Debra – Scribbling

I have a special trip coming up in February (Africa), and I’m beginning my travel diary plans.  I bought the diary months ago and put it away until needed.  That would be now since I plan to journal the grand adventure of getting ready for the adventure, starting with the $$$ worth of inoculations, titers, boosters and antibiotics from the travel doctor.  Who wouldn’t want to record getting every probably unnecessary shot known to man…just in case.  I put my foot down at rabies prevention since it was honestly something like $600.  I’m taking my chances on a monkey spitting into my eyes.  And if a lion mauls me?  I’ve got bigger problems than whether I can get to rabies treatment fast enough to make a difference.  (Yes, if you don’t get treated quickly enough you are toast.)

Here’s how the pre-travel visit plays out:

First, the staff explains all the shots recommended for that part of the world and goes over the current CDC recommendations for that country and then looks at any disease outbreaks in neighboring countries.  Then, they hand you a book with pictures of third world medical facilities (reusing rubber gloves and hanging them on sticks to dry is one of the “best practices.”)  Finally, they leave the room for you to look over the information, stare stupidly at your sister and come to a decision about your inoculations, which you foolish thought would be Hep A and done.  When the nurse comes back in, you and your sister say, “We’ll have everything you recommended, please.  Except the rabies.  And how much is that special bug spray?”  (My uncle who is taking me on this trip laughed for about ten minutes and then said, “Sweetie, the flies consider the bug spray a tenderizer.  And you are a lot more gullible than I thought.”

I countered with, “Shut up.  And give me that Christmas brownie back.”

As you might guess, the trip is off to a great start.  At least in terms of journaling the experience.  Any decent travel journal would have to include this experience, right?  That brings me to my topic of scribbling.

I want to write beautifully and have brilliant things to say so that years from now I can pick up this special book and be carried effortlessly back to the trip and the experiences.  (And re-live my inoculation exuberance.)

There’s just the one flaw with my plan.  Penmanship.  Yep.   Turns out you have to *write* in journals.  Who knew? 

The support staff here at Bell Bridge.  They have recently ordered a variety of writing utensils for me to try, including disposable fountain pens which I’m quite liking.  I actually can write beautifully if I slow down.  Anyone who knows me will tell you there is a 0-10% chance of that happening regularly.  I just can’t be bothered to write so slowly!!  Not when I can type a zillion words a minute.  Why did I think a written journal was the ticket?  Most of my notes in the office consist of a post it note on which I jot three words to jog my memory and sign with “See me, DD” because I can’t be bothered to write the whole explanation out. 

I’m getting a bad feeling about this journal’s eventual fate.  The road to Hell . . . .

Want to vent about any mistakes you’ve made lately or whether you think any schools should actually be teaching cursive any more?  Is cursive necessary in today’s world?

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46 Responses to Debra – Scribbling

  1. Sonya Natalia says:

    When we moved to India we had to have every immunisation known to man, but I also said no to the rabies. In the end, if some rabid animal in the streets (and they’re EVERYWHERE in India – a rabid dog on every corner, and then there was the monkey that broke into our apartment!) bites you, even if you’ve had the immunisation you still have to have more injections after the bite.

    We went to a doctor apparently specialising in travel stuff, and they gave me the wrong things – which left me unconscious in front of the reception desk!
    If anyone could point me in the direction of a competent doctor (in Australia!), I would be very happy.

    When it comes to writing – yes, I think they should be teaching those things in schools still. I’m a little shocked when around my younger relatives how, well, stupid they are when it comes to anything other than the internet and computer games. There’re so many times when writing something is easier and preferable to typing it on a computer device. There is certainly a place for it in the world today – even if I couldn’t read my (1950s-educated) father’s handwriting if my life depended on it!

    • debradixon says:

      Sonya! LOL. A monkey breaking into the apartment is great. I can’t imagine how “exciting” that must have been. (g) And, YIKES, on being given something that left you unconscious. I remember thinking, ‘I hope they got all this stuff right!’ My sister had to have pneumonia (because she’s diabetic) and influenza, which I’d already had earlier in the fall. They put those in one of her arms by themselves, the poor girl was sick for days and that arm was so swollen.

      Re: Writing
      I agree. Even though I love the computer, I couldn’t exist without the ability to write and cursive is so much quicker than printing. But I’ve actually heard of some schools that are dropping cursive from the program.

  2. HJ says:

    I do envy you, setting out for Africa! Whereabouts are you going?

    Don’t worry about whether or not the journal is beautiful – just make it an inviolable rule that you write up each day before you go to sleep. You won’t regret it, even if the writing is untidy, because re-reading it will trigger off all sorts of memories which would otherwise become hazy and lost. From experience, even trying to write about the previous day becomes difficult when you’re on a busy, exciting, trip.

