Saturday, February 26, 2011

Download your mind: eco-friendly paper planners that reconcile aesthetics and sustainability

Yesterday, a frazzled friend came into my office, which is not really an office but a conference room in an office building that I sneak into.

“My brain can’t fit anything else! 8x10 papers are scattered all over my office!” he cried. He actually does have an office, so I imagined this to be a problem.

I told him to buy a planner, and showed him mine. I don’t know what I’d do without it. I’ve been using a variety of year-long paper planners for the last 15 years, although I have a Macbook, iPad, iPhone and, practically, an iChip embedded in my brain (I was once nearly kicked out of a Nokia store when my iChip decided to make a theatrical, impromptu sales pitch to my new-phone-buying friend...). But when it comes to planning—can’t use ‘em. I need paper.

Last July, I even bought an 18-month planner, because my friend Debbie wanted me to be her bridesmaid in 18 months, which is a ridiculous time commitment to expect someone to remember. But she knew me when I was four when I didn't have any friends, so I did it for her. I’m unsure of what country I’ll be living in at that time, but I know I’ll be posing for pictures in a maroon dress in New Jersey on July 16. And she has my Moleskine to thank.

I’ve always needed a paper planner. I need something tactile, something I can doodle in, a canvas for creativity amidst structure and lines. I love to smell the paper, feel the weight of ink on them, feel how tangibly heavier the past is than the future. With a paper planner, it’s all embodied, with an open and close and a whole life inside.

People go nuts over their planners. They write long blog posts about choosing a planner based on what could be labeled as complicated algorithms, complete with pro/con lists, numerical scoring and charts. Another lady writes romantically about the luscious feel and sound of paper and the interactive nature of flipping pages versus scrolling over a digital screen.

For myself and many others, paper planners are the way to go. But is it sustainable? How can I reconcile my love of paper and be eco-friendly?

I’ve done some research so you can rest easy (and subsequently mark and check off that you rested easy). These two are great to grab when you want to be conscious of both the environment and your next yoga/therapy/work meeting:

  • EcoSystem planners each have their own unique ID number, which can be used to track the book's origins, learn about its environmentally-friendly roots, and find out exactly how to recycle each planner. They utilize New Leaf Imagination, a production effort that creates materials made with 100% post-consumer waste. They’re also pretty and colorful; “green doesn’t have to be brown” is their motto.
  • The Quo Vadis Equology planner is made with chlorine-free, FSC-recycled, alkaline/neutral paper (quite a mouthful). And apparently they “invented” the concept of Weekly Time Management. In 1954, the founder of the company, a French doctor named F.G. Beltrami, sketched a grid on a notebook, and voila, planning would never be the same.

As for my friend? He decided to go with iCal. At least my iChip is still firing.

Note: The original version of this article was written for the local Boulder-based eco-company, English Retreads. It can be found here. You should consider buying a purse from them, as they are astoundingly awesome.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sip coffee. Start a business. Enjoy wild cookie infatuation.

Things lately:

1) My very own business was born four days ago, and it is already crawling, talking and making Facebook status updates. My company is called Dynamic Expression, LLC and it is an Aquarius born slightly after the New Moon.

My business is about infusing fun and finesse into people's professional products—whether they be print media or online publications. I am a merging of worlds. I really just want to play chess and stroke my beard but I must realize I’m 27 in 2011 someday, and it might as well be today.

I went to a gathering of creative minds called "Think and Drink" that night and talked about my company over a glass of wine, and over the next two glasses I talked about other things I do not remember, except that I roughly edited someone when they added an "s"—Dynamic Expressions NO—to my company name.

2) After I started my company in about an hour using just two websites (the Colorado Secretary of State page and the IRS site—don't ever pay anyone to start you a company, it is so simple and satisfying to do it yourself), I went to the bank at 5:50 p.m, ten minutes before closing.

I whirled in and luckily encountered a jovial woman named Jennifer, who told me she wanted to start her own small business walking dogs. I told her to go for it!!! with many exclamation marks. She then asked what my opening deposit would be.

I hadn't thought this far.

I looked in my wallet and took out a faded bill.

"Does $1 work?" I asked.

She began to nod slowly, then faster as she noticed my exuberance, and the exclamation marks in my eyes shot toward her once more.

The next day I went in with my first check from a client and she photocopied it so I could keep it for posterity. She told me she was thinking of me the night before and feeling inspired, and she said she hoped Dynamic Expression does well. With one "s."

3) My sister Kristi had a baby girl named Emi recently, and I think of her every day, and how I want her to be a happy pretty baby, because other impressive adjectives don't come when I see her happy pretty face, only the desire to hold her. Little baby girls float into my consciousness a lot lately, and I wish I could borrow one from time to time and give her love.

At brunch on Saturday morning at the Mercantile Cafe in Jamestown, where I sipped enough coffee to keep me awake until today, a 9-year-old boy ran up to my table. He was dressed like a tiny red pirate. He bent down and put his hand in his rubber boot and rapidly pulled up a tape measure. I am assuming he was trying to show me how tall he was, however I could see no numbers and he said nothing to me; he was a very stoic tape-measure displayer. Then he ran away without a word.

I sipped. Wondered how tall I was now, if I ever even owned a tape measure, or a rubber boot. Then I noticed his 2-year-old sister eating a cookie and subsequently hopping up and down wildly in her chair in sheer delight. Yes! This I relate to.

4) I've been spending a lot of time in Trident coffeehouse. There are old men here who read books on how to improve their game at bridge. Today I sat by the wood-burning heater and talked with Ian, the man who brought me to Boulder. When he left, I moved to a booth where someone had gifted wet rose petals to the table. I am still here, staring at the spot across the room where I created my business on Thursday, while I listened to people discussing the latest issue of the New Yorker. Somewhere in the café, a man is singing opera softly and people are playing Scrabble not on an iPad but in its original form.

I am curmudgeoning and modernizing simultaneously.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

R e l a t i o n s h i p

When you are little, you have boyfriends and girlfriends, and you call this a relationship. You go through that, think it is fun. Perhaps you will collect multiple of these? So you have another, and another, a relationship in the wholeness of the word, the beautiful simplicity, the non-dissectedness of it. Relationship. Fun!

Then you have another, and you are larger and have another, and the word grows—and becomes scary. It's growing bigger and you're growing bigger and relationship needs to mean more, but it is still just one thing. Just one word—so why this opening and closing, and then a deeper closing because of the deep opening, and then the deepest closing you didn't think you were capable of? Because you haven't figured it out yet, you haven't learned the secret. Relationship is playing with you now, because you think you have met it, but it has been giggling at you from behind its secret the whole time, Wizard of Oz-like.

And then one day you meet someone. And you realize.

You look at the word again. Turn it upside down, with him. Spread it out, spread yourself out further than you thought you could. There are things inside you never saw before.

Now you see an r. And an a. And a ship and an elation. And it's all there, and it's so grand and powerful that you are so small on this ship with your elation, and your ions and your re. And you look around at this new world, and wow.


This is huge.

And fun!