Category Archives: caligrafía

Calligraphy Names: Are You Here?

I’ve been taking calligraphy classes again and am loving it.  We’ve moved from foundational hand to italic. It’s taken me a while to make the transition, but I’m finally starting to get a bit of flow. For my majuscules practice last night I did some names (and added a few more today).


Are you there? If you’re not and you want to be, leave a comment and I’ll get you next time!

Happy Halloween & the Best Laid Schemes


But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Happy Halloween everyone! I’m writing this in preparation for going out in search of a pumpkin to carve. (Oh wait, that’ll have to be tonight — forgot to get money from Paul.)

So, if you were following my plan to blog daily this month, maybe you’re wondering what happened.  It wasn’t just having my post eaten (though God knows that’s discouraging) — the past week has been sort of rough. As my (new) therapist remarked last Friday, I’ve been anxious and depressed for the past few weeks (her saying this prompted me to burst into tears – doh!).  In addition to all the usual stress plus the added mess that is the academic job market, I’m in the middle of changing one of my medications.  Lexapro wasn’t doing much and is muy expensive — I’m now on Zoloft — much cheaper though it’s too soon to know if it’ll be any better. Oh, and I had a touch of a cold. It all came to a head this weekend and all I wanted to do was sleep.

I didn’t just sleep. I went to a calligraphy playdate on Saturday — bringing with me Pan de Muerto (mmm)  which I bought at the lovely La Monarca Bakery rather than making it myself.  It was well received. I thought I was doing okay, but after a couple hours all the other women started asking me if something was wrong — apparently I was being too quiet compared to my usual self.  I told them I was just feeling thoughtful, but realizing that others could notice how I was feeling shook me and took some of the pleasure out of the day. But my italic lettering is getting better and I was glad I went and got to practice. I’ll post some samples soon. We’re just starting capital letters.

Yesterday I worked on revising one of the chapters of my dissertation to turn it into a writing sample.  It had to go from over 100 pages down to just 20.  This took a while and was painful, while also tipping my anxiety (everything about the job market does that). I haven’t looked at it yet this morning but Paul, in addition to caning me for being one gym visit short for the week, bought me a Magnum ice cream bar to be a reward when the cutting was finally done.  That and a good night’s sleep and this morning I feel better. Thank goodness.

So the experiment with daily blogging wasn’t a total bust, but not a complete success either. I do like writing daily, but I suspect if I do it again it’ll end up being more of a mood chart than a series of essays on kinky thoughts.

Spanked in Uniform

My mom left this morning at 6:45 AM.  I’m going to miss her, but it will be nice to have a little time to myself some days.  Anyway, I mention the time because I was still awake.  You see, last night I decided to have a drink with my mom after I got back from my writing workshop.  It had been a long and stressful day and one scotch on the rocks turned into a double plus two large tequilas.  I drank them over a period of several hours but I don’t drink much or often (long story) and it doesn’t take much to make me drunk.

I didn’t behave badly — I’m mostly the same but slightly more affectionate when I drink — but for whatever reason I couldn’t sleep. I know what time my mother left for the airport because I was still awake to say goodbye.  Paul was off today so after my parents had gone he urged / forced me back into bed and I finally got a few hours of sleep.  I woke up groggy and grouchy.  I told myself I was going to spend the day in  my pajamas drinking coffee (except my parents had finished off the cream) and maybe doing a bit of calligraphy.

Paul had another plan.  He wanted me to put on a formal uniform (green shirt, black gymslip, tie, green kickers and knee socks). I wanted nothing of the sort and made that clear several times, something which was dubbed “whining.” He went off to the market to get me some more cream (okay that was nice) and made it clear I was to be in my uniform when he got back.  I sulked a bit in bed and then got up to change into the uniform.

As I expected, it was uncomfortable and didn’t improve my mood.

Paul got home, fussed with my collar and tie a bit and then pronounced me acceptable. Then he determined despite the fact I had reblogged my caning he was going to take a picture of my marks and tweet it. It’s a measure of how hungover I was that I let him.

That done, he took me into the living room, pulled out a chair and had me lift my gymslip so he could lower my knickers. Embarrassment flooded my fuzzy head, but soon my head was down and I was across Paul’s lap getting spanked on my already sore (see comment about cane marks) bottom.  He only used his hand, but it felt like it lasted a long time and definitely hurt.

Afterwards I worked on my calligraphy a bit — I’m starting a new series of classes tomorrow night on the italic alphabet — but after an hour felt very tired so asked if I could take a nap.  I could and did, still in my uniform.

The day did make me feel looked after but frankly I think Paul enjoyed it more than I did.  It also reminded me why I don’t drink much or often.

