Thursday, April 16, 2015

Random Rant : Another Random Day

I studied a pigeon today. For no other reason than because it shared a patch of sun with me. Glorious watching its feathers turn from gloomy gray to brilliant teal and blushing pink. But then we passed one another and I was just left with the sun.

A girl caught my eye today. She was of a type I like, of course. I doubt she would have caught my eye otherwise. I noticed how very young she seemed.

What is our preoccupation with youth? We associate beauty with youth more than with age. There are always exceptions, but you understand what I'm saying. Is it some evolutionary predisposition? Do we desire younger mates due to some pre-programming of perpetuating the gene pool? Or is it the innate fear of death? Maybe we seek younger mates, associating beauty and desire with them, because they are farther away from death?

After she caught my eye, I shook my head, dispelling the image and dismissing her. But now, despite the action of forcing her from my mind, by immortalizing her by word, she'll be in my memory. Which is weird since, even by my own account, she wasn't extraordinary. Only less ordinary because, for a brief second, she intrigued me. Then I turned a corner and she was gone.

I ordered a chai tea today. It's the first one I've had in ages. I'm trying to be healthier, lose a little weight and tone up. A.K.A. fight the advances of times and the certainty of gravitational effect. Chai tea has a ridiculous amount of calories, not to mention too much caffeine and sugar. And don't get me started on the oddity of drinking cow's milk (not something I'd considered before I met The Doctor and he brought it to my attention) where we are literally stealing food from a baby. Although odd that I don't have the same aversion to cheese made with milk allowed to go rancid or meat, quite literally the baby itself.

I ordered it today though because I'm weak and have distinct willpower issues. Plus hot tea just sounds good when reading, which is what I'm here to do at the coffee shop nearly three hours before the rest of my writer's group will be here. My tea is too hot to drink at the moment, so I elected to let it cool before I crack a book. Hence why I'm writing another slice of life I'll probably never let anyone read. But maybe I will. Even though I had something to drink on the train (still Vonnegut, still Hocus Pocus) it feels weird to sit in anyone's coffee shop and read and not drink coffee or tea or some specialty beverage that has made coffee shops a daily staple in peoples' lives for the last several decades. Especially since the nineties. That would be 1990s. Just in case someone does read this in, say, 100 plus years from now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Random Rant 70: #DeafGirl Issues (pt Tres)

A little while back (and even more a little while back before that) I posted about issues I run into as a #DeafGirl (or hearing impaired person). I mentioned how inaccurate closed captioning was a big pet peeve of mine (you can read it here) and how people continuing to try to talk to me after they learn I'm deaf was something that really does happen (you can read about it here). But I've recently ran into a series of experiences that I've added to my revised list:

Physically/verbally accosting a deaf person who "ignores you" while you try to talk to them.

Seriously. This has happened to me. Recently.

In one instance a male person attempted to catcall at me (apparently). I, unencumbered by my hearing aids ("ears") that day, didn't hear him as I strolled across the public library parking lot toward my next destination - a quiet lunch at a fast food style sushi restaurant. The male person (insert the word dick) proceeded to cross the parking lot and move right in front of me, an angry expression on his face. He then started talking to me. Given my particular hearing loss, I caught maybe every third or fourth word he said - angrily. I do (often) piece together what people are saying by partially reading their lips so I tried and couldn't follow it, it was too fast. (I can't follow entire conversations this way, mind you, but I can fill in the gaps, if people are talking slowly enough for me to do so, and if everyone is facing me directly.)

I 1) apologized to the guy and said I was deaf and couldn't hear him, and 2) asked for him to wait a moment so I could put in my hearing aids in order to understand what he was saying since it seemed important. 

Do you know what he did? He actually waited for me to put in my hearing aids so he could call me an "uppity bitch" for being rude and not answering him when he catcalled me. Yeah, that's right; I'm rude because you're an immature ass who thinks catcalling a woman is a good way to get their attention.

In the second instance, Phoenix has a lot of homeless. The year-round warmth means that we have more than our fair share of homeless for roughly nine to ten months out of the year. Normally I don't mind. I've been a long time advocate for the homeless. I carry food and water and blankets (during the winter) in my car. I stop and give money (usually only change since I don't care much cash on me) and food. To me, these people (temporarily down on their luck and without a means to support themselves) are just people. They're like me, and they just need a break. I like to think that (maybe for some) I'm that break.

I'm not saying this for kudos. I'm saying this because recently one of my confrontations over being deaf was with a homeless person, and I don't want readers to think I am the type who considers homeless people invisible or invaluable. As The Doctor said in Season 6, Episode 0: A Christmas Carol: "...I've never met anybody who wasn't important before." 

