What Not To Do

You know those blog posts that make you want to burn down your house—and your life—because everything the writer owns/carries/does is excruciatingly perfect, with not even a molecule out of place? Yeah, this isn’t one of those posts.

It is yet another cautionary tale. [The first cautionary tale is here.]

One of the pens I purchased at the 2016 DC Pen Show was a Franklin-Christoph Model 45 XLV made from a Jonathon Brooks material. (Whoa! Who knew this was a thing?!). The pen’s body is a wonderful mix of purple and green and white with a subtle shimmer that suddenly wows you when the light is just right. In that vast, vast sea of pens that is the DC Pen Show, this is one of the two pens that called my name.

Add a little sunlight, and this…

Franklin-Christoph Model 45

becomes this. (Photos really don’t do this pen justice. But trust me, it’s a pocket-sized beauty.)

Franklin-Christoph Model 45

Jim Rouse, of Franklin-Christoph, outfitted it with a 1.1 mm steel nib, and filled the pen with Franklin-Christoph’s Midnight Emerald ink, at my request. After the tiniest of adjustments by Jim, the nib performed wonderfully—smooth, with just the right amount of wetness—and quickly became one of my favorite pens for doing my morning pages. I love the 1.1 mm stub because of the interest it adds to my handwriting, and it’s not a nib that I own many of. (Good choice, Mary!)

Writing sample

Here’s the scene. Last Sunday night, 10:45 pm. Husband and dogs are fast asleep, and have been for some time. I’ve ironed my clothes, made my lunch, and printed the week’s to-do lists. The weekend’s been a good one. I’m rested(ish) and ready to face Monday. But first, I need to lay out my morning pages journal and pick out a pen. That’s my nightly ritual.

Journal is taken from the desk drawer and I think, hmmmmmmm, which pen? After mentally cycling through all of the ones I have inked (too many), I decide to use the F-C Model 45. Lovely material, excellent nib, pretty ink. Perfect.

I should have gone to bed RIGHT THEN. But I didn’t. Nope.

Instead, I had a thought. A thought that quietly whispered, “There might not be enough ink left in that pen. You’d better check.”

So I checked. By opening the pen. At my desk. Over the carpet.

AS I WAS DOING IT, my brain clicked on, and screamed, “THIS PEN WAS EYEDROPPERED!!!” A hemorrhage of ink flowed from the body of the pen, onto my desk chair and the carpet. Midnight Emerald ink onto a light rose/taupe carpet. My, god!!

I stood frozen and horrified. This was not something you want to do five minutes before going to bed. Or ever, really.

I yelled for Fred—both for the need to confess my awful mistake and to have some help cleaning up the mess. He continued to sleep, blissfully unaware. I briefly considered running away.

(I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take pictures of the ink pooled on my desk chair and splattered from here to kingdom come, but all I could think of was, I’ve got to clean this up. Like, right now! So there’s no photographic evidence, but trust me, it was bad.)

Using paper towels, I made short work of the puddle on my desk chair. The chair is cherry wood so the ink cleaned right off. Phew.

In my rush to sop up the spatters on the carpet, I unknowingly leaned into some of the stains with my knee and wound up adding still more ink to the carpet every time I knelt down to blot at the spillage. GAH!

After I blotted up all that I could, I remembered that I had a small bottle of Amodex in the hall closet. Amodex- an ink and stain remover! Yay!

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I applied the magic solution, waited, blotted, and scrubbed. The stains lightened. But there were, it turns out, more stains than there was Amodex. I needed an industrial size bottle, not 30 mLs.

By now Fred was up. My yelling had finally penetrated his dreams and he bolted into the living room thinking I’d hurt myself badly enough to require an ambulance. When he saw the real problem, he was relieved that there was just a damaged carpet and not a damaged Mary. “Who cares?” he said, as I pointed to the drips and drabs and splotches.

