Category Archives: blind opinion

Blind People Can’t Do That – Changing our Expectations

My friend @BigBadEd sent me a link to a This American Life podcast episode this morning. I told him I’d listen while eating my serial, I mean cereal.

I had seen a retweet from Ed for a podcast asking the question, can expectations make blind people see. I gave it a split second thought about listening and then just kept reading tweets about the Golden globes and skipping passed pictures of cats. But then Ed specifically sent me a mention with a link to the podcast so I changed my mind and decided to listen. Why the initial hesitation? I had contempt prior to investigation and figured it was just more sighted people talking about something they think they know about even though they don’t. I trust Ed though and since he made it a point to bring my attention to the podcast, I decided it must be good. Especially since it’s a This American Life podcast and they brought us Serial which I loved. Also, the episode was called Batman. Huh? Did I hear that right? Yep, it’s called Batman and you can play it here.

I opened the tweet on my iPad and started the episode while I poured a bowl of chocolate frosted mini wheats. Shut up, they’re good.

The podcast begins with some fun science about rats that I found interesting. Maybe science is the wrong word. It was a social experiment with rats. Then it moved on to talking about this blind guy and I was like oh great a blind guy. A blind guy who clicks. This was nothing knew to me but it was entertainment while I ate my mini wheats.

This guy has been on the news showing off his clicking and I was like what’s special about him? He’s riding a bike which he can do because he can click? Before I went blind I saw a Dateline show or 20/20, one of those shows, about a blind kid who rode his bike and played basketball, all by clicking. Just the way this guy in the podcast rides his bike. the podcast acted like this had never been seen before and I just kept thinking about that kid I saw, literally months before I went blind. I even told B I should learn that clicking thing in case my other eye ever went blind. I clicked my tongue a few times, we had a laugh, I moved on. Just FYI, that is a really hard skill to learn, the clicking thing. He’s lucky he figured it out when he was a kid.

But then I warmed up to this guy on the podcast when he admitted how much he hates showing off his bike riding skills. It’s like, yeah I can ride a bike or bake cookies or take a computer apart or insert whatever it is that I or you or your kid or sister, blind or sighted, does. It’s like so what? That was this guy’s attitude.

One of the first blind people I met when I started getting my “blind education” at Saavi all those years ago is a guy just like this clicking guy except he doesn’t click. I was amazed by him, that he could get around the blind center without a cane. I was amazed by him because I was newly blind and didn’t have that confidence yet. Granted, I still would not walk around the blind center without a cane or Jayden like he does, but he was blind since he was a baby just like this clicking guy. When you learn skills as a child, it sticks.

*Aside* You know what’s weird? I had a dream about that guy just last night. The day before Ed sends me a podcast about a clicker guy who reminds me of dream guy. I was getting a manicure and the guy from Saavi walked in to tell me he got a Mac. He wanted to shake my hand but my nails were wet. Huh?*End aside*

So the podcast went on to talk about just that, and they talked to clicking guy’s mother and how she let him just be when he was a child. She let him climb trees and fences even when neighbors and the police told her oh no, he could get hurt. I was thinking, any kid could get hurt climbing a tree. I sure did when I was a kid. I remember watching a friend fall off our fence right on her face. We were all sighted. clicking guy’s mom let him be a normal kid and he’s grown up with the ability to see even though he has no eyes. The point was that her expectations for him were that he would be independent, especially when she saw how he developed ways of doing things without sight.

Ding ding ding! That’s when I got excited and thought about how my own blind life has been influenced by other people’s expectations for me. The point of the podcast was that we can see in our ways when the sighted stop putting expectations on us. There were interviews with other blind people, with professionals who work in the blind field etc. It turned out to be a very good podcast.

It got me thinking about how Saavi treated me when I started going there for training. They eased me into getting around there independently. On the podcast, they talked about how so many blind kids and newly blind adults are led around constantly, how food is brought to them etc. I thought back to my experience at Saavi and at Guide Dogs for the blind and they would certainly help you get around if you asked but they didn’t force the issue. After I learned how to use the white cane, I got around on my own at Saavi and actually led other blind people around who didn’t know the center yet. yes, the blind leading the blind. Saavi taught me how to safely use a knife and a stove. They taught by showing and then having us do. How else can one learn? I joke about Dave, my old orientation and mobility teacher, locking me in an elevator at the mall. Yes, it was a scary experience when he told me to go to the bottom floor and then come back up and then he walked out. My heart raced and I couldn’t believe he left me but how else was I to learn to do things on my own without him?

