Baby Sister is teething and the eruption of tiny peaks through her gums has caused her to take a hiatus from her usually stellar sleeping habits. Last night, after I nursed her back to sleep, I found myself awake and restless so I started flipping through the Styles section of Sunday’s New York Times.
There I found an article by Pamela Paul about the continued allegiance of many to paper calendars despite the rising prominence of online ones. Among the paper devotees are such luminaries as Lorin Stein, editor of the Paris Review; Elizabeth Beier, executive editor of St. Martin’s Press; and, perhaps most incongruously, Internet entrepreneur and founder of DailyCandy.com, Dany Levy.
This article struck me as particularly fortuitous since I had just abandoned my own online calendar system, finding it cumbersome to enter information via thumb and limiting not to be able to see a week at a proverbial glance. In search of an oldie-but-goody solution, I spent way too many minutes at Staples last week choosing the perfect paper calendar.
My general love of office supply stores only mounts in late summer when the Back-to-School items nestle in alongside the usual Post-It notes and file folders. I stroll down the aisles, longingly eyeing the fresh 24 packs of Crayolas, the sets of mechanical pencils, the notebooks cut so freshly that paper sprinkles scatter to the floor when you open them.
I have long felt the ebb and flow of my days tied to the school year – first as a student, then as a teacher, now as a professor’s wife and the mother of babies who are inching their way closer to their school years. So it felt like home to surround myself with these instruments of study and to choose for myself among them an academic-year paper calendar, with its familiar font and reminders about Arbor Day and various Bank Holidays (UK).
Despite my newfound devotion to my iPhone and the hours I wile away on the Internet each day, I rank my love for paper books just below that for my family. I like the physicality of their pages, the chance they give me to mark my favorite passages, the way they become part of my decor.
I think my preference for a paper calendar speaks to that same tactile instinct. To a desire to put pen to paper instead of finger to button. But it also speaks to my wish to have a life that is simple enough that it doesn’t need electronic syncing and e-mail reminders and frenetic beeping berating me to send a birthday card to my college roommate. To be able to see, at a glance, that a week is filling up too quickly and to protect my time with a commitment to open spaces. To keep time on my side.
It’s illusory, I suppose, to think that I can control my life by controlling my calendar. But I’m going to stick with an old-fashioned solution to keep track of my newfangled life, hoping that the mix of old and new will help lead me toward that mythical thing called balance.
Do you keep a paper calendar or an electronic one? Do you love office supply stores as much as I do?