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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Story series - my father's dance with a stick

As you have noticed, how I see and observe things as a young deaf boy is radically different. Sometimes with a humorous slant. Fortunately, this is not in the vein of tragedy.

My family and I were living in Texas and I was about 5 years old. We lived at a house where the chain-fence backyard faced the vast wilderness. At least it looked like that to my 5 year-old mind. I may not be entirely wrong about that.

One warm morning, I opened the curtains to look out into the backyard. I was surprised to see my cat sitting behind the sliding door, waiting calmly to come in. What struck me the most was he was holding this weird-looking stick in his mouth and that stick was moving around a bit. I could see the stick had a pattern and I thought it was odd.

I started to open the door to let my cat in so I could examine the stick better and that's when my mom came into the view. She freaked out...FREAKED OUT...and ran in to stop me from opening the door some more and she slammed the door shut before the cat could bring his stick in.

After gesturing firmly to me about not opening the door, my mom called my dad. I could not understand what was going on, but I knew better than to disobey my mother and open the door. I sat on the floor and watched the stick move in several directions while still in my cat's mouth.

After an eternity, my mom made me come into the kitchen and she served me a sandwich. Then my dad came home. He stood at the door and stared at the cat. He went into the garage and I followed him. He put on thick gardener's gloves and took his Air Force work shirt off. He went out into the front yard and circled around to the backyard.

He paused at the gate to make sure the cat wasn't coming to him and he gestured to me to stay. STAY! I nodded at him. He went in. He approached the cat slowly. Moved to the side. I watched him bend down and quickly grab one end of the stick to pull it away from the cat.

Then...he started dancing with the stick. He hopped back. Sideways. Darted in. Jumped back. Threw the stick up in the air. Let the stick land. Darted in. I was fascinated by his dance with the stick.

Then my dad jumped up and threw a rock down on the stick. Suddenly, there was red paint everywhere on the patio. I didn't see any can of paint. Where did the red paint come from? I was confused by that. My dad carefully picked up one half of the "broken stick" and flung it over the far end of the backyard fence. He went back and got the other half and flung it over to join the other.

Took me few years before I realized what the stick was and why my dad danced with it. Do you know what it was? :)

It was a snake. I think it was about 4 feet long, may have been 3...I was young and you know how kids are. My mom has no recollection of what pattern the snake had, let alone know what kind of snake it was, and my dad has been dead for over 10 years now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Story series - art imitates life...sorta

Saw a very comical Big Bang Theory episode related to Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj waiting at a theater to see a re-release of a movie. That episode reminded me of the time I went to see Star Wars at the base theater back in 1978.

What I meant by "the base theater", it was at an Air Force base. I lived in and around Air Force bases all of my childhood and I was an Air Force brat, thanks to my dad.

When the news got out that Star Wars was being shown at that base theater months after it no longer ran in the theaters, my friend and I immediately made plans to see it. After some delay (we were young and unable to drive so we had to wait for his dad to take us), we arrived at the theater only to see a MASSIVE line at the theater. Stretched around to behind the theater.

Sighs.

We got in the line and waited. His dad left. Hey, this was 1978 and we were on the base. We were secure at that time.

Took us about 20 minutes just to get to the ticket window...and as we stepped up to purchase the tickets... Yep...as you guessed it...

The employee put up a sign that indicated the show was sold out. We WERE the cutoff line. If only...hid dad had gotten going a bit sooner...if only...he had driven faster...if only we had asked him earlier...if only if only if onlyifonlyif...

Argh!

Yes, it really happened. Just as we were ready to buy tickets. I'd tell people about this story and then to see art imitating life...sorta. ;)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Story series - that was it?

Bear in mind that this was in the early 80's when this occurred. The practices described below in the story was commonplace at the time. Relax and enjoy the story.

I had graduated a year earlier from a school for the deaf whose philosophy emphasized oral communication over sign language (meaning we learned how to speak and read lips) and I was mainstreamed; struggling to understand the brave new world in 7th grade where everyone was hearing and I was the only deaf student there.

Out of the blue, one of my "friends" had suddenly turned against me by spitting at me while at recess. What I meant by the quote marks on the word friends was I thought anyone who spoke to me and interacted with me was by definition, a friend. How naive I was.

Just like that, his spit landed on my shoulder near my neck. I was shocked by the insult and the shock quickly turned into fury. I spat back at him, making sure to hit his face and I nailed him a centimeter from his nose. That pissed him off enough to spit back.

I retaliated. He responded. This escalated to a spitting war on a global scale. A teacher ran in to break up the spitting war and I never forgot her reaction of disgust when she saw what had transpired.

She marched us to the principal's offce. The principal had only three chairs so we weren't far apart at all. The teacher then left us to face the principal. I had met him months earlier and he seemed cordial but supportive to me. He had understood that the school was having its first ever deaf pupil and he was setting the benchmark for all other students and faculty to follow.

The principal got up from behind his desk and came around and leaned back on his desk. He made a mistake of asking the boy first what had happened. The boy got very animated and tried everything under the sun to blame it all on me. I just sat there and waited for the principal to speak to me. I had learned that was a very important thing to do - wait and don't speak until spoken to.

The principal abruptly cut him off and then he looked at me and said, "So what happened?" I calmly explained how I thought he was my friend until today when he just spat at me for no reason at all. I had not done anything wrong to him and I did not know why he started this. The principal nodded as if all this made sense to him.

The boy, probably sensed that I had won the principal over, got loud and tried to speak over me and everyone else. The principal stood up and went to the cabinet as the boy loudly denied everything. He opened the cabinet and pulled out something large, round, and flat that I couldn't make out. He dropped it on his desk for sound effect and I could feel the vibration of that metallic thud from the large round flat object landing on the desk.

The boy shut up immediately. The principal questioned him again and the boy tried again, in a somewhat calmer tone to blame everything on me. The principal sighed and looked at me. He said, "what do you have to say?" I told him that I did spit on him only because he spat on me first and I was able to show the gobs of saliva on my clothes. That convinced the principal.

He went to the intercom and paged for a certain teacher to come in. After a minute, the teacher (albeit a different one) came in. The principal said to me, "Come over here." I got up and walked over to him. I was able to see what the object was. A paddle with holes drilled all over the area. "Why did he do that?" as I wondered while walking over to him.

"Bend over and grab your _____" and I thought he said "knees" so I did as instructed. He tapped me on my shoulder to get my attention and I looked at him. He pointed to my ankles and said, "No, grab your ankles." I did as told. He stepped away and after a moment, I felt a thud on my butt. I realized that he had just paddled me...but...what I thought was "That was it?" It didn't hurt at all. My dad had spanked me before and his hand hit HARDER than that paddle. Okay.

The principal tapped me and I looked at him. He said, "Go sit down." Okay. I sat down. The principal motioned for the boy to get over there. The boy didn't have to be told to grab his ankles - he did it right away. I got to watch how the principal used the paddle. Arm went up...high...pause to lock in the impact zone...left foot moved forward, swish, thwack! The boy jumped out of his grasp position and yelped and looked back at the principal...and he suddenly went back into the position.

I actually burst out in laughter and both the principal and the teacher looked at me sternly. I apologized while giggling, but it was just too damn funny to see a boy react so poorly to the exact same thing that didn't affect me at all...and not only that, but to see him JUMP BACK into the ankle grasp position...as if he would be punished again for breaking the grip.

The principal told us to not do it again. I nodded and shrugged. The boy was completely intimidated and barely nodded. It was my only time ever in my life that corporal punishment was administered to me by someone who wasn't my parent.

The boy tried to do a smear campaign on me afterward, but I made sure to tell everyone what had happened in the office...including my "That was it?" moment and how he reacted to the paddle. He became a non-factor in my life and had faded away into obscurity by the time we went on to 8th grade.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Who needs sound to know what's going on around you...?

Emmy (of her fabulously philosophical "Right Turn Without Signaling" blog) left a comment on my post about stopping my mother dead in her tracks - "As my daughter's teacher always reminds parents who are baffled by the fact she's deaf but missing nothing, there are a lot of things that happen where you don't need sound to know it is happening. This is a great example of this."

Emmy, as I said in my response to your comment, you are absolutely right. However, the depth and the scope of how we miss nothing hasn't been explained...until now.

While I was standing around after getting my tattoos, the artist was trying to find something and I knew exactly what she was looking for. I got a piece of paper that was taped to the chair and handed it to her. She was surprised because that was exactly what she was looking for and she didn't say a word to anyone.

How did I know? First of all, she turned the chair around. The paper came into my view and it was a drawing of a tattoo that my wife wanted on her body. Then the artist rearranged her tools and accessories. After watching her be satisfied with her arrangement, I saw how her head came up and her eyes rested on the spot where the paper had suddenly "disappeared". She started looking around for it.

Easy as putting two and two together. There are other moments that have astounded even my wife who has witnessed my observation powers. Such as?, you ask (as I knew you would LOL).

Recently, my family and I went to our older daughter's school for "Trunk r Treat" where people would give out candy from their vehicles. After making our round, we went inside the cafeteria. I noticed some art, all using the same artwork. Ahh, coloring contest! My wife explained to me that each row represented each grade and each held the finalists. She pointed one out to me - it was our daughter's.

