Sunday Lowdown #198

THIS WEEK IN REFLECTION

Good, uh, afternoon! And happy Sunday! Yes, I’m okay.

This week, snow descended upon my area, and I kept crossing my fingers that classes would not be canceled. I have to interpret 45 hours, and every time a class doesn’t meet that is another hour I have to scramble to make up elsewhere. School was not canceled, but a strong wind made the walk across campus almost unbearable. I saw one student so wrapped up in winter gear that when he said “hi,” I replied, “hello in there!” I’ve shoveled the driveway twice now, and it’s not a small driveway.

The reason my Sunday Lowdown was not awaiting you in your inboxes during the typical hour is because Nick and I went to Chicago yesterday to see Deafies in Drag. They are an incredibly funny, raunchy Deaf duo that creates humorous videos for social media. My favorite is how a conversation typically goes when a hearing person says they want to learn ASL (video is about 2 minutes).

So, we made the 2 1/2 hour drive to Chicago and arrived early. There were people signing everywhere in the box office lobby! People of all ages, Queer people, Asian, Latinx, people with hearing aids and cochlear implants, students, hearing people, even a dog that has two Deaf dads and learned signed commands, like sit and play dead. I tried to stand close to groups in hopes of being included, but largely folks were communicating about how they knew each other, from where, and how long it’s been since they’d seen each other.

At Harper College watching Deafies in Drag.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the live show! I always think of drag as lip syncing to music. Some Deaf people enjoy music, but it’s not a big part of the culture, from what I’ve learned. So, what would the live show be like? When some music came on, it was not very loud, and I kept thinking, “Oh, no! The sound board person is messing up!” Silly me.

The show was largely comedy routines that incorporate playing with sign language. How do you turn a phrase in ASL into a dance, for instance? If you go big and exaggerate the signs for YOUR MAKE-UP CHEAP, it can look like a dance!

They also taught the audience “sassy signing,” changing signs like DON’T and NOT-MY-PROBLEM and NO into moves with more “sass,” and perhaps a clearer meaning for hearing people who don’t know ASL. Deafies in Drag use humor, drag culture, Queer culture, and Deaf culture to bridge gaps where different communities don’t connect as well as they could, according to the performers, who identify as Deaf, Queer, and Latinx. Selena Minogue, whose parents are from South America, learned how to sew from her grandmother, and shared that she designed and sewed all the costumes, reiterating that Deaf people can do anything.

Now, before we left for Chicago, I called Biscuit and told her we were going to a drag show. “I don’t like musicals!” she said. I said I didn’t either. It was then I realized that whenever I watch drag with lip syncing, I am cringing a little bit. For me, I enjoy drag when it’s theatrical. I like seeing how an artist takes costuming, makeup, and dance and turns it into something beautifully performative. Pretend singing in a costume while stomping around a stage doesn’t do it for me. But now, seeing that drag can be educational and funny, I’m looking forward to learning what other drag artists can bring to the stage.

We left the show completely aware that we were in a different time zone, and that it was later at home. Regardless, we stopped for pancakes before heading into Chicago traffic, which is always a death-defying event. Thanks to Nick’s smart driving and familiarity with Chicago (he works there occasionally), everything was good. Until.

Never mind Nick’s dirty windshield, this is the Chicago skyline as we sit in backed-up traffic. There are always slow downs thanks to frequent car accidents.

As we approached home, those last 45 minutes, there was snow, and I mean snow. A total whiteout. And — haha — Google was taking us home, and we followed its instructions, including the command to take a side road that was completely gone, vision-wise, instead of staying on a main road. Google, you rude. At one point, we started fishtailing, and I said, “You got this baby, you’re okay,” which is weird because I’m not normally that polite, so I think therapy is working.

lol what road.

But, we made it home safe where I discovered my twice-shoveled driveway was shoveled no more. It was around 2:30AM before we were asleep, and hence, your tardy Sunday Lowdown.

Dammit, snow!

THIS WEEK’S BLOG POST

Wow, my Sweet Valley High crew was out in numbers! I’m surprised, however, that I am the only one to have read the Wakefield Sagas. There are a couple of other sagas following main characters from the SVH books, and I’ll see if I can find those. You know what’s funny is I read the Wakefield sagas when I was a tween, and I learned more about history in those “silly” books than I did at school. If you take a character you like and care about and put them right in the middle of an important historical event, it is hard to forget said event. I mean, isn’t this why Forrest Gump did so well?

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG POST

I’m always on the look out for books by and about D/deaf people, and my Google searches kept bringing up Connie Briscoe. She doesn’t seem to write Deaf characters, nor does she have to, of course. I found one of her books at Goodwill, Big Girls Don’t Cry, and grabbed it.

BOOKS ADDED TO THE TBR PILE

Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 191
Owned Books on TBR Today: 188

Thanks to Biscuit for reading so many of the books I own with me for our book club. The numbers are dropping!

