Digital vs. Analog Writing

Click-clack-click, click-clack-click, are the sounds of the keyboards’ keys beneath my fingertips as I type out this writing log. Ah yes, we’re in the world of digitally typed up manuscripts, roughly written down notes, and the inconsistent savior we call auto-correct. The simplicity of typing gives us such ease that we almost forget how nostalgic it is to put pen to paper. Our pens/pencils sit idly by on our desks in cups, drawers, or pencil pouches.

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My QwerkywriterS: a typewriter-inspired BlueTooth keyboard

More often than not, they’re only picked up to keep our hands busy.

While our fingers tap away at the keys, our pencils sit in their designated areas woefully. Thier erasers untouched, the points left either unsharpened or brand new, and they’ve never felt the warmth of a hands’ embrace; or at least, they don’t remember the feeling. Even the iPencil gets more attention than the average pencil or pen. It comes with the ease of digitally drawing or writing, as well as the several options the iPencil plus the iPad gives us.

However, the iPad isn’t the only thing that provides us several options when it comes to the digital world. As I’m typing, I’ve found that you can read this more legibly than if I were writing this by hand.

I’ve often found that I tend to take advantage of the ease of access during a digital writing session. The thesaurus is just a mouse-click away (even though there’s a physical one on my desk), and instead of drawing out photos I can just Google them. However, there is something that writing with a pencil gives us that typing on a computer doesn’t and that, my dear readers, is nostalgia.

Picking up your handy black Ticonderoga, shoving it into the sharpener in front of a class or at your desk, and cramming that #2 pencil onto a piece of paper can take you back. Writing by hand can give you more nostalgia than typing will ever give you, (Unless you have one of those orange desktop key covers from fifth grade – ya know, the typing test ones?).

Regardless, just look at these results! The differences between the two are so clear and obvious.

Halfway through the “old-fashioned” writing, my hand cramped up! I’m not sure if it’s the many years of 12-hour RockBand marathons, or if I’ve been writing too much, but ow! Also, did you notice the cursive? It seems as though it’s a lost art in today’s society. My fifteen-year-old brother was never taught how to sign his name or write his ABCs in cursive and he’s already in ninth grade! It’s ridiculous.

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Just a few of my pen/pencil cups.

I remember back in first-grade when we got those little handwriting journals to practice in. They were always my favorite because we got to write in the books and you don’t get to do that often. Still, to this day, I’ll admit I love workbooks. I’ve even bought a few from Barnes&Noble, ya know, the “100 Writing Prompt” or “List Yourself” books? They’re usually no more than $10, but I love them. Like I said, there’s just something about writing in books that is just so revealing and, here’s that word again, nostalgic.

It seems as though nostalgia is the number one difference between the analog and digital worlds of writing. Yet, how important can nostalgia be if we continue to ditch our pens/pencils in their rightful places? I’ll tell you all one thing, I’d choose the click-clack-clicks over the hand cramps any day. While nostalgia may be a fun characteristic of life, we’ve evolved into the digital world for a reason: simplicity.

Yes, I said it.

Simplicity.

The digital world has made it to where we can avoid those writing cramps and illegible notes. It’s wonderful that we have the option to alternate between the two as we desire unless you’re an online student like me… then it all has to be digital. Fortunately though, currently I can watch Freaks and Geeks while typing this blog, so the all-online option definitely has its perks.

Now, don’t forget about the pens/pencils you’ve bought and forgotten. While they may be with others in their many jars, they could still be used for art, writing, or just simply jotting down reminders. So, next time you go to write, pick up a pencil and let it take you back to the days in grade school before you learned how to type.

Also, make sure to keep up with me these next few weeks.

There’s bound to be more.

 

 

November 12, 2014

It was a humid, yet chilly Wednesday night; which oddly isn’t unusual for Texas. The sun had just left to awaken a new part of the world and I was just getting off work. As soon as the clock hit 10:23, I would leave the confinements of C.R. Clements and set off to my destination: home.

Copperas Cove, Texas was a small town that I knew like the back of my hand. It used to only take 20 minutes to get through the entire thing, no matter which direction you went through. Surrounded by five hills, with a school district that worships the Bulldawg football team and faculty scandals, Copperas Cove isn’t a place that is well-known. Yet, it’s very close to the third biggest military post in America: Fort Hood (1). Primarily made up of military brats (me included), the town only holds 32,000 people as of 2016 (2). So, it’s a melting pot.

