Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Week Without Words- Day Five (And then some...)

This post is dedicated to Aaron Rosenthal. It is my hope that he goes through with this challenge. 

I know, I know, it's been forever. I'm sorry, I got distracted and never finished. I have the attention span of a 5 year old boy, and am honestly amazed that I even managed four days of writing all together! Anyway, here it is, the much awaited (at least by one person) day five, and then some!

The morning was like any other. I got ready the same way I do, every day. I saw the same things, as I drove to work. There are these evangelists that stand on the corner outside of a mattress store with signs that say things like "Honk for Jesus" and "God's LOVE is enough." I always smile, and wave at them, but they are too busy shouting scripture to see me. There is a light I always get caught at, and I am always the first in line. There are two chubby boys, probably middle school aged, that use the crosswalk at this light, at this same time, every day. They are always eating Crackerjacks. There is a man who rides the city bus with his children, a boy and a girl. The little girl has so much soul. I always catch her waving her arms, clapping, and dancing. She reminds me of those crazy church choirs you see on TV...

I went to lunch with a friend I haven't seen in a while. (He asked me not to mention his name.) He didn't understand why I wasn't speaking, and really wasn't too crazy about the idea either. He said he refused to read my blog, because the entries were too long. Oh well. Since we hadn't seen each other in quite some time, we had a lot of catching up to do. He told me about what he's been doing lately, talked about work, our friends, etc. My thumbs moved as quickly as I could manage, to text responses to what he was saying, but mostly, I just listened. He was going through a hard time. He was uncertain about the future. He smiled a lot... that's usually how I can tell when he is worried.

After ending my week, I had so many things to say. I made a few phone calls immediately, talking to people about things that could not be said over a text or an email, but after that was finished, I pretty much stayed quiet. It was so weird. I felt guilty every time I spoke. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I kept looking around, all paranoid, as if someone were going to catch me, and turn me in to the silent police! I know it's not a big deal, but after convincing myself not to do something for so long, it seemed to make a huge difference! 

Another strange feeling came with going places, and talking to people. Everything became so ordinary. When I wasn't speaking, most of the people I encountered were interested in the project. They all had something to say, or questions, most commonly starting with, "Why?" They were interested in me. It was a cool feeling, going into a store, or a Taco Bell, or whatever, and being the distraction of their days. I know, personally, from working jobs like that, and even in my current job, anything out of the ordinary is most welcomed. When I began to speak again, of course it was different for me, but the random people I met throughout this past week, had no idea. Normal interactions occurred. I just experienced something incredible, and I want everyone to know about it. I wish I could just pack cute little gift bags of understanding, and insight, and hand them out to the people I meet. I had gotten so used to everyone wanting to know everything, that it was a silly shocker, when people all of a sudden, didn't. I say silly, because that is how it has always been, but I say shocker, because now I see it, and I'm not okay with it. 

I've always been interested in people. What we think, why we think those things, and what we do about them. I am still interested in people. Now, more than ever. I would have never known that the Target guy's sister was deaf, and the greatness of how it effected his life, if I were to respond to him in a normal fashion, on a normal day. I wouldn't have had the sadly funny, one way conversation with the soccer mom; And I can guarantee that my lunch date on Friday would not have opened up to me in such a way, if I were busy talking about myself, and the things going on in my life. 

God has seriously blessed me through this. I have learned so many things. I cannot put understanding in a cute little bag for you, but I have typed it out to the best of my ability, and posted it here on my blog. I hope this has reached someone. I hope it makes a difference. If you think you can do it, I challenge you to a week of silence. A lot of people have messaged me saying they think it is a really cool idea, but they can't do it, because of their jobs. I said on the first day, I would be speaking at work, and I did. Did it take away from the project? Maybe a little. But it was still totally worth it! You read about all of the things that happened outside of my office, and that is just what I typed out! It has been a wonderful experience. 

So if you think you're up to it, give it a go. And if not, well, think about some more. You may change your mind. It is only five days, and I promise it will change your world.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Week Without Words- Day Four.

6:05 AM: Snore, drool, groan, roll over.

7:15 AM: Panic Attack.

