Lists. Lists. Lists.

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We all make them.  Or at least many of us do.  The grocery list (which I always leave at home).  The Christmas list.  The weekly meal plan list.  The “honey do” list.  The list goes on and on.  Pun intended.

A.S. Byatt is quoted as saying, “Lists are a form of power.”

I confess that I am a list maker.  I also have a love of blank notebooks and journals.  Not because I’m dedicated to writing down my innermost thoughts, but rather because I write things down that I wan’t to remember.

Quotes.  Books to read.  Books read.  Yarns to try.  Places to visit.  Wines I like.  Gifts to buy.  Brilliant ideas (at least to me).  And all these tidbits are scattered around in various journals.

So it was only natural that about 6 months ago while I was trolling on Pinterest and started to see these journals in my feed, that they caught my eye in a big way.  Lovely, beautiful, filled with doodles, journals that were more like agendas and art all rolled into one.  In case you’ve never heard of it, the phenomenon is called a Bullet Journal, or BuJo for short.  It’s the brainchild of Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer from New York.  I encourage you to look at his website and watch his videos.

THEN go to Pinterest and see what the artsy crowd have done with it. Holy Moly!  That’s what snagged my attention.  I’m a doodler:  I like to play with markers, watercolor pencils, and washi tape.  I admit, that it was a  little overwhelming at first so I started small.  I tiny little notebook that bought at Barnes and Noble.   It’s American-made  (which is a plus) by Gallery Leather in Maine.  I love this little book for its portability.  I used it mainly as a daily log of activities.  Each day I set up the next day’s to-do list and worked from there.  I also added events and such as they happened and played around with some artwork.  It was a small investment to see how I like the BuJo concept.  The only drawback on this one was the pages were lined.

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I used this notebook for just shy of 6 months.  And somewhere along the line I just stopped.  Not sure why or how it happened.  But a few weeks ago I came to the realization that I really was more productive when I had that little book in use.  I decided to give it another whirl:  this time with the “holy grail” of BuJo’s, a Leuchtturm 1917.  It’s a very well made sewn book from Germany that comes in a lot of colors and sizes. And it has lay-flat pages!   I decided to take the plunge and bought the A5 size (dotted pages) in lime green.  It’s a beauty.

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I will start using this journal on daily basis next week.  I’ve only got March set up for now.  I will say that deciding how I wanted to organize it took me quite a while.  Once I’d done a few weekly pages like the one above, they went pretty quickly.

I’m sure as I go along I will find what works for me and what doesn’t work and make some adjustments.   That’s the beauty of a custom notebook.  It’s all YOU.  I saw a somewhat critical reply to a friend on Facebook as she brought up the idea of a BuJo.  Critics will say it’s costly to do, takes too much time, etc.  But for me, like others who enjoy it, the process of making it is part of the pleasure.  As for cost, I only bought the notebook and a couple of rolls of washi tape so I have less than $25 in it.   I had everything else that I’ve used so far.  The pens are a favorite of mine from Staedtler that you can usually pick up at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.  The brush pen I grabbed at Dick Blick in Chicago.  There are few types to choose from online.  And of course, if you check out the website of the creator, his wasn’t artsy at all.  Just functional and tailored to his needs: all he needed was a journal and pen.

And besides keeping you organized. . .journaling has other benefits as well.  Try it!  You might find it’s just what you need.

 

 

 

The Drop

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The Broken Vase (Harry W. Watrous, circa 1900)

The glass slipped from her hand, hit the floor and broke into a  thousand shards.  For a moment all she could do was stare.  The unbidden memories washed over her.

Another broken glass, but this one a jelly jar.  Spilled milk as a child, and the gentle admonishment that it wasn’t a big deal.  A hug.  A kiss.  And a cookie to go with a fresh glass of milk.

Dropping the silver-framed hand mirror as she tried to look at the back of her dress for the dance.  The fractured image an omen of bad luck to come?  Or maybe all school dances are destined to be disappointments?

The unmistakable sound of a window removed from its frame by a stray baseball, and then the sound of running children after the silent aftershock. These rookies knowing that for weeks the team would be missing its first baseman.

The crunch of headlights yielding to the bumper of another car.  The sinking feeling that comes with the realization that this particular  broken glass will also dent the bank account.

Joy and celebration as the groom crushes the glass under his heel.  A likely reminder of the fragility of life and love?  Or blessings as numerous as the many shards?

As she gathered up the pieces of what had been a lovely heirloom bud vase of her late grandmother’s, tears came to her eyes.   Curtains fluttered in the breeze and wafted the sugary scent of sweet peas around the kitchen.   More memories.

Sweet peas growing on the fence row.  Cool summer evenings.  Sheets fresh from the line.  Black cattle grazing in the front pasture.  Garden tomatoes still warm from the sun.  Farm kittens rolling in the grass.  Picking flowers and vegetables with her grandmother.

Dropping the remains of the vase into the trash, she sadly pondered her loss, thankful that memories are more durable than the delicate glass of the vase.  It was a fleeting sadness though – chased away by the fragrant blossoms that graced her window sill  now-but far more humbly in a jelly jar.

If Found Do Not Open

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I found it lying next to the park bench among the fallen leaves, its worn black leather cover barely visible under autumn’s orange and yellow carpet.  I might not have noticed it at all if I hadn’t dropped my keys.  A very nondescript book showing years of use.  Unassuming except for the white words painted on the cover:  If Found Do Not Open.

