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Here’s what I’m up to these days…

WHAT I’M DOING
Designing and creating stationery for a fountain pen user. I gave up design work years ago, but when this opportunity was presented to me, I decided to give it a go because of its unusual nature. The task: create, design, and deliver stationery for a fountain pen user who wants to give her stationery a personal touch, that can be easily produced at home, while keeping costs to a minimum. I had never used a fountain pen before this job, and so far I’ve learned a few things about pens, nibs, papers, ink saturation, ink bleed, paper weight, paper composition, desktop printers, and how to trim/cut paper. In the process, I’ve learned to love writing with a fountain pen (see NEW TECH below); discovered the differences between ballpoint, gel, and fountain pens and inks (future post?); found out why some papers are cheaper than others; and moved from using a medium/bold pen nib to an extra fine pen nib. It’s all about scratching paper!

WHAT I’M READING
Journal of a Solitude, by May Sarton. I can’t remember the first time I was assigned this book in school. Maybe it was in a Womyn’s Lit class during my undergrad years, or for a Writing for Learning class in graduate school. The point is, I never read the book and didn’t think I would. Now here I am, years later, flipping pages, delighting and holding my breath as May Sarton documents a year of her life in Nelson, New Hampshire. The journal is full of day to day minutiae: flowers she keeps around the house, letters and visits from friends and strangers, details about writer conferences, and musings about her garden. It’s what is in-between her daily observations that make this such an interesting read: her keen observations about the writing life; her struggle with anxiety and depression; what it’s like to be a woman, artist, and writer in the 70s; what her fears and life as a lesbian woman struggling with love feels like; the choices artists make in trying to cultivate an artist’s life. Slowly, mindfully, honestly, quietly this journal gives readers a glimpse of a woman’s life, making us feel like peeping toms, while holding up a mirror to our own and making us question the minutiae that gives meaning to our days.

The New Diary, by Tristine Rainer. An excellent, though at times a bit too academic, introduction to journal/diary writing and keeping. Ms. Rainer has written a textbook for anyone wanting to keep a journal. In her book, she offers advice on how to start writing a journal and the many different, and personal, ways to go about it. The book is full of examples of diary entries from journal keepers. The material is well researched and is presented in organized chapters that leads budding writers through the rigors of jotting down personal thoughts and reflections. She goes deeply into topics other journal writing books merely skip over. But the tone of the book is more academic than personal. There are other journaling books I have enjoyed more than this one, but I haven’t highlighted as much in the other books as I have in this one. If you want to learn the art of journaling, this is a good place to start.

 The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner. A travel log and journal that explores the connection between our surroundings and our most innovative ideas. With plenty of self-deprecating humor, but with an eye for entertaining history, Weiner takes us on a tour to places in time and history where genius flourished and advanced civilization forward.

FAVORITE ON-LINE READ(s)
SOOO-THIS-IS-ME. This is one of my new favorite blogs to read. I quoted Stephen’s writing here once before, when pondering love. In his own words, Stephen has lived: “most of my life hidden in the closet and suddenly realized, it’s just not working! I started the process of coming out (way back in 2006) and wanted to write about it, hoping to meet people along the way, both men and women. My blog has shifted a bit now, sometimes gay issues, sometimes every day issues.” The result are intimate, poignant, and personal posts that are a joy to read with a style all of their own. I look forward to reading Stephen’s posts, and encourage anyone looking for a blog to read to check him out.

WHAT I’M WATCHING
The Good Wife (Amazon Prime). On my first Now write up, I talked about how I was watching and enjoying The Good Fight, CBS’s spin off to The Good Wife. I decided to go back to the original series and find out how Diane Lockhart became embroiled in her current situation. A few weeks later, I’m binge-watching The Good Wife sometimes up to four episodes a night. Great cast. Excellent writing. Wonderful actors. Makes me wonder why I didn’t watch when it originally aired on television. I’m more than halfway through the series, and I find myself wishing there were more than seven seasons available.

Class (BBC America). This Dr. Who sci-fi spin off has all the ingredients of a British hit show: good cast, interesting premise, and a strong, established series behind it to back it up and give it context. The problem, it’s too new to know if it’ll last, and it runs the risk of being a carbon copy of its predecessor. With only one episode aired, it’s hard to know where they will take the show and how it will stand on its own. But if it’s anything like Dr. Who, and the stories thrill and excite as much, it will be fun to see how this series evolves and regenerates over the coming weeks. And one can only hope that River Song will somehow make an appearance on the show too.

NEW TECH
Faber-Castell, Ambition – pearwood, extra-fine fountain pen. Gorgeous! If I have to blame a pen for making me fall in-love with fountain pens, this one’s the culprit. Stylish, modern, light, and easy on the hand, this is my pen of choice for journaling and writing. While the nib is not as fine as a Japanese Pilot fountain pen, it nonetheless writes like a dream! The natural, real pearwood makes a nice contrast to the polished chrome metal, and its use of international standard ink converters and cartridges makes it a versatile choice for anyone wanting to change inks and ink colors easily. If you like to write, this is one fine instrument to spill ink with.

FAVORITE PURCHASE(s) UNDER $100
Marpac Dohm-DS All Natural Sound Machine. I was not aware of the virtues of having a white noise machine until the witch-doctor plugged one in her office. The soothing noise coming from the small openings in this discrete box lulled me to a calm state that allowed for relaxation. Before I knew it, my inhibitions were down, I wasn’t feeling so vulnerable, and I didn’t mind sitting next to my demons when it was my turn to spill my deep dark secrets. I enjoyed the feeling of calm so much, I got one for my bedroom and marvel at how outside noise and distractions are drowned out by the natural white noise the box produces. Since turning it on, my sleep has improved about 60%, I feel more calm when I’m writing, and I’m not as distracted when I read. I love this thing!

The Five Minute Journal, by Intelligent Change. The easiest way to practice gratitude and keep a daily journal. This book will help anyone “focus on the good in your life, become more mindful, and live with intention. With a simple structured format based on positive psychology research, you will start and end each day with gratitude. Side effects may include: increased happiness, better relationships, and becoming more optimistic.” I’ve been doing it for more than 50 days, and small miracles do happen.

 


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