Friday, January 29, 2010

Community + Chocolate = WIN

Random fact of the day: I've decided I really like the name Molly. My friend Molly cut my hair this week and it looks fabulous. I adore Molly Piper's blog. And let's be honest, Molly could totally take Kirsten in an American Girl showdown.

Hearing Aids: So I had this dream the other night (get used to me starting sentences like this. I do love me some whacked-out dreams) that I had a baby and she was crying and somehow, I knew that, but I was panicking because I couldn't find the baby monitor to tell me whether or not she was crying. (Okay, if I KNOW the baby's crying, why do I need the monitor? I don't understand my dreams, I just tell it like it happens) Anyway, I find the monitor and it blinks red when the baby cries. And I'm looking at it and all I can think is, "This is brilliant!! Someone should make a whole line of appliances JUST for hard of hearing people JUST so they can make sure they did, in fact, hear what they thought they heard." RANDOM.

For the record, there are a lot of things out there to help alert people with hearing loss. For example, I have a vibrating alarm clock. It's not very big and it has a clip on one end meant to be clipped to my pillow. I just throw it in my pillowcase and it usually shakes me awake in the morning. Except the last week or so, I keep sleeping through it. Might be time to change the batteries... or I've just been far more tired than I realized! ;)

In other news: I'm thinking about making some cupcakes and taking them to my neighbor across the hall. I've lived here five months and have yet to learn her name, even though I've had plenty of opportunities to do so.

I've been thinking a little bit more about community and I've decided I need to be more intentional where I live. I live in a suburb and my church is in the urban core. They're all about being intentional and really have a heart for the city. But I don't live in the city, I live just outside of it. I used to live there, though (not the urban core, but not far from it, either), so it would be easy for me to do my living there. Like today, I had a bunch of clothes to donate to Goodwill and I wanted to take them to the one in my old neighborhood because it benefits a mission I like to support. But there's also a Salvation Army Family Store in my itty bitty suburb, and I ended up taking my clothes there instead. Because that's where I live. That's where my neighbors shop, where they get clothes for their kids and dishes for their kitchen. I want to help them out, because that's what good neighbors do.

I hope that "community" isn't limited to my address and I imagine my life is made up of a lot of different communities. But I also think that we are called to love Jesus and love others where we are. I've been feeling guilty because I feel like I don't do enough. It's clear to me that the urban core of my metro area is hurting. They need Jesus. I have friends who work with them, I know the stories and the pain. I scratched the surface of it when I was involved in the deaf youth group. I know it's bad. And I feel guilty that I don't do more.

But the kicker is just that - I feel guilty, not convicted. I heard someone say once that Satan makes you feel guilty, but the Spirit convicts you. And if I'm not feeling that conviction, then I need to trust that I'm not being disobedient and don't have a reason to feel guilty for "not doing more."

What I do feel convicted about is not doing anything in my very own zip code. I mope around and wonder how to not waste this life. I worry about hitting 30 and having nothing to show for it. I spend my nights alone catching up on Lost or trolling the internet. Meanwhile, I have neighbors I could be meeting or community activities I could be involved in.

So that's why I will make cupcakes. Anything with chocolate in it is a good first step, right? ;)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday Wound Up

(The blog title is me trying to pull an Elmer Fudd. Har, har)

Random fact of the day: I love Lost and I always eat chicken fried rice when it's on. Six days until the new (and last) season!

Hearing Aids: I hate the random noises my apartment makes. Where are they coming from? What do they belong to? Must the heat turn on and off so clickity-like?

In other news: I got a haircut and no longer feel like a slob. I almost fell asleep at work today (thanks, caffeine, for your addictive qualities that make me crash without). Although I will say this is the first day I've not had a raging headache. A bit of a dull ache, but nothing I can't handle.

I can't seem to stop Facebook stalking! Why does everyone else's life seem so much more interesting than mine?! It's shameful, really.

This feels incredibly narcissistic, so I'm off to watch an episode or two of last season's Lost. Fun times ahead!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This is what happens when I give up caffeine

Random fact of the day: I have way too many calendars. Three in the kitchen, one in the bathroom, one in my bedroom, four in my cubicle. I have no explanation for this other than that they were free.

Hearing Aids: I don't have a lot on this topic today. Right now, I'm wrestling with two conflicting ideas: 1) I don't want my thoughts or my blog to be 100% consumed with being hard of hearing yet 2) the fact remains that being hard of hearing does affect an awful lot of my daily life. It's hard to find balance - how to address and deal with the valid issues that arise without making them out to be the End. Of. The. World.

Loneliness is a pretty constant companion for me - the company ebbs and flows, but it's always there on some level. I've been feeling it more keenly lately and I'm not sure why. I feel like I've wasted a lot of my 20s being mad and isolating myself and now that 30 is just three years away, I feel like I'm panicking and scrambling to make the most of the 20s I have left. But I'm not really sure how to do that, either.

