Saturday, June 30, 2007

I am blessed.

You know, I've always known that. This isn't a news flash or a revelation to me. But this weekend, in particular, I am blessed because of YOU. So far I've heard from over 20 of you...some old friends, a couple of new friends, a few strangers. I've also gotten e-mails from several of you. And many of these comments and e-mails were deeply personal. Many of you have been able to relate in one way or another and have shared that with me. Many of you were incredibly encouraging and inspiring to me. Some of you have made me laugh...every one of you has made me smile. Knowing that I am supported by such incredible friends is a blessing that I do not take lightly...THANK YOU for being behind me!
I was in counseling a while back for an unrelated issue and the subject of hearing loss came up. The counselor said that he felt that I had a lot of self-esteem issues from my deafness, but I set him straight on that. He didn't know what he was talking about. Or so I thought. I think it took me getting out of my safety zone and meeting other deaf people before I realized how hard the past few years have been, physically and emotionally. I was frankly not looking forward to the convention that much...I thought it would be kind of weird. I had no idea how life-changing it would be and I'm so glad I went. Stepping out of your box and taking risks can be so rewarding :)!
I got an e-mail today from a lady named Shari that I met while in OKC. She is from the Nashville HLAA chapter and she somehow managed to find this blog. She assured me that Harry Potter WILL be opened captioned when it hits the theater, and told me that there are TWO opened captioned theaters in Nashville (the other one is at 100 Oaks)! How cool!! I am waiting to see when the showtimes will be and I am GOING! Wouldn't that be awesome?? I wish y'all could all come with me!
We picked up Katie from camp last night and didn't get home until around 1 AM. It was so good to have my beautiful daughter back home with me (we haven't spent much time together in about a week and a half!) safe and sound and happy (but tired!). Now I have another daughter missing...Rachel went yesterday with Doug, Lisa, and Alexis to Gatlinburg for the weekend! She'll be home sometime Tuesday night, making it two full weeks since our entire family has been together!
I'm going to get off and try to get some housework done (I'm undermotivated, as usual). I just had to say thanks, though, to all of you, for your incredible response and support. You are all blessings to me, and I thank God for you all!
Love to all...
<3

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reflections:

