Monday, November 2, 2009

Please don't touch my pens

I am very finicky about my pens.  My pen thing perhaps borders on the OCD.  Seriously, if you ever ask to borrow my pen, I will let you borrow it, of course, but I will not let that pen out of my sight.  I am VERY attached to my pens.  In college and law school, my backpack looked like an office supply store.  Because when I sat down to do my homework, I couldn't have just one pen and one notebook.  I needed a pen to take notes with.  That pen had to be a particular kind of Pilot pen, black ink, fine point.  (No, Pilot did not pay me for this post, but if they want to send me a box of my particular style of ball points, I would accept it.)  It had to be the Pilot ball points because they were the best at producing a fine point that wasn't scratchy.  I can't stand a scratchy pen. 

But that pen was only for taking the notes in my notebook.  Then I needed a particular type of gel ink pen for underlining in the book itself.  Black, of course.  (Always black.  I can't stand a blue pen.)  And fine point, of course, so nothing like those old felt-tip pens our teachers always had.  (I can't stand a thick-writing pen.)  This pen had to be very, very smooth, to produce the perfect, straight, unbroken line underneath the text.  But not everything in the book got underlined; some things need to be highlighted.  And there was a color-coding system to the highlighting.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I also had a system of little post-it notes and index cards that were also color-coded.)

And, always, whether it was ball point, gel ink, or highlighter, all of my writing implements had to be thin.  None of those thick highlighters for me.  My small hands like thin pens.  (And the thin pens were easier to do that debater-spin thing.)

I was in crazy-pen-lady heaven the year I found thin pens that had highlighters on one end and perfect underlining pens on the other.

I was always a procrastinator.  I would invent all sorts of reasons to delay my studying just one more minute.  I'd get all settled and then realize I needed a blanket or a drink or a different piece of paper before I could really get going.  I'm pretty sure my pen thing was just a way for me to set up roadblocks to my own studying.  Everything had to be just right before I could study, so the more pens I needed to have, the more things that could get me off the hook for studying.  I mean, I couldn't be expected to read my civil procedure readings if I didn't have my underlining pen handy! 

Now that I'm no longer a student, I might have hoped that the crazy pen thing would lighten up a bit.  But, no.  I still need just the right pen before I can get my work done.  I won't sign a motion or a brief or a letter with just any pen.  It's got to be the smooth, gel pens.  I can't read transcripts without my hand Pilot pen for note-taking, just like back in school.  And I can't sit down to start writing ideas for a brief unless I have a really good, exceptionally smooth gel pen.  As a lowly public defender in the midst of a budget crunch, I have finally come to the realization that I just have to provide my own pens, or I will never get any work done.  I have provided all of my own Pilot pens up til now, but I've usually been ok with the gel pens the office provides.  But the last batch has been decidedly inferior.  Scratchy.  Uneven.  Half the time, the cheap pens won't even write on my normal-looking legal pad.  I spent very little time today actually working.  Instead, I spent my time in a futile search for a decent pen.

I'm sure if I just could have found the right pen today, I would have written a brilliant issue.  I'm sure I'm not suffering writer's block at all.  Nope.  I'm not putting off writing my brief at all.  I was definitely  not procrastinating.  I would totally pound out that brief if I could find the right pen.  It's just a pen thing. 


DBB said...

I also am particular about my pens. I also work for the government, and budgets being what they are, I could never order anything I wanted, so I buy my own.

In law school, I had six different highlighter colors to mark up cases in my text books. I also did my notes on my laptop in color with color highlighting, all to make it easy to read and reference for studying purposes.

I color code my cases now, based on the type of case, and put color coded magnets up on my magnetic whiteboards to keep track of my cases and their status.

I've probably spent hundreds of dollars on office supplies - though admittedly the white boards are a one-time purchase, so the spending should slow down. Oh, and of course I have a 16 color set of dry-erase markers for the board to label case status with the correct colors.

S said...

I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my zealous use of office supplies. I have always supplied many of my own, as well. We usually have acceptable highlighters, but the color-coordinated post-it tabs and index cards have to be provided by me. I meant to stop and buy decent writing pens on my way to work this morning, but I didn't get up in time.

KP said...

I understand. I had a highlighter system in the books & on the computer outlines. Most everyone in law school knew they could find any kind of pen or post-it or highlighter color from me & the magic backpack. I don't write as much now & really have nothing to organize, especially at the current job, but I get it.

kristen said...

I kind of hate black pens and only write in blue :) But regardless of colour difference, I definitely understand the attachment to pens. I'm a little anal about mine.

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