The long-engrained habits of my own brain, as well as the challenges that those habits create in structuring a new auditory model of the world, is something I've been meaning to write about on this blog. (In a nutshell, it's the story of my current stage of listening.) But it's also something that I've written about before, so in favor of a different topic that strikes me as more immediately interesting, I'll bypass it for another time.
I had someone ask me earlier this week about the CI: my progress, whether I'm still happy with the decision, etc., but also about my recent ability in social situations. That last one was the trickiest for me to answer. While my level of environmental awareness and, subsequently, the sensory richness of my world are unbelievable, I still can't help but wish that that impression of auditory texture translated better into the specific fine-tuned connections that would help me more with human speech. Don't get me wrong: my brain is figuring it out. With a single speaker in a quiet location, I'm often surprised and gratified at my ear's ability to fill in the gaps, ease the pressure from lipreading, understand, and, well, listen. But, unfortunately, the world does not operate according to the norm of a single speaker, speaking one at a time, in a quiet location.
As a full-time student, I've reached the point in the academic term when my energy reserves are rather low. Those reserves are already reluctant enough to contribute themselves to (my admitted phobia of) group interaction, but in recent weeks they've been all but shot. And, today, I was wishing that I had a mental typewriter to record the verbal nonsense that my brain sees/hears/juggles on a regular basis. It, reconstructed, goes something like this.
A: Yeah, you know, I was thinking eoriwudn seriuesof ghjldf eirojdf. And it's problem sets and papers and erieosf reuesonf eruelsgh.
B: That sounds really tough. Eeriosdncs eoirslfn and you know vneowri but erouewo it's not so bad boerusor.
C: Askrjejf sdifuseorjf sdfiusd at three o'clock. Ersdnvfoer eruilsbr one of my friends said that eriowehjf qweurs but then I told her erous erwyn oweur. She wasn't very happy.
A: Twoeru sdfbero this afternoon eoriueo and oweur.
A: Dsfkjfls the Fiesta Bowl? Erwoeiur seruhesf vnvlee.
B: No, I'm not going.
C: I am.
D: Dfskj sieru stijsjf sdfjsldfj!
A: Where are you staying? I was thinking I would sdklfjs pfgoihf seriulkj ofgihfjdfh. And then fly back seriuoenf drtiurd fly out of zeiruoes portiren before coming back to school.
D: Yeah. Eroewur sdfbe that sounds like a good idea. Have you heard of erouwel seruro vboer?
C: One time kweridsf dfguorgj eriuefmdl I was on a plane, and eriouwefj sdhfdnf piruoe guy checked my luggage, and then - and then -
B and D: laughing
C: Yeah, I know right, eriweuor vwryeiwnf this stewardess was just srehyweknf ierwekfn and then I got home and my mom looked at me and said seriouewlf fdghdorgn esrueyifhn upoertjlnwe.
A: I did that one time. It was when xerieuosf erouewly eriejof roriuweon.
D: Rwriuweaolf qoweui sdfnselr but he said sadfnsoer rsoweroj.
[Chewing, mumbling, accelerated speech, overlapping conversation interspersed throughout]
Is it any wonder, sometimes, that I just walk away? (I need an iPhone autocorrect to revise all these jumbled words.) Even if they all spoke perfectly in turn, the flow would still be challenging. Whatever my discoveries with the CI, the reality is still a little bit sobering regarding social interaction.
I'm looking forward to some good old-fashioned sign language conversations over the holidays. Or at least some familiar voices to listen to and challenge my ear with - in quiet houses and living rooms, at that!