Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Day 31: Barbara and Shari

Ah, what can I say on this last day of gratitude and Thank-Full-ness! Day 31 is reserved for my friends Barbara and Shari.

These two women flew up here to see an interpreted performance of "The Lion King" with my friend CB from Day 11. I had never met them...when the show was over, we went to Marrakesh, my favorite Moroccan restaurant, had a lovely dinner and the rest was history. It is hard to explain, but I immediately felt a connection to these women and it was mutual (which is rare but really nice). Since then, we have shared birthdays, beach trips, laughter, tears, long talks about the world and our place in it, collaged together and missed each other because we are far away from each other most of the time.

In October, we went on a lovely vacation to Nevada to Dave Walley's Hot Springs (see posts for more info). The few days were too short - I long for their company.

Barbara is intuitive, sensitive, clever, thoughtful and funny - she sees the world in a very special way. Shari is strong and sensitive and EVOLVED. They share my love of movies, movies, movies! We all love Harry Potter in any form...but it is more than all of that. We just connect.

Dearest Barbara and Shari- I miss you so much! All the time and I am terrible at telling you. I know we were supposed to cross paths and I'm so grateful for your love and friendship, even from afar. Your spirits and thoughts swirl around me in good times and bad and I love you both for your protection and care. I know I will see you soon, but in the mean time, a big virtual hug. I love you!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day 30: DKM

As I head into the home stretch, I have to take Day 30 to express my gratitude to Denise. I met Denise when I was in my third year of interpreting - she was my supervisor. When I finally met her in January of that year, I was ready to beg to be moved...I had realized that I was in a rut and it was affecting the work I was doing and the student I was working with at the time. She understood and the next fall, when I got my assignment, I found out that I was a "Floater" (full time sub). When I got off the phone that afternoon, I cried. I was sure I was not good enough to be placed with a student and was now relagated to "sub".

It was a decision that changed my life. I was young at the time and I didn't understand that a sub needed to have language flexibility (along with all other kinds of flexibility) to try to meet the needs of the consumers from very young children to adults in a variety of settings. After an initial transition period, the position fit me like a glove. I worked as a floater for 5 years and I knew that I would never be able to go back to 1:1 interpreting in a K-12 classroom. I had gotten a taste of something else and I wanted more.

Denise put a lot of trust in me, encouraged me, mentored me and supported me for all those years and after. She was the first person I told about Roby when he got sick - I knew that I would have to explain why I was missing work. She was 100% supportive of me and even met Roby a few times. I believe that I would still be a K-12 interpreter (there is nothing wrong with that if that's what you want) and I would be a mediocre one, at that. Denise encouraged me to get certified, helped set up the tests in Oregon so that I could take it. She celebrated my successes and helped me when I was feeling like a failure.

Denise and I grew to be friends over the years, as well. We went on a few trips together, had a lot of fun and shared some really sad moments, too. I'm not sure I would have made it through some of those years personally and professionally without her.

We don't cross paths much anymore, but I know we will always be friends.

Denise- Thank you for your laugh and for all the support and nurturing you gave me. I know you helped shape me into the interpreter I became and the person I am becoming still. Thank you for caring enough to force me out of my comfort zone. Thank you for knowing when to push and when to pull. I hope I can give someone half of what you gave me - I will know I have passed it on, if I can do that. Thank you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Day 29: Dad

The first day I wrote to thank my dad, I didn't write much. I just posted a picture.

Today is the second anniversary of my dad's death. I miss him.

I am thank-full that my dad didn't limit me - he never treated me like a "girl". I sometimes wondered growing up if he would have preferred to have sons because he loved the outdoors so much. I went camping for the first time when I was a week old and continued for years to come. He taught us how to fish and camp and when they joined the Boy Scouts (our neighbor was into it and the Boy Scouts were more family oriented than Girl Scouts...), we went to Boy Scout Jamborees in Switzerland. We hiked in the Rockies, fished in the Gulf of Mexico. He never said I couldn't or shouldn't do it.

Dad always supported me in theatre, too. In the beginning, in high school, he would come to the shows and we would gauge how good the show was by how many times he left to smoke. Later, when I was interpreting shows, he was almost disappointed if he didn't go. He would always wave from the audience and told everyone (including me) how proud he was of me. That always felt good and was so unlike him...

My father and I had our differences and some of them were big ones. But I know he loved me and respected me. I hope he knows I felt the same way.

I was with my father when he died. I am glad I was there but sometimes, the images haunt me. All the what ifs come back to pick at me when I feel the most vulnerable.

Dad, I love you and I miss you.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

January Nablopomo

I just signed up for January's Nablopomo. I am on a roll, so far, so I thought I would just keep going. I think my official start to Blog365 was in October or November when I started posting daily.

The theme for January is CHANGE. I am doing better with the whole theme thing...I think if I just come up with a game plan, I can do the theme. It also makes me less likely to write some meandering post that says very little.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Thanks-Giving of December (hopefully, anyone reading has enjoyed it, too). I like having the opportunity to think about all the great people in my life. Obviously, there are more people I could add. These were some of the major players and I hope to continue to thank people in my world.

Change is good. I have to keep telling myself that. Easy to say, hard to believe sometimes.

Day 28: Todd Agan

Day 28 is a shout-out to my good friend, Todd. I miss him! He is living his dream of interpreting for a doctor in another state. I was so sad to see him go, but thrilled that he would have the opportunity to do exactly what he wanted to do.

Todd and I moved in the same circles in the Portland Deaf community for a long time, just sort of skirting each other. We had met a few times but only in giant crowds of people. The cement came when I was a student at WOU and he was an interpreter there. I think when we finally realized we were running with the same crew, things gelled. We told some stories and laughed a lot.

We were invited to Amy's birthday and from then on, we were friends with the whole crowd. Todd and I particularly got along and found that we were both Cancers and that we both had a particular dislike of Christmas and the way people go crazy over it.

Todd and I share a love of theatre, both seeing it and interpreting it. He went to the Interpreting for the theatre program and so did I. We love similar shows and interpreted a bunch of them together. I was there when he found out that his mom had died, he was so good to me when people in my life died. Our humor got us through a lot of those difficult moments. He was there through the "anger" phase of my grief and didn't think any less of me (although it did make for a couple of FUNNY stories).

One time, we were interpreting a children's show of "The Velveteen Rabbit". We went to the first of our rehearsals as the actors were doing their run throughs in a rehearsal space. There were no real costumes or props or real set pieces, but as I watched this sweet musical production, I started to cry. By the end, I was crying really hard, trying not to be noticed in the broad daylight. Todd kept looking over at me and finally, he signed, "Are you all right?" I nodded and blew my nose. He looked at me strangely and looked away. He kept checking on me and afterwards, teased me unmercifully. That would have been that, except that I cried EVERY SINGLE TIME we saw the show - even when we were interpreting. Todd just laughed and didn't say anything after a while. That was just Jean being Jean, I think...

I don't get to see Todd very often, but when I saw him in the summer this year, it was like he had never been away at all. We all came together and told the same silly stories and lauged and laughed and the love we all feel for him just emanated out.

