Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Crossing my Ts

My middle brother, as brothers do, has always liked grossing me out. So when he was in medical school, he told me about a guy he'd seen come into the hospital who couldn't fill out his admitting paperwork because he'd sliced through the tendon on the back of his thumb. So he had to wait, in pain, for someone to help him with his paperwork (I guess this was back when that kind of paperwork was done on actual paper with like a pen and shit). Of course, being the self-sufficient type that I am, I immediately started learning to write with my non-dominant hand. That was not going to happen to me! In high school and college I was able to practice off and on; it was slow as shit but I had a lot of time on my hands then. (It was also when I learned to twirl a baton and juggle.) Now, most of the time that I have to work on penmanship of any kind happens in meetings. And my writing behavior in said meetings breaks down as such:

Interesting or important meeting: Take notes with right hand.
Boring and/or unimportant meeting: Write same 2-3 words or phrases over and over with left hand (depending on length of meeting).
Offensively boring and unimportant meeting: Do math longhand, with left hand. (The worst was when there was this really bilious woman on the design team who would just unleash during our team meetings; I actually used to try to figure out the square root of pi [which means fucking nothing mathematically; you never need it] digit by digit. That was to keep from punching myself in the face.)

Anyway, as part of this left-hand/right-hand writing thing, I like to study the way people write. Again, this happens most often during meetings. I like to look at people's handwriting and the mechanics of the way they write. Like lefties who write hooked over, or from below. And I noticed that righties get to pull toward their hand as they write, first with the letters, and then with the dots over the i's and the bars across the t's. It's more comfortable that way, more fluid and natural, it seems. Like, painters don't push a brush, they pull their brush. But lefties are forced in this world to push. To scrape across the paper away from themselves. And for some reason that felt kinda shitty to me, so I started to push away from my hand with my bars and dots, out of some sort of silent solidarity. So: If I go to write the word "excitement," say, I cross from right to left. First the last t right to left, then the first t right to left, then the i. I've trained my brain that way; I've been doing it that way for at least a decade. But I was writing with my hands less and less, so it mattered less and less. It was just primarily during those meetings.

But recently I got into writing by hand considerably more. About a month ago I got a beautifully handwritten letter from a dear old friend, on the really nice paper, so I got some nice paper and I wrote him back. And then it occurred to me to get a nice pen to write on the nice paper (for the next letter; it didn't make it into this one), and now all I want to do is handwrite. It's been fantastic. Many nights I spend maybe half an hour to an hour writing, just working through stuff. It's great for this time in my life. And it's also fun to work on my handwriting. Like, is this the kind of loop I will make on my y's? Is that the capital D for me? 

So the other night while I was writing, I started thinking about this backward crossing/dotting habit, and whether my pushing protest had gone on long enough. I notice that sometimes, especially when I'm tired, my brain gets jumbled trying to hit all the right t's and i's. And then I found this webpage that says that "the backward crossed t-bar (right to left) ... signifies the need to punish oneself." It also says "any time your handwriting moves backward when it's supposed to move forward, you are stuck in the past or focusing on yourself in an unhealthy manner." And my initial response is of course to say: That is a bunch of bullshit. But I mean, really, it'd be easier to dismiss that stuff it weren't also true.

It's kinda like when I found that horoscope site that listed Scorpio likes as "the unraveling of mysteries" and "being acknowledged the undisputed champion of anything." I mean, those are pretty good guesses!

And even though I'm relatively scientific, and the handwriting thing seems like a bunch of hoo-ha, part of me wants to try crossing the t's the other way again. I figure it can't hurt, right? And it'll give me something sort of mindless to work on. Which I think I could really get into right now.

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