Random Sounds

Some random rambling about sounds I’ve heard lately. Nothing too exciting but maybe it’ll illustrate how even after all these months I’m still getting used to environmental sounds.

—I was over at Seth’s the other night with Jimmy and Dennis. Seth cooked us dinner (yum!). The 4 of us were in the living room eating dinner when I heard what I thought was water running. I was a bit confused because we were all in the living room and thought I had misidentified the sound. I started to look around and then I realized I was hearing rainfall on Planet Earth on TV.

—On my way home last night I had to stop at a train crossing for a very long and slow train. I kept waiting to hear the train whistle since I hadn’t heard it close up with the CI yet. It about blew me out of my seat. Let’s just say I quickly learned that I really don’t like the sound of a train whistle from 15 feet away. By the 3rd whistle I took the CI off until I was sure there would be no more whistles from that distance. I then put it back on just in time to hear the “low gas” chime which made me jump a few inches since I was still recovering from the train whistle.

–It’s been fascinating to me how different voices sound especially on a TV show when you have multiple people talking. I do have to say that people who make commercials know what they’re doing. I definitely look up more often when a commercial comes on vs a TV show because of the voices. I think the most annoying voices up to this point are newscasters for some reason.

–Another thing I’ve noticed when I listen to my iTouch is that sometimes when I try to guess which song I’m listening to….I get the song wrong but I get the musician correct. There have been a few times where I think I’m listening to the beginning of a certain song then I realize I don’t recognize the song but when I go to check what song it is….I have the correct musician.

Bambi

Bambi.

I can’t remember ever seeing this movie all the way through with captions. Part of that reason is because of my personality.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a big movie person in general. It’s not often I finish movies in one sitting unless I’m with a group of friends and I have no other choice. 🙂

Another reason is because watching Bambi without captions was one of the first times I clearly remember feeling completely excluded.

I was 4 or 5 years old when Bambi was re-released in the theaters. I happened to be with my uncle and aunt when they decided to see this movie with their 3 daughters (my cousins). Two of them were older than me and one was younger than me.

I remember slightly dreading going to see this movie. Even at a young age I knew it wouldn’t be captioned. Then on top of that I knew I would be expected to sit there quietly in the dark for an hour and half.

Rent a cartoon movie you have never seen and try to lipread cartoon characters without the sound on….then tell me how much you enjoyed the storyline. 😉 Cartoon characters are a bit impossible to lipread when you have no auditory input.

The thing I never understood when I was young was why people didn’t grasp the concept of how important captions were to me. I think they felt that the age of 4-5 that I should just be learning how to read and that there was no way I could read the captions. Wrong! 🙂

I figured they thought I would be able to enjoy it because it was so visual. I decided to try that approach. It didn’t help that I was one of those kids who would bounce off walls if you let me, I liked to multi-task, and I liked movies with lots of things going on. Bambi was a bit slow paced. For me to enjoy slow-paced movies as a kid I really needed to know the storyline for it to keep my attention.

I looked up to my cousins and I knew they were excited about this movie. I knew my aunt and uncle wanted to include me with their family outing and thought this would be something I would enjoy. I decided to just go with the flow and try to make the most out of it.

By the end of the movie….I felt so excluded. I couldn’t understand the storyline. I couldn’t follow my cousins’ conversations about it afterward. All I remember is that I didn’t want to see a movie in the theater again for a long time. I didn’t want to make my aunt and uncle feel bad because I knew this was a treat so I was trying to act like I enjoyed some of it.

One thing I do remember.

My favorite character in that movie was not Bambi who was all of my friends’ favorite character….my favorite character was:

THUMPER!

I loved that little guy. Every time I became frustrated at trying to stay quiet, sit still, and watch a movie I couldn’t understand….Thumper was always there to make me smile.


The little guy had the cutest facial expressions, cute little nose that twitched, was full of energy, and of course I loved when he would thump his back foot.

That was always kind of my approach when I knew I would find myself in a situation where I might feel excluded. I would find something small that I found entertaining. The thing is that this approach gave me an unique perspective on things. I saw things that no one else saw.

