Saturday, April 28, 2007

Where Did I Put My Thinking Cap?

Meggie recently nominated me as a thinking blogger. Which made my day. Even if certain lurkers are rolling their eyes and muttering "If they only knew her!" Writing is something I love to do. When I was very little, I remember covering a piece of paper with scribbles and presenting it to the parents for approval. Not being Hollywood caliber actors, all they could manage were weak smiles and puzzled looks. Bummer. Took me a few more years to unlock the riddle of the written word.

I even loved the physical act of writing. Loved dipping the nib into the inkpot and scratching along the page, doing writing exercises in Senior Infants! As an adult, when we lived in Montana, I took calligraphy classes from Denys Taipale, an awesome scribe. The things I loved as a child are the things, I have found, that I've come back to as an adult.

As a quiet, not-quite-the-life-of-the-party teenager I set out to write a Great Novel. But ran into all kinds of roadblocks which could be summarised by the realisation that I needed to live more, experience more, before anything fictional I wrote rang true.

I heartily resented that, of all the English teachers I could have had, I got stuck with Sarge. A diminutive, hatchet-faced nun from England, who regarded us as a bunch of hooligans. She assigned an essay every weekend. While others groaned, I was off and running. Just give me a topic. And when I'd hand it in she'd give me an A, and a pinched smile. Gradually it dawned on me, I could have been writing in SansKrit and I'd still have gotten an A. Or Swahili. Or in the style I'd handed to the puzzled parents so long ago. As long as it had the required number of pages. All Sarge cared about was quantity. Content or quality was irrelevant. Which left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I wasn't much interested in getting an A I didn't deserve.

So off to Dub-a-lin in the green, in the green, to college, and the weekly letters home. In which I spun the trivia of my boring existence into comedy for the entertainment of the folks.

Went to NY, one summer, to work, and met the YC [younger edition of the OC]. When I returned home, more letters to write.....and so it went. Three years here, four years there, make friends, move on, write letters....And all of the friends said "Write, Molly, write!" And I did. And stashed the scribblings under the bed and in the closet,and in the night table drawer.....

When things got turbulent, which they did, and I wanted my mum or dad, who were thousands of miles away, I turned to the best way of dealing with and figuring life out that I knew---pen and paper. And sometimes what I wrote was so vehement, I gouged right through the page. And often the writing was rendered illegible by the angry tears that splashed on it as I wrote. And I often railed at God for permitting me to make the most momentous decisions of my life when I was so young and the clue bag was so empty. How blithely I kissed them goodbye and disappeared over the ocean and the horizon! Never giving a thought to the future, when we'd have children, and that pesky ocean would still be there, between them and their Irish grandparents.

But I scribbled on and we muddled through. And moved . And moved again. And moved some more. And just when you'd think you just didn't have it in you to do it again, you did it again. The only difference between us and the Tinkers is that we wash. And write.

I always viewed computers with suspicion. One memory etched in my mind is of Liz, working into the night to finish a report on The Scarlet Letter. I had read drafts along the way and thought what a clever, insightful girl she was. Finally, the night before it was due, she went to print out the final draft. And the computer made a gulping sound and swallowed it whole. She was distraught. And my distrust of these new-fangled machines was confirmed.

Until, many years later, the same Liz started a blog. And I was captivated, and charmed. Because it made me feel connected to what she was thinking in a way that nothing else did. Not phone calls, not letters. So I had to shelve my reservations and start one of my own.

And found wonderful people I'd never have connected with in a million years by any other means. And now one of them has made reparation for Sarge.......Thank you Meg!

I have no idea how to put the TB logo on here. But I do know how to pass the compliment on. There are some I could name, but hesitate as it might smack of nepotism! This Thinking Blogger thing has been going around for a while, and many of the bloggers I read regularly have previously been nominated. So I would like to nominate Isabelle, Tanya and MJD. They always give me food for thought and another way of looking at things that I might not have come to all by myself...... And I wish them luck with the logo!


riseoutofme said...

Ah the memories, the memories ... Good ole Sarge! Quote .."You came from the devil and you'll go back to him"

I too have "lovely" memories of her pulling in vain at the end of my gymslip in a futile attempt to make a respectable, god fearing maiden of me.

How come you never asked me to review the musings???

Molly said...

What, are you hovering over the computer, waiting to pounce?! I had only hit 'publish' to make sure my links worked, keeping fingers crossed that all sensible bloggers were,at this time of day, more sensibly occupied. I scroll down quickly, and low and behold---1 comment. How the heck is that possible, I ask myself. Curiousity triumphs and I click over to see who it is. must be one of my 'loyal subjects,' huh?

nutmeg said...

I love your "thoughts" Molly - much deserved. You make me feel that in my direst motherhood moments I am really not so different or alone - those who tell it like it is are always a magnet for me :-)

And as to the actual "feel of the pen in the hand" I am also a devotee! I remember someone commenting on my handwriting and in my long winded thankyou I was explaining the necessity of the "right" pen or pencil and turned around to see them with a glazed look in their eye!

mereth said...

My twin sister Keryn and I wrote to each other every week for 15 years, on multiple sheets of foolscap paper. Now we have almost daily contact through emails and blogging, but those fat folders of letters are among my most treasured possesions, and would be the first things I grabbed in a fire.Nothing has replaced the thrill I used to feel when I saw her handwriting on the long manilla envelope every week!

meggie said...

Wonderful, wonderful post Molly!!

I would love to be able to tell you how to get the logo up, but I think I managed it accidentally!haha. It took me about 4 days.
I used to love to write letters, by hand, but now my writing is so terrible, even I cant always understand it, so I bless the computer, & typewriter before it.
My mother saved all my letters to her, & at the end, still had several, which I get out now & then, & read about things I have forgotten. And my writing was still ok, when first we arrived here.

Stomper Girl said...

Congratulations and well deserved Molly! I always enjoy your writing.

Speaking of nibs and dipping the ink (no smutty innuendos, thankyou!!) my 6YO is desperate to do quill and ink writing. It's a Harry Potter thing. We are still trying to find a suitable feather, the scrawny magpie feather he picked up was not much chop. If only I knew someone with geese.

Diana said...

Hi Molly, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Jane Austen is one of my all-time favorites, but I don't know if I could have appreciated her in high school.

It's kind of sad, when you think about it, that all of this blogging and e-mailing back and forth will be lost in years to come. The written word on paper remains much longer. I still have my collection of letters my to-be husband wrote to me during a summer we were separated. It's so sweet to go back and revisit those times.

Tanya Brown said...

Chiming in a bit late here. I do love reading your posts and the back-and-forth exchanges with everyone.

"Sarge" sounds like an appropriate nickname for your teacher of old, one of those who clearly valued going through the motions more than the quality of those motions. I fear there are all too many people with that quality.

Thinking blogger, eh? I'm going to have to go think about this ...