Most people (I think, probably) arrive on time because they plan to. They have a fairly realistic idea of how long it takes to get somewhere and what they have to do on each side of the journey and they plan accordingly, leaving a buffer for emergencies or unexpected events.
I, on the other hand, have a knack for underestimating how long things take, for not planning for anything like checking my pockets for the umpteenth time or going back to pick up my coat, and for not even thinking about unforseen circumstances, let alone leaving a buffer for them. I get drawn into long conversations 5 minutes before I’m due to set out and struggle to extract myself. I’m good at finding things which really need doing, right before I go anywhere. Like noticing that the plants need watering, or remembering that I wanted to bring something for someone and just have to find it..
As a result I am very often late. Or if not late, then only just on time.
Sometimes though, my lack of planning works in my favour. Sometimes I forget what time I’m supposed to be there. Or remember the wrong time. And then I surprise everyone (and myself) by arriving early. In this particular case 15 minutes before the meeting started, which meant that rather than dashing in at the last minute or sneaking in through the back door and hoping no-one notices or at least isn’t too disturbed by my entrance, I had enough time to say hi to people, go to the toilet, find a seat, get all my papers etc out of my bag and spread over the table, have a drink and sit back to wait for the speaker to commence his speech. No rush. No sneaking. No exasperated sighs. No rolled eyes.
I cycled to work this morning. It rained half the way there. The first half. Only the first half I suppose. I wasn’t expecting it to stop but it did.
After work, I had a plan to get a couple of trains to a distant part of town to try on a ski-helmet and pick up a pair of skis. After that I was going to get a train back and go and pick up the mattress.
I originally planned to leave my bike at work and swap it for the skis and possibly the helmet before cycling home. When I looked at the map and the local transport app at lunchtime, I discovered that I wouldn’t be home in time for the mattress if I relied on the buses to take me from A to B and B to C. I decided to take my bike and cycle from the station to the helmet, then to the skis and push the bike to the next station where a direct train would bring me to within 10 minutes of my flat.
Did anyone else notice the parts where I said plan and claimed it as my own?
Did all the alarm bells start ringing?
Did you feel the words “uh-oh” forming, ready to be released at a moment’s notice?
Did you see the chaos building up in the distance like the storm currently waiting to attack Berlin?
No? I didn’t either. I ran straight into it headlong.
I didn’t expect anything. But it expected me. I must be good company, or at least a regular visitor…
We had a fire alarm at work after lunch and before I could write my plan down.
Afterwards, I tried to get my work done so I could leave on time.
I almost did, too.
It wasn’t raining when I left my workshop so I packed my waterproof overskirt away in my panier.
It started raining just as I got outside the building. I don’t like being wet if it’s a cold kind of wet, and I especially dislike cycling in wet jeans, so I stopped and unpacked it.
I wasn’t expecting to spend time getting dressed once I’d left.
I didn’t expect the lift to be full when I got to the station so that I needed to wait for it to come up a second time.
I didn’t expect to miss the first train on my list of 3.
I didn’t expect the lifts at the second station to only go up when the train I needed to catch was a floor lower than the one I started on.
I didn’t expect the second lift, a lift I crossed a road especially to reach, to bring me back to the middle floor.
I didn’t remember my bike being so heavy when I decided to carry it down and up the next stairs I encountered.
I wasn’t aware that one station name in Berlin can actually mean 3 separate stations for the 3 types of train, and that they can be several hundred metres away from each other.
I didn’t appreciate having to visit each one of them to realise it.
I didn’t remember that the third train I wanted to catch only left once an hour.
I really didn’t like having to retrace my steps to get an alternative train from a station I’d already fought my way out of.
I didn’t check the map closely enough to know that the street I was looking for, started with one name and ended with a different one.
I didn’t realise that I cycled right past it without noticing.
I wasn’t paying enough attention as I started enjoying cycling along a straight cycle path without rain.
I wasn’t ready for the dark when the street lights stopped.
I wasn’t expecting my bike’s front light to be weaker than the wind-up torch I took on a night walk in 6th form.
I didn’t want to stop on the side of a busy but dark road with nothing but the dim glow of a fading dynamo to show where I was in order to check the map again.
I trusted Google when it recommended an alternative route from my current position when I finally felt safe enough to check.
I didn’t know, when I set out down the “dead end – pedestrian access only” road, that it would lead me into the middle of a very muddy field.
I didn’t know you could switch between the directions mode and the map mode without retyping the street name.
I didn’t know, once I was in a particularly boggy patch of field, whether it would be quicker to turn round and go back, or to carry on squelching.
I couldn’t imagine that I could be so scared of things that go bump (or knatterknatterknatter) in the dark.
I wasn’t expecting the torch on my phone to be so good.
I didn’t know in advance that I would rather cycle unnecessarily far by road, just to avoid a couple of hundred metres along a dark path through a woods
I didn’t know, when I set out from work, that I would arrive at the helmet man’s house later with the bicycle than I would have done without it.
I didn’t know, from the picture and the description, that the helmet would be just a smidgen too small.
I also didn’t know from the brief phone calls we’d had, that the seller would be so gracious about letting me traipse mud all through his immaculate house. “Relax! It’s all tiled and washable – it gets muddy every time I come in from working in the garden :)”
I didn’t know it would take me more than twice the time Google suggested to cycle across to the ski lady’s house.
