Category Archives: Deaf issues

I was robbed.

This is not the post I wanted to write. This is not how I wanted to get back into blogging. I wanted to talk about my summer; the things I had done and not yet done, the art I have begun to create again, the flight to see my parents after five years, the dates I’ve had and the men I’ve met. The things I’ve been thinking about, politcally and personally, esp. in regards to my professional future.  But today I cannot write about any of those things. Today I come to do what I never thought I would do on the internet. Today I come to ask for help.

Yesterday, I arrived home after a long Monday at work to find the window in my door busted, the frame broken and littering my kitchen floor. Soon enough I found that my computer, my hard-won Macbook Pro, was missing. 

Stolen.

Stolen, along with a cheap camera, my old blackberry, a game dvd, and my blender (the blender, but not the attchable food processor! QUE? ) The burgler also left signs of rummaging in my various drawers, tearing up my HTC Evo box, undoubtedly hoping it would be in there. That much, at least, I still have.

The loss of my computer is what gets to me most, more than any of the other stuff, more even than the violation of my personal space.  This is just the space I live in, but my computer contains everything that is me. It is–was–the only thing of value that I ever owned, and I paid for it with my own hard earned money.

You know how it is these days; everything is digital now. All my photos, from when I was a child to a few weeks ago, are in that computer.  Everything I have ever written in the last fifteen years, is on that computer.  All my notes, my drafts, my half-conceived blog posts, now gone into the ether.  My laboriously collected internet library, years in the making, gone. 

But it is not just that. That computer is my main hub for all my communication needs.  As a deaf woman, I need it to connect with and access busineses and people who have no other way besides telephones to communicate. My computer WAS my telephone. I used the relay service and even occaisonally the built in webcam to connect with people.  This touch screen HTC phone is limited. It can only do so much, yanno? Not to mention how many damn typos I make on this damn thing.

That brings me to the point of this post. If you have any money to spare, please consider helping me buy a new computer. I have created a ChipIn.com page here. Whatever you wish to give me will be tremendously appreciated.

Its been up a day now, and at the time of this writing, so many people have donated an unbeleiveable amount. I will forever be indebted to them for their generousity.  Everytime somebody donates something, no matter how little or how much, I cry a little.  I cry because it reminds me of how helpless I feel, of how dependant I am on the goodwill of others.  I cry because it reminds me that most people are good people, and that goodwill is abundant.  I cry because people I have never met except in these electronic spaces of the web, somehow feel enough for me to want to share whatever they can spare.  I cry that they do it for me, when I feel unworthy of such generousity. What have I done for any of you to be so blessed? 

But I am blessed, and I’m very greatful to all of you, those have been reading this page all these years, and those who only know me through Facebook.  Without you, my life would be a whole lot dimmer.

Thank you! And again, if you’d like to help out, even if only a few bucks, I will be very greatful.

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On Deafness, Discrimination, and Bullying.

A few weeks ago, an acquaintance asked if I would be willing to be interviewed by one of her 6th grade students for a project on discrimination and marginalized people. For some reason, this particular student decided to focus on deaf folks. Why is totally beyond me, but there ya go. Even more mysteriously, I said sure to the interview.

Kid did a good job thinking up some thought-provoking questions, It took me a little over 2 weeks to reply. And now, since I haven’t blogged in nearly as long, you get to read me blather on about being a discriminated deafie!

THE INTERVIEW!

1. When was it that you first started to feel discriminated against? Where?

The very first time I knew I was being discriminated against was when I was looking for work after graduating college. I had applied at a bookstore, which had open applications signs plastered in their windows and on their website. Shortly after applying, I received a call from their manager requesting an interview–a call which my sister took and told them I would call back so we could answer questions and make formal arrangements. I called back, they hung up on my relay call. I called again, and once again they hung up on my relay call, so I had my sister call and set up an appointment for me. That worked, but when I went in for the appointment, the manager did not look happy to see me, was curt and barely polite, and after a short introduction and a brief “questionnaire” told me that I, as a deaf person, would be unable to work there–because I would not be able to use phones or in-house radio communication devices. I accepted that at the time, but my sister, who had worked for that company before, told me that I was lied to–that the phones and radio were not essential to the jobs there, and that it was plain the manager just did not want to hire a deaf person.