In other news: I decided it's time to kick the habit... the Cherry Coke habit, that is. I am parting ways with my nectar of life in exchange for a slimmer waist and a body that's not dependent on caffeine to get through the day. So far, all I have to show for it are raging headaches (I feel like there are midget elf miners chipping away at my temples) and what I hope are not permanent bags under my eyes (seriously. I could put my groceries in them)... someone please tell me it gets better!!! And I know myself, I can't totally abandon all things cola, so I do plan to treat myself to Cherry Coke when I go out to eat or on a special occasion (like my birthday or something). I just need to get it out of my daily diet.

I would really love to be comfortable at church again. Maybe these thoughts should be under Hearing Aids because I'm struggling to plug in at church because of my communication difficulties. But sometimes I also think that I just don't know how to be comfortable at church after some of my past experiences. So I've just been mulling over what it means to be part of a local body. What does it look like? How does it look on Sunday? During the rest of the week? I haven't come up with a lot. What's important to YOU in a local assembly?

Friday, January 22, 2010

The hills are aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive....

Random fact of the day: I hate doing dishes even though I have a dishwasher. I don't like putting them away for some reason. So I end up just retrieving (clean) dishes from the dishwasher when I need them. It's like having an extra cabinet! :D

Hearing Aids: I love music. I wouldn't say I'm as up to speed with what the cool kids listen to these days, though. Out of ALL the songs they sang on Glee this past fall, I knew... two? I grew up listening to Christian music - I had it in my head that anything else was just evil. (Yet I watch "secular" TV with noooo problem. Hm) Plus honestly, the cool kid music is hard to hear. Like bands today purposefully record their albums so that the music overshadows the lyrics. The Christian artists I listened to tended to be easier to hear because they didn't do that (some do, I know. I don't listen to them lol).

Anyway, I've always been thankful that God in His grace left me enough hearing to enjoy music. (I am pretty sure I owe my early spiritual formation to Michael Card. ;)) It's a process for me to learn a song. I have to memorize it by following along with printed lyrics and once I memorize the lyrics, I also memorize beats. I even used to count how many seconds between the opening instrumental and the first lyrics so I wouldn't miss anything. If anything's off, if I count just half a beat too slow or too fast, if I forget just one line, I've lost my place in the song and while I hear the music, it doesn't make sense anymore. I can no longer appreciate it the way the artist wrote it.

Isn't life like that sometimes? The last several years and in particular, the last six months, have been something else. Church hurt. I got angry. And stayed angry. I moved out. I moved in. I got a job. Got left out. Railed against hypocrisy while being the poster child for it. I lost my place and while I could live some kind of life, it paled - pales - in comparison to who Jesus is.

I was listening to an old CD yesterday. I hadn't listened to it in years. I forgot some of the lyrics. I remembered the chorus, but that was all I remembered. For the life of me, I could not remember anything else but the chorus. I get so frustrated when that happens. Just one more lapse in communication. I prayed, as I always do, "God, please, help me understand the music!" And almost immediately, I heard the last stanza as if I'd been singing it all my life.

When I doubt, when I wonder, when I struggle, when I lose my place, when I ask, "How could You do this to me?", the answer is always in a song. I think God sometimes plants specific songs on purpose - they get stuck in my head and I'm forced to listen to the message all day. :) Like He sings the song back to me when I've forgotten the words... on the CD and behind the hearing aids.

The Arrow and the Song
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

In other news: I'm hosting brunch tomorrow! So, it's off to chop and brown and slice and prepare! I love it!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

If I could hear, would I...?

Note: I decided to go back to the old format for now. The reason I include Random Facts and In Other News is to show that I think, feel and do things just like everyone else. (The Hearing Aids part, obviously, is where it gets different.) Losing my hearing didn't mean losing me.

Random fact of the day: I love Hot Pockets (okay, Lean Pockets). My freezer is full of them. They were $1.79 at Target yesterday and I'm going back tomorrow to see if the sale price is still in effect. Nomnomnomnomnomnom. Oddly, though, I usually only have them for lunch. I feel like it would be taboo to have them for any other meal.

Hearing Aids: I think it's natural to wonder sometimes what it's like to be hearing. How does it feel to not have to look at someone to understand what they're saying? What does it sound like? How is it possible? But mostly, I wonder what I would be like if I was hearing. Would my personality be the same? Does hearing loss shape who I am as a person or does it not have any influence whatsoever?

I think it's somewhere in between. I can be kind of a ham. When I was in college, I got the normal jitters of having to give a speech or presentation in class but I got over it pretty quickly because I didn't mind talking in front of people. I won't say I looooove doing it, but I don't dread it like a lot of people seem to. And I could even have fun doing it - I like making people laugh and I always had a captive (eh, as captive as college students could be) audience. But I'm not always like that day to day. I stay quiet more than I'd like to because in a group, there's always that chance that the topic isn't what I think it is and chiming in with an opinion on Fox News when everyone else is talking about Team Coco is pretty embarrassing. I also don't speak up because, depending on the size of the group, I'm not sure if someone else is talking and I might be interrupting. So I'd rather just not say as much. Now sometimes I do have good days. I don't know what makes them "good." Maybe I slept really well the night before and have more energy to focus on what's going around me. Maybe new hearing aid batteries make more of a difference than I realize. Maybe everyone is just talking extra clearly. I don't know. But I do have good days where I can keep up, I can contribute, I can participate and ham it up. Some days are a mixture of both... silence and joining in.

