October 30th, 2008

spring buzz

Travel and accomplishment

I'm still flu-y but am feeling well enough to start to get nervous about how little time I have left between now and when I fly to NYC on Saturday, and how much I feel I need to get done between now and then.

Of course, this is my usual state of anxiety whenever I go to New York.

I often get infected by the NYC rat race mentality as soon as I land (or sometimes even before the flight, as now) and feel that I need to amortize the trip and do as much as possible--see every possible editor in all the different genres I'm working in to try and sell them new projects bla bla blah--and it is just not feasible, certainly not as I get older and have less energy or enthusiasm for it, not to mention the longer I live outside the US and exult in the more-relaxed pace of life here in Europe.

I also almost always brought work with me, and I invariably never managed to do ANY of it.

So no matter how much I did actually get done on a trip to NYC (professionally, socially, etc.), I always left feeling like the trip was a failure because there was so much more I could have accomplished (a few years ago I would've typed "should" instead of "could" and that guilt still rears its head although I try to ignore it).

I remember years ago, queer author and performance artist Tim Miller told me he limits himself to one social occasion (dinner, lunch) per day while on the road. I think this was after I had just visited San Francisco, where I know far too many people, many of whom I work with, and most of whom I see far too infrequently, or had never met in person although we'd worked together; I had a lunch and dinner every day of the trip, and often coffee/drinks before and after each meal as well. It was just too exhausting.

I've come to accept that I just can't do that any longer.

It's not a personal slight to anyone if I come to NYC (or elsewhere) and don't manage to see everyone I know, even close friends of mine.

(Which is not to say that if you are in New York or will be in New York and do want to see me, that I am too busy to do so; I might be, but I might not be, so drop me an email and we'll see.)

I no longer overschedule myself in advance and try and cram everyone under the sun into a limited amount of time. This trip I need to deal with some paperwork, and I want to spend some time with family.

Everything beyond that is a plus. So if I manage to see friends, whether old or new, that's an extra. If I manage to visit a few publishers and discuss projects, that's also an extra.

But those're not the point of the trip for me, hard as it is for me sometimes to switch gears and get out of that rut of self-imposed obligation that I slip into so easily when I am back in the frenetic pace of NYC.

That's why, even though I'm starting to get that tickle of panic about what I want/need to get done before I leave, and the fear that I'll forget to bring something I will need to work on while I'm away, the truth is that I truly need very little to accomplish my main objectives for the trip.

It would be nice if I manage to do more things, and if the trip turns out to be more productive as a result.

But I am learning to let go of regret about the things I didn't get a chance to do, for whatever reason. (When younger, I used to get so worked up, for instance, about anthologies that I missed out on submitting to, things like that. I was so competitive with myself, setting challenges like selling to as many anthologies as I was years old (which I did when I was in my early 20s) and then doubling it the next year (which I also did). Now, while I do prefer being invited to projects, and there are projects I would've preferred to have been included in, if I can't be in everything, I've made peace with that fact, I'm no longer torn up by jealousy.)

Sorry this entry has meandered so; can I claim it's grogginess from the cold? But the truth is, this is just how my mind works, and always has, rambling from one thing to another. (Geek moment: it's like I think in C+, which I had to learn for an artificial intelligence class: all these nested parenthetical units.)

Anyway, off to deal with what I can before the trip--or at least, to deal with not letting my anxiety about same get the better of me.