I’m about to embark on a too-brief vacation. It’s for just one week, but with my usual syndrome I seem to have packed for a month. “Can’t you leave anything home?” my partner asks (pleads), since he’s the one who carries the suitcases.

The truth is, what I really need to lighten is the baggage in my head! (“What’s on your mind?” is a question I dodge. The answer would take weeks. ) Worries scuttle around in my brain like ants spoiling a picnic. Get rid of one, ten more pop up. Unending worries about everyone I love (will disaster strike one of them while I’m away?). Worry about the state of the world (and the state of states in the election). And, of course , the continual worries about how and when I’ll finally finish my novel, find the right ending for my newest story, get a new agent, do some networking, etc. etc. etc. Worries that should be left at home when you go away, but insist on coming along like stowaways.

Today, as we’re about to leave for a carefree (?) week , the special Vacation Chatter has started its usual program. What if – the hotel loses our reservation? The car breaks down before we even get there? I get a sunburn that ruins the trip? I get a cramp in the lake and drown? We might not even get the sun at all or any chance to swim, if the ominous weather rains on us every day. Not to mention that I’m worried about the mess I’m leaving in my apartment, because if something fatal happens (earthquake, tornado, collision) people will discover what a poor housekeeper I am.

If traffic’s heavy on the Parkway, we can detour to back roads, but I don’t seem able to detour around these obsessive thoughts. Obviously, worrying is part of my DNA.

I don’t even have the masochistic pleasure of believing my mental mania is unique. How many of you (I see raised hands already) are also addicted to this kind of baggage? This time, though, I promise myself to at least try to stay “focused.” Dutifully meditate. Remain calm in any storm (did I remember to pack an umbrella?).

I’ve been advised that visualization is helpful. So I’m seeing myself staying in the much publicized ”present, “ free for one whole week of dwelling on past mistakes and future problems.

No worries? I’d worry about that.