Of course, my heart swelled with pride and I thought she did a very good job compared to the rest in her grade. I tried my best to be objective and I looked over very carefully each art in her grade. 8 total out of over 70 students. 4 were marginally good or worse. I thought hers was either best or second best. I looked over all other finalists' art.

Then we all sat down to mingle with everyone else. Not long after, I saw a woman pull a single artwork off each row and then stand in front of the crowd. I realized that the woman had picked winners...and my daughter's artwork was still on the row. I was disappointed by that. My wife waved at me to get my attention and told me they're ready to announce the winners.

I told my wife "That woman already has picked winners and our daughter didn't win. Shh, don't tell her." My wife looked at me like I had no idea what I was talking about. The woman started announcing the winners by each grade. My wife asked me how I could possibly know that. Just as I finished explaining my observations, the woman announced the winner for my daughter's grade and my daughter did the "Oh man I didn't win!" face.

At least she was a good sport about that. I was proud of her for that and I told her so after we left.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Story series - Blood blister'd hand

Editor's note - I thought I had this scheduled to publish. My apologies to those who were expecting my regular post.

I was rather a wild child growing up. That's how people saw me. Why was I wild? I just didn't understand the societal expectations placed on me and the norms I was supposed to follow. Nobody had ever taught me...I figured almost all of that on my own. Bear that in mind when I tell this story of the blood blister'd hand.

Sometime in the day somewhere far away from the house, I had this undefined feeling deep down in my belly that I was in trouble. Didn't know what or why. Just knew. I never liked coming home and get spanked for what, to my underdeveloped mind, was no reason at all. Never liked having my parents administer corporal punishment to me and then say to me, "You know what you did!" No explanation. How was I supposed to know what I did when I didn't understand the expectations and the norms?

I decided that I would protect my butt from the inevitable sting of a parent's hand, but how? My young mind deduced that the rocks, when I'd fall on them, hurt A LOT...so, the rocks would hurt the hand that "fell" on them. Perfect. I gathered up a whole bunch of small rocks and stuffed them into my back pockets. Then I got up and went home.

Sure enough, my mother came to the door upon hearing my entrance into the house. She grabbed my arm before I could say anything and spun me around so she could swing her hand down to spank me. Thud. Not "thwack!" I felt the rocks push into me and that hurt a little. Surprised me...how the rocks hurt me...but I was more surprised by my mother's reaction to my "butt protection".

She howled in pain and held her wrist as she tried to shake the pain off. Perfect, my idea worked. She ran into the kitchen to soak her injured hand in cold water to help relieve the pain.

She never spanked me again. That was my entire recollection of this episode. When I told her about how I remembered this moment while discussing the demerits of corporal punishment few years ago, she told me something else had happened that day. The rocks were pointy enough and she had hit the rocks hard enough that she developed blood blisters on her hand. She confessed that she was too scared to spank me since then.

My idea worked too perfectly. I felt bad about that, but we all are able to laugh about it now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Karma is a bitch and she has sisters...

I love that quote because you've heard phrases such as "Payback is a bitch", "Karma is a bitch", "Life is a bitch", etc. You can see how my favorite quote infers. ;)

This is in reference to a psycho I used to work for. I found out recently that a club has been forced to close the doors for a year due to a rapidly dwindling membership base and funds. I had served on that club with distinction as Vice President, President, and Vice President before the psycho came in and started maneuvering to get one of the cronies installed as V.P. at the election.

Several people told me they saw the psycho tell the V.P. candidate how to set up a voting bloc in order to win the position. I told them to not worry about it because clearly the psycho can't stand me and wanted me out. "Let them have the club", I said and walked away. Not even two years later, this happens.

The word got out about how the psycho had used job connections to get a lover a job in the same department. Not only that, the psycho is married. Huge conflict of interest. The psycho got demoted down from Program Director. I laughed when I heard that. Like I said...

Karma is a bitch and she has sisters.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Story series - Got busted on a plane!

Editor's note - the Story series will be published on Wednesdays unless that is too close to the date of a holiday.

Because I was attending a college with excellent resources for deaf students 800 miles away, I fly often. I have been flying since I was just few months old in my mother's womb, so I knew the whole drill.

Buy a ticket, find the correct gate, introduce yourself to the personnel as a deaf traveler so they can tell you when it's your turn to go in, wait until they tell you, go into the plane, find your seat, stow your stuff, sit down, put your seat belt on, pick up a magazine, get some gum out (helps with the pressure in my ears), and wait for the flight attendants to do their choregraphed demonstrations.

This time was different. I got a seat by the wing exit door and an attendant came over to where I was sitting. She started talking to everyone who was on my "row" about the emergency procedures and I couldn't believe how I actually understood every single word she was saying.

After she was finished with her instructions on how to operate the emergency exit doors, she asked if everyone understood. I nodded at her and she caught that. She looked straight at me and said to me, "I need you to verbalize that you understand."

Busted. I grinned at her and quickly thought over on how to say something without giving myself away. The word "understand" was too long. No. "No problem", again too long. Ahh! A small word that I can manage. Three letters long, perfect.

I said, "Yes" as clearly as I could. She went, "Ah, you are deaf. Come with me" and she swapped my seat with another closer to the front of the plane. Smart lady. ;)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Here is a surprise video below...

video

We just signed "Happy Thanksgiving (to) You". Yes, that's me (remember my fave shirt? LOL)...and I originally set out to do this solo but my younger daughter WANTED to do this with me. Fine with me! ;)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Story series - The magical doors

When I was about 4 or 5, my family and I went to my paternal uncle's wedding. Since I could not understand what was going on, I was bored and itching to explore the place. My parents refused to let me leave during the ceremony and that drove me up the wall.

Finally, we got to move to another area. Didn't know this was a reception...but with all the commotion and whatnot, I was able to slip away. While exploring, I came across the magical doors.

I stepped in and marveled at the little round things. I pressed one of them and I was delighted to discover that, after a moment and some shaking of the floor, the doors would reveal to show everyone had disappeared along with the tables and chairs. I pressed another one and I got yet another different scene. I decided to try all the round things. Whenever I pressed one of those, they would change color and then go back to old color and after shaking, the doors would open to give me a different view.

After a while of getting random sights, the doors slid open to reveal my uncle standing there and my uncle shouted "Oh! I found him!" He rushed in and grabbed me and took me out of there. I screamed and hollered. I wanted more of the magical doors! I loved how things kept changing after pressing a button.

Have you guessed what the magical doors were?

The magical doors were...elevator doors. ;)

Needless to say, my parents refused to let go of me throughout the reception and the photos showed that. LOL

Monday, November 15, 2010

Follow through is the key

When I was done shopping at a small department chain store with my girls for their mother's birthday gifts, we headed out for the checkout lanes. As we got there, I discovered that my younger daughter had picked up something that I wasn't going to pay for, so I sent my older daughter with the item to put it back.

Because I was distracted with looking for my daughter to return, I didn't notice that a cashier had come over and was trying to tell me that her lane was open. As my daughter neared, she noticed the cashier and heard her telling me her lane was open. She told me to look over there and I went "Oh! Okay" when I saw the cashier.

After the cashier rang up the purchases, she said something I didn't understand and my older daughter stepped in to help me. She didn't have to and I am not going to use her as my "crutch" with the hearing world, but I appreciated her effort to help me out. I told the cashier "Thank you but I don't want a department credit card."

Then I swiped my card. Technology has come a long way...used to be that they had to tell me how much the total was and I didn't always understand. Nowadays, the total is seen on the pad. The cashier then handed me the receipt and...

Barely signed "Thank you" to me. You know, in a very small way motion-wise. You do it from your chin and her hands never went above her chest.

Here's the link to a video that shows you how to say "Thank you"

Follow through is the key. ;)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Whew, now that the Silent Weekend retreat is over...part 2

Editor's note: please see the post below for part one if you haven't read that yet.

I woke up Saturday morning and it was still dark out. I went to check on my campers and I was tickled, really tickled to see my thieves had taken their mattresses down and placed them in front of the fireplace (the mandated spot for each cabin's mascot) and they slept on the floor to make sure nobody could get to our mascot. I looked over to the fireplace and was shocked to see our mascot wasn't alone.

My boys. My cabin. I felt that familiar surge of pride again.

I got my pager out and I took a picture. The older thief woke up from the flash and when he saw who I was, he grinned at me. I signed, "how many mascots?" and he signed "Four". I signed "Four? Proud you!" The original picture was way off-center so I took another picture. The older thief grinned and held his thumb up as I re-snapped the picture. The younger thief had accidentally covered up the other mascots while he slept - you can barely make out the blue dog peeking out from under. Take a look. LOL

You can see the hen now, just behind our mascot.

At the mandatory 7:45 am staff meeting, I found out that my campers had won the Dutch Auction game. That boosted my sense of pride for my campers, which is no easy feat.

