Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
I live in Mayberry.
Finally, he gives me the correct form and I sit down to fill it out. The eighty year old woman sitting next to me asks me if I think she needs to open a new account for television service since she's changed houses and her husband recently passed away. The bill had always been in his name and he had always taken care of the payment.
I look at this eighty year old adorable woman in a beret and think..."Whatta woman!" Learning to live alone after a fifty year marriage can't be easy. We were soulmates for a moment.
Then, she says to me, "You know, it's quite the fashion to get separated nowadays."
*The fashion meaning in-style"
I almost threw up.
I had to give her an education. Sometimes, I should just shut up, but to call getting separated with all the pain, suffering and torture we try-as-hard-as-we-can-to-avoid-but-can't-always-avoid...she needed to understand that it is not a decision taken lightly.
In any case, I watched admiringly as she went up to the counter to pay her bills.
What a woman.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Relationships are like glass. When all goes well they are transparent. We see through the glass right into the other person's eyes, no distortion. Sometimes the glass is colored rose and this color causes distortion, although the glass is smooth to the touch.
We drink wine from a glass bottle.
We look through glass to examine someone closely or from afar.
Glass has its limits.
We do not.
And sometimes the only thing to do is laugh back at that image laughing at us.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I'm feeling kind of philosophical at this precise moment in time.
We always dream of more. More money, more fun, more freedom and more LIFE. Because the life that the person next door is living is so much more exciting than ours. They have the bigger car, prettier clothes, whiter teeth.
Are they happier than we are?
Here I am a single mom struggling to find some semblance of a routine. I wash clothes and dry them five times a day, take out the trash which requires a half a mile walk in the flippin' freezing cold, deal with egotistical bastards every single day...but I go to sleep and kiss my beautiful kids goodnight.
Do you think anyone would want to rent my life for a week?
We always want so badly to live the lives of the millionaire who drives a Lamborghini or the millionaire's wife who shops at Prada. It's all relative, I mean the Prada shopper is just as miserable as the obsessive Target shopper who spends every Saturday at Target. The person who pigs out on filet mignon is the same woman shoving Chili's nachos down her throat to fill the void.
Taking control of a life is close to impossible. External factors prohibit total control. But when one too many egotistical bastards get in your face, we as women reach our limit and finally, finally after making choice after choice and battling struggle after struggle... snap.
And we learn to say,
With a *Smile*
And just to savor that moment after so many moments of suffering, questioning, wondering, reflecting and debating, I am so sure that 99% of the women out there who have been made to feel like less than what they are, 99% would have rented my life to have lived that precise moment.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I remember learning of his diagnosis in a language that was not my own and I remember being made to feel ignorant because I did not understand the language.
I remember having to repeat a word at least and I am not kidding, 100 times before it would even think of entering Jordan's vocabulary.
I remember standing outside of his preschool bawling my eyes out as he bawled his eyes out from inside that school because I left him to a classroom of hearing kids and he was not able to communicate.
I remember when the preschool teachers told me to hold him back a year, because he was potentially dangerous.
I remember struggling to teach him to read when he was four years old so that he would be ahead before entering elementary school...in that way, he could compensate for his language skills.
I remember when my parents repeatedly asked me when he would learn to speak English as I was struggling to teach him Italian.
I remember when my mother-in-law told me I was going to destroy my son the precise moment I told her I was pregnant with Sofia Madyson.
I remember when Jordan threw a chair across the room in frustration because another child knocked his cochlear implant processor off his head and he got so scared, he didn't know what to do.
I remember when...
he sang for the first time in a choir
he played his guitar in front of an audience of fifty
he spoke about what it means to be Deaf before 200 people
he won honorable mention for an essay on what it means to be Deaf
he helped another parent of a Deaf child
he asked me to help him get a girlfriend
he played hide-and-go-seek and heard the person counting say, "Ready or not here I come"
he said to me, "Mom, can you answer me...what are you Deaf?"
Tuscan Regional Pediatric Courses in Newborn Hearing Screening and Deafness have been approved and I will be teaching 500 pediatricians about Parental Support in Deafness...
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I sat down next to Sofia and we glued glitter on our masks and rolled colored tissue paper into teeny tiny balls. Sofia looked at me and said, "Wow Mommy, you are really good at rolling balls!" I kissed her...one of the finest compliments I've ever received in my life:-)Then, all of the sudden, Sofia Madyson dropped the "F" bomb when I made a tissue ball too big. I almost passed out. Good thing the little Italian children don't know the "F" bomb. She saw me turn white and immediately said, "Oh sorry, Mommy," then she burst out laughing.
My house is a disaster, I'm constantly at war for work and personal life...every single day Jordan comes home from school dying to find the Wii game he ordered from Ebay that NEVER FREAKIN' COMES, so he complains, moans and bitches driving me up a freakin' wall....although...and this is a big although...he learned the introduction to "Smoke on the Water" on his electric guitar today and that was H*O*T!
