Wednesday, September 09, 2009

On this Day of Nines: The Tale of My 9's

So when was the last time you changed something about yourself? Not like a haircut or a makeover, not even like quitting smoking or drinking. Have you ever modified your own personal doctrine, something that while perhaps minor, has some effect on your day to day life?

I was taught diligent and precise lettering in my younger years by way of a Mechanical Drawing class (not to date myself, but CAD was only just hitting stride back then). A '9' was done in two strokes and that was pretty much it-- top bowl and vertical stem. Over the years my penmanship was always a source of pride, tho general attrition saw some devolving attention to a few characters, and '9' was always one of them. If left to slop a nine barely looked like a nine at all, and in worst cases could be mistaken for a '4.' In the back of my head something I always wanted to do was to change my nine to something more roman, basically the inverse '6.'

At the start of the year, being 2009, I decided now was as good a time as any. Figuring I'd have to write '2009' or '09' frequently it seemed as an extra incentive. Little did I realize how ingrained my existing writing style was. I knew it would take alot of practice so I basically started writing nines as much as possible to retrain my brain.

That's exactly what I had to do-- I had to erase old knowledge and retrain my brain in what to accept as a proper nine. Over and over again. In addition to just repeating nines I tried to train myself in using them in context with other numbers. I've gone through pages and pages of crappy nines, occasionally giving myself some mental positive reinforcement whenever I struck upon a pen stroke that hit the chord of what I wanted my nines to look like. My goal is nothing short of an effortless '9' that has the ease and readability of my '6."

With most of a year into the new nine regime, I am finally finding comfort with the general motion (which took quite a bit to get used to- for the curious I've taken to the center origin counterclockwise motion). It's not the most beautiful thing in the world, but at least I've killed the reflex of starting the old version. With the reflex in place, it's only a matter of time for my lovely little nines to be second nature.

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