Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I'm late, I'm late. . . wait. . . not yet!

Okay, if you're thoroughly dazzled by the picture, I'll confess that I went looking for a clockface image and found this and was so wowed that I had to use it. . . despite the fact that it implies time under control and the topic I had in mind is. . . being timewise out of control. You see, over the numerous years of my bohemian "artistic" lifestyle (okay, I'll wait while you get the laughter under control) I have become. . . um. . . less than punctual.

I am chronically 5-15 minutes late for everything. . . or at least I have been. Doctor's appointments-- fffft. Church services. . . always arrive during the announcements and have to sit up front. . . GROAN. Taxes-- always file the extension and then thrash out the details during the summer. Probably waaaaay more info than you need about me.

I blame it on my "late" (the irony here does not escape me) but much beloved German-descent husband, whom I came to depend on for expectations of promptness. When his earthly time expired, so did my promptness gene. His Prussian desire for order had always kept my British-heritage eccentricity and absent-mindedness in check. For a number of years now, I've run amok. . . time-wise.

I'm trying to clean up my act.

My dear family roll their eyes when I say this-- but I am shocking them these days by appearing for things on time. I arrive at the movie theater in time to both get popcorn and see my way to seats without having to flatten a few toes in the dark. I appear at family dinners before the serving begins. I show up for doctor appointments on time. . . mostly. I even make my deadline for this blog. (Hey, the calendar it says, Tuesday; it doesn't say WHEN on Tuesday!) And all due to my new timekeepers. . . my beloved fiance and my new watch. His expectations that I will behave like a grown-up and be respectful of others time is having an effect. That, and I keep the watch set ahead by five minutes.

Laugh if you will, but setting my watch ahead really does fool me into working harder to get out the door on time. Apparently I have a boundless capacity for self-delusion, because I regularly FORGET that it's set ahead. I treat what I see on that adorable little watch face as if it were real. And I usually get places on time these days.

Whatever works.

But honestly, I'm seeing time a little differently these days. A couple of my dear friends from girlhood have died untimely, recently, making me think about the value of the time I have. And as a result of personal circumstances, I'm out and about in the world more these days. I'm thinking more of others and trying to travel through the world in a more loving and respectful way.

Writers often seem self-absorbed. . . including me. Well, there's a reason for that. It's damned hard to commute between the world in your head and the world of the rest of you in 1.2 seconds flat. And sometimes we fail to completely extract ourselves from our "otherworld" because the commute is just too daunting. Once we're completely back in reality, it takes us too long to get back into the story again. . . so we're always torn about leaving it. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

Anyway. . . I'm working hard to be more on time these days. No more "Tina-time." Okay, not much of it. Because the commute from Victorian Days to 21st Century America is still pretty long. But I'm less afraid of making that trip these days. The story will be there when I'm ready to go back to it. And it's a good story, so I can let it go and let it run in my subconscious for a while without me.

Yeah, but I'm still less than thrilled about commuting from Victorian London or Henley on Tyne to the dentist's office.

What about you? Are you punctual, a slackard, or somewhere in between? Have your "time habits" changed over the years? Are there some places you just can't seem to arrive on time? Oooooh-- do you wear a watch these days? They say that the younger generation is abandoning watches because there are so many incidental time pieces in their lives. . . cell phones, computers, and the like. Have you stopped wearing a watch?

Actually I wanted to add that today is National Donald Duck Day. Bet you didn't know that. Don't get me started on calendars. I totally missed National Chocolate Ice Cream Day on June 7th and I'm feeling reeeeaaalllly deprived. On the up-side. June 23rd is National "Pink" Day. I'm still in time for that!


My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

I used to wear a watch every where, but then my cell phone as the time and did I really need to ways to tell the time? Yes, I did. You see, I too have a late gene, family and friends tell me to come 30 minutes before everyone else so I arrive when everyone else does... yes, I'm usually that late. But I've set the clocks in the house around, only 5 minutes, but it makes me think about the time and the need to be somewhere on time. I've started to wear my watch again, with the time set ahead by 5 minutes....I seem to be doing better.

