Joanne Palmer: Office supplies on vacation |

Joanne Palmer: Office supplies on vacation

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

— Strange things happen at my house. At night, things disappear or multiply. For example, all of my pens have packed up and left on summer vacation. I have searched and searched, and there are no pens to be found. There is not a pen on my desk, by the phone book or by my bedside. I can't write a grocery list, scribble a note to my son or enter an appointment in my calendar. My entire house has morphed into a pen-swallowing Bermuda Triangle. I do find some pen scraps, a few broken pieces and parts, an abandoned cap or cartridge, but not one completely functioning pen. I am firmly convinced my pens are on a sunny beach somewhere, slathered in sunscreen, sipping frothy drinks and listening to their iPods.

As a writer, I am extremely particular (read: neurotic) about pens. I can spend more time than I am willing to admit on selecting a pen. I love to "test drive" a pen on the little pads some stores provide and am quite happy doodling, drawing, writing my name in cursive and then in block letters. My perfect pen can't be too big or too small. It most certainly can't be a fine point, as I do not like looking at anorexic words. I do not like a fat point, because I do not like looking at fat words. I love old-fashioned fountain pens, but they are slow and awkward to write with. Most of the time, my go-to pen is a fast-writing gel with a medium point. Once I find a pen, I am like a dog with a juicy steak bone. I get a little territorial about it. Although other pens may be available, I will search my car, my desk drawers and the corners of my purse to find my special gel pen, my magical pen, the pen of my dreams.

Sadly, that pen and every other pen I own is now on summer vacation.

I suspect pens do not like to travel alone. Although I have no proof, I suspect my pens may be responsible for high-tailing it out of town with all of my cell phone chargers. I have no shortage of chargers, but when all three cell phones in my house need an overnight charge, it can be challenging to find the correct charger for all of them. I can find an iPod charger, the charger for my ski boots and the camera charger, but the pens must have packed a phone charger with them too. As they were packing, they surely picked up as many socks as they could find in and around the dryer and stuffed them into their carry-on bags. It's the only plausible explanation for why there are no matching socks in my drawer.

The things which multiply in my house are the things I wish would disappear, like twist-ties. Leave five or six twist-ties alone in a drawer overnight, and I guarantee when you wake up you'll find a gazillion of 'em all knotted together. Like they had an orgy and fell asleep right where they were. Hangers, plastic bags and Capri Sun pouches multiply in the night. They show up behind the toilets, in the cupboards where the plates are kept and underneath the bed.

I wish all my pens, socks and phone chargers a great summer vacation. Hurry home. And in the meantime, send me a postcard.