Thursday, 28 April 2011

Turning 3 and going deafer

Today is another Thankful Thursday! Hurrah to all these bank holidays I say.

So firstly, I am thankful that Kate and Wills are getting married… I get a day off, get to watch the festivities with the Singing Swede and…

Nope… thanks to the timing we don’t exactly get a lie-in tomorrow, do we?

I’m off to the Singing Swede’s for breakfast bright and early and ready to watch Kate emerge in her ‘boring dress’ as it was announced on BBC Breakfast this morning.

Poor Kate.

Moving on to far more important things…

Last weekend saw another cause for celebration – Deafinitely Girly turned three!!!!!

Three years I’ve been writing this blog now, putting down my thoughts, frustrations and feelings on the screen for all your loyal people to read. Looking back through the archives it’s an amazing record of all that I got up to, from dates with boys and new jobs to birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and of course deaf mishaps.

It’s made me realise that although I sometimes don’t feel like my life is moving forward, it deafinitely is. In the last three years I have been promoted twice, bought my own flat, fallen in love, fallen out of love, kissed many, many frogs, had a very unpleasant hospital stay and lost a bit more of my hearing.

And how do I know this? Well, I have a very high-tech way of testing my hearing by erm… turning on my car stereo.

Five years ago when I got the car, I could drive up the motorway at 75mph and hear the music on volume level 25. Three years ago, I was up to 30, and in the last year or so, this has crept up to 45. At the weekend, it hit 50 and I felt like that Granny in the Specsavers Hearing Aid advert where she’s driving along breaking windows with her bass booming from her Nissan Micra.

That’s me! Deafinitely Girly, zooming down the motorway with Krezip – a most excellent Dutch band – blaring out of my stereo at such levels that the Dutch in Holland could probably hear it.

I don’t really mind that I appear to be going deafer. Sometimes it’s scary but there are quite frankly worse things in life than having to turn your TV up a tad or not being able to listen to music in the car except at earth-shattering levels.

I really should go to the audiologist and find out if there are any snazzy new aids to help me now, but I probably won’t. Not because I am dog in a manger about the whole thing, but because I like my world as it is. It’s comforting, mine, cosy and like I said, mine.

This is the world I was given and until hearing aids do more than make me fall over from the shock of how loud everything is, it is the world I am staying in.

So look out for Deafinitely Girly – three years old, car stereo blaring and completely oblivious to the sound pollution she leaves in her wake…

I’ll be the one smiling contently.

And that is what I am thankful for. You see, three years ago, I wasn’t so content. Writing was my therapy for a lot of the frustration I felt. And it worked.

So here’s to many more years of DG – here’s to the love, frogs, hilarious mishearings and everything else life has to offer.

Weclome to my world people, it’s great!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Saying words I can't hear

Wow, what a lovely Easter weekend I had with The Rents oop norf.

One of the things I notice most when I am at The Rents is how comfortable I am with my speech. I don’t worry about making faux pas with my pronunciation, which means I make plenty... usually followed by giggling corrections from either Ma or Pa.

This weekend I got ethereal and Godalming wrong, giving both equal syllables...

*blush!

I have been saying both of these words for years, but no one has ever corrected me, but then when in unfamiliar company, I do tend to simplify my vocabulary to prevent this kind of thing happening around people who might be quick to judge me.

Anyway, apart from having a lovely time with Ma, Pa, Gma and Nottnum Uncle, I also read an entire book in the sunshine – it’s called Chances by Freya North, who is one of my favourite authors.

During my 20s, she wrote about 20-somethings in London, and in this book, she wrote about a 30-something who lived alone and eventually did manage to wade through the sea of men who didn’t value her and find one who did.

Freya North books are Happy Ever Afters, that’s for sure. They restore your faith in human nature, in that childhood belief that everything is going to be OK. That doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen in her books, and she truthfully portrays pain, loss, anger and all the rest of it, but she does put gentle reminders in that there are happy endings out there.

