I truly respect and envy people who speak fluently in more then one language and I truly wish my paternal grandfather would have taken the effort to ensure that I learned Hebrew and Yiddish so that I could speak more then one language and would have been enculturated in his culture. I wasn’t and I only speak and write fluently in American English which makes me the same as an overwhelming majority of Americans.
I avoided foreign languages in high school because I hated school and disliked most of my teachers because they didn’t inspire me and I honestly felt that many were not truly masters of the subjects that they taught. So when I started back to college, I chose subjects that I already has mastered and getting great grades was easy. I could slack and no one was the wiser. Then I tried to take ASL and it was horrible because I disliked the teacher’s style and he had been doing it so long that he was phoning it in. I dropped the class midway through. I attempted it again a few semesters later with my best friend MooSe and I passed with a C. The next semester he got in to ASL 2 and I didn’t and basically I have up on ASL because all my friends and classmates were in that class.
When I transferred to Sierra College and decided to try and go to UC Berkeley or UC Davis, the requirements over those d or Sacramento State were a bit more inclusive. I needed a foreign language and the ASL 1 class I had obtained a C in wouldn’t transfer to the UC System for some reason. So last semester, I tried to get on to ASL 1 but the class at the time I could take it was full. So,this ssemester I got in to ASL 1 and I have put everything I can in to doing the homework, studying and trying my hardest to learn this new form of communication.
During the first class session, I met Joe and we decided to be study buddies. I have helped him and he has helped me and in the process we have become friends. Tonight, leaving Sierra College to go to his house in Roseville, I could hear a nail in my tire as I drove to his house. When I got there, I promptly forgot about it because he texted me as I was parking to as how far away I was because we had a video due tomorrow for ASL, the final video of the semester.
After chilling for about an hour he asked me to do a beer run even though I don’t drink. When I went to my car, the tire was flat. I told him and I was concerned about how to get it fixed. He called one of his friends and this guy came over and removed the tire from my Ford Escape and then took it and me to the gas station where we used the plugs and tool I owned to plug and inflate the tire. He then drove back to Joe’s house and put it back on my car. When I thanked him and asked how I could repay him, he told me that my helping his lifelong friend Joe with ASL, who called him, is why he came and that by doing that I was helping him.
My buddy James taught me that concept a few years ago when he gathered a group of my online friends to help cheer me up while I was dealing with the emotions and reality of my marriage ending and what seemed like my world collapsing around me. He basically taught me that random acts of kindness, no matter how seemingly inconsequential could change people’s lives and thereby change the world when he changed mine. I had thought I was going to get a job that didn’t pan out and I couldn’t afford the books for the classes that I was taking and my late application for financial aid delayed the disbursement of Pell Grant monies. I would have went almost a month without a textbooks which would have made passing almost impossible. James found out and bought my books for that semester and told me that he wouldn’t take any repayment telling me that my participation in Grumbine’s Political Most Pit now called The Original Political Mosh Pit and on his wall posts enriched his life. We both created and run a comedy group where most of the active members have known each other in the cyber world since before Obama took office.
At some point during this time we have all supported each other and talked one another through break ups, divorces, deaths of loved ones and pets and horrible dates from Plenty Of Fish. In this time I have learned something fundamental about these people that some of us refer to as the DD30 group because for a while that was the safe space for many of us. It taught me that there are huge untrue urban legends that we believe about people starting with that screwed up concept that men are from mars and women are from Venus because it just is NOT true and the author got rich off of the idea that there are somehow fundamental differences in the psyche of women and men. Having sat back and watched conversations between women as they discussed everything from dating to how they “double-clicked their mouse.”
One of the side effects of growing up in a group home is that in many respects it was like the Isle Of Misfit Toys in that Rankin-Bass holiday special Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and that makes me less sensitive and less judgemental of people’s personality traits that might otherwise make people give up on friendships or not form them to begin with. This trait is how I became friends with Joe because he has a bunch of them but they pale in comparison to how frequently and intensely he makes me laugh. The irony is that studying with him and helping him learn ASL this semester has helped me retain what I am learning. It has helped my confidence in making the videos we need to make for the class.
So as we were recording the videos, I looked up to see Joe’s friend watching me and my self doubt clicked in and I lost it. He walked out of the room and I made him come back, because I had to push past that feeling. The next time, the video was better but I forgot to fulfill one of the metrics, showing something in the video. When I was finished he walked over to me and extended his hand and told me that it looked awesome and all I needed to do was breathe.
I shared my video above and I would.love feedback from #Deaf or #CODA people especially if they can understand me because that would be amazing words of encouragement. I realize I sign like a kindergarten student and that’s ok for this level. I love the idea of signing because I have seen videos of #Deaf people signing where sarcasm, snark and humor were far more apparent then in spoken English. I think it is why I am such a huge fan of Sean Berdy, Niles DeMarco and Marlee Matlyn because of how much pure and raw emotion they can put in to their signing and performances. I hope one day to meet all three of them to thank them for entertaining and inspiring me.