Recently I came across some pocket calendars that I used in the 1990’s. It was amazing to look at my life at a glance with doctor appointments, lunch dates, sporting events, and work meetings. There are names of people who I can no longer recall, but with whom I apparently met for lunch on several occasions; meetings about work projects with acronyms, the meanings of which are now lost to me; and names of Washington, DC restaurants and bars, many I recall were favorites of mine at the time. A restaurant called “Noun” repeatedly gets mentioned for lunch, yet a Google search finds nary a mention of its former existence. Page after page shows that I was a very busy, busy boy at that time.
I do recollect packing these calendars into a box when I changed jobs shortly before moving to California in the early 2000’s. I remember thinking at the time that someday it might be interesting to pore over them in nostalgic reflection. How prescient of me! And so it has been.
Modern technology has pretty much made pocket calendars such as these obsolete. Although they might still be available for free at the Hallmark store as a quaint throwback, busy working-types and probably the majority of the younger set use their smartphone or tablet to keep track of appointments, birthdays, etc.. Earlier this year, American Express tried to charge me $30 for a fancy, faux-leather calendar. I was able to get the charge removed, and they then allowed me to keep the calendar for all the trouble. Gorgeous now happily uses it… except when she forgets. More on that in a moment, though.
I was always somewhat obsessive about schedules and appointments. A college girlfriend once complained that she felt she was merely a single entry on my daily agenda rather than an actual human priority. Another friend told me that she became instantly agitated before any lunch date we had because she knew I hated waiting. She was the type who struggled daily at being punctual. This rigidity is probably born from my own fear of being late and having to walk into a classroom or gathering with everyone potentially looking at me. I no doubt was over-compensating to shore up my own feelings of inadequacy. How charming of me that in later years I was able to morph those feelings into making others feel ill-at-ease.
During my working years, I was always frenzied about making sure that I got to work on time each morning. The evening before I would put out my clothes, and I would always wake up at least two hours before I actually had to leave home. My “helmet” of hair with its industrial-strength gel took far longer to prepare than the showering and shaving, and I almost always got to work at least 30-40 minutes early.
When office automation software such as Outlook and Lotus Notes were introduced, I quickly fell in love with their calendar functions. This is probably why I don’t seem to have a pocket calendar past 1998. I loved being able to enter repeating events, blocking out entire hours or days, and also using those trusty alarms to pop-up on my screen that reminded me of another dreaded meeting or conference call.
When I bought my first smartphone, I started entering all of my appointments in the same manner and continue to do so now. Our home has a big kitten calendar in the kitchen, and it (sometimes) gets used as a backup or for a quick glance as we have our morning coffee.
Lately my wife and I have endured quite a run of medical exams as we continue to get situated in our new town. With only one car, we have to be careful to coordinate our schedules so that there are no conflicts. Twice now Gorgeous has gotten confused about appointments, and she arrives only to discover that she’s either a day early or at the wrong doctor. About a month ago, this happened with a dental appointment. That one was slightly tragic since that particular office is over an hour’s drive from our town. You might say there was a bit of silence on the way home for a brief period that day.
Today she showed up at the ophthalmologist when in fact her appointment was at the gastroenterologist instead. You can only imagine the intestinal discomfort she felt as we raced across town to get her to that particular appointment on time.
A few months ago I told Gorgeous’ daughter that we would collectively need divine intervention for when her mother started to use her first, very own smartphone (Hi, A.). Tonight we will begin our first lesson in calendar event creation on that phone. I’ll teach her about setting up audio alerts, and then cross-checking them with the big kitten calendar in the kitchen. Redundancy is our new retirement friend.
Gorgeous felt very bad with the appointment mix-up earlier today, and for that I can’t blame her at all. It was an inauspicious start to the morning. I know my role, though: I needed to get her back to a better place. To cheer her when she finished with the doctor and came back into the waiting room, I serenaded her with my very best (and quite loud) Neil Sedaka rendition of “I love, I love, I love my little calendar girl!” As we walked out, the receptionist and an older couple sitting looked up from their magazines. Gorgeous rolled her eyes in embarrassment and walked quickly three steps ahead of me to achieve at least the appearance of not knowing this loving harasser. At that moment I knew the day’s drama was over.
I’ll meet you for coffee later. Don’t be late.