It's almost V-Day, so get your plastic out and start buying. Since I waste a little bit of time each and every day on Ebay, I thought I'd share a few Valentine-specific goodies, like this Olivetti Valentine typewriter, circa 1969. If you don't plan on spending at least $250 (that's the bid right now), there's another one coming up in a few days. These things have fast become groovy collector's items, and it's obvious why. If you sit behind this typewriter very, very quietly, you can almost hear "spill the wine, dig that girl" coming right out from under the hood.
Since both Olivettis will probably go for more than most of us want to spend, you can always feed the typewriter fetish with this vintage Royal Quiet Deluxe. I realize that "quiet" means something different to laptop users, but these are nifty little machines. This one has a little over a day left and is a tad over $40 right now. Theres a pricier one coming up later, so if you want to prove your love a little more cheaply, now is the time. I love the paper holding "ears"- kind of like the antennae on that portable television Mom used to put on a TV tray. You remember, back before cable.
Every writer needs another journal. It's the pure intoxication of a virgin page, and no matter how many we already have it never hurts to have just one more. I'm a Moleskine and Chemistry Notebook gal myself, but some of the leather journals are just too delicious to pass up. This Fiorentina journal is crafted, not made. I sigh at such beauty, and I'm perfectly convinced I'd write better in one. Especially with a fountain pen.
I know better than that. As entrancing as those beautiful and expensive fountain pens are, I just can't stand to write with one. I know there are rabid collectors out there who'll tell me I just haven't bought the right pen. Save your strength. Nothing writes like a $1.97 Uniball Signo 207. Nothing.
If you really want to impress on Valentine's Day, you buy an obscenely large diamond. That's easy. If you want to impress a writer, find a little ditty like this. It's a writing box and every writer should have one. This folk art lap desk is more than just a writing surface - it's a hidey-hole place to stash extra typing paper, Uniball 207s, and that Fiorentina journal. Keep in mind that if you don't particularly like this one, Ebay has about fifty others for sale at any given moment. If you don't buy it for the writer you love or who loves you, then for God's sake send it to me.
I’m trying to finish A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder by Abrahamson and Freedman. I really am. I started off great-guns. The first couple of chapters were insightful, funny, and inspiring for a gal like me. I’m not a mess, just make a lot of piles and have two too many junk drawers. Well okay, three. The peppy beginning makes a connection with folks like me who can’t stand filth, but don’t see the inherent comfort in ritual cleaning/organization for its own sake. Such things, according to the book, take more time than they save, and if the object of organization is time-saving, well…there’s really no point. Not to mention the armies of organization specialists eager to pick your pockets and hand the cash over to The Container Store.
An entire generation of women brought up on those “How to Catch a Fella and Throw the Perfect Dinner Party” books are gasping for air right now. It’s okay, ladies. Loosen your pearls a notch and take a deep breath, because some things were forever altered when women jumped into the workforce for careers instead of jobs. A great many Women Of a Certain Age figured out - quickly – that they’d rather be judged by their resumes than by the spots on their glasses. And we’re all wearing bras now, thank you.
Any younger gals reading this are perplexed. I love those Gen-X and Gen-Y girls because they have no idea what I’m talking about and that, my friends, is a delightful sign of progress.
Back to the book I can’t finish. After the charming introduction and first couple of chapters, the whole thing begins to read like someone else - a historian with a cramped windowless office, perhaps - took over the helm. I’ll admit my lit degrees have given me low tolerance for nonfiction. I’ve devoured 18th century epistolary novels that weighed in like bibles, but it takes a special writer to carry off 310 pages of information without losing me entirely. I’m trying, though, because here and there are sparkling bits of usable information. Einstein, for example, was a daily disaster and look how proud he made his mama. I get it, there’s just no poetry in it whatsoever. Give me a sentence I can cling to, gentlemen.
It’s like handing a starving woman a Ding Dong when what she really needs is veal piccata.
Don’t worry, Abrahamson and Freedman. I’m going to finish your book because although I was advised to skim it, my Inner Reader won’t let me do it. I might miss something good and I’d never forgive myself. Besides, whoever wrote the first couple of chapters might just reappear in the end to finish up what they started and resuscitate the whole thing. It could happen.