Life

Good Mondays – A Cup of Coffee

Well hello there! It’s Good Mondays time, because Mondays suck! So, today I want to talk about something that happened a couple of weeks ago actually, and that was that I went out to a bakery, bought some nice pastries, and ordered a cup of Iced Sea Salt Caramel Coffee.

OK, so here’s something y’all gotta understand. Because of my asthma and all the IVF procedures, I’ve basically been housebound since March. We didn’t start ordering takeout until last month, and I rarely venture out anywhere because of the spread. But as the months dragged on and California’s use of masks become more ubiquitous, I feel less stressed about strictly staying home. Where I live people are very diligent about masks, and stores absolutely enforce the rule (or I just don’t visit stores that don’t do it. Also helps that Walmart is like banned within 30 mile radius from the city or something.) So I went out and got groceries and went to farmer’s markets, but I still have not gone into a restaurant that allows indoor dining (I’m not sure there are any right now where I live, actually – outdoor seating only – but still.) I miss going to restaurants. My husband and I are pretty big foodies and part of the draw for us is in the dine-in experience. For a lot of our special occasions we’d save up so we can go to the few Michelin-starred restaurants around the city. So this whole Covid thing took away a large part of our enjoyment of life, and it hurt more than I realized.

Anyway, we went to a bakery when we went shopping for groceries, and I ordered a cup of caramel coffee from there. It was the first beverage made by someone else professional I’ve had since March. I was staring at the cup with the swirl of whipped cream on top and almost burst into tears because it was a sign of normalcy again. Talk about an emotional wreck haha. Not only because of Covid, though, but I also hadn’t been able to have any caffeine for a while due to the whole pregnancy/miscarriage situation. Being able to consume a caffeinated beverage now seemed like a greater deal than it should be. Again, a sign of normalcy, to life before 2020, before the pandemic, and I’m feeling hopeful in 2021 we’ll be able to get back to what was before, somewhat. Meanwhile I will take what I can, and perhaps visit the bakery more often to get more things I missed in the nine months so far of isolation.

Life

Good Mondays – Hobonichi Techo

I’m beginning to notice a pattern with my Good Mondays entries haha. Pens, books, and now, a planner/journal system. You know, I guess it’s not hard to deduce that being a booklover and a writer, the things that make me happy are book-related things. Or at least the joyful things I think of first tend to be book-related things. I’m sure as the weeks goes on I’ll have other hobbies or situations to be grateful for. But for now, bear with me, it’s going to be more paper goods.

So, today I’m going to talk about the Hobonichi Techo – a yearly planner that’s apparently a cult favorite, and comes in limited release every year. I was browsing jetpens.com a few weeks ago (my s.o. really needs to keep me off this website so I don’t bankrupt us buying stationery!) and they had a banner featuring the Hobonichi Techo on the front page. So I got curious and clicked, and many, many Youtube videos later, I basically got hooked. The layout is pretty much exactly how I need it to be, AND it comes in Simplified Chinese version. The paper are thin and good to write on (although slightly debatable when it comes to fountain pens due to its thinness, but I mostly use gen pels so it’s not a problem), the colors are beautiful and pastel, and everything just looks so tidy and organized and clean. And the accessories, oh my! So many stickers and covers and all kinds of stationery just tailored for this brand. Unfortunately they go out of stock really, really quickly, and because Japan loves its exclusives, sometimes there’s one shipment to the US and if you miss it, well then you’re just SOL. And they can get very expensive, so I just ended up buying a hodgepodge of accessories that I think are essential but are made by cheaper third parties. (So instead of a beautiful $8 first-party pencil board I got a $1.50 recycled plastic one. Works the same.) Right now I’m still waiting on the last bits to come in, which is funny, because this planner starts on Jan 1 of next year so I can’t really use it now anyway. It’ll just have to sit prettily in my drawer until then.

