I love New Year's Day. For the past eight years, we've celebrated New Year's Eve with a rockin' party with our good friends ("rockin'" = chili, hot dogs, pajamas, cookies, ok... wine.) Then after midnight, everyone goes home, I sweep up the crumbs and throw away the paper plates and go to bed, waking on New Year's Day with a full heart and a clean house.
For nearly twenty years, I also would start a new calendar on New Year's Day. What better way to start a new year? So full of promise, possibility? A clean slate, literally. Pages and pages of potential parties, trips and tasks, just waiting to be filled in.
Just thinking about it is making me warm inside.
Except this year... There is no fresh calendar. No clean pages. No blank squares. Because 2013 was the year I went digital.
After years of mocking and derision and dumbfounded looks from friends, colleagues and spouse, I stopped writing things down. On old fashioned paper. With crude implements of plastic and ink.
It's all in a slim pink box now that I pretty much have to keep on me AT ALL TIMES. I am a slave to the phone and the calendar, the alarms, all the bells and whistles that keep me eternally on call for... something. Everything.
But...I still write things down. As I stated on Facebook yesterday, I keep track of all the books I read in a journal. Made of paper. Using crude implements of plastic and ink. That's not to say Goodreads isn't a useful site, but for me, there's something so important about reading a book, that I have to physically record it. I keep a Christmas notebook as well. I record gifts given, cards received. Again, things that need to be memorialized in a tangible way. Notes of phone conversations, the most ethereal form of communication, litter my desk. Grocery lists are made most every week, on an actual piece of paper. (Fear not - I do throw these away once the shopping trip is completed. Although inexplicably I have kept written records of dinners cooked from 2006 to 2010, a history of a time when getting dinner on the table every night, with two children under four, was a feat worthy of a history book.)
As you can probably tell, going to a digital calendar was a pretty big deal for me. I don't think this is a generational thing, either. I see plenty of college students still clinging to paper planners. There's something about the physical that grounds us. Holds us to a moment, or a goal. When our whole life seems lightning fast and uncontrollable, we still have this thing. This book. And it is real. And it confirms that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. Or it tells us, "hey goofy, get back on track. There's a whole list of to-do's that do not have a check mark next to them."
So I sit on New Year's Day. My planner is next to me. I have bought no new calendar but I have journal pages, for things that I want to still keep solid and real. Things like a list of books I have read. A packing list for my vacation. The new addresses of old friends.
2013 was a big year for me. It was the year I went digital... sort of. I imagine that most people, even when they find themselves in the midst of big changes still find that some things stay the same. We give up paper calendars... we're still scribbling in a notebook. We lose twenty pounds... we still battle with holiday sweets. We sign contracts for multi-book deals... we still find ourselves in pajamas at our computers, living the life of an introverted, insecure writer.
I may not have a shiny and new paper calendar, but 2014 is still full of possibility. I know 2014 is going to be full of big, huge, sparkly stuff and probably a lot of pajamas and to-do lists. And I can't wait.