Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bullet Journaling 101

About 6 months ago, I began bullet journaling. Maybe the logical thing to do would've been to wait until January 1 like a normal person, but I started in the middle of December because I just had so many ideas.

It started with a twitter conversation. People tried to explain it to me and it made sense when they laid it out - a bullet journal is a planner, a to-do list, and a place for notes all in one place. So, then I started googling. I looked at Pinterest, which is a wealth of pictures and blog posts about layouts and ideas. I also looked on YouTube to watch videos of the things people were doing. Then I decided to go for it.

Bullet Journaling uses an index. You write down everything important in your index and the page numbers so you can find it easily. This requires pages for indexing and numbered pages. After falling down my research rabbit hole and realizing these were things I would need, I decided to stick with the Leuchtturm 1917 - which comes with numbered pages, indexes, and bookmarks. It makes things easier for me to have all of that ready to go. (These are available on Amazon a little bit cheaper and I try to check regularly - sometimes certain colors will randomly be cheaper.)

Additionally, the Leuchtturm is available in a dot grid. The benefit of a dot grid is that it it gives guidance for drawing lines and writing neatly, unlike blank pages, but it doesn't feel as constraining as lined or graph paper because it's not as defined. Not everybody is bothered by the definition of lined or graph paper and not everybody wants guidance, so it really depends on your preferences. These notebooks are pretty pricey, so if you're not sure what you prefer or if bullet journaling is even for you, then start with any notebook you have around the house. 

Now, what do you put in a bullet journal? As I said, it's a planner, to-do list, and place for notes. Most people start with a Future Log - which basically means some sort of calendar for future months. Personally, I used two pages and wrote down all the months of the year with some space between, 6 months per page. Underneath, I write down anything relevant - birthdays, events, holidays. 

I also put any trackers that I'll use over and over again for months. For me, that included a purchase tracker, so I can track my spending habits, and some reading trackers - one to track the books I read, counters of what format I'm reading and how diversely I'm reading, etc, which I'll turn into graphs later. There's also wish lists, long term to-do lists, a list of movies to watch, a period tracker, a list of essay ideas I have, a social media tracker, phone numbers for my representatives, a list of passwords for various websites, and lists to track the books I get rid of and the books I bring in this year.

Then comes monthly spreads. There's a lot of ways to do this that depend on your needs. For me, I keep it simple - a page where I put down every day of the month and make any notes of events/holidays/etc that are listed on my Future Log. On the next page, I make notes for the month - Blogbound work, freelance projects I have for the month, Interrobang list I want to get done, and any other notes or goals I have for the month. Super, super simple, but there's all kinds of things people do with their monthly spreads.

Next, I have monthly trackers. I have a habit tracker, both to keep track of when I do things like cleaning the litterbox and watering my plant and to build better habits, like taking vitamins every day, working out, moisturizing. Then I do a Money In/Money Out page, which is literally just a page split in half where I write down my income and my spending. Then I do another reading page, so I can track EVERYTHING I pick up and sketch out my TBR for the month. Finally, I do a Gratitude Log, which has a lot of layout options.

After that, things vary. Some people do weekly and daily spreads, while others just do a weekly - again, it depends on what you need and how much space you need. I don't need a ton of space, so I just write down the date, 4 days on one page and 3 days on the other, and write down any events, appointments, and to-do list items. with the remaining space, I make a notes section for the week - things I don't have to get done on a specific day and things I just want to keep in mind - and a Waiting On section, to keep track of things I'm expecting in the mail.

Beyond that, I make a lot of lists - to-do lists, ideas for Interrobang, time logs for Pique, notes for my manuscripts, places I want to travel, Broadway shows I want to see. I practice my handwriting because I still have a long way to go on that front. Your pages can be whatever you want them to be.

