My Heart Slowly Changed

Once upon a time, I looked at my hearing family and wished to be like them. Once upon a time I wished the surgeries on my eardrum had done what they were supposed to. Once upon a time I told no one about my hearing loss. When someone asked, I said, “I am hearing impaired.”

Now I bear my flashy hearing aid as a badge of honor. I say I’m glad those surgeries failed because I got something better. Now, when someone asks, I say “I am Deaf.”

The Girl in my Head

She first came  to me in a dream, blond, well muscled, quick.She showed herself for just a moment before disappearing. She came again while I was awake, and I saw that she was young. Beautiful. She looked hardly more than a child. Her visits were short, but I gleaned what I could. I thought she was quiet and angry. I thought she was the type to watch someone without speaking to them and then turn around and slit their throat. I thought she was decisive. I thought she was direct.

When I finally decided to write her story as she begged so desperately, I realized how wrong I was, how much of herself she’d been hiding from me. She wasn’t quiet at all. She was outspoken, loud.  She wasn’t only angry. She didn’t have a hold on her emotions. One second she was screaming at someone and the next bawling her eyes out. She could harden herself into a cold-hearted murderer, only for a child to draw out the gentle side hiding within. Her loyalty was as vast as the expanding universe. She would trek thousands of miles, fight hundreds of battles, endure many trials of pain and horror to find someone she loved. She was haunted by the terrors of her past, to the point of seeing screaming hallucinations.

When she first came to me, I had no idea how elaborate she was. I didn’t know she could murder without hesitation yet cling to a baby as if he was the key to everything. I don’t know where Eli Steele came from, but I’m damn glad she chose to show herself to me.

Something I Find Annoying

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I didn’t fully realize how unobservant people can be until Tuesday night. I was running around with my godbrother and two of his children, both five years of age. The girl is deaf and wears hearing aids like me. I love being around her because she’s an amazing kid and we understand each other and connect in a way our hearing families don’t fully understand. Honestly, I feel like a bad ass when I walk hand in hand with this little girl.

 

Now, our hearing aids are not subtle. She chose zebra striped hearing aids and bright pink and green ear molds, while my hearing aids are custom painted blue with polka-dots and my ear mold is blue, purple, and white. I can spot her hearing aids from a mile away, and I can see mine whenever I walk past something reflective.

 

Well my godbrother decides to get the kids icecream. I pick my niece up so she can see the different flavors and sign, “Which one do you want?” She trails her finger over the glass to show me that she’s still thinking and finally pokes at the chocolate brownie flavor. I point too and she signs yes. All the while the guy working keeps asking her what kind she wants. 

 

“Did I hide my hands while I was signing?” I think. “No, I didn’t. Surely he must have seen? Surely he sees her hearing aids and has noticed that neither I or her father have spoken verbally to her?” I frown at the man, and he asks my niece again what flavor she wants. She of course is still staring at the icecream. I point to the flavor she wants and the man puts his scoop in the one in front of it. “No the middle one in the back,” I say. He puts his scoop in the back left one. I sigh and say “No, the middle one.” He finally puts the scoop in the right one and looks up at my niece. “That one?” he asks. She stares at him. “Do you want this one?” he repeats. Just when I start to burn at the fact that this man is not using his eyes whatsoever, my godbrother tells the man, “She’s deaf.”

 

If I hadn’t been holding my niece I would’ve slapped my palm over my face. I was signing nonstop to the child, she was wearing very noticeable hearing aids, yet the man noticed none of it. 

 

There is something wrong with this picture. Not just with people not noticing hearing aids, but with their ignorance as well. A boy pointed at my ear mold and said, “What’s that?” My school’s VICE PRINCIPAL asked what the ear mold was for, and I had to lift my hearing aid up partially off of my ear so that she would see it.

 

I’ve known for a couple of months now that people don’t really notice hearing aids. I had NO idea that once noticed, people wouldn’t understand what they were. The thought had never occurred to me. How could someone see a hearing aid and ask what it was? Yet it has happened to me now on many occasions. 

 

It gets worse though. I was talking to a friend of mine in sign at my school, and a security guard came up with a ridiculously stupid look on his face and started mocking us. He wanted us to move to the front of the school to wait for our rides (which in itself was irritating because at the time I was involved in the school musical and couldn’t go home until 9pm) so instead of asking us to, he mimicked our sign. Not only was the fact that he was mocking us irritate me, but the fact that he didn’t even sign what he intended to. He was trying to say, “You both need to go to the front of the school,” but instead he said, “You dance over there.”

 

Just as mimicking a Chinese person talking in their language is not okay, mimicking a deaf person’s language is also not okay.

