Inscribed on the very first page, after the MOLESKINE® label, is, In case of loss, please return to:__________, and then I wrote, “The Place Remains the Same” (squiggly arrow) “proverb”. Inscribed below that is, As a reward: $ ___________, and then I drew a squiggly line, but it’s definitely worth more than a squiggly line. It’s ANTWERP BLUE and fits in my back pocket every day even if, on that day, I don’t jot down any thoughts (or drips from the eaves), because you never know when someone is going to drop a gem, like this one lady on Second Street in Long Beach, she says to one of her friends, “My car is sober and I named it Mel Gibson, it’s a Patriot,” yeah, I know, that’s a gem. Bait for my next story or character or an absurd entry-point to some flash-fiction.

The edges are frayed and there’s a crack on the middle of the soft cover spine, but it’s got soul. It’s “Superbad,” because it reminds me of songs I have to listen to or albums I have to buy, and then sometimes it’s all metaphysical with stuff like, “and then she stopped thinking twice about what she would say about Karma” (doubly underlined). There’s “TERIMA KASIH” (squiggly arrow) “Thank you.” I forgot to write down the language, but I think it’s Malay. There are facts, like “Silk Road (squiggly arrow) many roads (double underlined),” and, “Buddha died at 80 in sleep,” and, “chestnuts (doubly underlined) (squiggly arrow) no more in Alabama Dad talked about them,” and, “ ‘5% unemployment’ (squiggly arrow) much more,” and, “June 21 (circled) – Wade bans protests,” but I gotta always double and triple check those facts. There are numbers and email addresses and passwords, like “Apbezhuidenhout,” and, “Kong Yue Chen 15854510185,” and, “Mooch (underlined) (squiggly arrow) (not in my handwriting).”

There’s no order to the brilliance or madness. The first and last page mark the beginning, and it’s hardly touched in the middle, but the creases are still there, marking time, like a metronome, until the next story idea: “24 year anniversary (squiggly arrow) fly-fishing (squiggly arrow) gnats, mosquitos,” “nothing to talk about after kids leave (doubly underlined),” “black bear destroying everythings (doubly underlined). It’s random and all over the place. How do you explain this page: “-intelligent test (squiggly arrow) said I would be a teacher (doubly underlined) (squiggly arrow) turns out correct (doubly underlined),” and then just underneath that is, “-marry Tammy Mae (doubly underlined) ??.” My mind and my pen have the attention span of a, wait, is that another rip in the spine?

Mostly though, the crinkled little blue book that sits snug in my back left pocket is a sacred place for me to observe the world and ponder what ifs.