Some people ask me, sometimes with a Southern accent but most often not with a Southern accent, “Why, Miss Mary! How ever do you keep up with all the things you have to do?”
And I say: “Pape-cal.”
“Pape-cal” is short for “paper-calendar”; specifically, one that fits inside one’s purse. This item is more commonly referred to as a “planner”. Other people might call it a “day runner” or a “datebook”. I like calling it my pape-cal because it’s funny: pape-cal! And it makes me happy to call my planner my pape-cal because it’s something my sisters and my mom and I came up with.
We each have a pape-cal. My sister Hannah’s pape-cal is actually a large calendar she has on the wall, but it counts. This all comes from my mother, of course; some of my earliest memories in life involve observing my mother pencil in notes, trips, reminders, travel plans, birthdays, etc., in her pape-cal. I’m not sure if she still saves them, but she used to.
[Psst. Mom. Do you still save your pape-cals?]
Now, I do use my Google calendar function on my computer and my phone, but only for backup and a nice, full picture of the month. I tried to lose my pape-cal and just use screens and it was a total disaster. I’m not kidding: I mixed up a day for an important task, I accidentally flaked on a birthday party, and, worst of all, I felt like my I was spinning away from Earth, flung into the atmosphere, unable to get purchase on my life. No, things were no good without pape-cal. No good a’tall.
I remember Claus looking at me as I sobbed about feeling disorganized and spacey, how I felt that my life was falling apart.
“Claus! My life! It’s falling apart!”
“Maybe you should write things down again,” he said. “You used to have a little book, Piggy.”
(He used to call me Piggy.)
“Oh, right,” I sniffed. “That’s true. I used to have my pape-cal.” I brightened. “Yeah! I’ll just get my planner back! Thanks, Bear!”
(I used to call him Bear.)
Anyway, I got a fresh pape-cal and the situation improved considerably.
By the end of every year, my planner is so beat up you just can’t believe it. And boy it’s happening now, as we head into the tenth month of the year. It’s a good thing that the other day, my 2018 book came in the mail. (In case you’re interested, I use the same make and model year after year, the best in the biz: the Leuchtturm 1917 pape-cal. There can be no other. It’s a perfect pape.)
The cover of my 2017 book was a deep rose pink. My 2018 pape-cal is a perfect mouse brown. I have already begun to fill it.