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Packing Craziness

This is how I feel tackling packing! (Chinatown, Ottawa, December 2013)
This is how I feel tackling packing! (Chinatown, Ottawa, December 2013)

Earlier this week, a good friend asked me how I felt about the upcoming trip. Beaming with the confidence of a seasoned traveller who has spent the past twelve years flying back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean, I assured her that “everything was under control.”

Nikki, if you read me, I’m taking this back.

The only thing under control right now is the sound of the TV—Mark muted it. Not on purpose, obviously. He was chewing on the remote and… oh, never mind. Long story.

Last week, the three of us caught a stomach bug. First Mark, then Feng. And then I caught it, of course. I like to think I am not a follower but in a house full of germs, you can’t really quarantine husbands and sons (although I often fantasize about it).

For a few days, I was feeling so weak that I couldn’t do much. Then I had to catch up with work, tons of laundry (did I mention it was a stomach bug? Yep. Ugh) and of course, packing for France.

The house is a mess. The kitchen floor is sticky again and even though I have just vacuumed, I can see crumbs and some road salt on the carpet.

Where is my passport? Right, where it always is, in my travel folder. Why don’t I have more pairs of socks? What the hell did I do with my socks? I had a drawer full of them just, just… like, yesterday! And where is my USB cable? Where is Mark? Okay, under the table, chewing on the cable. Two mysteries solved at once—not bad.

Maybe he ate my socks too.

So little time, so many decisions to make.

How many Advil can I take in an hour? Can I legally drug Mark? If we max out all of our credit cards, if there a chance we can afford a private jet instead of a crowded Air Canada flight?

Okay, enough fantasies. We need to get our shit together.

I bought Christmas presents for my family even though I had said I wouldn’t because 1) we can only pack so much 2) I suck at gift-giving (I am not a selfish brat though, I don’t expect gifts either). So now I have to find a way to stuff them into my backpack—I don’t do suitcases.

Plus this time, unlike this summer, it’s going to be cold in France and sweaters take a lot of room.


Despite all the frenzy and my rising blood pressure, I’m jubilating. Sure, the few days before a trip are always stressful and crazy but travelling is just what I need right now. I need a break from the routine. I need a break from extreme winter weather—France won’t exactly be a tropical paradise but I can safely bet it won’t be -32 °C with a blizzard, like it is right now in Ottawa. I need a break from work: I have been very busy since we came back late July.

This spontaneous trip also reaffirms my belief that I made the right move taking the freelance road. Here and there, I keep on reading articles about employees trying to book time off around the holiday and running into the usual issues. In some industry, such as retail, it is the busiest time of the year and everyone is expected to work overtime, including on Boxing Day. At the office, holiday perks often involves office politics—those who are granted time off have seniority or are the “office stars” everyone envies and resents. This time of the year also calls for the dreaded “office party” and love-them-or-hate-them traditions such as “Secret Santa” or potlucks.

Being self-employed feels pretty damn good. Yes, sure, I won’t get a holiday bonus—if such things exist because I have never received one when I was an employee. I don’t get free food and I won’t see Bob Smith from accounting making a fool of himself at the office party.

But I am free. Free to grant myself some time off (I swear, I worked very hard this year!) and free to fly 5,000 kilometres away on a whim, with husband and toddler in tow.

Life is fun.

Alright, back to packing…

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