I fidget – a lot! My husband doesn’t understand us fidgeters, even though he is his own breed of fidgeter. He gave his condition a clinical diagnosis: Shaking Leg Syndrome. I call it fidgeting. He just can’t keep his leg still any more than I can keep my fingers idle.
I’ve been doodling as therapy for as long as I can remember. I have never been a good illustrator but I love pens and filling up pages. I adore the feel of different inks on varying papers. I love roller pens, felt tip pens, Sharpies, fountain pens. I appreciate pencils in different degrees of darknesses and softness. I love writing on crumbled up paper bags and on napkins where I watch the ink seep into the porous surface. I doodle my name and the alphabet. I doodle hearts; one inside the other, inside the other. I’m obsessed with drawing concentric circles and swirls and interconnecting squares.
For new immigrants like us, magazine were luxuries we didn’t subscribe to, except for the coveted TV Guide, which we received regularly. I had long memorized when Dynasty and Love Boat aired; I didn’t care about the time listings or the articles about General Hospital. I coveted the TV Guide for another reason: the subscription cards.
That thick card stock was great for absorbing thick marker ink. I loved how the cards instructed me what to write so I didn’t have to use my brain much creatively. I knew the answers to the questions would be correct. Name, address, phone number, how many issues. I filled out every single one of those and any others I can get my hands on in a doctor’s waiting room.
Doodling helped keep my penmanship top notch. While the rest of the world becomes expert thumb texters and finger swipers, I doodle names of everyone in my family – and my cats. I imagine one day I will be like a fancy woman of the 1940s, where I will sit at my formal stationary desk, with my personalized monogrammed cards (very thick stock) and I will write long letters in script. What I write will be secondary to the physical act of writing letters. I draw letters perfectly and I write to do them incessantly. For a writer, there is no greater art than filling a page with letters.
In college, I was easily bored at lectures so I developed a good habit of taking transcription-worthy notes to keep myself engaged during the class. In the lulls of discussion or professor breaths, I would doodle all along the margins and in the middle of my notes. One day a friend grabbed my notebook and started flipping through the pages. She said she could sell it for money. She offered me $300 for it; I said no. Years later in a drastic move, I threw it out anyway.
So I doodle. It’s so much better than playing Candy Crush. At least when my mind rejoins society, I behold a lasting memory of when my restless fingers subconsciously confronted ink with paper.