A partial retreat from paperless

It seems there is nothing more satisfying that putting a line through a task on a piece of paper. I have tried.

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I got this last Tuesday so clearly my first week with it was productive.

Six years ago, I decided not to buy a paper planner. I had technology! So started a paperless experiment. I am calling it a partial failure.

For the most part, all my mail comes to me through email. I pay my bills online. I keep track of my finances online or in spreadsheets on my computer. My calendar is in iCal and Outlook (personal and professional respectively). My grocery lists and recipes are all in Evernote as is almost everything else of informational importance to me.

However, at the end of the day, I still just wanted a list of things to cross out. A place to jot notes to myself to look something up, add something to Evernote, actually bring check to this event or, heaven forbid, cash to that one. I am a major “jotter” of notes. I often have an array of post-its and index cards littering my desk, reminding me to do something, follow up on that thing, email this person about that. I have a digital counterpart (a much more organized and intense project mgt software that I also keep a work to-do list on) but that is for tracking the big things. I’ve never gotten over feeling slightly silly taking the time to type up “Call home” and setting an iCloud Reminder for it. I’ll write it down on paper no problem though.

So, I am trying a paper experiment now. I heard about a fabulous planner idea last year. I was too late for the Kickstarter at the time so I am joining the bandwagon now and I am adoring my VOLT planner so far. It lets me keep lists! Lists everywhere! A list for the year, a list for the month, a list for the week. It has a built in way for me to take on a month-long “challenge” which I’m hoping will help me knock off some multi-step projects this year (February is to finally finish all the metadata creation for my own digital photos. It is a personal digital archive fail at the moment).

So, may the trees forgive me and we’ll see how this goes!

In need of some inspiration

Last week was long. I was away from Tallahassee, traveling for work and it was just the week that would not end. In the middle of it, I needed inspiration so I started thinking about my fictional spirit animals; the fictional ladies I want to be when I grow up. In times of trouble, I admit, I retreat into fiction. I’m trying very hard not to do so here. So, I’ll post this here for inspiration, for those days my news feed will make me cry and remember these ladies. They may have been afraid sometimes, discouraged, annoyed, angry but they always acted as they saw fit and made the tough decisions when they needed to. So, my fictional hall of fame:

Agent Peggy Carter

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Seriously, when I grow up, I want to be just like Peggy. She is smart, resourceful, bold and is not afraid to tell it like she sees it. But, she also knows how the game is played so she has to be extra clever to get around all the ridiculous male misogyny in her line of work. We need more Peggy Carters front and center for girls and boys to see what is possible, regardless of gender. I know the character isn’t going anywhere but I was bummed that the TV show wasn’t more successful. Her portrayer, Hayley Atwell is also #lifegoals so it was a win-win in both fiction and reality!

Leslie Knope

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Leslie Knope is a spirit animal of sorts. The woman can do things with binders and organization that made me actually get teary at times watching this show. But mainly, she is eternally optimistic and sure that she can make changes in the world around her. She refuses to get bogged down by all the naysayers and traditionalists around her but continues to work and fight for what she believes in. She even wrote a letter to America after the recent election and folks, it gave me life.

Amelia Peabody

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Amelia doesn’t have a movie or tv show yet; criminal really. I’ve always cast Kate Winslet for her in my mind though and Tom Hardy for her rapscallion husband Emerson. Amelia is a take no prisoners sort of person. She is happiest when organizing the lives of everyone around her and solving murders while she does it. She is brilliant and independent; her marriage proposal to her husband is one of the best things ever. And their marriage a thing of beauty; Amelia never loses herself in it but I think becomes the best version of herself. (which is a common thread for my fictional role models; all had strong partners for love interests. Example A: Ben shaking his head next to Leslie in the above gif).

Anne Shirley

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Anne is a bit of a mess at times but she always pulls through. Smart, funny, and still sensitive after living a life that would have hardened most. Her imagination is perhaps the thing I love most about her; the world is a stage for her mind to go wild and she’s another optimist for us to aspire to be like. The type of friend who sees the rainbows through the rain.

