Just taking a moment after another day's scattered running around: just time enough to start the usual pre-flight routine of wondering of why I would leave my loved ones and my home and my files and my books, let alone why I would submit myself to the horrors of a long-distance flight.
There are good reasons, I have to remind myself. A sabbatical from a workplace is a good idea, both for those going away, and for the ones you leave behind. And even though I increasingly get homesick, I do usually work very productively when I am away, and there will be fewer distractions than at home. I will also get to give talks in some fantastic university communities, and I know I'll get really helpful feedback and lots of ideas as I pull the book together. Leaving all my archives and specific Garter material behind will help, I hope, in the process of looking past these wonderful, seductive trees to see the wood, getting past the weird and wonderful anecdotes to pull an argument together. I'm going to read and read. I'm going to contact my publisher soon and arrange a meeting in the next few weeks. I'm going to do some work with Tom on the medievalism book as well (I spent the morning sketching out the first part of our talk for Penn). I'm going to hang out with David's graduate Chaucer class at Penn; I'm going to see friends in Philadelphia, New York, Boulder, Washington and Kalamazoo. And then for the second month I'm away, I'm going to be doing all these things with my beloved man and boy, including a trip to Amelia Island in Florida, we hope, to see Paul's "American father" from his AFS year, when he was 16 (goodness, just two years older than Joel will be in a week's time).
Given all this richness, it seems silly to be fretting about what coat to pack, or how terrible I'll feel on the Dallas-Philadelphia flight after 19 hours in planes or airports. I have a new ipod (blue, if you must know), and think I might read Sense and Sensibility on the plane, while thinking about how Samuel Dundas was such a compelling Don Giovanni last night in one sense (devilishly attractive in his white boots and silk shirt and long white brocade coat), but strangely weak in the final scene. The first time I saw this opera — I think it was an Australian Opera production — the final scene showed the progressive degeneration of Giovanni's household, as one of the attendants lazily smoked a cigarette, his arm describing a slow arc, up and down, with the smoke and the little red dot. This production did a similar thing with red curtains and cushions, but couldn't muster the same horror of the final descent. Must see the Joseph Losey film again before too long.
Anyway, one day to go, then I will be blogging from Philadelphia...