At least some exposure to cursive, please—or am I just a handwriting purist?

¶ Several months ago I had to write a letter. It had to be addressed to one of these two siblings, an eight year old girl and an eleven year old boy. I settled for the eight year old girl. There was no computer around, and I was pressed for time, so I chose to write in cursive (I write faster). But wait. What if the girl didn’t know how to read cursive? So I asked their aunt, “Do they know how to read cursive?” Fortunately, she said yes, they did.

¶ If the aunt had said no, then at least I wouldn’t have to start the letter over and write in print, as I had asked her beforehand. But I have been in situations where I have had to rewrite things because people could not read my handwriting. Not that it was messy, but because they weren’t able to read cursive. Not even some adults could read my cursive—it was beautiful, they said, but it was like a foreign language. And for this, I’m slightly annoyed that I have to write more in print, but I’m also concerned.

¶ My elementary years were already in an era with computers; teachers were not very strict with cursive. In third grade, when they started teaching students cursive, we would write in workbooks using the Zaner-Bloser method. We would not get graded on the quality of our cursive. The quality of my own cursive, however, mattered to me. Ever since I was a kindergartner, I, having already mastered printing, was eager to learn cursive. It looked so elegant, with its graceful loops. So my mom taught me how to form the letters; my dad, a teacher, would give me workbooks and worksheets using the Palmer method. Every day, in my free time, I’d always try to improve my cursive. Even today, I love to practice calligraphy and am trying to learn Spencerian penmanship.

20170103_180837
My print and cursive writing. I was too lazy to add a capital alphabet and a pangram for my print letters.

¶ And modern education continues to relax its emphasis on cursive. I asked a group of teenagers, “When was the last time you wrote in cursive?” I got responses such as “Yesterday,” or “Just now,” or “Last week,” but the most common was “Can’t remember,” or “Several years ago.” Other responses were, “I was never taught cursive at all.” This is the part that concerns me. If more and more people cannot read cursive—if cursive remains neglected altogether, how will people try to make sense of things from the past, written in this style? And does that mean the people that do write cursive will have to forget this writing style in order to assimilate into a world of print? I love writing in cursive due to its sophisticated form and the fact that it makes writing quicker when I don’t have access to a typing keyboard of some sort. But sometimes I feel like I must give it up in order to be understood.

¶ Reading all this, one might come to the conclusion that I am a handwriting purist, that I must hate modern technology and I long for the days when schools taught Spencerian script. Those were the good old days, eh?

  1. If I hated technology, you would not be reading this because I wouldn’t have a blog. I also have an email, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+. Furthermore, like countless others today, I have a computer addiction. I hope it will go away this 2017.
  2. Despite my belief that being able to read cursive is necessary, I find several problems with teaching cursive as a core class with a grading system and all that.

¶ You see, if we taught cursive as a core class with a grading system, what we would be doing is insisting that there is only one way to write letters. They’d have to be at a certain slant, with the right roundness of loops, the right height, etc. This would be robbing kids of their individuality, as handwriting reflects personality. As an elementary kid, when I read the old-fashioned cursive workbooks my dad gave me, I noticed there would often be some kind of rubric chart for handwriting in the back of the books. This chart was meant to mark off the number of times the student got the pen grip/loops/slant angle wrong. At the time, my slant wasn’t that great (often inconsistent), my loops were sometimes closed, and to this day I have a faulty pen grip that I am trying to correct. “That’s terrible!” I remember saying. “If we were graded like this, I’d hate cursive by now!” It would be really petty to penalize someone with bad handwriting unless it’s totally illegible. “Content,” I remember my mom reminding me. “Not how pretty it is.” Teaching cursive like this would be a time waster. Why spend so much time on handwriting exercises when you could be learning programming or other skills more in twenty-first century demand?

0020
A printed version of the Declaration of Independence was actually what many American settlers read, not the fancy cursive one.

¶ As said above, I think students should learn how to read cursive in order to read things from the past. However, this only applies to personal documents, such as letters and diaries. There are many typewritten versions of other documents with more prestige, such as the Declaration of Independence, that solve the problem of not being able to read important historical documents written in cursive; you can search them up on the Internet and find the content of the documents without the beautiful lettering. The need for cursive as a signature is also being taken over by modern technology. Instead of a cursive signature, you can use a thumb print, or you can take a photo of a check and send it to your bank. There is almost no doubt that in the future these methods of authenticity will spread to other areas currently requiring written signatures, and today a printed signature won’t make a difference.

