Adventures in Stationery

I neglected to mention a book yesterday that is in my “currently reading” pile. This one isn’t theology-related, but is just a fun, light read. Adventures in Stationery, by James Ward is exactly what its subtitle says, “a journey through your pencil case.”

Ward covers topics as diverse and intriguing as the history of the paper clip, the ball point pen and Moleskine notebooks. Plus, he does it in a witty, engaging, and thoroughly british style.

I am willing to concede that this might not be enticing to everyone, but it was a well-suited gift for me from one of my daughters. The same daughter who received a letter from me one day detailing the history of envelopes and why american envelopes have such bizarre sizes and why can’t we be like the rest of the world where a C5 envelope is made to work with a piece of A5 paper? (I have been told that some of my letters provide great amusement to her roommate, as well as insight into my daughter’s own eccentricities.)

I am certainly  an office supply-aholic. I like to think I have my addiction under good management. I try very hard not to buy something I don’t have an immediate use for. (Cuts down on the stockpiling of blank journals and notebooks.) I also only have one fountain pen, a Pilot Metropolitan. I am sorely tempted by the Lamy ones, but I just can’t justify it. Maybe I’ll receive one as a gift someday.

I enjoy pen and ink, though my handwriting is far from a thing of beauty. This has not always been the case. My crowning achievement of penmanship was in third grade. I had a paper posted on the bulletin board that was not perfect, but was honored for how neat my handwriting was. Mrs. Stultz, my teacher, wherever she may be, would probably weep if she was able to see how far my skills have declined in the decades that have followed.

I am not a complete fountain pen purist, though it is certainly my preferred means of putting ink on paper. I also carry and use a Pilot G2 0.5. For some applications, these roller-balls are better suited, I have to admit.

One thing both instruments have in common is my preference for ink color. Black. I detest blue ink to what may be an unhealthy degree. 2 years ago the same daughter who gave me the aforementioned book gave me a package of Pilot G2 0.5 pens in blue ink. She claimed the look on my face was priceless and worth it. (She then, mercifully, took the offending pens and gave me the “real” gift of black inked ones.)

It takes a particular affinity with and knowledge of another person to be so close on a gift, and yet have one fatal, glaring, flaw. (0.7 is too broad, 0.35 I find too scratchy.) We share such a relationship, at least when we journey into Staples together.

She is in her junior year of college as an art major. I have a hunch it has less to do with creating anything than being a good excuse for buying lots of cool pens, pencils and paper.

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