2. How did you cope with the discrimination against you?

I first, I was angry. I needed work, and there was no real reason why I couldn’t work there. And I was perfectly qualified to work there, as evidenced by how quickly they responded to my application. It still makes me angry, sort of, to think about it. But I had to move on other places, so I had to forget them, find work elsewhere; work where I would at least be given a chance to prove myself, show how one can do things differently and still accomplish the same things.

3. What were the first offenses made against you? Did they worsen? If so, how?

The very first thing I can remember is being bullied by classmates in fourth grade. I was an easy target, being the only deaf person ever at that school, and the only deaf person while I was there. I was one of the first in the state to test mainstreaming deaf students into public classes. Even though I went without sign language interpreters (I wasn’t allowed to learn sign until 7th grade) I was still OBVIOUSLY different, and bullies found it easy to isolate and mock me. The bullying was worse in fourth grade, but did not get better all through middle school. The bullying stopped when I started 9th grade.

4. Was there anyone you could get advice from or at least talk to?

No, no one knew how to stop the bullying, and the only advice I got was to suck it up and ignore it. I learned quickly not to talk about it.

5. Do you feel like there was one individual who singled you out? If not, was it a group?

There were, in all grades, one ringleader who would single me out for taunting, but they never were without buddies to reward their actions with laughter.

6. Is there any advice you yourself would give to people who feel like they are discriminated against (under the same conditions)?

Nowadays there is less tolerance for bullying, and discrimination based on disabilities, so I would advice people like me to go and find someone in authority and make them listen to you. Tolerating abuse just lets witnesses think that it doesn’t hurt you, and that theres no reason to help or stop it.

7. Is there any experience that you could tell me more about?

The most damaging act of discrimination I experienced happened when I was in sixth grade, and my math teacher had never had a deaf student before, and did not know how to teach me and was not willing to try. He put me in the back of the classroom, taught everyone else their lessons and gave them their assignments, and in the last 10 minutes of the period, would pretend to teach me basic stuff from previous chapters–3 or 4 chapters behind–and assigned me 10 of the easiest questions as homework. I felt both embarrassed and humilitated to be treated as if I were stupid and not worth his time, but I also enjoyed not having to work hard at learning anything in that class. Unfortunately, that set my math skills back for years, and made learning the math I needed to learn in high school and college very difficult. I still have not forgiven that teacher for making math unpleasant for me and for failing his duty to teach.

8. Is there any specific situation that you feel that is harder being deaf?

Any situation that involves being around other people who do not sign, but only speak, is hard. Making friends, keeping friends, especially dating and finding boyfriends, is very hard.  Finding jobs is very difficult–unless you have specific skills or trade knowledge, its hard to find work that does not require some “hearing” aspect.

If any of you readers have any burning questions to ask, feel free in the comments.

The “Gift” of Hearing.

So, I was channel-surfing the tv earlier, and came across Extreme Home Makeover doing their make-you-cry shit.  Only this time, it was for the Oregon School for the Deaf.  Now don’t get me wrong here–I’m glad OSD got a a new dorm; deaf schools have been in decline for a long time, ever since mainstreaming became widespread.  So its good to see deaf people get something good coming their way. Lord knows we aren’t all so lucky.  The only thing is, with this episode, they made way too big of a deal about deaf kids getting hearing aids.   “Oh my goodness, HEARING AIDS! Isn’t that wonderful?  They can hear now! Oh happy day!  Birds!  Music! Now, they can be like US!”

