For $29, I will also take a picture of all your Post-Its with my phone

The other day, I was at the mall again — for carbon-footprint-reduction reasons, I now spend most Friday mornings at the mall — and I saw a kiosk selling what appeared at first to be a truly great invention. It was a Moleskine-looking notebook (quite a handsome one) that claimed to be “a paper notebook that syncs to the cloud,” for a mere $29. I could barely contain my excitement (which, in my condition, is identical with looking like I really have to pee, largely because I always really have to pee) as I waddled over to learn more.

If there truly existed a paper (or reusable convincingly paper-like) notebook onto which I could scrawl my chicken-scratches and then have those chicken-scratches sync to a cloud, I would save up and pay serious bank for it. I’d pay whatever money I’ve saved for the past year by continuing to use my cracked iPhone 4, and not going to the coffee shop anymore. Whatever that is, I’d pay it for an actual notebook that actually synced to any electronic cloud-like anything.

Because I miss writing by hand. I really miss it a lot. The last time I kept a paper journal was as an MA student, at NYU in Prague in 2003, aka the Last Summer Before Ubuiquitous Wifi. We didn’t have the Internet in the Machová dorm. I repeat: There was no Internet at the Machová dorm. There was no Facebook yet, I barely blogged a word, and life was great! I spent a lot of time that summer studying, learning Czech, hanging out in the communal kitchen, going out to the neighborhood’s multitudinous (and tourist-free) establishments, and generally laughing my head off that at the age of 27 I even lived (briefly) in a dorm — and writing things down in my notebook. By the time I left for my Fulbright year in Vienna in 2008 (aka the Year Before Ubiquitous Smartphones Even For Plebs Like Me, Although I Didn’t Get One Until 2010), the notebook I procured for the occasion (as per tradition) was to be filled only with shopping lists and directions to restaurants, bars and parties (and now, again, even that dubious purpose has been made obsolete by my phone).

Sure, those lists make up an amusing archive of my year, but they’re not as fun to read through as the notebooks I used to keep back before writing by hand became an archaic pastime for weirdos. I have, in fact, an entire shelf of notebooks, from school and not-school, that date back to 2000, and are immensely amusing — not to mention my diaries, which go back to 1995 (they’d go back even further, except that after I graduated from high school and my boyfriend broke my heart into 9,000 pieces, I burned all of my pre-college autobiography, Kafka style — although Kafka probably did not use his parents’ charcoal grill).

Nowadays, my breakneck publication schedule and ever-present Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (I’ve had it since this blog began! I just push through the pain like a champ, motherfuckers!) mean that the extra step of writing something out longhand is simply not worth it, despite the fact that I generally have a clearer head (and thus better output) when I do.


Cut back to the Galleria, and the ten minutes it takes me to waddle fifteen feet to check out this kiosk, which for the absurdly low price of $29, promises to make all my dreams come true. It’s a paper notebook that syncs with the cloud. My mind has been so blown that brain-parts are splattered all over the massive Christmas tree currently looming over the Garden Court.

OK, except this is what it actually is. For $29, you buy a regular-ass paper notebook that is exactly like a Moleskine except possibly not as nice. Then you fill the whole thing up (“In 2 days or 2 years!” Great, thanks?) and MAIL IT to some underpaid pimply-ass fourteen year old somewhere they don’t have to pay workers, and that person scans it for you.

So, the entire purpose of a paper(esque thing)-to-cloud invention (a real one) would be that as soon as you wrote something it would sync. Otherwise, all you have is a regular-ass notebook and some questionable labor practices. You could spend $15 on an actual Moleskine and then pay your 11-year-old cousin $14 to scan it in for you. Or you could spend $25 on an actual Moleskine that’s compatible with Evernote, which still involves taking pics with your phone, but at least you don’t have to fill the whole damn thing up.

This has been a public service announcement to let my mom know what I don’t want for Christmas.

3 thoughts on “For $29, I will also take a picture of all your Post-Its with my phone

  1. Hi Rebecca. This comment is not related to the above excellent post, but did you see the article in Time Magazine a couple of weeks ago entitled “Why PhDs shouldn’t teach college students?”

    As an Onion article it would be delightful, otherwise horrifying, but proves definitively how important your Slate writing is; if this is the representation of the “issue” in the mainstream, it doesn’t matter how vociferous CHE or IHE might be in their framing. But your “clickbate” (haha) has far more outreach and potential to create another kind of conversation mainstream. Thank you!!!!


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