Calligraphy Calamities

Little Prairie Girl attempts calligraphy and hilarity ensues.


It should come as no shock to you by now that I am fascinated with customs from days gone by.  So when I learned that my good friend was now teaching calligraphy in small groups, I decided to jump all over that shit and hold an intimate gathering at my place for a few like-minded ladies to learn with me.

Because, let’s face it:

  1.  There simply aren’t enough calligraphy parties in this world for fabulous women, okay?
  2. When the nuclear holocaust comes, as it inevitably will because of that fucker in North Korea, the women who are going to survive are going to be the ones who have been educated in some kind of colonial or pioneer-style life skills (yeah, I dipped candles when I was in elementary school, bitch), not those women who are shoving jade eggs up their vaginas and cupping to rid themselves of phantom toxins (fuck you, Goopies).

Giddily, I pulled out my best china, silverware, napkins and put on a little spread that would satiate and soothe my overworked and underpaid girlfriends.

As I sat down to the table with my crystal champagne glass and plate full of cream puffs and brie, I thought, “This is going to be so rad.  I am going to be the best calligrapher ever!”  We briefly discussed what we wanted to do with our new found skills – addressing Christmas cards, filling in geneology charts, making cute chalkboard signs…the project ideas were endless.


Our teacher began class with how to hold the pen properly and to understand the structure of a nib pen.  It’s very important to keep the nib clean and to continually wipe off the nib with water and a dry towel to ensure that the ink flows freely.  “Yes,” I thought.  “I am one with the pen.  I am one with the nib.  I am just moments away from dazzling my peers with my incredible natural talent.”

We began by making a series of short, upward strokes, ever so lightly touching the pen to the paper.


So easy, I got this,” I smugly said to myself.  I looked around the table.  I could see my friends were thinking the same things to themselves. Then it was time for the downward stroke.  Piece of cake.  I just add a little more pressure, and BINGO, a beautiful, thick line, created by moi, calligrapher extraordinaire.  “When society breaks down after the bomb is dropped,” I thought, “And we are living in a Mad-Max/The Village scenario, hundreds will flock to me to write their missives for them as carried by my noble peregrine falcons. They will call me The Messenger.” (FYI:  I don’t have any peregrine falcons to speak of….yet.)

Now it was time to start creating capital letters of the alphabet.


Moans and sighs were heard all around the table.  “We’re gonna need A LOT of practice,” my mother muttered.

No matter.  A beginner always stumbled a bit. By the time I got to capital E, I would have it all down pat, right?


As our instructor circled the group, giving helpful and supportive advice, the following was overheard:

“Oh my God, I think I’m actually getting worse.”

“My hand is cramping.”

I’m going to need more champagne.”

“We’re gonna need A LOT more practice.”

As I sat practicing my letters over and over again, I finally realized, there’s a reason why calligraphy is so beautiful.  It is an ART.  And it takes practice.  Lots and LOTS of practice.

I helped myself to more champagne.

As everyone started to feel more relaxed (due to the copious amounts of cheese and chocolate, I’m sure), the conversation veered toward the philosophical and what we go through as working women.

My mother pretty much summed it up when she so wisely stated, “Here’s the thing, you’re expected to be good daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, employees and community citizens.  At the end of all that, what’s left for you?  This is why gatherings like this are so important – it’s important to do things for yourself.”

As our calligraphy party came to a close, I may not have been a complete natural, as I so foolishly thought I’d be, my heart was still full because I had been able to spend a few precious hours devoted to keeping antiquated arts alive and to do it with some of my favorite women.

I have resolved to keep practicing my calligraphy and have received a suggestion that I should host a “Little Women Night” with as a friend suggested, a “gaunlet of needle-craft, harpsichord and singing.”  Because, you know, somebody is going to have know how to do that stuff in order to teach others to how to pass the time in underground caves, waiting for the radiation to dissipate. What do you think?