Dottie :)

lois greiman said...

I'm pretty sure you and I are blood kin, Betina. I have a Swiss cheese brain when it comes to time. I can't seem to get it. I often think I have to leave when I actually have to BE there. What's that about? Part of my problem is also that I can't stand being early and sitting around because then I feel like I'm wasting time...a cardinal sin where I come from.

Anonymous said...

When I had a "day job", I was much more controlled by the watch on my wrist. But now, not so much. My watch used to be the first thing I put on. Now, sometimes I forget my watch.

I don't mind being early to doctor appointments, etc. Gives me time to read, which is short supply these days.

I had a friend in high school who was ALWAYS late, so we began telling her we would pick her up at so and so time...which was always 30 minutes before we would actually show up. She'll still be late but usually only 5-10 minutes instead of 35-40 minutes.

Keri Ford said...

Worse than I used to be. I blame it on the kid, only that's starting to get old. I mean, he's over 2. Surely by now I have mentally adjusted that I have him to get ready along with myself. I'm in the 5-10minutes running late. Except for doc's appointments. on time or early for those. I don't want to miss and hang out in the waiting room forever!

I don't wear a watch. I used to handwash a lot of dishes and the wet band around your wrist gets irritating quick. Now I don't have a watch with a battery. :O) Husband ALWAYS wears one, even tho he's always got his phone.

Michele Hauf said...

{shudder} You remind me of my hubby, Betina. We clash a lot when it comes to time. ;-) I'm one of those you probably love to hate: I'm always early. If I'm not five minutes early, I'm late. I hate arriving exactly on time, or heaven forbid, a minute or two late. It would kill me. I'm not sure where that need for promptness came from, but so far, it's worked for me.


Helen Brenna said...

I could've written this post. It would not have been nearly as funny -- Betina, you such a great sense of humor -- but I can pretty much ditto everything you said.

And I LOVE your explanation of how writers seem so self-absorbed. It really hits home.

Unfortunately, I've gotten worse as I've gotten older and will likely be dealing with this until I die. Let me know if you ever hit on something that "fixes" it once and for all!!

Debra Dixon said...

I tend to be late for most things unless my brain tags them as inviolate. Arriving on time to give a workshop is inviolate. Never been late for one of those. Never late for the airport, etc.

However, the rest of the world has to wait on me. I've never tried to improve my time management. ::gasp:: So rude of me, I know! But I stopped feeling guilty about it when I read an article that discussed what time management says about a person.

One of the tidbits about late-arrivers is that they are usually focused on you when they arrive. They don't have one foot out the door thinking about the next appointment.

Late-arrivers have an ability to zone out everything but their current activities. YOU are their highest priority until they have finished the task/conversation/meal at hand. If their full-attention to YOU means they are late for another appointment, so be it.

I liked that concept. So, now I'm no longer feeling guilty. I'm never late because I'm playing a computer game or over-sleeping. I'm only late because I might be finishing a business email, or writing my blog post or giving my mother an extra few minutes of phone time. Or maybe I couldn't shake a determined fan at a conference while I was on my way to the cab stand.

If I'm late because I'm doing real things, then that's okay.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Deb, thanks so much for the bit about late-comers focus on the people and task at hand. I've never heard that, but Aha! I think that's me. Once I get there, I'm into it. I'm really with the people and the event, and I'll hang with them until they're looking at their watches.

I do wear a watch. I've worn one since I got my first Mickey Mouse for Christmas from my uncle. (Wonder what happened to that...

Kathleen Eagle said...

You and me, Betina. I can't seem to get it through my head that it takes more time to get ready and get where I'm going than I think it will, no matter how many times I've made the same journey.

Hubby Clyde is much more punctual than I am. In Indian Country they call him a "boarding school kid." He was born on Indian Time, but the boarding schools drummed clock time into his head. Even though he doesn't wear a watch, he's got that cell phone habit.

