Thursday, 5 December 2013

Why I love my hearing aids

Yesterday was London Cousin 1's birthday. She's now well into her teenage years and we celebrated with an amazing meal out with the Blanco family. I totally forgot I was deaf for most of the evening because everyone was so in tune to the fact that I needed to lipread or be given pointers as to what was going on in the conversation.

At one point I looked at Mr Blanco to find out what was being discussed and he looked equally blank. 'I've no idea what's going on because I haven't been listening,' he admitted, which made me chuckle and together we go back into the conversation and worked out what the heck was going on.

When I got back last night I was still marvelling how some social situations are so much easier than others and also marvelling about how recently I've been forgetting a lot that I cannot hear. I turned my TV on to watch a bit of the news but decided to take out my hearing aids so I could lie with one head on the pillow without them screeching.

And just like that the TV vanished. It went from being loud enough that I thought perhaps I should turn it down as London Cousin 2 sleeps above my room to being completely and utterly silent. I was gobsmacked.

I sat up in bed, turned on the light and looked at the TV in disbelief. I put my hearing aids in and the sound came to life again. I took them out and it was silent. I know I've written a bit before about my TV and my hearing aids and how without them I am completely reliant on subtitles, but this was another thing all together.

If you'd asked me before I got my hearing aids to predict how I would have reacted to this situation, I would have replied 'With horror and panic and a lot of running around and slapping my head with my hands.' Indeed, it seems when I find my deafness noticeable, I go a bit 'TV remote' with my head and start hitting it to see if it makes my hearing work better. Indeed like the TV remote when you smack it, it doesn't.

But last night I was totally OK with it. I didn't actually even feel sad. I felt a bit 'OH MY GOD MY HEARING AIDS ARE EVEN BETTER THAN I ACTUALLY THOUGHT AND I'VE HAD THEM FOR A WHOLE YEAR' but I was also totally fine. 

I simply turned off my TV and went to sleep, which at 1am is most definitely what I should have been doing in the first place.

It's quite amazing to think that I've got this place of acceptance with my hearing aids without even knowing it. It's quite amazing that my biggest fear about getting them is no longer realised. And it's quite amazing that with them in they give me sounds other than my iPhone ringtones to enjoy. Hell, they give me speech and voices, which was something I never anticipated happening. 


How marvellous, eh? How marvellous.

Friday, 15 November 2013

A very Thankful Friday

Today is Thankful Friday.

So what am I thankful for?

Good advice that's what.

It's been a trying week for several reasons and I've had to deal with most of it by myself. Except I wasn't really by myself because I had some great advice to guide me through. 

London Aunt told me to only look at what was right in front of me and deal with that, rather than look too far into the future and worry about the stuff I have no control over.

I have done that.

HannahBanana told me to remember why I made previous decisions and trust they were the right ones for now. And I've done that.

And today, my new hairdresser, told me I had a gorgeous natural hair colour and I was colouring it unnecessarily. Before sorting it out and giving me what turned out to be a long bob.

All the above was good advice.

Sometimes, when I'm faced with situations or realisations that I don't want to deal with, it's easy to feel completely alone. I mean, technically I am. I am completely in charge of my life, of the decisions I make. But then one look in the background reveals the most amazing people who support me and care about me and give me amazing advice.

I'm not alone. And for that, and them, I am very thankful.

Happy Friday peeps

DG

x

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Deaf Girly and the phone call


Yesterday my phone rang. 

My phone almost never rings, and when it does, I rarely answer it.

But, now I'm a landlord and whatnot, I thought I'd better answer it as it was a London number.

At the other end of the phone was a man with an accent. I have no idea what kind of accent, I just know that none of the words he was saying made any sense at all.

I heard two things: policy and ignoring my calls.

Now being a landlord this worried me. I told him I couldn't hear him very well and he continued to say the same sentence over and over again.

Like it was scripted.

I then told him I was going to pass the phone over to someone who could hear and walked through to the kitchen where London Cousins 1 and 2 were chatting. Neither of them were particularly keen on talking to a strange person on the phone, so we stood there discussing it for a moment to work out who would take the call.

The caller hung up.

Confused about what was so urgent that he accused me of ignoring his calls but then hung up, I Googled the number. Turns out it was a known telepest. One that tells you your life insurance policy was expiring and you'd been ignoring their calls about it…

So I had heard two bits right. And I don't have a life insurance policy.

Thanks to iOs7 I have now blocked this number but what made me grin, just a little bit, was that he hung up on me. 

A known telepest found a phone call to me so annoying he had to hang up the phone.

Teehee!

Obviously I'm going back to not answering my phone for numbers I don't recognise but if I ever am dumb enough to pick up the phone again, I think I am going to try this tactic on purpose. Tell them I cannot hear them. Remind them that if I was known to them, they would know I was deaf, and then maybe go off on one about deaf awareness and…

Yes, I would hang up on me, too.

And this isn't just for those of us that can't hear. Hearing peeps why not go for it, too?

Or as one person helpfully suggested online yesterday as I was googling, to simply say to the person at the other end of the line, 'I've done what you asked, but there's blood everywhere.'

Obviously I'm not so keen on that option incase a SWAT team descend on my house via helicopter and cart me off somewhere, but whatever option I choose, the war on random phone calls to Deaf Girly starts here.

