Friday 30 March 2012

A very Thankful Friday

Today is Thankful Friday and I am thankful for many things.

Firstly for the fantastic evening I had last night. I went to see the Brain exhibition with Man With Beard at the Wellcome Collection and it was actually very interesting. There were bits of brains, whole brains, famous brains, videos of brains being frozen and thinly sliced and many other brain-related things. 

At one point – during a video showing a skull being opened up to reveal the brain – I was slightly worried I might pass out but my knees carried me through and I honestly am amazed at how much more I know about brains now.

Bring on the pub quiz, I say.

Anyway, afterwards we went to this teeny tiny cider place near Euston that Man With Beard had found by chance, and which turned out to be absolutely fantastic. Brilliant cider – the staff know their stuff –and a really nice atmosphere, too. 

I love it when you find a new place in London that's good to go to especially when it's a slightly random small brick structure overlooking the Euston Road with a teeny tiny 1st floor full of hipsters and with two tiny toilets crammed in the corner up a spiral staircase.

I'm also thankful that this weekend I get to see SuperCathyFragileMystic. We're going wedding dress shopping – for her – and it's going to be a weekend of much toasting the brilliance of the happy couple, and hopefully a combination of stunning gowns coupled with a few hilarious gigantic toilet-roll-dolly-style things! 

And finally, well I'm actually insanely thankful for Penfold and Dangermouse. They know why…

Have a great weekend peeps.


Friday 23 March 2012

Deafinitely Girly and Sipsmith Distillery

Yesterday evening I did something a little bit different.

I went on a tour of a gin distillery. The first new distillery in London for 200 years in fact, and it was marvellous.

Tucked away in the residential streets of west London, I walked past the building twice before finally asking Google Maps to tell me where this rather fabulous operation was taking place.

And this rather fabulous operation is called Sipsmith.

We were greeted by French Boy of Lea & Sandeman, which is a brilliant wine company that has several shops in west London, and Sipsmith Sam, one of a duo who set up the company.

This distillery, while small, is beautiful. The machine, called Prudence, recently celebrated her third birthday and her shiny copper exterior shows she's ageing well.

Surrounded by black barrels of ethanol we sipped on freshly made gin and tonics and listened to the fascinating story of Sipsmith and indeed of gin, while soaking up the former with delights from the Ginger Pig butcher and the latter with great interest.

We squished juniper berries between our fingers to release the scent, slurped neat vodka and gin, both of which were very palatable without even a hint of tonic, and heard about some new products in the pipeline.

The description of the distilling process was a simple science lesson – I understood it perfectly and as a result, I doubt I will drink any other gin or vodka again.

Rather fortuitously too, I was placed perfectly to lipread Sipsmith Sam, and even better, he was incredibly well spoken, so I was able to understand nearly everything, even through the gin fug that soon descended.

Wisely, after the tour, we hit the pub, where I preceded to dilute my gin and vodka intake with a pint of Otter Ale.

This means that today, I'm feeling a little fragile, so let's keep everything quiet please…

…which considering we're talking about my world, should actually be quite easy.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Watching My daughter, her deafness and me

Last night I sat down and watched the Rita Simons documentary that was shown on Tuesday evening.

I couldn't bring myself to watch it on the actual night, and I don't really know why that was to be honest. Perhaps because I was afraid how it would make me feel.

I had been in talks with several people connected to this programme about possibly appearing in it to give Rita an insight into what my life is like, and although I didn't really want to be on television, I do wish I could have shown Rita how amazing my life is.

And the programme? Well, it reminded me a lot of my childhood. Of my parents struggling to work out what might be best for me, what the next step was, what my future was going to be like. The constant struggle going on pretty much without my knowledge.

My parents would do amazing things to try and show me they cared about my deafness. They'd take me to deaf days where I could see the technology available to me - not quite so fancy in the 90s - and they even fought to get me on a waiting list to see a geneticist to find out more about my hearing loss.

At the former, I behaved atrociously. I didn't want to interact or find out more about any of it. I just wanted to be me. And the latter? Well the day of my appointment took so long to come around that by that time I could drive. I actively chose to miss my appointment. I went to school instead. I sat there all day and pondered at what was motivating me to act in such a defiant way when all my parents were doing was trying to help.

To this day I still don't know.

And was there a turning point?

Not really. I think I just grew up. You see, it's natural to be defiant as a kid, to do the opposite of what your parents want you to do. But I think because a lot of my defiance centred around something different - my deafness - it seemed like I was acting up about my deafness not just because I was a kid. If anything my deafness saved me from being defiant about other stuff because I was far to busy being defiant about it.

The emotion that I felt while watching the TV programme last night was raw and stemmed from far back in my childhood. The body language of Maiya at her hearing test, the look on Rita's face when she was trying to be upbeat about it - it gave me so many flashbacks.

