Monthly Archives: February 2013
Sometimes I make notes about things I want to remember to write about here. If I can, I try to stay on one topic for a whole post…but sometimes the little anecdotes I write down are just that: anecdotes, and unrelated at that. So here are a few random snippets to start the week:
Last night, Dave and I watched a really entertaining movie, 2 Days in New York. Mingus (Chris Rock) is dating Marion (Julie Delpy), who is French, and her family comes from France to visit for a few days. He doesn’t speak French, and her father doesn’t speak much English. (Her sister and her sister’s boyfriend, Manu, speak English and French.) One hilarious scene features a family dinner; Mingus is seated at the end of the table with Marion’s father, Jeannot, and Manu, who attempts to translate the conversation for Jeannot. The translations go hilariously wrong, and Jeannot makes some comments to Mingus, in his accented English, that make no sense in relation to what Mingus was originally saying. You can see the confusion on his face as he tries gamely to carry on a conversation that has veered off in a nonsensical direction.
Dave, in the midst of his laughter, turned to me and said, “That’s what it’s like for me!” Seriously, when you have a hearing loss and you’re trying to carry on a conversation with a bunch of people, it happens so easily. One minute you think you’ve got a handle on the subject matter, then the next thing you know you’re making a comment that makes no sense to anyone else, or asking a question about something that’s just been discussed. It’s times like this when it helps to have a sense of humor!
When I was a kid, I used to run really high fevers (I’m talking 104 or so). It was a pretty regular thing with me when I got sick; I was never the type to just have a temperature of 100 or 101. In fact, that was originally what my parents assumed caused my hearing loss. I was a toddler…maybe 18 or 20 months?…and I got roseola. My temperature shot up really high, like 106 or so, and they put me in the hospital. My mom said they put me on a bed with ice (or ice packs, maybe) to cool me off; when the nurses left the room, she would pick me up and hold me because I was turning purple from the cold. My hearing loss wasn’t discovered until I was around 4 years old; by that time, nobody was sure what caused it and we always assumed it was caused by that high fever (or perhaps the antibiotics used, which might have been ototoxic).
So anyway, this weird thing would happen to me when I was young and feverish. I still remember it very well, and I imagine it happened all through my early childhood. (I can remember being in junior high and being sick with a fever, and realizing that it no longer happened – I couldn’t will it to happen or experience it again, so it seems like it was connected to early childhood somehow.) I would leave my body and float to the corner of my ceiling. I know it sounds crazy, but I swear to God it happened. I can still remember what it looked like, being up there and looking down. It was always the same corner – the front left corner, which was to the left of my bedroom door. I could look from there towards my bed. It wasn’t scary, it was just a hazy experience when I was completely burning up with a fever. It would happen if I just kind of let go and didn’t think about anything too much. I just assumed it was something that happened to everybody; I’m not sure if I ever mentioned it to my parents (or, if I did, if they believed me). I was actually startled when I realized it wasn’t happening to me anymore, and like I said, I tried to go back into that meditative state and see if I could make it happen, and I couldn’t. It was just one of those inexplicable young-child experiences I had almost forgotten about.
I’ve mentioned before that Dave and I test recipes for Cooks Illustrated. I like doing it because it gets me out of my food comfort zone and gets me to try new things and learn new cooking techniques. Since the whole point of testing the recipe is to see if the instructions are clear and the ingredients work as they should, you really have to follow the recipe precisely – exact measurements and times, no ingredient substitutions, the same size and type of pan the recipe calls for, that kind of thing. Well, Dave is a rebel when it comes to cooking (and, well, to life in general). He really hates being told what to do, and almost never follows a recipe when he cooks. I’m the complete opposite – I measure and follow the recipe every time. The most I might do is change up ingredients and cooking methods after I’ve made the recipe the first time (as stated), but even then I make notes on the recipe and follow my notes.
Every time we test a recipe, I have to watch him, and remind him that we’re testing this recipe so we have to follow it precisely. I can see the expression move across his face; he wants to resist, but he knows he can’t. So I always have to keep an eye on my kitchen rebel – I know he really, really wants to do it his way. It’s the one time I can boss him around and he can’t argue with me!
