The Boston Marathon Bombing

This has nothing to do with being deaf and hard of hearing unless it is the fact that some people may have been permanently deafened by ruptured eardrums today.

No, this commentary today has far more to do with the issue of righteous self-justification for those who commit acts of terrorism.  This is a world-wide phenomenon.  Bombs go off every day somewhere in the world. We in America don’t often hear about them, or if they do we barely notice them.  Iraq, Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan are not even on our radar screen.  It hasn’t been that long since Northern Ireland was a war zone.

I do not know who did this.  Only time will tell. Clearly, whomever did this intended to maximize harm both through placement (low) to maximize lower-limb amputation and through the inclusion of shrapnel (ball bearings). It has the feel of home-grown terrorism because of the small, home-made packages intended to hurt bystanders.  It has the feel of an Eric Rudolph, Centennial Olympic Park type of terror.  We’ll see.  No one has claimed and named it so far.

At some point, we – as humans – have got to start telling all of our brethren that nothing absolutely nothing – justifies this sort of attack on an innocent populace.  There are two dead – one of them a child.  There are reportedly 20 individuals in danger of death.  Ten amputations.  Really, when will we ever learn?


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.

Like a roller coaster

It has been quite the roller coaster ride at ASL immersion.  There are three teachers.  By all rights, there should be three classes.  One Beginner.  One Intermediate.  One Advanced.  Instead, all 40 students are rolled into one class.  Bad idea.

There must be 10 people who don’t sign (at all) or barely sign. For them, this has been largely a wasted week.  $400 worth of waste, not to mention housing and/or transportation costs. For the intermediate students such as myself the first day was deadly dull, the second day better, the third day showed real promise and today was either over everyone’s head or was like ASL 101 at Deaf Inc. in Allston. I finally refused to play the games.  Enough, already.

We do have one certified Signed English interpreter in our class so the range is incredible – from zero knowledge to 32 years of interpreting work. That being said, the terp can’t understand the rapid-fire ASL signing and almost nothing is explained.  I understand the concept – it is almost like shocking someone into focusing, which is great if you’ve got anything at all to hang your hat on.  If you don’t it is like being a Martian being air-dropped into Manhattan at rush hour.  It isn’t effective.  I’m too good a teacher to buy off on this. My students learn and pass high stakes tests. This is low stakes and what it may do is put the beginners off coming back and maybe even some of the intermediate folks.  I don’t know who thought this one up – apparently they had separate classes before – but they should give the “bath salts” back and get focused on reality again.

I am  not the least bit sure this immersion will do anything to enhance my ability to sign. Receptive skills will increase again, yes. Expressive skills, probably; not.  Hard to be expressive when you’re not signing.  And charades and pictionary games don’t do it.  I’ll be looking forward to classes with Ron starting soon.

I love relaxing into sign.  I love knowing that my ACoA meeting will be signed starting the 11th of July and then I will have 3 signed 12 step meetings.  With 1 meetup a week that makes 4 times a week – maybe 12 hours total of ASL.  But, mostly listening.   So I need to find out how to include more signing for me.  That’s the next challenge.

Northeastern ASL Immersion – Day One

I underestimated the comic relief and frustration value of attending ASL immersion at Northeastern. Go figure.

Delightfully,  one of my fav people from ASL meetup is there with me.  Of course, we were like flypaper with each other from there on out.

Initially we were in West Village. In the midst of a thunderstorm cum mini-hurricane we headed out to 400 Messinger Hall.  Elaine had no umbrella. I had a raincoat we used as a tarp. Me being smaller,  a sleeve hung down over my face so I ended up functionally Deaf and Blind. Elaine was high stepping though the huge ponds puddles We were laughing hysterically by the time we got to the other building, hugging each other with one arm to keep the tarp raincoat over us.

When we arrived a teacher told us the elevator was small and suggested we take the stairs. Did I mention it was to the 4th floor? Then came the video-taping (a check in to see where we started from) and a directive to leave since it was a small place. We consulted our schedule, returned to the first building and waited for people to show up for the next event – about an hour away. An hour later we’re under the tarp raincoat, slogging back to Messinger to find out where everyone else was. Found out we were supposed to go to a different building.

Next came activities I had in ASL I –  a race to see how many signs you can think of using the “f” handform, the “x” handform, etc. I learned a couple of words. Back to the original building for lunch.

Surprise! An attack of New England food! Never heard of it? New England is the only area of the nation  I know of where they have elves assigned to extract all flavor from the food before serving it to unsuspecting people from other parts of the country. Today I had tasteless green salad with tasteless oil and vinegar dressing, a tasteless tomato, and tasteless chicken. I was going to throw it in the garbage but my friend took it home for her bird. Poor bird…  Now, I figure these were made by the best of the best of the institutional cooks trained in tasteless hospital food. Not eating their food again. That’s why God made protein bars, right?