I know I'm not being very articulate about this Thank You - I have all these visual memories and stories but none of them will come to my fingertips. I will share more if they come out today.

Todd, I am so happy that you are happy. I know you are doing what you love and that you sacrificed a lot to do it. I admire that and I admire you for doing it. I miss you all the time, but I know that we will be friends for a long time to come. Take care of yourself and stay in touch!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Day 27: RC

Day 29 is short and bittersweet.  I send loving thanks to a friend who lives in my heart and who I miss dearly.  R.C. 

Thank you for your heart, your laughter, your friendship.  I miss you, but I respect your decision.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Day 26: Amy M.

Today, Day 26, I want to thank Amy. Amy is a quiet, steady pulse in the lives of my circle of friends. She is strong, beautiful, opinionated, but quiet. Her sense of self is strong but she does not take her place among those of us who wield our personal power to entertain.

Amy is a see-er (yes, I make up my own words). She watches us all and sees everything. Her heart is big and open and beautiful.

I don't know when I first met Amy because we just always moved in groups together. She was the victim of many of our practical jokes - some of which I didn't realize/remember having perpetrated...(Todd's grandpa's ashes to name one).

I count Amy as a close friend and a person instrumental in the formation of my large group of interpreter friends. I know that she sees me for me and I appreciate that. She is able to cut through the crap and say so.

Amy, I admire you in so many ways. Ways I can't really articulate here. But know that I respect and love you. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your beautiful presence. You are Amy the Amazing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Day 25: Mom

Merry Christmas and a lifetime of Thank-full-ness to my mother.

My mom is my best friend and the person I count on the most in this world. I know that no matter what I write here, it will not do her justice.

My mom never told me to be quiet or to go play. She filled my life with books and when I started to love theatre, she was right there, dragging my dad along. When I discovered "West Side Story" (one of her favorite movies), she bought a copy for $89.95 for Christmas the next year. She had to haggle with the video store owner because this was WAY back in like 1982 or 1982...people DIDN'T BUY videos. He was perplexed - why would you pay that much money for a video when you can rent it? My mom understood - she would end up paying double that in rental fees, if I had my way.

She let me steal her Peter, Paul and Mary Live in Concert album and didn't say anything when the Original Broadway Cast of "Annie" blasted through my bedroom door. When I was in the 8th grade, my mom likes to say, "Jean went to her room for a year. When she came out, she was a butterfly." I did go to my room, but not in the moody, gothic way that Darlene did on "Roseanne" or the typical ways that teenagers do...I went to my room to listen to music, read and play solitaire (with real cards...not on a computer). I came down for dinner and I talked to the family - just not as much as before.

My mom and I will have these crazy conversations that start at 11pm and go well into the night and we can never track back what we were talking about in the just *happens*.

My mom never made me feel like I couldn't do things because I was a girl. She supported me in journalism and drama (dropping me off at school at 6am and picking me up at 11pm sometimes). She still comes to see me interpret plays regularly.

When my dad died, I wondered if she would lose some of her purpose. She had kept him alive for a year with her "witch doctor" ways - herbs and vitamins and alternative care that she found more for all of us than for herself. I know for sure that my father would have been LOST without her.

I remember when I was younger, my mom and I were the conversationalists at the dinner table...if we didn't talk, my dad wanted to know why. She and I are like two peas in a pod. Jabber jabber jabber, but she listens. I like to think I do, too. She is curious about EVERYTHING and reads tons of books - politics, religion, non-fiction, fiction, you name it. She always has and I remember going to the library regularly. She always understood my voracious need for the written word. Now, I miss that ability. I think I have let too many thing take over my time.

My mom is a great cook and a great storyteller.

Mom, thank you for all that you give and do. I owe you so much and I am so grateful for you every day. It is hard for me to even articulate how much I love you. Thank you for being you.

Veriel, Mom, me - July 2006

Merry Christmas - A Musical Tribute

Apologies to any Deaf friends who read this blog. Today's post is very hearing - Christmas videos. I will have a Thank-ful post later today, as well.

Boney M – Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My lord

Clay Aiken – Mary Did You Know?

“Carol of the Bells” Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Do you Hear what I hear –

Some Children See Him – Melinda Doolittle

Heat Miser/Snow Miser song

Little Drummer Boy – Vienna Boys Choir

Peter Paul and Mary

Children Go Where I sent thee

Light One Candle

Away in a Manger – Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"The First Christmas" and ACIM passage

This blog is a great place for me to post things I want to remember in a location where I can actually find it again. Since I mentioned the poem in my post Thanking Shirlee, I thought I would include the readings I did here. First is the poem, second, a passage from "A Course in Miracles".

The First Christmas

Apartment #304
a Christmas of beginnings
I studied Psychology
you stood in the kitchen stirring
chicken noodle soup
we ate by candlelight.
No TV, no phone
just Judy singing
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".
We walked late at night,
Kong by our sides,
woolen coat collars snug around our necks.
We slaved all night
hanging ribbons of pasta
from the few pieces of furniture you had,
watched "Jumpin' Jack Flash" at the
Broadway Theater for ninety-nine cents,
lines from "About Last Night" dancing in our heads.
No Christmas tree--
just a
Christmas branch
strung with silver beads
sprigs of holly
we cut ourselves.
Who'd ever have dreamed
that simple
luxury-free season
would someday be
the one I remember

Jean A. Miller

The following is an excerpt from "A Course In Miracles", a text of study and prayer and wisdom that Marianne Williamson lectures on. I had seen Ms. Williamson on Oprah one day about a year before Roby died. Something about her resonated with me - her concern for the world, her perspective on the United States and the state of humanity. I sought out her book, "A Woman's Worth" and then began listening to some of her lectures on tape. I'm not a religious person, but I believe in spirituality. I don't necessarily subscribe to "A Course in Miracles", but at the time, it was immensely helpful to me in coping with Roby's illness and my fears of death. I was looking for something and I found solace in her teachings.

One thing to know before you read this is that "A Course In Miracles" uses traditional Christian terminology in very non-traditional ways. When I read the excerpt at the memorial, I eliminated some references, but I thought it was important to talk about LOVE to mitigate some of the shocking and unpleasant messages the preacher gave in his sermon (Yes, sermon...not supposed to happen at memorials, but it did...). Some people tried to impose their views on how I should grieve, "You were just friends...". I thought this message captured an idea I wanted to convey.

A Course in Miracles Lesson 127

"There is no love but God's"

Perhaps you think that different kinds of love are possible. Perhaps you think there is a kind of love for this, a kind for that; a way of loving one, another way of loving still another. Love is one. It has no separate parts and no degrees; no kinds nor levels, no divergencies and no distinctions. It is like itself, unchanged throughout. It never alters with a person or a circumstance. It is the Heart of God and also of his son.

Love’s meaning is obscure to anyone who thinks that love can change. He does not see that changing love must be impossible. And thus he thinks that he can love at times, and hate at other times. He also thinks that love can be bestowed on one and yet remain itself although it is withheld from others. To believe these things of love is not to understand it. If it could make such distinctions. it would have to judge between the righteous and the sinner, and perceive the Son of God in separate parts.

