On Equality.

civil rights

Noun
The rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality.

I think most of us hear “civil rights” and think Martin Luther King, marches on Washington, sit-ins at the Woolworth counter, and countless other images of the 60’s.  We think of race, and perhaps class and gender.  When learning about the Civil Rights Movement in elementary school, I was taught that separate but equal was an outdated and prejudiced idea. I was taught that all Americans are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that this country was founded on the ideal that we are all are created equal. I said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, along with the rest of the schoolchildren in this country, declaring “with liberty and justice for all” before I started my day.

Then I grew up and realized that as much as we are all probably taught that these struggles for civil rights are a part of our history, they are very very much a part of our present.  I understood the meaning behind that Pledge of Allegiance I said so mindlessly every morning for more than a decade, with my hand over my heart.  I learned that the American brand of equality is conditional.  

Growing up in a household with deaf parents, the motto was: accept everyone.  One of the most valuable things my mother instilled from an early age was the importance of tolerance and equality. She continually reminded us to treat everyone the same, because we are all people.  It’s such a simple message, but it’s a powerful one.

I went to an all- women’s college.  I work for it presently.  I have many friends and colleagues who are gay and lesbian.  I am incredibly proud to live in Massachusetts, where we have been granting gay marriages since 2004- the first state to do so in this country.

doma-dead

As far as I am concerned, there is more than one civil rights movement.  Today we watched one of those play out in what will surely go down in history as a pivotal point in the fight for LGBT equality.  When I read that DOMA is dead, I cried.  It’s progress.  It’s progress that should’ve been made long ago.  It strikes down a despicable legacy of discrimination known as the “Defense of Marriage Act,” signed by a President who had about as much respect for his marriage as I do for Scientology (read: ZILCH.).

The Supreme Court decision today gets the federal government OUT of people’s bedrooms.  It tells children of gay couples that their parents are not weird or wrong to love each other and that the family they’ve forged is just as valuable and meaningful as the one with a mom and dad.  It tells gay and lesbian couples that their relationships will no longer be considered unworthy of the same protections and respect by the country in which they probably pay taxes, vote, and contribute to society.  It means that loving couples can express their commitment to each other in the same way that I can.  It means that they can enjoy the same legal and financial protections as heterosexual couples.

If there is ONE thing I have learned in life it’s that you cannot choose who you love.  Gay or straight- doesn’t matter.  You love who you love. So, a hearty thank you to the five Supreme Court Justices who decided that we will no longer SELECTIVELY grant our citizens the rights to life, liberty and equality (to the remaining four- I say, “HA. Nice try. And Clarence Thomas of the Anita Hill scandal- I can’t say I’m surprised.”).  It’s a huge step in the right direction in an ongoing fight.

DOMA-is-Unconstitutional-Featured

It’s been a banner day for Civil Rights today.  Thanks to the incredible fortitude and bravery of Wendy Davis in Texas (of all places!), women there will go to bed tonight knowing they’ll wake up on more days of NOT being told what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

This fourth of July, there is so much to be thankful for.  I’m proud to live in this country today- slowly, but surely, we are working towards making the words “liberty and justice for all” ring true.

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Being Deaf: Fortunate Side Effects

First, I must express my surprise that Paula Deen has finally managed to cause her own downfall and it wasn’t butter-related.  For shame, Paula.

On with the show.

If you have a WordPress blog, you know that among the stats reported to you are the search terms that were used to find your blog.  I’ve had some odd ones (how to make your own fake puke, putting out electrical fire), but one that really stuck out to me?  “I kinda want to be deaf.

I cannot imagine who typed this:  someone whose kid sibling took up the recorder(cue home movie of me playing the recorder on both an inhale and exhale at age three)?  A person living next to an airport? A new parent? A parent, period.?  A crazy person? Beats the hell out of me, but it certainly got me thinking that there is something to be said for not hearing things.  Or from the side effects that seem to come with the territory.  So, I’ve told you before what it’s like to be deaf and some of the unfortunate parts, but let’s answer another question.  Why is it not always bad to be deaf?