Yeah, I woke up late. No soy latte for the cranky lady! I needed to be at work by 8AM. It takes about 40 minutes to get there, soooo... I rushed to get ready. It's finally "sprummer" here in Arizona, which means a freezing cold 65 degrees in the morning, and a lovely 90 degrees in the afternoon! I've been wearing a lot of floral skirts lately, which instantly brighten my day, even if I get off to a bad start. Hey, who doesn't love car-ride-makeup and a nice messy ponytail sometimes? HoneyBadger had a lot to tell me before I left for work. She has really been taking advantage of the time she has had to speak this week. I just let her get it all out. She's probably saying all that I've needed to say.

Driving to work, even in a rush, my mind is always racing. I think about the things I need to accomplish that day. I think about what happened the night before. I think of at least three things that I am dying to call my sister and talk about. I roll down my window, and listen to traffic. I turn up the radio, and listen to music. I turn off the radio, and listen to God. Perhaps I will continue to reserve the drive to work as "silent time." Couldn't hurt, right?!

Sometimes, when I get to work, I forget to talk. Someone will say "Good Morning, how are you doing?" and I'll find myself waving, and giving a thumbs up before I actually remember to respond! 

For lunch, I went to Starbucks to get a venti, iced, unsweetend, green tea, and a roasted tomato and mozzarella panini. If you haven't had one, go buy one right now. It will change your life. They are so yummy, and I feel so heathy when I eat things like that, as opposed to the usual Taco Bell. I showed my note to the guy at the register, but he seemed to be having a bad day and was not interested at all. Oh well. I drove to park by a golf course, and enjoyed the rest of my lunch with the hobos and the birds. 

Towards the end of my work day, I got a text from my friend, Chris, asking if I wanted to see a movie. I knew this would be a good chance to hang out, without things getting weird because of my lack of voice, and Chris is awesome, so I said yes. I went home to change, and walk HoneyBadger, then drove to Hurricane Hookah Lounge, where we would meet. When I got there, a few other friends were already hanging out. They all wanted to know all about my challenge, and they all wanted to make me speak. The bouncer threatened to step on my toes. I was poked, and tickled, and provoked, but made no noise. Apparently everyone in this crazy city knows at least a little sign language, because everyone had something to say! 

Chris and I went to see "This Means War." It was incredibly fun, driving to the movie, having him talk to me, ask questions, and then try to guess the answers from my facial expressions, broken sign language, and body language. When we got out of the car, things got a little easier because I could write notes, and show him my phone. I've always displayed a wide variety of facial expressions, and been a tad dramatic in my stories and movements, but not having a voice has amplified those qualities in me more than I could have possibly imagined! Chris was cracking up, and I was silently lmao.

 I got a text from my friend/Chris's roommate, Nathan, asking me to come over after the movie. Chris and I went back to Hurricane, (I had left my car there) and said hi to a few people that weren't there earlier, before I left to visit Nathan. 

Apparently, Nathan, doesn't read my blog :P

I walked inside, gave him a hug, and he asked "What? You're not talking? What? Why aren't you talking?" A few of the others that were there knew what was going on, and kind of half explained, while I brought up my blog, and a link to the original article that inspired me. Like any situation, there were mixed reactions of surprise, frustration, interest, and confusion. The night continued with hookah, the TV show 'Archer,' and a never-ending game of charades. My friend Basileios, thought it appropriate to jokingly send dirty sign language messages, while others made fun, and Nathan described the challenge as "cute." I had a lot of fun, trying not to talk or laugh out loud! Chris came home from Hurricane around 11, and that's about when I headed out. I'm an old lady, and I need my sleep, before my early mornings!

It was a much bigger challenge than I expected, being around friends, and not saying anything at all. Especially when they wanted to poke fun at me, or talk about a recent party, (and all the drama that goes with those types things!) Overall, I had a good time, and I'll be sure to get them back somehow!! ;)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Week Without Words- Day Three.

Wednesday morning, the Starbucks barista recognized me. "Hi Shannyn!" She waved at me, flashing a nice big smile when I walked in. 7:28AM, and she made my day! I smiled, and waved back. "How is the not-talking-thing going for you?" I gave her a thumbs up. "That's good! Do you ever slip up and say a word or something?" I shrugged my shoulders, and shook my head no. Since I am constantly thinking about not being able to talk, and always looking for new ways to communicate, it's pretty hard to forget! She laughed. "Girl, you are good! I am seriously amazed. What can I get for you?" I signed "thank you" with a smile, and showed her my order, on my phone. 

