gel pens & markers on post-its

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draft 1: the ease of a rolling ball point across smooth whiteness pleases me. the coolness of my shared desktop meeting the pressure of my right hand’s ulnar border, both calming and reassuring. thin purple lines feel too jaunty though, too thin to catch my eye and remind me of my current mantra. try again …

draft 2: after quick glancing at the marker selection in my art-tote and pulling out a few interesting options, i am drawn to the calming, balancing energy of fine-point aqua. [maybe because i am pisces, maybe because the beach was my home for 30 years, maybe just cuz it’s pretty … whatever the reason the pull of blue-green is familiar.]  i only make it through one word before realizing that its placement is not quite right. i reach for another post-it, savoring the peel-from-the-pack. it is not the usual satisfactory, though perfunctory, post-it tear-away – i am not tagging up a resonant tome or leaving a late night note-to-self on my coffee pot or maneuvering through a gallery walk activity with my students, eager to comment on as many hung pieces as i can. it is a slow, contemplative pull. it is giving myself just a few extra moments until i must begin again …

draft 3: my printing is deliberate, but my tool only makes the faintest scritch-scratch as i make letters appear by rubbing a felt-tip in movements that have become second-nature to my hand … this hand that labored for the better part of middle and high school, and even for a few years that followed, to find the movements that felt just right, creating letters that looked just right. even while learning to print letters the ‘right way,’ i recall thinking ‘i can’t wait til i can do this my own way!’ i admired and critiqued the handwriting of my mother, my aunts, my grandmothers … trying on the bubbly letters that my peers were into didn’t last long [though i may or may not have dotted my i’s and j’s with hearts for a while] … i’ve played with calligraphy. attempted a formal, scrolling cursive. but always came back to printing. it feels good. it doesn’t take itself too seriously. my affection for lowercase letters is easier to explain: i’ve always felt that they better represent the sound of my voice. but it took some time before i felt comfortable writing this way outside of my journals. [perhaps there is a life metaphor i should reflect upon in there somewhere, but another day …] i haven’t thought about this practice, these decisions, for at least a decade … [i wonder what my daughter’s handwriting will look like. she gets so judge-y about my e’s] … the scritch-scratch sounds more furious, though still faint, as i sketch a quick sunburst-y border. i’ve chosen green. green = growth [which reminds me that i haven’t been to my garden much since the semester started – clean up this year will be a beast!]. but eww. the border is awkward – imperfect … but not imperfect enough. grrr.

the irony strikes as i tear off a fresh surface to begin draft 4. i am reminded of why i need such a mantra. four drafts and two words? get real. lifting my eyes, i sense a slight claustrophobia in noticing that stacks of books, a cup of too-hot coffee with its abandoned lid, my laptop, writing utensil possibilities [including a discarded, but still-out purple gel pen] and a bottle of enough sanitizer to bathe in have all encroached on my writing space. too much. so anti-zen. my colleagues are laughing at me now. with great intention to treat this post-it as i would the coffee-pot note or the fired-off jot to tab a borrowed book, i arm myself again with my blue-green marker and rapidly scrawl “just enough.”

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