Tuesday, October 5, 2010
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.