Ode to the Yellow Legal Pad

My workspace in higher education has changed many, many times over the past 15 years. Just during my time as faculty, I moved offices seven times in eight years, if memory serves. I’m a fan of change, so each move presented an opportunity to learn about a new location on campus, meet new colleagues, connect with students in a different space, or get a new plant (spoiler alert: they all died… my condolences, plant world).  

One constant throughout all of this change, manifesting my love of putting pen to actual paper, is the Yellow Legal Pad. A note-taker’s dream come true! It’s a beautiful canvas, page upon page, awaiting all manner of thoughts, ideas, and big plans. Outlines, books to read, research topics to explore, quotes that resonated. Not to mention doodles (not every meeting can be riveting), grocery lists, and an occasional note to myself not to forget that thing I keep forgetting. I can work just about anywhere as long as I have my trusted YLP and pen by my side.  

The Yellow Legal Pad accompanied me through law school (I know, so predictable), my Ph.D. program, eight years of full-time teaching, and now many years of administration…ing. It’s my essential learning, thinking, and writing tool. I mourn for all of the never-to-be loved-by-Gen-Z Yellow Legal Pads. Maybe I’ll start a Gretchen Wieners-esque “make YLP happen!” movement.

In my current office, I have many new-to-me things, all lovely and deeply appreciated. I have a handful of ink pens at the ready. But none are more precious to me than the stacks of Yellow Legal Pads, both new and those already filled with notes to be revisited and reflected upon. 

I invite you to join me in admiration of the YLP. We can meet for coffee or lunch and share our joy in opening up a new pack, tearing off a sheet to roll into a ball and throw at the nearest trash can, or simply stacking them neatly as a reminder of the work accomplished and exciting work ahead. Here’s to you, YLP! And with that, I’m off to do that thing I would have forgotten but for you.


2 thoughts on “Ode to the Yellow Legal Pad”

  1. Love this, Tiffany! I’m a note taking fiend myself. I struggle with the archiving of my “works of art!” I tried the “notebook with tabs” invention to help organize my topics, and I have yet to figure out which tab things belong in since everything seems to cross-reference. I think I just need to stick to the old faithful YLP.


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