Friday, June 24, 2005

use both hands

A lot of the advice my mother has given me over the years has turned out less than sound: Suggestions like "You should wear more red," "Just cut off the mold and eat it anyway," and "Why don't you have sex already? I don't know what you're waiting for!" were, as it turned out, made on a whim, and with my best interest at heart - but not necessarily in mind.

But I sure wish I'd taken her more literally when she told me to "use both hands." This is what she would say to my siblings and me when we drank from grownup cups too large for our little fingers. "Use both hands, Danielle. You're going to spill that lemonade."

In 1977, neither of us could have known I'd spend the better part of my adult life in front of a computer, pushing a little plastic mouse with my right hand. I'm a graphic designer: It's one of those cool creative jobs that requires me to sit for hours developing logos, ad campaigns and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Last winter, when I felt some pain in my right shoulder, I got a little concerned. Last month, when my shoulders looked uneven while I was lifting weights at the gym, I started to pay attention to my posture and ask my brother (a physical therapist) for advice. Last week, when my right elbow began to ache, I decided it was time to go left.

So now I'm mousing southpaw style. It was slow going the first few days, but I'm starting to get the hang of it. You'd think that after 22 years of piano my left hand would be primed and ready for action, but really she's always been a passive player. Like the shy younger sister, she does her job without much fanfare. She raises the curtain, paints the scenery, dances in the background... But my right hand, she's the one who steals the show.

Louise and Baby June. My left and my right.

Maybe I'll start practicing some Bach, and that Chopin nocturne with the really tough left-hand line. Try typing with one hand for a while. Slice my bananas from the other side. Left hand has to step it up before right hand quits showbiz altogether.

Sing out, Louise. This is your time to shine.

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