It was brought to my attention that yesterday's Doogie rave perhaps wasn't really that clear. In my defense, I had been up for thirty hours at that point and had been subsiding mainly off espresso grounds and cacao leaves, and I think more than a few times I simply transcribed what the three-foot wizard who was sitting on my couch a lot of that night was whispering into my ear.
So I went back and read over it, and discovered it probably wasn't that clear what I was trying to do. So, dear friends, I've edited it and now it should be a little more clear. If you were unclear and thought I was wacko, go ahead and take another look. If you're scratching your head while thinking your posts are supposed to make sense? then.. well thanks for still reading. Everything after the video clips is the same, so only read it over if you want to laugh really hard again.
Last night while I shoulda been writing a paper, I broke out a bunch of old poems and essays and short stories I wrote for a creative writing class I took three or four years ago. After that class, I had decided that, without a doubt, I'd be a creative writing major. I'm a Comm Arts major. And not even officially.
So I tortured a friend by reading most of that stuff en voz alta, because [a] I hadn't read the stuff since I wrote it and [b] I'm narcissistic like that. Usually when you stumble across something you wrote a long time ago, you're initially pretty embarrassed at how silly some things were, but then you realize that just means you've improved a lot. Well, maybe that means I haven't improved at all in the last four years-- it's entirely possible, because the most creative writing I do these days appears on the Missed Connections pages-- because I stumbled across an essay I wrote about pencils, and I didn't want to change a thing. In fact, I didn't. Ok, I didn't change anything, but I did remove one small paragraph which shouldn't have been included in the first place.
Here I share it with y'all because if I don't, it's simply going back into a manila envelope and onto a shelf or a floor or into a box for the rest of its life. So let's give him some air first. [Remember this one, Missus Sims?]
I bought some pencils recently. Dixon Ticonderogas. Everyone knows and loves the Ticonderoga. Classic pencil look. It's really the quintessential pencil: the yellow that's otherwise only found on school buses and the three green stripes on the metal band right underneath the virgin pink eraser.
It's strange that I bought these pencils because I have drawerfulls of pencils in my apartment and I never use a single one of them. Pencils from seventh grade, I shit you not. That one's a Cubs pencil, and it hasn't even been sharpened. Ever. I don't hold onto it for any imaginable reason (although if I needed one, the simple fact that it's a Cubs pencil is enough); to throw it away would just be a waste. In fact it's one of those plasticky pencils, the kind that's made out of recycled material. That and the fact that it's got Cubs logos freckling its body are the only things it's got going for it. I hate those pencils though. You can bend them so much you'd nearly touch eraser to tip without it breaking, which now that I think about it actually sounds pretty cool. You always know when to stop, too, because you'll hear those mousy little cracks, much softer than the ones you hear when you drop an ice cube into a glass of water. But if you did break them, you discover that they're the only pencil you can break and have two clean edges, no sharp jagged weapons. If you had one of these pencils in school (the most common brand was Empire, if my memory serves), you were always looking at the rich kid next you's wooden pencil, with a jealous eye. Maybe he'd get up soon and you could snatch it.
I have other pencils in other drawers. I have sketching pencils, which I keep because they have a purpose, even if I never employ them for it anymore. There are mechanical pencils, which I won't even get into because, like a robot, they just seem like they would be the answer to everything. But they're so deceiving, those guys. And then there are the short pencils that were cut off at the waist, their top halves presumably making equally short pencils somewhere else, but with one integral feature to brag about to their friends: the eraser. I keep the short headless pencils around partly because I feel sorry for them, but mainly just because they seem cool to me. Like they were very selectively chosen for a cause much more noble than to be in the grimy hands of an unappreciative student—such as behind the ear of a drywaller, lying littered on the fake grass of a mini golf course, in the hand of a happy bride-to-be perusing Ikea, or in the dark and cool confines of a Yahtzee box.
I must admit it’s been a while since I’ve written anything of substantial length in pencil. That was until two weeks ago when I tried one out in my journal. It was a Saturday, not that the day is of any real importance. Although it is fairly noteworthy that I chose to make an entry in my journal on a Saturday, in August, when everyone else was out at the park throwing frisbee, or on the lake basking in the sun, or somewhere else doing something more summerly than writing in a journal. And then there’s me, doing just that. To my credit, I do believe I was outside at a nearby café, taking in rays and watching people stroll by. People that had too much to drink the night before. People that had money to spend and were looking for somewhere to spend it. People with nothing at all to do but walk around with other people who with nothing at all to do, all of them perfectly content with the nothing they were doing. People with journals to write in but apparently nothing to write about. That’s where we differed, as I sat there, actually having something to write. And I did it in pencil. And that’s how I remember.
What I can’t remember is a time before that Saturday in August that I chose to write in pencil when I had another option, or why. I sat in this spot for several minutes and contemplated a time or a place I would have wanted to use a pencil. Then when I thought I had recalled one, I realized that I in fact had used a pen.
There is something uneasy to me about writing in pencil. It definitely can be just a little fun—that is until the lead gets dull. Then it’s clumsy. Like when it starts to dull and you feel like you’re writing with a piece of balsam fir. And so you turn it between your three fingers every three words, constantly striving for that one straight edge of lead. And then it begins to only write thin lines on the vertical up- and downswings of your letters, but not east or west. And then, inevitably, there is no longer even any salvageable splinter or sliver or slice of sharpness in your hand, and you would be better off writing with that piece of balsam fir. Or a French fry. With ketchup.
But there is still another uneasiness. What is uneasy to me may be very comfortable to someone else, and vice-versa—in fact I have come to understand that there’s a good chance that’s the case. With pencils, it’s the selling point that most everyone else values. Its crux, its sole purpose for being: that little salmon-dyed forgetter-of-mistakes on the non-marking end. I think that is what makes me feel most uneasy about writing with the ol’ No. 2. I cannot understand why anyone would ever write in pencil anything of any significance if he knew there was a chance any schmuck with a piece of rubber could come by and remove it. Forever.
-RTM, c. 2004.
Wait for a FaveSongs2007 installment later today. If the music isn't enough reason to come back, howabout this: it may a historical moment, the first time I say nothing of any of the bands/songs, just posting links. Insanity!