Case in point: I ate white-bread-and-cheese sandwiches for four days in London during my first visit there, at age 16, because I was too terrified to venture out beyond the first place I found that sold food. (I also missed my chance to see Elvis Costello in teeny-tiny concert, as well as the original cast of the Rocky Horror Show, for pretty much the same reason. Yes, I know.)
More proof? After three weeks of profound illness and several harrowing nights of 104º+ fever, I still had to be tricked into going to the hospital by my clever, clever sister. Because to hell with the idea I might die by staying away: the emergency room would have been a clear admission that something was seriously wrong with me.
I did what I could to prep for a good month away: clothes, plans, transpo, housing. It never occurred of me to ask my charming host about workspace arrangements. Hell, she was throwing extra sets of keys to an office to me; why would I think about it?
So when I threw open the door to my Home-and-Office Away from Home, imagine my surprise at finding exactly two clear horizontal surfaces above the floor: the bedside tables on either side of the Tempurpedic. Which, to be fair, is also a clear horizontal surface (and a scary-comfortable one, at that), but highly impractical for use as a computing workspace, which is what I was after.
I jury-rigged something out of one of the tables, the iMac box and a few pillows (for carpal tunnel-reduction). Within five minutes, it was clear that any notions of productivity I'd driven up here with were going to be dashed upon the rocks of half-assedness; there's only so much one can do with crap tools and a crap set-up, no matter what kind of raw material and will one is working with.
The BF said two words: Craig's List. Well, I guess that's one word, as far as the Internet is concerned. And it was a fine idea: people unload far costlier items than a beat-to-shit table on the "free" list every day.
But I knew that looking it up was only a small fraction of a complex equation, the rest of which was a snarl of potential issues that started with my giving up a parking spot in a neighborhood that places a premium on them, and ended with me sliced to ribbons in a culvert out back of a trailer park in some remote, exurban swath of Seattle. With a lot of narrowly-missed freeway exits in between. I could put up with the end table, couldn't I? For just a few weeks?
I couldn't. I came here to write, and I couldn't write shite perched on a futon couch, my knees wrapped around a bedside table, my mousing arm wobbly on a giant cardboard box. I found the perfectly priced, beat-to-shit table in a faraway suburb, took a deep breath, and emailed. Three hours later, my table was reassembled in the Temporary Pad, my car was parked in a new and equally deliciously located spot, and I was walking downtown for a celebratory Americano at my beloved CaffÃ© Umbria.
They don't alter you overnight-and-forever, these little stabs at change. But they do have a way of making other things fall into place almost magically. A few hours later, I ran into a friend from Los Angeles who is here, performing in a play. Got invited to dinner with a couple of online friends who were gathering nearby. (Got to buy my idol, Dan Savage, a drink while I was there, too.)
On the cab ride over (did I mention the cab that magically appeared out of nowhere?), the driver and I talked about fear and petrification and how to manage the former to help stave off the latter. I think I may have convinced him of the rightness of taking a two-hour vacation, all by himself. As a start. As a gateway challenge.
Today? Was a good day.