I have to admit, I spend stupid amounts of money on stationary. Fountain pens, mechanical pencils - if its shiny and pretty and cool, I want it. (I can always justify another purchase - sometimes I buy several, so I can give some away.)
So, today I regained the use of my Faber-Castell "Ambition" stainless steel mechanical pencil. The damn thing is too pretty for its own good. It's sleek, it's solid metal (I do like a pencil with some heft in the heat of the writing battle), it's German precision engineering. I'm a sucker for German/Swiss/Austrian(Czech) brands - Rotring, Pelikan, Faber-Castell, Koh-I-Noor, Lamy. Bring them on, I never had a bad experience with any of them (not that I could ever afford a Faber-Castell pen before).
So, yeah. I bought it as a "pick me up" at the pen shop in Heathrow when I flew out to Chicago, and it wasn't THAT expensive. I counted it towards my Christmas presents last year. (Yes, I'm justifying spending a small nation's GDP on what's basically a stupidly pretty mechanical PENCIL).
Anyway, as if to punish me for this act of conspicuous consumption, the bleeding thing broke only after a few months. I didn't actually *do* much to it, I wrote a little with it and otherwise kept it in a leather wallet. Hardly extreme sports in the Sahara fending off a rebel insurgency with just a pen for a weapon to block bullets.
Now what makes that pencil so stylish is that a twist of the cap pushes the mine out. Simple, elegant, genius. Until it breaks. Then the genius design falls flat on its bottom: you can't open the thing, you can't jiggle parts around until they fit and work again.
So I had to hand it in to a specialist pen shop (same chain I bought it from in the first place). They sent it to Germany (I assume changing a small broken spring exceeded any British engineering skills that are left in the country?) - which took eight weeks (they must have shipped it by coughing decrepit donkey mail).
Eight weeks and £10 later (which would have bought me 40 plastic mechanical pencils - enough even for this productive writer to stomach some losses), the pen has returned - that is, I picked it up a few hours ago.
It's sitting right next to me, looking stupidly shiny and elegant again, saying "Trust me. I won't break again. It was probably your own fault anyway. Love me again."
But I feel the shine is off. I don't quite trust it. It's let me down before - it might again. What happens if I'm in the middle of a brilliant sentence and the pen breaks again and I'm losing my train of thought? How can I ever trust you again, Faber-Castell, if I have to keep a 25-cents pencil ready whenever I use the "Ambition" to write a sentence, just in case?