¶ Furthermore, while exposure to cursive is necessary, the practicality of cursive is questionable. Not everyone finds it quicker to write in cursive. A lot of people who grew up with cursive don’t actually use cursive anymore, and if they do, it’s some print-cursive hybrid. (Except me. My handwriting is either strictly cursive or strictly print. Personally, I could never stand writing in a print-cursive hybrid. I don’t know why.) For some people, like me, pure cursive is practical, but what works best for me may not work best for others, who might prefer print or a hybrid.

¶ So what do I think is the best way to expose cursive to today’s kids? Well, as its staunch supporters say, cursive is an art form. Therefore, it makes sense to teach cursive in an art class, along with long-since-used letterforms such as Uncials and Gothic styles. True, even art classes are often removed from schools in order to save money. But that’s a discussion for another time.

On wrapping up 2016

2016 has been a rough year. We all know about the heated political debates, causing great tension between families and friends. Those who do not support Trump are devastated about the outcome of the election and afraid for their lives. So many people have died. Alan Rickman. Prince. Muhammad Ali. There are the killings of innocent Blacks by police and the destruction of Aleppo. 2016 has not even stopped for the holidays, as we are mourning the deaths of George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds. They died on the first, third, and fourth day of Christmas (respectively). It makes me wonder what death(s) we will mourn tomorrow, and the day after that, and so on.

It’s not just the world outside me–it’s also the world within me that has experienced many difficulties this year. Relationships with friends have been especially rocky. In April I made a dear friend so angry he blocked me for a month on Instagram (we’ve made up since then). That was the time I developed anxiety.

This year has definitely been a year of opening up change and discussion for both myself and the world, but it’s just the beginning. I see people say, “Thank God 2016’s gonna be over, ’cause it sucks.” You think those struggles we’ve seen aren’t going to continue into 2017? I believe they were given to us to make us stronger. Let us not forget these dark days; for many, 2016 unveiled a world of brokenness that had been quietly tucked away for so long.

I’m sure it has also taught many people that the good times are fleeting. For some of us, that seems to be a redundant statement, but I know several people who have only known good times due to their societal privileges. Now they know how temporary things can be.

Nothing lasts; life goes on, full of surprises. You’ll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes…Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now.

—Avenue Q, in the song “For Now”

This doesn’t mean, though. For me, 2016 was not without little pockets of brightness. In 2016:

  • I finally opened up to many friends that I had ADHD. When I was diagnosed at the age of nine, my mom told me never to tell anyone except the teachers that I had it. She was afraid I would come home crying because my friends wouldn’t want to spend time with me anymore. And this went on for several years. Yet, throughout that period, I would notice that some of my friends would unknowingly make horrible, uninformed remarks about people with ADHD. And I felt like I couldn’t express myself as much. When I opened up, it brought about more respect for those with ADHD, as well as a greater knowledge of the condition.
  • I found out what a platonic life partnership is and formed one.
  • I met someone I love very much, but we are not in a relationship.
  • I joined my local church choir, where I play the violin and sing as an alto. This has helped me sightread music better when I sing.
  • My braiding skills significantly improved. Along with the classic braid, I can now do French, Dutch, lace, rope, fishtail, and countless other braids and variations.
  • My Spanish also greatly improved after years of not speaking it. In addition to that, I started learning Esperanto on Duolingo and Lernu.
  • I started another blog on social justice.
  • After one of my friends became very upset with me and blocked me for a month, I discovered Zentangle and started drawing a lot more in order to cope with the situation. I also ventured into calligraphy and lettering. You can see my art on my Instagram page.

Finally, 2016 has left me personally with a very important lesson. It has taught me to recognize and fight against the very real injustices people face, but at the same time, always look for positivity in the darkest of times. Previously, this was easy to do, but with anxiety, not anymore. In 2017 I will try to forgive and be more positive. Here’s to a prosperous and brighter year. Cheers!

What I’m Thankful For

I thought I’d also put this on here too. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Notes from the Female Odyssey

I haven’t been on in a long while. I don’t know; I suppose I really have been lacking motivation to blog. I think it’s because 2016 has just been such a bad year, I’ve been needing great amounts of time to process it all. There’s Brock Turner. Pulse. The millions of unconstitutional killings of Black men by police. Standing Rock. Oh, and who could forget the election of Donald Trump?

For many people, this Thanksgiving is going to be hard. There will be divided political opinions at dinner tables across America. (There are, already.) For me, at the surface of this, it almost feels inappropriate to celebrate the holiday because I have to consider all the bad events that have happened this year. (Even Thanksgiving itself has questionable origins; Native Americans see it as a Day of Mourning, the start of genocide and oppression by White people.)