Love cannot judge. As it is one itself, it looks on all as one. Its meaning lies in oneness. And it must elude the mind that thinks of it as partial or in part. There is no love but God’s and all of love is His. There is no other principle that rules where love is not. Love is a law without an opposite. Its wholeness is the power holding everything as one, the link between the Father and the Son which holds them both forever as the same."

If you want to read a transcript of a Marianne Williamson lecture, this is a good place to start:

cover of "A Return to Love" by Marianne Williamson

Probably more than you wanted to know, but there you go. I will post my song list for the memorial, too, but I have to find it first.

Day 24: Shirlee

I chose Day 24, Christams Eve, to honor Roby's mom, Shirlee.

I have known Shirlee since I was a junior in high school and she was just "Roby's Mom". The year after we graduated from high school was the last Thanksgiving I spent solely with my family. After that, every year, without fail, Shirlee insisted that I come to celebrate Thanksgiving and Roby's birthday with their family. While Roby was alive, I never missed. Once he died, I wondered how the family would respond to me. I desperately wanted to be with them - they understood the grief and pain in a way that no one else I knew did.

Shirlee and I are friends now - bonded by the life and death of her son. The Thanksgiving after Roby died, I wasn't sure how to proceed..."normal" was going over there, but I wondered how that would work. When I hadn't shown at a certain point in the day, Shirlee called me. "Where are you? Are you coming?" We have this dance that we do where I don't want to assume and she worries that I am "busy".

One of the special things about Shirlee has been that she understood that Roby and I were soul-mates - not just friends. She trusted her son to me when he was in the hospital at night - she would only leave when she knew I would stay with him until she returned. She allowed me to help take care of him when he came home from the hospital. She asked me to come help plan the memorial (although it didn't turn out quite the way I would have wanted it). At the memorial service, I didn't know where I belonged... Where should I sit? Shirlee said, "You are family. You sit with us." She asked me to read Roby's favorite poem of mine at the memorial - he would have wanted that, she said, and she was too overcome with grief and knew she couldn't speak. I wasn't sure that I could, but I was so honored to be asked that I was determined to do so. I asked if I could plan the music and she let me. We went to the cemetary together and separately and processed our grief together.

Even now, we only see each other a few times a year, but we are friends now. She is no longer just "Roby's mom" - she hasn't been that for a long time. We get together every year to recognize Roby's birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas holidays (either Christmas Eve or Day) and the anniversary of his death. This year will be the 13th long as I knew him, he has been gone from me. We go up to the cemetary together and always have.

We don't just come together to talk about Roby or the loss of Roby - we just know that the other person understands. We talk and laugh, go to the movies, go shopping, whatever friends do. And we just know that the other one knows.

All this is behind the abiding love and respect that I have for Shirlee. She is an amazing woman who has been through a lot. She is spry and witty and funny. Shirlee is so dear to me - she is my second mom...and if any of you know how I feel about my mom, you know that says a lot.

Shirlee, thank you for sharing you son with me. Thank you for welcoming me into your family. I love you dearly and I don't know what I would do without you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Kitty Shelter

When I went outside today to get the paper, I noticed kitty prints in the snow and then saw that they had dug a hole in the ice/snow and had a warm place to be under the car.

I have been worried about the squirrels and birds and cats that wander around the I put some seed bread out for the birds and/or squirrels. I hope they will be all right. I will buy some bird seed when the weather clears up. More snow due in tomorrow.

My poor mail carrier was trying to deliver mail but he said people were driving like crazy people and pulled into the driveway and into the snowdrift at the end of the driveway. His chain popped and I spent some time shoveling snow to try to get him out. The P.O. sent reinforcements in about 20 minutes, got his chain back on and he was on his way.

What a crazy couple of weeks! And I haven't been able to get out to rehearse for "Color Purple"...I have been listening to it, though. First time I read the script all the way through, it made me cry.

Day 23: BJB

Day 23 is a day to reflect on my friendship with BJB. We have had a complicated relationship over the years. We met 13 years ago (1995). Originally, she was my student. Then we were colleagues...we knew we liked each other and started talking on the phone. We got together one time socially, I think, but had run into each other over the years in the Deaf Community. She had met Roby a couple of times...

The December when Roby went into the hospital, she and I had agreed to try to get together over the holidays. She tried to call me a few times, unaware that I was in the middle of the biggest trauma of my life. Finally, I called her and told her what was happening...I remember I was on my way to the hospital and remembered that I needed to call her back. I pulled over at a 7-11 (it was before cell phones had taken over the land) and called and told her.

The next time I saw her was at Roby's memorial service. After it was all over, people wandered away from the graveyard slowly but I was still standing over his gravesite. I wanted to lay down right there and die. We had let a bunch of balloons go and I was watching them fly off into the sky...I was devestated and I didn't know what to do or where to go after that...I felt like my insides were on the outside and they burned with every breath I took. She walked up to me quietly and took my hand. I told her the "Paper Caper" story about balloons and we just stood there.

Later, when I was able to talk about it, I was relieved to know she had been as horrified as I to hear the preacher utter the words, "Roby was a storyteller and Jesus was a storyteller...Roby was a leader of men and Jesus was a leader of men..." She was one of the audible gasps in the pews. What a nightmare.

No matter what happened over the years to separate us - work, life, depression, different worlds, different jobs - I am eternally thankful for her. She helped me come back to life and she was very patient about it. She let me talk about Roby dying. She let me talk about my pain. She let me cry and grieve. Most other people wanted me to be quiet and get over it. She never did. I didn't really know that talking about death was taboo in this culture - I had never really had to deal with it. I didn't really know how much I wished people could see my pain. I felt like my skin had been ripped off but no one could see that. Death is an invisible cloak. You look fine, even though you can't imagine taking your next breath. She understood that.

Roby was so dominant in my life - my musical tastes, my movie tastes, even the food I ate all revolved around him. He introduced me to music, to movies, to ideas, to food. I followed willingly because that was our way. BJB demanded that I become myself. She gave me time to do it, but she wouldn't let me fade away. Sometimes it was hard and I wanted to scream at her to just leave me alone. I didn't and she didn't.

Later on, when my pain was less raw, we had some tough times. Our relationship changed radically, but there is still, always, love and gratitude. We will always share a bond as we had to deal with the death of our family and friends, both mutual and otherwise. We shared bulk food roulette and "whole canned chicken - tasty hot or cold".

We will always share many bonds that are private and personal and too numerous to get into here.

BJB, thank you for nursing me back to spiritual health. Thank you for not letting me slide away into oblivion. I am a better person because of you. I often thought that Roby sent you to me...he knew I needed someone to hold out the life preserver for me when he was gone. Thank you for holding it there for me. I know sometimes it made your arms tired, but you stuck it out. I hope you know that I would do the same for you if you ever needed it. Thank you for all you have given me - life, purpose and a lot of wicked laughter.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More snow!! It's never ending...

This is the most snow I have seen here EVER. I have lived here since 1979 and I have never seen anything like this. It is crazy.

My car today. 12.22.08

Snow on the bush outside.

