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It’s 3:32 in the afternoon, at work. I’m in the Strib coffee shop, looking out the window, trying to figure out the order of things. The day’s obligations: a column, four pages of the book, a Bleat, a Joe. So far I have accomplished nothing. What have I done? Well, this:

I got called up for jury duty a while ago, and finally got around to asking for an extension. Why submit to my civic obligations in miserable drizzly March when I can sit inside on a precious sunny summer afternoon? Well, since I am responsible for getting Gnat to and fro I can’t do it during school time. So I went down to the Government Building to hand in my forms and request the extension. Down two escalators to the bowels of the keep, across an wide brick plain to the "Jury Assembly" room. You expected to see people being assemble from bins marked NON JUDGMENTAL and APPEAL INSURANCE. The office was in the back. Two clerks. One at the front desk.

“Hello!”I need to reschedule my jury duty.”

“It’s him,” the clerk said to the other.

“Oh – did I talk to you earlier today on the phone?”

“No, she talked to you, but she doesn’t read the paper so she didn’t know who you are.”

I did my best Groucho-feigning-humility bit - backhand to the forehead, rolled eyes, slight swoon - and handed over my papers.

“You were supposed to mail these in,” she said. “Didn’t you read them? I got it! You write, but you don’t read.”

All said with grins and mock taunting expressions. I love this town. Most civil servants I've encountered have an amazing amount of life left in them – at least compared to the zombies in DC, who actually shot visible wavy hate-lines at you for daring to ask for a driver’s license. I rescheduled, apologized for not sending in my papers, and wandered off with the carefree lilt of someone who's just sucessfully put off an inevitable duty. Why not make today perfect - let's schedule a colonscopy then cancel it!

A swing through the Gap to see if there was anything I wanted to wear – nope – then a quick circle through Banana Republic to affirm the same. Barnes and Noble for – gulp – a Moleskine notebook. That’s pronounced mol-a-skeen-a, and you have permission to punch me in the chin if I ever pronounce it thus in public. I saw them piled by the door a few weeks ago: the notebook used by Picasso, the sign said. Not exactly a great endorsement for me, frankly. Most overrated painter of the 20th century. I mean, he could pee in the snow, call it a bull, and they would have built a climate-controlled room over it to keep it from melting. Probably used the notebook to write salient notes about his girlfriends (“Anastasia: underarm stubble. Smelled of gouda”) and notes to lawyers; the idea that he whipped it out when Inspiration struck at the café (“Note to self: both eyes on same side of nose!”) strikes me as dubious. One of the things it took me a long time to abandon was respect for artists because they were artists. In the end I find some of them more contemptible because their work was so good – the disconnect between the product and the ogre who birthed it was too unnerving. How could someone who created such beauty be such a beast? But of course that’s the sort of thing that only bedevils you when you’re young and besotted with the Power of Art.

Anyway – I didn’t buy one. What do I need a notebook for? I have a computer. On the other hand, I don’t have a PDA. I don’t like them, yet. Someday they’ll make one I like and then I will discover I want one. (My friend the Giant Swede showed me how he called up the Bleat on his Blackberry the other day, and while that was rather neat, I need the ability to spend more time on the web – in teeny weeny form – about as much as I need a hot railroad spike hammered in my eyeball.) I hate having to get phone numbers and to-do lists from my laptop. Put them in your iPod! You should. But it’s in the car. Put it in your cell phone! It’s in my jacket downstairs. No, there’s something about a notebook I like. My eyeballs boot up quickly and they never need recharging, for starters.

But I didn’t know how much I needed one until I went here, a site that loves the Moleskine. It's quite possibly the most anal—retentive site I’ve ever seen. It’s devoted to the GTD, or Get Things Done philosophy, which applies various strategies to your life to ensure you spend your time producing, instead of doing the things that contrude with your efficiency. I usually abhor any sort of strategy for living, or New Way of doing things; as with any such project I usually fall off the bandwagon and hit my head on the curb and feel like a failure. But wait. I decided to quit cigarettes; I did. I changed my diet; that’s held without change for a year. I used to be a slob; now I am a horrible domestic control freak who checks the supply closet before going to bed to see if all the Bounty towel are arranged with the label facing out. (Well, no. But the other day I put together a wine rack for all the cheap delicious Penfold’s I have, and I added some of the other cheap delicious Hidden Mesa as well. The foil tops have the name of wine embossed; nice touch. But if you arrange the bottles so the names line up, the labels are out of sync. It’s the sort of thing that keeps you from ever sleeping, no? So you just have to drink it up so it no longer bothers you.)

So maybe I could adopt a few of these GTD ideas? I liked the Hipster PDA, for example. But the more I read about the Molaskeeeena book, the more I wanted one. Couldn’t quite say why, but I could easily see filling them up with notes about this or that instead of transcribing Post-It notes at the end of every day.

Off to Barnes and Noble. Bought one. Nine bucks. I don’t know what to write in it yet, but something will come to me.

Ooh! I know. “Buy another.”

Now it’s 10:46 PM, and I’m at the kitchen table. I sketched the column, and I have to finish it soon. I did four pages of the book. I wrote a Joe at work, and thank God for that – last night I broke the 30-minute rule, because it just kept going and going and going, a far cry from the early days when he’d stare at his shoes and think about a hat, and that would be it. I didn’t plan for the Jane story arc to coincide with three matchbooks from the same place, but I liked the way it’s worked out. It concludes today. Now, linkage to run out the clock:

Merry little tale here. But they support the troops! Except when they drive Hondas.

In the future, they will airbrush the cheeseburger from Elvis’ hand. Mark my words.

Gnat picked up this book tonight and read it. I’m not kidding. I was in my studio, working, and I heard her sound it all out.

It’s a nice little book, but of course some reviewers find the species-normative message a little annoying. If not offensive.

Speaking of Amazon reviews: a man with a mission.

Back to work – more on Monday, and less as the week wears on; the book will take most of my time, and Joe will probably have to go into hibernation again. I know, I know. But there’s pleasure, and there’s deadlines. Have a fine weekend – see you Monday (or at the Prager lecture Sunday.)