Tuesday, January 12, 2016

CLOSE-CAPTIONING YOURSELF


CLOSE-CAPTIONING YOURSELF

By Terri DelCampo



Simple conversation is a pleasure for me.  I not only get closer to my loved ones, as well as people I run into at the grocery store or strolling around downtown Alpharetta, but as a writer, seemingly unimportant comments or tidbits will often embed themselves into my mind and become an article or story later. 

But when someone you love becomes deaf, it can turn that pleasurable conversation into a torturous, grueling marathon of failure to be understood. 

It started with my mom, who I call on the phone (she lives 800 miles away from me in Delaware) every Sunday.  We chat for hours (no exaggeration, she kills my phone every week and I have to put it on the charger for the last third of the call) and I would say about a third of that time is me repeating myself so she can understand me.  I would switch to writing her letters, but that's just not the same.  She's eighty-seven and lives alone.  She's active and sees friends weekly, but she looks forward to my call each week.  She has Meniere's Disease that causes her to have a constant whooshing sound (her description) in her ears – not something a hearing aid will help. 

Our frustrating conversations have been going on for the past fifteen years, possibly a little longer.  I love hearing my mom's voice, I just wish she could hear mine. 

Recently I fell in love and married Mr. Write – not just a cute play on words: I am a horror writer and my husband is Blaze McRob, also a horror writer and publisher.  We met on Facebook when he posted a review of my dark fiction magazine.  We began messaging on Facebook, and became immediate friends.  I began doing some editing work for his small press, and our friendship grew, finally turning into a romance.  Fourteen months after the review, we were married.  And I adore him. 

Bless his heart, he's had bouts with ear cancer, that while currently in remission have that left him almost completely deaf.   When he came to Georgia, and we met and spoke for the first time, we were hugging at the bus station and he heard "I love you, let's go home," because I said it right into his sweet damaged ear. 

But verbal conversations are not our forte, by a long shot. 

Sometimes I get so frustrated, I just stop and say "never mind," and I can't be doing that, because I know it hurts his feelings, which in turn hurts mine.  And almost as important, I simply refuse to let a disability mangle our otherwise wonderful communication. 

When my mother was visiting one time, I didn't want to keep shouting my end of the conversation, so I fired up my computer and created an MS Word doc with HUGE font.  I typed my side of the conversation thinking, Wow!  I'm close-captioning myself!  Mom answered verbally as usual.  It worked well for us.  It takes a little longer to type out my 'lines,' but actually not much longer than if I repeat myself multiple times, stopping in frustration to count to ten when I cannot make myself understood. 

So that's my little trick.  Close caption conversations for my deaf loved ones.  And there's always the low tech trick:  keep a scratch pad handy to write out a word or two that the deaf person may be getting hung up on. 

If there is anyone reading this who has any other suggestions, I'm wide open, feel free to comment away.  I'm a writer – communication is my thing and I will find a way. 



TD – 1/12/2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

ARE THERE REALLY REASONS FOR THE BAD STUFF?


ARE THERE REALLY REASONS FOR THE BAD STUFF?



Terri DelCampo



Everything happens for a reason. After a car accident left me with disabilities in 2009, I contemplated this age-old adage, and made the following observations:



I was humbled:

I was incredibly vulnerable and depended on strangers (400 miles away from home) for absolutely everything (including personal hygiene, helping to cut food, emotional swings, everything) for four months.  I developed friendships that are going strong today but moreover, I discovered a whole new meaning for the word trust.    



I evaluated relationships:

It doesn't take grand gestures to be a good friend.  Sometimes the smallest things matter most.  I discovered just how much my loved ones cared during the worst time of my life.  And I was surprised on a couple of occasions, by who really did, and who really didn't.  Illumination is a liberating thing. 



I found myself using my imagination in new ways:

I had to figure all the practical stuff out – I called it my obstacle course.  And gradually I reinvented my habitat to accommodate my needs.  (I discuss all that in other blogs – check them out.) I found that some of the things I figured out for myself helped others, when I submitted my stories for publication.  That built my confidence both in my ability to overcome adversity and in my ability to write non-fiction. 



I had time on my hands to realize my dreams:

Though I had not one single nibble on any of the resumes I put out on every job search engine in existence, I, for the first time in my life had time to pursue my writing career, full time.  I founded Owl's Eye View Magazine and published all my novels and short stories there, and continue publishing it every month to this day. 



I expanded my writing career by incorporating non-fiction articles into my portfolio, and freelanced for Yahoo Contributors' Network for several months before it folded.  I found that my disability articles and writing articles had a following, so I began writing blogs when YCN went kaput. 



When my website crashed (another disaster that I turned around) I decided it was time to self-publish my novels as Kindle books and learned how.  I have 38 Kindle books published, to date, plus I publish Owl's Eye View Magazine issues as Kindle books each month. 



I learned to barter:

During the two-year gap in my insurance coverage, I moved from Georgia to Pennsylvania, into my son's house and helped take care of my grandchildren (saving he and his wife thousands of dollars in childcare), did light housework and laundry, everything I could possibly handle to take pressure off of my daughter-in-law who has Cystic Fibrosis.  In trying to help my son and his family, I overcame some of my own difficulties and built strength I didn't know I had.  And realized I can still be productive on some levels.



I fell in love:

In 2014, horror writer and publisher Blaze McRob posted a very positive review of Owl's Eye View and we developed a friendship via Facebook messaging.  He offered me a job as an editor for the collaborative press where he was a partner.  I accepted. 



The friendship progressed and gradually turned romantic.  Blaze and I were married in September of 2015.  During that time we also founded Blazing Owl Press where we will be publishing our individual and co-authored writing projects. 



I learned to seize the day:

I've never been one to waste a lot of time.  I've always multi-tasked and squeezed projects and chores into every minute of each day, but now I prioritize even better, strive to keep things simpler, both due to necessity and choice. 



I learned that attitude is everything:

You can back down or step up.  It's as simple as that.  I appreciate the fact that there are those whose pain and limitations are far worse than mine, and I count my blessings, that's a certainty.  And among those blessings I count all the things that having limitations has taught me, especially the creativity and resourcefulness. 



My conclusion:

Yes, bad stuff might just happen for a reason: to test your mettle, to learn about yourself and the people closest to you, to make a difference in the world around you.