updating the pen post

You might remember this one from the very first post on this blog:

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A few months later, here are my pens and their brand-new case.

IMG_20170426_185720I’ve made some changes to the actual pens I’m carrying around — and of course it’s a different case I’m carrying them around in, made necessary by acquiring a smaller purse to schlep my things around in.

And while the new case seems more diminutive, there’s actually enough room in it to carry my blank index cards and, funnily enough, a pair of scissors in case I should need to snip something in a hurry.

The orange seems a little out of character for me, doesn’t it? Well I have to admit I’m starting to fail at looking for dark-colored things in the dark-colored interiors of some of my bags. Hence something that’s very high-visibility.

I hope to add a new pen to my arsenal this year, since there’s a lovely Lamy limited edition coming to my shores this summer.

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just something I’m happy to keep showing off

And also, sort of a goals thing, because there are one or two really lovely blue inks I want to buy this year and so I hope to put them to use on the pages of my current journal, soon.

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In photo: three fountain pens on a page of the journal in this Instagram post. Above the three pens is the line “meet the pens!” written three times, to correspond with the various nib sizes of the three pens. The fountain pen at the top is a fine or extra fine Manuscript with its own proprietary ink cartridge, while the two lower pens are both Lamys using converters.

back from another world…

…and I wish I were exaggerating, but really: I’ve just come back from my first trip to Singapore and it really is like coming back from another planet, or another reality, entirely.

Some impressions:

1 – The public transportation system. I will single out the public buses and the MRT in this case, as they were two of the three main means of transportation that we (meaning my family and I, who had gone en masse to Singapore) used to get from place to place. (The third means was Uber, so that doesn’t really count as public transportation.) The buses were universally comfortable whether one was sitting down or standing up, and they really were convenient as a means of getting to one place or another, and it was pretty cool to watch them navigate the twisting roads and slopes.

The MRT gets its own paragraph because — well, we’ll never get anything like that in the Philippines. Not in the next fifty years anyway. Efficient trains, safe platforms, announcements in multiple languages, and the sheer cool factor of the fact that you could watch all the cabins ahead of you “dance” on the winding tracks — it’s like a great show, at least for an absolute newcomer like me. Add in the fact that people had no problems with connecting to the Internet and making or receiving phone calls, plus the whole idea of the stations being designed to double as bomb shelters: wow. All of it. Just amazing.

I’m sure that had I had a longer stay I would have noticed things to dislike about the buses, or run into a delay in terms of the trains, or something. But I guess the double mystique of being a first-time visitor plus the good luck of having mostly good weather made things much easier, and contributed a lot to my ongoing case of starry eyes.

2 – Food! Shopping! Books! Let’s see: I made it to the Chinatown hawker center for a steaming bowl of bak kut teh, then ate mango pudding. My brother took us to a fancy restaurant for a grand meal of fish and seafood. (Oh my god, best fish and chips ever. Fish and chips.) The first meal I ate in Singapore was an airport snack of kaya toast and milk tea and I was in raptures because whenever I order a hot milk tea here in the Philippines, there always seems to be some kind of metallic taste to go with the tea? It’s rather off-putting. But the milk tea in Singapore: it was lovely, there was no metallic taste, and it was just the right kind of sweet (meaning, not too much sugar).

Before flying off my mom had been encouraging me to save part of my shopping budget for clothes and — I’m glad I listened to her. I bought frocks! And I haven’t worn those in years! Normally I’m a trousers kind of girl, and I still dream of buying a suit some day, but now I have casual frocks to wear for when I’m out and about. They fit me and they’re really easy to care for, but importantly, they’re easy to go walkabout in. I wished I could have bought shoes, too, but problem one: small feet and problem two: I didn’t find the styles I liked.

I still bought books anyway, especially since they were books that I was not likely going to find back here in the Philippines: I got The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley, and The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman. I’m on a total nonfiction kick these days, don’t ask me why, but I feel that I need to read those books and so: I got them.

Oh, and I bought the fountain pen I’ve been looking for everywhere! I picked up a Lamy Vista with a broad nib. The body of the pen is made of clear plastic so you can see the inner workings of the whole thing. Fountain pen makers have been manufacturing demonstrator pens for many years and this was the last thing I wanted on my fountain pen list. I am a happy collector, and I will not be buying any pens for a while. (Now inks, well, that might be another matter entirely.)

