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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saving Time

I misplaced my appointment book sometime this past weekend.

I'm not ready to slit my wrists. Yet.

So far, I've made it through the first day without getting a nasty phone call ("We were supposed to meet an hour ago. Where the hell ARE you?") or a worried phone call ("Are you okay?").

Neither have I missed an important meeting - at least, not that I know of.

I suspect, before the week is out, I will. It's bound to happen.

Daylight Savings Time has also whipped my butt this year. This time, we didn't "save" time. We "lost" an hour. We'll "save" it again in the Fall.

You remember It's "Spring ahead, Fall back."

As I recall the explanation from my grammar school days, DST was conceived as a way not to save time but candles. It lengthened the hours of day light, thereby reducing the time spent in the dark and the need for 'artificial light'.

I seem to remember Ben Franklin having something to do with it all, he of the old adage, "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise".

It's an interesting idea to "save time". Except, we haven't lost or saved anything. It's the same hour, just moved to different places on the Ledger of Time. The Balance Sheet stays the same.

So far, the one thing that has actually "saved time" has been misplacing my appointment book. I suddenly have the whole week ahead of me with nothing planned. Or, at least, that's the illusion.

I was able to remember an important lunch date today, which tickled my memory into yet another appointment which follows that luncheon meeting. I know that Vestry meeting is Wednesday because I've been working on the Agenda.

But, I think I have some lab appointments this Thursday because I believe I have my annual physical next week. Sometime. I think it was Wednesday. If memory serves. Which it does less and less these days.

So, I'm spending lots of time calling places to confirm possible appointments. It's very embarrassing and humbling, but everyone seems to understand.

Indeed, I posted something on my FaceBook page and so far about 50 people have made comments. My lament has obvious struck a familiar note with lots of people.

It's been fascinating. Basically, there have been three types of responses.

I've been scolded or chided for not keeping my calendar on my iPhone, and to "back up, back up, back up" everything on my computer.

Some have registered surprise that I don't already do this. I don't. I like my paper calendar. It tells me who's on the Calendar of Saints and there's lots of room to write little notes to myself. I suppose I may have to start using my iPhone, too. But, I'll always keep my appointment book. Always.

I've also been consoled. "We're not supposed to spend time in Purgatory before we die" wrote one understanding soul.

That's a good description of the anxiety and worry I've been feeling, worrying about whether or not I'm pissing someone off or disappointing someone else.

Others have written, "You're FREE. Allow the mystery of life to take you where it will. Enjoy the adventure."

Lovely thought. Oh, how I wish I could. See also Purgatory above.

This idea of mystery has also given rise to the former Roman Catholics on the list who have encouraged me to pray to St. Anthony.

"St. Anthony, St. Anthony, look around. Something's lost and can't be found."

And you thought the 'lost and found department' beyond the Pearly Gates was all about Souls. Apparently, St. Anthony is kept quite busy helping us retrieve things here on earth as it is in heaven.

I personally like the prayer to 'find' a parking space. Our kids taught it to us years ago. "Hail Mary full of grace, help me find a parking space."

Funny, right? What's really funny is that it often works.

Ms. Conroy doesn't keep an appointment book. She also doesn't keep a check register. But, she can tell you - to the penny - how much she has in her checking account and she never misses an appointment.

Can you hear my envy?

We've had this discussion long ago. I once missed a meeting and, upon hearing about it after the fact, got out my appointment book, wrote in the meeting and then promptly crossed it out writing a note beside it "Missed."

Ms. Conroy chuckled. "What are you doing?" she asked, with that amused tone in her voice that wasn't so amusing to me.

"Well, if I write this down, I can keep track of my time."

She chuckled that annoying superior chuckle again. "What are you laughing about?" I retorted. "You don't even keep an appointment book."

"That's right," she said, she of the alcoholic parents who often "forgot" to pick her up after school or celebrate her birthday. "That way, I don't have to be disappointed."

That's when it came to me. It's all about the illusion of being in control, isn't it? I write things down and then cross them out. She doesn't write them down at all, so if it didn't happen, it wasn't supposed to anyway.

