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Hope when we’re on our knees

Not mine, of course, but I feel this. I see these things and I cry because I know what it is like to be discriminated against. For lesbians, I know what it is like. For blind people, I know what it is like. For overweight people, I know what it is like. And of course, for children of divorced parents, and for rape victims, in a way that no one knows unless they have been that rape victim, I know what it is like. And this post encompasses everything (or almost everything) I have ever felt about discrimination.

Vanessa Martir's Blog

I was maybe eleven or twelve years old the first time I saw police officers grab a man and slam him to the ground. The man was not being violent. To this day I don’t know what he did. I know that he was a drug addict. This was Bushwick, Brooklyn during the crack era so it wasn’t a far stretch. I knew that from the way his face sagged, how his eyes shifted in that sad, lost way unique to drug addicts. His clothes were caked with dirt and grime. He was whispering to himself and his hands jerked nervously.

The man was walking in front of us when the cop car rolled up. No sirens, just the loud screech of brakes. The doors shot open and those men in blue hurtled out, guns drawn.

I was with a group of kids walking just feet away. We were on…

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The Liberating Power of Confession

Again…Not that this is what’s going on with me, but I read this and felt like I should share. So have this.

The Liberating Power of Confession.

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I Don’t Want to Be Blind Today

I haven’t blogged in forever and this has absolutely nothing to do with what’s going on in my life, but I was surfing blogs on WP and found this, and realized…

Yes! This is exactly how I feel on occasion!!

So read and enjoy!

Jalapeños in the Oatmeal

I don’t want to be blind when it means being conspicuous.  I don’t want attention for what’s different about me.  I don’t want passers-by holding their breath as I cross the street.  Today, I want to blend in with the crowd, to be one of the guys.

I don’t want to be blind when it means being tended to.  If you insist on telling me I don’t look blind or act blind, then stop treating me like I’m helpless.  I don’t want Sunday dinner becoming a hot mess of what I can eat gracefully or who will read me the menu.  I don’t want the guilt of you taking on my anxiety and then not knowing how to handle it.

I don’t want to be blind when it means being patronized.  I don’t want to hear how tough it must be or how intelligent my dog must be.  I don’t…

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The National Statler Center for Careers in Hospitality Service

Months and months and months have passed since I’ve posted. Rather than pretending I might ever get caught back up in any detail, (poor poor neglected blog), I’ll try to give you the down n dirty.

Christmas with family in Texas. Tim met everyone and we had a very good time.

In Febuary, Tim decided to buy a condo. We had some serious issues over this and I got very upset and we fought and I talked about leaving etc etc etc. I did go back to see my family because my brother was getting married in the beginning of March. From there, I went to see my friends Alex and Jessica. I originally was going to be staying there until I went to the program I’m in now, but I realized that walking away from Tim over the fact that his family did not like me was stupid. If he wanted to have to deal with the situation, it wasn’t for me to decide that it was too much or unfair etc.

So I visited with Alex and Jessica for a bit and then went back to Oxford.

May 1, I started the hospitality program offered at the Statler Center.

I will graduate on July 11. I am learning a lot about hotels as well as food and beverage.

Next Thursday, the contact center students arrive.

I am hoping I can line up a job before I graduate. This would make it easier to go home and get situated and go straight into work, rather than getting home and feeling less than productive because I can’t find anything.

I won’t even try to claim I can update this poor neglected thing as often as I need to. Just know that I’ll write as soon as I can, and beyond that, don’t have any expectations LOL.

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Coming Home…

I’ve written several things all spaced out and at different times. I didn’t timestamp them, so pardon me if they aren’t actually making much since for you. It started before my birthday and so far has gone into mid-November.

So I haven’t written since we came home—things have been slightly hectic. As it has been almost a month since we’ve come home, I suppose I should update, at least a little.

Ben did not like getting on the plane, but we did manage quite well. He took medicine and had bandages changed several times for about two weeks after. Two weeks after we got home, I somehow caught an awful cold which left me coughing and sneezing and unable to breathe, speak, or in general, function without an assortment of meds in my system, and even then functioning was still a bit dicy.

Anyway, I’m better and have been slowly trying to get a bit of a normal schedule back (read as, stop sleeping all day etc.) Tim went home to see his family this weekend and I spent a lot of that time praying and just searching. Whether I want to or not, I feel I need to write some of this down, because it was deep stuff and a lot for me to realize, and we are still fighting about it and I’m just unsure as to what should be done. I know that I have to consider his feelings, but I feel that he should consider mine as well. For now, because I want to write about a few other things, let’s just say I know that some things have to change and I need to work through them before deciding exactly how the changing will take place.

Apple announced the iPhone 5 last week in a keynote which Tim and Aleeha and I all watched together. Today we will be able to update our phones, since today is the day the new iOS is supposed to come out. Today also happens to be my birthday, so I suppose this would be as good a time as any to talk about what I’ve gotten for my birthday so far.

