Archive for May, 2009

harborI haven’t spoken a word all day.

Some people are physically mute. Some people take a voluntary vow of silence. For me, it’s a necessity. If I continue speaking, I may not be able to speak at all later.

A few times every year, I have to go on vocal rest. I retreat into myself, and don’t speak for hours or a day at a time.

Whenever this happens, it makes me think even more. It makes me wonder. It makes me write.

I’ve been like this since I was thirteen. I used to panic, my worst fear being that one day I would wake up and never be able to speak again.

Essentially, I have “delicate” vocal chords. What might make most people hoarse for a day, will make me hoarse for a month or longer. Talking, singing, medications, illness, asthma, acid reflux, environmental influences, and other things strain my voice to the point that it becomes difficult or painful to speak.

You might know a similar feeling if you’ve ever had laryngitis.

I can’t change it, and it will never really go away. I’ve accepted it, and learned that it is a burden I can manage. It takes a great deal of discipline, control, and caution to prevent strain or heal my vocal chords. When I’m not extremely careful, it gets worse.

I’m not speaking today because my voice became hoarse after I sang in a choir a month ago, and has been slowly getting worse again.

I’m at my family’s house now. It’s much easier, because my quirky family is accustomed to the peculiar situation and supportive. My parents put up with it, and my two brothers laugh at my expressions and silent jokes. My sister and most of my good friends have learned how to interpret and understand my gestures, and make the best of an interesting situation.

It is not always fun. You feel alone. Unable communicate with everyone as normal, it can quickly make you feel isolated and desperate. But it will make you stronger in the end.

You’d be amazed at the things you learn by keeping your mouth shut. You should try it. You become a better observer, listener, and non-verbal communicator. It can bring a sense of inner peace, allowing you to hear your own inner voice and even God better. It teaches you what needs to be said, what doesn’t, and how to pick your battles. It makes you value every word from your mouth, and from others. You learn to appreciate sound, and enjoy the silence.


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Have you always wondered what single word can be used to describe an unusually elongated depression between geologic faults?

word 001

Well, wonder no longer!


See it? This is a graben.

Graben is your word, the useless vocabulary you needed to complete your day. Now you can freely converse about the unusual length of the indent in the dirt.

My calendar has enlightened me once again, contributing to my life a word that I never knew I needed. And likely will never need. As my calendar has shared it with me, I now share it with you. Enjoy.

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Last weekend, I found one of my friends looking distraught and tear-tainted. After asking if she was ok, she explained that she might be pregnant.

Yeah. Having a kid before you are out of college is, well, not exactly in the blueprint for success.

She couldn’t even take a pregnancy test because it was late afternoon on a Saturday and the pharmacy on our block was closed. Peace of mind was not exactly possible at the moment. pregnant

Ever the problem solver, I looked up the nearest 24 hour pharmacy and dragged her to it. Letting her sit around thinking of the possibilities and problems was not going to help. Begin the adventure.

Once we were walking towards our destination, the humor of the situation began to surface. We cracked some jokes, and almost started to enjoy the total awkwardness of the situation. There was still hope that it would turn out to be nothing.

Among other things, our shopping list included:

Pregnancy test


Juno (the movie)

It reminded me of something you would see on the grocery lists blog. Really, what better to watch while taking a pregnancy test than Juno? All we needed to add was some Sunny D.

Two closed pharmacies away, we eventually found the 24 hour one. And then we located the tests, locked in a clear plastic case, presumably so embarrassed customers can’t steal them. We glanced around, unsure of whom to ask for assistance. There was a big button next to the case with instructions to push the button for assistance. But my friend wanted to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to ourselves.

So I flagged a guy who worked there and asked him if he could unlock the case. He replied that he didn’t have the key, but someone with a key would come –when you push the button. And then he pushed it.

Following a loud beeping noise and a few announcements to the entire store that “customer assistance is needed in the personal care aisle,” a girl with a key arrived. She opened the case, and my friend hastily grabbed a test.

A short while later, after dipping two sticks in a cup of pee, watching Juno, and eating some chocolate, we finally concluded she was not pregnant.

The next day was Mother’s Day.

So my not-pregnant friend, if you are reading this, I love you –and I’m so glad you’re not a mother yet.

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If you love accumulating thoroughly pointless facts, then you might like knowing that the part of a letter that sticks up above the word is called an “ascender.” It just made me think it’s a good thing I only paid a few bucks for this thing.


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cowswhitesAs a young child, asking questions was one of my specialties. I liked to know how things worked and thought there were plenty of interesting, and also delicious, things to think about at the grocery store.

There were two things that were of particular interest: eggs and milk. Specifically arousing my curiosity was my observation that these two cowsbrownitems came in two colors, white and brown. I knew from everything I had been told that chickens made eggs and cows made milk. The discrepancy in color led me to conclude that the different hues also came from different color animals. White eggs must come from white chickens. Brown eggs must come from brown chickens. White milk must come from white cows. White ChickensBrown milk must come from brown cows.

I didn’t know where spotted cows and chickens came in to my equation.

Later in my questioning career I found evidence that this was not the case, and my hypothesis was false. I learned that the color of the product was not Brown Chickensdictated by the color of the animal. I also found that while certain chickens just popped out brown eggs, people had tampered with the milk, adding chocolate to make it brown.

Although I was ultimately proven wrong, I had successfully been using the scientific method without even realizing it. All I did was observe, try to explain, and test my guesses –but that is the very heart of science.

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