After the meeting, I joined my campers at their table for breakfast and they told me other campers were grumbling about the two thieves being too good at the mascot game. Then the staffer in charge came over and told my campers to give back the mascots. They protested that they had followed the rules cleanly this time. They looked at me and I nodded my head slightly; they promptly turned the mascots over to her.

After she left with the 4 mascots, the younger one signed to me, "Why punish us? We follow rules!" I leaned in and signed, "(it's) Okay, you punish because you too good". They laughed at that and calmed down. I was curious about how they managed to steal 4 mascots after the cabins had learned how sneaky they were and were undoubtedly on high alert.

Me: "How four?"
Older thief: "We went their cabins, take"
Me: "Time?"
Younger thief: "3 morning"
Me: "Wow"

Then it was time for the outdoor games. Friday night had dipped into the 30's and the sun was warming the field up to the high 40's when we streamed out of the mess hall. We headed out to play a regular Silent Weekend game and a favorite of mine, "Clusters". It's a great game that anyone can play.

Here's how it works - someone holds up a number and the participants must "cluster" themselves into a group of people matching the sign. If the sign comes up as "6", each group must have 6 people in it. The "refs" rush in and count the members of each group to ensure accuracy. The others who couldn't find enough members are out of the game. Then everyone breaks apart and mingles...waiting for the next number. The last two remaining in the game are the winners. The last two left in the game that morning were each given a clue to share with their cabins.

After playing a relay game (each camper had to "read" what was fingerspelled and either fingerspell or sign it) and "Guess Who?" (each camper had to guess the identity on a card taped to their backs, using "yes/no" questions), we went back for lunch. My co-counselor informed me that he managed to get another clue. My mental computation told me that any other cabin had, at best, 2 clues while ours had 4.

After lunch, I left to lead a workshop for the beginners. I decided on the "7 W's of ASL" (who, what, where, when, why, which, & how) as the building block approach, supplemented with time reference (yesterday, tomorrow, day, week, month, etc.), emotions, and gender line for sex-specific signs (mother, father, boy, girl, etc.).

When I wrapped the workshop up 1.5 hours later, the participants were able to follow everything so much better and they felt good about that. Some came over and praised me for that. Even the staffers who attended were impressed by my style of teaching. I had gotten everyone involved, even the staffers and counselors. This was officially my first time leading a workshop. Two years ago, a presentator got sick and I took over at the last minute.

Then it was craft time, where the campers were allowed to unwind and get creative. That always recharges the batteries. Then the announcement came - each cabin must use the line "Guess What?" and use the gloves as prop in their skit. What skit, you may be thinking? Every year, each cabin comes up with a skit involving signing, deaf culture, and any relevant aspect of the deaf world and we all compete for the best skit. It's one of the best things about the whole weekend...and the most stressful!

I herded my campers back to our cabin to brainstorm for our skit. I came up with a great ending line...the problem was we had nothing to build around that. We had 1.5 hours to brainstorm before dinner and then 2 hours before we had to go to the rec hall and perform our skit.

Nothing. NOTHING. We went back and forth. We came up with three different ideas, but none of them were interchangeable with each other. Nobody could agree on a single idea. Suddenly, it was time for dinner. I signed to the campers, "Eat fast, come here. 5 minutes eat. Go". After I scarfed down my meal, I biked back and laid myself down to rest my brain.

The co-counselor woke me up few minutes later and after deliberating for 15 minutes, we eliminated one idea. We ultimately decided that the idea of murder was not doable and focused on the idea of a bad dream. This happened 50 minutes BEFORE everyone had to go to the rec hall. Argh!

The younger thief had a talent for performance and was the logical choice as "the kid" in the skit...but...he had never seen the movie we based the skit on and had no idea exactly how the line worked or the impact of the line. He was only 7 at the time the movie came out. After struggling through the explanation for 4th time, someone suggested that I be the kid. Before I could protest, every camper jumped in and unanimously agreed on that.

Sighs. Okay. We rehearsed everything at the speed of light. Well, we had to - only 30 minutes to get it all down before going. I reminded everyone to not worry about flubbing their lines...the audience does not know what we are doing and would not know if someone messed up. We rushed off for the rec hall 5 minutes until 8 pm.

The skit took place on Planet Eyeth (as opposed to EARth, where most of us are deaf and we sign everywhere). At the beginning of the skit, I was ordered to bed by my "parents". As I dreamt, I "woke up" in the dream and I tried to sign to my uncle and aunt but they were wearing gloves so they no longer spoke sign language and were "speaking" like Earthlings.

I panicked and ran to my sisters doing pedicures on each other. They had gloves on and "spoke" to me, not understanding what I was signing to them. I freaked out when I saw my brother speaking on a phone with gloves on. Why is he using a phone if he is deaf?!? I saw my parents and tried to sign frantically to them. They did not understand and thought I was flailing my hands around. I saw they had gloves on. (I ran to my bed to wake up from the dream) As I woke up, I cried for my parents and they rushed in.

Mother signed "What's wrong?" I pulled my blanket up and around my head and I signed "I see...hearing people". (That's when the audience roared with laughter as they realized we had done the deaf version of "The Sixth Sense"). Mother signed "Guess what" and I signed "What?" and she signed "Hearing people not real." I sighed with relief and signed "Whew, bad dream".

Judges traditionally razz each skit. I loved what they said about our skit.

After every skit was performed, we had the option of going to a bonfire or the mess hall or cabins because we all were done for Saturday. I hung out at the bonfire for a while before checking in on the mess hall prior to going to bed.

Around 5 am Sunday, I was awakened with a sudden cramp in my right calf. I got out to stand on my foot to unkink it...and saw something dart across my room. I crept out or my room, looked around, and caught someone trying to steal our mascot. Whew! I checked around the cabin and boom, caught another one lurking in the shadows. He was obviously the back-up. Perfect timing to have a cramp. LOL

At the mandatory staff meeting, the counselors all agreed that my skit was the best and funniest. After discussing the candidates for awards, we joined the campers for breakfast while the judges deliberated everything.

We all went to the rec hall for the last time. The staffers let the campers know that they were once again allowed to use their voices. Then the awards were given out. My cabin won The Devil (the older thief), The Clown (the younger thief), The Biggest Sweetheart, and The Balancing Act.

Sadly, the judges did not think our skit was the best and I was told there was a collective gasp when another cabin won instead. At least we won their minds and hearts. ;)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Whew, now that the Silent Weekend retreat is over...

Some of us met up at a restaurant near the retreat so we all could just hang out for the last time. The retreat each year keeps us so busy that we really don't get to do much together. That's okay - what we gain each year is the new memories and the bonds developed.

The theme this year was murder mystery, done in the style of the board game Clue. Sounds like fun, right? It sure was!

Knowing how massive the locale is, I brought my bike (third year in a row now) and so did another counselor. A third one had his bike on his mind but he forgot and wasn't happy about it. Despite the weekend forecast in the 30's overnight, we used our bikes all over the place. A few campers were very curious about my Trek 7300 bike and asked to use it. Of course, they had to ask me for permission...in sign language. ;)

After getting everything set up and decorated, everyone gathered in the mess hall to kick the weekend off. The staffer in charge explained, through voicing and signing, what the theme was and how it would go down. Each cabin would get a clue to get started on the game and everyone had to work for extra clues to help solve the mystery.

The winning cabin with the most points scored in the Dutch Auction game at the rec hall (after dinner) would get a clue. Admittedly, I had never heard of Dutch Auction and I had to listen to the rules. You had to put things in a bag that you thought would be called out by the emcee and you'd get points for that. Sorta like a reverse scavenger hunt, where you don't KNOW what you'd need in order to win.

Then with an added twist, the staffer said few minutes before she had secretly placed a mascot in each cabin (not related to the theme) and the cabins were charged with protecting their mascots from abduction at all times. This had never happened before. New territory. Hm.

I headed back to my cabin with the co-counselor so we could change into our characters for the night's main event where we would interact with the campers. Right as I was aboout to finish dressing up, the co-counselor left our room to wash up. He rushed back in and excitedly told me to, "come look now".

I followed him into the center of the cabin and I was amazed to discover that two male campers of my cabin had stolen ALL of the other cabins' mascots (see pic below; our mascot is the tan dog). I felt my chest swell up with pride when I realized that I would've liked to have thought of this first. These two campers had illegally abducted the mascots - they were supposed to wait until after the main event. I knew I would get heat for what they did...and I didn't mind that. Not one bit at all.

Faces blacked out to protect the guilty ones ;)

Not seen clearly is the fabric hen, between large blue

dog & pink pig - which will be visible in the next post

The other members came in and saw what had occurred. They loved it...suddenly we had that instant bonding. The younger thief signed to me, "What if mascots on list? We can 8x points!" Irrefutable logic. I signed back, "Me fine, put mascots in my sleeping bag...mine biggest." Let me explain the weird wording when we speak in sign language...we are signing and there is no need to sign each and every word since we mentally "fill in the blanks".