Recently, I had come to doubt this. I had come to doubt whether anybody would actually like me for me. I don’t expect a love life like a Freya North novel, although it would be nice, but I do kind of expect a Happy Ever After, kind of because, I don’t see why I shouldn’t have that.

But who decides who gets Happy Ever Afters? Is it the person themselves? The person who takes the leap of faith and makes the decision to love the other person faults and all? Some completely different factor such as fate?

Why is it that some people so effortlessly find their happy ever afters, some people never do, some people pursue something in the hope it could be a Happy Ever After, and some people can tell a failed happy ever after from 50 paces and so never try? And who is right here?

It was these kind of questions that were hurtling through my mind yesterday as I settled down to read Chances. And it was during my perusing that the answer kept coming back to me. It is about chances – taking chances, chance meetings, chance occurrences, a game of chance. When you throw ever kind of chance in a big pot, that’s what makes tragedy, comedy, and of course romance.

So with this in mind, I will just have to accept that there’s a chance I may fall in love and a chance that person may fall in love back, there’s a chance we will have a happy ever after and chance we may not. But running alongside that is my power to take chances, to help my Happy Ever After and help prevent my tragedy.

Some things are out of my power. I cannot control people’s emotions, I cannot make people fall in love with me. But I can be me, Deafinitely Girly, lover of all things pink and chocolate, a ditzy, mispronouncing blonde girl who whirlwinds through life in my own unique way...

And I hope that if I continue to remember that my Happy Ever After is 50% my set of chances, then there is hope.

Which also reminds me... Happy Ever Afters are not just finding that person, they are not just about falling in love. I mean you can do both of those things and be thoroughly miserable. They are about finding who you are and being as true to that as possible.

That is what I intend to do, and if I find a like-minded person who would like to keep me company then great, and if not? Well, I keep taking chances and write my own happy ever after...

Thursday, 21 April 2011

A very Thankful Thursday

Today is Thankful Thursday because tomorrow is just one of the many bank holidays coming up in the next month or so and I probably won’t be blogging.

So what am I thankful for?

Well, my new gym membership, for one, which is a bit more swanky than the last one and means I can hit the gym with the Singing Swede and London Aunt. I am also thankful that as a result of this, I will have my double-figure figure under control by the time the first wedding rolls around in May.

Eeek!

I am also thankful for the Royal Wedding next week, for giving me a day off. I plan to watch it with the Singing Swede, simply because it might be quite interesting. I remember watching Prince Andrew’s wedding as a child with First Ever Friend and our mums, and being distinctly unimpressed by the whole thing as I had quite exacting ideas about what a prince and princess should look like and they did not fit the bill.

I was deafinitely a royalist as a child. My Ma’s ma took me to see the Queen once in Windsor. She was riding through in a carriage and we had a spot right at the front. As she went past, I exclaimed loudly, ‘But where’s her crown?’ I was genuinely disappointed that she didn’t wear it all the time.

Anyway, this weekend I am seeing The Rents, which will be nice. We’re going to catch up, celebrate St George’s Day and Easter, which will probably involve quite a lot of food...

Which brings me full circle to what I am thankful for today:

My new gym membership!!!!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Proving my deafness

Yesterday, I got stopped at the ticket barrier of my tube station near work because of my Freedom Pass. Actually I got called to, just after coming through the barriers successfully. It is because of the possibility of this happening that I always slow down when I come through ticket barriers as I can’t hear people asking to see proof that it’s my Freedom Pass – given to me because of my deafness.

Luckily yesterday, I picked up on the guy’s body language and so stopped and looked at him and was able to guess that was what he wanted... after all, it was unlikely to be anything else.

Occasionally though, you get overenthusiastic bus drivers who also ask to see your Freedom Pass, and until recently, I wasn’t on high alert for this. One time, another passenger chased me all the way upstairs to the back of the bus to come and get me because the bus driver wouldn’t go anywhere until I’d showed him my photo card.

It was very embarrassing!

