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by Amelia Greenhall - 06/02/2019

I was reading Anne Helen Peterson’s newsletter the collected ahp about gutting a pile of books - reading a huge stack of them comprehensively covering the literature and background you want to write about.

She writes:

 read the introduction and first chapter very closely, and start skimming the rest, stopping and slowing down when there’s a chapter or section that’s interesting, underlining as I go, using my favorite brand of pen. (If you’re a pen-particular person, you get it)

I clicked the link to see her favorite brand of pen, because I too am a pen-particular person.

This got me thinking about some of the other things I’ve become particular about over the years. For me, particularity is often tied to a connection to beautiful/useful objects that I use every day, and the comfort of familiarity that makes doing creative work be easier. Some dear favorites:

Pentel Hybrid Technica 0.3

This is my favorite pen. I love writing with it, how it feels in my hand and moves across the page. I buy these by the box of 12. I wish I could find refills for them, so as not to waste the plastic cases. I also love pens from Muji, but this is my main everyday pen and the one I’d pick if I could only have one for the rest of my life. And I like to add to this with a light translucent grey Tombow brush pen (N89 or N95).

Moleskine Cahier Journal, Soft Cover, XL size, (7.5 x 9.5”) - lined or gridded.

This is the notebook I use for morning pages and writing drafts and making sketches. Just the right size and thickness. Something about the width of the page makes line breaks happen without me feeling rushed. I love the thickness of the paper. I bounced around through many notebook types until I found it in 2006 or so, and since then I’ve not changed a thing.

I typically stock up on these at my local bookstores, but: a link to them on Amazon. I also like the slightly smaller Moleskine Cahier Journal, Soft Cover, 5x8.5” - a link - for when I’m traveling, or specific projects, or tracking things.

Hasami porcelain

I love drinking tea out of a Hasami cup each morning, pale clear blue with a light brown unglazed rim and bottom. It’s just so beautiful, to me! Seattle people: you can find Hasami at Kobo Shop (International District and Cap Hill) and Totokaelo (Pike/Pine). Their website has a shop list.

pen particular

I think being particular is a sign of developing a sense of myself. I tried this and this and this and then - ah! - that’s a good thing for me. I can stop trying new things and settle in, this is plenty good. Each day a little extra spark of happiness when enjoying it. That appreciation/gratitude doesn’t fade, like other new things do sometimes.


I’ve been “gutting” a pile of beginner personal finance books the last couple weeks. One of them made the point that instead of being “too material” as we’re often accused, most people aren’t material enough. That in general, people should care more the material of their clothes, furniture, household stuff, and this materialism will help keep from buying too much of too low quality. (Which besides hurting finances, is part of our current climate and ecological crisis.)

I’ve always tended towards the "very appreciative" side of the spectrum of adoring and paying for good design, which started with saving my money for Sanrio as a kid. (Hello Kitty: still sorta high design!?) Over time I've (mostly) been applying that mindset with the rest of my purchases - or figuring out when something is generic enough that it doesn't really matter at all. (And an equally essential skill: what not to get.)

I’ve definitely noticed that when I find a thing that just works for me, I end up spending less overall (even if it costs more initially, or requires a wait to save up for). I get more happiness out of it, I take care of it better, and put in the effort to mend it. And I tend to buy fewer things, too, which makes everything that is in the house easier to clean, and care for, and budget for, and get a long use out of.

I think there's less mental space, too, from maybe sorta ambiently "being on the hunt" for something else, or wondering if this is good enough. There's less clutter of many similar objects that then require decision making. I kindof think there's a comfort and confidence in making a decision - this is my pen - that translates to the rest of your life.

So here’s to being pen particular, or just particular in general, and finding a few things that really work and are plenty good enough.

— Amelia Greenhall