The Pink Elephant in the Room

I have always been a bit wary about posting some of my childhood experiences with extended family members. The LAST thing I want to do is hurt my family’s feelings….when that is not my intention. I just don’t want what I’m saying to be taken out of context.

I also feel it’s important for me to say how I feel because I’ve always felt like I had to hide how I was feeling and just put a big old smile on my face no matter how I was feeling.

Now that I am older, I am more aware of what I could have done differently myself in terms of breaking down communication barriers with relatives. I’m still not always sure what the best way to go about doing this is.

I guess honestly in a way I do avoid communicating with some extended family members because I felt rejected as a young child when I tried different ways to break down communication barriers with some relatives. Now that I am older I understand they were just uncomfortable with doing things differently which is human nature. I understand a bit better that I was probably the only deaf person they interacted with and most of them lived in small towns where there weren’t deaf people. Since I only saw them a couple of times a year…that meant they were thrown off whenever they saw me and didn’t know what to do with me.

I do put up walls when it comes to communicating with some family members because I have been hurt in the past when trying to break those barriers down. I know they didn’t mean to make me feel hurt and they probably didn’t even realize it. However, there is nothing more hurtful than trying to gesture, use my speech, and write back/forth with a relative…then seeing how uncomfortable they look around me and watching them walk off without trying to reply back because I put them out of their comfort zone. Also when they seemed frustrated with me because I couldn’t understand them the first time they said something to me.

That. Hurts.

Especially when you’re just a kid and you don’t fully understand how someone can say they love you and give you hugs….then they become uncomfortable when you try to communicate with them. They don’t call you on your birthday like they call all other family members. They don’t ask you about your dreams for the future but they ask everyone else. When they don’t bother to take the time to tell you where they’re going when you’re out for a ride with them. When they don’t feel comfortable receiving relay phone calls from you. When they get frustrated with you because your speech is not clear and you didn’t catch what they said the first time. When they won’t even tap you on your shoulders to let you know they’re talking to you. When they haven’t seen you in a year and they won’t contact you when they’re visiting the city you live in.

I do regret that I put up these walls and I have been trying to figure out the best way to go about tearing down these defensive walls of my own. Since I graduated from graduate school and moved back home…things have gotten better. Family members have tried to talk directly to me and they seem more aware of things like 1) only 30-35% of the English language is readable on the lips 2) tapping me on my shoulders to get my attention 3) more comfortable writing back and forth with me. This last past year and half has probably been the most positive interactions I’ve had with some extended family members.

I think a big reason for that is that I’ve been trying to get rid of the Pink Elephant in the room. I finally realized a few years ago that just because they have known me, a deaf person, for 26 years doesn’t mean they really know what being deaf is about. I’ve always felt like they were uncomfortable asking me questions because they didn’t want to insult me or say the wrong thing. They cared about me and were afraid of hurting my feelings in that way which is a bit ironic because by taking that approach they were hurting my feelings in other ways.

I have noticed that the more I open up about my cochlear implant, life experiences as a deaf person, tips (e.g. tapping my shoulders to get my attention), etc. The more comfortable they have became with me and that Pink Elephant has slowly been disappearing.

Don’t get me wrong. The Pink Elephant is still there but it’s not as visible….however….for the first time I feel like it is slowly starting become less visible. It seems like for the first time that some relatives are starting to become more comfortable around me and they’re more comfortable asking me questions they’ve always been curious about life as a deaf person.

I have learned that the best way to get to know family members is not at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any big gatherings. Rather, the best way is to meet up with a couple of them for lunch. It makes it much easier for both sides to communicate with each other instead of when there’s chaos going on and there’s a large group of people.

One of my new year’s resolution is to start asking family members if they want to go out for a quick lunch…a couple of them at a time after all the holiday craziness is over with…and just get through the holiday gatherings for now. It makes a world of difference when I’m with just a couple of them at a time rather than feeling completely lost at family gatherings.