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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

My secretary wears black leather

By Joey Hislop

December 1, 2006 | Don't tell my wife, but she has competition. You see, for more than a few years now there has been another. Another that I share my thoughts with, another that tells me what to do, another that helps me keep my checkbook balanced and last, but certainly not least, another that I can't live without. That's right. But wait! It's not what you think. I'm talking about my planner.

Yes, my planner. She doesn't exactly have a name. In fact, I don't even know why I called it "she." But if I were to have a mistress, it would be her. Ooops, I mean it. Anyhow, the funny thing about me comparing my planner to a mistress is that my planner would be the first to tell you that I have zero time for more than one woman.

My planner is now my personal secretary. I, along with many countless others, have become so completely dependent upon my planner for what to do during the day that I find myself unable to remember even the most automatic of tasks. I don't know how many times I've had to remind myself to clip my fingernails.

Becoming dependent upon a planner is a lot like becoming dependent upon a drug. You get to the point that you can't live without it. From everyday to-do lists to this year's Christmas lists for family and friends -- if I didn't write it down, I wouldn't remember it. Come to think of it, it's a good thing my name is on the identification page. I've become so dependent upon my planner that I would probably forget that, too.

It's not all bad, though. As much as my planner has limited my ability to think for myself, it has also saved me in very critical situations. For example, I never miss a doctor's appointment, job interview, birthday, or better yet, an anniversary. How's that for irony -- a mistress that helps me remember my anniversary.

My planner can also double as my therapist. If I ever need to think things out, I just put down on paper what's in my head and pretty soon it's problem solved. Perhaps my planner could help me figure out what I would do if I ever lost it and had to go without its guidance.

There are several activities in life that I love doing, but keeping a planner is about the only one I can really call a hobby. There's more to it than just having a calendar, you know. The possibilities for accessorizing are numerous. From custom designed pages (which I don't do) to pens and binders, your planner is your personal office in a book and you can decorate however you wish.

People often ask me, "Why don't you get a Palm Pilot?" Well, I've tried that before and it wasn't my cup of tea. I guess I just prefer to write something out with pen and paper than to wave a three-inch plastic wand around a tiny little screen.

In addition to this, I think of my planner as being a supplement to my journal, so keeping it around (which I do with the help neat little planner storage binders) is a good idea for the future. I'm old enough to have witnessed first-hand the obsolesence of several computerized gadgets that everybody thought would never go extinct. A palm pilot would make a pretty lousy journal 10 years from now when it no longer formats with my computer.

As I mentioned before, I have become completely dependent upon my planner. However, there are no 12-step programs to guide me or planner-holics anonymous groups to offer support. All I can do is plunge myself deeper into the problem by becoming more and more reliant upon it. Perhaps I'll end up stapling the damned thing to me before I finally hit rock-bottom. Any way it pans out, I'll be able to go back later and track my addiction with the help of the record I've created on its pages.

I'll be able to watch how I went from writing things like "Grocery list: bread, milk, eggs, hamburger," to reminders like "Things to do today -- get dressed, eat food, breathe..." Hopefully, I won't have to consult my planner to remember my name when I stand up and say "Hi. I'm Joey and I'm addicted to my planner."

"Hi Joey."


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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