Now I know you’re asking: my dear, you already have bullet journals and actual journals and task notebooks – why do you need yet another planner? Well, to be truthful, I don’t. However! It makes me happy, and I think I want to use this as a dedicated work journal. So right now I use my bujo for everything – appointments, work goals, chores, food to eat, people’s contact info, etc. I mean, that’s how bujos are meant to be used – a catch all. But I found that I need a little bit more structure when it comes to prioritization. Right now I feel like my work goals get lost in the minutiae of everyday living. Write two pages, followed by doing the laundry, followed by phone call from a friend, followed by another page of writing, followed by a blog – it’s just so jumbled. Some days when I have a gazillion chores to do I might only write a little bit, but then I would feel like I achieved a lot when in actual work, I’ve done very little. And the reverse happens too. This is not conducive to accurately gauge how much work I’ve done and whether I am on track for my goals. If I have dedicated work planner, I’d be able to isolate my actual workload. Because you know, sometimes how much we think we’ve done is not necessarily how much we’ve actually done, and come review time we’re either caught off-guard how little we’ve accomplished, or don’t give ourselves enough credit when credit is due. And that’s just no good at all.

Or I just really like having such a cute and useful notebook by my desk. That’s a legit reason too.

Life

Good Mondays – Reading

Well hello folks. It’s been a slight while for a Good Mondays entry but hey, at least it’s here. With all the crazy stuff going on in my life I’m just glad that at least I have a small part on the Internet where I can talk about insignificant but happy things. Anyway, today I want to talk about reading. More specifically, the fact that I’m reading books again!

You know, I was an avid reader growing up. Bookworm definitely described me to a T, all throughout grade school, college, grad school, and all that. I didn’t have that many books in my house mostly because I grew up poor. But it’s why I love libraries, and I’ve devoured many many tomes through that (and occasionally I go into bookstores and just read, yes, I know, not good for the bookstore, but I can’t afford buying all the books!). But as the years went on, I began to read less and less. No time, other distractions (TV, video games, yeah mostly those haha), or bouts of depression that make me not want to devote any time to reading. Eventually I just let everything drop, and basically only read articles online or forums, which, as we all know, could take a toll on one’s mental health, especially if done for a prolonged amount of time.

So last month I set a goal. I will read more! Starting with the non-fiction book I checked out from the library that I wrote about in the last blog post. It’s the first book I’ve finished in years, and I think that must’ve opened the floodgates, so to speak. I started to follow book rec blogs (since I definitely have not kept up with any bestseller lists) and put the ones that I could find onto my library’s digital loan program. Not everything has a Kindle version and not every ebook is available in my library, but there’s enough to get me started. I’m not ambitious – none of the a-book-a-week or whatever awe-inspiring goals these book reviewers go through. If I can finish reading one thing every month I’ll be a happy gal.

I wish I have more profound things to say than “yay! me reading!” I don’t really haha. However, I do feel like I’ve recovered something I’ve lost due to years of depression. I’m not sure I’ve stopped reading books solely because of depression, but stress definitely has something to do with it. And the more stressful my environment is the less I want to do things that require thought. I would delve into Youtube and other visual, super passive media because I just didn’t have the energy for more focused activities. (Come on, you can’t say that reading things like Swann’s Way doesn’t require active energy. Like, there’s a reason people study this stuff for their Ph.D thesis or whatever.) So me getting back into reading actual books, and finishing them, is a good sign. I can’t promise continual progress, and so my Book Thoughts series might be slow, but I’ll definitely try to set some time off every day to read. It used to be one of my greatest joys. It should become one again now.

Life

Good Mondays – Pens

Alright let’s start our official Good Mondays post – where I post something that makes me happy (and hopefully the happiness is contagious? ahaha bad word choice but you know what I mean) so I can get through the rest of the week. Or more like a daily gratitude post – thankful for small things, but weekly – anyways I should just get on with the topic, yeah? Today – pens!