24 comments

  1. I love drag shows, even the non-professional ones can be fun. Haven’t been to one in ages though. There are Drag Queen reading hours at the libraries around the metro now and then but of course they are in the middle of the afternoon for the kids. One of these days I really want to go to one. Would it be weird for an adult to show up without a kid do you think? Loved the video, I was laughing. I took a semester of ASL in college and really wanted to take more but couldn’t fit it in my schedule. I loved the class. We were not allowed to talk and the professor never spoke either.

    What are the social rules for eavesdropping in the Deaf community?

    We only got a little over 4 inches of snow here, drips and drabs throughout the week, which was really annoying, but I think you got it worse. And those poor folk in Buffalo, NY–ack!

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    • I really enjoy The Boulet Brothers, who created Dragula, a horror-themed drag show. It’s got some amazing, theatrical costumes, and everyone is so creative. I do want to learn more about drag beyond lip syncing, so story time sounds great!

      I have no idea what your library would think about an adult with no child at drag story hour, lol. I do know the library where I used to work had signs about adults staying out of teen and children spaces to let them have their own area, but an event is different.

      So, as for social rules for eves-dropping in the Deaf community: from what I’ve learned, if you can be seen, you should assume other people are watching in. If you want to be private, go to a private place where no one can see you. Sometimes people sign really small or turn away together.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved hearing about your Chicago trip, Melanie. What an experience from go to whoa. I should say though that dogs learning signed commands is, in my experience, a traditional part of dog obedience training. Every spoken command has a signed one too. You can do whole routines without voice.

    Google is sometimes weird. Sometimes it will take you away from current trouble spots, but other times it seems to lead you into tricky areas. Maybe the snow interfered with the GPS – can it do that? Anyhow, that sounds quite scary. Glad you got home safely.

    And, I LOVE musicals, something I’ve passed on to my daughter, who is more expert at them now than I am. For a start, she can sing! So she learns the songs of her favourites and sings and sings them. My Fair Lady and Fiddler on the Roof to Hair to Les Mis to Hamilton, love them all!

    Sorry, but I was too old for SVH.

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    • The signing that the dog owner did was ASL signs rather than hand signs, which I know dogs will follow, too. In one of their videos the guy signs (basically) “Get daddy’s attention for me,” and the dog taps the husband on the shoulder because he is Deaf and doesn’t know his spouse wants his attention when he’s facing away.

      It might be that all the cars on the main road were slowing down for the snow, so Google rerouted us to a side road that hadn’t been plowed.

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  3. I’ve been driving in mud and that’s slippery enough for me. I hope I never have to drive in snow – I’ve watched too many videos of trucks going sideways.
    Two and a half hours, you must really have wanted to see that show!

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    • It was quite a drive, but I was thinking it was a fun night out, the money helped benefit Deaf Women of Chicago and the Deaf drag artists got paid, AND I talked to the interpreters at the end and used our conversation for a class assignment. Driving to Chicago is weird. It’s something like 90 miles away, but the travel time varies drastically depending on the hour. I’ve gotten through Chicago in two hours, and I’ve done it in five.

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    • The southern U.S. states react the same way to snow, Liz, which is why it was especially surprising last year when their grid shut down over a huge snow storm. They had no clue what they were doing, but they did it while freezing because they’re so independent they don’t want to be on the same power grid as the rest of the country.

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  4. Sounds like a fun experience! Glad you got home safe though – that seems like a lot of snow for November. Is that normal for you? Do you think Toadman is happily hibernating somewhere?

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    • When I was a kid there was always snow on Halloween. We’d tromp around in hats and mittens, coats and boots, and I’d be mad because no one could see my costume. Now, I’m surprised when we have snow on Christmas. Thanks, climate change! So, yes, this did feel weird for this year. I do hope Toadman is hibernating somewhere, though I check for him by the little kitchen every day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That drag performance honestly sounds amazing and I would love to watch something like that. I’m glad you guys had such a good time and learned so much!
    I am not however, jealous of your snow. Lol. The little bit we got is melting already.

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  6. Looks like you had a very Canadian-ish drive home 🙂 Shoveling is great exercise, although you must stretch often, never forget to stretch!!!

    The drag performance looks very cool, I have yet to attend one in person but there are a few in Calgary now, and I heard it’s great fun. I should make that a goal of mine for 2023…

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    • I’m always surprised by the reports of how many people die from cardiac arrest while shoveling their driveways.

      Drag is so fun. Some of it is a bit raunchy, and other times it’s not. Right now I keep hearing about story time by drag artists in the U.S. and these gun nuts showing up and threatening everyone while claiming they are there to protect the children (who are with their parents) from “groomers.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sadly that’s happening in Canada too. Our public libraries have drag storytimes for little kids (it’s called something else) and they are wonderful, all about expressing oneself, but people protest around them and it’s truly terrible

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        • I saw a Tweet once that pointed out that heteronormativity includes a guy who has a “man cave” that is filled with pictures of half-naked women and a beer fridge, and the woman has all kinds of word art on her walls while she quietly drinks enough wine to both feel fancy and qualify as an alcoholic, and wow did that really put drag queens and the “harm” (they do not cause harm at story hour) they cause into perspective.

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