Nyssa Jo Wallace
When my brother and I first started going to Sunday school, I wanted to show everyone that I know the Bible stories. I don’t remember learning the Bible stories, but I know them. They’re forever written in my memory. After a few lessons, Ms K banned me from answering questions anymore because other kids need to answer.
Honestly, I’m fine with that. I can hold myself back.
But that means now, instead of paying attention, I’m bored.
Tristan and Sammy sit close by, whispering excitedly. Ocarina of Time just came out for the N64. Sam owns it. Tristan doesn’t. Sam wants to tell Tristan everything about it, and Tristan wants to learn everything.
The teacher yells at them regularly to pay attention. Ms K disdains Tristan openly; she thinks he’s a bad influence on Sam, the pastor’s youngest son. She also works at our daycare. She’s one of the workers you avoid. She’s always scolding him for little things, like playing on the computer too long or rocking back and forth on the couch. She never pays attention to me, even though I’m his older sister. Fine with me!
Today we’re learning about Moses. Or we’re suppose to be learning about Moses. We all know the story of Moses. Whispers come from Tristan and Sam. No surprise there. Two girls silently sit in anti-social solidarity. Another boy’s chin rests on his fists, not quite staring at the teacher. I sit by myself as I am the only 2nd grader. Everyone else is younger.
I flip to the morning scripture. I recently learned how to find bible verses. We don’t have to read in Sunday school class; Tristan’s grade is still learning how to. But I can read, so why not look through the thick book to avoid further boredom?
At the bottom of the page with the morning verse, I notice something… a list. And oddly formatted list. Like a poem. How the words are written in a strange way. Not straight and lined up, but curving around the page.
And so I read it. The words are symbols strung together that must mean something to adults but not me. That doesn’t matter though. The way it waved back and forth across the thin column is mesmerizing.
But the words themselves don’t interest me. Just the way they flow on the page.
“Shut that Bible!” Ms K leans over me, slamming the book’s cover over. She picks it up to lay it on her desk, shut and out of reach. “Now, as I was saying…”
I don’t understand. I know the Moses story. I’m not talking to anyone? Why does it matter if I’m reading something else? It’s still the Bible. It’s still on topic.
Apparently, reading ahead for a class with no grades is not allowed.
by Nyssa Jo Wallace
I stand under the dropped ceiling, staring up at the little black, fuzzy creature hanging from the metal lattice. It sleeps with wings wrapped around itself, two long ears hanging down. They kinda reminded me of cat ears.
I want a cat. Recently, I told my parents I would get one as soon as I moved out. But that would be after college, and I still have three years left.
I set up the wooden step stool that resembles a mini ladder. I have one like it at home or at least used to. Not sure where it went. I walk up the stairs, plate and bowl in hand. Slap. The bowl covers the bat. Slowly, the plate slips between the ceiling and rim, nudging the bat off its perch. I feel it land in the bowl, bumping the sides of its makeshift cage to escape. I’d hate to be disturbed from my sleep like this, but I’m paid to do a job, and part of that job is bat removal.
Up the stairs to the ground floor, I use an elbow to push open the back door leading to the pastor’s yard, the keys attached to my belt loop jingling while I move. The summer sun had yet to turn the air into a muggy swelter. I take the bowl to a covered area of bushes and pine trees to deposit the bat. It sits there, sniffing around before using its wings to crawl further under the bush.
I leave it be and return to the church to begin the real chores.
By the time I get home, I smell like lemons and bleach, and all I want is a shower and nap.
The summer brings with it a break from school, and since I’m over the age of 18, Dad expects me to have a job. Luckily, Mom works two jobs, as a nurse at the local hospital and a custodian at our church. The pastor pays under that table, so I took over when summer break came. Sort of. Mom still helps out, mostly with cleaning the sanctuary that requires squeezing an over-sized vacuum between pews to reach the carpet. Today was bathroom day, when I scrub the toilets, sinks, and floors or the church’s four restrooms. The men’s room is always the worst as the younger boys try to use the lone urinal and miss half the time. Bathroom day is a me-only job.
I make about $70 a week. Dad thinks that will pay my college bills. It’s not even going to cover my meal plan.
Every Sunday, I see things I normally wouldn’t, but now I see it clearly. Any piece of trash, each dirty shoe, every dropped crumb I notice because I’m going to have to clean it.