Sometimes I think about the weirdest things. Earlier today I was thinking about all those boot camp scenes you see in movies, where they have a drill sergeant marching the guys along and yelling out that call and response thing. (Dave told me it’s called ‘cadence.’) You know what I mean, right? Well, if I was in that situation, I’d be screwed. The drill sergeant would yell out his thing, and when everyone repeated it I’d just be mumbling and hoping he didn’t notice that I wasn’t really repeating it. Because, of course, I wouldn’t know what the heck he was saying.
Oh, I hate call and response situations! We encounter them at concerts and presentations; we had them come up at both the kids’ college orientations. Sometimes I can figure out what I’m supposed to say, but usually I fake it.
This got me thinking about other situations that I, as a deaf person with CIs, and Dave, as a hard-of-hearing person, really hate. We talked about that today as we worked side by side, putting dinner together (chili, in the crockpot…can’t wait).
The first thing I thought of is people talking to me through a door. I don’t think Dave encounters this as much as I do; it’s probably more of a girl thing. People love to chat when you’re in a public bathroom. This always makes me freeze – if I’ve come in with someone else (you know that girls hit the restroom in packs whenever possible!) then I’m not sure if it’s them talking to me, or if it’s someone else in the bathroom talking to some other person. Not only can I not understand what’s being said, but everything sounds weird in a bathroom with all the tile everywhere and (usually) background noise like music or dryers going or toilets flushing, so voices are hard for me to recognize. If I know for a fact that I’m alone in the bathroom with the person I walked in with, then I feel like a big jerk not responding to them. It’s okay if it’s my mom or daughter, because I’ll just remind them that I can’t understand them. But I used to have this happen a lot with other female acquaintances that I didn’t know that well and who often didn’t even know I had a hearing loss. It was such an uncomfortable situation!
It also happens in dressing rooms. Helpful clerks will knock on the door and ask questions and that makes me nuts. To understand them, I have to open the door and have them repeat the question while I read their lips, and I’m usually in a state of undress. Just leave me alone, people! When I was in high school there was a popular store in the mall, Merry Go Round, that I finally learned I should never go into, because the sales girls always, always knocked on the door and chatted when I was in the dressing room. They’d ask how everything was, if I needed a different size, or they’d try to get you to come out so they could ooh and aah over how the clothes looked on you (and try to get that sale). It stressed me out so much that I stopped shopping there even though I liked the clothes.
I also hate when someone knocks on the door of either a public bathroom or a dressing room. At Goodwill, I’ve had dressing room attendants knock and then open the door on me because I didn’t respond. Talk about embarrassing! I couldn’t tell if they were knocking on my door or someone else’s, and it caught me so off-guard that I didn’t know how to respond. In the time it took me to stand there and think, Did they knock on my door? What do I say…hello? I’m in here? Uh…what should I do… I would hear the telltale sound of the key in the lock and see the knob turning. Usually I have enough time to cover up before they open the door and expose me to the whole damn store. The bathroom is the same way – I just freeze and don’t know what to say. Sometimes I say nothing, other times I just yell, “Occupied!” and hope that it was really my door the person was knocking on.
Let’s see, what else…oh. Talking into my ear. Please don’t do that! It doesn’t help me hear or understand you better…it just means I have to crane around and try to get your face in front of my face again. This goes hand-in-hand with whispering, which was the bane of my existence as a kid. Kids like to whisper! I felt like such a dork, having a kid whisper to me and then just looking at them cluelessly. I turned down a lot of sleepover invitations because of this (whispering combined with darkness…girls whispering after the lights are out…a nightmare for me) and also sleepaway camp for the same reason. I know my mom probably thought I was just clingy but this was a big part of why I never wanted to stay overnight anywhere.
Dave’s ‘crappy situation’ contributions were restaurants, cashier chit-chat, and events in big auditoriums or loud situations (especially the open houses and orientations we went to for the kids at school). All of these involve loud environments and unpredictable conversations. I can always tell when a cashier has stumped Dave with a comment or question he wasn’t anticipating. Sometimes I can jump in and save him if I’ve been paying attention and lipreading. I’ve mentioned before that we usually don’t go to restaurants, but if we do we try to get a booth along the wall, and Dave makes sure to face his good ear in the direction of the waitress. I do a little better now in these kinds of environments thanks to ClearVoice knocking out the background noise, but Dave still really suffers, poor guy.
