Tuesday, September 16, 2008

8 random things about me...

Lori at Persevere tagged me with this fun MeMe.

Eight Random Facts About Myself:

1. When I was little I had an imaginary twin sister named Jamie.

2. I love to do dramatic readings with all the voices (yes, I hear voices in my head!).

3. When I was young I thought crutches were the coolest thing ever and I hoped I’d break my leg so I got to use them. It started when my older sister had to use crutches and a removable cast for a while. When she recovered, the crutches were returned but the cast stayed and I loved to put it on and hobble around the house.

4. I can mimic whistling songbirds.

5. I can copy pretty much any accent I hear, but the Australian accent is harder for me to keep.

6. I love languages and culture. I started creating a fictional language and culture when I was twelve (someday I’ll write the book that goes with it) and today I’m fluent in two languages (English and American Sign Language) and know a smattering of a third (Spanish).

7. I am easily amused. I generally don’t mind people laughing at me because, hey, what they are laughing about IS funny, haha!

8. I’m a little face blind--that is, I have trouble telling people apart. This means when I’m watching a movie with a lot of characters, I have to keep asking, “Which character is that?” And if it’s a Who Dun It and the face of the bad guy finally pops on the screen, everyone gasps… except me. “Um, which guy was that?”

In real life it means I’m always running up to someone and then as I get close suddenly pretending I was waving widely at the person behind them, because it wasn’t who I thought it was. Or the most embarrassing is when a stranger asks me to save a chair for them and then when someone comes up to use the chair I’m not sure if it’s the person I’m saving it for or if I need to say, “This seat is taken.”

Just this weekend I was at a Deaf event talking to a friend and another lady when I spotted someone across the room and said, “Hey, look! There’s *insert name of well-known interpreter*!” My friend and the other lady looked at the person and looked at me, then looked at each other. My friend says to her, “It’s okay. Amy just gets a little…confused sometimes.” LOL

Now I have to tag eight blogger friends to do this game...
1. Joanne
2. Laury
3. Josh
4. SisJ
5. Purple Kangaroo
6. Jules
7. Jan
8. Kasha Sue

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I see friends...

Yesterday I attended a Deaf gathering at a Starbucks located a few towns to the south of me. It’s a monthly event but I haven’t gone for several months due to other obligation or to pain, so it was nice to go again. Since driving tends to aggravate my pain, and to save gas and have time to chat, I carpooled with my friend from school, Breezy. As always, we had a great chat during the hour drive to and from the gathering, about God and life in general.

We went early for the event and parted ways to meet other friends for dinner, then joined up again at Starbucks. I had dinner with a school friend from my first year in the interpreting program. She also has Fibromyalgia and is a Christian and the two of us leaned on each other a lot in order to get through that year of school. Her young daughters joined us for dinner and we had a lovely time.

Events like that are hard on me physically, but I always enjoy chatting with old friends and making new friends. Getting a chance to use ASL in casual, real-life situations is invaluable, too. I got to meet a couple of students who are entering the interpreting program this year. They seem nice. One of them was very observant and asked me if I was okay (I wasn’t ;-) ) and if I needed to sit down.

He had on a t-shirt that said “Got Candy?” Breezy and I laughed that I needed one like that because I’m infamous for the amount of candy I eat (hey, I can’t do or eat anything else, so why not enjoy my lollies?). They were rolling their eyes at the fact that I stay thin no matter what I eat and he said something about switching bodies. Breezy’s like, “Oh no! No way I’m switching bodies with Amy! Nuh uh!” LOL

Later another interpreter I haven’t seen for a while came in and I discovered that she also has Fibromyalgia. I think she is a Christian, also. She and I had chatted a little in the past, but we really hit it off that night. It’s always fun to find someone who can really understand what we’re going through.

As the night wore on and my pain climbed to more severe levels, a Deaf friend was kind enough to give me a gentle back rub, which helped, some. I think I want to see if I can get my insurance to cover some massage treatments for me.

Leave-taking always takes a long time in the Deaf Community, and as I was making my rounds saying good bye and giving hugs, I thought about how much more freely many of those in the Deaf Community casually offer a platonic “I love you” along with the goodbye hugs and waves. Perhaps some of it has to do with the fact that ASL can so easily incorporate the classic “I love you” sign into a good-bye wave, but I suspect it is even more because of how highly Deaf people cherish friendship and communication--some of them have had so little of either, especially in the past.

I’ve always been one to liberal with hugs and “love ya”s for my female friends, but occasionally in the hearing community I’ve gotten funny reactions--anything from a startled “oh, um, yeah” to “Ohhh, you’re so sweet! You know, people don’t say that often enough--we just assume they know it and we don’t bother taking the time to actually say it.”

But whether we say it, or show it, or both, I’m sure thankful for the love and care of my friends. I’ll definitely be needing a lot of it as I start the challenge of school in a week.

I see friends shaking hands, sayin’, “How do you do?”
They’re really sayin’, “I love you.”
...And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

from “What a Wonderful World” by George Douglas and George David Weiss

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Heroes Among Us

The cry was faint. Gabriel stopped, holding his breath, hoping, waiting for it to come again. For a minute all he could hear was the mother’s stifled sobs behind him.


“There!” Gabriel sprinted through the trees. He pushed through a thicket and his feet dropped out from under him. For a second he dangled over the edge of a cliff, clutching at thin sapling. His foot found a root and he pulled himself to safety.

From below, a faint whimper drifted on the wind. Gabriel leaned over the drop-off. A glimpse of pink showed, wrapped around a sharp rock.

“Mandy, honey, stay really still for me, okay?” Gabriel pulled a rope from his pack and looped it around a nearby tree. His first step down the hill sent a volley of rocks tumbling beneath him. The wails of the child increased. Finally he reached the child, who dangled secured only by a loop of her skirt that had caught around a boulder. The steep slope below the girl turned sheer, solid rock plunging another fifty feet to the bottom.

“You’re okay. I’ve got you.”


Caleb jumped and almost dropped his book. He scowled and looked around the crowed airport.


There it was again. He ran his eyes over the row of waiting travelers across the isle from him, noting the teen biting her already reddened lip, the mother grabbing for her runaway toddler, and--aha--a man studying a crossword puzzle and tapping his pen against his forehead. There it came. His fingers wrapped absentmindedly around the pen’s pocket clip and pulled. *snap*

Caleb picked up the book again.

Gabriel struggled to steady himself in the loose dirt and stones as he reached for the girl without dislodging her. Slowly, slowly…


The book came down again and Caleb rolled his eyes. How could such a small sound bother him so much in a noisy, crowded terminal? And how was he supposed to get through college if he was so distracted.

“FL…T 93, BOAR…ING GROUP …. NOW.” The voice over the intercom was loud, but surprisingly muffled.

“Ah, that’s my flight.” Caleb stuffed his book, Real Life Stories of Real Life Heroes, into his carryon. “Guess there’ll be plenty of time to rescue Mandy during the flight.”

He stood in the line of shuffling people. Normal people, going on normal flights. How many of them were heroes? How many of them had risked their lives to save someone else?

Caleb wondered if he’d ever get that opportunity. He could see himself now, racing across the field, stumbling and tripping in the darkness. His ankle twisted beneath him, but he didn’t notice. All that filled his vision was the one gleaming eye of the train as it bore down on a woman who struggled in the middle of the track, her foot stuck in the--


The airline worker slapped her clipboard down. “I said boarding pass, please!”

Muttering an apology, Caleb produced his paperwork. He filed onto the plane and found his seat. Middle chair. Figured.

“Hey, I’m Mike.” The man beside him offered a hand. “Where you headed?”

“College.” Caleb grimaced. “Not sure yet if that’s exciting or nasty.”

Mike chuckled. “I’m headed to visit my dad. Not exactly nasty, but he’s not the most fun person to be around. He’s not getting any younger, though, so I figure I’m due him a visit.”

“My dad was a hero.” Caleb bit his lip. He hadn’t meant to say that.

“Oh yeah?” Mike looked at him curiously. He motioned to the book the young man had already pulled from his pack. “You’re into heroes, huh?”

Caleb flushed a little. “Yeah, I guess. Always have been. I loved the superhero comics when I was a kid. Now I’m more into the real thing.”

“I know a hero.” Mike’s eyes lit up. “He was unbelievable. During a big storm he’d go right out in the middle of the water to save people. Most of the time he was quieter about it, though. Helping people who were sick... things like that.”

“I’ve thought about becoming a doctor.” Caleb grinned. “Be a kinda-hero, you know?”

“Yeah.” Mike nodded thoughtfully. “This guy I know does lots of stuff like that. But the funny thing was, people didn’t like him. Got pretty mad at him, actually, and threatened to make him stop.”

“That’s stupid. Why?”

“Hard to say.” The older man leaned back, buckling up as the plane started to taxi. “Maybe they felt guilty they weren’t helping people. Maybe they thought this guy was too much like God and threatened their religion.”

Caleb snorted. “Religions make people do stupid things.”

“That they do.” Mike sighed. “One time they were rioting against him. Things were getting pretty out of control. He was right there in the middle of the crowd and then he just disappeared. Showed up a long ways away. No one had a clue how he did it.”


“They said he raised people from the dead, walked on water, stuff like that.”

“Just rumors, huh? They made him into a comic book man.” Caleb laughed.

“Maybe.” Mike waited as the plane took off, fighting gravity until it finally broke free and lifted up. “Maybe not.”

“What do you mean, maybe not? Hey, you really knew this guy?”

Mike pursed his lips, then continued the story without answering. “He had even more enemies than any comic book man, that’s for sure. One day they killed him. Just like that. Tortured and killed him because they didn’t like him.”

“Woah.” Caleb twisted to look at the man better. “Where was this?”

“Rome.” Mike rummaged under his seat and produced a tiny black book. “Here’s that ‘comic book’, all about his miracles.”

