I used to pride myself on being able to keep all my engagements and deadlines in my head. My memory isn’t unusually capacious — it’s just that my engagements were few, and because most of my editing jobs are book-length or close to it, it’s unusual for me to have more than a couple of deadlines in a two- or three-week period.
The 2016 election changed all that. Now, if I don’t write all my commitments down somewhere, I either blow some of them off or double-book myself. My chair-side calendar does not compare with the impressive day-at-a-glance books that some of my new colleagues carry, but I’ve become dependent enough on it that when it disappears under a stack of papers and folders and books I get anxious.
For a backup I’ve got Google Calendar. Google obediently emails me a reminder a few hours before every event I’m supposed to be at. My chair-side calendar doesn’t do that.
However, my Travvy is the March poster boy in my Dogs of Martha’s Vineyard calendar. Google doesn’t have that.
So Sunday morning it dawned on me for real that I had four — count ’em, four — commitments on Sunday, starting at 1 p.m. and continuing till 9. OMG, OMG. Before the election, four commitments in a week was my idea of a full schedule. If I’m supposed to be out three nights in a row, I can generally be counted on to fink out on one of the three.
But on Sunday I made it to all four, and pretty much on time too.
At 1 p.m. it was the weekly meeting of We Stand Together / Estamos Todos Juntos at the charter school. First everyone meets together in the main hall, then we break into smaller committees: civic engagement, environment, and so on. I’ve been meeting with the women’s committee, which organized the “Women Stand Together” rally at Five Corners on International Women’s Day. My hopes for this group have been dwindling: it’s more interested in playing to the big-name summer people and getting mainstream PR than in trying to organize on the year-round Vineyard. As you can probably guess from reading this blog, this is not a high priority with me.
I left the committee meeting a little early in order to make it to Vineyard Haven for my 2:30 rehearsal at Grace Episcopal Church. A pickup chorus is rehearsing Part III of Handel’s Messiah for a performance at Grace toward the end of April. Last week’s rehearsal, the first, was a total wash for me: I was the only alto present, and the only chorus in Part III that I halfway know is the “Amen,” which I last sang 15+ years ago. I spent more time lost than not, but during the week I’d practiced a lot with my score and Cyberbass, an amazing website that features a gazillion vocal works broken down into their component parts so you can practice your part with the other parts in the background.
This week there were two other altos, and it was the sopranos who were not only short-staffed but missing their strongest singers. My practice had paid off — this week I actually knew what I was doing — but now I realized that I’d been cueing off the sopranos for several alto entrances, and when the sopranos were inaudible, I didn’t come in. “Worthy is the Lamb” and the “Amen” are both very fugue-y, which means that if you lose your place it can be really hard to get back in. So this week I’m paying more attention to what the tenors are doing, and to counting time independent of the other parts.
I’d already figured that the only time Travvy and I could get in an afternoon walk was between rehearsal and Richard Knabel’s party (reception?) to kick off his campaign for re-election as West Tisbury selectman. It started at 5 and I didn’t get there till about 5:20, but this isn’t the sort of gathering where you have to show up on the dot. Showing up on the dot is not a Vineyard specialty. “Vineyard time” can mean as much as an hour late. This becomes less amusing the more meetings, rehearsals, and other events you’re supposed to go to.
The food at Richard’s events is always excellent, so I figured I could safely forgo supper. I was right. The company was congenial, and I got to talk with people I already knew pretty well, people I had only a nodding acquaintance with, and people who knew me from Facebook but whom I’d never met face to face. West Tisbury candidates’ night is tomorrow, March 22, at the library, so I’ll blog more about the upcoming election after that. Town meeting is on Tuesday, April 11, and the election’s two days later, but you knew that already, right?
My last Sunday engagement was the 7 p.m. meeting of the Sunday Writers, which, as you can guess, meets on Sunday. This is the most important meeting of my week and the one I won’t blow off without very compelling cause (like a musician friend performing in Woods Hole, that sort of thing). I’d wisely tucked my manuscript pages into my satchel, guessing that I wouldn’t make it home between Richard’s reception and my writers’ group meeting. I don’t wear a watch and I didn’t see a clock, but my internal time-keeper gave me a nudge, whereupon I realized that two of the other Sunday Writers at the party had already left, and the third wasn’t going.
When I got to my car, the dashboard clock said 6:55. The internal time-keeper had nailed it again: it takes five minutes to drive from Richard’s to Cynthia’s, and I got there on time.