A robot screaming dramatically, "Everything is RUINED!!"

Recently1that’s a relative term, I wrote about the ways in which my brain betrays me, and questioned what a “normal” emotional experience was. Today, I’m going to continue talking about what it’s like in my head by sharing one way I disarm anxious thoughts–with the help of something I call Anxiety-Bot.

Please note: This post is most emphatically not advice. I’m not saying this is what anyone should do, because I’m not in a position to provide that sort of advice. All I’m doing here is sharing my own personal experience. Continue reading

Adventures in Oaxaca Pt. I

It’s 10:00 in Oaxaca as I write this, and Rachel and I are relaxing in bed in our hostel. If you want to be technical, yesterday was our first (nearly) full day in Mexico, as we landed in Mexico City before the sun was up, but given how much of the day was spent in planes, cabs, and buses, I’m feeling like quietly1Well, okay, I’m not sure it counts as “quietly” if I spend a whole line disclaiming that… discounting it. Today was our first full day, and already we’re adventuring.

Here are a few of our adventures thus far. Continue reading


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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

NOTES [on/from/about] LIFE

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. Continue reading

A Journal Named Exponents

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.

Continue reading

Ink and Paper Brain - Intro

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. Continue reading

Alright, 2014 is practically over. Pondering that fact earlier this week, I knew I wanted to write something, but I couldn’t decide what. I considered writing a list of my 12 favorite (or least favorite) books I read this year, but writing a bunch of book reviews sounded too exhausting. The idea of simply writing “GOOD RIDDANCE” in bold, 128-point font struck me as appealing, but I eventually backed down, feeling I owed myself a slightly more substantial piece of writing.

This is what I ended up settling on: a list of six things, or whatever, from 2014. It’s not exactly six things that happened to me this year, nor is it six things I enjoyed. It’s just six things. Or whatever. Continue reading