Posts Tagged ‘pens’

Sharpie Pen (original) Review

For most of my writing, I use Sharpie pens,┬áthe original kind, black ink, and I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with them. My writing is always smooth, and doesn’t smear. I write in cursive, and my handwriting is small (to give you an idea, capitol letters don’t touch the top of the line when I write on Moleskine-ruled squared paper), which makes this fine point really nice–with wider points, my letters run together and become rather illegible.

In Moleskine notebooks, which I’ll use as a standard since most pen and paper aficionados are familiar with them, the ink shows through to the other side of the page, but almost never bleeds through to the next page. The show-through could be written over on the backside of the page, for those less picky than I, but when using these with Moleskines, I only write on one side of the paper.

My biggest problem with these pens is the grip, or lack thereof. There’s a hard edge that my finger hits if it gets too close to the end of the pen. Depending on how you hold a pen, if your hand lands higher up, you might not experience any difficulties (my mother has no problem writing with these pens), but I often hold a pen very close to the point, and it can be uncomfortable to re-adjust my grip whenever the edge digs into my finger. Sharpie has addressed these problems with two of its newer products, the Sharpie Pen Retractable, and Sharpie Pen Grip. I have yet to get the chance to try those, but I think I’d really like them. I’d also like to try Sharpie pens in different color inks, but, again, haven’t yet had the chance.

Sharpie pens of all kinds are available anywhere you buy office supplies.

Writing Supplies in Germany and the USA

I’m American, but I go to school in Germany, and I’ve noticed a few differences in writing supplies between the two countries.

All through high school, I wrote my class notes in cheap spiral notebooks from Target, you know the type, with college-ruled paper. I didn’t bring any with me to Germany, because I figured, cheap notebooks must be available everywhere! And, sure, they are. But not college ruled. I found only two kinds of notebooks at Marktkauf, the German equivalent of a Wal-Mart or Target: ┬álined notebooks with paper closer to what we call wide-ruled, and notebooks with squared paper. Nothing college-ruled in sight! I chose squared paper, because I have small handwriting, and I have to say, I now actually prefer to write on squared paper. The lines are more my size than even college-ruled paper.

After some discussion with a German friend, we figured out a theory as to why college-ruled paper doesn’t exist in Germany: students are taught to write with fountain pens. I had never in my life used a fountain pen; in America, there are artsy, old-fashioned, or elite people who might use them, but we use cheap ballpoint pens, or pens with gel inks or whatever (or pencils, but I’ll get to that in a minute), not fountain pens. The vast majority of Americans (myself included at that point) would have no idea how to use a fountain pen, but for a German student, it’s normal. They all have correcting ink for when they make a mistake with fountain pens, too! To my German friend, it was unthinkable that one would turn in any sort of official assignment written with the kind of pen that comes in a package of twenty for less than three dollars at any discount store–or, God forbid, written in pencil!

They even write math in ink, and when I did find some pencils at a stationary store in Germany (a chain called McPaper, for some reason), none had erasers. None. Okay, maybe one over on the end, but 99% did not have erasers. In America, fancy artist pencils may not have erasers, but those that the average person writes down grocery lists or scribbles calculations with certainly do! Again, I turned to my German friend, who said : “Why would those pencils have erasers? Pencils with erasers are for children.” Which, in my opinion, is a really interesting statement. It says that in the German mindset, they can’t admit to the fact that they might make mistakes and have to correct something. They do have erasers, separate from the pencils, but those are not so readily available: those do not have the reminder that one might make a mistake staring you in the face as you write. I guess. Apparently, admitting that we’re all human and make mistakes is not the German thing to do.

I still don’t know why squared paper is a normal writing paper in Germany, though. I guess because schoolchildren use it a lot, definitely because it’s easier to do math on, and possibly the teaching of handwriting is made easier on squared paper, the same way we use paper with a dotted line between every two solid lines to teach handwriting in the States.

It’s interesting–something I always thought was universal, stationary, turned out to be far from that!