Visual/Gestural Communication [dropping] MW
Religion: Exploring the Christian Faith MWF
Native American Social Systems MWF
American Sign Language II TTh
Current Events Th
Four years ago in a lightning flash of Knowing I realized I wanted to be a Sign Language Interpreter. Until that moment I assumed I’d go into something English-related [later narrowed down to magazine editing of some flavor] given my grades, test scores, and Proofreading Twitch Factor. I was cool with that. I love words and language; my freshman year of high school I took the only foreign language, Spanish [taught by a gentleman from Mexico — huzzah for real learning] and did well. When I transferred to public school my sophomore year I took French, my first love. I continued taking French classes in college both in Oregon and Iowa. I even considered adding a French minor until I realized how many classes I’d have to take with the prof who didn’t like me. With Interpreting, though, it was different.
I’ve also loved sign language as long as I can remember. No, really. This is not one of the Lin Exaggerations of Doom. I learned to fingerspell when I was 6 or 7, adored Marlee Matlin, read about Helen Keller, and checked out ASL dictionaries from the library. When I met a deaf girl – Lacey – I was incredibly disappointed that she couldn’t read yet thus couldn’t fingerspell. I remember this incredible urge to communicate and connect with her in some way. When I was 10 my Sabbath school class [think of it as Sunday school, only on Saturday…look, it’s a whole other thing, roll with it] signed “Amazing Grace” for special music [realizing now it was actually Signed Exact English, not ASL, but that is not the freaking point now is it?]. I read a Baby-Sitters Club book [shut UP] with a deaf character & learned the sign for “dance” and as a sophomore in high school wrote a ghastly, cheese-laden short story about a deaf girl struggling to fit in with her hearing family and mainstream school. Seriously, I lit the emo fires with that one.
Out of curiosity and overthinking the future [one of my specialties] I looked into Interpreting programs around the US and got chills when I learned that Augie had just established their B.A. program. One hour away. That year. I felt alight, alive and I couldn’t get the words out fast enough every time I attacked someone else with my happiness. Four years later with my life upside down and losing my job two days before my son’s birthday I began to consider school. The original plan was to wait until my daughter was in kindergarten but it was your classic spork in the road, you know? On one side a murky pond and on the other a moody sea. So I held my breath and jumped. [sporks and water analogies…you know, I don’t know.]
Spring semester began February 4. Full time. I was afraid of looking like a complete misfit or, worse yet, the Misfit Who Tries So Hard to be Cool. I knew those @ UNI. So far so good…I think. I want to be seen first as Lin, as myself, not That Girl OMG Did You Hear?. I drive an hour each way to school every day. It’s not awesome and it’s expensive but it’s what I’ve got to do. I realize that to someone who doesn’t know the entire situation it would seem easiest to move but it isn’t. I’ve considered it so many times but I keep coming back to the reasons I have to stay, all of which are related to my bebes and their well-being. I hesitate to say this b/c I am afraid some will take it as a personal attack [it isn’t], but I don’t feel like I’m home when I get back in town. Walking into the house I let out a held breath and remind myself to let go of muscles I didn’t even know I was tensing.
It’s really hard not living in the same town, let alone near/on campus. It results in me feeling so lonely and isolated and removed that I want to curl up in a ball. Then I think about how no one would even notice if I curled up in a ball and didn’t move. No, these aren’t suicidal thoughts. They’re the thoughts of someone who has been forgettable and invisible most of my life.
Hell’s bells…I’m really not as grey and gloomy as I sound. School is good. It’s a positive to hang onto and I feel like I’m doing something, moving, trying. Worth something. I’ve made a couple at-school friends. Augie is the friendliest school I’ve experienced. People smile, say hi, hold doors. Faculty members say hello. The staff is helpful; they treat you like a person; they go above and beyond with individualized attention.
My birthday was February 25. I dreaded it for months, mentally counting down to what I knew would be the first of many Lonely Days in this new existence. That night though my friend Paula & I met for a reunion/birthday dinner — it was the first time we’d hung out in 2+ years. Said dinner lasted three, count them one-two-THREE hours. It was fabulous. Catch-up session #1 over, I dashed to the movie theater where I met a couple friends from ASL & a friend of theirs for my second birthday gift. The three of us saw Shutter Island and I sobbed, oh yes I did. I have no shame. In the cozy dark of a movie theater, that is. When the lights come up it’s a different story.