I spent yesterday at the NESCBWI conference. SCBWI is an acronym for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. If you’ve an aspiring writer, or if you’ve made it and want a community of your peers, then this is the organization to belong to.
Two years ago I went to the conference, but I had so so little hearing left that, even when sitting in the front row, I missed 70% of what the speakers were saying. I didn’t think I’d ever return. But, now, with my CIs, I decided to see whether a conference was a possibility for me. I sat in the front, which is still necessary, but this time I heard 90% of the proceedings. It was the most extraordinary, miraculous experience to be in an audience and to hear what others were hearing. I still miss the quick quips, and if there’s lots of laughter or clapping I can’t hear the words masked by the background noise. But that’s a small quibble. I literally couldn’t believe my ears. I’m sure the talks were excellent. I’ll leave others to blog about them. I paid attention at the time. But now, looking back, all I remember is that I heard. I even went out to dinner and was able to take part in a conversation with three companions in a noisy restaurant. Amazing.
(For those new to my blog, start here. I’m a cyborg. I have two cochlear implants. Without these medical devices, I’m deaf.)
I was so overwhelmed that when Cynthia Lord (yes, that Cynthia Lord, the Newbery Award winner) stopped by my table at the lunch banquet, to ask me how my “girls” are, that I didn’t at first recognize her. It’s hard to hear and see at the same time. I’m still learning to integrate all of the senses. (By the way, Cynthia is a HenCam fan. I like thinking that my hens are flickering on computer screens around the world, calming and inspiring writers.)
When I sat down at the large round banquet table I noticed that the woman next to me had “chicken” printed on her name tag. Wow, I thought, other people are into chickens here, too. Why don’t I have chicken on my name tag? And then I realized that “chicken” was her entree choice. I do live in my own poultry-centric world, don’t I?
It was a two hour drive home. I have a CD of the Beatle’s number 1 hits that I purchased a few years ago. I know the music well-enough that even with a severe hearing loss I could hum along. I haven’t listened to it since getting my second CI. I popped it into the slot. It sounded pretty good. And then, I was so stunned by what I was hearing that I almost had to pull over. Recently I had my CI reprogrammed to give me more high notes. I haven’t heard these sounds since I was a child. Or, maybe never. One of the Beatles was playing a tambourine.
It jingles! It jangles! It rings! I had no idea.
I have a long road trip coming up in May to western New York State. I’m going to get a whole slew of CDs from the library – music I think that I’m familiar with. I wonder what I’ll hear. I wonder what I’ve been missing. I’ll try to keep driving while I’m listening, because I don’t want to be late for my talk at the Farmer’s Museum. I hope to meet some of you there. I can’t wait to hear and see you.