Writing Wednesday: “Margins”

I exist I exist I exist I exist
and though the world is not my mirror
its people are
pools of water
bits of shiny windows
lenses of a too-dark sunglasses
and I can see myself
in someone’s face
somewhere

I exist and I exist and you exist and we exist
in glimpses and small fragments
only pieces
compared to our whole mosaic lives
sleek tiles assembled together
to create larger pictures
portraits and murals to stand against
the framed masterpieces deemed Divine and Right

we assemble together
struggle to become large
because under scrutiny
we are nothing;
under a magnifying glass
we are nothing;
under the skin of many hands
we are nothing
up close and personal and individual
a single target in a sea of repeated images
we are puddles to splash in
and distort
at the feet and hands of
small ignorance

but we exist we exist we exist
and we will
unfortunately take more than
a small chunk of reflection
to build skyscrapers as tall
as the ones covering our light

Writing Wednesday 25

How To Be An Untidy Student

This week, I return to university… for the last time.

I’m so excited. I can’t wait to be done. But before I go, I want to impart some wisdom. (Anyone who knows me even remotely should know that “arrogant” indeed applies to me.

If you’re a student—whether a first year/freshman, grad student, or in between—there’s always more to learn. After all, you wouldn’t still be in this institution if you didn’t believe that to some extent, right? I’ll be posting these types of post during my last semester, and probably in the months before I graduate in June, in the hopes that someone will find something useful.

I have lived all of my university experience off-campus and I would not have it any other way. My first year, I moved 5 hours away to live with some strangers in a house. Most of my tips will apply to people living off-campus. Based on my experience, and the experiences of some peers, I would strongly suggest you find somewhere other than campus residence to live if you’re independent or introverted.

Anyway! Here we go! How to be untidy!

I pride myself on being a relatively tidy person. We can’t be at our 100% best 100% of the time. Sometimes I fall prey to these things, but most of the time, I don’t. Being a tidy person requires constant maintenance. Entropy is the main factor in untidiness. Idleness is not tidiness.

Untidy: Put things in the nearest spot.

I’ll find it again eventually, right? There aren’t many places for that receipt to fall, and all of my laundry is piled up in the same spot, so a t-shirt should be in there, too. I know it’s around somewhere, so I’ll look for it when I need it.

Tidy: Give everything a place.

I put my backpack on one section of the floor near my desk. I know where it is when I need it and I know where it goes when I don’t need it. I haven’t given it a pedestal, a door, a box, or a hook. I’ve given it somewhere to park itself. It’s not pretty or elegant, but it’s functional.

Untidy: Scramble to do everything in the mornings.

My keys are on my dresser, I can do my hair after I shower, and I’m pretty sure I’ve written a to-do list for my errands. I may sleep late tomorrow morning, or I may wake up to my alarm’s first call. I’ll have enough time, and I can speed up or skip certain things in case I run behind schedule.

Tidy: Reset your space at night.

For my evenings before I go to bed, I have to hit a certain number of areas. If I have classes, I prepare my bag for the next day and sometimes leave notes to get other things that I can’t get yet or will be using before putting in my bag. I wash my face, and brush and floss my teeth. After I check the weather, I pick an outfit for the next day and put it on my dresser, since that’s the designated spot. I do a general tidy-up to make sure things are in their places—this covers my dresser, my desk, and all the laundry that is inevitably lying on the floor or in my closet (and not in hampers—which is the laundry’s place). I check my planner and put in everything I need. The mornings are a lot easier when my environment and my mind and body are reset at night.

Untidy: Don’t wash OR put away dishes

Okay, I don’t have a reality for where this would make sense. There is no way I can rationalise leaving dirty dishes lying around. Clean dishes, sure, but dirty ones? Gross. Gross. Gross.

Tidy: If there are clean dishes, put them away.

If I need to wash dishes, I decide on a point in time that day to wash them. I don’t say “tomorrow morning” or “when I have time.” I pick “while dinner is cooking” or “before I head upstairs for the night.” Part of my nightly reset is making sure I’ve cleaned up as much as I can so I don’t have to deal with it the next day. Admittedly, I do leave my dirty dishes, but I have a rule of not leaving them for more than 24 hours. I also rinse any dishes if I know I’m leaving them for a while. Scrubbing dried food and sauce is the bane of dishwashing.

Also, if there are clean dishes, get them out of the way. They’re clean, but they aren’t in their place.

Untidy: Assume you have time.

I’ll be able to get everything done. Studying for an hour really is one hour, so that leaves me many more hours for other things. Might as well allocate time for everything, right?

Tidy: You never have enough time.

I won’t be able to get everything done in the span of time I think I’ll get it done. Sometimes I finish something sooner than I thought I would. Sometimes I finish something way later than I thought I would. I often bump tasks from one day’s to-do list to the next day’s to-do list. I’ve given myself enough time to buffer for the fact that I don’t have enough time. (This tidy tip is also known as “plan ahead” because giving yourself more time to make up for not having enough time means you need to think into the future.)