Patronizing shit like that pisses me off.  Look, I wear hearing aids, and I’m glad to have them, and I know those kids probably are too,  but do you really have to act like hearing–or not hearing–is the most god-damned interesting or important thing to think or talk about? Honestly!

Heres a cluebat. Its not.  Hearing aids are tools.  Not even the most important tool. What are our most important tools?  Our eyes.  Our hands.  Our sign language.  Our friends and family.  These are what we use to get on in the world, these we use to connect to people.  These are what define us.   Hearing aids–and the limited range of hearing they give us–are but a minor aspect of our lives.  They complement our use of eyes, hands, language, and social networks.  They do not replace them.   To act as if giving us this thing is the greatest thing ever is to completely dismiss the wealth of experience and depth of life we already have.

The best thing you can do for deaf people is not giving them “the gift of hearing”, its treating us as if IT DOESN’T MATTER WHETHER OR NOT WE CAN HEAR.

Because, for a great many of us, it doesn’t.  We don’t give a fuck.  And we would appreciate it if you would stop obsessing about our so-called disability.  We are people first, for christ’s sake.  Accommodate us.  Respect us.  Love us.  But do not patronize us.

 

 

 

 

 

In Which I Plug a Guest Post

I wrote a guest post for the Rejectionist, which I am proud of, since I was able to put my rusty critical thinking skills to use (seriously, very rusty). What did I think so hard on? Well, quite some time ago, the redoubtable Rejectionist, whom we all fear and love, posted this post and asked us all:

Let’s say you are a lady. Or a person of color. Or a queer person. Or a trans person. Or a person living with a disability. Or, god forbid, a disabled queer trans lady of color. Or one of any number of other kinds of people (hint: the not white-heterosexual-able-bodied-male kinds of people) whose experiences are often overlooked in fiction! BUT you are also a person who greatly enjoys READING fiction! How do you deal? Where do you draw the line on what’s too repudiating of your life/experience/body to tolerate, and what do you give a pass ’cause you love the story so much? How do you read stories that are most emphatically not about you, and in which you may even appear as a character who is objectified, represented in really stressful ways, or erased altogether? Do you eschew “classic” or “canonical” stories that may be racist/misogynist/heterosexist/etc., or do you embrace them with reservations? Do you love a genre that has a nasty history of sketchy politics (AHEM SCIENCE FICTION)?

And since I am a deaf chick who loves to read, why, I just had to put in my two cents. And the Rejectionist liked it! So, go read it here.

Dimensions of Hearing

If you were to blindfold me (and for god’s sake, don’t EVER do that or I will stab you in the goddamn kidney) and stick my hearing aid in my ear, this is what I’d hear:

Speech is indecipherable. I can recognize a few words, basic ones like hello, howareya, fine, bye, the numbers zero through twelve, baseball, and hotdog. But the string of words that comes out of your mouth is complete babble to me without the visual cues lipreading gives me. Just a voice going “whaa whaa whaa” like a damn Charlie Brown cartoon.

I can recognize basic household sounds that have been drilled into me as a kid by my family: a knock or door bell, the telephone, a radio or television playing. However, recorded sounds all sound like noise; speech noise or music noise–a loud confusing pile of thousands upon thousands of sounds, none of which seem to belong together. What really makes recorded sounds impossible for me is a sense that it is “dirty”–corrupted, polluted, ruined. There’s a sort of crackle, or white noise in the background, like tinnitus or static–part of and yet also not part of what I’m hearing.

If I am able to pick out a familiar sound, I am unlikely to name it for what it is except perhaps “(wo)man singing/speaking” or “drums pounding”. I simply can’t hear how all the sounds belong together (I don’t like barbershop quartets, they simply sound discordant to me, and the wailings of the tenor overwhelm the voices of the other three, grating on my nerves). I certainly can’t tell a guitar from a piano or a trumpet from a violin. The louder or more complicated the music the less I am able to distinguish any element of it from another, until it is quite literally a pulsing, crackling, whaawhaawhaa blob of noise.

But LIVE music is another story entirely. Live music actually sounds like real sounds. No dirty crackle or hum or blurring of the edges. However, the more complex and bigger the music is the less I am able to connect to the melody and the emotion of the piece, but at least a string instrument sounds distinct from a woodwind or a brass, though I can’t tell one brass from another, or woodwind, or string. But drums are perfectly clear and recognizable. When it comes to live music, I definitely prefer to listen to simple, clean compositions with a strong, clear singer.

Moving on from speech and music, in a quiet room, I may hear environmental machines running. Water tumbling out of a tap. A cat meowing. I will not recognize the machines or the running water, but I might hear it as white noise I will instinctively ignore. The cat I will talk to and pet. Loud noises are painful, especially high pitched ones, for it is in the higher frequencies that my pain thresold is low. I hate the sound of flutes or whistles (lord, do I hate them). Outside, I can hear the cars, lawnmowers and the windblowing. I will recognize only the wind. I can hear thunder rolling on the clouds, but I won’t know it is thunder unless it is a thunderclap. Nothing sounds like a thunderclap.

Now, if you were to take off my hearing aid, the only thing I could hear would be the drums and the thunderclap. I have no problems recognizing those sounds! Its good to be able to hear nothing when the mood strikes me. White noise, wind, machines, meowing cats, radio, music, and babbling humanity–honestly, how can anyone live with it every hour of every day?

Now someone get the blindfold off me before I get stabby.

Hopping mad, boycotting Torrid.

(Cross-posted from my other blog)

I am a big girl, and I have big ol’ calves, right? So you know that means finding boots is nearly impossible. My feet are medium 7 and my calves are 18″. I was so DELIGHTED that Torrid sells boots that fit both my feet and calves. And when my folks gave me Christmas money, I decided I wanted to spend some of it on a pair of black Britney boots from Torrid. The store in the mall didn’t have them in stock, so I went ahead and ordered them online.

Yesterday evening, I got an email to call to confirm, for security reasons, my ownership of the card I used to place my order.

Now, first off, I hate making phone calls. As a deaf person, its an incredible hassle. I have to use third-party system called a relay service, and more often than not, its a negative experience. I’ve had people think it was a solication and hung up on me, I’ve had people lose patience with the process, I’ve had system failure and lost connections. The thing is every time I make a phone call through relay, it is always to a company or utility or agency, and it sometimes takes 3 tries to get a live person to respond to the phone so I can get actual business done.

Like I said, making phone calls is not a pleasant experience. It is always, invariably stressful.

Anyway, I digress.

I got an email from Torrid.com telling me to call to confirm my order. Immediately my blood pressure starts rising.

It only got worse. Here’s why:

Here is the transcript of the call I just had with them through the relay service.

Text in bold is the Torrid.com rep. Text in Italics is me.

IP RELAY RO80479F
PLS HD DIALING
866 867 7431
RING 1
(RECORDING)
thank you for calling torrid.com
(message in different language)
(recording to relay)
to speak with a representative regarding a new or existing order please press 1 for(pressing 1)
(HOLDING)
(music playing)
RING 1

(F) one moment i really could not hear you clearly hello qq can you hear me clearly qq

Hello yes, my name is rachel I’m calling to process my new order my order number is ############

so you would like us to place a new order using relay? one moment one moment please…

Ok

i was yeah i can see here that this order was connected for a verbal confirmation from the credit card holder but uhm since this order was verification so we need to speak to the card holder about this order and since we need to speak with the credit card holder we could not do verbal through ip through relay the customer needs xxx you need to call us she may need to call us so she can verbally confirm the order over the phone

Um hello I am DEAF. This IS my verbal confirmation. I AM the card holder

yes i do understand that ma’am but we need to speak to you directly we need you need to give us a call by yourself so you can verbally confirm the order

That is not possible because I am DEAF and cannot HEAR you.

one moment please
(HOLDING)
okay uhm the last option that we have is you may need to to call us the one the bank who issued your card for this order so they can confirm that we have the same information on the order based on your credit card information

Ok…how bout this. Can I have my friend call with me, and she help me hear your instructiuons and I speak into the phone?

i apologize but uhm we could not do that it’s either you may need to speak uhm you may need to speak to us directly about the order or the bank will call us to verify if we have the same information on the order based on your credit card information

I see. Well that’s just too much trouble you guys really need to rewrite your discriminatory policy regarding deaf people. Please cancel my order immediately. I do not want to give you my money.And please send a cancellation confirmation to my email.

i really do apologize for that one ma’am as request i’ll go aheadand cancel the order since the order didn’t check you are not charged for the order is there anything else?

No absolutely not. Thank you for help, I understand you are not to blame but I do hope you will report my extreme dissatistaction to your management. This IS discriminatory.

i do apologize ma’am that we could not really do verbal confirmation through relay the reason why we re doing verbal confirmation on an order with the card holder is to make sure that you will not be charged for fraudulent charges on your account rest assured ma’am i ll go ahead and forward your concern to my supervisor yes i do apologize ma’am but since you could not do verbal confirmation you may need to contact last option that we have

I understand, but you need to give deaf people useable options. This is not. Perhaps I will, but due to your policy I am not willing to give you money. Thank you. Have a good day.

thank you for calling have a great day

I’m sure.

(CALL ENDED)

This phone call left me pissing, hopping mad. I probably could call my bank, but I honestly don’t want to. Not just because its a major hassle, but because I shouldn’t have to. Torrid really does need to create an anti-fraud procedure that accomodates the limitations of deaf and speech-impaired customers. And because they don’t, or won’t, I refuse to give them money.

Even if they are the only damn place where I can find some goddamned boots that fit me!

The mystery accent.

One of the more amusing perks of being deaf is sometimes being confused for a foreigner. All deaf people speak with a an accent; a slight (or pronounced, depending on degree of deafness and oral training) lilt in how vowels are pronounced and how constanants are stressed, and the occasional mispronunciation of uncommon words.

I get the “where are you from?” question quite frequently. I always answer with the explanation that I’m deaf and I’m an American, and what they’re hearing is just a deaf way of talking. Sometimes the question is a little more specific: “Are you (insert random european nationality here)”.

The most common mistaken identity I get confused for is British.  I guess theres something about the way I speak that strikes people as being british. either that, or they just guess that based on how I look.  I AM mostly british in descent, after all.

I’ve also gotten the following: greek, french, spanish, swedish, german, and once, to my surprise, TURK.

This weekend, while buying sushi for lunch, the guy at the register asked me if I was british. I gave my standard answer, but in my mind I really wanted to say, “Indeed I am, my dear chap. I do miss me mum across the pond quite dearly! Cherrio, pip pip, and good day!”

I think one of these days, I actually will say it.  The question is starting to get boring.

I got creeped out, so I spam-filtered him.

First, some background. On the 8th, my friend K___ and I went to New York City for the day. We went to the Met, hung out at Central Park, had a light dinner, and wrapped up the night with the NY branch of Deaf Professionals Happy Hour at the Chelsea Brewery. It was a huge crowd of signing deaf folks and I met several cool deaf people and had some good chats. There was one fellow who latched on to me, a nice guy and a good conversationalist. He asked for my contact info and I gave him my email. Apparently, a big mistake.

***A note on deafness: What follows is an example of how native American Sign Language “speakers” write English. The thought patterns between the two languages are so drastically different, it is often very difficult for deaf students to learn how to write English, and teachers in Deaf schools often aren’t skilled enough at ASL themselves to properly teach deaf kids the differences between the two language structures.***

8/9/09 10:28am
Hi Rachel;
How are you and everything with you? I hope that you got home in Connecticut yesterday safety? How is about your Best Friend K____?

It was nice meeting you yesterday and thanks for the good time that we shared. You are cool and a nice person and I love your beautiful and wonderful smile and funny too.

I am thinking of coming to Connecticut this coming Saturday for us to go to restaurant and have dinner. You don’t need to worry about the expenses. I will take of them all. Your friend K____ can join us too if she want to.

I look forward to read from you. Take care and enjoy the beautiful weather!

8/9/09 2:07pm
Hi James!

Thank you for your kind words. Both Kristen and I had a grand time. We are looking forward to going again.

I am afraid this coming Saturday is not a good time for what you suggest, as I have already planned time with my sister’s family that weekend. Perhaps another time?

Thanks, and it was good to meet you and everyone else.

Rachel.

8/9/09 2:37pm
Hi Rachel:

Thanks a bunch of more abundantly for your kind email that I have just read. It is alright to have the plan other time as you will not be available this coming weekend. I will let you know in advance for a new date earlier this week.

Please always feel free and don’t hesitate to keep in touch with me in any moment. Have a great day and take care!

James

8/11/09 9:13pm
Hi Rachel:
How are you and how have you been doing. I hope that life is treating you well and that things are not stressful to you?

8/12/09 6:02pm
Hi Rachel:
How are you? I didn’t read from you yesterday and I hope everything is well with you.

Will it be a good idea with you in my coming to Connecticut on Saturday August 22 at the evening on the suggest that I made with you?

I still love that your beautiful and wonderful smile and funny too.

James

{I got uncomfortable with this particular email.It felt clingy, rushed, and altogether too intense. I don’t like being chased, and thats exactly how this guy was starting to make me feel.}

8/12/09 8:55pm
James
Thank you for the nice compliments. I’m afraid the date you suggest is not good for me. I recently broke up with my ex, and I am not interested in dating anyone. I probably wont be interested for a while. But thanks anyway, it was nice meeting and chatting with you and everyone at DPHH.
Rachel

8/13/09 7:01pm
Hi Rachel:
How are you today and your work. I understood your last email to me. I was touched and moved by it. I ask that you kindly don’t take this my email to you as being desperately. I understood how you felt of your last relationship. I know that it may not be easily for you but try to take heart. I felt how you feel and don’t let the past frustrating you, making you feel down or lose of self trust.

We know that issues don’t stop life going on or stop the world moving. On several occasion, when we ask God something and He refused to give it to us, we keep on asking Him without giving up and when He sees the honest desire of our hearts, He provides it to us because He knows it is for real and it will make us happy forever.

{Woah, “God”. Ugh. For those who aren’t aware, I am an atheist, and this was a complete turn-off as well as a major creep-alert. It gets worse, read on:}


I hope that you have read the book of Romeo and Julie. It is a very moving story that Romeo keeps on wanting relationship with Julie without willing to give up on Julie and Julie finally see that it is for real and gave in to Romeo and both live happily forever after even in death. It is a very touching story and it is worthy of intimately for those who want to have happiness ending in a real relationship.

When I saw you, I attracted you and hope to have companion with you and I know that I need to take it slow. I want you to know that I am for real with you and looking for dating with you to enable you get to know me better. Should we successfully make it through the dating, we will not be boyfriend and girlfriend but we will get married, signed, sealed and delivered that I promise to love you forever in good health and in sickness showing a lot of care. I will always be there for you on your side at all times and my love for you will never faded. I will at all times making sure that we are happy even though life is not a smooth ride, we will always take charge of our responsibilities to one another and solve our differences with love. I will always be only for you and will proudly wearing my ring for you showing my integrity, loyal and honestly cherish and love for you at all times.

Looking forward to read from you and thanks for your time in reading this genuine email.

James

8/14/09 6:42pm
Hi Rachel:
How are you? I hope that you have a good time with your sister’s family when you go to visit them tomorrow for the weekend

For me, I will not be working tomorrow and Sunday but will be taking the time tomorrow to vacuum the luxury carpets in the whole three bedrooms and the living room as well as mop the two bathrooms and the kitchen and clean the many closets. I normally do them when I am off from work. At the evening, I will go to restaurant in Manhattan to treat myself some dinners and also go to movie to watch District 9 that just come out today. On Sunday, I may go to Empire State Building. It has so many funny activities there in Manhattan. Manhattan is a few minutes away from my home in Brooklyn. How I wish that you participate with me for these outing.

8/14/09 7:23pm
James

The answer is no. Stop trying to change my mind. It wont happen. You are starting to bother me. And this is the last time I will reply to your emails.

YOU ARE NOT MY TYPE.

Please, stop chasing me!

R.

8/14/09 9:01pm
Apologized for how you felt

8/14/09 9:31pm
You accepted the apology that I sent to you?

{At this point I’m feeling harassed and seriously annoyed. And a little sorry for this guy, because he’s trying so hard, but I have to stand my ground. And, like my mother, when I say no I mean it. And I’m stubborn as hell, and all attempts to change my mind just makes my “no”s more set in stone.}


8/15/09 8:17am
Hi Rachel:
Good morning. I am so sorry for what you said in your last email.
I will not be feeling happy or comfortably if you feel that I am starting to bother you. Your happiness is of paramount importance.

I would like us to keep in touch. I know that you are a cool person.
I will appreciate it if we can have Friendship with each other.
Let me know. I hold you in high esteem.

James

8/15/09 12:59pm
Hi Rachel:
I have not read from you about us to have Friendship?
James

8/15/09 7:39pm
Hi Rachel:
How are you and things with you. I hope that you are having a good weekend. Please have the heart and the strength to forgive me and reply to my emails about having Friendship with you. I still see you as a cool and nice person.
Thanks.

James

At that point I had enough. I set my spam filters to block his emails. I meant it when I said I would not reply to any further contact. I just don’t understand why he didn’t get it. I dont regret it, but I do feel bad for him. But he creeped me out big time, so into the ban bin he went.

The joys of being single never cease.

Ifs

If I could live anywhere I want, without having to worry about costs, employment, or familial obligations (sorry, guys!), I’d live in:

Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Yeah, I know its a Spring Break Party Town, but its a beautiful Lake Town deep in the Southwest desert. It has legendary swimming grottoes, and I love water and adore swimming. Primarily, I hate winter and the cold it brings with it. I want to live in warmer climes, and I’ve always wanted to live near a large body of water. Lake Havasu seems to be a good fit.

Or..

New York City. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it: The City is alive. It has a pulse, a strong beat of driving energy and life-affirming joy. It beats stronger than the comatose pulse of the rural towns I have lived in–that pervading slowness of farms and people moving through life as if in a waking dream. The pulse of The City is more joyous than that of the cold and mechanical beat of other cities I have resided–where strangers are just strangers and the people race down those well-worn paths of suburban conformity. The Big Apple drums out a different beat, where strangers are welcome for their newness, where novelty is sought out and encouraged to flourish. It is a city of the senses, where the sensuous and the sensation-seekers can find satisfaction. There are always new sights, new sounds, new tastes, new touches, and new smells. And most amazing, amidst all the hustle and bustle, amidst the explosion of sensations, there is a pause in that persistent beat, a valley between every peak of that pulse: a quiet peace. There are parks and riverwalks lined with trees, and softly humming coffeeshops. One can step from sensation to zen in an instant.

If I could do-over my education:

They say hindsight is 20/20, and like most aphorisms, no truer words can be said. I do not regret my education, but I do think I could have made better choices. I could have taken more than just a nonchalant interest in my future. I wish that I had conducted myself with greater wisdom and foresight. If I could redo it:

1) I would apply to scholarships and more schools. I just never considered myself worthy or competitive enough to try, so I never bothered applying to anything other than my “safe bet”.

2) I would seek out a A.A. degree or professional certification first, such as for Web Design or Medical Billing and Coding. Such skills would pay for the rest of my education, and could also serve as “backup” should my major professional ambitions suffer setbacks.

3) I would not be afraid of recognizing my need to be creative. I would have majored in the Arts, and not worried about finding “real” degrees. Art majors can too find work and make money and live productive careers. I would have gone to an art school or a good university with a good program, to maximize that education.

4) I would not have spent three years bouncing around from one major to another. Instead I would have seriously considered my skills and attributes, my interests and passions, and how all that I am could exist professionally in the Real World. I would have done serious research into how the Real World would make use of me. And I would have tailored my education appropriately. I would not have trusted that “I can be/do anything I want to be/do.”

5) I would have gone to the Gemological Institute of America as soon as I realized I wanted to become a Jewelry Designer.

If I had a million dollars and only one month to spend it:

First, of course I would eliminate all of my debts, including my student loans. Then I would trade in my Saturn for a Honda Hybrid. I would buy a small home or condo with a studio and furnish it well and stock my studio with all necessary tools and equipment, and then add in some luxury items too, such as a bead-blaster (for special finishes), a hydraulic fold-forming press (makes awesome folded metal forms) and an enamelling kiln. Then if I had any money left over, I’d take a two week cruise in some tropic locale, on a boat that does not allow kids (no offense to kid-owners!)

If my hearing were completely restored, what three things would I listen to first?

This question comes to me from Ian, a good friend.

1) The first is obvious, of course: I would listen to music. I would listen to samples from every style of music, from the classical of Mozart and Beethoven to the pop stylings of Britney Spears and Hanna Montana. I would listen to see what all the fuss is about. Though, to be honest, I doubt that such exploration would be of any use. What if–and I think this is very likely to be the case–what if the neural connections between my auditory and emotional centers are lost forever? Once neural connections are lost, they are gone (though new connections can be reforged, using existing neurons that are rerouted into new paths, but an active receptor on both ends must still be open for the connections to be forged. It is all too likely that such necessary connections are beyond my old brain’s capacities).

2) The second, also may be obvious: I would seek out the soft sounds of nature. The sound of the ocean as it swells and breaks upon the shore. Of the wind dancing with the leaves of the trees. Of the birds serenading the dawn. Of crickets mating under the moonlight.

3) This third may perhaps not be so obvious, except to those who know me. I would go to an open, public place, such as a park or a cafe, anywhere people congregate to meet and talk. I would walk and sit amongst them and eavesdrop upon their words, their conversations, their convivialities. To know and be part of another person’s life, if only for that one tiny fraction of time. To share in that communal intimacy, that shared knowledge of shared humanity, that only words can carry across the timeless and infinite void of space that lies between us all. To feel a part of that silent communion that all hearing people take for granted.

An annoyance

Place: Work

Situation: a mandatory hazmat and emergency procedures training meeting

My thoughts:

wait, what? Oh, a meeting? Oh right. Okay….fuck me, I hate these things. Another damn suit flapping his lips and I have to sit there and pretend I know what the fuck is going on. Ugh, I’d rather be working….so, wheres the suit…wait, WHAT? A speakerphone? God fucking damn it, they are shitting me! Fuckers! Why the fuck am I here? I have work to do! Don’t you people realize that this is a fucking waste of my fucking time? I have better things to do than stare at people’s faces, stare at the wall, or stare at my fucking thumbs while I wait for this fucking bullshit to wrap up and I can get back to work. Jesus h. Christ…[45 minutes later]…goddamn it, I hate hearing people!

Aftermath: A rant to my immediate supervisor. He relays my complaints to HR. HR calls me in to apologize and get my recommendations on how to handle future meetings and proper accomdations.

I don’t hate hearing people anymore. They are all just kinda dumb, instead. Like confused puppies that piddled on the carpet.