Aleeha paid for dinner for me Sunday evening, when she came with me to sit and wait for Tim’s dad to come and go. We were at a Mexican restaurant called Fiesta Charra that I like here. That was very nice because it was unexpected. Tim bought me a new set of what Apple is calling Earpods, which are an update to the apple earbuds they’re using now. The design is different, and the sound input as well as output, is supposed to be improved. He also bought me a wireless keyboard, which I like very much, except this one thing, which is that I do not have an insert key-or not that I can find-and the function keys are set for hardware functions rather than software ones, which means I have to press the function key along with the function key number that I want in order to get the windows function, such as renaming a file, or bringing up help. Tim also wants to take me out to dinner tonight, and I have chosen the same place that I went with Aleeha Sunday night, because I like it and it’s my birthday and I can. My mom and her husband sent me an envelope with a card in it which has been brailled on index cards as well as some cash. She asked me about folding money when asking for my address, so she sort of tipped her hand there. Jessica, when we were in Washington D.C., bought me this really nice expensive bottle of perfume which I really like from Victoria Secret. Basically, I‘ve had a really good birthday. Getting to go on vacation was very nice and I also waxed my legs and underarms this month which was supposed to be my birthday present to myself.

So many people have called and written on facebook today. It’s been a bit of a surprise to me, and especially the people who have taken the time to call. Most especially is my cousin and his wife with their girls, who I didn’t even realize had my number. I guess if it’s on facebook, anyone who is friends with me can see it. Anyway, it was surprising and nice and made me feel just a little bit awkward because though we had traded messages on facebook a couple times, I didn’t expect to actually hear from them on the phone.

Dusty called, which hasn’t been as infrequent an occurance as it used to be, but still infrequent enough for me to be pleasantly surprised anytime it does happen.

Now, as to the things going on between Tim and I: the short story is that he’s close to his family but they don’t like me and yet I am too far away from my own family to spend any time with them, he doesn’t mind having to depend on people for things on a regular basis but it drives me insane, he can’t cook if it can’t be cooked in a microwave or on the grill while I do at least brave the stove and oven on a regular basis and am not afraid of them, he’s got his friends and his family and is content to live and work in a tiny town where you have nothing but college-aged students and restaurants while I miss living in the city. He couldn’t walk anywhere if his life depended on it with his cane if for some reason he couldn’t work his dog while I have deliberately chosen to use my cane rather than a dog. I could go on and on about the problems, but these are definitely enough to be starting with.

I’m not sure what started the problems with Tim’s family, because they were beginning to show before I moved back from Little Rock to live in the same apartment with him and before I left for Little Rock, I did have my own apartment, though his dad probably knew I stayed the night sometimes, he did also know that I had my own apartment. The part about them not liking me is very hard because I have tried to do all of the right things and still those things were not enough. If I complained or made it sound as though we had problems, I never said anything good, and while I named all the problems I did just above this, I could also name a million reasons why I love him. That not being the point, I’ll move on.

I really feel that the problems with his family are a big deal for me because I want a family to love me. I mean my family does love me and I know that if I could see them more they would want to see me, or at least I hope they would, but I can’t. And I deliberately chose to stay here with Tim because I love him, and yet, that is not enough. Or he says it is to him, but he doesn’t put his foot down with his family when they say rude or disrespectful things to him about me. I have truly tried to love him and do all I can to make him happy but every time I hear something rude that he says they said to him or every time I leave the house so his dad can come drop him off, I feel horrible, like not good enough for anything. But mostly it’s that even if they were willing to allow me to come to their house for various celebrations or whatever, it would only be to make Tim happy or to keep the peace or insure that Tim came. They would have me come because they really wanted there, so I feel like that would almost be worse, because I would be around a nice loving caring family who didn’t really love or care for or respect me at all, but instead, who were just being kind for their son’s sake. I want to be wanted by a family. I don’t want to be tolerated. I want to be respected because a family thinks that there is something inside me worth respecting, not because it is required of them by their son. Some people say I should just let it happen as it will, and if the respect is forced at first, perhaps it will eventually be freely given when they are required to spend time with you. But for me, I am afraid that if I settle in the beginning, then I will always settle, and things will never get any better and if we get married, I know I won’t leave because I just do not think that divorce is the right thing to do. If you promise forever then you need to be willing to give forever, or you shouldn’t be promising it in the first place.

Adding to the fact that his family does not like me is the fact that I can’t even go see my own family. I can’t spend time with them. I can’t get to know my niece and nephew. I can’t spend time with my elderly grandmother or my uncle. My cousins (one of who does also have a daughter) either. It’s like I just feel so alone here. Tim has friends and family and everything he could ever want. And I have … what? Him? Only him. So when he’s gone spending time with his family or doing whatever with his friends and I’m not included, it just makes me feel that much more unloved or unhappy or unwanted. And I’m tired of that. I’m tired of feeling like an afterthought. The one who cooks and cleans and holds him at night when that’s what he wants or gets him off when that’s what he wants…but who isn’t good enough to be around for family functions. I do everything for him. I cook and clean and do laundry. I love and support him when his family are fighting and he doesn’t know how to feel or what to think because it’s not how things were for him growing up. I hug and kiss him and wipe away his tears and promise that everything will be better. Everything will all get better just wait just give it time God knows what he’s doing just have faith. I promise these things and I pray for them for him I pray that they will get better. But his family thinks I treat him like crap. On days he wants it I bring lunch to his office and walk up just to walk him home because it’s a short walk and on nice days it’s a nice thing to do with someone you love. When he feels he doesn’t do well enough I assure him that he does and try to do whatever I can to build his confidence in himself. But I treat him like crap, according to his family. And I feel like that is the thing I can’t get out of my head. What the hell else can I do to treat him better?

Something I said to Tim a couple nights ago was, ‘if I never could do anything right, if I never could get anything right, I believe I could be a mom. I feel that’s the one thing I could probably get right and if I never have anything, that’s the one thing I want-to be a mom.’

