Tag Archives: bullet journal

Monopoly, pivot, pivot!

“For Pete’s sake, Eunice, cheer up.”

We were not much of a board game family growing up. Oh, occasionally we’d pull out Pictionary or Scrabble, but more often than not, “family down time” was for individual pursuits, most likely all of us reading somewhere in the same house. Board games were usually like this:


Didn’t stop us from trying every six months or so. Almost always on vacation. Almost always not worth it.

So when my children ask to play a game –always when I’m feeling complete eviscerated by life, always when I’m exhausted, and always Monopoly – I groan.

Inwardly, I mean, because I usually say, “Ok.” If I’m lucky, I can put it off until some unspecified “later” – they always claim it, though. On rare days, they forget they asked me and get caught up in other things. That right there is the magic of parenting.

Usually, though, we play and it’s tedious and we practice counting (when they’re little) and strategy (when they’re big) and still there are winners and losers. I love the bonding time, I don’t like that I have to roll dice or gather play money or keep someone from chewing on little plastic pieces to get to the good stuff – the little life lessons, the small moments, the catching my kid trying to steal money from the bank. That kind of good stuff.

And sometimes there’s no good stuff. There is only the game and indulging the kids in a lot of what they want to do.

Board games. Bored games. BORED games.

When my husband and I were dating, he pulled out a board game – perhaps trivial pursuit, but I can’t be sure– and I honestly thought it was going to end our relationship because I thought I would die from the tedium of it.

Board games are the equivalent of square dancing: structured, rule-based, and involving at least one person stomping every few minutes.

Fun fact #1: We had three weeks of square dancing in 6th grade gym class.

Fun fact #2: I was one hell of a square dancer in 6th grade gym class.

Fun fact #3: I’m not proud of fun fact #2, but it’s a source of endless amusement for pretty much everyone but me.

I have yet to see a board game bring out the best in anyone, except for perhaps for latent competitive streaks and/or the best pout. (Mine is the best pout, btw.)

And this is the sort of thought that tickles at my mind when I’m not busy trying to work or be a better human or help my fellow Earth travelers. Banal thoughts like: Ddoes it mean something that I don’t like board games? Do I suck? Am I overthinking this? Am I completely un-fun? All of these can and will, of course, be answered by reading online comments on any article about parenting.

Because I lead a very interesting life, I’ve had conversations with people about board games, during which I tend to mention that they’re not my favorite activity. This usually prompts the listener to chime in “I LOVE BOARD GAMES!” (And it’s always Monopoly.) And they seem honestly troubled that I don’t. So, I go back to safer topics like circumcision or politics.


You know who doesn’t get tied up in knots about things like that? J.K. Rowling. She really cuts through the crap. Or she just gets rid of it by flinging it at appropriate targets.  I like that about her. I think we’d get along brilliantly. I hope she’s an introvert. Then we could hang out,  have meaningful conversations, not play board games, and trade good books every once in awhile.

Or, better, we could do this:

Pivot with me now:

There was a time I carried my Franklin Planner around with me. I don’t anymore, mostly because people kept thinking it was a bible and wanting to pray with me while I was trying to schedule things like dental appointments and leg shaving, which felt awfully sacrilegious. Also, I don’t carry a Bible around with me.

I still use my Franklin Planner for day-to-day stuff; however, for creative/writing scheduling, I am still using my Bullet Journal.

Maybe by 2018 I’ll consolidate everything into one BuJo (Look at me with the lingo). I will never convert to an electronic calendar system completely. DH and I coordinate that way, but that’s for the benefit of on-the-go scheduling, a sort of “who is able to do this other thing with the kids?” convenience. I’m not a technophobe, but I’m also the type of person who puts post-it notes on her phone. Like literally. Not the virtual kind. And this is not a bad thing.

Pivot again –  something to chew on that’s not bite-sized or petite.

Pivot! (We’re dancing here, folks!) “Any work of art quickly reveals itself to be a linked system of problems

Pivot just because this makes me laugh:

Unrelated: I like Chekhov quite a lot. 

Last pivot:

This past weekend, I had my first rehearsal for LYTM, and I am excited to be getting to the next phase of it all.  I will write more about that later this week, but I hope you will catch one of the many LTYM shows across the country in the next few weeks. Check it out and see if you can find a show in your neck of the woods.

(Do woods have necks?)