Just a warning. This post will more than likely be long and rambly, and perhaps not entirely positive...just a lot of my thoughts. I hope you'll bear with me, although if you get tired of me rambling, the little red X in the corner will make it all go away ;)
The weekend I spent in OKC made me rethink a lot of things. It was the first time I had ever spent a lot of time with other deaf people. I had been to CI Support Group meetings, but deep down, honestly felt like even though we were all hard of hearing, I wasn't one of them. I could hear something. I had a hearing problem, but I wasn't deaf.
I don't know what the stigma is about being deaf. There's no stigma with being nearsighted or farsighted, ya know? It's an accepted thing. I do know that the few people I know that are hearing impaired or slowly losing their hearing due to old age or environmental causes tend to fight it tooth and nail, often refusing to wear hearing aids or get any help until they're just plain desperate. Seems that folks would rather struggle than admit there's a problem. While I, myself, never had a real problem admitting to strangers that I couldn't hear well, it was always a little embarrassing, kind of like that made me less of a person. I have refused to use any but the most basic assistive devices to help me in my day-to-day life. I got a captioned phone, and refused to learn to use it. Sign language? Not for me. Shake-awake alarm clocks? Nah...I bought me a Moonbeam Clock. It's pretty, and it does the job by blinking a light to wake me up. It's a real clock like NORMAL people use. Do I sound prejudiced? Well, maybe I was. All I know is that I spent my whole life trying to be really, really normal. I didn't want to be deaf and different. I wanted people to see me and not my disability. All the people that went to conventions and used TTYs and loop systems and cochlear implants and sign language...they weren't really normal, like I wanted to be. They were different.
I told Laurie this weekend that being deaf sometimes makes me feel just stupid. When I say something and people don't understand me, I feel stupid. When someone says something to me, and I don't understand them, I feel really stupid. Never mind that it's a physical problem that prevents me from understanding them. When I try to order in the drive-around and finally have to drive up to the window to order, oy. When I have to ask someone to make a phone call for me, it's not "deaf" that I think, but "dummy". Every now and then I get the sense that people are a tiny bit resentful for having to accommodate me (although, I should point out, many people are VERY kind in this regard, and I SO appreciate that!), so I try not to bother anyone. Occasionally I'll just bluff my way through a conversation, rather than put people out by asking them to repeat themselves. If you smile and nod your head and try to look interested sometimes you can fool people into thinking you know what they're talking about. But inside, you feel...stupid. Never mind that when I took IQ tests back in high school I scored a 144, which puts me more towards the "not-stupid" category. So how to avoid looking stupid? The best way is to just stay away from people.
But for me, that's a huge conflict....I LOVE people. My mom has a picture of me when I was about four years old, sitting on a bench at the zoo, talking to a lady that was a total stranger to me. I can talk to anybody. I LOVE people! I think that it would be an awesome job to be a greeter at Wal-Mart....to stand at the door and talk to people when they come in. However, the stress of having to struggle through conversations, especially in the past year, make things like that really impractical. As a result of a combination of being deaf and other, personal factors, I have slowly, over the years, boxed myself into a tiny box, surrounded only by family and a few close friends. I don't let people into my box much. This blog is as much "out there" as I get...it's written, you know, so there's no misunderstanding, no hurt feelings, no "stupid".
Much is written about deaf people and depression. The isolation that deaf people often surround themselves with can be a very painful one. I know, I know, it's a choice. We don't have to live that way. But sometimes it seems like the easiest way. It's really not, though...it's lonely. I know that I shouldn't be lonely with a husband and five children, but I am...often. I don't step outside of my box and cultivate relationships, because they're hard to maintain. Even when people are friendly, the little voice that whispers "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!"sometimes gets really hard to shut up. It's hard to accept that people really like you for who you are and aren't, say, humoring you, being kind to the deaf girl, you know, doing their good deed for the day.
This weekend's trip to OKC was an eye-opener for me. I think that part of it was because I was with a group of people that it was safe to be honest with, and I was ready to be honest about it: "Hello. My name is Jennifer and I'm deaf. I'm one of you. I belong here." And in return, I felt accepted into the group; one of them, taken into the fold, a member of the family. We all shared our stories and trials. We talked about battery life and lip reading and signing and telephones. One of the gauges of how well someone can hear is if they can talk on the phone. I can't, but I met a bunch of folks that could...yay! What an accomplishment! It was just the common thing to be talking to someone and them say, "Ooops! Battery died...hang on...". Common to tap someone on the shoulder before starting a conversation, and being considerately tapped in return if someone had something to say to you. Complete understanding when you said, "I didn't catch that, what did you say?" Joking about not being able to "hear" in the dark. At the banquet Saturday night there was a man next to me that seemed to be completely deaf. If he needed something, he would tap me and mouth whatever he needed, and I would ask the servers for whatever he needed. He didn't mind asking me to help him, and I loved doing it. I understood his frustration at not being able to do it himself. We were all looking out for each other. I have never felt more like I belonged somewhere in all my life. I am not making this up. I felt completely comfortable to just relax and be me. It was incredible. And, you know what? I don't think I met one single stupid person all weekend. Everyone seemed pretty intelligent to me, some of them downright brainy, many of them funny. The only time I thought "stupid" all weekend was when I was tiptoeing around in the bedroom at night to keep from waking Laurie up (when she didn't hear a thing)! Why do I torture myself with this "stupid" business? We're not! We just can't hear! There's a big difference!! Why has it taken me so long to wrap my brain around this? (don't all say "because you're stupid!" at once, please! ;) )
Up until now, the HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) wasn't much of a big deal to me. I paid my yearly dues and got a magazine and the occasional e-mail. But meetings? Assistive devices? Uh, no. That was for the real deaf people. I had a sheet of paper with information about all the local chapters and their meeting times and places, but I threw it in the trash. Bah. Well, since I've been home I have looked at that old HLAA website up one side and down the other, memorized the times and the places of all the meetings in our area, and even discovered that-Yay!-Opry Mills Theater in Nashville shows OPENED CAPTIONED MOVIES. I am willing to drive an hour to watch a movie! I've seen one, and now I'm spoiled! Maybe Harry Potter will be open captioned!! Wouldn't that be AWESOME?
What it comes down to is this: I have seen what the deaf community is like, and I am ready to turn loose of whatever stupid prejudices I've had and be one of them. Yes, I still want to be a part of the "normal" world. Most of my world involves many great hearing people. But I am ready to spend some time getting to know other deaf and hard of hearing people. We need each other. We can help each other. Assistive listening devices? Companies put thousands and thousands of dollars and countless hours into helping make our world easier! Why am I fighting this? Sign? It's a beautiful language, and I'm kicking myself for not already knowing it...I met so many awesome people this weekend that sign, and I wished that I knew it so that I could participate better in the conversations.
And to the rest of the world: I need you, too. This social butterfly wants nothing more than to fill her life with wonderful people and opportunities, and if you are reading this, that means you too. I'm definitely not cutting off the hearing folks...after all, right now, that's the majority of my world :) I think that my point is, it's time for me to get real, to throw away my prejudices and ignore the stigmas and be proud that I am who I am, regardless of whether or not I can hear. It's just hearing, after all. There's so much more to me than my ears :)
Love you all!! (and, don't worry, I won't do this often ;) )
<3

