Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Advice for Deaf People About To Spend Time With Hearing Family for the Holidays

Enjoy it. I mean: make it happen. Don't sit around sighing about Communication Difficulties or Why You Can't Have A Good Time. Doing this will guarantee you don't have a good time-and it will be your own fault. Remember most people are waiting for someone to show them how to treat a deaf person and most people forget easily without daily practice. They're waiting for you to take the lead, and when you don't they will try because they don't want you to feel left out, and because you're already thinking Communication Difficulties and Why Can't I Have A Good Time you'll inevitably take offense. You'll interpret their clumsy overtures as some sort of justification for your spiral of obsession. Don't go there. It's a trap. Make it happen. Lead. Have a good time.

I spoke with someone recently who cried out that Deaf people are special because they have no access to sound! So you can't compare them with other bilinguals because we can't hear! If hearing people communicated only with sound this would be the depressing case. It's not. They also use facial expressions, interpretive dance, colors, body language, gesture. Just like we do. We can access each and every one of those things. We can't access one thing clearly-spoken language! We put too much stress on the thing we can't access, sometimes. Well, this is the holiday season. They will be drunk and slurring their words, or comatose with food. That's what hearing people do, because they hear many horrible things over the year and need to drink to drown out the pain of memory. I, for example, have never had to subject myself to Justin Bieber or the fiasco of Autotune. Instead I bring sharp analysis of all those other items-expressions to color to gesture-and I can transcend alcohol-laced attempts at communication. Always look for the benefit in any situation.

There are situations that make us feel alone. We decide if those situations make us lonely. We can transcend them by transcending the feeling. Modern pagans believe our lives are quantum tunnels, maybe, carved by the fire of living, like a spark gliding along the starter to a stick of dynamite. When we die we wander these tunnels, reliving the path we once took. The path we make can be full of happiness-or paranoia. It's your book. You choose, to some extent, what kind of character you're writing. Yes, audism happens, and probably blatantly, or even drunkenly. The elderly aunt will yell at you embarrassingly. The black-sheep cousin will make disturbing comments about you and your friends doing the 'hand-flapping thing.' During the holidays, sometimes it's best to take the offending gentleman's moustache gently off your hearing aid and say "Elementary Martini, Grandpa?" Decide whether this is an opportunity for people to see you lose your stack, or to see your face smiling and winking as you lead the uncouth unfortunate to the minibar.

After all, you can always facebook them a link to better manners later on.

Happy Yuletide.

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