Always bring a pen

Before leaving my apartment, I always pat myself down.

Back pockets: handkerchief, wallet. Check.

Front pockets: phone, keys, chap stick, pen. Check.

It’s time to face the world.


One of the greatest lessons my father taught me is to always carry a pen.

S0me items in my everyday carry (EDC) can’t be replaced. There’s something comforting about carrying a handkerchief — not a lot of people do it anymore, but it comes in handy when you need to sneeze, your glasses get dirty, or something spills. Chap stick is a necessity ever since I took accutane — nobody likes dry lips.

Some items in my EDC may one day be replaced. We’re working towards replacing our wallet with apps like Apple Pay or Google Wallet (or Android Pay? Apple Wallet? Too many things called Wallet or Pay!) We’re even trying to replace good ol’ keys with devices like August Lock.

But I will never replace one item in my pocket: a pen.

Typically, it’s a nondescript uni-ball roller, in blue or black. It writes easily enough paper, skin, and napkins. I started using these after interning at a law firm a few years ago — if it’s good enough for a lawyer, it’s good enough for me.

There are great note-taking and drawing apps in the wild today. I use some of them. But nothing compares to being prepared for any situation — be it marking a precise measurement, signing a fancy dinner bill, or filling out a customs entry form.

It’s the signal it sends to those around you that matters. It’s the signal that you’re prepared, you’re ready, you’ve got everything under control. You don’t have to dig into a messy bag or bother the waiter for a pen. You have a tool at your disposal, anywhere.

It helps you face the world. One line at a time.

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