I want to go back to second grade, roll tissue balls and play Barbies - No Ken Doll Allowed...the Barbie Convertible a must.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Two days ago I assisted another family in Pisa. I observed another series of testing to determine whether a twenty-two year old Deaf University student is a potential cochlear implant candidate. I observed as she continuously said, "Oh, I'm not good" after every single exam on her ears. On her ears. To translate ear testing into a general statement of "I'm not good" is the best example of how hearing loss affects a person that I could possibly give. Because her ears don't work well, she doesn't work well?
Quite the contrary. This girl is so intelligent that she is able to combine speechreading skills, with what little hearing her hearing aids supply together with her intelligence so that despite any loss of hearing, she has managed to achieve all that she has achieved today. Yet, when she tests those ears...she isn't good. How do you reprogram a person to understand that it's not HER who's being tested, it's those damn ears?
One of the most painful things to watch again and again. She is a candidate for the ci, but she's scared and righfully so, but if one hearing aid provides absolutely no gain- and you have nothing to lose...you bet on yourself to give yourself more opportunities.
Is it more difficult to decide for your child..or more difficult to watch your child have to decide for herself to have the ci surgery?
Ann Porter of Aussie Deaf Kids sent this message to the GPOD (Global Coalition of Parents of Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:
I thought I should update you on my research in Bali. I found an Australian group who are working with deaf kids in Bali called Bikabele - http://www.bikabele.com.au/. Last Thursday, my friend and I went and met the audiologist for their program Narno Supangat. He works at a clinic in Denpasar and does newborn hearing screening at one of the hospitals in Bali (Sanglah which I think is the largest public hospital there). He works with an ENT there – Prof Wayan Suardana and they do OAEs on Day 1. The screening is free but, unfortunately, if the family can’t pay for the aids and habilitation things become difficult. Bikabele assists Narno and the Prof with Bikabele Swara-Swari Institute to provide habilitation to disadvantaged pre-school kids. 50% of the kids who go through their program are able to go to mainstream schooling. I was so impressed with what these guys are achieving on next to nothing. I am trying to find out more about what support they provide families but the language is a bit of an issue. Anyway, our family will work with Bikabele to help the family we met in Kuta.
The incidence of hearing loss in Indonesia is 5 per 1000! It is mainly due to infections – rubella and CMV.
*All of my love and support to the families of Haiti*
Sofia just walked up to me to show me her Barbies: "Mommy, look how I dressed them..aren't they beautiful?"
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I would like to be funny, cute, adorable, spunky, witty, clever and sexy right now, but I'm not. I'm currently working on a Masters in Shitology. I have no study group, I'm flying solo, but I am certainly deeply in the subject matter at hand.
The Italian school system is totally different than the American one, and since this is Jordan's last year of middle school, he has to choose a high school. These are some of the choices:
High School specializing in Classical Studies
High School specializing in Scientific Studies
High School specializing in Art
" Social Sciences
Institute of Architectural Studies
Professional Institute with three choices: Hotel Admin., Graphic Advertising, and something else I can't think of...
School of Agriculture
Commercial Institute with three different specializations in Computer Science, Linguistics, or Tourism
At age 13 a student must decide what he wants to be when he grows up. Having taken into consideration all of his needs, interests and the fact that I would like him to be able to breathe as he goes through his teen years, we have chosen The Professional School specializing in graphic advertising that also has courses in photography and filmmaking alla Rachel Chaikof. I took Jordan there to check it out and his support teacher came with us, she's amazing and loves him. The teachers there greeted us and were so nice. They said to me, "This is a school that teaches students to communicate their thoughts, feelings and desires by giving them different means of expression through computer graphics, video, photography and film"
Signed, sealed and delivered. We're all about communication here.
So, we're all standing there and one of the teachers says, "Jordan, tell me something about yourself!"
And Jordan, who was in a mood, replied, "Well, you know, I'm American so I don't really speak Italian very well. And I'm going through a very difficult time in my life right now."
I kind of just stood there speechless. I just let him ramble on and on. Then we thanked everyone and went on our way. I took him for a piece of his favorite pizza and he said he liked the school. A man of few words that day.
Jordan is thirteen years old, going through a separation and the stress of leaving a secure middle school for a high school filled with smokers and boobs. It ain't the easiest of times here in the Cutler household. He made an excuse for how he speaks and it wasn't that he's deaf, it was that he's American. So, I said to him, "Jordan, there's nothing wrong with how you speak, your Italian's much better than mine. And you know, you can tell them you're deaf and tell them about your cochlear implant, no problem."
He said, "I know, I'm just tired."
I told him I understand.
He hugged me and I think smiled.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
A group of frogs were hopping contentedly through the woods, going about their froggy business, when two of them fell into a deep pit. All of the other frogs gathered around the pit to see what could be done to help their companions. When they saw how deep the pit was, the rest of the dismayed group agreed that it was hopeless and told the two frogs in the pit that they should prepare themselves for their fate, because they were as good as dead.
Unwilling to accept this terrible fate, the two frogs began to jump with all of their might. Some of the frogs shouted into the pit that it was hopeless,and that the two frogs wouldn't be in that situation if they had been more careful, more obedient to the froggy rules, and more responsible.
