One ritual I really miss from childhood is the annual pilgrimage every August to a Zayre or Venture to get a fresh stock of school supplies. Much like Zayre and Venture and my childhood, that little ritual is dead now. However, there's a sorta-quasi replacement in the Annual Search for a New Work Planner. Now, most of you are probably asking yourself "who gives a shit about notebooks in this day and age?". Most of you are also probably the kind of Philistine who simply blindly accepts whatever piece of imported Chinese trash notebook your employer makes available in the supply room, in which you'll ham-handedly scribble your awful block printing via whatever piece of shit BIC ballpoint your work also makes available…
You people make me sick.
Anyways… I'm real particular, possibly downright OCD about what I write on and with. The pile of half-used and then discarded notebooks my wife will have to dispose of when I die attests to this. But… I've been acquiring less of them the last few years because I've pretty much settled on Field Notes as my brand for the foreseeable future:
I've been using their cool-assed pocket notebooks for quite some time; I keep one in my bag, a few at my desk at work, a bunch at home… they're cheap, small, and rugged, so I keep them everywhere. For work, though, I do like to have two main notebooks at all times:
- The Steno Pad on the left is my regular notebook for, well, notes. I take meeting notes in it, if I need to scribble something down from a phone call or the like, it goes in there. Over the years, I've always had one primary notebook for work and I just fill them and then file them when I'm done. I've got more full ones than I care to think about stacked in my office at home and my office at work. Why keep them around? I don't know, man, but it's sometimes fun to flick through one and let the notes send me back to a particular point in time where I was doing something completely different than I am now. I'm a whore for certain kinds of nostalgia, and old, full notebooks tickle that particular itch for me.
- On the right, we have my 56-week planner. Every morning, I fill out what my schedule looks like for the day, and try to record 1-3 lines that cover the major accomplishments or problems of that day. It's how I keep my head straight and how I give my work some direction for the day. There's always 20 different things I _could_ be doing; thinking about it over some coffee at the start of the day and then writing down the three things I actually really would like to make progress on that same day is helpful.
The middle guy is obvs just my wall calendar. Sure, my computer, phone, tablet, fuck, my desk phone, too, can all show me the date, but I still like to just swivel my head and get that date in the context of the month from paper. It's a cheap quirk and I will continue to indulge it.
Why Field Notes in particular? Well… I was a Moleskine guy for years, and still love them, but that shit's expensive and they're going overboard with the co-branding and I find that distasteful and, frankly, I just prefer lay-flat spiral bound notebooks, which aren't their thing. I'll sacrifice the really nice covers that wear so beautifully over time for a notebook I actually enjoy writing in more. I may be the last guy in America with really beautiful cursive, but I am, goddammit, and I like a notebook that makes it easy for me to write above all else.
Field Notes is the sort of company I wish to support, too. For one, they are local. Good Chicago people manufacturing quality products right here in the US of A. I like that, if you don't want to pay for shipping, one of the "shipping" options is to just swing by their River North facility and pick your order up directly. Not feasible for many folks, but a nice option for the locals that makes me want to support them.
While not as cheap as, say, a five-pack of MEAD (barf) notebooks or something, they're certainly cheaper than Moleskines or Rhodias or the other top-tier notebooks. And I don't mind paying for the quality.
So, yeah, if you're, like me, one of the seven remaining people in this country who cares about handwriting and posterity and Buying American, Goddammit! please do check out Field Notes for all of your scribbly needs. They have a super-fun subscription plan to get their unique notebooks on a quarterly basis, often toss freebies into the delivery just because, and they're just the kind of small business we should want to support around here. And, first and foremost: their notebooks really do rock.