However out in the real world, people aren’t like the people at Saavi and GDB. They see a blind person getting near the street and freak the freak out. They don’t realize that being blind means we have to get up close and personal to something a sighted person can see from hundreds of feet away. I have to find a curb with my cane that you can see from way over there. Jayden can see it from way over there too but he has to take me right to it so I can feel it with my foot.

This is where the problem is and the podcast pointed that out when the clicking guy was working with a five year-old who had to find a curb by walking right up to it. His godmother freaked out and stopped the kid from learning how to do it his way.

Damn but this helped me understand the people in my life! When I’m on my own, I just do things. When I’m with B, the way I do things change. His expectations bleed on to me. When I’m out on my own I figure stuff out in my own way, the way I’ve had to learn to do. There’s no way sighted people can read my mind and know how I’m going to do something and the expectation is that “blind people can’t do that”.

Wow.

I never thought I would learn something about sighted people by listening to that podcast when it first started. Since I’ve gone blind I try to be an open book, to answer questions people have without getting offended because I remember when I was sighted being amazed by blind people. I don’t ever want to stop being open, but I did find myself being closed with that pesky contempt prior to investigation. I’m so glad I listened to it.

When the kid’s godmother stopped him while he was trying to find the curb, I thought back to an experience I had at the hotel in Florida. Jayden and I got lost and no one jumped out to help. I don’t think anyone was around or if they were, they were very quiet. Jayden and I wandered around for awhile until I got sick of being lost and asked a jogger for help.

That’s how it should bee. Don’t jump in and help because you assume someone needs it or that “blind people can’t do that.”

I could go on and on about this but just go listen to the podcast whether you’re blind or sighted. For the blind, it might shed some light for you on why the sighted are the way they are. For the sighted, well I can’t say what it might shed light on for you.

This goes so much deeper than how the sighted people’s expectations effect the blind. How about expectations about men and women, black and white? Could the root cause of all the isms out there simply be caused by expectations? We expect a woman to be weaker than a man, a white person to be better than a black person? Is it all down to expectations causing groups of people to be what they are? B thinks it would be dangerous for me to walk in my neighborhood since there’s no sidewalk, or along the nearby street that has a sidewalk but lots of driveways because he can’t imagine doing it the way I do it so that fear has rubbed off on me and I haven’t gone exploring even though I have the needed skills to avoid getting hit by a car. Heck, i pay more attention than some sighted people walking down the street texting. The news and social media expected the destruction in Ferguson. Did that have an effect on the people there? We expect people to act in a certain way so they do?

Food for thought.

PS – I appreciated that clicking guy said anyone could learn that skill and use it to ride bikes and hike and stuff as long as they didn’t have another disability stopping them.

Random Link from a Random Tab

A tab I had open when I opened the podcast link had a Mental Floss article about why electrical plugs are different in Europe. I thought I’d share for your inner Arthur Weasley.

1 Comment

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind opinion, dream, fellowship, GDB, Jayden, no no sightie, Orientation and Mobility, plugs, twitter me this, white cane, working dog

“Beginner’s Guide to Echolocation for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Learning to See With Your Ears” by Tim Johnson

When I began Orientation and Mobility lessons a few months after going blind, I was amazed to learn that using a white cane involved so much more than just interpreting sensations in the hand holding the cane. My instructor, Dave, taught me to begin paying attention to sounds outside my apartment. Hear that traffic? If you ever get turned around, listen for the traffic and use the sound to point yourself in the direction of your apartment. Years later I would use this skill after arriving home with my guide dog while he was learning the lay of the land.

Dave also taught me how to listen for buildings and hear the difference between a flat building front and an alcove or covered area. I used this a lot while learning my home area since those sounds became landmarks. Instead of the mailbox on the corner letting me know I was close to my destination, the different sound the cane made as I passed by an aluminum overhang became my landmark.

Dave taught me how to tell which lane a car was in as we stood next to a three lane road. He would stand me near a bend in a busy street and have me point to where I thought the intersection was. In buildings and stores he would have me stop and listen for the sounds of a cash register or talking. When I expressed fear of entering a public bathroom alone, he found a blind female coworker who told me to listen for the sounds of the sinks, the hand dryers, the paper towel dispensers, the flushing toilets. Remember those sounds in relation to the door and you’ll be fine.

