Claudia Sternbach

Claudia Sternbach
Santa Cruz and New York, CA and NY, USA
April 23
Memoir Journal
Claudia Sternbach is the Editorial Board Chair of Memoir Journal and Editor in Chief of their celebrated publication Memoir (and). She has also worked as a columnist and feature writer for more than fifteen years, and has written often for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune and the San Francisco Examiner. She has been published in Redbook Magazine as well as several anthologies. Her first memoir, "Now Breathe" was published by Whiteaker Press in 1999. Her latest memoir "Reading Lips, a Memoir of Kisses" will be published by Unbridled Books in Spring 2011. When she is not in the office, Claudia may be found dividing her time between her two hometowns: Santa Cruz, CA and New York, NY.


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JUNE 8, 2011 3:34PM

Speak up?

Rate: 1 Flag

And so there was traffic. More than Michael and I had anticipated. We were driving from Santa Cruz to Berkeley for an open house to celebrate Issue 8 of Memoir (and). But it felt as if we were doing as much sitting still as moving forward. Even in the car pool lane. I had the local NPR station on the radio and when the traffic report came on I soon understood why we were having issues with forward motion. It seemed there were some problems with cannibals. Some kind of cannibal malfunction on one of the other main arteries which flow through the Bay Area.

Well no wonder. Who wouldn't slow down to a stand still. Cannibals indeed. Malfunctioning ones at that. I glanced over at Michael to read his reaction to the horrific news but the lack of concern on his face led me to believe I might have misheard the announcement. I do that quite often. Mishear.

"Malfunctioning cannibals?" I asked him.

"Mechanical malfunction," he replied. And didn't bat an eye.

He has become used to my mishearing things. He doesn't even seem to get annoyed. Except if I have the television turned up to what I believe is the perfect sound level and he can hear it from the driveway, while still sitting in his truck. With the radio on and the windows up. Then he gets testy. But me, I don't seem to be getting as frustrated as I should. I am more entertained by the whole thing. My imagination seems to be much more creative than the real world happens to be. What I think I hear is often so much more interesting.

I have an old friend who has a similar situation. Only for her, it is not what she hears; it is what she says. She creates words, which for the most part don't even exist. Or substitutes one word for another, which though close in sound or spelling, have nothing to do with the word she is searching for. I once saw her return a glass of ice tea to the waitress stating it was too surgery. Now, you may think this has something to do with the fact that my hearing is a bit wonky, but Michael has been present when she plays the game of word switch-a-roo, so he can back me up on this one. However it is true, the two of us alone might spend an hour chatting and each walk away with entirely different versions of our conversation. She may have said she is wishing for a date and I think she is fishing with bait and the real story may be that she thinks the dishes look great but stated that she is wishing for the mate to her mismatched plate.

I have adopted the attitude of "who the hell cares?"

If there isn't a panicky expression on anyone's face I simply assume all is well and at some point I'll figure out what is going on. Or I won't. Life is supposed to be filled with mystery and surprise. It is simply becoming more mysterious every day.

Oh, I know that at some point I will have to go purchase a device. A fabulous little aid for hearing. I have no objections to wearing one. None at all. My objection is to writing the big fat check to pay for it. And I will admit, I am hesitant to give up my more free form method of hearing. I love imagining cannibals on the freeway.

My daughter Kira, however, does have issues with my malfunctioning ears. Especially on the phone. So she has begun to do more texting when she wants to communicate with me. In fact she just sent me a message. She feels this is a more sure fire way of communicating. There will be no slip-ups with a text. What she has to say will come in loud and clear.

And if I could find my glasses, I would tell you exactly what her text said.

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