Garbage can lid with snow on it...High!

This was to show the tracks down the driveway - Garbage can and recycling made big tracks but they are all covered now.

The chairs for comparison.

More chairs.

Closeup of the bushes.

Yard and my footprints covered (the indentations in the snow are my footprints from yesterday).

My footprints got covered up.

Cone of snow on the inside of a bush.

Close up of the chair. Amazing!

Pretty, huh?

Compare the snow by the cars and on the bushes and chair with Saturday and Sunday!! Crazy!!

Day 22: Kevin

Day 22 honors my dear friend Kevin.

The first time I saw Kevin, we didn't even know each other. It was a few days before school started when I was in the 7th grade. I was going in to get my hair cut and he was coming out - after his first and probably only perm. I didn't know him at that moment, but when I saw him in school, I remembered having seen him there.
He was a year older than I was and he was in choir and sang in the talent show.

My junior year in high school, I met him when Jeffa and I were doing interviews for "A Circle of Hope". I knew he was in theatre because some of the women on the newspaper staff had been in a show with him the year prior. Kevin was one of the most welcoming people in the drama department. As Jeffa and I continued to go to the work parties, Kevin was very supportive. I particularly remember closing night of "A Circle of Hope"...I had attended most of the performances and after the last night, I burst into tears and sobbed for a long time. People were milling around the drama department after the show - no one really wanted to call it over. I was out on the steps outside of the choir hall and Kevin came out and found me there, put his arm around my shoulder and showed the most amazing kindness.

Of course, I developed a huge crush on him - which I didn't tell him or anyone else until it was nearly over. I was horrified to have a crush on anyone! Mostly, I just loved to go to rehearsals and watch him act. I had ample opportunities since he was the lead in the next production, "Charley's Aunt" and was chosen to play Frederick, the lead in the spring musical, "The Pirates of Penzance". I loved listening to him sing. Once, Duane told me he could fall in love when he heard someone sing...I agree with him. For me, music stirs memories in a way that nothing else can...when it is the person you are remembering who is singing, well, there is nothing like it.

Anyway, I digress.

Kevin eventually took Journalism in high school and we hung out at cast parties and work parties, but I always looked up to him. When he went away to college, I thought my heart would break. I wasn't in the throes of crushing, but I thought he was the cat's meow. He was intelligent and outspoken, well read. I loved that he loved musicals and music. We wrote off and on while he was away at college and I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that was probably how we started to develop our adult relationship. When Kevin came home, sometimes we would see him, sometimes not. When he graduated from college, I was either finishing up the interpreter training program or had just finished. I remember that he had a job at some bank and would call me in the afternoons and we would chat. We did that for a LONG time.

When Roby was in the hospital, Kevin came to get me one night and took me to his house to watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and have some dinner and a break. I don't remember much about that night other than lying in his bed, hearing the Vince Giraldi Trio's Christmas music and knowing that Kevin would take care of me. I fell fast asleep and didn't see a bit of the show. He was instrumental in the Mission: Impossible Dog Caper where I snuck Roby's pug into the hospital room - worried all the while that I would be sent to hospital prison for sneaking in a dog. When Roby died, Kevin was very good to me.

Happier times include the invention of BookFest - our annual book-buying spree. I have started a BookFest Blog, but I haven't caught up on it completely yet. Here is the BookFest story as I wrote it for the blog:

"BookFest began in the Fall of 1995 when I was weeks away from going back to school. Kevin and I went to Powell's City of Books. We were complaining about our financial situation and wished that we could just live in Powell's or buy all their books. In those few moments, our grand plan was born.

The first year, we saved $10 a month from September to September with the goal of spending it all GUILT-FREE, in one fell swoop. The following September, we went to Powell's and spend HOURS searching for the perfect BookFest books. We closed the place down and began our ritual of going to Kevin's house to unveil our books to the other. It didn't take long for us to move the spending from September to June to give us the summer to read our books.

Our ritual always includes planning the date, going to Powell's. We set up meeting times in the Annie Hughes coffee shop to determine how much time we need. We are NOT ALLOWED TO LOOK AT THE OTHER PERSON'S BOOKS...although we sometimes get a peek. The first trip was around 6 hours long, but we don't need that long anymore. When we are done, we go to China Jade in Morgan's Alley (unless they are closed...they are closed on Sundays) and have dinner. After that, we go to Kevin's for the unveiling.

We have little contests: Most Attractive Book Cover, Closest to the Dollar Amount without Going Over, Most Unlikely Purchase, Highest Volume for the Dollar Amount...

We tried going to the West Side Powell's and we tried going to Coastal Bookstores, but it just didn't work for us, so we decided that BookFest was really a Powell's adventure.

People always want to come with us on our annual adventure. This is not allowed. This is the one day every year that Kevin and I devote to each other. But don't despair - this does not mean that you can't do a BookFest of your own."

Kevin and I share a love of books, movies, musicals, Indian and Thai food...we went to NYC together to hang out with the Interpreting for the Theatre crew and had a terrific time - saw "Les Miserables" together there.

We have spirited debates about movies and musicals both and laugh a lot together. He and I share a love of "Yentl".

Kevin introduced me to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" my FAVORITE show. (Thank you for that, Kevin!)

He was also the first person I actually know who found and started reading my blog. I was a little nervous when he told me, but I am glad to know he is there, reading. Feels like a way we can stay in touch, even if we don't talk often.

Kevin, I want to thank you for your friendship over all these years. I wish I could explain to you how much it means to me that we are still friends after all this time. I love that we have become these adult human beings and we allow each other that growth. You are an amazing person and friend and I love you. Thank you for all that you give and do for me. I am so grateful for you.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 21: Jeffa

On Day 21, I would like to thank Jeffa, my best friend throughout high school and a good friend still.

Jeffa and I met in 1981, I believe, when we were in the 8th grade. In 9th grade, we were in journalism together and we argued almost every day. She drove me crazy and later, when we reflected on it, she said she always knew we would be good frieds. I just thought she was insane.

We became close starting in high school when we were sophomores. We were both on the school newspaper together, the only sophomores. We started writing notes to each other and hanging out together and even wandered into the drama department together to do our story on "A Circle Of Hope" (See Day 6: Carol Coburn for more info on that).

Over the years, we fought, laughed and cried together. Jeffa was my biggest supporter - she encouraged me to continue writing and to follow my heart. We shared a love of the beach, bubbles, reading, theatre, movies, music. She and I bawled together when we saw "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan" the first time.

And we both watched "West Side Story" together in 9th grade and fell in love with the movie. I think maybe that was the beginning of my turn around with her. Duane was there and he just thought we were insane, blubbering idiots. Obviously, he didn't get the appeal.

I have a three inch binder full of the notes we wrote to each other in high school - the letters that kept us sane. For some reason, I saw them as our masterpiece and insisted that we keep them. I call it "The Note Notebook or Inspirated People Sit Under Tables and Dance on the Beach at Midnight" (it's all an inside joke...I know the word is "inspired").

We had many funny moments, like the time I went to visit her and she was grounded. This one night, I decided to go knock on her window after a party and hilarity ensued (I may tell the story later).