Happy Wednesday peeps.

DG
x

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

I'm hearing in my dreams

I dream a lot. Most mornings I will wake up and remember my dream from the night before. Sometimes they're mundane dreams about everyday life and sometimes they're nightmares  but the one thing they all have in common is that in my dreams I can hear. 

I am never deaf in my dreams.

In my dreams I do things like hold hushed conversations or hear people whispering to me. I make phone calls, people yell stuff from upstairs and I can understand and I've even heard a mobile phone ring before.

I'm not sure why I'm not deaf when I go to sleep at night. Sometimes I wonder if it's my memories of being less deaf as a child coming through. I mean, I do remember being able to hear stuff being said from another room and I'm sure I used to be able to hear the phone ring at my rents' house. It was one of those big retro phones with the dial of numbers you turned.

But the one thing I have never been able to do is hear whispers. And I know this because of that incredibly popular children's game from the eighties, Chinese Whispers. I remember being utterly confused by this game from about the age of 5 upwards, and that's taking into consideration the fact that no one knew I was deaf until I was 10.

I remember sitting in a circle with my friends and thinking that no one could hear whispers and the whole point was to be creative and make something up from your own imagination. So that's what I did.

I remember everyone being utterly confused at how the start and finish whisper had become so different. But thankfully, I don't remember anyone ever pinning it on me.

I honestly didn't know you were meant to hear whispers.

But it wasn't just whispers I thought you weren't meant to hear.

There were song words – I thought you were meant to make up your own. And dictation at school – I thought the hard thing about dictation was working out what the story was not getting the words down spelt correctly. I could never understand why I got bad marks for being creative. 

Then there was French listening. I thought the difficult thing was being able to tell what words were being said, not translating them. I used to do so badly in French listening until my amazing teacher at GCSE – post discovering my deafness – read the whole thing to me. I got 100% for the first time ever.

Anyway, back to the dreams. Last night, I dreamt I met up with a colleague from one of my first jobs. She was asking me what I was doing with my life at the moment and all I could tell her was that I was taking a year out. 

But because I'm not deaf in my dreams, it was as though Deafinitely Girly didn't exist. It was really odd. In my dream, I couldn't help feel like I was forgetting something, like I couldn't quite justify why I was not working and taking a year out.

And to be quite honest, I was relieved to wake up. Relieved that on waking, I was back to me. Back to being Deafinitely Girly.

Because you see, I like being DG. She's a part of me. And I'm a part of her. And right now, I'm quite happy to leave being hearing in my dreams. After all, with hearing, there'd be no Deafinitely Girly. And that would make my life a much less interesting place.


Monday, 11 November 2013

DG and the no-show scones

This weekend I bombed down the A3 to visit the very fabulous Cocktail Queen and The Prince. It was marvellous.

Knowing my love of afternoon tea, The Cocktail Queen had done her research and decided that we would go to Goodwood for tea and scones in The Kennels, which appears to be the golf course club house. 

This made me VERY happy. We got there and sat down on a comfy sofa. Ordered tea and were handed menus. The scones were there. My stomach rumbled.

About 20 minutes later, no one had come to take our order. We beckoned a waitress and were all left slightly confused as to what her reply was as she scuttled off to towards the kitchen. 'She'll come back,' we said to each other. 'This is a nice establishment. They must know about customer service here.'

My stomach rumbled.

We drank more tea.

20 minutes later, we beckoned over a different waitress. 'Can we order scones?' we asked her. 'They just making them at the moment,' she replied and scuttled off in much the same way.

'Oooh warm scones with cream and jam,' I thought as my stomach rumbled again. 'That's well worth the wait.'

To take our minds off the hunger pangs, The Prince requested a backgammon board - as advertised on the menu. The waitress bought us a chequers board. Same, same but no, very different.

My stomach rumbled.

After eventually getting hold of the backgammon board, The Cocktail Queen disappeared while The Prince taught me the rules of this highly addictive game and we set off around the board in different directions with me getting awfully offended every time he took one of my pieces off the board. 

My stomach rumbled.

Three glasses of champagne arrived. The Cocktail Queen had ordered them after discovering that the kitchen was no closed and there would be no scones.

My stomach rumbled.

Turns out there were never any scones. Even though they were on the menu. Even though the menu of sweet stuff was simply two lines long - scones or cake. They didn't have either. On a Saturday afternoon. In Goodwood.

It was a shambles. 

I tweeted my displeasure and felt bad for The Cocktail Queen. She'd planned the afternoon of tea, and so far we'd had chequers not backgammon, a promise of scones twice, and nothing. 

Scones are not rocket science. It's not hard to make scones, and serve them with some jam in a bowl and some cream in another bowl.

*scowls

The next day as we wandered around Chichester after brunch at Bill's, we noticed signs for cream tea at every turn in the city. Bill's did it, the Cathedral did it, even the tiny little cafĂ© that sat three people did it. 

The Kennels at Goodwood don't. No matter what it says on their menu. Or they didn't that Saturday. Despite The Cocktail Queen calling in advance to check they did.

But what we didn't have in scones, we more than made up for in cocktails on Saturday night. But that's a whole other story. 

Happy Monday peeps.

