‘PapeCal’: Don’t Live Life Without It

posted in: Day In The Life 14
My actual planner for the coming week, very much a work in progress. Image: Me.
My actual planner a few weeks back. And this is just the stuff written down. Image: Me.


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.

14 Responses

  1. Jo Chalk
    | Reply

    Mary, I was a Realtor for thirty years, my life was in a planner, now retired it still is.

  2. Liz
    | Reply

    “Let’s All Pape!” Mary’s new calendar boutique 😉

    • Mary
      | Reply

      :: weeping from laughter ::

  3. Jennifer Fiske
    | Reply

    My Mom called hers an Engagement Calendar!
    I sometimes call mine that, too.
    And, like you, I am lost without it.

  4. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    As full time RVers (nomads in a 5th wheel) I always use a PapeCal, never travel without it. My husband depends on my datebook because it tells him where we are traveling next. I use big arrows to show our length of stay and if we are with one of the Grandest Kids I draw happy winking blinking faces. I am skill-challenged in the art dept!

  5. Cindy
    | Reply

    I couldn’t survive without my planner. I am the backup for daughter and granddaughter

  6. Jennifer
    | Reply

    This entry speaks to my soul! I can’t live without my pape-cal either. I tried to go modern and paperless as well, with similar disasterly results. It’s only fitting Miss Mary, that the PaperGirl herself should use a pape-cal…

  7. MrsB
    | Reply

    Is that someone’s phone number in upper right hand corner of right hand page?

  8. Carol
    | Reply

    Love that term! I live by mine also.

  9. Gina
    | Reply

    Mary, which book is the planner you use? I tried to find it, and couldn’t when I went to the Leuchtturm website.

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Gina, google the Goulet Pen Company!

  10. Mary B.
    | Reply

    I use a combo of the digital calendar and a paper one for daily targeted tasks. I don’t think I could ever go fully digital either. Some people don’t write anything down. How do they survive??? Chaos!

  11. Linda Duff
    | Reply

    I used to remember EVERYTHING when 4 kids were little and in school (2 were mine, 2 were his) …. like which day of the school week was the letter __ or which day someone had an appointment, but that was decades ago! I do use a note making app on my phone to remind me of errands, to make a grocery list or a note of what I’m needing (like thread color #’s, etc) but I am to the point where my pape-cal is what I depend on! Thought I’d lost it the other day, and was panic stricken and felt so helpless without it! I finally went out to the car, and found it wedged way down low between the seat and the console (trust me when I tell you that you can’t even get your hand between those 2 things) so I had to move the seat as far back as it would go, and run back into the kitchen for various ‘retrieval tools” … finally snagged it by using the rubber spatula/scraper to pull it forward so that I could reach it. Whew!! (PS … I Googled your calendar brand .. they certainly have pretty things!)
    Is Winterset on the pape-cal any time soon?!? 🙂

  12. […] Wite-Out because I have been dipping often (and dippin’ hard) into my 2017 paper planner, aka, my “papecal.” Nothing new, of course: My paper planner has long been an extension of my brain, more vital, I […]

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