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Friday, August 23, 2019

Confessions of a Notebook Addict

I am not well.  When did it start?  Years ago  I walked past a stationary store in the Village.  Hm, I need a new notebook, I thought!  I had been meaning to start a writing project, so why not begin with a fresh new notebook?  I walked into this little shop and found it filled with downtown artists and intellectuals.  Someone who looked like Trotsky was yelling about how he hated himself because he was a white European man. 

I walked around until I came to the main notebook section of the shoppe.  So many artisinal notebooks, mostly of German, Swiss, or Japanese origin.  To me, this was new.  Until this point, I had not thought much of quality notebooks.  A legal pad from Staples would do the trick.  I think I had had a few Moleskins, which now I know are highly regarded by the proletariat but are really rather pedestrian journals.  So to be in this Greenwich Village stationary store looking at handcrafted notebooks was quite an experience.  I quickly looked through a few, and then I picked one with spiral binding and yellow, grid-lined sheets.  I don't even remember why I picked it!  Perhaps I liked the color of the binding. 

Once I got home I sat at my table and opened my new notebook.  It was raining outside.  I picked up my pen and began writing.  Hm.  This is a nice notebook!  The paper is of high quality, created with the pulp of humanely raised and chopped trees.  And the construction of this notebook is superb!  But I didn't write for long.  Something tugged at my soul.  What was it?  Why couldn't I concentrate?  It was because I wasn't sure I picked the right notebook!

I went back to the stationary store.  This time, I more carefully perused the notebooks.  Some were spiral bound on the top, and some were spiral bound on the side.  Some were bound in other manners, also on the top or on the sides.  Some had heavy, sturdy covers, and others were lighter.  The paper?  Some white, some yellow, but so many different shades.  Many different consistencies.  Sometimes the paper was lined.  Sometimes grid lined.  Sometimes no lining at all.  The combinations seemed infinite!  This time, after about an hour, I picked a new notebook.  Still spiral bound on the side -- that has remained my preference -- but the paper was thicker and an off-white color, college rule lined.  I had the perfect notebook!

Back at home I sat once more at my table, and the rain continued to fall.  Time to start my writing project!  I picked up a pen, but this time it happened to be a different pen than the one used on my first attempt.  Hm.  I like this pen.  I had never really thought much about pens before, either, but this one I liked.  It was a .5mm black pen.  Then, almost on a whim, I decided to try this pen on the first notebook I purchased, just to see what it was like.  And then I realized I actually liked the first notebook more, because the way this .5mm black pen wrote on it was divine!

So I returned to the first notebook and wrote a bit, but then I realized it was all wrong!  I had already started writing using a different pen, a plain old Bic ballpoint pen as it were, and it was no good to have the notebook filled with writing from a different pen, much less a subpar ballpoint!  But since the first notebook was a spiral bound notebook with sheets of paper you could easily remove, problem solved!  I simply tore out the sheet of paper and started from scratch.  But as I wrote, I wondered:  what if there were a better pen I could be using that would match up perfectly with the paper in this notebook?  I returned to the stationary store.

Years later, I have not yet found the perfect combination of notebook and pen.  Sometimes I think I've found it, and I get underway on my writing project.  But then a couple of days will pass, and I'll return to the stationary store to see if there is a new shipment of notebooks and pens.  Perhaps a brand or model I don't know about?  I'll weigh the variables and compromise.  Well, I really do love this notebook, the paper is perfect, but I don't like how its bound!  But perhaps I can just look past that?  And I'll return home, thinking I can overlook the nature of the binding, and start writing, but then realize after not too long that no, I can't overlook the binding!  So I go back to the stationary store to find a new notebook and I start over again and the process repeats.

I've tried it all.  Therapy.  Hypnotism.  Acupuncture.  But peace doesn't come, and I doubt it ever will.