Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Deaf Girly sings (hmmm)

Working from home makes me do odd things. 

Things like eating an entire packet of Rich Tea biscuits without even noticing and working my way through some horrendous Spotify suggestions because I refuse to pay for the Premium service as really, it’s basically falling on deaf ears.

However, today’s procrastination project quite possibly took the biscuit, the very last Rich Tea in fact.

Today I decided to try a Spotify instrumental of a song I know the words to and I recorded myself on PhotoBooth on my Mac singing it…

Why? Well, I can tell you one thing, it wasn’t to become a YouTube star called Deaf Girly Sings – although actually, if I wasn’t so anonymous, that might not be a bad plan – it was to see how bad my voice sounds when I sing.

So I sang along to Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran, which is one of my favourite songs at the moment while Spotify produced a perfectly acceptable instrumental version of the song to sing along to.

And can I sing? Well, I’m not really sure as I don’t know whether I hear what most hearing people hear. But all the windows in the flat and crystal glasses are still in one piece so perhaps it wasn’t completely horrific. And I didn’t see any neighbourhood cats running for cover either.

Seriously though, I would love to be able to sing. Sing in a way that people liked to listen to. Sing in a way that when you were singing along to music in your car you didn’t have people wishing they were in the car next door. And singing in a way that didn’t result in your boss writing you a post-it note (albeit a lovely cute one) requesting you not to harmonise to the Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s version of Under a Bridge or she was going to have to jump out of a window.

In fact, if a genie popped out of my Turkish tea pot that’s currently bubbling away on the stove right now and said you can choose between two things, a perfect singing voice or perfect hearing, I would honestly have to go away and think about it, because as we know from The X Factor auditions, perfect hearing doesn’t necessarily give you a perfect singing voice.

When I was six and more hearing I was pretty obsessed with music. I was desperate to play the violin and my Ma finally realised how serious I was when she found me with her guitar under my chin attempting to play it with a pencil for a bow.

But what I didn’t realise then was that making the notes wasn’t guess work. For most people they were audible.

At 18, while practising for my grade 8 flute – which I did get, albeit not with startlingly great marks – I realised, having lost a chunk of my hearing two years previously, that I needed to build on my audio memory as much as possible. And each night before I went to bed, I would play middle C on the piano in my bedroom and then the A above that and sing them, locking them away in my head so that pitch was always there. So that even if one day I wouldn’t hear them, they would be in my head. For my flute this was brilliant as I just mentally transposed everything I was playing down an octave and my grumpy mermaid in Reinecke’s Sonata Undine sounded more like a disgruntled baby hippo to me.

Anyway, as I get back to the proper task in hand for this afternoon – writing and delete the file called ‘DG sings’ for all of eternity. I can safely say that today’s procrastination activity certainly ranks up there with weird things to do when alone in a flat. But if you know of anyone who can teach people with a hearing loss to sing – Gareth Malone, a new documentary perhaps? –  please drop me a line as it’s up there on my lifetime achievements wish list.

Happy Wednesday peeps

DG

x

Monday, 16 March 2015

Deaf Girly and the optician

This morning I had an opticians appointment to check my contact lenses.

Being a girl of very little hearing, I am always quite anxious about looking after my eyesight, particularly as I am already really shortsighted. Shortsighted to the point where if I didn’t have my contact lenses or glasses on, I would be unable to see anything beyond a few blurry shapes. 

So anyway, I’ve recently changed opticians and today was my first appointment at the new place. Once there, I explained I needed to lipread or have really clear hand gestures to show me where I needed to look. It’s amazing how similar ‘Look up, down, left, right, blink’ etc sound in a dark room even when I do have my contacts and hearing aids in – and the optician was great, waving his hand in each direction and speaking slowly and clearly. 

He then took out my contacts to do some eyeball-checking tests and started to talk, which of course didn’t work at all as I couldn’t even see where his head was anymore, let alone what his lips were saying. Cue much scrabbling around for my glasses.

