A gift of a secret journal

My new coach, Sharon Lerman, made a suggestion to me at our last session. She told me what her husband, David, had done for his daughters when they were young, and suggested I do the same.

David kept a secret journal for each of his daughters. It was filled with stories of all the times when the girls had done well, when they had excelled, or done the right thing, or had a lot of fun, or whatever it was that was notable and positive. He didn’t write about his fears, or concerns, or the troubles they had with each other. Only the good stuff. The purpose wasn’t to instill wisdom or serve as a parenting guide but to let each daughter feel precious.

He started when they were very young. He used hardbound notebooks he bought at hand when at a bookstore – nothing special. He wrote with a ballpoint; whatever pen was at hand. Months might go by without an entry, but in bed before going to sleep he would write to them in their journals.

As each daughter graduated from 8th grade or so, he met with them privately to give them their journal. As each daughter started high school, he started a new journal for them. As pretty typical 8th graders and high school students, his daughter’s first reaction upon receiving the journals was pretty offhand. In fact they didn’t really even read them until they were in their twenties.

But in October of 2012, David succumbed to cancer. You can read his obituary here, along with a nice quote from one of the journals. His daughter’s reaction to receiving the journals may have been offhand at the time, but now there are few things they treasure as much as those journals.

When Sharon first made the suggestion it hit my ears like another chore, but I realized what a good idea it is. My own mother died of cancer in 2001, and I know how much I would value her words now. When I think about the effort david had made, and the impact of its value on his girls I get choked up. As adults we have plenty of resources to help us find our faults. What we need more of are reminders of why people love us. Why wouldn’t I give that to my girls?

I’ve ordered 3 journals for the girls. My oldest will be 8 fairly soon, and I wish I had started sooner, but better late than never.

[UPDATE] I decided to make one change – the girls are always bugging me to tell them stories from my childhood, so I think I will try to include some entries about my early life. Now I just wish the vendor I ordered the journals from would actually ship them. Too Slow!

Trying Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts

I’ve slipped back into fountain pens. I’m sure that writing letters was the cause because it doesn’t feel right to use a ballpoint to write a letter. Not only have I gone back to fountain pens but I’m favoring permanent inks. Since no switch in pen habits shall go without a celebratory purchase of some kind, I ordered some ink.

My ideal color would be a dark blue. Really dark blue. In most light it would seem near black, but upon closer inspection it would clearly be blue. Private Reserve Midnight Blues was pretty close, and I used nearly half a bottle of the stuff during my last fountain pen phase. Nice color, but not in any way permanent.

Enter Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts. It’s a blue-black that is permanent. I knew it wasn’t going to be my ideal color, but I wanted something that wasn’t black, and My simple tests with running water and finger-rubbing confirmed this. I bought it because if I can’t find a nice dark blue, at least I can find something that’s blueish and dark.

The color is a blueish gray. My first reaction was that it was lighter than I would like, and not all that blueish to me. It’s more blue when it goes down than after drying. The name doesn’t really suggest a color, so it’s hard to argue that it’s been misrepresented, but I had something darker in mind.

However, in most light (this time of year) it is dark when on a page by itself. Sitting next to black it seems much lighter, but that’s not really a fair comparison.

As an alternative to black and being permanent, it’s a nice color. While it’s not my ideal color, it is a very fountain pen color. It’s a color that is not going to come out of any pen you find at a store with “office” in the name, or anywhere that 99.9% of the population does it’s shopping. The color makes me think of the movie “Hindenburg” – don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean it’s a failure – the 1930’s feel to it. I know, it’s named for a civil war military unit and there’s quite a substantial history behind the name, but to me it makes me think of dirigibles.

I’m not a very picky person when it comes to the performance of inks. I don’t get into shading much, and nib creep doesn’t bother me either. This ink seems well behaved in that it doesn’t do anything that bothers me. It works about the same as Noodler’s black.

It also has a distinctive odor. Not bad, just unusual.

So, while I didn’t achieve the color I was after I don’t find myself in a hurry to flush it out of the pen. It’s growing on me.