My problem with pens.

Originally posted on April 17, 2017


I have a house full of old, nonworking pens.  It’s not because I want them.   Keeping up with pens and throwing away old ones is one thing I never seem to bother keeping up with.    Whenever I need a pen, I can never, EVER find a working one.  I have dozens of old markers that no longer have any ink in them, tens of cheap ballpoints I got for free somewhere with no ink in them and non-working clickers; I even have dried up pen refills with no actual pen to cover them.  I have Sharpies with their nubs worn down to nothing.  They all sit forlornly in old coffee mugs around the house.

People can’t understand why I can’t find a working pen when I need one.  They look around at the mugs of pens in every room and on every available surface, and they also know I have drawers full of pens (as well as old phone chargers, paper clips, rubber bands, broken push pins, paid bills from 2003, business cards for businesses I’ll never use or have never heard of, a broken lighter with Y2K joke on it [no joke], and all the other detritus most of us wind up gathering somehow without any effort at all).   I almost always wind up having to borrow their pen — if they’re carrying one — and I can see them just shaking their heads in bemused amazement.

I have the same problem with pencils.  I have at least a hundred pencils — all with broken points or sharpened down to an inch or so (and still sporting broken points) — and not one sharpener.   So the pencils I own are utterly useless.   Maybe I should install a sharpener on the wall, like the one we kept on the basement stairs while I was growing up (I’ll never know why it was installed on the wall of the dark basement stairs, as if it was something to be embarrassed about).


At least with the Internet, I rarely need a pen.  But sometimes I do.  There’s still the occasional form I need to fill out, or the birthday card I need to sign (I hate e-cards).  Sometimes I have to leave post-it notes to myself on the bathroom mirror that say things like:  BUY A PACK OF PENS TODAY!  Hah.  I never learn.   I never go out and buy a pack of pens for these moments.  The one time recently that I did buy a pack, I somehow lost all those pens.  But the old, dried up, broken ones stuck around like unwelcome guests.

And they MULTIPLY.  You know that portal that’s hidden in the back of your washer that sucks your socks into an alternate universe?    Well, I think there’s another portal — a reverse wormhole — from that same universe that spews broken old pens into ours.  Maybe it somehow transforms our socks into pens.  You never know.

Why don’t I just throw away all those broken and nonworking pens and pencils?  Honestly, I don’t know why.    It’s not sentimentality,  and it’s not because “maybe one day I will use them in a multi-media project where I can glue them to a board with all the other useless junk in my drawers and call it art.”  ” No, I think the reason I don’t weed out all the old pens and pencils is pure laziness.   The idea of going through all those mugs and drawers full of broken writing implements and testing them isn’t something I want to spend my day doing.

So the pens stay, and I continue to search in vain for a working pen when I need one.

Anyone want some of my old broken pens?


18 thoughts on “My problem with pens.

  1. I remember reading this in April… If my memory is good, we had a conversation about it in the comments 🙂 Great post, and still agree that in some mysterious way, broken pens and pencils DO multiply. I think they might be a weird Alien form, that’s slowly but surely planning on taking over the world! Mouahahahaha

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  2. “(I’ll never know why it was installed on the wall of the dark basement stairs, as if it was something to be embarrassed about).” This comment about your childhood pencil sharpener made me crack up, seriously. We had one of those too. I never thought about it much. But perhaps it was the wood needed to mount and screw it into the wall was readily available in the basement.

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  3. So, I have the overflowing pen/pencil holder and the (medium size) drawer full of pens and pencils, some unknown percentage of which may actually work. I do know that the pen in my pocket does work, and so does the one on the desk, but beyond them, as the old maps say, “Here, there be dragons.” BTW: The reverse wormhole is real. It also spews paperclips, Post-It pads with one sheet left, and AA and AAA batteries that may or may not be dead. But, alas, no socks.

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  4. Good post. I had never heard of grey rocking either so thanks for that. The link at the end is broken like many on my blog since they are several years old. I try to keep up with it but it’s difficult.

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