Thursday, July 30, 2015

10. Longhand

After a dismal showing in the midterms during my sophomore year in law school largely attributable to poor handwriting, I decided I was going to turn my life around. I studied calligraphy. Somebody lent me a book; and over the Christmas break of 1992, I practiced  writing the italic font. I learned that their was a way of holding a pen to ensure fluency and consistency. The grip should be not too loose nor too tight, but enough for somebody to grab the pen and take it from my hand. I studied the rhythm, slanted it a bit too the right, and made an effort for the little flourishes on the dots and crosses. I practiced and scribbled on any paper I could find. I searched for a calligraphy pen and found the flat-tipped Rotring Art Pen. The ink was pricey, especially so that my allowance was appropriated for photocopying case materials. But it paid off soon, and in one exam in public corporations, my professor gave me more than a hundred points. My classmates teased me about it as everyone had struggled with the subject. I kept my blue book for that exam as sort of trophy for my efforts. In reality, I never had to worry about flunking any exam due to poor handwriting --  bad analysis and shaky memory notwithstanding. It seemed, consciously or otherwise, teachers gave points for writing that was clear, fashionable, and Italian. Soon, I used the Art Pen one final time for the bar exams, which I passed in 1996. Then, after signing the attorney's roll,  I threw it away and started working on computer keyboards almost exclusively.   Today, the only thing I do with pen and paper is write checks. Sometimes there would be days that I didn't have to sign anything, because written communications are done by email or SMS. Once in a while, I find myself unable to sign at all. It's like my hand became senile and could not remember how to write -- a strange atrophy of the writing hand. On these occasions, I close my eyes and recall the days I had with the Art Pen and it all comes back to me -- the grip, the strokes slanting a bit to the right, and the short flourishes on the dots and crosses. Were it not for that day, the day I  decided I would learn calligraphy, I would be a clerk somewhere, still writing in longhand.

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