DG
x


Friday, 8 November 2013

Deaf Girly's Thankful Friday

Today is Thankful Friday, and as I sit here with my laptop out and a cup of tea, the cat purring beside me – lets not talk about the fact she just tried to bite me – I can't help but feel thankful for the curious set of events that got me to this exact spot.

Last week, a very good friend asked me a question that only very good friends can ask. 'Do you think your deafness stops you getting where you want to be?' While that would be a whole other blog post of deliberation, I have to admit it is something that I often think about.

I think that's why it took me so long to do something a little bit daring. Rather than the straight path I had previously chosen of school, uni, post grad, job, new job, another new job. I was afraid that somehow it wouldn't be possible to go off route. 

On this new path, of landlord, writer and general day-time tea drinker and library lurker, there are a whole load of challenges that if I sat down and thought about them, would probably have caused me to sit tight and carry on as I had been.

Things like the phone calls I have to struggle with now as there are no co-workers to help. To Thames Water, British Gas, the council, to insurance, electricians and inventory people. The list goes on. And it's not been fun. The other day, what should have been a quick phone call to my insurance company turned into a 20 minute farce of me repeating back what I thought I'd heard so the man at the other end could either say yes or no. He was incredibly patient with me. But I was still terrified I'd got something wrong and the £178 premium I'd just agreed to pay would somehow be invalid.

I've discovered something though, during this enforced phone call making, that people can surprise you. Like the man from British Gas who emailed me after I hung up on him in tears, or the bloke from my car insurance company who took of his headset and used the phone normally so that the sound quality would improve. All of them, when I tell them I struggle on the phone, have done whatever they can to help make things easier. And when I say struggle, I actually mean, hear virtually nothing.

I'm less afraid of trying now. Obviously it's not always a good outcome. I've hung up on a few conversations in the last couple of weeks, and I'm putting off a phone call I know I have to make soon as I know it'll involve conversation I simply can't predict the words in, meaning I really will have no clue about what's going on, but I'm OK with that. 

The last months has felt like one small step for mankind but one huge step for Deafinitely Girly.

I'm doing it.

I'm actually doing it.

And so far, touch everything wooden in the world, it's going OK.

Which makes this a very thankful Friday.

Have a good one peeps.

DG
x

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The hunt for Deaf Girly's October

The last day of October is my birthday and this year I spent it in Clogland turning 33. Actually, I spent my birthday evening on a boat in the middle of the sea, but only after an amazing birthday tea with Big Bro, Maxi-, Mini- and MicroClog… and The Rents of course.

Since I moved to London, 10 years ago in October, the tenth month of the year has always been a strange one for me. It's the month full of anniversaries. Some happy, some less so.

It's the month I usually change jobs, or move companies. It's the month I bought my first flat, four years ago. That October I was also told the great news was I didn't have cancer, and the bad news was I had Crohn's. And the October I declared to the entire 7th floor of the hospital at the top of my voice that I was a horse, while high on morphine, and asked out a very gorgeous doctor while coming around from the anaesthetic. I absolutely pretended not to recognise him when I went back for my check-up appointment. October four years ago was one of the more bonkers ones... But as a result of that October, October is now the month where I celebrate the fabulous fact that – touch every wooden thing in the entire house – my Crohn's is still in remission.

October is the month I got hearing aids – one year ago. It's the month I first fell in love – 14 years ago – and it's the month I usually buy about 100 coats – every year – as I'm always so flipping freezing. This year, I bought one. Gotta be restrained in my gap yah after all.

October is also the month where we let off balloons with messages to a place where texts, social media and emails don't exist. To a person who, if he knew what I was doing now, would probably pass me a beer and want to hear all about it. I wish he was still here. He was one of the first people who made me realise I could live in London – that it wasn't that scary after growing up in the Wild West erm… Country.

As a result of all of the above, October is normally a blog-tastic month. But this October, the month I chose to leave my job and embark on my 'retirement', as Whiskey Cousin calls it, memories of all the previous London Octobers came flooding back.

It felt as though, if I began writing about October, I'd never stop. So I didn't start.

But last night, talking to London Aunt, she pointed out that this blog is part of the reason why I'm taking a year out. And why the hell wasn't I updating it?

And just like that, the floodgates opened. The ideas, the rants, the experiences I wanted to write about suddenly seemed more accessible.

So the blog is back.


With a few retrospective posts to start with... after all, I can't miss out October, can I? It's the most important month of all!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Deaf Girly and the British Gas palava


Regular readers will know that I recently quit my much-loved job to pursue writing full time. It wasn't an easy decision but as start my second official week, with actual things to write, and actual things written, I'm extremely happy with my decision.

One of the reasons I am able to take a year to do this is because I am renting out my beloved flat. That wasn't an easy decision either as I love my little flat. It's the most expensive thing I've ever owned… and even paying back what feels like mega-huge monthly instalments, it's still not going to be properly mine for ages and ages.

Renting a flat out is stressful. It's made more stressful if you cannot make phone calls, because some things just need to be done over the phone. While the agency and other people were happy with email communication, when it came to sorting out HomeCare for my boiler so that my tenants could call British Gas day or night if there was a problem, I had no other option but to lift the phone.

