mystery

My New Typewriter

I learned to type at my dad’s office.

His secretaries had electric typewriters that I would poke around on after hours. I’d watch in fascination as the silver ball quickly spun around to the correct letters, numbers, and symbols before revealing them on the page. I always loved the click-clack of the keys and the sound of the bell when you reached the end of the line.

The office was lined with barrister bookshelves full of leather bound books. Often, I’d have an extra hour to kill before my dad would be able to give me a ride home. So I’d walk the hall admiring the bookshelves before taking a seat behind a typewriter to pass the time.

When my father passed away my siblings and I each got to keep one of the bookshelves. It’s one of my favorite possessions and I can’t help but think of those glorious afternoons exploring the office and typing away for hours on end.

Recently I’ve been on a mission to add mystery back into my life. I figured that if I’m trying to encourage my audiences to enjoy mystery then I should probably do the same in my everyday life.

Part of that push has been to live a more “analog” life. I’ve been limiting my screen time, staying away from social media, and taking a more “old school” approach to my daily routine. It was only a matter of time before I bought my own typewriter.

I’ve always been a fan of the mid-century modern aesthetic, so I went with an Olivetti Lettera 32. Isn’t it beautiful?

Typewriter.jpg

I love this machine. It’s in perfect shape, has a perfect fit to my hands, and it’s totally my style. Just seeing it each day makes me want to sit down and get to work.

Also, it’s a manual typewriter, so there’s no need to charge it or upgrade it to the next operating system. It just sits on my desk waiting for me to create something.

Speaking of my desk… I had remembered that my dad’s typewriters had been resting on these large metal desks. They were huge and solid and built to last. So naturally I wanted one of those.

After doing a bit of research I discovered that those desks are known as “steel tanker desks”. I started searching everywhere for a desk that would go well with my Olivetti Lettera 32. I went dozens of pages deep on Craigslist, eBay, and more, but I couldn’t find the model I had in mind.

One day Stephanie and I went out to browse antique stores. I didn’t expect to find the desk I was wanting but I was keeping an eye out anyway. And at our tenth store, in a beautiful moment of serendipity, Stephanie found it sitting just inside the door. Plus, it was on sale. They were practically giving it away.

We cleared out the seats, wheeled it to the back alley, and loaded a massive, solid steel desk into the car. Surprisingly it wasn’t too difficult to transport it across the city and upstairs to our apartment. And suddenly, everything came together.

The desk matched the typewriter, which together matched my lamp, chair, and wall art. Everything was perfect.

Desk.jpg

I glanced down at the desk to see a seal from the desk’s manufacturer: Globe-Wernicke.

“I wonder where this desk has been…” I thought to myself.

So I went in search of some information I could find on steel tanker desks made by Globe-Wernicke. Eventually I arrived at this article.

It turns out that Globe-Wernicke is best known for patenting the “barrister bookcase” - the very bookcase that lined the halls of my dad’s office. The very bookcase that sat nearby while I was learning to type. The very bookcase my father left me after he passed away.

I love when everything comes full circle in life. I love when things connect in magical, mysterious ways that you couldn’t possibly anticipate.

Life can be really wonderful sometimes.

And that’s the story of my new typewriter, my new desk, and what goes through my mind when I sit down to write each and every day.


Other Thoughts:

  • Check out some backstage mind reading from Liberty Magic:

  • I was a guest on The Lisa Show on Sirius XM Radio last week. Listen here!

  • Also, check out this interview I did with the Pittsburgh Current.

What Matters Most

I was sitting at a cafe in Pittsburgh last week with my usual trio of a black coffee, Moleskine notebook, and a new book to read, when I witnessed the following:

A man sat down next to me, clearly waiting on someone else. A few minutes later, his friend arrived.

“Sorry, I’m late! How are you?” he said, as he sat down at the table.

“That’s okay. I just got here. What’s new?”

The second man lifted the sleeve of his shirt to reveal a tattoo.

“Here it is!” he said, proudly gesturing to his new ink, to which his friend replied:

“Wow! I mean, I already saw it on facebook but it’s really cool to see it in person.”

Hearing that exchange really bummed me out. And it was the same for that guy, too. I could see the disappointment on his face.

We are actively seeking to remove mystery from our lives. There is no room for discovery or wonder any more. We need more answers and more information - the quicker, the better. The joy of “not knowing” is a rare experience in 2019.

I know I write about this a lot, but I’m obsessed with mystery. And I want more of it. My real job the past few years has been to insert mystery back into people’s lives and lately I’ve been finding ways to add it back into my life, too.

I’ve been writing on a typewriter. I love the sound it makes and the connectedness I feel to the page. Plus, I don’t have to click “Remind Me Tomorrow” because it doesn’t need any updates.

I love the mystery of my typewriter because I never know what I’m going to write when I sit down. I have to sit and ponder what I want to say because there’s no “cut and paste” or spellcheck to rely on. I get to take my time to discover every single word and that brings me immense joy.

I’ve been running more this year than any other. It’s very hilly in Pittsburgh, so I’ve been loving the nature trails here. I’ve started going out without GPS, just to discover places for myself. Without a voice in my ear telling me where to go 8 miles feels like a real adventure.

And, I’m considering deleting all of my social media accounts. Don’t be surprised if I do. If you want to make sure you never miss one of these blogs, join my Thursday Thoughts mailing list.

There’s no joy in knowing everything a friend has been up to, then meeting them for lunch and having nothing to talk about. There’s no joy in the constant barrage of information. And, you definitely don’t need social media to be successful in 2019. You’ve just become convinced you do.

I’m not telling you to buy a typewriter or delete your facebook, but mystery is a good thing. It’s a great feeling to find ways to add it back into your life.

Here’s one way to do it: The next time you’re sitting with a friend and feel a buzz in your pocket, don’t look at it. Don’t pull out your phone and don’t get distracted. Stay present. Give your friend your full attention. Stay in the moment.

Later, when you’re alone you’ll pull your phone out and say “Oh, right! I have a text…” then get to find out who it is. That’s the joy of not knowing.

I love not knowing because not knowing means I’m not thinking about what happened yesterday because it’s in the past. And I’m not worried about what’s yet to come because I don’t know. So I only focus on what matters most: this moment, right here and right now.

Everything else is a mystery.


Other Thoughts:

  • I’m over halfway through my run here in Pittsburgh. Don’t miss your chance to see it!

  • Also, check out this awesome teaser for MIND READER:

Not Knowing

Every day you’re faced with hundreds of tiny, micro-choices.

Forgot a movie quote? You can choose to look it up right now or be cool not knowing.

Want to know what song that was? Sha-zam! There it is. Or maybe you don’t need to know.

Movie ratings, yelp reviews, the latest headlines. To know, or not to know. That is the question.

Our devices have made the choice of knowing/not knowing so common that we don’t give it a second thought. We don’t consider these choices like we once did, we just get to know.

Enter me. Upstage center.

I have a gift for you.

Every Wednesday through the end of June in Chicago, then six shows a week for six weeks in Pittsburgh. Or at your college this fall or corporate event this winter. Or The Mystery Show at ████████. Every show I do, I’m giving this gift away for free.

I’m giving you the gift of not knowing.

I’m releasing you from the pattern of constant answers and information you carry with you on a daily basis. I’m freeing you from the confines of your google-able existence. I’m removing the choice between knowing and not knowing.

You get to leave my show with a mystery. More mystery than you’ve had in quite some time.

You don’t want to know. You just don’t know it yet.


For a complete list of upcoming shows & ticket info, visit this page.