Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why I’m an Interpreter

Over the years, many have asked me if the reason I became an interpreter was because I had deaf family members. My grandmother was deaf in one ear, but I just had to make sure I talked into her hearing ear. So the answer is no, deafness in my family isn’t the reason.

In high school, I was in my own little world most of the time. I didn’t belong to any groups. I would sit in my calligraphy class and listen to the popular girls discuss their lives. I didn’t yearn for popularity. I thought, if that is how one must be to be popular, I’ll pass.

I needed one more class, an elective, to graduate. I had to quickly decide as registration was ending. I saw a class that said, “Sign Language.” Having no frame of reference for American Sign Language, I did, however, have a frame of reference for billboards. I thought it was a class on the special language of gigantic freeway signs, and we would be doing a lot of letter design and painting, an easy A.

When I walked into the classroom, deaf students were talking to each other with their hands, and checking out the new hearing class members. Oh. I liked the teacher right away. I felt at home for some reason and settled into my seat.

The community college down the road had a new interpreter training program. The working interpreters there wore smocks with front side pockets. I thought, that wasn’t too stylish, but I liked the idea of being identified as an interpreter (luckily smocks have gone far, far away into the land of make believe).

My idea was to learn how to interpret, get my AA degree, and then work as a way to continue on to the University to finish my degree in English with an emphasis in teaching special education. Being an interpreter, I had about two or three years in mind. Turns out, I’ve been one a lot longer than that.

They say burn-out in the field can be at five years. So now I would say, I’m a little bit on the crispy side. Truthfully, I still like to interpret when a class is an hour, or if longer, I have a team. But I have put in my time, and my direction has changed. Yet, I’m still in for awhile.

Life has a way of taking the best of plans and scribbling all over them. In high school, I was on somewhat of a utility road with my nibs and ink pots. High school wasn’t the place where I learned too much. But it helped steer me into a life I would have not known, and I am delighted with that concept. I have things to write about now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Grays & Yellows

Recently, the building complex owners decided to take down a tree. A couple years ago, they chopped down a tree that gave me shade in the summer and beautiful pink blossoms for a brief few weeks in the spring. The mess from falling blossoms didn’t bother me. I liked vacuuming up pink flowers from the carpet after trekking them inside.

The light is different now. The grays of shade are replaced by the white-yellows of glaring sunlight. The ground can no longer hide its gopher holes, and no longer do those spotted mushrooms grow. Right now it is as if the light is too bright for anything else to want to poke out and start to flourish.

The squirrels run down the trunk of another tree and run to the phantom trunk of the chopped down tree. The stump isn’t even there. The squirrels stop short. They look. They dart to the side; they quickly lick their paws; they turn around. They look at me with one eye as if to say, I knew there was a tree here, really there was.

They lost their storage places and maybe even a nest or two. They lost their rivals for territory, the squawking crows and blue jays. Maybe the squirrels don’t miss them so much, maybe they do. Their tails flicker and they dart off across the road.

The sunlight is supposed to encourage growth, but it was in the shade, within the darkness of the leaves, where life was free to be. Adjusting to all this light illuminating the absence will take some time.