I did this and got a bloke at the other end of the phone who sounded like he was down a long corridor shouting at me through a cardboard tube. It was not great. We chatted a bit, going around in circles somewhat as I struggled to guess what he was asking me before he announced that he had to put me through to the specific team for Landlord HomeCare. Before doing this, he briefed the guy I was going to be speaking to that he had to speak slowly and not shout as this would only make things worse.

This new British Gas Man was great, once I'd made him take off his headset and chat to me holding the phone handset so that he was louder and we set off down the path of taking out HomeCare. But then it all went wrong, After four pardons, I still couldn't make out what he was saying. And then I felt the hot tears of frustration pinging out of my eyes, which is never a good thing, because I know when this happens it means I am just seconds from hanging up the phone and having a good sob. 

And this was the very next thing I did.

Two seconds later my phone rang again. I picked up and it was British Gas Man. 'I. Am. Going. To. Email. You,' he said and put down the phone. And less than 5 minutes later, there it was, an email detailing all the plans I could choose from, what personal information he needed from me and instructions on what to do next. Amazing huh?

We continued like this until London Cousin 1 got in from school and British Gas Man spoke to her to get the final confirmation on stuff, which she relayed to me. My 13-year-old cousin had become my ears. She deserved a medal. Or at least an extra special tea - lasagne - which I was making at that exact moment. And so it was sorted. And he reassured me that I could email him in future with any questions and he would then enter the query onto the official system. Briilliant, no?

He then let me know that a British Gas plumber would be over the next day to give me a Gas Safety Certificate and that would be that.

But it wasn't. The British Gas plumber also turned out to go above and beyond the call of duty (people with filthy minds, please get out of the gutter now). He texted me instead of ringing to let me know his ETA. He took the time to explain things clearly, turning to face me when he did so and he also let me know what if there was any problems, I could text him and he would put the call into British Gas. I couldn't believe it. I was so touched by my own personal British Gas crack team. So touched that they were so happy to help me.

Three cheers for British Gas. And you see, because they made the whole thing so much easier, it gave me the confidence to sort the next thing, and the next thing and gradually my flat is almost tenant ready. I'm very poor, my phone bill is probably massive, but I've managed it.

The dream is happening peeps.

*beams

Monday, 30 September 2013

Deafinitely Girly's new adventure


Today is the start of the crossover week between my old life and my new life.

I'm still going to work – for 5 more days – but I'm leaving early to get back to my new life.

This morning I woke at 4am. I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned and eventually got up.

Leaving for work at 6.30am means I am here far too early. Even by crossover week standards.

As I travelled in on the bus this morning, I could feel myself gulping down a rising panic. It was there in the pit of my stomach. But it climbed up to my chest, into my throat and appeared in my eyes as fresh, hot tears.

This panic, as I look at the blue sky, speckled with clouds and promising a warm September day is completely unstoppable today.

This realisation that I've made the leap. I'm giving up the job I loved for 10 years, to write. To see where writing takes me.

I've wanted to write since the age of 5. Since I plagiarised Topsy & Tim and The Munch Bunch. Ever since I could read, I've wanted to write. And, the idea of being able to give more time to Deafinitely Girly seems like the most exciting thing in the world.

So why am I afraid?

I'm afraid that maybe I'll be rubbish at writing. And I'm also afraid I'll feel alone. Which is silly really as I'm rather good at being alone.

Usually.

I guess in the last 2 years, in my amazing company, I've spent every day seeing friends. It's a bit like being at school. But without the bullies and the double maths.

And it's the fact it's like leaving school that I am trying to remind myself of as I feel the hot, fat tears gathering in my eyes and ruining the make-up I did at 5am this morning.

You see, in the summer after my GCSEs I went deafer than I'd ever been before. I didn't notice so much as I wasn't in an environment where listening was that important. I was having holidays. I was having fun.

Going back to school for A Levels, I noticed that I couldn't hear anything. I was falling asleep halfway through my 90 minute lessons. And doing four A Levels, meant I had a lot of lessons.

So it was decided, halfway through the September term, that I would do three A Levels in 2 years and one A Level in one. A third year of 6th form. Which actually was quite a good thing as I was a year ahead at school after a mix up in kindergarten so it meant I would be going to university at 18, not 17.

The summer after my A Levels, I was in denial about going back to school. About all my favourite people not being there. Being at uni or on gap years. But that first day back, it hit me like a big rising wall of panic.

It was horrific. I panicked when I woke up, I panicked as I drove to school and then I panicked as I walked into the 6th form common room knowing full well the fun of the last year was gone.

I remember thinking the panic was never going to go away. That I would never feel like this was the right thing again.

But it went away gradually, day by day as I found my feet, realised that not seeing my friends every day didn't make them any less of my friends. And I made new friends, too. What's more, a third year of A Levels got me the grades I wanted to go to the uni I wanted. To set me on the amazing path that has been non-stop work and play to this moment.

Today when I felt this rising panic, I had a moment of wondering if I had made a terrible mistake.

Choosing to leave my amazing friends at work. Leave the job I stayed at school an extra year for all those years ago.

But I have to believe that I've made the right decision. And when I feel the rising panic, remember that it's only a temporary feeling. A reaction to change. A reaction to fear of the unknown.

Because it is the unknown. It's days stretching out in front of me where I have to form my own structure. Face my fears. And find new words. Every day.

