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I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around “planner” obsession for a while now. I’m not sure I quite have it.

Now, before you snap your fingers early-90s sassy sitcom style and tell me it’s a planner thing, I wouldn’t understand, let me explain. I mean, I have a windowsill full of pens. Full. Of pens. I have a mug and a jar devoted just to refills for said pens. I have notebooks. Two full boxes full of them, just waiting to be used. I not only have this many pens and notebooks, but I have preferences. That’s generally one of the signs of someone with a stationery store problem, an office supply addict, this preference for particular items. And piles of former favorites that he or she can’t quite part with in case that one becomes a favorite again. It could happen — at any moment.

At the moment, I have a Moleskine I use primarily for practicing lettering (poorly), sketching out things (poorly), doodles, watercolor play, and ideas that need a dot grid. It’s thin, flexible, and has a loop to keep it closed. I have a Paperblanks journal and one I drag around in my purse as a “brain dump” to catch snippets of dialog, plot ideas, deranged poetry, lists, scribbles, doodles, and nonsense. I have another one I use as a journal. I have too many Miquerlrius notebooks because I love the paper quality and I can reuse the poly covers for discbound notebooks (“arc” if you’re a Staples addict).

And, I have a planner. I love my planner. I am protective of my planner. It is beautiful. Because I didn’t want to buy leather, I put off investing in a nice cover until Levenger finally came out with the LevTex alternative to leather that looks like leather instead of looking like cheap plastic. (Until then, I used the cheap plastic.) Since I can’t quite afford Levenger, I haunted their eBay outlet until the right size (junior) LevTex cover came around and then lost three to stupidly-high bidders (like, bidding more money that it would cost to buy the thing on the Levenger site), and finally got a dark purplish blue one. Let’s be clear that I wasn’t sure that was the color I wanted, but I’m glad that’s the color I got. It’s like an indigo. Pretty. I started out with my 1″ Twilight discs, but they were too small, so I moved up to the 1.5″ Twilight discs I’d had on my old planner. For months, I used a daily calender I got on clearance because the year was ending and waited for Levenger to put the SmartPlanner refills on sale. Finally, enough of 2014 passed that I started having things to write in the SmartPlanner pages, put the first few months in the planner and enjoyed how much the little to-do lists, weekly goals, and week-on-one-page format worked for me. I added a section at the back with top tabs for the dojo, my writing, my candles, and “other.” I added a section for contacts. I kept some blank paper in the back. I added a pen to the loop.

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Ahh… Done. Really. Done. That’s it. I mean, for those who aren’t paper and pencil obsessed, they already slipped into a coma and wondered what the hell is wrong with me (probably not in that order). For the planner addicts, they’re probably wondering when I bought the washi tape; if the pen coordinates; if I use a rubber band or a headband to keep it closed; if I decorated the front with stickers or rhinestones; how often I change my dashboard; if I have a section for Project Life cards; where I keep the inspirational verses; how many specialty paperclips I have (the answer here is 9 but none of them stick up and all but three are little silver ones from Midori). A few of are probably also waiting for me to mention the other planners: the one for quotes or budgets or housecleaning schedules or… that’s the thing. I don’t know what else I’d need more planners for. That’s the thing I don’t get.

I’m pretty pragmatic. I mean, I have other “arc” notebooks — most of them actually have Levenger components because when the husband discovered Circa at the beginning of grad school, he went a little overboard — but I don’t call them “planners.” I call them notebooks. One has all the backstory notes for the main character in it. One has all the accounting paperwork for the GIS business in it. One has a couple of PDFs on small business and craft business success in it. One is mostly blank paper. One is, actually, a planner of sorts (it’s the old travel planner from our last road trip), but I just don’t see it as a “planner” so much as an archived itinerary.

So, maybe it’s partly vocabulary. What I call a “notebook,” other people are calling “planners.” Except, that doesn’t seem to fully explain the phenomena that confuses me so. I mean, I somewhat don’t understand the decorating aspect, but I think that’s because people keep calling it “planning” when what they seem to mean is “scrapbooking” or “decorating” or “crafting.” Then again, we are a society obsessed with The Future and Plans and Busy, so maybe in the context of that cultural need to feel like we’re always moving forward or drafting a map to get there, we’ve rebranded the fun of crafting and the nostalgia-drenched “waste of time” scrapbooking of old as “planning.” Seems a little like the swoops boomerangs and rocketships in Googie-era space age design. The obsession with future and progress turned boring old motels into concrete conch shells wearing sombreros.

The need for more than one, though, I’m having a harder time with. And, yeah, I get that I drag around the little Paperblanks brain dump and the indigo planner with me almost everywhere, but that’s it. If I’m actually using it for something, I might bring the Moleskine, but I’ll probably leave the Paperblanks behind. If I’m going to dinner or a party, I toss the Paperblanks or the tiny Circa jotlet in my bag (you never know when you’ll have an idea) and leave the planner behind. I don’t, though, have five Filofaxes in different colors or sizes. I don’t have a Filofax, a Midori, a Foxydori, a Kikki-K, an Erin Condron, an Arc, a Hobonichi, a Plum Planner, SugarPlum, and five other various things I got from eBay, Etsy, or Kickstarter. I don’t understand the constant switching contents and pages and refills and brands. I bought the thing I liked. Done.

I don’t get it because A) just the clutter of the windowsill full of pens is making me a little nuts at the moment and I’m probably about a week from sending most of them to live elsewhere; B) I don’t have the money to constantly buy new planners — especially since some of them run a hundred bucks for more; C) I use the planner to keep my shit straight so I don’t forget the things I’m supposed to do or the places I’m supposed to be. If I’m constantly changing the format, the container, the layout… How am I supposed to remember where things are? It utterly defeats the purpose for me.

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