Here begins the journal of my life, but only from January 2, 2008, forward. It’s not that the events of my 49 years prior are insignificant. Rather, my blogging takes place the day before my phone died, well, my ear. It was my ear that died.
My posts are random and so not chronological except by happenstance. When I say random I mean random as shet. Like my thought processes. Each story as I recall them is believe-it-or-not, if-I’m-lying-I’m-dying true. Some accounts may be a weeee bit questionable if, at the time it occurred I was, I don’t know, in the middle of a suspected thrombolytic event when the doctor repeatedly asked me for the name of our current United States President. I know you are but who am I? Or quite possibly it was the summer I tried to drink myself into extinction to escape what I thought was the anguish of sudden onset sensorineural deafness with tinnitus so severe I could “hear” the ringing in my ear over the roar of 43 engines at CharlotteMotorSpeedway.
Every now and then I will reference the little town where I resided the majority of my 49 years prior. Not a great deal will I speak of Henderson, I claim as my hometown, other than to justify why I speak da-way I does. It is not a form of speech impairment nor am I from N’awlins or the Virginia Tidewater region. It is not a product of poor education as I had excellent English teachers and I could very well hold my own in class. It is a dialect exclusive to a tribe of 40,000 give or take, according to the most current census. (This is important information in the event I speak to you at a book signing provided you are not one of the 40,000 folks from my hometown dat speak my same accent most.) My birthplace I will mention so many times you will wonder what on earth you were thinking when you decided to get in a long-ass line for an autographed copy of my book in the first place. I mean, when it becomes a book. I was birfed at Camp Lejeune (http://www.tftptf.com/) in Jacksonville, North Carolina, at danaval hospital dare. (This is important information in the event YOU speak to me at a book signing because I won’t hear your ass.)
At some point in my education I learned most folks are born with five basic senses: sight, touch, sound, taste, and smell. On January 2, 2008, I lost the sense of sound leaving me with a mere four. Not fair, I thought, and ohshet did I struggle with my loss. That is when I became a green dot collector at the psychiatric facility. If the green stickers were square-shaped I could have easily filled enough S & H Green Stamp books to redeem for dozens of pink melamine place settings.
I compensated the best way I knew how with only four senses until I discovered I could replace the lost one with a new one, the sense of humor. I certainly don’t mean I turned into a stand-up comedian. I’m a wanna-be-writer not a speaker. Besides, one of my newer diagnoses of epilepsy further complicates my ability to communicate. Like a scene right out of 50 FIRST DATES starring Drew Barrymore:
Patient #1: Do you know who that guy is? Patient #2: Dude, I don't even know who I am.
Unlike the deafness which is permanent (likes when you dies, it be permnet), the epilepsy can be treated with helmet meds, a well-known household expression in our home unfortunately.
The simplest tasks of an adult hearing person with sudden onset deafness became and continues to be surprisingly difficult and frustrating beyond words. Yet, at the same time,something as effortless as pulling up to a drive-thru for a burger and a shake became and, law has mercy, continues to be a fiasco worthy of late-night comedy material. Iffn you don’t belief me, axt my baby girl.
Yep, fed up to my ear balls, I had to figure out a way to fly the friendly skies without a service dog. I was actually pretty proud of myself having flown commercially for the first time alone post intensive psychotherapy a few years earlier. I know my shrink was impressed. But there had to be a simpler way.
Now, before you get all freaked out thinking Donna’s travels won’t be as eventful or interesting. Don’t. Get freaked out, that is. Hang out with me a day or two; like I said, I can do stupid all by myself. In fact, I’ll be commuting by plane again in just a few weeks.
Arrived early enough to snap a picture & come up with a plan, ha.
I couldn’t understand, when booking a flight, why there was a box to check for special needs/disability. I checked it every single time, but I didn’t notice anybody recognizing the fact that my box was checked. I mean, damn, first class was recognized as was evident by watching them and their designer carryons board first. I remember seeing one or two folks in wheelchairs off to the side, but hell I don’t know when they boarded because I was so far back in line. All I knew was to watch for the tail end of the line, then jump up and get in line last. The good part was, I didn’t have anybody behind me tapping their foot waiting for me to stuff my carryon above my seat; the bad part was, by the time I boarded somehow magically all the bins overhead were full sending me up and down the aisle searching for somewhere to squeeze in mine. Did I mention economy sucks?
Short of renting a wheelchair, I was gonna exercise my right as a disabled American even if it meant pulling a Grandma W.
So I did.
I arrived at the planeport with sufficient time to spare thanks to my daughter, Jenny, who, by the way, I can set my clock by. Jenny has an immaculate work ethic, saying, “If you get to work early, you’re on time; if you get to work at the time your shift starts, you’re late.”
