by Elizabeth G. Howard
I had really just one thing on my Christmas list this year that I REALLY wanted, and this is it: a wall-mountable pencil sharpener.
I don't have to tell most of you who are over the age of 30 what the nostalgia factor of this item is. You can instantly remember the scent of pencil shavings and hear in your memory the familiar grinding noise, the one you made as you cranked away at the wall-mounted sharpener in your third-grade classroom.
At my school, it was the one place in the whole school you could go without asking permission. Mrs. Bacchus (yes, that was her real name... amazing the awareness of names you achieve when you are grown up. My first-grade teacher was Mrs. Lemming) would eyeball you as you got up, so you'd have to give body signals to ensure she knew just where you were headed-- and not, apparently, to escape out the door to pull the fire alarm.
The Forest for the Trees
But for me, it was more than the nostalgia. I love to write anything anywhere, not just virtually. And as I progressed through My Office Life, I noticed that pens were all disposable, as were even the pencils, in their clicky-plastic casing. The only time you ever came across a real PENCIL, made of wood, was at trade shows, where they were given as quirky gifts that were merely there to carry around a logo. To use them, you had to cram their heads into sad, whirring electronic sharpeners that inevitably lived on that one secretary's desk that you didn't much like to talk to anyway.
What We Are Made Of
So it was these two things that pushed me to edge of desire this season of receiving. Colin was renovating a room and needed a pencil to mark the boards he was cutting. I discovered we had just one busted out pencil in our house. The eraser was gone, and its lead was warn to the nub, unusable without a sharpener. Colin had to use a pen to mark the boards, a pure travesty in my mind.
My Dad always has had a wall-mounted pencil sharpener in his shop and he used it as frequently as his children did as they worked on their math homework. He reminded us that we all make mistakes, and we have the tools to fix them.
So now I have my Boston X-Acto Wall/Table-Mountable Pencil Sharpener KS, Model 1041. It is made in China and I can see that it isn't as sturdy as the ones I used a a kid. But I was happy to receive it shipped in a box with almost all paper packaging. The simplicity of my sharpener reminds me of my own strengths, of the energy I have to give to things, and all the extra crap we don't need.
I think it makes me more human, and I like that.