A journal

Whenever I walk into a bookstore (or, more rarely, a store-that-sells-only-pens-and-paper. I don't know what those stores are called), I am always drawn to the shelves full of journals. There is so much variation in journals that I've always wanted an excuse to buy them: leather-bound, handmade, bright, cute, tiny, rough, delicious-smelling... there's something captivating about a beautiful cover bound over creamy lined pages.

Something irresistible.

I had a problem, though. Like many people, I've never been able to keep a diary or journal. It's a pretty common gift for a teenager - especially one that likes to read - and I had enough journal and diary sets to last a few decades... but I could never get beyond the first week or so. I've always found my voice to be weak and childish, doubly so when I can't go back and edit my words. The biggest problem is that very often I have nothing important to say. I spend my days doing quiet activities, alone... nothing that is journal-worthy. I have a scrapbook for the bits of things I want to remember, and I alternate photo pages with more "scrappy" pages that feature life's debris: ticket stubs, pamphlets, doodles, receipts. For a long time that was good enough of a souvenir from my past.

When scrapbooking wasn't enough, I started blogging and tweeting. But, eventually I found that there were things in my life that were too long to tweet and too trivial to blog, and I started to see where a journal might possibly fit in my life.

[Commonplace book], [mid. 17th c.]
[Commonplace book], [mid. 17th c.] by Beinecke Flickr Laboratory

This year has conspired to get me to start journaling. In reading annotated works of Lovecraft, I am again reminded of the "commonplace book," to which I was first introduced via A Series of Unfortunate Events. It's a fantastic idea, really - just a book where you keep writings, sketches, quotes and ideas as they occur throughout the day. A queer sense of longing...

illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript by SusanNYC

In my Media class, we briefly covered the history of... well, of media. One component of that history is the illuminated manuscript. These beautiful hand-written and hand-illustrated "books" were created mostly by monks in the Middle Ages, and they are absolutely fantastic to behold. It makes me wish that all books were put together with such skill and dedication. (It would justify the horrendous price of university textbooks, at least.)

My Moleskine by Anna Ruskavora

From our own time period, Mae Chevrette of To GO INTO THE WORLD posted a collection of photos of beautiful journals.

These are art, inspiration and travel journals, and are probably more... contrived than any journal I would write (Definitely not going to spend three hours a day cutting and gluing and stamping and tracing), but I fell in love with the idea of having a place to showcase not just significant things, but also bits of trivial things - magazine cutouts that I like, and bits of pretty patterns and overheard conversation.

The final straw was the owl journal.

I will admit, I spend several days at home yearning to own the thing. I would sit on the couch and stare at the fish tank and think, "My life would be complete if I owned a journal with an owl on it." A few days of that was quite enough, and I resolved to find my way to the bookstore and bring home a leather owl. Alas, that particular model of owl journal had unsatisfying rough and awkward edges to the paper. I sadly patted the owl as I put it back on the shelf, and wondered what to do next. A cardstock journal with a sassy motto on the front? A rough and organic journal that would make the hippies on the bus envious? A plain black retro composition notebook? Then, something beautiful caught my eye -

It was the perfect size, color and thickness. It was wrapped in real leather - soft and fragrant - and the pages were a beautiful creamy butter-yellow. It had a leather wrap closure, and could accommodate the bloat of staples and photos that I intended to fill it with.

The price made me gasp and shove it back on the shelf.

I stared at the small pile of soft, beautiful notebooks.

"Fuck it," I said, and with the encouragement of my best friend and T's blessing, it is now mine...

...and I'd like to thank all the relatives who sent me Chapters gift cards for Christmas.

2 things about

A journal
  1. i used to love writing in my journal. i've kept them all from when i was an avid writer.

    there's just a few missing from a crazy ex who burnt them.

    then i wrote about that in a new journal :)

    1. (OMG threaded reply!)

      It's good that you wrote about your crazy ex, bad that someone would burn journals! That's such an asshole thing to do... it's even worse than book burning, because you're destroying something unique and personal...


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