There will be lots of tears this week, I think. There will be moments where this rising panic probably threatens to cut off my air supply. And when I walk out my office on Friday for the last time, I think I'll probably bawl my eyes out.

But it's OK. I'm ready for it.

And this time next week, I'll be sat at my desk, cup of tea brewing laptop open and I'll be Deafinitely Girly, writer. Freelance. Available for cake baking. Available for dates. Available for columns. Available for general writing miscellany…

It's going to be good right?

It has to be.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Having a deaf(er) day


Last night I went to bed late. I turned my pillow over a million times to keep it cool. I marvelled at my amazing still-feel-new sash windows which, when open at the top and bottom, cause a perfect breeze. I also tried to stay awake for the thunder.

And that didn't work because according to BBC Breakfast it all kicked off at 2am and I was fast asleep.

I guess I don't always hear thunder after all.

Anyway this morning I hit my alarm more times than a Catchphrase contestant so ran out the door to make my bus and forgot my hearing aids.

Cue frantic checking of diary for important meetings and the realisation that today is going to be a very quiet day for me. Aurally at least.

I've had my hearing aids for nearly 10 months now. And every day I marvel at the way they enhance my world. I mean, I can hear stuff I never thought I'd hear. Important stuff too, like police sirens – excellent when on a Boris Bike – and cats meowing.

Last night, I downloaded Vampire Weekend's new album and listened to a bit of it through my iPhone speaker. As you know when I first got my hearing aids, I had a teary realisation that I could hear iPhone ringtones for the first time ever. Well last night, without my hearing aids in, I noticed gaps in the music. Gaps where my ears in the last 10 months have had music. I put my hearing aids back in. No gaps. Amazing huh?

Even though the pitch compression isn't that melodic with my sound recover aids, I still prefer to leave them on this setting when listening to music because without it, I realise what I've been missing.

So today I'll miss the phones ringing in the office, the hum of the air con, the radio and the steady wail of police sirens outside.

Today's gonna be a quiet one starting from now.

*takes a power nap

Monday, 22 July 2013

A natural Deaf Girly alarm clock

This morning I woke up in a very good mood. In spite of the fact it was 5.30am. In spite of the fact I didn't get back until 11pm last night.

One of the reasons for my good mood was that something woke me up! Not my vibrating alarm clock that sits under my pillow like a psycho jack-in-the-box, ready and waiting on a weekday basis to scare the living daylights out of me.

No, no.

I got woken up by something much bigger and better than that.

I got woken up by thunder!

To be fair, the best part of my hearing is low frequencies, which means thunder; cars with big engines and men with low voices are all in my 'hurrah, I can hear these, usually no matter what' category. But I was asleep. Nothing normally wakes me when I am asleep.

There's something rather amazing about a thunderstorm I think. As a kid, when I could hear even better, I was scared to death of them. Any thunderstorm would see The Rents' bed overrun by one child, two dogs and two cats all in need of a large dose of tranquilliser. Big Bro usually braved it out in the room next door.

But this morning, as I lay in bed, no pets or housemates for company I found myself grinning like a loon. There was an amazing noise going on outside. An amazing crashing, banging noise, caused by nature. I could hear it. And there was no way my neighbour could blame her early morning wake up call on me!

So anyway, one of the other reasons for my buoyant mood is I had a marvellous weekend with SuperCathyFragileMystic and The Photographer. In their idyllic village, with their brilliant neighbours and their rather marvellous friends.

There was a croquet tournament or 10, none of which I won, despite my teammate's valiant efforts, and there was even a Red Arrows fly-by. Another low sound I absolutely love.

I should really be suffering from weekend-withdrawal symptoms right now, but as its only three more days until my weekend starts again, I think I'll be OK.

So Happy Monday from a beaming Deaf Girly.

Who got woken up by thunder.

Brilliant!

DG 
X

Friday, 19 July 2013

Time for a Thankful Friday

It's Friday and I'm thankful.

Thankful for this amazing weather.

Thankful that I've recently seen the light about some quite major things in my life.

And as a result, I'm thankful for my amazing friends.

You know you have those moments where you can't see the wood for the trees?

Well I was having one of them this week. My earlier post summed up how I was feeling about my deafness. But it seemed to extend further than that.

But with chats to SuperCathyFragileMystic and Fab Friend, I worked out quite a lot of stuff. They're the kind of friends who know you better than you know yourself. But who aren't afraid to point out where you might be going a little bit wrong.

Since chatting to them, I've felt more free than I have done in a long time. Less sad about being deaf. More sure of my options and my pathway.

And then there was the lovely Twitter peeps. You're all bloody marvellous.

I've made some amazing decisions in the last few days. I've made some exciting plans.

Hopefully I will be sharing them here soon.

But in the meantime, have an AMAZING weekend in the sunshine!

DG
x

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Today I'm sad about my deafness

For the first time in ages, I feel sad about my deafness today.

I couldn't work out what it was at first and then I suddenly realised...

I feel like I'm missing out on stuff.

Today it's the office chit chat.

I wish I could hear it. I wish I could follow what was going on. The things that make people chuckle. But that aren't so funny when repeated the second time.

I wish my computer wasn't so big that I couldn't lipread Art Man opposite without stopping what I was doing and standing up or leaning to the left.

I wish I could hear. (and you know I almost NEVER wish that)

It's just so bloody frustrating sometimes.

