a recipe for disaster: holiday carry
The conversations nearest to you come clean through the whispers of the songs in your earphones. They’re catching up after the summer. During louder songs, every conversation turns into a whisper, lost in the beats of the drums. It’s good to be back in a bustling cafe, the bikes buzzing past and the faintest of breezes coming through the windows. The leather couches worn and peeling, the wooden chairs moulded around the shape of a butt through countless people sitting on them day after day. It’s comfortable with mediocre coffee and fast internet. My favourite place to study, only to be disturbed by nods of school mates coming to sit across every now and then.
It was my birthday yesterday, right after I came from my hometown and right before the school opens on Monday. It was an odd, slightly lonely one, with many of my friends distributed across countries, even continents. I did go out with my boyfriend, even got a celebratory pen and inks for the end of my first year in a brand new decade. While I was busy with moving from a summer rental to my parents’ house, and then to my school apartment, I scarcely found time to reflect back on my pen use during holidays.
Due to my style of holidaying, I had decided to go with a very light carry. One pen, one ink, two notebooks -one for work and one for journaling. During changing hotels or rental houses, I didn’t want to have a pen of high monetary or emotional value so that if I ever accidentally left it (even though this never happened before) I didn’t want it to sour my holiday memories too much. Also the pen would take a decent beating, tumbling in a beach bag, inked with an iron gall ink. This also turned out to be an experiment, to see what I miss in a pen, to see which pens I want to ink up the moment I came back. I had also left a decent number of pens inked to test out which one dried up in 1.5 months and which didn’t. I’ll add in a list at the end.
1 TWSBI ECO with an extra fine nib. Preferably in Cement Grey colour, but any will do.
1 bottle (50ml) of Rohrer & Klingner Salix.
1 Maruman Mnemosyne notebook for work/side projects.
1 Unknown notebook for journaling.
1 Galen Leather notebook cover to protect the unknown notebook from falling apart.
1- Please make sure that your TWSBI ECO is tuned to your preferences so it is extremely comfortable to use for long periods of time. Remember, this will be the only pen you’ll use for a while. Check the cap and the barrel for cracks or leaks so it will not leave you halfway in high mountains or hot beaches.
2- Pack your notebooks and ink bottle carefully. I like to wrap my ink bottle in a paper towel and then put it in a tiny plastic bag for extra protection. I never had ink leak from the bottle, though I almost always fly with cabin baggage only.
3-After your flight, take a moment to breathe in the fresh air. This is a highly important -but not mandatory- step. In my case, it was humid, cool air from the mountains that was about to bring a huge storm.
4- Ravenously dive into your sandwich while getting settled in the car, there’s a long drive ahead. Be thankful that you’re not the one driving in the middle of a big storm, up snaking mountain roads.
5- For some reason, try to ink up your pen in the car. It did end up working out without even a single misplaced drop of ink. This is highly dangerous behaviour, so do this at your own risk. Preferably only if your car has easy to clean and dark coloured seats.
6- Get nauseous from trying to write in a car that’s riding pretty much on the edge of a cliff, taking narrow turns. This is your cue to take a nap.
7- Be waken up by hail and be happy that you at least arrived on the highway. Eat some more. Go back to sleep while wondering about how you managed to do most of your homework in the school bus during high school.
8- Write in a nice hotel’s desk. Finally, a surface that doesn’t move. Over the next few days, limit your writing to desks-only. Most notable of my journaling places was on the beach. In the meantime, most of your journaling entries will be rants about the horrible paper of the unknown journal and how it doesn’t even hold up to ballpoints. Be happy that you had the foresight to get an iron gall ink.
9- Around after 2 weeks, start missing your other pens and a variety of nice paper. I like using this ink a lot, so it took me another extra day or two to get bored of the ink.
10- Return from your holidays with a new understanding about what you like in a pen and swear off trying to write in a moving vehicle after a small mishap on the plane.
11- Clean out all of the pens you left inked before the holiday. This step might take about 2-3 days even if you haven’t used especially finicky inks.
12- Ink up some new pens and make a list of pens you have decided to sell.
At the end of the holiday, I had missed variety. The smoothness of Pilot nibs, the singing feedback of my Sailor nib, the crispness of my Lamy 2000. Colours of Leonardo Momento Zero and the smooth section of the Studio Agackakan pen. Cartridge/converter fillers, vacuum fillers, smoother pistons, pistons that got stuck. I missed the variety of tactile and visual experiences that fountain pens offer. When I returned, I wanted to ink up another 20 pens, before realising how much my back hurt from standing hunched over a sink trying to clean out a pen section. A disaster of too many inked pens looms ahead, but it has not reached me yet.
The painful part was figuring out which pens I haven’t missed. At all. Some of them used to be favourites, surrounded by excitement and memories. My tastes had changed over time and I didn’t have the heart to let them go. Now, I’m dead set on selling the pens I do not use anymore. Even if that includes my first “big girl” pen purchase and my first gold nib all in one. It’s hard to let go, but that pen deserves to get loved and used often. I hope all of my pens will go to good homes that will cherish them as I had.
Lastly, I want to point out how incredibly laborious is was to wash out about 20 pens in various stages of clogged up-ness. I do not recommend leaving your pens inked up for a long holiday hoping to find them still alive when the inside of the house has reached 35 degrees multiple times. A few of them did surprise me:
Conklin Durograph: completely bone dry. Not even a drop of ink was left in liquid form in the converter.
Platinum 3776 Century and Platinum 3776 Balance: I was expecting these to fare much better. Nope, the nib was completely dry even though the converter still had some liquid ink in it.
Pilot Kakuno: It wrote on the first stroke. The ink was significantly darker, but even with the holes on the cap, it hadn’t dried out enough to refuse writing.
Pilot 823: Wrote great. Perhaps the ink had darkened a little, it was already inked for a month before I left it.
Sailor Pro Gear: No change in ink or writing. Just as I had left it. I’m impressed.
3 different Leonardo Momento Zero’s: They wrote a very scratchy and painful line. I’ll count them as completely dried up, the converters had zero liquid ink in them left.
Kaweco Sport: I am genuinely impressed by this one. Write perfectly, only a slight darkening in the ink, it might’ve gone back to normal if I wrote longer with it instead of cleaning.
Gioia Alleria: Completely dry. Couldn’t get it to write at all and it was so painful to clean out.
Harley Davidson pen: Didn’t write.
Pilot 912: Looks beautiful still. Wrote smoothly.
Pelikan M200: I apparently left the cap a quarter of a turn loose -as I sometimes tend to do- and it didn’t dry. A very faint change in the writing experience as the ink in the nib dried a tiny bit.
Studio Agackakan custom pen: Completely dry. It took 3 days of soaking to clean out a Pilot Iroshizuku ink, I’m a little surprised.
Giants’ Pens custom pen: Again, completely dry. At least it cleaned out easier.
This might be the longest post I might’ve written. So long for such a light “EDC”. I did have a lot of fun while writing it and reflecting on how the past few weeks went. Perhaps I have to add one disclaimer in the end. I write my posts the day I publish them, so I did end up using the pens & inks I wrote about. But it didn’t require extensive testing as I already had my notes ready, I knew what to write. I’d say about 95% of my writing was with the TWSBI ECO still.
Thank you for reading!