Day-journals are a fascinating thing to look back on, especially at the close of the year. For the last twenty years, I have used a home-made loose-leaf format, photocopying six-hole notebook pages with my own hand-written layout. Lines divide each page into four days, with the top segment before Sunday being a place to put stuff like “planted garlic” or “36 lb cat litter.” The other seven segments are headed, in my own petite cursive, Sunday, Monday, etc, and then after I’ve run off a bunch of pages, I add the handwritten dates. (My handwriting hasn’t changed much in twenty years, so everything matches.)
However, when the Day-Runner series came out, it sucked up all the market for smallish loose-leaf pages, and eventually I had a real challenge finding paper in my size. When I did, I prudently bought the entire stock of that size from an old-fashioned Philly office supply store, and I still have lots left. Only problem: it was punched for three holes. I found a local printer with machinery for drilling holes in paper and paid her to drill my whole stock for six holes, but some little demon addled her settings, and the holes don’t quite fit.
Here’s where I out myself as a nut: I use a hand paper-punch to adjust to the right spacing. There’s just something in me that resists junking a system I’ve used for twenty years. So here I am now. I’ve copied off a new year’s supply of my pages for 2018 and am slowly punching away and gathering up the little paper bits that look like fingernail clippings from a baby. And I’m writing in the new dates after my Sunday/Monday etc.
In a funny way, I think it’s my magical practice, wishing the coming year into existence. I’m asserting my right to keep planting garlic and buying kitty litter and tracking how long a pound of gunpowder green tea lasts. I like looking back, checking when we took sushi to the seashore and planning when we’ll go again. I like being able to look back to when our cats were born, and grinning at the flurry of new supplies that became part of my month’s spending.
And, silly as it seems, I love that this is all hand-written, on real paper that I can smell and feel, and I love looking at this old-fashioned dainty cursive that’s no longer taught in most elementary schools. I am willing 2018 into existence. I am insisting that whatever insanity and cruelty comes barreling down the pike, I will still buy groceries and cook them and feed them to whomever’s at the table, and then I’ll clean the receipts out of my wallet and enter them in my pages. 2018, here we go.