He said he did to and he hoped that for us, that we could be parents, together, and one day it would happen though he didn’t know when, he knew we could do it-be parents. And then i explained my fears. I explained how, all the things he doesn’t know how to do for himself, all the lifeskills he has chosen not to learn, they are all going to be essential in raising a kid. You can’t feed a child only microwaved foods. You can’t put a child’s clothes on inside out and expect them to survive, emotionally, in a first-grader’s classroom, you can’t just think it done. If you don’t know how and you don’t choose to learn things about how, then you won’t be able to do them. And he says that he does want to learn, and if I think he won’t do whatever he can to be the best dad he can be, then I have another thing coming. And though I believe that he would do whatever he could with whatever he knew, I do not believe, unless he starts learning some things now, he will know much more that would be helpful when raising a kid than what he knows now. He says he is willing to learn and I want to believe him, but he has said that before and nothing has changed because he’s gotten busy; too busy to care about learning things his live-in girlfriend already does for him anyway.

Work is obviously another thing that I worry about. When I’m done with my course and I can apply for jobs, I will have to wait for a job somewhere around our area or just let that pretty certification sit and gather dust. I know that it’s possible for me to get a job close by. I know that there are places near us that offer services to the blind. But that doesn’t mean that any of those places will be hiring when I’m looking for work. This is a minor thing; not really worth writing about because I’m sure that whenever we crossed that bridge we could sort it out, but I mention it because right now there are a lot of things going through my head from various conversations that I’ve had in the past couple days and it’s a way of getting back into writing my feelings down.

Something I read in someone else’s journal caught my attention and I want to repost it here (giving all credit to her, of course.) She is a young woman who writes
here.

A couple things, actually, and if she ever finds me here and feels she hasn’t gotten enough credit for her work or I should have cited her specific post, I will admit that I haven’t taken the time to find the exact links and for that I may be wrong. But I’m not ashamed of copying because I am crediting her and if I’m not linking to the exact entry, I am linking to her specifically, so that makes me feel a little better.

So when she wrote this post, she was torn between what she think she wants and what she doesn’t think she can still have, and the two are so close they’re almost inseparable, but the difference, because there is a difference seems as wide as the grand canyon to her. Anyway, she is asking herself how can she know what is the right thing? How can she choose the right choice when all she wants is right in front of her but it seems like the wrong thing for one or two very small (to most people) reasons but very big ones to her? This is what she writes:

“. . . I know so many things I didn’t know two weeks ago when I flew to London. I know everything except what to do next. Did you ever dream about something so hard and so long and wish for it with all your heart for so many years that when your wish finally came true it took you a long time to realize that while you were wishing and dreaming you’d also been changing, and now what you’d been dreaming of all those years might be the wrong dream? That it was the dream you would have died for yesterday, before you became who you are today? How long did it take you to realize that when the dream finally came true, it was the wrong dream? Or was it the right dream, but now you were the wrong dreamer? . . . What if it will never be the right dream again? What if climbing aboard this dream that’s so almost right makes it impossible to ever find the right dream? . . . What if I fuck everything up again? What if I fuck up my last chance for happiness because I always want too much? Why do I always ask too much? I always want Everything or Nothing, I can never just settle for Something, and this is the best Something I’ve ever been offered, this Something is so close to being Everything. It’s only the thickness of a knife edge between this Something and the Everything I’ve always wanted, but that difference is like a knife through my heart, it’s like a knife twisting in my guts to think of how far this Something is from Everything, it’s so close and yet it’s worlds away, worlds and worlds . . . I could fall through that gap and keep on falling forever, and never get a second chance . . . .”

I feel like Stella. I feel like the dream I’ve dreamed and the thing I’ve wanted…this is sort of it…but now that I could have it…now that I could settle for this and accept all the other problems that go along with it…just to have the house and kids and family…someday…if they ever like me…If Tim and I ever get married…if we ever have kids…if if if if…

If a lot of things happen then this would be the right dream and if I thought all those things could happen maybe I could take this dream…but I feel it deep inside me that they never will, and so it feels like the wrong dream…just by this much…Just by the thickness of a piece of cardboard. Or the thickness of an index card.

Below this, I had posted something about getting what you want from someone else’s journal, but I took it out because I feel that explaining what I meant by that was a little difficult-more difficult than I care to try to work out how to say-so that particular version of the post, I’ll keep to myself, for myself.

But back again to something that Stell says, because she says something else about dreams:

