Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Ugh, 3 weeks of being sick!

September's first Tuesday brought a charming visit to a public hospital on the outskirts of town. I briefly met a handsome surgeon with opened-necked scrubs, a hairy chest, and some major bling (Mr. T-worthy gold chain) and then got sent to an x-ray clinic in Холодна Гора where I did pretty well at pretending to be Ukrainian until the x-ray tech asked me what hospital I'd been at. Um, number 13? Number 17? Number 1?  (For a more detailed "I really shouldn't find this funny" hospital story, click over to Mark's blog.)

During classes on the following Tuesday, a violent cold made its appearance. Since it was only the second week of the new schedule, I medicated, tried not to breathe on students, and pushed on.

This weekend D came down with the cold, and then this Tuesday night- surprise, surprise- I went to bed fearing that I'd wake up as a brain-eating zombie. Seriously, what is going on?!

So I've been at home today, as has D. The cat seems slightly perturbed that all his daytime beauty naps have been interrupted but other than that, it's been a decent chance to program (D) and shamble about in a bathrobe and look over my growing notebook collection (yours truly).

Stationery has always been my thing. In university I would buy armfuls of Japanese and Chinese letter sets to read all the funny mistranslations. This obsession followed us to Ukraine where in 2007, we picked up this children's schoolbook at a Simferopol market.
What do you think? Is it just a simple question or is there a second meaning? :p

I've been slowly adding to the collection since then. These kinds of school notebooks are available year-round at bookstores and there's an explosion of them in supermarkets right now. Lots of them feature luxury cars (BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini), famous faces (Anotonio Banderas, an Elvis version of Hello Kitty, soccer players), inspirational phrases, or pictures of London. I ignore all those and hunt through the stacks for the oddities, for the elaborate designs.

Traditional patterns always seem to be in style:
Кит was less-than-enthused to be woken up and forced to model
For young Francophiles?
Last year these gorgeous, fairytale-themed covers caught my eye from a window display:
Apart from all the styles I've mentioned before, one of the most popular models is a cheap, monotone notebook with a flimsy paper cover. These are the cheapest (about 25 cents) and are stacked sky-high on every Ukrainian elementary school teacher's desk. I don't know if kids really use notebooks in American schools anymore; do they? D's sweet aunt in Simferopol didn't think so. In 2007 she sent us back to the States with about 10 pounds of spiral notebooks! Try hauling that from Crimea to Alaska!

One factor that keeps me from buying too many of these beautiful notebooks is that the majority are sold with graph paper inside instead of lined paper. My Ukrainian students don't bat an eye at this but it's still hard for me to write on graph paper... it's like math class all over again :p

A last goodie for you- a truly weird one!
"Nothing is as calming as an AK-47"
Huh? Maybe in case of the zombie apocalypse?


  1. Sorry to hear that you guys have been sick--hope you get better soon!

    I too love stationary--presumably a holdout from my Lisa Frank days. Those fairy-tale notebooks are gorgeous!

    In Spain there are lots of stores that sell dollar-store-esque items and odds and ends, and they always have the funniest notebooks. The best ones are printed with terrible English translations. One of my favs had a cover printed with tiny bows that read "Tie a bow, tie a knot, cat bow." Another gem is my gold and silver-embossed "Magic Notebook" which states on the cover "Write down your wishes this magic book can help you." It doesn't hurt to try, right?!

    1. Oh, Cassandra- you brought back some memories with the words "Lisa Frank"!!! I loved that stuff, all those happy golden retrievers and dolphins and tiger cubs!

      You should totally consider doing a "Spanish dollar store finds" post, it would be interesting to see what's for sale.

  2. Have you ever seen the blogs of +Laura Ottina or +Will Schofield, you could create similar off-shoot, #UkraineNoteBookCovers

    1. Unfair of me just to give you GooglePlus ids, so here:

    2. Very interesting artwork, thank you! For the moment I'd better keep building the collection : )

  3. "The cat seems slightly perturbed that all his daytime beauty naps have been interrupted"

    You need to be in bookstores everywhere

  4. For your collection

    1. That's awesome, Max! Wish I'd had that in high school.