Last part of immersion for the day – how to express emotions with your face. Surprise, anger, fear, sadness, etc. Actors guild 101.  And the Pièce de résistance …using decks of cards to learn 1-10, Ace, King, Queen and Jack along with Diamond, Spade, Heart, and Club. Be still my beating heart.   ASL I  taught me to add, subtract, multiply and divide in numeric sign language.

Tomorrow we are going to the nursing home for the Deaf and Deaf Blind in Danvers. I’m assuming this field trip is meant to expose us to native ASL speakers.  I’m hoping the immersion is both worth the money and the week off to be there.

Older than Dirt

Okay, now I am officially older than dirt.  Who the dickins gets arthritis of the big toe?

Me, that’s who!

One visit to the podiatrist, several x-rays and a cortisone shot later, I’m now a card-carrying member of the Arthritic Toe Club of America. Yeah, laugh if you like, but apparently you really can run your feet off.

A helpful friend tried to tell me I had gout if it was a toe, but I explained the doctor disagreed.  This isn’t a uremic acid sort of thing, it is that I’ve worn the cartilage right down to the nubbins and being inattentive and wearing Crocs on the treadmill for half an hour or so was more than my big toe could take. Note to self:  Never wear Crocs in the car on the way to the gym – wear your cross-trainers like a good exercise nut.

So after a few days of icing and waiting for the swelling to go down, I hope to go back to the gym and continue to gradually wear away the rest of the cartilage left in my big toe tomorrow. Do they have toe implants now?

Then I might not blog for a week or so.  No, not  because I wore the cartilage out in my fingers.  I swear the jumping to conclusions around here should get at least 5 pounds off…  🙂

I am going to a week long American Sign Language immersion program in Boston at Northeastern University.  Turn off voice, use hands, face, and body to communicate. It is going to be fabulous! My receptive sign is good, even excellent, but my expressive sign, let’s just say you could wait a long time for me to remember the sign for the word I want to communicate.

Undoubtedly I’ll be photo blogging  because I can’t seem to function at all without taking pictures, but maybe not writing as much.

Maybe I am just a wee bit less energetic

I normally think I am up for just about anything. I go to the gym, walk the dog, work at starting a law business, run thither and yon. So taking the grandkids to visit Mom at Mass General Hospital was a walk in the park, right? (I hear parents laughing quietly up their sleeves.)

So, I grab the car and drive about an hour away to where the kids are. Run to the school to pick up the art project, realize the kids have to take the bus because the art project takes up too much room in my car. Stop by the local donut shop and get myself what amounts to a Caf-Pow and a dozen very large donut holes – three kids/four donut holes, right? (Stop laughing, parental people.)

Meet the eldest one at the house, get the project in, spill coffee on my car hood as I’m cleaning it out for the little ones. Get the booster seat, organize toileting, gathering drinks (after all, I have those 12 large donut holes) and then load the highschooler, gradeschooler and kindergartner into the car and head to Boston on Route 2 guided by the GPS. Did I mention, I don’t usually take Route 2?

Remember my math? 12 donut holes – 3 kids. When the teenager gets the donut bag back from the peanut gallery there are no donut holes. The gradeschooler ate 9. So I’m scouting around for a donut shop or something – fast food of some kind – to feed the starving teen (who is not pleased). Can’t find a blooming thing. Run into traffic jams. Bumper to bumper stuff. Isn’t everyone supposed to be heading OUT of Boston for the weekend? Two hours later we make it to Fresh Pond Mall, by which time the little guy is sitting in lemonade and all the kids want food. Stop at a Dunkin and get milk, bagels and another donut for the little guy. Why a donut for him? Because I’m too worn out to tell him no.

Finally make it to the hospital. By this time I’ve been on the road for 3 and a half hours since I left my office. The kids are bored, need to use the bathroom again and about this time I find out the teenager had a study date – has to do projects and her finals are next week. So she’s peeved at having to go. Meanwhile, the gradeschooler is supposed to be at a sleepover that we’re not going to make in time. I feel so used…

So we make a mad dash to Mom’s room and spend a little over an hour at which point I dash the kids to the car, and take off for their home. It’s been a long day, so of course, the tired kids in the back seat start biting, punching and yukking like the Three Stooges – alternately swinging between mayhem and hysteria. It is a darn good thing I am half deaf or I’d be entirely deafened by the noise level. Periodically the teenager and I attempt to restore order in the back seat. I ponder putting the big kid back there and the gradeschooler in front, but she’s not big enough for the front seat yet. We hear the sounds of ripping, which is the kindergartener turning his homework and projects into confetti. (Sounds of grandmother beating head on steering wheel.)

We actually make pretty good time to Woburn as I am NOT taking Rt. 2 again, where we stop at Wendy’s for dinner (this is not a low-cal day for me, it seems) and then cut through the back roads to Rt. 3 and off we go as fast as I can manage without getting a ticket. Meanwhile, the little kids have turned into little hooligans and are totally out of control. The teenager threatens to make them walk home. I think of the fact their father considered taking them to Montreal and realized he would not have one black hair left on his head if he did – or maybe any hair at all!

