After a series of ‘we have no idea what is going on’ things at the place where I work, the horror of shorthand (which I thought I had completed… I even went out and had a celebratory ‘thank god shorthand is over’ dinner) is back… and this time, I have to get 120 words per minute. Our new teacher isn’t un-nice, but she isn’t ‘nice’ either. She deals with shorthand with a disconcerting passive agressive professionalism that makes me really uneasy.
I was willing to throw myself in to this with a moderate amount of gusto. Yeah, it will look good on my CV. Yeah, it’s a good skill for a journo to have. I don’t have any choice in the matter so I may as well get over my resentment, I thought. But then the hideous of it all dawned upon me.
And to top it off, apparently I am a shorthand spastic. I hold my pen in a way that means I will never achieve more than 80 words per minute, and apparently my priority now is to change the way I hold my pen, rather than to actually get fast at shorthand, which was my personal priority. In fact I would sum up my shorthand goals as ‘get 120 wpm asap and get the f*ck out of there’. Now it’s all about pen grips. Special ed shorthand.
So now, I am having to change the way I hold my pen. I have been holding my pen like that since, like, I dunno, the age of 4 or something. So it’s not easy to change. And there is a sentimental element as well. I held my pen like that while stumbling over tracing the ABCs in kindy. I held it like that while writing long bitter entries about how much life sucks in my diaries as a teen (now I just type them… yay for blogs!). I held it like that while writing copious notes at school about who was a bitch and who wasn’t. I held it like that when drawing all those calculus graphs that I have NFI how to do now. And I held it like that while tearing through pages and writing essays on contextual readings of King Lear and industrial methods of chemical production in my HSC.
I didn’t really hold it like that at uni, cos I didn’t really make any notes throughout my entire degree. But I held my pen the way I hold it now when I was trying to make it in to the heady, high stakes world of community journalism. And now the bar has been raised, and the spazzy pen grip that has got me this far has to be discarded. Like a pair of shoes from last season.
Holding my pen the right way makes my handwriting look really messy, almost as bad as my brothers. And it has slowed me down. And it feels weird.
At the end of the day, does it matter how you hold the pen? It’s not how you hold it, it’s what you do with it, dammit!
I’m trying to fall back on my high school teachers pet ways (kiss ass and you always pass)… but I dunno if it’s going to get me through this time.