How do you decide what you want your layouts to look like? That, again, comes down to you. I did a ton of research into ways people did layouts to decide what to work on and I still change things up - my June spreads are a total departure from the spreads I've been doing so I can see if I like something else better. As I said before, Pinterest is a really great resource. I have a Pinterest board for bullet journal spreads and for handwriting practice - there's not a ton there, but it prevents getting overwhelmed and helps give you a basic starting point. I also, as mentioned, fell down a YouTube hole. One of the most helpful channels was Boho Berry. She has a ton of videos, but probably the most helpful series is her Bullet Journal 101 series. But she also has Plan with Me videos, tutorials on different layouts, comparisons, and other tips. Additionally, she has a blog, an Etsy shop, and she has a newsletter that includes some freebies and discounts. 

As a bonus, once you start looking at these kinds of things, Pinterest and YouTube will both start recommending you MORE channels and boards like it. And you'll also fall down the research hole.

So, I think that's a good place to start! I'll be happy to do another post on more tips should anyone want them or have other questions relating to bullet journaling. 

Happy planning!


Saturday, May 27, 2017

NYC Things to Do

So, Blogbound, Book Expo, and Book Con start in just a few days, so a lot of my friends are converging on New York City. Here are a few helpful tips!

  • Download an MTA Subway app. There are even some (free) ones that'll let you know about delays that pop up. Mine is just called Subway and it's free and a little annoying because it always opens up in Brooklyn, but it's easy enough to navigate. There's even a 7 train station right by the Javits open now - the 7 line runs through Times Square and Grand Central for your convenience and the Javits is the last stop going west! On the other hand, be careful on weekends. The subway can be a nightmare on weekends.
  • Bring a portable charger. If you don't have one, get one - you can get them pretty cheaply. And bring a regular charger too, since there's always cafes with outlets you can stop in in the worst case scenario. 
  • There are the obvious places to stop - Strand, Books of Wonder, Shake Shack. But I also recommend Kinokuniya, which has books, stationary, and a comics/manga section on its three floors. There's also this bar I love - Duke's - which has really good Happy Hour deals and amazing desserts. I used to go to a location near Union Square, but that's closed, so the only other location is on 3rd Ave, between 37 and 38. I also love Big Daddy's Diner, which has multiple locations, and the Hollywood Diner - they're both your classic diner, though probably a bit more expensive than you're used to if you're not around NYC. Near the Javits, there's the Tick Tock Diner and the Skylight Diner. Both are on 34, but Skylight is on 9th Avenue and Tick Tock is on 8th Avenue.
  • Speaking of the Javits - I highly recommend skipping the overpriced options in their cafe. Instead, go to one of those diners or one of the food carts that surround the Javits. My plan is usually to stop into one of the Dunkin Donuts in between Penn Station and the Javits; there's three or four of them within a couple blocks of Javits and I can grab a bagel or two, which is easy to eat on the go and doesn't make much of a mess. So if your schedule is packed or you just don't know what your food schedule will be and don't want to pay the overpriced options, I'd recommend grabbing something along those lines and bringing it to Javits.
  • If you do go to the Strand, I highly recommend going downstairs - there's a few shelves of half off new books. A lot of their books are already half off, but this section is a LITTLE different.
  • It's going to be pretty warm in NYC next week and the rain will be pretty minimal, but always bring an umbrella and always bring a light sweater. There are frequently random thunderstorms in the summer that only last 20 minutes or so, but get pretty intense. And while outside will be comfortable, the subway and some places might be blasting the AC, so you might want a little extra something.
And that's all I've got on the top of my head, but feel free to ask questions!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Reading

February was my own personal non-fiction month! I decided that if I was going to stray from that, I had to read books by black authors. That lasted...for a little while, but not as long as I'd hope it would. Still, I wasn't far off my expectations and I'm generally pleased with my progress this month!

I DNFed one book this month and finished three books for work, which I won't include here. I also started one book that I didn't finish and think I'm going to put aside for a little while; it was a non-fiction book by a white dude.

Total read: 10
Non-Fiction: 6
E-books: 3
By WoC: 5
YA books: 4
Adult Fiction: 1
Romance: 1

I'm still slacking on queer reading - I only read two books with queer MCs and by queer authors (plus an essay collection with some queer authors) - but I otherwise really need to work on widening my diversity scope. Still, I made a good dent on my TBR, both e-book and not. 

