Notebooks: Tools of the Trade ~ #SOL 2021 ~Day 3

I had to say goodbye to another notebook today, filled with words from front to back. Ending a new notebook and beginning a new one usually fills me with melancholy. I’ve written about this before. In fact, I’ve written about notebooks a lot. It must surely be annoying for someone to read who does not write in notebooks. I apologize ahead of time for “non-notebook writers”.

I have a routine of mining my notebooks when they fill, but I’ve no time for that today. I’m moving on to the new notebook. I’ll write about mining when I’m doing some mining. Let’s talk about new notebooks, shall we?

I’ve been purchasing the same notebook for writing for the last four or five years. I discovered them at Walmart after a hiatus with a variety of past notebooks. This one was different. It had a hard, leather like cover, sturdy, and had the ability to lay flat when I wrote. The pages were thick, resisting the bleeding of my heavily inked pens. The ivory color of each page were calming, unlike the harsh white paper so many other journals contain. These pages also had a slight texture, so my pen could feel just a very slight resistance when I scribed letters. I find this pleasurable, as if holding my pen accountable for not messing up, while some journals have these thin slippery pages for ink to dance and bleed all over the place. Such dread.

There are about 160 pages in this journal, just enough for a good month’s worth of writing if I write every day, which I do. It’s a goal I aim for and a celebration is always in order when I end a notebook and can begin a new one exactly at the beginning of a new month. I mean, who gets that??!! I can’t even explain this kind of serendipity.

There is a ribbon attached in the notebook for me to use as a placeholder to remind me I’m at in the notebook and also a black piece of elastic is attached to stretch around the notebook to hold it tightly closed when not in use. I appreciate these fine details. I do wish it had a little pocket on the binding to slide my pen in when not in use as well, but this is just wishful thinking.

These notebooks come in a rainbow of colors: blue, pink, black, blue, green – I can choose a color to match the month or the mood. This also heightens my joy! February always gets to be pink while December, a holiday green. This also helps me to locate various months when I go searching for something.

And the size, a sweet 6×9” makes it perfect to slide in my purse or a small duffle bag. Wherever I go, the notebook goes, too. Such ease.

Seriously though, the best thing about these notebooks is the price. $3.98 a piece. You read that right. I could buy a year’s worth of notebooks for under 50 bucks. No kidding. I would haul them home by the box so I would never run out, always to have another notebook at the ready.

And then one day . . . Walmart quit selling them.

My distress was horrendous. I talked to the manager and he checked in the storage. Nothing. I went online to purchase them and they were not to be found. I traveled to Grand Forks, Fargo and neighboring Walmarts to scour their shelves to hopefully discover some left behind – overstock of notebooks. I found a few stragglers to get me through a few months, but whatever was I going to do when those notebooks were filled with the scribblings of my world?

Eventually, the day arrived when I’d used them all up and I had to go searching for something new. Composition books are cheap, but my pen wanted sustenance. Other journals had issues: pages too thin, white-bright paper harsh to my eyes, the slipperiness of the pages made my wet ink smear or I had to wait and wait for ink to dry before I could turn a page. Size issues and price issues became a constant rumination. Every notebook I purchased thereafter could not live up to my Walmart notebooks.

My husband tried to console me. “Tell me what you are looking for and I’ll go find it for you,” he urged. He likes hunting and buying stuff for me that make me happy, but I had to tell him no. This is something I have to figure out on my own. He felt helpless. Now my notebook dilemma was causing BOTH of us pain.

A couple of weeks ago, I perused the Walmart notebook aisle to see if they had any new notebook arrivals and. . .

BESTILL MY HEART! There was a random box of my old friend notebooks hidden in the back of the shelf behind the shiny and sparkly new journals. A whole box! Eight notebooks to be exact! They were all pink but no matter! My writing angels must have been witnessing my morning writing frustrations and magically parked these gifts on the shelf for my eyes only on that one particular that day. The timing could not have been more perfect. Mid-day, mid-week, mid-month in the middle of winter. Who doesn’t need some joy then?

I’m good to go for a spell now. My axis straightened out again.

I know it won’t last for long however, so I’m asking you. . . 

If you have a Walmart near you, would you check the notebook shelves and see if there are any straggling Pen+Gear notebooks left behind? I’ll pay you to ship them to me! There HAS to be some out there!

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge. When teachers write themselves, they are able to draw from their inner curriculum they have shaped for themselves in which to model and teach their students. But, more than this, as human beings, we also cultivate a writing practice that can be a buoy and and an anchor in the turbulent waters of our lives.