Archive for February, 2008

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So, Janine and I always go to the Bon Jovi concert together. It’s a given. There is no discussion! Last November when tickets went on pre-sale, our mutual friend got tickets ahead of time. Turns out she invited Janine, leaving me out in the cold. When the tickets went on sale to the general public, Janine was on her computer and I was on mine with ticketmaster trying to work fast. We knew their tickets were in section 4. I got something in section 6… quick, quick, I entered in all my info and then … my computer FROZE. UGH! so Janine grabs a ticket in section 4 – I say just do it and enter in my info, hit enter and done! I’ve got a ticket to Bon Jovi. I’ll be sitting by myself, but at least during intermission I’ll have someone to talk to.

Turns out, I got the same row in the same section. Wow, that’s cool. I had been asking what their seat numbers were for months. Finally an hour before the show on Sunday, we meet for dinner downtown Chicago. Our friend arrives and says, guess where we are sitting? My seat was 3 row 15. Their seats were FOUR and FIVE!! How totally amazing is that? I was sitting right next to my friends. I am so floored, I don’t even know the mathematical possibilities of that happening.

It was a great show! Can’t wait for the next one!

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I remember being in Chicago for the Deaf softball tournament in the 80s. Don’t know the year so I am guessing I was about 10, maybe. Our family driving on Lake Shore Drive. I was enjoying the view of Lake Michigan when a cop pulled us over. I leaned forward to talk to the cop. Turns out dad was swaying between lanes. He tells the cop (I tell the cop) “I am Deaf and I was looking at my wife for directions”. My father knows his way around every major city in the US. Deaf card had been played. The cop let us go.

When I was in high school I had a boyfriend that lived about 8 miles away. We were lined up off the highway beautifully. It was a quick on ramp, stretch of highway and then an off ramp. One summer night I was coming back from his house. It was about 11pm. I was enjoying the wonderful night and probably had my foot on the pedal a bit more than I should. The speed limit is 35, I think I was a tad over, ok ok more than a tad. A policeman pulls me over two blocks before home. He says, “what’s your story”. I tell him “My parents are Deaf and I’m running late, I have no way to call them to let them know I am on the way”. Deaf card played. This was way before cell phones. The policeman looked at me and said “nice one” and let me go.

Last fall I wanted to join a dance class with my husband. He didn’t want to and actually I ended up accompanying him to his flight training school to interpret. Wow, that was hard. Not the going and doing but the aviation terminology is a killer. To translate things you know absolutely nothing about is really very hard. Miraculously, my daughter’s pre-school had a bunch of parents signing up for adult dance lessons. AHA! I signed my husband and I up, waited 3 weeks and then brought him the invitation. At first he squirmed and said “aaaww, I don’t wanna”. I glared and said “oh I loved interpreting flight school”. So he said, “well I’m Deaf and I can’t dance”. I couldn’t believe it, he was playing the Deaf card. This was the first time ever! I replied with”Yea? well I’m a Coda and you can’t pull that with me, Deaf can do anything!”. He giggled and said “OK OK for my lovely wife I will do”. Last night was our first lesson. I was beaming an hour before. Perma-grin had set in. We get to the class and start with a basic pattern for ballroom dancing. We had soooo much fun. In fact, my husband grasped it just a bit faster than I did. Our dance teacher said that men that are skilled in reading blueprints or building things with patterns have a greater time of catching the dance moves easier. I created a monster! He was so into it! It was so FUN! After he took me for coffee and he was still chatting it up.

When we arrived home, our girls were begging for a demo. They are both in dance and know our dance instructor. After gliding for about 1 minute the girls also had perma-grins. They were so excited to see Daddy dancing. Momma dances around the house all the time, but Dad, this was new and exciting. Visions of Valentine’s Day daddy/daughter dances and their wedding day dance entered my head.

So have you played the Deaf card to get out of something? What was it?

Being from a very small town, there is no Deaf awareness. It’s so bad the local disability resource’s Deaf Coordinator works part time and doesn’t even know sign language. Anyone calling for services related to Deafness is referred to someplace else. So no Deaf awareness… no Coda/Koda awareness.

