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Getting a handle on my handwriting

I jot little notes to myself throughout the day: ideas for things to write about or guests to book on my podcast, items to pick up from the store, bills to pay or people I need to respond to on email, exotic carbohydrates (I begin each podcast by addressing my listeners as some type of starchy treat like, “Hello my little pretzel bites!” It may seem silly and somewhat arduous because I’m constantly in search of new and different unused carbohydrates, but I must give the people what they want.)

I recently fished my notepad from my purse and was shocked to discover my most recent great idea:

“Tobbgob concecle ubron” I tried to sound it out. Some kind of concert apron? Some kind of urban concrete? Neither of these seemed like things I would need to remember. It was then that I made a decision — and this may not be going the direction you expect — I need to get a handle on my illegible handwriting.

For years now it’s been the kind of thing that I can make out but other people can’t read. My signature often misses a couple letters, “Alisa Rose” is likely what you’d guess if you were forced. Thank-you notes must appear, to the people who receive them, like riddles. When I’m writing something important, like a casual breezy note tossed off to personalize some kind of professional mailing, it takes me more than one try to make sure I’ve included the appropriate number of letters in each word. Put a pen in my hand and suddenly my hand has a seizure. I fear fancy stationary.

Part of the problem is I haven’t decided whether I’m printing or handwriting. Are these even taught in school anymore? Do these words mean anything to the young people? Back in my day, handwriting meant cursive, a method of writing taught in second grade where you placed your pencil on the paper at the beginning of the word and didn’t lift it up until the end. It was very loopy and fancy and adult. Printing on the other hand involved discrete letters not connected by loops and squiggles. If you were a teenage boy or architect, you chose to write in tiny capital letters, which, if you ask me, has got to take forever.

These days I commit to neither.

The letters, if you call them that, are formed with short jerky motions, some of them connecting, some of them not. My penmanship looks like someone’s EKG read out if that person was having a heart attack.

Back to second grade: I wasn’t awful at handwriting. We had triangular rubber sleeves we’d slide onto our pencils to force the proper grip (also, a lot of kids would take to chewing them to ease the pain of new braces) and we practiced on newsprint paper with gigantic guidelines. Two solid lines and a broken line in the middle. And it all went well except for the fact the capital Q looked like a 2 and the capital G seemed overly loopy, almost like it belonged on sheet music. So at some point I started making the Q’s the way I wanted and making the G’s the way I wanted, and then slowly all the cursive became unlearned and now my writing resembles Morse code.

Part of it is that I’m always trying to write as quickly as possible. I’m trying to write in shorthand but using longhand. I’m going to have to pay attention when other people write by hand. Are they constantly saying, “Wait, hang on!” like the world’s worst court reporter?

I never do. I just act as if I’m getting it all and hope when I refer back, I can make it out.

Which brings me back to urban concrete.

It’s not the worst idea, nor is it the best. Arguably it’s redundant. But it’s certainly not what I was trying to write.

Hear more from Alison Rosen on her podcast, “Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend” or on the immensely popular “Adam Carolla Show” podcast. Follow her on Twitter @alisonrosen or visit her website at www.

alisonrosen.com !

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