Soooo, now was my chance to set a few things straight with whomever was unfortunate enough to be on duty at my gate that day. I was polite but firm. I did not start off with the words, "I’m sorry." In fact, I didn’t give the lady a chance to speak because once I started, I didn’t stop yapping until I finished with what I had to say. I asked no questions; I simply stated my demands, ha.
"Hell-errr. I understand your little system about boarding by groups, but I have a disability in that I can’t hear a damn thing. Every time I book a flight with your airline, I always check the box about having a disability but nobody apparently looks at that box. Because I checked that box, I would like to be given the accommodations that I signed up for. I don’t know what that means, but I want to be able to get on your silly little plane without incident…for once."
“Ma’am, wait right here just a moment.”
(Ohshet…is she going to get security?)
“Ma’am, please come with me.”
The next thing I knew I was boarding the plane with my designer carryon (I might not fly first class, but I do have good taste), and I swear I was the second person on the plane (the first being the Captain). Shet. Ha. This was the coolest thing ever. There I stood, just me and the Captain, looking all the way to the back of the plane with not a soul in sight. I thought, I can get used to this. But reality checked in, and I had to walk all the way to the back of the plane to sit in my assigned economy seat. It surely didn’t matter to me. I felt like was flying first class.
During this flight I had an aisle seat on the side that seats only two. The man who had the window seat never spoke a word to me the entire flight, which suited me just fine. But, just because he didn’t speak to me doesn’t mean he still wasn’t a weirdo. Actions speak louder than words, you know. He was fidgety from the get-go. I was so excited about my uneventful boarding that I sent Jenny a text to tell her about my great accomplishment. Afterwards, I had to do a little Facebook’g, so I was switching back & forth between my phone and netbook, in & out of my designer second bag, applying lipstick, this & that, checking my makeup, etc., apparently getting on his nervous system real bad. He jerked the shade shut and turned the air on high, appearing to be annoyed as hell. Whatever. (I coulda swore I left my husband at home.) I put away all my little trinkets to prepare for takeoff. We got to cruising altitude without me enjoying one of the few things in life I love because the prick beside me decided he was master of the window shade denying me the view of reaching 35,000 feet. After first class received their complimentary sparkly, the attendants made it all the way to the back to the commoners. "Diet-Coke please." She asked the man beside me his choice, and he waved her off as if she was annoying him too. So he’s a prick and a mute too, I thought. Once we landed, the man literally jumped over me to get to the aisle to unboard. Ha, I thought; I wasn’t annoying him at all. Obviously, he had a fear of flying. (Wuss.)
When not being weirded out by my seat mate, I was devising another plan from our layover in DFW back to CLT. This time, not only was I going to pull the same stunt to get on the plane first, but I had another goal in mind.
A dear friend of mine reminded me of a quote she uses quite often: Necessity is the mother of invention. With that in mind, I boarded the second time the same as the first (ha); the only difference being the attendants were on board before me. It was then I engaged in a little chit-chat with one of them. I told the attendant I was deaf and that I am unable to hear any announcements the Captain makes, i.e. his routine announcements. I told her I didn’t need to be made aware of those announcements, but if he made any unexpected announcements, i.e. we are about to experience turbulence, etc. that I would need for her to come to my seat and inform me of any such announcement.
"Other that that, I'm good. I’m in seat so & so, row so & so."
I was on a roll. I even had a window seat.
We arrived in Charlotte, I grabbed a Starbucks white chocolate mocha extra extra whip, and made a beeline to catch the shuttle back to my car. So this is where stupid comes in: Did you know there are long-term AND short-term parking lots AND there are different shuttle buses who serve each one? I didn’t.
I hopped onto a bus, sipped from my venti cup, and was along for the ride. (Damn, it sure was taking a long time. I know it’s dark out, but this doesn’t look familiar. I know I didn’t see a parking deck when I got here a few days ago.) The bus stopped, and all but three people got off. The driver looked back at me and the other two as if he was thinking, what are y'all waiting for. I stood up and walked up to him.
"Excuse me? I’m confused. Where are we?"
“Short term parking ma’am.”
"This doesn't look familiar. Where's your next stop?"
"Gurl...you on da wrong bus."
"Does that mean they're on the wrong bus too (pointing to the other two)?"
"Yep, it sho look dat way."
"So I'm not the only stupid one on the bus? Ha."
He wasn't amused, but he was accommodating.
"Which lot you be parked in?"
I pulled out my little reminder slip of paper, gave it to him, he dropped me off, and I tipped him well for his inconvenience. Yep, I can do stupid all by myself, but I had company this time. I got off da bus, stopped, looked around...great. Where the hell's my car?