I was journaling while waiting for Nate to meet me for dinner the other night at this pub downtown. They were cranking 90s Radiohead and I was LIVING. But, dang, you wouldn’t believe the looks I was getting for doing it WITH A PEN AND NOTBEOOK.
Anyway, my super sweet waitress came up to me and she was like: “Can I get you something to drink?”
I order my pint of lager beer (Guys, Californians like beer — they actually drink carbs like the rest of the country!) and after I was done ordering I thanked her… yet she lingered. She made eye contact with my open journal then to me then back to the journal. If this was a scene in a movie, the camera would pan to a close up of her eyes, down to my Moleskin, to a close up to my eyes (with a “not sure what’s going on right now” look in their gleam) and back to her eyes. Finally she says:
“Wait, so are you actually handwriting something?”
I nod excitedly.
“Wow… like, who does that anymore…?” She said as she typed my drink order into HER IPAD.
(Oh, did I forget to mention that my waitress was like, the ripe age of eighteen?)
I nodded and smiled as she shook her head confused then shrugged and said something like, “I can’t remember the last time I did that. Wow, that’s vintage.”
VINTAGE?! She used the word “vintage” to describe writing with your hands on paper!?
So while she was away I tried to think of this teacher/writer/humanitarian-ish grand speech to give her to inspire her to put done her tablet/iphone/Mac and to use her ::Dun dun dunnn: fingers to write. I thought I could tell her how I still write in my journal everyday. That I take NOTES in it. That the way the computer soaks the moisture out of your eyes for staring it too long is the same way I feel it does to my soul — sucking all it’s juice click after click after link after app after email after email. And so when writing on a piece of paper with a pen, I at least get this feeling that is so epic and nourishing and freeing that it goes beyond the feeling one might get if they see a triple rainbow or a unicorn jumping through a triple rainbow. I wanted to hand my nearly full journal to my waitress and tell her to take it and write something RIGHT NOW, anything. Just write it using your own handwriting and NOT in Helvetica/New Times Roman pt. 12. Let’s do this TOGETHER!
I do this thing with my high school writing students where I make them journal for five minutes. I call the time “Brain Barfing.” I just want the kids to come in to the classroom and let everything bubbling up in their ever-expanding minds to come out on the page. The tactic feeling of physically words fall out of your body through your finger tips has proven to be therapeutic. At first the kids were like, “Booo, handwriting’s for chumps.” But now they walk in to the classroom and start the process before it even happens. I can’t tell you the awesome feeling I get watching this go down, but nothing was more AWESOME-ER than when one of the student say: “I can’t remember the last time I wrote something with my hands that wasn’t a math problem or notes for a class. My fingers usually hurt from texting too fast, but not my wrist hurts. I like it!”
So why shouldn’t I do the same thing for this waitress that clearly doesn’t write anything because she was taking our order (sorry, can I repeat this?) ON AN IPAD!!!! Maybe I could tell her to take a seat and we’d have this human connection where I show her how to use her pen on a piece of blank paper to write her feelings. Instead of her tweeting a wondrous thought, she could actually journal about it! I imagine she’d suddenly come to this realization that she was living her young life all wrong and will NEVER take writing in a journal for granted. Then, this light from above would shine down on us because a miracle had been made! And we’d both scream: “Can I get a WITNESS!” lifting our pens in to the bright light with “Hallelujah” playing on full blast!
So, when the waitress finally returned with my pint of beer, I opened my mouth, gathered the passionate words in my throat and said:
Maybe my passion was distracted by the glistening golden alcoholic liquid that I was about to enjoy. Or maybe me explaining the joy out of writing in notebooks is like someone explaining to me the joy of NOT using a calculator to solve math problems — which, guys, is just plain gross.
Later that night, after Nate joined me and we caught up on our day while swigging a few more beers and splitting these duck confit covered fries that are too ridiculous not to mention in this story, our bill came. After Nate’s eyes bulged at how much we spent, I looked under the total where there was this little a arrow doodle pointing to the back of the receipt. We turned it over and it read:
“Thanks for being really cool. I enjoyed meeting you both. Have a great night.”
… and it was handwritten.