Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Would You Ask: Music

Last week, Deanna asked:

"How do you hear/perceive music? Can you tell when music is out of tune or pleasant? Care to elaborate about your musical experiences?"

And a timely question, too, my dear, as I already had a draft written about music. Well played. Well played, indeed.

Questions about music and "how much can you hear" are tricky ones to answer. When someone asks how much I can hear, what they usually mean is, "How much can you hear compared to what I can hear?" If I don't know how hearing people hear, I'm not sure how to compare what I hear to what they hear, you hear?

giggle. I'm really so easily amused.

Ahem. Back to music. For most of my life, I cared more about the lyrics than the melody so I tended to listen to pretty mellow music where the instruments didn't drown out the song. Even then, it was a task. Back in the olden days, when people still bought CDs and owned CD players so they could rock out while they built Stonehenge, I would pop a CD in and open the little booklet it came with and read along with the music. I would count and memorize beats to keep me on track and I even used to count the seconds from the time the CD switched to a new track to the time the first word was sung.

Now I listen to music via the newfangled internets (iTunes and even YouTube) and I ask the Google(yes, I just said "the Google." I'm trying to make it catch on. Embrace it) for lyrics. I can usually read along pretty well but the printed lyrics don't always tell you everything, like maybe that they sing the chorus twice, not once, before the bridge, or that the first stanza is repeated at the end of the song. With YouTube, the only words on the screen are the ones being sung at that moment so I know what's going on. So it takes me a while to get to the point where I can listen to something without needing the read the lyrics... something as simple as learning a new song can be time-consuming

So while everyone else was rocking out to their Walkmans (Walk-what, now? my younger readers are asking. It's what the dinosaurs used before iPods came along), I was buried in books instead. Oh, and even with the volume set at its highest, I couldn't really hear the music through the headphones (head-what, now? It's what cavemen used before earbuds), so I was never into the mobile music scene. I also prefer male singers over female because the deeper voices are easier to understand. The ladies' voices are higher and seem to blend with the music in such a way that it's hard for me to separate the lyrics from the melody.

It's only been in recent years that I've really allowed myself to listen to the nuances of instrumental music, or instrumental interludes in songs. I can hear it and I can get caught up in whatever emotion it's trying to convey. I know when it's a powerful piece, or somber, or light, or cheerful. But I have to really be concentrating, otherwise it will just blur into frustrating background noise. I would guess, too, that I don't hear it as clearly or as sharply as hearing people do, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a good performance.

I'm not sure how well I do at nothing whether or not something is out of tune. Do you guys remember The Little Rascals, when Alfalfa is singing to Darla in the beginning and his voice cracks? Every time I watched it with my friends, they would laugh because he sounded funny but I couldn't really tell that he wasn't singing well. But then the few times I've watched American Idol, I can usually tell the bad singers from the good ones and sometimes even the just okay singers from the better ones.

My friend Kelly wrote about her experiences with listening to music and while I was never a JT fan like she is ;), I can relate to how she appreciates music and the roles it has played in her life. Check her out or I will send the Google after you.

Mk, kids, it's your turn now. What do you want to know about hearing loss?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Paging Dr. Carter

(photo credit)

Okay, there's not really any Dr. Carter involved in this post, but I think that generally, Noah Wyle just makes things better. Why yes, I did blubber like a teenage girl when ER ended, why do you ask?

So I went to the dentist last week and I honestly don’t know whether I should laugh or cry. They used the word “cavities” a lot. And also “cost” and “insurance.” Thumbs. Down. But the most hilariously sad thing was the dental assistant. Dental hygienist? Tooth lady? I don’t know. Anyway, this is not the dentist’s office I normally go to. Why, you ask? Well, that is a fantastic question and I will tell you that the dentist I grew up going to was still asking me, at 22 years old, how school was going (I graduated) and would keep talking to me with the mask on (I’d been going to him for like 20 years. The man knows I can’t understand him with his mouth covered). So I decided it was time to move on.