Now, the school that I worked at was my old intermediate, my fifth-grade alma mater, and where I walked the halls as a part of Ms. D Smith’s Snakes; my homeroom class. As a freshly graduated eighteen-year-old, it was a bit uncomfortable to walk the halls as a custodian, but I did it anyway. I started the full-time custodial position in August of 2014, so by November, I was already three months into my job. At the time, I was living with my mom and I was about to hit my one-year mark with my boyfriend Cody Lee. We started dating my senior year of high school, but we went through a long and winding path until we finally were the complete high school definition of official; it was on Facebook. However, we won’t go too far into those details because they’re pretty personal. Let’s just say, that we were both involved with other people when we first started hanging out, I met his parents, he met mine, and we were basically dismissing the inevitable.

“You know you like him, I don’t know why you’re staying with that guy who hasn’t talked to you in two weeks,” my mom would say while I’m on my way out the door to see Cody.

“I know. I know. I know. I have to break it off because we’re going through the same cycle of nonsense that we go through. Every. Single. Time,” I’d tell her.

This wasn’t the exact conversation, but at the time I still dismissed it. Eventually, I realized I wanted to be with the beautiful brown-eyed boy I met in the aisles of Wal-Mart a few months prior. So, I had to break it off with the guy in Indiana who had been ignoring me for weeks. Since he blocked me on Facebook (wow, I was clueless when I was seventeen), I decided to text him and break off the relationship officially before we finally crashed.

Cody on the other hand, well, his story is for him to tell. All you need to know is that, after months of self-doubt, we officially got together on November 12, 2013.

After he got off a shift at Wal-Mart at 10pm, he walked up my parents’ driveway with a bouquet of roses and asked, “Will you go out with me?”

To which I promptly replied, “No,” and walked away.

“Okay then,” Cody said as he walked back to his Suzuki Forenza.

“No, no, no stop, wait! I was kidding! Yes,” and I ran up to him, put my hands on his face, and kissed him.

Now, there we were almost an exact year later. November 11th. While I was walking to my car after a long shift, my “David Tennant as the Doctor” text tone went off and I checked it.

Are you still coming over, Cody asked. (We had an agreement that I’d sleep at his parents’ house tonight because we stayed at mine quite a few in a row.)

So, I texted him back: Yes? Let me go get my things and I’ll be right over.

Drive safe. Text me when you get there.

I arrived at my moms’ house at around 10:40pm, sent a quick text to Cody, and went inside to get my stuff and tell my mom about my day. It was my usual routine, so I grabbed my makeup, hair products, pajamas, and a few outfits. I always tended to overpack, so it all went into a suitcase. After a year of dating and sleepovers, Cody’s parents were definitely used to me hauling in my things. So, I updated my mom, said a quick goodbye, and as I headed out the door she said, “If he proposes, you better come back here and tell me.”

“We’ll see,” I yelled back at her as I shut the door.

When I pulled up to Cody’s house, I texted him that I finally arrived at around 11:45pm.  The moon was glaring through my ’77 Chevy C10’s windows and the air was cooling down. As I got out of my truck and went to grab my array of bags, David Tennant went off again.

Just come in the front door… don’t knock.

The text wasn’t usual. The whole thing wasn’t usual. So, I decided to leave my bags. Cody would’ve normally helped me with them, or he would’ve at least came out and opened the front door for me. Walking straight into the house though? That never happens. The door was always locked after 10pm. However, I continued my journey down the driveway and up to the front door where there was a note. Since this was a few years ago, I don’t remember the exact words, but I believe the note said to walk inside and follow the clues.

Inside the house, the lights were dimmed and there were red rose petals scattered on the floor. On the side table, next to their brown pleather couches, were more rose petals and another note. It read:

Danielle, if you’re a piranha. Then I’m a piranha.

The next note is where we baked our first batch of cookies together.

The saying was from Finding Nemo. Originally it was from the little girl in the dentists’ office, named Darla, who tried to shake Nemo awake (3). She was kind of a terror. Sitting in the dentists’ chair, she revealed her braces and said, “I’m a piranha.” Somehow, it evolved from there.

On the way to the next note, I avoided stepping on the rose petals on the destined path while I walked through the house. The next note was found on the kitchen table, also scattered with rose petals. This makes note number three over a span of maybe thirty feet from the front door to the back door. The clues were unneeded, but they were such a nice touch and the moment felt so surreal. My mom’s voice was running through my head, “If he proposes, come back and tell me.” Nevertheless, I continued to read the note:

I love you to the moon and back, now check the back door.

Quickly, I looked behind me. The back door was unlocked, but there was a note covering the peephole. This made note number four. Which simply said to open it and when I did, Cody quickly told me to shut it which caused my anxiety to act up. I started to get a little shaky, but I only waited a few minutes before I cracked the door a little and asked if he was alright.

“I’m fine, I’m ready, come on out babe,” he said.

I walked onto the back porch and there was a fire going with stuff for smores on a chair next to it. The air was only getting colder, so I was glad that I was wearing my letterman that night. Along with the fire, the smores, and the cool winter night, there was Cody. Kneeling on one knee in a suit holding open a silver box.