    You can always re-write it to make it beautiful when you get home (as if…)

    • debradixon says:

      HJ– Tanzania. Ngorongoro Crater. Serengeti. We’ll go to the Olduvai Gorge and actually go down to the Lucy site. From what I understand a lot of the guides assume you’d just rather see the museum rather than actually trekking down to the sitre, but this is my uncle’s third trip and he knows all the ins-and-outs for highlights. So we’ll get to literally stand where the anthopological discoveries were made. “See” what early man saw, etc. (g)

      Good advice on making the habit to “just do it.” !!

  3. Cindy Gerard says:

    So excited for your upcoming Africa trip, Deb. A friend of mine spend 3 weeks there last winter and had a blast. Where all are you going?
    As for the journal – sadly, I’m horrible about keeping one myself. I always have great intentions and generally start out well but end up fizzling. My photos end up being my journal. One piece of advice. As you are ‘photo journaling’, try to include a photo of a road sign or point of interest sign every where you go so it will help you remember exactly where it was you saw that special site!
    Oh – and I was taught cursive but still have horrible penmanship – like you. It’s the hurry through it issue.

    • debradixon says:

      Cindy! The road sign or geographical point of interest to place the pictures is brilliant! Especially for digital photos. You know when you come to a sign or whatever that the pictures that follow are from that experience. Brilliant.

  4. Leanne Banks says:

    Deb, the trip is so exciting! Sorry about the immunizations! Yuck! But it sounds like you’re as prepared as you can be. Already packing your suitcase? Planning what to take is always challenging for me. I like all the suggestions so far. I never got “A”s in penmanship. Ack! xo, Leanne

  5. Terry Odell says:

    When we went to South Africa, there were all sorts of conflicts with what meds you needed, but we went to the County Health services and got what we needed without breaking the bank. The big “if” was yellow fever, which was not a problem where we were going, but since we had to refuel in a place where it was on the hot list, there was great debate as to whether or not it was actually required, since we weren’t going to be allowed off the plane anyway. We opted out. But we took our malaria pills faithfully.

    Have a great trip! I jotted notes in a tiny notebook. Nothing remotely resembling a journal.


    • debradixon says:

      Terry– Yellow Fever was a “absolute” for us right now. One of those they said we weren’t getting out without. And it all depends on what is going on where. And some of it is a debate and educated guess about what you’ll need THEN. Because epidemics spread or contract, etc. Just because it looks like XYZ is about to break into your area of travel doesn’t mean it actually will. But better safe than sorry.

      Of course we elected to get our shots early which they say is better so the body has more time to do it’s thing. The travel doc was very pleased to see us that early when they don’t see people usually until they are screaming in at the last minute.

  6. michelehauf says:

    Ah, the curse of penmanship. I tend to take notes about my stories and then later, I cannot decipher them. I will never learn.
    Anyway, they have some super cool note-taking apps for the iPad (though not sure you’ll be toting electronics with you in the wilds). They combine notes, pics, videos, all of it. And you can email your daily notes like a blog post to others. Fun!

    • debradixon says:

      We’re debating what electronics. The Land Rovers have charging stations. So, I’m also going to look at video/photo journaling apps. And one plane we take has a 30 lb bag limit. I have to check out if our 30 lbs is limited to the suitcase or includes carry-on items too.

  7. As a lefty, my C grade in hand writing thwarted my every attempt to win the humongous $25 prize awarded by my grandparents to each grandchild who came home with a straight A report card. Despite summers of practicing every day with my paper taped to my desktop, I never did better than a B in handwriting. Now I journal and write on my laptop, and when I do write in cursive, I just scribble it out and dare people to read it. Have a wonderful time in Africa!

    • debradixon says:

      Carey! Awww…that’s so funny about the lefty aspect thwarting your prize winnings. It’s the perfect kind of detail for a writer to collect though, so I’m storing it in my brain. I believe the writing is important but not which way you slant ! These days I think it should be more a skills lab than an important grade. Learning to type, for instance, is more important than the speed achieved. That comes with time. But the kids need the skill to build upon.

  8. Kristina Mathews says:

    I don’t know if I’d be brave enough for a trip to Africa. I have a hard time travelling in states where they don’t have toliet seat covers. But I envy your spririt of adventure.

    My oldest son shares my horrible penmanship. He’s 13 and I can’t wait until he can start e-mailing his homework. Maybe then he’ll put down more than two words. Or maybe not. His texts are usually one or two words.

    My fourth grader was taught with a new writing program in Kindergarten and it’s wonderful. They actually spend time teaching the little ones how to form the letters. It has made a huge difference. They don’t seem to spend much time on cursive, but at least his printing is easy to read.

    • debradixon says:

      Kristina– They can email homework ? Now, this I missed. I guess my son’s high school didn’t have this, but it makes sense for an English teacher to use track changes to correct papers, etc. !! What a great advance. Or kids can fill out a form of the chapter questions and the form can be reviewed or auto-graded. I love technology!

