The Name

The Story Behind Typing Sunflowers

Sunflowers seem to follow me wherever I have lived and traveled. They have greeted me in Hungarian fields, and after summers filled with ponchicks and pelemeni, they would bow their heads as I departed Ukraine. In West Africa, my ship roommate painted a picture of a sunflower one year for my birthday. Another year, a fellow wanderer gave me sunflowers with photo clips on them. Now, sunflowers are sprawled all over my tiny kitchen.

Everywhere I go, sunflowers present themselves to me, packaged, as if to prove that beauty and creativity live inside of each of us. They remind me that beauty starts out small -- like a seed -- and once planted and nourished, it springs forth into something bright and amazing and inspiring.

And the typewriter? Years and years ago, my mother found an old vintage typewriter at an auction. Her own mother, who died when Mom was only 12, used to type letters from home on a similar machine. The family parakeet would sit on the return bar and occasionally repeat Grandma’s swear words. I envisioned my grandmother, clad like June Cleaver, sitting there, bird on one side (cigarette on the other) pounding away at the keys, politely cursing under her breath when she made a mistake.

As a child, I tried to type on that vintage contraption. Several years later, when I needed to pick elective classes for high school -- my mother insisted I take a class on typing. She said I would need it ‘just in case’ -- a kind of insurance to ‘fall back on’. I’m not sure what my mother thought I would be majoring in that I wouldn’t need to type anything in the first place -- apparently my ambitions to become a Marine Biologist conjured up images of me living on a ship and relegating the menial task of entering data to someone else who had actually passed the typing course.

With some reluctance, I signed up for the class and learned to truly type on an electric typewriter. I dropped the class when I reached 50 words per minute.

Even though I never became a Marine Biologist, I still ended up on a ship -- and I needed to type daily, so I'm thankful for my mother's insistence that I learn the keystrokes. I can't imagine not knowing how to type now. 

I have since traded pounding keys on traditional typewriters to clicking lightly on a MacBook Air. Apples are more portable than their heavyweight cousins of yesteryear. Nevertheless, I still love the latter and I managed to acquire a beautiful vintage typewriter a while back at a local auction. She sits there in my living room, perched neared a plant, reminding me of a Grandmother I never got to meet and a time when I learned to type to have something 'to fall back on'.

I looked around my apartment one day and noticed both the sunflowers and the typewriter. I liked the combo. I realized that they seemed to symbolize so much of my life -- the sunflowers reminded me of travel and my countless journals (all of which have some sort of sunflower motif stuffed between the pages) and how much I enjoy being outdoors. The typewriter reminds me daily that I am a writer -- and a vintage thrifter. Combined, the sunflowers and typewriter inspired me. Now, I hope to inspire others through them.

(And, as a shout out to any Fringe TV series fans... I've got to say that I have always loved the use of the old typewriter in previous seasons...)