Month: December 2012

Grandma got run over by a reindeer

Thanks to Byakko for the “Can’t hear you!” graphic.

Is there a category for noise trauma?  There is PTSD as a result of war, natural disaster, and other sorts of trauma – why not noise?

I went to a large suburban mall which shall remain nameless to meet my daughter’s family at a Rainforest Restaurant.  Being an avid photoblogger, I got there early to find a few photo ops.  Bad decision.

While I’ve heard that many malls were almost empty on the 24th, this one was packed. Christmas music was blasting over the loudspeakers. People were shouting over the loudspeakers in every known language of the world and put me in mind of the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. The vendors in the middle of the hallways were hawking their wares.

Suddenly I realized I could not understand anything at all – not one word. The entire sound sound picture had just turned to mud. Sometimes I ducked into stores that seemingly were playing their own Christmas music at high volume as well. I fiddled with my hearing aid – it has a few settings. Considered taking it out.  Shrugged and kept going.  It ended up being a surreal experience.  So much noise. So little ability to comprehend anything.

Thanks to Misspoetik for her ASL graphic

At one point I was walking down a hall when a young female vendor literally jumped in front of me – startling the bejesus out of me – and began yammering in my general direction while shoving something at me.  At this point, something snapped and I started signing at her – not in a particularly nice “tone of voice” – about my being deaf and not wanting to hear from her unless she could sign. I plead temporary insanity since I then shoved past her and stalked off.

I did stop and buy two loaves of bread from a very nice vendor who worked with me, stepping up close when I asked, speaking clearly and distinctly when I told him I could not hear, and very gently helping me sort out what I wanted.  It was the highlight of my experience. Yes, I realize going out on the 24th was insane, but I wanted to see the grandkids.

The Rainforest Restaurant (Cafe?) is a cacophony of sounds from the elephants to the hooting primates to the faux thunderstorms and god knows what else. The elephants made small children scream and cry, so apparently I’m not the only one disturbed by the noise. Before the meal was ordered I was popping Tylenol like candy and finally took out my hearing aid. I couldn’t understand much of what was being said, but at least it was at a much lower volume. I got to visit with my daughter and oldest granddaughter – sort of. The younger kids were an hour late and the little guy was out of sorts and almost asleep by the time we decamped.  By the time I got home I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 7:30 p.m.

I honestly do not understand how “hearies” do it.  Aieee! I very much miss having a hearie with me who can understand it all.

When Good Things Happen to Bad People

I bet you read that title wrong.  There is a profound book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People and I wanted to provide a thoughtful title.  (You can find the book at the local library folks.)

Sometimes I think we ignore the other half of the equation.  When good things happen to bad people.  The mobster Don with the big house, the servants, etc. People who promote violence with gangster rap and get a lot of money for it (admittedly, some of them get murdered, too). And we start glorifying it.

Far too often we look at this world and we see those who have everything (or we think they do) and we ignore the fact that the vast majority of these people got there by stepping on whomever happened to get in their way.  We glorify bank robbers, train robbers, gangsters, corporate raiders and so on and so forth.  We even glorify people in reality shows who are really pretty tacky human beings (sad to say).

Look, I know long blogs get a bit difficult to read and process, but hang in with me here, okay?

The world does not need more successful people. The world desperately needs more peacemakers and healers, restorers and storytellers and lovers of all kinds.

My profound thanks to My Beautiful Words for the graphic. I encourage all my readers to check out this site!

The concept that people are Deaf from the neck down has been jumping up and down on my psyche.

Then I saw a profound saying from HH the Dalai Lama and I think it says it all.  Perhaps it is why, most of my life has been spent in the service of others. I have worked for a pittance, helping those whom most of society would rather forget existed.

It is why my law office is closing its doors the end of this month. I will keep the license and the malpractice insurance, but give up the expensive location use it as a mail/service location.

Someone who has spent a couple of decades as a champion for the downtrodden in social services is not going to be able to make a living in the law doing that sort of work outside of a legal services organization. And they want litigators, not writers and visionaries. Little do they know what they are missing in terms of passion and commitment.

My mother has always been and will always be my greatest hero.  She taught me the life lesson People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.  Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Rossthat our lives are about caring for others. She taught me that the greatest gift we can give is ourselves and our time. She wasn’t averse to eating or having a home to live in, but materialism was not her.

