This week I actually got out of the house, going for lunch and a little shopping with an old friend. (Another friend of mine calls these “pants days” because they obviously require putting on pants, for going out farther than the mailbox.)
After less than three hours I went home, did some work, and promptly collapsed. All told, I think I was either active, sociable, or some combination thereof for at most five hours – most likely more like four. That for me is an exceptional day of fortitude, stamina, spoons, and hypomania.
However, I have gotten myself into a situation that will require much more than that. I am going to a writer’s conference – three days of thrill-packed seminars, lunches and dinners, and other business and social-type events. I’ve done half-day business meetings lately, but nothing so extended, crowded, or spoon-depleting. It will hit a lot of my anxiety triggers – crowds, noise, small talk, social events, and more. I know that by the time we gather for dinner in the evening, I’ll already be extra crispy.
The three days of the conference will not allow for much of any downtime – although I have fantasized about asking someone who’s staying in the hotel if I can borrow a room for an afternoon nap. (The conference is local so I don’t have a room of my own or it wouldn’t be a problem. Less of one, anyway. All I’d have to do would be pick which seminars to skip. But the idea of asking a relative stranger for the use of a room or the idea of a relative stranger letting me use a room is pretty ludicrous.) Fortunately, I have to get the car home by 10:00 so my husband can go to work. That means I can’t stay for the after-hours socializing, even though that’s said to be one of the highlights. But it does mean I get a few more hours in pjs instead of pants.
Back before I had my most recent major meltdown, I was able to attend business conventions and do at least most of the requisite functions. I could and did give little talks at power breakfasts or afternoon cocktail parties – even opened with a joke. I could meet and greet the public at our booth – “howdy and shake,” as my father would have called it. I could have lunch with potential writers. I could almost interact with our sales force.
Those days are long past. So now I ask myself, how can I build up my stamina for the writers conference? Maybe it’s time for me to try to reclaim some of those parts of myself.
It feels like I’m going to be training for a marathon – or maybe the Normandy invasion. I know that in order to get through it, I will have to prepare in advance: writing my Sunday blog posts before the conference starts, assembling my wardrobe, checking out the parking situation, stocking up on business cards, and all the other little details that make me so frantic at the last minute.
Perhaps during the next two months I can keep track of how many pants days I’m able to have and gradually increase them. Perhaps I can arrange more lunches and shoppings. Perhaps I can improve my usual record of doing only one major thing per day. Perhaps I can try to work up to three pants days in a row.
The conference itself is certainly a massive and major incentive. Plus I’ve already paid for it – yet another reason to get myself in shape to take advantage of it.
Right now the conference looks like rather an ordeal, but I hope that by the time it rolls around I’ll be in good enough shape to both enjoy it and benefit from it. At least it’ll be a group of writers, and humor writers at that. They’re known for being at least a little odd. Maybe I’ll fit right in. I’ll be the one napping on a couch in the hotel lobby in fuzzy slippers. And pants.