Monday 23 April 2012

Today, Deafinitely Girly is 4 years old

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to Deafinitely Girly, Happy Birthday tooooo-oooooooo me!

That's right - today is a very important day. It is the fourth birthday of The fourth year that I've been writing about being deaf in the city and having fun.

And what a four years it has been. There's been love, there's been heartbreak, there's been an awful lot of growing up - I bought a flat for heaven's sake  - and there's been a rather unfortunate hospital stay, which happened smack bang in the middle of it all and it's all recorded here, on this blog.

One of the things I love about this blog, is that it serves as a wonderful memoir for me to look back over, so see the introduction of new people, with new blog names, new jobs, new loves, new gyms, new everything.

For this trip down memory lane, I've included nice clickity clicky links so you can take a stroll with me, back to the days when...

I lived with Shakira Shakira. Boy, did we party hard, with sometimes hilarious results.

But as well as partying, I did try to be cultured too but not always successfully, as I discovered.

While other times it was a resounding success.

I won competitions.

I took up running but quickly gave it up and joined a gym. But was told I needed a doctor's note to attend because of my deafness.

I got all emotional.

I continued to be a whirlwind in my little kitchen.

I made a few wedding cakes.

I accidentally went dating.

I learnt to tap dance… Kinda.

I finally got broadband.

And lots, lots more.

Looking back, it's amazing. Amazing to read about everything I've done. The friends who've got married, had babies, asked me to be bridesmaid, wedding cake maker, godmother. There's Big Bro who now has a whole family of Clogs. There's the Rents who never cease to amaze me.

And there's you guys - my fabulous readers. The ones who hit on me daily, even though recently, I've been more than a little quiet.

It's hard to believe that was born one day over a brainstorming dinner with NikNak after a job interview where I was challenged to write my perfect column. In the year before that job interview, I'd had almost continuous writer's block, but it was as though the floodgates opened and everything came tumbling out.

Deafinitely Girly has been my therapy. She's enabled me to have tantrums, to shout about the frustrations I feel about my deafness, the sadness I feel about the uncertainty that I may somehow be missing out and then the elation I feel when I work through all the crap and realise that life's pretty damn good.

Deafinitely Girly's moved with the times, too. I'm on Twitter, where I'm far more vocal than I am on here these days.

But that doesn't mean I'm going anywhere. The posts will still happen, just not with the alarming frequency of the early days.

And while the lack of blogging may mean I'm busier than I used to be, it also means that just perhaps the blog worked. The home-made therapy worked. Do you know, when I first moved to London, every day I remembered I was deaf. It got in the way of things, tired me out, chewed me up and spat me out.

Writing Deafinitely Girly has allowed me to regain some of that emotional control over my disability.

The tough days occur less and less and my deafness has simply become a part of me. A part of me I wear with pride.

I'm deaf and girly.

I'm Deafinitely Girly.

And it's my fourth birthday.

Now, where's my cake?

Monday 9 April 2012

Deaf Girl gets shut in a closed shop

I've been having a fantastically relaxing Easter break with The Rents, recovering from my cold, getting loads of sleep, eating the obligatory chocolate for breakfast on Easter Day.

Ma and I have also been having a bit of fun doing some shopping in some fabulous shops that simply don't exist in the Big Smoke. Now I know I'm going on a summer holiday, I wanted to get a new bikini so she took me to this massive shop down the road from their house and we had a great time trying everything on.

Halfway through our trying-on session, I realised that the music had stopped. Odd I thought, but then thought nothing more of it. I could also hear very faintly, the tinny tannoy going off every now and again, but as Ma is catching me up in the deaf stakes these days, neither of us had a clue what was being said.

So we carried on, until it got so quiet that I realised that the store was probably closing early - it was Good Friday after all - so I hurried Ma and we rushed out of the changing room into a closed store.


It was so embarrassing. And the staff were kind of shocked to see us, too. And a little bit cross.

As we paid at a till they had to reopen, I asked the till girl if announcements had been made about the store closing two hours earlier than the time advertised on the door. 'Yes,' she replied… there had apparently been loads.

Keen to let her know we were not just disobedient shoppers, I explained that my Ma and I were deaf and she smiled politely/awkwardly/vaguely so I left it at that and we legged it from the store.

But this experience hit a bit of a raw nerve with me. As a child when I was going deaf and didn't know it, I would often get left places as I didn't hear the calls to leave. I would come downstairs in the house and not be able to find anyone as I hadn't heard their calls that they would be in the garden, or I would be on a school trip and the rest of the group would move on and I'd still be stood there engrossed in whatever we had been looking at.

As an adult, this experience transferred to sitting on buses that had already terminated, waiting at the doors of a train carriage that didn't open due to a short platform because I hadn't heard the announcement, and at my last job, turning around at work to find the whole building in the process of a fire evacuation and no one had thought to tell me.

It's embarrassing and sometimes downright scary and, while walking into a shut shop from the changing room might not bother most people, it made me feel incredibly stupid. It's why I always check the opening hours of store before I go in, I hate that feeling of announcements being made and me not realising what's going on until someone actually tells me, because when they tell me, they're not going to know they're telling a deaf person, in their mind they're telling a person who is holding them up from getting home for the evening.

Of course there's nothing I can really do about this, and the incident in my Ma's local shop is almost forgotten…almost. Think I might buy my next bikini online though, or first thing in the morning… just in case.

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