November 1, 2002

A reader's omniscent planner

The Planner Edition

The anonymous student who wrote the last question into my sex column last week submitted this pièce de resistance:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am in proud possession of a University of Chicago student planner. Although it is of recent vintage, it is already falling apart. Its cover, which I'd already illuminated in fine 12th century fashion, is now just gathering dust and soaking up bits of diet Coke on my desk. Doesn't that suck?! This is not so sad, though. The useful pages of my planner remain intact. My planner contains, among other things, the following information: a tentative academic calendar, library hours for all campus libraries, a fall U of C football schedule, and five pages on "The Secret to Student Success." One day in class, I found myself reading these pages—browsing, if you will—and came upon the following information: "EFFECTIVE STUDYING starts in class." How true, I thought, as I continued reading my planner's insightful comments, occasionally interrupted by a low buzzing noise (teacher?). I read on. "TAKE good, organized and legible notes." A wise idea. I noted it in my notebook. Duly. The buzzing noise, though, it just kept going. What the hell? I looked up from my planner for a moment and noticed that, indeed, it WAS a teacher. Oh, yes! I must put what my planner taught me into action. I must "LISTEN carefully to what the teacher emphasizes. It is likely that this is what you will be tested on." I focused as hard as I could on the buzzing, and sure enough, there were "important points" for me to "SUMMARIZE." What a revelation!

And thus I had conquered "The Secret to Student Success: Study Effectively." I decided to skip "Staying Healthy"—who needs health, as long as you have your studies, as the saying goes—and move on to the more important matter of "Planning Your Career." To plan a career you first have to pick one. According to my planner, how you spend your free time should determine your career. Here is where the all-knowing planner fails; if that were the case, there would be many, many more professional Snood players, personal shoppers, wine tasters, and zit-poppers, not to mention various other pastime-related, imaginary professions you can guess for yourselves. Yuck, right? Right?

I am not going to plan my career. I have decided that one day I will wake up, too many years a student, and there it will be, the fascinating career I never knew I wanted. Sadly, I was a cynical youth, never one to dream of being a princess (would have to renounce citizenship), a ballerina (would have to renounce haute cuisine), or an actress (would have to renounce some degree of geekiness). Without the triumvirate (2nd WWPD column in a row to use the word! Yay! Sorry Phoebe.) of glamorous girly careers, something else will have to make do.

My life, I suddenly come to realize, is off-kilter. How so I could not tell you. I mean, as I wrote the other week, everything goes wrong ALL the time, but it's so, so much more than that. I mean, sometimes, I'll be doing homework, and then I remember that I have homework for another class, so I start doing THAT homework, only to neglect homework for yet ANOTHER class. And then I forget to BATHE. You know it happens to the best of us, right? Right? And then, sometimes—no, this is not for a mass audience—oh, but it must be told—sometimes, I forget to BATHE! What? I already told you? Ah well. In any case, my life is a tad askew. But then I had another revelation and turned to the "Balancing Your Life" section of my planner. According to my planner, I am supposed to "have a positive attitude." A WHAT???!!!! NEVER! Sorry, Planner, 'tis not to be.