Pen and Paper: Journaling Love


When I was eleven, I scribbled out my first novella, I’ll Never Be the Same Again, on loose leaf paper and tucked it into a binder, forever creating my own destiny.  I love writing.  WRITING, not typing–I like typing, don’t get me wrong, and I happen to be fast at it–but writing, oh my, I get like a shark about to take a bite out of life…my eyes glaze over at the aroma of the crisp, fresh pages of a journal, and I feverishly tear into it with endless amounts of words.

I was that girl throughout school that rivaled Harriet of Harriet the Spy in every way, meticulously documenting everything that was happening to me every moment of the day–each glance I would capture in passing down the hall from the crush I’d have while on my way to the next class or all of the juicy details of the gossip my friends would share over lunch in the cafeteria.  I was a “Dear Diary,” kind of girl for years and years.  I also started plotting out and writing scenes for a full-length novel before I could even drive a car.  I would write ideas down on anything I could get my hands on–gum wrappers, receipts, napkins–you name it.  I even penned hundreds of poems and short stories, all by hand.  Sadly, all of my stories starred my friends and their crushes, so I would let them keep them, and I never made second copies, so I’ve lost those first aspiring love stories, but all of the journals are still in my possession, locked safely away in storage, and someday, when I feel the muse coming, I’ll add YA (Young Adult) Romance to my types of genre that I write.

When I received my first word processor, my handwriting lifestyle changed.  I gave into the lime green glow of the words and veered away from the handwritten means of self-expression.  It was clunky and squealed out awful noises, but it made school a little easier, and seeing my words in print without having to type them on the family typewriter that had sticky keys was heaven-sent.  It wasn’t until I actually graduated from college with my BA that I received my first computer.  Yeah–I’m that old, just turned 44 last month, actually.  This new computer of mine was too slow for the internet, but the word-processing capabilities allowed me to begin another novel along side the one that I had completely outlined and written scenes for in high school.  A hundred or so pages into the new novel though, I upgraded the operating system, and I lost the book.  I stopped writing for a while altogether in my dismay.  When I finally came around again, I went back to good ol’ fashioned pen and paper until I owned a ‘real’ computer and another and another and…

I still journal in between bouncing writing around all of my Apple devices–my desktop, MacBook Air, my iPhone, etc.  I’m covered when I have something to say.  I no longer have to rummage through my purse for a gum wrapper like the good ol’ days of my youth.  And, I still journal.  In fact, my aunt-in-law blessed me with a new journal for Christmas that has a picture of my young daughters on the front cover along with the words, “Brooke’s Journal,” and, by the end of the day, those crisp, fresh pages had lured me in, and I had filled several of them up with an outline of a new Romantic Comedy novel that I plan on turning into an eBook once it’s written just to have “Indie Published” under my belt as a writer.

There’s something special about the pen and paper.  I’ve even studied graphology a little bit–the way people write revealing how they feel, what their personality is like, and who they are hidden in the curlycues of their writing.  My penmanship is atrocious.  Even I can’t read my writing sometimes.  It’s very loopy like an endless string of smiley faces, and it comes as no surprise to me that when analyzed it means that I’m open, positive, always moving forward, and generally happy.  Yeah, that’s about right.  I can easily go into a rage like any impassioned writer could, but overall, if I’m writing something down to be analyzed, it’s likely that my eyes are glazed over with the joy that comes with handwriting anyway and capturing that thrill in my scribble is bound to happen.

It’s Been One of Those Weeks, You Know (A glimpse of life as a Middle School teacher)

It’s been one of those weeks, you know. It started on Monday before the crack of dawn, only, instead of getting ready for work, I’m hurling up everything I ate for the last 24 hours because the stomach flu always waits for that perfect moment to strike. You know, the one right after you just had the most delicious bowl of homemade, Mexican tortilla soup, so that it will take years before you can ever eat that again. Such a prankster, the flu. And then, when I go ahead and take on Tuesday, I try to wing it with my students in the library on the laptops with a program that I’ve only messed around with since last week, and, of course, nothing goes right, you know, but that doesn’t deter the librarian from deciding that I’m going to help her pitch the program to the staff on Thursday because, “It’s great,” she says, “But don’t tell the other teachers about all the glitches.”

