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Saturday, October 06, 2007

  Mysteries of the Calendar. I am a busy person. I work full time; I have a long commute; I work on photography projects all hours of the day and night; I go to the movies; I attend live music shows; I hike; I go out to eat with friends; I maintain extensive correspondence with people who are dear to me. People often express shock that I "accomplish" so much, from making handmade photographic prints to writing novels for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) (

I do not have more available time than other people do: I just prioritize it differently. I "make" time for things that are important to me.

I enjoy spending time with friends, but many of my friends are difficult to get together with. They are also busy, and it can be complicated to schedule events where four or more of us can attend. Some of this is "real" business, and some of it is "imaginary" business. "Real" business is based on actual commitments; "imaginary" business is wishful-thinking about commitments which may or may not occur. An example of imagined business: a friend said she couldn't meet with our social group for the rest of the year on a certain day of the week because she was taking a business class in the evenings. When we finally got together a few months later, it turned out she had not been attending the class, but continued to insist that day of the week was unavailable... because of the class, which she wasn't attending. So we'd been working around an imaginary obstacle all of that time.

I have two groups of friends that have a great reluctance to schedule events with any specificity: they like to say 'let's do lunch,' and sincerely seem to enjoy lunch when it is 'done,' but it's very difficult to get them to that point. They know how to reject dates, but can never propose them: somehow, only I am imbued with that power. Without describing any particular social group, and with no intended disrespect to anyone in particular, I provide a sample conversation:

1: I miss you kids! We should get together for lunch again!
Me: What a great idea! How about Saturday?
2: Oh, I can't do this Saturday.
Me: Okay, how about the next Saturday?
1: Oh, I can't go then. Relatives are visiting.
Me: No problem. What day can you gals come out to lunch?
3: Hey! I just saw all of your e-mails. Next Saturday doesn't work for me, either - I might have to give a lecture that day.
Me: Okay. What day works for you? Should we try dinner instead, maybe on Thursday? Or some other day that works for you?
1: Oh, I'm busy Thursday.
Me: [throws up hands]

One week later:

1: Why don't we ever get together?

With the folks who are worth the effort, I sometimes send wedding-RSVP-form invitations, if wedding RSVP forms permitted rescheduling:
"Ladies! Let's go out for drinks on the Xth!" Please reply:
___ Yes! I can attend.
___ No, I cannot attend, and counterpropose that we go out on __________.
___ No, I cannot attend: please go out without me.
Yes, as you suspect, the really serious dodgers won't answer the question... but they weren't going to attend anyway, and didn't want the rest of the group going out without them! The fun folks who really want to go out propose dates, and the events actually happen, which makes it worth the trouble of sending out such silly invitations.

Friends, even/especially busy friends, are great company.


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:41 PM

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