Brief History of Calligraphy

Today I decided to write about something that has just happened but still pertains to my writing. For a long time I have wanted to learn the art of Calligraphy. I have never voiced this actively because I feared that it was a dying art, or worse that I would be no good at it. I had told close friends and family only of this dream.

For my birthday my brother and his girlfriend had decided to get me my first calligraphy set. I am absolutely in love with this set. I am just waiting on the ink to get here right now and then I can start practicing. This is not going to be a bragging post though about how I got something new. I wanted to talk about the history of calligraphy.

Calligraphy in its current form is believed to have originated from Rome, England and Scotland. In these areas the people would carve large intricate letters on monuments, but for simpler tasks it was much harder to use that type of writing. They would scrawl with a metal pen into wax tablets or with ink on bark. These would often be illegible and the ink would bleed together, or the wax would melt.

So when making important books, the letters had to be grand, and readable while still being intricate. The Roman writing of the time was not grand, nor readable. So the bookmakers looked to the writings carved in stone, it fit the bill perfectly. It was grand, intricate and readable. This writing style was named Uncial, it is typically made with a broad edge pen nib. The letters take a great deal of space, and this space was determined by the thick and thin of each letter. This however was a small point for the bookmakers because the books they often worked on were Bibles, and they felt it was important to have it legible, and grand.

From the Unical came the Half-Uncial this was developed in a monastery in Lindisfarne and was first published in one of England’s greatest treasures, The Lindisfarne Gospels. This style looked much like Unical except it has designs among the letters, and delicate color combinations.

Another important calligraphy style to note is the Insular Minuscule. In very early forms it looks points or spiky. This style was used in the ninth century in books like the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Vespasian Psalter. The Insular Minuscule was also used as a book hand, mainly when it became more square in its form.

These were the first calligraphy styles, aside from the Japanese and Chinese styles which are quite different. They were and still are used for entirely different purposes. The Japanese and Chinese use their calligraphy on a regular basis as their regular form of writing whereas in England, Rome and even now in the Americas it is an art form. A thing to be cultivated and practiced.

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Tragically Wrong

(I wrote this a few years ago, edited it and am reposting it here. Please let me know what your feedback is. I am thinking about making this into a novel)

 

I just want to get to class. Even though the chances of getting there without someone catching me in the halls were slim, but I still hoped to be able to slide through the hallways without being noticed. I turned the dial on the locker quickly, feeling the click as it unlocked. I slid my books from last class in, and pulled out the ones for next class, as I quickly checked my appearance. I smoothed my raven hair down quickly, it framed my square face but I preferred it down rather than up these days. I closed the door, and started on the way. I mapped the way to the next class in my head even though I knew the way like the back of my hand; I even know another way to get to this class and pass even fewer people. But I don’t want to go that way today for the sheer fact that I am tired of avoiding the problems by avoiding people.

I was just about to the stairs when I heard the familiar voice of Stacy Kingston rise from behind me. Tall, blonde, smart and looks to kill, she was almost the perfect girl. She always had a boyfriend and was always up to date on the latest fashions. “Oh you decided to actually go this way today?” Stacey called out. I didn’t even have to guess who she was talking to. I dipped my head, brushed my hair back and started down the stairs. ‘Just pay her no mind. She can’t have a conversation if I don’t respond’, I thought silently as I descended the first few stairs.

At that moment I felt hands on my shoulders and I tried to brace myself like I had been taught in karate. But I wasn’t fast enough, and found myself tumbling down the stairs along with my books and bag. When I finally reached the floor the world was spinning and I was sore as my head swam. One of my friends, Tanya I think, saw me and rushed over. Stacy wasn’t done though and I knew it. I forced myself to stand, and gather my wits as Stacy walked down the stairs calmly. “Oh Meg, you shouldn’t be so clumsy.” she said with a sneer. “No maybe some people need to learn to keep their hands to themselves” I shot back. A teacher walked over to stop the fight, and as he got closer he saw the rising red marks where the stairs had hit my face on the way down and the trickle of blood from my bottom lip.

“What happened here Katelyn?” Mr. Sanchez asked as he looked to me. “She was bullying me again, and pushed me down the stairs.” Stacy just stood there; we both knew nothing would happen to her, her father after all was on the school board. Mr. Sanchez shook his head and told Stacy that she would be expected to show up in the principal’s office in 15 minutes. He escorted me to the nurse’s office and offered to call my parents. I turned him down, the last thing I needed was for my mom to have to take off work to come get me. I would get through the day. I always got through the days. The rest of the day passed without any more excitement.