As I learned all these skills I couldn’t help but remember a television documentary I had watched with B back when I was blind in just one eye. This documentary was about a boy who lost his eyes as a baby. B and I watched in amazement as this boy road his bike, skateboarded, shot basketballs and didn’t miss, all by clicking his tongue. When the program ended I turned to B and said, “I should learn that in case my other eye goes blind.” I clicked my tongue a few times but the thought of losing my other eye never seemed like a reality. Who knew a year later I would begin to learn the basics of echolocation without even knowing it.

When I read “Beginner’s Guide to Echolocation for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Learning to See With Your Ears” by Tim Johnson, I found myself remembering those early days of O & M Lessons with Dave and smiling. While learning to navigate the world without sight was frustrating and terrifying, there were also some really fun times. This book was a refresher for me in many ways but it also introduced new skills and concepts. It can be exhausting moving around the world with your ears. Johnson gives examples of relaxing exercises and techniques to practice to assist with honing your hearing, decipher sounds and open your mind. I think this is invaluable to help with energy conservation. I have found myself focusing on these things in the days since I read this book.

Johnson makes it clear that this book is not a replacement for O & M lessons with a qualified instructor. He also gives information about centers where one can go to specifically learn echolocation. I would love to be able to attend this kind of training! I remember when I was first blind, navigating around my apartment and stopping just before I hit a wall. I remember telling people, “I heard the freaking wall!” I really enjoyed reading this book and finding out in detail just how it worked that day I heard the wall.

Johnson explains sound waves and why certain objects sound the way they do when a click or clap bounces off of them and back to the ears. He explains how the visual cortex in the brains of the blind still function, allowing us to build images in our minds from the things we feel and hear. I ate this information up since I love brain science. When I finished this book I felt brain tired, just like I do when I read books about science. I love it! I also had an aching tongue from all the clicking I did as the book described different techniques. Johnson flawlessly uses descriptions to teach you all the different ways you can click.

I recommend this book for anyone, blind or sighted. Even if you are not interested in learning echolocation, it is still a fascinating read for anyone who enjoys learning something new. “The Beginner’s Guide to Echolocation” is available in print from Amazon with large print available and audio coming soon. You can also download the book in MS Word format to read with your screen reader.

We don’t think about the kinds of echolocation we use every day. Whether using a white cane or a guide dog, if we can hear, we can see our surroundings as we move through the world with our mobility aids. There are even some days I can tell when it’s cloudy, just based on how different the traffic sounds. I don’t know about you, but I am grateful to be able to sharpen all my tools as I continue trudging along on this sightless journey. My thanks to Tim Johnson, for devoting his time and skills to this book!

*Addendum* Exciting news! I heard from Tim Johnson and the audio book is now available for download here, and will soon be available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes!

4 Comments

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, Amazon, blind opinion, cool product, gratitude, guide dogs, NaBloPoMo 2012, Orientation and Mobility, plugs, white cane

Twenty Cool Things About Being Blind

I was wondering what to write about today when this random idea popped into my head, so I quickly jotted down a list of things that are cool about being blind:

1. Not seeing horrible sports injuries replayed over and over and over again.

2. Laying in bed or on the couch in pretty much any comfortable way while watching TV since looking at the screen is not required.

3. Being able to control a computer from anywhere in the house with just wireless headphones and keyboard. I rarely sit in a desk chair anymore.

4. Saving a lot of money on electricity since lights are not required.

5. Always looking twenty-nine in my mind.

6. Guide dog Jayden. ‘Nuff said.

7. No more paying for car insurance, gas and repairs.

8. Audio files are so much smaller than video files.

9. Not being forced to see all the images the media wants everyone to see.

10. Not seeing pics of food.

11. Hands free snuggled up eyes closed reading.

12. Food tastes good no matter how it looks.

13. No one judges me for eating with my hands. Or if they do, I just don’t care. Because they are mean.

14. Everyone is beautiful in my head.

15. I don’t see the faces of people after tragedies.

16. I don’t see destruction and poverty, pollution, trash, bruises.

17. I no longer judge my body by how I see others’ bodies.

18. My baseball games are never ever blacked out since all I need is radio.

19. I’ve never had to see skinny jeans.

20. Being able to do the morning ritual without opening sleepy eyes.

1 Comment

Filed under baseball, blind opinion, humor as coping skill, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2012, sports

My thoughts on the RNIB ad that’s causing such a stir

I had been noticing several tweets referencing an ad the RNIB put out for fundraising. The RNIB serves the blind and visually impaired community in the UK.