The Odder, The Ender

I ended 2016 well and began 2017 better. My days were structured enough for work and loose enough for being present and available for my family. Quickly, though, I lost control of my days. That’s what happens when the school year, work, and volunteer obligations hit, as well as various minor childhood illnesses. It’s hard to wrangle words into meaning while sitting next to a child with a bad cold who just wants to watch tinkly kiddie shows and put her feet on your lap. For two days. After neither of you have slept.

Priorities, though.

I’m tiptoeing back to my schedule, as the work and volunteer pressures abate for a few days.

I’ve already been published once this year, and am about to submit two more pieces by the end of the week. I have four more already out and I’m waiting to hear responses. I am motivated and disciplined. Good combination.

So, as January is often a time I try new things that don’t involve breaking a sweat or eating things that taste like kale, look like kale, or are kale, I am giving bullet journaling a go.

I’m not a doodler, and I don’t consider myself much of a visual learner. Perhaps due to innate perfectionism, art classes intimidated me. I couldn’t, from an early age, get the crayon or pencil to form the images in my head. I didn’t know how to see. Family and teachers used to gently tease me about my handwriting (which is still pretty awful) and it stuck. I never was one to make the posters for projects or events. I don’t create that way. I create in music and words and yarn sometimes, and even then I still struggle to get the piece to be what it is in my head.

I was intimidated by art classes even as I grew into a bold (obnoxious?) college student. As an undergraduate, I had to take an art class. I enrolled in an “introductory” art history course, surrounded by people who had obviously already been introduced to all things Art-Capital-A. “Pointillism” came up in the first class; I had never even heard the word and I felt so dumb, so much a rube. The professor assumed that all the nodding heads meant everyone in the room understood not only the term but the finer points (forgive the pun) of the style.

There was a basic drawing class at the same time, so I switched. That class terrified me, too. Especially the week of nude sketching, which is another story for another time. But I passed. Sort of. I don’t think the instructor was looking for too much out of me other than my showing up and being able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of negative space.

So imagine my surprise when I decided January was going to be a trial period for bullet journaling for my writing and performance. I use a Franklin-Covey system for the rest of my life, which has been my go-to for over a decade now. It works for me, but was not working for my writing.

I stumbled upon the idea for a bullet journal on Pinterest (of course) while perusing at cool fonts and handwriting. I have a few (dozen) extra notebooks lying around, so I pulled one out and started. Being me, of course, I first researching how to use them and tentatively began copying some people’s styles and writing and bullets and banners.

Quickly, I fell in love. Hard. I’ve always tried to honor my art, but this journal puts it into physical form. The intention, the goal – those become art as well.

By now, I’m already figuring out what I need and what I don’t. Also, my moleskin notebook bleeds through, which is irritating as heck because I want pristine pages each time I turn, and that means I cannot use my good markers. Small problems easily solved. I have to wait, though because I am not wasting a notebook.


I check this journal/planner more than any system I’ve tried since embracing the writing life. I can see how people can lose a lot of time making it look pretty. I’ve already broken out the correction tape, so I want to make sure it doesn’t suck me into a perfectionism vortex.

I’ll see if it works for me or if I end up working for my bullet journal. Updates to come.

Something Completely Different:

I doubt I will look back at this time in our cultural history and dub it “The Good Old Days.” I’m sure I will speak of activism and struggle and learning, of intersectionality and a divided country. Of change unsettling in ways I’ve not before experienced. But dotting those big bold markers in my life are small wonders and joys.

Making this week special:

  • My daughter’s return to health after weeks of coughing and a few days of fever.
  • Slowing down and paying attention.
  • My kids’ enthusiasm over a chess match they participated in.
  • My twins still hug me and know when it’s most needed.
  • Reading aloud Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the second time with the kids just because revisiting a favorite book is a gift.
  • My husband grilling burgers (or anything).
  • My daughter’s curls (always).
  • Writing.
  • Decluttering.
  • Knitting.
  • My friend, K., who steadies me when I tip and who topples me when I’m too upright.
  • Hamilton.
  • The Sun Magazine: some of the best non-fiction, short fiction, and reporting I’ve enjoyed in a long time.
  • The Bobs. I’m heartsick that they are embarking on a farewell tour, but will move mountains to see them.
  • Austin Kleon has unbuckled my approach to work and his newsletter is one of the few I will open immediately upon its arrival in my inbox.
  • The 48-piece Ferrero Rocher box my brilliant husband got me for the holidays. I’m honestly surprised they’ve lasted this long. I’m also surprised I still fit into my pants.

Sometimes you find the art in the negative space.