El Deafo

(Sunday Paper, Volume I, Issue 7)

I've been trying to read as much as I write, but sometimes it comes in waves.

Often I hit stretches where I'm reading much more than I'm writing...or, less often, I'll write way more than I read.

I've been keeping track of what I've been reading for about the past couple of years or so, and to be honest, there's not a lot I've read lately that has made much of an impact on me.

When something does, though, I'll certainly tell you about it.

And today I want to start with El Deafo, by CeCe Bell.

I was turned onto the book by an interview Bell did on The Longest Shortest Time podcast, which I'll write more about a little later. For now, know that the interview was so good that the next day I went out and bought the book.

I remember being intrigued by this book when came out and it was in the New York Times Book Review...but I think that happened right at the end of my teaching days and I was moving on to reading adult books for a while.

The back of the book calls this a graphic novel memoir. I know some people have issues with graphic novels and whether books should be called graphic novels, but I have no horse in that race. The bottom line is CeCe Bell is a talented writer and illustrator and both of those skills are exhibited throughout this book.

As you may be able to tell by the book's title or maybe the cover of the book (or maybe you can't tell - I don't know. I'm not here to read your mind.) this is a memoir about a child with hearing loss. And, while it certainly is about growing up with hearing loss, in a larger way it is a book about growing up, period. And friendships. And being an elementary school student. And just being a kid. Sure, hearing loss is front and center in all of it, but even if it wasn't, there are valuable lessons to take away from the story.

That's why I'll be reading it with the girls soon. I want to talk with them about the lessons you can take away from the book - chief among those, what does it mean to be a good friend? 

More importantly, though, I just want to share a great story with them.


*I forget if I've said this before, but writing little articles about all of these little towns and villages and small cities in New York and Illinois always leaves me in awe of what a big country we live in and how interesting it is that there are so many of these little towns and villages and small cities and big cities too and how they all have their own things going on. It's not something I stop and think about too much until I start writing about them and looking up information about them and realizing there is just so much to this country - let alone this world - that I don't know about.


*This Thursday, the 14th, is my comedy birthday. I started doing comedy two years ago, on July 14, 2014. I'm excited that this year the 14th falls on a Thursday and it'll be my second week as Comic Sit-In at the Stand Up Break In. (This week's show, incidentally, looks like a good one, so if you're wondering whether to come out this week, I'd recommend it.) I think I'm due for a big ol' comedy posting soon, but for now I'll say this: two years in there are days I wish I was a lot more accomplished in my comedy career, but in the grand scheme of things two years is not all that much time, and I'm really proud of what I've done so far.

*Also, wow, what a good time up in Newmarket, New Hampshire on Friday night at the Stone Church show. Long drive but so worth it - it's rare that I've been on a show that was that good and where everyone had such good sets. The comedians were great, the room was great, the crowd was great - throw all that together and it was a fun night.

What I've Been Enjoying Lately

*I'm back to tell you about another podcast. (Sorry, I listen to a lot of them when I'm driving around or out for a run or doing the laundry or whatever.) And I know I wrote about this on the Facebook page, but it's worth telling you about it again: The Longest Shortest Time. I was turned on to it, like many thousands of other people I bet, after a story from the show was played on This American Life. (It was the story about the high school girls who had to care for babies for a class, which was a repeat. The first time I heard the story I wasn't compelled to check out The Longest Shortest Time, if it existed. This time, Ira Glass sold me...I listened to a couple of episodes and I was hooked.) It's a parenting podcast which many people say appeals to people who aren't parents as much as it does parents. I can only speak as a parent - I like it. It gives different perspectives on parenthood - the decisions that go into it, social lives as a parent, different people's stories behind becoming a parent...the many, many difficulties involved in pregnancy and childbirth and being a parent...and the host, Hillary Frank, is a good interviewer and storyteller.

When I plugged the show on my Facebook page it was just after I had listened to Episode #83 - How To Parent Like A Clown. I loved so much about this episode, but I really gained new perspective on the job these people do. The parenting connections were just icing on the cake. The interview with CeCe Bell I mentioned above was in Episode #86 - The Secret Life Of A Deaf Superhero. It was such a good conversation it got me to immediately go out and buy the book. And I keep writing about it and wanting to share it with you. So I guess you'd better listen.


*One more thing about El Deafo - as I was reading I remembered that in my first year of teaching I had a student with hearing loss and had to wear a microphone that wirelessly connected to a speaker on the student's desk. It was super cool - I felt like I was presenting at a Ted Talk. (Before I even knew what a Ted Talk was!) Unlike the teachers in the story, though, I never forgot to take the microphone off before I used the bathroom.

*Here's the weekly check-in to see if my brother made it this far in the Sunday Paper. Matt, if you are still reading, text me "I made it that far." Thanks buddy.

*Big series for the Mets this weekend...and I haven't watched an inning of it. (For better or for worse, considering the ups and downs of the series.) This is one of the biggest sacrifices I've had to make in order to do comedy...I just can't watch as much baseball as I used to. And actually, comedy is only half the reason I'm missing all 4 games of this weekend's series with the Nationals...as to why I'm missing the other two games - I'll be writing about that next week.