Well, first off it’s midterms.
No, wait, that’s not why I like the weekend. (Though I am actually looking forward to ASL midterms…!!!) It’s fall break too. I only get a couple of days off, but it makes a world of a difference, because I need to get some homework done, because of all the fun I’ve had lately…
Last night, I carpooled with a ASL classmate to the Deaf Assoc. Game Night. I’m glad we carpooled, though I’m perfectly capable of driving myself, because we got lost. We’d never been in that part of town before, and it wasn’t the greatest part…We got lost, somehow ended up in a dead end behind a Goodwill and near a jail, I believe it was. And the county warehouse. I’d never seen it before. Neither had she. So she called her husband (see, if it were me, I’d have been like permanently lost). “Um, where are we, and where are we going, and how can we get there?” Waited for his computer to load MapQuest, finally 10 minutes later we were on our way. It was dark by now. We would be fashionably late. I read the signs while she navigated the roads…our street came up suddenly, and I said, here it is, turn left! She veered left (wow, can she navigate her little car…that’s one thing I’m not mentioning to Mom and Dad). We thought we were lost again…but then I remembered it was on 40th, and we were still on 42nd. Plus we reasoned, all the cars in the street were probably for the game night too. We found it! It was an actual building, rather run down, too, but it had a simple sign out front. We were so excited, we made it! But boy, was J. nervous (she was the one who drove).
“I’m about to throw up…I’m so nervous! I don’t know why I’m nervous!” (her) “We got lost, we finally made it, and I’m not going to let you back out now!” (I said jokingly). We walked in, and signed in. What struck me most was (I know this is obvious, but bear with me) I saw noise. But it was absolutely silent. It was a bit disconcerting. All these people talking, I should be overwhelmed by now! I’m usually bewildered in crowd situations like this, “what the heck is going on…?” sort of thing. But no. For the first time in my life, I could socialize easily in a large group of people. That felt so SO nice…a on the top of the world feeling! It was an amazing experience, if it were that alone. Wow. This is what it’s like for hearing people…wow!
I met a lady whom I had very falteringly communicated with at my old job (a restaurant). Then, she didn’t speak as well, and I could hardly sign. Now, she is taking voice lessons with J., and now I am in ASL III. Everybody socialized for an hour, then we played games for an hour. Finally my ASL teacher came, with his parents and one of his siblings, during the game times, and J. and I felt a little sigh of relief…we’re no longer strangers in a strange land. We know him, and he knows everybody else. The boundaries started to cease.
My table, we played some sort of game I forgot the name of (it started with an S, that much I know), but we kept getting sidetracked, signing away to each other. It was awesome being able to play a game in a group, and understanding the side conversations without going “What? What?” all the time. I could carry on a meaingful conversation (within the large boundaries of my vocab) for once in my life, in a social situation like this. Wow.
After an hour of failing to complete a full game, the facilitator at 9 said to stop and clean up, and this signalled the depature of some people. But many lingered, chatting for two more hours. At least, J and I did. Others lingered even more. I found out my ASL teacher’s family is very very nice. By this time I was quite adept at explaining my mini life story. (parents found out I was deaf at 2, raised hearing, etc etc). His mom said it was never to late to learn sign, she was glad I was doing so at all, in a very happy way. His dad asked a few questions, he didn’t speak much. His younger sister was great too…I was never that well-adjusted at that age.
Teacher then introduced me to several people (to whom I also had to explain a little bit of myself, like my major, etc), telling them how proud he was of me (with a slightly red face) and I thanked him, a little bewildered…why was he so proud of me? Maybe he considers me to be the best student in class? I’m not quite sure, but I do know that I pick up on signs rapidly, I mean, sign language just makes sense to me (as well as English). And the other students regularly ask me what the sign for such and such was (75% of the time I remember the sign, or can figure out the cryptic drawings in the book). And for my signed speech in class (again, life story) he said I had a good flow. So, I’m guessing he’s referring to that?
Side note: Whenever I do a speech of any sort, I talk very fast because I’m nervous. It turns out I can sign fast, too when I’m nervous.
