DAY OF SILENCE: Challenge Issued by Timmy Ashton and Cody Kennedy

On Wednesday, September 17th, Timmy Ashton issued a challenge in a guest post on Cody Kennedy’s blog:

“My challenges for you are to do two things on different days. On the first day, spend the day without speaking. You can make noises, but no words. That means no speaking to teachers, students, bosses, grocery clerks, police officers, NO ONE. Your only forms of communication are writing, typing, and body language. If you decided to take this challenge remember to have paper and pen with you. When I had to talk to the police, I was trying to talk about something extremely upsetting and I had to try to explain by writing.”

Upon reading that, I said to myself, “Yes! I will take his challenge Friday!” and I thought that if anything, I would learn something for my writing, and most importantly, about my friend, Cody Kennedy and the kiddo that is dear to his heart, Timmy Ashton.

Today, I woke up briefly around noon to a text from my boss. I felt weird, so I answered her text and went back to sleep for a little bit. Here is my chronology. I have included photographs of my notes.

At 120pm, I woke up for real and checked my email and texts. Seeing an FB update from Anna Lund about how her day of Timmy’s silence challenge had gone thus far, I remembered my own wish to take it as well. I commented on her post, telling her that I was about to take it on. She told me that she’d already posted on her blog about it, and that I could see how hers went to get kind of an idea about what I could possibly look forward to for the day. Nervous about it, I did. I noticed after re-reading Cody’s and Timmy’s as well, that my mindset had not yet changed; I was still nervous. I thought then as I prepared for my challenge, Is this how Cody feel when he gets ready for a day out for errands? Or Timmy when he’s heading to school? My shower was quiet. Instead of singing along with the music as is per usual, I listened to Jared Leto’s voice and words. I took them to heart, and got ready. I spent a little extra time with my sweet kitty, Lily-Rose, since I usually tell that I love her, however, today, that love would have to be felt. As I’m leaving, I make sure that my iPod is on “Hurricane” by Thirty Seconds to Mars since I need the encouragement it always brings me.

My first stop is Starbucks and I get there about ten minutes to two. I pull out my notepad and before I get out the car, I write on the first sheet, “I do not speak.”

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The barista was very nice, and she smiled, but got very quiet almost immediately. She paid very close attention to me when she would ask me a question I could answer with a nod or shake of my head, and she made sure to make eye contact. When I wrote down my drink, she waited patiently for me to finish and hold it up for her. The second picture is my “thank you” and I wrote it on the back of the “I do not speak.”

20140919_185028My drink: a trenta black tea with five Splenda.

20140919_185208I didn’t realize how nervous I was until I noticed my hands shaking a bit as I folded up my little blue book with the pen in it. I had to go back a second time to get a snack (and one of those yummy pumpkin cookies for later!) and this go went better. I was still a bit nervous, but the barista saw me coming and she smiled at me, looking automatically at my notepad.

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Again, she made sure to make eye contact. I really liked her… but I recognized then that I was just going to be nervous today.

I stayed at Starbucks for a while, wrote a little bit, but I decided that I would go across the street to the Albertsons grocery store. This had my first awkward moment when I realized that someone was waiting on me to move and normally, I would have just apologized. This was the first time that I had to articulate–without speech–an apology. The man just heaved a sigh and shook his head, apparently thinking I was simply not paying attention. At the register, I was prepared with my “I do not speak” note and the lady smiled and nodded. At one point, she motioned to the glitter nail polish and her own nails (I don’t believe they were painted), but she didn’t say anything. I wrote “I like glitter!” and held it up, waiting for her to see it…

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… and that was the only time I saw her exasperation. It was only for a split second, but it was there! She quickly righted her expression and grinned as she read it and said, “Oh! Me, too!” At the end, I realized that she thought I was deaf as she attempted to sign, “Thank you!”

I hit Barnes and Noble at 420pm. I went there with the intent to pick up a copy of A Clockwork Orange and another tea. Ready at hand with my notepad and pen, I went into the bookshop and this time, I sought out help. Having only been in the Henderson area since mid-July, this was my first time inside this particular Barnes and Noble. I found an associate and showed my notepad. He nodded and immediately came around to my side to read as I wrote.

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 I am looking for Burgess? Anthony

I wrote, “I am looking for Burgess?” He nodded. “First name?” “Anthony,” I scribbled. He led me over to the Guest Services area in the middle of the store. As he started to look, I wrote next to it, “Clockwork Orange.”

