Rhodia Drive is a personal blog about Rhodia notebooks, writing accessories and journaling in general. It features articles, tips, tricks, links on the latest tools and general notebook-related news items or about this “French orange notebook with a cult following.”
Rhodia notebooks go a long way, and the story behind the covers is only one of the many reasons why I’m fascinated enough to put up a blog about it.
I’d also like this online slate to be a starting point to explore how people use and take pride of their notebooks. I hope to trace how this fascination has rekindled a passion for bound things and the contents that keep them close to one’s heart. There won’t be any claims to authority other than being a notebook owner.
And having just moved from Asia to America, perhaps the same notebook can document this personal journey from my islander beginnings into this brave New World.
My first notebook came before I learned how to write. To a boy like me, they were this wonderful chipboard-bound paper where I can draw imagined adventures to star systems or dragon worlds.
There were only two local brands to choose from; and back then, I can only tell one from the other by their number of pages, or by the lines that gradually got closer and less colorful, as I breezed through childhood.
My aunt, a middle school teacher, brings home slightly-used notebooks as soon as school year is over. I’d gather the unused portions and bound them up to make “new” ones. Growing up, I didn’t have any of the normal notebook concerns of today. I didn’t care if there was a variety of paper stock to choose from. Or were they acid-free or printed with vegetable-based inks? How did I know I were using 30% post-consumer waste? And do we really need to chop trees down to make them?
So I’ve had my share of notebooks, and having them just fell into becoming a part of me. I’ve had all the local brands figure prominently in my shoebox of memories. Many years later, a friend would give me my first Moleskine. Discovering that the mall bookshop carries Miquelrius, I tried those too.
I began using Rhodia last year, buying it first because I like the smooth white vellum paper stock and imagined that the orange cover would scream out of my work clutter. I got hooked on the little things. There’s the scoring that keeps the cover folded when opened, and the hard backing pad that hides the staples neatly from view as well. The grids are perfectly registered, and the micro perforation on top makes for easy and clean tearing.
To write is already to choose
As both an artist and individual, I’m nourished by that ambivalent need for expression and mystery. Writing on paper, letting figures take form or words flow in the white expanse before me. Making mistakes and weeding out, rewriting and moving on. Pretty much like this thing called life.
Today, when the computer takes over more than my fair share of work, entertainment, and attention, I still go back to that blank piece of paper to fill up, to work on, or just to doodle away. It’s a guilty pleasure for which I seldom get tired of starting, and mostly look forward to finish.
And so I dedicate this space to that intrepid adventurer in all of us, a seeker of worlds not necessarily out there but in here, deep inside our very selves.
You may call me “just another fan”, and this blog just another drive-by branding spree powered by a misplaced passion.
I’d still call it my Rhodia Drive.
New York, January 2007