Not every dream can come true.
Really? This is not the sort of thing you usually hear coming from me, is it? I’m always the one saying, Make a wish on the evening star and may all your dreams come true! Aren’t I? Yeah, that’s me, all right, stelladellasera, Stella with the starry eyes. I haven’t lost my dreams. I’m still dreaming and I’m still handing out wishes on stars, but please turn that wish over and read the fine print on the little label before you press play: Not every dream comes true.
Every love, every relationship, every human arrangement of love, lust and hope, is a dream. A vision of the world as it might be or ought to be or you hope it could be. Every time you fall in love with someone or try to build a relationship with someone or more than one someone, what you’re really doing is saying, This is how the world should be! I should love her, she should love me! Or maybe her and her and her and him and them and they should all love me! Listen up, World! This is the plan! The one(s) I love should give me her heart and her life and all her love and I should give her mine, because that’s our dream, and the world should give us room to love, give us the time and space and understanding to build our dream life together. Our love should be the center of the world, our own world. Love builds little worlds out of hope, and every world is a dream. But not every dream can come true.
When a couple you care about break up, it destroys the whole world. Or it feels that way. One little world, anyway, their own little world, and it rattles your world too. If their dream can’t come true, what went wrong with the world? They’re both my friends, I care about them, we’ve shared so many things, we’re alike in so many ways, I want them both to be happy. If they can’t be happy together and their world is falling apart, what does that mean? Could my world crumble too? When things go wrong with a couple in love it makes you wonder. It makes you cry, for them, for their dream, and maybe for yourself. What would it be like to go through what they’re going through right now? What if you lost the woman you love? It would be like losing the whole world.
I’ve been there. You have too. Everyone has gone through a bad break up with someone they still loved, or who still loved you, or both. Sometimes it’s no one’s fault. It’s not because you don’t love each other anymore. It might be because you love each other too much, or not in the same way, or not in the right way. It might be life, your life or your two or more lives pulling you apart. You’ve tried and tried, but it doesn’t work anymore. The dream has failed. What went wrong? Maybe you shared one dream that split into two very different dreams, or your two dreams once thought they were the same dream, but now they’ve grown in two different directions. Now your world is trying to contain two very different dreams that wanted so much to be together, but now they can’t possibly exist simultaneously in the same time and space. Like matter and anti-matter. Light and darkness. Fire and ice. Freedom and slavery. Love and–love. It doesn’t matter that all the love is still there, there’s no there left for the love to live in. It breaks your heart. It’s like walking through a nightmare. It’s like a dream dying.
No, not me. My world is not falling apart. Not me and Lucia. No one on the Island is breaking up or in trouble. No one here even has a zit. Okay, maybe one zit, and a little sunburn. We’re growing and thriving, our dreams are coming true. We have wishes to share and sunshine to spare and stars to scatter like diamond dust. I have a woman in my life who is the moon and the stars and the sun to me. She’s my whole world. Not because I’m so smart. Me? Smart mouth, smart ass, smarty pants, too smart for my own good maybe, but I’m not that smart. I got lucky. I know how lucky I am. I made an impossible wish for an unbelievable dream and pressed play and it came true. It’s still coming true.
But all of us here have had dreams that did not come true. You have too. Dreams that could not come true, that should not have come true, that would have turned out to be nightmares. I think that’s true of everyone in the world, but I’ll speak only for the Island. I know us the best. And it’s because of those dreams that did not come true that we’re living the dreams we’re living today. Every single one of us: A doomed dream had to die so the right dream could live.
To build the Island, relationships died, dreams died, loves died, lovers died, whole worlds crumbled into dust. Failed relationships, first loves, lost loves, ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends, exes for good reasons (for Ciara, Kelly, Danny, Josh). Everyday dreams, with what turned out to be the wrong people: We’ve all been there. A serious and creative but damaging four-way love affair (for Ronnie and Annie) with another female couple, who broke up and dissolved into craziness and self-destruction. A dangerous dream. Broken formal engagements (Rachel’s, Caitie’s, Lucia’s) to the wrong partners, very wrong partners and good God men of all things, complete with church dates and wedding invitations and cake reservations and white dresses and diamond rings. Deceptive dreams, false dreams. A doomed marriage (mine) to a guy I never should have married and a vicious divorce that couldn’t be over fast enough. A really dumb dream. A lost once-in-a-lifetime chance (mine again) to belong to the only man I ever loved, but who was not the woman who is the love of my life (see above, the “getting lucky” part). The wrong dream, so close but so far away from being the right dream. The sudden death of a beautiful but very troubled lover and partner (Eva’s) who died way too young. A wild rollercoaster ride of a dream cut short. All these dreams apparently had to die so each of us could find the right dream, the one we were each meant to live. And so the Island could be born and grow and become what it’s becoming, a home and a family for all eleven of us. A place where all our dreams have a pretty good chance of coming true.
Dreams live on hope. Sometimes when a dream runs out of hope it has to die, so another dream can be born and take its place. Maybe the right dream is right around the corner, waiting for the old dream to make room. Sometimes breaking up is the right thing for a couple to do, maybe sometimes it’s the only thing to do, the thing that breathes the most hope into the world for both of them, even though there’s so much pain you feel like the world is coming to an end. One little world does come to an end, but at least two new worlds and maybe more take its place and grow. And new dreams and new loves renew the whole world.

And of course she is so right and what if, what if, she is? What if this life this love this place this time this thing, what if it’s the wrong place and time and thing and person and dream? I want Tim, he wants me, but it just seems things keep trying and trying and trying to push us apart. Why? What is it that makes us feel so distant from one another? Well ok, it’s me that feels distant but it’s him that feels stuck. It’s him that tries and tries to love me and still feels he gets the short end of the stick all because of how his family is acting.

There’s sometimes something to be said for starting all over or stepping away and seeing how things change over time if you’re apart or seeing other people or not seeing anyone at all or just living your own lives and letting the world coast along. But that isn’t what I chose. There were some very upsetting things and I won’t go into them here because they were very painful for me, for Tim, for the friends who loved us through this thing that happened, but it was very big and very scary and we almost did go separate directions. But then I had a serious conversation with a special person who I love and respect very much and she said, what if this thing, this fear, this moment, you’re worried about, what if it’s just your fear and your past and your worry over something that will never be? What if you’re projecting your fear of past situations onto what is the current situation? Maybe it wasn’t on purpose, maybe he didn’t mean it, maybe you didn’t, either. And maybe you love one another to start again and make it through this.

