Pencils, Paper and Pocketknives

How could wanting to write with a pencil be so difficult? I simply wanted a pencil so I could make notes in a book I’m reading.

I felt certain I’d find one in the pouch I keep in my purse. Instead, I found seven pens, one highlighter and a pair of earbuds. That just wouldn’t do. I wanted a pencil.

No problem. When we prepared for our move last Spring, I organized the desk drawer with dividers and boxes making it easy to find office supplies in the limited space available; and I’m proud to say that the drawer remains a picture of organization.

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The drawer didn’t fail, seven pencils, but none of them sharpened. Then I found a box of pencils, all sharpened but colored pencils. Not acceptable. I wanted a regular No. 2 lead pencil.

I suddenly had a flashback to when we first moved in this house in 1979. Today we live in the same house in which we resided in 1979 as newlyweds, and in those days it wasn’t pencils but paper that was the problem. My father-in-law, an English professor, was not content talking to us on the phone. He loved the written word and regularly wrote letters. When we didn’t respond with a card, note or letter, he asked when he could expect to get something from us in the mail. Our pitiful answer…pitiful, but true…we didn’t have any paper. I remember his response. No paper? And you’re both teachers?

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That’s right. Teachers with no paper. Sure we had plenty of paper at work, just not at home. But we came up with a creative way to solve the problem. We used the backs of envelopes to answer his letters. So maybe it was lazy instead of creative. I guess he decided we were hopeless and just started communicating exclusively by phone.

I think he’d be pleased to know we have plenty of paper, envelopes, notecards, pens and even stamps today. And finally I resorted to my grandmother’s solution to sharpening pencils. I used a knife to whittle away the wood until I’d scratched away enough to expose the lead so I could write.

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With the other writing basics covered, I’ve added a pencil sharpener to my shopping list so I don’t lose a finger sharpening a pencil.