She was one of those people whom Dr. Kubler Ross described so well.  There are many others – almost always unsung heroes such as a cop in my youth who was so gentle he often went unarmed, who worked with violent youth, who was a talented guitarist and who would entertain many of us in a small, dusty Idaho town.  He was a storyteller. He was a peacemaker. He loved teenagers who stole hubcaps and he did his best to help them go straight rather than becoming prison fodder.

In the 12 step programs we talk about not comparing our insides to the outsides of others. Do we think that people like Bernie Madoff – a sociopath who had everything and harmed so many people – are what we want to be?  Is this it?

I reject this notion and offer this instead.

I have been talking with a mentor about starting a non-profit organization, seeking grants for just enough to survive on (the program and me) to become a legal beacon of hope for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing who get caught up in criminal situations.  Maybe it would be recruiting a law school in the Boston area to take up the fight – to become the new Innocence Project – not relying on DNA but relying on good old-fashioned footwork to overturn wrongful convictions of people who cannot understand the process – who are culturally Deaf and not fluent in English.

Tomorrow I am meeting with an attorney who is not Deaf, is not Hard of Hearing, but who is filled with compassion.  She is a great human being.  I’m going to do my best to recruit her to this cause.  And them I’m going to find others who will help – one way or the other.  Since my mission on this Earth is not to be rich (not that I ever wanted to be) but to be of service to others who need me.

Yes, I will still need a place to live, and food to eat.  I’m working on that part.  It is not the easy part, folks.

Anotherboomerblog is going  to morph.  It will be more proactive as regards the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  My mentor encouraged to start a contest for the best graphic for a deaf justice instead of a blind one – to start a blog about justice for the deaf that will compliment and augment

I welcome your comments, graphics 🙂  if you decide to create one about a deaf rather than a blind goddess of justice, and your ideas regarding everything from grant writing to fund-raising.  The mentor (an attorney) knows my passion is in service to the Hard of Hearing, Deaf, and DeafBlind.  I am thankful for his support. And yours – should you choose to give it.

Insightful, thoughtful, worthy of redistribution .

The Limping Chicken

First published on America’s Street Leverage community blog, offering sign language interpreters context and insight on industry related issues and topics. Republished here by kind permission.
I recently attended an interpreter retreat where the purpose was to examine privilege, how it manifests in our individual work lives,  our relationships with each other, and within the sign language interpreting profession as a whole. Privilege is a topic that makes for a hard discussion for any group of people. Those of us in attendance included new interpreters, been-around-the-block interpreters, urban, rural, hearing families, deaf families, deaf, hearing, coda, partners of deaf people, and siblings of deaf people. We committed to a weekend of taking the time and space to look at what each of us has to offer. We talked about being marginalized, feeling marginalized, and how we marginalize each other.We were honest.

We were vulnerable.

Our conversations were raw and invigorating.


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Quiescence and Contemplation

You may have noticed I’ve been quiescent for a bit.  Why? No one reason. Many small or medium sized ones combined to overwhelming proportions.  Plus I’ve been thinking – something I do a lot of.

Today I start with a Duke the dog story.  I was talking with my roommate, sitting on a hassock next to the couch while eating some bean soup when “what to my wondering eyes should appear” but a pink shiny tongue sans any reindeer and with a little old flick so lively and quick I knew in a minute the dog would nick – the soup from my spoon.  And he did.  facepalmSo, being adept at these things, I stared at him and then put the spoon back in the soup.  I started to take another bite, thought better of it, tsked at him and put the soup in the sink.

I fed it to him later, so as not to reward him for almost literally taking the food out of my mouth.  I suspect we will be suffering from dog gas attacks for the next couple of days since he did polish off the soup later. (Waste not want not.)

Earlier in the day he escaped with one of those extendable leashes on and got hooked in some bushes. It took a bit of doing to get him out and he was a bit of a mess by the time it was over. And here is where the hearing part comes in.  He may well have given off a growl or rumble that I could not hear.  Certainly, he looked distressed, but I was assuring him orally to hold still and I’d unclip him when he snapped at me. Mind you, he didn’t hurt me – didn’t even touch me, his teeth literally slid down the inside of my palm. Had he intended to nail me he’d have done so. That being said, he became a very submissive little dog in about 10 seconds as I am the only Alpha allowed in this house. However, I wondered if I just plain missed something that I should have responded to a split second before, which leads to all sorts of thoughts – like what do we miss with others that lead to huge problems – massive traffic accidents, people “going postal” in one way or the other, you name it.