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sunday and Monday:

Ah....it's beginning to look like I might get caught up! ;)
Sunday we got up around 7 and got dressed...Laurie for the flight home and me for church and the drive homeward. We got done in plenty of time to go down to the coffee shop and grab something to eat (another nutritious breakfast: this time, a large cup of coffee and a huge slab of banana nut bread....yum!!!!). While we were down there, Norm snuck up on us. We had said our good-byes to him the day before...several times. Every time we thought we wouldn't see him again, we'd run into him somewhere, and then we'd say good-bye again. While we were in the coffee shop we found out that his flight left only a few minutes before Laurie's, so it was decided that he would ride with us to the airport instead of having to take the shuttle. We all went up and got our luggage and then I went to get the car. When I drove it out of the garage, the booth was unattended, so I didn't have to pay anything....for an entire weekend of parking!! Yaaaaaaayyyy! :) We said our official, final good-byes to Norm at the airport. Laurie and I will see each other soon: she is coming to Nashville in August! In fact, I drove some of her silent auction winnings home with me since they wouldn't all fit in the suitcase...a great excuse for another get-together...I gotta deliver her stuff!! :D
I found the church building where our friend Bro. Osborne preaches and worshiped with them, then I hit the road. The day was fairly uneventful until around dinnertime...I couldn't find the congregation I had planned to worship with, and then I had a terrible time finding a hotel. Apparently, the hotels along I-40 in Arkansas are all pits. I checked into one and right back out of it again after two different rooms on two different sides of the hotel both smelled so horrible that I was afraid I'd be sick. There were other hotels at that exit, but, shellshocked, I decided to put some miles between that hotel and myself, so I drove for a while. That was a mistake, because I didn't run into many more hotels for about an hour and a half. When I finally found a nice-looking Baymont, I checked in, only to be greeted with more stinky rooms (I kid you not, I have never been in rooms as smelly as those along I-40!) . The manager showed me two different rooms, and I could actually breathe without feeling lightheaded in one of them, so I deemed it worthy and unpacked. I had a very unpleasant experience in the parking lot of that hotel...which is simply not blog material...and spent the rest of the night barricaded in my room, waiting for morning, so I could just get in the car and go again. Joyce and Laurie and my friend Tammy from NC entertained me with text messages nearly all day, and Joyce and I spent over an hour on our Yahoo! instant messagers that night...they were great company :)
I made it home yesterday without further incident. I found a Macaroni Grill in Germantown, just outside Memphis, and had a delicious lunch. When I got to Dickson, TN, I stopped to see Katie at camp. I hadn't seen her in almost a week, and it was good to see my sweet girl again! I made it home by 6 PM and we all went out to eat with the in-laws at Ruby Tuesday.
It was an amazing weekend. I had so many great experiences....met some terrific new friends...learned some new things about myself. I'll be sharing more of my experiences over the next few days, but for now I'm just glad I'm caught up...ha! :)
Y'all have been very patient readers...thank you. I love you all....and if any of my new friends from OKC are visiting, I hope you'll come back again and again...you helped make my weekend a wonderful one, and I'm so grateful for you!!
Love y'all....
<3