I had such high hopes for New Dentist. He had an email form on his website, which meant I didn’t have to use the dang phone to make an appointment. WIN. He was recommended by my boss, so I’m pretty sure it’s insurance compatible. WIN. He actually took his mask off to talk to me and made sure I could see him. WIN. WIN. WIN.

But before I saw him, I met Tooth Lady (I know, that’s such a disrespectful term. But it makes me giggle so we’re going with it, uh-kay?). Tooth Lady did her Tooth Lady thing and scraped and x-rayed and polished my not-that-pearly-but-okay whites. And she would not stop talking to me when she was out of my line of vision or with her mask on. And I told her so. many. times. that I was hard of hearing and needed to see her when she talked. Clearly, she was not getting that memo. She would give me instructions with her mask on and I would say, “I’m sorry, I need to see your mouth so I can lipread.” She would move the mask like, a hair south, and keep talking. “I’m really sorry,” I’d repeat, “but I can’t see your lips.” Another nudge and oh wait is that the shadow of her top lip? Glory be, we’re making progress! I’d try one more time, “I don’t mean to be rude, but I really cannot see you!” You guys, I was like two steps away from reaching up and pulling the dang mask off myself! Then she’d finally remove it and we did this little dance not once but at least two or three times the whole visit. Maybe I should have started signing to her and evened the playing field!

Healthcare professionals are sometimes among the most frustrating when it comes to communication. Maybe I just expect too much out of them. I tend to think that because (in my opinion) hearing loss is a medical issue that doctors, nurses and other professionals should be best equipped to communicate with deaf or hard of hearing patients. It's not the most airtight logic, I know (I mean, I don't expect my dentist to tell me what's wrong with my lungs, or an allergist to know all about brain injuries, so no, not every healthcare professional is going to know about hearing loss), but I do have higher expectations for them. I really shouldn't, though, not when even audiologists could use a refresher course! I've had audiologists who would talk to me with their back turned or when they knew my hearing aids were out. These are professionals who have my audiogram (hearing test results) in front of them, work at least 40 hours a week with people who wear hearing aids and stay abreast of the latest hearing technology... but even they forget (or just flat out don't know) how to talk to their patients. So how can I expect professionals in other healthcare-related fields to stay on top of communication?

I don't normally ask for an interpreter or any other assistance when I go to the doctor because most of the time, they're routine appointments and they're nothing I can't handle on my own. But over the last year and a half or so, I've found myself in more situations where I wish I had requested an interpreter. I kind of wish I had had one with me in the dentist's office that day. I've had other appointments where I didn't realize until I left that I hadn't gotten quite all of the information - luckily it was never a life-or-death situation, but still, when it's my health on the line, I'd like to make sure I know exactly what's going on.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Answer and a question

Okay, back to regularly scheduled programming. A while ago, I posed a question to the big, vast internets:

If you could sit down with a deaf or hard of hearing person and ask any question without worrying about if it was offensive or silly, what would you ask?

Joey had two questions. I answered one last week about remembering what it was like to hear and now I'm on to the second part:

"Would you consider an implant or stem cell therapy to improve your hearing?"

The short version? Yes on the implant, probably not on the stem cell. I don't want my blog to get crazy political. I don't mind touching on politics once in a while, but for the most part, I'd like to steer clear of hot button topics. So I'll just say that for personal and political reasons, I'm not sure I would feel comfortable with stem cell therapy.

I have thought about getting a cochlear implant and I'm open to it if or when my hearing reaches the point where hearing aids are no longer helpful. But right now, honestly, I'm intimidated. And chicken. There, I said it. It's an invasive procedure that involves drilling into my head (I'm fighting off a little bit of vomit as I type that!), and could take several years of rehabilitation to get the full use out of it.

