I love buying journals. So much potential, a blank bound set of pages gifts one with the power of imagination. Gridded journals were my thing from 20-30, when I was practicing corporate architecture. A leftover from college science notebooks, I filled up dozens with notes from lectures, sketches of buildings and plans I loved, watercolored images of places I visited, and the occasional xeroxed piece. Other people were starting family scrapbooks, but I was making design scrapbooks.
When I started writing and painting full-time all that changed. Blank Strathmore bound books covered in canvas to paint the outside (or not). Even better, wire bound books that I can fold back flat. I love tightly lined journals, though I tend to skip every other line when I am in a writing frenzy. My favorites were a brand called OE out of Albuquerque. Red, black, or grey (I said I was an architect) either blank pages or with tight lines, a grid across the top, they folded back flat and had a wonderful envelope that I could tuck snippets of things into. I bought a case when they were going away and still have a few.
Today I went to Powell’s to sell our books, and we had a credit. I ended up, as always, looking at the journals. Powell’s has always had such GREAT journals. I was disappointed. I wanted to see if they still had some of the wonderful journals with Tara or Buddha or Manjushri on them, blank paged and folded back. Nope.
Many journals now are geared to the DIY group, and many were full of questions to be answered, as if we all need that kind of prompting, and were either very cute and gingerbread-ish (which is good for lots of things, don’t get me wrong, but not what I want in my journal.) I don’t see the creativity enhanced by being asked “What did you do today?” at the top of the page, but apparently it is the new thang.
I also wanted to see if they had any books not made in China. Nope. Even Moleskins are made in China, and they no longer carry the swirling colored paper wrapped journals that I was never fond of, but they would be more interesting than what I saw today. I can’t understand why one would paying extra for Moleskins made in China when they have knockoff copycat Moleskines much cheaper, also made in China, probably by the same company.
Only one caught my eye, but I didn’t get bought. It was a flip-type journal, with interesting small inked drawings from the Victorian era which were meant to be flipped through fast to make a movie. I liked the one with the bees, buzzing singly then picking up friends as you flipped and ending up in flowers. Unfortunately it was in a dark gold color, not honey colored but darker. Color is important.
I got to thinking about change while I looked at the journals, which were also shoved to the mezzanine, which is a dark space that is transitory. I certainly don’t look as good as I did when I started buying journals at Powell’s, driving up from Southern Oregon for a two day shopping trip, which always ended with a stack of books. When I look in the mirror sometimes I am surprised at the face that stares back at me. I hear my baby brother, dead now for more than a year, saying, “Who is that old broad?” And I will be different the next time I shop at Powell’s. Maybe fatter or thinner, or with a perm. Maybe they will have a better selection.
This is probably more than anyone wanted to hear about journals. And my short writing exercise is over. Blick’s will be my go-to for journals from now on.