Journal

Machines, Mindel, and Me

by | Aug 23, 2014 | Books

I am not a Luddite. Truly, I am not. I appreciate the marvels – even miracles – that technology has wrought. I even avail myself of some of them. I can Google with the best of them (and even use the proper noun as a verb),

I understand the value of a website, and I learned to text so I could communicate with my children. (My grandchildren, as it happens, are happy to actually speak with me, but I digress.)

So, yes, I appreciate technology, but I also believe in the Socratic adage, “know thyself.” And for some reason, machines and I have never quite gotten along. I learned from a young age to hand sew a beautiful hem – I still can – but the sewing machine, much to my mother’s consternation, utterly defeated me. I can hand wash fine linens, but my washing machines have tended to do things like shake, rattle and walk across the room. And please don’t even get me started on the microwave.

I came of age when computers were the size of entire buildings and everyone was enthralled with electric typewriters. I always had what was referred to as a “nice handwriting” and high school and college teachers accepted handwritten papers, but still I took several typewriting courses. To no avail. Keys got stuck, motors jammed, I could never think or create on a keyboard and I made so many mistakes per line that a paragraph could take hours to type. Corrections entailed either a wheel-like eraser with a brush attached, which necessitated blowing on the keys so as not to clog them too much with erasures, after which you had to re-type; or using some new-fangled erasure strips which, when positioned just so, could be typed over. Don’t ask.

So I happily completed college and most of graduate school by handing in quite legible, lengthy, handwritten papers. None of my professors objected. But the master’s thesis was another matter. There was an ironclad, department-wide rule that it had to be typed. I despaired but then I rallied. “Know thyself,” I thought, and since our linguistics department was small and friendly, the chairman knew me as well. I went to him and handed him two pieces of paper. I said, “Here is a sample of my typing. I can type about ten words per minute with seven mistakes. Here is a typical paragraph. And on this other paper is a sample of my hand printing. I can print thirty-five words a minute with no mistakes.

Then I threw myself on his mercy. “Can I please, please, please hand-letter my thesis?”

He looked at the two pages. “I can’t read your typing, “ he said, and laughed.  “Yes, please do handprint your thesis!”

And so I did, and never looked back. My fountain pen is and has always been an extension of my hand. And so I believe it is altogether fitting that my first verse fairytale, Mindel and The Misfit Dragons, is entirely handwritten.

I understand the value of a website, and I learned to text so I could communicate with my children. (My grandchildren, as it happens, are happy to actually speak with me, but I digress.)

So, yes, I appreciate technology, but I also believe in the Socratic adage, “know thyself.” And for some reason, machines and I have never quite gotten along. I learned from a young age to hand sew a beautiful hem – I still can – but the sewing machine, much to my mother’s consternation, utterly defeated me. I can hand wash fine linens, but my washing machines have tended to do things like shake, rattle and walk across the room. And please don’t even get me started on the microwave.

I came of age when computers were the size of entire buildings and everyone was enthralled with electric typewriters. I always had what was referred to as a “nice handwriting” and high school and college teachers accepted handwritten papers, but still I took several typewriting courses. To no avail. Keys got stuck, motors jammed, I could never think or create on a keyboard and I made so many mistakes per line that a paragraph could take hours to type. Corrections entailed either a wheel-like eraser with a brush attached, which necessitated blowing on the keys so as not to clog them too much with erasures, after which you had to re-type; or using some new-fangled erasure strips which, when positioned just so, could be typed over. Don’t ask.

So I happily completed college and most of graduate school by handing in quite legible, lengthy, handwritten papers. None of my professors objected. But the master’s thesis was another matter. There was an ironclad, department-wide rule that it had to be typed. I despaired but then I rallied. “Know thyself,” I thought, and since our linguistics department was small and friendly, the chairman knew me as well. I went to him and handed him two pieces of paper. I said, “Here is a sample of my typing. I can type about ten words per minute with seven mistakes. Here is a typical paragraph. And on this other paper is a sample of my hand printing. I can print thirty-five words a minute with no mistakes.

Then I threw myself on his mercy. “Can I please, please, please hand-letter my thesis?”

He looked at the two pages. “I can’t read your typing, “ he said, and laughed.  “Yes, please do handprint your thesis!”

And so I did, and never looked back. My fountain pen is and has always been an extension of my hand. And so I believe it is altogether fitting that my first verse fairytale, Mindel and The Misfit Dragons, is entirely handwritten.

We use cookies to give you a better experience. Dismiss