Better Than A Reality Show

Whenever my dad comes to visit and see’s all the things we deal with on a normal, everyday basis, he will remark how our household would make a great reality show. It would be much better than Jersey Shore, I’m sure, and probably a lot more culturally edifying–at least Deaf Culturally edifying. You could probably learn a lot about how to handle broken glass and the many uses outside of Christmas for string lights. You would probably learn a lot more ASL than either my children, my brothers or my nephews. You might not need to use it as badly, but you’d be welcomed to visit.

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.

When You Can Turn Your Ears Off

I came across this vlog on http://www.theblaze.com and I think it has some really great information for people trying to decide if they should get a CI or not.  (Along with a friend of mine’s blog at: http://deafadventures.wordpress.com/).

Sammie Hicks Cries After Hearing Herself For the First Time

Day 1:

Day 1 of the CI

Three Weeks:

Three Weeks after the CI turned on

 

It is a controversial subject in the Deaf Community, due more to political correctness than anything else.  Keeping in mind practical reasons, and not political ones (just think how quick politics changes, like fads).  The question you need to ask is: will your deaf child function better in a hearing world a CI?  Or look at it from another perspective:  If your child were born without a limb, wouldn’t you get them a prosthetic if you could?  If they were blind and there were an operation to get them vision, wouldn’t you try to do that?  Yes.  But it’s still a weighty decision, expensive and a very long process with results that vary from person to person.  Get as much information as you can.  And remember, deaf people with CI’s are REALLY LOUD without them :D.

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?

Pronunciation of your name is not really important in ASL – unless your name is Jesus

I have several very good friends that are deaf.  They are always there for me, they are an awesome support system.  They taught me most of what I know of ASL, and continue to correct and teach me what I need to know to be the half-ass interpreter I am.  The only problem we have is communicating when we aren’t face to face.

I don’t have VRS.  My husband is legally blind,  so VRS isn’t really going to help him.  But when I call my deaf friends, I usually get their Sorenson Service.  When I give my name: “Noelle – N.O.E.L.L.E.”  What I get from my friends on the other side of the VRS is “WHO?”  Sometimes I will tell the operator that my sign name is “writing” but with the “n sign.”  I hope they know what I’m talking about because trying to explain a sign, especially a name sign, verbally is like trying to verbally paint a Monet.  Most of the time, I end up telling them “It’s me, remember? You helped me set up for my party on Saint Patricks Day,” or some other uniquely personal event they were at me with (shopping for shoes last weekend, going to get ice cream at Baskin Robins, etc).  That’s when they say “OOOOOOOHHHHH!”  And hit me with the: “Oh!  I’m sorry!  Hugs!  Love you!” BTW, Deaf people “love you” a LOT–It’s probably the best, and most genuine things about the Deaf that makes them easy to be around.

Anyway… once we get over the awkwardness of them not knowing who “Noelle” –the woman they see every week, and just how many Noelle’s do they know?–is over, the conversation can progress.  The only problem is… they never remember my name: Noelle.  They only remember my namesign.  It makes sense, of course, like trying to remember that Chuy’s name is actually Jesus, which, if said without the Spanish pronunciation: “Jesus is calling you,” is probably pretty disorienting.  Right?

It’s understandable, though a little awkward, and just one of the many little quirks of being hearing in a Deaf Community.

Deaf Standard Time

I live in Houston, and in Houston we are on Central Standard Time or CST.  Just a few states over is Mountain Standard Time.  In my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we understand that MST is not Mountain Standard Time, but Mormon Standard Time.  Translated into non-member, that means “fifteen minutes late.”   This is caused, so we are all led to believe, by Mormon mothers being especially overworked (due to having five kids in three years) and having a difficult time managing to keep all five children in their Sunday best–even with the tag team help of a spouse.

Being in a deaf branch (congregation) of the same church, and socializing with the deaf, we have learned that the deaf have a similar standard of time, Deaf Time, (which means late.  This is, necessarily compounded by MST and it means I am habitually early to nearly every Deaf Branch function, even if I am late.  The reason for being tardy, I suspect, is not due to the children–though CODAS can be especially hard to manage when they want to be.  I have yet to hear any explanation except “It’s a Deaf thing.”

Since I grew up in Southern California near the playground of the stars (Palm Springs), I am somewhat familiar with L.A. trends.  Apparently, it is uncool to be on time for a party.  The standard is to appear thirty +minutes late.  The deaf have taken ‘fashionably late’ as a literal standard and we have learned to schedule meetings, gatherings and parties accordingly.

If you can measure how cultured a people are by how late they arrive to a meeting, no one can out culture a Deaf Mormon.

A Deafblind Man of You Own – Act Now!

There are complications to being married to a deaf-blind man.  “But Noelle, what could possibly outweigh the benefits of being married to the unparalleled bliss of sexiness that is your average deaf-blind man?” You may ask.  Normally, the sheer joy of possessing my very own deaf-blind man makes me forget, or at the very least, put aside the fact that my whites clothes are washed with dark clothes.  I am flattered he thinks my daughters size zero clothes are mine, of course.  Most people would consider those mere trifles if they considered them a bother at all–which I most certainly do not!  I don’t want to make you envious of me.  I assure you that there are plenty of single deaf-blind men for each and every woman in desperate need of one.  I’m just trying to enlighten you on the very minimal, hardly worth mentioning really, complications involved with an inter aural marriage and the slight complication that vision impairment adds to it.

There are a few drawbacks.  First, you really can’t complain that your deafblind man is too touchy-feely.  Also, a deafblindman can be high maintenance.  Where a beautiful woman (or man) might require excessive salon services, and maybe a plastic surgeon, a deafblind man is in constant need of reading material.  Technology can help with this last drawback, and a larger than average libido can handle the first.