It isn’t all bad. My favorite part of the job is counting the bats that have broken in during the night. It confuses me that the pastor never takes care of the ones in the hall outside his office. He always arrives before me. I think he’s scared of them, but I don’t understand why. They’re always asleep by morning.
Then again, that means I get to release them myself, giving me a bit of joy.
Keys rattle as I unlock the front door, pushing into it. I prop the door open to create a breeze. The keys hanging from my fingers continue to sing along with the charms on my bag, little video game characters in acrylic.
I trudge into the dining room, tossing the keys on the dining room table, skidding across the hardwood. I should walk them to the kitchen and hang them where they belong, but I’m tired. I can’t be bothered to walk the extra distance to the hooks when the stairs that lead to a warm shower and soft bed are closer.
My bag continues to jingle, as I kick off my sneakers, flicking them off my heels and under my designated chair in the dinning room. They should go where they belong, in a neat pile with everyone else’s. But I was never known to follow that rule, so I can’t blame my tiredness for that. I dump the bag onto the table.
My side continues to jingle.
I look to my side where the bag had been sitting for anything still hanging from my belt loop.
… … …
Why is there a cat in the house?
Did my parents leave the back door open? Did it wander in from outside? It can’t be a stray; it wears a collar.
I bend a knee. It looks up at me with light brown eyes. It doesn’t meow, but it purrs, bumping my outstretched hand.
He’s so soft.
It sinks in what has happened and I’m on the floor, petting the cat as he paces in front of me, directing my grasping, shaking hands. He jumps onto my knee, his tiny claws digging slightly through my jeans. I wrap my hands around him and bring him to my chest. With a small paw against my shoulder, he rubs his head against my cheek, purring intensely.
How could something so small purr so loudly?
It’s a half hour before the rest of my family comes home from their jobs. Mom is done at the hospital. Dad is done at the office. My brother is done at the factory. I’m still on the floor, holding the reverberating bundle of fur to my chest, him playing with my fingers.
Like many my age, my favorite holiday is Halloween. At this point, its cliché to love Halloween, but it won’t stop me from enjoying it. I love spooky things, and art inspires me, so I’ve gathered some of my favorite spooky paintings to show you.
Warning: this post contains art.
Trigger Warnings: depictions of death, bone, blood, body horror
Nyssa Jo Wallace
I have three housemates. One is a boy my age. The other two are retired. We all share the same last name.
It’s midday during the work week when Dad asks, “Why do you think you’ve disappointed us?”
“Have you seen me?” I joke, propping my crossed leg against the Forester’s dashboard. It’s a common joke for me. Out of the two of us, I’m a much bigger mess than my brother.
“Nyssa I’m serious.”
I slumped down in the leather seat, watching familiar houses pass by. One more year to be in my 20s but I still live with my parents. And there is my mental health, diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. Sometimes, I can’t be left alone for days at a time because I stop taking care of myself.
Usually, when I’m in a slump and I clearly look distressed, my father will ask “What’s wrong, sweetie?” and I will reply, “Everything.” He will roll his eyes, make some joke about how good my life actually is, and that will be the end of it. Now, he’s adapting to my avoidance.
“Does it ever embarrass you that I still live at home?”
“No,” he says. “Should it?”
“I don’t know.” I stare at the textured plastic of the door. “I am. Sometimes. I mean, I’m college educated and in my 20s but I still live at home with my parents. It’s kinda embarrassing.”
He does that, questions things that should have obvious answers to see that his children think critically. One thing he didn’t raise is cogs in a machine.
“I always figured I’d be on my own by now,” I reply. “That I would have a decent job and a house. Maybe not a husband and 2.5 kids, but at least out there, being a member of society. Instead… I’m just… here.”
It’s not that I don’t want to move out. I do. But on top of my depression, how am I supposed to move out? How can I afford it? I can’t hold down a job. When a future in a company looks promising, I’m laid off. Am I supposed to hold my breath and jump?
My friends did. Most of them moved out of their parents homes. Some have significant others. Most live in apartments. Some plan to buy a house.
Why can’t I be there?
“Is that what you think our expectations are?”
I look over at him. He lines up the car, preparing to back into our driveway. “Yes.”
“They aren’t.” He starts backing the car up.