Calligraphy Study Continues

My lull in employment this fall (I’m currently sponging off Paul and sending off job and post-doc application packets) has meant a return to my calligraphy hobby, something I had to give up with the pressure of finishing my Ph.D. got out of hand.  I’ve missed it.

For the past month I’ve been taking a six week course in the foundational hand from a new calligraphy teacher.  Changing teachers is always hard — I was used to my previous teacher’s style of having us turn in homework and her handing it back each week with red pen marks. (This became the basis of a scene Paul and I did during my gothic calligraphy class.)  My current teacher has us put our homework up on the board and then we all gather around and critique it. Since I’ve had less than a year’s worth of classes as a beginner, while the women I’m studying with are advanced students, many of whom have been studying calligraphy for more than fifiteen years, saying they’re a lot better than me hardly covers it. Add to that my having started this class two weeks late and it’s safe to say I’m at the very bottom of my course. Most embarrassing moment? Having to be shown how to properly line paper using a special calligraphic lining tool and t-square. I’m still not clear how it works and still painstakingly rule each page by hand, too self-conscious to ask to have it explained again.

Let me be quick to say that the other students and teacher have been nothing but supportive and enthusiastic about my work. But after being at the very top of my beginner’s classes, it’s quite a change to find myself the worst in class. I’ve had to stop comparing my work to others and live by a mantra “this is my best at the moment.”  I hadn’t realized how important being at the top of classes was to my student identity until now that I’ve had to face the stark fact that not only am I at the bottom, but there’s no way in the forseeable future I’m ever going to be the best in this class. I am not teacher’s pet.  One thing that hasn’t changed in the time I’ve been away from lettering is how much I love it. When I found myself too emotional to letter the other evening (hands were shaking), I started to cry at the sense of loss.

As ever, the class provides fodder for fantasies. This past week the other students and teacher were talking about other teachers around the country with whom they’d studied. I ventured the fact we may be moving to the UK in the next couple years. My teacher, who has studied all over the world said their were wonderful calligraphers and calligraphy teachers in England. But she added, I’d find them much more bound to tradition and stricter about historical forms than teachers in the US, especially those out here in creative California.  Given my long-simmering story (yes, I will write it someday I’m sure) about a recent literature Ph.D. from California (someone say a lot like me) who for various complex reasons is given the chance to study with an extremely talented but very untraditionally traditional English calligraphy master, I became distracted by my fantasy world for the rest of the conversation.

Daydreaming in class on top of everything else. Ever the naughty schoolgirl.


In Praise of Pelikans

No, not pelicans, Pelikans.  I’m writing about fountain pens.

First a confession.  I love paper and pens.  I’ve loved fountain pens, the way they glide across the page leaving an inky ribbon of writing, since I found my grandmother’s when I was 8.  She promptly gave it to me.  I was a favorite grandchild and she, having grown up with inky fingers, loved the easy neatness of a ballpoint pen.  I used it until the nib broke.  It wasn’t worth repairing, but by then people knew I liked fountain pens and gave me old ones.  I soon learned that most were broken (the bladders old, dried and cracked) but I generally always had at least one working one.  I like to fill them from ink bottles, not use cartridges.  This is because it suits my feelings of old-fashioned pen usage and because I’m cheap.

All that said, I am not a neat person.  I’m the sort who, walking with a full cup of coffee, will splash some on myself.  My nails seem dirty again minutes after I scrub them.  I am a messy sort of girl — the sort who should think twice before using or carrying about a pen full of ink. I am the sort who will find it leaking on me, on my purse on my books.  All of these things have happened, especially with a rather beautiful Parker that leaks no matter how many times I pay to have it fixed.

All this changed a few years ago when I bought at green Pelikan 200 gold plated nib pen. On the one hand, it could hold enough ink to carry me through a week or two of use, while on the other, it didn’t leak.  Not on my fingers, not when I filled it and not in my bag.  Even though the designs of Pelikan pens were less sexy than my retro Parker’s.  Last year I celebrated my dissertation defense with the purchase of a white and green/brown Pelikan 400 with a gold nib.  It writes smoother than the 200, holds ink equally well and has a feminine look.  When I bought it, I told myself that was it — I had two Pelikans and plenty of other fountain pens.  I had no need for any more.  Until Christmas time when my dad bought me a Pelikan 120 with a calligraphic nib.  And then last week when I impulsively bought an amber Pelikan Demonstrator 400 (those are the clear kind where you can see the ink draw into the pen) off of eBay.  I now admit it, I want one for every color ink I use.  Even if they aren’t the most attractive designs, they’re the most practical pens I’ve ever owned.

