On the corner of my desk sits a coffee mug with a variety of writing utensils, a pair of scissors, various paper clips, an x-acto knife, and a glitter wand. If you are ADHD you will pick up my glitter wand and play with it, but it isn’t that great. I have a fetish with knives and cutting utensils, but I am not going to write about those things. My large banker’s clips are very useful. If you are a teacher, I suggest you purchase some, but they aren’t that important to me. I am not a coffee drinker and probably never will be one. However, my coffee mug is dear to me, because it is the guardian and protector of my Dixon Ticonderoga pencils.
When I taught school, I was privileged enough to spend my days and weeks with hyper active, over caffeinated, hormone driven middle school students. Yes my students were lucky to have me as well. The most overly dramatic years of a student’s life… and they had me, the obsessive organizer and math teacher. Everything in my class was color coded or classified into multiple different categories. If it could not be classified and organized, it was not found in my classroom. I had two types of pencils, public pencils – anything found on the floor, left after class or purchased at Dollar General, and private pencils – my Dixon Ticonderoga. Those were for my use only.
If I saw a student using one of my pencils I would chop off their germ covered hand. I once received an email from a parent asking where to purchase these wonderful yellow and green pencils with the excellent pink erasers. It wasn’t long after that I noticed many students using the best pencil in the world to do their homework. Some kids didn’t use them for their homework citing that they were only for geeks. I told them that was most likely true, but the kids they called geeks in middle school would later become their bosses. The geeks shall inherit the earth!
I was greatly depressed my first fall after leaving the classroom. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t have an electric pencil sharper and a cup full of pencils on my desk. Forget about molding the minds of American’s youth. I missed my pencils. I drove to Staples on a rainy October day and purchased two dozen Dixon Ticonderogas, model number 1388-2/HB. I sharpened the first box as soon as I arrived back at my desk. I don’t think I have been without a Dixon since that faithful day.
I have a diverse collection of pencils and they all have two things in common. They are all number 2 pencils and are Dixons. I have the “Tri-Write” which has a triangle wood casing and is very comfy, “My First Ticonderoga” which is oversized for small hands and the original hexagonal pencil. I even have five electric pencil sharpeners. One sharpener is battery powered for travel and journaling in foreign countries. My favorite sharpener has ten setting for different diameters of pencils.
There are not many days you will find me without a pencil tucked behind my ear. During the summer, staff members can judge how well the day is going if I have one or two tucked behind my ear. There once was a day so bad I had three jammed behind my ears, two on one side and one on the other. Last spring in a trendy Boston bar I was told I was too cool to have a pencil behind my ear. I told him the geeks shall inherit the earth. There was another time I had to explain to an astronaut over dinner what made a Dixon Ticonderoga so special. But pencils are handy to have around and I think that is why God gave us ears, to tuck pencils behind them.
I am so passionate about my Dixon Ticonderogas that I use them in a presentation each spring during counselor training. Most of the staff knows me as the pencil lady from that point forward. I have converted many staff members to writing with Dixons. Some people know more about pencils than they do about the dress code at Space Camp. They simply didn’t know how great the pencils are. There has been some staff known to break into my office and grind down the pencils to little nubs of wood. That is just mean to me and the pencils. It is a waste of good graphite.
I have read many blogs and web articles proclaiming the greatness of the Dixon Ticonderoga. I have been a disciple of the companies’ products. But it is not just because they look cool in my coffee mug. The pencils remind me of growing up in Mississippi. My mom would force me to sharpen my pencil when dull. So I learned that a Ticonderoga would hold a point longer. To irritate mom I would go weeks without sharpening it. I hated to study for spelling tests, and I was forced to write my spelling words twice as many times required by my teachers. Each week my trusty Dixon Ticonderoga would aid me in my studies.
My senior year of high school I used one Ticonderoga for my advanced math class work. From day one till graduation it was my companion. It was short and eraser less. Classmates asked me why the same pencil. I answered, “It knows all the correct answers.” It should have at least, because it had practiced every problem for home work. Some called me a geek, but you know my answer. The geeks shall inherit the earth.
There are so many memories and stories in a coffee mug. From my mom showing how much she loved me by buying me a quality pencil to missing the class room in October of 2003, I love my pencil obsession. I love the smell of a freshly sharpened box and the way eraser rubbings smell on note book paper. I love telling people how great the yellow and green pencils are and shouting in a dark theater when I see a Dixon. But most of all, I like being a geek about my pencils. So often in a world flooded by the newest, latest, greatest, fashion trend, diet pill, or electronic device, I can be different and like something as low tech as a pencil. I don’t have to be Brittney Spears or Hannah Montana to be cool, because the geeks, even the pencil geeks, shall inherit the earth.