About Loud Dishwashers and Quiet Strength

handsigns_K“Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence.” Leonardo da Vinci

 

Well now, I hope that da Vinci is right, because the world around me seems to believe and behave otherwise. If I had time this morning, I would figure out what the sound level of my dishwasher is right now. At the moment, my house is silent other than

1: the dishwasher – a noisy one. Very noisy.

2: my dog Paul and the clinking of his dog tag on my feet. and

3: the pleasant chatter of NPR news which I’ve got at a low-level to keep me company and on task.

I’m pretty sure that I can also hear our dog Lennon chomping on some breakfast as well.

Probably this sound mix seems relaxing to some, boring, or maybe annoying as crap to others. My youngest son LOVES noise – he makes a lot of it, and feels anxious if he’s not surrounded by a clashing mix of various people and media streams. Oh, I think that most of us like the IDEA of silence – and maybe even envy those of us who are quiet and highly sensitive souls. I’ll let you research the statistics yourself, and they certainly are out there. Our world is getting louder. Commercials, radios, classrooms, churches, grocery stores. You name it. All of the day to day places we go to have been proven (in first world type of settings) to be really, really loud anymore. So with that in mind, indulge me as I start sharing some tough crap I’m up against of late.

I can’t be the authority of everything I want to control and change – and I can’t perfectly manage my sound environment – after all, I’m not cloistered and I’ve not yet taken a vow of silence. But I LOVE what Da Vinci says, and I want to switch his quote up to something more personal:

“Nothing can, nor has ever strengthened my authority better than silence.”

And, on the flip side – lore has it that the reason VanGogh cut his ear off is not because he1959461_10153074983048810_36322649183088841_n was insane, it was because he had tinnitus – sound that is not sound. It’s fake noise that is created by the brain of someone who is hard of hearing or deaf. It can be related to a lot of things – injury, stress, a reaction to environmental sound, tight jaw muscles, and from what I can tell – it always involves an out of the norm auditory system or event.

I still don’t know why it is true, but I found out a year ago that my hearing status, for now in one ear, is permanently out of the normal range. That may not sound (pun intended) like a big deal, but it really is. It’s a very big deal for me. What I’m up against isn’t as clear as the typical getting older and starting to hear less clearly.

Strangely enough, it is the symptoms that come with what ever is going on in my auditory system that is, I have to say, kind of maddening at times. And what I have going on isn’t even in the ball park of what many hard of hearing and Deaf folks go through. Thankfully, this isn’t my first unexpected life rodeo ride, so for the most part, it’s not too hard to take in stride. world has ended many times I read this morning that one way to deal with tangled feelings from our past is to accept our limitations as deeply and quickly as we can when these limitations become clear. I agree for the most part – I’m a fan of facing the truth, even when it sucks.

So, in a few weeks if at my 6 month hearing test the truth is that my hearing status is the same mild and mysterious scenario, my body is still going to keep telling me: things just are not right. If the ENT is dismissive and says again, “we don’t know what’s going on, there is nothing we can do yet, come back in another six months,” how should I respond?

The discomfort of constant ear pressure and the annoyance of mild tinnitus that I deal with 24/7, again, is nothing compared to many others. I am getting to know a lot of great people who have profoundly difficult symptoms such as frequent vertigo or severe tinnitus. Many of them can’t work, and many of them work anyway…how, I’m not yet sure.

I do know this:

I adore American Sign Language (ASL). It’s not just fun (which it is), it’s not just cute (which it can be) it IS – well, it is indescribably in written word. Because it’s not – it’s not English, and it isn’t written. It is something that we DO and SEE.

It is the BEST language ever, and I would say the same if my hearing was top notch. It conveys feeling, thought, time, time, space, story, history, and details in a way that no other language will ever be able to do.

So, “God willing, if the creek don’t flood,” hopefully between now and mid-April,  I will have the courage to face this ongoing physical limitation by allowing myself to reflect on these difficult questions and not feel ashamed of the resulting fears and anxieties that are about as normal as normal can be.