Not being able to follow stuff, join in and be a part of what's going on.

And it's not like my lovely colleagues don't try to keep me up to speed. They do, they really do. They're amazing.

I know they'd be amazing if I told them what's up. But sometimes, I can't find the words. And it's so hard to try and join a conversation halfway through.

Then I remembered that's why I started this blog in the first place. To put the stuff I couldn't put into spoken words. To just say I was fed up.

And it works, because even just writing this blog has got me thinking about ways to help me hear better in the office. Ways to make it easier for both me and my lovely work mates.

So I'm taking the afternoon off – to eat tea with the lovely Writer and work out how I can invent a mirror system that enables me to lipread everyone around my desk.

It's totally going to work, right?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Deaf Girly and the ticket inspector

Yesterday I went climbing with Art Man. 

To get the right train, we often have to leg it to the station after work, half jogging, half running.

It's a race between us and the train we want. And believe me, the train often wins. 

So anyway, we dashed into the lobby of the station yesterday, dodging the ambling tourists blocking every single path to the ticket barriers, before swiping our oysters and picking up the pace.

As we headed for the escalator I noticed Art Man kept looking back. I was faintly aware of a man's voice. We ignored it. We had a train to catch. 

But then Art Man stopped in his tracks. Then stopped me, because the man, was yelling at me.

So I turned around to see the owner of the voice. It was a ticket inspector. He looked half mad, half gleeful that he thought he'd caught somebody using a Freedom Pass who shouldn't have been.

People were staring.

He demanded to see my pass.

And before I knew it I had told him off for yelling at me. Telling him I was deaf so had no way of knowing he was yelling at me.

He clocked the hearing aids and slunk off. Not even checking my pass properly.

It was a hideous moment for me and for him.

I was mad and mortified.

I'd never been chased through a station before.

But it got me thinking, should I really have been mad at him? I mean he was there to catch fare dodgers. Should I really have expected him to have crossed off all the possible reasons why I was ignoring his yells before he simply assumed I was a dodgy person with a stolen freedom pass.

Short of wearing a sign on my back there's not a lot I can do to flag up the fact I can't hear. And also, why should I? 

But it is scary. I mean, what if they one day arm people like that with tasers? What if, one day, it's a policeman yelling at me? What if, one day, things are so different that they have an taser-first-and-ask-questions-later policy? 

So perhaps, over eager ticket inspectors could be taught a few little extra bits of information in their training. And that is, not all Freedom Pass holders immediately look like they need one. If you yell at someone and they don't respond, they may be deaf.

And finally, the most important one: if you do yell at a deaf DG, in public, make everyone stare at her, and make her feel like she's done something wrong, she's gonna be very very mad.

Think I'll stick to buses from now on...

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Happy 4th July

I haven't blogged for what seems like an age.

I miss it.

I miss writing. I miss being Deafinitely Girly here.

But there are certain dates that will always warrant a blog and today is one of those.

Today, 15 years ago, we were getting ready for one of the best celebrations ever. A wedding of two of my favourite people.

I was only 17 at the time. I was going deafer, what felt like all the time. I was awkward. I was a bit of a geek at school. I had a hilarious boyfriend who spent his life doing Austin Powers impressions.

The day before the wedding he saw me off to London on the coach and handed me a carrier bag. In it was things to keep me occupied for the journey. A pork pie, a Beano comic, a Refresher chew bar and a fiver to get an illegal pint in what had somehow become my London local pub. He knew my 17-year-old self well.

Back then I loved London – I was there often, cadging work experience here and there – but the idea of actually living there seemed a long way off.

So anyway, the morning of the wedding, I put on my carefully chosen dress. It was a pale pink silk maxi dress, with small painted flowers on it. I loved it. It was completely out of fashion. I didn't care. I felt amazing in it. I love that dress so much that I still have it. And it's actually fashionable now too.

One of the things I had to do at this wedding was play my flute. When the register was being signed. It was a massive honour. My hearing was getting worse all the time. One of the pieces I was playing had a very high haunting finish note. I couldn't hear it. It was stressing me out. Until my rather marvellous flute teacher told me to simply bring it down an octave into a frequency I could hear. 'Keep the tone beautiful and it won't matter what octave you play that note in,' she said.

So I did.

It was one of the last times I played my flute in public. After that I did my Performance Recital exams and accepted that flute playing just wasn't that fun when you couldn't hear it. Although I do still get it out every now and again.

But playing my flute wasn't the only thing made the day stand out for me. There was an incredible energy about that day. A happiness that was catching. It had everyone grinning like loonies – there are photos to prove it.

The reception was brilliant. A crazy woman serenaded us all with a bizarre song. It was hilarious and by then end of it, Big Bro had stuffed an entire napkin in his mouth to prevent his laughter from being audible. There was a sea of thinly-veiled horrified faces around the room. No one was quite sure if it was a joke. It wasn't.

What that day taught my 17 year old self is that love is amazing. It doesn't always come along in the most conventional of ways and sometimes it's pushed to the very limits.

And, as my heart breaks a little bit today with the memory of that day, I'm raising a glass – although as it's only 9am, a coffee cup.

To the bride and groom.

xx

Monday, 17 June 2013

Sleep walking Deaf Girly

Today, I'm not feeling my usual beamy self.

