Thursday, January 21

A Call to Arms (Or Rather, Pens)

Posted by Shelly Holder

Bur-ba-bur-berrrrrrrr! Bur-ba-bur-ba-berrrrrrrr!

It's the bugle sounding, and a desperate knight dashes in on a heaving horse, bespeckled with foam. He pushes back the visor to reveal reveal blue eyes framed by mascara. It's not a knight, it's Lady Shelly!!! This virtuous lady unrolls her scroll and reads aloud:

"Citizens of Camelot, I need your help. Please read this application essay for a humorous newspaper column, and give me your comments by Saturday at noon, or the dread dragon Rejection will swoop down and breathe fire on my application! Surely the generosity of your noble spirit embarking on this venture will led you to many blessings and much honor. The court awaits your opinions! Do not dally, but set forth straight away!"
And as she wheels about and rides on into the distance, you can hear her encouraging cry, "Onwards, friends, onwards!"

You can find the essay here on my website or located at the end of this post.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: The Lady of Shalott running through my head
What I want most: your comments please!!!!!!

** Explanatory Note: I am currently reading "The Magic Ring" by Baron . It's a medieval tale of knights and the courtly behavior.

First Impressions

To prove how truly I belong to W&M, I'll tell you how the start of school affects my (usually hidden) inner geek.

That first day of class is always important, right? Got to impress the professors, find the perfect seat (whether camouflaged in the back corner or right in front), surreptitiously check out the single hottie in the entire room (who, of course, is eyeing someone else or faithfully texting their significant other), and generally trying to impress the people around you with your impeccable (fill in the blank: organization, preparedness, fashion, slouchy cool or edgy bad-ass-ery). It's there, don't try and deny it. Simple human nature- the desire to get noticed, and in a good way. Especially around the start of term.

Me? I'm dying to get that reaction. I'm hopin' and prayin' and fishin' for a compliment. Slanting my eyes, gently twisting in my seat, tossing my hair behind my shoulder. All of the delightful little schemes, "all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for captivation" in Miss Austen's words, we women employ.

But not for any of those options previously mentioned. Not those. Not even for my horrendously expensive new haircut, although compliments are always welcome (please email me later). No, I'm dying for someone to notice my pen.

I somehow have the belief that a pen secretly embodies all the mystery of personality, distilled into 14 cm of pressed plastic and ink. The right pen can describe everything about a person, and more importantly, the right pen can direct the trend of the coming days. Choosing the right pen might be able to influence my self-confidence, my grades, and my whole perspective on life. Last semester I went with the aloof professionalism found in a white ballpoint with gold accents that switched between black, red, or pencil. The semester before an entirely functional rollerball from a multipack I found on sale. Earlier, it was a pink besparkled thing with glitter and feathers protruding from the top. And at the very beginning there was the designer architect's mechanical pencil, all in black and ergonomically molded.

This semester, I'm going for whimsical creativity with a disposable fountain pen ... in purple. Perhaps someone will notice the unusual tip, and realize my love for all things Victorian. Perhaps they might even divine that I have a growing love for steampunk. Perhaps someone else will notice the ink stains on my fingertips, just like Fanny always has in Mansfield Park. And someone else will admire my sense of style for choosing purple... but someone else will see it for rebellion against normative black and blue. And someone else will see the whole thing as pure, unadulterated folly, because who really knows a person by their pen choice... and that's where the whimsy takes hold.

Maybe it's only the superstition of a writer come to bear on the rest of her life. Maybe it's only the extreme love of school supplies and the need to justify just one more purchase to a dwindling bank account. Maybe it's the subconscious memories of growing up on Jane Austen and BBC movies. And maybe it's the influence of two parents, both teachers, who had red pens all over the house and really got into the spirit of back-to-school shopping. Or maybe it's the influence of some really bizarre alien race sponsoring a couple of Fulbrights on a research mission studying the intersection of personality and performance in education as influenced by the choice of performance tools. But in the end, it's not the motivation that matters.

It's all about the gratification of being noticed with the coolest pen in town.

You may call me Inky.

Shelly Holder is the newest Confusion Corner columnist. She IS fairly normal even if she is obsessed with pens. Don't be afraid to visit her website at


LeMeesh said...


I actually like this one better than the New Year's resolutions, but maybe because it's more you.