A Random Image

Jett Superior laid this on you on || July 27, 2013 || 12:39 am

I have a manual typewriter now. If typewriters had vehicle classifications, this one would be a cast-iron tank. It squats elegantly –if imposingly– on the livingroom desk. It would make a good burglar-killer if I could get that sumbitch hauled up over my head without tipping over backwards. This typewriter was built to outlive my grandkids and maybe even their kids. It is not fucking around with its here-ness.

I hope there is at least one person out there who never gets tired of making ribbons for it while I still have breath in me.

I sat down to write on it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I was unsure of how firm I should be with the keystrokes. What passed as a comfortable action for my fingers felt somehow soft and insubstantial, so after the first couple of words rendered with two hands I poked the keys without mercy, two-fingered and savage.

Oh Lordy, the typos. But I am more adept at keyboarding  with two fingers and ten minutes than some people are with ten fingers and two hours, so there’s that. It’s like my favorite drunk says: “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.”

The paper kicked up above the platen and I noticed little stars in it. For a minute, anyway, that’s what my brain thought, “Now there is a brand-new one: You have gone and typed stars onto paper,” then the inner capitalist kicked in and next I thought, “Holy SHIT, am I ever going to be RICH.”

Then sense came in and started stamping out the flames of imagination delirium: It was only the loud bulb of the lamp shoving its way through tiny holes I’d made in the paper with my no-holds-barred two-fingering madness*.  There were no stars on my paper. I’d knocked out tiny holes; I was using my typewriter as a paper punch: Cut that shit out.

I unclamped the beginnings of the letter and pulled it off the roller to examine it. It was after three in the morning and I wasn’t about to retype it.  I did, however, marvel at the mess I’d made of its backside before rolling it back into the machine, lining it up again as best I could, and finishing it off.

I even remarked on it in the text itself: Holy crap, I’ve made your letter into braille. The recipient will be able to read it into her old age, no matter if time steals her eyes. My overeager indexes outdid themselves. Kind of. I guess.

I’m pretty good at humiliating myself and most of the time I’m comfortable with that state of affairs.

Here I was, though, having sent what I thought was my haphazard braille out across some miles and the recipient said back, “You made lace of the paper.”

I looked at that letter and saw braille. She looked at it and saw lace. Perception is weird like that.

The people that can see the lace are the good stuff of life, and I’m sort of prone to finding them in the oddest ways.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Is there a non-WASPy way to say, “Hey y’all, I’m in a really great space right now.”?  Because I am. My bones holler and fuss. My heart sings to spite them. I am glad for today.

*Google is going to LOVE that sentence

10 worked it out »

  1. DeeMickSee 7.27.2013

    Love it. Makes me wanna go buy a lace/star/Braille making machine again!

  2. Jon 7.27.2013

    I’m terrified of typewriters. I choke sentences until they comply. Can’t imagine typing something and having it just be there, defiant, permanent, what I did.

    (this comment was edited)

  3. duff 7.27.2013

    Does it make me shallow to say that I see this as a way to resurrect WhiteOut?

    Typing (the real kind) takes muscle, skill and word concoction aforethought. I was taught to do it my a crusty old nun with a ruler and a sharp tongue….builds character…

  4. Jett Superior 7.27.2013

    Duff and Jon:
    You know, I’m finding a lot of satisfaction in rows of Xes, big and small, covering-not-covering my finger’s indiscretions and my brain’s first pass at something.

    I might lose patience with that someday, there’s no telling.

  5. René 7.27.2013

    I love the ripple of emphatic words on paper. Love this.

    BTW, Dave tells me that typewriters are still big in parts of India and Africa. You may need to start taking typewriter ribbon pilgrimages.

  6. Jett Superior 7.27.2013

    My dearest René, this is so weird, because a friend and I just set a goal to go over for Holi in 2015. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

  7. Sarah 7.28.2013

    Hey. I’m glad (that last bit).

  8. Didactic Pirate 7.28.2013

    Well. Either way, it sounds like art to me.
    Who freakin’ rocks? That would be you.

  9. jon 8.12.2013

    Retro! Yuck! As a person who’s compulsively careful with his words, I see no difference between a typewriter and a computer.

    Although…the sounds would be different. The clicks would be so writerly. Love it.

    Did you ever get my postcard?

  10. EarnestGirl 8.14.2013

    I am told (by Ton Hanks, in his ode to typewriters essay from this weekend’s NYT) that ribbons are still readily available online.

    But going to India to fetch them would be a much better story.

    Stars / lace. Tomaytoe / tomahtoe. Keep at it. Tis a fine old art. And like every art, the holder of the brush changes the stroke.


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