When I filled the last blank page I knew I'd soon have to replace the trusty notebook I carry everywhere with me in my pocketbook. But when I found its replacement, I didn't expect it to come with such tradition. I just liked the solid black cover and the neat elastic that holds it closed. However, tucked inside the new notebook was a pamphlet entitled 'The History of a Legendary Notebook', telling how moleskine was the notebook used by the likes of Van Gogh, Picasso and Ernest Hemingway 'to hold sketches, notes, stories and ideas before they were turned into famous images or pages of beloved books'.
Now before I start writing in this almost holy vessel, I thought I'd review what kinds of things I'd stored in my original notebook. It too had a bit of history. I bought it in a stationery shop on the Boulevard St. Michel at the start of my Paris sabbatical in 2001, and though it has the size and grid paper of the moleskine, it looks more like a student assignment book. Again quoting the pamphlet, I want to revisit how I 'impress(ed) upon paper unique aspects of experience' in this original notebook and see if can rise to meet the standards and fulfill the responsibilities of my new, but legendary moleskine notebook.
So what is in my old and full notebook? Unfortunately it jumps around, in time and place, since I always opened it to a blank page and just started writing or drawing. Still there is some priority attached to entries, with the cover holding the Orange alarm code, which I learned and entered into the notebook too late to keep from setting off the alarm and preventing the police from coming to investigate. Otherwise it's a motley potpourri of:
- Places to visit - Viaduc des Arts, Le Fourmi Ailée, Tufts School of Nutrition, list of good shoestores in NYC, directions to Meg's old West Village apartment, directions to Mike's S. Pasadena apartment, Pearl River Mart, Playa del Rey, Takashimaya, new DeYoung Museum, Rudolph Schindler House, Hudson at Laight Street
- Fashion ideas - plain skirt underneath with 2nd skirt of sheer fancy weave over it, Champion sweatshirt tapered to fit with sleeves cut out and filled with black tuile
just over shoulders, skirt of 4 squares with large pockets on sides
- Several years worth of Christmas gift ideas
- Recipes plus - French Laundry staff dressing, Ruth Reichl's roasted rhubarb, decorative tart examples (don't miss the legend next to the Pissaladière)
- Web site URLs - why? I don't know - Uncrowned Queens, Shiatzy Chen, >Nunsuch, Flapper Jane
- Self fulfillment - thoughts while walking in Cambridge, get more involved at Tufts, how to create a money mission statement (unrealized), reflections on a train ride, and most recently notes from a lecture on how to understand Islam
- Countless references to forgotten names, addresses and phone numbers
- Practical how to's - fix computer disconnect problem during train ride, purchase correct reading glasses (need 250)
- Web site ideas - 5 pages of notes for Footloose Flaneur walks in the North End, re:Pete site with music by Ray Charles, What'd I Say, philosophy by Yogi Berra, déja vu all over again and point of view, history repeats itself
- Documentation - drawings of some pieces in the collection of the Charlestown Historical Society before I started photographing everything
- Quotes - from Joyce Carol Oates in 'We Were the Mulvaneys'
"What is a family after all, except memories? - haphazard and precious as the contents of a catchall drawer in the kitchen."- and from an anonymous taxi driver entreating pigeons
"Who is responsible for this poop on my cab?"
- Cryptics - lucid or un autre jour - good names for? Krylon blackboard paint - what could you paint? aluminum letters from Black Ink - what could you spell? what about stitching on top of a photo to bring it to life?
- Mishawum - pages and pages on how to deal with the kids at Mishawum and, in one of the few dated entries, my final thoughts on 4/23/04:
My days at the computer center are over but my mind continues to be full of the children. Tears stay just barely behind my eyelids, filling them with so many could-have-beens.
Some good advice I copied down from a wall in the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum that I'm glad I didn't follow, at least the last line.
Pense moult. Parle peu. Écris rien.
My Paris notebook has chronicled the happy times and the sad times for the past six years. No great book or art is likely to come of it, but just as the Moleskine info pamphlet says, I have discovered in my notebook 'a reservoir of ideas and feelings, a battery that stores discoveries and perceptions, and whose energy can be tapped over time'. Bring on the new notebook and its responsibilities. Me and my moleskine are ready to continue the journey.