I got home and sat down at the kitchen table to start my homework. About 30 minutes more and Marie would be home, which meant dinner had to be started soon, 30 minutes after she got home Casey would be walking through the door, and then Mom about an hour later. I checked the clock and sure enough as always, it was 4:30 pm. I pulled out my trig book, and dived into the complex equations, I felt at peace doing things I didn’t have to really think about. Math concepts applied to a lot of life if you stop and think. Marie walked in right on time, and started right in on her homework, the one thing that this house lived by was schedules, always on a schedule. I got up and pulled out the chicken, I had decided on a simple Cuban rice and chicken dish with steamed vegetables.

I stopped for a minute to turn on the audio track for ‘The Host’. I had two weeks until this essay was due and I was at a loss as to how to start, so I was listening the audio book through for now. The second Casey walked in he went straight to his room, I knew something was off, but I didn’t let it settle on my mind for long. He had been having a rough time this year, maybe something had happened today…he would come and talk to me sooner or later.

I stuck the chicken in the oven to bake as I started the steamer up to get the vegetables in. Casey came out of his room toting his math book. ‘Hey Kate, I got this long algebra problem and it’s not coming out right. Got a minute?’ I nodded and sat down grabbing my pencil and paper, it only took a few minutes to work out and explain. He went back to his room without another word, something was defiantly up, and there was no question about it now.

I pulled out the chicken and glanced at the clock again, it was nearing 6, and Mom would be home soon. I checked the vegetables as I started the rice. Marie went off to her room to play, and Casey came out of his room. He sat down at the table, ‘Hey sis, do you have a minute? I need to talk to you.’ he asked softly. I stirred the rice one more time, and sat down hitting pause on the audio book. ‘What’s up?’ I asked as I noticed a piece of paper in his hands, and a worried look on his face. ‘Come on Casey what’s going on? You know you can talk to me.’ He fidgeted a bit and slid the paper to me across the oak table. I read it quickly, hoping for an explanation: “Parent Teacher Conference Requested” was the header. I didn’t bother to read the rest. I wanted him to tell me.

‘What happened?’ I asked with more aggravation in my words than I had intended. I knew he needed me to be gentle but this was the third time this year.

‘Chuck bullied me again. He and his friends ganged up on me, I had no other choice Kate. I couldn’t just let them pummel me.’ He said in a quick rush.

‘I will be at the school tomorrow.’ It was times like this I was glad I was on the honor roll and had a good reputation with my school. With Mom being a single parent and an accountant she sometimes needed me to step in for her. Mom had signed a wavier last year so I could act as guardian when it was needed.

Casey groaned, ‘I kinda also need you to sign this,’ he pushed another paper to me. This one was slightly smaller; I read this letter all the way through. ‘Dear Mrs. Yates, Casey’s grades are dropping significantly. I wanted to be sure that you were aware of this. As of right now he can make up the work that has been missed, and I have a few extra credit assignments that can help his grade. If you would like to get together and discuss tutoring I am available any time this week, just give me a call to schedule an appointment. Casey’s English Teacher, Miss Aiken” Her number was listed at the bottom of the page.

‘Your grades are dropping too? From today on you will be doing extra credit every night. Understood? I will meet with her tomorrow too.’ I scrawled my signature on the bottom of both papers and passed them back to him. I finished dinner and by now it was 6:30 pm. I hadn’t noticed that time had slipped away from me, and Mom wasn’t home. I brushed it off maybe something had come up last minute. She had been working on the tax returns for a big company. I went ahead and served dinner so that Marie and Casey could get on to bed.

It was now almost 7:30 pm and Mom still wasn’t home. I was starting to get a little worried so I called her phone and for the first time since she had gotten the phone it went straight to voice mail. 3 things about my Mom and probably the most important about things about her, the first she was never, ever late. The second she ran on a schedule like it was ordained by Jesus himself. Finally she never ever let her phone go to voice mail, because of the off chance it could be an emergency. If my mom wasn’t home, and wasn’t picking up her phone it was because something was keeping her from doing so, not because it was her own free will. That meant that something was seriously wrong and I felt the fear well in my chest like a tsunami. I stayed up all night to wait for her. She never called, never texted, and never came home. Something was tragically wrong, and I just knew it. I knew I had to find out what before anyone else did, after all I am only 17 and our biological father has been missing for five years now. No one else is around to take us in, our mom is all we have left.

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