The other frogs continued sorrowfully shouting that they should save their energy and give up, since they were already as good as dead. The two frogs continued jumping as hard as they could, and after several hours of desperate effort were quite weary.
Finally, one of the frogs took heed to the calls of his fellows. Spent and disheartened, he quietly resolved himself to his fate, lay down at the bottom of the pit, and died as the others looked on in helpless grief. The other frog continued to jump with every ounce of energy he had, although his body was wracked with pain and he was completely exhausted.
His companions began anew, yelling for him to accept his fate, stop the pain and just die. The weary frog jumped harder and harder and -- wonder of wonders! Finally leapt so high that he sprang from the pit. Amazed, the other frogs celebrated his miraculous freedom and then gathering around him asked, "Why did you continue jumping when we told you it was impossible?" Reading their lips, the astonished frog explained to them that he was deaf, and that when he saw their gestures and shouting, he thought they were cheering him on. What he had perceived as encouragement inspired him to try harder and to succeed against all odds.
This simple story contains a powerful lesson. Your encouraging words can lift someone up and help them make it through the day. Your destructive words can cause deep wounds; they may be the weapons that destroy someone's desire to continue trying -- or even their life. Your destructive, careless word can diminish someone in the eyes of others, destroy their influence and have a lasting impact on the way others respond to them.
image c/o everybodyloveskiss.com
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
Friday, January 8, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Obviously the first thing I do when I wake up is not go brush my teeth, get dressed or eat breakfast, but check my emails and I was not disappointed this moring. Got two of the most remarkable letters from two remarkable people, who I would have never expected to receive emails from...so, thank you- really- so much.
Today, I would like to talk about E*G*O.
A person's ego is responsible for 99% of the pain in his life and the life of his kids. The size of an ego varies depending on your childhood, profession, family life, amount of money you possess, etc. By introducing yourself to your ego and becoming aware that it is responsible for your temper tantrums, road rage, level of generosity and capacity to love...you learn how to have conversations with your heart.
Once upon a time I called a man "Honey" in the middle of a volleyball game against a team of Jewish Russian men. The entire team of Russian men began calling this man "Honey." Now a man with a super-huge ego would have 1. Told me to shut the hell up or 2. Taken on the Russian men for calling him "Honey". Instead, we wiped their asses off the floor and went home together laughing.
Having now experienced a separation, I can pretty much say that the majority of separations are nasty because the parties involved are so busy trying to destroy each other that in the end, they destroy the kids..for what? An extra couple of hundred dollars a month?
I changed my name back to Jodi Michelle Cutler.
In a previous blog post, I said I wouldn't do that, but I changed my mind. The name change thing makes me feel extremely vulnerable, yet at the same time I don't mind the vulnerability. I'm no longer a Del Dottore, my kids are- and I love that- but I'm not. The Del Dottore name enriched me, so I'm taking all that I lived, learned and loved for the past thirteen years and I'm placing it in the Cutler Bank.
Your ego is that barbed-wire fence surrounding your heart. It protects you from pain and suffering, but it limits your ability to grow. I would like to grow some more.
image c/o rollingstone.com
Sunday, January 3, 2010
I smiled at a man.
I had a conversation with this man for twenty-five minutes.
He spoke for twenty of the twenty-five minutes and told me that if he were to give me a Native American name it would be "Heart that Smiles".
He told me I was the type of person who smiles even when suffering, and he asked me which of my parents passed down that trait to me. I said, "My Grandfather."
My heart moved.
He then told me about his father who had passed away recently. But he didn't just talk about his father, he relived a moment they had shared together with me.
Between us was a computer, it was a business meeting.
He turned the computer towards me and showed me pictures of his Tuscan villa, where he lives with his companion and dogs.
Every single thing this man said, came with a thirty second story that left me feeling...something. Something like a mixture of popcorn, cotton candy, cracker jacks and hot chocolate.
He said, "Jodi, tell me something about Jodi."
I said, "I have a 13 year old son named Jordan who is Deaf, and everything I do is based on how the experience of raising him has enriched me. I have the opportunity to help a lot of people." Then, I explained the projects I'm working on here in Italy.
I have to admit, I kind of liked and was proud of that description of Jodi, especially because it evolved from Jordan.
His face got serious and he said, "Jodi, I'd like to help you."
More gushy feeling inside.
It's easy being a rock when people don't touch the soft places.
Yesterday, we told our kids that they now have two houses, we took them to see their new house, explained the new rules and watched in amazement as they rolled with it.
Yesterday, I received an email from this man and I can't explain it, I don't understand it, but it came at just the right time. He ended his email to me with this Hindu Proverb:
Le sourire que tu envoies revient vers toi.
*The smile that you send comes back to you*
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Every single day we make requests of our kids that go above and beyond that of other hearing children. We ask them to take responsibility for their disability. Society asks them to take responsibility for their disability and we do the best we can to assist and protect them. We try to give them the tools necessary to live the best life possible. We, as parents, teach them life's lessons every single day, and that which we do not teach them, they learn by experience- both positive and negative.
That learning process never ends.
This year I plan on learning how to change a lightbulb, independently- and I mean that in the most figurative way imaginable...