Friday 20 October 2017

Deaf Girly on being brave

Every year on this day, I write a blog. It's always a blog about one of the best people I know. A blog about beer, Flashdance and Grand Designs. About learning to live in and love London.

Memories are funny aren't they. Sometimes I struggle to remember what I did last week, but the memories of London Uncle are so super clear.

So always on this day I remember him. Let off a balloon with a message if I can. Visit his tree if I can, but mostly I just thank him for helping me be me.

He taught me how to:

  • Explore London – with him and London Aunt, I learnt the pleasure of just wandering around a neighborhood looking through people's windows.
  • Buy a weekly travel card – at 15, this for some reason left me paralysed with fear. The idea of trying to hear all the quantifying questions. He helped me every week until I one day just did it by myself.
  • Cook edible potatoes – he was also amazing at all cooking, particularly thai green curry.
  • Appreciate the delights of the home shopping channel – oddly soothing when watched with a beer.
  • Obsessively watch BBC Breakfast news for the London travel updates – I became a true 90s London commuter thanks to him.
  • Stay calm when you'd just accidentally dropped a toddler on her head
  • Stay calm when you'd just watched a toddler throw herself down some glass stairs.
  • Stay calm when the same toddler ate five Krispy Kremes in a row and then threw up.
  • Smile so hard your face might fall off – he did this the day he married London Aunt. That was a very good day.
  • Soak rice for longer than you think and rinse it well.
  • Be brave.
And then he was gone.

And I miss him. Fourteen years on I miss him just as much as I missed him then.

And if he was here now, I'd like to think he'd be pretty happy about what I'm up to, and how whenever I'm brave, I always think of him. He made it so much easier to be and still does.

Saturday 7 October 2017

Deaf Girly and the wedding planning

My first novel is about a deaf girl planning her wedding. When I first started writing it, I was single and couldn't ever imagine planning my own wedding. And yet here I am planning it.

I find planning anything as a deaf person quite stressful. The quick and easy 'pick up the phone' option is not available to me, and with FJM in another country, I found myself getting creative to sort things out. 

I should however point out, that even from 4,000 miles away, in a very different time zone and with a load of work to do, FJM has very much been part of our wedding planning. And he's been instrumental in the honeymoon planning, which I am very very excited about.

But even with that, often the day-to-day stuff often falls to just me. 

If anything, being a deaf bride-to-be has made decision making easier. I've chosen things based on who got back to my email first. I've asked around and contacted friends of friends, and I've had some amazing responses.

When I used the NGT type talk app to call my insurance company to make sure my engagement ring was listed on the contents insurance, the lovely type talk person congratulated me on my engagement and said my ring sounded lovely. I mean, how many hearing people get that eh?

My wedding photographer's enquiry form asked me to describe my fiancé in three words. I said 'He's my ears' and he liked that so much he got straight back to me and now he's doing our wedding. He was one of only two wedding photographers who I emailed who got back to me. But I think I have really honestly truly found the best one.

Deafness is a bullshit filter. You end up with the people who are willing to make the effort. This goes for personal, professional and indeed wedding relationships. The lovely person organising our evening venue has been quite possibly the most helpful person ever. She gets back to my emails as quickly as if I had lifted the phone, sorts things that are well outside of her remit and generally makes me feel like everything has been organised by me, when really it's been organised by her.

Our vicar, also amazing. Truly wonderful. Actually both the vicars who said yes to marrying us at very short notice were truly wonderful. Perhaps vicars in general are just wonderful.

Then there's my ma, who organised dress shopping, spoke to florists and came with me to listen in when I booked my wedding hair appointments. It's been nice to have company on these things. And it was fun to go to Hobbycraft and buy all the little extra bits and bobs that we want to make our day extra special.

The one thing I have struggled with though, which I didn't really expect to find that hard, is choosing the music for the church. As someone who dearly loves music and before deafness diagnosis adamantly wanted to be a professional violinist, working out what to have at our wedding has left me feeling quite sad at times. I don't want stuff that's out of my frequency. I don't want stuff that makes me feel deaf. I have deliberately designed our wedding day to work with my deafness. I had a bit of an emotional blah about the whole thing if I'm honest.

And for now, we're a bit undecided about it. We're having Christmas carols because yeah, why not, but I wonder if for everything else, I might just say to the musical director 'I can't hear more than an octave above middle C and I really want to hear my wedding music' and see what he can do....

But really though, the most important thing about getting married is that FJM and I get to spend the rest of our lives together. Being us. A team. Something that seems to work really rather well. 

When I am with FJM, I don't feel deaf. I'm just me. He's my ears without me noticing. He gives me an invisible cloak of confidence. I feel like a superhero who can do anything. And I love him very much.

Happy weekend peeps


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