Coming off Lent and Easter, the Atlanta Pen Show is nearly here. And I am unprepared. I psyched myself up for the Arkansas Pen Show a month and a half ago. This is different. My excitement is more muted. I think that will change as the day goes on or on the drive to Atlanta tomrrow. Even now as I hear people arriving, it's growing.
Last year, I drove Saturday night and Sunday morning to catch the final hours of the show. It was great to meet so many people, even if they were getting over pen show hangovers and were somewhat out of it, except for Punkey. Punkey seemed to have boundless energy. It was probably that killer coffee he drinks (forgive the public inside jokes).
This year will be very different. This year I'm traveling up with my sister, who declares she's not ready for the responsibility of a fountain pen. "So you're saying there's still a chance?!"
She's getting married in November. She's my best friend, but our relationship will change once she weds herself to her fiancé. So we're going on a sibling vacation, that starts at the pen show. She'll drop me off at the hotel on Friday and spend the weekend with her friends in Atlanta. She'll come by on Sunday, and I'll introduce her to this awesome subculture, which, at the moment, she finds odd. We'll then spend a few days in Asheville and Savannah. My excitement for the show is somewhat mitigated by my excitement at being able to spend some quality time with my baby sister.
As the show approaches (tomorrow!), my mind is turning more to final preparations: what pens I'm bringing, what's on my shopping list, finalizing my budget (the IRS was not good to me this year). In the process of doing that, I'm also mentally setting up my game plan.
Pens: Since this will be the largest group of pen people I'll ever hang with, I figure I'll bring the jewels of my collection, inked up and ready to play with. Having a collection of close to 100 pens is difficult to travel with, so I've chosen my 34 unique or favorite pens, housed in the large Monteverde case. I have four that need work that I'll be bringing as well.
On the lookout: I have heard about and seen on eBay a holy water dispenser pen. There are Parker and Sheaffer models I've seen. Right now this is my grail (the irony is not lost on me). Hopefully, I'll be able to see Jim Rouse's, to at least see how they work. I'll be putting the word out that I'm looking. Shawn Newton has been posting some tasty pens on his social media. I will definitely visit him. OMAS will always be on my radar; I've been bitten by the bug. A Nock case might be in my future as well, oh and a Karas Kustoms Fountain K. I know the Franklin-Christoph table will be hopping, but something might tickle my fancy.
The most important part of a pen show though is the people, getting to know new people, catching up with friends, having conversations about life, the universe, Nakayas, and everything. Most of the pens available could be bought online (should is another question I will intentionally avoid). The people, the face to face, are what bring the show its flesh; the pens are lagniappe. If not for the men and ever increasing number of women (which is a good thing), a pen show would seem more like a flea market, much product but very little relationship. That's no fun. A pen show isn't a captialistic vaccuum. It's the best part of a garage sale combined with the delight of a family reunion and the niche conversation of a comic book shop. The best part is that are no ludites or Gentiles. Newbies are just as welcome as the veteran (there are always grumpy people, but that isn't the norm). In fact, newbies can have the experience of a baby at the family reunion, being passed around from uncle to great aunt to cousin to learn all the varied stories of the family.
My game plan, then, will revolve around the people, my introversion, and the fact that my back is currently spasming. As an introvert, I love those conversation of three or less about something we love. I'll eat up conversation after conversation, and I'll forget to take a break to rest myself. Breaks are of utmost importance for me, for food, for prayer, and for rest.
This time away does a few things. It gives me strength and a renewal of energy. It gives perspective to my prospective purachases. It allows me not to get completely overwhelmed and crash exactly when I don't want to.
I know many of us are introverted, so heed this advice. It's okay to walk away for an hour. Fear of missing out will be greater than ever at a pen show. Be confident in yourself and walk away so you can recharge. The extroverts will keep talking, keep moving, keep going because they're in an energy feeding frenzy being around so many people. Don't confuse yourself into thinking you can do the same. An hour away here and there will enhance your experience tenfold, especially the late nights.
Those who will be there I look forward to meeting or seeing you again. Those who won't be there we'll miss you.
Laissez le bon temp rouler.