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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Making My Mark

"Handwriting is autobiography." ~ Carrie Latet


A little while back, my buddy Julochka tagged me for her handwriting meme.

Julochka, thank you for being patient. I had to get some other things taken care of posthaste. And, funny enough, I had to first find a sample of my handwriting, not an easy task.

Obviously, the meme is to share what your handwriting looks like, and in searching for evidence that I can indeed read and write, I was finding it hard to prove that supposition.

I type. I type a lot, as this blog and my emails are a testament to that fact. But apparently I do not write things down much anymore.

Realizing that I am not leaving my mark on the world came as a wierd little surprise to me.

I remember being in elementary school and loving to write with fountain pens. I even liked when they leaked and the ink oozed out and stained my fingers. I remember how fun it was to take out the old ink cartridges and snap in the new ones, pushing those new cartridges and realizing that a tiny puncture would now let the ink flow into the nib of the pen.

I loved the feel and sound of the scratch of the nib on the paper. Later, I moved on to crow quill pens and bottled ink (though not for school, just for fun). And I was never without those felt-tip chiseled calligraphy pens in different colors and tip sizes.

I used to steal ballpoint pens from restaurants and hotels and dry cleaners when I found ones that wrote in a smooth manner, dispensing just the perfect amount of ink onto the page. I had collections of calligraphy sets and took calligraphy classes.

So how did this turn into a dissertation on pens instead of handwriting? Because somewhere along the line, I think I found I could express myself more effectively through the keyboard than the pen and page. Perhaps because my fingers fly faster on keys than can push a pen across the page, and in my world of fleeting thoughts, I need to net them as quickly as I can, like butterflies on a summer day.

Or perhaps it's because I can perfect my words with the touch of a delete key without messy scratches and scribbles. I dislike evidence of my imperfection.


I finally did find some proof of my ability to write with a pen. These are samples from two postcards I sent to The Boy last year, from Venice. One postcard I wrote from Harry's Bar, where I was treated like a queen by the handsome waiters, drinking the requisite Bellini and crying silently as I wrote out my postcard, not from sadness, but from the overwhelming beauty that was all around me. I remember the tears sliding down the side of my nose and dropping onto the postcard, like tiny raindrops. (Perhaps the cute, dark-haired waiter comped my delicious croque monsieur because he thought I was going to throw myself into the Grand Canal later that day.)

The other postcard I wrote under the awning of a caffe in the Campo Santa Margherita, nursing a cappucino and eating yummy shrimp and egg salad sandwiches, watching people walk by. This time I did not cry, but it did rain. The air was chilly, and I was bundled up in coat and scarf, taking off my gloves to write my postcard.

What I realized in looking at these two images is how my writing contains and expresses my joy, in my somewhat sloppy letters because everything was so gorgeous and exciting and I couldn't write fast enough. And that is something that a computer keyboard will never be able to capture.

Perhaps perfection is a little overrated.

Julochka, in honor of the beautiful moleskine and journal you sent me, I am going to find a worthy pen, maybe one that stains my fingers occasionally but who cares, and write some words. Make some scratches.

Maybe even make some mistakes.

Thank you for the reminder. And the excuse to reminisce about things I love.


ps. One thing about Venice is that it is full of little shops full of gorgeous handmade papers and pens. For the writing enthusiast, it's a little over the top, like Disneyland. This was a shop in San Marco where I bought some goodies.

pps. I found this interesting online book about the history of pens.

ppss. Whoever would like to be tagged for this meme, consider yourself so. Just leave me a note in the comments so I can visit you and see your post!


Eilandkind August 24, 2008 at 9:23 AM  

your handwriting is beautiful, you should really do it more...

willow August 24, 2008 at 2:29 PM  

This is too spooky...your handwriting looks just like mine! And I want to visit the Venice shop of your photo!!!!

