A Clean(ish) Slate

The urge to hit January 1st with a completely clean slate is a strong one. We step into the new year with new planners full of blank space and the potential for well-planned and productive days. We aspire to be the kind of person whose laundry is neatly folded and immediately put away, whose kitchen counters are full of emptiness instead of catalogs and junk mail on their way to someplace else, whose refrigerators are devoid of expired condiments.

So it makes sense why I saw so many late December Instagram posts of pen people slaving over a bathroom or kitchen sink cleaning ALL OF THE PENS in one fell swoop in order to hit the first day of the new year with everything flushed, dried, and ready for MINDFUL re-inking.

It’s funny how quickly the number of inked pens sneaks up on you. A new ink, a new pen, the hankering to use a beloved ink and pen combo, the urge for a wider nib or a thinner one or a stubbier one—all result in overstuffed pen cases, seemingly overnight. Which leads to a kind of pen overwhelm. “Which ink is in this TWSBI?!” No clue, other than it’s pink(ish).

True confession: Just as the kitchen counter was not in particularly good shape on New Year’s Day, my pen situation was also out of hand. Oy.

Inked pens seemed to be multiplying on their own and playfully stowing themselves in every pen case I own. But rather than look at January 1st as a deadline, I decided to regain control slowly, by cleaning a pen or two per day versus spending hours at the sink. Turtle versus hare.

Pen cleaning is now as much a part of my evening ritual as brushing my teeth is. Pick a pen, flush the converter (if there is one), and toss the nib section into the sonicator I bought in Aldi’s “weird aisle” ages ago. Granted, I’m approaching the middle of January and still have a few pens to go, but watching the “crop” of clean pens grow has been oddly satisfying. My pen cases are breathing a sigh of relief and visions of carefully chosen pen and ink combinations dance in my head. I have, so far, resisted the urge to ink things up all willy-nilly. A feat.

So I’m getting there one day at a time, one pen at a time. New year, clean(ish) slate.

Now about the kitchen counter and that expired mustard.

A word of caution: Casually tossing the toilet paper you’ve used to blot pens into the toilet, then waiting to flush because there’s more cleaning to be done, can result in alarmed family members who mistake Diamine Blood Orange for something intestinally problematic. I’ve even scared myself this way.