Next, I went and did a nerve test. For this I had to wear a patch over one eye and watch a screen and click a button whenever a white dot appeared. I failed the test as the assistant doing it had forgotten that I needed my contact lenses in for this test to see and that I needed to be looking at him to hear. It was a total car crash – I was almost fast-tracked to a nerve specialist as the results basically said I was dead.

However, once we had established the test instructions and restored my vision, I realised it was basically a hearing test for my eyes and as I sat there clicking away at the now-visible white dot, it made me realise how amazing it is that I can be so horrifically shortsighted and have this made completely perfect with contact lenses or glasses.

Thinking back to my bleep tests at the audiology clinic, I know for a fact that a bleep test with my hearing aids in would not product a score of 100% or even close. 

Hearing aids don’t make everything perfect. They enhance and add another dimension to what I hear but they don’t give me the equivalent of 20/20 vision.

And that got me thinking about the day that perhaps hearing aids will do this. A day where I can put on my hearing aids and they give my ears what my glasses give my eyes. 

Wouldn’t that be amazing?

But in the meantime I remain incredibly happy that at least one of my senses can be restored to 100% and the other one? Well as I’ve said many times before, I’m more than fine with it for now.

Happy Monday peeps.

DG

xx

Monday, 16 February 2015

Deaf Girly and foreign languages

I am still grinning from the great weekend that I just had.

I went to Rotterdam (or anywhere) to watch the tennis with FJM, saw Big Bro and also caught up with Fab Friend.

Rotterdam is an amazing city with the most bonkers architecture including Cube Houses that you can actually go inside – a museum one anyway – which left FJM and I feeling more than a little seasick. Your eyes don't know which way is up as none of the angles makes sense.


On Saturday we set off to explore Rotterdam and the first thing we stumbled upon was Markthal – an amazing market hall full of food from all over the world. The building itself was pretty impressive, too.



There I discovered they sold Turkish simit – something I've had a 10-year long obsession with. It's the most amazing bread ever. I love it so much, I even once tried to make it but it went a bit wrong, exploded and started leaking out of the oven while cooking.

But that's a whole other story – and one that's probably in documented on this blog somewhere.

Anyway, one of the things that amazes me about Dutch people is how amazing they all are at speaking English. Everyone can speak English to you. But I feel guilty about this. It seems wrong that you are in another country and making people speak English to you.

So I did try to say thank you and stuff in my limited Dutch, but I have a feeling my pronunciation was so terrible they probably just thought I was saying something random in English.

I love languages and while I find them quite easy to learn on paper, I don't find them easy to speak or understand when spoken. Indeed, my knowledge of French is still quite good, but I cannot lipread it, which means it doesn't matter how much vocab I have, I will still never hear what a French person is saying to me, unless I learn to lipread in French.

It's not impossible. It will just take time. Time to learn how the the different words, vowels and patterns look while at the same time piecing together the different language to work out what is being said.

In my 20s I spent quite a lot of time going to Turkey with Sharkira Shakira. In Turkey, not everyone speaks English, so I thought I would learn Turkish, first with SS's help and then with a book that I worked my way through. And while I learnt the grammar and vocab, I promise you, I could not get to the end of a sentence without the person I was saying it to bursting out laughing.

'What are you laughing at?' I asked SS one day as she wiped away the tears of hysteria.

And apparently, I had learnt Turkish gangster style. My pronunciation of the language made me sound like, as SS put it, a Turkish wide boy. She suggested I added the word 'innit' at the end of my sentences to help. I was not amused.

I persevered with Turkish and on going on holiday to a place where there were no English people at all, I was able to use it a bit more. But still, people burst out laughing at the sound of a blonde English girl speaking gangster Turkish.

I wish there was a way around the pronunciation and lipreading challenge. But the problem is, I have enough trouble pronouncing words from my own language and still don't get the lipreading right either, and that's with 30-odd years of practice.

In the meantime however, it can't hurt to practice. So I'm just off to have a go at some beginners Dutch on the DuoLingo website so that when I am next in Rotterdam (or anywhere) I can give it a go, hopefully without people laughing at me.

Happy Monday peeps.

DG