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“Ah!” he said, his face lighting up with recognition. “Follow me!” He took me over to the appropriate stacks and found the book on the bottom shelf. Grabbing it, he handed it to me, but then he did something I didn’t expect from his previous behavior: he left me there without waiting for me to “say” anything else. Just left. I sighed, and wandered the stacks for a little while, checking things out, chatted with Cody via Facebook (Failbook, actually… it ate my “Coda” picture 😦 ). Hearing this, I decided to head to the cafe so that I could fix the photo. I hurried up to the checkout stand, and became distracted immediately by the vast array of bookmarks… and it was here that I ran into my second awkward moment. I was sifting through them and two different customers thought I was in line, so they touched my arm and asked, “Hey, are you in line?” When I didn’t speak, but gestured in answer, they hurried past me without another word, not even an “Okay.” I thought it was kind of strange, but found which bookmarks I wanted. At the checkout counter, the clerk was nice enough, smiled when I fumbled with my bag and my notepad, but nice.

At the cafe, I forgot that while yes, they have the signage and yes, they serve Starbucks, NO, they don’t take the app, so all my preparedness went out the window as this time, I fumbled with the bag, the phone, the notepad, my purse AND the barista just smiled and waited patiently for me. I scribbled my first shorthand because I was afraid there might be someone behind me, and SHE UNDERSTOOD IT!!!

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Pumpkin chzck? Also trenta black tea 5 Splenda

“Here or to go?” she asked, and I motioned to the tables. She smiled again, understanding. I wrote my drink down next to my snack order, while she was readying the cheesecake slice, and she gave a frown. “Biggest size we have is Venti, is that okay?” I nodded. “Since it’s a size smaller, do you wanna go with four Splenda instead of five?” I nodded again, and held up the “Thank you” and she shook her head. “No, no… thank you.” She let me gather my things at my own pace, never once trying to hurry me.

At 530, I got home. I made it to the door and saw a package for the grandparents. Picking it up, I took everything inside to the kitchen, and set it down on the island. I sorted out yesterday’s mail (had gotten it before I left the house), and I thought I was going to have to have interaction with one or both of them, so I made a note… and it didn’t happen.

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I cannot speak today. I got the mail @ 130 and this was on the porch.

Over the course of the day, I’d found that being prepared at times is the best thing you can do. Since getting home and getting situated, transcribing my notes to this blog post, I have since been able to communicate to my best friend (and roommate) that I’m not speaking today. A slightly modified screenshot is displayed here.

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Now, I flubbed a little when I went to correct Lily-Rose before she could try to chew the charger cord to my phone, but the second time she went for it, I remembered that the challenge said sounds were okay, but no words. That was awkward, but the sound got the point across! I kind of had to laugh at myself, because I startled myself!

Around 930pm, I came upstairs to eat dinner and hang out with Nicole and Chris. I found out that she’d already told her husband (that would be Chris) about me doing the challenge when I accidentally showed the above note (the one about the package) and he asked, “What was on the porch?” I looked down at the notepad and realized that I’d shown the wrong one, and I rolled my eyes at myself as he chuckled. “I know. Nik told me,” he added. He’s kind of a smart ass most days, so I was ready for the good-natured teasing that followed that interaction while we doled out the pizza from Metro. “So can we make the challenge go on a bit longer?” “Do you think you could do this for a month? I kinda like this quiet!” Yada yada yada! We all laughed. Nicole’s grandfather ate with us, too, and he kept trying to make conversation; he didn’t quite understand that I had to put my food down to answer via pad and pen, and that since he was across the room, that meant that Nicole would have to read what I wrote to him. A few of the notes that she had to read are included below:

20140920_030248    Answers to Chris’ questions about how long the challenge lasted (24hrs) and letting him know that I left the package in the hallway outside of the grandparents’ door.

20140920_030256Written in two parts, when the lights were still on. Conversation with my best friend. The sad face was my response to her answer, my concern and my affection for her.

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Answers to Grandpa’s questions. “GM (General Manager) on Monday!” means that I will be taking the reins of a pizza shop, effective on Monday (he thought I had already done so). “Same as before so I know the job.” means that I’ve been GM of the store, so I’m not nervous about doing it.

After the men went to bed around ten-ish, she and I kind of fell asleep on the couch. It had been an extremely long day for her, and it wasn’t until the dogs had to come out to go potty, that we woke up around 2am. 120am marked twelve hours for me, so 2am was over the hill. As we came to watching Tree House Masters, I realized that the text box on my phone was a great way to “chat” in the dark, and I even hit Send on one of them, which made us both laugh. At the time of this writing, 319am, I have still nine hours to go, to include about a five hour nap. I have learned a ton about this silence… and though it has mostly been a positive experience, I am realistic enough to know that not every day is the same and just the small glimpses of the frustration for other people and the nerves that I have with having to interact with people at a hospital tomorrow makes me wonder at how strong my friends Cody and Timmy are, and how hard it must be to just not want to pull you hair out when it gets bad and people are mean.

Of course, tomorrow, I will post about the last four to five hours of my experience, but until then, I want to thank Timmy for issuing this challenge, and trust me when I say that I will be taking your second challenge, too, dear!

Fin to part one.

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