!


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3 Responses to “Packing panic and Norway neuroses”

  1. Kristin Thalheimer Says:

    Hi Diane,

    Congratulations on getting out the door and (we hope) onto a flight that takes you to Oslo. You wondered about other people’s experiences in last minute uber-effeciency and hyper-get-it-done mode. As a work-life coach, I can tell you that, yes, others experience this, too. In fact, I talk about it with clients all the time when the subject of time management comes up. When clients are struggling to get things done (and who isn’t, really?), I ask them to think about a time just before leaving on an extended vacation–a week or more. Usually they tell me about how they go into over-drive getting things done and clearing their desk of all the pesky stuff that’s been staring at them for the past three months. We try to capture that feeling so that even when they’re not going away on vacation, they can still get stuff done with a similar intensity (all in moderation, of course). We wonder out loud, what would it be like to live each day as if we’re leaving tomorrow on vacation? The answer might be exhausted if it involves cleaning the fridge too, of course, but it’s amazing what you can get done when you really want to come back to a clean desk, huh?
    Well, I’m glad you got everything done so you can enjoy your next 18 days in Norway!
    Kristin Thalheimer

  2. alice Says:

    A little window into the Di-namic concatenations (you won’t be able to look that up too easily) of your brain. Excellent. Thank you for composting until the bitter end.

  3. didaniel Says:

    Now if only my housesitters will compost we’ll have it made!

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