Blank Books and Pencils
In which a lifelong crush is awakened by a present to Isaac.
One of Isaac’s Christmas presents was a blank book that had a little loop to hold a pencil. And it is a special pencil. My whole life I have had a reverent love for blank books. The hardcover ones especially. I had to save them for the absolute perfect words or pictures, and I never had the perfect words or pictures, so I never used the books. The soft-cover moleskines, also an object of great passion–well, I’ve filled so many of them with words it’s like an overgrown field of tall weeds and grasses, with the very occasional wild flower or butterfly, but plenty of ticks and thorns as well.
One small green book, which my brother brought back from a trip to visit his friend in Paris when we were fairly young, I held onto it for ages because it was too perfect and full of possibilities (pictured above, left). Until I met David, and we decided to draw all the birds we’d seen in it, and the date we saw them (as we were falling in love). Which is possibly the most perfect use for a blank book.
And I love a perfect pencil or pen, too. I always have. The actual physical pleasure of writing with a good pen or pencil, the sound it makes, or the way it feels, is occasionally more important than the words it writes or the picture it draws. I was reminded of this story, which I swear is from an interview with Tom Waits, though I can’t find it anywhere on the web (maybe I dreamed it?)
This kid made a drawing, which he worked on for about two hours. And when he got to the very end, you could see him flagging and he sort of trailed off and he said, “And thanks to the pencil.” Oh, gratitude. Isn’t that beautiful? At that age, you’re not thinking about making art. You’re just responding. Where there are no sidewalks and no cops.
Well, I am glad to say that though I have beautiful blank books still sitting and waiting from decades ago, Isaac opened his, brandished his new special pencil, and started drawing.
And here’s another long-time crush, in which Tom Waits turns the beautiful words of a lost stranger into a beautiful song.
BUZZ OFF TO YOU, TOO!