14 June 2018

Hearing through my eyes


The occasionally influential on Twitter often encourage their followers to every day do one thing that scares them. Personally, I don't mind my anxiety-driven existence. Yet lately that sentiment has held resonance for me. I won't say I've become adventurous because there's no stretch of the imagination that could make that statement true. Instead I'll tell you I've become more accepting of myself and therefore bolder by accident.

I'm more willing to do things I'm not already good at doing. I accept I can't go as hard at the gym as I used to--which was necessary because the alternative was to talk myself out of going at all. I've started saying "no" to my family, rather than take on the stress of their questionable decisions. I'm thinking primarily about my own well-being for the first time. The introspection has made me okay with being "just okay." It's quite liberating. Tonight I realized it can also be terrifying.

I'm taking America Sign Language. It's something I'd been thinking about for months. After coming to terms with giving up one of my two trivia nights,  I couldn't give myself a reason *not* to take an intro class. Our first meeting was tonight. I learned my first lesson about four minutes into class.

I've been excited to sign.
I'd not considered learning to sign.

Just like all my Spanish classes and Italian classes and German classes, my Sign Language classe is immersive. I don't even know if my professor can hear, because he didn't speak aloud once in three hours. He came in signing repetitively, writing on the white board, and passing out syllabi.

He didn't speak.
So we didn't speak.

There were about 40 people in the class and it was silent. I regret to inform you I was not ready for that. I assumed it was a lecture, where the instructor explained ASL syntax and provided nonverbal neumonics to help us retain. I wanted to learn a new language in my own language. My ableism was shameful. Clearly the guilt has pushed me to confess. I got over myself pretty quickly, because he started giving out assignments and looking away--whether to take notes or read handouts--was not an option.

Half of the class time was a documentary. I learned some interesting things about deaf history. By the end, I was once again ready to sign and also ready to learn.

Welcome to my new obsession. I'll do my best to keep you posted.