As for how many books I acquired vs how many I got rid of...that I don't wanna talk about. It wasn't TERRIBLE but it was still...yeah. (Also I'm not in the house so I don't feel like trying to figure it out.)

SO, there's a really basic overview of my reading month. Still room for improvement, but I'm content.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January's Reading

When I started this challenge, I didn't anticipate quite how intense America's meltdown would be. But I still managed to read 10 books, only 2 short of what Goodreads said I needed to hit my goal of 150. I might still finish another tonight since my current priority has been finishing books that have been sitting on my nightstand for AAAAAGES.

So, I read:
Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
Wait for Me by Caroline Leech
Poison's Kiss by Breanna Shields
La Petite Four by Regina Scott
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
By Your Side by Kasie West
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Which means I read
10 books
4 books by WoC
6 books about PoC
2 books by queer authors (that I know of)
1 book with queer MCs (though two had pretty extensive queer side casts)
2 books with neurodiversity
0 books with disabled MCs
1 book with fat MCs
0 non-fiction
0 ebooks

I also DNFed one other library book, but I didn't get far in, so I didn't count it. And I'm 2/3 of the way through a non-fic book that I figured I'd wait to finish until February so I could work on clearing books off my nightstand for the last few days of January. I still have...7 books, including a library book and 2 romance novels. So...that went well.

BUT hey, I'm doing good at making sure I'm reading more PoC and I' some work to do on the rest. Still. Progress!

As far as my book IN take vs my book OUT take well...I took in 31 books and got rid of 13. I *did*, however, get rid of 31 since I started tracking in December and only brought in 45. And I finally boxed up a bunch of books to go out, so my physical piles of books to get rid of have shrunk? But I also have at least 4 more books coming know I'm TRYING. And I think a lot of my non-fic books have the chance to go on the pile of books I get rid of. As do the romances I'll read when I need a break. And I only know of...6 books I'll be acquiring for sure in February. At the moment. So...fingers are crossed.

I have a (loosely) compiled reading list for February. Feminism and badass ladies and intersectionality. I'm ready to do some learning and be empowered!


Friday, January 27, 2017

Learning About Fascism: Part I

In the current political climate, it seemed like a good time to compile some history about how fascism grew in Germany and how it was torn apart. 

For now, we start with German history - knowing how Germany got to fascism is key.

First of all, Germany didn't really exist until 1871 - it had been a series of loosely related nations, but was united after the Franco-Prussian War by Emperor William I and Otto von Bismarck. As a newly united country, politicians were ready to modernize Germany and become a respected nation. It began acquiring colonies in Africa and Asia, since that was the thing to do in the 1800s. They even began practicing genocide in the early 1900s in one of their colonies when faced with an uprising! 

Basically, from 1871-1914, Germany's focus was becoming an industrialized, modern nation that was well respected by the other major nations.

Then WWI came and the new nation showed just how much work it still had to do. Coordination was lacking, supplies were lacking, it generally went poorly for Germany as 1918 approached. This lead to a revolution in November 1918. Germany was declared a republic and Emperor Wilhelm II abdicated and left the country. Germany had multiple political parties and at the end of the revolution, the Social Democratic Party, or SDP, held the majority in the Reichstag as the Weimar Republic began its reign.

These Socialists were the ones who signed the Treaty of Versailles. Germany had zero say in the negotiations of the treaty and were threatened with the continuation of war if the treaty was not signed exactly as it was presented. The terms of this treaty:
  • Germany would accept total responsibility for the war.
  • Germany gave up large portions of its land, some of which had been acquired in the war and some which had been part of Germany before the war. This included Czechoslovakia, Moresnet, Saar, and parts of Poland.
  • Germany forfeited all colonies to the League of Nations and some of the Allied Nations.
  • Germany was forced to demobilize much of its military and the Rhineland was to be demilitarized entirely.  
  • Germany had to pay 20 billion francs in reparations to cover occupation costs.
There were a few other things and details to it, but this is the gist of it. Years later, the Allied Powers behind this would admit the measures were too harsh.

Many Germans were unhappy with the Treaty and the SDP for allowing it to be signed. The idea that Germany was entirely at fault for the war stung and the SDP had voted for the war to happen, only to turn around and sign such a harmful treaty? It didn't go over well.

