Random Thoughts and Musings by moi

Musings by a feisty, opinionated Deaf gal who wants nothing but the best for her community and her people

lundi 3 juillet 2006

So how was NAD, you ask?

“So how was NAD?”

I’ve been asked this many, many times since my return from Palm Desert. Short answer? It was amazing. It was good. A longer answer isn’t easy, because there were so many things that happened, so many impressions and feelings, and so many snippets that I could share. This was my first time at NAD, so everything was new and fascinating to me.

Let the snippets begin! *grin*

A friend commented to me how many memories were flooding back because of all the old faces she was seeing, and that led me to say, “Am I dying? My life is flashing before my eyes!” At her startled gasp, I chuckled and said, “Hey, if I am, this is a great way to go!” Seriously, I had absolutely NO idea I knew this many people!! I was pleased to see so many young faces, because NAD needs young people like us to survive. Apparently this is the first time in decades this many young ’uns have flocked to a NAD convo. This could be a real turn-around for NAD, especially since I’m hearing that quite a few people are planning on attendin’ N’Awlins in 2008. It was wonderful talking to people I hadn’t seen in years. Some of the conversations were hit-and-run, while others were more in depth and thoughtful. What struck me was how many people were genuinely interested in how I was doing. It was wonderful talking to people, seeing old faces, spending time with dear ones who don’t live locally, and making new friends.

The ASL Tribute Friday night was very interesting. For others’ opinions and in depth descriptions, go here and here. The quality of the skits/stories varied dramatically and the event went on for hours and hours. I personally think the organizers would’ve been smart to cull out the higher-quality wheat from the chaff and kept it brief. Even if the show were only an hour long, people would walk away lauding our beautiful language. In fact, I came up with an ASL poem to describe the evening - all using the “B” handshape. ALL-NIGHT, SPEAK, SPEAK, TURN, TURN, ALMOST-FALL-ASLEEP, TRY-TO-WAKE UP, ALMOST-FALL-ASLEEP. (I confess. This is when a video blog would come in handy.) Vikee Waltrip’s parody of a hearing teacher teaching her elementary-age students how to sign the Pledge of Allegiance was beyond hilarious and dead-on accurate. Bernard Bragg said something beautiful about the recent fissures in our community. He pointed out that we are all “J-U-S-T DEAF,” which is exactly what deafhood is all about, and what I’ve believed for years.. Terrylene Sacchetti treated us to a story... and then some. She was wearing a low-cut top and appeared to have gained twenty pounds in the chest. She was practically popping out the entire time, and I could not focus on what she was saying, because all I wanted to do was rush on stage and tuck a hanky around her bosom to spare her potential embarrassment. The men around me were all spellbound, grinning grins of pure pleasure, and deliriously happy. Up next was Chuck Baird. All he did was wander around the stage in a bathrobe, go into a few rants, sit down, stand up, and walk around again. His nipple was revealed in his odd bumbling across the stage, and believe me, it was nothing to ooh and aah about. I muttered, “Gee. The straight guys get to drool over Terrylene and we women get what?? THIS?” *sigh* It was interesting overall, but I confess to being glad it was over after more than three hours.

The guy who scheduled the FSSA workshop and the first Deafhood workshop for the same time slot should be drawn and quartered. Double scheduling is inevitable at any conference, but these were the hottest topics of the decade. Thankfully, for those of us who chose to go to the first Deafhood workshop, information on the FSSA workshop was posted on the NAD blog. The organizers also grossly underestimated how many people would be interested in the Deafhood workshops. The room was packed to the gills every time, with people sitting on tables in the back of the room, sitting on the floor by the stage, in the aisles, and standing five deep outside the doors. For one picture, go here and scroll down - but it doesn't capture just how crowded it was.

It was fun living in a house on the PGA West golf course for the duration. I was only sorry I didn’t get a chance to spend much time there and grow to appreciate it. It’s a lovely place, Spanish in style. I had a whole suite to myself, and my bathroom was almost as big as my bedroom at home! We had a private pool with a view of the green between the 14th and 15th hole on the Nicklaus course. Thank you, T and S, for letting me stay with you guys!

