The Notebook



This is not a story about the totally-cheesy-with-a-side-of-extra-cheese book by Nicholas Sparks, because although I am sure he is a very nice man and my mother loves all of his writing, his books make my head want to explode. This is a different story.

You know when you do something, and as you are doing it you think, “mmm… this is a bad idea” and you do it anyway and it turns out licking the light socket was a bad idea, and you say (to yourself) “dumbass! I told you not to do that!”? This is that kind of story. Only without the hair styled by voltage. (I have, in fact, stuck a metal object into a light socket and your hair DOES stand up. But that’s for another day.)

Pictured above is my notebook. Or rather, one of my notebooks, because I go through them like crazy – I use them as a combination dayplanner/notetaker/recipetester/
mileagerecord/gumwrapper/whatever-er, and if you ask anyone who knows me I am almost never without it. I take it to lunch, I take it on dates, I take it on vacation (even though I keep a detailed vacation journal), I sleep with it next to the bed in case I get a blinding insight in the middle of the night. I don’t even like not knowing where it is. It’s a college-ruled security blanket, and I always have 2-3 blank ones in the house, just in case I unexpectedly run out of pages. I pick them up whenever I see one with a design I like, even if I have like 5 already. I’m a little obsessed.

And as you can see, I have a classic OCD approach to using them – things to do on the right, spontaneous notes on the left, subjects numbered in order of importance, stars by things, highlighter you get the picture I AM REALLY INTO MY NOTEBOOK.

So of course, when I had an opportunity to put one down somewhere that I would be guaranteed to lose it, I did. Because that is sensible.

I was in Belgium. Intentionally this time. I’ve been to Belgium once before, unintentionally, but even though that is one of my best travel stories ever, filed prominently under “disasters” I can never tell it here, to protect the innocent. So this is my second trip to Belgium and I was getting off of the Eurostar with my boss, and the clients, and about eleventy thousand pounds of photographic equipment. The Brussels Eurostar station has no luggage carts, in an apparent attempt to thin the human herd of baggage weaklings, and we had a lot of stuff. A lot and a half. And one notebook.

One of us (I think it was the ever-amazing Brooke, but I really don’t remember) found a station worker to take pity on us and they brought a rolling luggage container – essentially an eight-foot-high cage on wheels – and we loaded all eleventy thousand pounds of gear into the cage, and since I still had to carry couple of bags I tossed my notebook up on top of the cage. Why I didn’t just stick it in the bag I was carrying I’ll never know. And as I did so, I thought to myself, “Don’t leave that up there, dummy.”

Which, of course, I did.

And of course I realized it just late enough to ensure it was to late to go back and get it. Aaargh! All my notes. Schedules. Lists of blog posts that I wanted to work on (like that was gonna happen anyway, notebook or not). All enjoying an extended vacation in the Brussels train station. It’s still there for all I know.

And of course it was in the most gruellingly scheduled portion of the trip, where we were racing from location to location and I literally did not have five minutes to run into a drugstore and find a replacement. I had made, with rare foresight, extra copies of our schedule, and when I could no longer jam notes into the margins and had filled up the back, I started writing on napkins, newspapers, gum wrappers, whatever I could find that would accept ink – including at one point the palm of my hand. My boss noticed my notebook need and tried to help.

“Do we need to stop somewhere and get you a notebook?”

“No, I’m fine.”

“I know you like to have something to take notes in.”

“No, it’s okay.”

“Because we can get you one. I’ll give you some euros if you need it.”

“No, really, I’m fine. Are you done with that napkin?”

So there I am, suffering from the notebook jones, hanging fire for five whole days.  The last couple of days were in Amsterdam – my boss, in a display of generosity I can only categorize as awesome, let me stay behind after the shoot and flew home with all that gear alone – and in my wanderings I found a tourist store that sold notebooks. They had one with a cow on it that said, Amsterdam, and I grabbed it and ran to the counter squealing like a kid at Christmas and I took out my wallet and I was out of euros. I looked, stricken, at the girl behind the register, at the notebook, and then I stalked back to my hotel, notebookless, in the cold Dutch rain.

I flew home the next day, still empty handed, a little piece of my soul still sitting on a luggage cart somewhere in Europe…

I wonder if it misses me?

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