Friday 27 April 2018

Deaf Girly's 522nd Thankful Friday

Bringing my 10th birthday week to a close, it seems apt to write a Thankful Friday post. Back in the early days, I used to do one of these every week, but nowadays they're reserved for special occasions.

And this Thankful Friday is really about the fact that FJM is unexpectedly back in the country. For one week. ONE WHOLE WEEK! *beams

It's very nice to be in the same country as the person you are married to.

Also this weekend, I get to see many of my favourite people including Onion Soup Mate and Mr and Mrs B! Brilliant eh?

This week I've been thinking a lot about my little blog and had so much fun reading through the archives. There are lots of things that I've forgotten about and it's like an amazing 10-year diary, which is interesting because I am rubbish at keeping diaries in real life. I wrote poetry instead during my teenage years and all I can say is thank goodness the internet was so primitive back then or some of it might have ended up by being read by someone other than me.

But with DeafinitelyGirly, I am proud of it all. I am proud that I found the words to illustrate how I felt about being deaf, about being in London and choosing a career where I often felt out of my depth with my disability. About housebuying, owning and selling and all the stresses it caused. About finding the hacks that make life work for me in a hearing-centric world.

It's been a place where I can have massive wobbles, pay tribute to the amazing people who have helped me along the way and just document the weird and wonderful life that I live.

On this Thankful Friday I always want to thank you. For hitting on my blog – although digi speak has moved on and no one really talks about blog hits anymore – for your kind comments, your follows and re-tweets on Twitter... the latter of which has just about helped me justify my amazing intake of junk food over the years.

Have a very lovely Friday peeps and here's to the next 10 years of DeafinitelyGirly. And can someone please tell me to pull my finger out and get back to writing books please because from the last 10 years that it still number 1 on my wish list... seeing Deafinitely Girly in print. On a shelf. So I guess I'd better get writing eh?


Monday 23 April 2018

Deafinitely Girly turns 10!

On this day, 10 years ago, I published my very first blog on I'd never blogged before but after someone challenged me to write my ideal column, Deaf Girly was born. I am so glad she was.

Deaf Girly helped me navigate my way through some incredibly challenging personal and professional times in my twenties. She was my voice when I just wanted to – and often was – crying in a cupboard at work, and she allowed me to say things out loud on Twitter and in print that I didn't have the words for in real life.

So in celebrating my birthday, let's look back at my – in no particular order – top 10 moments on the blog. Click through (I've linked the blogs in the headings) and have a read at these nostalgic ramblings:

1. The one where I blogged for the first time

I can still remembering hitting publish on that blog. How excited I was. And I remember being even more excited when I had 10 hits on the website. I encouraged all my friends and family to read it, establishing the DeafinitelyGirly mailing list, which still exists to this day, and the excitement of creating content was the thing that got me out of bed in the morning.

2. The one where I won a Superdrug competition

Back in the summer of 2009 (not as catchy as the Bryan Adams' version let's be honest), I became a Superdrug Summer Insider alongside the wonderful Phoebe of North of London blog and Hollie. It was a fabulous summer of blogging, beauty products and benefits, including an all-expenses paid trip to Barcelona, which was my price for being the Ultimate Summer Insider. It was the first time I realised the power of social media as a way to be Deaf Girly. I made YouTube videos and tweeted my little heart out. It was an amazing experience.

3. The one where I gave all my friends 'Blog names'

Fab Friend, Mr B and Mrs B (although to be fair I think I leveraged this from them), SuperCathyFragileMystic, First Ever Friend, NikNak, Shakira Shakira, GBman, Singing Swede, London Aunt and London Cousins One and Two, Mustard Boy, Onion Soup Mate, The Rents, and of course the wonderful FJM - being an anonymous blogger meant thinking up new names for a lot of my friends and family. The only person who got to keep her name was Gma. It worked. She was my Gma. She was a big supporter of my blog. It was through Twitter that she had an amazing final year of her life. Thank you BT for making that possible for her. Blog names just work. Sometimes they don't and it's back to the drawing board. For example, GB-man started out life as Beeb-boy.  

4. The one where I got hearing aids

Honestly, I cannot read this blog without tearing up. Getting hearing aids – and actually persevering in wearing them – was the most challenging but most rewarding thing I have ever done. They are amazing. They make my world 3D. Since I got them, my career has taken new, exciting paths. I'm braver, more confident, more me. I am so privileged to have amazing hearing aids available to me on the NHS. Hearing aids and the NHS. Two life changing things. Let's never forget that.

