Spanglish

When I married my half-deaf/half-blind/half-crazy husband I knew exactly one word and one phrase in ASL. The word? Sorry. The phrase? I love you. We started to go to a deaf branch of the LDS church the week after we were married. It was the people in the branch that taught me ASL, the interpreters and the members. Because most of the members were Hispanic, and I am half Hispanic, more comfortable with Spanish than I was with ASL, I hung around the Hispanic deaf members because I felt a little more comfortable in their culture than Deaf Culture. The words they verbalized were often in Spanish, the food was Mexican and even if it was quiet, it was familiar. But from those friends I picked up a lot of words in MSL not knowing they were MSL.

Now that I am more comfortable with my skills in sign language, I sometimes find that I’ve learned a word in MSL that translates as a completely different word in ASL. Strawberry in MSL, for instance, looks a lot like Flower in ASL and it is easy to confuse my ASL only friends with the sign.

The strangest side effect of this, however, has nothing to do with the deaf. Because I am (1/2) Hispanic, I have friends that speak very little English and I find myself signing at them when I am trying to stammer out my broken, ill-used, Spanish. Maybe it’s because ASL and Spanish are in the same part of my brain, I don’t know, but it must look awfully strange to my hearing friends and relatives to see me waving my hands in the air while I am speaking to them.

It’s kinda funny because my hearing friends do the opposite to me, knowing I speak ASL at home. They try NOT to wave their hands about, because they’ve seen me zero in on their hands once they start moving, like I’m trying to figure out what signs they are signing.

Being multilingual in a multilingual world would be a fascinating study in anthropology or linguistics, don’t you think?

Crash Into Me

Today my husband stepped on my foot and said he was sorry. I said “It’s okay, I’m used to it.” I have to be careful to pay attention to sounds of footfalls, so I don’t come around a corner and crash into my own husband. He literally can’t see me if I am standing beside him unless he is looking directly at me.

Dave Matthews has a song: Crash Into Me, that is a metaphoric love tale of how two souls collide when in love. When you’re married to a blind man (with RP), this metaphor becomes reality.

You’ve got your ball
You’ve got your chain
Tied to me tight tie me up again
Who’s got their claws
In you my friend
Into your heart I’ll beat again
Sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock
And sweet you roll
Lost for you I’m so lost for you

You come crash into me
And I come into you
I come into you
In a boys dream
In a boys dream

Touch your lips just so I know
In your eyes, love, it glows so
I’m bare boned and crazy for you
When you come crash
Into me, baby
And I come into you
In a boys dream
In a boys dream

If I’ve gone overboard
Then I’m begging you
To forgive me
In my haste
When I’m holding you so girl
Close to me

Oh and you come crash
Into me, baby
And I come into you
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show your world to me
In a boys dream.. In a boys dream

Oh I watch you there
Through the window
And I stare at you
You wear nothing but you
Wear it so well
Tied up and twisted
The way I’d like to be
For you, for me, come crash
Into me

Who got you off when you got yours?
Who was the first to spill your soul?
Who got you off? Well, I’m the one
Dreamed of doing it day and night
Oh sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock and sweet you roll
Oh I swear over and over
It’s you like a wave into me

When you come crash into me baby
Please come crash into me
Come crash into me
In a boy’s dream
In a boy’s dream

No miss you all (?) what runs your way?
Who runs up side you and begs everyday?
Who’s watching you through your window?
Night Comes
Who celebrates with the moon?
That you’re like a wave come again

Come and crash into me baby
And I come into you
In a boy’s dream
In a boy’s dream

Oh now it’s here I build my soul
I swear, friend, don’t you know
I’m bare boned and crazy for you

Oh when you come crash into me yeah
And you come into me
And you come into me

Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
In a boy’s dream yeah
In this boy’s dream

(Dixie Chicken outro)
I’ll be your Dixie chicken
You be my Tennessee lamb
And we will walk together
Down in Dixie land

Crash into me
Crash into me
Crash into me
Crash into me

Oh I wanna play with you

One lovely blog award

A big thank you to Lipreading Mom for nominating my blog for the One Lovely Blog Award!

There are five guidelines for accepting this award:

1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you.

2. Paste the award image on your blog, anywhere.

3. Tell them seven facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award.

5. Contact the bloggers that you have chosen to let them know that they have been nominated.

Seven facts about me:

1. I am a published non fiction writer dying to break out and into being a fiction author.

2. I don’t watch tv. If I watch a series it’s usually old and on Netflix.

3. I’ve always been a good Mormon girl.

4. I visited ireland a decade ago through the kindness of a friend, the love of her husband for her and a touch of providence. I had been studying it as a layman american of irish decent for years and want to return to Ireland so bad it hurts.

5. I think my writing has improved four fold over the last ten years and none of it due to any higher learning institute.

