Monday, March 28, 2005

happy deaf jesus day: the weekend.

new jersey is possibly the most boring state. it's kind of this perfect balance btw cities and country and results in... null state. serious truebiz nullstate. nothing there to see, nothing there to do. trees been killed animals ran. people are kind of a cross between rocks and people.

my mother lives there terrified in a small house across the street from her mother. whenever i go to visit i propose going for a walk in the tongue of woods between cracktown and the garden state parkway. this time it only took me an hour to get my mother to stop shrieking about me getting eaten by wild dogs. strewth, i think she was mostly concerned about her poodle, who i was gonna walk with. once i dropped the leash, she dropped her objections. so whiz. not that im implying shes wrong. packs of wild labs and shit like that wander around terrified of people and Peugeots, and you never see a kid or dog alone out there. such is suburban america.

walked on the ridge of the tongue by the highway like i did when i was a kid. came out at wawa's, like i did when i was a kid. unlike child-me, i bought bananas instead of m*m-s. (screw traditional puncturation. right?) walking back managed to calm down and kept singing "the earth is my mother; her arms welcome me home." i wonder what it's like to be deaf, no car, no life, living in this godforsaken folded-armpit-skin of the world all the bloody time. i conclude i too would shriek about wild dogs.

the day before i came down i spent cleaning out my new office, running home, and joining the faes at d*n*d's for drumming circle. cypress was there, so happy joe! and in the middle of dancing and drumming (elizabeth was sitting, tranced out pounding with the best of them and Cypress was grazing by the snack table) guess who shows? Mikey, with his boyfriends, from Vermont. Course I'm all over him in a minute, which causes much comment about the font, but hey, he's Mikey. The guys are good too. I was pretty giddy and didn't have more than one beer, cos I was floating with happiness. later Cypress tells me people thought i was on crystal meth cos I was so happy. which kinda pissed me off, but also makes me kind of smile. home pretty blissful.

today it's raining sheets of water onto the ground, horizontally. little gasps inbtw so we can breathe. this is new york in spring... makes me think of the Schiavo fiasco. wonder if terri's body is dead yet. was she thinking, in there? fifteen years of being pulled and prodded by others. and a bunch of christian idiots sitting outside her hospice trying to break in with bottles of water. she's being fed and watered by a tube, guys. what are you going to do, choke her to death?

the earth is her mother, and will welcome her home.

Monday, March 21, 2005

laurent: attack and parry

Laurent doesn't exist yet. It's going to, if the dreams of Marvin Miller come true, as the dreams of John Flournoy before him, and the dreams of Douglas Buillard in the Deaf novel Islay did not. Already the town is coming under attack by historical reconstructionists such as the AGB association, which claims that this "sign language town" will isolate Deaf people (or "the deaf" as they prefer to call us) "even more" than we already are. From the New York Times article on the subject:
"We think there is a greater benefit for people to be part of the whole world," said Todd Houston, executive director of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Washington. "I understand the desire to be around people like ourselves, and I don't have a problem with that, but I don't think it's very wise. This is a little bit of circling-the-wagons mentality, if you ask me."

Well, goody. Let's apply this to everyone else - why should white people be allowed to live in gated communities? *snort* What about people who are of a specific faith - should they be allowed to live together? I mean, honestly, it's not like Miller wants to shoot his potential townsfolk off to Mars. He just wants to establish a community. And the establishment of a community is often beneficial to the psychological state of those who join it.

The attack is interesting as it has little basis in fact, but much in psychology. Laurent is a town committed to building a visually-centered way of life - the way of life which is least restrictive to Deaf people. It is by no means intended to be a segregationist town; the lessons of Plessy vs. Ferguson have not been forgotten; it's simply intended to be visually oriented. Hearing people will survive perfectly well; it is just that the dominant frame of experience for hearing people will no longer be the dominant modality for the environment. Auditory signals, sound alerts, verbal whosis - will not be depended on. That's pretty much it. Hearing people, hearing family members - sure! Come in! Just be committed to signing, be committed to understanding Deaf people, and hey, we all one big happy fam'bly.

What else is interesting about the AGB attack is its clever synchronization of this concept - the visually-oriented town - with the false meme that Deaf people avoid learning speech. Even Deaf people who speak perfectly well - like I do - we're still Deaf. I still use a blackberry. I can speak. I can't hear. What does speaking have to do with wanting a visually oriented town? No matter how much I speak, I'm not gonna hear. Thus the ability to control and alter my environment - that very human ability, tool-making, the skill by which we influence and change our world - comes into play. Deaf people create tools to make their hostile environment habitable. We made the TTY, and fought Ma Bell into changing its phone system to use it; we fought for captioning; we fought for the internet. We are an extremely adaptable subspecies of the human race. And wanting to be in a least-restrictive environment - an environment, in fact, developed from our point of view, rather than that of a hearing person - has nothing to do with preferring sign to speech; it has everything to do with wanting to shovel the frustrating daily crap out of our lives. So why the disdain from AGB?
"We are not building a town for deaf people," said M. E. Barwacz, Mr. Miller's mother-in-law and his business partner in creating Laurent. "We are building a town for sign language users. And one of the biggest groups we expect to have here is hearing parents with deaf children."

This is probably why: because by building such a town, we shovel away the frustrating daily crap out of our lives - the middle-men who stand to benefit from our existence as a minority in their world. Who will need interpreters in this visually-oriented town? What about audiologists? And what about parents who, instead of needing to rely on "border" people such as AGB, can now speak directly with Deaf people, ask them what their lives are like? It's not just kids who need role models. It's parents, too - people who need to know their kid can go somewhere, and where exactly that kid can go.

