Saturday, August 18, 2018

A Few of my Favorite Things

I broke my wrist in June, tripping over a cat scratcher shaped like a couch. There's an acronym for the way I fell, actually: FOOSH. Fall On OutStretched Hand. Fifteen years ago, I did the same thing to my left hand. Tripped on a dog toy and caught myself with my wrist suffering the consequences. I know better than to put my hand out to catch me, but I thought I'd fall into the wall. I did not.

Losing the use of my dominant hand for the entire summer curtailed my activities. I was in a lot of pain, and of course it's virtually impossible to legally access pain medication these days. Doctors have actually adopted the philosophy of telling patients to learn to live with their pain, because of the opioid "epidemic," which, like so much else in society, leaves disabled and ill folks in the lurch.

It would be an understatement to say I was depressed this summer. And so I have decided to try to keep this blog up again as a way to celebrate things that make me happy. There is so much in this world to be upset about--and, indeed, we must be enraged. But in order to sustain our activism and resistance, we must also take care of ourselves. This is not a blog about self-care. But about allowing myself to feel and find joy in things, however mundane or extravagant.

One of the first things I did when I regained the full use of my wrist was to clean and re-ink my favorite fountain pens. I write mostly by hand, and journal constantly, and not being able to write by hand was the hardest part of the break.

I think I first encountered fountain pens when I was sixteen, and visited France for the first time, where they are quite commonplace. I bought myself some disposable ones, and a Le Petit Prince fountain pen. I felt quite cool using fountain pens and French planners and notebooks in high school. I let the hobby wane for a long time, using them on and off, but never investing much time or effort in them, but then in 2015, something made me pick the hobby up voraciously. I've since acquired quite a few pens and bottles of ink and I've discovered that it's actually much easier to write with a fountain pen. Less pressure needs to be used, and, over the course of its use, with regular use, it's much cheaper to buy a decent fountain pen and a bottle of ink than to keep buying disposable ball points. I've really noticed the ease of use since the broken wrist. I barely need to use any pressure and I can write and write. I've had the same bottle of Noodler's Heart of Darkness ink (my favorite black ink; I can't resist the literary reference, and the ink is very high quality) since 2015, and it still seems almost full. I buy my pens and ink almost exclusively from Goulet Pens. (I only go elsewhere if they're out of stock or simply don't sell the item). They're a small online business and they put a ridiculous amount of care in packaging orders, and their customer service is just tops. You can also catch Brian Goulet doing weekly Youtube videos answering pen questions. This has been my primary method of learning more about the hobby.

Fountain pens, and the desire to find excuses to use them led me back to pen-palling as well. I had pen pals a lot as a kid, and I always loved writing longhand to friends and relatives, even in college, after the advent of email, and it's been a real pleasure to pick up the hobby again. I joined The League of Extraordinary Penpals a few years ago, and it has been so much fun to make pen friends again. I have a little stationery station in my craft room full of neat stamps (postage stamps and rubber stamps), address labels, and stationery, much from La Papierre, a shop that also has a stationery subscription service. Their stationery is so cute and whimsical, and very high quality.

As much as I love technology, the analogue offers a rare sensual pleasure in this world. Good paper, pens, and ink just brings me so much joy. I've also been writing in Tomoe River notebooks in leather traveler's notebooks from Chic Sparrow for the past 5 years. I love signs of use, and these leather notebooks are made to show they've been well-loved. I also love that I can keep filling up notebooks and replacing them with new ones, but I still have the same cover. As a writer, I really do develop an intimacy with my tools, and a dependency, for better or worse, and I love my notebook.

Inside my notebook, I have my Hobonichi Cousin planner. This is a Japanese planner printed on my beloved Tomoe River paper that includes monthly, weekly, and daily planning pages, but isn't a very thick book because the paper is so thin, yet sturdy. I love to paint a wash of watercolor on the page using my Daniel Smith water colors to give me a bright, beautiful backdrop to planning my days. I've used this planner since 2015, and I'm so excited to order my 2019 edition when it releases on September 1st.

Finally, for now, I want to talk about tea. I haven't been drinking much coffee lately, but I am well-stocked on tea. Right now I'm enjoying a cuppa of Victorian London Fog from Harney & Sons. Loose leaf tea is so delicious.

Next Wednesday (in four days, omg), the Fall semester begins, and I return to my teacher life. I love teaching, and I really love where I'm working now. I even get to teach a Creative Writing class, which  I'm thrilled about. But it's going to be a difficult adjustment after a summer of rest and recovery and last spring of teaching exclusively online. I thrive on routine, though. Like a dog. My dogs know exactly when it is 5pm (dinner time) and I look forward to settling in to a new routine as well.