“Oh.” I swivel my glance to the backup camera. Dad doesn’t use it, opting for the mirrors. I do that too, but I watch the monitor when in the passenger seat.
“My expectations for you is that you should be happy.”
Pinpricks form in the corner of my eyes as heat builds in the tip of my nose. My period is probably going to start soon. I stopped regulating it when I lost my health insurance. The screen on the dashboard gets blurry.
“I like having you around,” Dad continues. “Besides, it’s not like you mooch off me.”
“True.” I pay rent and my portion of groceries and utilities. I alternate cooking days with my mother. I vacuum and dust when needed. “Still…”
“I don’t see it as you living with your parents.” He presses the button that turns the engine off, the screen in front of me going blank. “It’s more like a Multi-Generational Household. We just happen to be related.”
I wipe the tears away. Yeah… I could work with that.
Nyssa Jo Wallace
I smooth out the three hand written papers sitting on my desk, double sided, slick composition paper, bright white with no red side margins. The other 3rd grade kids in my group do the same, digging through the narrow cubbies in the front of their desks to pull out homework assignments stored in folders or pressed between the lessons of textbooks. The desks’ placement resemble a table of four, each student facing a different direction. I glance over to see even Jenn only had a single sheet of paper.
Spelling is my worst subject, but this was the most enjoyable homework I had ever done. I wrote a story. The assignment asked us to use at least 5 of the 10 spelling words in a story. I used all of them in my story about a toucan and a giraffe who had a tea party.
“Do you think Mrs S is going to let us play outside today?” Jenn’s fist props up her chin, eyes following Mrs S around the room, taking assignments, papers fluttering and jostling in her hands. “I want to check the bird’s nest.”
Did birds nest in fall? Surely they didn’t use nests built by kids in a playground, woven sticks sitting on the ground in a bed of stones. But Jenn is smart, so she would know. I’m not allowed near the bird’s nest that the other girl’s built. I don’t know why.
“It’s warm,” one of the boys replies. “I hope so.”
Mrs S may be close enough to hear but doesn’t comment. She takes Jenn’s homework first, a clean sheet of white paper with perfect handwriting. Jenn always gets stickers on her tests.
I’m lucky to pass mine.
But this time I hand Mrs S my papers proudly.
Mrs S pauses, leafing through the pages, skimming my writing over the top of her narrow glasses. “What is all this?”
“My story,” I reply. “It was part of the homework.”
“You were supposed to write a paragraph,” she states, inserting the pages to the back of her stack. “This is why it takes you so long to do your homework.”
Only a few days ago, I accidentally let slip that it took me all evening to do my homework. I start when I arrive home from school and don’t finish until bedtime. I only stop long enough to eat supper.
“I don’t want to hear about the amount of homework you receive ever again.” Mrs. S continues to the next table.
Something inside me deflates. I look to Jenn, hoping for some form of compassion. Her nose wrinkles. Her brow quirks in that way I can’t replicate. I know that look well.
Stupid kids don’t get to help the other girls build bird’s nests at recess.
After lunch, the class files into our sixth grade science room, laden with more than our text books. For 15 minutes, we read or write. The school mandates it. Students roll eyes at the rule. Teachers seem annoyed by it. But every week, our English teacher gives a writing assignment. Honestly, they aren’t very interesting. Usually, it’s about another class or the assigned reading book. Neither interest me.
So instead, I’m writing a novel.
We trudge to our assigned seats around gray, rectangular tables. All other classes have desks, but science projects are done in groups. Jenn sits beside me. Even when we moved from elementary school to middle school, we always have the same classes together. I don’t know why, but it’s nice having a familiar face in the crowd of strangers. She opens one of the Narnia books. I had read about three books from that series, but I didn’t like them.
I slip my science textbook under my chair, the metal rack adhered there to keep them off the floor. I pull out my spiral ringed notebook, the blue one with an owl flying across the cover, and opened it to the last page I worked on.
The novel is a self-insert fantasy about going to summer camp with magical powers, comparable to Harry Potter. I never went to summer camp before; that was something rich kids and stars in movies did. I go to a Christian day camp during my summers, but imagining going to a magical forest with your best friend and fighting evil spirits sounded much more exciting. It’s my daily 15 minute escape to pretend I don’t struggle with my grades or am mediocre at every extra-curricular I attempt.