Today I finally asked what the stir was and was directed to this youtube of the ad. The ad features the story of Emma, a little girl who is losing her vision. The stars fade away and one day she’s blind, calling out to her mother who she can’t see. The uproar over the ad is over the use of such a story to ask for money, because the story portrays blindness negatively and makes being blind sound like the end of a life, since Emma can no longer have the childhood she once had.

Here is where I will try and control myself. We all have different experiences. Someone who can’t remember seeing isn’t going to relate to Emma. Someone who is well adapted to blindness either because they’ve been blind since birth or have been blind for a long time, isn’t going to relate to Emma. Such people will be offended at the way blindness is portrayed.

I relate to Emma. The stars didn’t fade over time for me. The last time I saw the stars I didn’t know it was my last time. My surroundings faded away in the space of one day. I didn’t have the presence of mind to stare at my cat or a picture of my mom before my sight faded. I did stare at my boyfriend as my sight faded, and just made out the three lines on my three year sobriety medallion before my sight faded. So I relate to Emma.

Does my story make you misty? Do you think you might be more apt to donate to an organization that helps the blind? How about my guide dog school? Are you moved to help?

How is that any different than the ad featuring Emma, a child who will have to relearn how to do things with her friends? I had to relearn how to do things with my friends and I wasn’t even a child. I’m in awe of the fact that Emma will be able to ride a bike again and I’m blind. Should I not be in awe of her?

We need organizations like the RNIB, ACB, NFB, local blind centers etc. I wouldn’t have the life I have today without the blind center here or Guide Dogs for the Blind where I got my dog, and those places need money. A person with a lot of money to donate who isn’t blind or low vision or knows someone who is might just have a child Emma’s age and when they think about their own child losing their sight, they can personalize blindness, making it easier for them to open their wallets.

The RNIB wasn’t asking for four pounds a day or whatever it was to fund a vacation for the CEO. They were asking for help for future people who will need their help. I just don’t have a problem with it. I understand those who do, I suppose. I can try to understand, I guess, but all I have is my own experience which is very much like the child Emma’s.

Plus, the narrator sounded like the butler from Downton Abby and I love that show.

6 Comments

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind opinion, GDB, gratitude, misty eyes, mom, sobriety, twitter me this, youtube

Yep, I’m blind

This post might sound like I’m complaining, but I’m really not.

For the most part, the fact that I’m blind just kinda lives in the background layer of my life. It’s not something I constantly think about, it doesn’t define me, but it’s a huge part of my life, obviously. Listening to my screen reader every day or interacting with jayden are constant reminders, but they aren’t bad reminders.

Not long ago, when the budget made me wait before I could download a book, I actually thought, ‘I’ll just borrow one from B.’ Um, wait no, that won’t work. It’s thoughts like that that make me forget I’m blind. No really. I forget. The way I live now is such the norm that I forget I’m missing a vital sense.

Then there are days like today, where lots of little things add up for a bbig whopping reminder. If I’m not careful, these things can leave me feeling helplesss.

It started off with not being able to find Timmy this morning, to lock him up before taking Jayden out. Tears threatened to spill at the feeling powerless of it all. B got up and found the stupid cat. Great.

Then just picking up Jayden’s waste was a reminder. He picked a spot right by the stupid bush and I practically sat on the bush. Then I couldn’t find the poop. I hate landscape rocks. Try feeling around landscape rocks with your hand swathed in plastic, waiting to feel squishy. Ewww.

Then when I set my coffee down on my laptop cart, my cell phone went flying. Then I couldn’t negotiate the lining up of USB chord and port. Frustrating making.

What topped it all off was my heater wasn’t blowing very hot so I called maintenence. I had thought we were changing the filter regularly, but apparently we had forgotten. Also, the vent in front of the filter was caked with grime, which the maintenence guy vacuumed off. If I could see, I would have replaced the filter, I would have noticed the muck and cleaned it. Just another glaring reminder. Then he showed me where the doors to the hall closet, which are ventilated doors to allow air flow, are getting dirty too. I ran my hand along the slats and cringed.

