sunday scribblings: chronicles

We’ll get there eventually, but let’s link arms and walk together for a moment.

When I first saw that “chronicles” was the prompt of Sunday Scribblings this week, I wondered what in the heck I’d write about.

I first thought of The Chronicle, a large part of my daily life many moons ago during college. I never worked on the paper, although looking back, I wish I would have, so I could’ve written about that internal struggle–not having the confidence to pursue writing earlier. Eh. Another time.

Then I thought fictionally, and imagined a middle-aged woman cleaning out her deceased father’s apartment with whom she never had a close relationship–figuring out what to keep so as to chronicle his life for the next generation when she, in fact, had no idea what kind of life he had. But then I realized that I scribbled about death last week, and also wrote about my deceased grandmother a few days ago, and well, I’m just about deathed out.

So then this morning I went up to the piazza for my morning cappuccino and was greeted with this scene:

And I thought about writing of this woman chronicling her life through the items she makes. In years past, it was very common here for a young signorina to make all of her own linens for her house, embroidering and whatnot. I imagine that as time goes on, many women crafted more things with their hands–scarves, blankets, linens for children–that if taken together would chronicle a given woman’s life. But this would end up being about death too, wouldn’t it? So let’s call these my photos for “chronicles.”

So I’m thinking there are just so many different ways to chronicle a life, which led me to this:

I’ve always loved writing. Yes, composing, but I’m talking about the physical act of putting ink to paper and forming letters, then words. I used to play with my handwriting all the time, often copying the style of a favorite teacher, making the M in my signature all different ways. One of my favorite M’s was stolen from a framed picture in my room that had my name written in cursive and proclaimed what little girls are made of.

I used to love writing so much that one day when I found my mom’s handwritten notes from nurses’ training, I decided to write them over. I was probably about 10 years old, so of course I had no idea what anything meant, but that didn’t matter. I loved writing, and so I got my looseleaf and favorite pens and went to work.

I remember struggling to read my mom’s handwriting, an odd mix of cursive and printing–so not allowed in a structured 10-year-old’s mind. “What’s this Mom?” must’ve driven her crazy. I don’t know how many pages I ended up copying (I’m guessing not many because I bore quickly), but I do remember imagining myself in a big room, surrounded by other people my age, furiously scribbling as a talking head in the front used a lot of words with many syllables.

Yeah, I was a geek, so I actually fantasized about being in school, but more than that, I see now that I was channeling a part of my mom’s life that I’d never be able to experience. I was able to sit there with her, writing words I wouldn’t understand for another 10 years. All because she didn’t chuck her notes.

Fast forward many years, and you know what? I, too, still have all my notes from college and law school. And perhaps I flatter myself to think that someday, someone might be so inclined to recopy them just to feel closer to me, but for what it’s worth, they’re there. I went three-hole punch happy and man, what a chronicle of that stage in my life I’ve made.

I have journals, letters, and scrapbooks from those years as well, but the academic experience was undeniably a big part of my development too. Who knows what was occupying my thoughts as I learned about evolution, the development of the prison system, Tennyson, Whitman, Yeats? Granted it was most likely Cute English Boy, but I could’ve had an interesting thought here and there. Maybe.

Someday, if I’m so inclined, I can find out. And so can future generations, if I manage to keep track of everything. And as an added bonus, we can even trace the development of my handwriting, which if you’re curious, has ended up looking a lot like my mom’s weird mix of cursive and printing.

I still do that M from the picture though.


[tags]sunday scribblings, chronicles, handwriting, old notes[/tags]

20 Beans of Wisdom to “sunday scribblings: chronicles”
  1. Giulia

    Eeeek, I have so much catching up to do! How did those two little old ladies react to your taking a photo of them? I think I will go make a nice cappuccino and drink it while I read the rest of your entries. What rulebook says cappuccinos are only meant to be indulged in the mornings?! *wink*

  2. Frances

    I used to try and write all different ways too.
    Your post brought my Italian nona to mind. She passed away in ’03 at nearly 93.
    She was really something.

  3. alphawoman

    Interesting post. I love the pictures of the old women. My handwriting is a mix of cursive and letters too! Recently I have developed a dramatic down stroke. Have no idea where or why…I just do it and feel something akin to satisfaction when I do it…hmmmmm. I have an image in my head of little 10 years old girls with their tongues in the corner of their mouths writing copious notes wearing dresses and ankle socks!

