I'm back from attending a conference in Monterey, which was just all kinds of fun and exhausting. I go to this communication conference every year and the people are so smart and fun and I end up having conversations well into the night with them, and listening to interesting papers, and drinking way too much. I don't take my vitamins or floss or go to bed at reasonable times. I'm messy. I eat at odd hours. I do exercise but only as much as I need to in order to get up and get going again.
In short, I'm everything at this conference I'm usually not here. Here, things are orderly and calm and the stress is always just nipping at my heels but I keep it at bay with all these practices--the journaling, the regular hours of sleep, the exercise, the calendar, the meditation. At the conference, the stress is exhilarating, peaking as you give your talk then dying down as others peak and then you go out and have beers and talk about how nervous you all were even though you're all friends. The clock and the calendar only matter insofar as you need to know when and where to show up to speak or to listen; time is fluid otherwise. I take a plane to a new city and sometimes I don't know where I am (I thought I was in San Francisco, for example, until someone pointed out I couldn't catch the BART to my hotel in Monterey) or how I'm supposed to get to my hotel but I always get there. I don't know where my next meal will come from or if I will meet someone new. I come home wanting to write new papers and teach differently in my classes and not be so uptight.
The conference is the academic's workation. I miss my kids, I miss my E., and I also delight in feeling young and free before I come home to security, responsibility, service, duty, peace. The conference is my drug. I don't want to live there but I sure like playing there twice a year.