But continuing on this week’s theme of finding the positives, I’ve discovered when travelling on the tube since I started my new job, my accuracy at reading body language means I am usually quite successful at getting a seat, as I can see the little movements people do when their station is approaching. Sometimes it’s obvious – they put their book away and gather their things – but other times it’s little things such as looking out the window more, checking their phone quickly for messages or tapping their feet... all these seem to imply their station is coming up soon.

Of course, it’s not foolproof. Yesterday, I was almost trampled by a woman who was intent on sitting in the seat I was walking towards, and indeed I wasn’t going to fight her for it... although I was a bit shocked by her determination!

And on that note, I’d better get to work...

Have a sunshiny day peeps

DG
x

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

My deafness makes me...

Today I really realised how deaf I am and how much I need subtitles when watching BBC Breakfast local news. Usually I can roughly get what’s going on from the stilted, delayed subtitles, but today, there were none.

Not a single scrap of text for the first few minutes of the news. I missed the travel information and only just got the subtitles back in time for the weather, which let’s face it, even for me is pretty self explanatory!

I hate it when I watch TV and don’t know what’s going on. While in Scotland recently, it turned out Mr and Mrs J are big Newsnight fans. I knew there was a reason I didn’t watch it, but it slipped my mind as I enthusiastically sat down for an interesting debate with Simon Callow thrown in for good measure. But it was pointless. The subtitles were too slow to follow, and according to Mr J, weren’t even right half the time. In the end, I fell asleep and felt very uncultured about the whole thing.

It reminded me of when, as a teenager, we used to go on school trips to see Shakespeare at the theatre and I used to die of boredom the whole way through thinking I was stupid for not enjoying it. Indeed, back then, I used to think that nobody heard the words and just went along to say, ‘Yaaahs, I’ve seen the latest Shakespeare...’ but then Stagetext came along and I realised that, if the words are there, Shakespeare can be riveting.

It’s this sort of example I use when people ask me what I can and can’t hear – as it’s a very difficult thing to explain. I guess I don’t know what I am missing, and therefore assume that it’s missing for everyone. I mean, I didn’t know that birds sang when I was little, and I thought that alarm clocks were meant to be hard to hear so that you were more worried about sleeping through one and more likely to wake in a panic naturally.

I also thought that you were meant to make up your own words to Kylie; that dictation at school was a guessing game of how the story might go, and that French listening exams were designed to be muffled as though they were taking place in a realistically noisy setting!

Basically, before I knew I was deaf, and for quite a good many few years afterwards, I thought that things I couldn’t hear were normal challenges in life for everybody. And thank goodness in a way, because I approached them from that angle.

Can’t hear Kylie – I’ll make up my own words = helped my creativity no end!

Can’t hear French listening – I’ll guess it = gave me an extensive knowledge of French adjectives.

Can’t hear Shakespeare – I’ll take the play and read along = helped me become excellent at speed reading.

Can’t hear my alarm clock – I just kept buying ones with bigger bells until I found out about vibrating ones = it certainly made packing to go on holiday interesting as I squeezed a huge bell-and-hammer alarm clock in my suitcase.

Can’t hear the TV – I developed a penchant for strange foreign subtitled movies = I actually turned out more cultured that I thought I would!!!!

So you see on this cloudless sunny day, there is actually a silver lining in the cloud. You just have to look hard enough. Listening doesn’t come into it at all!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Playing the hearing game

What a fabulous weekend I had at Uni Housemate’s hen do in the Wild West Erm... Country. We stayed on a farm, which had every kind of animal imaginable, including a group of grumpy geese, a sexually frustrated peacock and some very cute calves, who were only a few days old.

Our accommodation comprised of two converted barns, and it was great to catch up with old friends from university, meet new members of Uni Housemate’s family and natter with excitement about the wedding. On the Saturday morning however, everybody emerged for breakfast somewhat bleary eyed.

‘Did you hear the cockerel/cow/geese/horses/ducks?’ they all enquired with each other and there was lots of nodding of sympathetic heads. I however, heard nothing. Not one single thing awoke me from my peaceful slumber...

