a nerve

Last night, I was tucked into bed with my new book, had my lamp on and my alarm clock set. My teeth were brushed and I had had my bathroom break and drink of water. I was calming down for the night when it happened.

An unsuspecting Brent walked in our room and tossed his book and a pen on the bed while he changed. I glanced over and noticed it was not just any pen: it was my "bible pen." It was my pen specifically and intentionally left in the spine of my bible for use when necessary (there is nothing quite like not having a pen when you need it). It did not take long between realizing it was my bible pen and Mt. Vesuvius erupting.

What? You may be asking. Well, at this point, I too, realize I have a problem, and that Brent had hit a nerve I didn't necessarily know I had.


Kelsey: Umm...are you kidding me? Is this the pen you're using?
Brent: uh, yeah. ???
Kelsey: I don't think so. This is the pen thAT BELONGS IN MY BIBLE!! (volume increasing) Did you take this FROM MY BIBLE?!
Brent: I guess so.
Kelsey: Well that's just PERFECT! ANOTHER pen of mine...GONE! I noticed last night you were using one of my black papermates... I had three of these in my classroom at the beginning of the year and now ALL OF THEM are MISSING!
Brent: [disbelieving laughter....] umm...[laughter]...what is happening right now? [laughter] Are you being for real?
Kelsey: YES I'm being "for real." My pens ALWAYS disappear and that pen better make it back in my bible IMMEDIATELY after you use it. And...... [thought processing begins..... ] WOAH! What just happened?
Brent: You just kind of freaked out on me about PENS!

So I had to process, and then explain to Brent my problem that, in that very moment, I realized I had.

As a teacher I cannot hold onto any writing utensils. Somehow they become public property. I intentionally have a canister of pencils on my desk: FREE PENCILS! TAKE A PENCIL!! EAT A PENCIL! LOSE A PENCIL!! Whatever... just so they don't take MY writing utensils. However, this doesn't seem to work. Somehow a student mistakes, "You can borrow/take a PENCIL from the SILVER CANISTER on the EDGE OF MY DESK," and translates that to, "Take ANYTHING you see in that GENERAL VICINITY that will serve your purpose and, please, take it! It's all yours!"

Now, I typically keep my very favorite pens in a drawer. Inevitably though, I will eventually need to USE these pens, and will carry them about the room as I happily attend to my little kleptomaniacal students and accidentally leave my prized possession on a desk. You would think my angelic thieves would bound up to my desk, pen in hand, and present me with my utensil. I would then embrace them, strike up the band, and pass out candy. This does not happen though; I think they eat them. Or participate in, horror of all horrors, another favorite middle school past time: tearing apart pens and watching them explode all over forefingers, jeans, shirts, and yesterday's incomplete homework. I think it is a ploy to be excused to the bathroom...so now when such deviant behavior occurs and the "May I use the restroom?" question is presented and I say, "no" and they begin their rebuttal, "But, you see, my pen expl...." I swiftly hand them a wet wipe and ask them to return to their seat. Maybe I have seen a pen's life end to early in this cruel manner one too many times. Maybe I'm cold hearted. Maybe I'm a little of both.

My pens also seem to disappear at staff meetings; we are asked to sign the sign-in sheet and the math teacher forgot her pen and asks to borrow mine and, before I know, it is whisked away by the art teacher, then the science teacher...into oblivion.

Sometimes, though I must admit very rarely, losing a pen is not so bad. When the lost pen is a pilot gel pen, or a bic, such pens that cause scratchy and uneven writing, my heart does not break. But when that pen is a purple papermate (or any colored papermate for that matter- see C & E for perfection), or uniball jetstream (which can apparently prevent check fraud because the ink cannot be removed), then it is an extreme loss and I throw ashes on my head and tear my clothing in lamentations.

