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Drowning in the Architect’s Pens

It is a fundamental fact of any architect, one that anyone who lives with him or her has to just accept – architects love their pens. There can never be enough pens. And, they usually must be a specific type of pen. Any old pen will not do.

We are now in the mountains. One of the purposes of our trip is to try to finish digging our hole, and MTM is all atwitter, trying to finish the design for our 12 x 12 storage building on our property.

So, MTM brings all of his architectural accoutrements, and they pretty much fill a whole section of one suitcase. When I unpacked, I was astounded to pull out at least dozen Uni-ball Extra Fine pens. (As an aside, when I just asked him for the exact name of the pen he prefers, he whipped one right out of his pocket here at Conrad’s Coffee Shop and looked to make sure it was the Uni-ball. He ALWAYS has at least two pens in each pocket.)

Here are just a few of the odd places I’ve found MTM’s pens: next to the toilet; underneath every car seat; in the clothes hamper I take to the dry cleaner; between the sofa cushions; in the refrigerator; in the washer; and in our bed. Yes, I once rolled over on a pen in the middle of the night and was stabbed by it.

Once I rounded up the gaggle of pens and put them out of the way, unloading the rest felt like I was revisiting geometry class. I try not to look at MTM’s drafting desk or even enter the room where it is. That’s his room, and he can do whatever he likes in there. I don’t want to know about it, but I especially don’t want to SEE it.

I can’t believe architects need all this stuff. For such minimalist people, the sheer volume of straight edges, triangles, pencil sharpeners (why, when you only use pens???), compasses, sticky things, some razor cutter contraption, tracing paper, more rulers and funky shaped objects astounded me. Won’t just one straight edge do? Why are fifteen required?

I mean, I can’t have ONE extraneous photograph or knick-knack perched anywhere in our house, but this stuff is now covering the entire length of the dining table in our cabin. I just hope I don’t get stabbed by a pen in my sleep. Yes, MTM even sleeps with his beloved pens. I’m drowning in the pens of the architect.

30 Comments Post a comment
  1. michael maher #

    A good pen can turn a daydream into an invention.

    August 8, 2010
  2. This is great, because I live with someone who is on a never-ending quest for the perfect pen. There are pens all over the house: red ones, black ones, blue ones, .5, .7, 1.0, you name it. We were in Target yesterday and I came back to the cart to find two packages of pens on top.

    On the day Hurricane Hanna looked like it might be a bit worse than it was, we were in an evacuation area and planned to pack up and stay with friends a little closer inland. I left work, came home to load up the dogs in the pouring rain, called her. “Go ahead, I’m not far behind you,” she said. “I’m stopping at Staples on the way. I need some pens.”

    August 8, 2010
    • Can you ever find a pen in the house? Usually, I can’t find a pen anywhere when I need one, causing me to look in these oddball places for a pen. Even though MTM has all these pens everywhere, they’re only in his favorite spots. Is she the same way?

      The hurricane story is especially funny. Thank you.

      August 8, 2010
      • Though she keeps most in work bag, the kitchen drawer has plenty. There are also two pen cups on the desk in the office.

        So, no, finding a pen is rarely a problem. 🙂

        August 8, 2010
      • I wish MTM were that predictable.

        August 8, 2010
  3. Interestingly enough, Cheryl and I have settled on the same Waterman fountain pen. When Cheryl’s last perfect pen bit the dust I ordered her a replacement — liked it so much I ordered myself the exact same pen, same model, same color (OK, I might have ordered green instead of blue, but they were out of stock).

    Of course, they are not interchangeable. Now that we’ve both used them the nibs are worn differently and I can tell the moment I put pen to paper whether I’m using Cheryl’s or my own.

    There are also perfect pencils. I own three (yes 3) Pentel P225 mechanical pencils. I need three so I always have one with me without having to remember to transfer it to whatever case, bag or whatever I’m carrying my stuff around in.

    It is difficult to describe the importance of the perfect pen to someone who does not grok it. You’ll just have to take our word for it.

