I am currently writing this from the sun-drenched countryside, a fresh brew of tea is in the pot, there are cats sleeping in a sunny spot in the kitchen, a tractor has just ambled past and I am chewing on a piece of hay. Honestly, the last bit is made up, but I can see a whole field of hay so if I did want to complete the stereotypical country view, it would be possible... just not that pleasant.
What it is about our surroundings that affects the mental pictures that we build? If I was writing this from a penthouse flat in New York, I would probably have my take-out coffee by my side, a small yappy dog nearby and a maid turning down my bed. Likewise, thinking about Fab Friend in Peru right now, I imagine her at a computer with a plait in her hair, tanned and fab, about to hit the beach 'til sundown.
It's not just situations that we can build up whole, often imaginary pictures, about though. Quite often I will build entire mental lives for people I see, without even having spoken to them, not in a nasty way either, just giving them a character based on their appearance. Do hearing people do this, too? Someone must let me know. I was just wondering whether, in that first, fleeting conversation, if you, like me are building more of a visual picture, than one based on what the person is saying?
I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing to do though. It's not judgemental as long as you don't let it get in the way of the person who you are really talking to.
Take the other day, I was out with someone and a tune came on that I recognised. 'Oh, it's David Gray,' I remarked. 'I thought you were deaf,' was his reply. A bit shocked I explained that I was deaf but could hear some stuff. 'It's black and white for me,' he said. 'You're either deaf or you're not.'
So shocked was I, that I didn't even stand up for myself. What I did realise though that was, in those first fleeting moments when he found out about my hearing loss, he built a mental picture. And, rather than letting that change with time as he got to know me, he kept trying to get me to fit it. And, do you know what, it didn't work.
I too had built a mental picture of him in those first, fleeting moments and, it taught me just how wrong those mental pictures can be.
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