Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Three things from my morning

Today was an unusual day – or, should I say, an unusual morning. Every once in a while, my mornings can be eventful. I get up and there’s something or another going on and I have to take care of that before I can even have my first cup of coffee. That’ll happen sometimes. But this morning, three different things happened, all in one morning! I know they say that things usually happen in threes, but these were not “bad” things. Just things that really had an impact on me.

Well, the first thing that happened this morning had to do with an event I had been invited to on Facebook. I need to back up a bit on that first and provide some background. I used to know someone locally through my daughter’s friend. This was the friend’s mom. She seemed nice so I figured I’d stay in touch with her and communicate with her every so often. Then she moved and we lost touch. Because we were connected through Facebook, I had hoped we would stay in touch at least through Facebook, but that didn’t happen. I did hear from her sometime after she moved – she needed my help with something – but after that, nothing. It’s like she dropped off the planet, or something. I figured, it’s fine. She’s going through stuff. I’ll hear from her when I hear from her. But it got to be like she didn’t really make much effort to try to communicate with me very much. I mean, it was years until I heard from her again, and even then, it was about something to do with stuff I was writing. (It was nice to know she was paying attention to what I was writing!) Then I recently heard from her again, about something mysterious, and then I get an invite to her event.

Which brings us up to date. This person organized a rally that she was hoping to get “at least 200 people” to. The rally was to be held in downtown Eugene. Now, I know that Facebook’s event invites system has it where EVERYBODY on the Friends list gets invited to an event, but when I got the invitation, I was not sure I wanted to go. I did feel bad for my friend and I expressed to her my condolences over her loss. But I was not sure about attending the rally. I had to put some serious thought into it. Be there for a friend who hardly kept in touch with me? Or put my kids first and not attend something where I could be arrested, Tasered or trampled to death if the shit hit the fan?

I decided to go with the latter. I had to think about my children. I just could not put myself into a situation where their mother would be arrested, Tasered or trampled to death if the shit hit the fan. (FYI: Part of the theme of this rally was anti-police.) I made peace with this decision – or so I thought.

This morning, as I was drinking my coffee and reading the news, I saw a news announcement about this rally on my personal Twitter feed. I took one look at that and ALL of a sudden, guilt reared its ugly head. I felt bad. I felt guilty. I felt like I was being a lousy friend.

But…I know that I made the right decision as a mother. I know that choosing NOT to participate in the rally was the right thing to do for my kids’ sake. I HAVE to be there for them. And I have to put them first. Even if I feel guilty about it or look like a lousy friend. So I saw that and just reminded myself, I made the right decision.

I had to remind myself again later on when I was logged in at Facebook and going over the Events calendar. I usually just scroll right past them when I check to see if today is anybody’s birthday, but for some reason this morning, I felt a strong feeling to look at the event invites very carefully.

Which brings us to the second thing that happened. Earlier this month, Jen got an invitation to a friend’s birthday party. The mom created an Event for this on Facebook. Because I am paranoid and suspicious by nature, I contacted the mother personally to let her know we would be there. This is why I did not say if I was “going” or to “decline” on the event page. I don’t post my plans for events and so forth on the Internet because you never know who will see it and might show up and end up killing everybody. You know? But maybe my not doing that is what caused me to be left out when I saw that the date of the event had changed. I took one look at that and I was all like, “Gah!” Suddenly I was in emergency mode, because I was pretty sure that date conflicted with something else we have plans for later on in the month. I ran to check my calendar and, sure enough, we had a scheduling conflict. I immediately contacted the friend’s mom and we talked about alternative plans. At first, I thought it was a mix-up on the date, but then I realized later on that I just did NOT get the memo that the date had been changed. I made a mental note to keep an eye out on that for next time. (Still not gonna “decline” or “accept” invitations on Facebook Event pages! Oh, I’m sure some homicidal maniac lurking on the Web, or even Big Brother, would like that.)

I am just glad that I saw that and worked things out to fix the scheduling conflict. 

As to the third thing that happened: When I was on Facebook today, I was busy scrolling through the Timeline, liking and sharing things. Also reading links to articles as well as blog posts. (And getting frustrated over a video about a church sermon that WAS NOT closed captioned so I couldn’t read anything the pastor said. Boo!) I came across something one of my friends shared that just really made me think. It was about this lady’s day in Portland being among the homeless. You can read what she wrote here:

I thought that was an amazing thing to read. So powerful. It really moved me. The homeless problem is not just bad in Portland but it’s also bad in Eugene, too. I see A LOT of people on the streets anyime that I drive anywhere. I give when I can. And I have given in the past. But it seems that we need to do more than to just give to the homeless. The author of that article pointed out something else we need to do too: “Talk to them.” She shared how she learned so much about the people struggling on the streets and cared more about their situations just by talking to them and hearing their stories.

This gave me pause. But it also reminded me of something that happened not too long ago.

See, I don’t make it a point to talk to people. I am NOT a social person. I don’t run my mouth when I’m around people. I am usually quiet, sometimes lost in thought, sometimes lost in a fictional world or listening to the music in my head. (Music I remember before I became deaf.) Yes, it is true that my deafness is the reason why I don’t socialize. I have had to deal with SO MUCH frustration over not being able to communicate with hearing people who could not sign or did not want to write things down that I just threw up my arms and gave up trying. I would LOVE to be able to talk with hearing people, but I can’t. That’s just the way it is. (It sucks being deaf!!)

And this is why I don’t really talk to the homeless people I see on the streets. I just can’t communicate with them. It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just that I can’t!

But this one time, something really interesting happened.

One day, not too long ago, I was driving home from a doctor appointment. I came to a stoplight where a homeless man was holding up a sign saying “ANYTHING HELPS.” As a deaf driver, I make it a point to stay attentive to my surroundings and take notice of EVERYTHING when I am at a stoplight. This way, I can catch sight of people waiting to cross the street, a bicyclist coming to a stop beside me or a siren flashing of a police car or some other. I took notice of the man standing on the corner before I started looking around at everything else. (I have to rely on my eyes since I can’t rely on my ears!) Then I happened to see that the man was talking to me, gesturing and saying it was a hot day. I smiled at having understood what he said and replied that, yes, it was hot today. He started using gestures as he talked and, surprisingly, I was able to understand what he was saying as he talked just BECAUSE of these gestures. I was basically able to have a brief conversation with him thanks to his hand movements. That was a really nice surprise and I was glad for it too. I was glad I was able to understand the silent voice of someone who just wanted to be heard. And guess what? On that day, he was heard by a deaf person.

So after reading that article, and remembering that experience, I realized that, you know, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to give talking to them a chance. If I don’t understand them, then I don’t understand them. I will have to cross that bridge when I get to it. They just want someone to talk to or to get a smile from. If I can do that one thing despite being deaf, then I’ll call the rest of my day a good one.

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