Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From My Memory's Pocketbook, With Gratitude

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about writing a letter on notebook paper. Too often I think I do things without thinking because I’m not in the swing of things any more. I blame dropping the ball on occasion on rusty, dusty social skills. Reading The Art of the Handwritten Note, brought my faux pas to my attention in the middle of the night, and I was mortified. 
I had decided to read what I refer to as my little “Handwritten Note Bible,” from front to back, instead of continuing to use it as a just a reference tool. Maybe I take things too literally, because I felt bad about using notebook paper. I would never use it to write to the president, Oprah Winfrey, or Margaret Shepherd, but I will continue to use it to write to people like me. I will use my good paper, too. From now on, I will continue to write on what suits the mood, fits, or, calls out--thanks to all of you.
When I was a junior in high school, I dated a college sophomore. Such sappy love letters, I wrote! Even in class: Our history teacher was busy with a major project, so he gave us a free day. We could do what ever we wanted, as long as it didn’t disrupt class. I chose to write a letter to my boyfriend. 
I asked for a bathroom pass. After I returned I started a letter to my boyfriend. I did my best to shield it from view. I failed, because the girl in the row next to me whispered, “What are you doing?” 
My stationery was a sheet of paper I’d borrowed instead of using it to dry my hands. I’d gone to the restroom for two sheets of paper towel. Since she was a cheer leader, and all, I fessed up and told her, “I’m writing a letter to my boyfriend.” 
Clearly surprised, she whispered back, “On paper towels?” 
Nonplussed, I said, “Yep. I’m using my art markers.”  I showed her the fistful clutched in my left hand. I loved those Pentel color markers. They were the size of long pencils, and had medium point tips, and cost me a hard earned $1.29, each. Those brown paper towels sucked up the colors like a desert does rain, so I had to make my writing skim across the page. That way it wicked less.
It wasn’t until that night, in the middle of doing homework, that it dawned on me: She probably thought I was nuts. Then I felt like an idiot. After all, she was a cheer leader. Years later, in art school, among other "different thinkers," I stopped questioning my quirky ideas. In the midst of peers, I learned to let my creative bent fly free. I relaxed under the banner: I'm an artist. Everyone knew artists followed different drummers. But that was long after a day in history class.
Imagine my surprise when the following week, I saw her writing a letter on sheet of paper towel, too. With a black marker. I didn’t offer an acknowledging smile, or comment, because I was so shy and bashful back then, but the incident tucked itself away in my Memory Pocketbook for future reference. Who knew that nebulous future would be now? 
Thank you all, so much. I feel like I am among peers, again, at last.


  1. Yes and you are among fellow mail art lovers and letter writers !!!

  2. Limner,

    Please forgive me for what I am about to post! (Easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, eh?)

    I teach Eng. lit. to college students, mostly men, and one year a young, somewhat shy student asked if s/he could (hand)write a homework assignment on lined notepaper instead of blank computer paper, using a coloured pen. Regrettably I said (since I was young and foolish then, too): "You may slit your wrists and write in blood on paper towels, as long as your creative assignment comes my way."

    (Allows reading audience a suitable gasp of horror. I know: I'd get my sorry little self fired in today's tolerant Canadian climate, eh?)

    But years later the students still remind me of that um unfortunate incident and tell others, too, that there are no "rules" when it comes to creative wriitng! or stationery! :)

    (posted with apologies to more sensitive readers)

    EMP (with more emp-athy now, years later!)

  3. Limner and Susan: Glad to be among peers.

    I have been known to write on invoices, receipts, food wrappers, and even Starbucks napkins, as well as various scraps of notepaper, when my "pretty" stationery was left at home and I found myself needing the oxygen of writing a letter in a coffee-drinking place.

  4. It looks like you started a trend... I'm curious to know what the boyfriend made of the notes.

  5. LOL! EMP, you're an English Lit teacher! You're right up there with another fav of mine, Creative Writing teachers.

    I doubt anyone will find your comment offensive, especially today. I'd have been inspired if such a comment had come my way. My college writing teacher gave me an A on the little story I'd turned in for our Lit 'Zine, then asked me to stay after class. She wanted to tell me how it moved her, but she hoped it wasn't real. The assignment: Write about a true event in our lives.
    Doesn't that mean I failed the course?

  6. Bubbles, he liked it. In fact, he complained just once. He asked why I'd written a letter on stark white stationery with a yellow felt tip pen. I told him I'd done it to make sure he concentrated on what I'd written.

    I almost married him twice. :D