At lunch I reeeaaally needed to clean out my car... I stopped by a tennis court, next to a nice looking park, to do so. (If you plan on going hungry on your journey to recognizing adult priorities, you might as well look at something pretty.) I folded the clothes in my back seat, organized my 580 pairs of shoes, and filled a target bag with paper, and trash. (Yes, I know, "oink, oink." Forgive me, I am a 20 year old female.) When I threw the bag into a very public-looking trash can, a country-club-soccer-mom with a Botox-gone-bad face, and HUGE fake boobs falling out of her teeny tiny Nike top, turned around to greet me. "Um, excuse me, but, um, are you like, a member here?" she said (Imagine Alicia Silverstone's voice in "Clueless" mixed with a long-term smoker) I just looked at her ridiculousness. I didn't really know what to say... She continued "Cause I'm a member here, and my husband like, pays for our family to like, come here and like, work out, so we can like, better our health." I nodded, and may have let slip a tiny sarcastic smile. "Is this like some new hippie thing? Not talking? Like a mime?" I shook my head no, and signed an apology "Oh god, you're deaf! You can't talk!" She practically shouted "" Now she was speaking very slowly, over-pronouncing her words. I smiled, waved, and started to walk back towards my car. "Nice... meeting.... you..." For the word "nice," she gave me a thumbs up. For the word "meeting," she shook her own hand. For the word "you" she pointed at me. "You are very pretty! You can do anything! Like that Helen Keller girl! Stay in school!" My eyes were wide with shock, and embarrassment. I drove off wishing so badly that I could call someone and talk about what had just happened... 

At work, I stumbled upon an article that talked about around-the-house items and foods, you can use for skin care. I went to Target after I got off, to stock up on some fresh produce for a healthy dinner, and a healthy face! Just FYI, my favourite thing in the world is zucchini. (<--- irrelevant to anything I will probably ever talk about, but now you know.) I got to the check out line, but had been busy texting a friend, so I did not have a note prepared. The guy said "Hello" I smiled, and waved, as I scrambled to prepare an explanatory note on my phone. Then he asked "How is your day going so far?" I gave him a look that could probably be described as somewhat panicked, or upset, with a touch of impatience. He then gave me a look that I could clearly describe to you as: annoyed. I held up a finger, asking for a moment, and pointed to my phone. As I was finishing my note to him, he tapped my arm to get my attention, and signed to me "Are you deaf?" I signed back "No, I just can't speak." finished my note, and showed him my phone. It said something like "I'm doing this challenge thing, where I can't speak for a week! I'm sorry, I really don't mean to be rude!" He signed to me "It's okay. I know sign language." I signed back "I know very little sign language." He laughed, and asked, (out loud) "Is this for school or something?" I shook my head, no. "Why are you doing it then?" I signed "I am learning." He asked if I was learning sign language, I signed "no, learning about life." He stared and smiled for a minute before saying "You know, that's really cool. My sister is deaf, and can't speak for herself. People don't just don't get it. What you are doing is very admirable." I signed "Thank you" with a smile. "Have a great day" He signed "You too" I replied.

My day was made twice.

Some stuff I have learned so far:

1) People get upset about such silly little things. - Ex: I sneezed at some point, and instantly thought "ugh. I hate sneezing." Then I thought, "Wait. Why do I hate sneezing?" And I couldn't come up with a good reason, so I no longer hate sneezing. When I thought about sneezing, and what happens when I sneeze, I realized, it's not so bad. It's getting all the nastiness out of my system. What's to hate about that?!

2) Sometimes, friends just need to talk. Not talking this week, has made me a much better listener. If advice is needed, or rather, wanted, I can write down what I am thinking. But if not, then I can be there for that friend in the way that they really need me. I can still hug without a voice, and I can still smile. Sometimes, when going through a hard time, friends don't want opinions. They just want hugs and smiles. It's hard to see that when my mouth moves faster than my brain, but with my words gone on holiday, I am paying closer attention to things that really matter. 