Belle

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My first bookworm role model; the heroine who taught me what it was to be a heroine. To fight for those you loved even against crazy odds (and to always have a book on hand). The Disney princesses can be problematic, it’s true; but Belle has a backbone on her and never lets the world and the little minds she’s surrounded by get her down. She always dreams of adventure and does not settle for less than what she wants.

This morning

I am sure many will use this trite metaphor this morning but I need to write it down so I remember what this feels like. It was like watching a train wreck. After awhile, the result was foregone, no matter how much you stared at it in disbelief and horror and yet, you kept watching. Hoping against hope something would happen to stop what you were seeing. You are baffled as to how it could have started. There were people, smart people, who’d engineered the train, the tracks. There were people, trained people, running the train itself. There were people, qualified people, monitoring the train, its trajectory. There were people, skilled people, who’d performed maintenance, checked for mechanical problems, before it left the station. And somehow, there you stood, watching this thing – this massive, impressive, terrifying thing – skew from the tracks going 100 miles per hour, taking out everything around it. And all you could do was watch as the train came careening right at you, at everything you stood for, everything you believed in, and then, then after you stand there watching, it slams into you. In that moment, you suddenly know that nothing you thought was true. Everything you’d thought could not possibly happen, not today, not in this country and this world which is supposed to be better, happened. And in that moment, you’re suddenly ok that the train is about to take you out because you’re not sure you want to deal with what comes next.

We don’t have that luxury. We survived the train wreck. What we do now, what we do next, and for the next four years, is incredibly important. It is OK to despair for a moment, to realize something we’d taken for granted was wrong. To realize we clearly were not where we thought we were to prevent the wreck. Now, we have to learn, we have to rebuild, we have to understand how we got here and how to fix it. I am feeling terrified and I am feeling motivated. I don’t know my country right now, I’m not sure I want to this morning but this morning will pass and tomorrow will come and the day after and the day after that. We need to fight, we need to work and we need to fix this system, this culture, this country which watched the train wreck with me. We can do better, we will do better.

Fall

I miss you. Like, a lot. I was never one for sun and heat and somehow, I ended up living in a place that often resembled the face of the sun to me. I am tired of the sun. It’s so…unrelenting. I want a crisp, cool morning with grey low-hanging clouds, maybe a bit of a mist in the air and if there could also be just a touch of woodsmoke hanging about, that would be heavenly.

Instead, it is will be 93 today. 91 tomorrow. If I’m lucky, we may get a thunderstorm through which means the sun will be gone for a few minutes but when it moves on, it will somehow be hotter and more humid than before even when I didn’t think that was possible. So I will leave these images here and drink my pumpkin spice latte and pretend for a moment that it’s fall outside my window and not a never ending summer.

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The Class I’ll Never Forget

 

I always meant to write a post about French class here. I have mentioned it in several posts, even shared my college essay inspired by Van Gogh and French class but I’ve never sat down and really explained what that class meant to me. Watching The Little Prince tonight on Netflix, I started to remember.

It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t so much the language I adored. Although beautiful, and when I used it right something that made me feel more accomplished than all my other classes combined, I was never good at it. I would get frustrated with it. I wanted to be able to say what I wanted to say and not trip over myself getting there. I lacked the patience of a true linguist. I would write my essays in English and then translate them back into French, utilizing my dictionary, 501 Verb book and a very early version of Babel Fish when the books failed me. But I loved French class. I loved the stories, the culture, the food. The holidays and history were fascinating; the resulting country even more so. Madame understood this; it’s why she taught the language as she did. How could you understand and appreciate a language if you did not understand the people and the countries who speak it?

I had found French rather boring until 11th grade. My teachers, while very good, had been uninspiring. It was a class that also made me anxious. I lived in dread of the moment the teacher would call on me to speak. It was a combination of tripping over my own tongue and not wanting to butcher a language that had done nothing to me. I also hated to not be right in class; the perfectionist in me didn’t like that the words that came out of my mouth didn’t sound like they did in my head.