A clean floor and minimal breakables is also one of those high maintenance issues.  If you have a favorite porcelain doll, or vases, or anything even mildly ceramic in nature, it is in your best interests to invest in shelves installed higher than your deafblind man’s height.   Anything you leave on the floor is in jeopardy.  Clutter is an almost unbearable burden for any deafblind man (though mine tolerates my clutter if I just keep it on my desk 😛 )

Pets are not too much of an issue.  Cats and Dogs that do not run from your deafblind man will probably be trampled, kicked and occasionally sent into orbit, but it will only happen a few times before they learn to avoid him, though they always seem to forget when food is involved.  You will probably get trampled on, smacked, sideswiped with a cane or other object in your deafblind man’s hands, but I am sure it is not as bad as getting your tail squished by the deafblind man’s desk chair.

There are a few other minor niggles, but they are best managed one on one with your own deafblind man.  Just looking at him, in all his sexiness, might make you forget the little problems that can crop up, so I hope this blog article has been useful in helping remind you that, although his eyes are as blue as the sky, you may be seeing stars when he whips his cane out while you are around.

To procure your very own deafblind man, feel free to volunteer at any Lighthouse for the Blind (ours is in Houston, look for the one nearest you) or at American Association for the Deaf Blind.

Act now! Supplies are limited!  Operators (and Intervenors) are standing by!

How to talk to a deaf person (if you must)

After my last blog post, which all my deaf friends thought was hilarious, a lot of my hearing friends came to me and asked: “Well… how DO you talk to a deaf person if you don’t know ASL?”

So… I’m not going to be as funny this time and I’m going to take this question seriously: How do you talk to a deaf person?

The answer is: You don’t talk to a deaf person if you don’t know ASL.  You talk AT a deaf person in that case.

Everyone talks to themselves.  Even the deaf (though they do it with their hands).  If you are talking to someone who can’t understand you–you are talking (having a conversation) with yourself.  Sometimes it just feels good to hear (or in the case of the deaf: visualize) yourself thinking.

Talking (using your voice) with the deaf is not, necessarily, a faux pas if you are talking just to give yourself some sort of comfort.  It does nothing for the deaf person but make them feel as if they are missing something important, which, in all honesty, they feel quite often in the hearing world.  But if you are interested in actual communication, and in making the deaf person as comfortable as you are (even if that’s not very much), pick up a pen and pad.

When my husband ventures out on his own, without his seeing eye wife, he brings a pen and pad so that he can communicate with the hearing when necessary (and obviously when there isn’t an interpreter handy).  Because he is nearly blind, nice big letters with a thick black sharpie on a white pad works best, but for other deaf people, just a regular pen and any sort of paper will do.  They almost always have a pad with them for such occasions.

For the younger generation, texting is the best solution.  My young deaf friends communicate with their hearing peers that are ASL illiterate with their cell phones.  Typing out a phrase on the screen, showing it to the hearing person, then clearing the message and letting them reply on the same screen–or alternately exchanging cell phone #’s and just texting back and forth.

I remember growing up and having everyone around me at family reunions speaking Spanish.  I was lost and I didn’t feel completely part of the family I was with.  You have been in situations like that–someone you know starts to speak a foreign language in front of you.  You felt completely disconnected, didn’t you?  You may have even wondered if they were talking about you.

It makes everyone feel less awkward if we all understand what is being discussed.  If you want to have a conversation, especially if you are going to ask a deaf person a question–short of learning some basic ASL (there are some great videos on youtube and try aslpro.com)–please do it by spelling it out, either on a paper or on a digital device that can be read.  It’s your best bet at actual conversation and not being laughed at and mocked by CODA’s.

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Here is a great video from youtube that talks a little about this issue.

Life In Color

My husband has Ushers Syndrome and is slowly going completely blind.  Currently he has let us know that he is having trouble understanding what he is seeing (the signal isn’t getting to his brain) and almost everywhere he goes has to be either routine or at least familiar so he doesn’t get disoriented and lost.  You might think this an object of constant sorrow for him and us, but we take it in stride and enjoy the moments of laughter it affords us.

Laughter? You ask.  How can you laugh at being blind?

Well, I’ll tell you.

“What is the name of those orange flowers out in the front yard?” my husband asked me one day.  He loves orange.  Maybe it’s because he grew up in Florida and the memory of the color is so vivid in his mind he can still see it.  It is undoubtedly his favorite color.  (He may end up going to UT just to wear Orange)

“What orange flowers?” I ask confused.  We don’t have orange flowers in the front yard.  I put all the orange flowers in the back yard so that he could see them out the window or when he goes out on the patio.  We haven’t gotten new flowers for the front yet, though marigolds are coming in season again.

“The orange flowers!  The small bushy flowers.”

“Oooooh!  Those are pink carnations, love,” I explain to him.

Before we were married, my room was pink and black.  I love pink and many of the things I use and have are pink.  It is a tomboy’s way of making up for lost time. Now when I hold up a pink shirt for my husband to examine, he thinks it is orange.  I could dress my husband in pink if I wanted, and he would think it was orange.  That’s kinda funny, even to him.

He is always asking me for the blue towel (we don’t have blue towels) or the blue pillows (we don’t have blue pillows) and we laugh about it later.

If laughter is the best medicine, I think we will handle the transition to completely deaf/blind fairly well.  It’s one of the reasons I started this blog-to focus on the positive things than come out of daily life with a deaf-blind man.  Ushers Syndrome really isn’t something to laugh about, but what happens because of it often is.  And if we can remember that, and the vivid experiences of life in color, I think we will do OK.