Jane Seifert, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just made her Seen & Heard profile debut in the March/April 2014 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. I photographed Jane at HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island.
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Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.
JANE A. SEIFERT / New York City / Born July 25, 1949 in Detroit, MI
MY HEARING LOSS… I had slight hearing loss (called “sensitivity”) as early as high school. My hearing started deteriorating over the 30-year period when I was working off and on in Africa. I had to take anti-malarials (quinine) when I traveled or lived there. Quinine destroys the cilia in the ear. No one told me that until I came back from five months in Cameroon and my hearing had plummeted. My audiologist and ENT were ordering brain scans and every imaginable test. Nothing showed up. Finally my audiologist of 10 years said, “When you go to all those strange places, you never take quinine, do you?” I said, “Of course I do.” “Well,” she said, “it took me long enough to ask.”
Six years ago I got a cochlear implant, and one-and-a-half years ago I got a second one. It’s like a miracle! I’ve even started listening to music and going to musicals, not because my friends want to, but because I enjoy them.
SAGE ADVICE… Don’t be in denial. It wastes a lot of time that could be used to figure out how to overcome the problem and avoid going into a cocoon.
WHEN I WAS LITTLE… I was totally without ambition. The assumption by my parents and everyone else was that I would go to college, marry the boy next door and raise little Janes and Johns. I knew I didn’t want to do that, but I had no idea what I did want to do. My subsequent careers (banking, international financial and economic development, teaching) happened quite serendipitously, with a combination of luck and seizing the moment.
MY FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY IS… my mother reading to me at night before I went to sleep.
THE BEST GIFT I EVER RECEIVED… was my cats, Tuffy and Shadow—they have been very loyal friends. I never had a pet before and I’ve been astonished at how much positive influence they have over my life.
THE FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY… I didn’t buy a thing. I put every dime into a savings account so I would have the money to go to Paris for my junior year of college—and I did!
IN MY SPARE TIME, I… do word and number puzzles, work out, read voraciously, watch old and foreign movies, go to restaurants, tell stories, cultivate and maintain friendships. I am also a history buff and an avid traveler.
I WISH I HAD A TALENT FOR… drawing and painting. I would find it so relaxing to be able to paint and draw. I would settle for being a good photographer.
I WOULD LOVE TO MEET… Bill and Melinda Gates. I feel they have been given bad advice on education and would hope they would be open to different viewpoints.
I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… chocolate and anything that’s blue and yellow—like the blues and yellows in Monet’s kitchen.
I COLLECT… jewelry from around the world, pottery, old lace, paintings, art books, friends and good memories of them.
WORKING NINE TO FIVE… banker, economic and financial development officer, special ed teacher, teacher of English as a foreign language, translator/interpreter
HAPPINESS IS… a sunny Sunday afternoon. Brunch with friends. Coming home and reading the Sunday New York Times. Taking a nap with the cats curled around me.
I AM… inquiring, hopeful and adaptable.
I HAVE THE UNCANNY ABILITY TO… use very few clues (mostly non-verbal) to deduce what is going on around me.
I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… good friends, good food and good conversation.
MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT… was making loans to Bosnian women after the Civil War so they could start their own businesses and recover—and they did.
The personal articles in Hearing Loss Magazine make me feel less lonely and isolated.