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Poetry Book Scribble Icon OFFICIAL by DrippingWords

First off, this is my first critique, so the use of the stars was somewhat arbitrary. I'll try to be more specific in the body. Vision:...


In recent news [read: within the last day] I'm going to be getting hearing aides. While I'm very happy with my status of being HoH, I very much live in the Hearing World, and that can be very difficult. I'd like to open up this journal with saying that if you having any questions about hearing loss, or my experiences as a Hard-Of-Hearing person, I'd be happy to answer them.

In celebration of this new life stage, I'm going to be working on a project called "The Masquerade", which will be about trying to live with hearing loss in the hearing world. I want to address the sense of being 'hidden' or 'hiding behind the mask' that I experience when I pretend that I never lost my hearing.

Because this is being told non-chronologically, I figured I'd but my introduction to the collection in this journal entry:


The Masquerade: Introduction

I used to hear like everyone else. Maybe even better than most everyone else.

Mandatory hearing test in elementary school? I aced that thing. Whispers on the other side of the room? I heard that. Subtle differences in tonal shifts? Not so subtle to me!

If you looked at me today, you’d still think I heard like everyone else. But something changed. A ruse, a mask, a lie, an act. A masquerade.

 I’ve been masquerading as a hearing person for three and a half years. That’s three and a half years of ear-straining, seventy-eight months of half-guessed conversations, 182 weeks of nodding and smiling and playing a part that isn’t me anymore. 

Some days I wake up and I say I’m going to stop. I’m going to let it happen. I’m going to stop trying. And while I make progress, while I stop fighting so hard and I’ve accepted the change, on some level I can’t stop pretending. I’ve forgotten how to stop pretending. I’ve been masquerading long enough that I’ve forgotten where the mask ends and I begin.

But I’m not hearing. And I never will be.

The first entry is up here: 

The Masquerade [Entry One, December 2014]December 2014
The man behind the counter smiles at me and raises his hands so I can see them.   You ready to go?
Despite the fluidity of the movements, I raise my eyebrows briefly at the dialect difference before replying. Yes.
Have a good flight, travel safe. He leads me to the gate and as I board the plane I turn back to smile and wave at him.
Thank you.
I find my seat easily and sit down. The chair and the walls vibrate slightly and I can feel a firm shaking of the ground below me. The other passengers are getting on.
A grandmother, a mother and a baby sit down in my row. They’re all travel-anxiety mixed with saccharine smiles, and we get along well so long as I keep my mouth shut. I do a crossword and drop my mechanical pencil over the side of my tray.
“Excuse me, can you grab that?” I say as politely, as carefully as I can.
It’s no use. Her face falls, twists in disgust and in what I can only hope is an unconscious mov

Thanks for reading, 



Health Services is quiet today, or maybe that’s just my hearing. Either way, the waiting room feels cold and empty, almost like an office in of itself.

Offices are bad places, I think spitefully. Offices are bad.

They choose that moment to call me back, and I have to quickly arrange my facial features into a mask of polite happiness. Nice doctor, I think to myself the way a child approaches a slightly scary dog. Good doctor. Nice, friendly doctor.

I feel strange, lonely and a little ill as I settle myself onto the table and fix my eyes upon the face in front of me. I hope this is quick, I don’t feel well and I’d like to go home

“So, Meghan,” she says as she turns to the computer. The rest of her sentence is incomprehensible as I lose my visual lock on her face.

“Excuse me, I need to read your lips.” She raises her eyebrows at me. “I can’t hear terribly well.”

“Oh,” she says, sounding surprised as she clicks through some tabs on my medical chart. “We don’t have any record of that.”

“Yes, I haven’t had those forms forwarded as I don’t see that audiologist anymore.” I shift, uncomfortable, and wince as the pain continues.

“Hampshire requires documentation of these sorts of things if you are looking for any assistance.”

“That’s not-“

“Do you want me to give you a release so those forms can be forwarded?”

“No, I-“

She doesn’t listen. “It would be really good to have those, I can’t really treat you-”

“Please, I just want medication for my UTI.” She looks at me, as though she forgot. “Please, I really don’t feel well.”

She looks at the way I’m curled in on myself and lets go of the conversation. The appointment goes back to normal and I get the care I need, but all the protests in the word can’t stop her from trying to push a release form on me as I leave to stumble home.
The Masquerade [Entry Seven, November 2013]
Sorry about the delay, I've been out of town.
They’re talking about me again. They’re always talking about me, it seems. Ever since I became the resident tragedy, the neighborhood pitiful, broken doll, it seems that they’re always talking about me.

I suppose that’s part of their job. High school administrators probably are usually talking about us, and probably often have to talk about people who start being broken.


They never talk to me about me, they talk to other people. They talk to Mr. Ruff, because apparently he can tell them more about what it means to be me than I can. They talk to my mother, who doesn’t understand because neither do I. They talk to the doctors that don’t even believe me. They talk to each other, five feet away from me and yet sure they’re not being heard.

It’s funny, almost, these smart adults, in charge of a thousand students, on top of everything, and they can’t remember one tiny thing:

I can read lips.

They’re doing it again. It’s always one or the other. Pity: poor thing, poor girl, poor her, oh no, be nice to Meghan. Or the misplaced inspiration: you’re so brave! I admire you, I can’t imagine, how do you do it?

Because I have to.

I can see their lips, moving, speaking, and I know what it is, but it still hits me the way my head hit those risers: quick, unexpected, and somehow nauseating.

