Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Sound of Silence

My neighbor has started listening to music while he is in the bathroom in the mornings. Now I have absolutely no proof that my neighbor is a he but based on the type of music being played I'm going to assume it's a he (loud, heavy metal sounding or strange African drum songs). And for a guy, he's in there a really long time. I can usually get done what I need to in less than 30 minutes but the music is playing in there for an hour at at time. So with this addition to my morning ritual I realize that as I am getting older I have a better appreciation of silence (especially in the bathroom). Don't get me wrong, I love music and always have but it's now noise that I'm having a hard time tolerating (example: I spent almost two years wearing ear plugs to bed every night because my neighbor would play music from midnight to 5 a.m.).

I digress...

As a young girl I would spend hours listen to albums like Donny and Marie, K-Tel disco albums, and the soundtrack to Mary Poppins . My sister and I would sing along (as the older sister I was always a little bit country and my sister had to be a little bit rock and roll) and performed dance routines to Shaun Cassidy's Da Doo Run Run Run in the backyard (I still remember the moves to that one).

As I got older, my tastes changed and expanded. As a teenager I loved Duran Duran and the Go-Go's but a friend also introduced me to jazz and expanded my taste in classic rock (thanks Jim). Back then I listened to music all the time: in the car, doing chores, cooking, studying, or just lying on my bed. I could spend hours just listening to music, sometimes the same song, over and over again. The times have changed. Just a few years ago I had a car that didn't even have working radio or a stereo system. And while I still have all those vinyl albums I don't own a turntable to play them on. The car I drive now has a radio and CD player and I still have all my vinyl albums, cassette tapes and CDs but most of my music is now on a MP3 player (everything for Simon and Garfunkel to Mozart to P!nk) and I can hook it up to some speakers if I don't want to use ear buds.

Sometimes I listen to music at work but I don't get radio reception at my desk and am not allowed to stream music on my computer. Plus I get interrupted a lot and am out in the open so I don't listen all that much. These days I don't put music on when I'm cleaning or cooking and I find that I don't just lie on my bed and listen to music like I did as a teenager. I could be listening to music while I'm writing this but I'm not. I kind of like the silence better (that is until someone's car radio starts blaring outside like it did just now). I still love music but I like silence a lot more than I used to (especially in the bathroom - did I mention that?). Wait, did you hear that? It's silence.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kissing the Blarney Stone (And Other Tales from Ireland)

I’m half Irish and about 8 years ago I got to go to Ireland with my sister. It was May and we arrived in Dublin on a Sunday. Our taxi driver couldn’t take us directly to our hotel because the streets were closed. We didn’t know why but walking a couple blocks we saw hundreds and hundreds of people in the streets. We got to the hotel and were told that because of Foot and Mouth Disease, St. Patrick Day celebrations had to be postponed until that weekend. We had arrived the same day as the St. Patrick’s Day parade and it was happening right in front of our hotel. We stood at our hotel window and watched the parade. How cool is that, to be in Dublin to see the St. Patrick’s Day parade? Pretty cool.

Another highlight of the trip was kissing the Blarney Stone, several decades after my grandfather had done it. The stone is in the ruins of Blarney Castle, about five stories high. It’s not an easy thing to do. The stone is actually in the wall and, as you can see from the photos, you literarily have to bend over backwards to kiss it (did I say it’s five stories high?). There is a man there to help you and I think the one who helped us might have been then same one who helped my grandfather all those years ago.

Why do we kiss the Blarney Stone? According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery not the gift of blab). According to legend Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, the builder of Blarney Castle, was involved in some sort of lawsuit so the goddess Cliodhna told him that on his way to court he should kiss the first stone he found that morning. He did, and pled his case with great eloquence and won. MacCarthy then took the stone and incorporated into the castle.

The Blarney Stone has been names as the most unhygienic tourist attractions in the world. When we were there they sanitized the rock after each kiss. A little thing like that wasn’t going to deter me. You’re can’t be a true Irish person if you don’t kiss the Blarney Stone when you have a chance.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On Pins and Needles

Yes, that is my arm. Today was my second appointment with an acupuncturist. Sorry it's not a better photo but I realized you really shouldn't move too much once the pins/needles are in you cause it tends to hurt.

Anyway, 2010 was a year of medicine and minor medical procedures that had either no success or very limited success. So before the next step (which is probably surgery) I decided to start 2o11 by trying things that might be unconventional, like getting acupuncture.

Before last week I had never been to an acupuncturist before. I ask my doctor and PT if they thought it would work for my problem and got mixed responses. It's not that I didn't believe in this stuff but I never felt a need for it and to be honest common sense kept telling me that it just isn't right to purposely stick needles in you. But after last year I decided to give it a try, if it worked, great, if it didn't, at least I tried.

I was a little apprehensive at the first visit. A friend had told me of her experience but I was still nervous. It turned out to be really nothing. The needles (or pins?) are very thin and flexible. I didn't feel them going in at all. After they were in (about 17 of them in my feet, legs, hands, arms, neck and ear) I just had to lay there for 20 minutes and then they were taken out. I didn't really notice a difference after that first visit and it was hard to tell if I felt better after today's.

So I'm going back again next week. I'm feeling hopeful thought.