I’m out of time and brain juice to figure out a way to transition what I’m saying to a recommendation to read these two articles from a friend – so I’ll just add them as a Post Script here. They are all about the topic of this blog: grace.

Take care, and be warm, Kate

10429303_10153075073858810_8420602525960782671_nStaying open to Grace: http://wp.me/p3gSTz-T2

When ‘Happily Ever After’ Meets Life’s Hardships: http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/when-happily-ever-after-meets-lifes-hardships/

A Super Duper Beautiful poem: http://youtu.be/9GdawG7CBNo

 

 

 

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Attendance Please is Going to Change….

Dear Subscribed Attendance Please readers,

Good morning!

20131014-062918.jpg

I know that there is just a handful of subscribed readers for my blog, but I wanted to say, first of all

Thanks.

This blog hobby was a wonderful companion after I moved and I appreciate that there are those who were willing to not only put up with, but support my ramblings and rants by way of subscribing to my posts by email.

I want to let you in on some thinking that I’m doing right now and am requesting your input.

Some time in the next few months I am either going to start a new blog and attach it to a website, or….

I’m going to transition this one into a slightly different focus than when I began.

Originally I named the Blog “Attendance Please” based on the idea that to experience God’s grace, we need to pay attention to where it is going on in our life. I wanted it to not only be ecumenical, but not particularly religious unless I was in the mood to write about religion. When I look at my posts I can see proof of the many ways that I drive my family insane some days. They are all over the place and the topics often don’t connect at all. Sometimes I will read an old post and have NO idea what was going that I went on that tangent and wonder why anyone would have interest in trying to follow my thinking if even I am not keeping it straight.

As my friend Betty used to say: “Make not no matter.”

The point has been, thus far, to force myself to reflect and to jot down some of my thoughts in opinions in hopes that others will take a minute to slow down, put our thinking caps and take collective big, deep breath.

Soon though, I am going to transition what I’ve started here to a more specific topic. If that doesn’t make sense or isn’t working – I might just start from scratch.

I would like to focus what I write specifically to something that is about communication between the hearing world and that of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing world. I want to make it interesting and generalized – and really, pretty much the same as this one which is about paying attention. I want it to include information and examples of where and why tensions exist between the hearing and deaf world. And – I want to share with you how everything that I’ve been trying to say here about being reflective and attentive already exists in spades in the world of those who happened to also be Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

I am very lucky to have started my studies in Sign Language Interpreting with Deaf Culture classes. Before I even began American Sign Language 1 this fall, my mind was blasted wide open last Spring by learning the history of oppression toward the deaf. This oppression continues to be wide-spread and I couldn’t be more surprised.

So, please do let me know if there are any opinions out there about what type of blog and/or website would be of interest to you.

I am particularly interested in feed back from hearing people because you are the audience that I don’t want to lose.

I am confident that I can build and wonderfully large and supportive following from the ASL and deaf world – it’s the choir preaching to me and I couldn’t feel more at home amongst my new friends. But, what I want to come of it, even if it turns out that I only have time for a blog post here and there…what I want to come of either transitioning Attendance Please or starting a new project, is an appreciation on the part of the hearing world that Deaf culture is wonderful and rich. The deaf and hard of hearing are worthy of our attention as a hearing majority and as I have already said, I couldn’t be more shocked that prejudice and oppression continues toward those who have hearing loss. I’m aware that these days, most of the time the offenses are based on ignorance, but I kind of thought that we had evolved a bit since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act a few short years ago.

So – that’s what I’m up to and again, I’m very interested in input on if you think that:

1: This blog has potential to just be tweaked into a hearing + deaf world conversation that encourages and exemplifies the benefits of being reflective.

Or.

2: A fresh start would be just the ticket.

Thanks again for your support – don’t go away please!

peace, Kate

More on Thorton Wilder and Self Appointed Sins

imageI know nothing,

except what everyone knows –

if there when Grace dances,

I should dance. ~ W.H. Auden

(image above from This Quiet Lady by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrations by Anita Lobel)

Spoiler alert #1: This post is initially about sad stuff.
Spoiler alert #2: Life is being particularly good to me right now, so I’m not sitting down in order to write a “dark night of the soul” blog post.

So, here it is.

I have a friend who is dying of brain cancer.

She is a college friend with whom I’ve kept up only a little bit over the years. Originally, our acquaintance was that we shared a best friend and became housemates at the busiest (and best!) part of my favorite. four years. ever.

Without searching messages, I have to guess that it was a year (or less) ago that this common best friend had to notify me that a grim diagnosis had been given to our former housemate. The news really came out of the blue. Her story is similar to others who have been touched by this shocking form of cancer. Our friend had a headache one day, and a few short months later she is now home saying her last goodbyes to her children and adored husband.

So, when I sat down to write last week, and was imagining K.’s children spending their summer break watching her pass on, Thorton Wilder quotes were a kind of obvious (to me anyway) place of comfort and wisdom for me.

It’s safe to assume that if you are an American following or stopping by my little blog you have seen Thorton’s play Our Town. It is a favorite of High School and Community theaters for a reason.

It has the best theater lines, ever.

I mean – ever.

I am biased and my reasons are of course personal, but I mean it.

I would offer to turn this post into a place of debate or discussion, but I hate debate and my opinion is not up for ransom or reason. I’m not a jerk though, so feel free to leave comments as I am on summer break (wiggles in her seat) and have time for lively discussion.

So.

The conversations between Emily and The Stage Manager (the lead characters of the show) contain the safest and best theater words for me because they remind me of the enchanted parts of my childhood.  My father was an actor, director and teacher and I was his shadow. Literally. As in, Dad couldn’t shake me from his side until my brother broke the rules and taught me how to cross the street alone. At this point I started wandering the streets of our little city and making friends my own age.

So, lucky I am indeed to have shared the stage with my father on the weekend that he retired from his favorite stage. Mind you, these are floorboards that he spent the most time on as a student, theatre professional, husband, and father. He turned 80 this year, so I would guess that time span to be something like 50 or 60 years, give or take a summer season elsewhere here and there.

We were part of a medley of theater scenes during a reunion show, and part of our daughter/father “I love you” ‘s were exchanged in the form of my playing Emily and he the Stage Manager in Wilder’s tender “Good-bye Scene.”

But still – had I been raised by a biologist and my best skill set turned out to be bee-keeping, I would still believe that (with due respect to the Shakespeare) Emily’s good-bye is the most relatable “to be or not to be” string of words out there.

All good theater is good because the script is about life, death, love and hate. Most likely, the writer created an entertaining time travel to all four corners of human experience and wrapped the story up with a bow at the end.

Even good existential shows wrap up at the end – it’s just a tricky “un-bow” kind of curtain call.

What makes the pleading questions that Emily asks of the Stage Manager so perfect is that the joy and pain that she describes can’t be contained by cultural and historical context. Of course her character works well for me because I am a white girl having been raised by a mid-western father, so a white picket fence story is what I know and the life I cherish.

But, context aside, in Our Town, when the character Emily is looking at her life, and struggling with having passed on as a very young woman, her self-doubt and guilt is not about whether or not she raised good children or was a faithful wife.

And. Her anger at the Stage Manager is not that she died young.

She is upset because she missed out. She failed to acknowledge grace as often as she could.

 

And, with the help of the Stage Manager, her self-appointed sins are absolved as he explains that:

she did what she could, with what she had, in the time that she had to do it.395895_10150596300328810_837678809_8894478_1239777666_n

 

All of which to say, I am VERY thankful for an open window this morning, time to reflect and am reminded to not try so hard.

Last Spring I Became Smitten, and Was Forced into Happiness

Aside

1452562_10152012126498810_283704191_n (1)Did you read the snippet I found on the internet yesterday?

