9. Paper


I haven’t kept a paper journal since I was in high school.  I wrote many angst-ridden diary entries in pencil curled up in the chair in my bedroom, making sure that I locked it and hid the key every night (don’t even laugh, you know you did too).  It was good for me, giving me an outlet for all that teenage emotion that otherwise erupted into massive screaming arguments with my father.  It was where I started to develop my own voice as a writer — I have one short piece that I wrote that I’ve actually thought about posting here as an example of how I’ve remained consistent over the years.  At that time, the paper medium was not so much a choice as a necessity.  We had a computer in the house, but it was essentially a glorified word processor, running windows 3.1 and floppy disks.  The internet at that time was in its infancy, still bits of data being transferred between universities.

When I moved off to college, I let my journalling habit lapse.  I rarely wrote anything that wasn’t a homework assignment, and when I did, it was typed into a Microsoft word file.  When I started writing again, it was in a LiveJournal account before we started trying to have kids.  I wrote there for a few years and then moved over to this space when it became clear that there wasn’t much going on inside my head other than IF.

Despite my reluctance to write in longhand, I still periodically buy journals and notebooks with ornate covers and thick paper.  I love the *idea* of writing, but I don’t actually enjoy it.  I fill post-it notes and free note pads from work with to-do lists, but the books I buy remain empty.  It will probably say a lot about my personality to tell you that I despise blank, unlined pages, that it makes me anxious to begin writing without some sort of anchor or structure.  When I do use blank paper, it irritates me to no end that I cannot maintain a level line of text across the width of the page, that my font size is uneven.  My handwriting itself is hit or miss, sometimes flowing as the quickest way to get my thoughts down on paper and sometimes a ragged mess that is a reflection of the unevenness of my mind.  My cursive writing is almost undecipherable, so I usually print.  Even then, it takes me some time to get warmed up, with the print at the beginning of the document much different from the print when I get into a groove.  I’m happiest writing out my thoughts electronically, the keyboard the most efficient transfer of my ideas to a record that can be shared (or passworded or hidden away or deleted later on).  If I have to write on paper, I prefer a small-gauge grid lined paper, like engineering paper, and either black gel ink or ultra-fine tip sharpie.  The book in the picture above is completely blank even though I’ve owned it for several years (does that mean it is still new?)  I think it is lovely, the cover has a wonderful smooth feel, it’s spiral bound to lay flat, and it’s lined.  But I can’t bring myself to start writing in it without some overarching plan to make it into a complete item.  I feel like as soon as I write in it, it will be ruined.

I also collect stationary as well as notebooks.  I have a box of cards downstairs, birthday cards and baby shower cards and postcards and leftover sorority stationary and clearance Christmas cards purchased for the next year and blank cards bought just because I liked the design and thought they would be nice to send to someone.  I’ve been working on sending them out, using them up slowly as I put physical love notes out to my friends through the post office.  I absolutely love getting real mail, so I try to send it out in the idea that you get what you return.  (Speaking of, if you’d like me to send you a card, you can drop your address into an email –> my address is on the “Talk to Me” page).  I’m a terrible hoarder of cards I receive as well.  I hate throwing them away, even if I only look through the collection when I’m trying to figure out what to purge to make space.  I have this vague notion that someday I’ll recycle those cards back onto blank cardstock to reuse them, but realistically they’ll just hang around periodically reminding me of the people who sent them.


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