When I woke up this morning I felt nothing short of exhausted. I had gone to bed at 11pm. Not too late. And had no specific reason to feel so tired. Or so I thought.

Regular readers will know that back in April I starting using a Jawbone UP, a wristband that tracks my steps and sleep pattern by measuring tiny movements. It then transfers this data via the headphone socket on my iPhone to an app.

This is amazing for many reasons. One because it shows me just how sedentary my daily lifestyle can be, but two because when I walk 25,000 steps like I did on Saturday, its very very satisfying to see this in its digital glory.

The sleep monitoring thing however really came into its own last night, because right there in the middle of the blue graphs that depict deep and light sleep was 40 minutes of awake time. And according to the step measure, I walked 273 steps.

I. Do. Not. Remember. This.

So sleepwalking for DG is nothing new. In my previous flat I often woke up in the communal hallway or having fallen down the 4 steps between the bedroom and the kitchen. But never before have I seen actually proof of my wanderings.

What did I do last night?

In my dream, I was in the Waldorf Astoria in New York and I was trying to help someone find their way through a dark and dingy basement. Go figure, huh?

In my dream, I kept thinking about how much I wanted to lie down, but still I kept walking through this dark and dingy basement.

And in reality it appears I was walking though my dark and dingy flat.

But what was I doing?

I have five bruises on my legs this morning. They are corner-shaped ones. The type you get when you walk into the edge of something. Which I guess is highly possible given that even in my dream I believed I was stumbling about in the dark.

Short of installing night vision Big Brother style cameras in my flat, I will probably never know just how I clocked up my 273 steps last night, or just what bit of furniture I walked into.

But it is reassuring to know why I feel quite so tired today. I mean I thought I went to bed at a responsible hour and slept for 7 hours straight.

Now I know about my little walkabout in the middle it makes more sense.

It doesn't make me less tired. But it definitely makes more sense.

I'm now off to Starbucks to order a gallon of coffee.

Happy Monday peeps

DG 
X

Friday, 31 May 2013

Deaf Girly's thankful Friday

Today is Thankful Friday.

My word, that came around quickly.

And today I'm thankful that it's not raining. Because no rain means I can finally wear my curtain coat that Ma made for me last weekend. 

I am sat on the bus right now wearing curtains... as a coat. Eat your heart out Maria Von Trapp.

I am extremely thankful for my talented Ma.

I am also sat on the bus with a huge wedge of Brie in my handbag. A Mulberry with Brie in. Purposefully done so that no one will hopefully suspect the pungent smell of rot will be coming from my bag. 

It. Is. Bad!

So bad in fact, that the woman next to me on the bus is the third person to attempt to sit by me.

One by one they've sat down, got restless, shot me odd looks and then quietly moved away. 

This woman is doing well. She's lasted three whole bus stops so far.

So you might be wondering what a Brie is doing in my favorite handbag. Well, I'm having an impromptu cheese day with my colleague, who is just as cheese nuts as me.

Oop, as I type the third woman has just succumbed to the cheese smell and staggered to another seat.

*blush

Cheese days basically involve vast amounts of erm... Cheese. With bread, salad and salami.

It is the one day in my calendar (I'm lying) where I point blank refuse to accept I have a dairy intolerance and instead get lairy on the dairy. Free on the Brie. It turns out not much rhymes with cheese names.

Anyway, today will be about curtain coats and cheese. And the rents, who it turns out are coming down tonight as we have tickets for summat tomorrow. And guess what? Ma has made me a skirt! From the curtains! To match my curtain coat. I will have a curtain suit. Eat your heart out Coco Chanel!

Hope you're having a lovely thankful Friday.

And if you see me in my amazing curtain coat today, be sure to say hello!

Happy weekend peeps

DG 
X



Wednesday, 29 May 2013

An extra-deaf day


I left my hearing aids at home again today.

By accident of course.

It's strange – I always realise that I've forgotten them at the exact same moment.

I am always halfway down my street, which has a bend on it, and as I get to the bend, there's usually a slight gust of wind, which blows my ears gently, without  causing the rustle of the microphone, the cool air reminding me that my ears are not filled with silicone moulds.

So today I am back to being extra deaf Deafinitely Girly.

But what does this mean?

Well it means I will be going, 'huh?' a lot. As I seem completely incapable of saying the word 'pardon', which is frightfully rude of me, I know. And it also means that I can stay in my own little bubble. 

You see, without my hearing aids in, I don't hear stuff. The stuff like conversations about the time when someone did something… You know the kind.

With my hearing aids in, I am usually able to at least work it out a bit and decide whether to join the conversation and lipread the rest of it. But without my hearing aids, I can't even work out if there is a conversation happening in the first place.

And today that is just fine.

I find it quite comforting. It's how life used to be.

Recently, I've been feeling more and more that I am stood at this giant crossroads. It's so massive it makes that scary crossing at Oxford Circus where tourists flail about and Londoners stomp over them to get where they're going, seem almost miniscule.

I don't know which way to turn. I don't know what to do. What I want or where to go.

Apparently it's my age. Various people have looked at me recently, sucked in some air and announced that 32 is a normal age to feel this way.

'Feel what way?' I want to ask them.

