Sorry, all. I'm going to do that thing you're not supposed to do with a blog and apologize for not writing in so long. But it wasn't my fault, in that sense. I was traveling.
I wish I could tell you that I was traveling to new and exciting and exotic locations around the globe, taking in local culture and trying new foods and climbing mountains and leaving prayer flags at temples. But no such luck. I was traveling for work.
The difference this time was duration. I was away from home for 5 1/2 weeks.
I have a news flash: a 5 1/2 week business trip is too long.
It was an awkward in-between kind of length, too long for a typical hotel-stay kind of trip, but too short to be considered a sabbatical. Yet I did stay in a hotel (thankfully one with a small kitchen, albeit in the same room as the bed), instead of finding a characterful apartment to live in for a while. I lived out of a suitcase. I went without the companionship of my pets or the familiarity of my home. I spent $3.75 in quarters every week to do laundry.
To what end? Well, ostensibly, I was there to participate in 3 different experiments: one a measurement of gamma rays from an important nucleus in novae and x-ray bursts, one a particle-transfer reaction looking at parameters important for nuclear structure, and one a commissioning run for the large, complicated piece of equipment I just finished installing and testing. It wasn't originally supposed to all happen at once, but in a fluke of scheduling, all three experiments ended up being scheduled within the same month. Plus a week or so either side to set up and tear down, and what you get is a really really long stay.
Add to that the fact that weekends were usually spent in the lab, trying to fix something that had broken on Friday, and even your slim chances for a day's escape to somewhere interesting nearby is stolen from you. It's too much to ask of someone.
I think the worst part is that this trip has been so completely exhausting, it has ruined my desire to travel anywhere else. I could attend some conferences in Europe this summer, take a vacation to the beach, who knows? But (at least right at this moment) I don't want to ever look at a suitcase again, so how can I go? I don't even want to leave the house to go grocery shopping, not really.
Travel shouldn't have to be such a chore. I know traveling for work isn't as great as traveling for yourself, but you should at least be able to get something positive out of it.
I don't actually know how to end this post, to be honest. I spent too much time away from home, in a place that is no substitute, and it has addled my brain. I answered the question "how are you?" today with "not too much." I can't think. I need to recover.
2 days ago