Whitney reads it between classes. I met her this year, one of the few people I felt comfortable talking to. Jenn said she wants to read it too, but when she saw the length, she decided to read it when it was published. I tried not to feel hurt.
That day, though, Mrs M had different plans for the class.
“I have been told that some of you aren’t getting your English assignments done on time. I want everyone to be working on that.”
My English composition notebook was tucked away in my locker. I raise my hand as Jenn stores her book under her chair to grab the manila notebook with red tape binding. I’m not the only one to raise a hand, but Mrs M stands closest to me. “Can I go to my locker to get my English work?”
Her eyes swivel to the spiral notebook in front of me, clearly filled with writing. “What’s that?”
I glance at it, closing the notebook, Hedwig staring at the two of us. “A book I write for fun.”
She snorts. “Why?”
The vent fan buzzes awfully loudly. I don’t know how to respond. My hands feel slick.
“You have other things to be doing. I don’t want to see you working on that in my classroom. Go get your English homework.”
Why does it matter if it wasn’t my English homework? I turn my assignments in on time. Doesn’t the school encourage writing? Isn’t it something teachers are always pushing?
Apparently, I’m wrong.
I stand, holding the notebook to my chest as Jenn muffles her laughter. As the teacher tells everyone to follow if needed, I skirt to my locker as quickly as I can to get the correct notebook.
Why Ms D’s classroom is set up with tables instead of normal desks is beyond me. Maybe the theater class needs them to practice lines? But I enjoy sitting across from Edi. She’s in a different grade, so we rarely get to be in the same classes, but we met at day camp and clicked. Even four years later, we call each other every weekend to watch anime together.
Open windows ventilate the stuffy room, but with the blinds closed, no sun could enter. Shame. Natural light is said to help with creativity, but apparently teens aren’t allowed to look out the window to a semi-filled parking lot.
Edi grins as Ms D makes her way around the room, handing back our creative writing assignments. “How pissed do you think she got?”
“At what?” I pretend not to know.
Every assignment she hands back is a typed, one-sided printer page. When Ms D got to our table, she hands a single page to Edi, a single page to the girl sitting beside her, and five pages to me.
“I appreciate your enthusiasm,” she mutters, “but perhaps stick closer to the word count.” The same sentiment is written in red on the rubric stabled to the top of the pages.
I shrug. She gave a minimum word count, not a maximum.
She stalks away to begin her half-assed attempt to teach creative writing. Giving random prompts to write is not teaching. She should be showing us how to craft scenes, create realistic dialog, incorporate symbolism, or develop deep characters. She either doesn’t understand that or doesn’t care.
“What’d you get?” Edi whispers, leaning over the desk to see the rubric.
“An A.” I flip the papers so she could read it better. “I followed the rules. Not my fault she didn’t put a maximum word count.” I lean back in my chair, waiting for the next assignment to be given, leg crossed over the other. “Besides, if Ms Demon-Spawn fails me in English honors, then this is revenge.”
“You won’t fail,” Edi rolls her eyes, sliding the papers back to me. “You’re too smart for that.”
From that day forward, Ms D put a word limit on her assignments.
"If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away." -Victor Hugo (1802-1885), author of works such as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Misérables.
"I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again." -Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), author of works such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest.
"A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness." -Edith Wharton (1862-1937), author of works such as The Age of Innocents.
"Literature is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none." -Jules Renard (1864-1910)
"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." -H. G. Wells (1866-1946), author of works such as The Time Machine and War of the Worlds.
"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." -Thomas Mann (1875-1955), author of works such as The Magic Mountain and Doctor Faustus.
"Prose is architecture, not interior decoration." -Ernest Hemingway (1999-1961), author of works such as The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls.
"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." -Robert Heinlein (1907-1988), author of works such as Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers.
"You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance." -Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), author of works such as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles.
"I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil." -Truman Capote (1924-1984), author of works such as Breakfast at Tiffany's.
As of right now, we are all still under quarantine. Social distancing is currently working, and those of us who can stay home should.
We have all seen the posts describing this as a time to do all the things you want to do, that if you don’t come out of quarantine with projects completed or a new skill learned, you did not quarantine correctly.
