Dying/broken/forgiven.... now I begin

Born: 17-06-56....gemini.... monkey
re-born: 3-09-80
born again\found: 14-04-08
other notable dates: 10-03-68; 03-09-87; 23-03-96;
1-05-98; 31-01-02; 5-04-04

Interests: movement, stressed/transgressive embodiment, lived experience (body\space\time\relation)
expression ( word, dance, text, image, story, music, poetics)
learning, yielding......

Hopes for the blog:
offer up the wild intersectedness of lived experience and engage others in creative, expressive, perhaps irreverant, hopefully playful, and respectful encounters....
enact kindness
create moments of pause for disclosure, discovery, stillness

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Whirlpool of torment

You will need some back story to appreciate this one.
Partner and I are learning American Sign Language ( ASL). Many of the folks that I work with need alternative forms of communication and partner is also on the hard of hearing spectrum, so it is a good time to be embarking on this adventure, even though at my tender age ( fifty plus), perceptual motor learning is going to be challenging, no matter what it is and no matter how motivated I am ( and I am quite motivated). One of the culminating assignments was a video of partners enaging in a series of signed dialogues, which would necessarily  include a broad sweep of all the vocabulary from the past 12 weeks of the course. To say that  the instructions were a bit unclear and ambiguous would be an understatement, but we persevered all the same, and our instructor brought in a demo video as a template, so we figured we had it figured out and we proceeded, onwards through the fog. One of the instructions was that the total running time was to be 10 minutes, max. No way, unless us two rank  novices become the flying hands project ( which we didn't!! ). A few other details  to include here would be that a) our whole downstairs was given over to this production, with a backdrop and lights and camera, b) partner cannot memorize to save his ass so we also had tri-fold poster boards filled  with our dialogue in 36 font placed strategically on dining room chairs behind the camera c) the dialogues were preceded by "mandatory"  signing of our name ( hi, my name is.... ) followed by "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs", followed by the numbers 1-100, then addition and subtraction, and concluding with objects and colours ( black coffee, brown chair, red table.... ).
And, remember, we are working towards a 10 minute deadline.
So, we practice and practice  and then do the first video... over 14 minutes; then another 13: 40 something; then another and another. Now our forearms are cramping from the numbers, so we pack it in and pick it up the next day. Next day, we make some adjustments in our scintillating dialogue and  we get it down to 13: 11.... amazing; partner needs to adjust the poster boards since we had to do some re-typing and re-applying, and now he  can't see it quite evenly,  and that's when we decided to use some books to raise and stabilize the posters.  Another detail that you should know is that partner is a supremely over-educated man, one of his areas of study being religion, and we have MANY books on that subject.... thus it was that one such book made its way into one of our stabilizing piles but at a critical juncture slid out and landed on the floor. We had by that time gotten our speed down to 12:20 but the camera did not record.... so, while we wailed and gnashed our teeth, we noticed the title of the book.... yes, indeed " A Whirlpool of Torment". It's obviously a sign. Or at the very least, a theme!
Next take, 12:09. At that point, we said, oh gosh darn, that will do** (or words to that effect).
That's the saga; we handed in the video last Thursday night, still awaiting another sign... ( thumbs up or down!! )
This week's class, our last one, spontaneous storytelling and conversation. I'll keep you posted...
regardless, this has been one of the most intriguing learning experiences of my life... and I am looking forward to continuing. Onwards, through the fog.


  1. ** it was more like " oh f*#@ it, we're done!"

  2. Oh Harlequin this is fantastic! WTG! I am knowing BSL (British Sign Lanuage), where we use both hands and I believe ASL is mainly one hand (a lot harder, I am thinking). But it will come. In time you will be so fluid.What I have read of you and your utter determination with things; I am knowing this.
    (I found standing infront of a mirror, signing; helped me)

  3. Even a few dozen words puts you so far ahead of the rest of us. Good one H & Partner.

  4. SarahA-- thanks!! ASL uses two hands as well, but there are lots of one handed signs. I also like using the mirror, and, funny enough, wearing gloves also seems to help. who knew!thanks for the encouragement. i certainly intend to keep at it.
    WM-- thanks for these kind words. i will pass along the good wishes to partner. cheers!

  5. Pisces-- i like the way you think!! thanks for the visit and the pithy comment :))

  6. Very nice - two semioticists doing sign language!
    Happy holidays to you and Partner

  7. oyvind-- hey, there-- thanks for the visit and the comment; hope all is well with you as this year winds down. i shall pass on your regards to partner
    and you can expect to hear from me more in the new year. cheers!

  8. Maureen,

    Not sure if you remember me, Andrea from our writing group. I'm studying American Sign Language and Deaf Studies in Toronto. If you need any assistance, let me know.