Curse You, Pen Samplers!

Photo by AnnSophieQ

I have an obsession with pens. Not because I love them, but rather because I hate most of them.

You see, I am left-handed. And all jokes about weird writing positions aside, you cannot be a left-handed writer without dragging your hand through what you have written. So I often end up wearing what I wrote.

A friend of mine introduced me to a website that is all about pens. Not fancy high-end pens, but rather all the variations of pens and inks and such from the Asian markets. I have found that this gives me the best chance of finding ink to write with.

I love this site. But I discovered something very very bad for me on them.

They offer these things called “pen samplers.” You can get specific colors, specific types of ink (gel, ballpoint) or even inks designed for left-handed people. You can also get samplers of highlighters, pencils and whatnots.

I have now purchased three pen samplers: turquoise gel ink (my color for work), purple ink (my preferred color for non-work) and highlighter. I am now overflowed with pens.

When I told the friend who had recommended the site to me about it, she only grinned and said, “It’s payback.”

“Payback for what?” I was totally mystified.

“Payback for introducing me to [company].”

I nodded. The company she referred to was the purveyor of incredibly overpriced paper, pens, notebooks and calendars. When I receive the catalog, my daughter hands it to me with the comment, “Here’s your writer p0rn.” So I totally understand the need for revenge.

Photo by AnnSophieQ

Giving Up The Garden

Photo by lakelou

Activities must go if we are to make room for new interests.

I’ve been gardening for at least 20 years. When I lived in apartments, I grew plants in pots on the balcony. My husband turned our little yard at the condo into a tiny garden. And when we moved into the house, he built me square foot gardens.

I’m terrible at gardening. I never seem to get much result and the effort is too much for what is actually produced. This summer was no exception: three tomatoes and a sad radish. No cucumbers, peppers, onions, lettuce, spinach, carrots or peas.

As much as I like fresh produce, the time has come to give up on the garden. I no longer get much enjoyment out of putting my hands in the dirt, and I can get veggies at the farmer’s market. The object lesson of being consistently bad at something has also been thoroughly learned.

And so this fall we will be disassembling the garden and turning it into something less labor intensive and able to survive without my interference, or in spite of it.

Photo by lakelou

Situational Awareness

Photo by James Loesch

So you never think it can happen to you…I’ve spent some time over the past few months instructing my young adult daughter in how to be aware of her surroundings to avoid problems. How to carry keys between her fingers, look into store windows at reflections of people following you, how to change course, how never to wear both earbuds. Every single woman I know has had to do at least one of these things – to change their behavior – in response to a perceived threat. I wondered if it was still necessary.

It is.

I was sitting in a parking lot recently. It was daylight, and I was waiting for a friend to arrive so we could go into the restaurant together. I watched a man approach a car near me, where a woman was sitting alone. She rolled down her window, so I figured they knew each other and didn’t really think much of it.

But then the man appeared at my window. I loudly said “NO”, held up my hands, I said “GO AWAY”. He was holding a clipboard up to my side of the car. I glanced at it; apparently he was concerned for my eternal soul. But in spite of my response, my words, and my turning away, he stood, not speaking, by my driver’s door for a good five minutes. I was trapped. I could not have opened my door if I wanted to.

As soon as he left, I sought the company of people sitting out on the terrace of the restaurant. I was jumpy. A young man, going into the restaurant, said hello. When he came back out, he stopped and asked if I was waiting for someone. When I told him why I was waiting there right next to the door, he said it was a good choice to be where people could see me, and asked if I wanted him to wait in his car to watch over me until my friend came.

What a difference that made!

I realized that I had other choices other than to continue being trapped in my car: I could have started the car and moved to another spot. I could have rolled down the passenger window and yelled for help. I could have called the police.

But it made me realize a few things: that nowhere is really safe; that some men are really not aware when they are behaving in a threatening manner; and everything I am teaching my daughter is absolutely still necessary.

Photo by James Loesch


Photo by StockyPics

A friend of mine was widowed suddenly a few years ago. She has spent the last couple of years taking charge of her life and living space. She had the driveway re-poured, re-graded the land around the house to increase run-off, installed window wells around her basement windows, repaired the front door and is working on changing up the backyard.

While I was recently visiting, I helped her change out light switches and outlets.

I came away inspired by her energy and determination. She doesn’t put things off for someone else to do because there is no one else to do it. She has learned electrical work, drywall, plastering, yard techniques and much more.

When I came home, I saw how many things I wanted to change up. And I realize that they have been on the list for ages. There is nothing stopping me from doing them, but I simply wish they were different.

And because I have now been inspired by my friend and her example, I will be taking on more of these projects around my house myself. I will be working to leave my weekends free so I can tackle these sorts of projects.

Thanks, D!

Photo by StockyPics

It’s No Longer Home

I have lived in Virginia for most of my adult life. I spent a few years in Wisconsin after I graduated college until the weather drove me out.

Part of me (smaller by the year) has always looked back on Wisconsin as “home”. Perpetually sun-drenched, full of relaxation and fun, I had a very skewed version of what it was like.

I recently visited for a week. During that time I had a friend show me around my hometown. I never knew most of the city, because as a student without transportation, I could only explore what I could get to on my bike. The city was pretty much unrecognizable, except for a few landmarks of my past life.

I also spent a day in Madison, showing my daughter my university. I remember my time there as filled with studying, socializing and using the common facilities. In truth, I rarely visited the main Union once I was out of the dorms. And sitting on the lakeshore during the visit, in 60 degree weather (in July!) eating ice cream was enough to make me open my eyes. The campus wasn’t the tree-lined beauty of my memory; in fact it was rather industrial and bleak.

I’ve realized that while it was an important part of my past, Wisconsin is not even a little bit home. I don’t feel I fit there anymore. Instead, I see that Virginia, my adopted state, really has become home.