I also am doing well with my hearing aids. I wear two digital BTEs (behind the ear) that have four or five different settings to help me better filter background noise and help me hear what I want to hear. Why mess with what works, you know? And on that note, I've worn hearing aids almost my whole life. I could also just be feeling a little nervous about making such a big change. I know my hearing aids; how to care for them, when it's time for new ear molds, what kind of batteries to buy. I know I would learn those kinds of things too with a cochlear implant, but for now, I'm just attached to my hearing aids. They're familiar.

Having said that, I have friends who have cochlear implants and I've never once heard any one of them complain about it. My qualms about getting an implant stem more from my fears of the surgery than of the results. I have no doubt that a cochlear implant would help me and that the benefits far outweigh the initial inconvenience. Also, I'm not under any illusions. I took a hearing test a couple of years ago (and the one before that was 10 years ago!) that indicated I had lost 10 percent of my hearing in the last 10 years. We're not sure how progressive the hearing loss is, but I foresee entering my twilight years beyond the help of hearing aids - if my hearing can make it that long. I'm okay with the idea of a cochlear implant... someday. Not so much today. ;)

Okay, big, vast internets, your turn. Like I said a few weeks ago, one of the reasons I blog is to educate people about hearing loss, but sometimes I overlook things that seem obvious to me because I'm so used to it. So I'm curious, if you could ask a deaf or hard of hearing person anything, what would it be?

And by the way, I recently discovered how to find the stats for my blog and here is what I've learned:

This week, I've had 211 visitors from the United States, three from Spain and one from Finland. I've had 776 page views in the last month. Readers find my blog via other blogs, Google, The City, Twitter and Facebook.

I don't say any of that to brag, but rather to let you people know I am on to you.

Won't you come out and say hi?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I knew it was important

I know, I know. I said things like "What would you ask Wednesdays," and here it's Wednesday and I'm contemplating a "What would you ask Thursday." Roll with me, people. I was totally going to answer Joey's question from a few weeks ago, but then I looked at the calendar. I'd been feeling all day like there was something important about September 22 but I couldn't put my finger on it.

Then the internet came to the rescue, per usual. I've been following Molly Piper's blog for a while now and while I don't know her personally, I've been so touched over the years to read her stories. Molly is Abraham Piper's wife, and Abraham is John Piper's son, and I read John Piper's stuff... so yeah, I mean, Molly and I are clearly just two steps away from being BFF's. Clearly.

But September 22 is a big date for her. Her baby girl, Felicity, was stillborn that day three years ago. Molly has written a lovely tribute over on her blog and even though I've never even been pregnant, I've still been so edified by the experiences she shares of grieving and leaning on the Lord and trusting Him even when it's difficult.

And today is the first ("official") day of fall. This means coziness and bonfires and honeycrisp apples and crunch leaves. And no more daily bullying from the sun. I hope. Also, six years ago, Lost premiered, so see, I was right. September 22 is a very important day, indeed!

Here's some trivia that you probably won't care about but that makes me laugh (at myself). When ABC first started promoting Lost, I remember scoffing at the TV and rolling my eyes. I mean, really, how long could they be lost on an island before people got bored of the whole thing? Srsly, it was doomed to fail as far as I was concerned. And now? Now, my friends, I am just one DVD set away from owning the whole series. The only reason I've held out this long is that Christmas is coming up. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Happy September 22, all!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Theology is a hard thing for me to talk about sometimes. Partly because I feel inadequate to discuss it. And partly because I know my theology is flawed. I'm not sure anyone has a perfect theology, but I just don't like to be wrong. ;)

As far as my theological beliefs, the Reformed tradition sums it up well. Calvinist. Sovereignty. Glory. Suffering. Community. These are the buzzwords of Reformed theology today. John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler are its spokespersons. Throw in other names like Challies, Keller or Carson and you will be up to speed on Reformed-speak.

One of the defining characteristics of Reformed theology is its intellect. We, the "young, restless and reformed" crowd, tend to elevate thinking about God and talking about God and refining our doctrine and explaining what we believe. Logic, reason and (usually) literal interpretation are the norm. But, I fear, we start worshiping the system. I have noticed this about myself. I become very concerned about whether or not what I am thinking or feeling or pondering or concluding is right. Do I trust in God's sovereignty enough? Am I doing community the right way? If I forget to end my prayer with "for the glory of God," am I going to hell?

