I’m Failing the Digital Revolution

29 Jan



I’m failing the digital revolution.

I tried; I really did. But I just can’t adjust to a world without paper.

When I entered boldly into this, the 2014th year of our Lord, I realized that for the first year since I’ve been paying my own bills, I was not gifted a planner or calendar of any kind for the holidays. I don’t need much – just a thin booklet sort of job that gives me a 2-page spread of each month, with room to write notes. Every four weeks the spread becomes a snapshot of madness, with post its and inserts and appointment blocks color coded according to my area of life focus *pushes up nerd glasses.*  But since I was already without, and because some of the hippies at work have been giving me a hard time about my physical files, I figured I’d save myself the twenty bucks and the earth a tree and finally utilize the built-in calendar on my phone.

I began to store notes and appointments and reminders on the unassuming digital square and to ignore concerns about trusting my life over to something I could not touch or feel. All along, there was a disconcerting voice in the back of my head that asked me how it was that I couldn’t manage to maintain a steady supply of clean underwear but would manage to keep my phone fully charged, defended from tragic demise, and available at all hours of the day for reference. Nonetheless, I stayed the course.

It was January 25th when I first felt the heart-seizing effects of my paperless existence. I had spent the last month carefully selecting and preparing a monologue for my first audition of the year, which I scheduled online. I had a choice of Saturday or Sunday and carefully chose the time 4:15pm on Sunday based on what I knew would best set me up for success. With such a packed schedule laid down for January, I was careful to do what I could each day and to then portion off the entire Saturday evening before the audition to drill and workshop my piece to completion. The plan was simple: Dave had a radio gig in the afternoon that I would accompany him to, we would have a celebratory lunch, and then we would go home and put the final and necessary touches on my audition. Then on Sunday: magic sparkle dust.

We radio-ed, we lunched, we went home. Dave took a cat nap and I sat on the couch working. It was 3:15pm and I was getting the nagging feeling one gets when one  is at the checkout at the grocery store and doesn’t have the item they came for in their basket. It was so distracting I couldn’t work so I logged into my email and ran down my to-dos. That’s when I laid eyes on the confirmation email for my audition that I’d flagged and highlighted and left there to nag me to get ‘er done ever since I scheduled it: and it was a confirmation for Saturday – that day – at 4:15pm.

I had to be there in one hour.

To date, there has not been an act of losing one’s shit quite so monumental as how I lost my shit in that moment.

I sprinted to Dave, yelled him out of a dead slumber, grabbed my monologue, whipped the paper at him, rattled off the situation with a  mix of disbelief and terror, and told him to drill me on the piece until we had to go, which was in twenty minutes. My hair undone, my makeup a snowball’s chance in hell, and my hopes of a callback shriveling before me, all I could aspire to was to not go up on my lines, to sound somewhat British, and to get out of the room without going into cardiac arrest from stress and humiliation.

I went. I was uninspiring. I was grateful to avoid a hospital stay.

There was no magic sparkle dust.

It was the very next day when my heart experienced the glorious rapture of a second full stop. It was 8:00am and my subconscious began to stir at the sound of footsteps throughout the apartment. As my groggy, grumpy morning self lay in half-sleep, I realized that Dave was up and getting ready for work and that I, on the contrary, was in bed. Sleeping. Through everything.

I shot up with a start, checked my phone (read: alarm/clock/terrible excuse for a planner), cursed myself for forgetting that I had an uncharacteristically early work meeting that morning, swore in ways that shamed my Baptist rearing, and launched my pajama-clad self into the bathroom. As my electric toothbrush knocked around my mouth (the result of a brain woken with shock and appendages late to the party), I yelled through a foam of toothpaste to Dave that I couldn’t believe that I forgot about my meeting, that I needed to leave right away, and could he take me somehow on his way to work. My mind spun with reminders that I still needed to check my email for any last-minute additions to the agenda so that I could adjust the materials, and hopes for a long-fought promotion began to fade as a cog in my brain suddenly clicked into place.

I stopped cold, my toothbrush no longer rotating. With my face remaining toward the mirror, my right eyeball slowly pulled to my peripheral to see a bewildered Dave standing, staring, waiting.

There was a long pause as I realized my self-spun tragedy. Foaming at the mouth, I lowered my toothbrush and uttered,


it’s Sunday. Isn’t it.”

Dave tried to hold back a sympathetic chuckle to spare me what little embarrassment was left to be spared. He made a conscious effort to close his gaping mouth (It’s rare to see me move so quickly in the morning – like a sloth snorting a coke line):

“Yeah. Yes. It is.”

