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This Day in My History

2001:  On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
2002:  Keep the Candle Burning Until It Burns Out

2003:  Lucky Luciana
2004:  Secret Weight
2005:  Mary SAID

2006:  Sex and Violence


Books Read in 2006
(Updated 12/8
"Tender at the Bone")

Currently Reading
"The Cat Who Could Read Backwards"
"Dog is My Co-Pilot"


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Mefeedia Video Archive

My Favorite Video Blogs

Desert Nut

(for others, see Links page)

Look at these videos!
Hu's in China
(very funny)
Rumsfeld's Hands
Nathan Lane at Pops
Parts 1-8

(Tribute to Danny Kaye)

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Xmas Puppies

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13 January 2007

In my first entry of the new year, I asked a question about what a group of people had in common.  Here's another group.  What do Leonardo daVinci, Albert Einstein, Judy Garland, Babe Ruth and I have in common?  (It's the bumper sticker I have stuck to the door to my office.)

We are all lefties.

I grew up blissfully unaware that being left-handed was considered by some to be a handicap. 

Language certainly discriminates against the left-hander: A "left-handed compliment" is not something you want to hear; the word for "left" in French is gauche, and in Latin it's sinister; in contrast, from the French word for "right," droit, we get the English word adroit, and Latin for right is dexter (from which we get such words as dexterous). Ambidextrous means literally "both right."

I grew up at a time when many children were forced to become right-handed.  Their left hands were tied down and they had to learn how to use their right hands for everything.  Studies show that there were emotional problems.  Some children developed a stutter, for example.

Hand preference didn't become an issue until I entered first grade, when Sister Mary St. Patrice saw me writing with my left hand.  My memory of it is that she asked me if I was able to write with my right hand.  I said "no," and she let it go at that.  I was never hassled to use my right hand.  I am forever grateful!

When we were old enough to start learning cursive, we learned the damned Palmer Method of penmanship.

The Palmer Method is based on keeping your wrist flat on the paper to help slant the letters to the right.  I never got good grades in handwriting.  There were no adjustments made for lefties.  We had to have our wrists flat on the paper too, but to put a leftie's wrist flat on the paper and move it across the paper, slanting letters to the right, it meant that everything smeared (and you usually had a blue wrist to boot!)

Everything had to fit on the right lines when you were writing.

I never could do it well but the insistence that we learn what all the "righties" were learning may be why my handwriting doesn't have that backward slant that so many lefties do.

Throughout grammar school, we sat in the old fashioned desks, the kind that had an actual ink well for the ink for your pen (we even learned how to use ink pens, though by the time I left 8th grade, we were permitted to use ball point pens).  (I went looking for a photo of a school desk with an inkwell  -- and yes, if you had long hair you were in danger of having the nasty boy behind you dip your hair into the inkwell!  You can imagine how thrilled I was to find an identical desk to the one I sat in for 8 years, and how thrilled I was to discover it described as an "antique."  Sigh.)

However, when we got to high school, at least some of our classes had chairs with attached desks.  They were very difficult for lefties because there was no place to rest your arm. 

A girl who was a year ahead of me in high school had a father who made a left-handed desk for her.  Each graduating class made a "will" of what they were leaving the juniors, who would be the incoming seniors.  She willed her desk to me and as I recall, my senior year, at least in the class where that desk was placed, was much easier.

But I guess it wasn't until a left handers' store opened on Pier 39 in San Francisco that it occurred to me that I could be considered by some as "handicapped" enough that special objects had to be made for me.

I had, for example, never thought about how much easier it would be if I had a pair of scissors designed specifically for lefties.  I had always used regular scissors and never thought that it was awkward.  When I tried leftie scissors, it WAS much easier because you could actually see where you were cutting.  But, like the people who had their left hands tied so they were forced to use their right hands, I had been using "normal" scissors for such a long time that I still do, though I am, I guess, now ambi-scissorous, because I can use both.  Walt tries to use the left handed scissors and is hopelessly lost.

One thing I loved in the lefties' store was spiral notebooks, with the metal spiral on the right side and perforated paper that could be torn out after it was written on.  Ingenious.

However, I always questioned the need for a "lefties mug."  Other than which way the design on your ceramic cup should face, it seemed to me that cups of any sort were really pretty ambidextrous.

I've never had an iron that felt comfortable in my hands.  The cords are always in the wrong place.  That's why I don't iron.  (That's my story and I'm sticking with it).

I am not only left-handed, I am left bodied.  My left eye is the dominant.  In the days when I could balance on one foot, it was always the left one.  I am very much aware that there is an invisible line down my body and the left side makes all the decisions for the right. 

I'm even, apparently, left brained, since it is the side of your brain which determines creativity (which is why so many performers that you see are left handed, I'm sure).

(Oddly enough, I've given birth to five children, none of whom is left-handed.)

Some people will tell you that being left-handed has been the curse of their lives, that they are more accident prone, that lefties have a higher risk of just about everything.  However, I have never found it a handicap.  Like having hazel eyes and a zaftig figure, it's just who I am and I guess I have adjusted to it. 

And with Leonardo daVinci, Albert Einstein, Babe Ruth and Judy Garland, among legions of others, I'm obviously in good company!




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