That's not faith. That is clinging to works, to thoughts instead of God. It is easy, in the Reformed tradition of intellect, to overthink things (Maybe that is why I feel so comfortable among Reformed peers... I am an overthinker! ;)). To somehow lose God in the process.

I'm going to link to two other blogs now. You might find it ironic, especially if you're not Reformed, that I'm linking to Reformed blogs that talk about this very thing. We're an ironic species, we humans. Just go with it.

I've always appreciated John Piper. In the midst of some very frustrating and dark times in my life, it was Piper's sermons that the Lord used to draw me to Himself again. Certainly I struggle with elevating Piper to God-like proportions. I jokingly call myself a Piper-ette. Which is exactly the point I'm trying to make - the battle of intellect vs. the Person of God. But anyway, I appreciated what he had to say in a recent Ask Pastor John segment. John Piper's Caution for the New Reformed movement

Then I read this gem from The Resurgence today. Pretty much the same point, but a little more expansive.

I'm getting a headache from thinking. Certainly thinking has its place in Christianity. In doctrine, theology and daily living. God is the Great Thinker and if we are made in His image, we were made to consider, reason and ponder. But to do it apart from the heart of God is meaningless. I'm a very emotional person. So emotional that I just do not trust myself very much. I make a lot of decisions based on how I'm feeling that get me nowhere at best or prove disastrous at worst. So in order to counter the dangerous effects of emotions, I tend to stifle them. I shove them out of the way where they can't be a distraction and try to silence the pangs clamoring for my attention. There can be a time and place for that. But to do it all the time is, I think, dishonoring to the Lord. We're called to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." It is okay to have an emotional walk with God, or an emotional spiritual experience. To be overflowing with passion or gratitude or love or tears or pain. To really feel it.

Along those lines, I think that is why imagination is important. We've been going through the book of Colossians at church and the concept of mystery in relation to God has come up a couple times. Particularly Colossians 1:26-28 - "[T]he mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ." It's not mystery like God is withholding something from us unfairly, but that He is so incredible and vast that there are just some things we'll never quite be able to wrap our heads around. Or that won't be made known to us apart from His timing. But I like that there is mystery. That we won't ever get tired of plumbing the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. That there is always something to explored, some new perspective to gain, new mercies to be realized. That there is room for wonder and excitement among logic and reason.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


A few days ago, I wondered what you were wondering. What would you ask someone about hearing loss if you didn't have to worry about sounding silly or being offensive (I find those are the biggest reasons people don't ask questions)? I'm toying with the idea of starting a regular feature... let's call it What Would You Ask Wednesdays just for fun. It's lame, I know. Go with it.

Joey had two questions, so I figured I'd answer one today and one next week.

First up is, "Do you remember being able to hear?"

Kind of. I vaguely remember watching TV without the captions on. I remember one time my grandma called our house and sang me a song over the phone. I don't remember the words, but I remember hearing and understanding her through the phone.

Aside from those two memories, all I've ever known is being hard of hearing. I remember being fitted for a hearing aid for the first time, but I don't recall actually losing my hearing. It just was what it was. In my short life, I had no idea what "normal" was, so as far as I knew, this was normal for me. I did what my parents and the doctors and the audiologists told me to do. I figured they had everything under control because I was four and they were like, THIRTY (which, of course, is like 90 to a toddler!), so I was confident that everyone was taking good care of the situation.

When I was a little older, maybe seven or so, I started dreaming of the day when I wouldn't have to wear hearing aids. I was pretty sure it would happen by the time I was 14. Kind of a random number, but it must have held some kind of significance in my little girl mind! ;) Even then, I could tell I was "different," and I didn't like it. Honestly, some days are still like that, but now they're mixed with more days where I'm okay with it.

