All posts filed under “Books & Writing

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Why I can’t read in cafés

Ever since Sunday, when I had my impulsive shopping spree for planners and stationary, I’ve been thinking about the exact reason as to why I find going to a café totally not enjoyable for me.

First of all here in Japan, I feel like the spacing inside cafés in general are really tight. Even with the pandemic and social distancing etiquette, it still feels claustrophobic for me. On Sunday evening when I went to Starbucks, first of all, the line was super long. I had a smooth time ordering my drink and snack, but while I was waiting for my order, this loud man with a very thick Middle Eastern accent, was trying to say something to the staff about his past order. He repeated himself over three times and was kind of making a scene. For a moment I got anxious because I wondered if he was going to start yelling.

Afterward, when I got to my table (that wobbled, btw), I just found myself unable to relax. I was just so keenly aware of all the people inside the café that I couldn’t even hear myself think. So I thought, if I had brought a book, there would’ve been noway for me to concentrate on actually reading.

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Sushi and the plan

I bought sushi for my lunch today from UberEats. I love this service. For 12 quality pieces of fatty salmon, I only paid ¥1,350 (delivery and service fee included) plus ¥200 tip. So in total I ate a healthy meal for about $15, delivered to my door. Not too shabby. I only buy lunch 2–3 days out of the week, and the rest of the days I eat whatever we have at home. When I used to work at the office, I remember spending $10-$20 a day for lunch, and half the time they were fast food (I’m lookin’ at you PopEyes). Until I can get the hang of making myself lunch Monday–Friday, I think UberEats and Demaecan (this other food delivery service) are going to get along just fine. 🙂

The Plan

After staring at and leafing through my new planners, it looks like I am gravitating slightly toward the Weekly as my main. Despite the odd dimensions, I just really like and prefer the weekly setup, because that’s how I “journal” in my Goodnotes at the moment (kind of).

Main planner Goals (60%)

For the Weekly, I plan on using it as my main planner because that’s how I like to organize my time—by weeks. I like how this planner has pretty much everything that the Original (A6) has, but that the layout condenses the time by week and adds extra blank space for that particular week. I’m really sad at the moment that I can’t find a nice zip cover for it though. The first week that I can “move in” is the week of November 29. It’s perfect because it gives me a chance to organize December.

Secondary Planner Goals (40%), Memory/Art/Japanese journal

For the Original A6, my plan is to use it as a daily log/memory keeper/bullet/gratitude/art/Japanese notes journal type of thing. I love how there is plenty of space for each day, but I just can’t see myself organizing my time daily. So, I think it will serve better as a log or repository of some sort.

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To plan, or not to plan

How I got here

I think it started in late middle school when I began writing in my school-issued agenda every day. When I got to high school, my creativity bloomed and I remember fondly coloring in my day blocks with colored pencils, gel pens, (and sometimes markers) and making every day and week look pretty. It gave me so much satisfaction when I had created the layout of my week ahead in advance. I felt so organized and clean. My classmates and friends, whenever they caught a glimpse of me jotting my homework assignments down, would always fawn over how cool my planner looked, and would always say, “How’d you do that?!”

Fast forward to adulthood—I ditched the concept of keeping a planner completely. High school was over and I had pretty much forgotten about it because it was no longer mandatory for me to have one. But even now, almost two decades later, I find myself longing to write in a planner of some kind. It’s why I collect odd bits and bobs of random stationary. It’s why my eyes are immediately drawn to calligraphy and pens, highlighters, stickers, and washi tape. It’s why I watch random YouTube videos of hardcore planners and their plethora of shiny stationary tools and collections, with envy.

The dilemma

The problem for me is that writing in a planner takes a significant amount of time, not to mention accumulates space over the years. The act of it requires consistency and dedication—something I have a hard time doing outside of menial house chores. What’s more, I’m torn between digital and traditional paper. I love the ultimate flexibility and control of digital, but hate how ephemeral it feels. I love the sensation of ink and paper (smell, touch, sight)  and how it feels so solidifying, but hate the anxiety that comes with making mistakes.

The nice thing about planning in my iPad Pro 12.9″ is that the screen is nicely sized and all of my writings and journals are at my fingertips. My major issue with it is that sometimes writing on it doesn’t feel “real,” and the idea of accidentally deleting something important by mistake terrifies me (or even just plain mechanical data loss). There’s some psychological disconnect happening there somewhere. The nice thing about paper is that seeing ink on the page is extremely satisfying. Touching the pages and the excitement of using stationary is such a pleasant experience for a creative person like myself. My biggest point of anxiety for this method is making mistakes and wanting to make changes. I’m terribly OCD in this arena. When it comes to design, I can be very fickle and change my mind on a whim of how something looks and feels. There’s also the space factor. How many journals will I accumulate in a year? Will I have to throw my precious journals away at some point to make room for new ones? The thought of that makes me cringe.

My outlook

To some degree, I do enjoy planning, but too much of it sucks the fun out of living for me. If I’m going to do this, I need to remember that God laughs at our plans. By the same token, I also need to remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting in the effort to organizing and managing my time. Doing it in a fun and creative way would just help the process  be a little more enjoyable. And as I’m getting older, I’m finding that truly…little things, little moments of joy…are what matter the most, now more than ever.

I think maybe I’ll experiment. My MCTD issues don’t discriminate between paper and digital when it comes to writing. The biomechanics of my hands and fingers while inflamed will make writing difficult and painful, period. So in that regard, digital or paper won’t matter.  I’ll just try both methods and see which one I like the best. Who knows, maybe I can do a hybrid of both. Wish me luck!

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Typical mornings and the coveted boiled egg maker

I’ve always wanted to blog about our little boiled egg maker so this morning I thought why not? We bought this thing many years ago and I don’t know what I’d do without it. Basically you just add water to the bottom dish (below the metal plate), put the eggs in, pop the top on, and put it in the microwave for 8~9 minutes (500W). I don’t have to worry about using a pan and creating more dishes. After I’m done with this, I just put it back in the dish dryer and let it air dry. Voila! I was too tired to fry sausages this morning so I just made buttered toast to go with her egg. Sadly, Miyu only eats egg whites. Ever since she was a toddler, she has had an aversion to yolk. Which kind of works out for me because I prefer the yolk. 🙂

She’s getting more and more into HayDay and she’s looking more like me now, like a HayDay otaku on multiple tablets. I’m fine with her playing this because I’m trying to teach her how to follow directions since she doesn’t know how to listen very well, she’s learning how to count bigger numbers (coins), learning new vocabulary, and most of all, the game manages to sustain her interest. It’s calm and peaceful, there are no rushing actions or sounds that she needs to keep up with unlike her other apps. This simple little farming game teaches her the value of hard work and patience. She wants to be able to buy pets and new machines but I tell her that she needs to keep playing so she can level up, grow crops, sell stuff to make coins, etc. I think she’s slowly understanding, but she likes to play on my farm more because I have a lot more things to do on there. Sigh. Oh well, one day at a time.

screenshot_20191024-0800541235369064848505900.jpgAfter I dropped her off at school, I went on my merry way to work and decided to try an audiobook I got a month or so ago. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while now since it won so many fantasy awards.

The prologue ended exactly as I pulled into the parking lot at my work. I was definitely intrigued and the author’s command of language and tone is very impressive.

My hands are a bit achy today, specifically my fingers. I need to tape up my right middle finger this time. I didn’t go grocery shopping or start on my homework yesterday as planned (blew my remaining cash at Daiso and took a 3-hour nap instead, LOL), so today I’m hoping to be a leetle bit more productive.