I put it in this post:

Does Change Have to Happen All at Once?

How does change look in your world? This is a topic that my husband and I have always differed on.

Actually. I drive him kind of crazy.

I say no, all at once can be good…but not as a rule.

He says  yes, all at once is the rule…and is good.

Another difference between us is reflected in my unwillingness to talk about this or to have a debate.

I don’t care. Seriously. I have other fish to fry at the moment. If sweeping change is what floats your boat, then keep on truckin’! Bully for you!

Same token, I’ve done some serious thinking of late and have sobered up to the fact that if I don’t grab these last several “working” years that my body will hopefully give me, I will have missed an awesome boat ride indeed.

When we first moved to Iowa I was certain that I was interested in anything that did not include working in a school. My years as a sub, and various teaching jobs of many sizes and colors never left me disappointed in the magic of children or the power of falling in love with an idea or a letter of the alphabet. (Seriously? You’ve not had a conversation or contemplative moment about the bold roundness of the letter “O”? Odd.)

1477677_10152061644043810_1326140848_nI arrived to our new city life sorely let down by the adult world though and it’s bitter, whining approach to what we as educators should feel lucky to be doing each day.

Iowa being a writing mecca, I wrote. Day after day, blog post after blog post. I read, fed the dogs, wrote, deleted, read, fed the kids, and reread my way into being ready to step out the front door and actually talk to people.

And then there was the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, soon after at a religious temple, and shortly after at Sandy Hook.

I went from afraid, to sad, and continue to feel intensely angry about these events.

During that same time period my family was saying: “You seem bored, how about a job?”

No change.

And, “You seem cranky, how about a job?”

No change.

Then, “We can’t take it any more – get a job!”

As luck would have it – a ruby of a job I landed indeed. I’ll spare you the details of how I stumbled into the one I had in the Spring, and the one that I have now – but lucky I am indeed. And, now I know that the computer dying as the spring blossomed was a gift as well.

I had no time or way of processing how happy I was to be working with the hard of hearing Kindergartener for whom I was a communication coach. Being unhappy became a most boring and lonely consideration. Written, or even spoken words not needed.

480201_10151552955388810_1938698632_nI was trapped, smitten, and humbled by his eyelashes, wit, and ornery moves. And, I’m now eagerly re-enrolled in school to help increase the odds that I can keep on working in a series of best jobs ever.

As my cousin said on the phone the other day, “This is my last job, and I plan to make it the one that is the most fun!”

Does Change Have to Happen All at Once?

Aside

“But Gemma, you could change the world.”

“That should take far more than my power,” I say.

“True. But change needn’t happen all at once. It can be small gestures.”

“Moments. Do you understand?” He’s looking at me differently now, though I cannot say how. I only know I need to look away…

We pass by the pools, where the mud larks sift. And for only a few seconds, I let the magic loose again.

“Oi! By all the saints!” a boy cries from the river.

“Gone off the dock?” an old woman calls. The mud larks break into cackles.

“‘S not a rock!” he shouts. He races out of the fog, cradling something in his palm.

Curiosity gets the better of the others. They crowd about trying to see. In his palm is a smattering of rubies. “We’re rich mates! It’s a hot bath and a full belly for every one of us!”

Kartik eyes me suspiciously. “That was a strange stroke of good fortune.”

“Yes it was.”

“I don’t suppose that was your doing.”

“I’m not sure I don’t know what you mean,” I say.

And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”
―     Libba Bray,     The Sweet Far Thing

 

 

 

The Thing is: Grace Can’t Be Earned

Aside

Hi.

Just a couple of notes on which to end my weekend.

1: another awesome definition of grace.

2: overdue update to let you know that my vision is doing great and I am very, very relieved.

About number one on my list: my mother was famously all about the reality of God’s grace in her midst. She died several summers ago, but I know she would be okay with me describing her life as fueled by the pursuit of grace, especially in the last several years of her journey.