Drop the oldest off for her study date – sort of late, but she stays up late on the weekends. I take the little ones home. Dad is looking sort of fried. I know the feeling. He’s been shopping for Father’s day for his Dad and getting things for the kids as well. I tell him the kindergartener reeks of lemonade and spilled milk and offer to take the gradeschooler to her sleepover. First he says, no, no, you’ve done enough, it’s so late…then he realizes he is overwhelmed too. I take the gradeschooler so he can take care of the kindergartner.

On the way home I recognize that I still have the booster seat and the kindergardener’s toys. Small problem – ignore. Get to my abode about 9 hours after I left my office. Drag in and stagger over to the couch where I am greeted by the dog who desperately needs his own toileting. Take dog out, come back in, collapse.

Okay, I admit it – I can no longer keep up with three kids who are on overdrive on a Friday afternoon just days from the end of the school year. They need someone younger – much younger – with better hearing and more stamina. Holy moly. Beatles song about being 64… fade to black.

It’s been Eons…

About 4 years ago I joined a site called Eons.  It was a boomer focused social networking site located in the greater Boston area. Over the years it morphed with the lowered age limits, created and then spun off a dating site that was sort of moribund from the get-go. Now it appears Eons itself may have stuck its fork in the wall late last week.

There’s a FB page saying the three remaining staff members are trying to get a “server problem” fixed.  No commercial website is down for the better part of a week without part of the problem being financial.  My best guess is that the sound of “Taps” comes next, which is too bad. I hope I’m wrong, but even if it staggers back to life, I’m not sure what happens next. People are bailing.

In my trip down memory lane, Eons had various forums I enjoyed and all sorts of “groups” with volunteer leadership. As long as it was legal, there was a group around it. Some groups were a few friends, some had hundreds or more.  I think the photo forums might have been my favorites.

It was fun while it lasted, yet I was already drifting away.  Facebook.  Blogging.  Still, Eons reminded me of the old CLink echo net forums – real discussions as opposed to narcissism in action. So I did check in a few times a week.  The members that knew each other are starting to gather here and there on the web.  I hear a few hundred are on Facebook and there’s another group I know of on another website where I was invited to join.

And so it goes.  It’ll be interesting to see if the remaining staff can raise it from the ashes.

Invincible Summer

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. ~ Camus (variant translation)

Because of the crystalline cold during the last few days where moisture seeps from the air and dusts the land with what appears to be snow but is in reality hoar-frost, I offer my favorite photo of Boston during the heat of the invincible summer that lies within me.  I’ve tried to replicate it several times, but apparently just walking on a bridge near South Station is insufficient for the reflections to appear this vividly.

Even in the steaming heat of a summer day in Boston, where flesh ponders the coolness of the water so near (and yet so far) and you now know how a steamed lobster feels, there is beauty.

 “Beauty above me, beauty below me. Beauty in front of me, beauty behind me. All around me, beauty.” ~ Navajo Prayer 

Moon over Boston

On the way home from ASL III class there was the most incredible moon rising over Boston.  Optical illusions being what they are it was just huge in the sky, flooding the city with light and turning the Charles into “Moon River.”  Traffic was so light I almost dared the fates by pulling off to the side on Storrow Drive – not a good move.

Although I wasn’t able to get the photo I wanted, I found some on Flickr that looked just like it did tonight. So, with a Creative Commons License I present to you some fabulous photos by a photographer we probably all should pay attention to – Werner Kunz.

I want to learn ASL….NOW!

Last night at ASL class one of the students won all the “games” by figuring out all the communications by the teacher the fastest and signing it back to him rapid fire.  She is a very pretty young gal who works with a deaf child client at a local, private children’s service agency.  This gal is a ball of fire and she let it be known that she wants to have learning ASL be like pushing a button on a wall and getting it ALL. RIGHT NOW!  Dammit…

I empathize. I want it all and I want it all right now. I merely know I can’t have it all right now. I find myself flowing far more easily than I did at the start of last summer.  I go to an ASL meetup now in addition to class and that really helps.  The reality is that my receptive skills are better than my expressive ones.

Looked into classes at the local college.  $500!  Wowsa!  That’s $300 more than I am paying now!  Hey, I’m old, I get a discount, right?  Yeah, you bet – $75.  Wow! Don’t bowl me over there.

At present this graphic pretty much describes me.  When you least expect it I’ll start signing while I’m talking and I won’t even know I’m doing it.  Then I don’t seem to be able to stop.  And if I don’t know the right sign I’m finger spelling it.

So if you see this lady with curly red-blond hair waiting for a bus and she’s got her nose in a book and is making strange gestures … it just might be me, trying to get it all – NOW.