• Emily

I have a problem, and its name is stationery

I had such great hopes for frequent blog posting while in Japan, but I'm leaving tomorrow and this is only my second post. So whoops! This trip has involved a lot of mom's house tasks (like cleaning her overly complicated curtains, don't ask) but that hasn't kept me from basically temporarily losing my mind over Japanese stationery. I think I have an actual stationery addiction problem.

Sadly, this is just part of my haul. See? I have a problem. This doesn't even include the fountain pen ink I bought. At least I didn't get more fountain pens too!

A few days ago, there was an article in the NY Times about why the Japanese still seem to prefer paper. The basic gist of the article was how, even though Japan stands at the forefront of technological innovation and is often associated with a sort of postmodern cyber/cyborg utopia/dystopia, people still hold onto their paper. The rest of the article goes on to describe Japan's ancient tradition of paper-making, the unique qualities of washi (literally Japanese paper), and how perhaps the enduring qualities of the paper itself contribute to the stubborn endurance of paper in Japanese culture. Because why else surround yourself with nerdy techie gadgets and yet still keep notebooks and paper around? It must be a cultural thing! And in Japan, all cultural things are deeply rooted in ancient, unchanging, esoteric culture. This is a version (albeit somewhat benign) of the "these Japanese and their mysterious ways! but how cute!" pieces.

Maybe some people just like to write things down? I know I do (see my stationery addiction, above). I just prefer notebooks and pens (rarely pencils, although I also bought some colored led this time). I remember when I write things down by hand, but never when I type them out. I have reams of notes from when I was working on my dissertation, then my book, as well as notebooks full of scribbled thoughts on various exhibits. I keep a notebook where I keep track of my knitting ideas. I need to maintain a tactile connection with my thoughts. This is one reason why I seem to have a creepily good memory. If I physically write something down, the action helps me remember. This has something to do with different parts of your brain and how different parts process things differently (I'm not a neuroscientist so I don't know the parts or how to describe this properly, but it's a thing, I promise).

Despite my best intentions, I only managed one blog post while I was in Japan. I am about to get on a plane to return to San Diego in a few hours. I managed to do most of the projects around the house my mom has been pestering me about for a year, and still made time to do a couple of academic presentations (so I guess I haven't quit yet), and in Japanese. And I've been doing a lot of research for new knitting projects. It's unclear how soon I'll be able to get on those thanks to a "situation" going on with my apartment (most likely the subject of my next blog post depending on how serious of a situation awaits me--moisture remediation sucks), but I hope to add some new items to my shop in the next week.

I am about the enter a busy period that will require juggling quite a few things simultaneously. But I remain optimistic that creating will continue to be a fairly significant part of each day. And maybe this will be the topic of my next blog post (keeping fingers crossed the apartment situation is not such a huge situation!)

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