Hey, we celebrated our 40th anniversary yesterday. We met on June 8, 1969.

Debra Dixon said...

Kathleen! Congratulations on having arrived at the big 4-0! Yay, you and yay Clyde!

catslady said...

My dad was a "be 15 minutes early kind of guy" and I'd rather be really early than 1 minute late. My husband is pretty good but not beyond stalling because he knows it gets to me! I have a nephew and my best friend who are always late. We tried telling them earlier but they know the trick. It really makes me feel that they think they're time is more valuable then others - I'm sure they just lose track of time but obviously they don't feel compelled to change.

Estella said...

I wear a watch all of the time.
I am usually early to appts and such.

Christie Ridgway said...

I really dislike being late to anything. I'm early most of the time. One of my sons we call the World's Slowest Person and it makes me crazy. We'll all be in the car and ready to go and he'll be inside the house still looking for his shoes.

I wear a watch when I'm going to be out and about because my cell phone stays in my purse.

That said, I'm tolerant of tardy people (except my kid) because I usually have a book with me.

Betina Krahn said...

Dottie! a kindred spirit-- we five-minute ahead people! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one!

Lois, I've long suspected we're related in some way. You and me, babe. We're headed to the top-- five minutes behind everybody else!

Cyndi, I think working for myself has made me complaisant. . . I had to make some appointments outside the house for myself in order to make myself shape up. I feel NAKED without a watch. . . it's the first thing I put on in the morning. . . even before a bra!

Keri, kids will do that to you! It takes a while to get used to those little last minute emergencies and necessities. . . you have to learn to plant those in. I used to do it for my kiddos. . . why can't I do it for myself?

Michele, I would probably make you nutz. Thank heaven there's someone for everyone! But in my defense, it took years of self-indulgent schedule to undo my timeliness habit. I'm hoping it won't take that long to remake.

Deb, I LOVE your explanation about late-comers. It's actually true of us writers, in general. WE do focus intensely and tune out distractions and give our all to what we're invested in. In short, we rock. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Kathy, congratulations on the big 4-0! You and Clyde are uch a perfect match. And look at the memories you've made over those years. I remember hearing somewhere about "Indian time." But I think American Indians are just one of many cultures that are far more at peace with "time" than we obsessed 21st Century Western types. We've made it a tyrant!

Oh, Kathy, I think it does take me more time to get ready these days. Damage control. sigh.

Helen, you're like a hug from the universe! And I'm glad you liked the explanation of why so many writers are so distracted and LATE a lot. It just makes sense, no?

And you know, Catslady, I never thought about it seeming like late people are being selfish-- valuing their own time more than others'. the only time I have felt that way was in a doctor's office, waiting for an appointment. Then it seems just vile. Hmmm. Another reason to change my time-slacking ways.

Estelle. . . what kind of watch do you favor. Fashion piece or something plain and utilitarian? I think we could do a blog on what a watch says about the wearer.

Lol, Christie-- making the most of your time while waiting for the tardies to get with the program. Reading! We should all be so tolerant and productive!

Venus Vaughn said...

I've always been a late kind of girl. Sometimes I even have guilt for it, but not usually.

When I say I've always been late, I mean from primary school, where my mother would get in trouble, through highschool where I'd be in detention every week with the troublemakers--even though I actually never caused trouble.

I've regularly been late to every job I've ever held. And my bosses have hated it, but never faulted my work, so I survived.

I do TRY to be on time. I really do. It just doesn't work. So I've given up the guilt and accepted my flaw.

Betina Krahn said...

Venus, you have my sympathy. I understand the congenital "lateness" gene. Sort of like the congenital "sweet-tooth" gene. It's not good for you but that's just the way you are.

The solution is to find a kind of work where time isn't as critical and then get to be wonderful at what you do best. . . so they can't do without you! Congrats on making yourself a niche!

Cindy Gerard said...

I missed national Donald Duck day???
Oh .... poo!