1.  Sleep tight!

Me speaking to my co-worker at a few weeks ago.

Her: I’m exhausted!

Me:  Why so tired?

Her :  Stupid thunderstorms kept me up!

Me:  We had thunderstorms last night??

In the morning, friend is over.

Him:  What the hell is that noise?

Me:  What noise?

Him:  I hear little kids yelling.

Me:  Oh! Probably just my landlord’s kids.  Their rooms run the length of mine. 

Him: How does that not make you insane?!?!….Ohhhhhh, right.

2.  Heightened sense of smell (both a blessing and a curse, but i’ll put it here for the purposes of this exercise).

Boyfriend at the time picks me up from the airport, I hop in the car.

Me:  Did you have fast food for dinner?  It smells like a big mac and fries.

Him:  Yeah- TWO DAYS AGO!!!  

At family gathering at aunt’s house.

Cousin Mia (coming into living room next to kitchen, stands a few feet away from me): Let’s go play something.

Me:  Have you been eating peppers?

Aunt (calling out from kitchen):  Mia, I TOLD you to STOP eating peppers off the cutting board!

3.  The Lipreading.  Oh, the ability to lipread.  It’s an incredible espionage tool (although I wouldn’t mind an Aston Martin ca. 007). 

I wouldn’t even know where to start with this one.  It has served me well countless times, not only because it comprises about 90% of the way in which I “hear” things, but because I have caught a lot of crap I am certain I wasn’t intended to. This can be wildly entertaining for me, if I use these powers for evil.  Those “bad lip reading” videos?  I can actually tell what the heck they are really saying.  Sometimes, when I watch sports, I know the plays before the announcers do or the rest of the viewers because I lip read the coach (occasionally in the huddle, too).  Also, Bill Belichick?  Filthy potty mouth. On a side note, it’s really too bad that lip reading can’t help me figure out what the hell his latest “experiment” is with this Tebow business.  

4.  Ease of tuning out that which you don’t want to hear.

I’m going to be honest here.  I try very hard to hear what’s going on around me.  Unlike a hearing person, I have to CONCENTRATE.  Concentrate on the sound, concentrate on deciphering it, concentrate on the non-verbal cues, etc.  It is really really really easy for me to just let it go.  If I stop concentrating, it just becomes NOISE.  I can zone out.  You can imagine that this can be really useful.  My mom?  She just turns off her hearing aid.  Instant peace and quiet!

5.  Awkward chit-chat can be warded off easily.

“Sorry, I’m deaf” is a perfect deterrent for those pesky awkward situations including, but not limited to:  Religious fanatics at your doorstep at the crack of dawn, salespeople that will NOT leave you to browse in peace, the [insert cause here] advocates accosting you on the street, etc.

On a side note, my mom often gets out of speeding tickets by playing the deaf card.  I haven’t tried this one.  It requires mastery of the deaf accent, and I don’t do that well.

You know, I joke around a lot.  As I’ve said before, it’s so important to be grateful for what you DO have, but honestly, if you can’t laugh about your shortcomings or the less than optimal situation you’re in through no fault of your own, what kind of life is that?  Yeah, it’s tough to be hard of hearing sometimes.  I know from growing up with profoundly deaf parents that it’s even harder, but it isn’t all bad.  I prefer to be an optimist.

When I Went to the Big Apple.

Although as a Boston resident and New Englander, I’m contractually obligated from birth to root for the downfall of the Yankees, I really love visiting New York City.

View of Empire State Building from my friend's apartment approximately 2 minutes before the sky opened up.

View of Empire State Building from my friend’s apartment approximately 2 minutes before the sky opened up.