  9. Vicki Hinze says:

    The trip sounds as if it’s going to be a hoot–and, mmm, watch your back. 🙂 I hope you will take the time to journal your thoughts and feelings as you’re visiting different places, Deb–for you and the rest who read it. Because things start to blur and you’ll recall what it was but not where or you’ll forget a lot of details you want to remember.

    I’m of the mind that they should continue to teach cursive. Not that you need it much, but so that IF you need it, you’ve got it.

    Take pictures. Lots of pictures!

    • debradixon says:

      Vicki– Yes, the “blurring” is what I worry about. And the time away. That’s going to kill me. But this trip was planned a looong time ago, before I was facing this workload and before I took that surgery “vacation” earlier this fall. (g) I’m going to institute a “journal first, work only after that is done” policy. I will have to check in every night after we’re back to the lodge.

  10. Wow, Africa. Hope you have a good time. I’m a total wimp regarding needles, so I can’t imagine going somewhere where they have to turn me into a pin cushion first.

    Penmanship isn’t the only thing that they don’t teach anymore that has me scratching my head. Some schools don’t teach history. History! And I think they need to focus more on spelling because, especially with the proliferation of texting, it’s gone down the crapper.

    • debradixon says:

      History isn’t taught? Seriously? Maybe they switched to civics? Leaving history for High School or something? ARRGH. This is very upsetting if it catches on. I don’t think they need to teach the fairly boring depth that I was forced to endure at a *young* age but history is a necessary context for the world.

  11. Oh, and I bought a journal when I sold my first book, thinking I’d chronicle everything in that first year especially. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

  12. Oh, Deb, you are going to have a fantastic time, considering you have to become a pin cushion to get there! I agree if you’re a lion’s dinner, not only should you NOT worry about rabies vaccination, you should fire your tour guide!

    I’ve only been to Pueblo, Colorado (well, slight exaggeration), but I did send my son to China for baseball when he was in junior high so I can slightly feel your pain. We were worried about malaria, not rabies at that writing.

    Regarding journaling and cursive, just yesterday, I wrote a note to my daughter in cursive. She couldn’t read it! So I think you should either write precisely and neatly in cursive because one day your journal will be a valuable auction item kind of like the Dead Sea scrolls 😉 Of course, I take Greg shorthand and that’s long flown by the wayside, too.

    Have a wonderful trip to Africa!!!

    • debradixon says:

      Donnell– Hey, Greg shorthand is a *useful* skill. maybe that’s what we should teach everyone instead of cursive. (g) I’m sort of serious. There has been many a time that I wished I had real shorthand instead of what I use that was developed hodge-podge while taking notes in college. Which is another reason I get impatient with writing things. i tend to not finish words. (g)

      • Deb, I write my books in shorthand first, then print, then type. By the time I type, I’ve got a third draft. And what’s really cool about shorthand is no one has a clue what I’m writing at first so it kind of frees my thinking. (does that make sense?). Yes, Greg shorthand over Cursive, it can also keep up with my brain sort of like the keyboard… we should start a comeback Have fun!!!

  13. Deb, what a wonderful trip you will have. Adventure at its best. My one brief time on that big continent was when we went to Spain and took a ferry across the Straits of Gibralter to Tangier. Not nearly as exciting as where you’ll be, although I did visit the markets in the Casbah and ride a camel. I remember the shots, too.
    As to cursive writing, I think it’s a plus for anyone to know it. I was schooled in class with it as well as by my insistent father, who had a wonderful Spencerian handwriting. He was determined I learned cursive well. I did learn and even now, I love the flow of writing it. Sadly, my grandchildren can barely read it but they’re a whiz on a computer.
    Have a wonderful adventure!

    • debradixon says:

      Loralee– Are you kidding? Markets in the Casbah, camel rides, Tangier? All of that is an awesome experience. I’m not much of an outdoor girl. My uncle spend Christmas morning saying, “You do know this is outside, right?” Big family joke right now.

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      Loralee – I had to chime in here because I took that same ferry ride across the S
      Straights to both Gibralter AND Tangier when I was in Spain. What a fantastic time! I bought a Genie’s lamp (still trying to make that sucker appear), rode a camel, charmed a snake and got proposed to – the guy thought I might need a second husband to take with me back to America LOL

      • debradixon says:

        ” I bought a Genie’s lamp”

        Now that’s a fun trip! LOL! Howe often do you get to do that?

      • Oh Cindy, I bought a handtooled leather purse that smelled so badly, I left it in the hotel in Spain. I kept thinking the smell would go away, but was told later it probably had been cured in camel dung. OMG! But the tooling was beautiful. I bargained (using hand motions) with a shopkeeper who spoke no English in the market for a tapestry wall hanging, got him down to what I thought was a good price and then after I paid him, he told me in very clear English that he’d gone to college in the USA! Yep, I was the complete tourist sucker. I’m sure they saw me coming.

