Wednesday, August 17, 2011


There is a certain give and take in the Deaf community regarding how the deaf work with the interpreters. One of the ways that a Deaf signer can acknowledge that he or she understands what was just said is the old-fashioned head nod.  This doesn’t just take place with interpreters, but whenever conversing in sign. It’s kind of like the equivalent of  the “Uh-huh,” “Sure,” and “Oh,” used in verbal conversations.

When I’m out chatting with a fellow deafie, that comes natural to me. But it’s never really come natural to me with interpreters. Well, I guess it depends on what’s being talked about.

Just as some hearing people have a hard time keeping their eyes open in a long church service, I often have a difficult time nodding incessantly during the sermon. Yes, I understand. Yes, I understand. Yes, I understand. AAAAHHHH!!!!! It drives me crazy!

Yesterday, I was at an appointment for my daughter. It was her, my hubby, and me, and then there was an interpreter. I’ve worked several times with this particular interpreter, so she kind of knows that I tend to just sit there sometimes (usually when my brain is fried from too much external stimuli). However, the professional we were with had never used an interpreter before. At least I’m assuming.

Not only did she stop quite often to explain to the interpreter things she didn’t need to know, but, after virtually every one of her sentences she would stop and look at the interpreter. Then, when the ‘terp was done signing, the pro would turn and stare at me. She was looking for…you guessed it…a head nod.

So basically, yesterday I was forced to nod my head more than I usually do. I’m very sore. I think I need a chiropractor. I don’t know which was more painful, nodding my head every 45 seconds or pretending I was listening when I really wanted to take a nap. (Some of us deaf folk are pretty darn good at sleeping with our eyes open.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011


One of my very favorite movies is the Johnny Depp film, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” If you’ve never seen it, shame on you. Now, go out and rent it immediately. In the movie, Gilbert’s (Depp’s) mother weighs on the upside of 500+ lbs. She doesn’t really ever leave the living room and, in fact, hadn’t left the house in years. The husband is dead, so all of the kids work to constantly serve her and the family’s needs.

While Gilbert is pretty embarrassed about his mother’s size, he understands that kids are curious. So, when little kids ask if they can be boosted up in order to look in the window and see the “circus lady,” Gilbert gives them a boost. Then they run off with their friends, bragging that they’ve had the chance to see her. And so it goes…… (Oh, there’s a whole lot more to the movie, in case you’re wondering and have never seen it. Seriously, go rent it. After you finish reading this blog post, of course.)

Stepping away from this movie and into my life, there are a few similarities. No, I don’t weigh 500 lbs, though sometimes I feel as if I do. But there’s something about me that fascinates the kids in my neighborhood. Can you guess? Yep. I’m Deaf.

Wow! Amazing! Right here in Grand Rapids, folks! You think you’ve seen it all, but have you? Because you haven’t lived till you’ve seen the deaf lady on the block! Check her out. Who knows? You might even get lucky and catch her moving her hands around. She does this to communicate in an alien fashion. That’s right! She can express herself with simple hand waves and code! Step right up to the window, ladies and gents. Let’s take a gander!

Two days ago, my daughter met a new kid on the block. Apparently a family has moved into the apartments across the street. I don’t know how the subject came up, but my 11-year-old told the new girl (age 12) that I am deaf and it just blew her mind.

I didn’t mind that at all. I mean, I am deaf. I’m not ashamed. Besides, if they become friends, she needs to know. But what happened next was a bit on the “whoa” side. Standing in my living room, signing with my husband (we were having a small argument), I glance outside to find a small group of kids have gathered on the sidewalk outside my house. I looked at them and they stared back. Finally, I waved and then dramatically shut the blinds.

No harm no foul till I finished our discussion and happened to look up. There she was…the new gal…with her face plastered against our front glass door. Apparently shutting the blinds didn’t deter her. She was gonna see the “show” one way or another.

Seeing that I knew I was already a bit upset because of the argument, I wasn’t prepared to see her there and I admittedly got upset and yelled at her as I shut the door in her face.

So, now I have a new family across the street that must be terrified of me. Us “death” people (as we’re commonly known) are downright scary. And now she’s seen it as a fact. All I need to do now is gain 300+ lbs and pick a spot in our living room. I’ll make sure to pick a spot that is visible from the window though. Just as long as I can sell tickets.