Sunday Lowdown #112


Last week I mentioned that I had been conducting interviews about my qualities that apply directly to interpreting. Rather than being graded on how “good” we are as humans, we would be graded on the honesty of our interviewees + the reflection and analysis we did afterward. I interviewed Nick, Biscuit, and Cupcakes & Machetes. The range is 1 to 10. One means I exhibit zero qualities in that category, and ten means there is absolutely no way I could improve. Thus, no one should really be getting a bunch of tens. The categories were: self-confidence, flexibility, respect, commitment to learning, education, realism, and ability to maintain intrapersonal controls whether I’m an introvert or extrovert. Feel free to give your thoughts in the comments!

The interviews were the take-home portion of my interpreting midterm. In class we had a paper test. I also had to perform what is called an ABC story in ASL, and we had to watch a video about a car accident and then answer questions on paper. That part was not good; most of us failed, so we all had to retake the exam. My concern was less about my grade and more about the professor potentially wondering if we aren’t taking ASL seriously, or feeling we are disrespecting his language. The paper test itself was rewritten for clarity. The same day I had a linguistics midterm, for which I had to brush up on the International Phonetic Alphabet. I feel I did well. Weirdly, the hardest info for me to stuff in my head and maintain were which chimps were involved in what language experiments.

Text from my father-in-law.

In the past week I finished several books that I’m not reading for Grab the Lapels: Love that Story by Jonathan Van Ness, James Baldwin’s Another Country, Native Speaker by Chang-rae Lee, FantasticLand by Mike Bockoven, and The Snapper by Roddy Doyle. Likely, you want to know about Van Ness’s book. While I still think audio is the best format for a Van Ness book, I didn’t love this one as much as his first. He would begin by stating an issue that affects him and branching out to describe the ways in which he’s privileged or benefitted from the hard work of people before him. He includes research, mostly interviews, to support what he writes.

I may have discovered a bias that I need to work on; in a few chapters Van Ness references high-risk sexual behavior he has engaged in fairly recently, but becomes indignant when people judge him for it. For example, he describes how a friend invited him to an orgy, so he went. The next morning he was positive he had an STI, so he went to the local health clinic (he wasn’t in his own city) and demanded they write him a prescription for it, which he claims is normal for him. When the nurse said he had to have an exam and test to see if he actually had the specific STI he believed he had, he became indignant and gave her a lecture about being a homophobe and how he was trying to do the right thing by preventing the rampant spread of an STI in her community.

In the end, the medical staff wouldn’t write an Rx simply because he wanted it, he had a test, and it was negative. On the one hand, I don’t want to shame someone for their sexual behaviors; on the other hand, I also believe in behaving responsibly and being culpable for our choices. If he didn’t practice safe sex and had an STI, the threat of spreading it in the local community makes it sound like he would knowingly leave the clinic and engage in more unsafe sex, thus spreading the infection. Honestly, I felt uncomfortable that there were a few examples like this in Love that Story.

Friday Valentine’s party with Deaf community and ASL/interpreting students. This is my new cohort at school (sans 1 person).

Feb 25th, Saturday, Nick and I headed for Biscuit’s house for a visit, which is what made me fall behind on my Sunday Lowdown. Folks are mostly resting right now for the work week starting tomorrow, though I start spring break. Nick took it off with me. I shall rest and read and do a few things here and there.


Thank you for your engagement with my post on Tracks by Robyn Davidson. I thought maybe the conversation would be mostly about the animal cruelty scenes, but we went in all directions, from “woman finding herself in nature” memoirs, to the animals, to books about Australia written by aboriginal Australians.


I think most of you know that I read aloud to Nick every night, and this week’s review is of a novel I read to him. Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams really took a sharp left from my expectations. I thought the plot would be about One Thing, but it changed narrators and perspectives and was about Many Things. My review will be posted Wednesday.


Books Bought Since January 2023: 0


Thanks to Bill @ The Australian Legend for recommending Kylie Tennant and suggesting the Lizzie Marrkilyi Ellis memoir.


  1. Ugh, that story about Van Ness calling the nurse a homophobe for using proper antibiotic stewardship got on my wick. Doling out antibiotics without checking that they’re needed is how we end up with superbugs, and expectation/demands is a big part of why they are overprescribed!


    • Absolutely, and that’s the thing my spouse pointed out right away, too–that he’s asking for an antibiotic. It’s entirely possible that this nurse was feeling judgmental and couldn’t keep it off her face, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve never, EVER heard of a medical professional who writes a prescription just because someone demands one.


      • Also, people will claim that nurses are being judgmental on the most spurious of grounds. A couple once made a complaint about me that I had “developed a bad attitude” towards them once I learnt a particular fact about their situation – but that fact was in the handover I received when they came into my care, so I knew it the whole time I was looking after their child. They decided they didn’t like me and then judged all my subsequent behaviour by that standard – even though nothing in the way I was treating them had changed!


        • I’ve emailed you in the past about my experiences with doctors, and I know that I’m oddly on the defense when I get there as a result. I’m not sure how medical staff and patients can be more trusting of each other. I’m reading a new book in which the author includes many surveys about doctors’ perceptions of fat patients. A frighteningly high number feel fat patients are gross, don’t want to treat them, are lazy, are stupid. Basically, all the stereotypes that the average person also feels when they have anti-fat bias. I wonder how similar feelings crop up for minorities or immigrants, etc.


