Tag Archives: journal

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.



Filed under About a buck, Books, History, Paper

A Peek at a Week

Not only do I grind my molars when someone puts the ing on the end of journal and scrapbook, turning two nice nouns into verbs, but I seriously suck at  journal writing or keeping a scrap book. God knows I’ve tried for years, since someone gave me a diary with the tiny lock and key for my tenth birthday.  I remember staring at the blank pages and thinking “Um, what am I supposed to write about? My life is boring.” I still feel that way, but now I know exactly how many words a day I can push out. With writing and blogging I’m not going to sit down waste un mot on something like “Read the Sunday Times, bacon and eggs, two loads of laundry, half of “Hurt Locker” — which pretty much describes yesterday.

I love scrapbooks but I’m sniffy about “scrapping” and all the expensive junk that hangs in the aisles of Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. Geez, people, just glue in those ticket stubs, that take-out menu, some photos  — the real stuff. Why pay 1.59 for a tiny pink bow with a bead on the knot? And all that pricey paper? (Uh, scratch the pricey paper bit, because I’m a paperholic. I too could save some bucks using newspaper for my origami — when pigs fly over a frozen hell.)

But I read of a whiz bang scrapbook idea in this month’s Real Simple, and I’m gonna do it for real. The charm for me is that you do this for only one week a year, no leather-bound journal or cutesie stick-on lettering  necessary. A camera is.

You keep a mildly obsessive/compulsive photographic record of your chosen seven consecutive days — meals, shopping trips, the, the face on your alarm clock when you get up, the newspaper headlines, your feet on the bathroom scales — anything that captures that day. At the end of the week print out the photos, stick them into the plastic sleeves used for baseball cards, date the spine of a ring binder and Bob’s your uncle. Repeat sometime next year.

I’ve always wanted to add a poll to this blog, and here’s my big opportunity


So far today:

This date will go down in history as the birthday of Ian McArthur, a Great Man — ask anyone who knows him — and my father. Happy Birthday, Daddy! XOXO. (He’s not here today — this is the infamous Men in Argyle pic from a couple of Christmases ago. Also sporting the diamonds are John, my nephew Miles, my brother Ian, and Lou.)

The kitchen clock showing the time I decided to do this thing.

Willow napping in a sunshiney spot.

My madly exciting shopping, and lunch — yes, I had a dollar Whopper Junior.

Well, I did tell you I lead a dull life! I’d better go take more pictures — maybe I can find some paint drying somewhere.


Filed under Collections, Five bucks or fewer, Home, Paper, Worth it anyway