6. My father is a surveyor. I had to work for him growing up. I swore I would never be a surveyor. I’m still not a surveyor.

7. I swear it is my lot in life to always be the second in command who has to lead because the commander is incapable. I’d like to actually be commander, but it’s clear god doesn’t think I should be.

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The next part of the award is nominating 15 other bloggers:

15. The London Flower Lover – Since my visit to Europe over 10 years ago in spring, my appreciation for European Flora has increased and this site keeps it alive.

14. Diedra Alexander – what can I say? I like people that like me.

13. Topicless Bar – I’m not sure you could call this a “lovely” blog, but if eclectic is your thing, this is it.

12. Cute Overload – There is nothing more lovely than cute critters.

11. Jill of All Trades (expert of none) – anyone that can understand when one needs to be serious and when one shouldn’t be, is lovely to me!

10. Neither Here Nor There – I picked this blog because he regularly posts beautiful videos.

9. Fabulous Realms – Hardly even need to list a reason here, the name says it. I love myth and fantasy.

8. Clotid Jam Cracker – I read it for the pictures 🙂

7. Supermom Plus – Because being a mom is lovely = being a supermom is really lovely, but being a mom I can relate to is even better.

6. Silent World Seniors – I just so relate to them… in a hearing way.

5. Adventures of a Deaf Adult – she’s already been nominated by someone else, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it again, right?

4. Feminist Mormon Housewives – I think this kind of feminism is lovely.

3. Gardening – Livejournal is teh suck, but this is a great community blog.

2. I Can Haz Cheezeburger? – This site saves the sanity of all the politically weary, so it is definitely lovely. I consider it a photo blog of happiness.

1. The Middlest Sister – I love paper art, especially like thist, so this is my #1 draft pick for Loveliest Blog.

Training the Fully Able to Live With the Disabled

Sorry it’s been so long between posts, but my baby brother and his family moved into our livingroom rather suddenly two weeks ago.  My brother had never met my husband, so he and his family had no idea what they would need to do as they recovered in our livingroom from their (latest) trauma.

My brother has a son, my nephew, who is a one year-old.  He is a toddler and having a toddler around a blind man is… complicated.  My husband started using his cane full time, even inside the house, which was not something he was used to either (and sometimes he forgets it).  My brother and his (common law) wife had to be told where you could put or leave things and where you couldn’t, and that everything had to be put in the same place it was before if my husband put it there.  Things have to remain organized.  Follow the laundry schedule.  Pay attention to the walking areas and remove any obstacles (including toddlers).  It’s not really all that complicated, but it’s a long list of ‘rules’ for a guy (my baby brother) that takes joy in breaking rules.

People often complain that God makes too many rules.  The goody-two-shoes (so they are called) try to explain this this is for your own good.  It keeps you safe.  It makes your life stable and livable.  Well… in this case, in our house, it’s for someone elses’ good.  The fact that it is his home is secondary.  The fact that all of us love him and will kick your scrawny ass back to whatever state you came from if you do anything on purpose to hurt him is primary.

We try to live a nice, stable life because it is best for us.  If you live with us, you have to try to live a nice, stable life too.  It really IS better for you, you know.  You could learn a lot of discipline in the way disabled people are, by nature of their disability, forced to live their lives.  You are welcome for the free lessons in living a better life.  Hope you apply them in your next home.

Only For the Hearing Impaired

Time for something serious again.  My dad is a travelin’ man.  Sometimes he lives with me, sometimes my brother, other times alone, sometimes with my mother.  He gets shipped off to help this person or that person as often as the Marines.  He was a politician once, and he still doles out advice as if he were still in office.  Don’t get me wrong–He’s been right about a lot of things–I shouldn’t have married my ex husband among them, but he’s not right about everything.

Usually I will just agree he is wiser, take his advice, my own counsel and do the best I can to make a good decision with my husbands.  When I can’t decide, I take it to the only parent I defer to completely: Heavenly Father.  He has proven smarter than me on everything I have brought to him, even when it looked to me like he was sending me into disaster.  He was the one who outsmarted me and moved me like a chess piece until I was at checkmate when I said HE could pick my next husband.  He did.

It didn’t seem like a smart decision at all–a single mother raising two small children on a tight budget marrying an unemployed deaf-blind, slightly crazy, bachelor from Floriduh that she had never met in person before, only knew him from online conversations.  But God was smarter, and he put me in such a position that I had to accept what he offered.  It was really amazing how supportive my friends were, when it seemed very clear to me that marrying my now husband was perfectly illogical.  I didn’t even know ASL!

I defer to my Heavenly Father because his decision was so much better than I thought it was, or could be, or mine would have been.  It was, it seems, perfect for me, and I have deferred to him completely ever since insomuch that even the proclamations the church comes out with, I will not argue with at all, even if I feel a little uncomfortable with them.  God has proven he is smarter than me and though I ask all the time ‘Why is this so hard?’  I never doubt that if HE has sent me to this place, which I believe he has, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I believe that because there always has been.