What happened this time was interesting. I was wearing my hearing aids, but my battery had died in the right one (my most deaf {hee hee} - deafest?) ear. I was on the train to downtown Phoenix, where I planned to buy new batteries at a drug store, when an elderly (although she might have just been life beaten and worn for all I knew) lady, clearly down on her luck, all her belongings on her back or piled in a battered wheelchair, approached me. Reading, my head down, I didn't hear her, especially since she came at me from the right. All of the sudden she grabs my arm and shakes it!

Startled I dropped my book and knocked my back pack onto the floor, its contents spilling all around. The woman is yelling about me ignoring her. (Apparently she'd asked me a question I didn't hear, intent on my book and a hearing aid short.) Finally focused on her (and usually having no trouble hearing women - or kids - when they speak) I understood she was mad because I'd ignored her. When in reality I just hadn't heard her. 

I tried to explain about being hearing impaired, but the woman scoffed and said, "Sure. Whatever. Big on excuses." Then she dropped my arm and stormed away from me to sit by the door (I was seated in the bike section). A nice teenager helped me pick up my stuff from the floor, even chimed in how mean the woman was, and apologized on her behalf (which was unnecessary but nice).

So, yeah, I guess I have a new pet peeve. Getting angry with someone for not hearing you when you speak. You don't know why a person didn't hear you. Maybe they were focused on their task; maybe they were lost in their thoughts; maybe they can't hear: anyone, at all? Don't think that because a person doesn't respond to you they're being deliberately rude. The world doesn't revolve around you, and if you think it does:

You're an asshat.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Random Rant 158: A Random Day

I went to the lake today. It was one of those perfect Arizona days. The sun warmed your back while the cool breeze was chilly enough to give rise to a light smattering of goosebumps. As always there were planes coming and going from Sky Harbor and nearby vehicles on the 202, but it was peaceful regardless. It may have been because I decided not to wear my hearing aids too.

I shared my french fries with an adolescent gosling. He was so small, but his feet were enormous. When several others of his flock joined us, he decided he preferred their company to mine. He swam away and took his flock with him. I was out of fries anyway.

I saw a chihuahua in a life vest riding a kayak. Its owner stood before it paddling and its little body lurched with every stroke. I resumed reading after they sailed by. It's Vonnegut today. Hocus Pocus. I've never read it before. It's funny and dry and very direct. I can already see its affect on my writing. I love when that happens.

I have no reason for writing this, except that it happened. Today happened. I often sit and think about all the days I've observed that, for some reason or another, I've forgotten. So thus my observation of today. Will I do this regularly? I tell myself I will. But I probably won't. I know me. I'm lazy and I never have enough time.

I walked after my butt started to hurt from the warmed concrete I sat on. I walked until the sun ended. Basically where the Arts building blocked the afternoon sun.

There were lovers under the train bridge. Dogs out walking their humans. A boy who found immense amusement quacking at the geese. An older father, at least ten years senior to his wife, comforted a crying baby in a striped onesie. There's a sweet elderly couple walking hand in hand that makes you wonder what their story is. And a young couple, laughing and smiling, but sitting so far apart they might as well be on different continents. Although I saw them kiss twice.

Runners jog, their footfalls like steady heartbeats when you know their own heart really races two or three times that.

There was a pregnant woman on a yoga ball with weights, a man, presumably her partner, behind her and rubbing her back. And a teenage boy, of like mind with me, sitting atop a concrete hill, writing.

I left when the temperature shifted a discernible degree or two, the sun beginning it's descent. Admittedly I have things to do anyway. Groceries. I'll need to eat at some point. Besides I'm uncomfortably cool now and the car will be warmed from sitting in the sun.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Storytelling? by Joe Schwartz

A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Storytelling?

Being in a band is no different than being in a marriage except instead of having to take just one person’s crap, you’re taking BS from three other people. But so what? The downsides are no more awful than if you are a lawyer or construction worker. You do it either because you love it or the money is great, but every day you get up and give it your best hoping today will be better. 

Musicians, by nature, are anti-social. And if they are successful, then they are real egomaniacs to boot (see: asshole). I spent years chasing a music dream that was less likely to come true than winning the Powerball… twice. But money isn’t everything. Sometimes having a cool story to tell while passing the old peace pipe around with your buddies is worth it. Cool never goes out of style and is rarely forgotten among dudes. You can be sixty years-old, attending your kid’s college graduation or your mother’s funeral, and goddamn if one of your friends doesn’t ask you to tell that story again about that time you served breakfast to Journey and then went to Illinois on a beer run for them at 4am. The currency of such things is impossible to forget, unless, of course, they happened to you.