Last fall I made it a priority to meet with my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and the principal. It all stemmed from a pre-school incident. My daughter was asked the sign for “happy”. She knows this but felt put on the spot and signed it backwards, almost like “getting dressed”. The teacher then taught the incorrect sign to the rest of the class. I didn’t really care about the improper use of the sign (this time, that’s another story) than I did about putting my kid on the spot. Just as a 5 year old does not have command of the entire English language, my daughter does not know every sign.

At my meeting I explained our bi-lingual and bi-cultural household. It went over with the teachers very well. Better than I thought actually. From this meeting the teacher asked if I would teach the students signs during calendar time. I was delighted. I go in once a week for half an hour. We started last October. After the first week the teacher commented how amazed she was. She thought some of the kids were not very interested and day-dreaming but was shocked to see they really got the hang of it and were paying attention. I was thrilled she found my participation useful.

Last Monday, the teacher said the class had a surprise for me. “OK kids, let’s show her”. They did the entire calendar segment in sign language with their voices OFF. This includes about 3 songs, counting and a Q&A time. I was completely SHOCKED! Not that the kids could do it, but that the teacher has been nurturing this entire segment. It brought tears to my eyes.

My hope is to expose my kid’s peers to sign language. I dunno, maybe I am living in my past. Kids were mean to me – you know the stupid hand gestures that didn’t look like sign, just looked like a stupid kid doing gestures. I don’t want that to happen to my kids. No one does, right?

Can you imagine if every student in elementary school was exposed to sign language? I don’t mean once a year but on a level that would give them familiarity. Providing this would heighten the awareness of another recognized language and culture. Thus, maybe… just maybe, might save a little Koda from some angst and pain. Or, heal mine.

When I started this blog/vlog last summer I knew of the different kinds of Codas out there. Non-signing Codas, late in life deaf Codas, etc. My mission is to educate all people, hearing, Deaf and Codas see my previous vlog Why.

As for the Codas I must understand that not everyone wants to be included. Not everyone fits one label. Labels can be deceiving and I think in this case, the label is meant to be affiliated to a group. A group you identify with but doesn’t define you. Also discussed previously, Not a label

Something happened to me last fall that saddened me to tears. It is a lesson I learned and will draw on in the future.

Within the regular day to day business calls, I found an “operator” that had Deaf parents. She offered services to indicating she had Deaf parents and could help my husband if he needed. I decided to call her and tell her about Coda and invite her to the next conference. It can be a touchy subject. How do you explain it? I have had some practice while serving as President of Illinois Coda. Fielding the general questions, so I felt I had enough experience without having a pushy nature. We talked about 3 minutes, she didn’t like the idea of it but was polite about it. She said, “It’s just not for me”. Well I’ve heard that before and I always keep the casual socializing attempt last. I explained, “It can be a totally social event in which we celebrate our deaf heritage and share stories with a common bond”. Well I must have said too much. She responded by saying “Look! I’m going to tell you that I grew up in an abusive household and I am repulsed with everything that deals with deafness and the signing”. WHOA!

I felt horrible. We hung up almost immediately. I cried. I broke down. I was hurt that I may have potentially stirred up painful emotions for her. I wouldn’t do that on purpose. Then I realized I was crying for something else too, I cried that she didn’t embrace the culture I love so much! Despised – such a harsh word. I never imagined having a Deaf culture could be that painful at the level of despising it. I have wanted to escape, but I never loathed it.

Things started flooding my mind – even those that despise the culture could learn from Codas. Perhaps her situation had happened to someone else in the Coda community and she could heal. But no way was I going to call back. I felt as though I had caused too much pain in three minutes. I had never met someone with such strong feelings.

Could it have been because they weren’t the best parents? Was it directly related to being having Deaf parents or perhaps oppressed? I’ll never know. It took me a long time to recover from that comment.

Here’s what I learned. We are all different, regardless of the same views, philosophy, religion or groups we belong to. Having Deaf parents allows me to want to identify with others that have/had Deaf parents. I am thankful that such dynamic individuals chose to identify with the group so I can learn from them.

I feel blessed to have Deaf culture and language in my soul. ASL is my native language. I must understand that every Coda may not feel this way. It’s difficult, but a lesson I learn to apply when needed.