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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 I had learned and had become very proficient with the now-outdated dictation method of "shorthand."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.

    1 comment:

    Beav said...

    I'd say that "I hope you can recover at least some of what you've lost," but that wouldn't convey quite what I mean.

    I wholeheartedly want you to recover much or all of what you've lost.