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    I'm finally climbing onto the "Castle" tv show bandwagon. Nathan Fillion is hawt, the dialogue is clever, the sets are believable, the cast is beyond stellar, and the theme song is absolutely catchy--basic drums, a little guitar and synth, and this whistling that gets into your brain and just won't quit.

    There's my problem. It's in my brain and it just won't quit.

    For years I've claimed that I "can't" whistle. That's not exactly true. Once upon I time, I could whistle, but then suddenly I couldn't. I didn't miss it because I have always thought whistling was as annoying as bagpipes, and so was never a prolific whistler.

    But that got me to thinking about a number of other things I had lost when I lost my whistle.

    One fine Friday in April, I was driving my little car home from school and swerved off the road to avoid slamming into a gigantic utility truck that was in my lane. My car went over the edge and down a hill, rolling door to door three or four times before finally landing on its wheels. I was not a fan of seatbelts at the time, and got tossed like the SS Minnow inside that Chevette. When all was said and done, I had a pretty bad concussion, knots on my forehead and under my hair from the roof and door frame, knots on my thighs from steering wheel, knots on one knee from the firewall, whiplash, a prickly little pain in my lower back, and a severely pinched nerve in my neck.

    At the time I was taking classes at a vocational school to help me get into a business college. At this point, I was learning to be a secretary, which would help me skip at least one very expensive semester on my (long) way to an MBA. I had learned and had become very proficient with the now-outdated dictation method of "shorthand."

    I returned to class on Monday after the crash and promptly failed a timed test. It just wasn't there--I couldn't decipher anything I'd written before, nor could I write anything in shorthand. It was as if I'd never seen it before. All I had after the test was a blank steno pad and a pounding headache between my ear and my eyeball so strong I was nauseated.

    The strength of my grades up to that point helped me pass for the year, but there was no sense in going back because the second year included regular competency exams to ensure retention. Obviously, that wasn't going to work.

    A few years later, I discovered that everything I had taught myself about Cyrillic and the French and Spanish I had learned in high school were all missing as well, but just like the whistling, it didn't bother me because I didn't use it. When I decided to learn American Sign Language and Italian, I struggled--really, really struggled. With constant practice, I was able to pass my classes. Once out of class, however, I had no one to talk or sign to, and gradually it, too, started to slip away.

    And then I got my beloved piano restored.

    Did I ever tell you about the time I was 9 or 10, in my first year of piano lessons, and I chose to perform the entire "Nadia's Theme" for my first annual recital? Yep. I did that. I could sit down and plunk out just about anything. I was so bored at lessons, though. I mean, oh my freaking gawd, who the hell actually wants to listen to a freaking minuette when there are MODERN things to be heard?! (Typical rant from every first-year student with enough talent but not enough attention span, like me.)

    So I sit down to plunk away, and all that's there is this little ditty from my second-year student book. Ms Marilyn made me play it on my lap, instead of on the piano, and I had to hum it--first the treble then the bass clefs. Maybe that's why it's still there, because it was the oddest thing I ever did in her studio. So I pulled out one of my many, many pieces of sheet music and set up for a little play-along.

    Yeah, I had nothing.

    I think I cried harder that night than I did the day the doctor called to confirm my death sentence. Dying is easy--just live a respectable life and ensure that everyone remembers you fondly without faking. But to live before dying without the cool keys under my fingers, singing to me.... Just kill me now.

    Fast-forward a few more years, and it suddenly occurred to me that the brain is a marvelous, self-destroying, self-repairing muscle, if only one chooses to employ it. If you can convince yourself you are deathly ill, why not convince yourself that you are incredibly clever--and then act on it!

    This fantastic epiphany came to me because The Baby decided to learn French in high school. She was bouncing vocabulary words around, I was correcting her pronunciation with a beautiful accent, and I had no idea what I was saying, only that I was saying it. 

    It has to be there. Maybe it's all shoved way down into some cobwebby portion of my brain, but it has to still be there. From time to time, I'll be talking to someone, and I'll realize I'm also signing. Sure, it's "exact English," which is offensive to traditionalists, but I wouldn't be able to if it wasn't there.

    Now all I need to do is find the key, unlock the door, and sweep out the cobwebs.

    What a wonderful smell you've discovered!

    I've always had issues with talking about politics. It has been, in my experience, the biggest "hot button" topic, even when compared to religion, abortion, and spanking children. To avoid confrontation, I usually keep my opinions to myself, taking care to not invite political discourse. I realise that this is not a good way of sounding out your own beliefs, testing your own opinions for validity and so forth, but I also recognize that with all things, politics has its zealots and, quite frankly, I just don't have the energy to hold my own against that level of commitment.

    Does anyone have advice on how to deflect those who speak out while I'm "on duty" at work, obviously seeking my approval of their opinions and beliefs?

    I do not want to discuss politics while I'm being paid to represent a business, as my position may not reflect that of my company's leadership. Even if it did, it's not my place to say--that's not what they pay me to do. However, when a customer pipes up about [insert politician or pundit here], voicing their stand to one and all, what can I politely say to inform them that I am uninterested in but respectful of their opinion?

    All I've got now is "I'm sorry; I don't discuss politics at work." It seems rude, and the average reaction to that statement suggests that it is, in fact, rude--at least to older men.

    I could go the "girl" route: giggle a bit, and suggest that I have no idea because my husband tells me who to vote for. (Yes, this still happens, even in my generation.) I feel that I can't, because it would be an outright lie.

    I welcome suggestions from every political corner including the apathetic, as always. I'm "equal opportunity," if nothing else.

    Godzilla versus Bridezilla

    I found myself caught up in an episode of "Comic Book Men" the other day. It was interesting, watching true fans get all orgasmy over the stuff they love.

    It was also rather sad, in a way.

    A young couple came in with this rather rare collectible. Careful questions revealed an upcoming wedding, and a desire for them to pay for the dog-and-pony show themselves. The big value reveal showed the bride's true colours.

    The collectible was his, and it was apparent that she had researched its value online (a bad idea for anyone with a collectible since the internet lies) and had decided that this little gem would buy her a wedding dress.

    Another guy was there to shell out big bucks to buy a rather revolting but limited-run action figure set. He had sold off his original set because his girlfriend said they were sick, and yet he thought they were cool.

    No one, under any circumstances, should put up with that.

    There are over 7 billion people on this planet. Keep the stuff that makes you happy and find love with someone who appreciates you for who you are and not who they want you to be.

    /steps off soapbox

    And the eyes have it

    It has been brought to my attention that I don't look people in the eye very often. Interesting, as I thought I did a fairly good job of it. Now that I've been concentrating, it turns out that it really depends on how close the other person is.

    If there's an arm's-length or more, I'm good. Any closer, and I have to force myself. Weird.

    You know what else is weird? I am an attention whore who does not take compliments well.

    Early this morning, one of our first customers of the day noticed my new lavender sweater and said that it was a very good colour for me, that it made my skin "radiant." I got very flustered and stammered something that I hope sounded like "Thank you" but probably sounded more like "derr derr." Apparently, I am all "look at me, look at me, but just don't tell me you like me!"

    Censor my internet? Oh hell no!

    If you have no idea where our government has been going for the last 12 years, and is still clearly going, please read "1984." Now.

    Say No To SOPA!