Time for a new chapter: H

The G Alphabook

I started journaling somewhere around my 16th birthday thanks to a very influential English teacher who somehow got me to apply to the University of Penn Young Writers Workshop.

I have journaled most of the last 30 years, though I do have a substantial gap in the early years of my daughter’s life.

I have always had the belief— and much of this may be from my attitude and frame of mind—that each journal begins and ends as a specific chapter. That each volume signifies a certain time period or life event more than a chronological record.

I would also never artificially fill a journal. Each much come to a close naturally.

Yesterday was my birthday and I finished my G journal. Today I moved on to H.

I am very excited. The G journal started in November. It came after the F journal which covered the time period around the end of my marriage. The E journal— or the E-book as Mr. Accordion calls it—brought me to my new employer and new career field.

The G journal covered the holidays, changes in interpersonal relationships, a shift in how my daughter and I communicate, an improvement in how my soon-to-be ex-husband and I interact (and I feel like we are rebuilding our friendship), the beginning of the stressful situation at work, and Covid-19.

Now I feel like hopefully, the pain and struggle will perhaps be more of a journey and time of growth.

May is finally warm. Flowers are finally blooming.

And today at 1 pm — my boss approved my vacation. Stay tuned for more fun.

Feeling the love

The work stress hit me hard this morning so I did something I don’t normally do— I admitted that I needed some emotional support on Facebook.

It is my birthday after all.

At least four of my former bosses sent words of encouragement and one brought some edible arrangements fruit to my house.

Several neighbors sent well-wishes, one of whom got me not one but TWO drinks from Dunkin’. Which, now that I have had three of the matcha lattes, I have decided that Dunkin doesn’t make their matcha strong and chunky the way I like it.

One colleague FaceTimed with me on a coffee break and most of them sent email greetings as Mr. Accordion had no doubt alerted them to my advancing years. Or levels.

The teenager and her father are off to pick up the popcorn fundraiser. Her father offered to bring me dinner.

I will be finishing my G journal if not tonight then tomorrow— and I believe a fresh journal means a new chapter.

For more on my birthday adventures:

Kicking off my birthday

Pre-Birthday Magic

Through tired eyes

I. Am. Exhausted.

March was shaping up to be an exhausting month at work before it even started because of all the grants I had to finish— I forget how many so we’ll round to ten. And a couple needed reports.

Then we added a couple last minute important government opportunities and dealt with some EITC issues… if you don’t know what EITC is don’t worry about it, it’s a Pennsylvania tax program for corporations that benefits education.

And then we hit the state emergency of Corona virus/COVID-19 shutdown.

My employer has the largest full-choice food pantry in the County and we serve hundreds of households every month. We educated about a hundred people daily in our classrooms. We serve students in the schools. Provide assistance to walk-ins, existing clients and referrals.

So this has changed everything. The CEO is scrambling. Meetings are going virtual. Our educators are looking at distance learning. Our food pantry staff and volunteers are bagging food instead of letting clients shop.

And now we need to design a schedule and a work plan to use our homes as offices.

Ideally, we no more than 3 people in our admin building at a time. (There are only six of us.)

Tomorrow I have to take the old MacBook Air into the office and hope I can get it to connect to the remote server. Otherwise, I am not allowed to work from home.

And I forgot my journal on my desk, and my planner, but my planner I can survive without. But my journal? Noooooooo!

Every morning, I get up, pour a cup of mostly decaf coffee and write in my journal while the cats eat. Not having this ritual will be upsetting.

To lighten the mood, here is a cat photo from the freshly cleaned room of the teenager:

And an unboxing of this months treats— a Universal Yums box from Brazil (featuring Nala, my naughty Goffin’s cockatoo):

Universal Yums March 2020

Journaling across generations

I started keeping a journal after a writing workshop at University of Pennsylvania that I attended as a high school student. I kept them faithfully for at least a decade, tapered off in my consistency after the birth of my daughter, experimented with forms (most recently adapting a bullet journal style) and renewed my habit in the last few years but still not with the same devotion I once did.

I used to fill a standard cheap journal in a month. Larger, fancier volumes took longer. I color coded a lot of my text. One color for fiction, one color for poetry and another for personal experience. That sort of thing.

The blank ones included sketches. Briefly, I used calligraphy pen and even briefer a fancy fountain pen.

My current fascination is Alphabooks, blank journals in the shape of alphabet letters. I found the A on clearance. My husband had recommended his mother buy me the N for Christmas as it is the second letter of my name, but I fooled them and mentioned if I had the chance I would continue the series with B and write alphabetically.

I also have an affinity for Sharpie pens. I bought a set in August 2016 and they are still going strong.

Eventually, my journals ended up in a box in the attic. Or, several boxes, more accurately.

My now 13-year-old daughter has always been captivated by the written word, always written in notebooks, constantly starting projects and ripping out pages (and never finishing). She has started working on her own stories, but journaling hasn’t held her interest.

 

But she keeps asking to read my journals. I cringe.

I tell her she needs to remember that journals have a lot of angst in them, a lot of unfiltered, unedited thoughts and that what I say in these journals might not always be… well… nice or even what I would say on a different day. And some of my tales might color her opinion of the people she knows, even her own family.

But she keeps asking.
I bought her a nice journal for Christmas. And a HUGE set of Flair pens. She has journaled for 15

days straight. She starts on her journaling journey as I wonder if mine has been worth it. Who wants to read that drivel? There are so many volumes are they worth sifting through? Do I say hateful things?

She asked again. She volunteered to get them from the attic. We sorted through the boxes and at some point I had labeled the cover of the journal with the major events of that time period. I selected a pile of about ten I said she could read.

She started with the journal that included when her father and I got married.

She’s read me excerpts: story ideas I’d forgotten about, adventures and misadventures,

my life as a vegetarian. My favorite thus far has been a poem about my nephew when he was about 3, and a page where he scribbled in my journal. Then my daughter found a journal where she was 2, and I let her scribble in my journal.

So I guess those journals are worth something.