Being deaf: 1 Being hearing:0

On the Sunday, as we were sat out on the terrace, Mrs H suddenly declared she could hear a goldfinch, and out came the binoculars to seek it out. She located it in the tree above our heads, a gorgeous little bird with a red face. Everyone was commenting on its call, but it could have been yelling obscene swear words and I wouldn’t have been able to tell...

Being deaf:1 Being hearing:1

On Saturday night, we had a fabulous catered meal, with enough food to feed an army. Naturally, there was some alcohol to accompany this feast and I totally forgot that after a few drinks, my ability to lipread goes downhill and I usually fall asleep.

I did this, during a game of Rapido, which is like Pictionary only with plastacine. I missed out on the end of the evening’s entertainment.

Being deaf:1 Being hearing:2

One afternoon we went for a walk. While going through a field, we came across a group of particularly jumpy cows. I immediately envisioned them trampling us to death and Mrs H armed me with a stick to make me feel better.

Being DG:0 Being a normal rational human being:1

It was deafinitely one of the most relaxing hen dos I’ve been on – good food, good company, great entertainment, great accommodation and great memories.

And whether you’re deaf or hearing, making memories that last forever is what’s important... that and remembering to drink a big glass of water before bed...

Which on Saturday night, I forgot to do.

Deafinitely Girly:0 Hangover:200!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Being deaf at the gym

Today is Thankful Friday – my first thankful Friday in quite a while, and it would seem I have much to be thankful for.

Firstly, that I have completed my first week at work without any major drama (touch wood) and apart from pouring a cup of boiling water over my hand on the first day and meeting most of the team with my hand running under the cold water tap in the sink, I think things have gone well.

I am also thankful that spring seems to be well and truly here (touch more wood!!!!) and it’s so lovely waking up in the daylight and walking home from work in the daylight. It makes such a difference to my mood and means that 6am wake-up call isn’t so hideous.

I am missing Gym Buddy however, and the gym, which are both too far away now to see at lunch time. This is not good news on the latter, because I have five weddings this summer and need to fit my double-figure figure into an array of dresses not designed for the Dairy Milk-at-day diet I favour.

There is a gym near my new office that I can join, and I will, but I’d got used to the other one. I knew all the classes off by heart so the fact that I couldn’t hear didn’t matter. I also had Gym Buddy and Web Whizz on hand to be my ears if they needed to, so was always relatively relaxed about the whole thing.

I hate how I feel insecure about things like gym classes and not being able to hear, but then, from what I can work out, hearing people feel quite insecure about them, too. From the ready-formed cliques that seem to be there to the gorgeous fit people surrounding your wobbly bod, it’s a bumpy footpath of self-esteem hazards that even the most confident person must struggle with.

So what am I going to do? Bite the bullet and visit this new gym today.

After all, new job, new mode of transport, new season...

...I may as well throw new body into the mix as well!

Being deaf at the gym

Today is Thankful Friday – my first thankful Friday in quite a while, and it would seem I have much to be thankful for.

Firstly, that I have completed my first week at work without any major drama (touch wood) and apart from pouring a cup of boiling water over my hand on the first day and meeting most of the team with my hand running under the cold water tap in the sink, I think things have gone well.

I am also thankful that spring seems to be well and truly here (touch more wood!!!!) and it’s so lovely waking up in the daylight and walking home from work in the daylight. It makes such a difference to my mood and means that 6am wake-up call isn’t so hideous.

I am missing Gym Buddy however, and the gym, which are both too far away now to see at lunch time. This is not good news on the latter, because I have five weddings this summer and need to fit my double-figure figure into an array of dresses not designed for the Dairy Milk-at-day diet I favour.

There is a gym near my new office that I can join, and I will, but I’d got used to the other one. I knew all the classes off by heart so the fact that I couldn’t hear didn’t matter. I also had Gym Buddy and Web Whizz on hand to be my ears if they needed to, so was always relatively relaxed about the whole thing.

I hate how I feel insecure about things like gym classes and not being able to hear, but then, from what I can work out, hearing people feel quite insecure about them, too. From the ready-formed cliques that seem to be there to the gorgeous fit people surrounding your wobbly bod, it’s a bumpy footpath of self-esteem hazards that even the most confident person must struggle with.