Hope that answers your question, Joey! Thanks for asking!

Anything you want to know?

Monday, September 13, 2010


So often people will ask me if I "heard" something. Did you hear that noise? Can you hear the TV? I used to say yes, because I could, in fact, literally "hear" what they were talking about. The sound traveled to my hearing aids and somehow to the part of my brain that understands there was a noise.

But hearing is not the same as understanding. I can hear that noise, but I can't identify its origin. I can hear the TV playing, but I cannot attach words and phrases to the din. My hearing aids help me hear, but I need more than a hearing aid (lipreading, an interpreter, captioning, etc) to help me understand.

I have pretty poor speech recognition; that is, I cannot really understand much unless I am facing the speaker and lipreading or listening to something or someone (like a song or someone reading from a book) and reading along with it. I can't understand something by hearing alone, I need some kind of visual cue to go along with it.

So while I'm flattered when people are impressed that I "do so well" communicating, I'm also a little frustrated because what they don't see is how hard I work to do so well - and they don't know all the times I am faking it! And I wonder sometimes if they think I must not need very much help because I "do so well."

I feel like I'm constantly walking a fine line with hearing loss. On one hand, I feel like I have to prove that it really does disrupt my life and change experiences for me; on the other hand, I have to prove that I am still capable of doing things, like carrying on a conversation in a crowded restaurant, for example, even if it means I have to work a little harder. I'm both more and less capable than I let on.

Have you ever felt like that? What was it like?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hard to love and ugly

I am pretty sure that my pastors must have some kind of microchip implanted in my brain. How else could they deliver a sermon every single Sunday that sounds like a page from my life? They are up to something. I just know it. ;)

Our church is going through the book of Colossians and today was Colossians 3:5-6.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

The pastor talked a lot about how if Jesus is our only hope, then our actions should follow suit. His biggest fear, he says, is that we will think that behavior modification is the path to salvation. That if we just do this thing or don't do that other thing, but don't deal with the heart issue, that everything will just be hunky-dory. Then he said something like, "There are so many people here who have been sweet and nice and quiet in the church and they stay under the radar. They are leaving sins in their hearts unchecked because they think they've cleaned up their outside but not their inside and no one ever noticed them enough to speak into their lives about their heart issues."

It was at that point that I considered having my place swept for bugs. I just know they're listening in on me. Do you hear me, pastors? I am on to you.

I've always known that I'm a sinner and I need a Savior and Jesus is the only way to Heaven. But I've never fully realized my tendency to blame others when things go wrong, or when I'm sad, or when life is overwhelming. For example, I've been indulging lately in feeling lonely. This inevitably leads to feeling angry and bitter. Clearly, this is everyone else's fault because they don't reach out to me even though I try to be more engaging. Shame on them for failing. And this is also not something I signed up for, but my hearing loss forces me away from people and makes communication harder to achieve. So really, it is not my fault that I get mad or frustrated - if I wasn't hard of hearing, I wouldn't be this way. So obviously, it's not my fault that my actions haven't been lining up with the person God has called me to be. Obviously.

Then I did that thinking thing. Ugh. It always gets me into all sorts of trouble. I thought. And I pondered. I toyed with the idea... "What if it's not them? What if it's me? What if I have particular sins that drive people away? What if I am not as marvelous and wonderful and delightful as I think I am? What if I am not a victim but an instigator?"

I've always been that fly-under-the-radar kind of person. I'm nice and helpful and bend over backwards for people. But I don't let people get too close. I'm open, but not vulnerable. I'm the shoulder to cry on but I won't lean on yours. On top of that, I'm pushy, nosy and demanding. I'm a know-it-all and think highly of myself. My soul is so riddled with pride, criticism and self-righteousness. My problem isn't other people and what they've done or not done to me. My problem isn't that I live with a profound hearing loss and all that that entails. My biggest problem is that I'm a sinner, that there is something inherently wrong with me, that I love to sin and do things that dishonor God and hurt my relationships with other people (We don't think of it like that, that we "love to sin." But it's true, we do. We're more passionate about making ourselves happy - even with seemingly good things like families, food and fellowship - and feeding our egos than we are about loving God).

