I Need a Black Arm Band

Fresh Ribbon

I’m heartsick. This gorgeous cursive Royal belongs to someone else and I just watched her go. Damn Ebay, and damn my earlier resolve not to buy another typewriter until September.
Why do the best typewriters show up when I’m trying to be good? It would be easy to wish terrible things on the person who bought it, but instead I’m going to sling out what little gypsy abracadabra I have left and hope the new owner finds it too feminine, clunky, unrepairable. I’m scattering a Boredom Curse out, like birdshot.
I’m wafting them with Oh-Dear-I-Guess-I-Should-Just-Resell-This-On-Ebay-After-September-1st vibes.
My vibes used to be unparalleled, but I’m a little rusty now. Wish me luck.
Good Lord.


No Telling

Well, I’ve been on Ebay again. And look what I found…this is a tee-ninsy woman’s address book – just 1 3/4″ by 2 1/2″. It literally fits in the palm of my hand and is so shiny/classy I almost feel like a dimestore starlet. The button beside the letters slides up and down, and when I push the little cigarette case-like button on the bottom the book opens up to just that page. This little address-keeper has no scribbling in it whatsover, and a 1955 calendar on the back of each page. An unwanted gift, maybe, from a beau she didn’t love. Or the one who couldn’t buy her something better.

His name might have been Roger, or Jim, or Richard – nothing dashing enough, really, for her to write in the little book. Maybe the gift was a disappointment, a decision made, not enough. After she left him outside the door, she may have tucked it away in a scarf drawer with the other almost-but-not-quite things from perfectly nice gentlemen who wore the wrong hats or didn’t quite manage to shine their shoes. Another trinket from a fellow working behind a counter instead of a desk.
I’m sure he knew she was too good for him. He knew when she opened the box.
And he was such a nice one, too. Awfully sweet. That’s why she didn’t have the heart to throw it away or fill it up with other men’s addresses. It’s a heavy guilt saying no to a worthy man who falls short in ways you’re ashamed to admit matter. But they did matter.
Oh my.
It’s mine now – the address book and the story. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter – it’s true enough.

Typewriter Glamour or How I’m Staying Off of Ebay This Morning

Fresh Ribbon

Oh, I’ve been rummaging around a bit and find all sorts of glamorous oddities. Some gorgeous, some just plain entertaining. The first of the goodies is this Medieval Helpdesk video, and although it’s subtitled, it’s a scream.

The glamour comes from Elizabeth O’Neil Photography and her old typewriter photos. She’s asking readers to choose a favorite. Couldn’t do it. I just wanted the typewriter.

Typewriter: Relic of Wisdom is a little must-read. It just steels our resolve to, well, spend entirely too much money on old manual typewriters. Sometimes we have to give the whole collecting thing an elegant spin to make it all worthwhile. Tactile nirvana.

Finally, a little thing I almost missed. It’s a vintage childhood typecast and I wish I could get my hands on all the crazy business I typed as a little girl. I doubt ANYTHING I could find would be as plot driven as this little rabbit’s daily schedule.

There. It’s Saturday and I’m in Complete Goof-off Mode. No telling what I’ll find next.

Alabama Girls Do All Right

Fresh Ribbon

Occasionally, I get a little Ebay-happy and bid on a typewriter I’m completely unsure of. The machine usually has a bad picture or a lackluster description. Sometimes I email the seller and get back either useless information or no email at all. This has happened to me three times and every single time I’ve lucked into a prize.

This one is prize number three. I’m always a fraidy-cat when it comes to opening The Box on the Porch when a new typewriter arrives. It’s the moment of truth, especially when the machine inside is a gamble. I paid almost nothing for this Royal Futura 800 – even less than the low shipping cost. Sometimes, though, you’ve got to put it in perspective: I’ve spent more on a dinner out at a mediocre restaurant. I’ve bought earrings more expensive than this. Just cruising past the Estee Lauder counter sets me back twice the cost of the shipping alone.

In the end, it was sent to the wrong address, poorly packed, and the case…well. I spent the better part of an hour just trying to get the rusted latch to open, when it might have been easier just to start ripping the leather away by hand.

But look what was inside. Aside from Tallulah’s obvious beauty, all I had to do was put in a fresh ribbon and start typing. Just like that. I took her to my office the very next day and kept her on my desk as an everyday typer. The color is interesting – something between blush and band-aid, but it has an angelic, effortless touch. Ed at Acme Business Machines said that of all the typewriters I’ve ever brought him, this was his favorite. She’s such a coquette. Just look at her up there, posing in the gardenias.

She’s also a sassy Alabama girl with (literally) untapped ambition. Possibly a graduation gift to a young girl who’d rather marry her high school sweetheart than go to college, and so the gift languished, unused, and stored carefully away. Then uncarefully away as the kids and her life began to fill out. It’s possible this typewriter represented a regrettable decision and finally went to live with the shed spiders. Who knows.