When I'm in a group of people, I always assume there's information I'm not getting, which is what keeps me from speaking up. Did someone change the subject? Who just said what? Did they say "is" or "isn't"? Little nuances like that can drastically change my level of understanding of what's going on. And because I pretty much live in a constant state of assuming there's something I'm missing, I think this spills over into other, non-hearing-related issues. For instance, I like to think I'm quicker to give people the benefit of the doubt. If someone snaps at me for no reason, I assume there is information I don't have about why they are acting like that and that are other things going on in their life. On the other hand, I am pretty quick to assume that people are out to get me (in the sense of be rude to me, not out to get me, Jack Bauer-style) more often than not. Is that my regular personality (to take something personally) and losing my hearing has influenced that and made me a little more patient than I would normally be?

On the flip side, I have a hard time trusting people, precisely because I always assume there's information I'm not getting. Even when people pay me compliments or are nice to me or encourage me, I think a little part of me is just waiting for the other shoe to drop, to grasp that one piece of information I didn't have in the first place.

I really love to help people but sometimes I feel like that's a stifled desire. I remember when two (of three) of my college roommates were running around like crazy trying to pack up before graduation. I had finished most of my packing and, empathizing with the task before them, asked if there was anything I could do. They both said no, packing's really only of those things only the packer can do. Totally understandable. But then I felt frustrated when the third roommate was able to jump in and help them because she could hear them muttering, "Where's my brush?" or asking each other "Have you seen my shoes?" But I couldn't pick up on that, so I couldn't help. And I felt like I couldn't be part of their final time at college. I couldn't have those last few minutes with them as roommates. And I think sometimes it's not so much that I want to help as it is that I want to be part of people's lives and helping is a natural way to do that. Now I'm hesitant (though not for lack of desire) to pitch in because, once again, I worry that there's something I don't know. When I was in high school, I was in a play and part of the requirement was to participate in set construction. So I was helping these girls paint a piece of the set. Without warning, they left, but no one told me anything so I just kept painting. One of them came back and incredulously asked, "What are you doing?!" Looking back, I have no idea what happened or what I was doing wrong. I just remember feeling like I was doing something I was not supposed to be doing. So anyway, would I be more willing to help people if I didn't wear hearing aids?

I am one of the laziest people I know, even though I note that I feel much better when I keep active. I'd much rather go home after work and not move from the couch all evening. I don't make a lot of effort to seek other people out. I'm exhausted, man. I've spent all day trying to keep up with my co-workers, ignore the buzz of the office (confession: sometimes I just turn off my hearing aids altogether), constantly on edge when someone walks by and wondering if I'll be engaged in conversation. So by the time I get home, I don't want to do anything. I don't want to go to the grocery store and wonder about announcements. I don't want to go shopping and worry about the cashier with the accent. I don't want to try and meet someone for coffee because the cafe will be loud. Would I have more get-up-and-go if I could hear?

Finally, when I read back through these anecdotes, I see one thing in common: fear. I'm afraid of doing the wrong thing. I'm afraid of being embarrassed. I'm afraid I will (unintentionally) hurt someone's feelings by saying the wrong thing. And so on. I don't know that those fears will ever completely go away but I have to decide not to let them rule my life. Taking risks - now that's a good lesson to learn from hearing loss. Sometimes you just have to step out there and do things you're not sure are okay.

In other news: I finally took my ornaments off of my Christmas tree!! Now I just have to put the Christmas tree away. Baby steps. It's not that I've had a hard time letting go of Christmas... I'm just lazy like that. ;) Now, onto Valentine cheer!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So I decided to be hearing for a few minutes

My youngest brother's (16) band had a concert tonight. I didn't have my right hearing aid in (still need to call the audiologist!) and since the music was so loud, I turned off my left hearing aid.

And I could STILL hear the music in my right ear!

So just for kicks, I took out my left hearing aid and I could hear the music in both ears LOL! I decided to just go with it and enjoy being "hearing" for a few minutes!

Hilarity aside, it did concern me for the band members and the people there... my mom (who probably knows my hearing loss history better than I do) said I shouldn't be able to hear anything without my hearing aids until the noise hits the same frequency as a jet plane. That's LOUD, folks! All those kids jammin' to music as loud as a jet plane without any protection for their hearing... methinks I won't be the only hard of hearing person I know for very long!

I actually considered putting an earplug in my right ear just to protect the precious little I have left. Don't take it for granted, folks. Cover those ears! See my parents setting a fine example. ;)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thinking the intercom is out to get me

On the surface, it was an ordinary trip to Panera. I was early to meet a friend and had 20 minutes to kill, and my hair was in desperate need of a brush. I marched into Panera, past the cashier, past the food counter, around the corner and into the bathroom. I have a pretty determined walk. When I'm focused on something, no matter how trivial, I like to imagine that my brow is furrowed with intensity as I set about to complete my mission. Anyway, I'm in the bathroom, brushing away, listening to the intercom squawk, squawk, squawk. I know they're just blaring out food orders, so I ignore it, finish making myself purty, leave and find a place to sit and play with my Sidekick until my friend comes.

