Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Watching David Armand

Last week I went to a comedy show.

A comedy show!

Amazing huh?

Well, you know for me it was as it was my first ever comedy night as understandably I struggle to hear comedians. There’s always a microphone obscuring their mouths, the jokes that get said quickly for added entertainment, or the pacing of the stage.

But this night was different, because David Armand was performing

For those who don't know who he is, stop reading and You Tube him immediately.

In his alter ego, Johann Lippwitz, he performs expressive dance to well-known pop songs – visually illustrating the songs with hilarious signs and facial expressions. It's amazing for me because it's a comedy I can follow.

He was not however performing alone, so I emailed the organisers at Comedy Gold and asked if it would be possible to reserve seats at the front so I could lipread the rest. And out of the three speaking acts I saw, I lipread two, which isn't bad. Especially as one of them was Irish!

David Armand's performance was amazing. He did a Paul Young song that I didn't know the words to, so I struggled a bit with that one, but then he did Queen's Don't Stop Me Now and Hit Me Baby one more time by Britney Spears both of which were amazing.

I left the night on a complete high, and it made me realise that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I never expected the Comedy Gold people to be so fantastically wonderfully accomodating but I asked just in case, and they were.

Now I’ve got one comedy night under my belt, I can’t wait for the next one… and if it’s a David Armand one, I’d heartily recommend that you go, too.

Friday, 23 September 2011

My tough deaf week

Today is Thankful Friday. It’s the Friday of what has been quite an emotionally challenging week. And I’ve got by with a little help from my friends – namely Penfold, London Aunt and of course the wonderful NDCS audiologist, Vicki.

And that is what I am thankful for – that when I need help, it is there.

Miss K often says I don’t ask for help enough… and she’s right. I’m not good at asking for help, and truth be told, I don’t think I need it that often, but support, now that’s a different matter.

Penfold’s response to the emotional email she got about me and my hearing was to simply say, ‘I can come up on Friday night.’

Amazing huh?

I was so bowled over by this, I almost tried to talk her out of it. And then I thought how much I’d like to see her, chat to her about stuff and just catch up, that I said yes. And it felt good.

Pushing away help is easy. The word no is a whole letter shorter than the word yes. ‘No’ leaves very little room for negotiation – very little room for things to grow.

So from now on, I’m going to say yes more. I’m also going to say ‘Help!’ when I really need it.

Without Vicki this week, and Penfold, and London Aunt who found laughter behind my tears of frustration last night, I’d be entering the weekend sad. Despondent at the lack of solutions for how I feel about me, where I’m going, who I am and whether cochlear implants could have any impact on that at all.

Instead, I feel empowered by the knowledge Vicki gave me, excited about seeing Penfold and very, very grateful to have London Aunt in my life.

And finally there’s my Rents – lovely Pa who met me for a restorative lunch on Wednesday and my fab Ma.

Ma went on a course yesterday, and while there, they were given a piece of writing by Emily Perl Kingsley called Welcome to Holland.

She emailed it to me this morning and I jokingly replied ‘Luckily you like Holland so ending up with me wasn't the end of the world!’

To which she replied, ‘Holland is the best destination in the world.'

And she’s right. Going deaf has meant I’ve landed in a place that perhaps I didn’t envisage being in. But it’s here, it’s mine, and I do love it.

And that is what I’m thankful for.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Deafinitely Girly and cochlear implants

Who am I?

I am Deafinitely Girly.

This has been me for more than three years, and before that? I was a deaf girl who occasionally had tantrums about it and wasn't really sure where she belonged.

For the last three years, I've had a sense of belonging through my blog. I've met amazing people, done amazing things, I've laughed, I've cried and I've still had the occasional tantrum.

And then this week, I felt a little lost again.

Regular readers will know that my lovely Ma is going deaf. This is horrible for her. She's been hearing all her life. She knows what she's missing and is lacking the well-honed coping skills to get her through. So she went to see a hearing specialist. And while she was there, she told him about me.

And of course he wanted to fix my deafness. My first reaction was NO WAY! It was such a strong gut reaction that even now I feel myself welling up a little as I type this... and I'm sat on the bus, next to a really cute guy.

Ma was amazing as always and didn’t push it. She just planted a tiny thought seed in my head. And it's been attempting to grow ever since.

I'm well aware of all the arguments for and against cochlear implants, but because I've never considered having one, I've never put too much personal thought into it.

But the interesting thing here is, why have I never considered having one? What is it about them that makes me want to run screaming in the opposite direction?

Well, I think it's partly fear. I've spent 30 years learning to like my world, learning to cope in my world, fighting to succeed in my world, and in all honesty, I think I've done a pretty good job.

And it's not like I haven't considered hearing aids in the past either.

About five years ago, I went to an audiology clinic and was met with enthusiastic promises of how hearing aids would change my life. I let myself get excited. I strode out of there full of hope and promptly fell over because everything was so loud.

I persevered, too. I wore them. I suppressed any disappointment I felt towards them, and then one evening I took them out as usual just before bed, and flew into a blind panic.

I was deaf. Everything had gone quiet. What was going on? Why didn't my world sound like it had done before when I didn't wear my hearing aids?

It sounds ridiculous but I ran around my flat like a headless chicken, panicking, banging stuff, banging my head, willing things to sound the same again.

I missed my world.

I couldn't bear the thought that hearing aids would take that from me while not giving very much in return.

So I took them off. And put them away. And that was that.

