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This blog is no longer active as of 2017.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More Theater

Last weekend, I attended a musical theater performance. It was an unusual opportunity for two reasons:
  • My tickets were FREE.
  • The audience was seated on the stage.
I know the mother of the show's star, Nathan Krug, through church. He sings and plays piano for our worship services once a month. His mother and I have talked about how talented he is and she remembered me when she had two extra tickets. Lucky me!

I was really excited when I found out the show would have "cabaret style" seating. There were no assigned seats, it was first come, first pick. My husband and I made sure to be there early enough to grab seats right up front. As you can see from the YouTube video below, we were seated on the stage itself. Where the audience normally sits, there were 3 banners which they used to project different scenes onto to give you the feel of the different locations where the action took place.

We were seated on the right side which worked out lovely because there were musicians on the left. A piano player, drummer, violinist, cellist, and guitar player provided the musical accompaniment. If we had sat on the left side near them, I think it would have been much harder for me to hear the actors. By the way, in case you were going to look, we are not in this YouTube video. It must have been filmed at another performance.

My husband was really pleased to go with me to an event that wasn't deaf related. He's been very good lately about coming to various events with me, so it was only fair that I should give this a shot. But to be extra prepared, I checked the play script out from a library to read in advance. That may have ruined some of the surprise funny bits in the show but helped me a lot with comprehension.

The play Company is about a bachelor who is friends with 5 married couples. The couples wonder why he's not married but in reality they all want him to stay single. As you can see from the musical number, Side by Side, featured in the video, it was a really fun show. We had a good time and were glad we went.

Here's a sample of the lyrics to Side by Side:

What would we do without you?
How would we ever get through?
Should there be a marital squabble,
Available Bob'll
Be there with the glue.
Who could we open up to,
Secrets we keep from guess who?
Who is so safe, and who is so sound?
You never need an analyst with Bobby around!
How would we ever get through?

What would we do without you?

More of the song's lyrics are available here

Monday, January 20, 2014

No Apology Necessary

I went to a restaurant with a new friend for lunch. I had my usual trouble with ordering when the order taker replied with an unexpected question for me. Since I had ordered only half of a salad, she wanted to know if I wanted "the pick two" which allows you 1/2 salad + 1/2 sandwich or bowl of soup or something like that. I misheard her. To me it seemed if she kept asking me if I wanted "the pig too". "Oh no, just my 1/2 salad please", I told her. I happened to glance up at the menu board and figured out what she was asking. Then somehow my lemonade order got mixed up as a soda order. But she rectified that once I reiterated what I wanted.

I'm sharing all this preliminary detail so you will understand what going to a restaurant can be like for me. Once I had my food and was seated at the table across from my friend, I focused in on what she had to say. The background noise of the restaurant required me to use lip reading and attentiveness for our conversation.

When we got up to leave I looked over at the table next to us and my eye was caught by a large yellow Tonka truck on the table. My mind went back to the Tonka days of my son's childhood. But then, I realized the woman seated at this table was talking to me. She said, "That's not my child!" pointing to the little boy seated across from her. Huh? I thought. Is she some kind of kidnapper or what? I was really confused. She started to apologize for all the rude and loud noises he had made during his meal. Aha, now I got what was going on here. She was embarrassed. I told her I am hard of hearing and didn't notice anything. She said she was certain my friend and I were discussing them and judging her. I laughed inside. Ha, ha. As if!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tribes, Technology, and Theater

I went to see the play Tribes yesterday in Chicago with my husband and our ALDA Chicago friends. For select performances of Tribes, Steppenwolf Theater offered a seating area with sight-lines to a small screen mounted above the stage. The screen displayed captioning of the actors' dialog. When I arrived at the theater I learned there was also looping in place which provided audio streaming directly to the telecoils in my hearing aids. I simply had to press a button on my hearing aids to switch between their normal setting and the telecoil.

