I went for years without using pencils. Maybe it was because graduating from pencils to pens as a kid was a big deal. Being handed a pen meant that you were considered mature enough not to make so many mistakes that you needed the do and undo on the same stick. What you wrote was now important enough to live beyond the life of graphite markings (although I am always surprised at how clearly notes in pencils are holding up in my boxes of treasures).

My regained respect for the pencil came when I fell for the erroneous Fisher pen/ NASA story: The savvy Soviet cosmonauts were to have used pencils while we Americans, devoid of common sense, had paid an exorbitant amount of tax dollars for the design and production of an anti-gravity pen. Urban legend. The Fisher pen turned out to be an economical, non-taxpayer-funded improvement that ultimately replaced the use of the pencil already being used in the space programs of both nations. But despite my disillusionment at yet another cool story being untrue, I continued to rekindle my relationship with my old childhood friend.

Although most of my words are handled digitally, I do deal with paper to some extent.  I started to notice how convenient it is to use a pencil rather than a pen. I began to use a pencil when jotting notes on documents that I would have to fax and refax. I didn’t have to print another “clean copy” of the document—I simply erased my penciled notes. When taking notes at a meeting, I didn’t have to worry about skippy ball-points or the gel pens that never keep up with my speed.

Although not as monumental a problem as NASA’s record-keeping-without-gravity challenges, I’ve been annoyed at the fact that my front-loader washing machine, although efficient, energy-saving, and dependable, really started to smell! And it must have been a problem for many, since there suddenly appeared on the market the solution: a monthly tablet to clean out your machine. Guess how much the tablets cost? $9 for a box of 3. I don’t have the box any more, but as I remember really stinky washing machines (like mine) required more than one tablet/cycle. I did 3 tablet/cycles over a period of a couple of weeks, tried hot water with baking soda a couple of cycles, and hid my shame from others about this problem for the remainder of the time.

In talking with a friend, we somehow got on the topic of front-loader washing machines, and when I admitted my problem (the fact that I would come clean about my stinky front-load syndrome to her says a lot about our friendship) she said:

I know! It’s awful! I spent so much money on those tablets!   

Me, too!   

You know what I do now? I just keep the door open.

What, there’s no light in the washer?

No—there’s no light in there.

Oh. But that’s so simple 

Yeah. I wasted 18 bucks.

I wasted 9.

Yeah.  I know. Just keep the door open

I started keeping it open when I was around and there was no danger of a cat accidentally getting in and the door closing, but just keeping it open now and then totally solved the problem.

In all fairness, I am coming across online info from the product’s website linking closing the door to the odor problem.  It may even be mentioned in the brochure that came with the washer. But the point is that we don’t have time to read all this stuff, and the other point is that, I, at least, don’t think BASIC before I start thinking of complicated, money- and-time-depleting solutions to problems.

Today I just have to do the tasks at hand. I can’t solve my complicated husband situation. Or maybe I can. Maybe if I don’t overthink, and just do basic, creative things as they are needed, I will someday be beyond this situation.

With this attitude, pencil me in that the STBX problem will be totally solved sometime next year. And the situation won’t stink.

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