Milking the Signs

I've been signing more and more with the boy, not just baby books and songs, but reviving my college ASL days and signing what I can, when I can. I pulled out my sign language dictionaries to help, since it's been a lot of years and although I'm surprised at how much has come back naturally, I am far from fluent or even really conversant. When I was looking up the sign for "milk" to see if it was different than what they teach in baby sign (it's not), I happened to notice the sign for menstruation on the same page. This particular dictionary has little memory aid descriptions for each sign. Here's the entry:

"Menstruation, Period: Tap the right cheek twice with the palm side of the right "A" hand.
Memory Aid:
The cheek can suggest the cavity of the uterus and the action can suggest the loosening of material for the discharge of the menses."

Really, Perigee Visual Dictionary? Really? Because, yuck. I'm all for oneness with our bodies and finding joy and power in the natural womanly cycle, but come on now. That seems unnecessary.

Cheek uteri aside, it's really fun to get back into ASL and think back to the good times we had at school. It's such a good way to express yourself, and so often feels totally intuitive to me. For years I've used a handful of signs in my everyday life and at school - yes, no, I don't know, who, all done - things like that. I always eavesdrop when I see people signing, but have never been very good at keeping up with signs at speed, just like with any new language. But it's so pretty to watch, and it makes me feel good when I recognize a sign in the flurry. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival incorporates ASL into their productions frequently - most recently a deaf actor played the ghost in Hamlet, so those interactions were all in sign. That worked really well, but sometimes it seems more forced. I like watching it anyway.

It's one of those forking paths on the timeline of my alternate lives. I was thinking pretty seriously about getting involved with the National Theatre of the Deaf, which was just down the road in Hartford and put on some beautiful productions. I loved watching the synergy between voice and sign and body - it was a beautiful dance, and I wanted to be a part of it. (another one of those alternate forks was doing light design for dance - I was going to go work at Jacob's Pillow the summer after graduating, but took a road trip across the country instead. Which is a whole 'nother blog post or several. Did I already write about the hairy pits? I"ll have to check.)

Alrighty, then. Signing off.

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