I was nervous when I started class with Madame. Her reputation proceeded her. It took me only about a period and half before I adored her and that made French both wonderful and stress-inducing. I didn’t want to fail her or have her think I wasn’t smart enough. I always tried hardest in French of all my classes but I never did get it to sound right coming out in the end. Instead, I learned to love what it gave me outside of the sometimes tongue twisting sentences and headache inducing numbers (math was involved just to count…I didn’t stand a chance. I still have the cheatsheet Madame finally gave me). French gave me Le Petit Prince, the Impressionists, and Amélie. It gave me Normandy, Paris, Carcassonne. It gave me an appreciation for the traditions of a storied country, with all its own fairy tales, myths and legends that was so different from my own.

So as I teared up watching The Little Prince tonight, and everyone should go watch it ASAP and cry with me, I also remembered what else comes along side the story of the little prince who left his rose behind to travel the stars: the classes on verbs and speaking exercises, of listening to bad ’80s French pop songs and writing our own adventures for the little prince. We wrote our own fairy tales, learned the words to La Marseillaise and looked forward to La Bûche de Noël in December. The Little Prince reminded me of why I adored French class and everything it continued to give me since leaving school. All these years later, it is a class I think of all the time and use often. I have chased paintings across oceans because of that class, lectured friends through the Louvre, bought board books of The Little Prince for friends’ children and sacrificed DVD settings on laptops to watch Notre Dame de Paris one more time. It is not so much the language perhaps but the tools the class and the study of French gave me through which I can appreciate, understand and revel in the world around me in a way I would not be able to do so otherwise. Merci.

I may have rented the Money Pit…

As some of you may know, I recently moved. I was so excited about it. It was out of apartment complex living and into a duplex in a quiet neighborhood. It had tile floors and two bedrooms complete with a lovely back patio. It was going to be awesome. Well, I am two weeks in and I am fairly certain I rented the Money Pit.

Luckily, I only rented it but now have to live through them trying to fix everything they apparently didn’t notice after the last tenant moved out (which I might add was almost an entire MONTH before I moved in so what they are doing, I am not sure; my faith in their ability to manage is quite low at the moment). I am also having to deal with an apartment that had a former tenant, as well as a cleaning crew that supposedly cleaned the place twice (before and after I had the keys), that clearly did not define the word “clean” as I do. Scrubbing floors by hand has been a weekend pastime since I moved in…and I’m still pulling up dirt like the floors has multiple layers of it so I’ll keep at it.

I adore the space; I do. The size of it is perfect for me. And I knew there would be challenges to a garden apartment in Florida. Logically, it shouldn’t exist but Tallahassee is one of the only places in this state it could. However, I wasn’t quite expecting the level of entertainment I’ve had so far. It will be good someday; I know it will. I just need to grin and make it through. In the meantime, they pushed back the date for wall construction so I’ll make it through a weekend where it feels more like I am camping out in the place rather than living in it. I think that might be my biggest issue so far. I can’t get settled or comfortable in the space because I can’t finish with it yet. I had gotten my office/library into some semblance of  order only to have to basically re-pack it all up again last night to find out I could have done that Sunday since they won’t be there until Monday now.

Oddly enough, for someone who has moved around as I have, I don’t actually handle change well. I plan for it; plan it to death in fact. So, when the plan doesn’t work and chaos ensues, I might not handle it well (read: I do not handle it well). At all. I don’t like what I cannot research, plan and make lists for so that I am prepared. Some would say then this is a good thing, I should learn to deal, but not when it comes to my living space. I am one of those people that adores going home at night, to my space, to hide out for a while from the rest of the world, so it’s important that that space is safe and clean and organized and….mine. It’s an introvert thing big time. This move is just…never ending it seems and my introverted self is on a short fuse (and yet always incredibly polite and not yelling at anyone).

So, in the meantime, I am trying to get back to my schedule, my routines, in the hopes that will keep me sane. So, look for my usual reviews soon!

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. I clearly need to be more consistent with publishing. I started out really well and then died off. Resolutions! 😉

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 440 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.