Category: Personal Page 2 of 5

The Hipster PDA (2009-2010)

This post is part of a series on the various ways I've used pen and paper in my life. To learn more about it, check out the introduction, or view the "ink and paper brain" category for other posts.

Digital tools strive for a frictionless ideal. Armed with modern technology’s hypermobility, connectivity, and sheer capability, we’re constantly designing and using tools that reduce the friction of our mental lives. When a thought crosses my mind at work, I can pick up my phone and speak to it, telling it to remind me when I’m home to pay my credit card bill, and when it detects that I’ve returned to my home address, it will deliver my note-to-self with a gentle buzz. By making “smart” devices, we reduce our own cognitive burden.

Taking A.P. Physics tests in high school, I longed for the simplicity of a frictionless world, but in the way one longs for magic powers, with the recognition that my wild fantasies would never be anything but fantasies. Friction may be frustrating when it adds three steps to your calculations, but it also serves a purpose; friction keeps our cars on the roads, our glasses perched on our noses. As Doug Lane indicates in a recent blog post, whether we’re talking about the physical world or the psychic one, a certain amount of friction is necessary to keep the system functioning. The trick is managing it.

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Stories

Stories (2009-2013)

This post is part of a series on the various ways I've used pen and paper in my life. To learn more about it, check out the introduction, or view the "ink and paper brain" category for other posts.

When I started Volume 3 of my personal journal, Stories, I was a high school senior mere weeks away from graduation. By the time I was finished, I’d lived in Japan for a year, ended the longest romantic relationship in my life to date (and started a new one), and done some serious soul-searching to determine who I was, what I wanted, and how to be better than the dick I’d been in high school. Volume 2, Change, represents a low point in my life, but I’m proud of Stories. Stories was me growing up.

The book itself was a present from my then-girlfriend. It’s covered in beautiful decoupage (her work), including pages from the Oresteia, lyrics to “The Times They Are a-Changin’”, and a snapshot of the iconic “Made in Oregon” sign in downtown Portland. All of my journals have reflected some aspect of my self in their appearance, but I don’t think any speaks more about who I am than Stories. It’s just me.

Made in Oregon

What a thoughtful touch.

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What's Your Story?

What’s Your Story? Vol. 1 (2009)

This post is part of a series on the various ways I've used pen and paper in my life. To learn more about it, check out the introduction, or view the "ink and paper brain" category for other posts.

Around the end of high school, I discovered the philosophy of humanism, and man, did I love it. Carpe diem! Be ashes, not dust! We’re all the heroes of our own stories! If there had been such a thing as a humanism fan club, I would have been its president and head cheerleader.

What’s Your Story? was a project from those days of hyper-enthusiastic humanism. The idea was to make a traveling journal that contained strangers’ stories—whatever people wanted to share. I’d write my own, then set the journal free in a coffee shop, casting it off into the wilds without any expectation of seeing it again.

I still like the idea, but as you can see, in six years, I still haven’t let it loose.

NOTES [on/from/about] LIFE

NOTES [on/from/about] LIFE (2008-2009)

This post is part of a series on the various ways I've used pen and paper in my life. To learn more about it, check out the introduction, or view the "ink and paper brain" category for other posts.

Near the end of Change’s run, my girlfriend asked to read its contents.

I should have recognized that as a sign that her trust in our relationship was faltering, gently declined the request, and worked together with her to find a way to rebuild her trust. That would have been the emotionally intelligent, mature way to handle that while also maintaining my personal boundaries. But, as established before, high school me had the emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills of a misanthropic sea cucumber, so instead of doing any of that, I hemmed and hawed for weeks before finally caving and, profoundly uncomfortable, thrusting my journal at her and wincing.1Seriously—I handed it over and then sat there with my eyes closed, waiting for the bombshell to drop.

She read a little bit before she found one of my more grossly objectifying entries. It had been written at a time when we hadn’t been dating and I had a thing with someone else, so I assumed she was aghast to learn I’d been with other people. In hindsight, she was almost certainly more aghast (and rightfully so) at the sexist, objectifying way I wrote about those experiences, and the mindset it revealed. Our relationship was smoldering with the fallout for months after.

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Seriously—I handed it over and then sat there with my eyes closed, waiting for the bombshell to drop.
Change

Change (2006-2009)

This post is part of a series on the various ways I've used pen and paper in my life. To learn more about it, check out the introduction, or view the "ink and paper brain" category for other posts.

