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I am currently rediscovering my love of the fountain pen, using it to jot down stuff and to make entries in the diary that has kept me organized for the most part this year. It’s a Parker, actually, branded with Myongji University, a Korean university I almost went to when I was still undecided about College…
The fountain pen is elegant, it is classy and it is high-maintenance, it is the result of human advancement and centuries of innovation from the quill dipped in ink. It is pretty much an indication of how much we love to write as a species… It comes in all sorts of whimsical manes, Youth, Hero, Parker, Waterman, Montblanc… All the application of science: capillarity to get the ink into the pen, cohesion to get the ink on the paper. And it can get messy. Smudges and blots and scratched pages can ensue if the pen isn’t handled the way it should…

I haven’t had the best of histories with fountain pens. I couldn’t use one for the first couple of years at Primary School because they were only for children with good handwriting. I went to an academy for one, where things like handwriting and the colour of your shoes was an indicator of how far you would go in life, as far as we were told. And the handwriting teacher was none other than the school director who must have really needed something to do,being as the school Academy practically ran itself. I had a handwriting that looked like every word I wrote was accompanied by a mini-seizure. So I had to write everything in pencil, notes and math and everything else. Biros weren’t allowed, being as they’re ‘bad for the handwriting’…
So the pencil was supposed to improve my handwriting, both from the sheer stigma of writing in pencil in a class full of people that were writing with a fountain pen, and from the magical handwriting-healing properties of graphite… Yes, makes no sense at all.
So in the end my handwriting did get better, and I graduated to fountain pens a year later. Not that I didn’t have hijinks with that fountain pen (or should I say those fountain pens… they were quite a number). The most memorable was Home Science, where I ran out of blue thread, being as one of the great missions of home science is to teach people how to sew manually in the age of sewing machines… The assignment was to make a pair of shorts from a pattern, and I had lost my thread. Being the genius that I am, I got white thread and dyed it blue with fountain pen ink. The Home Science teacher wasn’t particularly jazzed by what I was doing (taking a shortcut, essentially… 8-4-4 is about doing things the proper way), so I got a swift slap to the face.
Fine, so I was making my own thread and denying some thread-maker somewhere a source of income… My mistake. Don’t consider the fact that I was applying something I could not have possibly learned from any of that primary school slop they were peddling.
Fountain pens are high-maintenance, I have said. Like they have a limited tolerance for rough usage. And if there is anything a primary school child has, it is the uncanny affinity for wear and tear. Dropping pens to split their nibs and trying to get them to work with biro ink… Another indication is how much of the ink went to places it wasn’t supposed to, like clothes and hands and mouths…
The hand-written word is a beautiful thing. It is an art form of and unto itself. The fountain pen is permanent, it is not disposable, it is in fact the epitome of recycling where all you have to do is fill it with ink and you’re good to go…
Writing is a beautiful thing. Even with a handwriting like mine…

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