And so we will try. I am afraid and right now the plan is for us to wait one year to see what his family does, and of course, those are all upsetting contemplations, but basically, this is it. The last thing. I don’t know anything else to try and if they haven’t found a place where they can at least respect me and allow me to be a part of things without making me feel completely miserable and unwelcome, then we’ll let it go. We’ll start probably sometime around August or September to accept that it won’t change and I’ll start making plans for whatever I’m going to do next. It’s hard and it’s confusing and there are certainly other issues that need to be addressed, but as of right now, the biggest part of it is dealing with his family. I feel like if we could get that part under control, maybe I could find a way to deal with the rest.

I’ll write again soon about the recent activities. This is long enough and I’ve put off the posting of it long enough.

So until next time…

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Planes and trains and buses…Oh my!

Ok, so again, it has been forever, and I can’t possibly do it all justice in one post.

Here is the down n dirty:

The last timeI wrote to you all, I was discussing some unpleasantness that was going on at World Services for the Blind. On the 20th of July, I left there and returned to Oxford. Tim and I did decide to live together, which has, of course, created some friction between family and some friends. We have tried to explain our side, but no one is listening. We feel that whatever happens, we know we have one another and that if we are solid about this, then the rest will fall into place. Though we fight and I get upset aboutsome things, I know that I love him and that he loves me. Maybe we make some mistakes along the way, but we do love one another, and if we are commited to that, then the rest is just extra drama.

So anyway, he was told by his boss that he was allowed to take a vacation if he wanted one. We talked about it and he decided that yes, in fact, a vacation would be lovely, so we tossed around a couple ideas, and eventually decided to visit Wendy, Shane, Andrew, Alex and Jessica in Washington D.C.

We left Oxford on Friday, August 10th. We were picked up that evening by Wendy, Shane and Andrew,who were kind enough to allow us to stay with them for two days. Saturday, we took Shane to the movies to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which was quite entertaining. The whole time there, I kept thinking how the difference in Shane was so huge. I had this small picture of him in my head, no taller than my waist, and now he reaches my shoulder, which is crazy. Also I cannot just pick him up as I used to do.

Anyway, on Sunday, Alex, Jessica and Jessica’s mom came from Fairfax and we all picnicked in a park close by Wendy’s home. The big thing there was that Jessica got her eye stung by a bee, and I had a meltdown about some private things and just walked and talked with Wendy. It felt good to get it out but only exaggerated how I feel there are no solutions. But moving on as this post is supposed to be a happy one…kind of.

Monday morning, Andrew drove us to Fairfax, where we prepared to go to our first museum, which was the Holocaust Memorial Museum. However this was not to be.

Whenever we arrived at Vienna Metro station, we went through the fare gates and then down an escalator. Somehow, I am still unsure as to how, Benjamin got his foot stuck in the bottom of the escalator. This of course was very traumatic,but the jist is that the station people took at least a minute, maybe a minute and a half, to press the emergency stop button, which I am ashamed to admit I did not know where it was. Anyway, all this time, Ben is yelping loudly and I’m screaming somebody stop it stop it make it stop and no one is hearing me or if they are they are not doing anything. Finally the escalator stops and I tell them make it reverse. Reverse it maybe it will let his foot go. They tell us that they can’t do that, and that they have to wait for someone to come. When animal control and the fire department get there, they take the plate off of the step above Ben’s foot and are able to extricate it. He is rushed to the emergency animal hospital. Tim rides with him while Jessica, Alex and I take a cab there.

There’s a lot of upset through this time but basically, Ben ends up losing two toes, has been in and out and back to the hospital, and we ended up extending our visit another week in order to allow him to receive the care he needs. We did not, of course, go to the museum that day. What we did do are these things, in this order, which I will write a post for each individually, as I have pictures and different bits of history and detail to share about each place.

  • Library Of Congress-Tuesday morning
  • Smithsonian Castle-Wednesday morning
  • Natural History-Wednesday afternoon
  • American History-Wednesday afternoon
  • National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped-Thursday morning
  • Capitol building-Thursday afternoon
  • Supreme Court-Thursday afternoon
  • Air and Space-Friday morning
  • Holocaust Memorial Museum-Friday afternoon
  • Duk’s tour-Saturday morning
  • D.C. Fest-Saturday afternoon
  • Department of Engraving and Printing-Thursday afternoon

We will be leaving, Lord willing, this Sunday evening. It is my hope to sit down with recordings that I made and give details about these places. In addition, I have several pictures that I am willing to put up, but of course, these will not help my blind or low vision readers. Some things, like the Supreme Court, and the natural and American history museums, I do not have any record of because it was not permitted. There exists a record of the National Library Service tour, but as it was not my device that made that record, I do not currently have posession of a copy of that. Once I obtain a copy, I will be able to discuss this tour. I did not take any pictures there. Nor did I, for obvious reasons, take pictures of the Holocaust Memorial.

I will write each post title as, “Tour: location name here.”

This way, if you are personally uninterested in this particular place, you can choose not to read about it.

We have had dinner a few different times with other blind people who live and work here, and have enjoyed it very much. As I write, we are preparing to go for a late lunch with a blind lawyer who works for the Social Security Administration.

