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May 19, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Hand Cramps: The Lost Art of Letter Writing

I love mail. 

I love opening the mailbox, peering into the shadowy postal depths, and seeing a stack of envelopes. 

I should really stop loving this, because it’s been a long time that any of the mail I’ve received was any good.  It’s always bills, junk mail, catalogues for places that we can’t afford to shop at, free address labels from foundations that really should have used that label money for their foundations, and bills for the neighbors that accidentally got stuffed in our box.  I did get a wedding invitation the other day (Jennipher with a PH is getting married!!), but other than that, it’s all crap, I tell you.

Come to think of it though, why would I expect any good mail?  I never send any.  You have to send mail to get mail.  You have to be a good letter writer to get good letters. 

So I sat down the other day to write my grandmother a letter.  I wanted to send her some pictures of her great-grandchildren.  I was two lousy sentences into the letter when my hand started hurting with unbearable cramps!  Well this is strange, I thought.  I remember I used to be able to write essays…long essays, by hand.  Sheesh, that was only…

Twelve years ago.

I started thinking about it to make sure.  The best estimate I can come up with is, it’s been twelve years since I’ve written anything down, other than a grocery list.  What happened twelve years ago to make me stop writing?  Was I in a tragic pen accident?  Did I develop a serious allergy to stationery?

You know the answer to this one.  I got a computer twelve years ago.  And I probably got a printer, too.  The muscles in my hands have been retrained to type like a madwoman, but they have been rendered useless when faced with a pencil.  This is quite pathetic.  I still hold a deep fondness for paper, unique pens, cool stationery like the kind you buy at Papyrus, etc.  But why bother?  I’m hand-icapped.

So I typed out a letter to my grandmother, printed it out, and signed in on the bottom.  It felt weird and too formal, as if I was sending in communication to my attorney or something.  But the hand cramps left me no other choice.   





Leave a Comment
  1. Thomas Brusso / Feb 17 2010 8:24 pm


  2. elementaryteacher / May 23 2008 11:12 pm

    I used to write very long letters by hand, and have no problem doing it (like the equivalent of five typed pages, single-spaced). But now that I have access to a computer, and can touch type very well, I no longer have the PATIENCE to sit down and write a very long letter.

    I teach third grade, and at least in our school, we still teach penmanship in third grade. I get the children to a very good standard before leaving Grade 3. Will they use this skill in their lives? I think so. Sure, their handwriting will get destroyed by fast note-taking as they get older. But when they need to write well (to a boss, on a love letter, on an invitation) they will be able to, and not be ashamed of their handwriting.

    Someone told me the other day that at some schools in America, kids are not even being taught to write with a pencil, but to type at five years old. This concerns me because their finger reach is too small to teach them touch typing. They will be learning the hunt-and-peck method, which will create bad habits hard to break later. By bad habits, I mean it will be hard to unlearn, in order to learn touch typing.

    In my opinion, touch typing is about the most valuable skill you have have. When I was young, we were all required to take touch typing in Grade 7, and get to a speed of about 35 words a minute. I later took a typing course in high school that got me up to about 55 accurately. That enabled me to get a job when I needed one. I later got up to 65-70.

    Then I moved overseas where they have French keyboards, all in a different arrangement, and it took me about a year to retrain myself to type on a French keyboard. Now I can’t switch back to English easily, but luckily there is a switch on the computers at school (which are in English) that you can just change it to a French keyboard.

    I am able to switch to English after about three days, but then I can’t type on any other keyboards in my country (which are all in French and Arabic) for about three more days while my brain switches back to the French keyboard!

    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas

  3. Christine / May 20 2008 9:33 pm

    You know I’d *hate* it if you pulled a palm muscle or something. That might actually require therapy!

  4. maleesha / May 20 2008 8:38 pm

    ha…i think it will be okay once its back to solid keyboard use

  5. Christine / May 20 2008 8:35 pm

    ROFL! Aw, is your poor little hannie gonna be ok? 😉

That's what she said!

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