Next:

Saturday :)
I got up around 7 AM and went downstairs to the treadmill for half an hour (I hate treadmills...so boring!), then I went upstairs, got showered, and kind of poked around getting ready. Laurie was up and at 'em that morning and was dressed and ready to go when Mike and Joyce knocked on the door to invite us to breakfast. I, however, was nowhere near ready to go anywhere, so I told them I'd meet up with them, and then dashed around getting ready. I made it downstairs about 20 minutes later and loaded up my plate from the yummy breakfast buffet. I asked for coffee and was presented with an entire pot and a pitcher of cream...ah...that's how to do breakfast! We sat and talked for a little while and then walked over to the exhibit hall to check on Laurie's silent auction bids and be sociable for a few minutes. Mike had afternoon plans but we all wanted to go see the OKC Memorial (my pictures of it are in the below post) so we decided to get going and check it out so Mike could get back. We were standing at the trolley stop when Norm came strolling by so we asked him to come along with us. We all took the trolley a few blocks further downtown and checked the memorial out. It was a beautiful spot...very well designed, very symbolic, very peaceful. Go check out the link: there's a lot of information and more pictures there. We were probably there 45 minutes or so before we had to head back towards the convention center.
When we got back Mike left us to go man the Advanced Bionics booth, and Joyce, Laurie, Norm, and I decided to go find lunch. First we stopped at the coffee shop where I'd gotten my coffee the night before...Laurie had lost her camera and we hoped that it would be there. We were relieved when we found it! The kids that worked there had taken a few pictures of themselves as mementos...ha! From there we went to the Spaghetti Warehouse and sat down to a nice lunch. The restaurant had a train car in the center of the room and we got to eat our lunch inside. Since I had eaten way too much breakfast (and had too much coffee, if there's such a thing), I opted for a salad and a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup.
From there we walked to a jewelry store in Bricktown that we had been to the day before. The owner of the store's mom creates beautiful turquoise jewelry and Laurie had fallen in love with a particularly stunning piece at the Silent Auction. We talked to the store owner for a while to see if his mom could make Laurie one just like the one at the auction. When we left he pressed our hands warmly and bid us all a "safe journey". That was typical of the OKC residents we met: they were all friendly and warm and made us feel right at home.
When we left there we walked around Bricktown just a little longer then headed back to the convention center for ice cream. All day long, people had been asking Laurie and me if we were going to the banquet that night. We hadn't bought tickets for it when we registered, and since they were 75.00 apiece, we decided that we'd just go out to dinner instead, although we felt bad about missing the fun. As it turned out, though, while we were standing in the convention center yacking, we managed to snag a couple of tickets for a great price (one of them was free, and we shared the cost of the other one), so we ended up being able to go after all, which was a good thing: it rained cats and dogs that night, and if we had gone out to eat, we would have been soaked to the skin all night long!
The banquet was fun...we sat at a table with people we didn't know, so we got to meet more people (in my book, always a good thing). The man next to me seemed to be both alone and completely deaf, and I didn't know any sign language, so we didn't talk a lot, but he was friendly to me and allowed me to help him when he was having a hard time making himself understood to the servers. I am determined to learn sign now; there are some people that are completely dependent on it for one reason or another, and I want to be able to talk to EVERYBODY! :) There were several interesting people at our table, and I enjoyed getting to know them all a little better :) I got a chance to meet Mr. Wayne Roorda, who is an IT Specialist in New Jersey. He and I had a spirited talk about computers and cochlear implants (he has an Advanced Bionics Harmony, too, and we were comparing notes). While we were talking computers he said that it's not uncommon for him to get 4 to 5 HUNDRED e-mails a day. Oy...as much as I love my computer, I can't imagine having to plow through that many e-mails!!! The lady on the other side of Laurie also didn't hear well at all, so our communication was fairly limited, and the other ladies around our table were just about too far away to make communication comfortable, especially since the room was quite loud, but everyone put in the effort to get acquainted and we had a good time.
We were entertained by the Oklahoma Fancy Dancers. I honestly didn't think I'd be much impressed by them, but they turned out to be terribly fascinating to watch. One dancer in particular, a Comanche Indian named Kevin Connywerdy, caught my attention; first in his incredible costume, and then with his dancing. He did a dance with five hoops (another website that has a few pictures of him to check out) and, suffice it to say, if I tried it I'd get myself killed in the process. I was amazed at his agility and grace. The food was good, the company was excellent, and I'm SO glad we went! :)
We said good-bye to Joyce and Mike at the banquet. It was sad to leave them....we had really enjoyed spending the time together...but Laurie and I decided that we're going to see them again, hopefully sooner rather than later, so it wasn't so much a "good-bye" as a "see ya later" :)
We went up to our room afterwards so Laurie could finish a shawl that she was knitting. A lady named Barbara had admired another shawl that Laurie was wearing, and asked Laurie to make her one, and coincidentally, Laurie had just what the lady was asking for upstairs....it just needed finishing. Barbara and her friend Pati, both OKC residents, came up to our room and visited for a few minutes while Laurie was finishing it. They were both incredibly friendly and sweet...again, as I've said, just another example of the hospitality that we found everywhere we went in OKC.
Laurie and I ended up staying up late looking at pictures and talking and packing...we didn't get to sleep until around 2 AM. Laurie had won two of the silent auctions and was packing them up to take home. One of the auctions she won had two identical Starbucks coffee mugs (y'all know how much I love coffee mugs) and two bags of Starbucks coffee (the best there is, ya know?). Laurie gifted me with one of the mugs and a bag of coffee and said that whenever I drank my coffee I should think of her, drinking her coffee at home from her identical mug!! (I just finished a cup, Laurie, and I thought of you!)

