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March 5, 2014 / bekbekbekah

Sensory Overload: Hearing

Alright, so I’m down to the fifth of the five senses, and it’s all about hearing today. I think when I was debating at my small group about which of the two I’d lose (if the choice were solely between vision and hearing), all the reasons in my mental Pros list for keeping eyesight were related to color and ridiculous things. In my Pros list for hearing one of the line items was the fact that even if you were blind, you could be alerted to danger through your sense of hearing, but if you are deaf you’re far less likely the be able to detect danger from behind or above. Then I realized that arguing the safety merits of the senses wasn’t going to get me anywhere because they all serve in some way to keep us safe. So then I chose hearing based on all the “added” benefits of having this ability.

First and foremost, having the ability to hear means that my ability to talk is practically unhindered. I talk more than I type, so if my blog posts are any indication: I talk A LOT. And I know, I know, people with hearing impairments can communicate without talking via sign language, and can even have spoken conversations if they practice long enough and can read lips. Here’s the problem though: I can’t read lips. I can’t read lips to save my LIFE. I’m not sure what the hold up is, but I think it stems from the fact that my dad always stressed the importance of maintaining good eye contact with a person when you’re talking to them. If I’m focused on the person’s eyes, I can’t be focused on the words their lips are forming. Also, the be fair, some people form their words in ways that don’t make sense. Take for instance John Newman, the British pop star:

john newman

Let me just mention really quickly that I DO NOT like this song, and it’s because of his voice. I don’t think he can actually sing that well – yes, better than me, but not that much better than me – and I feel that his way of making up for it is by just not singing his words all the way and making weird sounds.. But that’s just my two cents. Anyway – back on point: This is a freeze frame of him singing the chorus to his song “Love Me Again” where the lyrics say, “I need to know now, know now, can you love me again?” Can you tell what word he’s forming in that picture? Is your guess “love?” Because if it is, you’re wrong. In that particular frame he’s actually saying “me.” The normal way to form the word “me” with your lips is to press both lips together to get that really nice  “mmmmm” sound. This clown does it by pulling his lower lip up to his bared teeth and making weird faces. I realize that issue is related to a very small demographic of people (ie.. pretty much just him), but it would cause mass chaos on my end if I had to rely on reading lips. My interpretations of things would probably come off like one of those Bad Lip Readings videos on YouTube…

Also, having to rely on looking at an individual to tell what’s being said is problematic when you’re in a situation where you aren’t in a conversation but are really interested in the topic at hand. Or if you’re just minding your own business and happen to overhear a comment made in passing that is just completely absurd. My favorite example of this is a random comment I heard someone make several years ago. I can’t for the life of me remember where I was or what I was doing, but I was looking at my phone and there were two ladies behind me. I have no idea what was happening with them or what they were talking about prior, but all I heard was one of the ladies say, “I never clip this nail… It’s my ear-picking nail,” and as quickly as that they were both gone. I looked up to see them walking away, and all I could think was, “I need to write this down so I can remember it for later.”

There’s always a bad side to everything I like; not everything is perfectly good.. except potatoes.. potatoes are always good. But all joking aside, there are some truly terrible, awful, unnecessary sounds in this world. Of course there’s your standard nails on a chalkboard or forks squeaking on a plate. Those sounds are very grating and just cause me to shiver and feel really gross (much like having to touch my own fingertips) and I really don’t like them, but there are other sounds that just downright make me angry. Those sounds for me are the over-crinkling of candy wrappers when someone is trying to be discreet. Those things are loud by design, people – just rip open the thing and spare everyone else the suffering! There’s a lady that works in the cubicle next to me and she spends her entire day checking out Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to employees at my office. She has this huge pad of checkout agreements that she has to personalize and attach to the PPE she’s giving out, and when she rips the papers off the pad it makes me want to rip my ears off so I don’t have to hear it anymore. It’s a daily source of anguish for me. Another torture-filled part of my job is having to edit voiceovers. No one ever really thinks about what a solo voice sounds like when it’s coming through your editing headphones mere centimeters from your eardrums, but it is truly awful. When people start talking for a long time and don’t think about having to swallow their saliva or if their mouth starts to dry out, there is this particulary horrible sound that starts coming through their words. It’s like their tongue is sticking to their cheeks or their gums and it makes little clicking sounds that are  also kind of weirdly watery and…. UGH!!!! I’m so grossed out right now with trying to find the right words to describe the sounds. I just hate it and I hate having to listen to voiceovers over and over while having those sounds that close and so full in my head. I make a point of listening and being overly critical of a person’s voice in all my recordings now; partly because I want a clean, fresh recording, but mostly because I don’t want to deal with the aural torture later on. But seriously guys – MOUTH SOUNDS ARE THE WORST.

