I went to Audrey’s, our local book store, last night, to buy a copy of Sense and Sensibility. I am only buying this book because I bought Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and I started reading that, and I realized that I don’t think I’ve read Sense and Sensibility, and I think, in the entire spirit of parody, you should read one before the other. (Also, this explanation for Mr. Spit, who gets very nervous when I go into bookstores. It’s ok dear. I took the store credit we had and spent that on the other 2 books I bought. It wasn’t very expensive, as far as Audrey’s trips go. In fact, I may modestly say it wasn’t that expensive, period.)

But, my flimsy household accounting (and even flimsier excuses to my husband) aren’t particularly what this entry is about. It has been, as you might have noticed, a shit week here at the Spits. (and I’m using that word because my mother told me I was having a shit week, and if she says it, surely. . .)

And while I was at Audrey’s, there were day planners for 2010. And I realized, that I have not had a dayplanner in a few years. I tried using my Palm, and these electronic bingley-beep dealies are not for me. These dayplanners were Moleskin, which strikes me as the sort of thing I would like to use. Ernest Hemmingway used Moleskin, and I think I might be more like Hemmingway if I could use Moleskin. I would derive a visceral pleasure in using the same sort of thing he used. It would be traditional and historical, and every good kind of thing. It would be a connection to the past, unlike the new-fangled bingley-beeping things.

Every so often, Mr. Spit indicates that I should get a Kindle. And don’t get me wrong, I think the Kindle is great, nifty and cool. But. . .

It’s not paper. It’s not ink on paper. You can’t turn pages, you can’t leave it open at a paragraph, underline something that speaks to you. And you certainly can’t throw it across the room when a line makes you very angry. There’s nothing permanent about a Kindle, or an electronic bingley-beepy thing.

A kindle is a device, and I like books. I like paper. I like the feel of a perfect pen in my hand. I like ink. I like a good pen. I like blue ink on paper, the feel of it as it leaves the pen. The slight indentation a good Cross fountain pen puts on nice cotton paper. I like the heft ink gives to words. I think about these things, I like permanence.

And all of this is a particular way of saying that I’ve had enough of this week. This week has been a soul sucking morass. I’ve written it down, and I’m glad that some of you commented to share it with me, and all of you read it. I’m glad that I have words, and I can turn my thoughts into them. And like all books, all things with permanence, I’ve had enough of this chapter, for now. I’m turning the page, to see a new title, and new events.

And were it not for a book, I would likely have lost my perspective on optimism entirely.

I picked up Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time Quintet two nights ago. And in typical Madeline form, she reminded me of the power of permanence:

There are still stars which move in ordered and beautiful rhythm. There are still people in the world who keep promises. . . That’s enough to keep my heart optimistic, no matter how pessimistic my mind. [And you and] I have good enough minds to know how very limited and finite they really are. The naked intellect is an extraordinarily inaccurate instrument.

Madeline L’Engle, A Wind in the Door.

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21 Responses to Paper

  1. Debby says:

    Ooh. I love Madeline L'engle.

    Also, allow me to weigh in on the day planner. I don't have one. I keep thinking that if I get a day planner, well, then, next thing you know, I'll have to start planning my days. Have you ever looked at things from that perspective?

    You know, Mr Spit is no doubt enthralled at your ability to budget.

  2. Bluebird says:

    I'm with you on all this – the Moleskin planner, the desire for *real* books – absolutely, all of that 🙂

    Still thinking of you both so, so much.

  3. heidi says:

    My day planners have become a personal journal of sorts. I love to look back at three years ago today and see what I was doing. And my handwriting gives my mood away too.


  4. Tash says:

    I used to plan on paper, too. Hell, I used to plan. I've hardly used a calendar since February '07, and I don't think that's coincidence. But you're right, sometimes it is nice to simply turn the page. Probably why I still get a pulpy newspaper in the morning.

    shit week is right.

  5. areyoukiddingme says:

    I like books – their heft, the words which never blink, my eyes moving down the page instead of moving the page to my eyes – but I hate planners. Someday I will need one, but for today, I will just mostly ignore the one I have in my desk at work.

    And I love Madeline L'Engle…

  6. Sue says:

    Wonderful quote. Read that in 7th grade, and thinking it may be time for a reread. Though that optimism is more than I have right now. Ah well.

    Yes, there is something about the physical experience of reading a book. A Book. There is something about permanence in a printed book. Part of why I have trouble returning books to the library. On time, I mean.

    In case you have not used up all that store credit, try picking up Anne Fadiman's book, *Ex Libris.* a wonderful discussion of words and reading and books. Wonderful. As books go, anyway.

    You deserve some wonderful. Thinking of you and hoping your shit week eases into a tea drinking and book-reading weekend.

  7. Martha says:

    Books are among my oldest friends, their pages, binding, and ease of use are comforting. No batteries, no chargers, connections to contend with.
    A crap, shit week indeed- Be Gone With You, Shit Week.

