The New Calendars Are Here!

When I went in to the office yesterday, to work there for the first time since March, I saw that my 2021 calendars had been delivered — and I was thrilled to see them.

Getting my new work calendars so I can keep track of my schedule in the coming months is one of those very basic ministerial elements of work. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about it — until now. Never before do I remember having such a happy reaction to seeing this tangible evidence that a new year is coming. I felt like the Steve Martin character in The Jerk overreacting to the delivery of phone books with his name in them.

I would make this suggestion to people who are looking to do some early holiday shopping: if you want to buy people a gift that you can be confident will bring a smile to their faces, get them 2021 calendars. And don’t be surprised if the calendars sell out quickly, either. We may see a surge in demand for new calendars the likes of which we haven’t experienced before.

The new calendars are here!

What Day Is It, Anyway?

One of the more surreal aspects of working from home every day is that it’s easy to lose track of what day of the week it is.  When there are no in-person meetings, no lunches, and no travel, every day seems pretty much the same — and Tuesday is a lot like Thursday.

Fortunately, in German Village we’ve got a simple way to tell the day of the week — our refuse cans.  They serve a function akin to a runic calendar, where the positioning of items is the key indicator.  You know it’s a  Monday when the blue cans, for recyclables, are hauled out and positioned to be moved to the curb for pick-up, and you know it’s Tuesday when they’re put out on the edge of the sidewalk.  By Tuesday afternoon, the blue cans are scattered and empty, and by Tuesday night they’ve been moved back and the green cans for regular garbage have been moved to the on-deck position.  On Wednesday mornings the green cans have taken their places curbside, and by Wednesday night they’re empty and strewn willy-nilly along the sidewalk.  By Thursday morning — we hope and expect, at least — all of the cans, of whatever color, have been returned to their standard positions.  That’s how I knew that it was Thursday when I went for my walk this morning.

Thank goodness that trash collection is considered an essential service!  Otherwise, I might really have to think hard to determine the day of the week.

There’s no trash can indicator for Friday, by the way — but no rational person needs a clue about Friday, anyway.  If you’be been working as long as I have, you’ve got an instinctive, infallible inner clock that tells you that the work week has ended and the weekend is here.  And no stupid pandemic is going to interfere with that!

All In Sequence

Today is November 12, 2013.  Or, in calendar/shorthand-speak, it’s 11/12/13.

It’s a numerologist’s dream, of course, but lots of ordinary people also think the numerical sequence is pretty cool.  After all, it’s one of only 12 sequential calendar dates this century.  As a result, today was a surprisingly popular day for weddings. No one is sure exactly why some brides want to get married on sequential dates.  (And we know it’s brides making the decision, don’t we, because what guy is going to pick the day for his wedding?)  Do brides think the date is lucky?  Do they think it is unique?  Or, do desperate but farsighted brides hope that their hapless husbands-to-be might actually remember their freaking anniversary if the guys just have to remember 11/12/13?

Any happy couples that missed 11/12/13 will have their shot at sequentialism next year, on December 13, 2014 — or 12/13/14.  After that, they’ll have to wait for almost 90 years, until 1/2/03, to tie the knot.


To-Do Lists And The March Of Civilization

My lovely wife keeps a to-do list.  It’s several pages of single-spaced, detailed information about the duties ahead, designed to keep her on task and fully aware of all impending appointments.

IMG_4782Most of us keep to-do lists, of one sort or another.  We need them and, well, we like them.  We enjoy writing things down and then crossing them off with a flourish, and feeling a surge of accomplishment as we do so.  We also know that if we don’t keep track of this stuff in our complicated worlds, we’ll forget something important.  So, we walk a fine line between trying to account for all of our duties and obligations without ending up with a list so long that it sends us into a spiral of soul-crushing despair.  It’s also important to distinguish between what is immediately achievable, and therefore suitable for a to-do list, and what is not.

“Lose 30 pounds” isn’t really a proper to-do list item.

As our species moved beyond hunter-gatherer status into settlements, the need for reminders became apparent.  I suspect that writing was develop precisely so that early humans could prepare the first crude to-do list.  Somewhere in the Valley of Kings, waiting to be unearthed by archaeologists, are clay jars of papyrus to-do lists for the Pharoah Ramses II prepared by ancient Egyptian scribes.  The hapless citizens of Pompeii likely were buried by volcanic ash because the Roman who was supposed to be watching Mount Vesuvius was preoccupied with preparing a to-do list instead.

As the world has become more technological, to-do lists have become more advanced and have proliferated.  In the ’80s and ’90s, the hyper-organized among us became addicted to using Franklin day planners to chart and control their activities.  Then, with the advent of personal computers, and Google calendar and electronic task lists, to-do lists moved into the digital realm.  Now they also appear on our smart phones, using gentle chimes or marimba music and flashing messages to remind us of impending meetings.  Soon, I expect, Apple will develop an Apple Nagger app that will remind us, in increasingly insistent fashion, that we have just got to do something.

I ask you:  how many of us have to-do lists that begin with a statement like “Check to-do list”?

On The Eve Of The New Year

I’ve never much cared for New Year’s Eve.  My father referred to it, with humor and scorn, as “amateur night.”  It’s a contrived holiday that tends to be the focus of too much partying anticipation.  I can’t remember how many New Year’s Eve parties I went to during my college years, but I can remember that none of them met my ridiculously high expectations.

What’s a year, anyway?  It’s a rough approximation of how long it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun, marked according to a calendar decreed by a long-dead Pope.  Logically, calendar years mean little.  They help us account for the seasons, and plan our activities, and look ahead to when we hope it will be warmer — but that’s about it.

And yet . . . years often have a consistent vibe to them, don’t they?  We recall good years and bad years.  We especially remember the bad years, when loved ones died or personal failures occurred or some other adversity dominated our intimate little worlds.  If we’re having a bad year, we hope that the change to the calendar that arbitrarily occurs at midnight on December 31 will similarly mean a change in our fortunes.  It can’t, obviously — but sometimes it does, just the same.

So, if you are having one of those bad years, I hope that your fate changes in 2013.  I hope that, as that calendar page is torn away, you start to realize your personal goals and experience satisfaction in your personal lives and feel contentment with your circumstances.  If you have had a good year in 2012?  Well, then I just hope that calendar years are as meaningless as our rational brains dictate they must be.

Happy New Year!