In my head, this is how it went down. Please keep in mind that I have been feeding on a steady media diet of 24, Lost and Alias the last few years. I march in, brow furrowed in concentration. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to kill Time. I stride with determined steps past the cashier. Out of the corner of my eye, I think I see her head turn, but I don't look. Was she looking? Did she say something? Did she say something important that I really needed to hear? I don't care, because I have a Mission to complete. I enter the bathroom and whip out my trusty weapons, Brush and Bobby Pin. Suddenly, the blare of the intercom explodes in the room! I imagine the announcements aren't food orders, but orders to COME OUT NOW! I'm in trouble because I didn't make eye contact with the cashier and somehow automatically brands me as a ne'er-do-well. The squawks continue and I brush away, ready to defend myself against the army of FBI agents that I just know will bust through the door at any minute.

I just know it. Jack Bauer has nothing on me. Nothing.

(Never say I don't entertain myself well)

With the hearing loss I have, I can recongize the noise of the intercom (and understand that it's not, say, the voice of the person next to me or someone shouting through a megaphone) but that's all it is - noise. I have no idea what they're saying. Imagine you heard announcements in a language you didn't recognize and you might get a glimmer of what it's like.

My crazy imagination aside, I know that intercom announcements are (usually) harmless. At Panera, they're just telling so-and-so that their food is ready. At stores, they're paging for the manager to come to the front desk. And so on and so on. Whenever I go shopping, the first thing I do is check to see how late the store is open. Sometimes, if I'm shopping later at night and I hear an announcement, I don't know if they're warning me that the store is closing or just making some random announcement like "Bob Ella to the front desk. Bob Ella to the front desk. Your sister-wife is here with your baby daddy." (Disclaimer: I do not shop at places where people could be named Bob Ella or have sister-wives. There may be baby daddys involved, however.) So if I know the store closes at 9:30 and I hear the intercom say something at 9:15, I know I'm being warned to wrap it up. Otherwise, I blissfully ignore it. Sometimes I even turn off my hearing aids so I don't have to listen to BLAH BLAH SHUENDO EHSBEJDI MEBDSK (it sounds something like that to me!) over and over and over again.

I'm telling you, there are advantages to hearing aids!! :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Feelin' phone-y

Random fact of the day: I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast. Breakfast of champions or lunch of 4-year-olds? Discuss.

Hearing aids: I had phone issues today at work. I have a CapTel phone at work and while I LOVE it and the freedom it affords, I still hate talking on the phone... but I am finding that a lot of hearing people don't like it, either, so I know I'm not alone there. Anyway, I've never been able to get straight how to dial out. Is it 9+number? 9+1+number? What about area codes? I always have the worst luck and can never seem to figure it out so I just give up.

So today I turned to AT&T Relay online. They have this cool new feature that lets me use the Relay online though IM. So I did that. Definitely slower than using the CapTel but at least I didn't have to talk on the phone.

One of the things I wish I could do is talk on the phone. I mean, just whip out a cell phone and chat with someone about nothing. When I was younger - and I mean like 8 or 9 - I thought that was the epitome of coolness, to lay on your bed with your big hair and corded phone and gab away. A little part of me would still like to do that. Sans big hair and corded phone, of course. ;)

In other news: My brother's getting married in June, I'm a bridesmaid, so I've got a date with the elliptical machine tomorrow after work. WIN for having a gym at our office.

I'm tired. Good night.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Train's gone, Juan

There's only one movie theater in my area that shows open-captioned movies and usually when I go, it's pretty empty. I'm usually the only one in there (besides whoever I'm with). Today was a different story - Avatar was playing, and at a decent time for a change. It wasn't hard to find a seat but my friend and I didn't have the place to ourselves either. When the movie was over, we went to use the restroom and when we came out, several D/deaf people had congregated outside the theater and were just chatting. As my friend and I walked by them, I felt the slightest twinge as I watched their fingers fly. And for just a minute, I wished I was part of it again, to be in a circle of people and not have to wonder what they're saying or who is talking, where "What" is a common question and cheerfully answered.

Then I saw a man signing crisply and quickly and passionately, as only the Deaf can. And I remembered "Train gone," and the twinge passed.

"Train gone" is a term that Deaf people use when you ask them to repeat themselves. It's almost always in jest. I used to be on the leadership team for a deaf youth group and we would often expand on that joke... the wheels are turning, the horn is blowing, the train is leaving the station and ohhhhhh.... TRAIN GONE! Har, har.

For a time, I tried to be part of the Deaf community but the problem was that I'm not really Deaf. (My audiologist may call me deaf (little "d") but in the real world, I'm hard of hearing.) English, not ASL, is my first language and I lost my hearing after I learned to talk. I prefer to speak for myself and lipread and don't really like to sign unless I'm with an interpreter or another deaf or hard of hearing person.

