Archive for May, 2010

I love a nice, fresh, new, tiny notebook.

Honestly, I love any notebook, all full of blank pages and full of possibilities, but there is something about the tiny notebook that is especially pleasant. Small notebooks seem to be more likely to hold secrets that could also be carried in pockets, in wallets, in a zippered side compartment of a purse that only gets taken out to special events. The  tiny notebook holds such mysteries, too.

Moleskine notebooks

Here are a number of well-used Moleskine notebooks, as seen on the company's website, http://www.moleskine.com/moleskine_world/

One of my favorite brands of tiny notebook is — no surprise here — the Moleskine notebook. They’re very trendy and show up in bookstores, art supply stores and the occasional fine stationery store.

Moleskine notebooks come in all kinds of styles (generally small) and are reminiscent of small notebooks supposedly carried by the world’s great thinkers. (There are also large Moleskine notebooks, mostly for drawing and artisty things.)  Mostly, they have hard covers in black or red, but they’ve been diversifying quite a bit since they first came on the scene …. Well, wait: Here’s a bit of history, right from the company website:

Moleskine® notebook is the heir and successor to the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries: among them Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and  Bruce Chatwin. A simple black rectangle with rounded corners, an elastic page-holder, and an internal expandable pocket: a nameless object with a spare perfection all its own, produced for over a century by a small French bookbinder that supplied the stationery shops of Paris, where the artistic and literary avant-gardes of the world browsed and bought them.

So you can understand why they fascinate me; I want to be one of the artistic and literary avant-gardes of the world, too. But my little Moleskine with its black cover with the rounded edges, hard black cover and elastic band that guarantees privacy — right? — is not full of too many avant-garde ideas or insights. Maybe someday. Or maybe it is, and I am not being completely honest and am just being modest. It has a lot of blank pages, though, so there is plenty of room for some brilliant observations and clever turns of phrase.

Today, mundane notes on a cheap little spiralbound ... tomorrow, an agent's phone number?

I am not a notebook snob, however. Definitely not. I am not immune to the call of the small notebook at Office Max, Target or Kmart, whether the covers are in bright primary colors or naturey, misty wistful themes in dull greens, grays and browns.

Possibilities can be realized on any kind of blank page. I have a 3-inch by 5-inch notebook on my desk that came in a four-pack from Staples. An impulse buy, but I felt a little smile run across my face when I opened up the packet and pulled out the lime-green notebook. Purely for notes when I’m on the computer or on the telephone — but who knows? Maybe it will be the notebook that eventually records the phone number of a new employer of the publisher of my first novel.

I have a vast collection of tiny notebooks from other cultures: wide-ruled school notebooks from Mexico. Graph-paper pages in tiny notebooks from a papeterie near the Sorbonne in Paris. Rice-paper pages delicately stitched into artsy little notebooks found in San Francisco’s Japantown (don’t really know what I could used them for) and slightly campy, colorful “Diary” notebooks with cheap paper and interesting drawings stamped on each page from Chinatown (perfect for travel journals!)

There is plenty to be said about the standard-size notebook — I am in love withstrongly, strangely attracted to them, too. They fit right in with my love of all things office-supply, which, I have been led to believe, is actually a pretty common affliction among writers.

What’s behind this love? Honestly, I think I said it right there, in the second sentence. It is all about possibility, the never-ending hope, desire and — if you’re lucky — belief that one day, the blank page will hold the realization of a dream.


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After a week of gray —  holding our breath, waiting for sun and spring to resume their respective places in our lives — we can exhale. Today is a fine day in May.

March was amazing, April was fabulous, but May, thus far, has been a tease, and a grumpy one at that. Ill-tempered and low-temperatured, bleak, gray and damp.

Responsibility comes with beautiful Minnesota weather, and I already feel guilty for shirking mine. I hear the neighbors mowing their lawn, and I should be out there doing the same. Or I should be planting the tomatoes and basil and peppers and petunias and oddly named other little plants I bought last week. I should be pulling weeds, at the very least.

This is the story of my summers: Standing in the kitchen, looking out at the berm behind my house, considering what else I can plant there, noticing some stray dandelions and remembering there are plants to put into the ground. Then spending too much time ruminating on whether to spend the next three hours getting muddy and dirty and sweaty from Major Yard Work, or to just shove a few little plants into their new home in the backyard.

By then the sun has gone under a cloud, and I chastise myself for missing out on the sunny afternoon, the opportunity to spend time in my charming yard and the new lease on life I would be giving my seedlings. So I turn away, get involved in something like, oh, my blog …

The sun is back out. I need to get going.

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