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I’m heading to the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. I’m going for a number of grown-up-sounding reasons, like networking and professional development, but I’m mainly going because it’s fun and it’s invigorating and it reminds me why I’m still fighting for a surprisingly elusive place in this profession.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post. I’m writing this post because I have to get up in six hours and I can’t make my brain shut up enough to let me sleep. I’m hoping that writing will calm it down for a bit.

Being the somewhat literal person I am, I’m always a little puzzled by people who claim to love traveling. I tend to like being in the place I’ve traveled TO, but the process of getting there isn’t one I find fun. There are too many details and things to organize and double check and choose and arrange and double-check again. For instance, in a moment of somewhat irrational insomnia-inducing panic a few days ago, I may have called my Chicago hotel at 1am my time (3am in Chicago) to make sure they had my reservation still.

So yes. I have to be up soon, and the problem right now is that I feel totally prepared. I feel like I’ve got everything organized and packed and planned out.

And that’s worrying. Because it must mean I’ve forgotten something – and the more confident I feel about my preparations, the more I worry that the thing I’ve forgotten is something major.

Here is roughly how the twenty-four hours before traveling goes, when you’re me.

  1. Ponder writing down a fifth to-do list.
  2. Do something else instead, like watch a DVD or do something crafty.
  3. Check in to flight.
  4. Print necessary documents, like boarding pass, hotel and conference registration, etc.
  5. Ponder getting suitcase up from basement.
  6. Do something else instead, like watch a DVD or do something crafty.
  7. Write to-do list.
  8. Feeling virtuous. Do something to reward myself, like watch a DVD or do something crafty.
  9. Surge of productive energy. Do a few things on to-do list.
  10. Go in search of food, as it’s 1.30 and I’ve forgotten about lunch so far.
  11. Get sidetracked (in this case, by a jigsaw puzzle).
  12. Get lunch.
  13. Run last-minute errands to library, bank, post office, etc.
  14. Come home.
  15. Do other productive small things on to-do list, like necessary emails.
  16. Work on jigsaw puzzle.
  17. Finish jigsaw puzzle.
  18. Have dinner.
  19. Get suitcase up from basement.
  20. Pack suitcase.
  21. Go to bed at reasonable hour, considering ridiculous wake-up time.
  22. Lie awake, eyes closed, ALMOST relaxing enough to go to sleep.
  23. Brain wakes back up. What have I forgotten?
  24. Have I set my alarm?
  25. What did I forget to pack?
  26. What did I forget to put on my packing list?
  27. Maybe my boarding pass has vanished. Perhaps I should check.
  28. Start doing math on how much time I have left to sleep until I wake up.
  29. Boarding pass probably hasn’t vanished. But maybe I should check anyway. Just in case. You never know.
  30. Write ridiculous stressed-out late-night blog post.
  31. Sleep? Hopefully?
  32. What have I forgotten?

I’ll be a much more reasonable human being when I’m done with the actual traveling part.