happenness (the ultimate geek-out)

Just placed an order on JetPens.com. Ordered a dozen or so of my beloved Uni-ball Signo DX with the 0.28mm nib. Mostly in black and blue-black, with a couple of other colors tossed in (including the new brown-black, which may or may not become a hit with me).

I have been using these pens for about 1.5 years now. Sometime in the winter of 2007 (or perhaps December of 2006; not sure; I know it was cold and I was still on my first Moleskine), a friend of mine introduced me to them. She did this by gifting me a Hello Kitty pen she'd gotten in Japan.

At the time, I was on a quest for the perfect pen. I'd started journaling in a new type of notebook (afore-mentioned Moleskine) a couple months before, and had unlocked my personal secret to consistent graphoproductivity: sensualize the experience. Make it intrinsically beautiful and delicious. Make the act of putting pen to paper a sexy, satisfying experience.

So, I'd found the paper and the binding and all; now, I was just looking for a pen. It had to be a fast-flowing pen, capable of keeping up with my thoughts; I had not willingly used ballpoints for years. So, probably a gel-ink, felt or fountain-pen. At the same time, it had to dry quickly, so that I wouldn't need to worry about smearing the words with my hand or the opposite page.

It also had to have the finest nib possible. My handwriting is quick and messy, and a finer nib is more forgiving when it comes to legibility. Additionally, a fine nib leaves behind far less ink, which means it's a faster drying time. Also, I was using the pocket-sized Moleskine, and wanted to be able to write smaller.

I quickly realized my old faithful Uni-ball 0.5mm pens (available in bulk at all major office supply stores) produced WAY too clunky a line. Additionally, there was a bit of bleed-through on the pages. Minimal, but it wasn't good enough.

On the recommendation of some fellow obsessive graphomaniacs, I purchased the very reasonably priced and attractive Lamy Safari in red, together with a jar of Noodler's Ink in Zhivago. My God, it was sexy. The thick, red pen in my fingers; the rich flow of glistening green-black ink across the creamy virgin paper. My notebook seemed to whisper Lara's Theme every time I stroked it with the Lamy. Snowflakes fell, I think.

Unfortunately, even the finest nib available at the store wasn't quite fine enough. I got maybe 10 lines to a page. And it didn't dry quickly enough. (True to Noodler's promise, though, there was no bleed-through.)

I went through a few other options. First, I over-hastily ordered a dozen of the Pilot G-2 pens that many Moleskinites swore by. Most of those are still rattling around the house, being used to sign checks and make shopping lists.

My quest brought me to the pen-and-marker aisles of Pearl Paint, infinite mecca of artists, crafties and wannabes. I am not sure how many collective hours I spent doodling on the thoughtfully provided test-pads in those aisles, experimenting with, literally, dozens of types of pens in hundreds of colors. I am not sure how much money I spent on all those delectable Faber-Castell "artist pens," in various nib-sizes and shades (including sepiatones, mmmm). I am not sure how many sketchpads I bought, drunk on the heavy texture of watercolor paper, and completely forgetting my utter inability to sketch, draw or, frankly, color inside lines.

Alas, even the "Superfine" Faber-Castell pens were not fine enough. My Moleskine was Cinderella's glass slipper - and, just because it's a pretty foot, that don't mean it's gonna fit. I reserved my Faber-Castells for my watercolor activities (which mostly consisted of me dragging a pen across the paper and then hugging myself with the simple joy of watching the vibrant color appear on the creamy lawn, very much like a small, feeble-minded child during fingerpainting class).

I did content myself, for a while, with the Pigma Micron markers by Sakura. These also came in a nice range of colors, and - joy of joys - were available in a 0.05mm nib. (Which was like, WHOA, considering that the smallest nib I'd seen before that was a 0.1mm; which was nice, but c'mon, 0.05mm!!!!) So, for a while, I used those, and they were fine.

Then, I tried the Staedtler Pigment Liner, likewise in a 0.05mm nib. In black. (By then, I had realized, I would never be one of those cool people who can maintain a colorful and serious journal, and then take pictures of it and post them on Flickr.) The Staedtler is a fine pen, and I still have a stock of them - in 0.05mm and 0.1mm. (The thicker one is nicer for drawing, or to neatly write quotes.)

Right. So, it was in the midst of all this sturm-und-drang (I know, someone totally should write an ABC show about this), that my friend casually gave me that Hello Kitty pen. Which was really just an ordinary-looking ballpoint gel-ink (a.k.a., rollerball) pen with a clear barrel and a rubber grip. Except it had "Hello Kitty" on it, along with that little white kitty face that no female over the age of 10 should have anywhere near her person unless she is either Asian or pink-cheeked, pig-tailed, bobby-socked and is/was class president of Chappaqua High in Minneapolis or something.