We went to the rec hall and one counselor approached me in an agitated manner, "Mascot gone! Don't know what mascot look like!" and another chimed in with "My mascot gone too!". I feigned my surprise at that. Hehe. When other campers and counselors saw the looted mascots on display, some of them went after me. After some accusations and arguing, I shrugged at them and signed, "Wish I thought that. "

The counselors went to the lead staffer to protest and she signed, "Sorry, game starts now." Ohh, I could feel the heat/glare from the counselors. I stuck to my guns...hey, I was (and still am) proud of those sneaky buggers! LOL

The first item called out was a toothbrush, which every cabin easily produced. The emcee signed, "Toothbrush, one point. RED toothbrush, two points". I knew I'd like the game and I stayed in the background so the campers would be more involved. The emcee was funny and creative with his "calls".

At one point, he signed "10 points, any 'I Love You' sign or symbol" and I watched my campers search frantically in vain for anything that resembled the famous "ILY" icon. As time dwindled down on that item, I suddenly remembered something. I rushed out to the emcee and I showed him my ILY tattoo. He signed, "Real tattoo? Not pen?" and I signed "Yes, real" and I showed him my other tattoo. He was so impressed by that he gave my cabin 20 points. A counselor saw what I did and ran over to show him her tattoo of a cartoonish hand in the "ILY" pose, holding a heart (on the right side of her lower back). He promptly rewarded her 25 points. LOL

Then...the emcee signed "5 points, cabin mascot". I grinned at that call and looked at the thieves. They looked at me with a mischievious look in their eyes. Other cabins protested "loudly" and the emcee signed, "30 seconds left!" Instant stampede to our spot for the looted mascots. Bedlam. Chaos. I saw both thieves were refusing to give up their preferred mascot, feeding the frenzy. I ordered both to give theirs up in order to restore the peace.

Then the game ended and the scores were tallied up secretly to determine the winning cabin to reward another clue. Meanwhile, the counselors were ordered to take their posts at their assigned tables and play games like blackjack (campers had to sign numbers), mirror relay (fingerspell a word back to a counselor), tactile fingerspell (campers had to put their hands inside a box and "feel" a counselor spell a word), etc.

That...was...just...Friday. LOL I'll publish part two (about Saturday and Sunday) tomorrow. :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Off to do something that I love to do every year...

I volunteer every year as a counselor for a retreat. Normally that's nothing special about that, but the retreat is very unusual. It is for people who want to improve their sign language skills and my job is to help enhance that while at the same time, bring deaf culture to them.

Nobody at the retreat is ALLOWED to use their voicebox to communicate. The penalty is wearing a massive and colorfully loud bib with a dangling pacifier and a helium-filled balloon (so we can spot who has that when the next person gets busted for speaking).

I have previously mentioned that I am deaf and fluent in sign language. That is the unique set of skills I will be bringing to the retreat. There will be 8 lead counselors (I'm one of them), about 10 co-lead counselors, and about 8 hearing staffers who are sign language interpreters. We will be handling about 70 participants, maybe more. The participants will range from beginners to advanced.

The retreat will start Friday night with a gathering in the mess hall for dinner and end in the gym Sunday noon. I have to be there by 2 pm to help set everything up and help take everything down after the participants leave. 40+ hours of work nonstop, but pure fun and rewarding. I get to bond with the lucky ones who sign up for my cabin. Nobody is allowed to know which cabin will have who as their lead and co-lead counselors.

The biggest challenge every year is the skit. We always say to the participants "This is for fun", but we all secretly hope to be the one who wins this year. My cabin (out of 8 total) has won twice in 8 years (2006 and 2009). Not bad at all. Let's see if my cabin can win two years in a row. ;)

Maybe I will tell you the storyline of both skits that won. In separate posts, of course. LOL I will try to remember to post about this year's retreat Sunday and publish on Monday. If I miss that, just come back Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whoa...whoa!

Editor's note: I meant to have this post published on Monday this week and move the Q & A #14 post to next week, but I just plain forgot. Simple as that.

My family and I went to a local Halloween parade on Saturday, just few blocks down from our house. That, in and of itself, is nothing ordinary...except for a certain vehicle.

As you probably know from experience, towns always showcase their public services. Firemen, policemen, and emergency personnel would come out for the parades. They always strolled by in their vehicles. It's always nice to see seized cars turned into cop cars, ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks as they go by. Nothing extraordinary about that...til that Saturday.

I was about 10 feet from the front of a fire truck, my right ear facing it when it blasted its siren horn. Whoa, whoa...the sound reverberated in my left ear and I physically reacted to that by ducking a little and bringing up my left hand to cover my left ear.

Something strange happened - I experienced a little dizziness. I rarely hear anything, let alone this humongous sound bouncing around and rattling my brain like crazy. I glanced at my wife and a neighbor. They were cracking up hard by the fact that I heard it. HEARD it. All I could do was grin at them.

Jeez!

Another fire truck went by and blasted its siren horn again, but I did not hear it this time. I was almost dead middle of the truck and the neighbor did the crossed eye roll from the noise invasion on her ears. This time, I cracked up at her. Turnabout is a fair play. LOL

I am sure you have noticed that I heard the blast in my left ear only. My left ear picks up sharp & high pitch noises while my right ear picks up soft and low pitch noises. No, I wasn't wearing any hearing aid - I haven't in decades. Just a weird quirk of how my ears work...not at all in tandem.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Q & A #14

Q: (from Formspring widget) So I saw that you learned to sign when you were 25. How long have you been deaf?

A: I contracted spinal meningitis when I was 13 months old. After I woke up from a coma, the doctors discovered that I was deaf. The hearing nerves in my ears were damaged/destroyed from the high fevers.

Bonus Halloween pics!

Almost done...

All done!

My demonic mask...

...with black acrylic paint (not black cream - forgot!) covering my eyes...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

People still suspect that I am a hearing man pretending to be deaf...

While I was at my computer, I happened to be sitting in a way that my glasses was showing a reflection of the front door. I saw in the reflection of the door opening and someone coming in. I knew this would be my mother - she was supposed to come over at that time. I swiveled the chair around to face my mother and I said to her, "Hi...I heard you come in." She froze in her tracks as if to believe that I had actually heard her. Her expression was PRICELESS...I cracked up hard, turned around away from her, and laughed myself right into tears. Even when my mother finally got around to me, I couldn't stop laughing. She knew, KNEW...that I got her really good.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Q & A #13

Q: When you talked about your senses being more alive or on fire - however you put it in your post about playing softball, do you compensate for your deafness in other senses like a blind person does?

A: Yes, I have compensated for a loss of a sense with my remaining senses. I pick up vibrations that people don't even feel. I smell scents/odors before others get a whiff of it. I notice things quickly because I am more aware of my surroundings. On the flip side, I can totally shut down and not notice at all that I'm oblivious to everything. That, is the rare event you can sneak up on me. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Say What? "No rest for the weekend"

My wife was totally stressed out over the lineup of job assignments and said with a sigh, "No rest for the weekend".

THAT is what my brain told me. I repeated that back to her. She stopped dead in her tracks and I immediately realized she had used an idiom.

"No rest for the wicked"

You hearies and the idioms! LOL

Monday, October 18, 2010

I am now one of you...

I recently got an iPhone 4 after living with a refurbished and almost 1st gen 3G iPhone. While messing around with my new iPhone 4, I was delighted to discover that Yahoo Messenger on iPhone 4 is enabled for cam. I tested it and sure enough, cam feed works on iPhone.

While I was waiting with my younger daughter at her school to drop her off, my wife initiated a vid call with me (she got an iPhone 4 too). I was amused by that and answered it.

You see, vid calls are smoothest when both ends are in wi-fi mode and we both weren't. That meant we had to sign slowly in order to understand clearly. I enabled microphone so I could speak to my wife directly. Gave my iPhone to my daughter who jabbered on with her for a bit. Cute as a bug and other moms thought so too. LOL

Then it was time for her to go in and I waved good bye to her. Then I started talking to my wife and she was amused by how I just kept talking to her while walking back to my car.

She noticed that I was back in my car, but didn't notice that I had started my car and had started driving. She noticed only when I pointed out how the shadows of the trees kept falling across my face.

That's when I had an epiphany. I am doing something that most of you do on a regular basis while driving...and I'm doing something for the first time in my life. EVER.

What is it that you take for granted? Talking to someone and having someone respond back to you. Oh, no worries...I was driving at speed limit on a 4 lane route divided by a raised concrete barrier with no car in sight.

(In monotone zombie voice) I...am...now...one...of...you...

Monday, October 11, 2010

I've got the bug for community service

...and it is a wonderful feeling to have. When I was growing up, I knew something was amiss in my life. I enjoyed helping others, but it never seemed to fill me up or the feeling wasn't permanent enough.

I wasn't able to pinpoint that until I joined my fraternity. One of the requirements for becoming a brother was to do community service. My first task was to help clean up the sponsored mile on a highway. I was struck by how committed the brothers were in cleaning up the trash, no matter what was thrown out by drivers who could not be bothered to dispose their unwanted items properly.

Then, I had an idea and organized a blood drive (using my job connections) for the students and I called on the brothers to bleed for Red Cross. First time ever I had donated blood. I felt good afterward...REALLY good.