I don’t even know where to begin with Wednesday. Should I mention the laryngitis, or the sinus infection, or the fact that both of my children were tossing their cookies all day thanks to that sneaky flu? Meh, I’ll just skip it and go straight to Thursday because, you know, that day was loaded with lots of fun. The staff room conversation includes the mutual understanding that we were all sensing a wild vibe among the students since they had come back from Christmas break, and then one of our newer, younger teachers on staff blurts out, “Well, I finally had the masturbator in class today! I knew someday it would come to this. I just didn’t think it would happen so soon in my career!” And, we all laugh because we’ve all been there and had to deal with that. We teach middle school, you know. So, some of us offer her advice, but no words of wisdom can ever replace the truth that comes with realizing that it’s never going to be okay to say, “All right, students, take out something to write on and something to write with, and pull your hand out of your pants, please.” But wouldn’t it make our jobs easier if we could every now and then, you know? And, we do our best to assure her that it might not ever happen again, but it doesn’t seem to help.

And then, later that day, I’m squeaking out my best, “Hurrah!” to the staff in the library on the laptops that no one can log onto to see half of the wonderful program that the librarian has just given a huge speech on because it’s glitchy, but I’m not allowed to mention that, you know. And, I go home and watch, “Misery,” because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as an older movie about a stalker fan of someone’s writing, and I still manage to stay on top of all of my Blogging101 assignments no matter how sick everybody is, you know, because I’m finally getting the hang of it. So, Friday is a really big deal to me because I’m hoping I’ll get some rest knowing that there’s a three day weekend coming. So, my brain decides to start celebrating around 3:00am, you know, and, even though I’m wide awake, I can’t do anything productive because I feel like crap, and I know I should’ve stayed home all week and recovered from everything, but I didn’t because I’m in denial, and, so Friday just keeps getting longer and longer, and then I get home.

So, I’m just hanging out on my blog at the moment because I always get insomnia and have a tendency to ramble on and on when I don’t get enough sleep, and now it’s officially Saturday. I really hate that, you know….




Traditions can develop out of the most unlikely situations.  My family has a tradition around the holidays to play the movie “Elf” everyday from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, which is generally reserved for the non-stop marathon of “The Christmas Story.”  Our children even named their creepy elves-on-the-shelves, which we would reposition every night for everyone’s amusement, Ralphie and Jovie after characters in both movies.

And, at my work, we have a tradition on campus that marked its 39th Anniversary today as the New Year has finally ushered in a new semester.  We call it, The Oldtimers’ Breakfast.  Past and present teachers fellowship over pancakes served up with a smile by the men on our staff.  Some of these former teachers come hobbling in with their stories of the good ol’ days when they used to ride their horses to the ‘new campus’ when it was just a handful of classrooms in a swampy field long before our tradition had begun.  Now over 80,000 cars drive by us on any given day.

Even my wooden pointer has this murky patina to it that rivals any antique.  It came with the classroom.  I wield it with pride because I know that I’m holding onto years of other teachers’ memories, even as I create my own.  The original school house is over a century old and sits as a monument just up the road from where our current campus is located, but even our newer campus is so old now, it has become irreparable.

Next year’s breakfast will mark the end of yet another era in our school’s history as an inevitable move is set to take place in the fall of 2016.  As long as our school bears its original name in our new location, we are still the same ol’ school, and we’ll all continue to gather together over breakfast and swap stories about our many experiences.  We’re an awkward family of strangers brought together by a common denominator…our love of teaching.

I don’t mind the impending move.  It’s long over due.  You can be assured, though, my pointer’s coming with me.  And, eventually, I’ll hand it off to someone else when I come hobbling in to get my fill of a plateful of pancakes someday.