Hearing Everything, Distinguishing Nothing--Massively Peeved at Starbucks

It's just before lunch here at Starbucks in Incheon, South Korea.  Lovely light jazz is playing softly in the background and most of the few people here are studying rather than talking. It could be considered as a relatively quite place.

So why can't I hear a damn* word my friend saying? I have this weird thing where my hearing is quite good and yet I can't filter out the sounds I want to hear from normal background noise. As I just posted on Twitter. 

Tweet 2: Told my conversation partner (10 yrs my senior) to SPEAK UP numerous times. He didn't. Couldn't hear him. Conversation died. I'm peeved.

Tweet 1: I can't distinguish people's voices from background sounds and I'm still in my 20's. Hearing test says no prob.

About 360 days a year, I wear ear plugs to bed at night.  Without earplugs, I can't fall asleep. Every single sound bothers me, even the sound of my son breathing or the sound of. . . anything.  A few days ago, I leaped straight out of bed upon hearing the door bell ring and this is while I was still wearing ear plugs. My father, who was visiting me at the time, was awake and earplugless, yet he didn't hear anything. My old alarm used to make a slight "click" just before it was about to go off and that click would sometimes wake me off as though it were a gunshot.

So, my hearing is good. No hearing loss whatsoever. But one reason I pretty much gave up on watching TV because I just can't understand what people are saying IN ENGLISH unless I have near laboratory-like conditions.  Any sort of interfering sound or interruption and my ability to hear what they are saying is gone.  Last night I did watch a lot of "Grey's Anatomy" but it was the first time I've seen the show (and I read the Korean sub-titles while trying to listen.)

What's bizarre is that my son's father is not a native speaker of English and yet he seems to understand the TV better than me.  We'd be watching the TV and I'd be like "I can't hear it. Turn it up." And he's be like "Are you deaf?"  Sometimes I'd end up reading the Korean subtitles to American TV shows when I couldn't distinguish what the voices were saying.  Oh, then we would fight because his voice was so low and mumbly that if he started speaking without warning, I couldn't understand what he said. 

Psychologically speaking, I am an excellent listener. In my classrooms, it is generally quiet.  I can and do devote my full attention to listening to my students when they are speaking and I have an excellent memory for what people say. So, it's not like I'm just a jerk who doesn't want to listen.  It' s just that I can't hear you if you don't speak up. I don't even want to think about what I'll be like when I'm old. 

* If you are offended by my use of the word "damn," please read another blog. Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Yes, thank you. Now, please leave.

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