I didn’t know that the skis would be so sharp that they’d take the paint off my handlebars when I rested them there.
I didn’t know that I would have such a problem steering when I got the skis into a stable position.
I couldn’t guess that the wind would pick up and join the pouring rain to slow down my attempts to get to the station while pushing my bike and balancing a pair of skis.
I didn’t expect to have to ask someone how to get into the train station.
I didn’t count on missing the last direct train of the evening and having to take three other indirect trains instead.
I didn’t think my phone battery would go down so fast, but I also didn’t think the last few percent would last all the way home.
I wasn’t expecting anyone to talk to me on the train, and when they did, I wasn’t expecting them to say, “don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve got a wife and a kid waiting for me” as we got out at the same station.
I didn’t expect to get home more than 7 hours and 22km after leaving work, 3 hours later than I wanted to pick up the mattress.
Despite everything, I still feel it was a successful day..
One on which I feel I definitely earned my sleep.
Talking of sleep…I wasn’t planning on sleeping on the floor again tonight, but then, life always seems to have more in store for me than I could ever imagine.
(And I wasn’t expecting the neighbour to phone and apologize, but he did – assuming the mattress man is understanding enough not to sell the mattress to someone else tomorrow, we’re all set to pick it up in the evening 🙂 – wheee!)
This year I’m going to be selfish. I’m going to do the things I want to do with the people I want to do them with. I’m going to go where I want to go and see what I want to see. I’m going to figure out what’s really important to me and spend less time and thoughts on anything that isn’t. I’m going to eat more vegetables, even if that means eating by myself. I’m going to get my book finished and my website sorted out and my mini-company off the ground. I’m going to make time for myself and for catching up with the people who have been waiting for me to wake up to the notion that life is not only worth living, but also happens outside my house and the narrow constricts that have kept me too busy to talk. I’m going to keep up with my school work so that I don’t hurt my thumb writing like a banshee for the last few weeks before the exams. I’m going to get rid of lots of excess baggage – the things I surround myself with which I neither believe to be beautiful nor know to be useful and which have been weighing me down and holding me back by nagging at me to do something about them. I am going to marvel at the sunlight as it dances on the frost and maybe even dance myself if the opportunity arises. I miss dancing. I’m going to read more widely, paint more daringly and listen more loudly. I’m going to remind myself that I’m loved, and remember to make sure other people know that I love them. I’m going to swim 100km over the course of the year and hopefully manage to squeeze 80 lengths into an hour. I’m going to put more pictures up and make my space so pretty it’s like getting a mental hug every time I look at it. I’m going to learn how to use LaTex and how to keep my desk clear enough to put my new laptop down without worrying about it sliding down the paperwork mountain and crashing into my tub of paints or knocking the hopefully no longer overflowing dustbin over. I’m going to go iceskating and cycling and to the zoo. I’m going to sew more, write more, create more, sleep more. I’m going to find the time for all these things by wasting less working on other people’s dreams.
I think this is going to be a good year.
Not only do I wish myself well for the coming year, I also wish you all a fantastic year, doing the things you want to do :).
Sometimes, I think I should just stop making plans.
I mean, I know they never work out the way I intended them to, so I could save myself the bother of making them in the first place.
Also, maybe God would stop laughing at them/me.
This year, the company I work for closes between Christmas and New Year. This means I have ‘ZwangsUrlaub’ or compulsory holiday.
I was planning to relax until Sunday, doing jigsaws and folding stars and making Gingerbread houses (which I still have to post, sorry) and other Christmas Things, and then spend the compulsory week off work (Mo-Fr) tidying up my corner, finding the bottom of the washing box, hopefully finally getting some paintings finished, maybe even getting some pictures on the wall, before flying away with DB on Saturday for 2 weeks of sunshine and more relaxing (dear theoretical burglars, please note – we have housesitters with a dog).
We were also going to visit a couple of DB’s friends and celebrate the new year with fireworks and copious amounts of food (me) and alcohol (DB).
What I wasn’t planning on doing, was spending time in hospital. Not as a visitor, not as an outpatient and most certainly not as an inpatient.
Turns out I have Keratitis and have the dubious privilege of at least one, probably two, possibly more, overnight stay(s) in hospital where the night-nurse has the dubious pleasure of waking me up every couple of hours to drop eye-drops into my sleep-deprived eyes.
This is my bed:
Apparently I’m the first patient to bring fairy lights with them.
However, it appears to be a Good Thing because it means I can leave them on and the nurse doesn’t have to turn the main lights on and wake everyone up.
According to the doctor I saw after 4 and a half hours in the waiting room, and who shined multiple very shiny lights in my eyes, it (Keratitis) can be a dangerous thing to have.
Mine doesn’t seem too bad, but I could use any spare prayers you have…
(Eyesight is crazily important, and I’m going to do all they say I need to do to get better, but they’re contemplating cancelling my holiday – to ensure that I can be monitored – and that would suck big time. DB needs a break, and we chose not to book cancellation-insurance, so the money would be gone too…)
Thank you 🙂
P.S. I’ll write some of the background story tomorrow..