My hands flew quickly to my mouth. I was in complete shock. After all of the clues, I kind of knew what was coming. I had my mom’s voice in my head yet, I still couldn’t believe what was going on. My boyfriend, of a year almost on-the-dot, was kneeling in front of our favorite pastime; roasting marshmallows.

“Danielle Mahriahna-Skillings Johnson, will you marry me?”

Tears streamed down my face before I could even get the words out; this moment was so surreal. “Yes, oh my gosh, yes!” He stood up, put the ring on my finger, and it fit perfectly. I was seriously in-awe that he remembered my ring size; I couldn’t believe it. He wrapped me in his arms and I just continued to cry. After all the failed past relationships I went through in the past to get to this point; I was engaged, I was happy, and I was utterly in-shock.

It immediately hit me that I had to tell my mom. It couldn’t wait, and she wouldn’t have liked it if I waited until tomorrow. I had to tell her. So, I told Cody and he said that he already knew we would have to go over there. In fact, he planned to take me back home afterwards to tell her regardless.

So, we walked back in to the house and both of his parents were standing there in their pajamas with their chihuahua. They were in on the whole proposal the entire time.

“Welcome to the family! Even though you’re already like a daughter-in-law to us,” they said while hugging the both of us. I still couldn’t believe it. I was going to be an AllBee.

The Year(s) of Growth

While I write this with medical tape around my cuticles, Cinnabon coffee in my Leo mug from Target, and Kenny Loggins on the Crosley turntable, it dawned on me. I have all of these goals. These ambitions. These whatyoucall, “resolutions” for this year alone. Yet, when are you supposed to start them? The resolutions you’ve set for 2018, when do those begin to form? How do you start to grow and get the motivation just on the first of January? Download all of the habit-breaking/building apps on your phone that you want — but here’s the thing — they don’t help, or at least not for me anyway. So you might as well should save the space.

It’s January 2nd, 2018, and this year is about growth.

Growth could mean anything to the human body or mind. Growth could mean leaving all of your negative friends behind or cutting carbs. Growth could mean learning to love yourself with all of your mental health issues. Growth could also mean setting personal goals that were achievable like: finish a book this week, go to bed early, listen to some new music. Take it day by day.

For me, the hardest habit to build is self-love. In my anthology on breaking The Cycle of Self-Hatred, I interviewed several people on how their cycles would start and how they’ve overcome it, or why they haven’t. Originally, the anthology was written for my ideology class as a final grade. So here’s what my professor wrote in the notes:

Brilliant. You have a real gift for psychology and for writing. Thanks for a genuinely moving, insightful, original paper to read!

Happy Holidays, 

Barbara Goodrich

I received a 100 on this paper in a class I didn’t care for. I took a risk, I made the prompt my own, and I just dove into my writing. School starts in fourteen days and it has just dawned on me that maybe I am good at this. Maybe all of the people who have told me I have a real “knack for writing” were right. It’s amazing how a few comments from my peers and teachers couldn’t push me until now. Until now, I’ve only just appreciated all of the support, but I haven’t put any of it to use. I’ve been filled with self-doubt ever since I started comparing myself to others.

This year, one of my “resolutions” is to stop comparing. Which is going to be really difficult but it’s still attainable.


Along with self-doubt, I also experience body dysmorphia and emotional detachment. For those of you who just got here, I wrote a blog about a symptom of my body dysmorphia and social anxiety called I Don’t Like To Talk About It. If you don’t have time to read it, it’s basically an excerpt of my life. It’s about this thing called dermatillomania, where you’re constantly scanning your body for flaws and picking at them. In my case, my flaws are my acne and the skin around my fingernails. What first starts out as popping the annoying zit on my cheek, eventually turns into a full-fledged scanning spree in the bathroom or wherever there’s good lighting. Fully aware of the consequences, I still continue to scan.

In public, however, it’s a different story. My hands and nails go to the back of my neck and they travel to my lower back, or my fingers continue to push down the skin around my nails whenever I’m nervous. It’s gross, I know. I don’t even like talking about it but it’s already put out there.

(Emotional detachment is a different story and I’m not really going to elaborate more on this topic until I know more about it. So until then, continue to keep up with me to find out more. In the process of continuing my blog,  I’m making myself more vulnerable in order to solve my personal problems like many of you do on social media. This is my output.)

It takes 21 days to break a habit. 

21 measly days doesn’t seem too hard if you think about it, but can you guess how many it takes to build a habit? 66. Yepp, it took approximately 66 days for those of you who have achieved your goals of getting back to the gym, eating better, making it a point to drink a bunch of water every day, or any other personal goals you’ve set. Just the idea that it only takes approximately 21 days to break them is so absurd.

Starting today. January 2nd, 2018. I am going to start keeping track of each day I participate in my bad habits and I am going to break them because I’m tired of the scars. (Hence the taped fingertips.)