And I can sell the other fountain pens (repeats to self quietly).  No matter how pretty they are, I’m not the sort of girl who can handle a leaking pen.  Besides, a bunch of them need new bladders.


Bryson and the Doctor


For those of you not following me on Twitter, I’ve had an amazing time during April (and part of May) which explains the radio silence here and elsewhere.  Here’s my attempt to explain it all in one fell swoop though I suspect more news will come out as time goes on.

First, and honestly the most wonderful and exciting, after two months of being lost, Bryson Bear was returned to me twice over this past month.

He first returned via eBay where, once we had identified him as of the Wuzzy clan (many thanks to Doug of Doug’s Bears for his help in communicating with GUND to identify him), an identical “new” Bryson was located in Glasgow, Scotland (as some of you pointed out — many thanks to all of you too!).

My mom purchased him for me since it was important that Bryson came from her as you probably guessed from the LOST post, The new Bryson flew across the ocean, braving volcanic ash and the U.S. Postal Service to arrive with much fan fair and packing in a large-ish cardboard box.

I was naturally very glad to see him — he was clearly the right bear with the right intelligent expression.  But as my Doctor Who friends will know, like the new incarnations of the Doctor, while I knew the bear I was looking at was Bryson, because he very much felt like Bryson, he also very much wasn’t Bryson. There was, however a difference.  I could hardly remember Bryson ever looking so new.  Bryson yes, but not yet my Bryson.

Still, he snuggled close in the night and talked to me in a comforting fashion as Bryson always has.  And I needed Bryson and a great deal of comforting because my life had become insanely stressful — more so than I’d ever experienced.  You see, I found out in mid April I had to finish and defend my dissertation before the term ended the second week in May.  If I didn’t, there was a good chance I might not get to finish at all.  I wasn’t sure if I could do it (in fact, I was pretty sure I couldn’t) but after ten-plus years of graduate school, I couldn’t quit without giving it a try.


So, I dropped out of life in order to cope and do what needed to be done — Paul handled all things social, phone, email and Twitter related.  I just worked.  I worked at my university job and I worked on my dissertation, ultimately writing more than one hundred pages in less than four weeks.  Given that ten pages a week is my normal “working very productively” speed this is pretty amazing.  It was actually liberating though, as said, very stressful.  I don’t ever want to experience it again.
Less than two weeks ago, five days before my defense, I was writing my final chapter (or “coda” as my chair called i)t and I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize.  Though I hadn’t been taking calls from anyone, I took this one for some reason.  The call was from LAX Marriott’s housekeeping supervisor.  She believed had found my bear.

The picture I had sent to everyone at Marriott (or so it seemed) had worked.  He had been recognized, even though, as I was told, his “timeline” was off.  More than two months after he had been lost, my original Bryson had been found at another hotel, having been sent there from the laundry.

Or that was the story that made sense to the hotel housekeepers.  I had my own which involved travel across both time and space, but either way, his being found and returned was a very good omen.  Someone a week from her defense is looking for omens.

Anyway, Paul went and claimed the Bryson the next day as I prepared to print out my dissertation and give it to my committee. The distraction of knowing he was coming home kept me calm enough to compile the document (well, almost). So Paul brought him home, leaving me so overwhelmed I couldn’t stop crying.

Part of me was a bit worried about new Bryson.  Naturally he was insecure, because still having his tags his tags on some 15 years after he was made, he seemed a bit worried he was about to be put up on the shelf again now that Bryson 1 was returned.  I reassured him that there was always room in the bed for another bear and he and Bryson 1 shared a Coke and seemed to become friends.  That said, Paul did point out that the Doctor never gets along very well with his other selves.

What I Think Happened

It seems clear to me that somehow, during Gallifrey, Bryson did have the opportunity to travel in the Tardis.  It being a time machine, I’m sure he figured he’d be back in literally no time and never be missed from the bed.  In the manner of time travel though, the Tardis brought him back a month late. By then, the sheets had been through the laundry many times and were far from our room.  He ended up at the wrong hotel and it took him a while to both figure out what happened and make his presence known.

Thank goodness Maria recognized him from the picture.  Of course he felt terrible for having abandoned and worried me.  Just make sure you always take pictures of the ones you love best.

He’s back now, living a quiet life among The Animals of the Bed.  But there’s an extra twinkle in his eyes.  You can tell he’s had an adventure.

Oh, and my defense went well.  A few revisions and I’ll be a Dr. Mija.  Imagine that.

Before I go to San Francisco – working on my final project.

