One of my Twelve Commandments (see sidebar) is to “Spend out.” This somewhat cryptic phrase encompasses several resolutions, but one aspect of “spending out” has to do with buying things. I am very, very bad at buying things.
Some might assume that this would be a good trait, and I suppose in some ways it is, but it’s also a big pain. For instance, I just can’t make myself take a minute to buy a decent pair of mittens. This has been going on for two years, and in the meantime, I wear an unmatched set of ineffective gloves that allows my hands to get so cold I can barely type.
Anyway, “spend out” is meant to remind me to spend money appropriately, on things that will make me happy—to indulge in modest splurges—to buy needful things.
And yesterday I actually bought some pens.
Generally, I use makeshift pens, the kind that just appear in my bag or in a drawer: half-dried out or leaky, accidentally taken from someone’s office or a hotel. Sometimes I get lucky, and good pens magically turn up, but usually they barely work.
When I was in State News on 72nd and Lexington, a store crammed with all sorts of useful miscellany, I caught sight of a box of my current second-favorite kind of pen: the Deluxe Micro Uniball.
“$2.99 for one pen!” I thought. “That’s ridiculous.”
But after a fairly lengthy internal debate, I bought four. Spend out.
And it’s such a joy to write with a great pen, instead of making do with an under-inked pharmaceutical promotional pen picked up from a doctor’s office. My new pens weren’t cheap, but when I think of all the time I spend using pens, and of how much I appreciate a good pen, it was money well spent.
Well-made tools help make work a pleasure, and my new pen delivers a tiny boost of satisfaction every time I take it up.
A reader sent me a great link to a post by musician Mike Doughty, who was invited to trade his stress for art. Check it out.