I think, but there is no way for me know, that she would pull one of her trademarked celebrations which was to throw her hands in the air and yell: “YES!” if I said that she defined grace as

unexpected joy

For certain, I nodded my head this morning when our new pastor said,

“And the great thing is that grace can not be earned.
It just can’t be earned.”

~ Fr. Chuck Adams

It’s true…it’s more like, well, what my mom said in my mind just now : unexpected joy.

So I guess that my number one turned out to be a definition with a bonus quote that tells us what grace is not.

And, about number two: I think that in one of my last posts I mentioned that I was having a lot of issues with my sight last winter. Wow. I should look back at that, but I’m pooped from Father’s day celebrating.

The good news is that my sight is now great. I hope I didn’t lead to any worry by not writing this spring! I went from only being able to read at length by way of large print to having almost perfect vision. I have one more cataract to remove at some point in the future, and it is possible that it will be my fourth but LAST eye surgery. Whoop!

The surgeon who removed my cataract was spot on in that my lazy eye corrected itself quickly after having the cataract removed that she described as “debilitating”. In addition, she is not overly concerned about me having glaucoma, so she escorted me along my way.

Great news huh? I’m here to tell you that the process of my eye muscle hopping my peeper back into place (it would jiggle and strain as it was trying to adjust) was no walk down Mark Twain Lane.

Yet…it’s done and I am increasingly joyful at the unexpected joy that grace brought my way this spring.

Lucky Girl am I

family 005

Psalm 96:7-10
New International Version (NIV)

7 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.

The next couple of weeks mark a couple of important anniversaries for me. The first one is that today is my mother’s birthday. The other is that our youngest son was born eleven years ago, as of this month.

This youngest son asks frequently which ancestor he is more “like.” He has so many great shoes to fill, so I try to down play the question when I can and apply the “Free to Be You and Me” values that my brother and I were raised by:

(Hedging what I’m really thinking) :

 

“Well, let’s see. When Uncle Mike was your age he would have been complaining just like you did a minute ago about only having a hand full over friends over to play rather than the entire dah – gum neighborhood. Go get dressed, we’ll talk about this later”.

What I often think when this one

behaves, misbehaves, entertains and confounds me is:

“Good Lord this one reminds me so much of mom.”

Here is where I’m coming from: outlandish, outspoken, gregarious to a fault most days, ready to debate to the death if it is an issue they value, and expansive at a minimum. They both are, and were the kind of smart that frustrates a kid because he is, and she was the type of child who stays in constant motion. I don’t mean hyper energy as often as the kind which is about finding a personal dance groove while the rest of the world is saying “line up time.”

As a matter of fact just yesterday after school he was relieved about the ending of another school week and was doing a little shimmy in the front seat of the van and telling me to watch, but not really watch. (“Like it or not mom, I’m a preteen now.”)

Payback for having gained those sort of “watching while not watching” skills with his brothers was that after we got home, out there kind of guy that he is, he called me aside to showed me the exact dance move that he used in gym yesterday. I was impressed actually. He also said that they are currently doing basketball, so I said a quick Hail Mary for his young gym teacher and went back to wandering in circles around unfinished chores.

Just a minute ago, while grabbing some food for same said kid, I got to thinking:

Maybe it’s not that they are so much alike, although they are…

maybe it’s that this youngest son and my favorite mom draw me out of myself in the same way.

 

Both of their high fives tend to be all enthusiasm and not very critical. When they feel successful in getting me out “there,” wherever “there” may be – they tend to have a party of their own in the wings so I get a quick “woo hoo” and off they go.

I like that.

The photo above is of me and our neighbor. Pretty gal isn’t she? Lucky girl was, and still am I. Agreed?

Defining Grace Two: Let It Be Me

During the American Presidential election debates, I became increasingly angry.

Ouch. (Rubbing my ears.) Yes, I just heard the “so was I” shouts and moans.Ever wish you could just romp and call it a day?