The problem is me. Maybe when I pester people to go out to lunch, that's a turn-off because what I'm really doing is not respecting their boundaries and demanding my own way, that my needs be served. Maybe when I get mad that other people seem to have more friends, I'm really just coveting that they got what I wanted. I'm like a three-year-old complaining that the other kid is playing with that toy, even when I have a perfectly good toy in my own hands. I'm greedy. And maybe, just maybe, all the overthinking I do isn't the result of some drama that just came to me... maybe I'm actually the instigator by all the thinking I do because I'm trying to control something that I can't.

See, those are the earthly things Paul is telling us to put to death. I loved the colorful way our pastor put it today (I'm paraphrasing. I don't take notes during the sermon, so this is based on my own recollection. Eek): "Be passionate about annilihating anything that would rob you of your affections for God. Put it to death."

That sounds trite these days. Put our sin to death. Jesus is our only hope. God is enough. Jesus died to bring you to God. We say them so often and they've been absorbed into our church-ese that they don't mean anything to us anymore. Indeed, I had even been getting a little anxious with our pastors because they basically were preaching the exact same sermon every week. Didn't matter what the text was, the final message was always, "Jesus is our only hope." I wanted to scream, "I KNOW! So now what?!"

But the more I reflect on the truth that Jesus is, in fact, my only hope, that my sin is so great that it separates me from God, and that apart from Him, I can't make myself good or right, the more I realize how much I do not live a life that responds to that hope. I cling to things like work and family and friends and company and TV and food and dreams of marriage to fulfill me but they never, ever do. Never. That sounds trite, too, to say that God is enough. But really, we live like God + ____ = enough. Oh, what a lie we buy into when we think that. How we insult God's holiness when we say as long as He gives us this, that and the other AND Him, then we'll be okay. But the truth is that if your family and friends and company and TV and food and marriage were pulled out from under you, if they were all gone tomorrow, all you would be left with would be the Lord and that would still be enough. Do you know that? I mean, do you really know that? Or are you waiting for God to give you things that you think make you happy, instead of resting in Him alone who is your greatest joy?

If Jesus is my only hope, Paul says, I should abhor the things that starve me of my affections for Him. Because God is enough, I should be waging war on "what is earthly in [me]: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." I shouldn't be waging war on perceived slights or the unfairness of life, but on the things that would draw me away from the Giver of life... and rejoicing that He has brought me near by the precious blood of Christ.

One of the songs we sang at the closing of the service was "I Am One of Those" by Nathan Partain. Google it. Find it. Listen to it. I don't know how to embed audio or video here (I'm a slow blog learner), so you'll have to do the dirty work. But the last stanza brought it all home for me:

I am one of those, who was hard to love and ugly
Self-righteous, critical; religion was my stain,
Then I came to Christ to wash and be discovered,
Jesus came to me and covered up my shame.

I am hard to love and ugly... but Jesus came to me and covered up my shame.

Something's wrong with me. Only Jesus can fix it. This is the gospel. This is grace.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our flag was still there

It was a Tuesday morning and I didn't have any classes but I still had homework to do. So I got out of bed around 9 and made my way to the bathroom. When I was done, I opened the door to hear my youngest brother, who was 7 at the time, yelling at me, "Two towers fell down and George Bush has to save the people!" Still groggy with sleep, I mumbled, "Huhwhatareyatalkinbout?"

I went downstairs to see my mom frozen on the couch, watching TV. I sat down next to her and tried to make sense of what Peter Jennings was saying. Planes... World Trade Center... Flight 93... the Pentagon. I had walked into the middle of something horrific and didn't know which end was up. It was several long minutes before I was able to put it all together. I barely left the living room all day. Images kept rolling across the screen. Ash, dust, debris, death. The airports were closed. The malls were closed. Home, which was always the safest place, suddenly felt vulnerable.

