Archive for July, 2010

Two months ago I lost my voice. And I still have not managed to recover it. I sound hoarse, which works fabulously for reading poetry, but the sexy raspy thing is now just annoying and uncomfortable. Every single time I speak on the phone, a client or friend asks me if I’m sick, hung over or exhausted. My answer is, “No, I’ve just lost my voice, that’s all.” But they are beginning to not believe me. And I am having my own doubts too.

I used to lose my voice all the time, but I often attributed it to lack of sleep, partying, shouting, and smoking. My chronic tonsillitis did not help much either. But my tonsils were removed eight months ago, which is also when I consequently quit smoking, and my partying has been reduced to intimate dinners with friends and relaxing on the beach. I sleep about eight hours a night.

So what the Hell is going on?

This morning I went to see my ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat doctor). He is the sweet, older Catalan man who removed my tonsils last year, and who I think is always trying to set me up with his son. After a thorough examination, which triggered my gag reflex and I almost threw up all over the guy, he tucked his little flashlight and tongue depressor away and told me, “Your vocal chords are a bit red and inflamed, but there is nothing really wrong with your … throat.” He put his hand on my shoulder, tilted his head sideways, and then added, “The problem is with the pianist in your head.”

Now, I realize I have a lot going on inside my head. But a pianist? I instantly had the vision of a small little figure, dressed in a black tailsuit, encouraging his fingertips to make love to the white and black keys of a grand piano shining brightly in my frontal lobe. Once the musical notes danced their way out of my ears, I registered the kind doctor’s words, awoke from my little daydream, and said, “¿cómo?

According to my doctor, there is a pianist living in my head. And my vocal chords are his grand piano. Supposedly he is up there composing and banging around on the keys. Passionately. Ruthlessly. And with no intermissions. Dr. Torres Esteban told me that my wild, unsettled head was the cause of my voice cracking. And then he wrote me a couple of prescriptions to help with the inflammation, told me to refrain from speaking altogether for a couple of weeks, plugged my cell phone number into his iPhone, and told me he would call me in September to arrange for me to see a logopedia (a speech therapist) to help train me to speak properly again.

For someone who speaks a lot, this is all very worrying.

On one side, I’m being told not to speak. But then there is the other theory – that I need to get something off my chest. Over the past few weeks I have had two friends and a holistic doctor all give me another source for my voice loss. Apparently I have a secret. A deep, dark secret that I’ve kept so well hidden inside, that not even I know what it is. Apparently when there is something inside us that we don’t voice, our voice can actually break down until we speak that secret. I have spent a good part of this week thinking about what secret I could possibly have. And I’m drawing a huge blank.

Pianists and deep secrets are nestling up together inside me. I would love to get rid of them both…but first I guess I need to identify them. Until then, I will attempt to not speak so much (yeah right), will down my little pills every eight hours, and will continue working on my “You Can Do It! List” until hopefully all my little worries diminish. Once all is (not?) said and done, and my voice is back to its normal cadence and tone, I will look forward to singing something other than Tracy Chapman and Chavela Vargas in the shower.


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When girls get their periods for the first time, we are told “you are a woman now.” Then when the first little breast bumps start forming and we have to buy our first bras, we are told “welcome to womanhood.” Then comes the day that we lose our virginity, and that little spot of blood on the sheets (or sand, or kitchen floor, or what have you) spells out W.O.M.A.N. The moods swing in and out, and we blame it on being a woman.

Each one of us is different, and I imagine that each girl transforms into a woman at different stages in her life. Looks like it took me about twenty-nine years and ten months to finally admit that yes, I am a woman.

My nine year-old English student asked me if I was a girl or a woman during our class yesterday. I looked at her, and at first did not know how to respond. I did not have the answer. So instead I asked her what she thought, and her reply was bashful but very self-assured – “You are a woman.” This same conversation came up two months ago at a wedding. I was trying to convince a Basque stranger that I was still a girl. He spent about forty-five minutes trying to convince me that I was most definitely not a girl, but a woman. I just giggled and skipped my way back into the swimming pool fully dressed in my polka-dot dress, with high heels still attached. Denial.

Consequently, yesterday was also the birthday of my student’s older sister. She just turned eighteen years old, and she expressed to me her fear of growing up. Me, the largely kid-at-heart “big girl”, spent an hour trying to reassure her that in fact life gets better as you grow up. My reasoning was this: as you become a woman, you become more confident in yourself and an inner strength begins to pour from every pore in your body. But how would I know this if I was not in fact a more confident and strong woman myself? I spoke with a knowledge and ease that was foreign, yet strangely familiar.

So guess what guys and gals? I feel and act like a woman. So I guess that makes me a woman. I am a woman! And now I feel like hanging the spotted sheet from my window balcony for all to see.

Just don’t ask me if I am an adult yet.

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