He gave me a hug goodbye as he left for his regular Sunday shift, and when his mouth was next to my ear he told me to get a planner. A real one made out of real paper.

And so I did. I can’t go on like this. I can’t operate in a world of intangibles. There comes a time when we must accept our limitations, and I now know mine. I made a living as a receptionist, office manager, and executive assistant for several years. Managing calendars, goals, and strategies is what I do. I like my ducks in a row. I paid my bills by putting other people’s ducks in rows. But alas, I now know that there are no ducks and no rows when there is no planner.

It shipped today. Only a few days to go.

Speaking of which…note to self: when new 2014 planner arrives in the mail, immediately open to December 1st and write “buy new planner.”

Psst! Hey! You! I’m about to finish my first 30 Day Challenge of the year and in February it’s on to the next. So here’s your chance to tell me what to do. Whichever has the most cheerleaders by February 1st is full speed ahead; I’ll even mark it in my new planner. You can read more about my penchant for 365s here, about my challenge for 2014 here, and you can boss me around in the poll below. If you’re new, you should know: I’m a hermit; I adore meat and dairy; a brief canvassing stint has been the extent of my political involvement; and I’ve only finished one book in the last five years. Enjoy.



30 Responses to “I’m Failing the Digital Revolution”

  1. sherylsmith13 January 29, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    I can’t leave without my paper planner; I’m even totally compulsive about exactly what type of planner I use and how it’s organized.


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 1:49 am #

      Mine came in the mail and I’ve been rapid fire successes ever since. I even mailed my grandmother a card for her birthday. Boom.


  2. Ice_Badger January 29, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    I use my phone…if I put it in my phone and set my phone to remind me it is likely to happen.
    I also have a write stuff on wall calander in the kitchen
    and a lego page a day diary because I like writing things longhand…
    and a work planner
    and a mind map for planning stuff on
    and I still forget things…


    • Ice_Badger January 30, 2014 at 4:07 am #

      PS..I once got up half dressed and was cleaning my teeth for an early morning start when I realised it was 1am…and I had only been asleep an hour!


      • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 1:56 am #

        Well the 1am thing would be new for me indeed. How weird! Your body was very confused. Apparently it just needed a power nap.


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 1:49 am #

      It appears you need a better system for your system.


  3. ML January 29, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    hahahahaha oh dear ❤ adorbs.

    it took me a while to adjust to not having a planner, i went through the same "oh crap these things don't come for free anymore" realization i think right after college ended. i recommend a slow transition, if at all. 🙂 it takes so much more work to make the planner into what you want it, where digitally it's easier to color code, etc. and then you can set up reminders and alerts. for these things. ❤


  4. Jules January 29, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Funny. I’ve had nightmares like these. Waking up late, having to be somewhere and everything going wrong in between. Then I wake up and it’s a lazy weekend morning.


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 1:52 am #

      It’s a great relief to realize I’m just fine, but terrible to then not be able to get back to much-needed sleep because I’m wired from instant anxiety.


  5. Little Miss Menopause January 29, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    I really enjoyed this post because I’ve done the wrong day thing ever since I was young! My parents still laugh at how many mornings I was up, dressed, fed and had a backpack on for school only to hit my forehead when they would announce it was Saturday.

    I never did well with planners or paper lists because I would write every detail down in some super organized moment but then forget to look at the planner or list ever again! So what good was that?? And if anyone reads this comment, don’t be a smartypants and suggest that I write “Read my list” on my list. lol. You were thinking that, right?? 😉


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 1:53 am #

      There’s a special art to getting a calendar in your body. Maybe it’s something human beings were never really meant to do. Why can’t it just be another day instead of the third Monday of the first month of the 2014th year?


  6. Cindy January 29, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    2014 is the first year I have not had a paper planner. For years, I struggled with finding the “right” planner/organizational system – first it was Filofax, and then a leather Franklin planner purse that cost half a paycheck and quickly fell out of favor when the next new “it” system came along. For the past several years, it suited my work life to have a plain spiral bound monthly calendar whose inside covers and back pages were covered with meticulously-taped, oft-needed information. And then my employer gave me an iPad, which I carried with my spiral-bound planner (hello, dork!). But what converted me was Evernote – love, love, love that I can enter info on my iPad, have it sync to my work computer, my desk-top computer at home and my laptop, without having to lift a finger. The web clipper tool, ability to search saved documents, and just the awesomeness of having little bits of information all in one place make me giddy. And it’s been an adjustment, but I’m getting used to checking my calendar on my iPhone and iPad, rather than flipping through paper pages. Full disclosure: there is still a paper calendar on my fridge at home.


