June 12, 2009

Carrying a pen, notebook makes you stand out?

hand holding penI forget what got me to "the Media Equation - In Media Equation: In one city, two soirees ages apart. I know this paragraph by David Carr is what stopped me:
"I wandered the rest of the party and noticed people staring at me. Had I become the dad in the basement at the teenage party? No, as it turned out, it was the analog act of taking notes with a pen on a notebook that was freaking people out. I may as well have been prancing around with an abacus."
Hours earlier, a physical therapist also talked about the lost art of putting pen to paper. Actually, she was praising computers and keyboarding for developing strength in both arms and hands as opposed to the stronger, bigger arm/hand once developed with old-fashioned writing.

I own a nice collection of computers, including the iPhone that fits so nicely in a pocket. But I still like a good pen to use on a notebook.

Vital signs: Notebook and pen


I take a notebook and pen to every doctor's visit to jot down what is said even if I don't understand at the time. Later, something I scribbled then becomes clear as I learn more about the health issue that prompted the doctor's visit. It may just become more clear as I translate the scribbling into a document on a computer.

(Yeah, I have bad writing that combined with my version of shorthand makes it impossible for others to read. It can make it hard for me to read if I wait too long to translate the scribbles.)

I still take notebook and pen to conferences and symposiums, even those that boast of wireless connections. It's the fear of a dead connection leaving me powerless to recall later what was said. It's my backup.

In search of silence, freedom

The pen and notebook is quieter too. The sounds of keys sometimes disturbs the thoughts generated by the speaker up front.

The pen and notebook also let me wander in a way typing on a computer never does. I can scratch out what the speaker says and then write a question or thought to explore later in a margin. I can quickly duplicate a sketch or draw a portrait of the speaker on my notebook.

Only the right one will do


And, what a difference the pen can make. I like the thicker ones - at least as big as my smallest finger. But I don't like pens pushed inside foam rubber tubes, the type I had to use when my fingers needed to relearn how to move correctly after a multiple sclerosis relapse froze my right side.

I learned the hard way that the the pens that leave lines similar to markers are not good to use in wet weather. Also, don't use the marker-type pens on clumsy days if you plan to drink coffee or water.

But, oh, the feeling of the pen with marker-like ink and nib flowing over the paper, pmontblanc penushing lines out of the brain and into a format others might recognize. It's the right pen for painting a greeting inside the card designed to remind someone they are remembered.

I miss my Montblanc pen, a gift, that was lost after years of use and just after I finally bought refills. It was a wonderful luxury that made writing fun.

Technology wins

Still, there are times the computer, or at least the iPhone win. The keyboarded notes are often easier to read faster and to share.

The computer also helps me write more, capturing the news of the day, the interesting blog post, the thought I don't want to escape. Then, with time, I can massage the message until it reveals what I've been thinking, holding inside and mulling through.

On a good day, I remember to hit that "publish post" key at least once so that the blogging software will accept more emailed links, notes and random thoughts.

I have room for a pen and notepad in my home; in my car; in my purse; in my suitcase and in my hand. Do you?

2 comments:

  1. I am never without a pen. Habit, I guess. Like you, I like the fatty pens. My buddy Kim turned me on to a guy in Flint (a lawyer) who in his spare time makes quality fat wooden pens on a lathe.

    I owned several of them (I'm a pen loser) over the years and still have a couple home in the drawer. I don't carry those because I don't want to lose them.

    Many reporters can be particular about their pens, I was. In a pinch a black Bic would do, but when I really wanted to do my best work and be comfortable I wanted one of my "fatties" in my hand.

    I'm going to link to your post and also continue the conversation over on FFE. Thanks for the great topic.

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