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Sunday, August 10, 2014

What to Do? What to Do?

Vacation— what comes to mind first when you hear/see that word?

a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday
Accurate yes but what gumdrop, fairy winged visions and ideas hit your brain when you hear the word?

Me — rest and restoration, calm, sitting on the porch watching the sun sparkles on the waves, reading nothing but fun, escapist sci fi romps, maybe taking in a blockbuster super hero flick, maybe a stroll along Nantasket Beach and lunch at The Red Parrot — yup, that’s what pops into my head. Lots of chill time.

What’s reality though? Travel, travel, travel and more of that travel stuff. I visit places I’ve never been, see new things, eat different, exotic food, have convos with strangers — make new friends/acquaintances, do things I don’t usually do. I like to challenge myself at the same time. This is some of what’s fueling my goal to trike the Isle of Skye and the Hebridean Trail.

Here’s the thing though, I’m not a natural bold, fearless adventurer — I do all this shit but I’m a nervous babe. Also, please note, I’m not exactly doing daredevil type stuff like Paul Theroux or Tim Cahill, oh my no! I get a wicked exhilaration rush from my relatively meager successes, like finding my Berlin bound train at midnight, while drunk, in Dworzec Glowny station.

The added challenge now is, of course, that missing sound system of mine. I generally do pretty well on my own but then I’ve not done much travel without Jen and no international journeys without her. Not only is she my BFF and housemate of the last 5 or 600 years, she’s also my ‘terp of choice. We speak/sign the same language.

Lipreading, especially without Jen’s signed assist, is exhausting stuff. It's even more so when I’m attempting to understand someone new or a friend I don’t often see. A peak stressful sitch would be meeting and spending time with an entire group, a party full of people, who I’m lipreading for the first time...without Jen’s help.

Been there, done that just this past week. Hells, I’ve been home since Wednesday night and I’m still worn out.  I knew in advance that no one knew sign language (though Michal's learning), that there wouldn’t be anyone to ‘terp for me. I brought my iPad as well as paper and pen whenever I joined the party. That helped certainly but wasn’t a full solution. I missed a LOT and was afraid that I seemed antisocial (I’d retire to my room for breaks) and dim when it would take so long for me to grasp simple sentences.

I'm difficult to communicate with. Period. I know this. My lipreading chops are light years away from super hero levels so, when in groups of people ("group" is defined as any gathering of more than one person), where no one signs — well, it's a surreal, slow and frustrating experience. Usually the crowd zooms on with the momentum of their discussion and I'm completely at sea.

What to do? What to do?
Should I:
A) Demand that everyone:
  •     Speak slowly and face me so I can see lips move
  •     Pick another word if I can't — despite best efforts — read the word being said
  •     Make sure the light isn’t behind the speakers — glare makes it hard, if not impossible, to see lips
You know, everyone should do all this whether they're talking to me or someone else because I want to understand the gathering's conversation. 

 Well, hmmph, that'd be sorta all ME ME ME imperious, eh?

B) I could leave the room since I'm lost and thoroughly overwhelmed.

That'd be kinda rude and selfish of me, wouldn't it? I suppose I'm envisioning myself flouncing out in frustration. You know, making a petulant scene.

C) Maybe I should just not join in at all? 
If I'm at a party where no one knows any ASL maybe I should just keep to myself? Sit in an unoccupied room reading until it's time to leave? Why bother going at all then?

Mother used to sit, smiling at all, when family and friends were over. She didn't try to be a part of the group convo. Periodically, she’d pick up pen and pad, write me a note and we’d have a separate chat.

I don’t have an answer to my quandary — how to be at a party without:
A) taking over or monopolizing with my communication needs
B) being just a silent, opaque, unfathoming lump.

Thoughts and ideas?


  1. Dona, it was a pleasure to spend time with you. We were all sorry that WE didn't know how to share more with you. We understood that keeping up was somewhere between exhausting and impossible. Heck, keeping up the a cacophony of Joneses is exhausting for a Jones!

    One IDE I had was to openMessenger chat on the iPhone/iPad. Then we. Could have talked to our iPhones and the text would appear for you. Of course, that would require that only one person speak at once, which would be impossible--but a blessing, nonetheless--for the Joneses.

    1. Hey Jeff — thank you! That idea's a good one.