Tag Archives: notebooks

Pac-Man Moleskine Quandary

A blurry iPhone photo of my newest acquisition

I recently purchased one of those limited edition Pac-Man Moleskine notebooks from ThinkGeek. I purchased the small yellow notebook, which I think was best for my needs anyway. The thing is just adorable: bright yellow with that iconic Pac-Man font (which I associate more with the original GameBoy, but whatever), and two sheets of stickers. My husband is jealous.

But now I need your help, dear reader: whatever shall I use it for?

Office Politics

I have trouble paying attention if I have nothing to do with my hands. This is the primary reason I am such a judicious note-taker. However, I’m not always writing anything related to the subject at hand; often I’ll just blather aimlessly on paper, somewhat akin to Julia Cameron’s morning pages. It’s a good way to keep my hands occupied so my mind doesn’t wander too far. And if my mind does wander, I have a handy place to jot down stuff I want to remember later.

One day I started running out of regular things to doodle. I was in an interminable meeting, during which I had no notes to take and no thoughts to contribute, so I ended up vaguely sketching the other people in the room. They weren’t exactly perfect copies, but I found it was good practice since I was using a somewhat leaky Bic Velocity Gel pen on plain old notebook paper. No erasers, no correction fluid, none of that.

Then one day one of my coworkers recognized himself. I was both flattered and embarrassed, but mostly surprised. I hadn’t expected my drawings to be good enough to be at all recognizable. My other coworkers started showing interest in my doodles. I’ve gained a weird sort of notoriety as an artist among engineers. One in particular has been encouraging me to draw the entire office. Anyway, I’ve decided to share the lot with you all here, just in case you’re curious. I’ve made them all the same size, though the quad-rule in the notebook makes it fairly easy to discern relative sizes. Not all of them resemble their inspiration; often I’d start drawing someone, screw up irreparably, and just make the rest ridiculous.

Do you doodle in inappropriate situations? What do you draw?

Notebook Perfection

NoteBook Stories, which is probably my favorite stationery-themed blog (and yes, I subscribe to quite a few), started a discussion about the perfect notebook. I’m chatty, so I decided to make it a separate post.

When it comes to diaries, which are my primary use for notebooks, I require it to be hardcover and spiral-bound. I will use hardcover/book-bound or softcover/spiral, but they are not my preferred style. The more pages and the more narrowly ruled the better. I write a lot, so it’s not worth it to me to use a diary with only a couple dozen lines per page – and my handwriting is too messy to write multiple lines of text per line on the page.

I am still looking for the perfect art notebook. Blank (that is, unruled) journals are uncommon at stationery stores, though I haven’t checked any art supply stores. Mostly I use sketchpads, but those are too large to use on travel. I was pleased to find that the blank notebooks from CafePress worked quite well as my travel journal for my trip to Japan earlier this year, and I will probably purchase more of those for future trips. The paper isn’t suitable for pencil, but a simple ballpoint writes like a dream.

Speaking of travel journals, I used this style of journal for my trip to Amsterdam, purchased from the BookCrossing supply store (but, alas, no longer available). The paper was lovely but the size was weird – it only barely fit in my purse and fresh pages didn’t always want to turn properly.

I have yet to try Moleskine except as a planner, but I’ve had trouble with the ink smearing when I write with a gel pen. It’s not a huge deal, but I think it would bother me in a regular journal.

What do you use? Do you have any preferences?

My First Moleskine

I love office supplies. Sometimes my husband and I will browse Office Depot for no reason at all. Whenever we’re at a store I have to walk down the stationery aisle, just to look. But while I am fascinated by pens and paper shredders and industrial-strength staplers, my true love is notebooks. Notebooks, journals, planners, diaries – call them what you like, but I have a real love for bound writing spaces. I’ve kept a diary since 1991; I drag beat-up old spiral notebooks around with me all the time, and I even keep a notebook in my purse, just in case there’s something I want to jot down. Despite using online calendars from Outlook and Google, I can’t let go of my paper planner. I absolutely love filling in a new planner each year. My only hiatus was during grad school, when I used a clunky old PDA. It was perfect for someone who spent so much time at the computer but also needed to be able to take her planner with her. The to-do list was great for long-term assignments and the repeating event function was essential, as I actually forgot to attend class on a couple occasions. (Seriously.)

After I finished school the PDA was less necessary, as I suddenly had no homework to worry about, almost no repeating events, and a new reliance on Outlook for meeting notices. My PDA also was getting old enough that it would blank out and delete all my data from time to time, meaning I had to restore from the last time I synced with my computer. So I switched back to a paper planner. After a few years of waffling between weekly views and monthly views, little cheap ones that fit in my purse or larger ones that lie flat, and other such weighty matters, I settled on a single brand. For the last two years I’ve used planners from time.mine. I like the wide margins for lists and the space at the top for general week-related stuff (though I wish it wasn’t titled “my time this week” because that doesn’t make any sense to me). The spiral binding is handy (I cannot stand planners that don’t lie flat) but sometimes it gets a little bent and the back cover tries to escape from its mooring. The corners of the plastic cover are rather annoyingly sharp. Also, being 6″x9″ means it doesn’t fit in my purse, so I very rarely look at it outside of work. Which is silly, since all my work-related obligations are on my work computer.

Changes in my career and social pursuits have given rise to a need for more room for notes and a more portable design. I didn’t want one of those cheapo checkbook-sized calendars you can get at the dollar store; my purse is far too chaotic for something that flexible, and the planners inevitably get all bent up. They also don’t stay open very well, meaning unless I have a flat surface to write on, anything I write in there is nigh illegible, even to me. (And that’s saying something, given the cryptic nature of my handwriting in general.) So I did some research and decided to purchase my very first Moleskine brand planner.

If notebooks can be pretentious, then Moleskine is the top of the heap in that regard. People swear by them, mentioning how they were used by Hemingway and Picasso. Entire blogs are dedicated to them. They’re something white people like. People go to great lengths to customize them. Prominent Life Hacking sites write about them regularly.

Somehow, I can’t picture anyone showing the same devotion to Mead.

I never had any interest in Moleskine products because they’re so pricey: a small (3.5″x5.5″) ruled notebook retails at about $12. That’s more than many books that are already written in! (And Piccadilly makes a fine notebook for a fraction of the price.) In my own years as a diarist I’ve always shied away from the super fancy journals because I’d be afraid to write in them. I also prefer spirals for my diaries so they’re easy to write in on the go. My requirements for a good diary usually go in the following order of precedence: spiral, hardcover, lots of pages, narrow ruled.

But when it comes to planners, I’m picky. I’m a very “I’ll know it when I see it” kind of person. And this time around, the Moleskine hardcover 18-month weekly pocket planner really appealed to me in a way no other planner design had. I like that there’s a plain sheet of ruled paper on every facing page, giving me plenty of room for notes and lists. The paper is thick so ink neither smears nor bleeds through. It lies flat. It fits in my purse. It stays closed. It has a bookmark.

I don’t see myself picking up any Moleskine notebooks any time soon – they’re still way overpriced for me – but I may well be sold on the planners.

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