Please pray that Ben continues to heal and that the trip home is not traumatic for him and that sometime between now and the time our flight takes off, we are able to find someone who can pick us up from the airport.

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Two days in a Row…

7/9/2012 2:47 PM

I had my staffing today. I basically talked about all the issues that I touched on last night in my blog, and particularly discussed the issue of the staff member touching me in an inappropriate way. Hope is not happy-not that I am either-so we are going to look into options that would allow me to go home but still work toward a job in Assistive Technology. This makes me happy but sad. I’m not going to lie: I would love to go home and be closer to Tim and the Birchfields and Aleeha and all of the friends I’ve made in Oxford. However unlikely a thing it was, Oxford has truly become my home. Though there was a time when I couldn’t imagine myself living there forever, I can honestly say that if I could get a job or if Tim got a job that allowed us to stay there comfortably; to buy a house; to plan a life, I wouldn’t be unhappy at all. Which, speaking of Tim, he did apply for a job at Miami University, anjd if he gets it, of course, we would have no problem staying there, because he would be working full-time (or at least that’s my understanding of the thing.)

In class this afternoon, we worked on setting up tables in Word, which was considerably more difficult than one would think. Now we are looking at the Dolphin Screen Reader called SuperNova. I’ve never used it at all before, so this should be interesting.

It’s taking forever to download, which is what is allowing me to write this quick update. The staffing as well as prior and subsequent conversations may be discussed at greater length at some point, but for now, this is all.

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A whole month in one Post…

Because I’ve been so busy and have not had internet in my room, I have been keeping an offline journal which I was hoping to, at some point, share with you all. This is that journal. It contains anything I’ve written since I came back from my time with Tim after my evaluation. It is insanely long, I do warn you. Anything without a timestamp was written in a hurry and I wasn’t able to timestamp it. Other things are indicated by other things when they were written. Read at your own risk.

6/5/2012 5:15 AM

I’m writing this on my computer which does not have internet right now, so that I can hopefully copy and paste it later. It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so let me try to catch up:

I finished my evaluation early and got to go home for a couple weeks. Getting to spend that time with Tim was very nice, and I think it was good for us as a couple. Though we have had some difficult times, I feel that we are finally getting to a place where we communicate again as we did before I moved to Oxford, for which I am greatful. I have been judgmental about what he could or couldn’t do and I feel maybe for a while he was mistrustful of me when it came to who I talked to. This does not seem to be an issue anymore, so I feel we are communicating better and I am being more understanding of his capabilities and limitations and just working with them rather than pushing against them. In return for this, he has started to offer to do more, and we have made some surprising progress with his ability to do things he previously had avoided. This is nice.

Now as to what’s been actually going on with me: when I got home Tim and I spent a lot of time watching movies and reading books together. Aleeha came to see us and stayed a couple nights about halfway through my visit. I went with April to get the clothes I needed which Tim helped me buy. I’m getting reimbursed by the state, so we could afford to do that. I got two dresses and three skirt and shirt outfits-most of which have a jacket of some kind with them. I also bought an app called Digit Eyes, which scans UPC codes as well as custom labels. Their company sells washable tags, so I bought some of these and April helped me sew them on and record the audio descriptions for the clothes. Now at least for my business clothes, I not only know how I can mix and match, but I know how to wash them and dry them without ruining their color. This is very nice. I know that you can accomplish the same thing with braille tags, but the issue that I find with that is there is no way to note the instructions or what you could wear the item with. Not because you couldn’t say well this color goes with this color, because if you had that memorized, then that would work, but there is always an exception to something that it wouldn’t go with, and being able to record a message of anylength ensures that you can warn against different things and describe anything you want, which I really like.

The one whole Sunday we had together, we went to the Vineyard church there in Oxford, and it always amazes me how spirit-led their services are. We worshipped for an hour. Just music and voices lifting up God’s name. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, it was also the same day that Aleeha was coming, so we did have to leave just as they were going to give the message, which really sucked, but it was almost one and that was when we had told her to have her parents bring her. That afternoon, we watched the Indi 500 and then went to dinner at this barbecue place called the Smokin Ox. Once back, we watched the Cokokola 600-1100 miles of racing in one day!

Memorial day was nice, because Tim and I were lazy, and Aleeha got to go to lunch with a friend. Wen she was back, we went to lunch at Morning Sun, because it has become one of our favorite places. There we tried a new thing called the Italian skillet, which was really good. After that, we went to see The Avengers, which was a really good movie, though it was hard to follow in places because there was a lot of action and no dialogue or description.

After Aleeha left on Tuesday, Tim and I went out with Michael and Megan to Michael’s to get the things for me to make surprises for Georgi, Fallon and Ryan for graduating from World Services, and from there we went to this international grocery store called Jungle Jim’s. I bought Pahki (Japanese kind of candy/cookie..shaped more like stick pretzels, but definitely not as salty) and Ramune (Japanese pop, opened by pressing a marble down into the bottle.) This particular thing I had had one summer at TSBVI and had never seen since, so it was a very nice thing to be able to try something I had only had as a kid and discover that, yes, it really did exist and yes, I really did still like it. I bought several flavors in Mexican pop and a couple kinds of candy. From there, we went to Walmart to get some things for me to make for the rest of the week at the house rather than going out.

