Everyone Needs a Notebook

I don’t know why it took so long for me to appreciate the advantages of owning a notebook. I was fifty before I realized  what I’d been missing by not carrying around a small notebook in my purse. I’ve always been a sucker for those big hardbound blank (or lined) books on the sale tables at every bookstore chain in the world — in fact I have at least eight bought over three decades that are still blank. Let’s forget the twelve others, each with the first twenty pages defaced with my lame attempts at keeping a diary. (I prefer “diary” to “journal” just because I loathe the new verb “journaling. ” Ick.)

Perhaps I was an late adapter because I carried a much smaller, chicer purse when I “went out to busines,” as my Lancashire grandmother would have said. Perhaps I realized that I could no longer remember everything. Maybe I got fed up with losing all those phone numbers and book titles scribbled on the back of ATM receipts every time I cleaned out that modestly sized Coach bag. Perhaps the resurrection  of the venerable Moleskine  (and desirable) brand was the kind of paper porn I love . I could get into a world of trouble at the Moleskine website. http://www.moleskine.com/

Writing myself through the process has enabled me to put my finger on the year I realized I needed a notebook. It was eight years ago on my first trip to Los Angeles to visit my daughter. She and John were promoting their new  hometown, and every day was a dazzling revelation. I realized I couldn’t remember the  calendar of events they’d arranged for me without writing it down in one place. The first day read something like: “Griffith Park, The Getty, Pho Cafe for lunch, Garment District, Campanile for dinner.” I was lightheaded with happiness, blissed out by Southern California, and didn’t want to forget a thing. I bought a Moleskine  at Skylight Books, an independent bookstore that’s a destination in itself and I made note of everywhere we went on my first trip to LA. (Their campaign worked: I love Los Angeles and Southern California.)

I have two working notebooks. One’s in my purse — oh, gosh! My life is so much better now. If I’m listening to NPR in the car and I hear some music I want to buy, BAM!  I write it down. If I’m having lunch with a friend and he recommends a book, BAM! I won’t forget the title. If another friend gives me her new cell number at a barbecue, I’m not writing it down on a Kleenex. I can scribble down the guts of a recipe from a cookbook at the library. I can remember a restaurant recommendation. Here’s my purse notebook, bought, ironically, at a Paperie in Glendale, California the last time we were  in LA, when I realized, in a panic, that I hadn’t moved my notebook when I changed my handbag. I like spiral notebooks because they lie flat, and mistakes or trivia can be deleted with the twitch of a wrist.

The second notebook sits to the left of my laptop, on the coffee table in the living room, side by side with my everyday fountain pen. (Yeah, I’m a serious fountain pen person, which lifts me into another level of geekiness.  That’s another post). What I use this, my all-time favorite notebook for, is everything that my brain wants to retain in the course of a day. Ideas for my blog. Ideas for my food column. Travel plans. Websites to discover. Menu planning. It sits at my left hand  and Lou will say, out of the blue: “Get out  your notebook! How’s this for an idea?” And I do.

Dear Reader, it’s a plastic-covered 3X5 Mead spiral notebook, available at Walgreen’s or the school supply aisle at your grocery store. I think you can score it for 69 cents in the forthcoming back-to-school sales. To say it’s nothing fancy would to overstate the case. It has “Neat Sheet” perforations. It’s thick. It’s cheap. When it’s full, I’ll keep it, unlike those fancy notebooks with my puerile attempts at journal keeping, which I should toss tomorrow. I don’t know if you’ll see any detail in the photo, but this is what the controlled chaos looks like.

I’m sure most of my readers, who are smarter than I, have known about notebooks forever. But if not, fork out a dollar or fifteen and see how your life changes for the better. Without diet, exercise or religion.

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8 Comments

Filed under About a buck, Books, History, Paper

8 responses to “Everyone Needs a Notebook

  1. I’m a Journaler. I’ve probably even uttered the dread word “journaling” from time to time, since I do some semblance of that very thing every day.

    Mine in the bookcase just for this house number eleven, and we’ve lived here nigh onto twelve years. There are quite a few pocket-size, with jottings I had to read fresh and transcribe, for now I’d have to go to the finished copy to translate if I looked back.

    And I DO love your pages—read almost every word. May we nurse hope that most of these are notations for future C&C subjects?

    Dali would have been right home between “Golden Gun” and Canned Peaches, but you’d have heard a rumble akin to the Big Bad John Mine disaster if you’d ever sandwiched Dear Robert between peaches and gazpacho.

    We went to WalMart today for some chair cushions, and passed a whole fortress built of boxes, all filled with the necessaries for School is Starting, and Chris grabbed four packs of pens and four notebooks—25c each. Take note!

  2. I respect you folks who keep journals, unreservedly — I just can’t do it, and I suspect it’s plain laziness.

    Yes, the little green notebook contains my ideas for everything, as well as mysterious entries that I can’t fathom a few days later.

  3. Patty

    I got my first mini notebook for Christmas and loved it. I discovered their value this past year during our March together in MI, and again in IL. You never know when the necessity arises in a small motel room in the UP planning a funeral 2 states away via so many phone calls. I had every name, song and bit of info written down in a safe place. I found the 3×4 size with its own foldup pen in the $1 bin at Michaels. I especially loved the blank book’s title, GENIUS IDEAS. It’s almost full, and the pen ran out before the pages did, but I never leave home without it.

    • Patty — That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout. One place to keep all the info you need, close at hand. And you did a miraculous job taking care of those arrangements.

  4. Val Erde

    I love notebooks but alas, rarely use them even when I have them. Instead, I pop a few sheets of folded paper in my bag when I go out (if there isn’t already some there). I find that if I have a notebook, I end up tearing out the pages as I use them, then I’m just left with a spiral bit of wire!

    However, my sister in law, one time, gave me a fab little notebook, actually a bound book with a fabric cover that I loved, and I used it when I was depressed one year to write things that I’d achieved, to make myself aware that my day to day life wasn’t all bad.

    • Val: Whatever works for you! And you put that notebook to good use when you were down;perhaps all of us should have a journal dedicated to our achievements.

  5. kim shook

    Maggie! Are you a lefty? Mike and I are both leftys. Jessica broke our hearts by being a right hander from birth!

    I love seeing actual handwriting! One of the things that I used to love the most in the lost foodblogs on eG was seeing people’s handwritten lists and recipes.

    I love notebooks and always carry one. I use it just like you do – to jot down what I might otherwise forget – meals out, directions, blogging ideas, etc. I wish I kept a diary, but, like you, haven’t ever had much success at keeping it up. Like Rachel’s Chris, I’m drawn to the crisp, shiny school supplies stacked up in the stores this time of year. I usually treat myself to a little spree and donate everything, holding back a old timey black and white deckled bound notebook for myself.

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