This mentality is careless and dangerous. If you are the kind of person who can just motivate yourself to do that, good for you. But if you are like me, quarantine just makes you a slug, sitting and rather not do anything. This could just be the Depression talking, but I’ve seen online that this is true to more than just myself.
So, to help my fellow comrades who sit and do nothing during quarantine, I made a quick list of things that help me get (some) stuff done.
First things first, you need to manage your time. There are people still working even if it’s at home, so this probably helps. For those who don’t work from home, or the many people who have been laid off, this is much more difficult.
It can be so easy to fall into a slump and just do something lazy and enjoyable all day. But then when the day is done, the feeling of dread crawls in, forcing you to face the whole lot of nothing you completed. I am not saying you should not do things you enjoy, but it can’t be the only thing you do.
Lots of people like to watch TV shows, binge watching their favorite streaming service. Others just read. Sit and read. For me, it’s video games. I adore video games, and just as quarantine started, the new Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing: New Horizons released. This game is amazing, relaxing, and enjoyable. But! It’s also very addicting. I find myself playing this game for hours and hours at a time. If I were still a teen, I would probably do nothing but play this game all day. Unfortunately, I am not a teen and I have to be an adult too. So what do I do? I set time limits. At said time, I get off the game, work on what needs to be done for the day, and then I will allow myself to return, but only at the appropriate times. Yes, it’s reminiscent of disciplining a child, but sometimes you have to do the same for yourself.
This may be more difficult depending on your circumstances, but I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, so this is something I can do.
As an artistic based mind, I find it difficult to have inspiration while sitting at home, looking at the same walls all day, at the same clutter, at the same faces, at the same lighting. It stifles my creativity. But I can’t just go to the coffee shop anymore to sit and write anymore.
First, there is the option for going on walks. Remember to wear your mask, but getting some fresh air can help relieve the cobwebs of the brain.
Also, and this was a suggestion by my therapist, is to drive somewhere secluded to write. Again, I don’t live in a large city, so this is very easy for me (as long as it quits snowing in late April). There is a rather large cemetery on the boundary of town, sitting over rolling hills and surrounded by trees. There could be several people there, but you would never know from the expanse of hills. It is absolutely perfect for social distancing. Perhaps one day I will make a post about my love for cemeteries, but long story short, I grew up going on picnics in cemeteries. They do not scare me in the slightest, even if they give off a gothic atmosphere, which is perfect for the type of writing I enjoy.
Mix It Up
My last advice might seem a little odd. Have multiple projects going at once.
But Nyssa, that’s just going to make me have several unfinished projects instead of one finished.
See, here is my logic behind this… Quarantine can wear you out, so you might get sick of a project and need to put it down. So now what? Pick up a second project. It let’s the first project sit for a while and you are still being productive with the next one.
For example, I have the novel I am currently working on. I also have this blog. Lastly, I’m also working on a play. These three items are enough to mix up my professional life to make me feel as though I’m still being productive and motivated.
Note on this, it is best to be working on different stages of each project. For my novel, I’m working on the first draft. On the play, I’m working on initial research. So not only is the content different, the type of work I’m doing is different as well.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! The pubs are closed.
It’s not like I really celebrate. I didn’t even celebrate when I was in university when nearly everyone skipped classes to get raging drunk. I supposedly have some Irish heritage, so when I was in high school and a good Christian girl, I would wear orange instead of green to show my Irish, protestant history. Now I only wear the first thing I grabbed in my closet lineup.
Right now, most of us are on edge. I live in an area that hasn’t been hit yet, but the whole state has shut down, as has the rest of the country. Most of the world has too. I waver between fear that we will forever live like the apocalypse has come or blase apathy because my life really isn’t all that different and things will go back to normal in a few weeks or months.
And truly, nothing much has changed for the Wallace family. I’m still unemployed. My parents are still retired. My brother still goes to work at the bank. I just can’t buy toilet paper or spend time at the local diner or coffee shop. But at least I will have an excuse to stay inside to play Animal Crossing when it comes out.
I think about this time and wonder what history books will say. Will this be a time brushed over and not remembered. Or will this be a detailed report where future children will wonder what it would have been like to live in such a situation. Kind of like the black plague or typhoid.