The scary thing about dawdling at a crossroads however, is that there's a danger that someone will stomp all over you to get past. There's a danger that you might stand there until there's a gigantic Thames Water leak that shuts the road for several months and blocks the path you had be thinking of taking. And there's also a danger that you might actually just set up camp, right there at the crossroads, like that guy with the megaphone at Oxford Circus.

So if you need me today, I'll be at my crossroads. You're welcome to tell me whether you think I should turn left, or right or indeed turn around and go straight home.

I might not hear you though, as my hearing aids are at home today.

I figure though, that it's OK to dawdle a while. Not forever. But for a little while. So I can have a think about what I really want.

Have a nice Wednesday peeps – we're almost halfway through the week.

*beams

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Deaf Girly and the amazing new curtain coat


It's Tuesday. Tomorrow will be Wednesday and that means we'll be halfway through the week. How simply marvellous! Eh?

I'm still basking in the warm glow that was my bank holiday weekend – it was aces.

And what did I do?

Well, I reacquainted myself with my Kindle – for 6 hours in the garden – and my rents' amazing hanging chair that feels like it should really be in the 1960s.

I caught up with all the amazing things my rents are doing with their retirement – the music, the baking, the tea cosy making – it's quite incredible that Ma ever found the time to actually do her day job you know.

And on Monday, we made a coat.

A COAT!!

You see on Saturday we went shopping and while in Oxfam we saw some amazing curtains. Covered in a bold floral print they were right up my street – beautiful and slightly mad – and they only cost £11.99 for the pair.

Mum spotted them first and decided they were definitely me, and so that was that. It was decided that we would turn them into something marvellous to wear.

With the day looking less sunny and bright than Sunday, we assigned Monday as coat making day. We dug out the pattern that I had coveted for years from my grandmother's pattern box – a 1973 swing coat design – and set to work.

Five minutes in, and  a scrap of paper fell to the floor – 'Shopping list' it declared in my grandmother's neat handwriting. 'Pop sox, shoes and coat' it stated underneath… a lady clearly after my own heart! I felt quite a pang for Ma as my marvellous pop sox wearing grandmother died more than 20 years ago.

So after a little reminisce about my grandmother and her elegant passion for fashion – this woman took handbag and shoe ownership to a whole other level – Ma set me, a novice in coat making, to work in pinning the pattern, zigzagging the edging to prevent fraying, and covering buttons. All while she started to construct what I can only describe as a masterpiece. 

She altered the sleeves for me so that they're slightly flared and three-quarter length, as this is my favourite style, and she coped with the baffling pattern instructions that had me seeing stars and running off to do useful things like pop the kettle on and lay the table.

This coat is truly the most beautiful coat I have ever seen. And she made it just for me.



It's amazing that for the price of just £11.99 and my amazing ma's time and, quite frankly priceless, creativity, I have something so utterly bespoke and utterly me.

On Friday, I spoke about how Thankful Friday forced you to recognise the good things in your life. For me, the whole weekend did.

And now I have one more good thing in my life – my coat. My amazing Ma-created, bespoke, vintage-pattern, Oxfam curtain fabric coat.

Now I just need some sunny weather to wear it for…

Happy Tuesday peeps!

DG
x

Friday, 24 May 2013

A drink with my (24-year-old deaf) self


Today is Thankful Friday.

I'm thankful there's a three-day weekend ahead of me. I'm thankful that I get to spend this with the rents. My amazing rents.

The sun had better shine because I want cups of tea on the terrace with Ma while whatever amazing new band my dad has discovered blares out of the living room.

I'm 33 this year you know.

And recently, I've found myself wondering what I am actually doing with my life.

Which is silly really because I have an amazing job, an amazing flat and amazing friends and family. 

But sometimes it can't hurt to take a good look at the patterns and cycles in your life. The things which keep happening that you wish you could change.

I'm not meaning to be horribly cryptic either. But while the good things in my life remain good. The not so good things remain not so good. And it's these I'd like to change.

But that's the thing about Thankful Friday. It forces you to look at what is good in your life. It forces you to pull yourself from whatever slump you're in. From whatever it is you think you'll never be able to do, and get the hell on with things.

I mean, I've done this before. I can do it again.

I remember when I was in my 20s, the despair I used to feel at times about my deafness. Sometimes, it used to knock all the air out of me when I tried to work out how I was going to succeed at my career, get my life organised when so much of it involved using the phone or talking to knew people.

It was horrific at times. One day, after a particularly bad day at work, I found myself walking home snivelling as I went. Willing things to be different. Wondering if they ever would be. Wondering if I would ever really be comfortable with the hearing that I had and the challenges that this threw at me.

If my 32 year old self could have taken my 24 year old self for a drink at that moment, then that would have been an amazing thing. She'd have sat me down and told me to get a grip. To power through and trust that feelings like this don't last forever.

And she would have been right.

These days, I rarely have days like that anymore. I'm so comfortable with my deafness that half the time I forget that I am deaf. I'm just me.

So the stuff that's challenging me right now. That's causing the air to be knocked out of me? I think I need to go for a drink with my 42 year old self.

I have a feeling if I did, she's tell me to get a grip. She'd remind me that this is right now.

That patterns can be broken. Cycles can switch paths and life is too short to think about stuff you cannot change.

Have a marvellous weekend peeps.

I'm going to spend it being very thankful.

DG
x