TOOLS OF THE TRADE

 I have a confession to make. I love school/office supplies. While other women flock to Sephora enraptured by the latest eyeliner from Bobbi Brown, I am pacing up and down the aisles of Staples checking out the latest notebooks and highlighters. I ponder whether my post-its should be lined or not in the same fashion other people decide what kind of car to buy.            What’s with that, you might ask. Indeed, I have asked that same question many times. I connect it to my love of writing. These are the tools of the trade. And for me, the ultimate tool is the fountain pen.            When I attended a Catholic grammar school, the nuns would not let us write with anything but a fountain pen. Ballpoint pens were considered suspect and vulgar.  Blue ink was a must, although secretly I would purchase a bottle of peacock blue ink, which was the color of the Caribbean. I would use it covertly to write notes to my classmates, hoping traces of it would not be visible when I switched to traditional blue.         We practiced the Palmer method daily until the muscles in our forearms pleaded for mercy. Often my clothes became stained with ink because it was more common then to fill your fountain pen from a bottle of ink. Modern day cartridges were regarded with disdain.        Over the years, I moved on to other kinds of pens. In law school, I became partial to the Papermate “Jotter” ballpoint pen. It wrote smoothly and fit nicely into my hand. I protected it zealously, carrying a cheap Bic pen in case anyone wanted to borrow a pen. No one was going to get his or her hands on my Jotter.       Sometimes I missed my fountain pen, but I thought using one would only complicate my busy life as a lawyer. When I discovered the Uniball Gel Impact  Roller with its bold 1mm line, I was in heaven. This baby writes as smooth as jelly sliding over peanut butter. Clients would admire the Uniball while signing documents. I gave a fair number away.       But I still missed the fountain pens from youth. There is something elegant about writing with a fountain pen. It says “I want my words to be worthy of this noble instrument.” A few years ago while attending a writing seminar in Boston, I strolled into a Levenger store (sadly no longer there) during the lunch break. There it was. A fountain pen with my name on it. I bought it, returning to the workshop, poised to write notes with my long lost friend.        The feel of this pen in my hand, the sensation of the ink flowing across the page, is soothing to me. It makes writing as much as a physical act as a cerebral one. While not practical for drafting lengthy manuscripts,  at least not for me, note taking and journaling with my trusty fountain pen bring me great pleasure, I’m almost embarrassed to admit. But for me, it’s about revering an object that connects what’s in my head to the page.Do you connect your passion for something to an object or supplies that make it happen? Is anyone else out there finding more bliss in Staples than Sephora?

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