 

The more I learn how little everyone else has learned, the more I feel defeated. How can it be? But I know that I can’t let it go. I can’t sit by and watch the ignorance happening all around me. I have to reach out. I have to teach everyday of my life, sometimes I have to teach the same lesson to the same person multiple times. Will I be around to see the results? Maybe not, but I will still work to make change for all the deaf who come after me. Would meeting the president of the United States help? Sure, of course! I guess it’s a good thing I’ve just been presented with the shot of doing just that.

Help Me Get a Hearing Aid

I’ve been trying for some time to get a hearing aid, and have finally resorted to raising money. So far this includes an account on a website for donations, but eventually I will most likely be involved in several at-home money making avenues, such as writing articles for websites or perhaps designing logos or just drawing things for people, and a part time job at least twice a week.

For now though, if you’re interested perhaps you might want to read the story of how I became the Half Deaf Girl, in my post Half Hearing, Half Deaf. If you want to help me in my pursuit to get a hearing aid, I would be delighted, and pleased, and very, very grateful. You can donate here: http://www.gofundme.com/1uyxag

I Want to Force the World to Accept Me

Society expects people to be ashamed or embarrassed about the things that make them “not normal”. LGBT couples are frowned upon or given dirty looks when they hold hands or kiss in public. People with asthma are laughed at or dismissed as “that fat breathless kid”. Hard of hearing folk are expected to remove themselves from the world and met with surprise when they have not. Teen moms receive vicious glares from strangers.

The problem with this lack of tolerance is that LGBT couples love each other too. People with asthma are not all overweight. Hard of hearing folk are people too: we need groceries and gas, we like to go out to dinner and etc just like everyone else does. And teenagers have sex too.

So people shy away from the public eye. Society tells us to be content with ourselves and then society ridicules us.

But if I am dating another girl, I will hold her and kiss her in public. I will not hide my inhaler, and I will not get an in-the-canal hearing aid–I will not hide behind closed doors. And if I had a child I would not hide her either.

People try to shape and mold me. A human being is a person, not a sculpture. The world can accept me as I am. Bisexual. Asthmatic. Hard of hearing. I will not curb my sailor’s mouth, and as an artist and a writer I will not hide my pieces. If a written or drawn work is offensive to you then perhaps you’d better find yourself another writer or artist.

Our differences allow us to thrive. A species which produces identical organisms is a dead species. Do not ridicule others’ differences. Do not find shame in your own. Just thrive in them. If you can’t find yourself able to accept someone who seems from a different planet than you, that’s okay. There is a bridge between acceptance and rejection. It’s called tolerance.

I am hard of hearing . . . not STUPID.

I seem to find myself encountering situations where someone regards me as less intelligent simply because of my hearing loss quite often. Hearing loss. Stupidity. You see how they are in their own little sentences there? That’s because there is no correlation between level of hearing and level of stupidity.

There is no need for a hearing person to look at a hard of hearing or Deaf/deaf person like we are incompetent or unintelligent. When I hear “puddle” when you actually said “puzzle”, that does not mean that I am stupid. It means that I am hard of hearing, big shocker.

I get good grades, I write every single day, I’ve been published several times, I will go as high as Calculus in high school, I take the advanced English courses, I get high scores on my papers, I get advanced scores on all of the ridiculous SATs and CSTs, (perfect scores on the CAHSEE) I speak and write English fluently, I am learning ASL and German, (the latter is slower progress than the first) I can cook, I can clean, I can drive, I can take care of children both hearing and deaf, and I can THINK. What makes me any less intelligent or competent than a hearing person?

Please, all hearing folks. Please listen to me, for I am a bridge between the Deaf and the hearing, for I am half and half. Those who do not hear are not dumb. Please look at us, not down at us. Please speak to us as our age would suggest you should. A thirty year old man should not be spoken to like a two year old. And above all, please do not in response to a request for a repeat tell us to open our ears. We cannot. But you can open your EYES.

I Write Simply Because I Have to

Folks have been interested in my writing since day one. “Oh darling, let me see your story!” My teachers adored my creative writing assignments, often reading them aloud to the class.

 

But always, always they ask why do I write? People seem to expect some holy answer, Well when I was eight years old I–NO! I don’t mean to crush all of these dreamy beliefs people have. I just mean to be honest. I write because I have to. It’s that simple.

 

There are words inside my head, always there are words. These stories evolve all by themselves. Poems bounce around. Books tangle my thoughts, thoughts of other worlds and other times. How could I possibly function as a normal human being if I did not get these stories, these books, these poems, to stop knotting my thoughts like a wild-child’s hair? I couldn’t. I have to get them out. And that is why I write.