3) My mom gets upset when she calls to talk about taxes, and I don't communicate. Oops. Sorry, mom. I just really want to stick to something the whole way through for once. I have a quitting problem, and this last year has been messy. I just want to do this week right. I love you. See you on Friday. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Week Without Words- Day Two

Say "Hello" to: Day Two!
Well, type, write, or sign it. Still not speaking. Still enjoying the heck out of this experiment.

I went to my favourite Starbucks to get my early morning Cinnamon Dolce Soy Latte. I planned ahead, and woke up early, because things like ordering coffee, tend to take a little longer when you have to find new ways of getting your message across. I prepared a note on my phone that said:

"Hello. My name is Shannyn. Sorry for any inconvenience, but I am trying a little experiment in which I am not audibly speaking for a week. Could I please get a grande Cinnamon Dolce Soy Latte? No whipped cream, thanks :)"

The barista looked at my phone for a minute, puzzled, and then looked up and gave me a huge grin. "That is the coolest thing ever!" she said. "I don't think I could stop talking for a week! I would go crazy!" I smiled back, nodded yes, motioned to myself, and pointed my fingers at my head and rotated them in circles, as if to show her I agreed. It has been crazy! She laughed and said "I'll have this right out for you, Shannyn." 

The next notable event happened at lunch time. I had to go to the bank. I wanted to deposit a check, and get $50 back in cash. Because of the short amount of time I have for lunch, and the distance between my work, and the nearest Wells Fargo, I decided to drive through. I filled out the deposit slip, and wrote a note on the side saying "Could I please get $50 of this in cash?" initialed the note, and sent it through the tube. The teller took a look at everything, and then asked "So you want $50 in cash?" I could see her in the window, so I nodded "yes." Then she asked "Do you know Shannyn's birthday?" Not sure why she was asking if I knew my own birthday, or rather "Shannyn's" birthday. (lol) It was on the deposit slip, and on the ID that I had provided. This really threw me off. I pointed at myself and gave her a questioned look. She said "Oh, you're Shannyn! Duh!" At this point, I probably looked at her like she was stupid. (Oops.) But I have a hard time feeling bad for that expression because she then asked, (out loud) "Omg, are you deaf?!" I slowly shook my head "no." She mumbled "Oh shit..." and returned the tube with my cards, and money, inside. I tried hard not to laugh, as we waved goodbye.

Chick-fil-a, was on the way back to work, so I stopped there for lunch. Three things you must know about Chick-fil-a: 1) It's freaking awesome. 2) There is only one even remotely close to where I work/live. 3) Everybody in the world wants to eat lunch at this place exactly when I do. Like seriously, it is always insanely busy. Again, I went inside to order. (Drive-thrus just seem sooo out of my league now) I typed a note on my phone, saying, what I would like, and giving my name for the order. For whatever reason, it had slipped my mind to include the part about this being an experiment. The guy at the register was pretty young. He looked at my phone, typed in the order, at pointed at the register to show me how much it would be. He kind of whispered "Is this for here?" (pointing down, and then around the restaurant,) "or to go?" (pointing outside.) I smiled, and pointed outside. He too, assumed I couldn't hear. He gave me a thumbs up. I smiled, admiring his silent efforts to communicate with me. 

On the way home, I stopped at Fry's to get a case of water. The people there are generally rude, and I don't usually like to go there, but it is by my house. I went through a regular check out line, as opposed to a self-check-out. The cashier didn't say anything, except "$3.98, your change is over there. Have a great day." I walked out, a little bummed that I wouldn't have anything cool to write, but I guess it just shows how different people can be. 

When HoneyBadger and I went outside for our evening stroll, the little girls met us at the bottom of the stairs, eager to say hello. "HoneyBee!!!" One of the girls squealed, "Princess HoneyBee, and the Fairy Queen! You're the Fairy Queen, okay girl?!" I smiled, and nodded, as if to say "Okay." Then she asked "What is your name, anyway?" I thought for a minute, uncertain about how to respond. I had left my phone inside, and I wasn't sure if these girls were old enough to read anyway... So I did what any decent mime would do. I used my fingers to zip my lips shut, and then thew away the key! "Ohhhhh Nooooo!!" The girl screamed, as she threw herself onto the ground. Her friends looked at her like she was possessed, and I must admit, I kind of did too. With a dramatic I-just-fainted / back-of-her-hand to her forehead, motion, she exclaimed in a breathy voice "She's been cursed! The mean, mean, witch has taken away her voice forever!!" ***Pause*** "GO! HIDE! NOW! BEFORE THE WITCH FINDS US TOO!" All four girls screamed, and ran under the stairs. 