Like I said, most of the time this stuff just doesn’t bother me. In fact, my life has gotten pretty awesome since going blind. After all, I wouldn’t have Jayden and I wouldn’t know you all.

Unfortunately when the reminders hit, other things that might be a nagging bother get blown up. The latest one? How on earth will I make sure the formatting for my novel is correct when it comes time to submit my first fifty pages to an agent? How am I going to make sure it’s a Microsoft document when I use an Apple? Will I need sighted help just to make sure the novel isn’t a formatting disaster?

Granted, I’m a ways away from submission. I’ve got about 60,000 words, but no ending yet, having taking a break from it for a few days.

Anyway, just some observations. Ever have one of those days where *everything* reminds you you’re blind?

Oh, and a discussion on Facebook has me thinking too. I haven’t decorated for Christmas since going blind. There are a few reasons, like B’s cats not being trained to stay away from things and fear that if a cat were to knock off an ornament, Jayden might eat it. Really though, what’s the point?

I’m sure lots of blinks decorate for Christmas. But I just don’t see the point in expending my already short supply of energy on digging out the suitcase full of decorations from my mess of a store room, putting everything up, worrying about the cats, and not even being able to see it. Why bother?

I might be bah humbug about it but, oh well. B wouldn’t care anyway and he’s the only one who could see it. I do miss my decorations, and maybe I get a little bummed at the thought of them. Maybe I’ll think about digging them out…but therein lays a whole ‘nother blink problem: finding it in the mess of the storage room without killing myself. Yeah, no point.

Ok, that’s it, really. 😉

7 Comments

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, apple Inc, blind opinion, cats, holiday, I might be a writer, Jayden, Microsoft, NaBloPoMo 2010, random stuff, spoons, Timmy

Doggy Diaries – More than just writing

Since I’ve mostly been firing off short and random posts for NaBloPoMo, (is that how it’s spelled?) I haven’t written much about life not involving writing. It really is too bad that I didn’t know about NaNoWriMo in time, since yesterday I surpassed the 50,000 word count. The only other hurdle left to jump to say I completed NaNoWriMo even though I didn’t enter, is to actually finish the novel, which is about to happen. There are scenes I had in mind that are no where near close to happening, which only opens up the door for a second book. Soon the revision will begin however, and that might trim the novel down or make it even longer. We’ll see how fun I think the writing is when I begin to fine tune it. 😉

I think I’ve only been writing for about a week now. It’s amazing how I’ve lost all sense of time while working on this novel. Wait, didn’t I say I’d write about something other than writing? Yeah, oops.

Jayden and B and I are going to Gamma’s in a bit for turkey dinner. It’s finally gotten cold here, well cold for Arizona. Low thirties at night and I’d guess maybe low sixties during the day. It’s fabulous because it helps my aches big time. I had missed my massage a couple weeks back when I thought I might be sick. During the summer if I missed a massage, my body was screaming in pain. Not this time. I was two weeks overdo but felt pretty good. In a writing tip by Justine, I’m sorry, I can’t spell her last name, she wrote ‘Liar’ and is Scott Westerfeld’s wife, she talks about getting a massage once a week when she’s writing a novel. I hadn’t thought at all about needing to take care of yourself when writing a novel, but believe me, it’s a lot of work. By the end of the day, my eyelids feel as though they’ve got weights on them, and I’m not even stuck staring at the screen. Look at that, I’m talking about writing again. It’s been my life recently though, so it’s kinda hard to discuss life without referring to it.

The week I thought I was sick, I didn’t go work out, and then I started writing so I haven’t been to the gym. Bad Ro. Justine also says exercise is important for writers. Once I get this zero draft done, I’ll get back to that routine.

Jayden is just awesome, but are you surprised? He’s hadnled me working like a champ and anytime I feel a little guilty, I just imagine the dogs who are under a desk. Jayden gets to be free at home, usually curled up right beside me on the couch, as he is right now. Sometimes this makes using the wireless keyboard a little difficult when he decides to put his head on my leg. In that case, I twist and sit not even close to ergonomical to type on the laptop. If I’m gonna continue writing, I really need to consider a desk, though I have no idea where I’d put it.

One of the things that’s been frustrating me lately is the realization that in this town, we can’t just set out for a walk and get things accomplished. We need to get to places using more than our feet. The one place we can get to has a road that Jayden refuses to work. I talked with Dave about it Tuesday, finally telling him that Jayden and I just need to work it as often as possible and there’s really nothing left for Dave to do. He knows I know how to be safe, and that’s his main purpose. There’s no point in him following us and watching me try and get Jayden to work. So Dave won’t be helping with that anymore, not until I finally get Jayden to get down the road, then Dave will help me fine tune the entrance to the store, which is an accessibility nightmare.

I’d had an idea on Tuesday, a way to help the problem of needing transportation anywhere. I thought of a shopping center with a Target and a craft store. If we take the van or a cab, we can get quite a few things done there. So we went and checked it out on Tuesday and they really did an awesome job in this shopping center. They’ve even got raised domes at the wheelchair ramps. So we patterned first, doing sighted guide with Jay on lead. We found the customer service desk where I’d ask for help, then we went and checked out the pet supplies. I’m still gonna need to get to a pet store for Jayden’s needs, which is a bummer because there isn’t one located near another convenient type store. That’s what I’m trying to find, the place where we can get dropped off and get more than one thing done.

Anyway, we then patterned to the craft store and I showed Jayden the counter where we’d get help. I asked about their slow days and they were very happy I thought to find out what days would be best for them to be able to help. I think it’s only courteous, if I’m gonna go in and ask for help, that they not be slammed. Some people might think otherwise, that it’s our right to get help and sure it is, but I think it’s nice to do it when a place isn’t slammed. Not just for the employees, but for my sanity as well.

We did human guide back inside Target and then I worked Jayden out of the store and over to the craft store. He was doing a lot of weaving, which Dave explained was due to potted plants and flat electric outlets in the ground. Jayden went around those rather than over them hehe! He was only shown the way once, but he got me to the craft store and up to the counter no problem. There’s a bench outside where we could wait for a ride and all I had to say was “find the chair” when I knew we were near, and he took me right to it. He is such a smart boy. If only our road wasn’t presenting such a problem…

Dave and I sat on the bench and talked about how I’m getting really close to not needing him anymore. There are a few more places I’d like to check out, but really I can do those with friends too. I explained to Dave that my sighties just don’t ahve much time, and I’d really like to check out the places once with Dave and then I’ll be good. When I first got home with Jayden, I needed to do things several times to feel confident. Now I’m like, just show me once please. Haha!

So that’s bittersweet, to be coming to a close with Dave. I’ve been blind two and a half years now, and he’s been there every step of the way. I’m so grateful for that man. He assured me that anytime I need him though, he’s just a phone call away.

Aside from that, I don’t have much to report. Jayden’s work is incredible and once we get that road problem fixed, we’ll be good to go. Oh I had a follow up call from GDB’s alumni group, and we talked about me starting a chapter here in AZ. I was interested in it back at school, but then life happened. We’ll see if I want to try and start one, though it would be nice to meet up with other GDB grads here.

Now that it’s cold, I’m happy. We can go out whenever we want now and not die. It’s probably the best time to work on the road so we’ll just keep it up.

I haven’t been reading any blogs, so I hope you’re all well. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

4 Comments

Filed under blind opinion, desert life, Doggy Diaries, family, Gamma, GDB, gratitude, holiday, I might be a writer, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2010, Orientation and Mobility, weather, working dog

FB and family

I talk a lot of ish about Facebook, but I love it, especially when family finds me. A few days ago, my mom’s cousin’s wife found me on Facebook. I was sooo excited about this! I got to meet them back in 98 when my mom and I went to Nebraska to visit. Mom was dying, and wanted to see her family back there. We didn’t see much of mom’s family when I was growing up. The few that lived here either died or lost touch, and I hadn’t met the family in Nebraska.

So that year, we went. It was wonderful, just me and mom flying away. It was October, and they had an early winter that year, and snow was making tree limbs fall off, and the power went out. Their home was this wonderfully charming two story house and I fell in love with it. The power went out, and I remember sitting in the kitchen, bundled up with blankets, heating water on the stove with tea candles for coffee haha! I’m sure they thought it was a ginormous pain the arse, but I thought it was an adventure. I remember putting a soda in the snow to see how fast it would get cold, and going outside to play in the snow, not knowing it was slippery, and slipping right off the step and falling down and just laughing haha!

