Twelve days to go! Have we got all the food and the prosecco? Who else needs a reminder to RSVP? We have to revise the seating plan at the reception again! Someone else needs a local room — what's the status of the B&Bs? Is it too soon for Glen to mow the lawn? Is it too late to start the garden over again from scratch?It's good to remember how hectic those countdown days were, and to remember that everything turned out better than we'd even imagined possible. We're on countdown days again.
The mortgage broker needs our 2011 tax form again! The surveyor hasn't filed the drawings yet! Can you call the insurance agent back and change those coverage limits? Do we have the wire transfer instructions? Don't put that painting into that box, put it in this box over here! Take another trip to the dump with all that paper! Boxes for the office get green stickers! Does Vicky have any more cartons at the store?We did the countdown once before, and we can do it again. Although it's a little tense, we're ahead of the game in a lot of ways; we've got some cushion time if anything goes awry. [Editor's note: And it will.]
One difference this year, though, is that there are multiple simultaneous countdowns.
I'm managing a national conference with about 600 attendees; I've been on the planning committee twice before, so a lot of it is familiar, but this time I'm a co-chair, and the organization hasn't had an executive director on staff for half a year, so I've been much closer to the decision stream this time around.
What are we going to call this new award? Someone just found out they can't present on Tuesday; can we swap her talk with someone else? It's two days past due for this guy's PowerPoint; I have to call him again and see if I can get him on track! Can I reschedule my meeting in order to make this new conference call?The conference is at The College of New Jersey (yes, a capitalized T, like The Ohio State University), in Trenton. The Board meeting is Wednesday mid-day through Thursday night; the Business Meeting is Friday morning through Saturday noon; the conference proper is Saturday evening through Tuesday noon.
I also have some countdowns at work. Since I'll be gone for three weeks between the conference and the move, I have a couple of significant projects that need to be finished before I leave.
No, I need that student-loan data today, not next week! Which parts of the report have you got so far? Which lookup table has the faculty data in it? What do you mean I have to re-write your grant proposal that goes out tomorrow? I didn't even know you were working on a grant proposal! If it's my job to help you write a good proposal, I need more than four hours to know that the thing exists! Yes, I can revise your curricula on the master list for you; would you like a shoeshine to go with it, while I'm in the office anyway? No, that section got revised, it's 2.10 now and not 2.9!Breathe deeply. Equanimity and poise. Find your inner basement, Woodchuck.
Last year, we had one countdown, and it was momentous. This year, more — two of which I merely hope come out well, and others which will change our lives.
[Editor's note: Makes the latter half of 2012 seem like it's going to be a walk in the park.... Something tells me, we'll find something to do with our time.]