Truth be told, the carpet has seen better days. Changing it out is on the to-do list. The dogs have not been kind to this decades old carpeting, so some ink spatters are probably the least of its worries. But still I dabbed and scrubbed, now using carpet cleaner and a toothbrush. The spots faded a little more but it quickly became clear that they would always remain to some degree. They would tell visitors that I’m into fountain pens. And that I’m an idiot.

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“Go to bed,” Fred said, and so I did, the adrenalin still coursing though my body.

In the morning I decided that I sort of like them—the Jackson Pollackesque drops and dribbles. It’s only ink. The carpeting’s old. There are bigger problems. (New rule, though: ALL pens are opened over a sink.)

I decided, after a good night’s rest, that I’d share this cautionary tale. This tale of what not to do.

My stain. Your gain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There’s Nothing Like a Pen Show For…

Sea of Pens

seeing more pens in one place than you’ve ever seen before.

Franklin-Christoph

For visiting favorite vendors.

[Scott Franklin, of Franklin-Christoph]

Ink and notebooks

For adding to your already healthy stash of ink and pocket notebooks.

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For meeting the very nice guys who make those notebooks.

[Story Supply Co.’s Vito Grippi and Gabriel Dunmire]

Fisher of Pens pen

For finding the pen that calls your name…

Carl Fisher, Fisher of Pens

and meeting the man who made that pen…

[Carl Fisher, of Fisher of Pens]

Jonathon Brooks

AND the man who made the material for that pen.

[Jonathon Brooks, Carolina Pen Co., and his wonderful wife, Elizabeth]

The Nibsmith

For having a little nib work done.

[Dan Smith, The Nibsmith]

Starter set for a friend

For helping a friend at home get started with this fountain pen obsession hobby.

A patient husband

For testing the patience of your “not really into pens” husband.

(In all honesty, he did very well. Better than I do at car shows, where I’m “over it” after an hour or two. When we got home Sunday night, he did say, “Well…I think I’ve seen enough pens to last me a few years.” Fair enough.)

Ana and Brad

For saying a few words of thanks to the people who inspire you.

[Ana Reinert, The Well-Appointed Desk and Brad Dowdy, The Pen Addict]

But mostly…

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it’s about spending time with friends.

[Michelle, me (looking goofy), Karen, Phil, Tracy, Ashley, and Ira. So many more not pictured.]

Paul Joynes

[Paul Joynes, Gorgeous.Ink]

Joe Lebo

 [My pen show buddy, Joe Lebo]

Pen show swag

The pens, paper, notebooks, and ink are all great, but there’s so much more.

There’s sharing and hugs and laughter. There’s friendship. There’s love.

There really is nothing like a pen show.

Cleansing the Palate For the Pen Buffet

Muji pens

I usually carry a ton of pens to and from work. This is not much of an exaggeration. I never know what kind of pen mood I’ll be in, what mode (ballpoint, gel, fountain) I’ll want to use at any given moment. I like to have options. Many many options.

Muji gel pens

But this week, as I get ready to head to the biggest pen buffet in the land—the DC Pen Show—I’m keeping things simple. Like a small scoop of lemon sorbet before a heavy main course, these basic Muji gel pens are serving as palate cleansers before the rich offering of pens I’ll encounter at the show. Tossed inside this Blue Q pencil case, they’re  inexpensive, lightweight, maintenance-free, and crisp/smooth writers. Kind of liberating, actually.

Muji pens

The DC Pen Show offers a seemingly endless feast of pens. Table after table, vendor after vendor, there’s something for every appetite. But like at a Las Vegas buffet, it’s easy to get carried away, to overindulge. So eat slowly. Take little bites. Savor each morsel.

Muji gel pens

I can’t wait to get there—to hunt down a pen or two that speaks to me. I don’t, though, have any kind of a wishlist. My plan is no plan.

Wait, I take that back.

My plan is to spend as much time with my friends as possible. Old friends and hopefully some new ones, too. It truly is the people that make the DC Pen Show so rich. Friendship, the most delicious meal of all.

Bon appétit.