This morning I went out to exchange three of the composition books I bought at the big box office store because I somehow got "primary ruled" ones. This is my time of year to stock up on semi-disposable writing paper and a hundred sheets in a sturdy cover for fifty cents is a good deal. The paper stands up to a fountain pen, unlike a lot of inexpensive paper.
I called Justin and Selena. Both of them had something else to do. I'm guessing that because I went directly to voicemail on both their phones and neither has returned my call. I'm guessing that they have already acquired their back to school requisites. It's too bad. I always enjoyed the back to school trip to the big box office store with our daughter when she was that age. She was too old to want to go to the grocery store with me and she found her mom a more congenial shopping partner for most things other than stationery. She and I both derived a sense of inner peace from wandering up and down the aisles communing with the paper, writing instruments, and miscellaneous items. It was like a series of cleansing breaths followed by a Quaalude.
I exchanged my composition books more or less successfully. The store was out of college ruled so I had to settle for wide ruled. It's all right. I can use a broad italic nib pen on the wide ruled paper and a fine nib pen on the college ruled that I got yesterday. Don't think that I'm a calligrapher. I can barely write. When I was eighteen I switched to printing because I could no longer read my cursive writing. I discovered italic writing in a "New Yorker" article and bought an Osmiroid pen. It came with a little pamphlet showing the basics of italic writing. The mostly straight strokes were much easier for me than the curlicues they tried to teach me in the primary grades. My handwriting has been legible ever since. It's not pretty but it's legible.
I use a fountain pen because I went to one of the last urban public schools in the US to use dip pens and ink wells in the '50s. When I entered fifth grade in 1955 they finally let us use ball point pens. It was a disaster for me. The pen slipped all over the page and made my writing even worse than it was before. I went back to a fountain pen. A couple of years ago I found out that I was holding ball point pens incorrectly. When you write with a fountain pen or dip pen you hold the pen at about a thirty degree angle to the paper. I tried to hold ball point pens the same way. It turns out that you should hold ball point pens at a ninety degree angle to the paper. I have to think hard to remember to do that. Even when I hold the pen correctly my muscles don't like a ball point. They spent too many years working with my brain to get the fountain pen thing under control. My ball point writing still looks like crap. It's better than it was though.
My grammar school classrooms had an ink monitor. The ink came in big bottles. In my mind's eye they look like they held two quarts although it was probably less. The bottles had a pump spray setup. The ink monitor held the spout over the ink well and pressed a button on top of the spout assembly to squirt out the ink. My teachers knew better than to trust me with a large glass bottle of ink. My coordination wasn't good enough to guarantee getting the ink in the ink wells or making it around the room without dropping the bottle. The monitors were usually girls. I don't like to think about the gender role symbology of that.