Think about this, even if you work for a famous musician, like Elvis or Michael Jackson, you can be famous by proxy. Cashing in when a star dies is almost as American as apple pie, baseball, and Chevrolet. The morbid curiosity, the re-examination of every miniscule moment no matter how irrelevant, seems not only morbid but disturbing. 

But what if you were the star, the object of affection, or derision, then what?

That was a jumping off point for me to write Ladies and Gentlemen: Adam Wolf and the Cook Brothers – A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Rock&Roll. I personally have been in a few good bands, tons of awful ones, and roadied for a few guys along the way. You think its all champagne and blow-jobs when you have a number one record, that is until you find yourself pushing road cases for a guy whose brother drives the bus, mother sells the t-shirts, and big sister books the gigs. That he has to do 200+ gigs a year to break even; everything from State Fairs, theaters, and auditoriums to bars and private parties. And yet, those terrible details are the things fans want to hear about as much as what it was like to win a Grammy for Album of The Year, or to have been in a movie, literally in a background scene as the band, for which the dudes got a thousand dollars, minus 15% for their useless manager, and the production company gets the right to use the band’s name in perpetuity on every movie poster like a drunk whore uses lipstick. 

As someone who has had to split a Happy Meal between three other guys, who has had to sell his car to get music gear and weed only to later having to sell said gear when the band broke up, I wanted to give readers possibly the most intimate experience they could hope to have without having to learn how to keep time or string guitars. 

The thing I think the non-musician will find most unappealing about running with a rock band is that it’s just work. Sometimes it can be fun to do, but at the end of the day, whether you’re paid in grass, ass, or cash, like Huey Lewis and The News said, “I’m taking what they’re giving ‘cause I’m working for a living.”

As for all the real McCoys out there, the guys hustling in bars playing covers and rehearsing in their basements, I hope they will see that I took the same care in writing this book as any of them ever have a song. I told the truth as I understood it, a story that will be as much an invitation as a warning to the next generation of wide eyed dreamers and ridiculous stoners just brave enough to think that they can make it in this insane business of music despite the overwhelming odds of never getting out alive. 

            My name is Joe and I write stories for men. Of course, some of my biggest fans seem to be women who seem to find my writing insightful, even a bit shocking, as to how men really think. I assure you no matter how awful a thing I’ve written about, worse things have been done by your friendly, next-door neighbor.”

Joe Schwartz has written three collections of short stories and a previous novel. He works as a booking agent for a public library and in his spare time he likes to lose video games to his kids, watch movies with his wife, and read. All of Joe’s stories happen to people in the City of St. Louis. According to Joe, you can walk in any direction for eight blocks and everything will change. ‘It is not the evil men do that is fascinating,’ he says, ‘but the almost dire, predictable outcomes.’ Life is short. Stories are forever.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Random Rant 145: #DeafGirl Issues (pt Dos)

A little while back I posted about some issues that, as a #DeafGirl (or hearing impaired), annoy the crap out of me. The first one was inaccurate closed captioning, and it can be read here. In the same article however I mentioned I have a second issue I frequently run into amongst the land of the hearing/speaking.

People who continue to try to talk to me even once they've found out I can't hear them.

Don't be one of these dicks. If a person indicates they can't hear you, especially if they toss in the words "I'm deaf", don't speak louder, try to get in front of them so they can read your lips (you're an ass for assuming they have that skill, by the way), or ask them to stop what they're doing so you can write down a message. 

Seriously, if a person indicated to you that they were blind, would you insist on showing them the picture you're holding up?
  1. If someone is truly deaf (or in my case can't hear certain tones or frequencies), they aren't going to hear you no matter how loud you talk. I mean, can you hear a dog whistle if I amplify it through a loud speaker?
  2. No wants to walk into a human wall. Do you like it when someone steps directly into your path, invading your personal space?
  3. Imagine what it would be like if you had to stop and wait for every person who wanted to say something to you to write it down. Then imagine if that something is as unimportant as 90% of what most people say to each other every day. You'd be annoyed, wouldn't you? So are we.
I am willing to bet (and have past experience to back it up) that, unless my hair is on fire or I am in imminent danger of being harmed, anything you felt you absolutely needed to say to me, even after I've indicated I am deaf, was something you could have said to/asked anyone else; that it probably wasn't case specific to me. So continuing to ask/say it to/of me is pointless. And if you're one of the jerks who commit one of the above trespasses...

You're an asshat.