Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bullet Journal Part 2: Chosing Your Weapons

I have been bullet journaling for a year and a half now. I have found this to be the most flexible, forgiving, and exciting way to keep all my lists and plans and calendars in one place.

First, if you are new to bullet journaling, you might want to look at this link:


and this link:

WTF is a Bullet Journal and Why Should You Start One?

You may notice that a lot of bullet journals are super fancy. People will spend a ton of money and time searching for the perfect notebooks, pens, flags, washi tape, stickers, highlighters—you name it, people will go to the ends of the earth to find the best, even if it's the most expensive. Some of them do look nice. I don't want to discourage you from exploring Pinterest or groups on FaceBook—I just want you to know that doing things exactly the way the above sites say isn't necessary. That is the beauty of the bullet journal. If something isn't working, toss it out. If something needs tweaking to work for you, tweak away. I assure you, my husband's bullet journal looks NOTHING like the original system. Most don't. I cannot tell you how many times I had decided to do something in my journal and changed my mind later and stopped using it. The first thing I stopped using was the key. I hated it. The only thing I kept was putting little boxes by things to check off if I finished or to put an arrow in if I were migrating it forward. Make it yours.

You are going to want to choose your weapons, and they basically fall into three categories: notebooks, pens and miscellany.


To bullet journal, one must have a notebook.

This particular notebook is one you will see in bullet journaling circles, and people just love them or hate them, or love/hate them. They are nice, I have only seen one in person, but most brand new ones cost $25 or more. That's a bit much for pretty dead trees.

This is the one I use. It costs me no more than $5 at the University Book and Supply.

It is a Roaring Springs brand, 80 sheet, 5X5 quad ruled composition notebook. I like it because it is sturdy, the pages won't just randomly fall out and the paper is thick. The quad rule is handy for when I have to make a chart—I still use a ruler because I can barely draw a straight line, but the quad rule is not as dark as it is in some quad notebooks and it helps guide me, as you will see in the pictures below.

Bottom line—the notebook is going to be on the go with you. It will be in your bag, where it can be jostled and bumped and scraped. You want something sturdy, something you enjoy writing in and something that feels you. This comp books feels like me. So I use this one.

You don't need to spend a ton of money. If you think a spiral notebook will stand up to the abuse the bullet journal will take, just pick one of those up. It doesn't have to be expensive.


Again, people swear by some pens, others hate those pens.

These are some of the most popular pens I have seen in bullet journaling forums:

I have never used these pens, but a lot of people swear by them. They run around $25 or so, depending on how many are in the package and where you buy from.

These are the pens I use. You can get them at Walmart or Target.

These particular pens write super dark, a little runny and smell good, and this pack would cost you around $6, but you can buy smaller packs too.

I love InkJoy pens. Like the pens above, they write well, are a little leaky and smell good, but they don't write nearly as darkly as the Bic pens do. This pack would cost you around $3.

Choose a pen based on what pens you like using. Don't chose it (or any of the bullet journaling products you will use) based on what other people think are best.


As far as washi tape, stickers and highlighters go, same. Do what you want, what you can afford. I have only paid full price for washi tape a couple times, except for the stuff I get in the dollar bin at Target. After holidays is a great time to get cheap washi, and if you really play your cards right, when things go to 90% off, you can get some really super cheap—I have paid as little as ten cents for some in the past. I use whatever I have around for highlighters—some swear by the Japanese ones you have to order, but I could care less about those. Never felt the need.

You can literally start a bullet journal for less than $5 or you can spend hundreds. Anything is possible.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Lessons from Parenthood, Years 1 and 2

There's a few things I've learned in the two years since I last posted on this blog.

1. Parenthood is not for the weak. Or the smart. Or anyone, unless you enjoy being sleep deprived and crazy. Or if you enjoy hugs and laughter and babies learning to talk and saying things like 'bumbee' for a bumblebee and repeating words like 'rufflebutt'. Your life becomes more about poop and vomit and your cats will hate you. It's an experience unlike anything I've ever experienced and I am glad I am doing it.

2. Being a stay at home parent is hard when you have worked your whole life. Really hard. Only recently have I actually be able to start doing a lot of writing and reading while the babies are napping. I miss having other adults around and I miss having intellectual stimulation, and doing literary analysis on 'snuggle puppy' and various songs on various musical devices.

3. The way to get back on the creative horse is to work slowly into it. I started by just getting used to going out for an hour at a time, and then worked up to directing two staged readings and being in another. I started writing reviews for Iowa Theatre Blog.

4. And I applied for CERN's Collide International Award. This was the biggest prize I've applied for—basically this was my first foray into grant writing. I worked on it for probably two months—doing research on particle physics, thinking about the kind of work I would want to do with the scientists at CERN in Geneva and with FACT in Liverpool. The idea of putting together something that is art but science is thrilling. They will be announcing the winners at the end of June, so I just need to wait until then.

After I submitted my work to CERN, I picked up a story I had started writing not long after the twins were born. It was inspired by a story I was making up about Tabitha and Orson that I was telling to them. I started writing it down. I really love it, and it's the first piece of fiction I've written since probably 2002. That's a long time! But I am really enjoying working on this piece.

Another thing I have learned about parenthood so far is that it really changes you. I was politically bent before—I come from a family of life long democrats, and my cousin, Lane Evans, was a congressman. And I rallied for women's rights, equal pay, LGBTQ rights, gay marriage before, but now…it's different. I have two tiny people who are depending on me to feed them, clothe them and keep them happy and healthy, and who are looking to me for how they should interact with each other, other people and the world. And I've become more of a social justice warrior than I ever thought I would. Pretty much if anything is against my son or daughter or both, I am going to rally against it. So when women's rights and equal pay come up, I fight for them for my daughter. When it comes to LGBTQ rights and gay marriage, I fight for them for my kids, not just for them in case they need them, but also for their future friends. I want them to see that the world isn't always fair, but there's ways to even it out. And that fighting for the underdog is what makes us all top dog.

I'm becoming a different kind of artist due to parenthood—and it isn't always easy. It is, however, always worth it.