Additionally, Germany was suffering in post-war conditions. The lack of colonies, as well as the loss of some of their lands, made it difficult for Germany to get raw supplies. Demobilization had caused a loss of jobs among soldiers, police, and weapons makers. The reparations combined with debt from the war to cause massive inflation. Imports were limited and expensive and the lack of raw supplies made it hard to export anything. Germany's most productive areas, which had a great deal of mines and factories, were occupied by Allied nations, and many people opted to strike as a form of resistance; unfortunately for the German government, they paid benefits for those on strike, further harming the economy. 

In response to this crisis, extremists parties began popping up. More extreme socialism grew, as did communist and fascist parties, inspired by the Russian Revolution.  One of those parties was the DAP, which became the NSDAP - the National Socialist German Workers' Party; it was not at all socialist and we know it as the Nazi Party. 

The DAP started in 1919 and grew out of military culture; in the Germany military in WWI, there had been a great deal of camaraderie and pride, with many soldiers returning feeling united. The Freikorps movement was racist, nationalist, and xenophobic, on top of still clinging to military culture; after the war, many continued to roam Germany, putting down Communist uprisings. The whole party grew as an alternative to Communism for the working class. 

Adolf Hitler came to the party in mid-1919 after being assigned to monitor the party by the military. But he became drawn in by the nationalism, the anti-capitalism, the anti-Communism, the unity, and obviously, the anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism was rampant...everywhere. Because it always has been. In 1920, the DAP became the NSDAP to have a broader appeal and Hitler made the infamous flag to represent them. His public speaking skills made him the public face of the party, his speeches growing large crowds.

By 1923, the party had created a fair sized following and attempted the Munich- or Beer Hall - Putsch; an attempted coup from November 8-9.  Two thousand or so marched on Munich, ending with 16 Nazis dead and many injured, including Hitler. Hitler was then arrested and charged with treason and he was delighted by the situation. The party got front page headlines, his trial gave him a public platform to discuss his platform, and he learned the benefit of gaining power through legitimate means, rather than through force. Even the time he spent in hail - just nine months - was a bonus, for it allowed him time to write Mein Kampf. 

However, the Nazi Party was banned after this attempted coup and Germany entered a Golden Era from the end of 1923-1929. There was a culture boom, politics and the economy stabilized, and Germany became a permanent member of the League of Nations; progression ruled the country. Meanwhile, after his release from prison at the end of 1924, Hitler quietly began rebuilding the Nazi Party. He agreed to only seek power democratically and accepted a ban on public speaking, which was finally lifted in 1927. The party became more open, accepting women and having a legal section and a civilian section. More leaders were appointed to help the party grow outside of Bavaria/Munich. 

Then in 1929, the Great Depression hits world wide. Germany may have even had it worse than America because Germany was still reliant on loans from American banks and institutions. The major parties of the time - the SDP and the Communist parties - couldn't agree on how to fix the economy, so no progress was made. Come the election of September 1930, the Nazi Party took 18.3% of the votes, the equivalent of 107 seats, making it the second largest party in the Reichstag behind the SDP. Hitler and his cronies used radio and airplanes to campaign and it turned out to be effective. 

Paul von Hindenburg had been elected president in 1925, serving a seven year term. He largely acted as sort of a constitutional monarch - he refrained from getting into party squabbles. He had also been retired and only ran for president under pressure. The solution was to appoint Heinrich Bruning as a sort of Chancellor. Bruning, a Centrist, had no majority to work with in the Reichstag, so he attempted to work separately from the Reichstag, with little success. Often they worked in opposition together while things for the average German continued to get worse.

In 1932, Hitler was officially able to be declared a German citizen - having denounced his Austrian citizenship seven years earlier - and therefore, he was eligible to run for office. He ran against Hindenburg, who was 84 and in questionable health. Hindenburg was again pressured to run, this time because many believed he was the only person who could defeat Hitler, a goal Hindenburg badly wanted. The race was still close, with Hindenburg only being declared the winner after a run-off election. And in July of that year, the Nazi party continue to grow, getting 37.4% of the Reichstag vote, easily making it the largest party present. Combined with the Communists, the right-government had 52% of the Reichstag and both refused to support the current heads of state. (The Communists continued to see the Socialists as their biggest enemy and vise-versa.)