I worry about other people. The people I don’t know. I worry for those in areas that have had breakouts. How scary it must be, wondering if you’ll be next, if you already have the virus and don’t know it. I’m scared for the people who work “nonessential” jobs. Will they still have some form of income? Will they be able to get through the next few weeks without pay? How many will die because they can’t afford to live any longer?
If I get sick, I will be fine. I’m young and fit enough that it’s not a concern. I have my unemployment benefits to float me. Even if I didn’t, I was able to make a savings account. My family will not worry about finances.
People talk about a cure being made… but I wonder if there could ever be one? This is not bacterial, like the previously mentioned pandemics. This is viral, strands of RNA that infect cells. And because it is RNA, a virus’s evolution is much faster than beings with cells. If a cure is made, will it matter? We have to have a flu shot every year for a reason, and even then, it’s only for a specific stand of influenza. I am no doctor nor scientist, but I still wonder.
Please don’t take my wondering as assuming that we will all die. I don’t believe that. It is just questions I have.
One thing about this though… while covid-19 has forced us to all be physically separated, it’s still brought humanity together. The solidarity that is showing up around the world through the internet warms my heart. Below, I linked a video from The Guardian that shows examples (not sponsored).
This is a scary time, a nerve wracking time, but do remember to keep out for your fellow human. Be kind and remember to wash your hands.
Before I started writing this, I said, “Nyssa, you have no children. You don’t have a full time, corporate job. You don’t have pushy family members. You don’t go to school. Your schedule is fine.”
And I said, “Well, Nyssa, you used to have all those things, minus the children, but you survived and many people might be able to use that past experience. Also, you have new things that take up all your time.”
And then I said, “Nyssa, why are you talking to yourself?”
Carry not only a Planner, but a Brain Dump Notebook
As we go about our lives, we are flooded with information. We learn things. We have randomly appearing ideas. We have thoughts and feelings. And sometimes, it can be overwhelming.
Planners are helpful. It lets you know when you are free and when you are not. I’m not going to tell you what kind of planner to use as everyone is different. It can be digital or physical. You can plan by the month, week, day, hour, etc. Whatever works. Personally, I plan by the day using a combination of an online calendar app and a bullet journal, but again, these are the things that help me stay organized, but promoting them is an article for another day. The point is, have some sort of Planner so you know what your days, weeks, and months look like.
Now that piece of advice is pretty common. Everyone is going to tell you to have a planner. Now, here is what I have to add to it: Have a place to brain dump. This is a place you aren't afraid to be messy with no urges to be pretty. Again, it doesn’t matter if this is digital or physical, but have a place to brain dump.
The point of the brain dump is to get out the clutter of the brain so you can focus on what is important.
Give Yourself A Break
If you are the kind of person who makes their schedule so stressful that they need to read a blog article to try to get their life back together, chances are that you need a break.
And that’s okay.
I’m no doctor or biologist, but from personal experience, you need to let your body and mind rest. You can only go so long before you crash. And you don’t want to crash. That’s not fun. It leads to irritability and illness.
If you have a career that will give you some holidays, take one, especially right after a large stressor event. I always took a day off of work when I’m doing community theatre. And now, I let myself rest the day after and don’t stress over my novel or blog.
If you don’t have that luxury, see where you can cut in some time just for some self love. Go to a massus or get your nails done. Maybe go to the movies with friends or have a sit in day with family. Take an evening to play video games or board games. Whatever helps you unwind and chill, do that.
And when you are living in one of your break periods that you specifically assigned to recoup, do not get mad at yourself over it. When your brian tells you things like “You are wasting time,” “This isn’t productive,” “You don’t deserve this,” and so on, ignore those thoughts. Tell those thoughts to shove off. You don’t need that negativity and you aren’t wasting time taking care of yourself. You are being productive by getting some self-care, and you do deserve this.
My Number 1 Advice. Say “No.”
Seriously. Say “No.”
And it can be difficult. Someone you like asks for help and you don’t want to disappoint them. Or you need to suck up to an authority figure, so you have to help them. Or someone asks you to your face to do something and you don’t want to start a conflict.
But you will alleviate so much stress when you learn to tell people “No.”
And you don’t have to find an excuse. “I have a family reunion.” “My aunt passed away.” “I have to shampoo my hair.” “I’m repainting the bedroom.” You don’t need any of that. Your “excuse” can literally be “I don’t want to.”