Do we miss the subtle clues because of inattention? Because we’re too stressed? Embarrassed to come forward? Denial? Are we deaf or blind to what goes on around is in a real way?  I heard it said recently that hearing people are deaf from the neck down – do not give off any sign if they are happy, sad, ready to bite – and therefore, no one understands what in the dickens is going on with them.  Is that the case?

We’ve had a lot of extreme violence in the US lately and that has really fixated us on issues of mental health and firearms.  I noticed in today’s news that 10 children were killed in a land mind explosion in Afghanistan. It was only because I am a news junkie that I found it.  Do the parents of these children suffer less? Assuming they are not orphans, that is.  I’ve heard it called compassion fatigue. I tend to think it is more like the Country song about “My give a d*mn’s busted.” If that is the case – or if we are merely deaf from the neck down as well as insensate between the ears – that explains so much.

It explains how, until recently, we sentenced our children to death in America.  Mind you, I’m a death penalty agnostic, but no one under the age of 18 – and probably not an 18-year-old – should be sentenced to death because of brain development issues.  As in, the average 18 year old’s brain isn’t fully developed yet – in fact, the average boy doesn’t have an adult brain until around age 23-25. It explains how we try, sentence, and execute the mentally deficient and mentally ill who are found to be legally sane.  It explains denying equal access to justice to the poor, the deaf, the blind, etc., etc.

Each and every person in prison or jail was once someone’s newborn.  I challenge you to take out a photo of your firstborn child, look at it, and imagine them as a convicted killer.

These babies were each born with a genetic payload that brought them health or disease, brilliance or dullness of mind. They were not, however, provided with an equal chance.  Some were born addicted to cocaine, heroin or fetal alcohol.  Some were abused, some neglected. Some died – in fact, we lose children every day to abuse and neglect and we seem to be both blind and deaf to this fact.

We have kids grow up in foster care who are in 50-60 different homes in a decade.  I have personally met a girl who was in 25 foster homes. What is wrong with this picture?  When I was a child protection worker we only took kids who were at the highest risk.  We have kids in institutions who are raped and tortured by staff and co-inmates. Then, when we get some kid who commits a crime (or is accused of it) we act like he (generally it is a he) is “the bad seed.” Most of these people come from tortured backgrounds in one way or another.

My Mother was Catholic.  I am not.  However, she was not deaf in any regard – from the neck down or the neck up. Nor was she blind.  She was one of the most aware people I have ever met. And one of the most compassionate.  She is probably the reason I’ve spent a large amount of my life in social advocacy.  She used to tell me over and over again, “Faith without works is dead.” I’m not here to debate Biblical references, especially since I’m not a believer, but my mother was absolutely right.  We cannot afford to be deaf or blind to the needs of others. We cannot afford to miss the cues that tell us another is suffering.  Maybe we only lose the one – as in when people suicide – and that is a tragedy.  But at other times we lose far more.  We lose many people – and worse than that, we lose a little more of our humanity every day.

Today I missed something that told me our little dog was feeling way too stressed at that moment for him to let me unclip his collar, even though he wanted to get unstuck.  However, each day we miss things about others in our society who are seriously stuck.  Somehow, things have got to change or we’ll have more people like Felix Garcia in jail for a crime he did not commit, more dead children, more dead adults (at their own hands or the hands of others) and a great deal more suffering in the world.

We can stop it, you know. By just paying attention. And once we are no longer deaf from the neck down or blind between the ears – then doing just one thing to help.  Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing for the care of those who are sick and suffering.  We cannot expect positive changes in our society or the world unless we invest in those who need the most.

standing on a soapbox

Thanks to happyturtle-avs

Okay, I’m putting my soapbox away now.

See what happens when the dog eats my soup?

It all actually makes sense.  Really, it does – from the soup to the snap to missing signs and signals, to societal ills and the cure for same – paying attention and then doing something positive as an act of faith – in God, in the human spirit, in whatever your higher power is.  Honest.