Pen Me In

I have a planner. A 2017 hard bound planner where I joyfully write my schedule. I don’t put my tasks in my phone or my meetings using Outlook. I don’t share a digital calendar with my spouse and have it cutely color coded his/hers. As a former assistant, I did that for many, many bosses. So this planner? This planner is just for me. No one else can write in it, and no one else can probably decipher what’s inside.

My planner is a big, blue book about the size of both my hands put together. It is constantly being transferred from my backpack to my purse to my coffee table to my car to my couch to my backpack again, resulting in it being very dirty on the outside, with the paper corners folded and crumpled around the edges. The bookmark that should keep me on the correct week was chewed off by my cat, Story, who likely digested it and eventually pooped out a blue string. (She did not die from it, as a terrified me wrongfully assumed.)

I write inside my planner in pen, which results in massive scribbled chaos when plans change or cease to exist. Different ink colors overlap, some forcefully deeper so I recognize its importance. If I quickly jot down a task and slam the book closed, the ink usually smears through multiple pages, giving the background of my weekly agenda a sort of ink-blot task motif.

Some of my agenda is shorthand: “Wed – S for c, 7pm.” Some detailed: “Sat. – Flight 364 our of Burbank to Denver landing at 12:45pm, call Mom for pick up, bring Crittendon.” Some days have lines and dots, marking when I am supposed to not drink or when someone or something is away and/or visiting. There’s doodles, swishes, highlights and, more frustrating often than not, writing where the ink went out halfway through and I had to finish the note with a new writing device.

In the back of my planner I have shoved various papers that I should probably throw out. Doctor’s appointment reminders, receipts, schedules to outdoor movies… These papers always do a good job at falling onto the floor whenever I open my planner; a nice game of embarrassment I have set up for myself. Yeah, I really should toss that stuff. Next time.

I am very picky about my yearly planners. It takes a few trips to Target and Office Max to find the right one. It needs to be weekly, not monthly. It needs to be bigger than an iPhone, smaller than an iPad. I would prefer it to be green but I’ve settled on red and blue the last few years. The lack of green options tells me that planners are a dying fad. I know in time I will likely adapt to using an electronic device for all of my scheduling needs. I always feel slightly silly when I am having my monthly girls dinner (or, as my planner jargon calls it, “GD 7PM M PICK”), and at the end of our meal while everyone else whips out their phone to schedule the next month’s dinner, I hastily pull out my giant blue book, asking if anyone has a pen.

It might sound crazy but I feel like my planner might be the most “me” thing I own. It’s messy and chaotic, yet at the same time weirdly organized. It’s old school in use, new school in penmanship, and hopefully always slightly endearing. If I lost my planner, I would be lost myself. Most of all, when I open the crumpled pages and peer at the pen scratches, I see a woman who is trying her best, even if it’s a little clunky, scatter brained, and sloppy.

Regardless of appearance, my planner gets the job done.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to “6:30pm GM with Mo, bring the thing.”

– One L

“There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.” “Which one am I?” “You’re the worst kind. You’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.” – W H m S


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