In my case, I’d never watched a political debate in my life. My parents, and then my husband did the watching and grousing up until this year. Until this year, my attitude has been:

What could be fun about worrying that the candidate I oppose is the fool who will lead my sons for four, maybe even eight years?

With this election, those eight years take our January baby right into adulthood. So, hearing the careless, utterly wrong and jacked up feather fluffing of the candidate I oppose went straight to my mom brain and has me sleepless with worry once again.

This blog is not about politics, so don’t leave me now, as this post will stay non-partisan and will get to my point in a few scroll clicks.

Oh “hell’s bells” as my mother would say, I’ll just get to the point now, and if you have time to read my longer than usual post, feel free to scroll and read on.

Are you ready?

The process of trying to experience grace has more than once, more than twice, even more than thrice made me mad. Very, very mad.

But, life has taught me that the only way through is not around or under these speed bumps, but to ramp those suckers and hope for the best. ~ Kate

After I got a few sentences into this post the other day I started thinking about when might have been the first time I felt the effects of trying to ram rod good to happen in my life. I found myself being little in my mind’s eye. How old are little girls when they first try the “he loves me, loves me not?” game of pulling daisy pedals off one at a time to learn the “truth” by way of an empty flower stem?

Young. That’s for sure.

I remember sitting on our front porch stoop and being irate that the damn flower didn’t work. Who knows if the object of my heart was “Fonzie”, or the handsome dudes on the T.V. show “Emergency,” or the acting student at my father’s work that ‘I could die for.’ Maybe it was the 5th grade dream boat that declared his crush on me with a Grape Ape Shrinky Dink, only to be too shy to deal with teasing as we continued to pass notes in class.

At any rate – that is what trying to jam prayers, hopes…dreams into the God funnel feels like. It’s like a little girl who did

every

single

thing right,

including trying a few more flowers and cheating by counting the pedals or accidentally on purpose plucking two to get the “he loves me” right on cue. For some reason what I remember about that day is that I plucked my little heart out, and what made me so angry is that I said to myself:

One more. Try just one more.

And the stupid thing landed on “he loves me not.”

Hopefully I went inside the house and had a cold glass of Tang and then skipped off to some other more productive activity.

But, isn’t that what wanting to throw things at a news clip of a debate is like? In the end, what upset me the most about the debates was the hyper active predictions, and re-predictions, and conflation about who won which debate and why. I’m actually a pretty big fan of social media for the sake of what it can do for good. I figure that this is where we are…many are living and breathing and believing all that is online – so grab that communication tool and promote what deserves to be promoted and try to ignore the rest.

But Good God Almighty! The concept that a news headline, or political leaning of a news channel is what decides the winner of a Presidential debate is Cray and Zee in my world. I’m not mad at the media, they are feeding us the Hostess treats we ask for…and repeating it every nanosecond because our attention spans have become that short.

Maybe the issue for me is that I had good parents and was raised to somehow know that lousy daisy pedal odds or not, my voice counts, but only if I use it.

So, use it I am…trying anyway. I’m retweeting and praying and going to rallys and signing up to give out water to the good people who are running the voting (not prediction!) polls. I launched a get out the female vote pumpking carving #GoVote TweetAThon with me, myself and I. It made absolutely no sense, but did burn off a lot of worry and impressed the heck out of said ten-year old son when lit up in our dark family room.

...tragedy, comedy, and anxiety

…tragedy, comedy, and anxiety

So, I mentioned in the previous post is that my plan is to come up with five definitions of grace, and to pass on a song that touches me in connection to that pondering. Here goes:

Grace is about being a mad hatter.

Grace is when you wipe out your mother’s garden and STILL have no luck with getting the cooties.

Grace is that the television you threw your slippers at was the 200 pound NotSoFlat screen and that you remembered to say You Rotten JackWagon! rather than…..

Grace is just that. It’s graceful!

And the music? Ray LaMontange and his song Let It Be Me. I close my eyes and try to imagine Jesus himself rowing me in a boat…and some times I am calm. Off to listen again.

Bye for now, Kate.