Things jostling for space in my head.


A week from tomorrow,¹ I need to set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. when I go to bed. Historically, I’ve been more likely to see 3 am from the other side of the clock. What on earth could possess me to get up so damn early? I have to catch a 7 a.m. flight to Newark. What on earth would possess me to fly to Newark at 7 a.m.? My 10:50 a.m. flight to Shanghai. Because I am going to Shanghai.

And also briefly to Beijing so that I can see the Great Wall. (Not that Shanghai and Beijing are all that close together. But closer than Boston and Beijing.)

I can hardly contain my excitement.

However, my excitement must share mental space with my soberingly intimidating to-do list, which keeps rudely poking its elbows into my excitement.

Here are some of the tasks weighing on my mind:

Work & School stuff:

  • finish a 12 to 15 page book review (because it’s already several years late)
  • prepare and practice a 15-minute talk at the conference (because that’s why I’m going to Shanghai)
  • read a large number of articles related to my conference presentation, especially given that the authors of those articles may be at the conference
  • rework images for a journal article by my research group

Trip prep stuff:

  • figure out transportation to and from airport on this end
  • Sort out as many details as I can for home and schedule in my absence (to minimize the hassle for John’s solo parenting. Yet another 11 days for him.)
  • find my multi-country travel adaptor doohickey I got for Hong Kong
  • dig out the unlocked cell phone I got in Hong Kong
  • (Happily, I already have my passport and visa squared away, and hotels, flights, and conference registration…)

Home stuff:

  • Finish dealing with thank you notes for Phoebe’s birthday party, which was now over a month ago. Gah!
  • Pack up a pile of books to donate for the town library’s book sale.
  • (Screw all the other household stuff that’s been clogging my to-do list for months. It will all be waiting for me whe I get back.)

Stuff I want to do before my trip.:

  • Plan out and read reviews for places to go and things to do and eat (this sort of thing is what distracts me the most when I’m supposed to be focussing on work)
  • In addition, I’d really like to finish writing about, and sharing photos from, my Hong Kong trip of last August. (I’d love to get these write-ups written up before I leave, because clearly I’m going to have a lot more to share very shortly.) I owe write-ups of:
    • Day 5, part 2 of my guided tour and harbour cruise from hell (I posted part 1 in November.)
    • Day 6 my fantastic outing/hike with YTSL (YTSL posted about it herself back in August!)
    • Day 7: last day of the conference and conference banquet (actually, there’s not too much to say here, so that should be quick)
    • Day 8: excursion to Macau (This was a big day, and full of minor (mis)adventures. I have a lot to say.)

All of my plans are being further irritated by a new cold or spate of allergies, which is leaving me wanting to sleep. A lot. Or curl up in a ball and groan. (You’ll note that curling up in a ball and groaning is not on my to-do list.) And other typical daily things like laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, kid shuttling as well as other family and social obligations, plus occasional attempts at personal hygiene, are also vying for my time and mental energy. (What, I have to brush my hair again? And find another pair of clean socks?)


Yes, I am seriously flying back to Asia less than a year after my trip to Hong Kong last August. I was hoping this conference wouldn’t end up in Shanghai, because I didn’t imagine that I’d be able to swing two trips of this magnitude in less than a year. But end up in Shanghai the conference did. Seriously, if the deadline for the conference submissions had been even in October, I would have said “no way.” But by the end of November, I was already thinking, “well, maybe I can do it.” And then my paper got accepted for a talk, and then I thought, “Hell yeah, I’m going.”

¹ I don’t remember when I started this post, but I’m pretty sure that this once said “in just over 2 weeks,” then various shrinking amounts of time since then. Here’s hoping that I manage to post this before I have to say “a few weeks ago…”

10 responses to “Things jostling for space in my head.

  1. Oh my gosh I can’t wait for your next post!

  2. You are a woman after my own heart. Lists, baby! Must make lots of lists to get things done. I’m sure that you’ll get it all [or enough of it] together to have a great time in China.

    What you’re doing is very cool, btw. Safe travels.

  3. Good luck getting it all done! Enjoy your trip!

  4. That is one scary list. In fact, it is several scary lists. Yipe. Don’t forget the packing list. I neglected to pack pjs for this one. Sigh.

  5. Hi Alejna —

    Think about you whenever I spot those pink ferries (like I did two weekends ago), go on the Chek Keng ferry (like I did a few weekends back), etc. And yes… I (still) am very much looking forward to reading more thoughts of yours re Hong Kong…

    Re Shanghai and Beijing: would love to get your impressions of those too — including vis a vis Hong Kong. ;)

    In any case, hope you will have a great time once again out here in Asia. :)

  6. Yikes, that’s a long to-do list. Hope you get it all done!

  7. Wow how super exciting! But yes, that’s an intimidating list of intimidating lists. I hope you get enough of those things done to actually manage to go on the trip and be happy with your conference presentation! But also, I hope you have a fabulous time!
    (I am writing this from Rome, by the way, having had a similar intimidating list of intimidating lists, though at least there were no children whose welfare depended on my completing any of the tasks and I didn’t have to set any 3am alarms. But, since I am teaching my short course in Italian tomorrow–that is, in less than 12 hours– maybe I should really get back to work…)

  8. Darn, I think I’m late with this as you have probably already gone…
    http://www.openrice.com/english?tc=ornav

  9. Pingback: Worth at least 2 million words | collecting tokens

  10. Pingback: The Accursed Book Review | collecting tokens

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