Our most ingenius plot was the Davenappers. We had decided we wanted to go to the beach but my car was not working well at the time (must have been senior or junior year)...We tried to think of people who might be game to join us on a day trip to the beach and somehow we ended up picking David H. We decided that instead of just asking him outright, we would make it a game and we came up with the idea of Davenapping him. We wrote a ransom note and said that we had a hostage and made a date and time to meet him. Rather than just capitulating, he wrote notes back to we continued...even to the point of telling him we would shave the hostage's head (there was no hostage). Jeffa had RED hair, so cutting some of her locks would not do and I was unwilling to cut any of my hair, so her mom gamely cut off a chunk of hair and we popped it into an envelope and sent it off. Apparently, this news roared through the drama department and by the time I was in Miss Coburn's office with Roby's wool coat around me, smelling like Opium (the cologne), people were walking around with bits of Jeffa's mother's hair. One of them came to me and compared the hair to mine, "It could be yours...but...nah! That's impossible. You're not THAT weird." Luckily, I didn't have to lie. It WASN'T my hair...
That weekend, when David finally found out it was us, he gamely drove us to the coast in terrible November weather and we spent an eventful evening eating at Rob's Family Restaurant in Seaside before driving home in the rain. David introduced us to "Purple Rain" which we both fell in love with.

Jeffa and I shared almost a secret language at the time - we had such intimate register - we could finish each other's thoughts. We were inseperable for many years. Finally, I graduated from high school and had started into my relationship with Roby. They were not fond of each other - but they got along ok for my sake.

On Jeffa's 16th birthday, I kidnapped her. I went to her house and picked her up and blindfolded her, then drove to get Roby without her knowing it. In the back, we had a cake, balloons, presents, streamers, the whole shebang. Unfortunately, my car broke down on the freeway heading to Washington Park Ampitheatre. The car would run, but not more than 30 miles per hour. We pulled over and a car stopped to help us. I'm surprised he didn't call the police when he saw the blindfolded girl in the front seat. He seemed to understand not to say anything about the guy in the back seat and just went back to his car. Foiled, we went to Hazeldale Elementary School and had a picnic on the grass.

We also had the Paper Caper Balloon Caper...Roby worked at Beaverton Town Square at the Kobo's Company (gourmet coffee before Starbucks). We would go meet him for his dinner break or pick him up after work. One night, we both knew that Roby was feeling down, but we were broke. We noticed that the paper store called "The Paper Caper" had 3 balloons taped outside their door. They closed at 9pm (so did Kobos), so we would hover until the women went into the back room and RUN and grab the balloons, jump back into the car and speed off. We would give him the balloons or set them free (it was before we knew how bad that was for the ocean. It became a matter of pride to see how stealthy we could be to grab the balloons and we got bolder and bolder... Ironically, when I started working at Kobos a few years later, I asked one of the women about the balloons...I felt guilty for stealing. Turns out, on the nights that people didn't grab them, they just cut them loose anyway. All that sweat for NOTHING!

There are lots of stories I could tell about our friendship - but the most important thing is that she is a special woman and I wouldn't be who I am without her. She is now a married woman with twin boys who keep her very busy. We still love books and movies - Harry Potter is a love of ours. I only get to see her once or twice a year, but the love I have for her burns all year round. She is one of my best friends and an unsung hero in my life. We had lots of bumpy times and ultimately, we went our separate ways for a few years, but she has always been there for me.

Jeffa - You are an amazing person. I am so glad that we are still friends. I hope you know how much I cherish you and all the memories I have of our time together. You played such a major part in helping me find myself. Thank you for all the love and laughter and tears. I love you.

Cabin FEVER!!

Here are the lastest wintry photos...I need to get a digital camera...all I have is my sidekick...the pics are good enough, but nothing spectacular.

It is supposed to be my vacation this week...whoopee! I'm trapped in the house. I want to go to the movies! I want to go finish my shopping! We will probably have a delayed Christmas celebration, much like our delayed Thanksgiving...

Enjoy the pics.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Let it Snow?!?

It has been a week and it is still has been the worst/best day. It is beautiful out and I don't feel pressure to go out of the house unless I want to. It is the worst because the roads are terrible and I have been trying to manage things for work.

Right now (as of about 9:30pm) I have about 8 inches of snow outside and it is still falling. I don't have a GREAT camera to show this, but I did take some pics from my sidekick.

Crazy cold, too. The Weather Bug I have on my computer is registering 18.3 degrees. Been snowing since about 5:30am...

This is the top of my car around 1:30pm...It has been snowing harder since. This was about 4 inches of snow.

This was at 1:30pm, too. COLD! BRR!

Day 20: Julie Gebron

On Day 20, I want to thank Julie Gebron. She and I met when I was still in my first year of interpreting. She was one of the interpreters working on "The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy". I don't really remember talking to her back then - she had just come back from a trip to Australia and I thought she was the most exotic interpreter ever.
The next fall, she and I interpreted "The Hot'l Baltimore" together and thus started a long and illustrious professional relationship.

Julie even recruited me for my first turn interpreting in Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We did "Julius Caesar" and I'm pretty sure I was AWFUL. I had spent all my rehearsal time trying to translate everything on paper - I wrote out 90 pages of translation and I couldn't remember a lick when I was there. Funny story with that show...the night before we left, I had a bout of sleepwalking. I think I remember going to the bathroom, but I fell back asleep. Instead of returning to my bedroom, I went upstairs to a "bonus room" where there were a bunch of boxes and things. The door always stuck on the top and bottom, bowing in the middle, so I must have had to pull on it...went into the room and woke up when my head hit the floor as I tripped over a box. Disoriented, I woke up and the only part of my body touching the carpet was my forehead...everything else was draped over a box somehow. I ended up with a giant piece of rugburn on my forehead...the night before I was to go to Ashland for my debut! When Julie picked me up from school (I was interpreting in K-12 then), she looked immediately at the big oozing rug burn on my head and raised her eyebrows like, "What the heck?"

Julie also gave me the opportunity of a lifetime in asking me to team with her when we got a last minute request to interpret "Les Miserables" - my favorite show of all time! We had 3 days notice and we did an amazing job of it...and we continue to do Broadway touring shows together. We have argued and worked and laughed a lot over the last 18 years working together.

More importantly, Julie is a good friend. She is sensitive, kind, attentive. I was priveledged to be asked to attend the birth of her son and am an "official aunt" to him. Julie has been with me through thick and thin (Roby and Dad dying, changing jobs, illness, birth of her son, her family embarking on a new business - "St. John's Coffee Roasters", you name it). Any time I have ever needed her, she has been there for me - helping me laugh, asking me thoughtful questions. She is artistic, creative, funny and thoughtful.

When Roby went into the hospital, she and I were working on a show together - "Grease". We interpreted 10 days after Roby died...I had missed rehearsals and was not in good shape, but the show went ok. I had a black out of kinds...I don't remember any of the show except standing up on the platform when the show opened, wondering where I was and what show I was doing. Julie reports that I actually picked up my hands and signed what I was supposed to. She never seemed upset - just understood what was happening. Later, when we were supposed to do "Urinetown", I ended up in the hospital and she came to visit me and worked with a different team and they had a great time. When my dad died, another show given up at the last minute - no complaints. She came to the memorial service with her family. Her son brought me "Jesus Rocks" for comfort (long story I may tell another day).