The remember feeling in a daze over the next few weeks and months. I remember feeling fiercely patriotic and yes, I'm going to go there, I was proud of our president in the aftermath. I was proud of us. But I was on edge everywhere I went. I was scared of those who bore a resemblance to the terrorists. I confess that sometimes I still am. But I think I've grown numb. I think we all have and that is a dangerous thing to be.

It's been nine years now - not even a whole decade - and we don't talk about it as much. Have we just adjusted that well? Have we forgotten already? Do we just not want to think about it? This is trivial, I know, but I read only one comic strip that paid tribute to that fateful day. This is what I do for a living, by the way. I prepare comics pages for newspapers around the country. I have 22 newspaper clients and not every paper runs the same strips. Twenty two clients means a few hundred different comic strips. Maybe not quite that many, since there is some overlap, but still. A LOT. Most of them go out of their way to spend a week acknowledging Veterans' Day, use their strip as a platform to remind people to vote, or build their whole series around politics. But only one strip thought to remember the day we were attacked, to pay homage to what we have gone through as a country.

We need to think about it. We need to remember what it was like that day, the horror and the agony and the fear. Someone declared war on us and we've been fighting ever since. But it seems the fire has gone out of the fight - which I fear will make us sitting ducks. I'm no politician. You can probably guess which party I vote with, but I'm not terribly well-versed in international affairs (or even a lot of domestic ones. ahem. I'll work on it). But I doubt that the extremists are finished and by forgetting their work, we're giving them the upper hand.

Furthermore, we do our soldiers, our firefighters and police officers, our fellow patriots and ourselves a disservice when we choose to stop talking about what happened nine years ago. Many left their wives, husbands, children and friends behind. Many ran into burning buildings or into the Iraqi desert and came back broken. Many never came back at all. Many sat at home and watched it all go down, wondering how to pick up the pieces. We all changed. We mark time by it now. We talk about what life was like before the planes crashed into the towers. What life is like after. Let's stop pretending we can sweep this under the rug or bury the skeletons in a closet.

Francis Scott Key was reflecting on a literal battle scene when he wrote these lines, but the words ring true for us today: "And the rocket's red glare/the bombs bursting in the air/gave proof through the night/that our flag was still there." Our very own anthem was penned during war. Our nation was born out of a struggle. We do poorly to forget the hard times, because it's when things are hard that we remember who we are and what we're capable of. As the planes burst into flames and the towers crumbled, as the Pentagon was plowed and a field in Pennsylvania turned into a graveyard, we remembered we were Americans and we fought back, not just in the desert, but by pulling out bodies, offering drinks of water and standing strong together.

I imagine there were a lot of tears on Flight 93, as the passengers considered in their last moments the people they were leaving behind, but the tears didn't keep them from doing what they had to do. They didn't think about the politics involved, or whether they had voted for the current occupant of the White House or not. They saw an evil at hand and gave up their lives to stop it. They left a legacy of courage and action and we would do well to remember them.

America... let's roll!

Friday, September 10, 2010

What would you ask?

The biggest reason I blog is to educate. As I've illustrated several times by now, I am not great at taking opportunities to educate people on how to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing. So blogging is a way to, I don't know, make up for it, I guess. I feel like I can explain things more clearly once I've considered the situation. I figure even if the person who needed the educating has long moved on, it was still a learning experience. And I end up educating myself in the process, too, as I figure out what I could have done better in a particular situation or even why I needed this accommodation or that one.

But even then, some things seem so obvious to me that I don't think they are worth mentioning. I wonder how many things are going untold to others because I assume they know about it. Or how many things about my own hearing loss I am overlooking because I just don't think about it. So... what would you want to know? If you could sit down with a deaf or hard of hearing person and ask any question without worrying about if it was offensive or silly, what would you ask?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Last week, I flew to Vegas, baby! I really feel like saying I'm going to Vegas isn't complete without the punctuation of "baby!" A "yeahhh!" would be a nice touch, but let's not get out of hand.

