It was a quiet weekend at the Deaf Women’s Conference – that was a joke, but true. You would think having a bunch of ladies in one place, it would be loud, but it was very quiet, because they do not speak. The retreat was held near Lake Thunderbird outside of Norman, OK. It was a beautiful place to hold a conference, although I did not get to do any sightseeing or exploring the lake. The DWC was actually lots of work with about forty women to cook for all weekend. The Junk Diva, Jesse, Lindz and a couple of other ladies were there to help in the kitchen. Lindz is very much like me when it comes to work – getter done or get out of my way! She and Jesse are always the life of the party. I appreciated their help. The Junk Diva is a worker. She kept me sane and made me laugh the entire weekend. The other ladies were great too.
As to the deaf women, well, that was very interesting and a great learning experience. It made me use my ASL skills - immersing me totally into their language. My friend, Naomi, was one of the leaders who put on the conference. She is technically "hard of hearing" and is considered a "hearing person" or "speaking person" by the deaf community. That means she can hear slightly with a hearing aid and can read lips and speak very well. Communicating with her is very easy. I do not have to sign to talk to her. But to hearing people, Naomi would be considered deaf. Many deaf do not hear at all and do not speak at all – they are considered "deaf." It is a whole different culture. Sign language is pretty much the only way to communicate. Cell phone texting is an option for communicating and so is the old fashion pen and paper. The deaf women were all very nice and patient with us "hearing people." They were very animated when talking. Many were very funny with their animation when communicating and just had great personalities. Some were easier to communicate with than others were. Naomi is the beautiful lady sitting on the first row uner the word "living."
Although I have quite a bit of restaurant experience having worked as a waitress and owned and managed my own café, it has been a long time since I had to work and think like that. It was work. I had been a bit anxious before the conference, because my brain just does not work like it used to. My prayer had been that I could do the work and do it well for the ladies. My prayers were answered. Food preparation and serving went well. My other concern was communication. I just get so dang tense when trying to sign. It takes lots of concentration – ASL is very visual as well as mental and physical work. I did okay in that department too. I did do some funny things, like knock several times on Naomi’s door before I realized that she could not hear me. When I stepped into her room and touched her, she jumped about ten feet. I did have one big mistake: I had all the kitchen help and Naomi in the kitchen giving instructions for serving the deaf women. I told the server girls that they were to ask each lady if they wanted coffee, water or tea. I gave the sign for each – coffee is one fist on top of the other making a grinding motion with the top fist. Water is the "w" sign touching your cheek. The sign for tea is to make a cup with the left hand and pretend to be dipping a tea bag with the other hand – a pinching of index finger and thumb. But when I made the sign for "tea," I did it wrong using just my index finger into my cup hand. Naomi’s eyes crossed and she looked horrified. "No, that is not the sign for tea! That is the sign for intercourse!" The Diva and I laughed so hard that we had tears in our eyes, because basically I had told the girls to say, "coffee, water, or me."