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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Struck Dumb

For as long as I can remember, knowing things has been very important to me. It may have started with my father, who always encouraged me to be a smart girl. I imagine he took one look at his newborn youngest daughter and thought, "She's a newborn and she looks like an old lady. Better make sure she's really smart, because nobody is going to want to marry this one." The saying that knowledge is power really resonates with me, because knowledge was my only power. I wasn't pretty, I was socially awkward, I was absolutely unathletic, and I was forbidden to engage in any of the performing arts, with two temporary exclusions.

I thirsted for information. When I lived with Alice late during my second-grade year through the beginning of fourth grade, I submerged myself in books. Yes, I read Charlotte's Web like the rest of the kids, but I delved into far deeper reading. I reveled in Greek and Roman mythology, and biographies of people like Phyllis Wheatley and Abraham Lincoln. I loved books meant for readers of all ages.

When I came to live with Gram, I still loved this pursuit of learning. I used knowledge to protect myself, because although Gram never lifted a hand to me in anger, her tongue was quite sharp. If I did anything stupid, she certainly was willing to call me a jackass. And not behind my back, either, but right to my face, yelling quite loudly. So I tried to learn to say the right things at the right time. I developed knowledge and wit as part of not just my personality, but as my armor.

As I've grown older, I've remained inquisitive. I like to know a lot of different things, but I'm nobody's idea of a brilliant person. When I was preparing to take my European trip, I realized that knowing a few phrases here and there in the languages of the two countries I was going to visit (three, as it turned out) would be a good thing. We can't expect everyone to know our language, so I tried to learn phrases in Hungarian and French like greetings, please and thank you, how much does this cost, and most importantly, where is the bathroom? I remembered some of the German from my high school classes as well, but not tons.

As you can probably tell, I don't consider myself a genius, but I try not to be an idiot. And if someone treats me like an idiot, it really gets my dander up. But it seems that every so often, I get struck dumb. And I don't mean speechless. I mean I get an attack of the stupids. And for me, stupids often tend to travel in pairs or even herds. Case in point: last week, I was notified by Microsoft that my free upgrade to windows 10 was available. After installing it, I was enjoying the use of my computer and how everything was working. 

Now, I freely admit to being just an average computer user. I can handle my blogging and photos and games and such, but if I were to call someone with a problem and they said that I needed to reinstall the kerflaxinator, I'd be a bit lost. But I can look up instructions to deal with little problems along the way and handle them fairly well. The installation went smoothly, and I was loving how everything worked, but suddenly my wireless mouse seemed to be possessed. I use it on the front part of my keyboard because I do indeed use my laptop on my lap's top. But it was screwy-bazooey!

I'd point the cursor to a tab to see what it said, and suddenly the tab was opened without me clicking. Even worse, it often opened in another window. I tried to play solitaire and when the cursor was on top of the deck, it was dealing out cards rapidly like nobody's business. It wasn't until the next time I blogged that I figured out the problem. When the computer restarted, it turned the keyboard touchpad and mouse back on. I was mousing two ways without even knowing it. And I felt like a world-class idiot who didn't deserve to own a computer. Well, not really. Actually, I got a good laugh at myself, because it was pretty funny that I thought my mouse was out of control, verging on possessed!

Instead of sticking with only Saturday, the stupids injected themselves into Sunday as well. We were going to arrange a visit in our home with a friend who was born and raised in Peru. Whenver we see him, I try to pratice a few words of my high school and college Spanish, so I decided to have part of my conversation in Spanish. And I stopped to think, which was where I made my big mistake. I remembered that the USA is one of the few countries that routinely uses a 12-hour clock, so I wanted to ask him to come over at 19 hours. And when I asked him to come over at that time, he looked at me and said no. Then he said 19 correctly. In my effort to ask, I got my numbers totally screwed up and asked him to come over at ninety o'clock. You'd never guess that I've been able to count in Spanish for thirty years! Again, I felt less than intelligent, but once again I managed to laugh at myself. At least I tried. But I was definitely struck dumb. 

In this crazy ride called life, sometimes we are eloquent and sometimes we are struck dumb. If we handle our mistakes with good humor and grace, we may find that we can have the courage to keep trying. So I'll keep having my stumbles along the way, and possibly deal with some minor or even major humiliations. But I know that I can survive something as small as being struck dumb. After all, I get plenty of practice!