Thursday 27 February 2014

The not-hearing person in the room

I'm a chatterbox.

I love everything about interacting with people. The chitchat and the jokes, the way you slowly get to know people through snippets of conversation.

And most of the time I am happy with my version of that. My version, which is much more one-to-one than group, which is much more engineered and controlled by me, which is much more saying 'What was that?' to a trusted person so they can relay what I have missed to me and make me feel a part of what is going on.

But the thing is, sometimes this really bothers me.

I can sit in a room full of people and they're all chatting, catching up, learning about each other, getting to know one another in the way you do when you spend eight hours a day with each other, and I am not a part of that. Not without looking up, stopping the conversation, asking for someone to tell me what's going on. And of course, people are always happy to do this. But I just wish they didn't have to.

There are lots of things I don't mind about my deafness. I don't mind not hearing babies crying or police sirens and fire alarms. I don't even mind that much that I cannot make phone calls to British Gas.

But what I do mind is that sometimes it seems that I don't belong in a room full of people. Like it looks that I don't make the effort to get to know people. Because I cannot get to know people in the usual way.

It means that a conversation with me often goes one of two ways. Either it's all about me so that I can control the subject matter and guess what's being said. Or it's me firing questions at someone. Neither convential ways of building friendships.

One of my Twitter followers once said to me that if you're deaf, people will always tell you if the building is burning down but they won't tell you their secrets. And I get what she meant. Except it's not the secrets I want. It's the mundane facts about other people. What they're cooking for tea, what they're having for lunch and what this song on the radio – which I cannot hear by the way – means to them.

Wonder if I could get a voice-activated live subtitling screen here?

That'd help wouldn't it?

And until then, get ready for DG's 20 Questions – because that's all I've got for now.


Monday 17 February 2014

Deaf Girly's deaf day

Since I got my hearing aids, I rarely have days where I am constantly reminded of my deafness... but today, so far, has been one of them.

This morning I slept through my alarm – in the night I had somehow switched it from vibrate to beep and the beep went on... and on... and on... without me knowing it was going until the cat eventually came and stomped on my head to get me to shut it up.

On the tube there were delays and a lot of stopping and starting. In my head I knew it was red signals and the ancient trundling trains struggling to get in sync for the day, but my ears provided no reassurance of this as I failed to pick up even a little bit of what the tube driver was saying over the tannoy.

I arrived in town and headed into a supermarket to buy some fruit and breakfast. Wandering around the shop in a sleepy daze I headed to the self service till so that I wouldn't have to hear what the cashier was saying, but instead a shop assistant grabbed my stuff and put it by the till, saying something to me I couldn't hear. She repeated it again and then a third time until eventually she just pushed me out the shop. It was then I realised, looking at everyone else leaving the shop and the fire engine that was arriving that there was clearly a fire alarm that I hadn't heard.

I was so embarrassed I wanted to cry.

It wasn't the usual hilarious mishearing mishap I usually have. It was just incredibly mortifying.

Today is a hair up and glasses day – decided by the fact that I slept through my alarm clock. As I stepped into the mirrored lift, I caught sight of my hearing aids struggling for space alongside my glasses behind my ears and wanted to cry.

And then I got a grip – after all, there's a lot worse things in life than not hearing a fire alarm – such as no one telling you there's a fire alarm. There's a lot worse things than not hearing the tube driver – I believe that even hearing peeps struggle with that. And as for my alarm clock – well, if a hearing person sleeps through their alarm, they don't really have the amazing fabulous excuse that I have.

After all, you can't really argue with deafness.

Happy Monday peeps.


Friday 7 February 2014

Deaf Girly's Friday fall

Well, it's Friday, which is always the day where I have a quick think about all the things I am thankful for and this morning, getting eight hours sleep was top of the list.

The morning started well. I made coffee, I showered, I got ready for the day ahead, which meant firing up my laptop and answering emails. And then I went down to get my breakfast – 2 pears and a mug of black coffee.

In the kitchen was a man from a kitchen company measuring and planning London Aunt's kitchen as she's thinking of having it redone.

'Hello,' I said, introducing myself, 'Are you the man from XX Kitchens?'

'Erm, no,  I'm from the XX Kitchens,' ,' he replied, naming a competitor.


Silenced by my slip-up, he tried to make conversation, which I couldn't hear as he was facing the away from me and had no idea I was deaf. It was a bit of a car crash as I misheard him over and over again. I was also probably coming across as a bit distracted, too. Which on reflection I was, as in my head I was mentally plotting my quick escape.

I hurriedly washed the pears under the tap, cut the tops of them and whacked them on a plate. I filled my giant Starbucks mug with coffee and I bid him farewell as I walked up the two steps that lead out of London Aunt's kitchen, looking back to lipread his reply.

And then CRASH! I fell over. Foiled by the second step.

In the absence of a free hand to put down, I face planted the floor. The contents of my giant Starbucks mug of coffee went airborne and my two pears were catapulted in different directions. One actually went flying through the air, coming to a rest at the feet of the kitchen man who by now was probably planning how he could get the hell out of there, too.

He said something. I have no idea what it was. He picked up my pears. Lets not dwell on that euphemism and, after mopping up the vat of spilt coffee and nursing my scalded hand, I made a run for it to an upstairs room where I am currently hiding. Typing this blog. With Homes Under The Hammer on in the background.

The pears were bruised and one was poached in hot coffee. I wouldn't recommend it.

So what am I thankful for on this Friday? Well I guess that things actually happen to me. After all it would be a terribly dull life if nothing eventful EVER happened wouldn't it?

So with my slightly burnt hand, my coffee poached pear and my bruised ego, I bid you a very happy weekend peeps.


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