  2. What bias that you need to work on did you discover in that Van Ness story? I must have the same bias as all I could see was a commonsense response in you. I don’t think seeing
    someone’s unreasonable behaviour as wrong is bias? Or have I missed something?

    Regarding Tracks, I thought the animal cruelty stuff was so obvious that there wasn’t much to discuss.

    AS for assessing YOU I have nothing to say. I think you are lovely. I am sorry you suffer so much angst and self-doubt but I love the authentic way you seem (from what I know from reading your blog) to try to make your way through the world.


    • I think I am a judgy about people have lax attitudes towards sex, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I’m judging someone for having unsafe sex, which is reasonable in the same way that I was judgmental of people who wouldn’t get vaccinated: I was upset that they are endangering others.

      The anxiety is coming down, and the self-doubt, I’m starting to understand, is not productive. In fact, we are told repeatedly that if we have self-doubt in an interpreting situation to keep it to ourselves. If a d/Deaf person thinks we doubt ourselves, they doubt us, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that sort of judgement is fine really because it’s about defining our values. The issue more how we behave with that judgement – I think.

        Glad the anxiety is coming down. Excellent. And all true about the self-doubt. It’s something I often struggle with – not at a debilitating level but at a level that does stop me being brave at times when I’d like to be brave!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s weird, I don’t remember that part of JVN’s book standing out for me. But then again it’s been a while since I read it and my book memory isn’t great! Plus, I read the paper book and that might have made a difference in what stands out.

    I know another blogger I follow talked about Tell the Machine Goodnight but now I can’t remember who it was, LOL.

    Sounds like you’re learning a lot and doing well in your classes – kudos!

    Also, hooray for not buying any books – nearly two months in.

    Enjoy your Spring Break!


    • You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I’ve read aloud, lol. And I read for about 30 minutes, which I’m told by a mother of two elementary-school age children is a LONG, LONG time.


  4. Yay, I’m back adding books to your TBR. Ellis in Pictures from my Memory lives at different times in much of the country traversed by Davidson. You will probably find a map helpful. She is born near where the borders of Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory meet – a very long way from anywhere! and her family moves west, to the mining towns of WA’s eastern goldfields.
    Your take on Tiburon will be interesting. It’s set in rural New South Wales at around the same time as The Grapes of Wrath.


    • I’ve added or wanted to add many books you’ve recommended, but in lots of cases it depends on if I can even get a copy in the U.S. I need to get to some of them here in short order. I think I added a couple books to the Biscuit Book Club TBR: Patience and Sarah and An i-Novel. They’re hard to get to if they don’t have an audiobook option because Biscuit typically listens to books while commuting, so a text book has to come out of some other part of her day, and her days are full.


      • Patience and Sarah was a long time ago, but I remember enjoying it (as an audiobook). I hope you find a copy (or two copies). An I-Novel is really good, but probably better in text form. 325pp so not short, Biscuit will have to take it to the beach next time she’s on holidays (and not biking through Arizona).


  5. Oh those stories from the JVN book make me want to avoid it. I don’t say that everyone has to act like a saint but if you’re in the public eye and you know you influence people, maybe moderate how you express things. Hm.


      • Oh gosh yes, of course that as well, I put that incompletely (blame the terrible virus I’ve been having (normal kind, not STD kind!)). Yes, absolutely but also people will see/hear his actions written in a book so they will go further than just doing the bad choice stuff. That’s what I meant.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. That JVN story is baffling in many ways. What doctors write prescriptions without proof someone needs that medicine? It seems crazy that he does this often. Also – are orgies still a thing? Do they happen often? Clearly not the community I’m used to LOL

    From what I can tell through your stories and blogging, you are a very flexible person, but I also get the sense you are trying to be more flexible, which shows you are dedicated to learning!


    • I think sexual experimentation will always be something people engage in, but doing so responsibly, ethically, and with consent are important components.

      I do want to be more flexibile. Sometimes I’m fairly rigid, and that’s with myself AND other people.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I couldn’t care less about JVN’s unprotected orgies or other encounters, but his demand for antibiotics ticked me off. I am glad the doctor didn’t cave in and made him get tested. Over use of antibiotics has gotten us into quite a mess with an increasing number of resistant bugs. Calling the doctor a homophobe for following protocol was stepping over the line.

    Love the VD photo! I hope you are enjoying spring break and getting lots of rest and relaxation!


  8. Weird fact I just learned – Jonathon Van Ness and I were born the same year. Which gives me extra emphasis on what I’m about to say. HE LIVED THROUGH THE AIDS EPIDEMIC. The fuck is wrong with him not using protection? I don’t care about sexuality, I will thoroughly judge anyone for spreading disease knowingly or not. And to call someone homophobic because they won’t write you a prescription on demand, is an attempt at shaming someone so you get your way. No responsible doctor should write ANY prescription without actually treating the patient. UGH. Now I just don’t like this guy. Seems like a douche.


    • It’s interesting that I got the perspective of Lou, who is a nurse, in the comments and then you, working at a pharmacy. I love that I have friends who can share info from a perspective I don’t even consider. I will say I one time got a prescription for an opioid, for just in case from an ER doctor, and I never filled it. However, for the next year I kept getting letters about how I was in possession of an opioid and I should be super careful and not get addicted, and dispose of the medication properly, etc. I was so concerned that I had opioids that I never got on my permanent record, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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