The plot of Tribes is about Billy, a deaf man raised in a dysfunctional hearing family. As an adult he meets Sylvia, who is hearing, but was raised in a deaf family. She knows how to sign but he does not. Once she introduces him to signing and Deaf social events, he becomes part of the Deaf community for the first time. At a critical point, he refuses to use his voice with his family until they begin to sign with him. All the while, Sylvia is struggling to accept the fact that she is losing her hearing and becoming deaf. Billy can't understand her situation because all though he knows what it is to be deaf, he doesn't know what it is to be going deaf.

I could really relate to the character of Sylvia who feels caught between two worlds. Not hearing enough and not deaf enough either. But Sylvia has one advantage over me, she knows how to sign fluently. I found it hard to watch the opening scenes where Billy's family would exclude him from their arguments and philosophical discussions. It seemed to me like they treated him as though he had a mental disability.

Another point I'd like to highlight is the play's brief demonstration of the distorted way music sounds to someone with hearing loss. I have never been able to put that experience into words properly so I'm glad my husband was able to "hear" it for himself. I would highly recommend this play for hearing people who are interested in the experience of deafness. I feel obliged to add that the play contains profanity. I understand that the playwright was establishing the crudeness of the father and the constant verbal abuse within the family, but I did not care for it. Ironically, without the captioning and looping, I would not have caught the words.

Before my hearing loss, my husband and I enjoyed going to the theater. But once I got hearing aids, that all changed and I was no longer interested. Now that I have experienced captioning and audio streaming, I think we will be going out to plays again at theaters which provide accessible performances.

To learn more about accessible audio at the theater, I'd like to refer you to this blog post by ReSound, a hearing aid manufacturer.

To learn more about Tribes, view a trailer of the play, and watch a clip of the audience's reaction, visit the Steppenwolf Theater's website.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

More Melody

Here's a few more photos of Melody. She's such a little cutie!

She weighed 20 pounds at her last vet appointment. 
That's the exact same amount Blondie weighed at that age.

She often takes naps near her bowl.
It's as if she's telling us, 
"I don't want to sleep through any meals!"

If she's not napping there, she will probably
be cuddled up next to her "big sister" Blondie.

Today the girls were by the door. I felt like they
didn't want us to leave after all that time spent
together during the cold snap. It also reminded
me of this photo of Rusty taken in the same spot.

Well, it was time for me to get out of the house.
But I didn't get out before shooting this movie
of Melody climbing our stairs. This was a big
deal at our house because Blondie has been too 
frightened to climb stairs for a long time. We are
hoping she will conquer her fear now that she
sees the puppy doing it without any trouble.

Digging Out from the Snow

Today was our first day of normal after a polar vortex brought record low temperatures. We stayed indoors for nearly three days before venturing outside yesterday to clear the driveway and sidewalks. The cold did not seem to bother our golden retriever Blondie too much although we made sure she and the puppy Melody did not stay out in it too long. Here are a few photos to give you an idea of what it was like.

So what did we do with our days spent indoors? Well, naturally we played with the dogs a lot. Some of the time we used to take photos and video of Melody which I'll post next.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year and Time for a Fresh Start

Happy New Year to all!

This is what I am looking forward to in 2014:
  • serving as an adviser for an American Sign Language club at the university where I work. 
  • taking an intermediate ASL course. I took the beginning course about 7 years ago so I'm looking forward to this chance to improve my signing skills. 
  • continuing my graduate school courses in communication studies.
  • working on a captioning project for my church.
  • celebrating some important milestones in my son's life.
  • spending quality time with my family, friends, and pets.
One thing I have realized recently is that much of my stress is self induced. I put more pressure on myself to perform perfectly, than anyone else could. So I am looking at 2014 as a fresh start for going easier on myself.

I found some good words of advice while working on this blog post. They are: You can do anything, but you can't do everything.

My friend Liz posted today about a Positive Jar. I think I would like to use that idea at my job this year. It's easy to get caught up in negativity and overlook the unexpected positive moments in the workplace.

The new year also presents a fresh start towards my usual goals of eating healthier, losing weight, exercising more, and stopping my nail biting.

What are your goals and aspirations for 2014?