  14. kylie brant says:

    I wanna go, I wanna go!!!! Ooh, ooh, take me!!!

    I’ve always wanted to go to Africa and the only way I’m gonna get hubby there is by lying and telling him there are tons of beaches where we’re going. After Belgium he’s unlikely to fall for that one again 🙂 I want to hear every detail. Are you going to the jungle? And on a sight seeing safari? Oh, I so want to go!

    As for cursive, I still hold out for teaching it in school. But when I’m asked for a reason I can’t really come up with anything. Other than the fact that some kids never do master legible print, but once they hit cursive they finally are able to write legibly. And computers aren’t available everytime we write something, as your journal proves. We’re still teaching cursive but the Middle School teachers don’t expect it so it’s basically something the kids practice for 3 years and either use or not.

    • Kylie, this is so interesting to get the teacher’s perspective on things. Does cursive do anything for brain development, I wonder? I’m just afraid we’re getting away from something imperative and useful. I defer to the teachers on this list!

      • Kylie Brant says:

        If it does, Donnell I haven’t seen the research. But haven’t looked either. All the technology does interesting things to the brain tho. Lots of research out there about how brains are actually evolving differently because of the rapid interactive tasks required of it with video games, internet, etc. Teaching has to evolve as well because our kids learn differently these days.

        Someone above said they don’t teach history in the lower grades anymore? Interesting. We do have social studies through eighth grade and then it turns to history courses. I do know that due to the demands of No Child Left Behind a lot of elementary schools dropped science and social studies to focus solely on math and reading to improve their scores. Robbing Peter to pay Paul in the educational sense…

    • debradixon says:

      Hey, I think there is still room in one of the Land Rovers! If you can get down to 30 lbs, I can smuggle you in my luggage. (g) I don’t think we’re doing actual jungle-jungle, like a trek through it. No real “survival” stuff. My uncle does those sort of trips. Climbed Kili twice, gone to Everest base camp, etc. But this is a trip for the weenie girls so we’ll be comfortable but still having trips out every day into the wilder places.

      I’m very excited to get to see the dig sites, stand in the cradle of man, etc. There’s the safari stuff where we won’t be allow out of the land rover with it’s glass dome. We can crack some windows and I’m not sure if the roof is totally enclosed, but my uncle says he’s gotten up close and personal with some serious wild life. The elephants are the ones you have to watch out for because they can just roll the land rover.

  15. Kathleen O'Donnell says:

    Have a wonderful time.. I have known a few people who went to Africa and loved it. I am sure that your journel will be filled with wonderful, exciting events and things that you have seen. Looking forward to hearing all about it..
    Safe journey…

  16. Ah, Deb, I envy you. I haven’t been anywhere in ages. I’d love to see Africa, but I don’t know that I’d want to be in Africa. A few years back I thanked Laura Resnick for taking me on her African adventure vicariously. Now it’s your turn. I’ll be the mouse in your suitcase.

  17. Way back in my sprout days (that’s pre-salad) we had to get a bazillion shots before we headed for Guam for 2 years. Several appointments, sometimes 2 shots in one arm and one in the other. Got to the point where my toddler sister started crying every time get got in the car. When we went to get our passport picture, she bawled. I still feel bad when I look at that picture with puffy-eyed baby sister sitting on Mama’s lap, my brother and I flanking her looking all smug.

  18. And about that cursive writing. Absolutely, kids should learn it. They’re not teaching penmanship with quite the flourish they once did–the letter cards strung across the top of the blackboard (Yes, children, teachers once wrote on black boards with something called chalk)–but my 4th gd granddaughter comes home with practice sheets, and her handwriting is much better than mine ever was. (Penmanship and spelling were my worst subjects!) The 2nd grader has me make copies of the sheets so she can do it, too, and her writing–like her printing–looks like something out of a book. Tell them they don’t have to do it and they’re all over it.

    I don’t think we want to throw the basics out with the bathwater. Not with the power grid hanging by a thread.

    • Kylie Brant says:

      Good point, Kathleen! We don’t teach Zaner-Blaser but D’Neilion, which is supposed to be easier to transition from print. Not sure if it really is because the kindergarten teachers don’t teach the D’Neilion print anymore! It always amazes me where there are breaks in the educational change in the same district!

      • debradixon says:

        Kylie– You’d think that any district would have its act together for things like this so there is a flow to the education. Silly me.

    • debradixon says:

      Okay, I love that. “power grid hanging by a thread” Hands down the best reason so far for continuing to teach cursive.

  19. Parker Blue says:

    Wow–sounds exciting. Hope you have a great time!

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