Tuesday, February 23, 2010


We're about to head out the door. My bags are not packed, I haven't picked up my tickets, my passport is at the embassy (hopefully) getting stamped. I'm seriously under-prepared. I haven't even written a to-do list, and we all know how to-do lists are one of the seven habits of highly effective people. All I have is a departure date - a time I need to be at the ferry terminal in Stockholm. I'm not even sure if we can make it there - the train I have booked may or may not be running due to the snow that has blanketed Southern Sweden over the last couple of months.

It is a curious state of limbo. I find myself unable to complete the simplest of tasks. I bury myself in the mundane - two hours shoveling snow here or there, baking cakes or fixing elaborate dinners, chopping firewood, doing the laundry. Anything to avoid organizing the pile of random things scattered around our borrowed room upstairs. Anything to avoid organizing the myriad things that need to be organized when one moves halfway around the world. Anything to keep my mind busy.

Running is proving to be especially effective. It's tough going out there in the snow and ice, and I have explored my way around Northwestern Skåne, taking random roads as they appear. My mind is occupied taking in the new surroundings, concentrating on my breath, the pain in my legs, the slipperiness of the roads. And then I get to record it all. Data here and there. Websites, time splits, race goals, calories in and out.

So I get to bed each day tired. Physically exhausted. Longing for sleep. And as soon as I lie down (amid the detritus of our move, the dirty laundry - something to do tomorrow! - the piles of paper, the boxes remaining to be packed) my brain, happily switched off all day, springs into action. To-do lists write themselves, potential pitfalls, delays, problems explode into my consciousness. I start sweating (long a sign for me that things are not as they should be, I sometimes sweat heavily at night). So I toss and I turn. I get up. I switch on the computer, looking for a distraction. I don't sleep.

All of this is making me unpleasant to be around. It's not great to leave people, the people you love, the people who have made the last three-odd years interesting or engaging or even possible with a bitter taste in their mouths as you disappear over the horizon on a trip that makes everyone envious. Common courtesy dictates that you should be happy about the trip you are about to embark on. It's not polite to complain about the administrative tasks that are an essential part of the process.

And in the classic way that these things go, I am least pleasant to she who is most important. This has to stop. Today.

Today I will get things done, and feel good about it. Today I will be nice to be around on my last full day with my adopted family.

But first I'm going for a run.


Jo said...

You may be under-prepared for you trip, I'll grant you that, but my friend, you are indeed - through the very act of underpreparedness - prepared for the phd process.

And while it is sad to say goodbye to people, there are people here waiting with open arms to make your time here interesting, engaging and possible - the Swedes only borrowed you.

And by the way, this is a beautifully written blog - even if a mad woman says so herself.

Jo said...

Bugger - your trip - not you trip.

dingobear said...

Sweden's been a good journey. Here's to the next one. All the best.