Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Moleskinner's Blues

I went to write in my journal this morning and I just couldn't, the journal is too big. It's alright when I'm writing on the left page but when I move over to the right I have to tuck the left side into myself somehow and that pulls the book into a severe sideways position that is not conducive to comfortable writing. I need a new one, and I'm only a few pages into this one.
I started keeping a diary when I was eleven. Our friend Summer (she of the dirty mix tape, she of the sprayed up bangs, she of the boobs at age twelve) had read Anne Frank: The Diary Of a Young Girl, and was thus inspired to take up pen and notebook. She, like Anne, named her diary so that each entry was like a letter to a friend. She let me read it (she had about three pages filled) and as I burned with the desire to be cool like Summer, I too read Anne Frank, and I too started writing. My first diary was named Anne, and it was pink.
[ An aside: So many of the things I do start because someone cooler than me does it first. Journal writing, listening to Tom Waits, learning The Jaberwockey by heart, blogging.... To my credit I only continue with these things if I really love them. I've always had a hard time finding my own things, I have to try on the things of others and see how they fit. Sometimes that bothers me, and I want to tell new people that I meet that I am not really cool, I am simply cool by borrowing the coolness of others. Then I remind myself that we are not born with great books and mix tapes in our hands, we all stumble across them in our own ways. Then I tell myself that I am over-thinking this, as I do everything and I tell myself to shut up.]
I filled up Little Pink Anne and moved on to another one, then another, then another. Picking out a new diary and naming it was something that took great thought and care, and sometimes would take several trips to various stores before I found just the right one. I remember one with sunflowers, a blue one with a Degas print, one of purple velvet, plain ones, flowered ones, ones made of recycled material, ones from India with tiny mirrored circles. Anne, Kitty, Sandra, Salome, Dave, Delilah, Mary, Maria, Sophia, Claudia, Frida, Ella, Etta, Eva, Mable, Luz, Annette, and on and on. Then to find the perfect pen, the ink pen but not too inky, a bit of scritch and scratch but also one that glides across the page and does not bring attention to itself. The color of the ink depending on my mood, and all in all mostly I write myself black and blue but there has been pink, there has been red, there has been green. For an entire year, brown.
At some point I picked up a Moleskine journal and I never looked back. O Moleskine! How perfect your pages! How narrow and unobtrusive your lines! Your tiny perfect pocket in back, your nubbled flesh, the strength of your spine! A ribbon to keep my place, elastic to hold you closed and keep your pages safe from ruck and ruffle! Your reputation is well deserved, my friend, but you have let fame go to your head.
It used to be that you had two choices: lined or unlined, in black hardback. Perfection. Now they come in three sizes, several different colors, hard or softback, lined, unlined, graph paper, reporter style (with the spine at the top), graphic artist style (half the page lined and half unlined for illustrations), sketchbook (with heavy weight paper), day planner, address book, and I don't know what else. Cook book style? Ones with wide lines for girls with bubbly handwriting? Music sheet style? Moleskines are trying to be something for everyone and that's fine, really it is, but it has become nearly impossible to find the classic, plain and perfect, black hardback in the size that will take a good amount of words but will still fit in my purse.
A week ago I went to a large chain bookstore (I will not advertise for them! I am still mad!) to get a new one. After looking through the three carousels of Moleskines that they had and not finding the one I wanted, I asked at the customer service desk when they would be getting more in. They didn't know and told me that their Stationary Specialist would come out to help me. After about a minute and a half, what appeared to be a twelve year-old girl wearing a Harry Potter t-shirt and a bow in her hair came walking toward me. Please, I begged my higher power, Please don't let this be the Stationary Specialist. I wanted someone older, I wanted someone with glasses and a pipe and ink stained fingers. At least someone who had grown breasts, but no, this little girl, this Hannah Montana was indeed the Stationary Specialist. She was so cute! She talked in all exclamations!

Hi! How can I help you!

Yes, I am looking for a lined Moleskine journal in classic black. Do you know when you'll be getting more in?
Did you look at all three carousels!
I did, and you have quite a selection, but I can't find the plain, hardback, lined ones.
I know! Those go fast!
I'm sure. So, does that mean that you'll get some more in soon?
Probably! Maybe in two weeks! They just send me a bunch and I put them out!
So you don't actually order them?
Nope! They just send me a bunch and I put them out!
Okaaaaay.... Well, thanks.

I wonder how much a Stationary Specialist at a large chain bookstore makes. I'm thinking not much.
So that is how I ended up walking out with one of the large ones instead of the medium sized. An art teacher told me once that when you paint small you actually use the mathematical side of your brain and when you paint large you use the creative, and so I thought that maybe I should try the larger size, that it might open up a different part of my brain for writing. I don't think it does, my handwriting is still tiny and the larger size just makes me uncomfortable and angry. Which makes me not want to write. Which makes me crazier than I already am. Writing in my journal everyday is my therapy. I prefer vellum to Valium. I'll just have to visit other stores, manhandle other journals, maybe even find a new pen. There are areas in our lives where change is good and compromise acceptable, one's personal diary is not such a place.
Which reminds me- dish soap IS such a place. I got some lime scented dish soap recently and it's great. I feel like I'm washing my dishes with margaritas. It turns dish washing into a fiesta! Maybe I will name my new journal Margarita. Maybe I will write in lime colored ink. Maybe I will become fun and spontaneous! But only secretly, and for an hour after I wake up and before I go to work. Baby steps. One doesn't want to change everything at once.


All This Trouble... said...

I have not fully read your post. I will but first I wanted to say I am also intimidated by large, blank pages. I combat it by writing diagonally on the page. And drawing and doodling also help. It's sort of just like all my notebooks and papers from my school days.

downtown guy said...