The Deaf community is a world away from my own. I got a lot of "Train gone"s while I was still trying to get the hang of ASL (for the record, it wasn't that the sign themselves were hard to grasp. I've been signing since I was 4 but ASL is a completely different language with its own grammar and syntax) and the speed at which they communicated. Like I said, "Train gone" was usually in jest and I didn't take it personally. Not too much, anyway. :)

There was this Deaf guy named Juan. We bantered like brother and sister - he heckled me a lot for being hard of hearing. He sure loved his "train gone"s and would mock me when I would mouth the words while signing. He'd make a big show of rolling his eyes and slowing down his signs when I couldn't keep up. He'd scoff and push me away when I tried to help him with his English (even though he asked for it!). But at the end of the day, I think he was okay with who I was... not hearing, not Deaf.

Not everyone was like that, though. Most of my socializing was done with kids at the youth group, members of a Deaf church I had started going to, or with interpreters. Even though I was learning a lot and my signing was picking up, I often felt like I wasn't good enough, not D/deaf enough. I was hard of hearing, which was almost as bad as being hearing. Sometimes they'd take the sign for hearing and move it to the forehead (If I can ever find it online, I'll link it here) which basically meant I was a cop-out, someone who had defected the Deaf community and acted like they were hearing. This can be used in jest but it's really an insult. The message was clear - I didn't really fit in. After too many miscommunications to count, I left the deaf youth group - and the Deaf community - on unhappy terms. They hurt me and I'm not sure I left them unscathed, either.

There's a lot I was and sometimes am still not willing to understand about Deaf culture. I get impatient with the long stories. I don't always get the jokes. Sometimes English seems more efficient than ASL. And I say this without any malice whatsoever, but I don't think I'll ever understand Deaf pride. Deaf people - at least the ones I spent time with - seemed okay with isolating themselves from hearing people while railing against hearing people for isolating them. It just seemed like a vicious cycle and I didn't like the way it was affecting me.

There's some bad blood, yes. Hurts that might never heal. Resentments that may never go away. But that twinge never really goes away, either. When I see someone signing, or someone with a hearing aid, I want to go over and say hello and look into the eyes of someone who understands, who totally, completely gets it. Instead, I brush my hair over my hearing aids, avert my eyes and keep walking.

... Train's gone.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Missional living

Sometimes I feel like I'm living a part of church history that my (hypothetical) kids and grandkids will learn about when they're my age. The generations before me had Billy Graham, Dwight Moody, the Wesleys, Jonathan Edwards... my generation has Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll and John Piper, to name a few. (And I like to refer to them as Marky D and J-Pipe. Just so you know) I have great respect for these men, but I'm the first to admit that sometimes I feel a little bit lost with the Reformed culture of today. I go to an Acts 29 church, and churches in that network tend to espouse things like Truth, Worship, Beauty, Community, Missional Living, etc in their core values. It all sounds so eloquent and right and biblical from the pulpit but sometimes it makes me uncomfortable. I'm not really sure why. Maybe uncomfortable in a "pushing me out of my comfort zone" way. Which is rarely a bad thing. I guess sometimes I think that people get so caught up in pursuing those things that they manage to leave Jesus out of it somehow. But I guess that can be true of any church, regardless of the denomination.

Something I really struggle with is the concept of missional living. The way I understand it, it basically means to love Jesus where you are, work to show others around you (your community) who He is. Pretty much what almost every Christian has heard except it's much more intentional. The pastors at my church, for example, purposefully moved INTO urban core of the city and form friendships with their neighbors, their kids' school friends, etc. I'm not sure why I struggle with this. Sometimes I think it's sneaky, like you have an ulterior motive for loving people. Other times, it just forces me to think about what's more important to me - my safety, health, convenience, etc, or loving Jesus.

But today I think I figured out the underlying issue - being missional means talking to people. To strangers, more specifically. This is so not my forte. Communicating with people I know and love is hard enough - throw a stranger into the mix and we have one very anxious Lucy! :) The thought of forcing myself to meet my neighbors or chat it up with the cashier at the grocery store - even in the name of Jesus - seems exhausting to me. It's so easy for me to write it off and think that well then, I must just not be one of those people who can be that effective in the body of Christ. I've basically tried to convince myself that I'm exempt from Scripture. I know it's fruitless to think so, but kind of funny. I am sure God had a good laugh at that reasoning. :)

Anyway, there's a new church plant in my area and I was reading the pastor's blog. He was talking about missional living and I thought, here we go again. But even though I've heard it before, it felt like I was considering this for the first time: "Do something that you love to do." He gave an example of how his wife loves to bake so she bakes her little heart out and shares the goodies with the neighbors. Not long ago, I was telling a friend of mine that I wanted to volunteer and I knew that hospitals needed people to hold the babies. But I told her I felt kind of selfish - wasn't I just satisfying my own need/desire by wanting to do that? She pointed out that it's ok to do love Jesus by doing something you love.

This isn't really a new concept - I probably heard it as "use the gifts God gave you" when I was growing up. But phrasing it like that seems like an obligation somehow. "Do what you love to the glory of God" sounds more freeing somehow. Like God instilled within me a desire to write, so I can write and do it cheerfully and excitedly and passionately... and isn't that what He wants, anyway? "God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) And isn't that who HE is anyway? Cheerful and excited and passionate! :)

Jelly spine!

