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10:26 p.m. - September 14, 2006
Interpretation: The process of establishing meaning.

My first unpaid job was acting as the family interpreter beginning at a very young age. My hearing grandparents tell a story that I interpreted for my parents as they negotiated with a landlord for a rental home when I was five years old. My Deaf grandparents tell another story, of me refusing to use my voice to speak with hearing people so the truth is likely between the two. Regardless of mythical beginnings, Iíve always been an interpreter: In childhood, interpreting for my parents on the phone, in the bank, for door-to-door vagrants, salespersons, and neighbors. As a young adult, in my first paid job interpreting at the local college when I was 15. And again, to pay my way through graduate school, what I thought would be a temporary occupation to pay the bills. Even while I taught I would still interpret, enjoying the mental play of ASL and English and the physical coordination of my hands and voice, deriving more than a little confidence from being one of the very best in Northern California. The money was great, the esteem better.

The irony is, I interpret well when removed from the situation, when it is othersí meanings to be understood, translated, conveyed, negotiated, but not when I must interpret meaning for myself. It is something Iíve thought a lot about over the years, confounded by the gap between perception and comprehension, this distrust of words when they are mine, all while I do nothing but work with words.

Something I think about.

An example:

A few nights ago I called up someone I havenít spoken to in a while, perhaps an olive branch of sorts. Expectations low but I was in a good mood, felt like chatting on the telephone, having a friend and doing what friends do.

Him: Hello?
Me: Hey, whatís up?
Him: Jason?
Me: Yeah, how are you?
Him: Fine, itís been a while.
Me: Yeah, it has. Whatíre you up to?
Him: I have a friend here. How are you?
(This is what I say when I donít want to talk on the phone. Therefore, he does not want to talk on the phone, either. I begin disengagement process.)
Me: Oh, ok, no problem. Iíll catch you later. Have a good one. Goodbye.
Him: Is everything ok? Youíve called me like only five times since Iíve known you, is something wrong?
(Pitying me? Makes me feelÖ something, and itís not good. Feel that panicky wave. Must get off phone now.)
Me: Nah, everything is fine. Iíll talk to you some other time.
Him: When? Call me again.
(Heís simply being polite. Iím uncomfortable being rebuffed, feel foolish, wish I had not called.)
Him: You still at the 510 number? I donít have it any more, like I got this new phoneÖ
(My call was unexpected and unwelcome; our friendship was not compelling enough to keep my contact info. GET OFF PHONE NOW.)
Me: Yeah, sure, no problem. Iíll catch you some other time. Good bye.
Him: Ok.

Final interpretation: The call was unwelcome. Big mistake. Will not attempt again. Putting oneself out there is not a good idea!

Iím unsure though. I never know - am constantly misunderstanding people or jumping to conclusions. But how does one really know? Sigh.


Autumn is almost here, I can smell it in the morning. Hurry, hurry, so I can read by firelight, cocoon again.

I am lonely.


Getting ready for tomorrow and Saturday. Doing a training so close to home makes it seem like less work, so Iíve procrastinated too long and ended up preparing last minute, once again.

A promise to self on Saturday: After the training, hang out and explore a bit in Santa Cruz. Donít rush home to be alone. Maybe even take myself out to eat, invite someone to join. Go to the beach and watch the sun set. Do something different.


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