November 7, 2014

Relax: It Will All Be Better in Just a Few Hours

There have been so many times that I’ve learned a valuable lesson about vacations: the last bit of time before you go is always so incredibly stressful, but then once you’re on the way, everything gets better. It seems like whenever I’m prepping for a big trip, something happens to get me really stressed out at the last minute – to the point of considering canceling my trip and just not going anywhere. But then once I’m packed, in the car, and on my way to the airport, a huge sense of relief comes over me. Whatever didn’t get done is just spilled milk, and I can’t cry over it; now it’s time to let that go and enjoy the trip.

Happy Laura Cancun 2011
A very happy me on my last trip to Cancun with Kelly, in January 2011. This is what I need to get to!

Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that lesson last night, when I had a meltdown getting ready for my vacation tomorrow. I already wrote about the very productive day that I had after doing my long run. Last night, I had planned to take the night to tie up a bunch of loose ends and then pack for my trip (a slightly more daunting procedure now that I’m not used to traveling every week anymore), but instead got tempted into joining Heidi for drinks at a local brewery. I wasn’t sorry I went; I had a ton of fun! But when I got home, all I wanted to do was go to bed… and instead, I had to pack, get some work done, and take care of some last minute things around the apartment.

First there was a Walgreens snafu: a prescription that I had ordered to be ready at 4pm was actually out of stock, and they told me they’d have it in a few days. Except, I needed to take it on Friday, and I would be out of the country in a few days! The store manager directed me to call a centralized pharmacist on, and while chatting with her online, my computer screen suddenly went black. No amount of swapping out batteries, plugs, outlets, etc, would do anything to change my laptop from its state as a useless black hunk of plastic – and now I was in panic mode.

Maybe it says something about what a technology addict I am, but usually when either my laptop or my phone is unusable (broken, stolen, etc), I feel incredibly unsettled and anxious. I need my device back! It seems that these mishaps always occur late at night, too, when there’s nothing you can do about it. I tried to stay calm and just continue on with my packing rather than stopping to stress, but I was nervous that IT wouldn’t be able to get the laptop either swapped out or repaired before I had to leave for the airport at noon. There was a bunch of work I needed to have done before vacation, and while I didn’t mind working on vacation if I needed to, a busted laptop would mean that I couldn’t even do that. Plus, if the hard drive was broken, I worried that I might have lost a lot of the work I did yesterday. I definitely had a bit of a panic attack when I got on the phone with IT last night and they told me the obvious (that there was nothing they could do to fix it over the phone and that I would just need to physically take it into the office the next day and hope that they could fix it quickly).

Things always seem so much worse at the end of the night, don’t they? At least for me, the end of the night is often when I feel like all the (relatively minor) problems I have are the end of the world and totally unfixable. I was really upset that my computer had died like that, and I worried that it was going to mess up my whole vacation. What if I couldn’t get it fixed in time? How would I possibly survive five days without a computer? Maybe I should just cancel my trip and forget the whole thing! (Yes, that stupid idea actually went through my head.)

Sometimes when I have these late night freakouts (usually about things of actual importance, but not always), I call my best friend Mat. He reminds me of something I know very well but frequently choose to forget in moments like this: that things always look better in the morning. This time, though, it didn’t require a phone call to him (especially since it was his birthday and I knew he was out celebrating); just a quick venting email exchange on my phone with a colleague working in Hong Kong, who pointed out that maybe my work laptop had died just before my personal trip for a reason. Okay, fine, so maybe I can be a bit of a workaholic about not shutting down on vacation, and my computer was trying to teach me a lesson 🙂

After that quick dose of reality, I tried to stop wasting time stressing and just start being productive. I hurriedly finished my packing and went into solution mode. What was my new plan for Friday, now that I had to factor in a pharmacy run, some time at IT, and the possibility of no laptop for my trip? I copied a few files from Dropbox onto a spare flash drive, in case my hard drive was busted and I had to start from scratch with a new machine, and emailed a few colleagues to let them know of the potential delay in my work deliverables.

Once all that was done and I felt confident that I had done everything that could be done before morning, I hesitated before setting my alarm. Now that I had to be at the office first thing, and now that I had been up much later than I intended, should I still wake up early enough to go to the gym? I decided to go for it, reasoning that like I had with that morning’s run, I’d feel a thousand times better if I started the day with a sweat session – especially if more stressful things ended up happening. Yes, I was cutting my sleep short, but I’d be sleeping plenty on the beach on vacation. Plus, in problem-solving mode, I wanted to stick with my original plan for Friday as much as possible, even though the busted laptop was now throwing a big monkey wrench into things. (Does that overall reaction mean I’m growing up and acting more like an adult instead of a petulant two year old when things don’t go my way? I hope so.)

And in the end? Well, surprise surprise, it all worked out. Instead of working from home in the morning and driving to the airport from there, I was completely packed and out the door by 7am in order to take the bus down to the office (and later take an Uber from there straight to the airport). IT was able to fix my computer with just a simple shell swap that took less than an hour, and I didn’t lose any of the data on my hard drive or have to rely on cloud backup to get any files. And finally, the downtown Walgreens had the medicine I needed in stock, so I was able to walk over there from the office to pick it up. Crises averted!

So now I’m on a plane off to Dallas for the evening, to catch up with some old friends I miss a lot. And tomorrow morning, I’ll hop on a flight from there to Cancun, where I can’t wait to celebrate my best friend Kelly’s 30th birthday with margaritas, sun, and a few fun surprises 🙂 It’s going to be a great vacation!


12 thoughts on “Relax: It Will All Be Better in Just a Few Hours”

  1. Have a great trip! And I had major pharmacy/prescription snafus this week, too. I can attest to how stressful it was because I needed that medicine right then (for my asthma/allergies which are flaring up) and not because I was leaving town. I can imagine that would amplify the situation. And dead computers are never fun either. What a day!

  2. Well, I, for one, am quite glad you made the trip out of the apartment on Thursday night! Stupid technology, screwing with everything!

    Hopefully all the stress has more than melted away in the Mexican sunshine! 🙂

  3. I totally understand the snafus– that always happens me too. But then vacation time just cures it all!
    Hope you have had/are having a great time!

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