So what am I going to do? Bite the bullet and visit this new gym today.

After all, new job, new mode of transport, new season...

...I may as well throw new body into the mix as well!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hearing on the train

Thursday? Already? How on earth did that happen?

Now April is here, I am on the wedding countdown – indeed the first of the hen parties is this weekend, for Uni Housemate.

It should be great. Spinning Girl (AKA Onion Soup Mate) has done a meticulous job of organising everything like the accommodation and shopping and wotnot, while I am taking care of the creative side of things.

Uni Housemate is going to get a few surprises this weekend, that’s for sure.

Anyway, I am continuing to feel exceptionally proud of myself for getting the tube to my new job every day. OK, I mean I know that normal people do this daily, but I really do find it scary. But each time I do it, it gets a little bit better. And this morning, when we stopped in a tunnel for what seemed like an eternity, I didn’t even panic... much.

In fact, I sat there and ‘listened’ as hard as I could and even made out the word ‘red’, which reassured me that the train must be sat at a red signal waiting for a platform to become available.

This Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway concept is a toughy. I often find it’s the fear of the fear that’s the worst. It’s the thought of how I might react if the train got stuck for any long period of time, rather than the actual thought of the train getting stuck...

Does that make sense?

What always reassures me in these situations in other people’s facial expressions. If they look calm, it’s easier for me to stay calm. I have yet to encounter a look of panic, but you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll be able to spot me if I see one. I’ll be the wild looking blonde girl necking Rescue Remedy straight from the bottle, the discarded pipette at my feet!

And the great thing about me finding the tube so stressful? Well, it’s completely prevented me from feeling nervous about my new job. After all, if I can deal with the Underground, which is my biggest phobia, I can deal with anything. I’m even calmer in my personal life. Spiders in the bath? No problem. Neighbour downstairs? Piece of cake. Hoodies on my street? I’ll be making them tea by the weekend...

And while I know it’s only early days, it has shown me, that if you face your fears head on, you can actually beat them... or at least give them a jolly good kick in the shins!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Missing the bus subtitles

Regular readers will know that this week I have started a new job.

The location of the new office means that getting a bus to work is no longer viable, so I have been braving the tube, which is not the most fun, as it’s one of my least favourite things. In fact, it’s right up there with waxing and pins under toenails.

So anyway, as I said, I have been getting the tube, and the lack of seating on this, means that so far, I have been unable to write my blog en route, as I have had to stand up, balancing within the throng of people, trying desperately not to get my nose in someone’s armpit.

I think however, that as time passes I will pick up some very useful skills that tube creatures seem to have over bus creatures, and they are as follows:

The ability to completely ignore everyone around you, even when they need you to move out of the way.

The ability to read a broadsheet newspaper, standing up, while not holding on to anything and not end up with it going everywhere when you turn a page.

The ability to fit through gaps and in spaces in a positively stealth-like super-mouse manner.

An intricate knowledge of the best carriages, which ones are near which exit and which ones are less likely to be filled with tourists.

A unique expression that seems to be pulled at no one and with a complete lack of eye contact, when an unintelligible (to me) announcement comes over the tannoy while we are stuck in a tunnel,

And that’s just what I’ve learnt in the last two days of regular tube usage!

I will tell you something though, I miss the subtitles you get on the bus and I miss the view and the tranquility. Except when there’s a tube strike and the buses are invaded by tube peeps, it’s normally an oasis of calm compared to its train counterpart.

So far I have seen two subtitles on my tube, one tells me the next station – just in case I cannot read a map, and one tells me that the train is being held at a red signal. I have seen the latter just once, but been held for no apparent reasons, many, many times.

In an ideal world, everything would be subtitled on the tube, particularly as with the Olympics coming up as foreign people would find them useful, too.

So Boris, if you’re reading (Ha!) please sort it out soon. If I’m going to get the tube to work, I’d like to know what’s broken/made me late/caused us to stop suddenly/meant there’s 50,000 people trying to get on at the next platform*

*delete as applicable

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

I've been on holiday!

