At The Conference

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.


  1. That is truly amazing. I am so pleased for you. I love that you can now hear Instruments you didn’t before. I had been wondering how it was going. I am sure you have so much more to come. Enjoy.

  2. Your blog brought tears to my eyes. So many things I take for granted. Sounds and colors are at the top of the list of things I will pay attention to and be grateful for from now on. I am so glad your implants are bringing you so much joy!

  3. Very happy for you!

    I can relate to your difficulty understanding words when there is background noise, even though my hearing is fine…very frustrating.

    And the bit about the woman with “chicken” on her name tag- I was laughing out loud! I love it when Life plays those little jokes on us.

  4. What a delightful day you had.I got a real giggle over the “chicken

    entree” comment. By the way, what was your entree?

  5. Ah, that’s lovely.

    I can relate a bit, I wait until I REALLY need new glasses. The detail that returns is such a pleasure!

  6. I’m really touched that you so generously share your inner thoughts, frustrations and joys with us. I was both laughing and crying at your inspiring words. Thank you Terry.

  7. I absolutely LOVED this post! I’m so excited that you’re hearing so much more. The “chicken” comment was priceless, too!

  8. Thanks for the morning inspiration and laugh!! I’m so happy for you.

  9. That’s so wonderful! Congratulations, it will only get better!

  10. So happy to read this post! Glad you are hearing more than ever.

  11. Loved your blog Terry! You are having some really grand hearing and literary adventures…thank you for sharing. My favorite walking/driving music are the ditties on Sandra Boynton’s Philadelphia Chickens; Dog Train and Blue Moo books/albums…written for the youngest set, but good listening for kids of all ages ;-)

  12. I always smile when reading your blog and looking at the Hen Cam, but your story about chicken on the name tag made me laugh out loud! Thanks for sharing…everything. Now that we’ve finally realized our dream of moving on to our little homestead, I can’t wait to get some chickens!!

  13. I don’t know if it matters, would work or you, or anything…but if you want, you might find that a Smart Pen, which records the audio while you take notes on special paper might be helpful. Later, you tap the spot in your notes where you missed hearing something, and it replays it for you! Easy, random access, no rewinding and forwarding necessary! My kids with various LDs use these, and it can be useful.