After I graduated from college, I felt a little "lost" for a while. I thought it was because I didn't have a structured life (school, fraternity, job, thesis, dorm life, hijinks, etc.). I was asked by a friend to become Athletic Director (A.D.) for a deaf club and when I started serving as A.D., that's when I realized what was missing in my life.

I've been an A.D., a Chairperson, a Manager, a Committee Member, a Vice President, a President, and a Consultant for various clubs and organizations. I stopped being very active because a certain person contributed to me not being on any board anymore (kept going after me with claims such as lying, not serving with best interests for everyone, dereliction of duties, etc.) except for a a certain committee on which I am the presiding Chairperson.

Never understood why that psycho wouldn't leave me alone. Maybe the psycho can't stand me or fears me. I had previously worked under the psycho at a job for almost 3 years until I quit 5 years ago when I wasn't happy with how the psycho was handling things. Whatever.

That feeling of inadequacy...like I wasn't useful or something...started to creep back into my life. I wasn't aware of that. Just wanted nothing to do with the psycho, so I stopped going to clubs and organizations whereever that psycho was. I was burned out, done.

Spring of '10 was the genesis - a man in his 40's started going around the neighborhood, begging to mow people's lawn so he could eat. Sometimes, he would offer a reduced fee when he didn't have any gas in his lawnmower and borrowed gas from them. I didn't always have the cash to hire him (which I felt badly about every time), but I got an idea. I waited until he came to my house again and when he did, I explained my idea to him. He wasn't sure about this, but I told him that it was my idea and I was willing to do this.

The idea? I left a full 5-gallon gas can on the porch so he could come over and fill up his lawnmower any time and then go beg other people while his lawnmower has a full tank. I told him that I ask nothing from him in return so he could pay it forward by mowing elderly people's lawns either for free or at a reduced fee. When I first saw him that spring, he was skinny. Now? He's well-fed. ;)

I have mulling over this idea (not originally mine) that targets the elderly people who do not have the means to take care of their properties (porch needs to be painted, doors need to be fixed, and so forth), but I am not sure how they could help pay it forward. Can anyone suggest how the elderly people could help in other ways?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My favorite T-shirt

There's a very good reason why I love this shirt other than fitting me very well. Can you guess why? Hehe


Monday, October 4, 2010

First time in years...

...that I played softball.

I quit playing not long before my older daughter was born. She's going to be 9 in February. I had the itch to play but the timing wasn't right each year. I didn't really want to play for either deaf team - one is just full of arrogant players and the other belongs to a club whose president I would rather avoid as long as she is in the office.

I was asked few weeks ago by a deaf friend to come out and play for a hearing team (meaning either no deaf player or very few deaf players), but I wasn't able to go - the game was rained out, I had a party, and I got inked in that order. Friday night came around again and finally I was able to go.

After I got to the fields early, I sat in my car for a while so I could watch the game from afar. I sensed something inside me, but I thought it was anxiety from not having played in so long and not having had any practice at all. I got texted from the same deaf friend, informing me of the correct field and I moved to there.

The feeling intensified.

I met with my deaf friend who had been begging me to come out for his team. He was surprised to see me not dressed for the game and told me to go get dressed. So I went back to my car and dressed in there, away from prying eyes. I stepped out of my car and...

I became more aware of everything...the smells, the movements, the crunching and sliding of the gravel rocks...and I felt lighter, faster, and stronger.

I met up with my friend and I could see he was a bit anxious and I knew exactly why.

I went right into the coach mode, explaining how to stand, how to hold the bat, how to play catcher, and how to recognize situations. He didn't say anything - he just stood there and took it all in. As I was talking to him, a familar face popped up in my face...literally. I knew her from interpreting program at a college. I couldn't remember if she got certified as an interpreter. She was standing on a built-in deck that serves as seating for people to watch the game. I am over 6 feet tall and she is only 5 feet and some tall. I was amused by her choice of location to say hi to me. She told me that she will be coaching the team and she would put me in the game later. She introduced me to other players; all were hearing but not one knew how to speak sign language.

After 1st inning, the coach told me I would be catching. I slipped right back into the rhythm of the game when I went out on the field. The dirt was a bit hard but broke apart easily. Caked layer. The cold in the air was enough for visible breath mists. The batter's box was lopsided from too many batters digging in for a better grip. The grass was dry where outfielders ran. The lights shone perfectly.

The feeling.

I knew right away it wasn't the anxiety. It was what I had missed the most - the action, the innate ability to see into the future, the muscle memory, the snap of the ball into the pitcher's glove from my arm...

An inning later, it was my turn to bat. I looked around and assessed the placement of the outfielders. Standard formation. Meant I had to drop the ball in front of the outfielders if I went for it. I saw everything on the pitcher clearly...the shifting of weight on his feet, the sweat on his face, the dirt on right side of his face from wiping the sweat off after handling a dirt-caked ball...and he threw the first pitch.

I knew right away that the pitch was too low despite being on target. I leaned back and looked back at the ump and he signalled low pitch.

The count was 2-1.

Stepped out of the lopsided batter's box to re-assess the placement of the outfielders. They hadn't moved at all but seemed more alert, as if they could tell that I knew how to hit the ball. They didn't know I hadn't practiced at all... Stepped back in. The ball came in just right but seemed a bit too short. Thud. Right on the edge of the plate, but the ump called strike. Fine with me.

Count 2-2.

Stepped back out, took a breath, and told myself to wait for the ball. Stepped back in. The ball sailed away from the pitcher a bit and landed off to the side.

3-2, full count.

I dug in. Either the pitcher will throw perfectly for a strike or he will go for the edge and make me work for it. The ball came out and up...

I looked...

I waited...

It looked a bit off...

I waited some more...

Suddenly, I backed off.

The ump signalled for me to take the base.

As I passed the first baseman, I could smell her soap, chemicals, and sweat. My senses were on fire. I advanced to second when the female batter elected to walk instead of batting. That's the standard co-ed league rule. Bases loaded, one out. My legs tensed as I assumed the take-off position from the base.

The male batter swung at first pitch. Crack. I moved few steps off the base and waited. The ball fell in shallow. I took off. Kept my eyes on third base coach. Got the furious signal for home. Turned sharply on third base and ran for home. Safe. Female batter followed me in for three runs.

I caught 2 more innings and I never got to bat again, but the team I played for finally won by the score of 9-8 after going 0-3.

I want to play again. I may be aching in several places from lack of practice, but I want in. All the way in.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Say What? "I madly need a state bid"

My wife and I are in bed and she is all bundled up. The cold front had moved in unexpectedly with some rain. She said "I madly need a state bid" and I got puzzled. I repeated that back to her. After a bout of hysterical laughter, she composed herself enough to say...

I

Badly

Need

A

Second

Blanket

Monday, September 27, 2010

Recipes and permanent memories

First of all, I want to address a request made by Anjeny. She asked me for a recipe on the cupcakes that my wife made for our 10th anniversary party. She got them from Allrecipes.com (a very well-versed site).

Cupcakes:
Chocolate fudge cupcakes
Red velvet cupcakes
Vanilla cupcakes - same recipe as red velvet cupcakes, minus the food coloring.

Frostings:
Cream cheese frosting
Peanut butter frosting
Mint buttercup frosting with dark chocolate glaze - mint chocolate frosting, as everyone called it, was really weak at the beginning. I had my wife add more mint to it and we got it just right. As always, taste before serving for best results. ;)

I did have an anniversary present to give to my wife (as did she), but unforseen circumstances prevented that for both of us. Last Friday, I went with my wife to "exchange" the gifts...at a tattoo parlor. LOL She has always wanted to add three more tattooes to her two and I granted her that desire.

She kept thinking I'd back out of getting inked for real. I wasn't really into the idea of getting inked because I always had that "what if" scenarios running through my mind. What if I don't like how it looks? What if I develop an allergic reaction to ink? What if, what if, what if... Ah, forget it - life is short!

For those who know me, the designs of my tattooes reflect me. Sorry if you were expecting flashy or crazy designs. ;)

Here's my first tattoo...


To explain what "that" is...this is the sign for "I love you" in finger sticks. My wife got the mirrored image on her left shoulder because of how we sleep in the bed - my right shoulder touches her left shoulder. Sweet, huh? ;)

Here's the actual sign (not my hand) below.



...and here's my second tattoo.


The letters are Greek, saying "Kappa Phi Theta". Before you jump in to say "You got that wrong, it is supposed to say 'Phi Theta Kappa' which is a honors society for community college students", I belong to a now-defunct fraternity called Kappa Phi Theta. My wife is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Trust me, I know the difference. ;)

The woman who did the tattoo work was fascinated with me and she kept asking us all kinds of questions. We both answered everything and threw in some random information like how long we have been married, kids, blah blah. Even other artists listened in on us and asked us few things.

As for my inking experience, it hurt a little bit but it was really nothing to me. Felt weird, as if the skin was being pulled instead of the "skipping across" sensation. Had slight burning sensation but I recovered right away and I am not feeling any pain now.

What did you think of my tattooes? Simple, I know...but fits me perfectly. ;)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

10 Year Anniversary Party

We had our 10th year anniversary party last Saturday. About 25 people came to our party, out of about 35 invited. Only two deaf friends came, but most of the hearing adult friends were already skilled in sign language so I didn't feel left out at all. The atmosphere was chaotic because almost half of those who attended were kids.