Hellooooo peeps!

Well, I've been quiet for a while haven't I?

The main reason for this is that I went on holiday with SuperCathyFragileMystic and it was fabulous fun! However, there was very little phone reception, which meant my Twitter feed and blog were involuntarily silenced!!

For our week's break, we went right up to the north of Scotland to a little place called Brora and stayed on her godmother's farm. It's the fourth time we've done this trip, and every time we think it couldn't possibly get any better, but it does!

This time around, we packed for every eventuality – mainly because when we went in July one year it was freezing and I had a floaty dress and a kaftan to keep me warm – and stuffed as many jumpers as possible into our cases. SCFM also packed her cow coat, which is erm basically a cow, and lots of woolly socks and guess what? It was warm!!!!!!

OK, so it wasn’t the balmy temps you English folk had, but it was 'I can go outside without worrying my toes are going to drop off!'

So, some more about the trip...

Well, The Two Js are the most marvellous hosts! As well as running a B&B and farm, they also kept us very well fed – all sorts of things came flying out of the freezer for us to eat at one of the many communal lunches around the farmhouse kitchen table.

They also took us for a drive, up past Loch Brora and over the hills, pointing out cottages left, right and centre where someone or other had died, or filling us in on who was who and who did what...

On the Thursday, SCFM and I took a jaunt to Dunrobin Castle, which is just up the road, where we were treated to a falconry display. An eagle owl called Cedar being the star of the show – he had the grace of Errol, Ron’s owl from Harry Potter but was utterly gorgeous. Inside the castle, we were constantly stunned by the amazing decor and pictures of royals adorning the walls... it would seem the Sutherlands are very well connected!

On the flight home, both SCFM and I were somewhat subdued. We've both become incredibly attached to the place and the wonderful people there. We love it and them lots. Indeed, just the sight of a tweed shop makes me nostalgic, and not having a roast every day and an endless supply of custard creams, tea and wonderfully entertaining chats at my leisure is something of a shock to the system.

However, as SCFM pointed out, we will always have Brora, and each time we go it's like we've never been away. Something that makes us incredibly lucky I think...

And now this week, I'm in the middle of the biggest change in my working life in 8 years.

I've started a new job. It's great so far, although it's strange having to start again in terms of being the only deaf person in the office where no one deaf has ever worked before. However this time around, I feel better prepared, better able to explain my needs, more confident in my abilities as a person, deaf or not. And on that note, I had best get going.

More on that tomorrow...

Friday, 1 April 2011

Moving on to new deaf pastures

Today is Thankful Friday.

I am not thankful for the headache I have got, but I am thankful that I obtained it by having a brilliant, and rather impromptu night out with Miss K! Much needed, too.

This is a strange Thankful Friday, because it is the last day for me in my real job. The job I do to pay my mortgage and buy nice handbags and wotnot. After eight years with my company, I am spreading my wings, grabbing a chance of promotion and going to pastures new.

I’m sad. This company is the ONLY company I have ever worked for – since graduating – and it’s here, I’ve learnt about what I do and don’t want out of my life; how to cope with my deafness in the workplace; and also done a mild amount of growing up.

And what I'm leaving behind here, is the most amazing support network of friends, who have learnt to work around the challenges my deafness poses – by instant messenger, throwing post-it pads at my head to get my attention, and encouraging me to bake cakes at every opportunity, while appointing themselves chief tasters.

And now I am off to a new company, where I must do it all again. Although hopefully they won’t adopt the throwing post-it notes technique, as it’s not really a favourite of mine.

So today’s blog is dedicated to the people rarely mentioned on this blog. To Gym Buddy, Web Whizz, The Boss, The Fashionista, and all the others who don’t have official blog names. I shall miss you all when I start work at my shiny office down the road in two weeks...

But as the Fashionista says, ‘It’s not bye bye, it’s au revoir ’

Subtitled Cinema: Daydreaming of a better deaf world

Sometimes, just sometimes, I allow myself the chance to daydream about all the things on my deaf wishlist coming true... It's a bit li...