Monday, May 16, 2005

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

I have fairly significant hearing loss in my left ear, and a moderate amount of hearing loss in my right ear. This is not good for someone who tries to play rock ‘n roll critic. It turns out that it’s not good for family dynamics, either.

Right now both of my ears are blocked. I’m going to the ENT doctor later this week, and that will help restore me to my normal significant/moderate hearing loss levels, and will allow me to use everyone’s favorite symbol of rock ‘n roll rebellion – the hearing aid – to hear almost normally. But for now you might as well try to communicate with me using ASL. Unfortunately, I don’t know ASL, and the only sign I feel like making involves extending my middle finger to just about everyone. If I encounter you during these times, please know that it’s not your fault. But I am frustrated and angry, and apt to be in a foul mood. The good news is that you can say all kinds of nasty things to me in return, and I won’t hear you.

Sunday mornings tend to bring these kinds of issues into focus, in both good and bad ways. We headed for church, and I popped one of my favorite CDs into the car’s CD player. The protests began, as they usually do, almost immediately, ranging from “Turn that off!” to “Turn that down!” Variety, the spice of life. I switched CDs, opting for a more crowd-pleasing mix. No matter. It was still too loud. So I turned it down. And then I couldn’t hear it, although everyone else could apparently hear it just fine. So I turned off the music, sulked, pouted, and generally went out of my way to let everyone else know how unhappy I was. And they’ll know we are Christians by our sullenness.

Then we strolled into church, late as usual, and the worship band was playing some rockin’, upbeat tune about the transformative power of Jesus. Yee haw. Here is your New Creation, O God, pissed at the world, probably pissed at You, most certainly pissed at the three people I love the most. Lift up those holy hands.

I didn’t want to worship. I wanted to sulk. But I figured that I might as well at least level with God and tell Him that. So I did. And I don’t normally hear from God, but I think I distinctly heard God tell me, “Whatever.” That was it. “Whatever.” God as Valley Girl. A little later the band played a song whose chorus is “Break these chains, set me free,” and that one seemed to make some sense, so I prayed that, too. I didn’t feel any different afterwards. I didn’t feel particularly spiritually renewed and cleansed. But at least I could sing that one and mean it. I am tired of being led by the nose by my ears. I am tired of being held captive by my circumstances and my emotions. I’m tired of not being able to hear. Break these chains. Set me free.

On the way home we stopped by Best Buy and I bought some headphones. Now I can blast away and not shake the walls and alarm the neighbors and drown out every other sound in the house. “Be careful not to play the music too loud,” Kate told me. “You can damage your ears.” It was a bit like telling Darth Vader not to breathe too loudly. You work with what you’ve got.

And maybe it’s worthwhile to take inventory of what you’ve got. I thought about that later, after some time and some distance had allowed me to gain some perspective. I’ve got lousy ears and people who are willing to pay me to tell them what I hear. I have a wife and kids who love me in spite of my sullenness and pouting. I’m a part of a wonderful church I dearly love, surrounded by new friends, and I’m growing slowly, painfully more in love with a God who speaks in Valley Girl aphorisms. It is that still small voice that is barely discernible for those who have ears to hear, and sometimes even for those who don’t.


Anonymous said...

Andy,I just prayed for you. And I will continue. I can really relate to your emotions. I'm sorry.

God has spoke both ebonics, gangstah and valley girl to me... only mine was "no DUH!"

So your not alone.

Videos by Professor Howdy said...

You have a riveting web log
and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.
May I suggest that you do
everything in your power to
honor your Designer/Architect
as well as your audience.

Please remember to never
restrict anyone's opportunities
for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose. A
time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,

'Thought & Humor'
Cyber-Humor & Cyber-Thought
Harvard Humor Club

Anonymous said...

i suppose that the bad news is that although its extremely unlikely that your hearing will get better, it can get worse. although i expect that it's probably as bad as it's gonna get. my hearing loss probably isn't as bad as yours: my wife finds it more frustrating than i do. I am more troubled by my tinnitis, which is usually 3 ringing sine wave sounding tones: the highest F and B on the piano and a really really high one that is an octave about the highest note on the piano.

which i hear all the time. at least when i'm awake. when i'm asleep i don't think about it, although i probably hear them then too.

let me know about your experience with the headphones. did you just buy a generic pair? headphones can vary greatly in quality and a really good sounding pair of headphones can be a fantastic experience. my main issue is comfort: i just can't seem to find a pair that is particularly comfortable.

danthress said...

Headphones: The best headphones for listening to music are made by a small company in Brooklyn called, Grado ( This is the choice of most mastering engineers in NY. They don't accentuate any frequencies; they reproduce exactly what is on the recording. Fred, they are "open-ear" with foam pads that rest on your ears. These are not headphones you would use in a recording studio while you are recording. These are strictly for critical listening. And, they are very inexpensive. I use the HR 80's and they are around $80. You can buy them on-line and some dealers sell them new on ebay I think. Andy, I know you already bought some, but you might want to take advantage of Best Buy's return policy and treat yourself to the best. You deserve it.

Anonymous said...

yes, i did listen to some grado headphones some years back and they are excellent. i've also noticed that grado makes phono cartridges and was wondering if they are as good.