Julie- I don't know if you will read this, but thank you for all that you have done and given me over the years. Your friendship has been an amazing gift to me. I have gained much from your perspective, from your guidance, from our work together, from our laughter and from our tears. I am blessed. Thank you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day 19: Hank Stack

Day 19 is devoted to my friend and mentor, Henry "Hank" Stack.

I met Hank in 1987 at my first "Deaf Community Event" when I was in the first term of the Interpreter Training Program. We went to a play and there was a Deaf actor in the show who was *understandably* tired on a Friday night after the show. She left immediately and we all panicked! What would we do? One of the men in the group said, "Well, I know some Deaf people who get together on Friday nights, if you want to go there..." It was CC Slaughter's bar. I was not 21 at the time and concerned I would be arrested and carted off to jail (I didn't know that's not how it works - smile).

We went to the bar and I met a number of people who I maintain ties with to this very day. Friends who have been instrumental in my life as a person, as an interpreter, as a signer, as an ally. And Hank was one of those people.

Hank was always a gentleman with a sense of humor, too. He was kind and thoughtful and supportive. From the moment I met him, he supported me. Hank was the person who convinced me to start working with Northwest Theatre of the Deaf, to do my first bit of theatrical interpreting in the show, "The Hot'l Baltimore" with Columbia Theatre Company. He was the one who requested that I be one of the interpreters for the Broadway shows when they tour through town. Everything I ever did, he was right there supporting me. He invited me to his parties, to his 80th birthday party - my first experience eating East Indian cuisine (at The Bombay Cricket Club- yum!).

One time, Hank called me on the TTY and he asked me if I wanted to come to a party at his house "this Friday". I said sure and got all the information. In my world, "this Friday" meant the very next Friday (this week) but we were dealing with ttys (I'm phobic). On Friday, I drove up to his house...there were plenty of cars, although none that I recognized. I walked up to the door and rang the bell. The lights flashed and the bell rang. Pretty soon, Hank opened the door. I was immediately struck by the fact that I didn't see any people milling around inside. Hank was in his sweats - I had never seen him dressed so casually! He greeted me politely but a little perplexed. "The party is next week...but would you like to come in?" It was 9:00pm on a Friday night...he was 81 years old. Mortified, I stumbled to say, "Uh, no. I'm going to go to my car and die of embarrassment. I'm not sure I'll be able to make it next week." He smiled gently and reassured me that he was happy to visit, but I was so horrified, I had to leave. I did come to the party the next week and he didn't allude to my faux pas at all.

At his memorial service, that was the only story I could tell.

Hank, you will never know the impact that you had on me. I miss you every day and wish I could have really told you what it meant to me to be among your friends. It was an honor. Thank you for all you did for me, for believing in me and trusting me in ways I can't ever really fathom. I will never forget you.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 18: Dean Cannavino

Day 18 honors Dean (Dino) Patrick Cannavino.  He is the actor in the color photo above, posing in his costume from the play, "The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy".  

I was a BABY interpreter when my friend Hank Stack contacted me about a job in spring of 1990.  Hank was the president of Northwest Theatre of the Deaf at the time and they were just embarking on a production of "The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy", a play about a Deaf baseball player who was instrumental in developing the hand signals used in baseball to this day.

I met Dean via NWTD and we became fast friends.  When he was first here, he was only here for a short time - on loan from Chicago.  In short order, Dean was in love with the community here, in love with Portland and wildly popular in the theatre community.  On closing night of the show, Dean and his roommates had a big party at their house in NW Portland.  I wasn't an actor, so I didn't really fit into the whole group, but I was so enamored of them and Dean...I had a huge admiration-crush on him (different than lust-crush).  As the party wound down, I couldn't bring myself to leave - I felt like I would never see him or any of them again.  I helped clean up and eventually, it was just Dean and I in the kitchen, washing the dishes together.  When we were done, we dried our hands on some towels, looked at each other and burst into tears.  I was so relieved that he was feeling some of what I was feeling.

The night before he left Portland that first time, we had a big party and drank WAY too much (I have photos...).  We ended up downtown in front of CC Slaughters after they were closed down.  We wandered around, trying to burn off the alcohol and then we took him to the airport where we took one of my favorite photos ever - back in the days when you could walk a person to their gate.  I later drove to San Francisco (a story for another day) to see him perform in the show in Los Altos.  I must say that our production was better (wink).

So, in one sense, I thank Dean (I never called him Dino - I didn't know he went by that until I had known him for a LONG time) for friendship.  We had a very close bond that was very special to me. I loved him dearly - he was so charismatic and full of life.  How is it that those people always die before their time?  I sometimes just wonder if they burn so brightly because they only have a short fuse and they need to get it all done in a short period of time...

But what I am really grateful for is even bigger than friendship.  When I met Dean, I was a not-very-skilled, not-very-goal-oriented sign language interpreter in K-12 settings.  I had only been interpreting for 6 months and I could feel my adult language atrophy with each day that passed.  Meeting him, hanging out with him, working with him, watching him work and meeting his friends (many of whom I had known before but he added dimension because he trusted me) gave me a home in the community.  I never felt comfortable just showing up at Deaf community events when some of them were not my bag.  Dean hung out with people I would have gravitated to under any circumstances (and in fact, already had gravitated to).  He and many others I will be writing about in the days to come opened a door and threw out a welcome mat for me that made all the difference in the world.  I had a purpose - I had drive.  My signing improved and grew - my students said to me one day, about a month after starting my journey with Dean, "What have you been doing?  Your signing is different..."  That was all she wrote!

Dean was one of the people who, I believe, led to my career in theatrical interpreting.  I don't believe I could have accomplished any of the things I have in my career without Dean and Hank and Tim and Bates.  Without them, without the work I have done all these years, I would be less of a person - I would just be another interpreter out there - and not nearly as fulfilled as a human being.  They gave me art in a way I had NEVER dreamed - a way to stay connected to theatre when I didn't know how to do it myself.  What an amazing gift I have been given!  I don't always recognize it, but in this month of Thank-fullness, I am realizing how blessed I really am.

Dean died of complications from AIDS in 1995.  His death was devestating to me and to everyone in our community who knew and loved him.  I miss him still.  His quilt panel from The Names Project is below:

P.S. As I read this, I realized it sounds like I value the career things more than the friendship...that's not what I meant. More than anything, I wanted to recognize the gift of confidence that I got from my good friend. His friendship, mentorship, and guidance all led me to greater confidence in myself and my work. Does that make sense? If we had just worked together and nothing more, the impact would have been so different. Anyway, I just wanted to clarify.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Day 17: Chris Roper

Day 17 honors Chris Roper.  

ACK!  I got caught with my draft down...

Before I ever met Chris, he had met Roby.  I think they even went on a date when they were both in high school.