"Oh, the games people play now. Every night and every day now."

We don't save time. We can't. Oh, we try, but as the popular saying goes, "It is what it is." We all have the same number of hours in the day - in darkness or in light - and we make choices all the time about how to "spend" that time.

An appointment calendar simply allows me to "keep track" of the time I have. Which I do with some success. Until I misplace my appointment book - which I've only done one other time in twenty-four years of ordained ministry - and then everything seems out of control.

One person wrote on my FB page, "You didn't lose your appointment book. It lost you. Now you need to go find it."

I like that idea. Gives me the illusion of still retaining some semblance of my dignity in the face of constant humbling apologies.

So, if I have an appointment with you in the next few weeks, would you write to me and let me know? And, if I've missed an appointment with you, please accept my sincere apologies.

I've now got to spend some time with my iCalendar, filling in as many dates as I can remember, so I can upload it to my iPhone so I will regain my sense of control and composure.

I've got to spend time to save time - and face! Until my appointment calendar finds me again. Which, I have a feeling, it will. I think I remember where I left it. I would know for sure if I had written it down. In my appointment calendar. Which has left me.

What silly, silly creatures we are! I suppose this is why God created us in the first place.

The amusement value of the human enterprise alone is priceless.


JimB said...

Five words:

Google Calendar
Synchronous application


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I know, Jim, I know. Working on my iCalendar now. I have an iPhone. Would NEVER switch to a 'Crackberry'. Sorry.

I must say, though, that I have lost my paper calendar twice in 24 years. I can't even tell you how many times my computer has crashed in the last 5 years.

I'm not sayin', but I'm just sayin'.

Jeffri Harre said...

What did people do before personal calendars anyway? People still got to church on Sunday. Crops still got planted. Families still gathered to share meals and celebrate.

Or maybe everyone had a personal Ms. Conroy to remember things for them...

whiteycat said...

Elizabeth, you just hit a nerve with this post. I often misplace a really important document or object. After i rant and holler for about five minutes I stop and pray. My prayer goes something like this ... O God (Jesus), you know all things and I don't. You know where I have put ________, so please guide me to it. This prayer ALWAYS works for me.

whiteycat said...

Like you, I love my paper date book. For a couple of years I used a Palm Pilot. Its software was not compatible with my new computer or vice-versa. Or I couldn't figure out how to match them. One day the Palm died. With it went not only my date book, but all my stored phone numbers many of which were unlisted. Since that day it's a PAPER calendar and phone list for me.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, Jeff, I do believe the world would be a better place - for lots of reasons - if there were more Ms.Conroys in it.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Whiteycat - I think you've just said the Protestant version of the prayer to St. Anthony.

Whatever works.

LVTfan said...

After many years of keeping my calendar on Lotus Organizer, because I could always print out a new one when I lost my paper copy, I have recently come to appreciate google calendar ... I can't lose it, and I'm not tied to one computer.

It talks to my windows-ish phone. And my son talked me into putting all my contacts onto gmail, which also makes them available on my phone. (I don't use the gmail account for email under normal circumstances, but all my names and emails and phone numbers are accessible on any computer now. Gives me a sense of comfort.

Except for the fact that I have a phone that is smarter than I am. I feel about one version behind it, all the time.

Muthah+ said...

You must remember that Ben Franklin died in penury!

I haven't figured out how to sycronize my phone either. But I do backup on the computer--not that I look at it. Besides I am getting old enough to "forget" things gracefully.

IT said...

iCal. Srsly. It's the only way we can keep track. We keep a .mac account so we can both upload from work and keep track. And that way it's backed up too.

If you use a Mac, that is....

Jane Priest said...

How do you sync iCal and your iPhone? Do you use something different than the calendar app that came with the phone? I have iCal on my Mac and an iPhone and need to get more organized about the events on each. BTW: I am a luddite in disguise.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

How it warms my heart to hear someone under 40 describe themselves as a Luddite.

What I'm learning about iCal is that it will sync automatically with your iPhone after you enter data. It's really as simple as that.

PseudoPiskie said...

They sync via iTunes. I like the alarm feature on iCal.