We made cupcakes (most of them were made from scratch, nearly organic) and everyone had a choice of flavors for a cupcake - vanilla, chocolate, "colored" vanilla (food dyes), and chocolate cake mix. The frostings and the topings were DIY (Do It Yourself) and the partygoers had a choice of frosting - vanilla, mint chocolate, chocolate, and peanut butter-vanilla. All four frostings were made from scratch with my taste buds guiding the way for my wife. Then, they had to choose from the gamut of...TOPPINGS! All were store-bought - Reese's Cups all chopped up and blended, mini M & M's, mini chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles, and colored sugar shakers (red, pink, green, yellow, purple, and blue).

I am sure we all had gained a minimum of 2 pounds by the time we woke up from our sugar-induced coma the next day. ;)

Some of the kids went NUTS on the choices...few of them piled upon just about everything on a cupcake. Hehe! Mercifully, this took place on a hardwood floor so it wasn't too hard to clean up all the spillovers from the kids' overindulgence.

The last of the partygoers left around 9:30 pm. The party was a smashing success - people LOVED the delicious cupcakes and most could not stop after just one. Some even asked for a recipe.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Formspring Q & A #12

Q: You seem to be an intelligent man. What's your IQ?

A: Thank you. To tell you the truth, I honestly don't know...been decades since I was "officially" tested, when I was 18. The IQ test, at the time, measured me at 126 or 128. I took one online, few years ago and I scored 143. I think. I know that having an IQ of 130+ puts me in "above average" or higher. What's amazing about that is I am deaf and I cannot pick up on things aurally.

Editor's note: Feel free to ask me more questions, but I have disabled Formspring due to its unreliability factor. People have told me they sent in questions and I have no way of knowing if I got all of the questions. This post is THE LAST QUESTION that has been answered...if you do not see your question in here, you would have to e-mail me (check my profile for my e-mail address) and you can ask that I not credit you if you do not want anyone to know it was you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Formspring Q & A #11

This didn't come from Formspring...rather, the question was posted as a comment in my Formspring Q & A #8 post. In that post, I was asked "When did you learn how to sign?" and I answered with "When I was 25 years old."

This prompted Shelle BlokThoughts to ask "Why did you start to learn? Especially after all that time?"

Here's my short answer - I didn't want to learn until then.

Here's my medium answer - I didn't want to take the easy way out and thought I was doing fine as is.

Here's my long answer - I went to a school for the deaf where emphasis was placed on oral communication (meaning speech and lipreading) instead of using sign language or total communication (combining both oral and signing).

Here's my long, long answer - Because I learned in that environment, I developed a bias for those who eschewed oral communication for either sign language or total communication. I thought that they were taking the easy way out to communicate with other people. I even thought that using sign language harmed their ability to communicate clearly in English. I had met a few who couldn't speak at all and/or lipread and their grasp of English was...atrocious. They didn't attend the same school, hence my ignorance.

So...why did I learn at all? I, at first, viewed this as a challenge to learn a new language - I even thought learning it would be a snap because I discovered that I have an ability to mimic what I see perfectly. I learned that ASL (American Sign Language) is in fact a whole language that comes with its own syntax and grammar...just like Chinese, Spanish, German, etc. I was even surprised to discover a whole different set of customs and culture within ASL. I didn't learn everything within a year...I am still learning and I am loving it.

When I visited my uncle for the first time in more than a decade, he was surprised to see that I had learned sign language. The last time I visited, I had been using sign language only few years and there was nobody around who knew how to communicate in sign language, so I had no reason to tell him that. My uncle was mesmerized by how I could silently communicate every word, thought, and emotion to my wife and all of that would come out of her mouth as she translated ("interpreted" is the better word) for me. He understood my speech clearly enough, but he was just utterly fascinated with this. ;)

What did I take away from all of this? I learned a lot about myself, picked up a bunch of great friends, and gained a wife. ;)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Formspring Q & A #10

Q: How did you meet your wife?

A: This is easily one of my favorite anecdotes to share with people. Thanks for asking, really. Here it is...

People kept asking me where they should go to meet their potential mates. I get asked for advice on many things and I get why - they know I have the answers or I'll say something that makes perfect sense to them. I always tell them to never go to the bars because the people they meet there are under influence and are not necessarily who they are when sober. I've seen way too many relationships fail on that merit alone.

So...where did I meet my wife? At a bar, no less. LOL You need to know this about me...I do not drink and I refuse to drink on the account of my father. So, why was I at a bar? That's where deaf people hang out to socialize (it's a deaf culture thing) and where interpreting students go to help hone their skills by interacting with deaf people. I really never liked going to bars - the people you know aren't the people you know later on.

I had met her earlier when a friend of mine introduced her to me as his girlfriend so I put her out of my mind. When I went to the bar few weeks later, I found out she was single again so I asked around and found out that she is hearing and was studying to be an interpreter. That meant I could go over to talk to her and communicate easily with her. I was just interested in her mind and her personality...to see if she was really someone I could talk to. Guess what?

Yep, we hit it off right away and when I found out where she lived, I invited her to watch me play in a dart league at a bar 10 minutes from her home. The opposing team never showed up and we talked.

And talked.

And talked.

Until the bar kicked us out. We went to her house (I lived almost an hour away) and talked some more. I finally left at 7:30 am. Now you know why I love to tell this story. The moral? Despite my rousing success (going to celebrate 10 year wedding anniversary soon), I still say "don't meet people at bars". ;)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Formspring Q & A #9

Q: Sorry if this seems personal, but I am curious. What is sex like with hearing and deaf partners? I'm assuming that you've experienced both.

A: I don't think that is too personal. In fact, I get asked that sometimes when I agree to be on the hot seat for students in sign language classes who are either studying to be sign language interpreters or just interested in deaf culture.

You're right - I've had experience with both deaf and hearing women and I know that this is day and night when it comes down to that. The differences? Communication style changes (you can use your voice with hearing partners and you can't with deaf partners), senses (not having one sense can enhance the other senses, it's true), cultural differences (think of this as having different religions, beliefs, or race), and the "worship" factor.

Let me explain the "worship" factor. Think of your celebrity that you have a major crush on. You'd do anything for that celeb so you can have your experience. Not quite the same here, but...you have someone who wants to be with you just because you are deaf or hearing. Some deaf people do WANT to be with a hearing person for selfish reasons (having a "built-in" interpreter is the most common reason) and hearing people want to be with a deaf person for selfish reasons too (most common is to accelerate the learning process). I made sure that I wasn't with each woman for selfish reasons; I couldn't say I made sure each didn't choose me for selfish reasons - I don't have their brains. ;)

I know there's the inevitable question that begs to be asked - which is better, deaf or hearing? - and I do not have a preference. You could argue that I've been with hearing women more often than deaf women...but that's because the circumstances were right more often with the hearing women. That's my respectful answer.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Say What? "Starving face mouse poop"

Scene: My wife saw something on my shirt and brushed it off

Her (deadpan): You've got starving face mouse poop.
Me (after pondering this over for quite a bit): Say that again
Her: Soft fuzzy mouse poop

She burst out laughing when I told her what I thought she had said.

-Editor's note: I am on vacation as of today and will not be returning until the end of the month. I will respond when I can. Enjoy!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Formspring Q & A #8

Q: When did you learn to how to sign?

A: That's the shortest question I've ever had. Here's my shortest answer - when I was 25 years old.

-Editor's note: I am on vacation as of today and will not be returning until the end of the month. I will respond when I can. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Say What? "Fake chicken"

Scene: my wife is cooking dinner. I smell that and I investigate.

Me: What are you cooking?
Her: Green beans and fake chicken
Me: Fake chicken? Are you kidding me?
Her (laughing): No, "fettucini" is what I said. "Fake chicken"? You kill me!

-Editor's note: I am on vacation as of today and will not be returning until the end of the month. I will respond when I can. Enjoy!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Formspring Q & A #7

Q: I've seen/read about deaf people who can lipread 100%. How can some do that perfectly while others can't? I must say I enjoy your "Say What?" posts - they're hilarious!

A: I've never met a deaf person who can lipread 100%, let alone a hard of hearing or hearing person. My "Say What?" posts show the pitfalls beautifully where a word could be "misread" as another.

Want to make the bed/bet?
Sex/six would be great.
Go stand in the order/corner.

I could go on. I used to be envious of such people, but I realized that after meeting thousands of deaf people...I have yet to meet one who can. I am NOT saying that their claims are dubious - just never met one who could. My opinion? I doubt there's anyone who can lipread 100%.

-Editor's note: I am on vacation as of today and will not be returning until the end of the month. I will respond when I can. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Say What? "Can she go snake and swimming with us?"

Scene: I am at a public pool with my daughter when one of her friends sees us and comes over.

Friend: "Can she go snake and swimming with us?"
Me: "You want her to swim side to side like a snake?"
Friend (confused): "Huh?"

Oh boy, time to repeat back to her what I thought she said...

