Pictured below is an assortment of pens I’ve had ever since I packed up the old Ford Escort and moved away from Drexel avenue way back in the winter of 86.
Over the years, this bunch of pens has contracted and expanded. Pens have come and pens have gone, but there’s been one writing instrument that I’ve seemed to have held on to all of these years. It’s an old pink Paper Mate pen that belonged to my paternal grandmother.
It’s a pretty basic pen – ink, not gel. It doesn’t have a stylus tip, and there is no squishy ergonomically correct cushioning to reduce the potential trauma of writing more than five words.
It caught my eye one morning not too long ago as I was grabbing a pen to toss in my pocket.
All was well until I was sitting in a meeting and had a cause to take notes. I attempted to write and realized this pen – I think first used when Carter was in office – was all dried out (Not to be confused with All Cried Out, that Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam 1985 hit). Always prepared (Truth be told, I’m one ink ruined shirt away from carrying a pocket protector – hey if fanny packs are coming back, why not?) I deployed my back up writing tool and commenced my note taking, in my never ending efforts to look professional (As I tried to avoid asphyxiation brought on by the cloud of pompous, hot air that sucked all breathable oxygen out of the room).
Normally if one of my old pens fails to perform I toss it out, but in this case I couldn’t bear to part with this relic from my younger days. I had to bring this old girl back to life.
As soon as I returned home, I gently dismantled the pen and removed the expended ink supply, and like CSI Gil Grissom at a crime scene, I tossed the empty ink vessel into a zip top plastic bag. Next stop, my neighborhood (Really, it is in my neighborhood, right down the road from Casa de McCullough) big box office supply store.
I found my way to the refill section on the writing instrument (Cause pen and pencil ain’t fancy enough) aisle. If there were any part numbers or similar descriptors on the old ink supply, I didn’t see them, so I had to rely on my sharp (Multi-focal contact lens enhanced) eyes to match the old ink to a new refill.
Suppressing the urge to yell “Eureka!” I found a refill that looked like it would fit. So I made the purchase and rushed back to my (Wannabe Tony Stark workshop) basement to perform the delicate reassembly.
The refill fit perfectly, and this venerable writing instrument was back in service.
Right about now I bet you’re wondering why I would take over 400 words to gush over replacing the ink in a 35+ year old pen.
Long time readers of these pages know I harbor a sentimental side. Bringing back to life a pen that wrote letters and completed crossword puzzles brought back memories of a time when people actually wrote letters and completed crossword puzzles.
I’m happy that this writing implement accompanies me to the 9 to 5 from time to time. It makes me feel like my grandmother – who didn’t get a lot of education and wore a domestic’s uniform gets to hang out with her grandson who got a lot of education (Some I even still use) and wears suits, ties and dress shirts.
And on that dress shirt is a pocket where I can carry a big piece of my youth close to my heart.
I’m enjoying the pleasure of putting my dubious writing skills to good use by helping a some friends in need of an extra pen. I can’t go into great detail on these projects – at least not yet. I’ll be able to chat about one in the next several weeks. The others may take a bit longer.
These efforts came out of nowhere and they are totally different, which adds to the challenge. The content I’m helping create – much more meaningful than the digital pollution I spew in these pages – gives me a wonderful opportunity to write outside the 9 to 5 box that keeps the lights on.
I won’t call it moonlighting or side work, because, believe it or not, in these cases it’s not about the money (Damn! Midlife kicks in again, because ‘not about the money’ ain’t something I would have said 20-25 years ago!).
Forgive the quick change (sort of) of subject. John Sr. was a chronic moonlighter. A chef by profession, he had a steady side gig and would pick up additional work doing catering whenever he could. I have fond memories of working a couple of gigs with him when I was a kid.
Compared to how exhausted John Sr. was at the end of a job, there is no way I will call what I’m doing moonlighting!
O.K. Where was I?
Oh yeah! It’s always been a desire to do more writing. I’m just happy to be able to stimulate this soon to be 50-year old noggin with yet another creative outlet, but I’m even happier that I can help some friends tell a story, pitch a service, craft a message.
Every 18 months or so, I’ll pick up my guitar or plant myself in front of the piano. For me, notes and scales are no picnic. Sitting down with a pad and pen (old school all the way) is much easier and a lot less frustrating.
You’ll forgive me if I’m absent from these pages from time to time while we knock out these projects. I’m not going too far, just taking some time to help my friends!