Psyche August 24, 2008 at 3:04 PM  

Your writing looks just like I would expect.

paris parfait August 24, 2008 at 5:17 PM  

I love the story of your postcards and that the Boy kept them - of course he did - and that they expressed your romantic nature and enthusiasm for the world. That's why I type these days, rather than write - with handwriting, I can't get the words out fast enough. Still, I buy dozens of beautiful journals everywhere I go, as well as cards and stationery - and pens - so when I do feel the urge/occasion to write, I can do it in style. But I am not impressed w/ my handwriting, after years of scribbling notes in reporters' notebooks. Yours, however, is lovely (and I have proof from the card you gave me recently, which is on my desk). xoxox

Anonymous August 24, 2008 at 11:47 PM  

This post makes me mourn for the days when I received handwritten letters...

julochka August 25, 2008 at 12:23 AM  

so glad you shared! and that you rediscovered the importance of handwriting. and fabulous pens. :-) there is nothing like it, tho' i too have become a keyboard writer and all too often neglect my precious journals (yes, that's an "s"--i have a regular one, one for food and one for the garden) when i'm near my computer.

Christina August 25, 2008 at 6:49 AM  

I love pens and paper and journals- it's more like an addiction! I was drawn to your neat handwriting as soon as I saw it on the fed ex box! It is the one thing I don't share with you.
: ( Differences are good though, right? You won't hold my less than perfect penmanship against me will you??

: )

PS: Ahh... Harry's Bar!

dutchbaby August 25, 2008 at 10:51 AM  

You, of all people, know what an addict I am about all things pen, ink, paper, and calligraphy. When I stepped into a shop in NYC called The Fountain Pen Hospital I asked the clerk: "Am I in heaven?" I walked out with two replacement nibs for my favorite fountain pen and a brand-new, gold-nibbed fountain pen. My feet were firmly planted six inches above the ground for the rest of the day.

Kath August 25, 2008 at 10:53 AM  

I love pens and paper as well. My handwriting is rarely the same way twice. I wonder what that means? My signature remains the same, but because I force it to be so. Sometimes, I'm scrawly messy and other times neat as a pin.

tangobaby August 25, 2008 at 1:25 PM  

Hello eilandkind,

Thank you for the compliment and welcome to my blog. I appreciate your visit.

I compare my handwriting to how it used to be and it seemed so much nicer and cleaner and more controlled then... but perhaps I'm looking too closely.


Hi willow,

If you want a tour guide, I'll be happy to show you where that shop in Venice is. There are so many little alleyways and you might get lost.


I bet a lot of us kindred spirits have similar handwriting!

Hi psyche,

I hope that's a good thing! ;-)

Hi paris parfait,

The Boy is often very sentimental and quite nostalgic. He has a little Venetian display on his dresser, complete with postcards and little glass giraffes and other trinkets I got for him.

The first thing I should do after I get my special pen is put the journal in my purse, so I can actually use it when I need it.

Hi carol,

Me, too. Handwritten cards and letters seem a thing of the past, don't they?

Hi julochka,

Thank you for the little challenge. I enjoyed your meme and the chance to reflect and remember, too.

I love those other journals you've shared on your blog. You are so creative and talented!

Hi christina,

I have no doubt that a thoughtful soul like yourself makes great use of journals! Although I have not yet seen your handwriting yet, somehow I doubt that it is THAT bad!


Hi dutchbaby,

You knew I wrote part of this with you in mind...both the pens and the Venice parts (I guess that would be most of this post, wouldn't it). I can imagine you with your feet were firmly planted six inches above the ground over something like a beautiful pen or journal. Heck, I've seen you do it!

Hi kath,

My handwriting changes when I'm in a hurry, and then looks completely like someone else's? Multiple personality disorder?! Maybe we're just too creative to pick one way to write things down!

Relyn August 25, 2008 at 7:14 PM  

Oh, I have such a thing for fonts and handwriting. Writing and all its accouterments. It's fun to see how many of us feel the same. I adore the computer for the speed and ease and pure legibility. Still, I love writing in longhand. There is something so personal about it.

Hence, the appeal of this meme. I actually love your handwriting. And, I am something of an aficionado. In one of my posts I mentioned that I rarely notice eyes, but always notice teeth. I also always notice handwriting.

Mine is sloppy and harried. It looks like I am too impatient to take time with it. See? Handwriting speaks the truth.