Which brings me to my Dad’s advice.  He suggested I go to a ‘hearing’ ward. (Wards are congregations of the LDS Church).  He suggested that I might get more support than I do at the Deaf Branch. (Branches are smaller congregations of the LDS church, typically smaller than a ward).  He says this because he knows the trouble I have in my positions at church, being an interpreter of sorts for the deaf parents of hearing scouts and the leader of the primary age children.  He knows I have problems because I am hearing and some of the things I suggest or comment on to leadership aren’t taken seriously because I’m not deaf, I don’t really understand.  Sometimes the leadership suffers from the tyranny of compassion and can find themselves being more hypocrites than Hippocratic.

My father knows I have problems asking for help from the members because as poor as I am, most of them are even poorer.  The deaf don’t usually end up well off.  BUT, the deaf don’t see my family as dysfunctional.  They don’t feel pity for me or my husband Compassion, yes.  Pity? No. They see our family as relatively well off.  And almost all of them can communicate with my husband to a greater degree than hearing people can.  If I can’t show up for something, they are far more understanding and I don’t need a one page explanation.  If I am late, I’m actually on time.  If someone else hasn’t shown up, I can fill in.

With the Deaf I feel normal and I feel needed.  I don’t feel as if I am more of a burden than the people around me.  I feel I do more help than harm.  My family learns more, and indeed, I think they are loved more in the Deaf Community.

I have, in the past, had people I call ‘the Deaf Elite’ (professors and ‘professionals’ who serve the deaf — sometimes CODAs) tell me that I don’t belong in the community.  That I will never ‘fit in.’  I think they speak out of fear that they will lose their position as ‘elites’ if too many people they cannot control join the group.

Where I am, I believe, is where He wants me to be.  Even though I miss music, I miss things functioning as they should, and I miss very large social groups full of people who complain more about Facebook than they praise it, I feel I am in a place where I have more joy.  It is a place I receive more enlightenment–not education, though I miss that sometimes too.  It is a place where you need to have common sense and adaptability.  All of those make it ideal for a person like me.  I think God knew that I would be more inspired, enlightened, and have more joy in this place, because logic would have sent me to the Hearing World too.

I think I’ll stay here a little longer, besides–where would I get such good fodder for blogging than the world I am in now?

Life With The Deaf and Blind

My husband, Sam, has Usher’s Syndrome.  Adjusting to being around someone deaf and legally blind was difficult for my little broken family (I had been divorced for two years when I married Sam), but we caught on fast.  We learned not to leave things on the floor (at least where Sam walked) and to put things back in the same place they had been, as well as many other useful little lessons in surviving with the mostly blind.

I didn’t know any ASL when I married Sam, and neither did the children.  I became rather fluent in a matter of a few years and the kids can fingerspell almost anything and know all the most important signs: Heavenly Father, bless the cat and the food, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I probably push Sam a little harder than he pushes himself.  Maybe that’s just a wife thing or maybe it’s because I believe in him more than he believes in himself.  For a long time he would voice the fear that if he did what I expected him to do a) I would expect more b) I would keep expecting more and more.

I don’t know if that was true when we were first married.  I had fears myself back then: a) that I was making all the same mistakes from marriage #1 again and b) that I had no idea how to live with a disabled person and Sam did not look like he appreciated the odd position his views about the non disabled put me in.

Sam seemed to hate being treated as if he were disabled and at the same time, hate all the things that are ‘normal’ for non disabled people that made his life difficult and dependent.  He also hate when they are the object of pity, and pity is so close to compassion and inspiration when it’s only in text, that it’s hard for some people to tell which is which, and so they assume the worst (because that is what life has taught them to expect).  It was very hard for me to know when to let go and just watch him try to navigate around the ‘trippy tree’ (as he named it) and when to go to his side and be his “seeing eye wife” (as he named me).

Sam would rant when other people called him ‘inspiring.’  He feels like some Poster Child for Jerry’s Kids.  We fought often enough then that it was easy not to be inspired by him.  But the in between times, when he could knock all the dents out of his breastplate and be my knight in shining armor again, were just enough for me to remember that he is the finest man I have ever known.  When he held my hand and spoke to me in terms of real, true love that I had never known before him–I glowed.  Still… it was work.  Real work.  Hard work, even for a deaf-blind man.  No couple thinks and expects less and less from their spouse while they are on a positive course in their relationship.  You have to hang onto those bright shinning moments and make them last long enough, and shine bright enough to get through the dark moments when THE NOTHING starts to swallow you whole.

There are lots of frustrations of living with and dealing with family, friends and associates.  There are a lot of unexpected moments living with a deaf-blind man.  There is much to uplift and inspire and what’s more: to remember.  My plan is to share them all here for as long as my lamp can burn in this space.