Mostly, I stick to Manhattan and Coney Island (Mermaid Parade, anyone?), so when my friend got us tickets to see The Postal Service at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, I was pretty psyched.  I had a great time in NYC, but full disclosure:  A LOT went wrong (I’m a disaster magnet)- from me forgetting my phone on the way to the train station at 5:15 a.m. to breaking various things, including my ass (ok, tailbone, but let’s call a spade a spade).  At one point, I said, “Screw it.  I’m going to just enjoy the good stuff, because what the hell else am I going to do?”

I figured I’d give you a little peek at exactly how the weekend went.  I give you….(dramatic pause)….my travel  [b]log.

Thursday

Night:

Start packing to head to friend’s (Melissa’s) house, realize iPad is missing.  Have complete and total meltdown, head back to office at 10:30 p.m. in pouring rain, search in vain.  In midst of ensuing pity-fest when “Find my iPad” refuses to work, allow Melissa’s boyfriend to lure me to their place, with promise of wine.

Friday

5:15 a.m.: 

In taxi realize forgot cell phone.  Cab turns around, tacking four bucks on meter.  Taxi driver most certainly going for world record in slow taxi driving.

 6:15 a.m.:

6 a.m. bus finally starts boarding.  OUTLET WORKS- HOORAY! Seatmate questionable smelling- BOO!

6:20-12:00 p.m:

Read trashy books on Kindle entire bus ride- can feel brain cells dying.  Four hour ride turns into six. However, THIS bus doesn’t catch fire, like the last time I came to NYC in June.

Exhibit A. June 2012.  During a lovely heat wave.

Exhibit A. June 2012. During a lovely heat wave. 

12:20-1:30 p.m.

Camp out at friend’s in Manhattan and call nine different stores asking if they have iPad to no avail.  Want to go back to Boston to throttle idiot at Lucky Brand, who said, ”YES…unfortunately, we DON’T have an iPad.”

1:30 p.m.-3:30 pm

Walk mile and a half to MoMA.  Finally, things looking up.  Pay 25 bucks and let MoMA soothe me.

Take particular interest in this painting, as it seems an accurate summary:

oof

This Read/Reap (Bruce Nauman, 1983) had me rethinking my earlier choice of reading material...guiltily.

Read/Reap (Bruce Nauman, 1983) had me rethinking my earlier choice of reading material…guiltily.

Enjoy some other faves:

From upper left:  1 of six prints: Art and Agriculture, Liam Gillick, 2011; Marilyn Monroe 1, James Rosenquist, 1962; Girl with Ball, Lichtenstein, 1961; Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow and Gray, 1921; Claude Monet, Waterlilies, 1914-26; Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889

From upper left: 1 of six prints: Art and Agriculture, Liam Gillick, 2011; Marilyn Monroe 1, James Rosenquist, 1962; Girl with Ball, Lichtenstein, 1961; Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow and Gray, 1921; Claude Monet, Waterlilies, 1914-26; Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889…

(To browse check out this link to the ENTIRE  amazing collection.)  I’m a wimp and don’t want to get a license infringement notice, so you’ll have to settle for these and this link.

3:30 pm

Meet back up with Melissa and walk mile and a half back to friend’s apartment.  Get scathing looks/comments for suggesting it was just around the corner.  Apparently, “just around the corner and a mile and a half away” would have been more accurate.  (SORRY, M!)

4:00 pm

Stop at gluten-free bakery for Melissa to soften her up.

This got two big thumbs up from Melissa- lots of butter, apparently.  If this means anything to you- it's at the corner of 39th and Lex.

This got two big thumbs up from Melissa- lots of butter, apparently. If this means anything to you- it’s at the corner of 39th and Lex.

5:00 p.m.

Leave Manhattan for Brooklyn.  Caught in torrential downpour.  Have worst fall of life walking into subway (and I was a figure skater and I’m a crazy skier), humiliate self.  Take five minutes to stand up without throwing up or passing out.  Determine will live and can remember vital details about self. Gingerly make way to Brooklyn and Hotel Indigo.

5:30-6:30 p.m.