Of course, we both hate drive-thrus, another thing I’ve mentioned before. It’s a good thing we don’t do a lot of take-out! You just never know what kind of goofy question they’re going to throw at you, if the speaker system is going to be clear or staticky, or if the person talking to you is going to have an accent you can’t understand. It’s not just food though; we also encounter uncomfortable drive-thru situations at the bank and the pharmacy as well. In those cases, we try to pull up to the window on the building, so we can (hopefully) see the person’s face and lipread if they have questions.
How about talking to someone in the dark? Nothing is more uncomfortable than sitting around a campfire or sitting outside at night and trying to talk to a group of people (especially those you don’t know very well). Again, this is something I dealt with more as a young person ; now we just avoid those kinds of situations if we can. Every now and then, though, we get invited to do something like this and we do go…we just don’t talk very much!
To end this on a more positive note (I’m starting to sound like a crabby curmudgeon here), I know I talked before about what it’s like for me at the end of the day, when I go to bed and everything is silent. In the morning, though, I go from total silence to instant sound, and it’s like the part in the Wizard of Oz when everything changes from black and white to color. I never know what my first sound of the day will be. Sometimes it’s just silence; I’m in the bedroom, usually alone, when I put my CIs on. Sometimes it’s really loud, because I have a tendency to put my CIs on right when Dave is grinding coffee beans in the kitchen. But today, the first sound I heard was loud, rumbly purring. Beanie was sitting at my feet, looking up at me. She went from silently (to me) staring to loudly purring in the space of a second. What an awesome way to start the day!
* This song is by Yaz. LOVE!
Every night, I follow the same routine. After my contact lenses are out and my pajamas are on, I take both of my CI processors off. They consist of three parts: the rechargeable battery, the actual processor, and the T-Mic earhook (the part that hangs over and into my ear). I leave the processor and T-Mic attached but I slip off the battery from each processor and slide them into my battery charger. The CI processors go into my Dry & Store unit, which does a good job of removing any moisture that’s built up. I nestle my processors in with Dave’s hearing aid and ear mold, turn the unit on, take off my glasses and get into bed.
I don’t fall asleep right away – I usually read and mess around on my Nook tablet for at least an hour. Dave does the same with his tablet. We usually don’t talk – it’s just too much of a hassle. Besides being deaf, with my glasses off I’m so nearsighted that I need to basically be about an inch from something to see it. I read with my tablet pretty much touching my nose, and even with Dave lying right next to me, I can’t see him well enough to lipread him unless I have my glasses on.
I really do miss being able to just lie in bed and have a casual conversation with my husband. If we need to talk, I put my glasses on and he uses the tablet to highlight his face better (we just have our bedside lights on when we’re reading at night). Sometimes he has to lift his head up onto his hand so I can see his mouth better. There’s no tossing off a quick comment about something he’s reading – I can say something to him, though, since he can still hear me well enough with his hearing aid off.
So last night we’re reading, and I’m in my silent world, and I notice Dave get up and leave the room. He goes into the bathroom, comes out and turns on the hallway light…which is definitely unusual behavior. I just had to know what he was doing! When he came back, I put my glasses on and asked him what was going on. He answered, using the slower, more enunciated manner of speaking that he uses when I have my ‘ears’ off. (I asked him once if he also talks louder, and he laughed and admitted that he does. He knows I can’t hear him but it’s just habit. However, he is very, very good about slowing his speech down to a degree that I can usually lipread everything he says with no problem at all.)
I furrowed my eyebrows. “Airy…something?” He tried again. Again, it looked like he was saying ‘airy’ and then a word I really couldn’t figure out. I shook my head.
He grinned and made the sign for bird, then scrunched his face into an angry expression.
“Bird! Oh – Angry Bird!”
Dave laughed and nodded, and went on to tell me that he’d stepped on something coming out of the bathroom, which was why he turned on the hall light. One of the cats had dropped their Angry Bird toy right by the doorway, apparently.
“That is so weird…I really didn’t see the ‘ng’ part of ‘angry’…it totally looked like you were saying ‘airy’!”
Usually if we have trouble like this, Dave will completely rephrase his sentence or fingerspell for me. But every now and then we just do our own version of sign language like this, and it gets the message across.
We were watching Switched at Birth last night, which features many deaf people as well as hearing people that sign. I enjoy catching the signs that I recognize, which admittedly aren’t many. The hearing people always speak while they’re signing, and I noticed they usually sign what they’re saying, in the same order they say it…not every single word, which I believe would be Signed Exact English, but the words they sign are usually the same as the ones they’re speaking. I don’t know ASL but I know a little about it, and the signs aren’t always in the same order as they would be if you spoke the sentence. I asked Dave if he thought they were doing ASL or something else, and he guessed maybe Pidgin Signed English. That’s closest to what we do, when we sign.