“It’s a shame about Meghan, you know. She used to be so smart.”
The Masquerade [Entry Six, February 2012]
This is probably one of the roughest entries for me to write.
It’s the first day of Chemistry and my teacher has a heavy accent. I should have known, I had been warned, but yet I was still hopeful. He stands in front of the class, opens his mouth, and lets out a stream of incomprehensible syllables.

My neck hurts already as I tighten the muscles and strain to hear. By the end of class, I’ve managed to get down all the notes and approximate enough of the lecture to not make a fool of myself. It’s going to be a bad semester.

Year, I remind myself. This is what you have for next semester, too.

I squint, try to focus, and jam my thumbs into my eye sockets to stave of the incoming headache.  

I know I have options. I could go up to him. I could explain myself and face the judgment, the wincing, the pity, the awkward conversations, the ever-present can-you-handle-this. And without knowing it, he’d stop calling on me. He’d lower his expectations the way they all do. I could stand there and watch his eyes glaze over and consent to being a back-row shadow in a classroom full of real people.

Or I could wait it out, struggle, let the migraines happen and lose the ability to turn my neck part way through the day. I could be strong. I could survive. I could maintain his respect.

It’s stupid, maybe, or childish, or prideful, but I always choose the second option. You’ve got to find the option you can live with, I suppose, and I’ve found mine.
The Masquerade [Entry Five, September 2014]
Entry Five in my project "The Masquerade"
I’m sitting at a table in the college Dining Commons. We call it Saga, and I don’t know why and don’t care. I don’t care about a lot of things. I don’t care about orientation and the meet-and-greets and the meetings and the paperwork. I want it over. I want it done.

I’m sitting at a table eating cereal. I’m tired, jetlagged still, and I’m alone, which suits me. My neck still hurts from a long fight with a completely inaccessible welcoming speech. I might be good at it, but no one can lip-read past a microphone.

I can hear voices behind me, muffled, but I don’t understand them.

A person passes by me, their mouth temporarily in my line of sight. They sit down, facing me from another table. I can’t help but read their lips. “God, she’s so rude!

I eat another bite of cereal. Chew and swallow.

“Fine, don’t move!” Chew and swallow. “Rude!”  They’re staring at me. I stop and stare back, eyes wide.

They hate me.

I try to smile, but I can feel it wavering. “I’m sorry, were you trying to get by? I didn’t hear you.”

They scoff and don’t answer.  I pick up my bowl and leave, my eyes smarting.



The Masquerade [Entry Four, August 2013]
Entry four in the new project 'The Masquerade'
I swear I’ve been in this audiologist booth more times than I’ve had birthdays, but that’s probably an over-exaggeration brought on by having to spend yet another hour of my life locked in a dark cubicle the size of a wheelchair-accessible bathroom stall. Nothing’s happening, and I wonder if they’ve forgotten about me. I don’t think I could get out if I tried.

The test is the same as always. High and low tones, played louder and louder until I can hear them. The same old list of words: baseball, popcorn, repeat after me. There’s something silly about it, I think as I sit in the dark and struggle. Childish words, like a stolen spelling list. In my mind’s eye, I can see the words printed out in a handwriting almost as ungainly as my voice.

Why not ‘angry’? Why not ‘dark’? Why not ‘deaf’?

Don’t think that word!

We get the results in the office. It’s too bright. It hurts my eyes. There’s no easy transitions. You go from dark to light in seconds. You go from hearing to not in as little time as it takes to fall seven feet.

The otolaryngologist is holding a printed-out sheet and squinting at it. “They’re better than last time,” he says to my mother skeptically, even though we’ve told him time and time again that there are fluctuations.

He addresses me for the first time in what feels like month. “That’s impossible.”

I’m scared he’s going to throw me back in the pit, make me do it again, but he doesn’t. He just squints at me. “It’s impossible.”

I don’t know what to say, and I don’t know how to say it, so I just nod.

The Masquerade [Entry Three, March 2012]
Entry three in the project The Masquerade


Synesthi's Profile Picture
United States
I am a Synesthete (the term for someone who has synesthesia) and enjoy writing (prose and poetry), long-distance running, and playing music. My username is another (less formal) term for someone with synesthesia.

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copper9lives Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:wave: Hello, and welcome to :iconpoetryparadise:!

We're happy to have you aboard! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please :note: the group and your friendly neighborhood admins will get back to you ASAP.

Currently, we're hosting a monthly contest — check it out!

nightshade-keyblade Featured By Owner May 23, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Synesthi Featured By Owner May 23, 2014
Edges-to-Everything Featured By Owner May 23, 2014
A very Happy Birthday to you! :nod:

- Michael
Synesthi Featured By Owner May 23, 2014
91816119 Featured By Owner May 23, 2014   Writer
Happy birthday, sweetie! Have a fantastic day, and a fantastic year. :heart:

Synesthi Featured By Owner May 23, 2014
hopeburnsblue Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Professional Writer
Meghan, I found your lines in GITM, and now I must admit I'm not crying but I'm not *not crying ... lol. I found it so touching what you wrote about my voice, and the reiterations that I don't need my eyes to heal, or create art, or live a fulfilling life, definitely link up with your opening and closing remarks in the recording you sent me. This means a lot ... thank you so much. :iconheartglompplz:
Synesthi Featured By Owner May 11, 2014
I'm glad. And you're so welcome.

Edges-to-Everything Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
Hello! :handshake:

I'd love to get your feedback on the changes being made at Spreading-Awareness :nod: Thanks!

- Michael
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