Settle in at Hotel- which is fabulous.

Who needs a real chandelier when you can have a trippy mural of a chandelier close-up on the ceiling?  This was perfect for a girl with a head injury.

Who needs a real chandelier when you can have a trippy giant mural of a chandelier close-up on the ceiling? This was perfect for a girl with a head injury.

Attempt to do yoga to stretch back.  Catch view of ass in full length mirror in Downward dog.  Cringe.   Passive aggressively banter about what to do for dinner before show.  Finally decide to wing it.

 7:00 p.m.

Realize will miss opening act, decide to get good dinner instead.  End up at Turkish place with vegan/veg/gluten free options for everyone.  Eat best falafel of life.  Things DEFINITELY looking up.  Told by waiter, “I will never forget you.”  Melissa retorts: “She gets that a lot.”  Unsure if this is a compliment.

8:50 p.m. -10:30 p.m.

Barclay’s for The Postal Service Concert!  Take seats with view of Ben Gibbard’s backside.  No one complains.  General agreement that NY show was 98697687687 times better than Boston.

Home of the Brooklyn Nets- Barclay's!  By the time The Postal Service came on, this place was packed to the rafters.

Home of the Brooklyn Nets- Barclay’s! By the time The Postal Service came on, this place was packed to the rafters.

Objects in picture were closer than they appear.  The energy was electric and the sound quality was unparalleled!  It's times like this i am so thankful for the hearing that I have.

Objects in picture were closer than they appear. The energy was electric and the sound quality was unparalleled! It’s times like this i am so thankful for the hearing that I have.

10:45 p.m.

Target trip for Aleve- starting to really feel that fall in an unpleasant way.  Luckily, store closing, only buy Aleve and not useless crap.  Walk back towards hotel and take in a few sights.  Melissa in instagram heaven.

BAM

For more information on Art in the Streets, click on image.

For more information on Art in the Streets, click on image.

art in streets mural

 11:30 p.m 

Hit neighborhood “hip” bar.  Highly suspicious when bartender has no idea what a whiskey smash is.  End up with decent drink and people watch.  Conclude that I could show up dressed like a cross between Katy Perry and Liberace and no one would bat an eye.  (P.S. If anyone knows an app that could create this image, do let me know.)

3:00 a.m. 

Bed!  Take several aleve in the hopes will be able to move in morning.  Not optimistic.

Saturday

10:30 a.m. 

Schlep creaking body into scalding shower, emerge somewhat more mobile.  Pop more Aleve.  Discover gold earring fell out of ear at some point.  Cannot locate.  Still beat Melissa in the getting ready to go game.

I am ALWAYS ready before she is. ;)

I am ALWAYS ready before she is, but this is because her hair isn’t hopeless and she can do more than throw it up, in her defense.

11:45 a.m.

Check out of hotel, leave name in case earring located.  Not optimistic.  Head to Union Square/14th Street for Farmer’s Market.  Have best apple juice of my life and strawberries so ripe could smell them before spotted them.

Eat this sandwich, made on a park bench with purchased ingredients from said Farmer's Market.

Eat this sandwich, made on a park bench with purchased ingredients from said Farmer’s Market.

With this view of Union Square Park.

With this view of Union Square Park.

2:30 p.m.

Revel in nerdiness and hit “The Strand.” Predictably, purchase tote bag designed by Kate Spade and book of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald (“Flapper and Philosophers”).

the strand

3:00 p.m. 

Head to Central Park.  Miscalculate distance.  FINALLY get to Sheep’s Meadow.  Lots of picture taking ensues.

Central park

Bonus points if you can spot half naked people- there were A LOT of them.

Bonus points if you can spot half naked people- there were A LOT of them.

To end photo shoot, do best impression of a Sears Portrait Studio Glamour shot:

Notice how the light reflects off of BRIGHT WHITE SKIN.  Sheeesh!  I look radioactive.

Notice how the light reflects off of BRIGHT WHITE SKIN. Sheeesh! I look radioactive.

Resolve to get a little sun.

5:30 p.m. 

Head to Penn Station at mercy of kamikaze cab driver.  Emerge relatively unscathed after harrowing trip through Times Square.

times square

Somehow, I made it through the weekend- I was still in one piece, I managed to have a great time, and that, as they say, was that.  A four hour train ride, plenty of pineapple (and dirty jokes), and we were home, sweet home.  I hope your weekend was as zany and fun as mine!

How I Deal With a No Good, Terribly Awful Bad Day

Growing up, my dad taught me several things:

  •   ALWAYS make sure the ladder is secure before climbing onto the roof.  If you DO find yourself in a free fall, try “tuck and roll.”
  •   Installing an ironing board that folds down to sit over the toilet in the laundry room is a bad idea, even if the room is super small (it took ONE pant leg in the toilet to make him take that thing down).
  •   Stuff your face when in the orchard picking apples.
  • There is nothing better than a dog.
  • You get what you pay for.  Buy quality.
  • There are a lot of schmucks out there (“You know.  Ronald Reagan. President. Actor. Schmuck.”  That’s a direct quote.  I do not feel strongly about Reagan one way or the other.).
  •  Adding red wine to chicken will turn it purple (not an issue, since I don’t eat meat, but knowledge is power!).
  • Driving a speedboat onto the beach like a maniac, will, indeed, get rid of SOME barnacles on its hull.
  • Wooden roller coasters are the best kind.
  • If you find yourself in the drugstore with odd implements in your hair because you let your kid play hairdresser and she didn’t take them all out before you left the house…just roll with it (it was a butterfly barrette, ok?  It was pretty.).
Dad and I- obviously, this was the 80's.  And interior decorators, my parents were not.

Dad and I- obviously, this was the 80’s. And interior decorators, my parents were not.  It is also possible I am drooling in this picture.

Above all, though, what I learned from my dad was the power of humor and the importance of hope.  Growing up, my dad was the consummate ladies man and bad boy.  He was an all-star baseball player, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a chronic flirt with a penchant for numbers.

Appearances can be deceiving, though.  He was deaf, he had juvenile onset (Type I) diabetes and later, he would find out that he had Friedrich’s ataxia, a disease that erodes the cerebellum.  Eventually, this would rob him of his ability to walk, and the dexterity that allowed him to take a car engine apart and put it back together (he could build ANYTHING). When my dad passed away, he was blind from diabetes complications, profoundly deaf and confined to a wheelchair.  He was on dialysis from kidney failure (another diabetes complication) and he was hospitalized again and again as infections and other complications wracked his body.

I write this not to make you pity him, but I tell his story so that people can understand how truly amazing it was that he had not lost hope.  Hope that his life would improve.  Hope that he would be able to rejoin society.  Hope for his children.

For the last few years of his life, communication was exceedingly difficult.  He was trapped in his body- he couldn’t hear, but he had plenty to say.  When we first realized he was going blind and would no longer be able to read lips or see sign language, I had to think fast.  When I was a child we played a game before bed time where he would trace letters and words on my back.   So, I told his girlfriend (he was in FL, I was in RI at the time) about our game and told her to give it a try.  She called me later that day and reported back that she started tracing out the letters of my name on his back, and he started to cry when he realized what she was doing.  He remembered.

It was our game that became his lifeline.  Other than “two taps for yes and one for no,” every sentence was painstakingly spelled out on his back.  At the time of his death, he was learning morse code, hopeful that this would make communication easier, and that he would be able to travel with a companion (his own Annie Sullivan, if you will).  He had turned down my offer of a kidney if we were a match, but was hopeful that dialysis would continue to work.  He talked about the future.  He still laughed and joked.  Often, he’d poke fun of himself.  Sometimes he would tease me (mostly about my love life and shoe obsession).  Sometimes he’d tell stories of his youth (he was an incredible story teller and very very funny).  I would rest my head on his shoulder or if we were sitting on the floor, on his knee so that he could feel me laughing as he spoke.   Towards the end, it felt as though he was cataloging his life- getting the stories out while he still could and making sure his history would carry on.