For those of you who have been following my calligraphy course, I’m down to my last class.  I’m working as best I can on my final project, trying to get as much done as possible before we go to San Francisco for SF-CP (the spanking party Zille’s organizing) for the weekend.  And yes, I’m excited about the party too.

While Paul and I have been to Shadow Lane a (big) number of times and I’ve been to a few other smaller parties, this will be the first time we’ve attended a single night party together.  I’m really curious about how the SF scene will react to a party devoted to corporal punishment.  Well would be my guess.  At least I have lots of options of what to wear.

Plus there’s a weekend in San Francisco and a chance to see some of my favorite peoples.  Very cool!

The image above is the final mock-up on cardboard of the project done with pen, ink and colored pencils.

For more images of the work in progress, see this entry (1)  and this one (2).

Marks OR Thrashing the Scribe

[I was in the middle of drafting this real life account when the news came about Alex’s death.  One week later I’ve decided to finish writing it.  Aside from everything else, it’s a story he likely would have liked.]

Paul and I haven’t been playing as much as we usually would and his Sunday thrashings of me have (largely) been on hold for most of the past month.  The reasons are mostly that my dad’s been living with us again.  This is not because of any problems in my parents’ marriage, but rather problems they’re having selling their house in Portland. I’ve had mixed feelings about this — on the one hand I miss it, of course, because I think about such things all the time. However, at the moment of truth I tend to feel great relief at any reprieve.  It’s probably evidence of how regularly thrashings (as well as “That Thing”) had been happening that generally I’ve felt like a kid who’s skipped out of detentions.

Last Tuesday had all the marks of just such an “almost” thrashing. The night before what I was to wear for the day was planned (nothing too exciting — but a collared shirt, tie, grey games skirt, knickers and knee socks). The plan was that I’d do some schoolwork and then, when he felt like it, we would go over my returned calligraphy homework and then he would thrash me for the mistakes my teacher marked.  It was to be “fun” in the sense it wasn’t a punishment for anything serious (Paul doesn’t actually care much whether or not my calligraphy is improving), but on the other hand, reflected on my lettering practice having been cut down by real life events.

That was the plan.  Then there was real life.

We stayed in bed a bit later than I’d intended. But then, promised some coffee and a croissant,  dressed in my uniform, except for the kneesocks (I wore tights so I could go out more easily in public), and we headed out for coffee — well coffee for me, chocolate tart for Paul. The revised plan was we’d get back, I’d change out of tights and into knee socks and Paul would think about thrashing me.  I was excited about it — lettering has always seemed such a perfect premise for punishment.  It’s impossible for anyone, even someone like my teacher who’s been a professional scribe for 30 years, to do 100% perfect calligraphy.  I’ve been doing gothic textura for a total of 7 weeks.

But after we got back, just as I was starting to change into my uniform, the phone started ringing. After we had dealt with several calls, our building’s handyman came to the door and said he’d come to inspect the bathroom.  Apparently there was a leak somewhere and it needed to be fixed immediately  Plumbers were then in and out for about two and a half hours. By the time they’d left (and then come back for things forgotten and left again) it was mid-afternoon.  My father would be coming home in a couple hours.

I guessed this was another thrashing deferred and felt both disappointed and relieved.  That is, until Paul went to get his canes and told me to change into knee sock and to fetch my homework. My heart started thudding.

Less than five minutes later I stood nervously in front of Paul as he questioned me about each mark.  When he reminded me there were to be six strokes of the cane for each mark, there suddenly seemed a great many.  The first twelve strokes would be delivered over my knickers.  Then those would come down.  For each mistake (for I’d made the same mistakes multiple times), the first twelve strokes would be with the lighter cane, the rest with the heavier one.  I shivered involuntarily; both canes hurt.  The lighter one is whippy and stings fiercely, while the heavy cane also stings but is heavy enough to leave bruises like those caused by a hairbrush or paddle.

caning-blockAs an aside: Although we’ve been together for a long time, Paul has only just started using canes on me regularly.  Until he bought the complete set from Canes4Pain, canes had always been an implement for which he didn’t have much enthusiasm.  While I love a traditional school scene, I wasn’t sorry about that, he’s strong and more than capable of creating a lot of pain with his hand or a hairbrush or tawse.  All that has changed — whether because of the quality of the canes (high) or a great deal of practice in the last 6 months, Paul has become both more skilled with canes and far more likely to use them.  Me? They fill me with dread.

So I was drifting toward this thrashing, part of me not believing it was really really going to happen even as I was being tied down.  In my head, I somehow thought that because this thrashing was for “play” it somehow wouldn’t hurt as much.  But then he started talking about my work, the mistakes I’d made (the first one had to do with me not slanting the lower stroke on the letter “a”) and, finally, delivered the first stroke with the whippy cane.  Even over my knickers it had me gasping with shock and pain.  My first reaction was panic, total panic as I realized I had dozens more of these to go and, all too soon, my heavy school knickers would be coming down.