Becoming tidier and more organised isn’t easy. It takes effort. But so does everything in life. If something matters to you, you’ll put in the effort to care for it. If you care about yourself, you’ll take care of yourself. Relationships. Bedrooms. Clothes.

If it matters, it needs maintenance.

Bullet Journal: Notebook Review – Productive Luddite

In preparation for my next (and final) university semester, I sought a new notebook for my bullet journal. Up until now, I had been using a lined notebook I had kicking around—it was spiral bound with a hard cover, measuring 6.5 x 9.5 inches. It was a great notebook to explore the bullet journal system, but it had gotten more annoying than productive by the time I got the hang of how I use the system.

Originally, I wanted my new notebook to be a 7 x 9 inch spiral bound… with a dot grid.

Specific, I know, and that didn’t even take into consideration my preferences for paper weight (20lb or higher, no exceptions).

Needless to say, I had a lot of difficulty finding one that I could buy. It was either I settle for something else, or I go through the process of printing, trimming, and binding my own (and that would have cost me a bunch).

The classics for bullet journalling are Moleskine and Leuchturm brands. However, I had seen them used in other people’s spreads, and I really didn’t like the layouts or how they handled ink. The Bullet Journal brand was way out of my budget (the $20.00 notebook is high, in my opinion, but the cheapest shipping was $15.69, so… no). I wanted something different, but couldn’t find anything reasonably priced.

I was buying my last few textbooks for classes (using The Book Depository because hell yeah, free shipping!). I decided to browse their stationery, and although the colouring books were tempting… I saw some dot grid notebooks. In sizes I like. For reasonable prices. With free shipping.

SO! I purchased the “Matte Black” dot grid notebook in 6 x 9 inches. This product is from Productive Luddite and is available from their website, The Book Depository, and Amazon. It’s part of their “Every Day Carry” lineup, designed for daily use and portability.

None of these pictures have been edited. They were shot with my Samsung S5, on a lovely overcast day. The pens I use in my BuJo are a Uniball Signo for permanent entries, and FriXion brand pens and markers for anything to be changed later or accented. I love my FriXion markers to the moon—they add just the right amount of colour, and I can erase them cleanly a few times.

Pictures speak more than words, so without further ado, here are some photographs!

EDC Dot Grid Cover 1

The cover, just after removing it from the packaging!

EDC Dot Grid Title Page

The “title” page, which appears after a blank page. It says: title, name, “If lost, please contact,” and a space each for the date & place started/finished.

 

 

EDC Dot Grid Table of Contents

The 2nd and 3rd pages of the index/table of contents.

 

EDC Dot Grid Index Tags

 

The tags index, which is only 2 pages.

EDC Dot Grid Right Page Numbers

EDC Dot Grid Left Page Numbers

Page numbers. The 1st page is so impossible to see.

 

EDC Dot Grid Spread

 

Here’s a view of the dot grid on a spread.

EDC Dot Grid Title Page Inked

Starting to fill it in! I’ve put my name and contact details in there by now.

EDC Dot Grid title Page Ghosting

 

Barely any ghosting onto the backside of the page. Very, very pleased with this!

 

 

EDC Overview

I thought this was a neat addition! On the inside of the back cover, they overview the different styles and sizes they offer. Look at this selection! The best part is that they’re all the same price.

EDC Dot Grid Cover 2

This is how the book looked after I took the pictures. The curve of the cover is… not ideal. But we will work with it.

Pros

Paper weight—it’s thick, but not so thick that page turning is difficult. I was so pleased by the weight and how it didn’t let my ink ghost through.

Numbered pages—The pages are already numbered and they aren’t in-your-face about it. They’re discreetly in the corner. Considering my lack of use for numbered pages, I’m glad they aren’t very noticeable.

Table of contents/index—It’s already laid out on 3 pages (a sheet and a half), which I think is plenty of space for a 100-page notebook.

Tag index—I much prefer this to an index/table of contents system. Other BuJo users have developed ways to track their tags and whatnot, from colour coding on the edge of the page, to stickers, to using the index. This tag feature is something I look forward to so much! It makes more sense to me, as I can put in a keyword instead of starting a new entry in the table of contents.

Cons

Numbered pages—This is a pro and a con, for the exact same reasons: the numbers aren’t very visible or legible.

Dot size—I think the dots are a little too big, or maybe too dark. I wish they were more subtle.

The cover—The feel of it is nice, but it bends a lot. The last picture was taken just after I had flipped through, held open, and photographed. I’m unsure how it’ll fare after being used daily for the next few months.

Page count—I like to use about a page a day, maybe every two days, so I wish there were more than 100 pages in this notebook.

Overview

I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the binding style. I prefer a spiral bound notebook, and I also prefer having a hard cover. But we have to compromise. If I can’t have a hard cover, then I’ll at least get a dot grid layout.


Upcoming, I’ll list out my collections and whatnot; before I even got the book, I wrote out what exactly I wanted to include. I’m so excited to get started using it! Having the dot grid has made me feel more free in my layouts. I can draw boxes and measure on the page so much more easily than in a ruled notebook.

Bullet Journal Notebook Review of Productive Luddite EDC Dot Grid Notebook