5. The one where I bought a flat and did some quite horrendous DIY

Regular readers know that the buying, owning and selling of my flat is something that made me sad and happy, and also a bit mad in equal proportions. But when I had my flat, I threw myself into the joys of flat ownership with gusto. I pulled up floorboards, I painted and I used No More Nails to fix pretty much everything. It didn't always work... see here. It was during my home ownership days that I discovered the power of customer service on Twitter. I sorted out British Gas and O2 Broadband issues over Twitter, I booked plumbers, I ordered furniture. Twitter was a deaf girly's life saver.

6. The one where I quit my job to become an au pair and write a book

Remember back in 2013, I decided to rent out my flat and become a live-in au pair and write my book? Can't believe it's now five years since I made that decision to kick open a different door and see what was behind it. Best decision I ever made. I wrote the book. I mapped out two more. And then all of a sudden, there were new opportunities for work, like this one. And many more that followed. There were the lows of losing out on jobs – here – and the terrible stats surrounding deaf people and employment. But then there were also the highs of getting an amazing job at a global company and finding my feet and confidence there...

7. The one where I became an 'accuracy reader'

There's something pretty ace about being approached by an amazing up-and-coming and now established writer to accuracy read his books which feature a deaf heroine. I was honoured to meet Will Dean's character of Tuva in Dark Pines – his debut book – and Red Snow, out in 2019. And when I discovered that Dark Pines had been optioned by Lionsgate for TV, it gave me a new ambition. I want to be Tuva on the screen. I understand Tuva's deafness as if it were my own. I want to tell her story. Watch this space on that slightly insane ambition peeps! 

8. The one where I started my amazing hearing dog journey

The Hearing Dog journey for me is an incredible emotional one as due to location changes, I have currently have to put this on hold, but what an amazing year I had during my application process. I got to meet so many amazing people - from Anne and her hearing dog Tegan to Nicholas Orpin, a community fundraiser for Hearing Dogs. I also got to go on the Great British Dog Walk, which is happening again this year peeps, so get involved here

9. The one where I met FJM

This is the first blog I wrote about FJM for Scope's End the Awkward campaign. His blog name appeared one day and that was that. And he's featured in many many blogs over the last four years as he's a fantastic pair of ears amongst other things and I am incredibly happy that he cycled into my life that sunny weekend at SuperCathyFragileMystic's. Being with FJM has made me braver than I've ever been before. I've flown long haul by myself – even though I hate flying – been trekking in Oman, walked miles in the Swiss Alps and thrown myself headfirst down a very steep ski slope in gale force winds. Here's to many more adventures with you @FJM, I love you very much. 

10. The one where I married FJM and guests included those who only knew me as Deaf Girly

Reader, I married him. And what a wonderful day it was. My blog was a wonderful platform for talking about the challenges of deaf wedding planning and our honeymoon was the perfect excuse to campaign for a date-nite subtitled showing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The wedding was attended by Mr and Mrs B, who I never have met if it wasn't for Deaf Girly and my best woman – Jenny M – presented me with a printed copy of her speech so I could read along. It was a a perfect, perfect day.

Really though, there are so much more than this to @DeafGirly's 10 years of blogging. The time I successfully campaigned for vibrating pagers in NHS Walk-In centres, or all the amazing reviews of theatre that I've been able to do thanks to Stagetext. The massive wobbles I've had when I've doubted my value as a person as a result of my deafness. The times I've picked myself up and just got on with it. And the times where you amazing people have done the picking up instead.

I just wanted to say thank you. For reading, commenting, sharing, engaging, laughing and crying with me on this journey. Here's to the next 10 years eh? Although am I now entering the tween years of Deaf Girly? Heaven help us all.

Happy Monday peeps.

Love Deaf Girly

Aged 10 

Friday 6 April 2018

Deaf Girly and the deaf heroine in Dark Pines

So today is a very thankful Friday.

Today I learnt from The Bookseller that Lionsgate – think Mad Men, Orange is the New Black – has optioned television rights for Will Dean's fabulous first book Dark Pines.

Tuva Moodyson should soon (taps foot impatiently) be on a TV screen near you. A deaf main character. Who doesn't sign but speaks. Who struggles to fight the stereotypes of what hearing people think all deaf people are like.

My heart is doing little giddy cartwheels.

Why? Because although Tuva and I are very different, we are also very similar. We both have pretty big hearing losses. We both need our hearing aids like most people need air. We can both be pretty socially awkward and take a while to get to know. We both know what it's like to feel completely isolated – even in a place full of people. And we both have faced the judgement of people who think we're not that deaf.

