A Single Pen and a Single Cup of Coffee

I wrote years ago about B saying she wanted just a single pen. It was just before minimalism took off as a trend.

She wanted one beautiful pen. I don’t know why that feels significant now really. Except she is in a position to have to choose her moments carefully now. What will fill each one? Living the next months intentionally in a way that relatively few of us are forced to.

I looked for one pen then. But I didn’t look long enough before settling. I purchased a pretty blue pen at an art fair in Boulder, but once I got home I realized that I didn’t like it in my hand. It had an awkward weight. Both literally and metaphorically. It sits in my desk drawer and I never use it. My “one” pen.

I have always thought that many minimalists are just people taking part in a fad for the privileged. Though I don’t think they are conscious of it. These thirty-somethings with their documentaries about the simple life, flying here and there for meetings, borrowing things from friends and parents while their own home is “minimalist”. If they have a home. It’s not a virtue to have that kind of privilege. To be able to afford the kind of multifunction furniture required for a tiny house. The tidy-it-all guru who says to throw out everything that doesn’t spark joy? She actually says when in doubt, throw it out because you can always buy another if you do need it in the future.

Every few years I get an urge to purge my home. Closets, bathroom cabinets, desk drawers. I wish I were better at not accumulating things. E. is the opposite. He hangs on to everything in case it will be useful in the future. Not a hoarder, but nearing that end of the scale. But when our coffee machine broke? The old one that broke before this one had the part he needed to fix the new one. Since then, I haven’t mentally chastised him for hanging on to everything. It seems anything but wasteful. It seems wise. And respectful.

I saw a woman on Instagram (or somewhere) who claimed to fit six months’ worth of garbage in a mason jar. I was stunned. I live nowhere near a place that would allow me to purchase all my food without packaging. (Though I do know I could do better than I do now). I don’t have eternal toothbrushes. If I were to order toothpaste that doesn’t come with packaging, I would have to order it by post, and it would arrive in more packaging than the original tube from the local store. I use so many battery-run things that a third of the jar would be used batteries. I don’t doubt her claim. But I don’t know how she did it.

That bar is too high.

But I could be more respectful of things. I can try to do that without going all minimalistic and moving into a tiny house. That would just be shuffling my stuff somewhere else. I made this mess, I should be responsible for it.

R is writing about his one cup of coffee a day, after years of abstaining. I am not forced to go from 5 or more down to one because of the new medication. And oddly, in the lunch room today the music teachers were talking about coffee. Where to get a good one. How much it costs. How much it would cost were everyone in the chain paid a living wage. I drink tea. I miss the crappy coffee in the lunchroom. And that is kind of stupid. What do I really miss?

I am trying to get back to the wasp project. I keep using my day job as an excuse to procrastinate.

I heard someone say this morning that they quit their job to write full time and that it is “just” a matter of priorities. I love it when people are so simple.

That reminds me. I have bills to pay.

2 Replies to “A Single Pen and a Single Cup of Coffee”

  1. I love this post. Your last sentence says it all. Most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to give up our day jobs to focus on writing. In the UK, the average novelist grosses less than £5,000 a year. And, at the moment, I have my bills and my children’s bills to pay. I have part of E’s attitude. I still have (or at least did have until we moved a year ago today), a broken PS2 from 2004 that I was going to try to repair or use for spares for a PS2 that’s still working. The office is a mess with things I’m hoarding, and things I think I’ll make art with, and work I need to do. My priority is just trying to keep my head above water. Rx