I am a terrible packer. Not terrible as in I do it poorly, but terrible as in I SIMPLY CANNOT DO IT.
There are a lot of people who can attest to this fact, and none of them find it at all funny. I put on ridiculous movies. I putter around the house. I take snack breaks. I perform assorted unnecessary beauty rituals (face masks, pore strips, nail painting). My rubik's cube usually makes an appearance. But primarily, the trouble is that I allow my packing to have a James Joyce like stream of consciousness to it.
10:00pm (Enough time to pack and get a good night's sleep.)
I get out my packing list. I start semi-arbitrarily pulling out things I need to bring—small shampoo, a camera charger, earrings, high heels, chap stick. I frequently pause to look at things. Pulling out the shampoo occasions a thorough sorting of travel shampoos, conditioners, body washes, etc. The camera charger leads me to root through electronic equipment for a card reader. And so on and so forth. I frequently find myself staring slack-jawed at whatever movie I've selected to play "in the background" as I pack.
11:25pm (Still time to get a decent amount of sleep.)
I pull out my sketchpad to pack it and absent-mindedly flip through it. I find that I never finished that last sketch I was working on. I start looking for a B4 or B6 pencil. I rifle through my art drawer. I can't find either pencil. I start pulling things out of the drawer. I look in disgust at the old paints, the stiff rubber bands. I decide to clean the drawer. I take everything out. I divide items into piles based on whether they are often used, seldom used, or never used. These piles are based more on fiction than fact. When I repack the drawer, I keep the oil paints towards the front even though I haven't used them since I was in 8th grade. The Mr. Sketch markers, which I just took out to smell last month, go in the middle of the drawer. Meanwhile, The Care Bears Adventure Movie II is now blaring in the background.
12:35am (Possible to get a sufficient amount of sleep.)
When I'm done with that project, I remember what I'm supposed to be doing—finishing a sketch. I settle for an HB pencil I found and add a few lines to the drawing. I decide I need to see the photo the sketch is based on, so I go into the bedroom to look through my iPhoto pictures from Venice. I can't find the photo. I look though the pictures a second time. No dice. I go back and look at the sketch. Ah. Florence. Not Venice. I begin looking through my Florence photos. Hey. Look at that plaid shirt I'm wearing. Where is that shirt? I'd like to bring it on this trip. Pad over to the closet. Swish through button up shirts. Pull out plaid shirt. Decide to model it.
1:15am (Still possible to get some sleep.)
Now, there's a giant pile of clothes on the bed. I'm wearing army-green pants and a bright orange t-shirt I haven't worn since 2005 that says "The radio still sucks." I struggle to remember why I stopped wearing it. Oh, yes. Ran into the parent of a kid I was tutoring while grocery shopping in shirt. Take off shirt. Put on new-ish purple sweater. Realize I have no idea what weather is supposed to be like. Go over to computer. See Florence pictures and remember what I was supposed to be doing. Pull up photo of the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio. Study photo. Go back to living room and begin sketching.
1:55am (Unlikely I will feel at all rested in the morning.)
Hercules ends. Look over at clock. Screech. Throw down sketchbook. Race into bedroom. Pull out suitcase, unzip it, and flip open the top. Stare into it. Cast around the room for an item I want to take. I see my favorite book. I grab it and throw it in the suitcase. I cock my head and stare. The book takes up more space than expected. The suitcase is looking smaller now that there is an item in it. I take the book out and put in a smaller one that I like less. Much better. Stare at mound of discarded modeled clothes on bed. Start randomly grabbing things and tossing them in the suitcase. Wear myself out quickly by running around apartment. Decide to go to sleep and finish packing in morning. Set alarm for 5am and pass out on top of covers next to giant mound of clothing.
I'd love to say that it goes better in the morning, but that's not usually the case. No matter. It always works out.