Monday, April 16, 2007

I've lost my voice!

I'm speechless - literally. I've caught some kind of strep throat infection and I've been mute for almost a week. It's a strange experience. We open our mouths to speak and expect the words to form and when they don't, it's disquietening. Gives me a sense of how a paraplegic must feel while getting aquainted to his new situation - "legs, do your stuff!" ... but someone's cut the cord. The doc looked down my throat and went Bleeeaaah! and prescribed me an antibiotic.

I think I caught it at a rave, the Bassnectar show at the WOW Hall a week ago. All those heaving, sweaty bodies ... I might just digress here and tell you what WOW Hall raves are like in Eugene. They're all ages events. A handful of little 8 year olds zooming around with painted faces, dressed up in a kind of toddler's drag. A giant sign over the door, saying 'NO SMOKING, ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. And until this concert, organic snacks and juices at the little concession. Unfortunatlely, they got some clueless girl who just went to CostCo and bought a bunch of candy. In Eugene, land of the Pizza Research Institute's peach and vegetable covered vegan special slice, anything Hershey's makes you want to retch. Oh yes, the WOW Hall's alcoholic room is banished to the dungeon, for folks whose bodies are nightclubs not temples.

The next day I rode 16 miles in 40 minutes to attend an Easter lunch. I think that's what did it.
That's 25 mile an hour. During lunch I could feel myself running out of steam. by 6pm every muscle in my body ached and the room suddenly seemed arctic. There I was, in three pairs of pants, three tops, balaclava and a giant sleeping bag over me.

A couple of days later I'm floored, and speechless.

Just yesterday, after being in bed for several days, I welcomed the chance do something I've rarely done - hang out with a girlfriend and do nothing but shop and eat. She was also sick from the rave, but the virus only blocked her ears. I couldn't talk,she couldn't hear, but you don't need either of those things to do serious retail therapy. It felt great to be out and about, driving around in her SUV, spending money on things you don't need, the antithesis of everything I stand for. We spent forever in a fairly inexpensive store called Forever 21 (she being 38 and me being 44 - is this called mid life?), where the clothes looked like someone threw a fabric factory at a room full of first year fashion students, turned back the clock, put some LSD in the water fountain and a Putamayo disc in the player and told them to go for it. I bought a whole bunch of stuff, in lipstick pink, I suddenly decided I was tired of never-gets-dirty black. My galpal and I dived into each other changerooms trying on $19 beaded bras, retro baby doll dresses, analysing styles like the editor of Vogue - all in relative gesticulating silence of course. The next day I looked at what I bought and thought, bejayzus ... what was I thinking? I'll proabably wear just two of the 5 things I bought. Aaaaaa, but it felt good. Don't knock retail therapy - it truly is a therapy. Even if I never wear those clothes it was cheaper than a therapist and I don't feel theraputed ... if they'd asked me 'and how does that make you feel?' I would not have been able to answer anyway.

By dinner time we'd resorted to pen and paper. I was always good at Pictionary but it must have been a bit trying for my friend. I realized it's actually nice to not talk. A few years ago I did a singing workshop and after getting us to flop about on the floor a la Feldenkreis, our teacher told us to go out in pairs, and get lunch and not talk. As my partner and I walked along I noticed how we became acutely aware of each other, even with minimal eye contact. We could read each other's minds. The bakery attendant assumed we were deaf mutes so gave us free sandwiches. Beggars should try this technique rather than the old unbelieveable cardboard sign telling us you need to get to Phoenix. Couples should try it and prolong their marriages.

Speaking of which, it reminds me of a technique called co-counselling, or revaluation counselling. No cost, no therapist, yet helps strengthen and prolong any relationship. You come home from work and instead of flicking on the telly, yelling at the kids or harumphing at the bills of the day, sit or lie down with your partner, not touching, and one person just expresses whatever is going on. The other listens actively and attentively but adds nothing to the convo, remaining quiet. After 10, say 20 minutes, swap.

The result is that you feel strangely relaxed and refreshed, rather than stymied by the day's shite.
Try it sometime, with someone you care about. It took losing my voice to remind me of this no-cost, therapist-free therapy. Go Google it. Recommended.

I'm off to Indiana to give a talk on Wednesday. If I don't have my voice back, I'll figure I'll field questions and type the answers on the big projected screen. Now that'll be a talk to remember!

No comments: