Start your week off with April Lockhart’s cover of Icona Pop’s “I Love It.” This girl seriously rocks. I’m so impressed by her talent and confidence.
“I wanna see like everything is still unseen. It burns inside, and I am so alive.” – Tony Memmel
Happy birthday to Tony Memmel!
In honor of today, here’s some music to get your Monday off to a great start! This is Tony Memmel’s music video for “Clenched Hands Brave Demands,” the single from his new album of the same name. I ordered the album – it’s so good! I love Tony’s lyrics, and it helps that he’s also a really cool guy. He even wrote me a long and thoughtful message on Facebook when I asked him about guitar picking (which I haven’t quite mastered yet). And how awesome is it that his wife Lesleigh plays the keyboard and sings backup vocals for the band? I love it when couples do cool things like that together, and the Memmels are so so cute!
If you love Tony, you can order the album and check out all the merchandise here.
Enjoy the song. I hope it makes you feel, well, ALIVE.
For starters, I’ll just say now that I’m no doctor and I don’t pretend to have extensive knowledge on any topic in the medical field. I haven’t stepped inside a science class in at least three years, and I haven’t even taken biology since I was a sophomore in high school. So sorry to disappoint, but this post isn’t going to be filled with statistics and definitive evidence. Now that we’ve established that, though, I will say that I’ve always thought a lot about the scientific aspects of my limb difference. And recently, I heard a couple stories that made me wonder about something.
In the film Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story, which I wrote about here, Kevin’s mom and several of his coaches comment on how Kevin (who was born without his left arm, like me) is “left-handed.” They say that the way he moves and even his less-than-perfect penmanship indicate that he should have been left-hand dominant. I found this to be pretty funny, since the guy is super athletic and coordinated enough to be a Division I basketball player, but I didn’t give the whole left-handed thing a second thought until last night. As I was reading Katie Kolberg Memmel’s book about raising a son with a limb difference, I came across a chapter where she writes about baby Tony’s preference for starting and doing things with his left side. Tony, like Kevin and like myself, was born sans left hand. Weird, right? These two accounts now have me thinking: am I naturally left-handed too?
Looking back on my childhood, I distinctly remember that I would chant “Left is always first!” when pulling on my socks and shoes. And when I’d play soccer with the neighbor’s kids, I would always use my left leg to kick the ball. When I took ballet lessons (which lasted all of three weeks, since I had a hard time following directions and staying still for more than 5 minutes) as a little girl, my left leg was more flexible and could kick higher. Even now, I lean more on my right leg when standing so that my left is free to kick or move or take the first step when it needs to. So I’m definitely sure that I’m left-leg dominant, which means that I’m most likely left-sided in general. (This might explain my sloppy handwriting, which was the only subject I ever failed in school.) In any case, I did some research and found a few more interesting facts about the left-sided situation.
Twenty-one years ago when my mom first found out she was pregnant (with me!), she discovered that she’d be having triplets (two of which she’d eventually miscarry). In addition to left-handedness being more likely to occur in children of multiple births, I read in this article that left-handedness has “almost everything to do with prenatal traumas — with some sort of stress that damages the fetus.” And having two other people crowding an already crowded womb certainly counts as “prenatal trauma.” I’ve also read that since the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, left-handed people tend to be more creative. I don’t know if this means anything, but I HATE math. I’m decent at it when I want to be, but even seeing a calculator can trigger the gag reflex for me. I’d much rather write or play guitar or listen to music than solve algebraic equations or do a logic puzzle. And I’m not alone in that.
It turns out that the two other “left-handed” people I mentioned earlier are a basketball player (the right side of the brain is more responsible for athletic coordination) and a musician (certainly a creative profession), respectively. Coincidence? I’m not so sure. Whatever the case may be (and whatever the reason), it seems that some of us with limb differences have strong preferences for the side of the hand we don’t have.
So can someone be left-handed if they lack a left hand? I guess maybe it’s possible.
“If you’re lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everybody else, don’t ever change.” – Taylor Swift
Happy Monday, everyone! And it most definitely will be if you’re a Taylor Swift fan – her new album hits stores today! I’ve been a fan of hers since I heard her first CD when I was 15. So for me, there’s a certain nostalgia in getting all excited for her latest songs. Taylor saw me through my country music phase, during which I only wore cowboy boots and listened to Toby Keith on repeat (I will admit that this particular time was much better than my punk rocker phase, when I thought I was the next Avril Lavigne and abused the pink hair extensions trend – let’s not get into that now.) Taylor’s music also saw me through boy troubles, bouts of unrequited love, and all the not-so-fun stuff that comes along with growing up and discovering who you are and how life works.
I know I’ve blogged about playing my guitar here, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about what inspired me to take up the instrument in the first place. All throughout high school and college, I could barely make it through the day without someone telling me I looked like a brunette version of Taylor Swift. And while I remember being completely flattered by the compliment (especially when I believed I was a borderline-ugly Plain Jane), I also felt a tinge of resentment that I would never be able to strum a guitar like Swift because of my arm. I’ve always loved writing, and back then I used to pen a lot of (what I thought were good, at the time) songs about what was going through my mind and what I felt needed to be written down. So after a while, I got the crazy idea that I would buy a guitar and teach myself how to play it so that I could accompany the songs I wrote with music. I was set on playing guitar, so I knew I would find a way.
And so it began. Countless hours watching YouTube tutorials and reading guitar books (read: avoiding my homework) paid off and now, 2 years later, I still turn to my trusty 6-string whenever I need to sing away whatever I’m thinking or feeling. Times may have changed and some of Taylor’s songs might just be a little immature for me now, but I still consider teaching myself guitar to be one of the most validating and empowering feats I’ve accomplished in my life because I showed myself that I was capable of something everyone assured me was impossible.
So am I going to join all those squealing 10-year-old girls lining up to buy Taylor’s album today? Hell yeah. Just as soon as I get out of work, where I’m trying (and failing) to hide my excitement, kind of like this: