Friday, February 29, 2008

It's Such a Girl Thang...

Don't know what was with this morning, but I got like eight emails that made my head explode with possible blogs. Yesterday, Rosy and I submitted the final translation of RALLY CAPS to the Italian Publisher - inhale -exhale. So not in the mood to get deep today...Jordan's home with a really bad cold, he's got that infamous "redness" that only really strong colds provoke and the whitest face I've seen since my husband saw me in my purple dress (knowing that he ain't gonna be at that wedding with me) (There, you've been mentioned twice in two days.) THANK YOU!!!!! All I needed was the perfect excuse to have to stay home from my nightmare pre-schoolers from hell. The scary news is that I have two more middle school groups every Friday afternoon starting today, I'm breaking out the black leather, whips and chains.

The first email I got was from a mom from the CI CIRCLE who lives in Seattle, writing to tell me that she ordered RALLY CAPS from her PUBLIC LIBRARY!!! Don't buy the book, make your PUBLIC LIBRARY buy it so that more children mainstream and deaf have easier access to it. She also told me that 8 years ago she went to Australia to elope and today is her SECOND anniversary!!! Now, I know you all are smart enough to figure out why that is...

Second of all, Ocean is very deep. *smile* I need some time to digest her stuff before I blog on that...

Now, this was such an AMAZING email: about six months ago my cousin Andy, a very successful litigator who has worked in New York City and Baltimore decided to open his own practice, which takes serious balls when you have a strong and successful job. Risk-takers are rare in this world...yet, without them, the USA would not be the worldwide powerhouse that it is and AMERICANS have this innate quality inspired by generations of American dream-seekers. Italians can only dream of America because even when it is offered to them, they still do not know how to grab the opportunity. Too many years in the house with their moms washing their clothes and cooking spaghetti for them.

Paotie and Paotie lovers (not Paotie's lovers *my exclusive*), Andrew M. Dansicker (my cousin and my Pop's shining star)set a precedent in the state of Maryland regarding the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in one of his ACLU cases that he has always taken...

*He also devotes substantial time to pro bono matters relating to important criminal and constitutional law issues, including successfully representing a group of Eastern Shore high school students forced to submit to illegal drug testing, a defendant whose farm was improperly forfeited by the government, a farmer accused of felony drug charges based on his use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, a woman charged with various crimes for sending "harassing" emails, and a group of blind voters denied the ability to cast their ballot in a confidential manner*

Check out his informative website here and his blog. The blog is not very sexual, he is afterall a professional, but he does handle sexual harrassment cases, as well. He's a Scorpio just like me *wink*. LOVE MY COUSIN!!!!

Next...Rhonda sent me one of those emails that the girlz send to all the other girlz, but it was in Italian, so now I MUST translate it for all the LADIEZ!!!! Because it had me literally "Peeing in my Pants!" (yeah, pun intended)
Here GOEZ...

*Why do women spend so much time in the restroom?*
The big secret of all women and bathrooms is that ever since a woman was a girl, our moms took us to the potty, cleaned the toilet seat, covered the seat nicely with toiletpaper and then explained, "NEVER, NEVER sit on the toilet seat!" Then, she revealed "the position" that consisted in balancing yourself on the ring as if you were sitting on it but WITHOUT actually touching that thing.

"The position" is one of life's first lessons for a little girl, very important and necessary, that will remain with a girl for the rest of her life.

But still today, as adults, "the position" is terribly difficult to maintain when your bladder is about to explode.
When "you have to go" in a public restroom, you find yourself in such a long line of women that you think Brad Pitt (or Patrick Dempsey) must be sittin' on that toilet bowl waiting in that bathroom.

So, you sit and wait nicely, like a good girl, smiling knowingly at all of the other women waiting, they too with their legs and arms crossed. That would be the official position "I'm about to pee in my pants."
Finally, it's your turn, but suddenly a mother with "the adorable little girl who just can't hold it in" arrives and takes advantage of that innate maternal instinct to pass ahead of all of the other women.

At that point, you start looking under the bathroom doors to make sure there are legs.
All are occupied. Finally one opens and you charge the person coming out.
You enter and realize the door doesn't lock. (it never does);
It doesn't matter.
You hang your purse on the hook on the back of the door, and if there isn't one (there never is), you inspect the area around the toiletbowl...the floor is full of unidentifiable liquids so ya can't put your pocketbook on the floor, you must sling it around your neck...and it is REALLY heavy, filled with things you never use, but MIGHT need, one never knows...

Returning to our discussion of the door...considering that it doesn't lock, you need to assume the "block the door" pee position, holding it with one hand struggling to "assume the position"...

Ahhhhhhhhh...finally...At this point, your legs start shaking...because you are suspended in mid-air, with your knees bent, pants pulled down and blocking your circulation, your arm locked desperately trying to hold the door shut and a ten pound bag hanging around your neck.

You would really like to sit on that toilet, but you didn't have time to give it the wipedown or to cover it with tp. Your head is saying that nothing bad would happen if I could just sit on that bowl, but the voice of your mother cuts in with a resonating, "Don't EVER sit on a public toilet!", so you remain in "the position," but for a minor error in logistics a teeny tiny splash gets ya right on your socks!! You're fortunate not to get your shoes wet.
Holding "the position" requires great concentration.
To get the situation you are living out of your head, you start looking for the toilet paper...but,

Damn! There isn't any...! (EVER).

So, you start praying hard that in that ten pound bag slung around your neck there could be a sliver of a piece of kleenex, but in order to look for it, you need to let go of the door, Ya think about that for a split second, but you have no choice.
And as soon as you let go of that door, someone pushes it and you have to stop that person with a sharp move, otherwise everyone will see you half-naked, suspended in mid-air with your pants down.
So you SCREAM - "SOMEONE'S-IN-HEEEEEEEEEEERE!!!!" and you keep on pushing that door with your free hand and at that point you think it's a given that everyone else waiting for a free bathroom heard your scream so you can let go of the door, unafraid, no one would DARE open that door again (in this type of thing, we women RESPECT each other)
so you start searching for a piece of kleenex, you'd like to use a couple, but they might be needed again.
In cases such as this, you settle for one - you just never know.
At this exact moment, the automatic light shuts off, but in a cubicle this tiny, it can't be too hard to find the switch. You turn on the light with the hand holding the kleenex, because the other hand is holding up your pants, count the remaining seconds until you can get outta there, sweating becasue you have your heavy wool coat on that you had nowhere to hang and because in places like these it's always suffocatingly hot.
The swelling lump forming on your head caused by the blow from the door, your throbbing neckpain due to the weight of your bag, the sweat dripping down your forehead causing your makeup to run, the drops on your socks...Thoughts torment you of your mom who would be so, so embarrassed if she could see you like this; because her butt never once touched a public toiletseat, because really "you never know how many diseases you can get from a toilet."
But the episode still isn't are exhausted and when you stand up, you can't feel your legs, you get dressed quickly and most importantly flush the toilet!

If the flush don't flush, you would prefer to remain in the bathroom, so embarrassing!
Finally you go to wash your hands and all around the sink it's filled with wetness, so you have nowhere to put your bag. You sling it around your neck. You can't figure out how the water works with all the automatic sensors, so you start touching everything until it finally works and you can wash your hands hunched over and struggling not to dip your bag in there. Of course there are no paper towels so you wipe your hands on your pants because you just can't afford to waste another kleenex.
You leave the bathroom passing next to all of the other women still waiting with their legs crossed and in those moments, you just can't give that spontaneous smile,
conscious of the fact that you have passed an eternity inside that bathroom.
You're lucky if you manage to get outta there without the dreaded piece of toiletpaper attached to your shoe or even worse your zipper down.

You walk outside and see your boyfriend who had finished his business quite a while ago.
"Why'd you take so long?" He asks you in an irritated manner.
"There was a line," I say.

And this is the reason why women go to the bathroom in groups, for solidarity, because one holds your bag and coat, another holds the door and the other passes you kleenex under the door;
this way, it's much simpler and quicker because then...
you only have to concentrate on maintaining "the position."
And your dignity.

Happy FRIDAY!!! Yeah, I'm going back to Happy Hour with my girlfriends!!!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Deaf People Rock, Too...I Had NO Idea

You're Deaf, tell me what it's like to hear. I'm hearing, I can NOT tell you what it's like to be deaf all day, every day. I see my son and his experience. I know what he can and can't hear, but it never occurred to me that deaf people could hear music despite not hearing. Jenny enlightened me in her comment:
Hi Jodi,
I apologize for my tone this morning. It was very early in the morning and I am frustrated at how these misconceptions keep coming up time and again - you have to choose between signs and speech/sound. That's so not the case. It's perfectly possible, and even better, in many cases, to give a deaf child everything - signs, access to sound/spoken language, etc. Why not? There's really no need to have to "choose."

To answer your question, yes, I'm deaf, do not wear hearing aids, and I don't have an implant. I still love music. Tunes get stuck in my head. Sweet Molly Malone was playing and replaying itself in my head just the other day. Dang, it just may restick itself in my head now! "Crying 'cockles and mussels a-live! Oh!'" *grin* Another current favorite is Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. I *love* that instrumental crescendo near the end and how masterfully it builds up to that point.

Furthermore, I'm not unique in the community. You may or may not know about Beethoven's Nightmare, an all-deaf rock band. Many of us enjoy signing songs, discussing music, swapping playlists, et cetera. One acquaintance is almost totally deaf, but she always cranks up her car stereo, buys CDs like crazy, and memorizes lyrics. Most of us have a natural rhythm. We dance. We go out to clubs shakin' our thang. We have ASL songs and poems.

Dianrez is right when she says that not all of us are into it. We also vary in how "into" it we are, just like hearing people. My very hearing mom isn't into music. She appreciates it, but she doesn't purchase anything musical. Her car radio is always set to the news or to talk shows. My very hearing cousin plays the piano and cannot be without music for one second (it's always on in the background). Between these two extremes, the other members of my family fall at varying points in between. The same is true for deaf people. Some are more musically inclined than others.

I hope this clarifies and answers your questions.

I will say this...ever since Jordan could walk, he would get out of the shower soaking wet and do the hoochy-koochy-shake-that-thang-neked dance, and I would look at him and think, "Well, strippers do make good money." I could never understand how he could be deaf and still have so much rhythm. Jenny, your comment really gave me a new perspective and now I understand how he can be deaf and still have "music in his ears." Beautiful.

Writing this blog has provided me with the opportunity to meet so many special people who enlighten my world on a daily basis. Reading other people's stories and writing, writing, writing is such a cathartic experience. As I've said before, one mom of a newly diagnosed deaf child, Christian, hits my nerves again and again because I see so much of myself in her words and experience. While we live the experience day in and out, we don't realize how much we suffer until we achieve success and see that our children will be okay. I am healing and growing, kind of meshing the Jodi that was with the Jodi that went through all of this experience in another language. I'm bringing the American back, but the Italian has so consumed me that it has meshed and I need to figure out who the hell I Tweenersville.

Yesterday, an interesting thing happened. My husband sent me a text message asking, "Why do you write about everyone but me in your blog? iPod girl, I love you, Luca." Note: He saw the photo of the neked guitar man and I think got a little worried. I responded, "I didn't think you read my blog." He replied, "Don't be so sure."

Hmmm. Growing and evolving can be scary for a married couple. My husband has a fanclub here in Istia and throughout Grosseto, anyone who is my friend loves my husband, because their husbands don't do shit. Luca lives for our kids and our family's routine. He sends me hot text messages daily and does the laundry - he's obsessed with hanging clothes - I refuse. To give you an idea, I am the only one I know who has a dryer. *WTF???* It was a condition before moving here, that and a dishwasher. The lifestyle here is so far from anything you know and I have adapted, but certain things cannot be sacrificed. I'm starting to feel a lot of those sacrifices in this period, sacrifices I consciously chose to make and others that were thrown upon me...working through it.

And now, my husband is helping me. He sent me eight text messages today and we met for a coffee, a damn good coffee.

He wanted to know why I didn't blog about Valentine's Day. All I'll say is that I wore my leopard pumps again *smile*
14 days later, the roses he gave me are still in bloom.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Gift of Music

Tragedy struck here in Grosseto, yesterday, and in addition to the earth shaking, you may have heard my scream all the way there from iPod broke. The feeling is similar to when you get 300 emails a day and your email server is down, kind of comparable to a life-support system suddenly exploding. For six hours I debated whether to run out and buy another one with the excuse that I would give the broken one to Luca (I'm so sweet, aren't I?), but luckily work prohibitted me from doing this (I so would have), because when I got home after a party last night at midnight and gave the old "say a prayer" flick on - it WORKED! The bad news was that it needed to be recharged, the miraculous news is that I am back inside my own head peace, and obsessed with the Linkin Park song "Shadow of the Day."

I started my day with a smile after reading Paotie's Marijuana University blog, he called me sexy *smile*, much better than being called "intelligent." Can you EVEN believe a friend of mine called me "Intelligent?" He must have his head up his ass, I am so NOT intelligent. That's like me calling a man "NICE." The kiss of death. Actually, I think this friend may quite possibly be the only man who has ever called me intelligent, and that is interesting in and of itself. I wear thongs. Women who wear thongs are not intelligent...then again...

There was a point to this blog, but I sidetracked myself. Abbie another so not intelligent woman who probably wears thongs herself, blogged about Michael Chorost's article "Helping the Deaf Hear Music", which I found extremely interesting. Michael Chorost, the author of REBUILT: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human, wrote an excellent and informative article about how a new test: Clinical Assessment of Music Perception (CAMP) measures how well cochlear implant users hear the basic components of music: pitch, timbre, and melody. Read the article to learn more.

One common theme I have noticed on all of the support groups, especially the adult ci groups and forums is the OBSESSION with listening to music. I would say that approximately 70% of all questions and posts on the adult groups have to do with the sound quality, requests regarding iPods, which type of music sounds the best, how well people hear lyrics, etc...MUSIC. And, on the kid ci support groups, at least 30%of the threads have to do with questions regarding which musical instruments to choose for their children, will their ci kids be able to listen to music, which iPod to choose, how to best listen to the iPod, can their kids learn to play a musical instrument, etc.

Jordan heard rhythm with his hearing aids. With his cochlear implant, he identified the ringtone of a cellphone as a classical piece his music teacher had played. Miraculous, but true. When he plays the guitar and messes up, he recogizes by "hearing" that the note was incorrect. Freaking impossible? Hell, no, CI MOMENT. Can he sing? No, I mean REALLY No! Yeah, he gets that from me.

I spent nine months of my pregnancy with Jordan in silence - I could not stand music during my pregnancy and my radio remained off except for listening to the Oriole games on WBAL. In Italy, I spent the last ten years music-less because my car radio got stolen out of my car while we were at the beach (along with my Bob Marley tape)and I never replaced it, thinking it would just get stolen again. Note: at that time, car radios were not built-ins (I know *WTF*) they were buy your own brand pull-outs. So, until Christmas when I got my iPod, I was pretty much without music in my sad is that?

I can associate all phases and men of my life with a song, some with more than one song...yet, ironically, I associate the past ten years of my life with silence. Hmmm. This is so going to date me, but I'm going there (but I'm leaving the men out of it:)). Childhood music: dancing with Sherri Bober in her basement to Michael Jackson's Thriller after having jammed to Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl" after a GH episode. First posters in my bedroom - Shawn Cassidy and Rick Springfield. (My sister loved Chad Allen who basically looked like a very young Ellen DeGeneris - nuff said)Bar and Bat Mitzvah music: Phil Collins and Genesis all the way! My last year of Middle School was all MADONNA "Like a Virgin." High School Graduation: "Joy and Pain," "Doin' the Butt," (Oh God, I'm killing myself writing this), Depeche Mode, Guns N'Roses - "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Paradise City", Will Smith "Parents Just Don't Understand" And College...EXPLOSION - Classic Rock "Brown Eyed Girl", "Only the Good Die Young," "No Woman, No Cry," "Bust a Move,"(hellweek song:))"Bye Bye Miss American Pie," Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Indigo Girls, the list is just neverending from College because I spent every single night at the bars dancing on the tables.

*I can understand the Deaf Community's need to promote ASL, but if there is one reason that a mother should try the oral is to give her child the gift of music. Providing music to a deaf child should be reason enough alone for the Deaf community to accept cochlear implants as valid*

Music enriches the soul and adds color. I am reborn...

and that is why when I was jamming to Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous Girl" and saw a smokin' cyclist with some rippin' muscular calves bikin' next to my ride, I leaned out the window and gave him the "Wooohoooooo!" Shit, if the construction workers can do it, why can't I???

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Josh Swiller and Cochlear Implants on New York!!!

My friend just sent me this link to the New York Times article Cochlear Implant Supports an Author's Active Life and the interview was conducted BY PHONE!! Everyone knows I LOVE Josh Swiller, he is a role model for the hearing mother of a deaf son with a cochlear implant. And his writing...AMAZING! There is nothing hotter than a man who knows how to use his pen!

I'm still in the middle of reading THE UNHEARD A Memoir of Deafness and Africa only because I've had other issues with what is going on here in Grosseto...but I can't wait to finish reading. I've been underlining important parts as I read, and basically I've underlined the entire first part of the book. I need to share some of his book and beg everyone to read it, you will find yourself if you've ever worn hearing aids. Reading his words is like re-living my son's life...

Swiller writes:
...I waited for his questions, mentally preparing the speech I had written for just such an occasion: These are hearing aids. They take all the sounds of the world and turn them up louder. I can't hear without them, not a thing. You will need to talk loudly and face me when you talk, and I'll still miss some things, but I'll make up for it. (pg.20)
How many times did I give this little speech to Jordan's friends or new kids who met him while playing on the playground? Until...the day that Jordan began to use his own words and voice to say the same thing.

He also describes the hearing aid experience very eloquently, at least what I saw Jordan living with his aids:
"All that noise is difficult to decipher, so hearing is not quite the right word for what hearing aids bring forth. Amplified 90 decibels, voices aren't saying words so much as the idea of words. With lipreading and guesswork, your brain has to turn the ideas into words - and while I did fine in quiet places, in noisy surroundings I was lucky to get a tenth of what was said."(pg.23)

What always amazed me about Jordan was that he was able to comprehend conversations based just on a few words, his intelligence compensated for his lack of hearing with the aids. The one major problem was that while he could understand the messages, he was unable to express his thoughts...leading to major frustration and temper tantrums. Maybe he would have arrived to the point Josh Swiller reached - "I learned to adjust, think on my feet, forget what I couldn't do, and focus on what I could."(pg.27)

However, my fear as a concerned mother observing her suffering child, was that he wouldn't and he would just close further and further into himself in anger and frustration.

And then there was the cochlear implant.

The NYT article states, "Some deaf people are opposed to cochlear implants, because they regard the world of the deaf as a community, which they believe that implants threaten." Hmmm. Can't argue 'bout that comment.

Swiller comments, “My hearing is so many light-years better than I ever could have imagined — it’s a miracle. Before the implant, I couldn’t talk on the phone, I couldn’t have a conversation. It was very frustrating to be in the world and not in the world, watching people talking and not being able to follow what they were saying.”

*The cochlear implant has radically changed this for Jordan, as well.*

Then, Swiller drops the bomb and says,
“A small child with severe hearing loss should be implanted as soon as possible. Sign language can be learned down the road, but not English. It’s a no-brainer to me if you want the child to succeed in a hearing world.”

That's what I'm sayin'!

BTW, I just picked up my very little purple if you feel the earth shake tonight...don't be alarmed *smile*

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ugly Divorces

If I did drugs, today would require an overdose of something really strong. I've been working on the Italian Acknowledgements page, and I will forget someone important without a doubt, so that I will be guilt-ridden for the rest of my life or at least until the re-printing. I just had a nice conversation with the 11-year old English Scrabble champion of Grosseto, Mavi, about Jamaica. I brought her upstairs to let her listen to some Bob Marley since we were talking Reggae and told her that it was very relaxing music. She said, "Yeah, it sounds like the kind of music where everyone smokes joints and chills out." Had to pick my jaw up off that floor. Jordan has no idea what a joint is and Mavi is the "good girl" so I was extremely unprepared for that comment. These crazy Italians...

Yesterday, we had a birthday party across the street from our house, where there were about sixty kids playing hardcourt soccer. The middle school girls from this kid's class were like gigantic - twice as large as the girls in Jordan's class, I couldn't believe it, Italy must be growing. The spread rocked, but I'm trying to maintain for the purple dress I have to pick up tomorrow...the Italian ladies can bake. And, there was wine, but I couldn't get the cork off the bottle, so I stuck to water. Damn. Jordan played soccer three hours straight without getting hurt and Sofia talked Barbies with her friend Federica. This left me with the other Mammas. I sat fairly silently, wasn't in a talkative mood...what was I going to talk about, the latest blog on I listened, bored, to the latest recipes, homework assignments, ripping apart of teachers and tales of olive-picking in the good old days until one mom heated up the conversation.

This mom is going through an ugly separation from her delinquent husband who slams anything under the age of 24 (he's 48) after having been married for 23 years. She is having an affair with a man five years younger than her 37 years of age. Her nine year old daughter does not leave her side and this woman proceeded to rip apart her ex in front of her daughter and us for about an hour. Divorces are so ugly as it is, when you have two immature adults added to the equation, ugly becomes disgusting. I cringed at every statement she made in front of her kid and we tried to ask the child to go and play, but she would not leave her mom...she looked so lost.

I have no problem with divorce. When two adults realize that the love is gone, why make each other miserable for the rest of their lives as well as everyone around them. However, once the decision to separate is made, deal with it and get along for the kids. My parents' divorce was one of those disgusting ones. They hated each other through my sister and me...curse words, insults, abuse, sarcasm, constantly. I couldn't choose which parent to love more, so I just started feeling sorry for both of them. My mom had never really lived before marrying my dad and truly began to live after the divorce. I will say that my nine year old self highly approved of one of her companions who had a limosine. Arriving by limo to my ten year old birthday party was one of the highlights of my life *smile* not to mention pulling up to elementary school and making a reallllly grand entrance.

Anyway, things got so bad at one point that I moved in with my dad who sued my mom for custody of me. This was during my teen years, middle school was torture for me. Living with my dad was okay, but when my mom suggested that we begin to have a relationship, I decided that she wasn't so bad after all. My dad was pretty pissed about that considering it took me until I was standing in front of the judge to make the decision. All I can say is that I will NEVER understand how my dad and mom got married in the first place - they are TOTAL opposites...

As opposite as my sister and me. We handled the divorce in completely different ways. I tried to please everyone. And she told everyone to *FO*. I cried. She said *FO*. One thing we both did, though, was play sports. Nothing in the world exists like sports to help build self-esteem.

I really hope this lost child has an outlet, because her mom was coming down hard on her ex...and the child was flinching.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

More Gay Vis-a-Vis Deaf Stuff - My Mom Just Checked In:)

Note: At all Gay Prides I ever attended, my mom was right next to me tattooing breasts and hairy legs...I will also add that she came to The Hippo with some shiny red plaid hot pants and rocked! (We are so not a normal family)

I forgot how to get into your blog. Can't remember my password, don't know how to start over. How did I create two such diversified, talented, smart, and beautiful daughters? Reading your blogs about being gay and deaf was a proud experience for your mother not to mention touching. Modern technology certainly closes the distance gap between Italy, Chicago and Baltimore. Being Italian, deaf, gay what does any of it matter? My daughter Niki was afraid of my reaction to her dykeness. She was scared to tell me. What does that tell you? I will love my daughters no matter what they are, or what they do. Who am I to tell them how to live their lives?(that's pretty damn funny coming from their neurotic mother who has always tried to tell them everything.)

I must say my daughters have helped me to grow up with them. The never ending learning process. It's not always easy because they are both so different than I am in many ways. But they are both so much stronger than I ever was. I respect them so much for the women they have become. Not being afraid to live out what they believe in no matter what other people say or think. Having strong conviction in what they do. All you commenters need to learn the words unconditional love. Stop trying to live everybody else's lives for them. You don't have to always agree with what other people do. Who says you are right about everything? Try being open- minded to new ideas.

I'm still trying. Not always easy to keep my mouth shut, still don't. I went off on a tangent, just wanted my daughters to know how much I love both of them and how proud I am of myself for having a part in the making of two such incredible pieces of matter who matter so much. Jodi and Niki I love both of you so much and miss both of you so much and think of both of you so much. Keep doing what you both do best, being yourselves.

Your still growing, still trying, sometimes still annoying Mommy

Mom, you are beautiful. I was really surprised to find this email about five seconds ago and I love you. No, we have not always seen eye to eye on how we have decided to raise Jordan, but your interfering has always been with the best of intentions. I know that it is not easy for you to not be a part of Jordan and Sofia's lives every single minute they grow. The distance thing sucks and don't think I don't feel guilty about all of it. But, the short time we spend together is always quality time filled with swimming, shows, walks, shopping, screaming, sharing and Chuck E. Cheese:) And you have given me some valuable advice like to hug Jordan more and to remain as calm as possible because he reacts based on my moods.
You and Eddie are the BEST grandparents in the world, thank you for accepting our situation oceans away and for knowing the true meaning of unconditional love.

PS. Val, if you hadn't insisted I started blogging, none of this would have happened, so thank you so much.

Loose Thoughts

Happy Sunday morning to one and all!!! You cannot even begin to imagine what an incredible day it is here in Grosseto - way sunny and about 55°! The Harley Davidsons and BMWs have been flying by my street, all the little working men letting off some testosterone. You know...boys with their toys. Motorcycles TERRIFY me! Yet, I am convinced that one day I will overcome that fear and ride one...

after all, doesn't every girl dream of a "Cool Rider?" I just told my house that's screaming, "CLEAN ME!" to kiss off. I have SO much work to do on the computer today that I have been putting off. This has been the story of my life, lately, the big put off. I am the queen of procrastination, but now, I'm kicking myself in the butt to get a jumpstart. And this day...beautiful!

Jordan has been complaining all morning because his computer broke and I refuse to let him use mine that still has those damn military tanks as the screensaver, oh, he is just not allowed to touch this computer. Sofia has been requesting every toy seen on Sunday morning cartoons commercials every five seconds. And Luca, he spent an hour in the bathroom hiding and filling out crossword puzzles, preparing to be in his usual pissy Sunday mood.

Me...flying. My iPod is my salvation and this morning it's been the Beastie Boyz, Bob Marley and Blues Traveler, a formidable triplicate on this liberating Sunday. Last night we went to Rhonda's and met her Dad who rocks the world. There is nothing like a cowboy from Texas of any age.

Note: He had a fouler mouth than mine, but I was a very good girl. Sofia was wearing hot pink tights, a cute black dress and a hot pink sweater and got herself some curly compliments all night. Rhonda asked Luca what he was going to do when the boyz started comin'-a-callin' for his little girl. Luca, who is a big, muscular Dad, smiled and didn't look too worried. Then, Rhonda told us the story of how she would bring her dates home to meet her dad and he would come downstairs wearing a baseball hat with boobs on it. Hmmm. Can you even imagine the scene? The poor hormonal college boys, sweating the "big meeting" with dad and then, suddenly, there he is with a baseball hat and boobs.
Classic. Gotta love a cowboy!

About a year ago, I fixed Rhonda up with Lorenzo, one of my very good friends. He is living proof that a man and woman can be friends. He gives me an education, like sex-ed of the 50 somethings and listens. Listening is such an underrated skill. Very few men possess the ability to listen to women...although, I imagine this is also true for women. How many times do you talk to your friends and feel that what you say goes in one ear and out the other? You say, "Jordan just had his guitar recital and did really well." And they respond, "That's nice, do you like the color nailpolish I chose this week?" Depth. Looking for some depth and comprehension, here.

Sick of the daily grind of "Hmm, what are you cooking for lunch...dinner...tomorrow's lunch?" or "Oh, what is that woman wearing? Can you believe how her tits are hanging out of that shirt? What is she thinking?"

And I'm saying, "You go, girl, with those saggy tits! And who gives a shit if your ass is too big for that litttttttle skirt? Let it all hang out and shake that thang! Jealousy. If a woman feels good in her clothes, more power to her. Anyway, I needed a good friend last night, and Lorenzo got the job done.

So, today's blog is a bunch of loose much for peace, gotta go separate my kids who are about to kill each other! Have a GREAT Sunday!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

SOUND and Silence

I am a very fortunate girl, sometimes I just need to say it out loud to remind myself. I can say it inside my head or write it, but giving some sound to the words somehow makes it stick. We play games on a daily basis using both sound and silence. I was chilling with Perla today trying to chew out this blog topic and bounce it off of her fourteen year old head, never underestimate a fourteen year old Italian girl. She likes this guy who never calls, he plays the silence game because every now and then, when he feels like it, he'll send her a text message. Perla is the cool type, so if she gets pissed off, she'll tell him straight up where to go with his games, but sometimes the games even get to her. Silence leaves room for interpretation and the mind wanders creating interesting scenarios. Then...sound, reality. Reality erases those images as quickly as a rag on a wipeoff board.

My son moves in and out of the worlds of sound and silence, literally. He has the ability to choose which world to live in and experience. How powerful is that? He turns a potential disadvantage into an advantage and manipulates his worlds...even at age eleven.

Since Jordan was an infant, he has loved the swimming pool. We enrolled him in swimming classes because he smiled the most in the water, didn't have to talk and revelled in his world of silence. Nope, no hearing aids in the water, although he did jump in a couple of times with them, sheer nightmare. As a hearing mamma, perhaps the closest I can come to his world is by staying underwater as long as possible to experience true silence. But, it's just not long enough to really get it. If I try to imagine being deaf, the idea of being alone in my own head terrifies me, I have very loud thoughts in this period. Yet, I imagine I would really get to know myself for better and worse. Jordan wore hearing aids for eight years before receiving the cochlear implant and has never requested to hear while swimming.

The other day, a mom and dad posted this video on the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle of how to "waterproof" a cochlear implant, because their child wants to hear while swimming. Just amazing. It overwhelms me how parents become creative and motivated to offer every single possible opportunity for their child to be comfortable in any environment.

Speaking of sound and silence, my dress that I just got for the wedding in April is all about sound! is irridescent deep purple sleeveless, empire waist, balloon cut REALLY short and H-O-T! After all, I must represent Tuscany at a New York wedding, I can't be going in no rags...Gotta go to dinner at Rhonda's, her Dad's in town, so I am going to chat all night long in English, the only problem is that I'll have to control my use of inappropriate language. *smile*

Friday, February 22, 2008

Great Expectations?

I've come to the conclusion that I'm undergoing a period of mental explosion, which I'm not so sure is productive, but it sure as hell stimulates my blogging. I just got back from my first Friday Happy Hour in about 13 years. Do you think that is normal for a full blooded American girl? I went out with my friend Rosy, who is like my clone and the translator of RALLY CAPS. We had a reeeeaaaallly long and quality talk over a couple of proseccos and a lot of grub, good, healthy grub - nothing like nachos with salsa, but good all the same. I am CRAVING Chili's nachos - Mac left a comment on Paotie's blog about Chili's, I almost cried and died. Why were the men given the balls, when it is so obvious that it's the women that wear the pants in this world? Do I sound cynical? - because I am so not, just making an astute observation.

A couple of blogs ago, an anonymous commenter wrote:

Who says this world is owned by white people?

Who says this world is owned by men?

who says this world is owned by straight people?

Who says this world is owned by hearing people?

"One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, “I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet,” meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet”; meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet”; meaning behind that, “I would like to be white.” And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible."


My Response:
The world moves forward thanks to the souls of the women who give birth to future generations.

And I'm taking race, religion and sexual preference out of the equation. It's all about the ladies.

If there is one thing I have learned in this lifetime, it is never to have great expectations of people, that way I can never be disappointed or deluded. When I make a decision, I do so conscious of the fact that I am 100% responsible. I can, therefore only delude myself. Each person is responsible or should be for his/her delusions. So many people have been deluded by love, but if it is true love, unconditional love, then there are no expectations of the person loved.

Jordan was born deaf. What were my great expectations of him before knowing he was deaf? Exactly the same as they are now, that he be a person capable of love, empathy, sensitivity and confidence to go after what he wants in life...I want him to be happy- happiness is so hard to achieve. My friend's friend, I swear, goes around asking every person he sees the same question, "Are you happy?" I can assure all of you reading that about 2% of the world's population in this moment are happy. I consider myself one of the 2% because I rely on myself and not others. I have no GREAT EXPECTATIONS of others, so I am always pleasantly surprised when people perform an act of kindness, generosity or plain old just do their job.

When people expect things from others, they are ALWAYS deluded and then resentment sets in, blocking the heart and productivity. What's the point? Are you pissed off because your friend didn't call on your birthday? Are you hurt because your mom gave your sibling something she didn't give you? Do you resent the fact that a friend didn't invite your child to a party? Does it frustrate you that you show up for work - a class of twenty-five freaking lunatic kids - and the lights are out so you can't use the stereo and have to perform "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly" ACCAPPELLO?? (Ok, that really sucked!) You know what? I hate to be cliche, but sometimes life requires that we rolllllllllll with the punches. I will never be one to say, "Life sucks!" because life is too beautiful despite suffering, hardships, delusions and sadness to EVER say such a thing...because the truly evolved human beings know how to find the beauty in every single tragedy that touches their lives.

There is a woman on the Listen-Up support group, (BTW!!!!!!!! The candy conversation Valentine's Day hearts AND candy bracelets- love those- just arrived - I AM SO EXCITED!!!!THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!)who is going through a very difficult time right now and she ALWAYS manages to find the beauty in her experience and illness, she INSPIRES me. My friend Rosy is on the winning side of the same battle as is my Aunt Janice, who after three long suffering years of fighting and combatting like the SO STRONG woman she is, finally got the results of a CAT scan that were the much longed for bill of health. These are people who have FAITH and not great expectations.

My deaf son speaks, plays the guitar, cried after seeing Spiderman III, turns white when Sofia hurts herself, can entertain himself for hours with his imaginary War battles, calls his friends by phone to get the homework and hands the phone to me when he can't understand the page numbers, he is a giver and not a taker...he will suffer, but he will love.

Great Expectations are so, so overrated, it is when you NEVER have expectations that you receive the greatest gifts in life.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pretty in Pink

The last two days were like having a big old blog party. Check out A Deaf Pundit's Post: For Jodi - The Gay and Deaf Worlds. White Ghost called me butch...I'm so lipstick:). Then, without passing GO, RUN to see Gage, Val's rocker on - now that is a spelling genius!

Now, I'm crashing. It could be the sore throat that's starting or the fact that Jordan's home with a sore throat on my only morning, somewhat free. He's driving me crazy because he changed my blue, normal screensaver to a white one with war tanks - he's obsessed with war computer games, plastic soldiers, etc. and makes battle noises that sound like dying crickets. Now, I can't find my documents without attaching my eyeball to the monitor. By the end of this post, I'm sure I'll get my shit back together, but for once, I'm writing and I don't really know where I'm going. There's a lot I could write, but I think I just want to talk about the color pink.

Sofia Madyson is pink, everything about her screams pink and until I had her, I couldn't even look at the color. The other day the birthday present my mom sent her two months ago arrived...a light pink boa, a princess crown and scepter and other goodies. She wrapped that pink boa around her neck and strutted her five year old self around the house jammin' to Ru Paul, yeah, my girl can work it like her mamma.

Pink is such a feminine color, such a vulnerable color. My sister and I are not the type of chicks who wear pink. We are strong, athletic, ambitious, determined and motivated women who don't wear pink. Two men have given me a pink gift in my life. What would possibly make them choose the color pink for me? What in me did they see that said, "I must get this pink gift for Jodi." They could have chosen from a variety of colors, why pink? You know a man sees your vulnerable, girly, sensitive side when he looks at the rainbow and sees you as pink. So, let this be a warning to all men reading...think twice before giving the gift of pink to a strong woman like myself, it touches places that are better left untouched.

And to all women reading this blog who LIVE FOR pink, I will bring out that aggressive side of you that your husband would like to see a little more often *smile*

I just had a chat with my Colonel friend who has been chatting for the past eleven years. He drives me crazy because he asks me a thousand questions on grammar that I never know the answer to, I am here for psychological support, not grammatical issues. Anyway, for the past eleven years I have wondered why he kept his pinky nail really long compared to the rest of his nails. I couldn't ask, because obviously I was assuming he was a cocaine addict. However, shock of all shocks, he spontaneously revealed to me the reason this morning. I swear I almost cried, I'm extra sensitive today for some reason, must be pms. He said that his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father all kept their pinky nail long...a family tradition passed down from generation to generation that began during a time when the long pinky nail symbolized prosperity. During the late 1800's only a man who did not perform difficult manual labor could maintain his pinky nail long, kind of like the pasty, white skin the English so coveted as a sign of wealth and aristocracy. The Colonel has no children to carry on this tradition, God, how sad is that...

Speaking of nails, I'm having mine done in about twenty minutes. A girl must be a woman. Yesterday, I went shopping for a new lipgloss and came home with some new green eyeliner and gallllllllitttttttttttah eyeliner, now my eyes are glittery and favorite color.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Hot, Dyke, Sister Niki's Response

God I'm pissed off this morning! The freaking neighborhood cats are in heat and I have a male cat. Let me tell you the sound of female cats in heat is about as sexy as when a doctor looks in your ear...although, that would depend on the doctor. How hot is Patrick Dempsey???? Some women are so aggressive.

Anyway, for the past three months I've been waking up either at 3:31 am or 4:16 am consistently. 3/31 is my anniversary...and 4/16? Beats the hell out of me, but as opposed to two nights ago, I managed to sleep without dreaming, which would have been perfect had the sound of terrifying miaos and HARD scratching not kept waking me up. Then, suddenly, the light in my tired brain came on and I stuck my iPod in my ears to listen to this song. Ah...peace.

I woke up about an hour ago to my sister's response to yesterday's blog. Here it is, yeah that's my sistaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh:

Wow,I need to read my sister's blogs more often. And I feel like I need to reread these comments 10 times before I have a complete understanding of what everyone is saying. I am quite sure that everyone involved in some minority group goes through a similar experience be it language or not.

It is funny, just the other day, I was in a restaurant with my girlfriend and there were a group of women signing at the table across from us. They were showing a video to each other on adopting a baby. I was intrigued by the group and found myself gazing at them a number of times. I wondered what it was like to live in a world within a world. But then I thought to myself, I suppose I do that too being gay. I have a world within a world of my own. And I feel people's gazes upon me all the time. I used to be shy about affection and self expression, especially because I was a teacher at one point. Now, as I have grown more confident within myself and who I am, I do not care how the people around me perceive my interactions with my loved ones. I am myself and I am proud of who I am, and this world is mine for the taking.

I am here to teach and educate. I always have been, whether it be to children of all ages in the form of schooling, or to lgbt youth in the form of a role model. I can never understand why people within the lgbt community have issue with bisexual or transgendered human beings. It seems so much that we are all in the same spot, just trying to be accepted in this big world. Who are we to decide that one way of living is better than another?

It phases me now that the same controversies go on in the deaf world. CI verses sign language? It seems from reading this that people who choose to raise their deaf children one way can be opposed to another way to raise a deaf child. I wonder why people need to have such strong views that one way is better than another. I am guilty of this too. At one point in my life, I wanted my nephew to learn sign language. I feared that he would never be able to communicate with us. That he would never be able to communicate period. I was convinced that he would constantly be frustrated with no real language that he could grasp.

When he received that cochlear implant, to me, it was a miracle. A second chance for language. However, I still have the idea in my head that I would want him to learn sign language. But I guess over time i have learned to trust what my sister is doing with him. Who am I to make her decisions? Who am I to cast judgment upon how she raises her child. I can only try to be supportive and hope for the best.

I suppose for the most part, that has been the way she has acted toward me and my sexuality. And just for the record, it was the "lipstick intervention" and I will not comment further on it. I see many signing people at prides all over the country. That is like living a world within a world within a world. Amazing how people are resilient and survive this extremely harsh, opinionated world that we live in. I feel like i am babbling with not much of a point to make here.

I suppose I am saying that we all are just trying to be the best people we can be and make a difference. People are different, people are beautiful whether signing, gay, black, jewish, or whether they choose to where a cochlear implant and adjust to the hearing world. To each his own to be cliche. If we all could try and understand eachother, this world would be a much better place. Thanks Jodi for including me in your writings. You are a beautiful sister.
Niki Cutler

*And you are a beautiful sister, too*

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Gay Community VS. The Deaf Community

Oh, there is nothing like a blank page to get me started, and yesterday's blog raised a lot of questions and requests. The sun is shining here in Grosseto today, I only finally saw it after three classes of preschoolers who are no longer sick, happy for them, but now I'm back to the original 90. Can't remember anything because I was thinking about what to blog. Talk about multi-tasking. My head is so full of things I need to do, contracts to sign, resumes to print and update, books to read and translating corrections to be made. I think my first free minute to breathe may just be Friday, insanity.

Hmmm, after eleven years of living in Grosseto and going through what we've been through with Jordan, I am only now beginning to return to what I was before I got here, which is scary yet ok. I do not "belong" in Grosseto, but I do "belong" to myself. I'm okay with me, myself and I and it didn't take a community to get me here, it took living the experience and managing to come out of it in one piece, at least for now. Only when you accept yourself for who you are, positive and negative qualities, strengths and insecurities, can you begin to live and love. Faith is an important part of this because Faith requires that you believe in a higher power (of your choice)and that, yes, life happens for a reason. Swallow it and move on. Just chewing on my banana.

The world is made up of many small communities formed by people looking for validation, acceptance and freedom of self-expression. My sister is a dyke (she prefers that to lesbian)and she is proud of who she is, she is able to love. We used to teach at the same school, our classrooms were across the hall from each other. She was heterosexual for 21 years, but she had always had "girl crushes." I remember the first time she went to a gay bar "The Hippo" in Baltimore, yes, I too have been there, and pole danced like a champ. She went alone. She did not leave alone. She met her first girlfriend and the rest was history. This new lifestyle slowly transformed her and she is just not the type of person to stay in the closet, so one Thanksgiving Eve when the cousins came over to all go out to the bars, she introduced her girlfriend to everyone and told them she was gay. Silence. Then...admiration.

I'll admit, we did have one minor episode after the big coming out, when my mom and I asked Niki (the blonde on the left in the blog photo) why she didn't wear lipstick anymore. What can I say? I'm shallow like that. Niki hasn't let me live it down and calls it the "The Lipstick Drama." She felt that her gay identity was under attack. Okay. Since coming out, she has built her business Dykes in the City and life within the Gay Community and I have been a part of that as much as possible. I wear her clothing, tattoo breasts and hairy legs at Gay Prides whenever I'm in town and yes, partook in Rosie O'Donnell's and Kelli's Inaugural Gay R Family Vacations Cruise to the Bahamas (we made CNN:)).

Now that was a rockin' good time! NOBODY knows how to party like the Gay Community, I even won a hundred dollars playing blackjack.
Everyone knew I was straight, they were happy to welcome me, get to know me and chug some beers with me...the feeling was mutual. I was the minority on that cruise, the "outsider" and I was so conscious of the fact that the couples hugging and kissing could be free to be and free to love each other without feeling observed or different. Life can be so oppressive.

Back to Gay Pride. Gay Pride festivals are either a family event or a party hard event. At one festival Ru Paul reigned,

I saw men in contraptions I never knew existed, had some "woman" with a mustache named Alex bringing me jello shots, became an honorary member of the Charm City Boys Club, that were really questionable girls and admired some funky men in really, really high heeled stilettos, wearing A LOT of makeup. I got an education. Then, at the Pride Festival at Druid Ridge Park,

I tattoed a lot of little kids, a lot of adopted little kids of gay families. I interacted with a Gay community ranging in age from teens to elderly, even saw an old student, who I hugged and revelled in the beauty of Gay PRIDE.

The Gay Community provides a sense of belonging and welcomes diversity and visitors who respect that diversity. Only when you truly accept yourself for who you are as an individual can you accept others into your community.

Kristi wrote:
Please remember some deaf people are still in closet. You know how gay people are when they are in closet. They would get defense if someone say to them that they are gay. They will get angry or freak out. They are also in denial. Once they get out of the closet, they finally accept who they are and embrace gay. They were taught to be shame of their own identity. It is same thing for some deaf people.

My point is this: If Deaf people are members of the Deaf Community, doesn't that mean that they have effectively "come out" and accepted, acknowledged and feel Deaf pride? Where is the diversity and acceptance of all those "types" that fall under the category of Deaf?

Mark wrote (loved the whole comment, gotta keep it all):

Hey Jodi,

A couple of things:
First, watch the road! I enjoy your posts and want to continue doing so. A throng of American construction workers just breathed a huge sigh of relief that you're okay. :)
Second, I just can't resist the opportunity to put on my myth-buster hat, play some word games of my own, and re-define "conformity."
It was in the hearing world -- the one where so many hearing people ignorantly assume I can't possibly be happy unless I'm exactly like them--where I was under much pressure to conform.
It's in the Deaf world where I can belong, and effortlessly do so.
In the hearing world I didn't dare rock the boat because it was hard enough to keep up with everyone.
In the Deaf world, I've done some really crazy, out-of-this-world, insane stuff. Let me tell you right now that I'll never be president of the United States.
Old friends, ex-girlfriends, bartenders, farm animals, et cetera, would come crawling out of the woodwork with scandalous stories that would stop my campaign before it started.
And that's because ASL and the Deaf community give me an opportunity to express myself freely.
Nowadays I pretty much behave myself (I think). But I'll always be thankful to the Deaf community for allowing me to become a unique individual.
Just had to chip in my 2 cents because I love pointing out that the Deaf community strengthened me to the point where I actually function better in the hearing world --which, ironically, is what the hearing world wanted in the first place.
Weird world, ain't it?
Keep up with the thoughtful posts, I love it :)
Best regards,

Obviously the Deaf community has a lot to offer its members, but this you-must-speak-ASL to be a member is limiting its growth and power. Geez, to be accepted by the Gay community, all I had to do was have a dyke sister and tattoo a couple of bare breasts (Deaf bare breasts, too). You guys are making me sweat. *smile*

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Power of Words...Which Language? A Response to Karen Mayes' Dad

Just downed another yogurt and banana, because I will maintain my new body at least until I have to get into that dress for the wedding! And now, the Italian construction workers cheer when I walk by instead of the normal once-over. Although, don't lose your pants...the toothless Italian construction workers are NOTHING like those muscular sweaty-hot American ones. Damn. Anyway, I almost did not make it home in one piece today because as I tried to pass a VERY slow-moving car, I almost crashed head-on into an oncoming van...almost, but not quite, so here I am still alive and typing like a madwoman. Why are there only 24 hours in a day? DING. Jordan's pizza is ready. The child eats pasta with ricotta, pizza or chicken fingers, not the best diet, but since I so do not "cook" in the kitchen...

Moving on...

Karen Mayes left me a comment her dad sent her yesterday, and when dads send comments, they must be addressed, especially this whopper (note: I will separate it into paragraphs for the commenter who complained):

"I read the blog from the woman living in Italy with her CI son. I enjoyed it very much. Somewhat related, I have been listening to lectures on great novels and today the professor was talking about how useless words are. They are horrible representations of what we see, feel, think and indeed say. What exactly do the words honor, faith, melancholy, blue, beautiful, upset, lovingly etc. etc. mean?

People, hearing and I assume deaf, will argue along the lines, "You said (fill in the blank) which tells me you mean (fill in the blank). Answer, "I said (fill in the blank) but not with that inflection you just used which changes what I meant." A recent book was written by a woman and the title was something along "Are You Wearing That Dress?" a question asked of a daughter by her mother. You can have a lot of fun with that question depending in what context the question was asked, the relationship between the mother and daughter and the different inflections used in the asking. Maybe it is a simple question or maybe it is a criticism. Words mean what ever we say they mean. They are always contextual and suffer from different interpretations. But words are wonderful and can paint beautiful pictures.

The professor talks about a scene in a Faulkner novel where the character goes out at night to take a drink from the bucket of water with a dipper and says he scatters the stars with the dipper, bringing alive the image of the reflection of the stars in the bucket but also eluding to the idea of the Bid Dipper and Little Dipper scattering the night stars.

Might be an area you might want to open to discussion with your group. I assume there are misinterpretation in ASL as well as the hearing world. It would be productive to see how people can learn not only how to hear each other but how to listen to what each is trying to say with the inadequate tools of words and signs.

One last thought. Scientist use the term "sensory probes" when discussing our senses. Touch, hearing, sight, smell are all sensory probes used to navigate our environment. What do you call deaf or sightless animals??? Lunch.. Many people do not like the idea but we too are animals and if we do not have the full use of all our senses we are at an disadvantage to compete. You will not wind up as someone else's lunch, but deafness is a disadvantage.

Seems reasonable to me one would want to improve his or her completive position, by getting an education, staying healthy, using a wheel chair if crippled, Braille if blind and maybe a cochlear implant if deaf. I plan on getting a hearing aide when my hearing falters. I do not plan on joining my local ASL group to discover my deaf heritage. Do you think I would be a happier, more complete person if I had joined some German Society when I was young to get in touch with my German heritage? I think it is wonderful that there is a support group to turn to that gives the history of the deaf and sense of pride the ASL groups intend to offer. But limit their appeal by requiring conformity..."

KM's Dad...POWERFUL WORDS that cover a variety of arguments. First of all, I love words, playing with words, sending subliminal messages and subliminally transmitting my thoughts to anyone who wants to understand. Paotie does that in his blog and that's why I enjoy reading his posts. Mishka and Aidan blog in a more straightforward passionate manner and oftentimes use text, quotes and research to support their words. My knowledge of Italian has only improved my take on English and the combination of the two languages enables me to make my points in a more specific manner. Italian is a culturally rich language full of euphemisms, idioms and words that really know how to specifically reflect an emotion, it's a very Romantic language.(interruption: Jordan and Simone just got home. Saturday night Jordan taught Simone the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star song on his guitar and Simone is now playing it. Beautiful. I'm imagining my son playing for the ladies around a beach campfire, he is the type.) I can only imagine how ASL and English play together when the individual has total visual and auditory access.

I do agree with your question, "What exactly do the words honor, faith, melancholy, blue, beautiful, upset, lovingly etc. etc. mean?" Sometimes, we don't really even know ourselves the meanings of these words until we actually live them, and then, only by explaining the experience can we give meaning to such general terms. Explaining the experience in such a way as to give meaning to such words is art in and of itself...I think Aidan created art in her post, because she managed to convey her feelings using words that touched me. I don't have to agree with her, but I can appreciate the art in what she is saying.

"Words mean what ever we say they mean. They are always contextual and suffer from different interpretations." I agree with this statement, as well, but don't forget to add other factors...body language, eyes and the audience. If I write, "I'm unwrapping a lollipop" to my girlfriend (depending on the girlfriend) and if I say the same thing to a guy friend (doesn't matter which guy friend) interpretations may vary, also depending on how well the person knows my personality. If I say this to a certain person and add body language and serious eye contact, the statement assumes an entirely different meaning. For now, let's just stick to the written aspect, though. The same thing has occurred in our discussions about the word "Fix." Interpretations are not always about taking it from the source, rather, the audience plays an important role in "getting" what the author is saying. That audience has a variety of experiences behind the words that the author just may not have...and this is the response to your point: "It would be productive to see how people can learn not only how to hear each other but how to listen to what each is trying to say with the inadequate tools of words and signs."
"Many people do not like the idea, but we too are animals, and if we do not have the full use of all our senses we are at an disadvantage to compete." I am an animal, no debate there. In regard to the rest, being at a disadvantage to compete is directly related to your environment and your desire for competition. Hearing people are the majority, so if you live in that environment, deafness will be a disadvantage. I am certain that people who submerge themselves in the Deaf community have decided to live in an environment where they do not feel at a disadvantage...entirely. Reality would dictate that Deaf individuals still need to interact with a hearing world, but the "disadvantage" factor is all in the eye of the individual acknowledging or not acknowledging the sense of disadvantage.

As the hearing mom of a deaf child, I consider the disadvantage and wanting to give my son all the power of choice in the world to never feel totally limited by environmental factors, chose the cochlear implant. Ultimately, he will choose his least restrictive environment socially and economically...only time will tell.

And...last but not least:
"I think it is wonderful that there is a support group to turn to that gives the history of the deaf and sense of pride the ASL groups intend to offer. But limit their appeal by requiring conformity..."
In an ideal world there would be no conditions placed on people and ideals, but the world is composed of diverse experiences, emotions, and demands for validation. Those vague words that you were talking about are powerful enough to break the barriers, the only question is...which language do we use?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Special Friends

Morning! I'm freaking out because my mom just booked a ticket for Jordan to fly into Baltimore with me in April for my brother's wedding (300 people in New York, still don't have a dress)and I just realized that both of his passports are expired! Shit. I know where I'll be on Monday morning.
For the first time in I don't know how long, I actually managed to sleep until 9, maybe because I went to bed at 2:). I've been working on reviewing the Italian translation, such a strange feeling to see your words in another language. I showed the first two chapters to Perla, one of my students and she smiled while she was reading...good sign. She's so funny, everytime I see her, she's complaining about her mom. Typical teenager stuff, but one thing she said killed me. She has this best friend named Chiara that her mom can't stand. I said, "Chiara must be the one who doesn't say Good Morning or Please and Thank you to your mom." Perla was like "Yeah, how do you know that?"
Don't we all have that rebellious best friend that our parents can't stand. Mine was and is and forever will be Julie. She's freaking crazier than I am and everything we did together became an unforgettable experience.
We were friends in high school, became closer in camp, started hitting the bars our last year of high school with fake ids and then there was college and our sorority life. There is so nothing in Italy comparable to an American sorority experience, Sofia will have that experience if I have to crawl home to give it to her. I don't think that experience is something Jordan will need based on his personality, but Sofia Madyson is a bomb waiting to explode...just like her Mamma.
Back to Julie and the parents hating rebellious friends. "Jodi, she's too wild for you. She's not a good influence, etc." My mom disliked Julie so much that she prohibitted her from parking her car in our driveway! rotfl.
Julie has stood by me in every single situation of my life, as I have for her. Like the time we had a dated party with our sorority and I was on the date of my life with this guy named Gil - all I can say is jet black hair and the greenest eyes ever. Julie was with a blonde surfer type named Dave and after about one hour was puking her lungs out in the bathroom, I mean to exaggeration like scare the shit out of me puking. So, I left Gil with Dave and proceeded to spend the next two and a half hours in the 2x2 bathroom holding her head. Hell. Sheer hell, a dated party never to be forgotten. And Gil, met the girl of his dreams that night after the party as I was helping Julie to bed. Sometimes things are just not meant to be...damn it!
Aside from the drunken stupor incidents there were the tailgates, Greek Weeks, Crush parties, and daily life of living in one sorority house with 35 other girls - the biggest closet I've had in my life! I worked hard through college so that I could afford to party hard and pay for my car -the greatest part of living in that house with Julie was that every night after the bars all of us would congregate in the House kitchen to talk about the night...guys. We talked over these frozen pizzas "Little Charlie's" that you popped in the toaster and were beyond heaven at 2 am. when you desperately needed something to slam your stomach straight. Julie and I shared many Little Charlies and we laughed so much about everything and everyone...
Of course, then there were the roadtrips: Spring Break in Key West, Fort Lauderdale with my grandparents(Oh my God, that was an experience), Toronto, Sarasota...Had car, would travel. Julie and I have somewhat different taste in music, she likes oldies but goodies and SHOWTUNES blah, and I like rap and modern rock, so we compromised and shoved the Bob Marley cassette in the radio. Then, we moved on to Paul Simon, Carly Simon and James Taylor and somehow managed to drive 24 hours straight from University of Maryland College Park to Key West. Whoa, that was an exceptional Spring Break...think Sloppy Joe's, Tiki Bars and Rumrunners.

How strange that two best friends like us should both have children with special needs. Julie's three year old son is autistic and she is just the most devoted mother I have ever seen. She is doing everything in her power to love her boy and meet his needs...and she is doing it alone, because I am freaking halfway across the world. Most of the time friendship requires that you interact and share in your friends' lives day in and day out, but then there are those very special relationships that don't require that you speak every day to let the person know how much you care and are there for them. We have that kind of best girlfriend love thing going on. And btw, Julie is allowed to park in the driveway now. I told Perla to hang in there...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hey Karen and Aidan...Amazing Posts!

"Face of dick!" This is what my student called another one in my Middle School group during our rowdy game of "Go Fish" where apparently anything goes. After fifty minutes of conversation and grammar, they just can't control their teen hormones and foul mouths, so they let it all rip those last ten minutes. Yeah, I can hang with them, after all, foul language is a part of the language experience...SO, I had to correct him, it did take me a couple of minutes to compose myself - they kill me...yes, he now knows that "Face of dick" is more correctly known as "Dickface!"
And...I had to help one of my high school students translate Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" for an oral exam that analyzes some type of text. Not quite sure it's the best song for the job, but one thing is for sure, her presentation will hold the professor's attention. Hmmm...I just really want you to understand the many subtleties that added together form my freaking insane life these days.

I was MIA on Thursday because I was busy getting busy on V-Day. So...I missed Karen Mayes' blog and now I have about 15 minutes to get deep on this subject before I have to go and not come back. So...Karen raised an interesting point:

What disturbs me is the oppression of CI people by Deaf people. CI people would be accepted only if they know ASL. It does not make sense to me… because that is very conditional, very isolating, a way to let them know that they are not normal until they learn ASL. Are we seeing oppression in action now, in DeafRead? Instead, while they claim to welcome CI people because they are deaf just like them, BUT only if… the CI people took up ASL. If they see no need for ASL, fine, the doors are then slammed shut in their faces, proving the claims of the deaf community as being exclusive sadly correct. Where is Deafhood in this?

I am here posting and sharing on conscious of the fact that the Deaf community asserts a passionate need for its members to be fluent in ASL to be recognized not as being deaf in and of itself, but as proof that the person is truly in touch with and accepting of himself or herself as a Deaf individual. It is my impression that the combination of the two elements ASL and being deaf are requirements for true membership.

Then, in one of the best blogs I have EVER read, Aidan Mack writes:

The concept of "Deafhood" encourages the acceptance of all different kinds of Deaf people. Deafhood is a journey where we examine ourselves as Deaf people, and make the effort to push ourselves to higher levels, rather than focus on the medical term "deafness" which puts the focus on broken ears and detracts from putting the focus where it belongs, i.e., on the person as a whole and complete person. Deafhood always emphasizes the acceptance of all kinds of Deaf people. I was invited, as a special guest, to attend a session of three-credit Deafhood course offered by David Eberwein as the instructor. I was overwhelmed and felt a sense of awe in seeing all the different kinds of Deaf people at the class, including oral deaf people, deaf people with cochlear implants, and those who grew up in mainstream classes. There were even hearing people attending the class.

And Aidan's point is well taken...people like my son and myself are accepted, but not truly members...yet.

I have learned a couple of things in my journey with my son. First of all, Aidan says, "ASL is our BIRTHRIGHT," I respectfully reply that NO language is a birthright, it is an acquired communication method chosen based on a person's environment and ability. I would have said that English was my son's birthright, instead it happened to have been Italian, with English a close second. I had to learn Italian because our journey in Deafhood dictated such, I became part of another culture for my son...learning a new language does not scare me, it's only a matter of finding the time...and the teacher. Each culture must be respected and those who are not native to that culture must be the ones to adapt, because the culture sure as hell isn't going to adapt to you.
I am adapting.

Karen wrote:
BUT, CI is very much part of the deaf community, same as very much part of the hearing community and they are really the bridges between two worlds. They could help us understand the hearing world and they could help hearing people to understand the deaf world.

Aidan wrote:
We in the Deaf community have many hearing friends who are parents of Deaf children. These are parents who respect ASL and want to learn about our community. They are open minded, and they want the best for their Deaf children. They don't look down on us or harbor prejudices toward us. It is perfectly fine for people to see things from each other's differing perspectives, engage in spirited discussions, and still be friends.

I am adapting...
Bloggers are building bridges.

(and now I am going because I am latttttttteeeeeeeeeee! No time to re-read, it is what it is...Have a GREAT Saturday!)

Friday, February 15, 2008



"Rally Caps is a heartwarming book about perseverance and courage. Congratulations to Steve and Jodi for taking the challenges in their lives and turning it into a wonderful book that helps teach valuable lessons of acceptance and resilience to kids and adults alike."

Cal Ripken, Jr.

I feel overwhelmingly honored and privileged to write this blog today and to probably shock my father into a heart attack at this very moment. How ironic that I just returned home with the completed Italian translation of RALLY CAPS in my hands to find an email with Cal Ripken Jr.'s endorsement of a book that was created and written for the purest of Cal Ripken Jr. has always been a role model, class act and inspiration to so many children worldwide, and it is only fitting that he is the USA Good Will Ambassador. He is the inspiration for the main character in RALLY CAPS based on his work ethic and love of the game of baseball. Cal, thank you so much for believing in our book's message that "Nothing is Impossible." And...thank you, really, John - you are an amazing and cool will get a huge kiss either April 1, 2, 3 or 4th *smile*

Yesterday was Jordan's *interrupted by another message from Marty :)* day, I mean big-time! Yes, Romeo-Jordan struck twice with the ladies. When I picked him up from school, he proceeded to tell me that not only did he give his Valentine's Day gifts to Martina and Sara, but that he was just not even the smallest bit shy about giving them. What a stud! Note: the gifts were two GO101 tees with the word INNAMORATO ("In Love") written across the chest.

He said that when he gave the gift to Martina, she got all choked up and almost cried. He wrote on the bag, "Happy Valentine's Day, thank you so much for always helping me." He then told me that when he gave the gift to Sara, she hugged him and he was so excited that he ran to the bathroom and screamed! As we headed for the pizzeria to get some lunch, he told me that another friend of his gave a green ring to a girl in his class, but that he was really shy and kind of gave it to her with his head hidden. Adorable.

The day did not end there, oh no, it gets even better. After we finished eating lunch, I dropped Jordan back off at school because he had to prepare for a solo guitar performance. He was very nervous about performing because it was his very first time doing so in front of a crowd. All I can say is TEARS! There were about fifty people in the audience composed of parents and students. The professor called the students one at a time to perform their musical piece. As I have said before, Jordan attends the Leonardo Da Vinci middle school that specializes in Musical Education; he studies the guitar. These kids were amazing, very well-prepared and intense. The third year students cheered for their classmates and basically went crazy after each friend finished the performance. When it was Jordan's turn to play, the audience went crazy for him, yet he calmly took his place, set up the instrument and began to play.

I stopped breathing. He began the piece by Mozart, which was "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" (I'm so ignorant, I never knew that was by Mozart, and I've been singing it since I was a toddler)and immediately messed up.
Was my boy phased? - hell no! He began again and played, I swear, the most beautiful rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" I have ever heard in my entire life. Yes, there was my deaf child with a cochlear implant strumming the guitar and moving his head to the rhythm. When he finished, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and ...he bowed twice.

Yes, yesterday was all about Jordan. God am I a proud Mamma!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This One's For YOU...

You know I can't go a day without blogging, especially since Valentine's Day is only a couple of hours away...I'm feeling motivated by loooooovvvvvveeeee:) Who knows what this V-Day will bring? For some it will be D-Day.
Love. What a crazy, surreal concept. There are so many different kinds of love: a mother's unconditional love for her child often compared to a man's love for his dog; empathetic love for your friends; grateful love for people who have helped you in your life; fleeting love for the guy who lets you in the slam-packed lane on the beltway; unexpected love for the person who sends you a letter that rocks your world and changes your life; undying love for the postman who does NOT drop off a bill in your mailbox.
To love, your heart needs to be functioning and giving, because true love is about giving and not taking. Love inspires creativity and self-expression. Suddenly, when it rains- provoking the dreaded bad-hair day- you just do not even give a shit. You glide through the day and when someone gives you the finger, you smile and say, "Thank you."
To love is one of the greatest risks in life, because you allow someone else to have access to your soul. Some people are born lovers, while others are either born closed or suffer to such a great degree that they no longer trust others enough to let themselves love. These are the saddest people because they screw their way through life without ever feeling, truly feeling. Yes, sex is exciting, invigorating, but sex without heart is empty...and these people too afraid to risk, end up alone. It's easy to be alone. You have no one to tell you where to be at what time and when and how to do your thing and live your life.
Speaking of creativity, I will never forget one of the most romantic gestures a guy has ever done for me...I was dating this guy, and he was just not idolizing me to the degree I deserved, so I ended it. The next morning I woke up to go to work, and as I left my house, I noticed a trail of rose petals leading from the door. I followed the rose petals to my car, where there were thousands of them covering my car. To see your car covered in rose petals is quite an emotional experience. On the hood of my car there was a letter that said, "Please forgive me, let's get back together!" (He wanted my body.)
I called him and told him that was the most romantic gesture a guy had ever done for me (or anyone I remotely knew), but it was...too little, too late. Ba-Bye. Told y'all I was a bitch.
The moral of this little blog is that no matter how hard one person tries, she can't make the other person love her back if the love just isn't there. And sometimes, even if the love is there, she still can't make him love her.
So, to all of the lovers who will find their Valentine's Days filled with pink boas, chocolate hearts, stuffed animals and passionate sex...appreciate-truly appreciate that love and feeling
there will be just as many people suffering this Valentine's Day, deluded and disappointed, but...still in love.

Note: Tomorrow's blog will be about Romeo-Jordan's big Valentine's Day.

Taking a Day Off...

Today...I am tired. NO blog. And, I have to go hunt down TWO Valentine's Day presents for Romeo-Jordan who has already told the two lucky ladies that they will be receiving something from him on the BIG DAY. So, because Wednesday is usually my craziest day, and I would have had no time to go find those gifts, I'm PLAYING HOOKY!!! from the world! Have a great day, everyone, I'll be back tomorrow - Valentine's Day!! Love Valentine's Day, I'm such a romantic at heart. I kiss-smack all of you, Jodi
To order the Adorable CI Bear Pillow or the Chocolate Hearts, click here. (Proceeds go to ci-related organizations and both designs were created by the one and only Rachel)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Can't We Make Love?...Nope!...Let Us Take a Moment to REFLECT!

*Read at your own risk*
God, what a great morning. My morning was so beyond relaxing: I had three pre-school classes and out of 90 monsters, about sixty were absent with the chicken pox and flu...poor pediatricians of Grosseto:) I honestly can not remember one thing that I sang, I know I danced, and I somehow managed to make it home in one piece...

Pre-pre-school, I read Paula's blog that called me a sexual blogger, so I'm freaking getting sick of this deep analysis shit, and I am so feeling the need to break out with some sen-su-a-li-ty. Wahoo...maximum stimulation...another blog by Paotie, that I was just begging for (although I find blondes highly overrated)...and Aidan with her intense blog has me considering joining my sister in her lifestyle. However, Aidan's analysis, ain't working for me, especially because I can't stand Italian cinema - just Roberto Benigni.

*Perhaps I'm not deep enough to understand Italian humor - but women shaking a lot of t and a and looking stupid just is not funny, and they certainly have a difficult time "getting" me*

One fundamental problem with Italian culture is that it lives way too much in the country's rich past. Look at the Elementary School curriculum! Where is the focus on science? Non-existent. In five years of Elementary School, Jordan performed one experiment using the Scientific Method, pathetic. Actually, Jordan's cochlear implant experience may have been the most technological learning moment of his five years. History, history, let's study our agricultural territory and concentrate on nutrition...yes, Italy is breathtakingly beautiful with artists, painters and musicians. This lack of concentration on Science has had a direct effect on research and technological innovation leading to the infamous New York Times article "Italy Sings an Aria of Disappointment" of a month ago - see post. Why don't we take the Italian experience and use it as an analogy for why it is time to acknowledge how technology must be integrated and accepted by the Deaf Community? Time to move forward...this does not mean forsaking our past, it means learning from it and evolving.

Just when I was getting hot and heavy, editors decide they are taking a moment to reflect on how to organize common Italian thing -"Il famoso periodo di riflessione" So, now I have become foreplay...waiting, waiting, waiting. Limboland is just so not the place for a full-blown Scorpio like myself. I need action and decisive moves...balls.

Ann C left this comment that rocked my world:
Ann_C said...
Since I started commenting on DeafRead a few months ago, I first noted how ASL-centric or Deaf-centric the blog aggregator was. However, more and more deaf people with moderate views have been weighing in either their own blogs or comments in other blogs.
There are a few individuals who hold extreme views and tend to be most vocal and critical of other deaf who think differently. The squeakiest wheel tends to get the most attention unfortunately.
It is my hope that DeafRead practices a fair policy to treat all deaf, including those who are members of Deaf culture, equally. We can all learn from other deaf perspectives, even though I may not relate to the CI experience, for example. Tolerance and acceptance of others are rather new concepts for the d/Deaf who suffer intolerance and rejection by the hearing world on a daily basis.
It is one thing to talk tolerance and acceptance of different deaf perspectives, another to actually practice what one preaches among ourselves. Online blogging for the deaf is relatively new, and it's so easy to malign others behind the mask of anonymity even when there is a blogging policy or etiquette in place. Online blogging magnifies the extremes, when in real life, as Karen Mayes noted, people are really not like that in person-to-person interaction. Online we're looking at either someone's words in text or sign, it's that one more remove from actual person-to-person chat.
OTOH DeafRead can touch so many lives by bringing together in one place so many different deaf people. None of us are cookie-cutter made, each of us have had a unique deaf experience, but we all have that one commonality, deafness. That is where we all need to begin in order to practice what we preach.

Commenters' voices add diversity to this whole experience, and they are asking for equal opportunity blogging to enrich the dialogue. Sidenote: Brian and Karen Mayes are THE hottest couple of commenters on *wink*

Soooooo, editors...Pucker Up -
You know you want to kiss me...
and I know how to use my tongue(s).