Conference Anxiety: What if I miss my flight? What if I sound like an asshole?

When our youngest was four, we were planning a trip that would take him on a plane for the first time (that he could remember). Leading up to it, he asked lots and lots of questions: How often do planes crash? Do they give you parachutes? That kind of thing. "Are you a little afraid of flying?" I asked him one day. "No," he said, "I'm not afraid of flying. I'm just afraid of the plane falling out of the sky." I do not have this fear. Either of them actually. But I do have this tremendous anxiety that surrounds travelling. I'm flying out tomorrow for the Feminism and Rhetoric conference at Stanford and while I have already actually checked in for my flight, I'm still a little nervous that I was supposed to fly out today. Or that the flights are going to take me to Connecticut. "Oh StaNford" they'll say. "No, this is StaMford."

Honestly, once I'm on the plane, I'm usually okay. Right now, though, I'm kind of a disaster. I'm not the most organized person. Maybe you've noticed.

I'm also a disaster about this panel we're presenting. For one thing, my colleagues are just ridiculously smart and funny and quick on their feet, and we're talking about serious and important things like the distinction between choosing silence and being voiceless.

Usually when I'm on a panel it's about publishing and the topic is "What if I want to get published?" and the answer is "good luck with that." Also, the audience is made up of writers, so there's a good chance they're all drunk and that takes the pressure off.

I feel like the pressure is on for this. I also feel like I need to rewrite my portion because I was reading through it for time and then I heard myself, and it was really not the best. Here's an interesting question. How many times can you use the word 'paradigm' without sounding like an asshole? Zero. The answer is zero times. So yeah, I have some revision in my near future.