I have always joked that I am slightly OCD, I don’t think I realized the full extent of it until last week. OCD probably isn’t the right word, picky and particular probably is a better description. I am not picky in everything, I have no problem drinking from cans (a friend once told me “it’s like licking the floor”, whatever) or going with the flow but one thing I get super ‘ocd’ about is school supplies.
I only use a certain pen for writing. I have used this same brand of pen for over 10 years, I am not even joking. Once I forgot my pencil case and didn’t have the right pens on me for a class. I refused to take notes for that class in my notebook, because I didn’t want to mar it with my wrong ink. Instead, I borrowed a pen and a sheet of loose leaf paper from a friend, took notes on it, and later copied it with the correct pen into my notebook.
I have the same feelings for notebooks, I refuse to write in spiral bound notebooks. Spirals always end of tearing and then they don’t look perfect, which is an issue. I prefer bound notebooks. My notebooks of choice are a French brand: Clairefontaine. They have been around for over a 150 years and are one of the only manufacturers who make their own paper. When in France, I normally just buy a ton of them. In a pinch, I can order them online in the US for normal notebook prices (i.e. under 5 dollars). So when moving to Berlin, I figured since Germany was next door to France, I could find them at any school supply store. I thought wrong. Nowhere had single subject college lined bound notebooks, mind you there were tons of other types of lined notebooks. I saw some of the coolest notebooks, there is one that is lined with a single red line down the middle for vocabulary, another one for writing musical compositions. I even found my brand in Germany, but not the notebook I wanted. I went to 6 different stores searching for them. I wish I could say I was joking. I googled and googled “office supply stores Berlin”, “stationery stores Berlin”, and “paper stores Berlin” to no avail.
I bought 3 different types of notebook thinking I could settle with a notebook that was too big or too small. I felt like Goldilocks and I was not amused about the situation. I mulled over my choices for 48 hours. I am not kidding when I say every conversation I had with people revolved around notebooks. I would ask their opinion, what would they choose? Should I stick with 2 big notebooks and share them between classes or do 4 small notebooks and try to write smaller (lol)? Finally, I broke down and asked Facebook. Yes, I was that desperate to make a Facebook status. I couldn’t sleep on Friday because of it, every time I thought I made a choice one way or the other, I would have doubts. Luckily, my Facebook friends took my post in seriousness and offered up suggestions of places to try. On Saturday, my hope was just about lost. I decided to try one last store. I walked in not expecting much, it was one of the smaller stores I had visited. But staring at me as I walked through the door was my notebooks! Lined, bound, and ready to bought! I was so excited! I nearly started crying in the store. I quickly bought them up and learned a new German word Ruckgabe “Returns” as I went to return the rest of my misfitted notebooks. I cannot describe how much better I felt with my notebooks in hand. I felt like a burden had been lifted. How silly is that? Maybe it was cultural shock, maybe it’s OCD, maybe it’s me just being weird, but whatever, the situation is now resolved.