Mr. Postman

I never thought that I would miss my computer so much, which leads me to the subject of this blog: my dependence on computers for writing and how little I actually put pen to paper any more. In the past two weeks, I have had my annual bout of bronchitis, which, if any of you are sufferers know, makes typing quite hard as coughing fits plague you every two minutes or so. I’m down to the occasional annoying lingering cough, and I opened my laptop only three days ago two catch up on e-mail and Blackboard for school since I was facing a midterm in my much-maligned E-publishing Infrastructure course. Having survived last night’s midterm, of which we shall not speak, I can now get back to the business of blogging.

So these are my thoughts: Writing, I mean actual writing, as in putting pen to paper, is a dying art form. I love to look at old letters and see the beautiful script of our predecessors, how it artfully loops and slants across the page. You will find no hearts or smiley faces above the lower case i’s. Each letter is carefully crafted and adjoined to the next, a marriage of letters and words, the page itself a thing of such beauty that at first glance it is wondrous to behold, even without the reading. But then with the reading: people of letters hundreds of years ago wrote of even the simplest things with such meaning. I remember reading excerpts from Samuel Pepys diary, which told so much about life in 17th century London, but his writing was full of character, even when writing about the mundane. People don’t write with character any more. I don’t believe that they know how. I think that it’s because we are such an abbreviated society: email, text messaging. Who actually writes in complete sentences? I hate statements such as r u 4 rel? It makes me shudder. I know. The English instructor in me is showing. but is that all?

Am I alone in bemoaning the lack of words in our communication? Am I the only one who misses receiving printed mail in my mailbox? I remembr receiving my first real letter. It was from a friend of mine who had moved away in the 8th grade. Her name was Jan Farber, and she wrote to me once her family was settled into their new home. I have no idea what the letter said, but I remember receiving the letter with my name on it, in an envelope with a stamp. It was a momentous occasion. Correspondence via U.S. mail with handwritten addresses, pre-typed labels was lovely. Stationary that you bought in boxes and didn’t run through printers was lovely. I remember one particular present that I received from friends that I loved, and they knew that I would love: a Cross pen set and a box of heavyweight cream stationary with a hunter green border. Maybe some of you might find that to be a truly lame present, but those of you who know my ongoing love affair with paper realize just how much that present meant to me.

Why don’t we write to one another any more? Why do we settle for email? I know that I am one of the worst offenders of my own accusation. J’accuse! My reasoning is purely for physical reasons, and I should try harder: it taxes my wrist to write with a pen; I could rest my wrist, though, couldn’t I? My handwriting is slovenly, and I am embarrassed by it, though. When I look at those old letters, even when I look at my father’s handwriting, I am embarrassed by my generation’s penmanship. The free-spirited 70’s produced a generation of counter culture people who wanted to do everything differently from their parents, right down to the way they wrote, so we all tried to write uniquely. In my parent’s generation, their is a similarity in the penmanship. Even my mother and father wrote similarly, even though my father spoke English as a second language. That generation was schooled in penmanship. Not us. For us it was a free-for-all, and my left-handed penmanship reflects that, so typing was my salvation. Hence, my awe of old penmanship.

I owe a very dear friend of mine a long overdue, long letter. He wrote to me and shared something last fall, and has been very disappointed that I did not respond. That I did not respond had nothing to do with his confidence but with the timing of it. I have been keeping him in the back of my mind for months now, promising myself that I would write when things in my personal life settled down. Obviously, that is never going to happen. So now I will promise myself to find a quiet moment this weekend, and to sit down with my new pens and some of my lovely writing paper and to write him a long, reflective letter so that he will know just how much he means to me and how he has never been out of my mind.