Who remembers the days of celebrities giving their fan base nicknames? Lady Gaga has her ‘Little Monsters’, Justin Bieber has his ‘Beliebers’, and even Star Trek fanatics are called ‘Trekkies’ – had to Google that one, I shamefully already knew the names of the others! I know I’ve not written a post for a couple of months, but hoping my ‘Happyhearingaiders’ are still very loyal fans (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it?) and forgive me for my recent absence.
I’ve been thinking about what I’ve wanted to write for a while and decided that I want to talk about the things I have discovered since living with my deaf flatmate. I’m aware I talk about her all the time in my blog posts. In fact, she gets mentioned so often that she should be getting paid for every mention – although if she takes me up on that offer, then I really hope being ‘paid’ in coffee and hummus will suffice.
I am quite loud when pottering around the flat. I am really heavy footed; I slam doors behind me, stomp my feet as I walk and it turns out I’m shouting when I think I’m just talking. There is a reason why my Sign Name is ‘loud’. It’s comforting however, to know that no matter how loud I am, Ellie can’t hear me. She won’t get woken up or distracted by the noises that I make.
This has its downsides for Ellie and I too though as, Ellie does not always know when I am around. I think I have given her almost 100 heart attacks since we moved in together. If I unexpectedly walk into the kitchen or bathroom it results in Ellie getting quite a scare and jumping out of her skin.
Although I do not want the death of Ellie on my conscience, I don’t feel too guilty about the odd jittery moment as she has no idea how loud she can be. I hear the pots and pans cluttering together in the morning, the slamming of the front door when she goes to work and the microwave being used. I can’t complain though, as this means Ellie turns out to be a more reliable alarm clock than… my actual alarm clock.
When it comes to sleeping arrangements, Ellie has it good. She can never hear what sounds like rats scattering around the ceiling or the constant night time banging that I always fear are people walking on the roof ready to invade. Instead, she is sleeping like a baby, while I have sleepless nights. She wakes up looking like a princess, while I wake up looking like Gollum (on a good day).
We could chat for England.
One of the things I absolutely love about living with Ellie is that we communicate in British Sign Language. We are true multi-tasking experts – we eat our lunches with one hand and sign with the other. How we still have things to talk about I’ll never know, but we are always chatting away and laughing. Our conversations don’t even stop when one of us leaves the room to go for a walk into town, because we will still be signing to each other through the windows, although this is usually me asking for some chocolate.
It is also quite nice to not have to talk and use my voice all the time, I can communicate through gestures and signs while stuffing my face and still be understood.
It’s kind of Funny.
I’ve realised that Ellie has a very ‘hearing’ sense of humour. She identifies sarcasm and finds the same things as I do funny. This could be due to her coming from a hearing family, although it is thought that deaf people find sarcasm difficult to pick up due to the tone of voice used. Most of Ellie’s friends are deaf and I have learnt about their own humour and deaf culture, which she also fits into. Just like any comedian, there are some I find funny and some I don’t. With deaf humour, some things I understand and find funny, while other times, due to the jokes not relating to me personally, I find them less funny and pretend to ‘get it’. I must admit, her boyfriend’s jokes are especially bad, (if you’re reading this Max – pow pow).
Due to Ellie and I talking about a range of different things, I use a massive amount of signed vocab. She is always willing to tell me a sign should I forget or not know. Living with her has definitely helped me pass my Level three in BSL back in June (I have now started Level four).
Living with Ellie has allowed me to become better at my job, teaching in a deaf school. Communication is a massive part of the job, and because of Ellie, I feel confident I am giving the children the best form of communication that they need.
Back in the days when we did not have mobile phones (remember that?) the only way to call my friends was to call their home landlines. I used to hate it! I would never know who would pick up the phone as it could have been anyone in the house and not my friend. I would freeze and then hang up. Absolutely. Terrifying. Then, once I started using a mobile phone, I got over my phobia and felt more comfortable.
Getting over this childhood trauma has lead me to be able to help Ellie and make all the calls if something goes wrong for us such as; failed internet or deliveries not arriving when we want.
Unfortunately, the quickest form of communication is by calling as E-mails can take days for a response. It would be hard for Ellie if that was the only way she was able to communicate with companies to get things done. This however, is the situation for many deaf people. I’m happy that I am able to help and speed the process up.
Baby, it’s Cold Outside.
If Ellie and I have friends over they usually knock on the front door when they arrive. If I’m having a shower or I’m not in for whatever reason, it is sometimes difficult for Ellie to hear the knocking. We have had friends waiting in the snow/storms/rain/blizzards/Ophelia waiting for Ellie to get to the door. All is forgiven though, once Ellie makes her famous healthy bakes and a great cup of tea.
Around 90% of my friends can’t sign or have any relation to deafness. That does not stop them from trying to be clear and accessible when they are talking to Ellie. They are comfortable and confident and try their best to gesture and make conversation (which of course they should anyway). If I did not live with Ellie, they would be very unlikely to ever meet a deaf person or see Sign Language being used. I am really happy to have such great friends who just accept everyone for who they are. They don’t see Ellie as ‘deaf’ and themselves as ‘hearing’. We are all just people. A community.
If I had to rate living with Ellie similarly to a TripAdvisor review (which I love doing since I downloaded the TripAdvisor App) then she would get 5* and 10/10. Highly recommend. Great gal.