“Can you have lunch next Wednesday?” Around 12:30 p.m.?
My mind froze at this simple question from a friend. (I’m not a fan of quick decisions, even the smallest ones.)
“Uh, maybe? May be. Honestly, I have to check my schedule. At home.”
A few years ago, I could get away with not having weird looks. In simpler times, people kept calendars on their desks. On their kitchen counters. Pinned to a bulletin board.
Now the answer is likely to be “Can’t you just check your phone?” Which I give a blank stare and make a joke about being dumb as a rock when it comes to technology.
“Mom, I can show you how to put stuff on your calendar in about five minutes,” one of my grown children suggested the other day. “It’s super easy and you always have it with you. “
I vehemently resist such comments. (Plus, I know how to enter things into my electronic calendar. I choose not to.)
The truth is, I am not ready to give up on my monthly spiral planner. This is my adult blanket.
I can’t really explain my deep attachment to this common object. How to explain a passion that knows no limits? A love that defies logic, common sense and the traps of the modern world?
Every year I order a new diary with fierce joy and impatient impatience. When it arrives, I smooth out every page and write down key events in the neatest handwriting I can muster. Spring break at my daughter’s college, vacation weeks possible, even bill due dates each month.
My monthly agenda anchors me. It gives me a tangible look into the future, with the hope that if only I write it down, I can handle it. I won’t go so far as to say that it keeps me organized (I would need a full brain and personality transplant to make this happen), but I do feel peaceful when I touch the smooth paper and fresh and I return January to March, April to June etc.
I keep my old calendars in a box under my desk. Every now and then I flip through them trying to figure out what happened in March 2013 or August 2015. My scribbled notes for me are direct entries into the past – deadlines, events for the kids, dates. The different challenges of life, finished and finished.
In many ways, those old calendars are better than photos. They bring me back to the mental state I was in that day, that year. They give me a perspective on where I’ve been and where I’m going.
And there is another reason to rely on the paper calendar. It gives me time to take a break and decide whether to say yes to lunch, to a potentially annoying and time-consuming volunteer project, or something.
Is this wrong? Is it sneaky? Is it sneaky?
I will consult my agenda and get back to you.
Charlotte is a columnist for The Times. You can reach her at [email protected]