Chris was one of the people I considered an ambassador to the Deaf community...he welcomed interpreting students and people who wanted to learn ASL and supported them and introduced them to his friends.  Chris was also interested in working with Northwest Theatre of the Deaf and we worked side by side for many years there in a variety of roles.

Chris was a funny, sweet, talented man.  He was well-liked and he liked to have a good time.  He struggled with AIDS for a long time -even while Roby was keeping his HIV status under wraps.  I thought Chris was incredibly brave to be so open about AIDS and HIV.  There were moments when I wanted to ask him a million questions, but I couldn't do it.

I have all these visual memories in my head but I am struggling to put them out here.  I can still hear his laugh and see his beautiful hands and his expressive eyebrows.  

The night he died (a little more than a year after Roby died), I was driving home from WOU and Brenda called to tell me he was gone.  I always regret not going to see him at Our House, but I wasn't ready to face it all at that time.  I did visit him in the hospital several times so I feel a teensy bit less guilty.  When I went to meet her, the same people from Omega mortuary (?) were there who had come to take Roby after he died.  They had a quilt that was made specially for people who had died of AIDS.  It was devastating and comforting to know that the blanket that had covered Roby was now with Chris - somehow it made it seem like they would be together somewhere, somehow...

Chris, thank you for your friendship.  Thank you for laughter, for feedback, for your generous heart.  I miss you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day 16: Mel

Ah, Day 16 is devoted to sweet Mel.  Mel and I met when I went back to school to finish my bachelor's degree at WOU.  She is an effervescent, bubbly personality - loving and fun.  We hung out together at lunch many times and I was attracted to her energy.  The day after the last day of the term, Roby went into the hospital and I took a leave of absence for a term.  As it was only the second term, I missed some major bonding with the group.  One term was not enough to solidify relationships with most of the people there.  

I was fairly consumed by my grief and loss, so I didn't really worry too much about what those folks thought or if they missed me.  One day, about a month later, Mel called me on the phone to tell me that she was thinking of me and hoped I was doing well.  There was no pressure to come back or explain anything to her.  Just a sincere call from a friend.  She etched a special place in my heart that day.

I went back to school and went through all the stages of grief - classic, really.  Mel was always there with a smile and encouragement.  She checked in on me when I was in my "anger" phase - someday, maybe I will tell that story here, too.  And she always had a ready laugh or a shoulder.

The following year, I started hanging out with many of the same people she was friends with and we sort of solidified our friendship in the group.  We went to a lot of parties together, drank a lot at those parties, told some great stories and LAUGHED!!  But all that aside, she always rememebered to ask me how things were going or how I was doing.

Years later, we had both gone on to freelance interpreting, moving around in our separate world, but she still maintained connections.  I was never good at that - I had always moved away - far away - from everyone and there is a point where hanging on to friendships just seems like desperation, so I am not as diligent with my friends as I should be sometimes.   I am working on it...  She invited me to her beautiful wedding, she invited me to her home for parties and dinners and games.  She even introduced me to the company where I work.  Sometimes, I curse that, but more often than not, I am grateful.

Whatever happens, Mel has a heart of gold and I know that we are truly friends.  She even invited me to see "Twilight" with her peeps when I hadn't even read the books...I thought I could finish the first one before I saw it, but I failed (I'm still working on that, too).

So, Mel- thank you for your heart and your laughter.  You are good to me and I know it.  I thank you for being a true friend - through good times and not so good times.  I appreciate you.  

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 15: Roby Starns

February 24, 1985 Beach Poem to Roby

do you remember

decapitating little green penguin

lollipops or 

listening to the anguished 

high-pitched screams

our multitude of 

bubble-gum flavored

gummi bears emitted?

the waves lapped

up the shore

cleansing it for the 

next wave

that cold rainy morning

we woke up at

4 a.m.

it warmed up though

and a large yellow

U.F.O peeped out from

cloudy pillows 

to shoot 

ultra-violet rays

to pound our 

unprotected heads.

we waltzed on the

wet sand

our feet cold in sodden


the blanket billowed

behind us 

as we ran 

willy-nilly along

deserted beaches at

6 a.m.

"Save a Prayer" blared from 

the boom box

running low on batteries

because we listened to 

"Dreamgirls" all the way there.

we didn't pay attention to

"Our Ultimate Beach Song"

as we romped toward

Haystack Rock.


we sang a rousing rendition

of "I'll Go Home With Bonnie Jean"

from our high school musical.

we spent all our money

and gorged on Haystack bread

before we went back

and sat in the shelter of driftwood

to watch the sun set.

Jean A. Miller


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Day 14: Dad

I'm probably not going to write much has been snowing. I tried to use my dad's digital camera, but there is something wrong with it. I wanted to post a snowy picture from his camera.

I have been cleaning and found a CD that I had burned that was a mystery music CD - it said "Ashland 2003". I put it on but the computer is being finicky. This lead to more music exploration and an afternoon of headphones and tears. I don't know why, but whenever I listen to music on headphones, it just makes me weep. There is something so emotional about music. I have read that the smell is strongly connected to our memories, but for me, sounds are a much more pleasant and strong bond to my memories. I remember feelings and thoughts and ideas and moments when I hear a song.

For now, Day 14, with a post that is not nearly sufficient, I am thanking my father. He was not a huge source of music, so this post may be misleading...but I was listening to the playlist I made when my father died and remembering good things. Like when we used to go fishing. And how he never treated me like "just a girl". Sometimes, I regret that I didn't want to do any of that with my dad when I got older. I guess hindsight is 20/20.

I will write more for my dad later. I am missing him today and sad about it.

My Dad getting a commendation in the Air Force. I think this was when we were in Panama City, Florida.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Day 13: Duane

Day 13 of this Thank-fullness shifts my attention to Duane. I met Duane when I was 13 and he was 12 - we share the same birthday. We were friends in middle school and then I went to high school and we didn't see each other much that first year. We had some great traditions - the night before school started, we would often walk around outside, enjoying the last evenings of summer. One year, we just sat out on the lawn, talking for the longest time. When he came to the same high school I did and joined the drama department, the deal was sealed.

When I graduated from high school, I didn't see him for a couple of years - or maybe one year. I remember seeing him the same day I had seen "Children of a Lesser God" - Roby and I went to Duane and Melissa's New Year's Eve party. Duane and I hadn't seen each other since I had graduated and we were both thrilled to see one another - we holed up in a room and chatted for about 3 hours. Upon leaving the room, a drama girl with a crush on him confronted me - why had I stolen her boyfriend? It was comical.

Then Duane went to school at PSU for a brief period and I saw him periodically but I was pretty wrapped up in Roby and other stuff. Duane left and went to school in Tacoma and I didn't hear from him for a long time. I'm not even sure how we got back in touch later, but we did. For a couple of years, we were very close (back in 1990-1991ish). We went through a big Madonna phase one year - the "Truth or Dare" year. It didn't help that we were broke...we saw the movie about 50 times that summer for $1 at the cheap movie theatres. We recited lines and tried to figure out how to be more direct and assertive.