Tiny little handwriting. It's all about tiny little letters. I don't know why.

Also, if you have not already, try grapefruit scented dish soap. Pamplemousse!

Steph(anie) said...

This made me laugh several times with understanding.

Django said...

Maybe I don't keep a journal because I haven't found the right book.

Or maybe I think I can keep it all in my head, which has been proven wrong again and again.

Sometimes I write what I do for a few days and then lose interest. I like it when I find those. But I'm not very good at long-term journaling, and I've noticed that more than half the time, I write things down when I'm extremely pleased by or distressed with a girl.

I found one journal the other day that had three pages on how awesome this girl I briefly dated in college was. We'll call her Joan. It went on and on about how much we had in common and what a great person Joan was. Three days later, with no entries between, the title of my day was "Joan is a whore." And the body of my entry was, "the title says it all."

Here's the thing: I don't remember what happened in those three days, and now I'm really curious about it.

End report.

Mwa said...

How about drawing a line down the middle of the page horizontally as well as vertically? I've done that before. You create four easier to manage and smaller pages, until you find the book you need.

(This has worked for me.)

Jo said...

I love diaries but I only write in them when I'm miserable. I have all these old unfilled ones containing nothing but embarrassing emo crap.

Jo said...

Oops, I wasn't finished. I meant to say: try the internet!

And also, you're right, that that's how everyone gets ideas. I mean, if we all went round originating stuff all the time, we'd be rich and famous and very busy and there's just not enough space in the world for everyone to be one of THOSE people.

Jo said...

Oh, and, my daughter wants a diary now. ONE WITH A LOCK ON IT.

That's it, excuse my threefold comment.

Mel said...

I admire your commitment to writing, as I've been more haphazard with mine. I wish I had written more down, because it never ceases to amaze me - the things I've forgotten or how deeply I cared about things I've forgotten now that I'm so much older. Sorry you can't find the perfect moleskin. When I can't find anything in the world anymore, I shop the internet, but I hate to pay the shipping.

Lemon hand soap changed my life. Now I'm happy everytime I wash my hands. I'm even happier when I put on my orange scented lotion by Naked Bee. Reminds me of Florida, which is a good thing when you're stuck in the midwest.

Petit fleur said...

Try the Paperback Rack on Monroe St. That is a cool store, and I'm thinking if they don't carry them, they may know where you can find them.

Good luck!

downtown guy said...

I hate to say this, but I am pretty sure that the Paperback Rack does not carry blank books as a rule. Though it is a cool store.

Steph(anie) said...

What pray tell, are the measurements of the size you are looking for?

Internet shopping may be my ruin. It takes nearly all the excitement out of the chase, and entirely too many goodies at my finger tips...


Ms. Moon said...

Yep. Go to the Internet.
Oh honey. I love everything you write, even in teeny-tiny letters.

Elizabeth said...

I'm now ashamed to have a Moleskin cover for my kindle.

May said...

All This Trouble- Sideways and doodles, Yes. I should have gotten the large blank book, but instead I got the one with lines (like an idiot). I would probably enjoy the blank one a lot more. Your old school papers sound a lot like mine.

DTG- Pamplemousse?! They have grapefruit scented dish soap?! What the fuck? I want that. As soon as I am done with my margarita scented dish soap.
Also yes, teeny tiny letters. It's so that if we are ever stranded on an island with a limited amount of writing paper we can make it last until we are rescued. Or we die, whichever comes first.

Steph- was it about the Minnie Mouse Stationary Specialist? I felt like a crotchety old woman.

Django- "Joan is a whore." That shit cracked me up.

May said...

Mwa- Good thought, and I probably would have done that but I bought a new one. I struggled with it because I hate to change it up midstream, but really, it's not worth it. I have written letters like that, though.

Jo- Mine are full of emo crap too. And tons of the mundane. I know a man of later years who has books upon books entirely filled with his sexual conquests. I am trying to get him to will them to me. If I only wrote about my sexual conquests I certainly wouldn't need the large totes I have to pack them in. There would be maybe one, halfway filled.
Are you going to get your daughter a diary, with a lock on it? I think you should. At the very least it will give her something to laugh at when she's older.

Mel- It is amazing what we forget. I dip into my old journals and even things I remember are often not the way I remember them. The good thing is we do not remember all that we do not remember, so we can't be too stressed about it.
I want orange lotion! Naked Bee, huh? I'm looking that up.

May said...

Petit Fleur- I think Hank's right about the Paperback Rack, but regardless it is always a good place to visit. That place is a treasure trove.

Steph- Thank you! I'm glad to know that you are so well versed on internet shopping because I am not. I may have to break down and pick your brains about some other things I need.

Mama- I love everything you write. Was last night fun? I love you to pieces.

Elizabeth- They make a cover for a kindle? I think that's wonderful. If I had a kindle, that's what I'd get.

downtown guy said...

I tried the lime dish soap, and you're right - margarita!

A said...

"Ones with wide lines for girls with bubbly handwriting?"

Ha ha ha! Great post!

Anonymous said...
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Sarcastic Bastard said...

Because I love you, I checked and Amazon has lots of moleskine stuff. Search for "Black Moleskine Journal".

I love the Amazon! I've ordered underwear, a vibrator, and even a damn toilet seat off there. If they make it, you can get it there.

Also, I must mention that I hate people who are LOUD TALKERS and talk in exclamations. Rachael Dumbass Ray does that. So does my sister-in-law. I want to smack chipper motherfuckers.

Bethany said...

i loved every bit of this and was especially fond of the end with the lime green dishwashing soap. Go May!

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