Anyway, there were small groups of conversations around me, and I could, again, for once in my life, look around and catch a bit of a conversation here, another one there, etc. That was amazing. I keep saying how amazing it was. Usually I’m exhausted and frustrated by now. I wasn’t. Sure, I didn’t know all the vocab yet, but I could get about as much through sign as I can through hearing in a small group of people. Maybe 75% of all words. Which is awesome! If I can understand this much now, just wait until after ASL 5!
I had been wondering about BlackBerries for a while. My best friend is probably going to get one, just because of all the extra stuff on it. And I wanted to see what it can do. So I asked Teacher’s dad if he could tell me anything about them, and he referred me to Teacher, who showed me several of the functions. I think, when my plan runs out, I will get a BB. 1 1/2 more years! It’s worth the $30 a month, to me. It would be nice to be able to talk to people using a QWERTY board and not a stupid texting numbers thingy. It’s slow. It was wonderful, but now to me it just seems slow.
Then I spoke with him and this other guy whom I’d met before, he’s the deaf museum tour guide, about just random stuff. Like how busy I was, that I’m a student senator now, taking 18 credits, work 20 hrs a week, honors student, etc etc, Found out tour guide was once student president at Gallaudet. I said I wanted to try to be a visiting student at Gallaudet, but it depends on scholarships. If going means losing scholarhsip, then I can’t go. But maybe I could go in summer depending on what courses they offer. Teacher said that Gallaudet would probably give me money.
I also explained how, as student senator, I can plan events, and that I want to do a Deaf Day. I explained why (several teachers have thought deaf = dumb… “do you need to take your test in another room?” And that they seem surprised when they find out I’m an honors student. They both nodded, they knew exactly what I meant, and that felt very freeing to me. I explained other things, and for once, whey others nod, I know they’re not merely sympathizing, but they actually know. I asked tour guide if he’d be interested in coming to speak for us, that my plan is still in its very early stage of “thinking about it” and he would be glad to come and speak. I told him that I heard that he was trying to raise money to get the museum a building to itself, and that I’m hoping to maybe at the same time raise money for it. and both he and Teacher was happy to hear that.
Anyway, we mingled for two more hours. I got to talk to Teacher’s mom for a period of time, about homeschooling, (she thought about it for teacher once) and explained my life story in a little more depth, and why my parents raised me hearing (because doctor said I’d never amount to anything–no speaking, hearing, reading, writing, etc). and that now I’m enjoying ASL classes, etc. It was a nice conversation, and near the end she said ” I love you”, in a proud way as well. That caught me off guard. First teacher, and now her? To me, I’m not really…I don’t want to sound churlish or stupid, but I don’t really understand why.
I had told my mom I would be home by 11. J and I tried to leave at 10, but stopped to talk some more. Same at 10:15, 10:30, 10:45…until finally 11 we left for good. I had texted my mom I was having fun and would be a little late. Whew, at least she understood 🙂 Today at breakfast she asked me if I was identifying with the Deaf culture, ’cause i kept gushing about the game night, and I wasn’t sure how to answer that safely, so I just said it was a lot of fun. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. But yes, I am identifying with the Deaf culture. It is amazing what it did for my self-esteem. Like I told a lot of people, it was nice to come and see people like me, since I don’t meet many Deaf people! And they nodded, they truly knew what I was talking about.
I could go on, but I’ll stop for now. It’s late, and I got only 4 1/2 hrs of sleep last night, because I worked all day today, then I went over to my best friend’s house after work. And Mass is tomorrow morning, and I have two papers due, etc etc.. But they invited me to another gathering that was tonight, but unfortunatley, I had already promised my friend. I really wanted to go. But I got my teacher to promise to keep me updated on future gatherings. Now I know where the clubhouse is, I can drive myself.
Part of me is hoping I’ll meet a nice, cute Deaf guy at these gatherings. Somebody a lot like my teacher. But then again there’s this senator guy. I will talk more about this really nice guy who’s cute and nice and helpful and shy…but that’s really confusing right now. I’m not sure about it. I’m not sure he’s sure, either. I think maybe he’s unsure about my being deaf, how to not be rude or something, I’m not sure.
Um, I feel a vise creeping around my head. I will be going to bed now. ttyl. I really enjoyed the game night. I was afraid some people would get cliquish, but no, they were very welcoming. Perhaps it was because I understood their signs pretty well? Anyway, I’m discovering my Deaf identity 🙂