Yet, in the midst…

View original post 505 more words

A humiliating lesson

When I was a baby, my mother wanted me to do well in school, so she taught me to read. I caught onto it quickly. Most of what I remember from my early childhood is Nanay (mom) taking me to the library, where I would borrow tons and tons of books. At the age of six I had picked up a book Nanay had already finished reading, The Anastasia Syndrome and Other Stories by Mary Higgins Clark. They were very interesting stories; the first short story, I remember, was about this historical writer who was separated from her family (and ultimately orphaned) during World War II, and the second story was about this guy who was totally obsessed with a girl from high school. Anyway, all this reading led me to be known as the smartest person in my kindergarten class.

Reading and intelligence wasn’t the only thing I was known for. People liked my handwriting and drawings–I’d been practicing my drawing by copying my dad’s drawings. Then my mom signed me up for the musical theater club after school. We put on an original play (I forgot what it was called) where I danced and sang “I’m a Little Teapot”. Afterwards I became known for singing, dancing, and acting.

In third grade my parents put me in a gifted program in another school. There I found more people like me, and naturally there was more competition. I remember in fourth grade, I was crying once because I was jealous of my best friend, who was smarter than me (I know it’s a petty reason). But I was still known for the things I was known for in my old school. I’d acquired two new talents as well: writing stories and playing the violin. In middle school, however, this started to change. There was even more competition because this wasn’t just a gifted program; it was a highly gifted program. I wasn’t the most popular girl around. I wasn’t hated, but I didn’t find a lot of the popular kids to be people I wanted to be friends with. By seventh grade, I was no longer known as much for the things I was known for in elementary school, except for the violin. More popular kids took my place. And then in eighth grade, even the violin reputation went to arguably the most popular girl, the student council president. 

I remember when I was little, I asked Nanay the meaning of ordinary. She told me and as part of an example, she said, “Tatay [dad] and I are ordinary. But you’re not ordinary. You’re special.” Well, now I didn’t feel special anymore. I too had slipped away into a world of ordinary. 

Yes, it’s quite clear that I was still known for a few talents, such as drawing and the violin. And as someone advised me, this hadn’t made me any worse at any of my talents. What had happened, though, was that up to this point I had taken the “believe in yourself” phrase with a grain of salt. I was quite spoiled. My self-esteem had been built on this foundation: the praises of others. When the praise subsided, the foundation wasn’t as strong. In the long run, it was a good experience for me, who had grown up being bit of a spoiled Special Snowflake™. I had to use self-affirmation and really work hard at the things I was good at. Frankly, I know this sounds bad, but I was not used to any of this, it was a humiliating moment. I suppose I was at an advantage for the longest time.

I realized that in most cases, this is how it works. You have your big moment and then people start directing their attention to a fresh face who may or may not be better than you. Praise is temporary. Therefore, you have to be careful not to rely on solely that. It needs to come from within. And for me, this was the greatest lesson of all.

The Fourth of July: day of…freedom and independence?

I have always approached the Fourth of July with joyful thoughts of playing American songs on my violin while seeing colorful fireworks (courtesy of the park near my house) splash across the darkened sky, above a traffic-jammed street; swimming, and eating grilled food. At the same time, I have also approached it with a feeling of confusion and loneliness. As a second generation Filipina born and raised in sunny Southern California, I have oftentimes struggled with my cultural identity, which isn’t made easier when there’s racism lurking about in society; I never knew whether I was truly American or not. I wasn’t part of the ideal American family I saw in picture books because I ate food no one ever seemed to know about. Sinigang? Kare Kare? Tinola? Didn’t ring a bell with most people. The only people who were truly American, I thought, were white Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans.

And then again, I observed as I grew up, racial-ethnic minorities–even if they were people I thought were “truly American”–seemed to have never gotten as much freedom as white people did. I learned of slavery and Native American genocide in the past, and the poverty in Native American reservations today. I learned that many times, black kids got the death penalty despite one of the Amendments stating something against unusual punishment. I would see people of racial-ethnic minorities working so hard at their jobs, but I saw way more successful money-making jobs held by whites.

Oh, and the stereotypes! As an Asian with light skin and Anglicized features, I got better treatment than others who did not have those features because Asians usually rank as more privileged compared to other PoC groups. But I still face stereotyping: in school people assumed I was a quiet girl who was really smart and good at math; later on people found out I was Filipino and stereotyped me as dumb but nice. Well, they did find out I was highly gifted, I like being nice, my parents said I was better at math than I thought I was (I liked English much better), but I was never quiet, and I wanted to be known as my own person, not an Asian/Filipino stereotype. Also, a few years after 9/11, I had to take a plane flight with family, and since the second most practiced religion in the Philippines is Islam. They suspected we were terrorists and we were taken aside to be checked for anything suspicious. I knew people of racial-ethnic minorities made stereotypes about white people, but those never seemed to affect white people nearly as much.