  8. JuliaS says:

    Add me to the Madeline L'Engle fan list. Some of my favorite books.

    I'm with you – I hate reading books "online", somewhat tolerate them in the car on audio. Books = paper, words and turning pages. There is magic in that formulation.

    Ha ha – dayplanner! I have little notebooks. I call them my brain. I lose my brain a lot.

  9. Brown Owl says:

    Some weeks are just like that Mrs. Spit.You just… get through them and maybe learn, and maybe develop tolerance. Which may not be a good thing.

    Your description of writing with a good fountain pen on good paper struck home. I learned to write with a scatch pen, and ink well and blotting paper! We practiced and practices shaping letters and joining them. Making Caps and curls and swirls. Blotting and blotching!!! and getting that wonderful blue all over our fingers and desks. I think I was in grade three… III in those days.

    Writing with a fountain pen does have a feeling of permanence. Of writing something intended to be important, worth keeping, worth doing well.
    Beautiful blue ink. Rich. Flowing. Words given shape with the stroke of a nib, blending with the fibres of the paper, binding with the gentle nap to be one with the paper. Not floating on top like ball point!!!!

    Hope next week is better!

  10. Virginia says:

    I adore paper. Do not want a Kindle. Have more notepaper and blank journals lying around my house than I will probably ever use, but a girl can try! And pens. Sigh. I also have a day planner, which I love love love, though I think it's time to move on from black and onto a funky color.

  11. loribeth says:

    I love paper too. LOVE books. (Can't imagine using a Kindle, or not very often, anyway.) Love pretty paper & pens (which is probably why I was attracted to scrapbooking, lol). Love getting e-mails but love getting real cards & letters even more (love Christmas cards & letters). Like Virginia, I have more blank journal books than I will ever fill in a lifetime (but I HAD to buy them because they were so beautiful).

    I have used a Filofax (week on two days insert) for years & love it. I use different coloured pens to note different things: Black for important deadlines & bills to be paid (green for the amount & a check mark, when they're paid off, as well as paydays), red for birthdays & anniversaries, blue for most entries. Purple for notes about the weather. I have kept them all &, like Heidi, I use them as a sort of journal too. They're a great resource to have when you need to go back & figure out what happened when. I'm relying on them heavily for the anniversary scrapbook I'm working on for dh & me.

    Glad you are feeling a little better today. : )

  12. JamieD says:


    Uh – Ernie says hello.

    I also have a deep love for paper. Books, journals, I even love the smell. The thought of newspapers becoming obsolete makes me sad. I hope the Kindle doesn't make books obsolete as well.

  13. mystolenlight says:

    I'm sorry you're having a shit week.
    I liked the part you wrote about permanance. There is something very permanant about pen on paper. It's what solidifies that "this" isn't some big nightmare. There it is, written on paper, in ink. It must be true. He was here.
    I hope next week is way better!!

  14. Two Hands says:

    I'm with you on the day planner. I used a Palm for a while, but there's no fun in punching in boring letters all the time. No doodles or big, bubble exclamation points for important dates to be had in that realm.
    I love Madeleine L'Engle. I read "An Acceptable Time" recently and loved it and even though I was never very keen on the twins, "Many Waters" was very good as well.
    Sending you much love and prayers.

  15. jess says:

    Yes to paper, also to Ex Libris, yes yes yes! Also on the same page (sorry) regarding Kindle. And I too, love Madeline L'Engle. Glad you are going to the bookstore even (especially) in a shit week.

  16. Kristin says:

    I hope real books never go away. That would make me so sad.

  17. meinsideout says:

    I am glad the weekend is here for you.

  18. Ya Chun says:

    I am a big fan of paper books, real planners, too.

  19. Meghan says:

    I too can get lost in Audrey's and I too do not let Neil know the "real" amount of the books I have, I usually make a point of buying him one that he'd like, he doesn't notice it so much then;) The smell of books cannot be replaced by anything including beepy things, I don't have one of those either.

    (I'm glad you like the book ;))

  20. Sarita says:

    Actually you can throw a kindle across the room. It'll just be broken after that.

  21. M says:

    ahh… i do understand. i love the weight of books too, and the wrinkle in time series has always been a favorite of mine. however, as a recent birthday present, i was given a kindle (yes, i requested it). and i do also love my kindle. after the first couple of times of using it, i forgot that it wasn't a 'book' (and did you know that you *can* underline passages? although i wouldn't recommend throwing it 😉 but then again, i rarely throw my books either.) honestly, it's a joy to not struggle with weight of a hardcover when i'm lying in bed or when i'm riding the T (our metro) and when i travel, i no longer have to limit the number of books i bring!

    i know it's not for everyone… but don't discount it until you've tried it. it's not at all like a computer. i think kerry the kindle and i have started a great friendship!

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