It is a scenario by scenario basis, but saying “no” to things that you don’t want or need to do will make you feel so much better and will free up your schedule more than you would think.
There are some things everyone carries everywhere, usually a cell phone, keys, and a wallet. Many people have some sort of bag or purse to hold more than just the essentials. A common everyday carry item is a writing utensil, but those who enjoy the act of writing know that there is more to a pencil than a stick of graphite or a pen a tube of ink. It isn’t just what you write but what you are writing with that enhances the experience. A good pen makes me want to find an excuse to write something just to use it more.
I’ve been carrying all of these items for a half-year now and love them. Maybe you can get inspiration from that and can have a more enjoyable everyday writing experience.
First, let’s look at the case itself. You need something to hold all of those writing utensils so that the bottom of your purse isn’t cluttered with cylindrical objects rolling around so you can never find what you are looking for. My pencil case has a cute kitty cat!
The cat is definitely the best part, but it has another nifty feature: when you unzip the top of the bag and pull the tabs, the bag becomes a cup! It is the most convenient pencil case I have ever owned, and I’ve gotten so many compliments on it.
You can find it here.
For quite a long time, my father insisted I invest in a pencil that wasn’t a BiC #2 0.7mm mechanical pencil. I used that BiC brand all through college, dealing with stuck erasers and snapped clips. But this was much better than the wooden yellow #2 that I was required to use through primary school. When I entered the workforce, I finally craved and purchased a 3 pack of Pentel P205m 0.5mm pencils. I fell in love, and I’ve never looked back.
The eraser is like many other metal pencils where the eraser comes out of a metal barrel, easy to remove from the pencil and easy to replace, also protected by a metal cap. An unexpected bonus with this feature is watching friends who have borrowed your pencil get frustrated over the lack of an eraser and their look of astonishment when you pull off the cap.
You can find it here.
I also always carry a retractable stick eraser, just in case I need something a bit more heavy duty.
I discovered the beauty of rollerball pens when I was working for corporate America. They were a rare find in the office supply cabinet, but when I spotted one, I snatched it. I’m someone who has issues gripping too tightly and pressing my pen to paper too forcefully. When you write for long periods of time, this can damage the wrist. A rollerball helps me be less severe with my pen pressure, saving me the pain.
My favorite is the Pilot Precise V5. I usually have all three available colors, black, blue, and red, even if I tend to stick to black. The pen doesn’t look fancy or aesthetic, but it does have a cool window that you can see the ink splashing around the barrel. A downside to this pen is something you will find in a lot of rollerballs, and that is that the ink may bleed through normal printer quality paper. It does just fine on thicker stock, but be aware that if you work with cheap paper, you may have bleeding.
A V7 is also available. You can find them here.
As someone who’s been cartooning since I was a child, I am very familiar with Sakura Pigma Micron pens, and I have yet to find a fineliner that writes as smoothly and has such a rich black. Not only is this a great pen to outline doodles with, but it makes my writing look tidy as I can choose the proper pen thickness for my script size, as there are many size options available. I tend to carry the older ones I have (I can tell the age because the printed labels wear with use). I carry an 03, 05, and 1.
You can find them here.
I like having a good highlighter around. Not only for note taking and color coordinating, but it’s like a marker that I can use on my doodles. But I’m going to be honest… neon colors stopped being of interest to me when I was 9-years-old. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t like neon colors, but as a very boring person who enjoys the color gray more than she should, I don’t prefer that bright light in my face.
So I was thrilled when I found Zebra Mildliners. These pens have become extremely popular, so if you are into stationary, you are probably already familiar with them. If not, Mildliners work like highlighters but the colors are much more subdued so it’s easier to look at. They come in packs or in open stock. I started with the “cool pack” and have slowly grown my collection with open stock and that’s also how I replaced my dried out colors. Side note, I’ve seen people on the internet say that they have gone years without needing to replace their mildliners, and all I can think is how they much not use their supplies very often, cause I have to replace my most used colors about every 9 months (which is still impressive).
I always carry these colors: Red, Vermilion, Gold, Green, Dark Blue, Violet, and Gray.
If you like pastels or even neon, they have those colors too!
You can find them here.
Now, what works for me might not work for you, and if you asked me what my EDC is in a year, it will probably be totally different. But perhaps this gives you some ideas of your own.