Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

After my afternoon class tomorrow, I am on my way to San Francisco, where I will be on the advisory board for a educational nonprofit. I get in at about 2am SF time, then a two-day meeting, then I get onto another plane Thursday evening and am home by midnight. My luggage consists of fresh jeans, two pairs of socks, and a toothbrush tucked into my messenger bag.

This all feels pretty alien to me. For most of the last twenty years I have told anyone who will listen that I hate travelling, that TSA and the airlines have effectively sucked all the happy excitement from the experience. I would travel — to cons, to Seattle — and I would see lots of iterations of That Guy, the person with the Zero-Halliburton and a laptop, the guy with the expensive noise-cancelling headphones and Work To Do on the flight. Claustrophobic and tense, I would watch them. Sometimes we’d get into conversation, and I would find out that this was the third trip this month, or the fifth since the new year and inwardly I would just gawp at them. Who would choose that life? I didn’t like flying even to visit people I loved dearly, or to places I knew I would love: Sweden or Iceland. For work? Fuck that.

And yet, here I am. This isn’t my day job, even. This is Service and will go on my c.v., so there’s that; but there is no reason why I would have said yes to this, even a year ago. But now I see that it’s a sort of small adventure, like dressing up for an awards ceremony or getting your passport renewed. It’s acting like a grownup, in a context where I seldom play that game. Who knows? I may even buy the good headphones.