I sat down at my desk tonight, intending to write a post about seeing “Little Miss Sunshine” tonight and how it made me laugh. I was then going to write about how I used to be known, during my freshman year of college, as the girl who would laugh hysterically during dinner in the Lyman Hall Dining Hall every night.
Sitting in front of my computer, gathering my thoughts just before I started to type, I reached back to pull my hair into a ponytail. Realizing that I didn’t have a hair band near me, I pulled open the drawer, to see if there were any plan old rubberbands laying about. A fountain pen caught my eye. I pulled it out and dug for a few others. I’ve documented my obsession with writing utensils before but in my personal pen history, the refillable fountain pen requires it’s own chapter.
I got my first fountain pen when I was 10 years old, here in Philly. It was from Rite Aid, and was pink, purple and plastic. I loved it because it made me feel old fashioned and European at the same time. I took it back to Portland with me and wrote with it during the beginning of 5th grade. Mr. Elliott did not take kindly to the smearable liquid ink and banned the pen from the classroom.
My memories of fountain pens get spotty until my junior year in high school. My english teacher that year as well as the year after, Mrs. Blackstone, often had us do writing exercises in class. She would write along with us in an unlined notebook with her broad tipped fountain pen. She carried it to class in a worn red leather case, gracefully tipping it out when it came time to jot down her thoughts. I was fascinated, and made it my business to get my hands on a fountain pen. Or ten.
In my life, my love for pens that write with liquid ink has had a steady ebb and flow. There was a time I took a page out of my dad’s book and found writing love with a Rapid-o-Graph, a very fine-tipped mechanical drawing pen. I used pens that dipped, pens that took cartridges and pens that had rubber valves that you squeezed while the pen was resting in a bottle of ink, until it’s barrel was full.
Tonight I filled five pens, quickly taking them from empty and dried out to usable. In the process, I dyed two and a half fingers on my right hand a Smurf-like blue and have given my entire left hand a deathly pallor. But for the joy of writing a smooth, even, antique-looking line, it is totally worth it.
I’m hoping that the digital age doesn’t ruin the special pleasure of using a cool old-fashioned pen for the next generation.
a) I absolutely loved Little Miss Sunshine
b) Oh man do I love fountain pens. I first found them towards the end of high school and I never looked back. I’ve been using a fountain pen I found in 2000 as my main writing implement ever since. I love filling it up.
What do you do to refresh them, or are you much better at taking care of them than I, who leave some ink behind because I neglect to use a fountain pen for some time?
I’ve soaked an old dry pen in alcohol but then had to wait some time before using it.
One of the things I made sure to salvage from selling my house is a calligraphy book (including a dipping pen and tips). Can’t wait to try it out one day!