It’s been one heck of a year so far. Today the stereotypes, racism, and xenophobia (particularly Islamophobia) go on. Even the Ku Klux Klan is still here. And there are other kinds of injustice, such as sexism and homophobia, shown by people and events like Donald Trump and the Orlando attacks.

Is this the country we say is the place of freedom, independence, and opportunity?

The day everyone is free from the shackles of oppression is the day America is truly the place of freedom, independence, and opportunity.

For many of us, freedom and independence is not exactly a reality. It is an ideal that was in the minds of the Founding Fathers but is not yet fully implemented in American society. However, we are fighting for it, there is hope, and we’re getting there. There is still rampant injustice, but we’ve made progress. And I think that progress is something to celebrate today.

fourth of july

sigsignature

Another guest post I wrote

Recently one of my guest posts was published on the Feministas blog. Take a look here.

Any likes and comments are appreciated, but please leave them on the guest post itself!

The Creative Blogger Award

Thank you to fellow Luna for nominating me! As a nominee, I was given a choice between four blog awards. Since I’ve done the other three and I haven’t done this one yet, I decided to do this for variety.thatgentmark.png

The rules here are quite similar to any other blog award: post the rules, thank the nominator and link to their blog (already did that), share five facts about yourself, and nominate fifteen to twenty bloggers and link to them. You’re also supposed to notify them, but since I don’t want to comment on their blogs to notify, I’ll pingback to one of their pages so that they will be notified.

Now for the five facts!

  • I got an Instagram account! Please follow me.
  • I’m lithromantic (on the ace spectrum), which means that I can have romantic affections for someone but it doesn’t follow that I want them to be reciprocated. Some lithromantics are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of a crush being reciprocated, but I’m not. If a crush likes me back, that’s fine with me, but I would prefer not to pursue a romantic relationship, eh?
  • I sometimes draw for a cause (photo on the right).
    malala
  • I don’t speak Tagalog even though I’m ethnically Filipino because when I was younger, I felt like my culture wasn’t important. No one else was Filipino and there wasn’t really any use for Tagalog. I felt like I needed to assimilate as much as I could into being American. I regret this.
  • Until recently, I used to be a tad annoyed whenever someone would post about mental health, because there were always so many posts about it. The reason I’m not annoyed now is that I’ve got anxiety.

I’m just gonna nominate one, and that’s Lydia from Ocean of myths!

sigsignature

Discover Challenge: Raison d’être

Why do you create? Publish a post about your artistic raison d’être.

I haven’t been very active on the Imagination Igloo for at least a month now. Not because I feel a lack of creative motivation–in fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s just that I don’t feel like following my old habit of going to the computer and typing; instead I reach for pen/pencil and paper. While I’ve been writing and drawing all my life, new reasons for doing so have arisen. Reasons I have not really had to face until now.

  1. I have a bit of a dual personality. I don’t have two polar-opposite personalities, as both sides try their best to act according to the same ideals and beliefs, but I’ve found significant differences. The first Luna is the one you’d meet in person. She’s too literal-minded; impatient with people who don’t understand things as quickly as she does or who have bad memories (they tell me, however, it is I who is smart and has an excellent memory on the verge of being creepy). She gets bored and distracted easily and articulates this in a hurtful way. The first Luna is overexcited, flighty, peevish, clingy, uncomfortably direct and impulsive yet overcome by horrible anxiety. She’s so anxious about what will happen if she does something but then she does it anyway out of impulse. Oh, and she’s desperate for attention.

    I have a finer side, though. Luna number two manifests herself in writing; I noticed she’s more diplomatic and prudent and articulate, more understanding. Her character is stronger and more grounded in her ideals. The second Luna gives me a sense of who I would like to be as a person. I don’t know how the second Luna just comes out in writing, but I want to get to know this side of me better. That can only be achieved by writing. Not just stories and personal essays–I’ve taken to writing poetry to the tune of songs. It’s easier to write new lyrics to songs because the rhythm is already figured out; I don’t need to try to make sure my poem sounds awkward.

