The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: …On Writing.

Traveling

Since I will be moving soon, I thought I would write a piece about traveling and writing.

Just to be clear, this is Debs that will be moving, not your illustrious host, so that way you should not be sending Samuel any emails asking when he is moving.

have traveled a lot through my young life, I will not mention how many years that will be here very soon, but it has been a lot and in that time I have learned a lot about the lifestyle.   It is not a lifestyle for everyone and many cannot handle it.  I know that even I, raised in a military family and then a roving soul myself, have started to grow weary of not having a place to call my permanent home.

As I get ready to pick up sticks and move to Ft. Lauderdale, I am thinking that I would like for this to be my last move.  I find myself with a person that I might like to settle down with and to a city, so I am told, is great for raising a family.   I find myself looking back at all I have seen and all I have done and feel empty.

It is not because I do not like all that I have seen and done.   I have enjoyed life and shared my tales with many through my writing.   But most of the time it has been through the voices of other names.  Like the one I am using now, I have never been myself when I share these tales.  So you might say that I have been living other lives and other voices.

The chance I am being given will allow me to tell my stories and experiences through my own voice and with my real identity.  Unfortunately I will not be sharing that name here, so do not ask.  It will be a writing position where I will have a desk for the first time in my life that is not in my own house.   I will have people wandering aimlessly around me with that same blank, lost expression that people tend to get when they are in a cubicle farm.

I am not belittling the new role I will have, in fact the feeling of having an office or cubicle is so rereshing to me that it is exciting.  I will have a new, refreshing, level of monotony in my life, a regularity that I have not had before.  I will not have to always search for something to write about, many times it will be handed to me.

I will miss writing things like this, and who knows…  Maybe I will hand a story to Samuel from time to time and have him post it.  We shall see.

I have two more articles in my commitment to this site and I am going to make them good for you guys.  But I would like to, before I forget, thank Samuel for letting me be apart of this and best wishes to Rian, his other writer.

 

Penmanship – A lost art?

I recently read an article by Louise Brown called “Why Johnny can’t sign his name”, and I have to admit that it was a little disheartening.

I can, personally, recall many hours as a child trying to get my cursive looking like something vaguely similar to what the teacher was showing us.  I recall with a certain amount of horror the many hours, or so it seemed, of practicing curves and loops on lined paper so that I could be ready for my days of writing everything in cursive.

If, through the course of these lessons, I fell off some, it would show in the form of a note on my report card.  I would always fall a little short on this part and never brought home anything better than a C or C+ for cursive.  This was mostly my own fault, I think there may have been part of me that sensed I was going to be in computers or engineering when I grew up, so I did not try as hard at the time.

I do not use cursive today, in fact, I have not written in cursive for many, many years.  It was just never something that was comfortable to me or for me to do.  It felt, for lack of any better explanation, alien to me.  But then again, I was never a fast writer and cursive, while being sold to us as a fast alternative, never really helped me write any faster.

All this being said and my personal demons with this way of writing aside, I am dismayed that this is not being taught in schools as much these days.   I see it as an important program that is being taken away, not so much for the intrinsic value of being able to WRITE in cursive, but the fact that there is something so much more human about writing.

If I receive a letter or note from someone that is written in longhand, it means so much more to me than if I am sent an email.  For example, I occasionally get “E-Cards” from people for my birthday, and I do appreciate that, but it seems so… disposable.   When I get a real, paper, greeting card in the mail, that means something.  Someone took the time to buy a card, sit down and write a message to me.  Even if it is something as simple as “Happy Birthday Sam, hope you are doing well.”   That means they took the time and effort for me.  In my opinion, that is a perfect example of quality over quantity.

I will get letters from my mother from time to time, and she still writes longhand and cursive.  That beautiful script that they taught so many years ago with the long sweeping arcs for the letters and flourishes here and there.  Letters that look like maybe they should have come from nobility or royalty.  Well… she is my mother, so to me, they are.  But I note that even in my time, when I was a child, penmanship was not taught with the level of importance that it was in her time.  And when my son goes to school, I wonder if they will even bother with pens, pencils or paper at all.

One thing in her article that stood out to me was this quote:

“Under the language curriculum, it’s mentioned briefly about six times between Grade 3 and 8, so it’s a choice for students,” she said — not a must. “The real focus is to be digitally literate and to think creatively.”

While I do agree that we need to make sure that the youth in school needs to have a good grasp of the IT world, I think that to deprive them of the basic ability to convey their thoughts on paper is foolish.  There is strong evidence that people retain more by writing it down and organize their thoughts better of they have a habit of writing, than if they merely make a note in a Word document.  Further, the quote leads me to think that someone out there thinks that by writing longhand, we are limiting our creativity.  This is pure silliness.  Some of my best ideas have some from hashing things out in longhand and then translating them to the PC.

In short, penmanship is a dying discipline, so while the schools seem to be withdrawing from it, I think that we, as parents, need to break out the pens, pencils (quills if you have them) and start teaching this art ourselves.

Special thanks to Louise Brown for a great article.  I hope that you do not mind my citing your work here and linking to your article.

On the outside, looking in.

 

There is this story I have been working on that I would like to see become a book, one day.  In this story, one of the key groups of people are the plains Indians… or Plains Aboriginal Americans, as I feel more comfortable calling them.

To prepare for this, I have been doing a great deal of reading and researching on the various tribes that covered the great plains.  Reading what I can and speaking with those that will talk to me.  And that is where my problem lies.

When I was learning ASLAN (American Sign Language), my teacher warned me that not only is ASLAN itself a difficult language to learn, but the deaf community, as a whole, is a very closed one.  He warned me to not expect to be “accepted” into deaf groups was a whole, just because I could communicate with them.  And I did learn that this was true. With the exception of a couple times I stepped in to help with a person asking, in Sign, for help or directions, many times I have tried to interact with people that were obviously signing, I was treated curtly or, in one case, ignored completely.

I have found that my efforts to learn about the Native tribes in my area have had similar results.  I have spoken to local members of the Yokuts, Cherokee and Chumash tribes, and while I find that they are willing to talk to me, I feel more that they are trying to give me the information and then dismiss me than wanting to help educate me.

I understand that I am not part of their community, I also understand that I am part of, historically, the reason that they have lost their land and their ways of life.  I will not deny any of that, but there is little I have had DIRECTLY to do with it, so I  am not sure why there seems to be this wall I have to contend with.

I suppose that I do, in part, understand their point, if I really do look at it.  There are many cases throughout history where a people have been put in dire circumstances like that and those that survived or those that were survived by their elders to continue their stories, have been remiss in sharing with those that were considered outsiders.  Take, for example, those that survived the Holocaust.  I have known, personally, two people that survived the death camps, and both of them were very difficult to get to talk about it.  Not because they did not want to share, but because… as one of them put it for me… “How do you share your emotions with another over your own pending death and the genocide of our people?”

What happened to the Aboriginal Americans was no less than genocide…  and as the offspring of Irish and Scottish immigrants who came over with the initial wave of colonists, I am sure that somewhere in my history, my lineage shares in that responsibility and guilt.

I have learned a lot through my writing and reading about the peoples that made up the Plainsmen.  This is a piece of history that we are rapidly losing, and while the story I am writing is not going to help that history, I will continue to work on getting all I can from those that are willing to sit with me and learn.

As always… thank you for your time and your comments are encouraged.

 

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