We had a falling out before he left town and when Roby died, I hoped to patch things up. It didn't happen. I saw him once about 6 months after Roby had died and it was painful and awkward. Now, I just hope he is all right. I had heard that he was working near the World Trade Center on 9/11 but I also heard that he was ok. I hope so.

I thank Duane for sharing lots of laughs, lots of music, lots of conversation. I wish it hadn't ended the way it did, but sometimes life happens. I know that my friendship with him shaped me and helped me. I learned a ton from him - in good ways and in not-so-fun ways. All in all, though, I wouldn't change it.

Duane- I hope that you are able to achieve all that you are capable of achieving. Your talent is huge and I know that you have what it takes to get to the top. Thank you for all that you gave me. Take care, old friend. I wish you well.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Day 12: Shannon

Day 12 is a special day because it is her one year anniversary at work. Shannon has been working with me exactly one year today. But I don't want to thank her for that...I already did that at work.

I want to thank Shannon for bringing art and writing back into my life. I have long been looking for an avenue and hadn't discovered personal blogs of really any kind until she started working with me. I was inspired and here I am all this time later - thanking her in a blog.

Shannon is an amazing photographer and craftswoman. I love her unique and clean style - it is so opposite my own, but I am fascinated by it. I remembered her work from back when we went to college together and am glad to have her view of the world surrounding us.

Shannon, thank you for bringing creativity back into my world. I have needed it so much. I know we were supposed to meet again and hopefully continue to do good things for each other.

Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 11: CB

On this, her birthday, Day 11 of Thanks-giving is to CB.

CB has long been a mentor and friend. She is always there to support me, to ask me hard questions that I don't want to answer. She is my movie buddy when we are in the same town.

CB has been a person I could let myself be with - no past baggage, no kid-stuff tagging along in ghosts...we are friends as we are.

Thank you, CB. I appreciate you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 10: Carol Cheney

Special Thanks-giving to Carol Cheney, one of the most brave and kind people I have known.

Carol was Roby's boss when he found out he had HIV. It was June of 1986 and those were the days of people with HIV/AIDS getting kicked out of apartments, having their insurance cancelled, and little boys getting chased out of school, out of town and having their homes burned to the ground.

When Roby found out he had HIV, she let me come to the workplace, pick him up in the employees only room, take him home and she supported him until the last day he worked for her. She didn't have to do that. She could have treated him differently once she found out, but she didn't. She expected all the same things of him after his diagnosis that she had expected before and she treated him with respect.

Carol Cheney is a hero. I bump into her occasionally in the world and I always remember what she did. She wouldn't call herself a hero, I bet.

Thank you, Carol.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 9: Interpreting for the Theatre Instructors

Photo from the TDF 2009 Brochure.  Candice Broeker-Penn, Stephanie Feyne, Alan Champion and Lynette Taylor.

I am nearly speechless at the things they have taught me.  I went to the program twice and they let me!  Life and career-changing.  

Here is proof that I was there...Once in June 1999 and once in June 2005. The above photo is from 1999.

right now, the pictures suck but I am trying to figure out how to crop them without screwing it all up...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Day 8: Becky Robinson

Thanking people in meaningful ways is hard work...I am working on this, too...more to come.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Childhood stuff

I have been looking for this song for a long time. I had a cassette with all these crazy songs from when I was 10 or 12 years old and I didn't know who they were by...I kept looking them up on the internet, but I knew eventually, some of them would show up.

The Court of King Caractacus - Rolf Harris

I've Lost my Mommy - Rolf Harris

"Please Mr. Custer" (don't be is just a song from my childhood...)

The Unicorn Song - The Irish Rovers

Day 7: Julie Moore

Day 7 Gives Thanks to Julie Moore.

Julie Moore was the first interpreter I ever consciously knew.  She interpreted my first Deaf Culture class.  She also has the dubious distinction of being the first person I ever saw who had a pager.  This was an old pager (like my first pager) where there was no display.  When it beeped (there was no silent), it beeped loud and you knew where to call to find out what they wanted.  I'm sure it wasn't that much fun for her.  Julie was at nearly every Deaf Community event I have ever attended - she knew and was respected by all the major players in the Deaf and Interpreting communities.  She is an incredible interpreter.

Later on in June of 1988, she interpreted at the Deaf Arts Fair at Portland State University.  Patrick Graybill performed there with some of our local actors.  It was an incredible opportunity to see the performance about a Deaf residential school.  And Julie was there, voice interpreting into the microphone - strong and confident.  In those days, I really didn't KNOW Julie.  She was this interpreter and I would never have even spoken to her.  

In Fall of 1988, the chair of the interpreter training program went on sabbatical and Julie took over for her.  I was in my second year of the interpreter training program and I don't know that I actually knew AT ALL what I was doing there.  Some of the people in the program had "always wanted to be an interpreter" and I had barely even seen one working and I wasn't sure I wanted to be one.  I was terrified of being videotaped and I was not confident in my skills AT ALL.  When I didn't pass the qualifying exam for internship, I wasn't surprised.  Julie put me in the perfect mock interpreting placement for my skills - a fast-paced, extemporaneous environment where I couldn't stop, I couldn't predict and I couldn't study my way out of it.  It was sink or swim and I started out dog-paddling.  

Whenever Julie would come to my class, she would sit in the back and I would not look at her.  She teases me now, saying, "I could have caught fire and you would never have noticed."  It was true.  I was so terrified that I wouldn't do a good job.  I respected her so much, I didn't want to disappoint her.  She was always encouraging and gave me excellent feedback to foster improvement, but I was still terrified.  I passed the second qualifying exam and went on to internship.

I ended up having my final internship evaluation at camp fire during the last night at outdoor school.  I was so frustrated - I had been there all week, interpreting my heart out in the woods and the water and the rain and my evaluation was during CAMPFIRE!?!  Not fair!  I stood up in the front with the campfire flames heating my backside and looked out at the deaf students who were NOT HAVING A GOOD TIME.  Campfire was silly songs and skits that were all based on sound and nonsense words.  I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and give up and take them out of there.  I could see Julie in the back, writing notes.  Then they started doing a story called "The Lion Hunt"..I know there are variations on the story, but it basically talks about going on a Lion Hunt and putting on boots and walking through the tall grass and boots getting stuck in the mud and it has hand movements throughout the story that the audience can use.  At first, I was very repressed and uptight and as I looked at the students, I knew I could make this more fun for them.  I threw my inhibitions out the window and stopped caring that I might look like an idiot.  I knew I had done the right thing when the Deaf students started doing the hand movements with the other students.  After campfire was over, Julie came to me and told me I had done an amazing job.  My heart pounded and I felt as tall as the tallest tree out there in the forest.  Julie thought I had done a good job!  Amazing.

Julie continues to support me to this day - she was my team interpreter for the very first job I did once I graduated from the program.  She has been a huge support to me as an instructor in the intepreter training program, and I consider us friends.  She is an amazing teacher and friend and I know I would not be where I am today without her friendship and her support.

Julie, you will never know how much your support has meant to me over the years.  You were a role model to me before I even knew I wanted to interpret and you continue to challenge and inspire me to be better and do more.  Thank you for all you have given me over the years.  I hope I can return the favor in some small way someday.


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