The two big things I made were mac and cheese baked and a roast. Now, the roast turned out wonderfully, and I have absolutely no complaints, especially since I didn’t follow a recipe and the only help I got from mom was as to how much water to add to the crockpot. The mac and cheese did not go so good. I forgot that we needed tin foil, so called mom to ask what could be done without it and she said to just add a little extra liquid. I added half a cup (per her suggestion) and it still came out of the oven dry and half baked. I mean there were places that I had to use a table knife on the pan to get it off, because no amount of scrubbing would work.

The Thursday before I left, I had dinner with Jennifer and Julie, which was very nice and they conspired to make me cry. They gave me a keychain that says survivor and a 3D picture of the center’s logo. This was awesome, because not everyone goes out of their way to include me in ways that are helpful or meaningful. So since I couldn’t see our logo, even though I have been with the center almost since its very beginning, they made a poster board with puzzle pieces glued to it that made the shape of it. It is for this reason that I have always enjoyed working with these ladies. They have never talked down to me or made me feel a lesser part of the team. If anything, they have tried to make me feel just as important a part of the team as they are, and that’s saying something since I was just a volunteer and they were the director and programs coordinator. I hope one day to be half the woman they each are.

April came that same night to sew tags on my clothes and we were having a hard time getting them to scan, so on Friday I called the number listed on the site to see if they would help me troubleshoot. Since she did, we figured out that it was my phone case that was causing the problem. I would not believe that if I had not tried it with and then without the case and gotten different results. So now when I want to scan tags, I take the phone out of its case and then put it back when I’m done.

Tim got to go with April on Sunday to bring me to the airport. They even made passes for them to go through security to take me to the gate. My flights were fine and when I arrived, we went by Sonic for me to grab a slushy.

My first day in ATI was all right. I spent the morning making flash cards for the JAWS reference sheet and then the case management meeting was at 11:15. I should say though that just before that, I had gone to the nurse so that I could talk to her about my history and any problems I might have etc. The doctor is coming today and I have to see him, but the reason I mention this meeting is that I weighed myself and wow was I surprised. My blood pressure though she says is good. 11 over either 76 or 86. Either way, she said that between 60 and 90 for that bottom number is perfect. So since I am going to soon be in a position to have more money, I think I’m going to go like on Weight Watchers, because I can eat anything; I just have to moderate how much of it I have. This will be nice because I feel that I can track my points and since they have an iPhone app, assuming it’s accessible, I would have that information with me everywhere I went.

Lunch was at 12:00, though Rachel (the instructor) let us out at 11:45. After lunch, I was called to the business office. I had all of my reimbursement money waiting on me except 130 dollars, which Hope and I haven’t made an authorization on yet.

In the afternoon, we did some Outlook excersises, and then after break we talked about Window Eyes a little bit. Today, we are going to actually go to the Braille instructor’s classroom during the last hour so he can talk more about Window Eyes, because he’s actually a Window Eyes user.

Now I’m off to have my shower before breakfast.

6/6/2012 5:21 AM

I saw the doctor yesterday for my cold and he said to take any normal decongestant and let my body deal with the fluid on my ear on its own. He said he would see me next week and see how I’m doing, so we’ll hope it sorts itself out before then.

I had taco salad for lunch and it kind of sucked, but what else is new here?

We spoke to the braille teacher about Window Eyes because he uses it and he says he thinks you can write a lot more scripts for it, only he calls them apps, which is really confusing because that makes me think of my iDevices.

For the last hour of the day, we talked about communication in the workplace, and that was a very interesting topic. Some people kept bringing it back around to marriage and Rachel didn’t like that much because she really was trying to focus on an important topic for having a job, but no one was listening to her at certain times. Anyway, she had some very good points about assertive speech and communication as opposed to passive-aggressive speech and communication. I am kind of looking forward to the lectures she will give on this stuff, because I realize that I really do need to know these things to be successful. Not that I didn’t know it before, because I did, but some people think that these kinds of lectures are useless and obvious, but if you were to look at your behavior or attitudes and really ask yourself where you fall, you would not be so sure of your knowledge or choices.

Kaitlyn gave me some Dayquil for this crap I’m fighting and it helped a bit. I didn’t ask for any Nyquil because I kind of fell asleep before I had intended to. This morning, again, my ear feels as though it is unclogged, but that happened Monday a bit and then it clogged back up, so I won’t get too confident until it holds for a while.

We had chicken alfredo for dinner and that was kind of gross but I shared dinner with several lovely ladies who asked me to sit with them. I hope to be sharing with them more often.

At the rec meeting (which happens every Tuesday) I signed up to go to Walmart today, Imax and Chenal Promenade (which is like an outdoor mall) on Friday, and then the Downtown Rivermarket, which apparently is a Little Rock thing. Tomorrow, though we don’t have to sign up, is martial arts and ceramics class, Sunday is ceramics class, and Monday is exercise class. Tomorrow I will go to the martial arts class because it is only offered on Thursdays and they overlap. I can take ceramics on Sunday instead if I want to do that.I could do these every week, but I don’t know if I will, depending on my responsibility in the laband my homework situation.

This morning, since I now have permission to access the ATI files, I plan to copy as many of them onto a thumb drive as I can, so that I have my study materials in my room and I don’t have to go to lab or ask housing to unlock the ATI room for me.

And now, my shower.

