In preparation for travel to Paris this week I found myself cracking open the last of my black Moleskin Cahier 5×8.25″ notebooks. Normally this brings satisfaction as I add yet another 80 bound pages of journaling to what has become 40+ such notebooks over the last dozen years.
With departure impending, however, I felt more anxiety than joy: long lines and long flights are perfect for filling up pages; jet lag and the 1 a.m. clarity, combined with the vast, empty expanse of time away from family; would 80 pages suffice for five days on the road?
Panic really took hold when I discovered an absence — if such a thing can be said, the discovery of an absence — of the model I desired. Simple, ruled, soft yet sturdy black cardboard cover stitching together the 20 leaves that make 40 double-sided pages, the final 20 of them perforated. Yes, Amazon could get me into a brown, or a light grey, even a blue or a myrtle green. Same size and shape, but oh, these colors! Lord!
I’m more of a Henry Ford man. Set me up in black.
I tried the local stationer in McLean who carries the Moleskine line, but his stock was low on everything and void of the magic black 80-page three-pack. Barnes & Noble? Online they were showing discount vendors, suggesting to me this: Discontinuity of the line.
Moleskine’s website sealed my fears as the item failed to emerge. Until.
Enjoying the 1 a.m. clarity of jet lag and inspired by ghosts of Picasso, van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir, Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Dalí, Modigliani, so many others who called the 18th home… inspired by an evening in Montmartre (Sacred Heart, an Irish Bar it its foot, a phone call with my sister in CT, a chilly evening descent from the city’s highest point among the cheery and the crude, the Christmas lights multiplied by the glistening concrete and cobblestones of that storied boulevard): I returned to my room at the Millennium and discovered it was possible to select a size and cover and ruling from an online menu and voila! My black Moleskin Cahier 5×8.25″ notebooks were magically available once again!
Time only knows if they will eventually become obsolete. For now they are the perfect writing tool alongside a silver Parker ballpoint (themselves on the verge of extinction), a solid desk with a lamp on the left, a chair, and a good laptop computer. What a shame if they were to go away, an end to a design legacy inspired by, according to the Moleskine company, “notebooks distributed in Paris during the 19th-20th centuries, handmade by small French bookbinders who supplied the local stationery shops.”
The brand, created in 1997, reflects “the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries, such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin.”
Please, Moleskine, keep the legend alive!