I'm bored of the old blog format, so I'm just going to write freestyle. We'll see what happens.

I'm really glad I have a day job because I suck at advocating. I heard back from ABC, they asked me a bunch of questions about my captioning habits, I replied saying that the captions through the digital converter box are weak at best and non-existent during some primetime shows. But it went downhill when I said that the captions I turn on through my TV menu work just fine, so of course, now they think everything's hunky-dory when it isn't. Fail - for both me and ABC.

It's a fine line I walk between not wanting to rock the boat and well, wanting to rock the boat. I want to stand up for justice but I don't want to make a ruckus. I want equal access but I don't want to draw attention to myself. I am tired of just taking whatever I can get... but how do I stand up for myself gracefully and respectfully?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Brownie points for ABC!

Random fact of the day: When I was 12, I had no idea how to use a round hairbrush. It got stuck in my hair once and I cut it out. My mom was not amused. Anyway, once my "bangs" grew a little, I styled the hair into some weird curl framing my forehead. Fast-forward to today. I desperately need a haircut because my bangs are ridiculously long and all I can think about is my reverting to my fashion-lacking 7th-grade self.

Hearing aids: I emailed ABC because for the last few weeks, Scrubs hasn't been captioning properly and I've done enough sleuthing to know that it's not a problem with my TV but with the network or affiliate. And wonder of wonders, ABC actually emailed me back and I also got an email from the Chief Engineer (or something) of my local affiliate. He asked some questions about the captions so I sat down to watch the ABC lineup tonight to see how they were malfunctioning... but of course, NOW they work. Kind of like when you go to the doctor and you're suddenly cured of whatever brought you there in the first place. :p But anyway, I just really appreciate that they even replied to my email. I thought for sure it would get buried under the thousands of emails a day that ABC claims to get. So props to ABC for the follow-up.

I need to call my audiologist. I get new ear molds maybe two or three times a year. It's rare for them to fit perfectly right when I get them and sometimes after a couple months, the ear mold will start irritating my outer ear. It itches, it bleeds a little... so I go through this cycle of applying antibiotic cream, leaving the aid off for a couple days, letting the sore clear up, wearing the aid, going back to irritation in a few days. I really do need to call the audiologist so they can reshape the ear mold. I'm really glad one of their offices is just down the street from me AND they don't charge for things like this. Win.

In other news: My blanket tried to electrocute me. I guess that's what I get for wearing fleece pants, shuffling around my carpeted bedroom and then trying to handle my warm and fuzzy polyester blanket. Zing!

Well, I'm off to conduct more captioning research... ;-) Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Weight of glory

Random fact of the day: Chipotle sauce is spicy. You knew this. I, however, am a slow learner and can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that Chipotle, the restaurant, does not have to be spicy, but chipotle, the sauce in my Panera sandwich today, IS. I was almost in tears after the third bite.

Hearing aids: I'm getting tired of this Netflix thing. I wrote a rough draft of a letter, plan to revise it and get some signatures this week (or next, really. The weather forecast isn't looking too promising).

My life really is not all about being hard of hearing. It is the filter through which I view everything. The decisions I make about where to go and when to run errands and how long I stay somewhere and what I watch, just to name a few, are made with hearing loss in mind. But sometimes I get tired of thinking about it (which is probably why I love TV so much... it's a great way to escape for a bit!) Because even though I made this blog to vent and share what life is like when you wear hearing aids, that's not all there is to me and it's not all there is to this life.

The sermon passage at church on Sunday was from 2 Corinthians 4 and I'm thankful for the reminder of verses 17-18: "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Hearing aids are transient. Thanks be to God.

In other news: More snow. "Yay," she said flatly.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Netflix is the bane of my existence

Random fact of the day: If I hadn't majored in English, I think I would have gone for psychology. Or sociology. I'm watching Mad Men right now and it's just fascinating from an anthropological standpoint.

Hearing Aids: I'm trying to write Netflix a letter. The Mad Men amazingness aside, Netflix fails to deliver when it comes to their instant watch content (meaning you can opt to watch shows/movies from Netflix on your TV or PC). I tried to watch an episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8, but alas, no subtitles. I thought that was weird, so I checked their FAQ page. This is all they have to offer:

"The technologies we use for streaming do not yet adequately support closed captions, and most viewers object to permanently visible open captions, which they cannot turn off, burned into the video stream for English-language content. We are working on delivering closed captions or optional subtitles in a future technology update, probably first for PCs and Macs, probably sometime in 2010..."

I have so many points to make. Let's delve right in.

1) I will begrudgingly give points for maybe, probably, adding subtitles, maybe, probably in 2010. They have 12 months to redeem themselves.

2) That aside, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

2a) While I'm the first to admit I know nothing about video and streaming and technology, I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the notion that their streaming technology (which, from the 8 seconds I saw, seemed to be superior to other sites like Hulu or individual networks' sites) doesn't support subtitles. I mean, really? In this day and age of technological advancement, you can't find SOME way to make it work? Highly suspect. HIGHLY.