But it was a damn fine pen. A damn fine pen. The finest nib I'd ever seen on a non-technical pen. Near-instant drying time. Quick, smooth flow. An unpretentious exterior. A damn fine pen. Unfortunately, the only words printed on it were "Hello Kitty." And some Japanese characters above a smirking, triumphant, elusive "0.28" on the cap. No brand name. Nothing.

So, I sighed to myself and continued searching. (Shortly after this, I discovered the Pigma Micron and the Staedtler.) Every so often, I'd use the Hello Kitty pen. But - and this is aside from feeling, every time I used it, as though a dozen small Japanese men had just ejaculated on me in a private karaoke room - I have this thing about "saving" the items I love the best. Living in the moment is all good and well, but when something is finite and rare-to-unavailable - a bottle of expensive perfume, a limited-edition MAC lipstick, the ink in a wonderful pen - I tend to only use it when the moment is either special, or when I want to make it feel that way. So I very seldom used my wonderful Hello Kitty pen.

Now. The Staedtler and the Pigma Micron are both fine pens, as I have said. However, they have their drawbacks. Firstly, they are kind of felt pens. I think. Felt-like, anyway. Which means they dry out at the drop of a cap (hah, hah?) and bringing them back to life is very difficult. Also, they have this incredibly skinny little wire-like nib, which doesn't take much effort to bend (especially when one writes on moving trains), which then makes your delicate little nib into a big-ass calligraphy nib, which is all good and well when you are trying to practice calligraphy, but not when you are angrily trying to get out onto paper how much you hate the See-You-Next-Tuesday in the cubicle across from yours, all in order to relieve the aggression and not defenestrate said See-You-Next-Tuesday upon your next encounter.

Which meant that I had to keep buying more pens. Which maybe wouldn't be so bad - despite the ~$3 price tag on each - except it was just friggen annoying to have to go to the store every few weeks; and then, sometimes, you'd get one and it was already dried-out or half-dried-out. Not cool. Clearly, the situation called for a rollerball.

Boldly, I decided to throw myself at the mercy of the almighty God, Google. I typed in "Hello Kitty pen 0.28", sprinkled the blood of a young goat over my keyboard and hit Enter. And, lo, just a few hits down the page, was someone's journal entry about her "Hello Kitty" pen and how it was really just a Uni-Ball Signo 0.28 with a logo on it. I did a dance of joy, stuck a tampon in the goat, and Googled "Uni-Ball Signo 0.28."

Which is how I came to JetPens. Basically, they specialize in Japanese pens, and all sorts of pens that, I guess, are a little rare on the American market. I nearly wept when, verily, I saw upon the screen the exact replica of my friend's pen, minus the "Hello Kitty" logo. I quickly ordered about 20 pens and waited, with bated breath, for the package to arrive. (OK, so I unbated my breath a few times in the interim.)

This was, I think, in about late spring/early summer 2007. Yes. My second Moleskine's second half is written in the distinctive blue-black rollerball ink. And Moleskines 3-6 were all written with the same pens - mostly in black or blue-black. (Except for a brief flirtation I once had with a vividly azure-colored 0.01mm Prismacolor Premier. I was feeling "blue" so I wrote in the bluest ink I could find. Don't ask.)

Just 2 days ago, I had to toss my last blue-black Signo, with just a smudge of ink left in its barrel. It wouldn't write anymore; it just tore the paper. The other black and blue-black pens were long gone too - most of them had run out of ink. I probably lost at least one or two others. It's possible I gave a couple away as gifts.

I still have my reserve of colorful pens - purple, hot pink, sky blue. (The emerald-green one was left uncapped too long; it dried out and had to be tossed a couple months ago.) But I just can't write my normal journal entries in these colors. It's too distracting. I feel like I have to be zany or something. It's very difficult to write about bleeding the black bile of your rotting love in fucking hot pink. Even purple, which I actually quite like (and do use, on occasion), often reminds me of Jessica Wakefield and the Unicorn Club.

So, I am happy to have placed an order with JetPens. I am looking forward to ripping into that package; to lovingly distributing the pens among various purses, backpacks and stationery stations; and to uncapping a beautiful, pristine pen and violently ripping out its cherry with a poem about love in the moonlight. Yesss . . .

And for now? I'm writing with . . . the old Hello Kitty pen. I never did use it much; plenty of ink left.

And you know what else? I added something to my order. In addition to the pens, I also ordered a pen refill. I plan to put it into the Hello Kitty pen. I will hold on to this pen. It is the pen that other pens came from. It has meaning and value, even if it is ridiculously decorated with a childish logo.

OK, fine - actually, I put the refill in the basket only because it costs less than a full pen, and I was only $0.50 away from free shipping, so I chose the cheaper alternative.

Or maybe . . . I kinda like feeling like a dozen small Japanese men . . . uh . . . never mind.

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