Here's a little-known fact about me: I have a fetish for office supplies. When I am near a Staples or an Office Depot, I feel a palpable urge to go in and paw notebooks, calendars, pens, and the like. I particularly enjoy going to the pen department and reviewing the latest selection of Uniballs, gel-ink pens, disposable fountain pens, mechanical pencils, blister packs of pens in assorted colors (I love green pens!), pocket-size pens, pressurized space pens, Sharpies, and other devices for delivering pigment to paper.
Notebooks, too, have always been fascinating to me. For a while, I started carrying a spiral notebook in my shoulder bag that was supposed to be my "do-everything" notebook. I took pleasure in yanking it out and writing down phone numbers, sketches, and drunken epiphanies. The idea that the notebook could serve as a running record of my life, haphazard but all-inclusive, was really attractive to me. I like the idea of its corners getting battered by time and usage. But it was too big to carry around except in my bag, so it was necessarily incomplete. Drunken epiphanies that occurred to me at times when I was bagless went unrecorded. The notebook fell into disuse, and my mind again became a junkyard into which ideas stumbled, spent a few days lollygagging around, and then departed unnoticed.
I ran across a site the other day devoted to the idea that it is okay to fetishize office supplies, and it is okay to see the perfect notebook as one of the higher callings of man. The site is called 43 Folders, a reference to a complicated folder-based "tickler" system devised by people even more obsessed with office supplies than I am. The fetishists at 43 Folders turned me on to a particular kind of notebook called a Moleskine (apparently pronounced "Mole-uh-skeen-uh"). While available in various sizes and formats, one kind of Moleskine called to me like a siren: a pocket-sized notebook of 192 pages, with a convenient little pocket for storing notes and the like and an elastic closure mechanism.
Bear in mind that, as of late, I've been trying really hard to see myself as a writer. You know how athletes visualize themselves executing their athletic maneuvers perfectly, as a means of achieving perfect form? That's me with writing. I visualize myself being a writer. The little Moleskine fit right into that vision: A writer carries a notebook; a writer never lets an idea dissolve without recording it; a writer is an eccentric weirdo who obsesses about notebooks.
I had to have one.
So I figured out they are actually available at Barnes & Noble, and I charged off to get one. $10 for one. My hands trembled a little when I saw the pricetag; but how can I assign a cost to being a writer? I can't. So I bought the damn notebook, and I've been carrying it around in my front pocket for a few days. I've already got some drunken epiphanies in it. I also took it to my writing class on Wednesday and used it for the diarrhea that my teacher calls an "in-class writing exercise." Anyway, it makes me feel like a writer.
I do have to go to an office supply store and find a good, slim pen to go with it. The folks at 43 Folders have all sorts of ideas about that too. I love them.