Me: "Did you ask me if she can snake and swim with you?"
Friend (giggles, smiles at me): "No, (motions with her hand, "pushing down" with palm down) slide...(points at the water slide over there)."
Me: "Oh! I was thinking why would you want her to snake around! (laughs with her) Sure, go have fun!"

-Editor's note: I just left for vacation today and will not be returning until the end of the month. I have queued up the posts to the end of the month, so please keep coming back for new posts. I will respond to your comments when I can. Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Formspring Q & A #6

Q: What's the dumbest question you've been asked regarding your deafness?

A: I never forgot that day. It happened on my first day on my first ever job. I was hired as a bag boy at a commissary, working for tips. Pitiful, I know. I was reading a newspaper during a break and a co-worker saw me doing that, so he said: "You can read?" Umm...yes. I wanted SO MUCH to say to him "No, I like to sit there and pretend to read in a desperate hope of fooling everyone." He then asked me to read out loud an article. I did that without missing a word. He deliberately pointed at another article few pages in. I read it out to him perfectly, word for word. Jeez.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Say What? "Eye test development"

Scene: My wife is washing the dishes when I come in

Her: Okay, here's the eye test development
Me (puzzled): What do I need that for? I already know the result.
Her: What result?
Me: My eye test
Her: What eye test are you talking about?
Me: You said eye test development
Her: You're really in need of new glasses...I said "Latest development"

Monday, June 7, 2010

Formspring Q & A #5

This is just too funny...a blogger friend asked me this on the last Friday of May and I got this last Tuesday...

Q: What is your opinion on cochlear implants and the impact it has on the deaf community?

A: Some of you are not aware of the firestorm the cochlear implant (CI) has on the deaf community. I'll educate you briefly (you can find more on Google) on why that is controversial. The deaf community is strongly opposed to CI for two reasons - "genocide" of the deaf culture and the age of the CI recipients.

Many deaf people feel that by allowing CIs in the kids, these kids would grow up and not embrace the deaf culture anymore. That does happen and their fears are justified, I'll grant you that...but on the flip side, I have seen children of deaf adults (who have not received CI) either embrace or disdain the deaf culture, regardless of their hearing ability.

As for the age of the CI recipients, that is even a bigger controversy. How so? Imagine that you are 21 years old...some government agent or doctor tells you that you must give up your love for sports and allow the doctors to scoop out some bone from your skull, compromising the skull integrity. You must wear some bionic modification and you must maintain it at all times. You do not have a say in this. You would not like that, right?

Now, imagine that you are a baby and you lost your hearing. Having CI will restore that, but at a price - you lose your skull integrity and some residual hearing when the doctors cut through the nerves to implant the CI. What if...you grow up and you want to play baseball? No, you can't because there's a risk of a line drive to your head. Football? Nope. Lacrosse? Nope. Any sport? Bowling, sure...darts, sure...anything NOT remotely possible of injury to the head and that's not much else you can do. Sorry.

I am NOT going to debate whether or not the parents have the right to do this to their kids or even the moral/ethical obligations. That would be a LONG and protracted post. I'll leave that to professionals, educators, doctors, and deaf advocates to slug it out.

My opinion on CI is this...if you want one, go for it. What about those who cannot make informed decisions? I always hesitate to answer, but I would allow them to receive CI if I feel that this would not be a problem for them later on. I suspect that my older daughter would want to remain active in sports and I think my younger may like to play sports. If that is the case, then I would not allow them to receive CI. My girls are old enough to understand, but not enough to decide on their own. I would listen to them first though.

The other downside of being a person with CI is being shunned for having CI. I won't ostracize those people like some other deaf people do. I have known a few deaf people who got CI and some of them do benefit from having CI. They are VERY happy with having CI. However, few others have stopped using the CI completely because they didn't like it anymore. They cannot undo what was done to them in order to have CI. See what I mean?

There will ALWAYS be controversy when it comes to "helping" the deaf people. If a scientist discovers a way to permanently fix the hearing loss without any surgical modification (think "Star Trek")...do you think the deaf people would embrace that? Nope.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Say What? "Hehe, you're suave"

Scene: I am at a zoo with my girls and my older daughter starts a conversation with me

Her (giggles at me): Hehe, you're suave
Me: Huh?
Her (pointing at my arm): Suave, you're suave
Me (looks down and sees the stuffed giraffe doll in my arm): Oh! Giraffe!
Her: Yeah, your giraffe. You're a big baby. (giggles again)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Say What? "Legally reduced resume"

Scene: my wife was holding a phone in one hand and trying to sign to me what she loves to say

Allow me to explain here what I mean about "signing one-handed". When a sign requires two hands and you are holding something, it is okay to use one hand. If you're not encumbered, then you're considered to be lazy. ;)

Her (signing one-handed): Legally reduced resume
Me (signing): Say that again
Her (signing): Legally reduced resume
Me (voicing what I think she said): Legally reduced resume?
Her (signing with two hands): Now, that's interesting how you interpreted that! What I said was "Law of diminishing returns".

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Say What? "On the order"

Scene: I was telling a co-worker that I need some extra money.


Her: Go stand in the order and...

Me (interrupting her): What order? I don't understand.

Her: What are you talking about?

Me: You told me to use the order. What order?

Her (confused): What?

Me (after seeing that maybe I misunderstood her): Didn't you say "Go stand in the order"?

Her: No...(laughter)...no, I said...(laughter)..."Go stand on the corner and sell yourself"!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Formspring Q & A #4

Latest submitted entry: "What's your scariest and worst moment as a parent? This is a two-part question."

That's really interesting how that question was framed...asking me to identify two separate moments. I can tell you right off the bat what those two moments are with each child.

My oldest - the scariest moment was when she was 3...she was being a big girl by handling a bowling ball by herself at a bowling alley. I did tell her to watch for the step up to the wooden floor, but she missed it and fell over while holding the bowling ball. She landed so hard on the ball that her tongue got lacerated in two places. She needed stitches for her tongue.

Trust me, that wasn't even the worst moment. It came about 8 months later when she accidentally got stuck in her closet (the door had a tendency to stick)...while I was napping. She had apparently left the bed to get her baby blanket - she was stuck in there for about an hour and she was unable to hold it in anymore. Imagine how I felt when I discovered her and saw the mess. That day, I sanded down the door so it wouldn't stick at all and I ordered a new alert device for the bed that would shake me awake if something was happening.

As for my youngest, the scariest moment was when she was 12 months old and seeing her fall backwards off our bed - it rests only on box springs with nothing underneath and is only 1.5 feet high, but her fall may as well have been 4 feet...she landed flat on her back with the back of her head connecting solidly with the floor. She cried so hard that she started involuntarily shaking her head to one side as if she was having neurological damages from the fall. I was scared that she had suffered some lasting head injury. She's fine now with no nuerological damage and her memory is amazingly sharp.

The worst moment occurred few months ago when I lost my temper and yelled at her. I have never EVER yelled at my older daughter...and I did with my younger daughter. I felt so bad about yelling at her that I cried for a long while. I felt that there was no excuse for that, no matter what the circumstances were. She and I have learned how to relate to each other better since then.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Say What? "Read a mind"

Scene: Kitchen, dinnertime


Me (eyeing the food on the counter): Everything is good to go?

Her: "Read a mind"


That's what it sounded like to me what my wife said as she turned away from me to bring dinner to the girls. What she said was: "Ready made"

Friday, May 7, 2010

Deaf P.O.V. - "You are vampires"

When I was growing up, my exposure to the deaf world was limited...school and whomever was around (rare occurance). So, I lived in the hearing world and I got to observe many things firsthand. The problem was I didn't always understand, but I learned quickly to go with the flow. Always knew I'd figure it out later on.

One of the things I learned without questioning was the habit of waiting for the person to invite you inside when you visit. We all know the drill - you stop by and you "announce" your arrival by knocking or ringing the doorbell or showing your face. The person greets you and decides to let you in or not. Simple, right?

Not so for an average deaf person who grew up in the deaf world. Why? They know that others will see them "talking" and they don't want eavesdroppers. The hearing people only have to worry about talking too loudly and the deaf people can be "heard" from any considerable distance. I've signed to people from 5th floor, clearly without any need to shout. LOL

So, to hide from the eavesdroppers, they just walk in and start talking. I started living with other deaf people at a college dorm and it was a huge adjustment for me to make when they would just barge in after I opened the door to find out who was there.

Some time later in that year, someone brought out a horror flick about vampires. It was "Fright Night" and I grinned when I made the connection between the hearing people and the vampires - you don't enter a residence unless you are invited in. Therefore, you are all vampires. ;)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Say What? "The shirt is loud"

Scene: My wife and I are doing our favorite game where I tell a story or say things to her...without voice or aid of sign language. This helps strengthen her lipreading skills because she has found that to be not only fun but useful during loud moments.

Her (discussing about which item to use for decoration): We could use this one instead of that one. What do you think?

Me: I don't know, the jury is still out.

Her (confused): The shirt is loud?

