Before I go

This entry is not writing avoidance. This entry is stress relief and pessimism magic.

I haven’t done much writing in the last few weeks because I’ve been planning the Big Trip, a three and a half month round the world holiday due to start approximately sixteen hours from now. I’m not in the habit of leaving my lovely country at the cost of polluting other people’s, so this holiday is rather intimidating. However, I’m not feeling guilty at the way the Big Trip has eaten into time that should be spent writing, as I’m currently de-motivated by my a greater than usual lack of writing success. I’ve had the usual ‘OK, fair enough’ rejections, but I was illogically annoyed that the story sent to a high paying market as the result of a Strange and Prophetic dream managed only a standard rejection. Serves me right for trusting Strange and Prophetic dreams. The nearest I’ve had to seeing the contents of my head at large in the world was discovering that I’ve inadvertently named a planet after a sex aid. No, I don’t want to talk about it.

Instead I want to talk about the adventure I’m about to embark on. Actually I don’t want to talk about that either, because if I start thinking about the Big Trip, I start to get all hot and fretty, as there is so much that can go wrong. I’ve spent the last few weeks in mental states varying from Zen acceptance to outright panic. The most recent panic occurred when, a couple of day ago, I noticed a discrepancy between our plane tickets and our printed itinerary. When I queried the travel agent, it turned out that the flight we have tickets for no longer exists, but they’d failed to tell us this, or issue new tickets. And they hadn’t noted out meal requirements. That should be all fixed now, but I don’t know what else they might have screwed up. And I can’t know, until it goes wrong.

Hence pessimism magic. Perhaps if I list a few possibilities I might ward off the worst of them (like sending off stories as a result of a dream improves your chances of a sale. Hmm). So, the worst that happens is that I die, maybe as a result of an air crash in the Andes or an earthquake in Lima, or a volcanic eruption in New Zealand, or…

But as Beloved points out with gentle pragmatism, if I’m dead I won’t know about it. I can worry about him dying (and I do), but not me. Falling off Inca ruins, getting mugged while seeking the nightlife of Santiago or injuries resulting from ill-advised adrenalin based activities in New Zealand are more likely, but that’s not going to stop me doing these things. Which leaves the more probable but less drastic possibilities of delayed flights, lost luggage and incorrectly made bookings by the travel agents I have now lost faith in. All likely to make me behave with embarrassing lack of self-control, but all survivable.

I feel a bit better now.

I’d always planned to write a blog entry before I went, because, whatever happens on the Big Trip, good or bad, it will eclipse my current thoughts and feelings. I intended said blog entry to be calm and reflective. However, I also intended to get everything done yesterday, and have a nice long lay in this morning, rather than I waking up at 6.30am, spending an hour thinking about all the stuff I still haven’t done and then getting up to write this.

There are two things I’ll be happily missing as a result of being on the other side of the world. One is Xmas. OK, short of spending half the year in a tent in the Sahara I can’t miss it entirely, but I can view the process of conspicuous consumption at its vilest with a certain detachment, as I am neither giving nor receiving presents, nor dealing with relatives, nor cooking. I am considering doing a bungee jump on Christmas day, but we’ll have to how that pans out.

The other thing I won’t miss missing is the damp, dark, tedious bit of the British winter. We’ll be back for the cold, panic-in-case-it-snows-though-it-never-does bit, but by then spring will be on its way. My inability to live in the ‘now’ means that I can handle winter as long as it’s heading into spring. This state of mind means that usually I don’t enjoy autumn. Despite living in an area with spectacular autumn colours in the woods and hedgerows, any enjoyment I normally feel is tempered by sadness, knowing that the last splash of colour heralds grey, chill desolation. But not this year. When autumn seeped in at the end of September I was mildly disconcerted by the cold mornings and dark evenings, having got it into my head that I’d be out the country before the weather turned, but these last few weeks I’ve been revelling in the gold-and-red streaked trees, the dew-soaked webs, the bushes heavy with blackberries and rosehips. Yesterday, despite having way too much to do, we did the riverside walk which was one of the reasons we moved here, and will, I think, be one of the things we’ll miss about England while we’re away. We saw only the usual wildlife – ducks, swans, trout – and it was much the same as it had been when I’d done it last week, expect perhaps for a few less leaves on the trees, but I wanted to fix it in my mind to take with me.

I’ve also given up the day job. I have neither inclination nor time to go into the details of what ‘fun’ it is to run a charity shop, as it deserves a posting of its own, but suffice it to say that I won’t miss it. No more ridiculous workloads, abusive members of the public or inane conversations with volunteers. In the last few weeks I still worked my arse off, and still dealt with the Great British Public with my best fixed smile, but when customers complained about our prices, I just gave them stamped addressed envelopes addressed to the head of retail. And when the old ladies started prattling I said calmly that I really didn’t feel like discussing my holiday any more, having answer the same damn stupid questions thirty times about when and where I’m going and no you can’t come with my and as for whether I’m looking forward to it, well, no, I just blew my savings on something I know I’m going to hate you silly cow.

Of course I won’t hate it. It’ll be wonderful.


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