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 1:55 am #

      I’ve gotten the evernote feedback a lot, actually. I might look into it whenever I get the guts up to risk another fallout during testing. Thanks for the suggestion!


  7. Lori January 29, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    I won’t lie. The reading for one hour for leisure each day sounds less challenging than the other options, but, I voted for it anyway. I think you could use some relaxation in your life, and I’ve been daydreaming about when I can read for fun again.


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 1:55 am #

      Thank you for voting for it because if the social engagement thing would have one I would be dead right now. Dead.


  8. silkpurseproductions January 30, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    I’m not sure you will be able to stay motionless and read for an hour every day but I would like to see you try.
    There is something about being able to just glance at a physical calendar that is comforting. I have calendars on two computers and a Palm with everything in them and I still look at the paper one every day.


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 1:57 am #

      It’s actually really hard to read for an hour every day and not fall asleep. Maybe my next 30 Day Challenge can just be “sleep at least 8 hours a night.” That would be epic for me.

      And thanks for the validation on the need for paper 🙂


  9. thoughtsappear January 30, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    I have to have a paper calendar, too. Otherwise my phone calendar ends up with reminders for reminders for reminders like, “Tomorrow: Dr. Appt at 3,” “This Afternoon: Dr. Appt at 3,” and “Dr. Appt in 10 minutes.”


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 1:58 am #

      Exactly! I have to waste so much time just adding several reassurances and safety nets that I might as well just write the darn stuff down. Simple is best it seems.


  10. Sleepless Knight January 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    As much as I hate this expression… I feel your pain.

    I keep trying and trying to get away from paper. I’m a compulsive list-maker, so this is especially difficult. My bookshelves are creaking under the weight of notebooks. Every time I have a new idea for a story, or a YouTube series, a sketch or business idea, I scribble it in a notebook. If I have subsequent ideas on the same theme… I buy a notebook solely for THAT series of stories, sketches or blog posts.

    I can’t do it! I miss the feeling of a real, paper thing that I won’t lose forever if I drop it in the sink. More importantly though, if I keep checking my schedule or my lists, the damn phone runs out of battery.

    Also… I miss the paper, but I think it’s more that I miss ink. I like to use a pen that has things coming out of it as I move across the page.

    I voted for the reading challenge, good luck with it.


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 2:00 am #

      I hear you on the compulsive list maker. The notes section of my phone is filled with several running grocery lists, at least 3 to do lists labeled “master to do list”, and a mess of notes from things that didn’t belong on the same list necessarily. I have notebooks everywhere with ghosts of posts past, ideas for the future… there’s something about the act of writing that helps me memorize, I think. It burns it in my brain. Tapping a screen doesn’t cut it.

      And thanks for voting. The reading challenge is surprisingly hard. Mostly because until now I didn’t realize how tired I am all the time.

      Explains the bags under the eyes that crept up on me I suppose.


  11. roseglace January 31, 2014 at 12:48 am #

    for many years an annual ritual involved visiting the office-supply store in December to examine their selection of planners and date books. two years ago, though, they didn’t have one: the had decided to skip the annual display because people weren’t buying them. damn phones.

    sounds like a case for morphic resonance to me.


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 2:02 am #

      Trends. Pfft. During the apocalypse, you and I will be the only ones who know what we have to do and when.

      There’s only one company that makes the perfect planner for me and I’m living in constant end-of-year fear that they’ll discontinue the product.


  12. Culture and Digital February 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Does young generation use paper and pen at all? I support digital revolution, however there should be balance. There should be some time and space for the real things.


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 2:03 am #

      Depends on what you call young. I call me young. Maybe that’s too hopeful of me.

      And yes, balance is key 🙂


  13. thetattootourist February 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    I live by my actual paper day-planner. I buy mine usually in September and then hoard it until January. I can barely answer a call on my iphone let alone entrust it with my info – long live paper!


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 2:03 am #

      I would be fascinated by a blog that just posted real shots of people’s planners. Fascinated.


  14. Desire February 19, 2014 at 6:17 am #

    Loved this post and can totally relate to the “Paperless Anxiety”!


    • Jackie February 19, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

      So glad to hear it – we children of the paper are the only ones who can start the revolution to return to the dark ages.


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