They lived in this tiny little town that was all on one side of the road, and I laughed at places like the Piggley Wiggley hahaha! They had this big family gathering in the basement of this restaurant and there was so much family I didn’t even know I had. It snowed hard that night, and my mom’s cousin’s daughter hadn’t been heard from, so he was up all night pacing the floors. She had gone off the road into a ditch, but she was fine thank God.

A few months later, they came out here to visit. And they marveled at the no grass, no lawns lol. I remember for some reason we saw a lot of people in casts for some random reason, so they joked that everyone out here broke limbs all the time lol!

We lost touch after mom died. I remember years ago, something happened in Nebraska, I don’t remember what, some disaster, and I tried finding them, but couldn’t. I’m so glad they’re ok!

The weird thing about people finding me on Facebook, is that they might not necessarily know that I’ve gone blind. So it’s like, hmmm. Should I come right out with that? Should I say, so glad you found me, btw, I’m blind. It’s just not my edentity, so I never think to make that the first thing people find out about me. I felt horrible though, because I had an update about the trip or something, and she asked where I was going, so that’s how she found out I’m blind. Seriously, what is the best way to break the news? I mean, once people talk to me for 5 minutes, they know I’m perfectly fine now, but it’s a shock at first.

Anyway, I gave her the link to the blog, but that’s not why I’m writing this lol. I had planned to write it today anyway 😉

Weekends are my catch up days on the blog, that’s for sure. The weeks have been so busy lately. Blah blah blah boring busy days which I always seem to freakin talk about 😉

Yay for family!!!!!

5 Comments

Filed under blind opinion, coffeeholic, desert life, family, gratitude, mom, silly girl, weather

Inspirational blind guy

This guy is awesome. He went blind 2 years ago and is revolutionizing blind golf in Malaysia. Now, that’s the way to accept his situation. He was an avid golfer before and didn’t let a pesky thing like loss of vision stop him.

Check out his latest blog post, with an article about him. I found his blog not long after starting mine, and we’ve conversed a few times. He’s a really, really awesome guy.

This brings me to a funny. The other day I was talking to Kevin about trying blind golf. He’s a big golfer so he said it would be fun to try on the driving range. I never played, but I still think it would be fun. Then I said, I know there are blind golfers, but I don’t know where they play. Without missing a beat Kevin said, neither do they! Oh he’s ever the jokester!

1 Comment

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind opinion, fellowship, humor as coping skill, plugs, sports

Silicon Sally

I really didn’t plan on writing tonsof posts today, but this was just too funny.

You know those new stupid phone systems now where you dial the 800 number and Silicon Sally comes on and says something like, “Hello! Welcome to (insert company)! For English, say English. Ok, how can I help you today? You can say anything like, how many minutes do I have to, make a payment.” So you say “make a payment” but you talk over her so she doesn’t hear you. So you say “make a payment” again, feeling more and more ridiculous that you’re talking to a computer. I love it the most when I just want to talk to a human so I say “customer service” and she says “Ok, you would like to speak to a representative, is that right?” “yes.”

So just now, I’m in the other room. I hear B turn on the speaker phone which he does when he calls Walgreens to refill his prescription. I hear, “Welcome to Walgreens! Would you like to refill a prescription?” B goes, “What the hell…..” and then a resigned, “Yes”. She asks him for more information and he gives it, sounding like he thinks this is the most stupid thing ever. She doesn’t respond. He says “yes” again. She responds after about 5 seconds. Then she says “Ok, enter or say your prescription number”. I hear him enter. And then I don’t hear anything. He says “yes”. Nothing. Yes. Nothing. I’m laughing silently, thinking that she’s not repsonding so he just keeps saying yes. Until I realize he’s taken it off speaker phone. I come back in the room and he’s going, yes. Yes. Yes. No. Yes. Ok. Yes.

and hangs up. I say, don’t like the new system? He said its a little weird.

I remember when my Grandma sold her car, and she was calling the insurance company to cancel the insurance. I had set up the account for her, and they wanted to talk to me, so she was calling them back when I was there. She could not for the life of her, respond in a way that Silicone Sally liked. Porr thing was getting so frustrated, and trying over and over, that I said I would do it and I called and just said “customer service”.