Along with all of the above. I’m also a homebody. When I go out, I go out with someone. Almost never alone. The last time I went out alone was a few weeks ago when I was frustrated and needed to leave my house. Every time before that was to smaller stores and every time I spent more money than I planned to but I didn’t care. I made it out of the house. The extra items were personal rewards. This is yet another thing I need to work on.


Stevie Nicks is on now, and speaking of resolutions… with this last purchase from the antique mall, I now have a collection of 301 records (See: Collections) that are cataloged and organized. First by genre, then by artist.

Here’s the thing though, since I’ve cataloged them into my MusicBuddy app on my iPad last summer, I’ve only listened to about 30 of them. So far, just today, I’ve listened to about 8 or 10 more. In these next few months, I hope to make it a habit to listen to at least one every day or a couple each week. (Especially since a good chunk of change is going towards buying more soon.)

Along with listening to more music, I also need to cut more TV out of my life. I’m always watching TV. It’s on while I do my homework, read, write, draw, anything. It’s always on. This is yet another thing that needs to be worked on. Cut the TV, replace it with music. I’ve been listening to the same music since 2010 and I rarely falter. I need new things to listen to. New artists. New genres. New songs. I just need to expand. TV isn’t bad in small helpings, so I’m not going to say that I’m going to cut off TV altogether… especially since I have shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Gotham to watch at the edge of my seat.


Another personal accomplishment I’ve noticed that I want to continue developing is my GPA. When I first started Central Texas College during the fall season of 2014, I started from scratch and ended with a 2.3 GPA. I started with four classes and ended with three because I dropped one. (I’d elaborate more on why I dropped it, but frankly, it doesn’t matter.)

At the time I was three months out of high school. I had just turned 18 and a week before school started, I took on a full-time job while I was registered for a full course load. It was rough. Two of my classes were on campus, two of them were online. Thankfully, my boss understood that I had school and it came first before anything else so finding me on break with a book and my laptop was the norm for my coworkers. However, even though I had a great job (See: An Introduction to my Job) and a set work schedule with a set salary, I still couldn’t focus. It was a lot to put on someone with no work experience and not a lot of motivation for school.

While I was pushing myself to the limit, I noticed that a lot of my hobbies were put on the back burner in order to achieve better grades and work harder. I wasn’t myself and I stayed on a fixed schedule and ended up losing most of who I was. I didn’t draw anymore or read as much, and I rarely got to see my fiance. Because of all of that, I now make it a point to cut schoolwork off at certain points throughout the day to allow myself to focus on something else. Whether it’s to read a chapter out of a “personal” book (a book not for school), or if it’s to play a video game or actually pay attention to the show I have on for background noise. Even now as an online student,  I make sure to keep a “personal” book with me at all times.

Now I might’ve sailed through high school with A’s and B’s but that’s only because I didn’t apply myself where it should’ve counted. I only took the easy classes. My extracurriculars were art and band. I took four years of both and marching band was my physical education credit (which I ended up being damn good at, I just never had the right attitude). Considering all of my classes were easy, except a few AP classes (art and math), I finished high school with a 3.75 GPA. So, coming out of my first semester of college with a 2.3 GPA was rough. I might’ve sailed through due to easy classes, but I was still an overachiever.

After almost three years of CTC, I brought that 2.3 up to a 3.2 and got my degree in General Studies. It wasn’t until last Spring that I decided I wanted to major in English because English has been my favorite subject ever since I could remember (next to math). Well, the first Fall semester at the University of Colorado — Denver consisted of two English classes, Biological Anthropology, and an ideology class. Let’s just say I aced all four. I finished it out with a 3.7 GPA and I can only push it to go up from there. From here on out, that 3.7 is only going to improve.


As someone who doesn’t believe in setting resolutions, here’s a list of 10 personal goals I want to achieve in the long run.

  1.  Stop comparing
  2.  Break my bad habits
  3.  Leave the house more
  4.  Eat healthier
  5.  Listen to more music
  6.  Read more
  7.  Produce more art, whether it’s paint on a canvas or a new blog post — writing is an art too
  8.  Make it on to the deans’ list
  9.  Stop letting people take advantage
  10.  Ignore the insults

I’m not going to give myself a time limit because most of these are considered “life goals” rather than “try to achieve them in a year” goals. Also, I realize I didn’t discuss all of them. Right now, I don’t feel like going more in-depth on about my physical attributes and insecurities in this post. Maybe that will come later, who knows. Like I said, 2018 is going to be a year of growth but so is every year after that. So make sure to keep up with me throughout it all. Starting a new year means bringing on more blog posts and hopefully bringing in new followers.

Thank you all for your support, I only hope to grow my blog more with help from all of my you.

Danielle