So I named her Tallulah Bankhead, because sometimes good Alabama girls didn’t marry the sweetheart, sometimes they left home and became famous bad girls.

I whined, but I wrote


The two suitors offering to light my cigarette are Frustration and Distraction. You know those boys, and they’re not gentlemen at all. It’s bad enough when one of them comes calling, but I’m being double-teamed.

My personal, sacred scribbling time suffers, and it makes me difficult. Frustration and Distraction are wild-eyed bad-boys and they’ve both simply got to shoo.

I used to have this delightful hour every day when I sat outside – rain, shine, or tornado – and did a little hand-scribbling in a chemistry notebook. I’m one of those fidgety extroverts who can’t write in a closed room alone, so I always wrote outside the student center or at the local coffee shop. Just enough solitude, just enough background murmur, and the perfection of a good notebook.

It wasn’t that I was stoically productive or especially brilliant at those times, that wasn’t really the point. It was a languid, trusted hour without rules and “no smoking within 25 feet of door” signs. It was my hand gripping a perfect pen and gliding over the page with so much to say, to cram into that little hour. It was bad coffee and too many Virginia Slims in places where I never had to create a character because they were sitting all around me. Makes me a little misty just thinking about it.

I’m going to whine now, so pay close attention.

The problem began with the outdoor smoking ban at the coffee shop and student center renovations that cordoned off my Very Perfect Place To Write. These two events happened concurrently, leaving me no choice but to write in my office or at home. Both places lack ever-changing crowds and weather. Both places have a computer, and I suspect the computer is killing me. I really do.

In the time it took to write this far I already checked Ebay, my office email, my personal email, my students’ group blog, the weather for tomorrow, and CNN for the latest on the Michigan primary. Hillary won a one-man (person) race and Huckabee finished third. I’m serious. You know I am because you do this, too.

Frustration and Distraction. There they are. It’s enough to age me beyond my 36 years (thanks for the suggestion, Tim).

I’ve decided that the computer also makes me rewrite as I’m creating – something that doesn’t happen when I’m handwriting. It also makes me all parenthetical and dashy – a terrible, computer-invoked symptom reflecting an inability to concentrate for more than, say, three running seconds. Multitasking is good if you’re trying to clean the house or get ahead at your factory job, but it’s literary murder for those of us who need to write for extended periods just to feel balance.

I ran across a blog the other day that blew me away – Strikethru. Typecasting or papercasting is so delightful that I won’t attempt explanation. I’ll just show you. And then I’ll check my mail and Ebay and go to bed. You really should stop by this site.

Loose Ends


I’m really awfully busy, what with the spring semester starting and reading Jack Cafferty’s It’s Getting Ugly Out There and Ebay and scribbling terrible drafts of Chesaleen and all. It takes more effort than you think to write badly and then go back at it again.

As soon as I get my instructional land-legs back, finish Jack’s book, win that typewriter on Ebay, and do a little more justice to poor Chesaleen, I’ll write about every last bit of it. Especially Jack (note the familiarity), who I’m now a little in love with.

I also have something to say about birthdays and my new decision to lie about them. If you recognized the picture above, then you should probably be lying about your age, too. Those who don’t get it will probably be seeing me in class on Monday.

Found Bits


I’ve got time on my hands and it’s lovely. Nothing like losing an hour or two scanning what’s out there, especially since I never have time unless it’s some break or other. Something more important always needs doing. Even when I’m busy, though, I have no trouble finding the delightful and bizarre online. I’m actually famous for this. Ask my friends. Here are today’s found bits.

I began on Ebay, of course. Nothing kills the hours like looking up bizarre items there. I found a sea green Olivetti typewriter that I neither need nor have a place for. I love my computer. I do. Just the thought of slinging my fingers at typewriter keys again (thequickredfoxthequickredfox) makes me a little edgy. Remember correction paper? Enough said. Just because I’m technologically spoiled now doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a gorgeous, industrial-age typewriter. This one in particular is just sexy.

A few clicks later I stumbled across A Good Blog is Hard to Find. What a delightful gaggle of southern writers! A good blog is hard to find, but this one had me instantly. I’m still pouring over past posts trying to catch up a bit. Another southern writing group blog (grog?) that you must immediately see is The Debutante Ball, a collection of southern writing women whose books are debuting this year. The group changes yearly to let in another crop of freshly publisheds – kind of a literary Junior League.

I howled at Knit1Read2‘s old post about southern hair, and the latest on downtown parades. Naturally, this led to Hair History, and to Hair Archives. All those meticulous vintage do’s – I tell you, I was born too late.

I know it’s a stretch to begin websurfing typewriters in Ebay, take a left at southern writing grogs, and finally end up howling over the definition of Full Gospel Hair. It’s a lovely way to avoid Christmas shopping, though, and I highly recommend it.