About once a year an advertising company sends me either a nice pen or a nice paper calendar with my name and address printed on them, offering a special price for large orders of these samples to give away to my customers. If I were a large, profitable company, I would be happy to take advantage of the offer. As it is, Paddy has one of the nice pens and Christopher is using this year’s calendar. Paddy seems to keep track of what he is supposed to be doing by writing notes on his hand. Christopher appears to have become quite adept at using the paper calendar. I’m not sure how Peter keeps track of things, but I suspect it is either all in his mind or all in his email, in any case somewhere inaccessible to me. As for myself, I think I am not doing a particularly good job of keeping track of things. Partly, of course, this is due to other members of my household keeping track of themselves, so that I am not and cannot be responsible. Another part, though, is that I often feel caught in a kind of gap between different systems. I’m not really happy with the online calendar I have been using, especially since the last operating system update on my laptop didn’t work very well. I find the new design of the calendar hard to read, and since my laptop now gets confused about time, I end up with bizarre and unreasonable times for appointments in my calendar.
The use of different and not necessarily compatible or efficient systems for keeping track of things in my household means that a certain degree of flexibility is required, along with a willingness to accept surprises. Such as on Friday, for instance, when Christopher called me at the office at 11:30 in the morning to ask whether I realized that the one and only performance of Antigone would take place that afternoon starting at 5:00. Actually, I had not been aware of that, and while I appreciated his consideration in thinking to call me about it, it threw my plans for the day into even more disarray. The production was fantastic, though, and the whole situation very moving and emotional, since it was the last-ever school production by the boys‘ drama teacher, who is retiring now at the end of this year.
Then there are also the kinds of disruptions that are not on anyone’s list, such as our current conflict with the local public transportation company. The boys‘ school transportation passes officially expired following their last official day of classes, i.e. before their exams started. As has always been the case in summer, they can still use the expired passes in conjunction with an extra ticket on the whole transportation network – however, only after 12 noon on workdays. Since it took us an entire day of phone calls and emails to get an explanation of this particular detail, Peter and I disagree that Christopher should have to pay a 50 Euro fine for being „caught“ without a valid ticket, since he had been assured by a ticket controller the week before that the expired pass with the extra ticket was perfectly acceptable, but without any mention of it only being valid after 12 noon. I had the feeling that so many things that have gone wrong with the society we live in crystallized in this conflict, which is why it seems important to fight this out and publicize it. At the same time, though, fighting with a bureaucratic apparatus like the public transportation company requires a tremendous amount of energy and effort. Who can really afford to do that?
In the meantime, my „summary page“ is telling me that one translation is overdue (the one I didn’t finish as planned on Friday, because I went to see Antigone), but without reminding me that others will soon be late, if I don’t get moving. It also tells me that Thursday is a holiday, which is not very useful, but not that Peter is going to Boston on Tuesday, a thought that I have clearly been repressing. Paddy’s hand reminded him to pick up his and his brother’s suits from the cleaners on Friday, but it is not really clear to me when exactly the boys need to show up in school in their suits (preferably arriving there by tram with somehow valid tickets) for their final oral exams. Nor do I see any explicit reminders of when the boys are leaving – but I don’t need to be reminded, because I know that anyway.
Not all plans in my household are made electronically, however. Today is Sunday, everyone is up, Peter is making Wiener Schnitzel for a nice Sunday lunch, and after lunch we will all walk across the street together to vote. After that …