Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Thank You, Hyman Lipman

I learned from the Writers' Almanac today that it was on this day in 1858 that Hyman Lipman of Philadelphia received a patent on the pencil with an eraser at the end. It was also noted that this type of pencil is unique to America; elsewhere in the world, pencils come without erasers, forcing users to either search out a separate eraser or leave all their mistakes exposed.

Why is that, I wondered. Certainly people living in China, let's say, make mistakes. Wouldn't it be handy to have the means of eradicating at least the ones on paper? Then I thought of all the gorgeous Chinese calligraphy, of the careful hands moving the think brush across the paper, turning the sheet into storied art. They appear very careful, but there must be an errant stroke
or a loose drop of ink to deal with from time to time.

Or maybe not. Maybe they, unlike me, can focus so clearly that they create flawless work. I, on the other hand, no matter how much I try to be careful, always mess up in some way. When I decided to paint the guest room, I spread out drop cloths all over the floor and the bed. Every time I dipped the brush into the can of Benjamin Moore Key Largo green, I was careful to wipe off the excess so as not to drip. Every time I moved the ladder, I moved the can to the floor so as not to jostle it. I was really careful. Honest. Then I slipped off the bottom step of the ladder and dropped the can of paint which spilled through a slit in the drop cloth onto the wall to wall carpet.

I mopped up what I could, but still today there is a green spot in the middle of the oatmeal carpet, and it's not even in a spot where I could place a chair over it. Anyone who comes into the room will see it clearly. If there were such a thing as a paint eraser, I would be first in line to buy it. I think Hyman Lipman would appreciate such an invention.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


I dreamed last night
of Donald Trump.
He followed me
from room to room
as I tried to talk to a friend.
He sat beside me on the sofa
moved closer and closer
as I moved farther and farther away
leaned right into my ear,
preventing my conversation.
When I awoke
the voice on the radio
next to my bed
was his.