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Writing

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Today is one of those days when I wish I had an elegant writing arrangement like this, with space all around it and a distinct lack of clutter that keeps eyeing me suspiciously because I haven’t cleaned it up yet.  I love my writing desk, not least because it’s been in my family for almost a century, but it keeps getting used as a flat surface to put things on.  I also adore the little writing desk that we bought for my Christmas present so I can write more easily on the couch and in bed without straining my neck, but a lovely little space like that would be wonderful.  It looks calm and attentive, just like a new notebook with fresh pages just waiting to be filled.

etsy.com/shop/gardenblooms

Isn’t the desk pretty?  It’s really light, fits easily on my lap, and holds lots of notebooks, pens, note cards, and anything else I want to keep close by.  I’d post a picture of my full-size desk, but it’s covered in stationery and boxes and papers right now, so I’ll wait until I clean it off before doing so.  I still haven’t figured out a good way to store all my stationery and note cards so that I can access them easily without having their storage take up space on the few flat surfaces I have, but that’s on my list to figure out this week, along with baking a strawberry cake.

And speaking of strawberry… I’m desperate for color right now, and this wallpaper is so fresh and cheerful that I’d love to put it somewhere.  Changing the walls isn’t an option right now, though, so they’ll stay beige and I’ll have to get my colorful walls from pictures for a while longer.

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Journal/Sketchbook "Down in the Meadow"

From the time I was little, I received beautiful things and never used them. When I was given sweet pea body wash or lotion, I would use only a little of it so that I would never run out. I collected pretty horse and fairy stickers, but it was rare that any of them made it onto a letter or a piece of paper. I was the save-it child, keeping everything for the perfect moment, because I wanted my pretty things to always be there.

Those stickers are still in my file drawer, but I’m using them now. They find their way onto the backs of envelopes when I send letters, and, strangely, I almost feel as though this is that “perfect time” that I was waiting for when I was younger and refused to use them.

Beautifully made journals and notebooks were treated the same way: a place of honor on a shelf or in a drawer, but no words to make them live and breathe and truly be mine.  I am encouraging myself to use those lovely books now, as I am with my stationery.  For stationery, I took an idea from Alexandra Stoddard and keep one of each notecard or stationery set in a box for me to look through and remember all the letters and notes I sent.  It also means that I’m more likely to use the notecards and stationery because I don’t worry about never seeing that exact one again.

The pretty chocolates that I used to save for months because I didn’t want them to be all gone are now savored one by one, but eaten nonetheless.  I’ve learned to appreciate them for their edibility as well as their beauty.

Most of all, though, I’m learning to take my pretty dreams off the shelf in my mind where I stored them, and to follow them.  I always told myself that when I grew up, I’d make pretty aprons and cook down apples into homemade applesauce and write whatever stories I wanted, whenever I wanted, without worrying that I should hide them in case people didn’t like them.  I kept all the dreams that a little girl has for when she grows up, and now I’m taking them off that shelf.  I made applesauce yesterday, and it’s the most delicious applesauce I’ve ever had.  I bought a pattern for vintage aprons, and five yards of white broadcloth, and I’m going to make myself an apron just the way I want it–long and ruffled and covering my entire skirt.  And once I finish it, I might get up the courage to try my skills at making a dress–long and pretty and rather old-fashioned–because I can’t find day dresses that I like in the stores.

I’m going to use my pretty things–the family china, the scented candles, the delicate teacups, and the notecards–and I’m not going to let my fear of things being “all gone” prevent me from enjoying them while they and I are here.

Gadanke

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I came across a site yesterday that sells the most beautiful little journals with writing prompts.  The journals are made by a woman who wants to encourage everyone to tell their own stories in ways that will entertain, amuse, and make them smile in years to come.  I ordered the {Love Letter} one tonight, and I hope to give it to David as a Christmas or anniversary present once I’ve finished it, depending on how long it takes.  Just looking at the photos on the site of all the lovely journals makes me want to see them in person right now, not in the days it will probably take mine to get here.  The prices are nowhere near as expensive as I had expected, and the shipping was only $1.50 for my $9.00 journal.  I am so excited to see it and use it, and to try some of the others once I finish this one.

The papers, the papers…

We’ve been in our new duplex-style apartment for just over a month now, and I’m finally facing the challenge of cleaning out the filing cabinet I’ve had since I was twelve.  Since I’ve always been a paper-person, convinced that information would disappear forever if I didn’t write it down and file it, I have plenty of paper-and-ink (and sometimes pencil) proof that I spent more of my school and college years collecting information that interested me than doing homework. Mixed in with carefully labeled folders of notes from French classes and scripts from plays I was in are the golden days of my life:  stories and poetry that I wrote and pictures that I drew and colored and painted.

When I try to remember what I filed over the last nine years, however, my mind seems to have pointedly forgotten all the mismatched slips of paper with book titles, authors, topics to research, websites, story ideas, and lines of poetry that were somehow stashed in completely unrelated file folders for lack of disciplined organization. Once I had enough files to separate all my papers, I seem to have forgotten the point of separating them into different folders, and promptly stuck new pieces of information into whichever folder was handiest.

Now I’m stuck with the incomprehensibility of recipes mixed in with Korean language notes, monologues with Greek and Roman history, and, most recently, my rice cooker manual with the sparkly horse stickers that I was given when I was younger and never used because they were too pretty to part with.

It has become extremely obvious of late that my file cabinet needs cleaning out. Unfortunately, it is not the kind of “all-at-once” job that I prefer, but must be dealt with file by file, drawer by drawer. Since I know that cleaning out one folder will leave me with information that belongs in at least five others, I will have to discover a method of storing various piles of papers until I come to the appropriate folders. Piles do seem to be my very-disorganized style of cleaning out, whether I’m working with books, toiletries, papers, or magazines.  It still mystifies me that my computer files can be perfectly neat and orderly while my paper files look like Hurricane Floyd came through again.

I don’t think I will ever understand how David never has papers to organize. Twice a year he goes through his school notebooks and sorts through the notes, but most of them are then tossed and the remaining two or three placed in a single file folder. Perhaps it’s because he uses his computer for everything, while I am totally fascinated by paper and writing, and therefore do better when working with pen and paper than with a word processor, although I have improved dramatically when using a computer keyboard for expression. Nevertheless, it never fails to surprise me that his entire store of papers doesn’t even fill one file, while mine fills a dozen notebooks, two file drawers, two boxes of stationery, and three boxes of letters. The man is truly a minimalist when it comes to paper goods. I’d probably envy his simplicity of organization if I had to bring myself down to a file folder or two of papers, but I have enough storage for them, and I’d still rather have my paper information and stories and just sort through them every once in a while.

Eventually I hope to use one drawer for household, business, and educational files, and the other for my personal stockpiles of information and creativity. Originally I had it organized in a similar way, and it worked beautifully. With all the papers I have, it ought to be much easier to find everything and make use of it once that file cabinet is completely cleaned out.  Now I just have to attack the first set of files…