The power of paper…

Sure, I’ve gently knocked email and texting plenty of times – in a good natured way, mind you – because no matter how you slice it, there is just something correct about words on paper.

Paper has power.  It has tactile qualities that are felt in its weight, texture and dimensions.  It is meant to be unfolded, held, is eminently transportable, can be toyed with by the hands or even (in my wildest imagination) caressed and treasured.  You could go so far as to say the recipient might be mindful that what they have in their hands is a one-of-a-kind thing.  That paper says more than the sentences and paragraphs inkjetted or hand-lettered on its flimsy surface; someone cared enough to send their very best.

Paper is indicative of an investment of time.  Ellen and Reid and my parents and whoever else is on the receiving end of the single pages deserve a palpable demonstration of my interest in them.  That is abundantly clear if they read between the lines.

Skeptics would say, and no doubt will, why couldn’t Ellen and Reid just print off the letters as email attachments?  Sure they could.  But it wouldn’t be the same.  It would defeat the point of me creating, their anticipation that something is about the arrive at their door, the opening of the envelope and the reading at a time and place of their choosing.  It is a process where all the worthy steps are defined.

Somewhere in some dusty paper mill, a worker goes about their job creating the bright white sheets of bond paper that I load into a printer.   They cannot possibly realize they do me the greatest of favors: they create a medium that allows me to do what I am compelled to do.


It’s Friday.  Here is this morning’s 545 word letter to my parents, Ralph and Barb.

April 30, 2010

Mom and Dad: The calendar says today is Arbor Day, and if I had a semblance of a yard I’d be tempted to add a tree.  If I had to plant one, it would be a crape myrtle.  They are incredibly beautiful smooth skinned trees, and they have a long blooming season.  People prune them way back to near nothingness in the spring and that just forces it to send out new branches.  There’s one out back and I gaze at it quite a lot.  The canopy of trees behind the house is complete and full and thus shields my place from the apartments behind me.  If I chose to do so, I could prance in my birthday suit in the house and there would be no one to see it, not that they’d miss anything.

Met for coffee with the coordinator of the community college (Central Piedmont Community College) course  I am ostensibly to teach this fall.  The topic is pleasure writing although the topic in the course catalog is writing for blogs.  Rather than a full semester, I get two hours one night a week for eight weeks or so.  If it doesn’t fill up they might pull the plug on the course.  My blog is going along just fine, and next week will mark the 50th post although no one besides me will be jumping up and down about it.  There’s no grades handed out, and I just hope the few students that sign up will stay awake during class.

Ellen’s battling a bad sore throat and pretty clearly she’s been burning the candle at both ends and probably the middle, too.  She just runs herself ragged.  I told her, half in jest, that she needs to visit North Carolina for a rest although I am not sure my request registered with her.  She’s going back full time with the property management company which pays fine but she will try to keep tabs on the local teaching scene to grab something if and when it pops up.  I worry that the longer she stays out of teaching the more she will be compelled not to return to it.  The school scene down here is very bleak with teaching jobs and classes all being cut drastically.  Public education just doesn’t seem much of a priority in these parts.  If you can afford it, private school is the option of choice for most parents, and that’s too bad.

Reid is really trying to connect with the higher-ups in the agency.  He proposed some twists to the in-house networking gizmo (which I do not fully understand) and it’s caught the eye of some bigwigs who are meeting with him about it.  Let’s hope they see the potential in this young dynamo and keep him around for a lot longer and in a better position than what he’s in now.  He bends my ear about his big ideas and although I don’t always fathom what he’s talking about, it’s good to see him use his brain power.

The tomato has transcended the three foot ceiling but you need to tell me when to stop, and then restart, Miracle Gro.  When it begins to set fruit do I pour on more fertilizer?  I understand that the feeding should stop right about now to avoid too much foliage, but I’m just dense enough to not know when to start up again.  Quite a gardener, huh?


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