It does carry on.  Even though it’s been six years since I’ve heard his voice, his laugh, or gotten one of his really really great hugs, it is always, always with me.  I watched my dad die.  I sat and held his hand with my brother holding the other.  I was with him when he went out of this world like he was with me when I came into it.  It changed me irrevocably. I lost 80 pounds and turned my life around.  I take better care of myself. I take chances.  Every single day, I am thankful I can see, I can walk, run, do a cartwheel, ice skate, ski, play volleyball, walk on the beach, and so many other countless things. When I complain about the small stuff, I try to remember my dad- quick-witted and sharp minded as ever, but trapped in a body that didn’t work, and how he refused to quit.  He refused to accept that this was the hand he had been dealt. He had his rough moments, but he handled it with humor and he even handled it with optimism, when optimism was hard to come by.

So, yeah.  Maybe I had a bad day. That’s ok.   It’s relative, really.  It’s ok to wallow for a bit, but sooner, rather than later, I know to pick myself up and dust myself off.  I have to believe that things will get better.  I have to try not to sweat the small stuff.  How can I not?  After all, I AM my father’s daughter.  Happy Father’s Day.

When Technology Turns on You.

I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m actually pretty proficient with technology… aside from television.  For the love of all that is holy- you do NOT need six remote controls (I’m looking at you, *almost* every male I know).  Maybe get this thing (or something similar):

Or something like it!

(click for source/link)

I am also shamefully addicted to gadgets.  Generally, I do not leave the house without my iPhone and iPad.

Let’s talk about my iPhone, though.  Armed with an upgrade after having my iPhone 4 for two years, I fell victim to the iPhone 5.  Out of the box, I was enthralled with Siri and I confess: I asked the customary, “Siri, where can I bury a body?” question, along with several others not suitable for mention here until the novelty wore off.  Once I got Siri to stop calling me “Jennifer,” and subsequently, to stop calling me “Jenny with a y,” I was pretty thrilled with her.  Even months into our relationship, I still loved Siri.   There were lots of ways that she made things just a little easier/faster.

Lately, however, Siri and I just haven’t been getting along so well.  A few weeks ago, I had just emerged from a comedy show with my friend, still laughing at the best punchline of the night (“My weave, my business!”) and discussing how a mention of Mexican food left us wanting a plate of nachos for dinner.

Sadly, we weren’t even in the same state as my favorite place for them (shout out to the amazingly tasty vegan nachos at Garden Grille Cafe in RI!). Instead, we were in Cambridge, it was late at night, and as I’m not as familiar with the lay of the land in this little republic across the Charles River, I decided to consult the ever knowledgeable Siri.  It went a little like this:

Jenny: Siri, where can I get some nachos around here?

Siri: I have found the following recipes for nachos- ***cue list of nacho recipes from the internet***

Jenny (outraged):  Bitch, please!  I don’t wanna MAKE nachos, I wanna EAT them.

Siri:  There is no need for profanity.

Jenny:  Suck it.

Ever since this startling show of maturity on my part, I am convinced she’s turned on me as she refuses to work properly.  It’s like she’s playing deaf.  Or dead.  She’s worse than me playing that stupid “Telephone” game.

Sadly, I now have to schedule things on my calendar myself, google map locations myself, schedule reminders for myself, and horror of all horrors, actually open up the internet application and search for things myself.  Luckily, since an unfortunate voice recognition text to my stepfather in which the word “virtually” was interpreted as “vaginally” and I didn’t catch it before hitting send, I have always texted manually, so no loss there.  Although, I have to say that it’s not really all that lucky that the message went to my stepdad.

I’ve started to wonder: has technology made us [i.e. me] lazy? 