Caleb took it and flipped it over. “‘New Testament.’ The Bible? Man, you had me going there.”

“Yup. That’s ‘cause it’s all real. I know Him.” Mike tapped his chest. “He’s living right here in my heart. Jesus was one hero, that’s for sure. Still is, actually. How many people do you know who rose from the dead?”

Caleb shook his head. “I’ve never heard anything religious told like that before. That’s whacked.”

“Oh, don’t go making this religious. Jesus wasn’t about religion. He was about being a hero. A real life hero, come to save the world. All He wants in return is faith.”

The book was heavy and comfortable in Caleb’s hand. He flipped through it. “Those stories are in here?”

“Those and lots more. Here, I’ll show you why He came to earth.”

For another half an hour the men leaned over the “book of heroes,” talking about Jesus, and new life. After a while, Mike leaned back. “So, you interested in getting to know that hero? Having him be your friend, too?”

Caleb looked down at the red words in the book, words unlike any he’d heard before. “Yeah, yeah, I think I’d like that.”

Mike talked him through a prayer, but it wasn’t like any prayer Caleb had ever heard. It was more like… well, like talking to a friend.

“Here, you can have the New Testament. I’ll even write your name in it, and the date, so you can remember when you met your Hero.” Mike patted his shirt pocket, looking for a pen.

“Here.” The man on the other side of Caleb leaned over, offering a pen.

“Thanks.” Mike posed the pen over the book. “What’s the date? Eleventh, isn’t it?”

“Yup.” The man turned to Caleb. “I couldn’t help but overhearing the conversation. I’m a Christian, too.” He offered a hand. “By the way, I’m Todd Beamer. Welcome to the family.”

In memory of all the heroes on Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. Except for Todd Beamer, all the characters and events in this story are completely fiction.

© 2008 Amy Michelle Wiley

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Summer, come back!

I can’t believe it’s September. In just three short weeks I’ll be back to school--with 19 credits, yikes. There’s no way I’d ever willingly take on that many with my health the way it is, but since I’m in a specialized program I don’t have much of a choice. If nothing else, it’ll sure force me to rely on God fully--no way I can make it on my own!

Near the end of the term we have the big QE (Qualifying Exam). We have four chances over the next two years to pass it and recieve a certificate of completion for the program. Basically the QE is ensuring that we can actually do a qualified job of interpreting. Most training programs in the US do not have a test like that, meaning anyone who can manage through the college classes with at least a low C is sent into the world to do real live interpreting.

I'm glad we have the QE, but it's rather scary. I asked my tutor yesterday if he thought I had a chance at passing it this year and he said yes! :-) He said he thought I could pass the sign to voice part pretty easily and if I can get my signing speed up then I had a chance at the voice to sign part. My brain just doesn't work like it used to (thanks to the fibro) and sometimes I have trouble thinking fast or talking in English at a normal speed, so it's doubly hard in my second language, even when I'm not trying to interpret. So that's something to work on and pray about.

I’ve been brainstorming to think of little things I can do to make it easier for me to get through each school day… things like getting a disabled parking permit so I don’t have to climb a hill and a set of stairs dragging my backpack in the freezing cold (though I’ve had trouble actually getting the permit), and arranging the schedule as much as possible so I don’t have early morning classes (that will help with sleepiness/brain fog and driving less, since traffic is less later in the day). I meet with the disabilities counselor a few days before school starts, and maybe we can think of some more things. Anyone else have ideas?

This summer didn’t quite go how I’d planned. I’d hoped to have the postcard project critiqued and to the final editor by the end of the term--I haven’t touched it all summer. I had some other projects I wanted to work on, also, and though I did keep up with my signing somewhat, I didn’t do nearly as much daily practice as I’d determined I would.

I feel like I spent half the summer in some doctor’s office or another. But at least that was effective and I now have a diagnoses and some treatments that are helping.

Today I got a new mattress for my birthday present from my parents. My old one was some 11 or 12 years old and not very cushy anymore. Last night Dad and I went to the only place in the US where the three major mattress companies have stores literally side by side (Dad says there’s only one place like that because no one else is that stupid, lol). It sure is handy for the shoppers, though.

Of course, there’s not that much that can be told about a mattress by laying on it for 30 seconds, and by the time I’d walked to the next store it was hard to compare them, but I finally just picked one. It’s nothing really fancy (not gonna pay four digit numbers for a mattress!), but has both support and a bit of a cotton topper to make it soft.

My bedroom is in pretty bad shape, so I had to work at it today so Dad could even bring the new mattress in. I’m one of those people who likes things to be neat and tidy, but not quite enough to actually go to the work to make it that way. I’m pretty organized with certain things like organizing the conference and Peculiar People, but I don’t have any energy left over at the end of the day to worry about a bedroom.

I was actually feeling okay most of the day, so I tacked the bedroom for probably too long. Tonight the frequent bending has me sore and stiff. But there is a wide clean swath through my room (I seriously found almost $20 in loose change laying around!) and a new mattress to look forward to! I’m curious to see how it feels to actually sleep on it. Off I go! Good night.