My mother bought me a soft-bound lined Moleskine for my trip to London. The Moleskine journal, according to legend, is what Picasso and Hemingway used to take notes and doodle, and that’s how I use it, too. I traveled in England before wi-fi was prevalent and before phone plans had reasonable overseas rates. I turned off my flip phone when I boarded my departure plane in New York and didn’t turn it back on until three months later when I returned. I relied on a digital camera to take photos, but even then there were many places, such as Westminster Abbey and the Royal Opera House, where picture taking was not permitted, and so I drew instead, or scribbled descriptions of my experiences.

In addition to doodles and notes, my Moleskine contains addresses and phone numbers, a hand drawn 18 month calendar and weekly planner, my reading list and to-be-read list, recipes, Bible studies and prayers, watercolor paintings, movies and concert ticket stubs, Polaroid snapshots and magazine cutouts, schedules, packing lists and outfit plans, shopping lists and meal plans, to-do lists and budget notes, exercise and diet trackers. Sometimes other people make doodles or notes for me, and anytime I’ve been left a post-it note I have stuck it in my Moleskine.

A secondary character in A Series of Unfortunate Events, which I read as a kid, kept what he called a “commonplace notebook” in which he recorded everything. That’s a good description for my Moleskine. People have tried to refer to it as a journal before, but that’s not what it is and I never call anything but “my Moleskine” or sometimes “my Moleskine notebook.” I used to pronounce it the proper way, with four syllables, but that confused people even more, so now I just say “mole skin” as in, “Hagrid wore a great moleskin overcoat.”

Since having the baby, one of the biggest changes in my life has been not writing or drawing in my Moleskine as much as I used to. This is especially tragic because I record stories from my days in my Moleskine, so that means all the sweet moments with the baby aren’t being recorded the way I would like.