3 – I actually had a reason to be in Singapore, and that was to celebrate the first birthday of my niece. My adorable niece who loves to blow raspberries at everyone and who is just itching to be able to walk on her own. My adorable niece who will probably warble along with lots of both English and Filipino nursery rhymes when she starts speaking. My niece! I have a one-year-old niece! I am such a proud auntie I can’t even.

4 – Brief as my Singapore trip was, it allowed me to touch base with two friends. One I’d only ever interacted with online: she’s a fandom friend and we’ve even collaborated on a couple of things — and on this trip, she whisked me off to Books Kinokuniya for the abovementioned books and fountain pen. I was glad to be able to demonstrate my fountain pens for her, incidentally.

The other friend I was able to see was someone dear to me from high school. He was more or less the first friend I made on the first day of HS freshman year. We’d had a brief run-in back here in the Philippines when he unfortunately had to come to town for the death of his father, but we promised each other we’d have time to spend together in Singapore. He was literally the last person I saw in Singapore, aside from my family, and he took the photograph of me that appears at the end of this post.

Do I want to go back to Singapore? Of course! There’s so much I haven’t seen yet!

Do I want to keep traveling? Yes! I want to go back to Hong Kong, the only other city I’ve ever visited, just to see what’s what. I want to go to Kyoto. I even dream about going to Barcelona, and setting foot in the one church in the world that I actually want to visit. (Yes, here I go again with my obsession with the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.)

Reasons to keep living. (She said, smiling.)

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On Haji Lane in Kampong Glam, in the heart of the Muslim quarter in Singapore. That famous mosque in the background is, of course, Masjid Sultan.

If the pen were truly mightier than the sword….

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…do I have an arsenal or just a piddling handful of rusty weapons?

When I was in high school, my dad enlisted me to help a Korean maker of pen and paper products break into the local market. I attended a focus group discussion with a few other young people, and we talked about using gel pens, which were still somewhat new in terms of pen technology at the time.

Maybe that’s where my attitude towards pens with excessively fine points / nibs comes from, because, yeah, tiny handwriting looks pretty great with fine points, but I have never mastered that skill. So I’m not a big fan. I like my ball-point pens to lay down thick lines, thanks.

After they were successfully introduced into the Philippine market, colorful gel-ink pens became very popular at schools, for art projects, and even in offices where they could be used to organize notes and lists and similar things.

(Not even my mom is immune to the lure of colorful gel pens.)

As for the fountain pen thing…I guess I’ll just wind up blaming a combination of Wikipedia and my friends? All I know is, I wound up asking for a calligraphy pen for Christmas one year, and then after that, I felt like I’d started falling down that endless rabbit hole.

You can see my pens in the photo above. When I noticed that I had two or three fountain pens to carry around I decided to buy something more proper to place them in. The flat case I have is for paintbrushes and art supplies, but — hey, my pens fit in the slots, and it didn’t cost much, so win-win.

I favor medium to broad nibs in my fountain pens, which are on the left side in the photo. Like I said, I like pens that lay thicker lines. Even the gel pens on the right side in the photo have fairly thick points. I like their sparkly inks.

The leftmost pen in the photo is a Japanese fountain pen. Apparently people in Japan favor pens with very fine points or nibs, and that’s partly because of the paper that they write on, but primarily because of their various alphabets. I bought that one on a lark, and actually like the color of the ink. I might convert it into an eyedropper pen in the future.

One thing I’ve noticed is that I probably have very weird penmanship. I’m left-handed, but I have never used fountain pen nibs that are specially made for left-handers. But my pens write well in my hands, except for the occasional skip and scratch. I do have to deal with the traditional ink-stains on the side of my hand, though.

(Maybe I should try to write something down, and then take a picture of it and post it here, and then you’ll see what my handwriting looks like. That’s an idea for the future. I’ll put a pin in it.)

Yes, I’m planning to buy a fountain pen when I go to Singapore. I can’t pass up on the chance.

Why are fountain pens sorta pricey in my part of the world, I gotta ask….