Oh, this journal.

Given to me as a gift by a close friend, it became Volume 2 for my reflections after I filled Exponents up, and lasted from my sophomore year of high school until a few months before high school graduation.

A Journal Named Exponents was a training ground for me. I had never kept a personal journal before, so I spent most of its pages determining what putting myself to paper looked like. At first, this meant meticulously recording the minutia of dates and hangouts–in at least two separate entries, I recorded not only what I ordered for dinner, but what all my companions did as well. By the end of Exponents and the beginning of Change, however, I’d curbed that tendency, and had a solid idea of what a personal journal was for me: a safe place where I could record my innermost thoughts without fear of judgment. As such, from cover to cover, the pages of Change carry the distilled essence of high school me.

It’s difficult to read.

Rage in the pages of Change

This is hardly the only–or most extreme–example.

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Sketchbook

Sketchbooks (2005?-present)

This post is part of a series on the various ways I've used pen and paper in my life. To learn more about it, check out the introduction, or view the "ink and paper brain" category for other posts.

At some point in my childhood—perhaps when they got tired of my closet overflowing with drawings on printer paper—my parents bought me a wire-bound sketchbook. From then until well into college, when I finally transitioned to drawing primarily digitally, the only drawings I made that weren’t in a sketchbook were my notebook-paper school doodles.

By my reckoning, I’ve filled two full-sized sketchbooks completely, and am on my third. When I first traveled to Japan in high school, I brought a half-size book and put illustrations in the first 20 or so pages; when I returned in college and realized I’d neglected to pack a sketchpad, I bought a thin Japanese notebook to tide me over.

My drawing has never been the same type of outlet to me that my writing is, but those pages still contain important parts of my self.

A Journal Named Exponents

A Journal Named Exponents (2005-2006)

This post is part of a series on the various ways I've used pen and paper in my life. To learn more about it, check out the introduction, or view the "ink and paper brain" category for other posts.

When I turned 14, my Grandma S., a loving, whip-smart woman whose career—librarian—and personal passion—writing poetry—make me strongly suspect that having an inky brain is hereditary, gave me a journal. It was wrapped in toasty brown suede enlivened by a jaunty path of rainbow stitching. A thin leather lace wrapped around an ornate silver button and tied it shut. It was the nicest journal I’d ever owned, and the moment I saw it, it became part of my self. And since, at 14, I labored under the delusion that the fastest route to humor was nonsense, I named it “A Journal Named Exponents”.

Exponents - Title - 02 - Web size

“Because it’s a cool word,” the parenthetical reads. I don’t know who I thought I was fooling.

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School Writing Notebooks

School Writing Notebooks (1999-2003)

This post is part of a series on the various ways I've used pen and paper in my life. To learn more about it, check out the introduction, or view the "ink and paper brain" category for other posts.

Before I ever considered telling a journal about my innermost thoughts and feelings, I was using composition books for a separate type of writing: fiction.

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Ink and Paper Brain - Intro

Ink and Paper Brain

This post began in ink. Lately, many of mine do. The borders of the WordPress text editor are only a pixel wide, but they’re still substantial enough to box me in, so when I feel a post coming on, I increasingly turn first to this spiral-bound notebook, “Whitman College” stamped on front in green foil, to lay it out. Ink lubricates my thoughts.

You have, I’m sure, heard me wax poetical about my love affair with pen and paper. One of my Blogathon posts last year was a love letter to letters, and before that, I penned an ode to a missing pen. My affliction has even worsened in recent months: I’m now the enthusiastic owner of three fountain pens, and I have nearly 1,000 blank pages of empty journals on reserve. I’ve even been considering memorializing this passion on my body with a tattoo, which should surprise anyone who knows me.

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Checkered finish flag

Blogathon Post #19: Blogathon 2014 Retrospective

Throughout the month of August, I'm aiming to write 25 blog posts. This is post #19 of 25. Find them all in the "blogathon 2014" category.

With this post, I’m declaring the August 2014 blogathon over. I could probably try to squeeze in another hasty post, but you know what? It’s vacation, I’m in Moab, and it’s time to finish things up.

Naturally, I want to take a look at how this crazy experiment turned out.

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