Welcome to For Your Consideration, a series about things we love and love to do — and we’d like to give you permission to embrace your authentic self and love them too.
Yes, like all good Journal Gays, I have tried to bullet journal. It is, they say, the journaling system that works for both people who are organized and who are disorganized. It turns chaos into order. However, I quickly realized I don’t want that. I crave chaos in my journaling. It’s one of the only areas of life where I let go of any sense of rules or structures. Not only do I believe fundamentally that all journals should be unlined, undotted, unboxed blank pages full of possibility and absence but I also believe that they can mix business and pleasure, that you don’t have to fill those pages in order, that you can simply pick up the nearest journal and flip to any and start writing. I am a proud supporter of Journal Anarchy.
I’m not as Type A as I used to be, but oh buddy, did I ever used to be. Recently, I woke up and was suddenly jolted back to a memory from third grade, when I missed one question on a spelling test and spent recess that day punishing myself for my error, sitting alone under a tree instead of playing with my friends. (The word was “scissor,” by the way, a word I have since grasped in more ways than one thank you very much.)
Still, even then, I was never quite Type A in the conventional way, never a full-on Monica Geller, if you will. I never used the requisite homework agendas our school handed out in the first week of classes every year, because it didn’t matter. I didn’t need to write anything down to always remember what the homework was and when it was due (and the only time in my life when I straight up forgot to do a homework assignment was in 2008, when I didn’t do a simple journal prompt for my English class because I had been too distracted doing work for the Obama campaign the night before which… only proves my point here). I’ve wracked my brain over why I so often give up on planners, on systems of organization that seem perfectly suited for someone like me who loves plans and hates when they change, who loves order and following rules to an embarrassing degree.
It has taken me a while to accept that brains don’t always act the same about everything. Type A/Type B personality theory is very obviously flawed, as most binary systems tend to be. It has been debunked over and over by people more accredited than I, and beyond that, the initial research establishing the idea of a Type A and Type B personality was actually funded by the very evil tobacco industry… so, it’s safe to say we can just throw the whole damn thing in the garbage.
Brains are fucking weird, friends. Anyone who has ever seen my approach to journaling has been shocked to the point of horror. This is not the Kayla that they know. In a way, it’s not the Kayla I even know. And yet it is how it has always been. Subject dividers be damned. Numbered pages be damned. We should all let a little chaos in somewhere.
The Notebook/Journal Alignment Chart
Lawful Good – Lined Moleskine
Neutral Good – Composition notebooks
Chaotic Good – Dotted Moleskine
Lawful Neutral – Leuchtturm1917 notebooks
True Neutral – Spiral notebooks
Chaotic Neutral – Bullet journals
Lawful Evil – Leather-bound notebooks
Neutral Evil – Journaling apps
Chaotic Evil – Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya’s notebooks
I like to think about what might happen if I ever become famous enough for people to publish my journals. Good luck with that! I’d like to say I have the key to figuring out where everything is, how everything fits together, but that’s not always true. Sometimes I re-read whole pages I can’t remember writing. Other times, I recall one stupid haiku I wrote eight years ago and know exactly which notebook to look in, which page to flip to.
On the shelf in my living room, there’s a hardcover black, standard-sized Moleskine. On it, a piece of paper is taped to its cover depicting a very low-quality rendering of a Harry Potter meme that I printed at my high school between classes in 2008 for who knows why. There are notes for the novel I never finished writing, bad poems written from the perspective of Jean Grey from X-Men, lines I was supposed to memorize for acting class, homework reminders. In the pocket, there’s a Friendship Contract that my friend Jordan made me sign because she was convinced I was showing my other friend more affection than her one day. It’s a deranged, postmodern portrait of a horny, closeted, nerdy teen, and there’s one page that’s entirely blank except for the sentence “I wonder if love is always going to hurt the way it does now.” I can’t remember who I wrote it about. It’s possible it wasn’t even something about my life. I wrote a lot of fiction back then.
In my purse, there’s a small soft-cover blue notebook I bought in Soho one day a long time ago. I can’t remember the brand, and it doesn’t say, but the pages feel heavier, more indestructible than those of a Moleskine. It has diary entries about a lovely trip to Greece I took with my then-girlfriend, about what the sun felt like on my back as I rode behind her on a loud, sometimes faulty ATV and what the sun looked like in front of us later in the day when we would drive toward it, shouting at the top of our lungs that we were the Sunset Chasers.
In that same notebook, there are diary entries from the trip we took more than a year later to Norway laced with paranoia.
We fought again.
She’s hiding something.
Maybe she’s not. I feel crazy.
I’m happy we’re here. I already don’t want this trip to end.
The sun set behind them as they jumped, and it was magical.
I still feel crazy.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
Then, not long later, I started filling the same notebook with entries about the affair. Except none of this is presented chronologically in the little blue notebook. Angry, wordy passages about the affair written in my messiest handwriting, the scrawl I slip into when I’m barely thinking of the words before they’re already coming out of me, come first. The Sunset Chasers come after. In between, there’s a recipe for pavlova.