Why did they switch to this system? Do they think its easier for people to not hit buttons? I appreciate the ones that say “enter or say” for all of it, and give you the option of saying yes or no, or pressing 1 or 2.

Is this supposed to be easier for the blind, or the elderly, or for people who can’t push buttons well? Whtever happened to just hitting zero?

I just feel like a complete ass saying yes or no to a computer, especially when I say what I want and it doesn’t understand me so I’m yelling it into the phone.

I would love it if somehow these places could record the calls, and then make a montage of how people sound when they are trying to conduct their business with Silicone Sally. I know some of my calls would be a hoot.

14 Comments

Filed under accessibility, blind opinion, Gamma, random stuff, Silicone Sally

I am blind, not visually impaired

My first day at Saavi, before I started my “blind education”, I went for a support group. This little old lady was talking to me in the lobby and she said, “You’re not blind, you’re visually impaired.”

I was thinking no, I’m blind. But I didn’t say it.

this thought plagued me for awhile and I thought ok, maybe this is one of those politically correct things. Is the word “blind” taboo? Should I not say “blind”? But I’m blind.

So I asked the question to Anna in my Stars class. She works at saavi and has been blind since she was a child. I asked her if blind was taboo, because I know she’s total blind, but she says “visually impaired” a lot.

She said its a preference, it really doesn’t matter. She asked me if I considered myself to be blind. I was like, well duh, I can’t see. Anything. So she said I can call myself blind.

I still think about that though. I think “visually impaired” confuses people, and I’ve talked to sighties about that. They are confused. They say to them, “visually impaired” means people can see a little. Yeah, this is how I see it too.

So this is how I look at blind, visually impaired and low vision. When I hear the word impaired, I think of drunks. I know a lot about drunks, because I’m a recovering drunk.

So. “Impaired driver”. This driver can still drive, though he shouldn’t. But he still can. So, visually impaired to me means, he can still see a little. I did a lot of things while impaired. I drove, I played pool, I cooked, I applied make-up. All these things improved dramitically when I sobered up. I was no longer impaired. So to me, visually impaired means “still a little functionality”.

Low vision is kinda like visually impaired, but maybe a tad better? So maybe its like 6 beers instead of 12? Though for a non-alcoholic drinker, 6 beers might be more like impaired than low vision, but I digress.

So now to blind. Blind is being passed out drunk. Not in a black out, because even in a black out, I was functioning, just not aware of it. When passed out, I was not functioning, so thats like blind.

Am I sick for thinking this way? I don’t know. I just know I am not visually impaired, because my eyes aren’t impaired, they’re passed out.

Sometimes, every so often, I’ll catch what could be called a shadow. But only if its moving or if I’m moving. Like a T-Rex. If something is stationary, I don’t catch any hint of it. Every so often if its really bright, if there’s a black cup on a white counter, I might know something is there. In the mornings, if I wave my hand between my face and the window and barely catch movement, I know its light out. At 3am there’s nothing. Someone asked me if its like looking through wax paper, but I never looked through wax paper before, so I don’t know. Probably?

But, since these “shadows” are not useable vision, I am not visually impaired.

Like ok. What do they call those things that hang in windows, vertical or venetian? They call them blinds. Because they block all vision. When they are cracked a tiny bit, they could be called “impaires”.

This is just how I see it. And I’ll be honest. When someone who has some vision calls themselves “blind” sometimes I get offended. Because no, you can still see that leaf if you get real close. Its only on bad days that this offends me, and I’m not mad at the person. It is my own lingering resentment at those who still have vision, no matter how much or how little. This resentment has faded, but its still there.

Now, someone without even my “shadows” or sometimes my light perception, like, someone who has no eyes, might be offended that I call myself blind. And I wouldn’t blame them. We always want a little more right? So like, I wouldn’t necessarily mind that little ten degree vision like looking through a straw, because its more than I have. And the person with prosthetic eyes, might want my shadows.

So like in my last post where I finally decided to write about this, I’ll say it again. I do not mean to offend. I’m just talking about how I see it. I’ve read in other blogs that blogging is cathartic. I don’t know what that means, but by context I’m gathering it means theraputic. So I’m getting this off my mind here because it helps me make sense of what I’m feeling.

So yeah, comments?

11 Comments

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind opinion, rambles