Growing up, I lost count of the number of people – my university disability support officer included – who said the soul destroying words, 'You're not really deaf' to me.

Just because I could speak. Just because I could get by in conversations – flying by the seat of my pants and with a lot of guess work I might add.

Some people meant it as a compliment – as if being deaf is a bad thing, which in case you're wondering it isn't – while some people (that uni support officer) meant 'I'm not going to help you as I think you're attention-seeking fake.' And she didn't help me. For two years. And then I helped myself. And paid a friend to take my notes and my marks went from passes to firsts.

But that's a totally different story.

Back to Dark Pines. Before this amazing book came out, Will approached me on Twitter and asked me if I would do an accuracy read for the character of Tuva. And of course I jumped at the chance. Apart from my own book, which is currently on ice while I work out how to make it better, there are very few books with deaf main characters. And even fewer that have actually been published.

And what a character Tuva is. She takes a while to get to know... and you're never going to be her best friend by the way, which I love. So many books give you so much of the main character you feel like you know them inside out. With Tuva that is not the case. And that's so true to her character. Will just seems to get it.

I was able to advise Will on things like lipreading, hearing in the dark – you can't – and other things that tugged at my hearing heartstrings and when I re-read Dark Pines on its release, gosh, it was so nice to catch up with Tuva.

I was lucky enough recently to meet Tuva again while doing an accuracy read of Will's second book Red Snow. I'm giving nothing away except that it's brilliant. Brilliant.

When I heard that Dark Pines had been optioned, my immediate thought was that I really hope the production company cast a deaf, aural, hearing aid wearer as the character of Tuva. I hope that they don't cast a hearing person who has to pretend to be deaf. I want the acting to be about the storyline and Tuva's personality not her deafness.

And I absolutely didn't* email Will to find out how I could audition for the role of Tuva.

But I guess what I am thankful for is that slowly but surely, all types of deafness are being shown in media. From the brilliantly wonderful, Oscar-winning short film The Silent Child to Will's book. Gradually, that one-size-fits-all approach to portraying deafness is being dwarfed by bigger, better things. And I am so thankful for that.

Happy Friday peeps


*I absolutely did and Lionsgate peeps, if you're reading this, I absolutely want to put myself forward when you come to start casting Tuva by the way.

Monday 2 April 2018

Deaf Girly and captioned Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Last week something very exciting happened. Eighteen months after buying the tickets for me and FJM, we finally got to head to the Palace Theatre to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child with Stagetext captions... and it was AMAZING.

I've written a lot about the importance of captions and how about before I knew I was deaf and even once I knew I was deaf, I simply assumed I wasn't intellectual enough to enjoy theatre as I yawned my way through a year 10 Shakespeare trip or woke myself up sleep talking during The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I found attending the theatre arduous, horrific, embarrassing and time wasting. I came out angry with myself for being so rubbish at something. When really I should have been giving my deaf. teenage self a break.

But then Stagetext came along and did that for me. Hurrah.

However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't anxious about the matinee and evening performance set up of Harry Potter. I was terrified I'd find the whole thing too exhausting and wouldn't follow it. I actually warned FJM that this might be the case, and he was very lovely about it.

But the reality was totally different.

Sure at the start when the conversation started quickly and I found my eyes darting between the caption boxes and the stage, I was worried it still wouldn't work. But quickly my brain got used to the set up and before I knew it I had forgotten that I was reading along and was utterly immersed.

Of course, it helps that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is very very good. Very good. There's lots going on visually, the characters are familiar and the plot is full of references a Harry Potter fan can gleefully pick up on. But as the final curtain fell, I was still amazed I'd managed it. Effortlessly. And I'd enjoyed it.

For many years, before technology gave me reliable subtitles for movies and theatre, books were my preferred form of entertainment. When I read books, I didn't miss anything. I started on an equal footing with hearing people. I got all the secrets. I never get secrets in real life. I never hear whispers or overhear information. Books made my world 3D. 

JK Rowling has always given me 3D Harry Potter, through the books, the subtitled DVDs and occasional convenient showings of the subtitled films at the cinema, and the play was no different. 

If you've not been to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child yet with Stagetext captions then I would implore you to go. The ticket booking process is easy, the box office incredible helpful and the whole day is amazing. What's more, if you buy a bottle of water at the bar, you get your programme half price, which seemed like a good deal.

That night, I stepped out of the theatre feeling inspired. Not just by JK Rowling's brilliant play but by the fact that I had finally stamped out that teenage insecurity of not being intellectual enough to attend the theatre once and for all.

Happy Easter peeps


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