My world went back to how it was. I can't hear birds, babies, sirens and screeching. I can't hear consonants, I can barely hear vowels and I really can't hear 50% of the musical instruments that make up an orchestra. But because this is me, I don’t panic.

Yesterday I put a tweet out about cochlear implants and an amazing person called Vicki from NDCS tweeted back. She then sent me a huge email with so many of my questions answered. I'm going to study it at length over the next few days, but the most important thing I read was that I can find out more about cochlear implants, I can meet with specialists and if at the end of it I decide it's not for me, I can say no. I won't be seen as wasting time.

And this is good. You see, if I panic once I have an implant, I can't just take it off and shove it in my jewellery box. If I hate how everything sounds, will anyone understand? And if I can hear again, who the heck will I be?

Girly?!

So for now, and because I think this is the only way I can do this without becoming a wobbling ball of emotion, I am going to research cochlear implants as a blogger would. I’m going to find out more about them – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and I’m not going to think about me and them. Just them.

Deafinitely Girly – deaf researcher…

Yes, that’ll do for now.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Deaf girl does Pilates

I love the sun! And luckily for me today there's a lot of it.

There's a good portion of blue sky, too - although not enough for Wise Friend

I wouldn't mind English winters if there were just cold - with blue skies and sunshine and then the odd day of rain to keep the reservoirs topped up.

But as I was explaining to the French Man yesterday as he looked out of my living room window at the rain as though we were under attack, English winters are dominated by grey days.

I actually apologised to him, as though the crap weather is actually my fault.

Anyway, I had a marvelous weekend that sped by all too quickly and involved lots of fun with London Aunt, GB Man and the Singing Swede.

On Saturday I went to Pilates.

I've always been put off my Pilates and yoga-type stuff due to my theory that I won't be able to follow what's going on... and I can confirm this is the case with my Saturday morning Pilates class.

The instructor walks around with her eyes closed, hair covering her face and mumbles like a woman possessed.

The first time I attended this class I got the giggles halfway through when she was encouraging us to wiggle our bottoms and thrust our hips forward.

She does not like people who giggle.

But for some reason, I really enjoy this class.

So long as I have a good mirror view and can decipher the breathe in breathe out instructions, I love the whole stretching, bending, rotating, breathing, bottom wiggling concept, and I think it really is helping to make me more flexible.

OK, so I can't throw my leg up in the air and touch my nose with it like she can, but I can touch my toes... and that's an accomplishment in my book.

And this year it seems, is the year for me to try new forms of exercise – spinning, surfing, Zumba and now Pilates…

What ever will be next I wonder?

Any suggestions?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

DG does deaf dating

Well, last night was an experience!

Meeting up with the lovely Shakira Shakira and Miss K is never dull – they always have exciting news to share of what they’ve been up to.

And last night was no exception.

We met for Thai in Soho, shared what we’d been up to and then decided to go for a drink.

With me choosing the venue, I walked us into a dead cocktail bar and then walked us back out, choosing instead to go to my favorite bar in Soho, which does chocolate martinis.

And guess what? It’s closed down! My date bar has closed down!

*sob

So then wandering about, we found another bar. Walking in, Miss K spoke to the doorman and we headed inside.

‘He said something about us being here for the event,’ she told us, eyebrows raised. ‘So I just said yes.’

And sure enough, upstairs the place was heaving with people.

We found a seat and then went to order drinks. And that’s when it started. Random men walked up to us and started talking about ‘the event’ while we nodded and smiled and made vague responses.

At this point I got the giggles so went and sat down. And during this time I missed a geeky guy telling beautiful Miss K that she’d look better without her glasses. This and the fact that two others asked for Shakira Shakira’s phone number after merely saying hello, meant the penny soon dropped.

We were at a dating event!

And sure enough, throughout the evening, a steady stream of men approached our table.

‘She’s the single one’ my lovely mates would chorus before texting their men or chatting about how great they were.

I was the single one, and being in this situation was about as fun for me as going skinny-dipping in an active volcano crater.

You see, I just don’t get it.

Well, I just don’t hear it for a start. And this whole forced coupling, where people behave like the world is going to end and everyone must get it on before midnight, leaves me feeling distinctly queasy.

The nicest bloke I spoke to all evening was one of the organisers. Indeed, he was also the best looking, the most charming and most polite – probably because he wasn’t there to pull.

Shakira Shakira was up in arms about my woeful ignorance of which guys were checking me out and did a sterling job of pointing them out to me.

And in one final attempt to get some success from the night she got me talking to a guy on my way out. We made small talk – it was fine. But then do you know what he said?

He said he didn’t ask for girls’ numbers, so if I wanted to see him again I would have to ask for his.

To which I politely responded, ‘Oh I’m terribly sorry, that’s such a shame as I am only attracted to proactive guys.’

I then smiled and walked off leaving him doing a rather odd impression of a goldfish.

Was I too harsh? Am I going to miss out on true love due to my acidic tongue and reluctance to join the melee that is forced dating?

I say no. Because what last night showed me is that new experiences are fun, and what they do is open you up to see more real experiences.

Take my journey home last night. There I was walking along chuckling to myself when the most gorgeous man cycled past. And instead of looking away, I smiled at him. And he smiled at me... several times... until I became concerned about the likelihood of him cycling into a bus.

Did I get his number? Do not have a date? No and no, but I also know, that when I truly want to, I will be nice to the right guy and he will be nice to me. You can’t force love.

Not onto DG anyway.

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...