More specifically – gel pens! So you know from my past posts that I do bullet journal religiously. I mostly use fountain pens with it, and they’re great, but lately I’ve been bitten by the ‘more color all the time’ bug and changing ink every time is a huge hassle. I actually don’t own any colorful pens – it’s either expensive fountain pens or cheap plain black BICs, so I thought, let’s go to the middle and buy some nice gel pens, eh? I kinda went on a shopping spree and bought a bunch different ones to test out. I’m a sucker for muted colors, I found, so sepia, various “colored” blacks (that also sounds bad, but I just meant like red-tinged black, blue-tinged black, etc.), deep green and navy and aubergine and etc. They just look very…calm and centered? Without being boring. And god knows we all need some calmness right now.

I got three separate sets: the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner in Summer Festival, the Uni-ball Signo UM-151 in Off-black, and the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip in Vintage Color 2. They’re all slightly different thickness but all write very smoothly. It’s funny, because I’m trying to consolidate and streamline my life but ended up dividing things into categories anyway, like with these pens. I was totally just going to use them interchangeably for everything, but found myself delegating the Zebra ones to writing long journal entries, the Staedtler ones to daily logging, and the Uni-ball to everything else. I think it’s mostly because the Zebra ones are thicker, therefore more comfortable to hold, and so best suited for when I need to write for an extended amount of time. And it really tells me something about my psyche when I’m drawn to the yellows in all the sets first. Yellow is a happy color, and I could definitely use some pick-me-ups, so my notebooks are just swamped with bright and cheery colors now.

It’s kind of silly to be so happy over such mundane things like a set of pretty gel pens. And even sillier that so far my happy things are all stationary products haha. Well, these are abnormal times, folks. Normally I’d be ecstatic over going to a good restaurant or watch a good movie or going to a good concert – none of which are possible right now and probably for many months to come. I know people have been going to bars and restaurants regardless, but I need to be extra safe because of my upcoming medical procedures. I guess obsessively recording and organizing my life is a way for me to cope with the stress, so pardon me while I celebrate tiny things like a smooth-writing pen on thick, none-feathering paper. And if the color yellow reminds me of sunshine and brings a smile to my face, then everything is working as intended, and I’m only thankful that such small gestures are actually enough.

Life

Good…Mondays?

I started the Good Fridays series a couple of weeks ago and not gonna lie, I do like the idea. I am an anxious person and don’t appreciate the small good things in life often enough, and I think my mental health would benefit if I continue to do so. However, I’ve since realized that I don’t really need that pick-me-up on Fridays, because, well, it’s Friday! The day before the weekend, the day all your work is done and you can start relaxing. Granted my work is a bit more sporadic but the general sense I have on Fridays is not really anxiety. Plus, I have Friday Fictioneers and other things going on, so there’s usually not a dearth of topics to blog about on Fridays. I started the series so I can think of something good to soothe my anxiety for the week, but I think I might not have chosen the best day for that. Fridays are generally pretty good for me, mental health-wise.

Now Mondays, though. That’s a different story. Yes, we all know the “case of the Mondays” and I have them too. And with my work schedule usually it’s not because of work, per se, that makes it hard to do on Mondays. It’s that Sundays are grocery-shopping/chores/other life problems day, and with all the trappings of the pandemic going on shopping is usually a long and harrowing experience. So many things to disinfect and long lines and masks and all that. So usually on Sundays I just get exhausted by afternoon and then don’t really work that much, which leads to a lack of momentum so when Monday rolls around, I have even less desire to do work. So if there’s a day for a good old appreciation entry to get me going, it’s Mondays. So, I think this will work better if I make the series Good Mondays instead. I mean, who actually thinks Mondays are good? And that’s exactly why I need something extra to get through it productively.

Well, I don’t really have anything particularly positive for today though. I guess we can sort of count figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t as a positive? But next week, next week we will talk about good things. Among a whole lot of other things – like multiple upcoming surgeries. But, I digress. I do hope you all have a good week, everyone. And think of something small and positive today.