It made me wonder if there are any classes that teach PSE. As I’ve mentioned before, there aren’t any ASL classes around here other than the super-expensive community college class. I think, though, if I were going to take sign language (and I really, really want to!) I would want to take PSE since that’s what Dave and I use, and he’s really the only person I sign with. We’ve rented videos and looked online at sites, which is fine, but it would be so cool to find an actual class we could attend together. I’m keeping my eyes open – who knows!
Last week Dave turned on the TV, and then called me over. “Look!” he exclaimed, pointing at the screen. The Monkees were on, and he knows I just love them. I grinned and sat on the arm of the couch to see what song was coming up. As the song started, I recognized it right away.
“Oh my God, it’s ‘Look Out, Here Comes Tomorrow’! I’ve had that song stuck in my head for weeks!” The coincidence was just so strange – this song has seriously been popping into my head at random times over the past month. Davy sings it, and it’s about having to choose between two different girls. (I know, first world problems and all that.) The thing is, this episode was captioned. I’ve been watching the Monkees since I was four or five years old, but it’s been years since I’ve seen an episode and they definitely weren’t captioned the last time I watched.
The lyrics to the song scrolled across the screen. “I see all kinds of sorrow, wish I only loved one…look out, here comes tomorrow, oh how I wish tomorrow would never come.” And I turned to Dave and said, “Well, it figures…I’ve been singing this song wrong all these years. I always thought the lyrics were ‘I’ll feel all kinds of sorrow if I choose the wrong one’.” I mean, we’re talking about me SINGING those lyrics at Monkees concerts, folks. Urgh.
I could tell when I was watching the screen that Davy’s lips weren’t moving the right way for the lyrics I thought he was singing, and when I glanced down at the captions it confirmed it. This brought back a lot of memories, especially from high school. Back in MY day, there was no internet and very few of the albums (and I do mean albums, not CDs, which didn’t exist) had lyrics on the album sleeve. I used to be so excited when I pulled an album out and saw either an insert with lyrics or lyrics printed on the sleeve. Otherwise, it meant that I pulled up a chair next to my stereo speakers and replayed the song over and over, writing down what I thought I heard.
I used to do this a lot with my friend Kristie, who had perfect hearing. Even hearing people have trouble with lyrics sometimes! It always helped to have a better ear when trying to decipher lyrics; I can remember us spending hours listening to Tom Petty and, yes, the Monkees as we worked on figuring out what they were singing. (There was also a lot of laughter over some of the nonsensical things we came up with!)
It’s a completely different experience for me to listen to a song where I really know what’s being said. Everything comes together; otherwise I find myself just listening to the music and the beat and kind of mumbling along. This is okay with dance music – I confess, I pretty much never knew anything being sung on the New Order albums I listened to – but generally I really like knowing the lyrics, and they mean a lot to me.
If I had the lyrics, I’d read them while I listened to the song, over and over, until I had them memorized. It wasn’t like I could glance at them and think Oh, okay, I get the gist of it…now it will make sense when I hear it. I still couldn’t understand what was being said if I didn’t have that lyric memorized. Yes, I spent a lot of time listening to music as a teenager and young adult!
I don’t listen to new music much now – I don’t have the free time to sit with a CD and the lyrics and really get to know the songs the way I used to, so if I listen to music it tends to be songs I remember from years back. The last CD I can remember really working on to memorize songs was Playing the Angel by Depeche Mode, back in 2006. I took Eric to the concert when they came to town, and although I knew all their earlier stuff by heart, I wanted to be sure I really knew the songs off the newest album since that was the reason for their tour. We had such a good time together at that concert but good grief, it was SO expensive! I remember getting tickets to see great bands for about $15 back in the 80s, maybe a couple bucks to park, $10 for a t-shirt. By the time all was said and done, we spent over $200 on that concert (just for tickets and parking…I think I might have bought Eric a t-shirt, I can’t remember).
Anyway, it’s pretty awesome to finally have song lyrics at my fingertips, thanks to the internet. I mean, there is no way I would ever understand what the Beatles were singing during ‘Come Together’ otherwise. Toe jam football, indeed!