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Showing posts from August, 2006

Why I'm Wearing My Hearing Aids

This morning I will act in an independent film called Neutral. I, like all the other actors in this, have a small part. It is a pastiche of some 100 lives. I play a mother who waxes surreal freely with her son then suddenly blocks his flow. I am wearing a black dress and heels because I'm supposed to look like I've come from a teacher conference to discuss my son's behavior. I'm also wearing my Phonak hearing aids. I gave birth without wearing my hearing aids. I went through my pregnancy without them. When I was actually in labor, though, I realized I couldn't hear what the doctor was telling me to do. I was strapped to a table, or it felt I was, by these electrodes guaging my and my baby's heartbeat and I couldn't hear what people were saying to me (except my mother, who always talks carefully to me). It was a feeling of being out of control because I was so controlled--by the machinery (the electrode belts), by the absence of the machinery (the hearing a

The Speech Banana

There are things I don't hear anymore. Some of these are bird songs, the wind in the trees on a balmy day, and rain. Also on this list are weedwackers more than a hundred meters away and the sound of my name spoken by someone who isn't looking directly at me. I don't hear music in my yoga class. I don't hear my teacher's voice. If I put in my hearing aids I can hear these things louder than you can. Especially the weedwacker, and the music in yoga class is often louder than my teacher's voice. I cannot communicate without my hearing aids in. But I can still hear the sound of the human voice. I can hear a few of the words, but this is not enough to follow the flow of what someone is saying. On my audiogram, there are three frequencies in which I dip into "severe" hearing loss. There are three in which I am mildly or moderately deafened. The marks on my audiogram fall just below or far below something called the speech banana. This is a gray area betw

The Sound of a Particular Music

I am thinking of my favorite listening experiences. I have not thought of this before, of breaking down my life experiences into the sense they pleased. In terms of gustatory experience, a particular bowl of potato leek soup served me in a restaurant on a rainy day in Montreal comes to mind. Visual experiences: Lauterbrunnen valley in the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland in June. Tactile? a particular rain I felt in Florence one night I was locked out of the Ostello Camerata for coming back too late, having spent the evening romping with Jorn and Russell (from South Africa) and Maritza (from Chicago). The rain was thick and almost warm. Jorn kissed me in it; that might have helped drive it into my "best of" memories. Olfactory and Auditory are a bit more specific, more difficult for me to name. Olfactory? Best smell ever? Something about when the Spring temperature hits a particular feel and mixes with a perfect kind of blue in the sky, more specifically, that one morning afte

The Dawn of Deafness

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I found out I was losing my hearing when I was 31 years old. Later that year, I broke off with one boyfriend, met another, traveled to China, came back, got pregnant, got married and the next year I gave birth, got divorced, and started to accept the fact that I was going deaf because now I was a parent and I was terrified I couldn't hear my daughter cry. It can turn your life around, this losing a sense. And although I know the teachings of Buddha and Christ and so many other great teachers tend very much in favor of overcoming our attachment to the senses, I never realized how attached to hearing I was. There are dimensions I hadn't thought about. The first, the second--what are they? and the third? I know the fourth is time. Is one of the others sound? It ought to be. Sound ought to be one of our dimensions because as I lose it I feel the world has grown thinner. A layer has come off.