Judith Popova

We all live on a schedule. We hold diaries that retain important dates, anything from business meetings to bikini waxes. We are far too forgetful to live otherwise. Yet, I wonder, how colourful would our lives be if every interaction were represented in a series of scribbled notes next to calendar dates? A matter of double digits and abbreviated names; imagine this, ‘11/01 – Took lunch break early to avoid John from H.R. Caught eye with young, starry-eyed barista with a hopeful smile, nametag read ‘Jules’. Must still be on the good side of twenty – daughter’s age – too young. Third permanent semi-colon and end bracket stained cardboard cup. Wife would disapprove – Find new coffee shop.’ One thing is for sure – we would have one hell of a timeline. I guess that’s why people with diaries have a damn good recollection of what they were doing the first Friday of the month. Those people actually remember their alibis.

Do you remember what you did last Wednesday? I bet your diary does. It reads ‘Giovanni’s – 7 pm with Roberto C’, which is only the heading of your night. Alas, you were doing much more than just having dinner that night. Did you not follow Roberto to his hotel room on the 23rd floor? Were you not admiring the cream wool carpet while throwing back small bottles of liquor that would have even shamed the liver of a 35-year-old European whiskey drinker? You had no trouble slipping off the little black date dress, unzipping as easily as the foreclosure notice was taped to your apartment door last Monday. The ink on your husband’s divorce papers has barely dried, but you’ve already seen the passenger seat of his Camaro with a newer model – so you do the same. You’re angry, over-worked, and beautiful. Of course, you call your business partner to arrange a discussion over seafood and white wine. But, your schedule did not know your intentions, or at that, your indiscretions.

If I read like a calendar, I would be nothing more than smudged lines on dinner dates and paydays. I would be filled with countless deadlines. You name it, essay assignments, laundry tickets tucked between pages; heck, even shopping lists. I would be chasing after direct debits, paying phone bills before the inevitable barred vocal recording comes on. My life would seem like a battle between food consumption and how much paperwork I can carry. It’s far from pretty. I would be a series of numbers with little variation in concurrence month to month. Get this – most people have some unfounded fear regarding the 13th, not me. I was born on the day. How could I really judge? So, wait until it falls on a Friday, panic ensues. Doesn’t it? Your grandmother would sooner take a lover called ‘Dante’ than board a plane on Friday 13th – the woman’s paid a fortune to airlines simple to avoid this hellish day.  

Sometimes I might experience a little excitement; Saturdays will usually contain an obnoxious evening party hosted by a co-worker I’ve been dodging during smoke breaks or held by the vicarious great-aunt with too many questions about my dating life – so I may or may not attend. The days leading up to Christmas will go one of two ways: First, the un-accomplishments and dread of the last twelve months will accumulate into an unbearable looming cloud. Didn’t you have a key to the building’s roof access? No. They took back the manager’s copies after Phil’s incident. After realizing the life insurance would be an instant pay-out to your already intolerable in-laws you switch to becoming a drunken nuisance that provokes the children to cry and makes your wife question her choice in men.Second scenario, no deaths, or arguments lasting more than 15 minutes over the blandness of the potatoes will be counted a success, everyone will eat – and in excess, until emptied chocolate boxes tower from the recycling container and the days reach no foreseeable end, much like the additional belt holes that need to be punched in.

Eventually, it’ll come to a day you’ll look fondly upon. An anniversary, a birthday, or it’ll punch you right in the gut with a memory of one of the same. It could be a bittersweet reminder you wasted four years of your life in an unfulfilled marriage. Ha. Weep sad fellow weep – on the 4th of each May. You’ll mope and wallow, but all your diary will say is ‘Meeting at 12. Get Milk’.

You’ll have a bad day, a bad week, even a bad year. You’ll work late, then you will drink to loosen up. You walk with your tie undone to the local convenience store. The milk you buy will only leak along the pavement – of course, you are too tired to notice the drops on the hallway’s laminate flooring. The remainder is tossed into the trash. It’s not like you have another jug or plastic container. It’s your bachelor pad –


Next thing you know you’re scribbling ‘Get milk’ alongside your dentist appointment. Seems like all that calcium is doing you little good. Again, you think ‘so far so good’, things will pick up. Of course, you’re wrong once again. Just like when you denied the gardener was doing anything more than pulling out weeds when he was, in fact, watering your wife. Your car decides to pull a muscle, leaving you a tire down and late for work. The 12pm garage appointment takes out a $70 chunk of your paycheck, that adds to the $120 bill you already racked up with your unused gym membership, questionable therapy session, and the unsuccessful date with your sister’s boyfriend’s roommate – at least that’s what your work organizer says. You worry you’ll never get the time to live out your dreams, time to write your novel. But all those corporate jerks told you ‘life experience’ would give you the tools you needed. Instead, you’re stuck behind a 4 by 4 oak-desk with two overly illuminating monitors, working hours Dolly Parton famously sang about in 1980.

Again, your schedule doesn’t have the answers to lifelong prospects. Instead, it gives you meaning for the next few days of your life. Remember your mother’s coming into town next Thursday.

Featured image: Florence, 2008: Spilled Milk © Taj Campbell

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