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It's Wednesday!

Cheerful Self-Appreciation

It’s Wednesday!

Assuming all has gone according to plan, I’m currently in Mexico as part of my big summer travel plans with Rachel. At the time of this posting, I am likely on a bus to Oaxaca. But thanks to the ✨magic of WordPress✨, I’ve scheduled this to automatically post, even though I’m far away from my blog!

Last Friday, I learned that Isaac Asimov, occasionally accused of being an egoist, countered by describing himself as having “cheerful self-appreciation“. I love this–I think we’re all trained to downplay our strengths and wear the mask of false modesty so much that we forget to appreciate ourselves.

So let’s do some cheerful self-appreciation! What do you appreciate about yourself?

Leave your answer in the comments!

Also! If you’ve got ideas for future It’s Wednesday questions, please head over to my question box and send them my way!

Terrified and Excited

Terrified.

But excited.

But terrified.

That’s been my emotional state for the past few days. Rachel and I arrived in Seattle on Friday evening with a car full of our possessions, and in the days since, we’ve been working through a massive pre-departure checklist. Around dinnertime tonight, passports in hand and with little more than the gear and garb our backpacks will hold, we’ll be boarding a flight at SeaTac, destination Mexico City.

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Review: Fisher Space Pen M4B

A few days ago, I realized, with a sharp jolt, that I wouldn’t be able to carry an ink bottle onto the plane with me during my upcoming summer of world travel.

If you’re a normal person, this might not register as an issue–an inconvenience on the same level as a coffeeshop lacking a hitching post for your horse, or the discovery that none of the supermarkets in town offer telegraph services. But since the beginning of the year, I’ve been writing almost exclusively with fountain pens, going so far as to replace my long-beloved Parker Jotter with them. As much as it may seem a blast from the past, I own and use bottles of ink with some regularity, and not only was I going to be unable to keep them in my carry-on, even if I checked a fragile glass bottle of deeply colored ink, carrying it around in my backpack seemed like an invitation for disaster. Traveling with my fountain pens was simply not going to work. What was I to do?

It was only after that brief panic that I realized I’d already anticipated this dilemma and purchased a Fisher Space Pen M4B for my travels. I am a forgetful man.

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It's Wednesday!

What Are Your Black Hole Places?

It’s Wednesday!

Today, after lunch with Rachel (a delicious homemade tofu banh mi), I walked over to the library. I was planning to only return some books, but before I knew it, I had a stack of four books in my hands, two more on hold, and an hour had somehow flown by.

Libraries, along with bookstores, game stores, stationery shops, and hipster-y general stores that sell all manner of trendy accoutrements, are total traps to me. I get sucked in and suddenly, it’s much much later than I thought.

What types of places suck you in?

Leave your answer in the comments!

Bullet Journal 2015-01

Bullet Journal 2015-01 (2015-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.

I’ve said recently that my new journal has made me fall in love with pen and paper all over again. This is that journal. It’s a black hardbound medium Piccadilly notebook with graph paper, and it hardly ever leaves my side these days.

Why has it so quickly become such an important object to me? Well, in part because it’s such a versatile tool. Its dimensions are great for slipping in a messenger bag, so it’s quite portable, but it also gives me substantially more space than a pocket-sized notebook like NOTES or my second brain books. And thanks to Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal method of notation, I’ve found it trivial to roll many of the functions I’d previously reserved for discrete notebooks—diarying, making to-do lists, capturing stray thoughts—all into one journal. It’s a book endowed with a considerable portion of my self.

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Bedtime Diary

Bedtime Diary (2013-2015)

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.

This one started at Powell’s. On one of my pilgrimages to the legendary bookstore, I noticed, among their journal offerings, a “five-year journal”. It contained 365 pages, each with five blank spaces stacked atop one another, the idea being that you wrote one small thing every day and could eventually look back on “this day in history” for five years of your life.

"IDEA: One sentence a day."

From my second brain notebook of the time. The quote at the top of the page is also somewhat relevant.

I liked the idea. Specifically, I liked the idea of keeping a more granular record of my life than my personal journals held, though I cared less about stacking five years atop each other. I shied away from buying the dedicated five-year journal, though, because a) I’m a verbose fucker and was thus skeptical of having text boxes of a predefined size, and b) it was, like, twenty bucks, and I could get a blank notebook for so much cheaper.

So I did. Eventually.

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The Ledger

The Ledger (2014-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.

I already track my finances with a spreadsheet and with Mint, but last year, I began doing so another way: by noting my expenditures in a notebook. This little book cost maybe a dollar and is slightly damaged, and yet, it’s just the thing for keeping a running list of the money I’m spending.

In the last few months of doing this, I’ve noticed that it serves a slightly different purpose than my digital financial tools. My spreadsheet and Mint, they record data. I turn to them if I want information. Writing dollar amounts in my ledger, however, is primarily a personal act, not an informational one. By writing down each expense, I hold myself accountable to every dollar I spend. It also gives an at-a-glance view of my cash flow, sure, but that function is secondary. First and foremost, writing out my expenditures keeps my money, even my purchases on debit or credit, real.

Journal 4

Journal 4 (2013-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.

Journal 4 doesn’t really have a name like the journals before it. When I started it, in the spring of my last year at Whitman, I felt no particular naming inspiration. That wasn’t as huge of a departure as it seems, though; after naming Exponents, I spent very little effort naming my subsequent journals, which were more or less handed to me with their titles already emblazoned across their covers. Journal 4 is a handsome folio of cocoa-colored leather with no name in sight, so I just opened it up and got to writing.

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Second Brain notebooks

Second Brain Notebooks (2012-2014)

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.

I have a really lousy memory for small things. It’s fitting, then, that when I had the idea for my “second brain”, an all-purpose notebook that I could carry with me everywhere to capture stray thoughts, I had completely and totally forgotten about NOTES from three years prior, despite the fact that the concept was nearly identical. I thought my notion was singularly novel, when in fact I had unknowingly plagiarized it from my own self.

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Birthday Letters

Birthday Letters (2012-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.

The day I turned 20, on a whim, I wrote an email to myself one year in the future. I bemoaned present-day politics, laid out a sketchy set of hopes for my year to come, and scheduled the email for delivery, beginning a tradition I still keep today.

I went analog after the first one, but the idea is otherwise unchanged: each year on my birthday, I read past years’ letters to my future selves, then write one for the year to come, inevitably cracking at least one joke in the process about the grammatical difficulties of writing to oneself in the future. Then I seal it up and stow it away for another 365 days (give or take).

Although I record big events and milestones in my personal journal, these annual letters have grown to serve an important role for me. Each year, I get to reflect not only on the past year, but the years before it as well, and see how I’ve grown. At the same time, I record a snapshot of the present and consider my future. It’s a tradition of mindfulness that I deeply treasure.

Writing to myself has also helped me remember to treat myself with love, and it does so precisely because of the form of the letter. In my journal entries, I am telling stories or expressing myself for an empty audience—I’m not talking to anyone, not even myself. But letters are, by their very nature, social. When I write a letter to myself, I have to think of myself as I would any other person—I use the pronoun “you”, for instance. This structure curbs any impulse I might have to be excessively self-critical or mean, because I would never write such things in a friendly letter to another person.

I have to treat my (future) self with the dignity and respect I’d show any other friend I wrote to, and over five years, that has helped me immensely to build a loving relationship with myself.

Birthday Letters - Top View

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