April was another sort of difficult month for me. It started strong with a vacation in Portugal but very quickly became a real shitty situation. This all came down to the fact that my dear friend Will passed away from Leukemia.
Being away from home during a time of grief is difficult already. Then you add in the fact that grief is expressed differently in different cultures. Also that I have few connections on this side of the world – I need to throw a big thanks to my sister Sammy who was very supportive. It was really hard to process being so far away from comfort during this time.
Will is someone who deserves more than a passing mention – he is much more than his cause of death. We worked together at the Mansion on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, NY for a year and a half. He was a hard worker, articulate but more than anything – he was a shining light. He was brilliantly optimistic and funny and genuine. One day I mentioned in passing that I was going to visit Cartagena Colombia again and that he “should come.” The next day he had bought tickets. During that trip, I saw so much more of Will’s brilliance. The Colombians absolutely loved Will – he was goofy and kind and entertaining. We called him the King of Colombia. He made everyone feel that they were his best friend. Since that trip, Will and I became good friends and often met up for drinks or “Mansion Field Trips” where we would go around Buffalo. I really felt very lucky to know him.
I miss Will more than I can say. I guess the only thing that makes me smile is that I actually was so lucky to meet him. I had no background in hospitality. I randomly applied for a job at a hotel which changed my life. There were so many people that I met there that became my family. Will was honestly the glue for me in that part of my life. The one promise I made to Will is that I wont let my friendships that he was so instrumental in fall apart with his absence. I really have tried to live my life through his eyes in the past few months – he saw the beauty in every day life. I love him. So much.
So in the midst of intense grief – what were some moments of comfort that I had?
- For book: The Martian – In the middle of April, my friend asked if I wanted to watch the Martian. Turns out I really loved it – much more than I expected to. Funny, insightful, emotional – I really enjoyed the multi-layered masterpiece of being stranded on space. So I decided to read the book. It’s science fiction but in a totally approachable way. Most of the science simple enough for a liberal arts major to understand. Plus it’s written in an engaging way.
- For home: New Pen Organization – Thanks to Amanda Rach Lee, a bujo legend, who suggested these cubes for pen organization. They are perfect as they keep pens, markers, highlighters (whatever else) stored horizontally which stops them from drying out quickly. I can store more in a way that I can see everything and make sure to use everything in my collection with facility. I’m going to make a whole pen collection post in the upcoming weeks!
- For Music: Beta Band – My sister Samantha (second shout out in one post) had excellent taste in music in high school. I’m not saying she doesn’t now, but I do think we spend a lot less time searching out new music and artists. Anyway, I was walking around one day when I suddenly got a song stuck in my head. Had no idea who it was from. Only knew one line of the lyrics. It was Dry the Rain by Beta Band. I ended up downloading their Album (The Three E.P.s) and listening to it more or less nonstop. It’s one of those bittersweet obsessions since the band broke up more than a decade ago.
- For travel: Trip To Porto – my trip to Porto, although tinged with decided sadness, was also really awesome. I loved Porto. It was just phenomenally welcoming, interesting and multilayered. I’m going to have full post with tons of pictures coming up in about a week. Needless to say – here’s a taste of the absolutely stunning city. I want to go back soon during a happier time of my life – maybe with a friend. I highly recommend exploring this part of Portugal – even over the Capital Lisbon which I visited in 2014.
- For movies: Infinity War – the silence which spread throughout the theatre during the credits was one of the more intense movie-going experiences I’ve ever experienced. I’m not going to give any spoilers. I will say my favorite part was definitely the squid who traveled via rubble. Don’t @ me – it’s not a spoiler.
My Planner Run Downs:
Expect a post in the next couple of days which breaks down my two planning styles.