  4. Waspgoddess

    I very much enjoyed reading about your love of writing, which I sense runs much deeper than a simple enjoyment of storytelling.

    I too recall spending countless hours trying out different ways of writing my name. In the end I settled for a signature that resembles a slightly neurotic cardiac curve πŸ™‚

    Btw — thanks for getting me hooked on Sunday scribblings.

  5. gautami tripathy

    My grand mother is 89 years old. She still does knitting and embroidery. Thanks for posting this.


  6. Delena

    i remember doing the exact same thing, digging up everyone’s notes that i could and copying them just to practice writing. I’d spend hours trying different writing styles, writing in cursive and stringing all the letters together to see if i could write a whole page and never pick the pen up off the paper. i ended up with these strange, maze-like trails all over the page.

    i’d forgotten all about that part of my life. thank you for bringing it back. =)

  7. Becslifeonline

    I think I have just as much of a passion for words/writing (and reading) as you ha ha. Have you ever thought to get your hand writing “read” to see what it says about you? I don’t really believe that they’re true but it would be a bit of fun and might be interesting, you never know!

  8. Regina Clare Jane

    I think its wonderful that you have so many tangible memories of those earlier years… and its amazing to me how many young people don’t know how to write cursive these days! They are missing ut on something so wonderful!
    Thanks for a lovely post!

  9. The Other Girl

    My handwriting is also a mix of script and printing; supposedly, that indicates creativity, although I assume I read that in one of the unreliable publications I’m always looking at, so . . . you know.

    Great pictures, as usual.

  10. Kelly Parra

    Hello, good to meet you and I love the photos. I’ve never been to Italy, but I’m part Italian as is my husband. πŸ™‚

  11. metalia

    Hi πŸ™‚ I found you through Guinness Girl.

    This was such a sweet post; and it brought up such memories…I remember pretending to write like me mom, even though it was just a bunch of scribbles. I also kept all my notes from school. I don’t even know why, but it was very rewarding when I recently stumbled across my journal from 3rd grade, opened it up to a page at random, and cracked up, as it read: “Dear Journal, I got a 78 on the Math Test. I am Dead. Maybe I will live in the garage.”

  12. ginkers

    There is something about a nonna isn’t there? I wanted to try to distil the wisdom of mine into some kind of book. She was full of wise sayings like “a joke’s a joke but that’s beyond a joke” and fatalistic pronouncements like “ah si, uno nasce, uno muore…”.

  13. sognatrice

    Thanks for all the comments, and from so many new readers! Glad I could bring back some memories, especially of those Italian nonnas πŸ™‚ It’s good to know I wasn’t alone in my handwriting exercises.

    Bec, I got my handwriting analyzed by a machine at a fair one time, but I don’t remember what it said. I definitely believe in that sort of thing, though, and would find it most interesting to see how I changed as demonstrated by my handwriting. Now to get all those old journals in one place–preferably on this continent.

    Metalia, I hope you never had to live in your garage. Unless, of course, it was one of those redone, hip ones they always have on TV, in which case, I hope you got a lot of 78s.

    And Ginkers, my favorite quip of my grandmother’s: “You can’t win for losing.”

  14. sognatrice

    Oh, Giulia, I forgot to say that those old women just kept on doing what they were doing, didn’t even pay attention to me. Of course they’re used to me by now πŸ™‚

  15. Bongga Mom

    I like your interpretation of chronicles… how you can chronicle your life through your crafts/hobbies (embroidery for the ladies and handwriting for you)!

  16. Miss Eliza

    i love this post… i, too, feel a need every once in a while to reinvent my handwriting – i always study other peoples’ and steal the things i find most compelling. Maybe you should scan a sample so we can see it – then i can snake something of yours!

  17. Karina

    This was wonderful. I’m so glad you did this meme so we all had a chance to read some of your earlier posts, before we’d discovered you. This one I completely identified with, especially since I’ve just recently found my old journals, and am slowly going through all of them, admiring not just how I wrote, but what I chose to write about at any given time.

  18. sognatrice

    *Bonggamom, so many different ways to leave our marks on the world…literally πŸ˜‰

    *Miss Eliza, hmm, maybe I *will* post a sample someday….

    *Karina, lucky you! I love looking through old journals; I wish I had more of mine here.

  19. andie summerkiss

    You wrote so passionately about your love of writing. That’s really beautiful.

  20. sognatrice

    Andie, thanks, and thanks for going back and reading all these posts πŸ™‚

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

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