There is just something about a pen that writes smoothly; a pen that doesn't blot the page or grab the paper; a pen that merely teams up with your hand and says, "Kelsey, don't work so hard. I will meet you half way. I will make your writing look just a bit neater than it actually is. I will pass on good tidings of great joy via ink."

I try to keep pens close. I try to be a good owner of such important possessions. Sometimes though, a pen's lifespan is out of my control. I know they are not that expensive and that I could just grab another pack... but now that this fear has grown inside me to the point of near insanity and leads to mild insomnia, I don't feel comfortable investing in and promising a new pack of purple papermates a long, lasting, and fulfilled life. I just can't promise this anymore. My lifestyle won't allow it. So I am left to scavenging. After the 3:30 bell rings I roam the deserted halls, picking up scattered pens with missing lids and half filled ink cartridges. These will do. But it will not evoke the emotions my previous counterparts were able to evoke.

Alas, this is the life of a teacher.

After trying to explain this logic to Brent, we laughed, and he put my bible pen back in its place.

So if you're ever in my neck of the woods and you ask to borrow a pen, please be warned. My mood may swiftly change if I see you place the beautiful utensil inside your purse.


Anonymous said...

wow ... i don't even know what to say to that!

Anonymous said...

I can vouch for the fact that you have always been a bit anal about pens (very few of your Christmases and birthdays have not included at least several new pens!) but it didn't seem quite so strange because of the fact that I have lived with your father for all these years and he has a similar tendency! But you really have lost it my dear. Kudos to Brent for handling you (and your drama) perfectly! Still love ya! ~Mom

bridger said...

Pencils are very important to have in music class and I grew more and more upset that kids never had them. I would give each student a pencil to keep in their music folder and then two weeks later they were gone, used for other classes and lost. I actually bought some very ugly pencils, put velcro on them and the music stands and instructed the students that they are not to be put down anywhere except the velcro patch on the stands. They began to show up in other classes. I announced at a teachers' meeting that if anyone saw a pencil with purple polka dots and a velcro patch on it, that it is to be returned to me preferrably with the name of the person who was in posession of it. A silence followed in the meeting and the principal smiled at me, sighed and said quietly, "It's Ok, we all have something that get's to us." and then went on with the meeting. I share the same words of wisdom and consolation with you Kelsey. "It's OK." :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, so funny Kelsey, it happens in every work world no matter how hard you try - even putting your name on it. You crack me up!


Kali said...

I agree with Mom - Brent knows exactly how to handle your drama :)

Elizabeth said...

"or uniball jetstream (which can apparently prevent check fraud because the ink cannot be removed), then it is an extreme loss and I throw ashes on my head and tear my clothing in lamentations."

ah yes, the uniball jetstream. God's most perfect pen.
i love the dramatization of sorrow that you endure through the pen losing process. 'tear my clothing in lamentations.' ha!

Micah Wolf said...

Hilarious!!! And well written. (and I completely understand, yesterday at the course we were passing a sheet around and no one in my row had a pen except me so I passed it down and quickly said, don't pass the pen pass this row...my boss gave me this strange look) ;)

Anonymous said...

do what I do I put my name from an address label on my favorite pens. I leave them here and there at work and this seems to help aunt mary

Sue said...

Oh Kelsey, I COMPLETELY empathize with you. In my classroon it has gotten to the point now that students may borrow pens or pencils with one condition... They must give me a shoe or a wallet or some other prized possession to hold as ransom. I find that often students will start out the door (with my stuff) only to suddenly realize, "Oh, I am missing something" and they come back in and exchange the pen/pencil/ruler/calculator (insert any of MY stuff here) for those items I have held ransom. I have been doing this for the last 3 years with excellent results. Maybe you should think about a similar plan? (I know some teacher friends from bigger schools in Florida and North Carolina have ID cards the kids have to trade in and it seems to work for them as well. Shoes can get stinky :( Let me know if you find something that works for you!
However, having said all that I must say I am glad your marriage with Brent was not irreparably harmed