Daily Planner Obsession
Written by
Tory McCagg
September 2017
Written by
Tory McCagg
September 2017

Last December, while in New York City visiting my mother, I spent nearly an hour at Staples choosing my daily planner calendar book for the coming year. It was and always is a daunting task. So many choices. Hardcover or paperback, compact or desktop? Daily, weekly, monthly? Dates and hours printed or free form? Page texture? Color? With or without lines?

None of the myriad choices quite worked. Eventually, I bought a calendar that was visually perfect inside but hardcovered. Heavy. Carrying that bulky albatross in my purse, I determined to keep looking and ended up at a stationary store where, after half an hour, I bought another daily planner that had a soft cover, and was a calming blue. The interior though—peach-colored and thin-lined—grated on my nerves. Back at my mother's apartment, I prowled the internet, tick, tick, tick, late into the night, verifying that the nice blue cover was faux, not real, leather, but the peach color? Awful. Irritating. I would have to take the time to return both planners the next day and still, hadn't found the just right one. So much wasted time . . . the obsessive quality of my search . . . the disturbance of my reality and routine. But I couldn't go forward or commit to anything until I had chosen. I needed to be able to write things down.

That thought caused a skip in my brain and a suspicion that my obsession was not about choosing my next year's daily planner. It was about the election and my deepest hope that sense would return and the electoral college would not, in fact, allow for a hate-filled, sociopathic, megolomaniac fascist to take office. Why were women not marching on the capital on December 19th, when the electoral college met? January 21 seemed so day late and a dollar short.

Dollars brought to mind money. I turned to my journal and scribbled on about money in politics, money as power. HRC and how she might be establishment but Republicans had spent decades and untold millions of (tax payer) dollars trying to find her guilty of something but hadn't managed to put her behind bars which to my mind meant she wasn't guilty of anything they, themselves, hadn't done. I wondered at all that hate spewed—and wasn't it just fear? Fear of women. Fear of change. Climate change.

My obsession wasn't about politics but climate change! Cherry trees blooming in New York City in December and the upcoming year, 2017, was slated by climatologists as when climate change would really start to kick in. And nothing to be done because it should have been done years ago. We knew years ago it was coming and did not act. Denial and our own comforts and busy days kept us blind as baby mice. Helpless. It seemed so inevitable and terrifying. Profoundly, mortally terrifying. Trapped.

Ever deeper, closer to the point. It wasn't about climate change, either. It was my mother, her illness. Parkinson's disease. A hideous disease. In parallel with the election of the 45th president, it causes extreme discomfort, and promises the imprisonment of the soul. When I visit my mother, I see, first hand, her sweet, generous soul . . . and the poisonous hallucinations that scare her. The man who keeps showing up, sometimes with female cohorts. They are oppressive. My mother anticipates their coming, and fears their consequence. When not fighting them off, she experiences the frustration of not being able to do for herself. And the anger and helplessness against life's unfairness. Her future is grim.

So Mother Nature. So democracy. No small wonder that I obsessed on which daily planner to choose. What to hold and carry with me through the year 2017, as day followed day, and how know what each would hold? How much risk and challenge. How much life. I needed to pick the exact, right one. The one that would help me to be organized, to accomplish, to act.

Trump has been as bad as and worse than I anticipated. To counter his vileness, I have withdrawn yet more into busy-ness. This year, we have marched for the most basic American principles; finished an addition that doubled the size of our perfectly sized, off-grid home; completed the install of a regeneration lap pool; puffed the proverbial pillows of our permaculture experiment, with its swales and hugelkultures and sugar maple grove. Most significantly, we have moved out of and sold our Providence house and now face the clutter of nearly three decades of accumulation. Human brains process four thousand words in one minute as opposed to the few we can articulate aloud. Sometimes all we can do is howl.

Or crow.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Mother Nature's wrath is upon us. A whole lot of the feminine is whorling around and a daily planner? It's just a distraction. I can plan and organize all day but, in the end, it's just an attempt to control. In the end, I need to take life down to its essence. I hold out my hands and what is in them? Exactly what I most fear: stillness in the eye of the storm. Surrounded by winds beyond imagination and no way out but through, and soon, very soon, it will be time to choose again, a new daily planner.


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