I began to babble that this was impossible, that I couldn’t, that it hurt too much.  Paul’s response was his usual, that there was nothing for me to do and delivered another stroke.  I pulled my tied hands up to cover my face and cried a bit against my arm.

“Hands down.”


“Keep your hands in front of you.  If you pull them up again, I’m going to smack the back of your legs.”

Aside number two: Paul ties me mostly to make it easier on me, though I’m sure my not being able to put my hands back makes things easier for him as well. Because as an adult I’ve almost always been spanked / thrashed in spaces where we might be overheard, I don’t tend to yell out very much.  My pain reaction is all about trying to move away.  When I’m tied I tend to yank my hands up and cry out into them.  I worry a lot about being overheard, both because of fear of the cops showing up and embarrassment that our neighbors (some of whom know WIIWD) might, well, hear me crying over being thrashed.  Paul, as far as I’ve been able to determined, doesn’t worry about either situation, damn him.

My hands went back down.  The first 18 strokes hurt a huge amount (and we were still on the repeated “a” mistake), while at the same time I was constantly aware that my knickers wouldn’t be up much longer.  At the same time, I was internalizing the mistake and feeling bad that I’d repeated it so many times.  I started to sob.

t thinking, my hands pulled up so I could cry into my arm.  Instantly, or so it seemed, hard, stinging smacks started raining down on the backs of my thighs.  The thing about a traditional caning is that however much it hurts, the careful spacing generally means I can absorb the pain and stay somewhat in control.  Fast smacks on my legs though leave me with nothing to do but howl and try and escape.  Escape being impossible I heard myself apologizing and promising to be good.

And I was.

For the rest of the thrashing, my hands stayed down (partly on account of me having a death grip on the coffee table’s wrought iron bar).  Midway through, as we switched from one one marked practice sheet to the next, I got to take a break.  Rather than helping though, which is what I thought would happen, it just raised my anxiety and let the pain from the thrashing soak in.

Finally we’d gotten through the last mistake, by which time I had found a little bit of courage.  But the last few strokes with the heavy cane were amazingly hard.  I could tell Paul was quite proud of them, something I didn’t understand until I escaped to the bathroom to wash my face and examine my marks.

He’d managed to land the marks so the tramlines went almost equally across both of my bottom cheeks.

As I sat, doing my nightly practice on a very sore bottom, I couldn’t help but wonder at how my fantasies and real life have managed to meet so perfectly.

World’s Cutest Police Car?

smart-police-carThe other day I was at my calligraphy class, which is held at a middle school in Beverly Hills.  When I came out I saw the following very cute SmartCar police car.  It’s a real police car, complete with lights and siren.  So very cute — and like all SmartCars it looks like you could pick it up and tuck it in your pocket.

SmartCars have long held a certain fascination for me. Back in 1999, the first summer I spent in Edinburgh, I spent hours wandering the city, stalking a green one I desperately wanted to tae a picture of.  When they started appearing in Los Angeles a couple years ago, again I stalked them, less for pictures than just to look at them and smile.  It’s not just their smallness — they somehow look confident — they remind me of a small terrier hanging with the big dogs, all the cuter for not seeming to know that it’s tiny.

Another oddness about them is the way so often in Los Angeles they seem to have two people in them — the maximum capacity.  Maybe it’s fuel economy, but I like to think it’s because, like me, other people love the little cars.

Now all I need is to find someone with one to drive me around.  Though it’s probably not a good idea to try and get arrested, even in Beverly Hills.

the third eye is on The Punishment Book

too-much-curveToday my blog entry “Submitting to Correction” is on the Punishment Book.  It’s a bit of an introspective ramble on how I take criticism and correction differently in different circumstances, specifically lettering class as opposed to my writing.

Excerpt:   The degree to which I’ve taken the criticism on board and am pleased and excited by it surprises me.  This is not the way I generally react to correction (especially in relation to my academic work).  My usual reaction is either defensiveness and / or anxiety, with both being most common.  The hardest thing anyone can do is try and help me by critiquing my academic writing as I will defend my text to the death as though each word was somehow a child.  Even being aware of this reaction only helps a bit.  With my advisor I feel utterly chastened when she points out the holes in my arguments and I have to struggle to hide the hurt.  With Paul, who is brave enough to do it, I feel misunderstood, angry and defensive.  This is why writing workshops, with their group criticism sessions, have always been a special sort of agony.

Read and discuss (over there)?