27
Nov
06

Life Change

Though we often feel like helpless puppets in the manipulative world around us, I think we can often take some small comfort in the ability to make changes in ourselves, however minor, just to prove that we have some control over something.

I don’t remember when it was or what prompted it, but I do remember that there was a precise moment when I decided to write my nines like upside-down sixes in one counter-clockwise motion from the top down, my eights as two circles rather than starting them like an S and crossing back to the original point, and my twos as they appear in print, with a sharp point where the arc meets the baseline rather than that loop many people use.

A friend of mine in high school wrote her nines like a lowercase G. I always appreciated her attempt to restore the curve to the descending half of the numeral, but … well, it looked like a “g.” I fancied that my version represented a slight improvement.

Similarly, I didn’t care for the sharp point in the northeast corner of the shorthand eight. And, when written quickly, it looked like it had a couple loose threads that could get caught on a passing descendor and unravel the whole thing. The shorthand two looked sloppy and lazy to me, too. So, I sharpened my twos and rounded my eights.

Notably, perhaps, I did not opt to draw dashes through my sevens. That would have just been European and pretentious.

I began practicing my new twos and eights and nines immediately, secretly hoping someone would notice and comment on them. I thought they looked masculine and deliberate. Solid. Strong. Not loopy and soft. I found a new zeal for balancing my checkbook. I copied page numbers during college research assignments with glee.

For a time, I tried to extend this to punctuation. I tried to make apostrophes and quotation marks like little “sixes” and “nines” — out of a sense of correctness and a temporary aversion to hash marks and ditto marks — but that didn’t hold for long. Who has time to fill in the little holes?

How does this demonstrate control? I guess it’s just something little, a miniature reinvention. If only I could apply the same energy to, say, how much I drink every week — or how often I go to the gym.

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