I was thoroughly impressed. That kid has quite a future in acting. 

Later on, I received a few texts from people wanting to hang out. Their reactions to my vow were all very different. After explaining what I was doing, I got responses such as:

1) Why in the world are you not speaking?
2) That's really cool! I want to do that! Well actually, no, haha you can just do it and tell me about it.
3) How are we supposed to hang out if you won't even talk?
4) That could quite possibly be the stupidest thing I have heard all day. lol
5) Well actually, something came up, let's hang out next week.

I pretty much came to the conclusion that people just didn't understand. That's okay. I don't really have a reason for doing this. I'm not protesting anything. I'm not sick. It isn't a religious commitment. I can't really expect others to understand. I'm just very interested in everything. I am constantly wanting to learn about everything, (specifically people, and how/why we react to things the way we do) and this, so far, is working for me. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Week Without Words- Day One.

Yesterday afternoon (3/26/12) I read an article through HighExistence about taking a 'vow of silence' or as the author referred to it, a 'silent vacation.' Unordinary things like such, tend to interest me, so I decided I would take this challenge and make it my own. The author continued her vow for 23 days. Since this is my first go at something like this, I have decided to commit to five days of 'no vocal chords.' This means no talking, singing, laughing, humming, anything audible for the next five days. My job requires a lot of speaking, and since I value my employment, (aka weekly paycheck,) I must talk to customers. I feel like I am missing a chunk of what this experiment has to offer, but for the time being, its the best I can do.

The first thing I noticed yesterday, was the 45 minute drive home from work. This is usually a long drive, making it the time where I call friends or family, catch up, vent about my day, make plans for the weekend, etc. Yesterday things were quiet. I found myself getting frustrated at traffic, but I couldn't yell "MOOOVE!!" or "Ugh, I hate stupid people!!" Keeping my mouth shut, made me move my arms more, and really open my eyes to everything around me. In an attempt to chill out, and pass off the frustration as something I could not control, I turned on the radio. I almost started to sing along, when my concience quickly slapped my hand, reminding me "no singing! no noise!" So, I listened. I heard the same songs I hear every day, but listening was different. Sure, I knew all of the words, but this time I paid close attention to what each artist had to say. I felt much more connected to the music and lyrics than I had before. This was a good thing for me, because I find myself not making enough time, (somedays any time) for God. Really focusing on the messages through a simple Christian radio station, and then not stopping to talk on the phone helped me realise some things that He has probably been trying to get through to me for a while. Anyone that has ever met me, knows how easily I can get distracted. Yesterday, I focused.

When I got home, I took my Chihuahua, HoneyBadger, outside for a walk. There are a few little girls that live in the apartment building next to mine, that are always outside playing at this time. Like they do everyday when they see us, they asked me "Can we pet your dog?!?" I nodded yes, we walked over to the girls, and they pet her. They made their usual comments "You're so cute!" and "I love you, HoneyBee!" and then turned away to continue playing. We continued walking. The girls have always had more to say to HoneyBadger, than to me, and that is totally okay. They did not question why I hadn't said anything. It did not phase them at all. 

The night continued without any major events. Any phone calls, I returned with a text saying "Sorry, I have taken a vow of silence for the next week and cannot audibly answer you right now. What's up?" Any face-to-face conversations were handled by typing my responses on my iPhone notepad. I ate dinner outside. I listened to all of the "normal noises" such as cars driving by, people talking in the parking lot, the air conditioning unit, dogs barking, etc. I like being an observer. I am already learning a lot. Someone knocked on my door later, but I didn't recognize the guy, so I ignored it.

I dreamed about going to a museum and looking at paintings of whales last night. Not sure if that has any relevance, but I thought it was interesting. :)