Bobby built a raging fire to ward off the evening chill and now the heat level in the house is so intense I may pass out. That I am drinking hot toddies doesn’t help. Maybe the inability to cohere is a good thing; if my brain was less sluggish and weary, it would likely be freaking about the fact that I’m leaving to Taiwan in 74 hours.


Crazy, yes? I have never been out of the country other than random Baja undertakings involving alcohol, fireworks and minor driving catastrophes. This is a whole new level of adventure. For weeks I’ve been generically excited, but now, with reality so close, I confess to some anxiety. On a purely instinctual level, the concept of being thousands of miles from my children is one my mom-self rebels against. Then again, of all my various identities, she’s the one who most deserves a break. Maybe I’m getting anxious over not being more anxious? I’m operating on this assumption that it’s all going to work out just fine. I have a sweet loaner travel bag and several fabulous travel dresses courtesy of a dear friend. The bird fest folks and the surf tour people have corresponded with kindness. Both outfits seem well-organized. I’ve talked with friends who have visited or lived in Taiwan. I have a Lonely Planet guide. My coworker gave me lots of advice. With so little to worry about, I suddenly thought maybe I’m failing to worry enough! What if I get there and I’ve forgotten something vital? Or I didn’t do something I should have because I’m such an inexperienced traveler. What if the bird festival organizers think I’m horrible? What if my few limited surfing skills evaporate? Will I really be able to survive a 14-hour flight?

Seriously, I think it’s going to be amazing. And I think it will all work out.

Oh, the warmth and the whiskey are taking a toll! How I miss the craft of writing. Perhaps that’s something I can regain on this sojourn. Can you imagine? After the bird festival, I have eight days of accountable to no one. My only plans are surf, read, write, explore. After a day like today, which started off with too little sleep and included making chocolate crepes for Nick and his friends, writing an art column for the NCJ, checking in with my mom before I take off, walking on the beach with my oft-neglected husband, taking the girls to see Secretariat, catching up on Surfrider volunteer stuff, making sure all the bills are paid and diabetes supplies ordered, getting ahead on tomorrow’s OC work, more cooking, cleaning, laundry… It’s all good, but it’s all so constant. So much energy is required of me to keep this family’s needs met. Every woman in a similar life situation as me deals with as much or more; some bring a higher level of grace to managing it than I do. It makes me a bad person to say that I am looking forward to fleeing the domestic scene, but I am. I love my people and I’m thrilled at this chance to grow as my own person. Balancing those against each other, the fact that they have to be balanced against each other, is the conundrum.

At least I’ll have plenty of time to think about it!