I got to preboard the plane because I am hard of hearing. I felt a little bad, like I am cheating. It's not like I need physical help getting on the plane, and if I had been travelling with someone who could tell me what the announcements and such were, I would have opted out of preboarding. But the thing is that I am travelling alone, no companion to tell me if we're about to go down in flames. Although I think that would be pretty easy to figure out. But I just like someone to know that I won't be able to hear the announcements. How else will I know if the plane has to make an emergency stop or that bad weather is preventing us from landing?

I flew Southwest and they are pretty good about accommodating hard of hearing passengers. When I ordered the tickets online, there was an option for me to enter my phone number so they could text me if something came up. That little feature came in handy when the flight was delayed (twice!) and later when we had to move to a different gate. Of course, they were making those announcements over the intercom and I could hear the noise of it but not understand what they were saying.

And when we had to switch gates, I actually hadn't gotten the text yet so I wasn't completely sure what to think when about half the people at the gate got up and started walking in the same direction. I mean, I kind of gathered that we were switching gates, but I felt a little insecure not having heard it for myself. So I followed them until I found a flight information screen and found the right gate. By the time I figured out where I was supposed to be, the text came through... a little after the fact, but whatevs.

Also, while I was waiting at the new gate, I eavesdropped on a conversation between a deaf passenger and one of the Southwest employees. The deaf passenger was asking if this was the right gate for the flight and then explained that she didn't know because she couldn't hear the announcement. I talked to her for a little bit myself, very nice lady. But she looked like she felt so sorry for me when I told her that I just followed the crowd and checked the flight status screen. She had just been asking other passengers to relay the info to her and conveyed that it was sad that I had to figure things out for myself. Huh what? I mean, yeah, information wasn't as quickly or as readily available to me as it was for the passengers who could hear the announcement, but a few minutes and a little thinking outside the box and I was good to go. I didn't feel sorry for myself or mad at Southwest for having to check the board. I just did what I had to do to make sure I knew what was going on.

Yes, as a hard of hearing person, I may have to adapt a little more to my circumstances and no, it's not always fair that I don't have the same information presented to me in the same way or always at the same time as other people, but so what? It's not sad that I use my brain to figure things out on my own or consider what other resources I have at my disposal. Maybe I missed a good opportunity to educate an airline on what to do with deaf and hard of hearing passengers, but at the same time, in this case there wasn't really a need. I felt they were already doing the best they could and I don't know what scolding them for not coming and telling me which gate to move to would accomplish. I did eventually get a text from them telling me where to go and I had other resources to use.

There's a fine line between advocating/raising awareness and adapting, I think. Some deaf/hard of hearing people seem to demand that they receive information and services and attention and get quite upset when their needs aren't met in a timely manner. I'm all for equal access, but let's use our brains, too. We don't live in a perfect world and frankly, I've been noticing lately just how many of us (deaf, hearing and everything in between!) expect life to be comfortable and roses and sunshine all the time, and it's nice when we have those moments, but life in general is not like that. We don't live in a fair world and sometimes we just have to cope the best we can. For the hard of hearing, sometimes this means going without the communication assists we are used to and finding or coming up with other ways of getting the information we need. A lot of times, those other ways are just as good as having an interpreter or captioning or personal attention. Other times it will be uncomfortable or tedious or barely sufficient, but oh well. Life goes on and I would rather do hard things and maybe be a better, more adaptable person for it than to demand the easy things and live a life of constant disappointment.

Whew. End rant.

On a lighter note, Vegas was fun. I went to visit my cousin and her family. We went on the strip a couple of nights, once to walk around and the second to visit Madame Tussad's (wax museum). We also went to the Hoover Dam, went on a train ride and kicked each other's butts at Mario Kart. Good times, and pictures to follow on Facebook. Eventually. I am the slowest picture uploader ever.

I really do like to travel and my wish list for next year includes Florida and Washington D.C. Who's with me?!