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Monday, January 9, 2012

The Versatile and Dynamic life of a Sign Language Interpreter

Today while working I was reflecting on what I do for a living. There are a lot of facets and aspects to my job. I really hate calling it a job because so often in our culture the word "job" insinuates something that is not enjoyable but must be done... I LOVE WHAT I DO... I don't mind the money I make from it but even if I won the lottery tomorrow (which I won't because buying lottery tickets is a waste of money) I would still be an interpreter-I would just do it for free.

Recent circumstances have allowed me to work a bit more than normal-which I am really enjoying. This also allows Ben more time to work on his artwork which is crucial for his future as a graphic designer and illustrator if he wants to build a portfolio. The way things seemed to have unfolded really has lent itself nicely to our mutual, and individual, happiness in the career department.

I digress.

The job I do... we can call it that now that you understand how I feel about it clearly, is intense at times, draining, stressful, down right HARD and can just about drive a person crazy. However, the exact same job, is peaceful, rewarding, energizing and filled with love and gratitude.
Imagine a life where you had to depend on someone else, always a different person, to have communication with others. A stranger is there to tell you you have cancer. A stranger is there when your sister tells you your Grandfather has passed on. A stranger tells you that your son won his soccer game. A strangers face is the one you are looking at when you tell the person you love most that you miss them desperately and can't wait for them to come home from wherever they are.

That is who I am. I have to tread carefully where I walk. I have to be constantly aware of what is on my face because, if I am not, that means a message is not being communicated accurately and the deaf person is getting less than what they should out of the conversation. Likewise, if the deaf person is not being fairly treated if I do not convey what they mean as closely as possible. For example one time I was in a very upstanding place and the deaf consumer was very upset. They chose to scream and swear at the people around them (all prominent and intelligent people who I respected highly) but I couldn't fudge how the person was speaking. Their arms were flying and it was very clear what they were saying. If I did not interpret how they felt as accurately as I could I would be doing an injustice to them as well as breaking the code of conduct that I agreed to when becoming an interpreter.

Another aspect of what I do is the amazing amount of intimacy I get to be a witness to. I am the voice of mothers screaming at their daughters to get their butts home or else. I am the "voice" through my hands and face, of so many people sharing their love, hate, anger, despair and indifference. All in one day. I probably say "I love you" more in a day than anyone in any other profession. I adore that. I love that I get to be the voice of a child when he says "I love you" to his grandma and grandpa.

*tangent* That is something I have to say would not have worked out very well. Ben is so loving and understanding and absolutely adores me so much that he never questions my love for him. He knows that even though I am a part of these peoples lives it is only for a remote split second. He knows that, even though I love my job with every fiber of my being, I also love him with every fiber of my being. There is no limit to the amount of love I can give (To people, my work, or the world/universe as a whole). John, however, would have had HUGE issues with it. He already had established rules that I could not have a male doctor, I could not interpret for men in the hospital or medical settings, I could not see the same doctor twice (for fear that they might know more intimate details about me than he would), and I could not say "I love you" to or about anyone other than him and my family (and even that was a stretch).

Man it is fascinating comparing how my life *COULD* have been... and is. I am so grateful for the experiences I had for they were tiles to my mosaic which has made this beautiful masterpiece of a life /end tangent.

The problem with a tangent is I don't know where I was going to go next with this... ah well.

I guess I always wanted to be an actress-and with my job I get to play a thousand different roles. I am so grateful to have found a career path and a passion that align so beautifully. My only wish is that others could be so blessed. I know that I have received this gift as a reward for the kindness I have paid to the world, as well as for all the hard work I have put in. There are several times in my life where I could have given up completely, this is something I truly wanted-and I saw it through until the end.

Thank you all for being a part of this beautiful journey. Don't get me started on interpreting-I could go on for days and days about the history of it, and the language, and the culture... but that was the point of this blog, wasn't it? To show my love and gratitude for the things I enjoy most.


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