Trina MachacekI do not remember ever being without a cup full of pens and pencils.  There are writing instruments in every room of our house, in all the nooks and crannies of our vehicles, in the garage, storage sheds.  Usually paper too, but if not, there is always your hand to write on.  It is better to write on your hand with a pen instead of a pencil.  Every try to write a phone number on your hand with a pencil.  Can’t be done.  In those instances you need to write on your sleeve or pants or yes even your shoe.  (If you are still able to bend into a stance that brings your shoe up to your pencil.)  But the optimum is to have pen or pencil and paper at finger tips when needed.

Let me provide you with a few words about the ever overflowing cups of pens and pencils.  I cannot imagine how many times I have gotten the snapping of fingers or crazy waving of a hand to get a pencil and paper to my other half while he is on the phone. The supposition is that there is an urgent need.  It is like if I dally to long getting the pen and paper to him a bomb will go BOOM. You too?  I’m sure I have done the snap/wave too, but not nearly as many times… Let’s move on.

The retrieval of the right writing stick is a crap shoot.  If there are twenty pens in a cup chances are six of them will not write.  Of the fourteen left eight are pencils and three of those will be to short or to dull to write clearly and two will have broken lead.  And all eight have erasers either too dry to erase, chewed off or erased down to the nub.  So, if you are keeping track, you now have a one in six chance to grab a first time every time writer.

But wait, what else do I spy hiding in the cup?  Ah there is a marker, black, medium tip.  I use it to mark the date on things I put in the freezer.  I do this because I don’t want things to get too old before I use them up.  Then why do I still have the flowers from our wedding cake that my mom so carefully put into a Styrofoam to go box some 38 plus years ago? But they are marked, 1976.  So that is why the marker is in the cup. I was amazed to find I was not the only bride that kept the flowers from the cake. But I have yet to find someone else who has a wrapped up frozen raccoon pelt. That is another story.  Come on, “What’s in your freezer?”

Alongside the marker is a highlighter, dried up of course.  Does anyone ever pick up a highlighter that is not dried up? They should be labeled one time use only.  That would save us all a lot of aggravation. Now if you are still keeping track, (and why are you?), the chances of coming up with a writin’ stick that will get the job done the first time are akin to owing the horse that will win the triple crown.  Or as I said before, a crap shoot.

So every once in a while we do the clean out of our cup-o-pens.  This usually happens when someone gets frustrated at dipping into the cup for the fourth or fifth time and coming up dry, or broken. Get it? Dry pen, broken pencil… Just a bit of irony.

Inevitably the clean out involves a lighter, pencil sharpener, paper and trash bag.  After trying a pen and finding it does not write you of course warm the end with fire!  Carefully as to not melt the end and end up with ink, from a supposedly out of ink pen, on your counter, hands, clothes—you get the idea.  When the pen is found to magically write after the warming, it is put in the okay pile.  Step by step each instrument is checked evaluated and either tossed or kept.  This project, I might add, usually happens in the kitchen when dinner is trying to be made.

In the end all is right with the world.  Pens are in shape to use to write the note about needing cookies at the store. Pencils are sharp enough to put out your eye do so not run with pencils—or scissors.  But really, where in the world did all the stuff in the bottom of the cup come from?  Paper clips, a small ball bearing, a jack, two pennies a woolly booger for fly fishing… Life, it’s a keeper.


Trina Machacek lives in Eureka, Nevada.  Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle.  Share your thoughts and opinions with her at