In November of 1932, another election was called for and this time, while the right still held 50% of the Reichstag, the Nazi party dropped to 33.1%; the Great Depression was letting up, so support was shrinking. The Nazis had to act quickly.

Franz von Papen and Alfred Hugenberg had reached high levels of government and, after the November 1932 election, they urged President Hindenburg - with the help of industrialists and businessmen - to appoint Hitler as the chancellor. He was sworn in on January 30, 1933, alongside Wilhelm Frick, Minister of the Interior, and Hermann Goring, Minister of the Interior for Prussia; these two other appointments gave Hitler control of most of Germany's police force.

The Reichstag, meanwhile, was still locked in a stalemate. Hitler called for new elections in early March, 1933. Miraculously, the Reichstag was set on fire on February 27, 1933. A Dutch communist was blamed and arrested for the fire and most historians agree that he did set the fire, but many still argue it could have been a frame job or he could've been hired to do it by the Nazi Party. Why? Because on February 28, 1933, President Hindenburg okayed Hitler's desire for the Reichstag Fire Decree - a decree that suspended basic rights and the need for trial before being imprisoned. Over 4,000 Communists were arrested and the Communist Party was suppressed from action. Meanwhile, the Nazi Party worked hard to push anti-Communist propaganda. Come election day on March 6, the Nazi Party won 43.9% of the vote; still not an absolute majority.

On March 21, the Reichstag held an Opening Ceremony in a church in Potsdam. There, Hitler proposed the Enabling Act passed, giving Hitler's cabinet the right to enact laws without Reichstag approval for the next four years; to ensure the law passed, all 81 Communist deputies and several Socialists were kept from the meeting. On March 23, the Reichstag met again at the Kroll Opera House to vote on the measure. After Hitler verbally promised to the leader of the Center Party that President Hindenburg would still have veto power, the Center Party backed the Act and it passed with only the SDP voting against it.

The dictatorship began.

The SDP was banned, with many members being arrested or sent to concentration camps. Jewish people who had not served in WWI were removed from civil positions. Trade unions, and eventually all other political parties were banned. The party was overrun with requests for memberships and had to suspend applications on May 1. Hitler's SA - a precursor to the SS - was purged on the Night of the Long Nights, with leaders being killed from June 30 to July 2 of 1934.

On August 1, 1934, Hitler learned that President Hindenburg was on his deathbed. He rushed the Law Concerning the Highest State Office of the Reich through his cabinet, which merged the position of Chancellor and President into one upon Hindenburg's death. When Hindenburg officially died on August 2, Hitler was now the Chancellor and President and nobody could stop him.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Books to Resist With

I am not a politically neutral blogger. And I'm not sorry about that.

So, on the day of the inauguration, one of my methods of resistance was to make a thread of books on twitter that were feminist and had good encouragement to resist. And I figured I could put it all in one place for myself and for others.


Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen
Wonder Women by Sam Maggs
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay 
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
Women Heroes of WWII by Kathryn Atwood
The Spy Who Loved by Clare Mulley
Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker
Spy Princess by Shrabani Basu
Nujeen by Nujeen Mustafa
Irena's Children by Tilar Mazzeo
Girl Up by Laura Bates
Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath
Women Wartime Spies by Ann Kramer
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
And If I Perish by Evelyn Monahan
All This Hell by Evelyn Monahan
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana
Red Sky, Black Death by A.A. Timofeeva-Egorova
Angel of Vengeance by Ana Siljak
Unlikely Soldierby Georg Rauch
A Dance with Death by Anne Noggle
Wings, Women, and War by Reina Pennington
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott
The Scarlet Sisters by Myra MacPherson
Liberty by Lucy Moore
The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson
Underground in Berlin by Marie Simon Jalowicz
Shrill by Lindy West
The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich


Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray 
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
Spindle by E.K. Johnston
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Barhardoust
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins