Good Vibrations

This was Chicago’s vernal equinox:

On Friday it was 65 degrees, and all the crocuses were in full bloom; they have little bright yellow centers.  Sensibly, they snapped shut during the two-day snowy weekend, and haven’t fully opened again since, even though the snow was all melted by yesterday and the past two days have been sunny but cool.

I beat a short load of bleached abaca, which again went perfectly, and now have the correct shade of pulp. The past few days have been a lot of errands and writing and visitors and visiting and a few more studio improvements and finally getting the web site to work in Internet Explorer, and I’m hoping to begin production on the last bits of (S)Edition tomorrow.

Many years ago, moments after I got my first hearing aid (a very basic, outdated, donated and refurbished one from the Chicago Hearing Society), I went right to the original book and paper facility on Wabash where I worked.  It was near the CHS’s old offices, I was familiar (I thought) with its sounds, and I freely admit that I was utterly freaked. I was totally assaulted by incomprehensible noise, and since my hearing loss is in both ears and I could only afford one cheap hearing aid, my balance was shot to hell, too.  Pamela Paulsrud was working in the paper studio, and having been trained as a nurse, she graciously walked around with me for a good part of the afternoon, patiently answering each time I jumped and shouted, “Yaaah!!! What’s that, what am I hearing?!?!  Where is it coming from?!”  She doesn’t remember doing this, but I never forgot it, ever.

Some of my recent visits and visiting have been with Pam, whose current work with cymatics, begun last summer, is completely intriguing me.  I can’t hear this interview, but many of you can, and you can see the sound vibrations in action.

Yesterday, I got to see this happen in person; trust me, the video is just a slight taste.  Not only are the patterns made by the vibrations fascinating, the way the grains of sand move when shifting is captivating.  Sometimes they bounce at different rates like bursting popcorn or drops of water on a hot skillet, sometimes they lazily shift, or collide and pile up to make sharp textured lines, and they don’t all move at once.

As exciting as it is for a deafened person to see sound (and for a deafened artist / papermaker to see someone capturing sound in paper!), our conversations have been even more fascinating; we’re free enough with each other to venture pretty far out there.  And it’s fun, too, to try and describe exactly how touching a piano to feel the vibrations while someone plays fills in the musical information that’s missing from my ears, or how the sound from hearing aids differs from ‘real’ sound.  I think we might be filling in some gaps for each other, and pushing each other further, and that’s truly a good vibration.

Prairie, Mist, Captioning

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The papermaking marathon is finished!  I only have 20-40 increasingly tiny sheets to make tomorrow (exact number will be determined by how long the rest of the pulp lasts). I’ve spent the last three days (and evenings) working working working on the porch, watching the prairie.  I see a lot of birds, so very many different kinds, but can’t stop to photograph or identify them with the interesting Stokes Field Guide To Birds (Eastern Region) that lives in the studio.  However, perusing the Guide has inspired me to provide Prairie Captioning, as a public service.  This should be seasonally correct:

“cow cow cow cow cow” “kek kek” “cuk cuk cuk” “pumper-lunk” “kok-kok-kok” “uh-uh-uh-oo-oo-oo-ooah” “frahnk” “rok-rok” “wha-wah-wah” “aarh” “rick-rack” “skow”  “raah” “quok” “scaup” “hunk, hunk, hunk” “ahonk” “hink” “oo-eek” “rhaeb, rhaeb” “quegegege” “tsee” “took-a” “gak” “sigeeee” “tseeeaarr”  “klooeeek” “chwirk” “klee klee klee” “skwagok” “kia-kia” “toilick” “koilee” “bob-white”  “chit chit chit, chit, chit – chit – chit” “kit kidit kidit kidit kidit” “kikikikeeer” “puweee, puweee” “kill-deah” “weet weet weet” “peetaweet peetaweet” “pulip. pulip” “peeent” “k’t’coo”  “oorook’tookoo” “ooahoo oo oo oo” “cucucu, cucucucu”  “kukukukakaka kalp kalp kalp” “pity pit pit” “whip poorwill” “chitter-chitter-chitter” “kweeer” “teek” “wickiwicki – wicki” “kekekekeke” “woika – woikawoika” “peeahwee peeoh” “pizza”  “fitzbew” “wit” “chibeck” “feebee” “wheep” “prreet” “kitterkitterkitter” “kt’zee kt’zee” “zeer” “chak chak” “chick – adooweeoo – chick”  “tweeoo, toowee, turway” “eeyay, oolee, eeyup” “nyaah” “tjjjj” “jaay, jaay” “toolool” “caaaw” “ca” “tsee-titi” “zeet” “cher cher” “cheedeep” “brrrt” “tchrrt tchrrt” “churr” “nyew” “werwerwerwer” “ip” “ank ank” “chek” “zeeeee” “cheer cheerful charmer” “turwee” “bupbup eeohlay, bupbup aholee” “bweebeebeeb” “cheeryup cheerily”  “teeek” “tuk tuk tuk” “tseeep” “meeow”  “kwut” “chjjj” “chewk” “smack” “blue-winged” “zee bee bee” “chip” “sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet” “zray zray zray zree”  “wee-see wee-see wee-see” “zweet” “tink” “teacher teacher teacher” “chink” “chuck” “chur-ree, chur-ree, chur-ree” “witchity, witchity, witchity” “your money, your money, your money” “tchat, tchat” “wee-ta, weeta, wee-tee-yo” “chack” “zureet zeeyeer zeeroo” “chip-burr” “whoit whoit whoit, cheer cheer cheer” “tsee tsee tew tew teer teer” “spit” “dick dick dickzizzel” “zzzt” “drink your teeee” “chewink” “chweee” “tsit tsit tsit zeee zaaay” “tsetselik” “tchurrp” “pink” “okaleee” “ch’ch’ch’chee chee chee” “seeoo seeyeer” “dzeert” “grideleeek” “chaaack” “chaaah” “blublucomseee” “ch’ch’ch’ch” “sweeyeet” “beerbeer” “perichoree” “chirrup chireep chirrup” “chilup” “tchump”

prairiecloseup

Tonight there was a mist almost like the Mist Of The Full Moon; the prairie exhaled early while there was still light to shoot with.  Now, imagine being in the middle of it, having it lit by bright moonlight.  Ahhh.

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Mist1

midmist

nightmist

Presumably, after this point, I would hear: “hoohoohoo hoohoo hoo” “hoo – cooks – foryou”  “haw haw ha ha ha” “hoohoohoohoohoo” “hooooooooooooooo”.

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…Of A Lesser Goddess?

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  1. I read an article on the impossibility of enforcing Affirmative Action in academic enrollment. Even if racial or cultural questions are not legally permitted to be asked, admissions officers can assume a great deal simply by the applicant’s name, home address, high school demographic, parents’ colleges (or lack thereof), extracurricular memberships, and so on. Therefore, impartiality is essentially a myth.  Since it’s the academic job hunt season, when I need to decide at what point in the process I will reveal my deafness, the similar difficulties in enforcing ADA* laws (and in attempting to conceal a ‘disability’ until I’ve had a chance to demonstrate what I can actually do) immediately struck me.  You can’t legislate equity if people in power don’t actively, genuinely want it.  The only thing these laws can do is to give some recourse in situations where discrimination is utterly blatant and ironclad, with witnesses, and such situations are depressingly easy to sidestep.
  2. I had yet another e-mail snafu this week.  E-mail (or text messaging) is my phone, my primary mode of communication.  I had intended to write a strong argument, to build a case.  The response, as it so often is, was that my message was ‘angry’.  Hearing people want to communicate in the only way that’s comfortable for them, by voice, so they can make judgments on, or be reassured by, tone and inflection. (A huge part of one faculty job interview I had last year was not a discussion of my accomplishments or abilities, but focused instead on the fact that it was so frustrating for ‘them’ to communicate with me.  I was told, “I never can tell what you’re thinking!”  What I was thinking, at least during that ordeal, was “Hey! Read…My…Words.”) I used to think that e-mail was the great equalizer, that it leveled the playing field.  Not so, in a hearing world.  (And, I have found that many educators, like doctors who make terrible patients, often refuse to be educated.)
  3. My ‘el novel’ this week (I devour one or two a week while commuting) is “Talk Talk”, the first thing I’ve ever read by T. Coraghessan Boyle.  It’s about a deaf woman who becomes a victim of identity theft.  Boyle writes painfully accurate descriptions of a voice that isn’t heard by the speaker herself: “…voice like an electric drill…even hollower and more startling than usual…toneless…chopped and elided syllables…”  You get the idea (and I’m only on page 117).  I can’t really hear my voice. I feel it in my throat and skull.  I’m often asked where I’m from, or what my accent is.  A close friend recently told me, apologetically, that my voice gets sloppy, slurry and ‘low-class’ at times (which made me cringe).  Another friend, a deafened Ph.D. and ADA advocate, constantly recommends speech therapy as our hearing lessens. In an article she wrote last summer, she stated that this is necessary because hearing people most often interpret our voices as projecting either lack of interest in what’s being said, or as…anger.  So, even if I could hear on a phone, I’d be damned if I could, and am damned cuz I can’t. (Add in perplexed, frustrated facial expressions as I try to simultaneously lip-read five or six people who routinely insist on all talking at once, and I’m doubly damned).
  4. As I talk (or e-mail) with far-flung friends about my determination to improve my circumstances, I have heard (or read) several times, “Just be glad you have a job, any job, in these times!”  Sadly, that advice has come exclusively from deafened friends.  The unspoken message here is: we are ‘lesser’…we should settle, be content, never strive or take risks, because we are broken. 

That, I just cannot accept.   I would rather live in constant battle than stagnate in such a fearful, closed existence.  To do that would make me as angry as so many people already think I am.

*Americans with Disabilities Act

Luggage, Politicians and an Alien

Day Seven Of The Missing Bag:

Calls to Virgin Atlantic’s U.S. baggage claim department in 6 days: 14 

Promised Delivery Dates: 3

Delivery date promises not kept: 3

Promises to return phone calls after looking up my bag’s status: 11

Phone calls actually returned: 1

E-Mails to Virgin Atlantic: 4

Unanswered e-mails to Virgin Atlantic: 4

Bags returned: 0

A very nice friend in Scotland read the Blahg and offered to call Virgin Atlantic for me from the UK. I decided instead to ask Paul to call from here.  Even though I knew it was inevitable that he’d get hot with these people, at least I’d have a chance to discover if I’ve been missing anything critical during all my calls. And, I’d have a respite from folks who have no idea how to interact with a deafened person, even when clearly told how to help.  (Believe me, I would NOT be calling if there were any other possible method of contact, but no one answers Virgin’s e-mail.  On their web site, they do list some kind of Deaf access, but only if you are inside the UK.)

At first they refused to give Paul any information because he was not me, even though he had all the info, claim numbers, etc. (so I imagine it would have gone worse for my friend in Scotland). He spent several minutes explaining that I had asked him to call because I can’t hear.

Then we went through several tedious minutes of this: Virgin Atlantic lady asks Paul a question.  He repeats it to me, and hands me the phone.  I answer, and then hand the phone back to him.  Each time he got the phone back, the woman would already be talking a mile a minute, and it took several more minutes simply to convince her to wait for a half-second while I handed him the phone.  Finally, she concluded that I had, indeed, asked Paul to call.

They talked for a long time.  At one point, I walked into the kitchen and caught this: “So, you are telling me that, in seven days, not one person in your company has been able to contact any other person from your own office in the third largest city in the United States?”  Pause.  “Well, could you tell me this: as a citizen of the world, wouldn’t you say that is a crappy way to do business?”  (Sure enough, a short while later, they got into it, and one of them hung up on the other).

I laughed, but right then I knew: hearing or not hearing doesn’t matter.  They have no idea where the bag is, and I doubt that they have ever had any idea where it is. I’ll keep calling and e-mailing, but after this, unless something spectacularly strange occurs, I’ll quit writing about it. I‘ll let you know if the bag comes back.

I sincerely hope it does, at some point.  I’m saddest about a couple of gifts from folks in Lewis, and about things I’d been bringing for folks here.  (And of course, the whisky).

The thing that makes me the angriest is this: if Virgin Atlantic had admitted to being part of the Deathrow baggage chaos in the first place, yes, I’d still have been upset. But I’d also have accepted my lot much earlier in the week, and gone about replacing the items I need for my next trip much less stressfully than it will now be, at the last minute.  Instead, I wasted my time waiting for “assured” deliveries that were pure fiction. Obviously, the people I’ve been talking to are low level, taking orders from higher up; some of the incomprehensible noise, Paul tells me, is due to the fact that they are responding to questions by reading a script. I can only conclude that they were simply told to tell wronged customers anything, including fictitious delivery dates, to appease us momentarily.

The Bag Episode is a microcosmic example of so many things I’ve gone through recently, and the root of things we’re all constantly going through, globally.

Why, why, why do corporations and politicians (both governmental and academic), at the first sign of a problem, immediately turn to The Lie? 

Do they actually believe that what they’re trying to gloss over will never be revealed, that lies will not eventually be seen? 

Why is the honest admission of a mistake seen as revealing a weakness, as something to hide? 

Why is the “solution” inevitably something that makes a bad situation worse?  

These are things I have never and will never understand.  Which just goes to show you, I probably am an alien, and an old, still hopelessly naive one at that.  

 

 

Do NOT fly Virgin Atlantic, addendum

So, I post the last blog, then go out to dinner with a friend.  She tells me the horrendous Heathrow Terminal Five story, which I had not read while in Scotland…Deathrow has just sent several thousand missing bags from its new terminal 5 to Italy to be sorted.  We wonder why they didn’t just bring the Italian sorters to Deathrow.  I try to remember which terminal I flew into, but can’t.  I had only had three hours of sleep when I began the journey.  All I can remember is being jolted around in a crammed bus, deep in the underbelly of Deathrow, to get from one terminal to the next, intensely craving coffee.  Thankfully, my friend and I move on to many more subjects, most of them pleasanter.

My cell phone never rings all evening.

At 1am, Chicago time, I think, aha!  Maybe no one at Virgin Atlantic has returned my calls because of the time difference.  Maybe I’ve just been dealing with an incompetent night shift these past six days. Hope springs eternal. I call.  A man with the most incomprehensible accent yet answers.  I tell him I’m deaf and ask him to speak slower and he has to repeat what he’s said (he doesn’t slow down at all) five times before I catch a word.  The word is: Chicago.  

I ask, “Was the bag sent to Chicago?”  He unleashes a flood of sound, none of which I understand. I say, “As I said, I’m deaf.  Can you please just answer yes or no, was the bag sent to Chicago?” Another flood of sound.  “Stop!”  I say.  I say again, “I’m deaf and I can’t understand you. I need you to answer by simply saying Yes or No.” He spews forth yet another barrage of words, of noise.  “NO!  Stop!  Please…answer…with…one…word.  Was…the…bag…sent…to…Chicago, Yes..or…No?”  And he simply yammers on yet again.  

I give up.  For tonight.

Do NOT fly Virgin Atlantic!

Friday, May 30: 

I arrive very late afternoon, monumentally jet-lagged, at O’Hare.

Go through customs, wait at the baggage carousel.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait.

Finally I see some Virgin Airlines people taking the last of the bags off the carousel, with a roster.  Go over to them.  They have a printout, which lists my bag, and says it’s still in London.  I get taken to a restricted area, where someone takes my customs form and a Virgin Atlantic employee takes all the claim info on my bag, says he’s definitely located it at Heathrow, and that it will arrive tomorrow afternoon, and he will have it sent to my house.

 

Saturday, May 31:

The bag doesn’t arrive.  I discover that the rubber-stamped claim info the Virgin Atlantic guy gave me has been stamped onto the space for it on their glossy brochure and is now too smeared to read.  I find the Virgin Atlantic web site, and the phone number.  I figure it’s late, so I will give them a call in the morning.

 

Sunday, June 1st:

I call Virgin Atlantic, and get someone with a Carribean/ British accent (which is actually the easiest to understand of all subsequent phone calls).  I ask her to speak slowly, and she has to repeat several times before I get a few words. She tells me that the bag is in still in London at Heathrow, but has not been “identified”, so I have to re-file all the claim info with her, on the phone.  She tells me that she has put in an ‘urgent’ call to Heathrow, and that my bag will be sent ‘immediately’ to my house, that I can expect it tomorrow.

 

Monday, June 2: 

The bag doesn’t arrive.  I call Virgin Atlantic .  Woman with a heavy Pakistani/ Indian accent says she needs to locate bag, and will call me back.  In about 20 minutes she does. I ask her to speak slowly, and she has to repeat several times before I get a few words. She says bag is on its way to Chicago and will be delivered on June 4.  I explain that I need the bag and its contents immediately for another trip, can she please expedite this; she says she’ll try.

 

Tuesday, June 3. 

I call Virgin Atlantic to confirm that the bag will arrive tomorrow. Man with heavy incomprehensible accent cannot locate it, and I have to ask him to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words. He says, yes, it will arrive, if I have been told that.

 

Wednesday, June 4: 

I call Virgin Atlantic to see what time bag will arrive.  Man with a heavy incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says he will look it up and call me back.  He does not.  Bag does not arrive in morning.  I call Virgin Atlantic.  Another man with another incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says he will look it up and call me back.  He does not.  The bag does not arrive.  I call Virgin Atlantic.  A man, who I think is the first one with a heavy incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says that he cannot get hold of the Chicago airport to confirm the bag’s arrival.  Says he will call me back.  He does not.  I find and file a complaint form on Virgin Atlantic’s web site.  I find an e-mail address for Virgin Atlantic “customer service.”  I e-mail them the entire situation, titling it, “I am deaf, please help!”  I call Virgin Atlantic again.  A man with an incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says he cannot get hold of the Chicago airport, and that he will call me back.  Guess what?  He does not.

 

Thursday, June 5:

 No response to e-mail or complaint form.  I call Virgin Atlantic. A man with an incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says he cannot get hold of the Chicago airport, and that he will call me back.  He does not.  I call again several hours later.  A woman with an incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says she will call me back within two hours.  Four hours later, I call again. A man with an incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says he cannot get hold of the Chicago airport, and that he will call me back.  I send another e-mail.

No one from Virgin Atlantic has called me back since the first woman called to lie to me four days ago.

 

Tomorrow, it’ll be a week. I may go down to the Virgin Atlantic ticket counter at O’Hare, and chain myself to it until they hand me my goddamned bag.

 

 

 

 

Culture Shocks

Still waiting for my bag to arrive; I read on a friend’s blog that Heathrow has just  recently installed an updated computerized luggage tracking system, and that as soon as they did, they promptly lost over 6000 pieces of luggage.  (Why don’t I know these things?) Virgin Atlantic knows my bag is at Heathrow; they identified it there even before I landed.  But it’s still sitting there, it is not here, and there are five wee bottles of single malt lovingly packed inside. 

Breathing in the filthy, car-exhaust smell of the el was a terrible bit of jet-lagged culture shock after the delicious air and scent of Lewis and the Orkneys, the softer sweet air outside Inverness, where I did a lot of walking.  So was watching the eight lanes of stalled traffic on either side of the train, and the el’s grinding, jerking motion, snapping my neck back and forth, and its awful vibrations, felt in my teeth. But I’m less lagged now after sleeping 11 hours.  I woke thinking I was on Lewis at Mrs. B’s, and wondered briefly why my artwork was on the wall there.

I had wondered a bit, before going, about traveling alone while old and deaf, how well I’d manage. The further I got north, the easier it was.  The patience, kindness and courtesy of people in Scotland were noticeably better than in England (which itself was improved over everyday life in Chicago) and it reached its zenith in the Highlands.  Not only were there no real difficulties, I never once felt pitied, which is something I find exceedingly hard to stomach; nor did I ever feel patronized, which is worse. It was simply a natural, matter-of-fact reaction; people quickly adjusted to the fact of my deafness, asked me how they could help and were genuinely happy to. Not one person contorted their face to exaggerate their words, or shouted, and if I did not hear and asked for a repeat, no one ever became impatient or said the phrase most deafened people hate: “forget it, it wasn’t important.”

I had expected to have some reaction to being in the land of my roots, but thought that it would be a private, internal thing.  On Lewis, especially, it was shared.  In every conversation I had there that lasted longer than a few sentences, people asked about my Scottish connections. More than once, I was told, “that’s where you get your hair.”  (There were varying reactions when I said that the color came from a bottle, but the rest was mine; that could have something to do with a very strict religious atmosphere on Lewis, the only thing that sort-of worried me about it). I had some long conversations with an older woman who shared one of my ancestral surnames (which, she gently told me, I pronounce wrong). She looked exactly like my grandmother. I had to constantly remind myself not to stare at her teeth, which were exactly like mine, with the big front overbite that my dentist insists on calling ‘the Bugs Bunny’ look.  On Orkney, people never asked about ancestry at all, but did seem quite pleased when I said I wanted to come back.  On Lewis, and on the boat back to the mainland, virtually everyone asked me if I would be back, or said, “perhaps you’ll come back”.

Everywhere in the Highlands, people of all ages are out and about, mixing together, talking to each other.  There is a strong visual sense of community.  In Inverness, the most bustling city, I daily saw numerous people out on those motorized scooters or in wheelchairs; everywhere around the Highlands older (and some younger) folks were out with canes; blind folks had guide people, not guide dogs (though it seemed that everyone had a dog, and the dogs went everywhere; they waited patiently outside shops). Older folks and children are a vital part of the fabric.  If you are over sixty and a Highlander or Islander, you can travel anywhere in Scotland; you get so many roundtrip tickets a month, free.  The Scottish Tourist Board runs a service for finding places to stay; the fee is four pounds per booking.  In Inverness, I had two long in-person booking sessions with two lovely young folks, Sam and Heather, who did all the phone-calling for me, with a lot of jokes and story-telling and conversation in between, and though I didn’t ask for it, and though I was charged in Edinburgh, they waived the fees because I am deafened; they simply refused to accept them.

In my ancestral chauvinism, I like to think that this is all an echo of the old Gaelic culture, where everyone was valued, where there were leaders but no class system, and, as the old poem says, “widows and orphans (were) liberally provided for, without want was each pauper” (from the Gaelic ‘Song to the emigrants’, Ian MacCodrum, 1760s).  It could also be the superiority of the general British health care system, or even the fact that the population is smaller, so everyone is noticed more, but in my romanticism, cultural survival is what I want to believe. In any case, coming from the U.S., where all depends on money, where even the dignity of the most basic human needs depends directly on individual income, it’s utterly refreshing to see. 

Above all, people talked to each other, and to me, regardless of age, color, or anything else, especially on the islands.

***

There’s something else, and here’s where I picture all the Americans sniggering, or thinking how pathetic I am, but the hell with it, I’m writing about it anyways.  America’s culture, if we have one, is exceedingly youth-oriented, especially if you are a woman.  A woman can achieve enormous professional standing and respect no matter how old you are, but after a certain age, you become completely sexually invisible (or, possibly worse, one of the many women who are rich who start to pay out enormous sums to get chopped, to surgically alter the aging process). Older folks only seem to meet in personals ads, and men my age and older invariably seek women half their age, and if you choose to age naturally, you automatically become null and void.  That’s the way it is. It’s not much fun for women (assuming you’re heterosexual), especially if you always had a lot of male attention and inside, you’re still pretty damn well alive, thank you very much. Yeah, like me. 

Well, I got flirted with on a daily basis again, like it was years ago, and yeah, I liked it.  A lot.  Just silly stuff, mostly, a wink here and there, getting blown a kiss through a train window, or a cheeky, flirty comment that says, above all, I see you, see your vitality. It was just plain damn fun.

I never even considered the possibility of this happening, and at this confused point in my life, I was definitely not in the market for a wee highland fling, but there were two situations that were more intense, and that’s where my American orientation let me down (or saved me, depending on how you look at it); I couldn’t interpret them, figure out what was going on.  There are cultural differences, definitely.

But I had a conversation with a white-haired woman in her seventies and mentioned one of them, and she said, “He must fancy you!” I mumbled something about being too old, and she, may all the goddesses there are love her, immediately and very, very seriously replied,

“Oh, no, you’re never too old for that, dear!”

 

So: If I should end up old and alone, I know where I’m retiring to!

Mural in the Invergordon train station

 

Blahg Gone, Blahg On

 

OK: This is it.  

Blahg has now moved permanently here, to WordPress. 

After a year of just winging it intuitively (basically the way I begin any new mode of expression), I’ve been thinking over what blogging means to me.  It’s opened me to a wider world, to new people and continued contact with old friends.  For this deafened person, blogging has become an unexpectedly satisfying way to be connected…sort of a substitute for a corner pub, in an odd, time-delayed way, where I can hear effortlessly, relax, drop all pretensions, and just be myself.  

I definitely want that to continue, but I need to experiment with a change in how it will keep working best for me.

WordPress allows selected individual posts to be password-protected.  I intend to keep Blahg public for the most part; the new pub will still be open to anyone who walks in.  But, every once in awhile, I will protect a post, and essentially gather with a group of friends in the back room.

If you would like to join me in the password-protected back room, you can do one of two things: Leave a comment after this post (only I will see your e-mail address), and I’ll contact you.  Or, if you have one of my addresses, e-mail me and tell me who you are. 

Thanks!  

I hope you’ll continue to hang with me here at the new pub for the odd dram, a bit of conversation, a song, some dancing or the occasional game of darts.

Slainte’.

Oddiology

Yesterday I made the dreaded annual visit to the audiologist.  (Well, supposedly annual; it had been more than 18 months).  It’s dreaded, because with a progressive hearing loss, no one is ever going to say, “Hey!  You’ve improved!”  Those little lines on the audiogram sink slowly towards the bottom of the chart each visit, bit by tiny bit.  And, sure enough, I’ve lost a bit more of the lower-pitched tones. I had already guessed that, because it’s been more difficult to hear men lately.  It wasn’t a huge drop, though.  Thankfully, though my hearing is always declining, it’s doing so at a fairly slow rate.

I lost the most in my left ear, which, according to the audiograms, has always been my ‘bad’ ear; it’s deafer than the right.  I simply hear less sound with it when they test me with pure tones. But the oddest thing is that my speech comprehension is much higher in the ‘bad’ ear. Though it hears less sound, it understands words better.  Go figure.

The other thing that’s been happening over the past 18 months is, without my hearing aids, whether or not I hear a loud-enough sound depends on the direction it’s coming from.  It happens with sound from a concentrated source, like the really loud old fan Paul runs every night for white noise.  If I’m directly across the room from it, with it facing my ear, I hear it.  If I turn my head in either direction: nothing.  In March, at Ragdale, that began to happen with a few people’s voices, mostly men.

The audiologist has no explanation for either of these things.

I also began my video project while there, recording parts of the examination.  (The camera shut itself off right before the word testing, which I wanted to record…but it was on its tripod in the corner, and I was hooked up to earphones and a variety of wires, and couldn’t reach it to turn it back on.  Dang.).  At one point on the video I did shoot, the audiologist is just offscreen, with my hearing aids in her hand, talking to me, and I am relying entirely on reading her lips.  I look really fierce, squinting, my mouth set in a line, my head thrust forward.  No wonder some people think I’m angry, or that I disapprove of what they’re saying. I’m only struggling to hear, but I look like I might jump up and start punching.

So, my head is quite odd, in a number of ways, even apart from my brain.