It’s possible.  And likely.  I can’t remember the last time I used a hard copy of ANYTHING when looking up/researching information.  I haven’t used an encyclopedia not starting with “wiki” in years.  I’ve talked several friends down from the ledge after excessive use of WebMD (Apparently, every affliction on this planet can be somehow tied to cancer).  I can buy size tall pants online and not have to go to 76878 different stores desperately searching for anything other than an unintentional highwater.  I don’t have to torture myself trying to think of where the HELL I saw the vaguely familiar actor on TV- hello, IMDB!  This is just the way of things.

Yesterday, I was telling my nine year old cousin that when I was her age, we didn’t have the internet in school.  When she expressed in both her atrocious facial expression and words that this was APPALLING and unimaginable, I joked that my parents had to chisel their essays on a stone tablet back in the day.  I think she might have actually believed me.

If technology continues to turn on me, I suppose you can expect a post on my trip to the quarry to mine my slate, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.  Siri and I are officially on a break.

Miss Communication

Here are a couple of  little public service announcements for you.   First, always be careful when signing “hungry.”

ASL_Hungry2

More than one swipe of your hand and it means hungry for something else entirely.  Second,  if you teach your friends how to sign “bitch,” it’s probably going to come back and bite you in the ass at some point.  Voila! Those are my announcements for today.

Anyway, this morning, I made my usual pit stop at Starbucks for my usual overpriced (yet delicious) latte.  While I was waiting for said latte, I spotted a guy wearing this shirt for gay pride today in Boston:

For those of you who don't know how to fingerspell: this says "equal" and it's part of the human rights campaign for gay, lesbian and transgender equality.

For those of you who don’t know how to fingerspell: this says “equal” and it’s part of the human rights campaign for gay, lesbian and transgender equality.

Curious as to where he got it, I politely inquired, and wasn’t shocked when he didn’t respond, but looked up in a delayed reaction and signed, “sorry, deaf.”  I smiled and proceeded to sign, “No problem.  Where’d you buy your shirt? ”  He was pleasantly surprised and we struck up a quick conversation.  The entire time we were chatting, all of Starbucks stared.

Now, I’m accustomed to being stared at when I sign with my mom.  It’s blatant and I think that it goes with the territory.  It’s not all that commonplace for many people and so they’re curious.  It doesn’t bother me.  But certainly, in this case, the irony of this was not lost on me.  We were chatting in sign language about a shirt that advertises “equality.”  I was reminded of the fact that there are inequalities that befall people like my mom and others who are profoundly deaf- it’s everywhere.

Every movie theater that doesn’t offer accommodations, every insurance company that won’t cover hearing aids, every play or public event that doesn’t have interpreters, shitty captioning on Youtube, Netflix offerings without captioning, people who say nasty things, think deaf people are stupid, and don’t bother to repeat themselves- they are all perpetuators of inequality.  Shame on them.  And while we’re at it, shame on anyone who thinks it’s within their rights to tell ANYONE who they should or shouldn’t love.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we communicate lately, in my master’s program studies, as a designer, as a hard of hearing person, as a daughter of deaf parents, and it blows my mind to think about the thousands of different ways that we deliver messages- literally and figuratively-to the world around us.  But let’s be honest- there is nothing like a little deaf (mis?)communication for a good laugh, so here are some good ones as of late.

During an increasingly desperate search for a lamp for my new parsons desk:

Me: Let’s go to Cardi’s furniture.  I’m desperate- I’ve been looking for a lamp for my new desk for a MONTH.

Mom:  I HATE that place.  They stalk you and follow you around.  They told nana she had to have someone with her when she went in there!

Me:  Well, THAT’S creepy…

Mom: I KNOW!  Let’s just sign the whole time, pretend to be deaf mutes, and they’ll leave us alone!

Me: BRILLIANT!

It’s always super fun to pretend to be stone deaf and then shock the crap out of people when I speak.