I cracked up hard at that. Took me several minutes to compose myself and try again before she finally understood what I had said. Remains our favorite lipreading blooper to date.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Formspring Q & A #3

Q: Do you ever have people get mad at you because they think you are ignoring them? Then how do they take their foot out of their mouth after that?

A: Excellent questions! Yes, it has happened to me and the usual reaction on their part is "He is so rude". How did I know that? The look on their faces and their body language when I finally do acknowledge their presence. To answer the second question, my experience tells me that you should use the "Oh sorry I didn't realize" approach and treat me the same respect that you show to everyone else.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Say What? "Where's the lesbian?"

Scene: At a pizzeria with my older daughter (after wife and younger daughter went to the bathroom)

Her (looking concerned): Where's the lesbian?
Me (after looking around for a "lesbian" and realizing maybe that's not what she said): Where's what?
Her: Where's the last piece (of my pizza)?
Me (now composed after suppressing my hysterical laughter fit): Oh, C ate it. Sorry.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Formspring Q & A #2

Q: What has been the biggest challenge as a father who is deaf?

A: Not counting the communication issues with my girls, I would say the biggest challenge was overcoming my paranoia of S.I.D.S. (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) because I could not hear their breathing. I'd sneak up to their crib and look at their chests for breathing movement. I used to rely on a device called Cry Alert that would make certain lamps flash on/off and shake the bed when someone cried loudly enough. My problem with that was...I could not see what was going on, let alone know where the sound was originating from. So, I put up video monitors at strategic locations in order to pinpoint the source. The monitors didn't ease my S.I.D.S. fear though. And now? I would say it's keeping the youngest one on the straight and narrow. ;)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Deaf P.O.V. - "Smoking is bad for you"

There's this older gentleman who would come into my workplace every day for his tutoring sessions.

Every time when I see him for the first time, he would be walking by like there was nothing wrong with him. Where I sit in my assigned spot, I am close enough to smell his cologne. I am glad that he puts a little on unlike some people who feel the need to use up the whole bottle every day.

I've noticed that he would leave few times - up to 6 times in 2 hours. Each time he returned, he would be limping a bit and looking ahead to his seat with a small scowl on his face. I can smell why he leaves frequently - he goes out for a smoke. On each subsequent return trip, his limp would be more pronounced than before and he would walk with a bigger scowl than the last time.

What did I gain from this observation? Smoking is bad for you - you're liable to injure yourself while smoking and you become stressed out thinking about the next smoking session which you know will result in further injuries to you. ;)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Say What? "He is mad at you"

Scene: My boss tried to introduce me to someone but that person was being a jerk and basically walked away from me.


Me: What happened?


Boss: "He is mad at you"


Me: Why would he?


Boss (confused): Huh? What?


Me: You said he is he mad at me. Why?


Boss: Oh! I said "he has a bad attitude"

You can see how I was confused when I thought he said "he is mad at you" when he actually said "he has a bad attitude".

Monday, April 19, 2010

My unusual writing style

Editor's note - oops, I scheduled this for 6 PM, not AM. Sorry about the delay!

I keep hearing from my readers about my unusual writing style. I never learned grammar...because I happened to be where I wasn't supposed to be and got moved up a level earlier than scheduled.

That day in the fall, I didn't feel like being outside during recess and I was wandering around on third floor at my deaf school when a teacher poked her head out of a conference room and saw me. She asked me to come in and there was a bunch of college students sitting there. The teacher told me to wait here and left me with the college students. We stared at each other, wordlessly. The teacher came back few minutes later with a 13 year old male student in tow and he was 3 years older than me.

The teacher wrote down "infrequent" on the blackboard and asked the 13 year old student to explain that word. He tried to bluff his way through but it was clear that he didn't know what that word meant. I was asked to explain and I wrote down "not often, rare, uncommon". The teacher was astounded by my precise definition. She asked me to put it in a sentence. I wrote down "it is infrequent for me to skip recess." Next week, I was moved from Intermediate to Advanced.

So, how did I learn? I acquired my understanding of grammar from reading books, long before that teacher pulled me in for a demonstration. I remember begging my mom to buy a book here and there. I'd sit down and read books & magazines at stores, libraries, and other people's homes.

One day, a family with twins moved in next door and I happily discovered a room in there, filled with books in stacks as tall as me. Every day, I would go over and upon seeing me, the mother would step aside and let me go to that room upstairs. I would go through their books like there was no tomorrow. My mom always checked that house first to see if I was there before looking for me elsewhere in the neighborhood.

My unusual writiing style is the melting pot of all these authors' construction of and creative use of words. I was fascinated by that, but I didn't discover my flair for writing until I went to high school. When I entered 9th grade, my reading level was determined to be at college level. When I arrived at my first college, I was tested for English (my reading level had progressed to "beyond college"). I was placed in a writing class that had students in their 20's. I was the only minor in that class. LOL

My knowledge of grammar was not without frustrations - I didn't learn the difference between "a" and "an" until I was about 30 when my wife explained to me why I shouldn't say "an house" (versus "an hour"). I was relying on my memory of how people would use on certain words. Nobody had thought of telling me this; maybe they figured it was a quirk of mine.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Formspring Q & A #1

I got two questions over the weekend. The first one asks:

"Here's a funny question...Does your wife blog too? My hubby doesn't but my ex does"

No, my wife doesn't. She used to, but she dropped it altogether because she felt there was no point in blogging on a recurring basis. The funny thing is, she loves to "mini-blog" with the frequent updates on Facebook.

The second one asks:

"Do you miss 'Morning Glory' at all?"

Yes, I do...it was always fun to check MG because I would have no idea what MG would do next.

Can someone please help me with a glitch on this formspring widget? I thought that by answering on formspring, it would automatically post on Blogger. It did...to the wrong blog. I need help. Thanks.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Deaf P.O.V.

This is a recurring series on what/how we, deaf people, perceive things in the world. The lack of sound/aural information that's readily available to you is what colors our take on everything. What we rely on is what we see - body language, mannerisms, societal customs, etc.

When I share with you my p.o.v., my observations may seem weird or odd or funny to you, but this is designed to help you understand a little bit better about how/why I think or act the way I do. This is not a true representative for all deaf people - it's just me. Once in a while, I will throw in some humor.

The first one will publish next week Friday the 23rd and the series will publish on Fridays.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shelle's question about communicating with my girls

Shelle from BlokThoughts asked this in her comment on my "Chicken or Egg" post: "How do your daughters communicate? Did you teach them sign language? Are they fluent in it?" Sunday from Adventures in Extreme Parenthood also asked me in e-mail almost the same thing as well.

I will tell you this...it was very frustrating for me to try to understand what my daughters were saying as they went through their babbling stage and their mispronounciation of words stage. What most people don't realize is how equally frustrating it can be for them when their daddy cannot comprehend what is being said to him.

You could be thinking "What about his hearing wife?" Yes, she does step in and help clear up the chaotic messages...when she is there. She has a job so she can't be there 24/7. Now, you can see how frustrating it can be for all of us.

My wife and I knew long before we even started thinking about having a family that teaching the babies basic signs would greatly reduce the frustration of expressing their needs. Research has backed that up many times over. Babies do not learn how to speak words for a long while and they need a way to tell us what they need. As you can see, it really doesn't matter if both parents are hearing when it comes to decoding what the baby wants...as long as the baby has a way to express it clearly.

Basic signs like "drink", "eat", "milk", "play", and "hold me" helped my girls express their needs. As they grew up, my wife and I would add signs to their vocabulary. The funny thing is...their exponential rate of learning the signs would begin to level off as they start to learn how to speak and form complete sentences.

They seem to prefer to speak to me than to sign to me, forcing me to read their lips. My wife and I have been trying to get them to sign to me so we could understand each other. I would think that the family dynamic is different for us versus those of all-hearing families because of that. How so? Since we are all "bilingual" (meaning we can speak or sign), we can choose how to communicate with each other in the presence of others.

For instance - while my mom was visiting us last week, my wife was ticked off that I hadn't cleaned the dining table off and used sign language to express her feelings. I signed back to her, "My mom may not understand sign language, but she sure can read body language." My body language was that of a calm person.

Imagine how I can choose to deal with my daughters when they misbehave in the public. I can talk to them either in the privacy of sign language or without the privacy by speaking to them. Believe me, they rarely misbehave in the public...because they don't know which way I'll go and they don't want to find out. ;)

Monday, April 12, 2010

How should you label us?

There has been some confusion over how those with hearing loss prefer to be labeled as. You've heard the following terms:
  • deaf
  • hard of hearing (or HoH)
  • hearing impaired (trust me on this - do NOT use that term with anyone)

Those terms do not come with a "one size fits all" tag. I prefer to be called "deaf". I am deaf enough that you cannot lump me with others who have slight hearing loss because that infers I can hear something. I have deaf friends, HoH friends, and hearing friends.

By rule, we do not feel offended if you ask us how we prefer to be labeled as. By asking us rather than labeling us, we get to assert our own sense of identity within the hearing world and we feel that you have shown respect to us.

As for the "hearing impaired" term, we would prefer that you never use that - it is offensive to us. However, this warrants another post because it is too long...and deserves its own post. I promise to discuss that issue in the near future.