But how about the good sounds? There are plenty more sounds that I find appealing than sounds that annoy me to no end. One of the best sounds is my nephew calling my name. I like the priviledge of BEING an aunt, but I hate the title of aunt for myself; I have no explanation for it, I just don’t like it. Before I had nephews or nieces I knew I didn’t want “aunt” to be part of my official title; I just wanted them to call me Bekah. After watching kids in nursery and children’s church for years on end, I noticed that for some reason a lot of kids have trouble saying my name when they’re really little. My number one fear is that they’ll start calling me Becky (the name I destest being called above all others), so I had to think of a nice nickname that my future nephews and nieces could call me, and when Colton was born I had finally come to my conclusion. I wanted him to call me Bebe. He said my name to a lot of people before he ever said it to me in person, but the first time I heard his little voice calling me Bebe for the first time when I picked him up at his daycare I almost passed out. There’s just something so special about his sweet, innocent kid voice saying my name like that.. GAH! I could’ve cried I was so happy to hear it.

I’m also a huge fan of music, although I definitely cannot play an instrument or sing worth anything, music makes up a very large part of my day. My mom can sing and plays the piano and the guitar and my brother Jeremy started playing the bass when he was in college – he’s since stopped playing anything – but I was not gifted with any musical talent. Thankfully, I can at least break music apart and understand what it is that I like about certain songs, and God has definitely placed a large number of musically talented people in my life. I love stringed instruments, I love songs written/played in minor keys, I love it when people use breaths as a form of percussion, I love it when guys sing falsetto (for short periods, not a whole song!), and I love bass. I think I like minor keys and bass so much because those are the parts of songs that you can actually feel when they’re being played.

Also in the line of music is one of the sounds I love, love, LOVE hearing. Every time I’m listening to live music, I’m setting up music in my truck, or about to listen to music from my stereo at the Beige Castle I almost start salivating with anticipation for this one sound. Want to know what it is? Ok, you’ve twisted my arm; I’ll tell you. I love the sound of a live line being plugged into a device.


This moment right here is one of the best parts of seeing a band taking the stage at a live music event.

As with many of my weird habits or likes/dislikes, I can’t tell you WHY this sound is so pleasing to my ears, but the sound of the electricty being passed from plug the bass/guitar/iPod/whatever and the live line makes me unspeakably happy.

Now, with all the being said, and with the previous four weeks’ posts all laid out, I’ve explored all the things I love and hate about the five senses. I’m pretty sure I still stand by my answer the keep my hearing and lost my vision though. What fun would it be to be able to see things without being able to hear them also? If I couldn’t hear I wouldn’t be able to know what music sounds like or appreciate all the wonderful sounds instruments can make. I wouldn’t be able to fully experience what laughter was like, and apart from reading lips (which, we’ve discussed is an impossibilty for me) I wouldn’t be able to hear jokes or stand-up comedians. I’d never know what it was like for someone to say my name or hear my nephew say he loves me.. Man.. That’s not what I want.

Plus, if I were vision-impaired I’d be able to bring my service dog with me everywhere I went.

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