Late one night on text:

Josh:  What do you think are the odds mom will get me Taco Bell on her way home from work?

Me:  Er…She’s not so good with the drive thru and that’s the only thing open now, yes?

Josh: I really want Taco Bell.

Me: First, ew.  But, sometimes she drives up to the speaker, waits until she hears SOMETHING (or not), yells, “I’m deaf, I have to come to the window!” and just drives on.  Sometimes I can still hear them yelling as she’s driving away.

Josh: Ok, so, maybe no.

A few days later….

screenshot

I’m pleased (for my brother) to report that this one was a win, people!

Why I Stopped Food Blogging.

In 2007 I started a blog called “Colorhungry,” joining the legions of people starting food and cooking blogs.  I reasoned that #1 I knew how to cook thanks to my grandma, who insisted that I learn, “not to feed a husband,” but to feed myself; and #2 I passionately loved to write.  Obviously, I thought, this would make for a SMASHING success.  My overactive imagination (taking a break from pairing me up with Ryan Reynolds- don’t judge)  conjured up thoughts of appearances on Oprah and an invitation to join the Food Network.  I laugh hysterically thinking about this now, because let me just tell you- I got a pretty rude wakeup call and it happened much faster than I could have imagined.

I have nothing at all against cooking or food blogs.  So, why did I pretty quickly grow to loathe my blog?  I resented it.  Every meal became about “Can I put this on the blog?”  It stopped being about the love of food and cooking because it was about getting the perfect shot and writing down a delicious sounding, easy-to-follow recipe (I have so much respect for recipe developers).  The writing started to feel routine and contrived.  Photographing while cooking?  Terrible.  The steam fogs up the lens and you constantly have to wash your hands so you don’t get the camera dirty (and you better keep tons of hand lotion on hand to prevent a rhinoceros-like skin texture).  In the search for the perfect shot, the food often goes cold or loses its luster.  Often, by the time I took a halfway decent picture in crappy light, I was either starving or so frustrated that if I so much as looked at the food for another minute, I was liable to throw a very unflattering fit (don’t judge).

Blogging and writing became a chore because I had boxed myself into this little niche and once I established it, it was very difficult to get out of it.  When you’ve built up one small facet of yourself and that’s all you’ve shown because you THINK that’s what people want, you figure that’s what people expect. I felt trapped.  I never felt like I could write about what I wanted to write about- it was a food/cooking blog and that was that.  Towards the end of Colorhungry, I tried to infuse it with a little more of my actual personality, but by that point, I had lost any passion I might have once had and it felt like too big of a task to try to change it when I wasn’t motivated to do it.

Now, the purpose of this post is NOT to disparage food/cooking blogs.  On the contrary, there are several that I still read and one of my dearest friends in the world is a food/cooking blogger, with a fabulous blog, in which she often branches out of the food/cooking box.  My point with this post is simple.  Blogging only works well when you feel something about what it is you are writing about.  When your writing lacks soul (whether it be passion, interest, humor, etc), it all too often becomes a chore for you and formulaic for readers.  I see so many well-established blogs, of all different persuasions, floundering because the writers have not allowed their blogs to change WITH them.  Blogging burnout is NOT a mythical creature.

I started this blog because I was itching to write again, but this time I wanted to leave myself open to possibilities.  There are so many facets to me- who I am, what I do, what I love, how I perceive the world, that it would be a disservice to MYSELF to limit opportunities.  This time it’s not about how many readers/followers I can get.  It’s not about perks.  It’s not about anything other than the sheer love of writing.  Don’t misunderstand- I am SO THANKFUL to and humbled by everyone who reads and likes this little blog of mine.  This time around, though, when someone responds and connects with me or what I write, it’s just a little sweeter because I know its ME that they’re responding to.  There are A LOT of “theme” blogs out there right now- so many genres to choose from.  I think it’s ok not to fit yourself into a category.  I can honestly say that I have a lot more fun that way.