Happy end of the semester! Oh, you don’t count your time like that? Whoops. I’ve thought a lot recently about marking time. My brother got married a couple of weeks ago, and the weeks and months leading up to that were thrilling. My entire family looked for places to stay, watched flight prices change ever so slightly, and hunted for dresses and clothes for the event obsessively. So obsessively, I’ve worried we might be depressed by the time it was all over. But here we are, and we’re all doing just fine. For me, though, it’s necessary to have points on the calendar to look forward to, places delineating the time before and the time after, special dates with friends and family.
Once upon a time, I had a Dilbert planner. And by Dilbert planner, I mean a black agenda with a foldover latch in the shape of Dilbert’s head. Inside were snippets of the cartoon and stickers in the shapes of the main characters, and I. Freaking. Loved it. For several years they had the refills for sale, and I would fill out my mail order form and get the next year to put inside. And then they discontinued that line.
For a few years after that, I wavered. I didn’t know what to do without Dilbert and tried the mini-purse-calendar route, which was largely unsuccessful. Then I found Pam Socolow’s Family Facts On-the-Go Organizer. It had everything I wanted – monthly calendars, the week on two pages, envelopes to store receipts or business cards, stickers, pen holder…and it went out of business after I used it for three years.
I then entered what I call the “Dark Years” – the absence of a stable, reliable planner hit right as I entered my adjunct years, a dark dark time.
So last year when I got the job as Writing Center Director, I knew it was time to step back into the world of serious planners, but I couldn’t find anything I liked, so I just created my own planner from supplies I found at Target – essentially I found a spiral-bound planner that I liked and ripped out the pages to insert it into a much cuter and more functional mini binder. But it was homemade and started acting like it. My punched holes weren’t perfect, and some of the pages pulled out. The binder itself didn’t hold up well, though of course, I had used it daily since January.
Then in August, I got a request for a series of presentations in January and then in March. And no planner in which to mark these dates. Plus, my job includes both duties as a program director and a faculty member and faculty senator, and that sort of schedule gets crazy. I panicked and spent an insane amount of time over a few days in August searching for the best solution. There’s the Day Designer, the Simplified Planner, the Erin Condren Life Planner, the Plum Paper planner, and so many more, but these are all costly and only last for one year. I went deeper down the rabbit hole and discovered Filofax. And the heavens sang.
I had a case of serious, serious lust and finally gave in to it, after making the boyfriend listen to me debate it for days. This bad boy is patent leather and a classic. Plus, it beckons to my much less classy Dilbert self of 12 or so years ago with its ability to last over the years. And this Filofax is sexy. It’s like Eva Green, best Bond girl ever. It doesn’t even have to whisper “I’m the money.”
So this is an investment at $105, but the refills are about $12 (and I actually designed my own and printed them at Kinko’s). There is an entire world of slightly crazy people who basically ‘roid up their Filofax like scrapbooks, but I’m not so into that. I want it to be cute and customizable, but I don’t want to spend the kind of time and money some people do. (Really, Google Filofax obsession.)
And I must say, I absolutely love it. This may be one of my favorite purchases ever. I love bringing it to meetings. I love leaving it open before bed and checking it first thing in the morning (to see if I need to dress up extra special for meetings). I love opening it up each morning and laying it on my desk. It’s just about perfect in every way.
I thought perhaps my devotion to a planner had to do with aging, since I also bought a watch last year and now can’t believe I lived without it. But I think it’s more than that. As I recall the planners of yore, I think about when I recently redid my office and had to part with those old inserts, counting down the days until important trips, marking thesis deadlines. I also think about the days I marked with stars with no idea now what so special happened that day. Maybe it’s the tactile experience, but at least for me, time seems more meaningful this way, or at least more intentional. And it’s nice to know that at some point down the road, I’ll look back at these days, thinking back on the excitement, remembering days of heartache and joy, and wondering exactly how I got where I am.