Friday, September 25, 2015

On The Ball

That's a phrase which has always bothered me. As a kid I was a daydreamer, a dawdler, and an idealist. On occasions too numerous to mention I was admonished by my dad to "get on the ball", usually in regard to receiving a bad grade or carelessly going over a small tree branch while mowing the lawn. These days, I recall The Cliché when it occurs to me that I'm in slacking mode. That's why I felt it my duty to share that bit of advice recently -to a pen.

Having a Bipolar disorder is often a hassle for melodramatic reasons I'll spare you from (you're welcome), but occasionally a mild form of manic episode (called a "hypomanic episode") leads me to say some pretty impulsive things. And that, of course, draws the kind of attention which makes my socially anxious self want to blend into the wallpaper. One day, amidst a hypomanic episode, I was feeling very productive. I had completed several online grad school information requests and was in the process of taking notes of which schools I had sent those requests to when my pen inexplicably seized.

Now, I'm not exactly sure how to loosen the ball of a ball point pen when it stops turning. For that matter, I'm not exactly certain how, or why, the dumb thing knows how to spin in the first place. Seems to me that it would collapse under the pressure of being applied to the sheet of printer paper you're using to take notes on because your printer stopped working four years ago, mysteriously turning itself on and off between 2:37 and 4:12 AM., and because you actually think it's easier to write down the info than to hit "file" and "print". I am sure of my frustration over having a brand new pen collapsing under the sheer emotional pressure of seemingly having to takes notes. (Or am I projecting?)

I'm even more certain that stage-whispering at one's pen to "get on the ball!" is awkward, especially when others turn to see what the heck is going on, and should we call the rubber truck? "I've never actually seen someone pick a fight with a pen", they seem to muse while gathering their things as quickly and as quietly as possible, lest the big crazy guy with the grubby gray t shirt yells at them to "get on the ball", as though I'd somehow feel prone to chase them out of the county library shouting that command while weaving around SUVs and an occasional Fiat. More to the point (no pun intended), yelling at one's failing ink pen for not getting on the ball is even more awkward, considering. Seriously, not much is more irritating than having a need to make notes only to have a pen freeze up right when you're about to write down an important contact number. It doesn't matter that I had purchased an entire pack of Bics. It had become a matter of principle. I refused to lose a battle of wills to a stubborn punk pen. Digging in, I resolved to bear down on the already-overtaxed writing instrument.

Did you know that you can actually cause a pen to collapse? Specifically, if you really put pressure on one, you can make the tan-colored part "turtle" its way up into the shank. Seems to me that they'd be designed not to be susceptible to hypomanic note-takers. The paper was furrowed, literally, by the bottom of the shank, leaving a telltale blue line of ink on the table underneath, and where the now-displaced, furrowed paper used to be.

All was not lost; I managed to control my temper, successfully resisting the rather powerful temptation to further my wrath by yelling at public furniture. I took stock of my victory, and was thankful for it.

I was on the ball.


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