  2. Writing and drawing keeps the stress off. Ever since I was little, I’ve had a habit of thinking about bad things. Drawing puts my mind out of it.
    image

I have a new blog…

While I’m very passionate about social justice and feminism, I just feel like there should be another blog that better fits these kinds of posts. From now on, the Imagination Igloo will have more imagination-oriented posts, drawings, and stories. If you want more feminism from me, follow my new blog.

HeForShe and the overlooked complexities of gender and imperialism: an open letter

Dear Emma Watson, Elizabeth Nyamayaro, UN Women, and all followers of the HeForShe movement,

Today while I was looking through the “Gender equality is your issue too” speech, articles and blogs praising HeForShe, and the HeForShe website and social media, I realized that there were two problems I’d failed to spot in my past critiques of the movement: imperialism and the complexities of gender.

Let me tell you a little story. For a long time, I thought that gender could only be defined as male or female. You were either male or female, never neither or in between. Sure, you could have traditionally masculine habits if you were female, and vice versa; you could choose to dress in traditionally feminine clothes if you were male (and the reverse as well), but in the end it boiled down to being either male or female. That was it. Or so I thought.

Then I learned from a person we will call D. Most people thought of D as female, including me, until D got a pixie haircut and told me: “I’m agender.” Neither boy nor girl. D’s pronouns: they, their, and so on. Due to my grammatical snobbery, I wouldn’t accept those pronouns–I’d read that the grammatically correct way was he/she, not their: “This person got his/her first pair of glasses today” vs. “This person got their first pair of glasses today” is an example. I shouldn’t have let correct grammar get in the way, though. To D, I’m really sorry for that. I won’t do it again. Later it came to me, why did I choose grammar over respecting someone’s identity? Isn’t the latter more important? Now I try to be more sensitive to people’s orientations. Even though I am a practicing Roman Catholic and the gender binary is one of the Church’s teachings, acknowledging other people’s experiences and identities is now as important to me as my faith.

This story brings me to an area–the complexities of gender–where the movement falls short. Look at its Facebook description:

UN Women’s Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality bringing together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all.

The goal of HeForShe is gender equality. If you want everyone’s efforts, it is essential to recognize those who do not identify as either male or female and those who sometimes identify as male and sometimes as female. Acknowledge the genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, intersex, and so on. The world is not half-and-half when it comes to gender. How can these people contribute to the movement when they find no place for them in the movement? If I were a person whose orientation didn’t fit in the gender binary and my pronouns weren’t he or she, I’d say, “HeForShe? Who will help people like me? If humanity is divided into half-and-half when it comes to gender, does that mean that I’m not human?”

And then there’s the problem of imperialism:

im·pe·ri·al·ism
imˈpirēəˌlizəm/
noun
  1. a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force.
    “the struggle against imperialism”
    • historical
      rule by an emperor.

Let me tell you another story about an encounter with imperialism. When I was in the Philippines last summer (my first time), I noticed that all the signs and labels on the street were written in English. There were only a few written in Tagalog–I remember seeing these Tagalog words painted on the wall of a canal telling people not to dump their trash there (but they did anyway). Well, the widespread use of English in the Philippines is a result of imperialism. Another time, I was at a restaurant with my cousins. I remarked that I could still hear American music and get American stuff here in the Philippines. America was basically the center of the world! One of my cousins said, “Some of my classmates think that everything is better in America. It’s not a healthy way of thinking.” Personally, I think America is better in some ways than the Philippines, and the Philippines is better in other ways. But the assumption that “everything is better in America” was alarming to me. Whenever I recall my cousin’s words, I am reminded of the fact that many feminists use this statement to justify war and military force in the Middle East. The war will liberate women and civilize a barbaric, primitive, misogynistic society! These feminists do not see them as colleagues–they treat them more like little kids who don’t know what they’re talking about. This treatment is patronizing and demeaning.220px-heforshe_logo_badge_withtagline_use_on_white

One thing I do like about HeForShe is that it features men and women from all around the world more equally than other movements I’ve seen. You see more PoCs (people of color), and it treats people from developing countries more as colleagues. The problem I see with HeForShe is not that it reinforces imperialism, but that I never see any HeForShe post speaking out on imperialism. I don’t even see the word imperialism at all! Or colonialism. If this is a global movement, we have to look at sexism and oppression at the global level, the transnational level. We have to examine sexism through the power relations between countries and how Western countries have been guilty of erasing cultures, identities, traditions through colonialism and imperialism.

Dear Emma Watson, UN, and the HeForShe movement, this is not an attack on you. Please don’t view it as one–these are legitimate concerns. I hope you will take these concerns into account so that we may build a better, stronger movement for the good of all.

Thank you.

 

 

sigsignature