The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Maunder or writing about writing

Rachael Conlin Levy


  1. To talk incoherently; to speak in a rambling manner.
  2. To talk or wander aimlessly.

We all have favorite tools we grab when a job needs finishing. When making soup, I grab one wooden spoon out of a canister full of them because I like the heft of its handle and the shape of its bowl, perfect for slurping from before adjusting the seasoning. I drink my morning coffee from one cup, my afternoon tea from another. Again and again, I reach for the same things because they’re useful, predictable, because I’m trying to recapture an experience, like the time I stirred a pot of soup that turned out fabulous, or sipped from a cup and the sun shone all day, or wrote with a certain pen and the sentences sang.

My favorite pen to write with is Paper Mate Flair with a porous point in black ink. The pen is sleek, lightweight, unadorned and unidentifiable but for the company’s name stamped into the tiny metal clip on the cap. It’s basically a marker, the ink is easy to read, the tip glides effortlessly across the page. The Flair once was a standard in every office supply store, where it came not only in black, but also blue, red and green, and was sold in sets of two or four. But the Flair is harder to find now and my latest box of twelve had to be ordered online for $22.

My favorite notebook is the Moleskin. I carry a pocket one to jot down grocery lists, doctor appointments, the size of my vacuum’s replacement bags (RR), instructions on how to knit a sock, bits of eavesdropping, books I want to read and so on. To scribble down longer thoughts, partial stories and poetry, I recently switched from a spiral-bound college notebook to a (5.25 x 8.5 in.) Moleskin Volant and am pleased. The notebook’s soft cover folds in two, its pages are large enough so I don’t feel cramped while writing, yet the book is small and thin enough to be tucked easily into my backpack or messenger bag. In addition, the sewn binding is far superior to the spiral, which bent, snagged and (most irritating) released its pages.

My habits met with limited success this week: My soup spoon went unused, my morning cup produced only sunny afternoons and my trusty pen maundered across lined paper — while making fried rice (added soy sauce to my grocery list), while stopped at a red light (wondered about the different qualities of rain), and as my son nursed and napped (began an essay about school). Pages were filled with partial thoughts, bouts of self-pity, bits of truth, maybe a lie or two, but no singing, just my mind humming along, aimlessly, happily, writing about nothing much at all.

2 responses to “Maunder or writing about writing”

  1. Kyna says:

    I recently found a treasure in the box of random, half-empty, lidless pens in a box at work: two Sharpie pens (not markers) in black and blue. Since then they are with me everywhere I go. I'm just reticent to use them around co-workers, afraid that someone will claim them as theirs.

  2. Rachael Levy says:

    Ha, then do not bring them to my house because my children are Sharpie thieves.

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