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A Year

A Year

The year twenty-twenty was to be the year I took off to complete the draft of an in-progress novel. At the beginning of January, I fell ill for two weeks. At the end of February, I was scanning the news channels for updating news of the epidemic spreading in Wuhan. In the middle of March, I was on the phone with a friend, advising them to cut short a vacation and return to the country as soon as they could. Lockdown happened by the end of that week, and then... The gut-wrenching drama, ennui, despair, and hope ensued. Many things lost and changed meaning.

When you write in your notebook, your journal, your planner—what is it that you write down?

This year, there were weeks that passed without notice, and days that stretched time thin with their seeming longevity. But the sun rose and set every day, the moon waxed and waned, and the planets moved along their expected orbits in the night sky. In my Traveler's Notebook, I logged the weather, how I felt, and anything that made me worried or happy. I wrote down what struck me as notable events, news, trending topics. I jotted appointments for virtual conferences, virtual doctor's visits, virtual dance parties.

Every table in the house slowly became rearranged and optimized for eating and working. I spent long hours at the tables with a party's worth of beverages and my Apica notebook, the one I use just for the novel, meta-writing and drafting. I wrote with a tray full of pens *and* my open pencil case within arm's reach. I spread out. The notebook is the lay-flat kind. It helped.

I started carrying a tote bag around in the house, just to cart my stack of books and notebooks and laptop from table to table. Sometimes I sat down with the intention to write, or get my life together in my planner, and ended up sitting and reading into the late afternoon instead.

Did other people also find themself taking a deep dive back into old hobbies? Before the all-the-time-on social media world took hold of my life, I passed my personal time listening to music, reading, and writing. When I needed to disengage from the glowing rush of cell phone news, this is where I returned.

At the start of autumn I went back to work, and the demands of calendar deadlines came back into my life. My long days of turning the pages of paperbacks and half-full journals against the backdrop of the radio reconfigured. I started logging work tasks in a flip-top notepad, and made it a point to keep it separate from my leisure/pleasure/novel-writing volumes. 

In the last week of December, I began the task of rearranging my Traveler's Notebook from a journal-planner, into a memo notebook and to-do scratch pad.  I cracked open my 2021 planner, an A5 weekly to match my current A5 journal. I packed away the old, full volumes into my archive bin, glancing through the pages before tucking them away.  

One day I'll look back on everything I wrote down this year. When I've made it through difficult periods in my life before, I very rarely stopped to celebrate myself or remember all that changed in a positive light. It's often not till I page through my old journals that I see who I was and who I was becoming.  

Happy New Year.

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