On Paper by ABMann

I hit a wall with both my journaling and my writing recently that I’ve been chewing on how to break through.


  1. I really don’t like having my journal spread across so many things.
  2. I don’t go back and re-read my written journals.

I’ve become disillusioned with it (even though I’m still doing it).

Regarding #1 I currently use a number of things to track my daily life. Instagram. Twitter. Paper. Tumblr. Evernote (work). OneNote (work). It is (mostly) too much and I dislike that, in order to get a sense of my daily thoughts or assess the things that matter, I have to check all of these things.

The only thing I’ve been using consistently is Day One. I use it to compose blog entries or other correspondence I want to preserve. It’s a really well done application that I really enjoy using.

For a while, I’d been using some tools to dump most of those social things into Day One but it was fragile. It sort of worked for a few months but about 9 months ago died an unfixable death.

Regarding #2 It feels like a waste that I don’t review my [paper] journal. There is just something that infuriates me when I look at a wall of scrawl[1]. It’s just not going to happen in any useful capacity after the fact.

But: I love the act of writing. I ruminate. I muse. I mentally unwind more when writing by hand and I don’t want to lose that. It’s just ugly.

Just so ghastly to behold

So… what am I going to do about it? I realized a few things this morning. First, this isn’t a problem with any digital format. I still re-read my LiveJournal. Second, and most importantly: I’ve solved this before. Around the same time I started writing, I retooled my work GTD system to ensure everything ends up in a single place. Having that one place in a tool that everyone at the company uses is satisfying and useful.

Furthermore, I had already incorporated a way to capture all the necessary notes for later reworking. And in that process had made peace with the blocks of scrawl. I take copious meeting notes now, by hand, and they all end up in my note repository a few days later. The key?

I don’t transcribe it. I summarize, highlight key concepts for inclusion in the digital version of that meeting’s notes and simply attach a photo of the written notes.

Why don’t i just do that? As is, I have a number of tools I enjoy using and, what’s best, a way to stick them all together in Day One via IFTTT and Hazel on my Mac.

So I will.

Each morning, I’ll still be journaling. When I’m done, I will take a picture of the entry pages and summarize the key points or ideas. Then IFTTT and Hazel will keep sticking all my social feeds into Day One and I have my entire life in one place in a format that I actually enjoy using and reviewing.

It seems so obvious now that I think it’ll stick.

[1]: My handwriting has vaguely improved in the last 5 months of writing but only marginally. Though, I noted this week after some brainstorming, my whiteboard writing is leaps and bounds better than it just to be.

The Dark Year by ABMann


Somewhere in my Sophomore year in high school, a started falling into a deep depression. I didn’t sleep much, ate terribky and generally didn’t understand what has happening with me, he world and the interaction thereof.

It started, as all dark high school stories, with a girl who I was crushing on in a mad and unhealthy way. She was smart and nerdy and broken and similarly didn’t understand what she was and what she meant to the world. On alternating days she would lament that her boyfriends were terrible and they should be more like me and then demand I stop talking to herald they take her to lunch.

I didn’t know what to make of it. My mind latched onto two things like alligator jaws:
- I was nicer to her than many
- I wasn’t good enough firer

I’m not the sort of person to consider anything in the worlds is wrong for acts of other people - I am the maintainer if my own reality, ill moments or otherwise. The dichotomy that I was both better than but not good enough beyond a ride to the diner was debilitating. These thoughts would circle and circle and circle in a dervish a self-mutilation. If this person, whom I was so blinded by as to believe she was Perfect, thought this about me I clearly wasn’t good enough for anything or anyone

It sucked. And then I cried a lot. And then I stopped feeling anything.

I hit the nadir around my birthday the summer between my Junior and Senior year. I stopped eating and became vaguely emaciated - I was still overweight but hollow around my face. I spent most days blindly playing frisbee golf and the nights watching weird Tv on IFC and not much else. I literally played frisbee golf every day for hours not thinking, not feeling. Disc automaton.

I remember the day I finally broke out of it. It’s the dumbest things that do it. I was sleepless, again, one night and caught the last half of The City of Lost Children starting where Miette us crying and her tears destroy half the city. I remember being spell bound by the visuals, identifying with her pain and the destructing *need* to affect something in the world. I tore my room apart. I tore off my clothes. I thrashed and cried and stopped when I caught myself in the mirror.

I realized how hollow I looked, realized I couldn’t remember the last time I are. I sat in front of the mirror for a few minutes before I fell asleep. The next day, I was with my friends watching movies in a basement. At so,e point the conversation turned to weightless when. My best friend at the time turned to me and gruffly said this to me,

"I’m unhappy because I’m no longer the skinnier one in the group. Now I’m fat because you lost all this weight this summer."

The room went quiet. I was shocked. I think everyone else was too.

I got up. “It’s because I’ve been too depressed to eat and you guys haven’t cared.” And left.

You’re told about toxic people, that people manipulate you in sometimes subtle and sometimes overt ways. I learned then some if the shitty reasons my friends kept me around and realized the little ways they tore me down when I did something well. Like if I threw the disc farther, got a better grade on a test, got praise for something, they were never happy. They just complained that I made them look bad.

I essentially cut ties with them the next year. It was tough because we had so many classes together but I would bolster myself the little positive things I found during the days. And, inch by inch, I found some self worth and rebuilt myself.

I don’t want to say that my mood issues were entirely their fault - they absolutely weren’t. I didn’t help myself by acting out in inappropriate ways with them or being the domineering ass in theater (I was lead light tech fir 3 years, the first sophomore to get the job). I used them fir rides before I had my license and didn’t support their successes.

And with the girl, I was pretty terrible. I feel squarely into the “nice guy” camp (I… Even had a fedora…) in that I did all these things for her hoping (not expecting, let me assure[i never had enough self confidence to believe I deserved ANYTHING]) she’d fall for me. That was terrible for both of us - I made her uncomfortable with all the misplaced affection and ignored social queues and she took advantage of me knowing I’d bend over backwards for her.

There were a lot if good things that year too, of course. I discovered chemistry. I was the student tech director for two plays. I got into Beloit (oddly because of the girl). And the like.

It was a shitty two years but they make me who I am today.

And they totally ruined me for blondes.

A fun side note to lighten this kind of heavy entry:
All that disc golf built up my arm strength to inhuman but wildly specific abilities. The first day we played softball, I hit three home runs and caught two fly balls (one handed), something I’d never, ever done before.