I glanced around me wondering if anyone had seen me pick up the book.  Was it a test?  Was someone watching to see if I followed directions?    Maybe I was being filmed for one of those “What Would You Do?” shows.  Or maybe it is just what it seems: a lost book.

I thumbed the pages and contemplated the cover.

What might be found in those pages?  A diary of tantalizing bits about love affairs, petty crime, or family secrets?  Or maybe just a pouring out of one’s heart:  of past pains or dreams for the future?  Maybe it’s a useful book of grocery lists, contact numbers, recipes, and personal reminders? Perhaps it’s filled with artist sketches?  Or the musings of a poet?  Or maybe it’s the book version of Pandora’s box?  Opening it seems like a small thing, an innocent action, but what of the consequences?

I watched the afternoon sun dip below the trees as I walked toward home, only glancing back once to see the book where I left it on the bench.  Unopened.

Writing. . . sort of.

 

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Photo taken from: http://centrum..org/programs/writing/

 

Many times in my life I have wished that I had the creativity and skills to write a book.  Specifically a children’s book.  Or a fun book.  That’s never happened.  I’m a “science person” so writing a text book would probably actually be much easier for me.  I write reflectively somewhat regularly, but never any “creative writing” aside from random poetry that pops into my head, usually when I am driving, and never ever makes it onto paper.  A few weeks ago, I began receiving a daily writing prompt email.  Most I ignore. But one sort of sparked my imagination.   What would betrayal taste like?   Hmmmm. Think about that.  Would it be bitter?  Or might it taste like something totally unexpected? I did my first “creative writing”  since I probably had to write a short story in high school.  (Does 778 words even count as a short story?) And putting it out here for anyone to read is – well a lot of things – scary being the biggest.

The Taste of Betrayal

Claire missed the signs.  They were all there in plain sight.  Well mostly, if she had only taken the time to see them.  She just missed the elevator as she headed home for the day, its door closing silently while its occupants avoided eye contact.  Deciding to splurge on a cab in honor of the occasion, she made a beeline towards the curb only to have her cab snatched away by a hurried man in a suit just as she approached.  Another car sped past creating a drenching spray of rainwater and city grime.  Claire found herself in a “Bridget Jones” moment.  Resigned, Claire popped up her umbrella and began the thirteen block walk to her apartment, her mind on the evening ahead.

Claire met Alex over a tray of appetizers at a party eighteen months ago, their attraction immediate and mutual.  The last year and a half had flown by as they got to know each other.  They spent quiet nights at home, long weekends out of town, Sunday walks through the park, lazy mornings in bed with coffee and the newspaper.  It didn’t matter what they did, they enjoyed doing it together.  Theirs was a relationship that made their friends green with envy.

Shaking the water off her umbrella, Claire stepped into her small apartment.  The gloomy fall afternoon light cast shadows over her small living room.  Snapping on the vintage lamp on her end table, a great thrift store find from one of her adventures with Alex, she rifled through the mail stopping at the pink envelope.  Real mail!  Not email.  Not a text message.  Not a rushed voicemail.  It was an honest, old-fashioned bit of correspondence, a birthday card from her favorite aunt.   “Claire, Do something fabulous on your birthday!  Much love, Aunt Martha.”

Today is Claire’s 30th birthday.  A milestone in life where, according to most people, she should have found herself in a house in the suburbs, married with a fabulous career, and 2.5 children.   Instead she lived in a small third-story walk up in the lower east side and worked as a receptionist for a small magazine.  But she had Alex.  She truly loved her job.  She had possibilities.

The last month had been challenging.  Alex’s corporate job often took him out of town for a few days at a time, but lately there had been even more travel, leaving a little Claire adrift.   But tonight Alex would be home and things could get back to normal.   Claire busied herself and changed into her favorite  black dress, a fitted illusion-sleeve bodice covered with whimsical dots and a gathered-at-the-waist flared skirt.  Beautiful, flirty, and classic all in one dress.  At the time, it was a big Nordstrom purchase on her small, overly-stretched budget.  But tonight, it seemed to perfect for the occasion:  a quiet dinner with Alex at one of her favorite restaurants.   Claire made a last minute check of her hair and makeup, grabbed her purse, and headed out to hail a taxi.

Arriving at the quaint bistro ahead of schedule, Claire was surprised to find Alex already there and seated at their favorite table. A bottle of untouched wine waited on the table while Alex checked messages on his phone.  Catching a glimpse of Claire, Alex rose and brushed her cheek with a kiss as she settled herself into her chair. These plans made two months ago, she’d been looking forward to this all day.  They chatted casually through dinner, the conversation of two people comfortable with each other:  work things, crazy wet fall weather, catch-up about friends.

But it was the mention of one particular friend over desert that caused the atmosphere to shift from comfortable and casual to something else entirely.  For a moment, Claire’s world shifted, a small tilt on its axis that caused her to stop, pause, and assess that tiny flip in her gut and those red flags starting to wave.  Alex avoided eye contact, was clearly nervous and fidgeted with his napkin.  The silence at the table uncomfortable as Alex shrugged off the waiter’s attention.  Finally, after several long moments, Alex spoke and attempted to explain himself, his words coming out in a rush, Claire only catching bits of the jumble.

“I never meant for it to happen.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Please understand. . . “

And the worst words of all,  “I’m in love with her.”

Claire gathered her belongings and calmly walked to the door, only rushing when she was sure he couldn’t see her.  In the taxi on the way home, as tears silently rolled down her cheeks, Claire realized that, forever after, betrayal would taste like lemon cake.