From procrastination to vacation

Hola, amigos! By the time this publishes, I’ll have been in Mexico for the past few days.

But of course, as happened three or so times last year, a weekend out of town coincided with a column weekend. Usually I’ve got until the Friday afternoon to submit, but since I left town on Tuesday, I was right up against the wall.

So I did what I had to do: turned a ridiculous half-concept into a column deemed suitable for print in an actual newspaper.

Behold: My pre-trip to-do list.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here by saying that the hardest day of work is always the one that immediately precedes a vacation.

But for me it’s not (entirely) because of an extreme eagerness to log off, ignore emails for a week and relax.

It’s because, despite knowing my departure date for the better part of three months, I’ve let everything pile up until the very last minute.

By the time this column makes it to print, I’ll have spent five days on a beach somewhere south of the border (I don’t mean New Hampshire), down Mexico way (and I don’t mean out by Rumford, either.) But every time someone’s asked me over the past week whether I’m excited to be leaving soon, my answer has been, “Not yet, because there’s so damn much to do between now and then.”

All the running around I’ve done in the past 48 hours though, checking the following items off my to-do list, has me more exhausted and ready for some time off than working two jobs for the past six months has.

– Do laundry: Get the worst one out of the way first. And since one has to, y’know, wear clothes on a daily basis, it’s one that can’t be done until the 11th hour.

– Mail the rent check: As nice as it is to get away from home for a few days, it definitely provides some peace of mind to know that the locks won’t be changed when we get home.

– Pay the power bill: Nothing’s more reassuring than to have the lights switch on when you return home. That, and the knowledge that the refrigerator has been running the whole time, and that the place won’t smell of the ghost of groceries past.

– Clean the house, top to bottom: My instinct says, “come on, you won’t even be here. Why do the floors need mopping?” My brain says, “Think you’ll want to do housework after a week of margaritas in the Riviera Maya?” The answer is “Nope.”

– Get to the bank: Rumor has it that the good ol’ greenback goes a long way in Mexico, doubly so if you’re not too cheap to tip. We’re all stocked up on small bills for that very purpose.

– Finalize freelance stuff: I’ve gotta earn that spending money, and that means making sure the side projects I’ve been doing are all set and won’t need my attention until my return. Thank heavens for technology.

– Watch some TV: This really isn’t necessary at all, but it’s the only way I can stomach folding laundry and packing, plus it distracts the dog from the sad reality that “mom and dad” are leaving her for a week.

– Spend quality time with the dog: Until I met the girlfriend, and subsequently met her adorable English springer spaniel, I had no idea that how accurate the expressions “puppy-dog eyes” and “hangdog look” could be. I had no idea how heartbreaking it could be to listen to a dog let out a big sigh and look at you as if to say, “You’re leaving me with someone else for a week, and I’m not all that cool with it.”

– Do more laundry: Dog fur gets everywhere. Everywhere.

– Pack: You can be forgiven for thinking this would be the last piece of the puzzle, the bit that helps reality set in that I’ll be leaving on the proverbial jet plane soon. I’m not a very good packer, though, and I’ll end up not wearing half the stuff I’ve brought with me, and bemoaning the absence of things left behind.

– Unpack and re-pack: It generally takes me three tries to remember that I’m going to need to leave some things out: Clothes for departure day, my toothbrush and deoderant, and who knows what else.

– Double-check the important things: Passport? Check. Tickets? Check. Camera, video camera, phones charged? Check.

– Drop off the dog: I’m sincerely glad that the girlfriend could take care of that one while I was at work. I don’t think I could keep a brave face while the pup looks so sad.

– One last shift: Will it fly by or will it be a fight to the finish? I won’t know until I get to the office.

– Write this weekend’s Walkabout column. Oh boy, why’d I leave this until last?

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