Monday, June 25, 2007

I know, I know....

I've taken long enough to update, haven't I? I tell you what, I'm so behind right now I'm not sure I'll ever get caught up again! I got home around 6 PM tonight, then we went to dinner, and then I had to unload the car and start the washing machine....
First off: More pictures. Here's the link: OKC, Part 2
And now for the updating: Oy, where to start? Friday morning? Here goes...
I woke up and got ready for the day. I beat Laurie getting ready, which was funny because she was up before I was. She heard a knock at the door and Joyce was there with her buddy Mike Royer. Since Laurie wasn't presentable, I went out in the hall and talked to them for a few minutes, then Mike dashed off to work at the Advanced Bionics table (click on the link...there is a picture of Mike and his daughter there) and Joyce came in to visit for a little while. When Laurie was ready we went down to the coffee shop and picked out a nutritious breakfast (lemon coconut bars the size of a brick and coffee are nutritious, right?) We went to the exhibit hall for a little while to be sociable and check out some of the vendors. They were all giving out little freebies: Cochlear was giving out coffee and tea, Med-El was handing out bottled water and coffee, and Advanced Bionics was handing out chocolate (Gotta love 'em ;) ). A lot of the vendors were exhibiting phones and alarm clocks and giving out handouts about the latest technology for the hearing impaired. While you browsed, you got to meet new people...bonus! :D
We hung out there just for a little while and then Laurie, Joyce, and I went a couple of blocks down to Bricktown. We walked around and poked through shops and went to Mickey Mantle Park. Then Laurie had to go back to the hotel for a panel that she sat on for Cochlear America, so Joyce and I walked around by ourselves for a while. I found a Sonic (it was an indoor Sonic...an order and sit-down Sonic...I've never seen one of those) and went in to pick up a Diet Cherry Limeade. On the way out I ran into Susan, whom I had seen the night before at the get-acquainted hoedown, and introduced myself. I was surprised to learn that she lives about 45 minutes away from me! We exchanged e-mail addresses and phone numbers and said we'd get together again.
Joyce and I then went to Falcone's for lunch. I picked up a meatball sandwich with muffaletta salad...ahhh....I didn't think I was hungry but I ate almost all of it. After eating Joyce and I walked back to the hotel...slowly...checking out the different streets and walkways just to see what all was there. We went up to Joyce's room to wait for Laurie to get out of her meeting, and then I went back to wander around the exhibition hall a while longer. I saw Susan again, ran into a few people I'd already met, met a few new friends, and then ran into Dr. Norm. We had met him at the get-acquainted party the night before and hit it off pretty well then. He and I talked for a while and then Laurie came and asked what we wanted to do for dinner, and we decided to try Abuelo's. We called up Susan to see if she wanted to come too, and were tickled when she accepted our invitation. Abuelo's was wonderful. I just got a salad, since I had been eating all day long (oink) but it was a really yummy one. Everyone else had some really yummy looking Mexican food, and admittedly, I was jealous ;)
After dinner we went to the movies! Advanced Bionics offered tickets to see Evan Almighty to anyone who asked (first come, first served) and we jumped on it! It was WONDERFUL....I have never, ever, ever seen a movie the first day out that was CAPTIONED!!!! And Advanced Bionics threw in a free coke and popcorn to boot! That was a really special treat. Movies have always been frustrating for me. I love the social experience, but miss nearly everything that's said. Not so this time!! It was awesome!! After the movie we took a long, slow walk back to the hotel, stopping at a coffee shop for me to get some coffee. We ended up in the coffee shop in the lobby of the hotel talking waaaayyy too late :)
I was going to try to get the entire weekend in here, but I'm too tired, and am going to head to bed. So, tomorrow. Maybe I'll get through it all then! For now: G'night....love you all :)
<3

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Not a long post tonight.....

after talking too late, and then editing pictures, it's too late to write, but I thought I'd share the set of pictures I've taken so far :) There are a few comments to go with them. I'll take more tomorrow! Hope all of you have an awesome weekend! :)
Love y'all..... <3

Friday, June 22, 2007

*Whew*!

What a day!! I am having a ball here, but I am staying busy!
I got up this morning around 7:30 and went down to the hotel's fitness room and walked on the treadmill. They had a huge TV and it was closed-captioned, so that was awesome...I got to watch TV while I walked! I grabbed some coffee and then went back upstairs, got showered and packed, and then went to the airport to pick up Laurie. Thankfully, I found both the airport and Laurie with no problems at all, and we got back to the convention center and parked in the parking garage *sigh* again. We're staying at the Marriott Renaissance but they only offer valet parking for 20.00 a day....no way, Jose...I'm having to pay for Internet and I refuse to pay for parking too! The parking lot is on one street, the convention center is on the next street over, and the hotel is on the street between them, so we have had to do very little walking. When we got to the hotel it was too early for us to check in so we went ahead and parked the car. After our first volunteer stint we went back, got our room keys, then walked over to the parking garage to get our luggage. On the way over there it started sprinkling, so we picked up the pace, and by the time we got to the garage it was pouring down rain so we both got soaked. We got our luggage and there was nothing to do for it but walk RUN back to the hotel in the rain, getting even wetter in the process. So, y'all, imagine us standing in the lobby of this ritzy hotel with our luggage, dripping wet. It was a scream! We went up to our rooms and got dried off then went back for another volunteer stint. We were overseeing the Silent Auction...basically we just stood around and if anyone had a question we answered it, if we knew the answer (which I didn't about half the time). We were right by the door of the exhibit hall so we got to yak at everyone as they walked in. I got to meet lots of people that I didn't know, and, Shari, I met Molly, who is SUCH a sweetheart!! :) It's easy to meet people...we all have huge name tags with our names in large print so it's easy to learn names :)
At 6:00 they closed the exhibit hall and we all went upstairs for the "opening ceremonies". Our keynote speaker was Mr. I. King Jordan, past president of Gallaudet University. He talked for about half an hour and it was a great speech :) Several other folks made a few comments and recognized different groups in the audience. It was very interesting: at every event, there was a huge screen at the front to watch, and it was close-captioned, then there were sign language interpreters. The interpreters aren't too far behind the speaker, but the captioning sometimes got quite a few seconds behind, and it was funny to notice that every time a speaker said something funny, there was usually a lag of a couple of seconds before the laughter hit, since quite a few folks were still trying to figure out what had been said (me included). I myself watched the huge, captioned big-screen. I told Laurie that it had to be distracting to be the one giving the speech...nobody would be looking at you....everyone looking at the screen!
After the speeches were done, there was a reception and we went to that for a while. We had our pictures taken with an authentic Indian (who had been an authentic cowboy just a few minutes previously ;) ). The reception was decorated with a Western theme...horseshoes, cowboy and Indian stuff everywhere...and the food was awesome. They had more Mexican food, so you know this girl was a happy camper :) They had a fella come in and entertain with some (captioned) stand-up comedy, and they were about to bring in the square dancers, but it was time for us to go to bed, so we left. We didn't get to spend a lot of time with Joyce today...we were busy with our volunteer stuff today, then tonight she went out with a group from Advanced Bionics for dinner, so we didn't see her at all. Maybe tomorrow! :)
When we left Tennessee, it was hot and mostly dry (it rained the day I left...the first real rain in weeks). It rained off and on quite a bit today, and the convention center has been freezing cold. I didn't come prepared for either cold OR wet, so I'm having to adjust!!
Laurie is conked out, and I'm about to follow suit. I've found that having a deaf roommate is interesting...I would normally be freaked out about waking her up bumping around the room in the middle of the night, but she can't hear a thing without her processors (I still have mine on) so I can make all the racket I like ;) Likewise, if she gets up early in the morning, I'll never know she's up, unless she turns the lights on (that's the only thing that will wake me up).
I think we're going to take it easy tomorrow...walk around downtown a bit....take in a few workshops...visit with more folks and make new friends. I am definitely going to take more pictures today...my camera has been in the bottom of a huge bag all day today...what a pain...and I just haven't gotten it out much. I'll post a few pictures tomorrow!
Going to bed....love y'all :)
<3

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Alive...

...but not kicking much anymore. I am worn out!
I suppose I should admit first that I didn't sleep at all last night. We came home from dinner out with the in-laws, took the kids to wherever they were staying (some stayed with Granny, some with Lisa), then I went home to finish laundry/packing/cleaning/stressing. I got in bed around 11:15 and blogged and read blogs and checked e-mails. I was about to settle down at midnight and go to sleep when suddenly, the cable went out.
I cannot sleep without something to watch, especially when I'm wound up. I waited a few minutes, but it didn't come back on, so I got the laptop, but the cable was out there too...no Internet....I played cards until around 1:45, then I tossed and turned and sighed loudly enough to wake up my husband, who suggested I just go on and go. Problem is I was already tired, but I knew I wouldn't be able to go to sleep, so...I finally just threw on some clothes, threw everything in the car, and drove off, at 2 AM.
The drive wasn't bad. I stopped about half an hour down the road for a cup of coffee, then didn't have to stop again except for one potty break until the sun came up at 4:45. I drove into Arkansas at 6:30 AM. Arkansas' state motto, is, you know, "We're Trying To Help Keep You Awake With Our Massive Potholes". Needless to say, I didn't have much trouble staying awake after that. I bumped and jostled my way across Arkansas, stopping to pick up a sausage burrito at McDonald's and some fruit and water at a Wal-Mart along the way. Around 11:30, when I was about ten miles from the Oklahoma border, the rain started. It had been drizzling a little here and there but now it got really serious. After a couple of miles of driving with my face pressed to the windshield to see the road, and one particularly alarming incident when a mean and nasty truck drove by and splashed so much water on my little car that I couldn't see out, I decided to take a break and join the line of cars that had given up and parked on the side of the road to wait it out. We all waited there at Mile Marker 7, near Van Buren, for the rain to stop. I bet I was there 25 minutes. I decided to clean the car while I was in there. I had some car-cleaning wipes and gave the dash and the windows a good scrubbing, so at least I got a clean car out of the deal.
I finally got to OKC at 3. Mapquest said it would take 11 hours....I had planned for 12....and, you know. 13 hours. 13 hours of "Boondocks" (actually, the entire album sounded awesome cranked waaaaaay up) and Vince Gill and church singing CDs. Ah well. I found the hotel with a minimum of fuss, and got dressed and headed out. I found a parking garage a couple of streets over and ran to the big hotel that we'll be staying at this weekend to meet Joyce...and that was a real pleasure...she is a doll! Then I had to run again to a dinner that HLAA was hosting for the volunteers. I quickly made a few new friends and had a great, fun dinner. They offered us a Mexican buffet and it was mouth-watering! They also had cheesecake and a gorgeous pecan pie. I opted for the pecan pie and after a bite or two, I decided that there was something in it that I don't normally put in my pie...something that tasted odd. After a couple more bites, I commented on it, and was informed that it was swimming in bourbon. Not ever having had bourbon, I was a little concerned about what effects the pie might have on my already tired nervous system, but decided that everything would be fine. I left there to go to a church in the area where Bro. Harry preaches, only to discover that the garage where I parked my car was LOCKED, as in, huge gate closed, huge lock on gate, no going in our out. And my car was inside...and I had no way to go anywhere. I trudged back to the convention center and apprised my new friends of my situation, and one of the kind couples there offered to drop me off at my hotel, since it didn't look like I'd be getting my car back before morning. I sheepishly accepted their offer and climbed in their car. They offered to show me another parking area where I could park my car over the weekend, one that didn't hold cars hostage, but I asked them to first run by and look at where my car was parked. When we turned on the street where the garage was, we were coming the opposite way from how I had been approaching it, and I saw an exit that, if need be, I might be able to infiltrate and snitch my car back out. However, a split second later, I saw the entrance...and it was wide open. Apparently, the gated entrance was just a few doors down, and I had seen it first, and assumed it was the garage where my car was parked (in all fairness, it had the same signs outside). Boy, was I embarrassed. Still am. Can I blame the lack of sleep and the pie? We had a good laugh (they weren't laughing at me, but with me, of course) then they dropped me off. By then, I was way too late for church :( I am going to look it up in the next day or so, though, and I can visit on Sunday :)
Then I went back to where Joyce was and we sat in Starbucks and visited for a couple of hours :) While we were there the barista offered us about half a pitcher of leftover strawberry smoothie....delicious!!! I really enjoyed getting to meet Joyce....I have known her online for probably over a year, and she and I have chatted online and know each other pretty well, but this was our first meeting. She is a sweetheart!!
I pick up Laurie at the airport in the morning....and I didn't get a walk today, so I need to get up in the morning and hit the treadmill, so I MUST SLEEP!!! I didn't take a single picture today...I will take some tomorrow...there is a lot of neat stuff here to take pictures of, so watch for 'em :)
Love to all y'all, from Oklahoma City! :)
<3

Thursday, June 14, 2007

WIld Wednesday!

Just wanted to give y'all a quick update...I saw the audiologist today and she tweaked my processor's program again. She said that last time I didn't tolerate higher sounds (women's voices, etc) well, so she was going to try them again. I'm happy to report that this time I am tolerating them much better, apparently, and that the particular programming has a really nice sound to it. It still doesn't sound "natural" but it sounds a good bit better than it did. On the way home, I put in my Little Big Town CD and turned it waaaaaaay up so that the windows were shaking and just listened to "Boondocks" a few times :). It doesn't sound just like I remembered it, but the music certainly sounded more "musical" this time. I don't know if I'll ever get it all back, but I have a good memory of what it used to sound like, and I hope I can keep that :) I listened to "Stay" on that same CD, which is sung by one of the women (don't ask me which one...I just keep up with the men ;) ) and it didn't sound great...female artists just don't sound great yet (I'm holding out hope...I wanna hear Sara Evans sing "Saints and Angels" again! :) ). Susan and I talked again about the whole insurance thing. I've kept this a secret from the insurance company, but I have a surgery date set for my second surgery...we can always cancel it if they don't come through....and it's less than a month away. I told Susan that I thought I should cancel it and free up the spot for someone else, and she told me not to...that she is working on getting it pushed through. Sooooo....we'll see :) More details later, ya know ;)
Today was full of little frustrations...all sorts of little tiny things went wrong all day long (the army surplus store didn't have much to pick from in the way of camo shirts...can you believe it?)...I am hoping that a good night's sleep will help make tomorrow go a little smoother. Will has to work tomorrow, after all (he was supposed to be off) so I need to get to bed so I'll be able to get up again in a few hours!
I'm making the recipe for cheese dip on John's blog and this recipe for pineapple upside down cake tomorrow (well, today ;) ). You know you wish you were here to help me eat it ;)
Love to all..... <3