2b) "Most viewers object to permanently visible open captions..." How do they know? Did they run a poll? I'd like to see numbers because I can't believe that the number of: young D/deaf and hard of hearing adults, older adults who are slowly losing their hearing, people who are trying to learn English, people who are visual learners or people who just plain like subtitles because they find they pick up more with them than without really rival the number of people who steadfastly REFUSE to watch something with subtitles on them. REALLY?

2c) "Most viewers object to permanently visible open captions..." That's what they said. This is what I read: "'Most' of our viewers are far more important to us than 'all' of our viewers. We don't care about you, but we're more than happy to provide subtitles for our foreign language films so that our hearing customers can understand them. We're freakishly xenophobic and don't want our hard of hearing customers to enjoy domestic films. Also, we're scared of hearing aids."

2d) And finally, even if having subtitles "permanently" burned onto the show/movie does change the viewing experience for hearing customers... well, how can I put this politely? Buck up. :) I put up with so much day in and day out, missing information left and right, wondering if I'll ever go anywhere else in my job because I can't always hear what's going on around me, watching my social circle shrink because I (and others) find it difficult to communicate, choosing to not ask "What" all the time so that I don't bother YOU... all the while struggling to rise above it gracefully (and usually failing). I mean, the least you could give me is subtitles when I would just like to escape into an episode of Lost for an hour to get away from the exhausting realities of my world. Because with subtitles, you don't lose anything and you actually gain something. Without them, I lose everything.

Oddly enough, I can't find an email address for Netflix and I hate using the phone (plus I think I might end up yelling on the phone - or I'd chicken out and be too nice and say things like I'm sure you're doing the best you can and you're awesome and thanks for even taking my call - and that would not be in anyone's best interests). So I think I might send them a letter via certified mail. I was thinking that might be better because maybe then I could get other people's signatures on the letter so the Netflix powers that be would know that I'm not the only one who's not happy with their unfair practices.

I also need to send ABC an email because I often can't watch Scrubs because the captioning is messed up (and I've checked it out enough to know that it's an ABC problem and not something wrong with my TV). Only thing I don't know is if it's an ABC thing, my local affiliate thing or a Scrubs thing. I'd like to find out soon, though, because my beloved Lost comes back for its final season Feb. 2 and I do not plan to miss a minute of it.

Disney also deserves an email (and an ass kicking) for not providing subtitles on "Up" rentals. NOT COOL and yet another "We don't care about you" message. That's really not the message I'd expect from the warm and fuzzy family corporation.

In other news: Weight loss. Ugh. Problem: I like food. Problem: It's too freaking COLD to do anything other than huddle on my couch underneath lots of blankets. I have got to figure out a way to incorporate some exercise into my routine. I should probably watch less of That '70s Show and do more Wii stuff... I'm always surprised at how Wii tennis can get my heart rate up!

Anywhoozzle (I'm gangsta like that, yo), I'm off to wrap up an episode of Mad Men and watch (500) Days of Summer before calling it a night. And oh you betcha I'm going to use the heck out of my Netflix two-week trial (which I signed up for BEFORE discovering their ADA FAIL) before NOT picking up a regular subscription. (I know, I know, what do they care about losing one two-week trial. But it's a matter of principle. And you know, if other people did the same thing, maybe Netflix would start to get the message. Hint, hint)

Gosh, this was long. Night all!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sometimes I make myself go

Random fact of the day: I really love mint Milanos. I may or may not have polished off a whole package since Thursday. Don't judge me, it was a holiday. Things will go back to normal, food consumption wise, this week. Or next.

Hearing Aids: I went to lunch today with my brother, his fiancee and three other people. Let me tell you, I don't do things like that often but sometimes I make myself do it for the social interaction, however limited it might be. Sharing a meal with a group - and that was a pretty small group - is hard sometimes. I've tried for years and I don't think there's any one ideal spot for me to sit in to be able to see everyone and be part of the conversation. Bless my future sister-in-law, though. She was sitting next to me and was kind enough to converse with me a little and try to clue me in when I looked confused. Generally, though, lunch went as it always did, trying to follow the two or three conversations going on at once (impossible), laugh when everyone else does (even though I don't know what's funny) and try to think of something to contribute (I think I asked one question once). I still left not getting everything but after being by myself all weekend, it was good to be around people for a change, if for no other reason than to remind me that you know, there is a world out there and no, it doesn't revolve around me or my clean apartment. :)

In other news: I have bar stools now! From Ikea! For free! I have nice friends!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Of COURSE she did

Random fact of the day: I just bought a car. I've owned two cars before this and they were named Strawberry Shortcake and Dory (as in "Ah speeaaak whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale"), respectively. Strawberry Shortcake was a red car (surprise, surprise) and Dory was a blue (surprise, surprise) car. This new one is white and her name is Amelia. As in Bedilia. Anyone remember reading Amelia Bedelia books when they were little? Good times. Anyway, she's not Amelia because she's white, I just decided it was time to get away from the cartoon-y names because dangit, 2010 is a new year and I'll be 27 this year and maybe I should act like it. So I picked Amelia because she just felt like an Amelia and now every time I think of her as Amelia, I think of Amelia Bedilia. So, adulthoold fail. Meh. It's more fun this way.

Hearing Aids: Soooo I had to go to the DMV Thursday to get a new driver's license. I moved, oh, five months ago and am just now getting around to doing important things like establishing my residency and registering to vote. What can I say? I'm slow. Anyway, so I picked the wrong day to go. I somehow didn't put together that I went on New Year's Eve, probably the last day before school starts again. Good LORD, the teenagers, all scrambling to get their permits/licenses before they go back to school. ANYWAY... the place was a madhouse. My old DMV had everything in one place - you could renew your license and register your vehicle under the same roof. Not so much with this one. This was strictly for issuing permits and licenses, was much smaller and definitely more crowded than what I was expecting.

I am so easily overwhelmed in those kinds of situations. There's a lot of noise, it's hard to hear other people talk and I worry that I won't understand what's going on and will look stupid in the process. Anyway, so I go up to check in and sure enough, I have a hard time understanding the government employee. I have to explain that I'm hard of hearing and I'm having trouble understanding him. And aha, there it is. Raised eyebrows, raised voice, overly enunciating. Good times. I get my information and move on. I stand in line, trying not to stare at ALL THE TEENAGERS (and their crazy moms haha), trying to figure out how I'll know when it's my turn to go. Some clerks raise their hands to indicate they're free, others yell out. I hope whoever I go to doesn't just yell out. I watch each clerk, trying to figure out which one I would probably understand the best and pray pray pray that I get to their station. I note one clerk - an older woman who doesn't look like English is her first language. I know I shouldn't stereotype and I was mentally kicking myself for it, but accents are my #1 fear. That and cranky people. Anyway, I pray pray pray that I don't have to go to her station but alas, everyone else is busy so I walk over, thinking this is going to be interesting.

And holy Zac Efron, she did have an accent (see? Stereotyping was right this time)... of COURSE she did. Anyway, I gave her my paperwork, she asked me a question, I shook my head and explained once again that I was hard of hearing and having trouble understanding her. She was so sweet about it though, and had no problem writing things down when I just couldn't get it. So I was thankful for that, but my ego is always bruised in those situations, anyway.

Then it was on to the camera. At my old DMV, they snap your picture and then you sit and wait for a few minutes while they make your license and they call your name when they're done. That was the part I was nervous about. I can't understand what someone's saying so I have to watch their face. (This doesn't always work well in a situation when I'm waiting for someone to call my name (like at the doctor's office, for example) because there are so many people around me and "Lucy" sounds and looks a lot like "Susie" and "Holly" and "Clooney" and anything really that ends in a "-y" sound and what if they said someone else's name and not mine and I go up and it's not mine and it's awwwkward and these are the kinds of things that go through my mind regularly) So I figured I'd just have to ask them to wave me over when they were done. Well everything's fine with the picture (I am not going to lie, I look hottt) but when I leave, the clerk says a lot of things I don't catch and bids me goodbye. But wait! What do I do? Do I wait for a few minutes? Do I leave? Do I ask him to wave me over? What's happening? What did I miss? So I swallowed my pride and asked him if I needed to wait and he'll call me over or... what? He looks at me like I'm a little bit stupid and probably repeats what he just told me, that he had just given me a temporary permit and the real license would be mailed me to me later. I say, ok thanks and run out, embarassed.

I resigned myself a while ago to just having to be embarrassed from time to time ... sometimes I have to ask questions that I didn't realize were already answered (so sometimes it's easier to just not ask the question at all) or say something someone else already said (so sometimes it's easier to just not say anything at all). But I just hate when that happens. It's awkward, even when the other person knows me and understands that this happens from time to time. It's hard to swallow, and while I know that embarrassment is just part of life, I wish it didn't have to be such a regular part of mine.

In other news: it's midnight (Happy Sunday) and I'm amused by how many people are on Facebook right now.

Now I'm going to go watch Grey's Anatomy because they have reruns on at this late hour and I miss how it used to be. You know, good. (ooooh, snarky points for me. Boom, roasted. Bonus random fact #2 - I love finding the most inopportune moments to interject a "Boom, roasted." I do this to drive my brother crazy. Grand fun. Another adulthood fail.)


Random fact of the day: I just finished watching Hairspray (the newer one, and if you comment telling me how much you OMG LUUUUV Zac Efron, I may or may not have to puke all over it) for what might possibly be the 517th time.

Hearing Aids: The short version about me: I lost my hearing when I was four, spent years in speech therapy and now sport two snazzy digital BTEs (Behind The Ear hearing aids). I can hear you, but only if you look at me. I can listen to music as long as I have memorized the words first. I don't like being in large groups and crowded restaurants overwhelm me. I am not part of the Deaf community, nor do I enjoy being referred to as "deaf." I'm not really hearing, either, no matter how much I try to pretend to be. I'm somewhere in between and I haven't got a clue what I'm doing. I lamented to a dear friend that I was looking for a book at the library for people like me, to try and figure out how to tackle the challenges of being hard of hearing in a hearing world. I couldn't find a book like that, I told her. Well, she said, maybe you should write that book.

So I thought I'd do that here. Blog, book, whatevs. Wish me luck.