The Deafhood workshops were amazing. The first one encapsulated the concept and previewed what the next three would cover. The second one, presented by Ella Mae Lentz, focused on the language aspect of Deafhood. A brief history lesson occurred first, focusing on European colonization and how they subjugated native peoples. The colonists (called missioners in the book) systematically destroyed governing systems, traditions, ways of life, and banned native languages. They installed white governments and forced the children to go to white schools and be educated in the colonists’ language, to learn the values and traditions of the colonists, and so forth. Eventually the colonists installed native people that were best able to speak their language and function much like the colonists in positions of power. These native people became the force which kept the natives subjugated. Paddy Ladd’s book posits that this is what has happened to deaf people. Oralists colonized us too by destroying our education systems, outlawing our language, and forcing us to use their language. Our values and traditions were discarded in favor of hearing mores. As a result, we have been divided and we act against each other. We even argue about our identity amongst ourselves. We disagree about the best way to educate our youth. Many of us genuinely believe that those who can speak are lucky, those who have some hearing are lucky, and that English is superior to ASL. Many of us gladly participate in our own oppression. This is known as colonialism of the mind, because our hearts, minds, and souls have been colonized to the point where many of us believe English is superior, we need to worry about fitting in with hearing people, and to speak and hear is better than not to speak and hear. This is a powerful and mind-blowing concept, and I was glad of the reminder. The workshop made me think of how sick and tired I am of the phrase “can’t hear.” I’ve been railing against that phrase for years because “can’t hear” implies that hearing is an ability or a skill. Granted, in some contexts, it is. But we deaf people cannot practice and practice to develop a greater ability to hear. Our being deaf is simply a state of being. I’ve been advocating changing from “can’t hear” to “don’t hear” and changing “can hear” to simply “hear,” because language and perception are inextricably entwined. Genie Gertz focused on identity related to deafhood and David Eberwein focused on the politics of deafhood. Somewhere in there, the phrase “deficit thinking” was discussed. It is basically the idea that deaf people lack something; that we are flawed. This is an example of how thoroughly we have been colonized. For example, (the following is simply my own musings) we often say “hearing loss,” which is predicated upon the assumption that hearing is special and valuable. Is it? Well, depends on your paradigm, really. There are so many unpleasant sounds that hearing people are subjected to on a daily basis. I know I hear a lot that I really would rather not have to put up with. (back to the workshops) A few links that discuss the Deafhood workshops are NAD's, Ridor's, and Sandman's. It remains to be seen how much impact these workshops have on the general discourse, if they clear up the misunderstandings and misinterpretations that have circulated in the past few months, and if they help heal the damage that the Gallaudet situation has wrought on the community, but I believe they will go a long way.

Who’d have thought simply ordering pizza would cause such drama? On Friday, a large group of us decided to go back to M’s room and order pizza and just hang out until time for the ASL tribute. I called to place the order via my Sidekick, placed the order without incident, and warned the group that people would have to be ready to go to the front desk to pick it up and pay. An hour later, someone came to let us know the pizza was at the front desk, and T and K went to pick it up. I got a frantic page from T saying the delivery guy had already left. Several pages later, T had the front desk telephone the pizza place to ask for the guy to come back and M used her lovely new MacBook with iSight built in to VP the place. T got nowhere, even tho’ the front desk tried. He came back while M was still on VP and insisted on free pizza. The place refused, saying the delivery man had waited and waited. T believed that this was just not possible, and the VP conversation turned ugly. We got our money back and headed downstairs to find a restaurant. We ended up paying $25 each for a buffet because we didn’t have time to wait for orders to be delivered. It was ridiculously expensive, but dang, the food was go-od. The mahi mahi was to die for, and the mashed potatoes and vegetables were amazing. The desserts were sinfully rich. Others raved about the steak. We made it to the tribute with minutes to spare. *puff, puff*

Roz Rosen’s workshop on linguistic human rights was interesting, and I took away some neat words and phrases from it.
Not language delayed - language deprived!
Deafness - the compound sign looks like it means all deaf people die - how fitting!

The heat was incredible. It was between 110 and 115 degrees during the day every single day. It was 89 degrees at midnight one night and 91 degrees at 7:30 am another day. For two days, all I could do was take baths with no hot water and just lie there, soaking my head, for twenty to thirty minutes, just to feel human again. The house thermostat was set to 78 degrees, which was too hot for me. I’m used to 70 degrees during the day and 55 at night, so 78 at night was miserably hot for me. Then an odd thing happened. I started to adjust. I was still unhappy, but I wasn’t thoroughly miserable. 78 started to feel pleasantly and wonderfully cool. I suspect I would never be able to fully acclimate myself, but I could have tolerated another week, which is shocking to me since I wilt in the heat like a delicate pansy.

Two very vocal bloggers nearly duked it out just before the fourth Deafhood workshop. Apparently McConnell insisted on talking to Ridor and they exchanged quite heated comments, but they didn’t come to blows, thankfully. They were able to agree to disagree, and now maybe they’ve seen the human face behind the postings, they will be able to disagree with respect.

The College Bowl was a lot of fun. I sat with two dear friends, one of whom is a college bowl alum, so he filled me in on how things are supposed to go and stuff like that. His thoughts can be found on his blog. Another account can be found on the NAD blog. I, however, had difficulty enduring Jackie Roth’s emceeing. She is an attractive lady and her signs were smooth and graceful. However, she was more denigrating than necessary to the judges, the scorekeepers, and other people involved in the competition. Furthermore, her signing was pure English word order, which bothered me. To me, it’s another example of colonialism and dysconscious audism. To her credit, it was easy to follow and understand, unlike most people who attempt to sign that way. However, I know of at least one person who could not understand her at all and had to rely on the captions - and this person grew up in a deaf family, went to deaf schools his whole life, is college educated, and is fully in the Deaf-World. Roth’s signing bothered me somewhat, but my friend was extremely incensed. Roth also emphasized her hearing in several ways throughout the whole event. For example, she made a point of saying she is hard of hearing, she harbored a fantasy of singing, and said something about using her voice. What message does this send? Other than the emcee, the event was fun to watch, and I was amazed at the level of intelligence shown in the discussions and at the answers the teams gave. Deaf IS good. *grin*

The last event I attended was the FSSA Rally on Sunday. My FSSA pin is probably in many pictures, because Ben Lewis borrowed it so he could make his speech with a pin. *grin* The rally was very brief, and it was basically “rah, rah.” We spent time talking amongst ourselves about the situation afterward. (scroll down on both pages on these blogs to see one picture and some thoughts about the rally.)

Sorry you asked how NAD was? *grin*

Here are some links that share reflections from other attendees: