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 quietly[ref]Well, okay, I’m not sure it counts as “quietly” if I spend a whole line disclaiming that…[/ref] discounting it. Today was our first full day, and already we’re adventuring.

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

It's Wednesday!

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.

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

It's Wednesday!

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

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. Continue reading

Bedtime Diary

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. Continue reading

The Ledger

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

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. Continue reading

Second Brain notebooks

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. Continue reading