Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Working My Plan

Remember how, spurred on by a request from Bloglily, I went about in early December devising a plan for myself, one that apparently impressed quite a few of you? Well, I don’t either. You see, it seems that when I was busy creating that plan, my memory was on a nice little solo holiday. She’s just returned in a very relaxed frame of mind, not tanned, because we don’t tan, but obviously having been somewhere like the Caribbean where well-developed plans are not taken seriously, “9:00 a.m.” really means “between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m.,” and if you show up at noon, well, that’s “no problem, mon.” I think it’s awfully unfair of her not to have invited me, but she claims I wouldn’t have remembered to come and that she needed a break from constantly having to remind me of every little thing. I could argue that she’s certainly been falling down on her job for about ten years now, but that’s an argument for another day.

Ms. Memory took one look at my plan, and after rolling around on the floor, roaring with laughter for about ten minutes, she picked herself up and announced, “Man, do you ever need me! What were you thinking when you devised this thing?” I reminded her that since she was off sipping Mai Tais, twirling fancy little umbrellas around in glasses while flirting with dive masters, I haven’t the foggiest notion what I was thinking back then. Here are just a few of the things she has kindly informed me that I seem to have forgotten while composing such a plan in her absence:

1. I have a job that does not adhere well to certain business hours. I have authors and prospective authors who have jobs that do, and who can’t “meet” with me by phone at 8:30 a.m., which is what would be most convenient for me. They ask me to call them in the evenings or on the weekends. I call at 6:00 p.m., and they don’t answer. They return my call at 8:00 p.m.

2. I have to do things like attend meetings in Baltimore, or meet all day with authors who live a two-hour drive away to help them pull manuscripts together. This means leaving the house at 6:00 a.m. and often not getting home until 7:00 p.m.

3. It was the Christmas season. Bob is a minister. We are new to our church. We had many, many events the minister and his wife were invited to attend and that we felt it wasn’t a good idea not to attend as we get to know our congregation. This meant plenty of Saturdays and Sundays in which “resting” was out of the question in favor of such things as helping at the church bazaar, speaking at the annual church Christmas dinner, and making centerpieces for tables.

4. We live in Pennsylvania, where dinner is typically served between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. We get invited to other people’s houses for dinner a lot.

5. We volunteer to do things like help feed dinner to the homeless when it’s our church’s turn to do so, which often means having to leave the house by 4:30 p.m.

6. Elderly members of our congregation die. We have funerals to plan that fall on odd days of the week, and we feel obligated to visit grieving members of the families in the evenings.

7. People call us. Did you notice there was nowhere on my plan for hour-long phone conversations with friends and family members? Ms. Memory referred to that as a “Freudian slip,” reminding me that I’m not a big fan of the telephone.

8. We’re the sorts of people who buy Christmas trees, get them all set up in their stands, place them in a nice spot in the library, fill the stand with water, and discover half-an-hour later that the stand is leaking water that’s beginning to run all over the beautiful, recently-sanded, hardwood floors. Again, did you notice anything on my plan about “dealing with inevitable catastrophes?”

9. Bob’s aunt and uncle live close by. On a fairly regular basis, they invite us to do things like go to plays and concerts on odd nights.

10. I’m a night owl by nature. I can get into bed by 9:30, some nights, maybe, but rarely will I turn out the lights before 11:00, especially if I’m reading something really good. I seem to have been reading nothing but really good books all month, some of which kept me up well past midnight.

Oh well, no problem, mon. I’ve got almost all of January to try again, keeping all these things in mind this time. And if things don’t work out in January, there’s always February or March, right? Maybe I’ll get truly organized sometime during this lifetime. Until then, I think I’ll fix myself a Mai Tai, pretend I’m on a beach somewhere where I can close my eyes and dream about cute little Beatrix-Potter-looking mice busily mapping out their best-laid plans for each day and smile down on them like a Cheshire Cat.


Rebecca H. said...

Oh, well -- what can you do? The plan was a beautiful thing; too bad it had to meet reality one day. But the things you do sound important and worth-while and worth giving up on the plan for, right?

Charlotte said...

I love that image of the Cheshire Cat grinning down on busy little mice, possibly about to pounce! I do think what happened to you often happens to the best-laid plans: life intrudes. And to me it sounds like your life is rich and fun and interesting!

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. I had planned my December but in quickly dissolved. I am doing MUCH better in January, though. It can often feel like the moment we make a plan, life intrudes in the most inconvenient ways possible...but it sounds like you had FUN, and that's the most important thing...

Stefanie said...

Oh how you made me giggle! So unfair that you memory gets to go on all the nice vacations!

mandarine said...

Although I was deeply skeptical any of you could make such plans work, I have started a new-year organization scheme of my own, upgrading from digital to paper. Maybe I should write about it in a couple of months.

Emily Barton said...

Dorr, yes, it was a work of art. Of course, I could have been spending the time creating it doing more important and worth-while stuff, couldn't I?

Charlotte, yes, those mice have no clue. And you're right, life always does get in the way of plans.

Court, my January is going no better than my December, except that I'm being more realistic about my to-do list. Perhaps that's a step in the right direction?

Stef, glad to make you giggle. Yes, and it's downright unfair, isn't it?

Mandarine, you're the one who very sagely advised me to throw mine away, so I'm expecting you to do the same with any plan you've got.