    August 8, 2010
    • Just please don’t tel MTM there’s a perfect pencil. I don’t think I would survive. 🙂

      August 8, 2010
    • I’ve loved a good fountain pen since I learned to write in cursive. Shall I say it’s my “signature?” (Is that a good enough pun Michael?) I used to have 4 or 5 but over the years, I’ve used them up, and so I now only have my trusty Waterman. I’m a purist in that I fill it with ink from an ink bottle. Finding ink is a challenge…

      An old school art director/graphic designer I met after Hurricane Hugo came from the days of hand drawn images for advertising art and he always had Pelikans (http://www.pelikan.com) and all colors of Pelikan ink all over his studio. He became a fine artist whose favorite medium was–wait for it–ink. One of his pieces hangs in our living room.

      Wouldn’t mind a few really vintage celluloid fountain pens from the 30s. But, then I’d be dreaming of the perfect pen.

      August 8, 2010
      • I guess my pen is a Mont Blanc that I got as a gift for leaving a job one time. I would never buy one myself. It is always running out of ink, and because the ink cartridges are so expensive, I never seem to be able to get over the exclamation point caused in my pocketbook when I buy them. Therefore, it sits on my desk, almost always empty.

        I’ll have to look up a Waterman, now that both you and Bill have sung its praises.

        August 8, 2010
      • We will give you “points” for that signature pun, but there are better puns to come. I can see the handwriting on the wall!

        August 8, 2010
      • Ha! That’s a good one!

        August 9, 2010
  4. Justin Ferrick #

    Big fan of the Uni-ball EXTRA FINE (micro) – God help us, if they ever stop making this pen..and when I say “they”, I mean the Japanese

    August 8, 2010
    • You and MTM will both be heartbroken architects when that happens. 🙂

      August 8, 2010
      • Justin Ferrick #

        And then they just stop making THAT pen!?! The horror…

        November 5, 2010
      • MTM is on his way to Staples to buy every one they have in stock………you’d better beat him there.

        November 5, 2010
  5. A mechanic has special relationships with his tools. I can tell you about that with my computers, or with the special tools I use to work on my old British cars. You are discovering part of it as you get more and more used to your Mac.

    My grandfather was an very precise about his pens. He was not an architect, but he was Swiss. Talk about being particular! I discovered a love of fine writing instruments from him. I still have some of his pens.

    And I don’t know why this particular topic made me think of it, but I think you and Michael would enjoy “Objectified”. It is a film made in 2009 and is billed as “a documentary about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them.” I found it on Amazon – http://amzn.to/bdvBcB If you and Michael haven’t watched it yet, you really must!

    August 8, 2010
    • I remember that movie but didn’t see it. Thanks for reminding me of it. Pens do appear to be a big deal to a lot of people, don’t they?

      August 9, 2010
      • If you want a copy of the movie to watch, let me know. I bet it could be arranged.

        August 9, 2010
      • If you have it, I’d borrow it. Sounds like something we would enjoy.

        August 9, 2010
  6. Laura #

    NOT just architects have pen/pencil fetishes. My hubby is an appraiser and has every pen and mechanical pencil known to man. Uniballs are favorites, though now he has discovered the new Sharpie pen–what a banner day that was. He plays golf every Saturday (and sometimes Sunday too) and brings home every nubby, snub-nosed golf cart pencil he touches. He’s a writing-implement-hoarder. He even bought one that can write upside down. I guess he needs it for his next mission on the space shuttle.

    August 8, 2010
    • That’s too funny. I never pictured George that way, but I’m not surprised that pen and pencil hoarding would characterize appraisers, too.

      August 9, 2010
  7. ok…I’m an architect, and I admit that I’m also always searching for the perfect pen.

    I’m also left handed so that makes my quest a bit more challenging. Since I’m always ‘pushing’ the pen across the page instead of ‘pulling’…the scratching of the pen is unacceptable, not only for me, but ffor those around me.

    So far, I’ve settled on the Pentel EnerGel 0.5mm needle tip. I also use a Mont Blanc fountain pen for those times when something more ‘formal’ is appropriate.

    Great discussion.

    john

    August 15, 2010
    • My architect husband is left handed, too, John. It’s funny that several of my architect friends are left handed as well.

      I will have to give MTM (my architect husband) your tip about the Pentel. It may better suit his left handedness. Thanks for reading and for your comment.

      August 15, 2010
  8. MTM needs one of these! It is so cool…. http://reflectionof.me/constrained-ball

    August 21, 2010
    • You are correct. He does need one of these. Thank you for helping me find his first St. Nick gift for Christmas. Now, he hopefully won’t come back and read this comment……..

      August 21, 2010

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