But what I wasn't expecting was for the panic about cochlear implants to return.

Regular readers will know I had a bit of a wobble about whether I should even consider having one last year and in the end I decided it wasn't for me.

And this programme cemented that further when it was demonstrated how music sounded with one.

You see, the only reason I'd have a cochlear implant is so that I could hear music again. So I could play my violin. And if I don't get that back and actually it sounds completely different, then it removes all point of me having it.

But that's just me.

And that's what I said to the researcher of the programme when he asked me a generic question about deaf people. I felt it was incredibly important that he didn't see me as a spokesperson for anyone other than Deafinitely Girly. I am me, my experience of deafness is mine and my experience of hearing is mine.

I like my world while others might hate it and that's OK.

Rita finished last night by saying that she didn't understand why if given the option to hear, you wouldn't take it... and while I can see her point, I can't agree with it. It's so much bigger than just hearing the raw sound. It's about the quality and the quantity that you get. I'd rather not have any chocolate than a shitty bar of fake sugary chocolate that coated my teeth and tasted of nothing. And in the same way, I'd rather stick with things the way they are right now than risk creating a world that sounded so alien and so tuneless that I was stuck in an irreversible world of panic.

I'd rather keep my world, even if it's going to get quieter, even if I hear a little bit less of my flute every time I pick it up. But it's my world, no one else has to live in it. And that's why I'd never ever tell Rita Simons what I think is best for her child, because if Maiya is anything like me, then she'll probably do that herself.

Friday 9 March 2012

Forgetting I'm deaf

Today is Thankful Friday and the only blog of the week. It's a disgrace, isn't it?

I think one of the reasons for my complete writer's block of late is that I simply can't bring myself to write about one of the main things consuming my thoughts right now  – my neighbour. Her shocking behaviour is on-going and to be honest, the only way I can deal with this is by sticking my head in the sand and simply getting on with things.

The realisation that some things really can't be fixed is a tricky one. I'm a fairly rational person – I can see both sides of the story and have, on more than one occasion attempted some sort of middle ground reconciliation with her downstairs. But at the same time, I have also stood my ground on issues that are important to me – the safety aspect of having a downstairs hallway filled with bikes for example – which she sees as some form of attack.

But it's not an attack, and her rage is akin to a toddler who can't get their own way. She's called me every name under the sun – not to my face of course, but the fireman was introduced to me as 'That bitch upstairs' and she cooly informed my window men that I wasn't very nice to her.

It's not about being nice, it's about not creating a fire hazard and mouse party with crap in the hallway.

You see why I'm not blogging right now, right?!?

Anyway, in amongst all this, a new development in my life is that I've actually found myself forgetting I am deaf. So either I've either been so stressed with other stuff I don't have room to worry about it, or I've succeeded in streamlining my life to occur without the constant remind that I am aurally challenged.

My phone never rings, I've worked up a good email relationship with people I need regular contact with, and my texting is so speedy, it's actually quicker than speech anyway.

And perhaps, non-aural services are improving, too.

Take the other day for example, when I was looking online for a replacement to my shoddy filing cabinet. I stumbled upon a website called The Dormy House and there I found a gorgeous Ottoman, with a concealed filing space inside.

Perfect, I thought and happily added it to my basket. But it was only at the till that I realised that while you could choose a specific delivery day, this would involve a phone call to organise and as a result, I hit cancel and went back to the drawing board.

The next day, my phone rang. I didn't pick up but instead googled the number and it turned out to be The Dormy House. Two minutes later, an email arrived in my inbox from Vicki at The Dormy House enquiring politely why I had not proceeded with my order. I replied immediately, explaining how, with my deafness, I was put off by the delivery methods.

Within five minutes, I had a reply – she could organise the immediate shipping of the Ottoman with delivery the following day if I ordered within the hour.

Incredible huh?

I did indeed place the order, and it did indeed arrive the next day and I marvelled at how, someone who hadn't even known I was deaf had made my life 100% easier.

And it's true, customer service is getting better for deaf people, or at least for me anyway – every week I find myself with another positive experience to add to the list, and the negative experiences are becoming less and less frequent.

Times are changing, things are getting better, subtitles – however terrible at times – are becoming more standard on catch-up TV, videos and even iTunes films and programmes. People are becoming more responsive on email – you no longer have to wait days for a reply where a phone call would generate an immediate response. I can do most things – pay bills, order things, organise workmen for my flat and indeed do my job –without ever needing to hear.

And that's what I am thankful for. I'm becoming more efficient, more productive, more satisfied and more 'normal'. Actually scap the last one. who wants to be normal anyway?!

Happy weekend peeps.

DeafGirly: How I feel about being deaf at work

It's been a whole year since I posted a blog on here. Life's been happening. And I guess I am no longer 'deaf in the city and ha...