Hey, this isn't an attack on AGB. It's just frustrating to see that people don't even have the creativity to do more than parrot the same old "They don't want to speak" crap when, if you look at it from the perspective of Deaf people, this has nothing to do with speech. It feels way too frustratingly automatic, a knee-jerk reaction to any radical and independent Deaf-centered proposal, and as I'm showing here, they don't even seem to be responding to the concerns which the alterations Miller proposes reveals to be inherent in the life of Deaf people today.

So what are these alterations Miller has proposed to ease and increase life for Deaf people?
...every element of it would be designed with them in mind. The homes and businesses, they said, would incorporate glass and open space for easy visibility across wide distances. Fire and police services would be designed with more lights and fewer sirens. High-speed Internet connections would be available all over town, since the Internet and Video Relay Service have become vital modes of communication for deaf people. And any shops, businesses or restaurants would be required to be sign-language friendly.

So... flashing lights, internet, and sign-language friendly businesses. Safety, communication, and a level playing-field.

What could a Deaf person do with their mouth that would prevent them needing a flashing light?

How about the internet? Can I somehow channel the internet through my tongue?

That leaves the lovely sign-language friendly businesses. Which would probably be run by Deaf people, giving them an equal-opportunity playing field. Hm.

What exactly is the problem with all this? What does it have to do with speech and Deaf people speaking, really?

It's worth noting that A.G. Bell advocated the sterilisation of Deaf people and was a social Darwinist, a movement Darwin himself despised which tried to liken social interation to the concept of "survival of the fittest." We weren't, he thought. Fit, I mean.

Monday, March 14, 2005

ah, studying again....

always amazes me how much my brain retains even when i don't think i'm paying attention... was able to review everything i studied about last night (principles of counselling and psychotherapy, etc., etc.) with a minimum of fuss...

then this morning I wake up to a lovely e-mail from nologo, who's probably my first true love, though I hesitate to admit it... i'd have treated him a lot differently if I had understood then what I understand now... e'nt it so? still, he's off to another protest march in England (they're always marching over there, aren't they? and we're the ones so proud of our civil liberties!) this coming weekend. zhai'helleva, ashke.

ok, quote for today - always try remembering it, but for some reason therapy info comes faster to my mind than this, and anyway it's too religious for me. but i like it anyway.

I will meet the cruel and the cowardly today, liars and the envious, the uncaring and unknowing: they will be all around. But their numbers and their carelessness do not mean I have to be like them. For my own part, I know my job; my commission comes from Those Who Are. My hand raised is Their hand on the neck of the Serpent, now and always. I shall walk through Their worlds as do the Powers that Be, seeing and knowing with Them and for Them, tending Their worlds as if they were mine: for so indeed they are. Silently shall I strive to go my way, as They do, doing my work unseen; the light needs no reminding by me of good deeds done by night. And in this long progress through all that is, though I will know doubt and fear in the strange places where I must walk, I will put these both aside, as the Oath requires, and hold myself to my work ... for if They and I together cannot mend what is marred, who can -- ? And having done my work aright, though I may know weariness at day's end, come awakening I shall rise up and say again, with Them, as if surprised, "behold, the world is made new ... !"

mm, with thanks to diane duane, whose book "on her majesty's wizardly service" the above is slightly adapted from. maybe especially appropriate for us Deaf people eh? And maybe closer to my own ideas of the universe than i'd like to admit cos... well. It's always been about working with, not worship...

Sunday, March 13, 2005

so i got a new job....

and in some ways it looks... oddly like being back in school. but in retrospect that has a lot to do with me being stimulated. told my roomie ck tonight that it feels like i haven't been stimulated in months. unrealized potential, inappropriate placement or just a damn boring job? i don't know. but the fact is that for right now i feel like i'm back on again. you can call it the Path of the Beam or Karma or Fate, but the dice are shakin' in my head again.

i guess all deaf people go through this period of life. it's part of being a deaf person. who said that you can try as hard as you like to keep the negativity out of your head, but it's so universal, some of it is guaranteed to get through anyway? the fact is you can be as educated, can speak as well, can do as good a job as you like - there's always going to be those negative messages. the trick to dealing with it, i think, is to realize that your life is not you. your environment is not you. the people around you are not you. they can be part of your life and their perspectives can be important to you - but they should not determine your self-esteem. and i was letting myself do just that, consciously or unconsciously as it were. or maybe i saw the tip of the iceberg in my consciousness, but pushing on it only made more of the iceberg be underwater. and what was that iceberg? depression, or specifically depression borne from fear that i am myself inferior. that i deserve the shit i get. that maybe, just maybe, being deaf is going to limit me for the rest of my life, no matter how hard i try. or worse: that the fault is in me, some kind of mistake, or personality flaw i wont be able to fix.

then something good like this happens and i realize a lot of my problem is external, and that when i took action to change it and succeeded i resolved it. but i was lucky. if the depression had been any greater i might not have been able to muster the energy to do it. depression, the great iceberg in front of you that you can't see because it's always been there... or wait, wasn't that an elephant?

whatever :) i'm happy right now, and learning, and trying to figure out ways to learn more - and seeing pathways into a future. hey, with all the environmental shit happening, might not be much of a future, but either way, i'll be prepared for it.

smooches to ridor and his poor knee.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

fun on tuesdays

yeah last night jen-fu came over (tuesday used to be buffy night. now it's will and grace slash jp night. go figure.) had to post her dating advice:

On the first date, don't be too serious. Be light and fun. Be "Oh, you like magazines? I LOVE magazines!" You're trying to get to see if you feel comfortable with each other. Don't be deep. Deep is for later. Be magazines.


ADDENDUM: seems Jen-Fu didn't come up with Magazine Analogy on her own; she was watching Will and Grace when i left the room and developed Magazine Analogy whilst drinking Elixir du Dr. Rosy or whatever that green thing was called...