For my BuJo – the two things that I felt worked really well for me was the mood tracker which I did in a circular spread this time and my new weekly spread (for the most part). I love how creative many BuJoers are for their mood spreads. However, I want to be able to easily read it and see how I was feeling. My issue with the graph is that it didn’t actually indicate what emotion I was feeling. I can be having a lousy day because I’m angry, frustrated, homesick or sad. I can be having a great day because I’m happy, motivated, or feeling loved. I wanted something simple and easy to read.
My weekly spread will be a bit of a work in progress for a little bit – that being said, I like a lot of the things I changed. I liked tossing in a little calendar. Also I appreciated having a spot to write weekly to-dos but I definitely didn’t use it well. I have a plan moving forward which involves using my task organizer to fill in the sidebar consistently.
I’m not sure if I would call this month my most successful in my Erin Condren Life Planner but I did have some really gorgeous spreads. I ended up with a couple of slightly incomplete sidebars (not something I want to get in the habit of doing) but I also started tracking my Instagram posts which has definitely made me stay on top of them for my blog instagram.
Some things I brought in this month that I really love:
- A Second Bullet Journal – I decided that I wanted a separate bullet journal for lists. I ended up buying a Leuchttrum 1917 when I was in Porto and set to work making spreads that I don’t think would fit into my weekly bullet journal. I’ve been having fun becoming more creative and experimental.
- Pigma Fine Liners – I absolutely love these fine liners. I know it sounds silly to have a favorite black fineliner but these are so deep and dark and wonderful – I’m a huge fan.
- Yellow scarf – About five or six years ago, my friend Katherine gave me a yellow scarf from Banana Republic. I loved it but in time it faded and wasn’t as vibrant as I wanted. Yellow is absolutely my favorite color. When I got to Portugal and was greeted by intense rain – I needed warmth. I found this scarf and have worn it all the time since.
- New Jeans – I really struggle in Europe to find pants that fit. Since I’m around an American size 8 – I’m gigantic here. Sometimes I can find jeans which fit my waist. Sometimes they will fit my butt. Sometimes they will fit my thighs. The jeans at Tifolssi fit everywhere and I think look pretty good.
- Cork purse – So – I have been on the look for a new, better quality purse for awhile now. Why? All of my purses are starting to fall apart. It’s stressful. While I’m trying to spread out my use of purses – I still wanted one that looked sharp and not like shit. So anyways, this one caught my eye when I was in Porto. When I went into the store I found out something truly dope. It’s interchangable. You can buy different tops and bottoms and have different looks. While I did hem and haw – I really loved this purchase. I’ve been using it a lot for shorter treks around town. I wish it was big enough for my bullet journal – but that’s ok. Realistically I always want my bullet journal but normally don’t work on it unless I’m at home.
Some Things that I’m tossing this month:
- This stupid Umbrella – one of my favorite stores in the world is Tiger – a Danish nik-nak store. I bought this umbrella in September and it was just not built to last. Sure – the leaves are cute. But it didn’t stand up to the Zaragoza wind and literally started falling apart at a certain point. Goodbye.
- These absolutely lovely but very unusable flats – I have worn these flats maybe 6-7 times. Every time I have worn them I have magnificently wiped out. I tried to make the soles more grippy (technical terms) but it didn’t work. So I decided to give them to a new home who is probably less clumsy than I am.
- Feeling guilty about grief – so this one is obviously different than my typical physical objects. I am not going to feel guilty on top of feeling sad. I found that to be the expectation of some specific people here in Spain. While most people were caring and understanding, there were a few that made me feel guilt about sadness. To quote many great philosophers: that’s fucked up.
- My winter wardrobe – Ok so this isn’t actually tossing but rather just filing away. It’s finally really, truly spring here in Zaragoza so I no longer need bulky sweaters, scarves and even heavy jackets. I was able to put them away and pull out my maxi dresses and kimonos. Hallelujah!
Overall, I’m really looking forward to May. Not only is it the penultimate month of school – but I also will find out where I’m going to be next year. Many amazing people were born in May and I’m looking forward to celebrating their contribution to my life. What are you looking forward the most to about May? Let me know in the comments below.