6/8/2012 11:59 PM

So I didn’t take my thumb drive and copy anything and I didn’t get some of the things from Walmart that I had planned, but I did get a couple of the checks that had arrived cashed. I couldn’t cash the larger check for some as yet unknown reason, so I haven’t sent Tim a money order for the money he allowed me to spend on his credit card. I’m hoping to sort that out rather quickly, as I really do not want to let that stuff just sit on the card any longer than we have to. Thursday afternoon I went down to the lab and helped Chris work on some stuff in Outlook. Today I wrote a lesson plan of sorts, though it did not have a brief lesson plan form, it was meant to give Rachel an idea of what I think would be my teaching style. Also we found out we are going to be having something like performance reviews, though they are going to call them grades, so we know how we are doing in our classes. This means, I guess, that Rachel will actually have to give particular assignments, because she can’t grade something she does not have. A little different from the way things have been in the past, but I’m guessing they have it all worked out. Tonight, I went to the Promenade at Chenal, where I had dinner and drinks at this place called The Tavern, bought Nike Plus shoes to work with my phone for only $30, went to Apple and bought a magic pad for my Mac side, and finally, an ice cream shop for cotton candy flavored ice cream in a cone with gummy bears mixed in. That was quite yummy. I unpacked some more this evening and talked to my mom on the phone briefly. Tim was having problems with his battery on his Macbook, but he took it in and they replaced it. When inside Apple, I asked about some kind of certification to teach their products, but especially geared toward a certification to teach blind people how to use VoiceOver, and they said that all of their testing was handled by a third-party company, and that I should call the Public Relations department and ask them. I actually do plan to do that next week. I think it would be cool if there were a certification, and if there weren’t one, if because I asked, they made one up, and I could take it. This would be something unique, and since we are always looking for reasons to stand out as individuals who have something to offer to an employer that no one else could offer to that employer, I really think this would make me stand out. At least right now, because I don’t even think it exists. But even if it does exist, it isn’t very widely known of or used yet, so that still makes it rare. Anyway, enough from me for now. I’m off to take a shower and get to bed so that I can be up tomorrow morning for the Rivermarket trip.

6/9/2012 12:37 PM

We went to the rivermarket today which was essentially a farmer’s market. I bought a lot of stuff I didn’t need, but all things I wanted. I got a jar of May haw jelly to send to my mom and Billy, a tart burner and a wickless candle, a pint of blackberries (all of which I have already consumed,) a pretzel platter that had a hot pretzel with cheese and summer sausage and pickles, a smoothy which had strawberry and pineapple, and a huge, and I do mean huge, bac of pork skins. The other two things I bought were a bar of home-made soap and a lotion stick. They both have lavender n them. It was nice to just walk around and hear all the different sounds and smell all the different smells. There were musicians playing instruments, and one thing in particular that caught my attention of this variety was at the very end before we boarded the bus to come back to the center, there was a group playing You Raise Me Up and oh my gosh, it was so beautiful. I think there was a floutist, a violinist, a saxophonist and possibly some more players. But it was so so pretty. I got back and have texted a lot with Ryan and Georgi and Aleeha, and just talked to Jessica on the phone for a pretty good while. This afternoon, I plan to do my laundry and maybe go down into the lab to work with Chris on some outlook things, and maybe meet up with Jaime to work on some VoiceOver things. Also I took a picture with a peapod or green bean or something. It was a person wearing a costume.

7/8/2012 7:54 PM

So I haven’t written in a couple weeks, but the basics are pretty straightforward:

 Class: NVDA; Microsoft Word; assertive speech and attitude; Lesson planning, specifically objectives
 Dorm: I’m hating this of course but maybe that’s because I was washing clothes and ended up taking wet clothes and a blanket back to my room because the dryer wasn’t drying properly and they had to lock the laundry room.
 Random things: I’m getting to go to the National NFB convention which starts Saturday. I’m packing tonight and flying out tomorrow morning. I got permission to go because I’m going to get to take the NCLB, which, if I pass, will get me a certification saying that yes, really, I do know Braille. I’m not quite sure, at least on a finalized level, what I’ll do with it. I’m just thinking that it would be better to have it and it never do me any good than not have it and find out that actually, it would have gotten me a job that I applied for if I had had it. There are lots of things I hope to do while at convention, but I think as long as I take the test, that’s the most important one.

Stuff. More stuff and stuff and stuff. Lots of stuff I’d like to say but I feel like all I’m doing with most of it is rambling. Ok, it’s my blog. And I can ramble if I want to. But it feels so purposeless.

Someone, I won’t say who, said/did something really hurtful last week. Basically, I had asked them for a favor and they said yes, and then said no, upon prayer and reflection, they couldn’t do this. I was kind of confused, but felt it was not really my business. It was kind of hurtful to have someone give their word and then break it by choice, but I felt that it wasn’t for me to judge. A couple hours later, I was told by another friend that they had been told the real reason the person couldn’t help me. Basically, that reason was because they thought I might do something they thought they couldn’t support. Now, my problem with this wasn’t, and still isn’t, that they changed their mind, though that was hurtful, and it wasn’t or isn’t that they thought or think this of me, though that does hurt, but that they couldn’t be honest enough with me to say this to my face. I truly believe that friends are honest with one another no matter the cost. Not because they should be afraid of losing one another in that honesty, but because they should want there to be no disception between them. If you can’t trust friends for honesty, who can you trust? When I relayed my feelings on this, the person basically just shrugged and said something along the line of, ‘so what do you want me to say?’

Needless to say, we aren’t talking anymore, and while I still pray for them and I wish them nothing but happiness, I have come to the conclusion that for me to be positive and supportive and happy, I have to surround myself with positive, uplifting, supportive people. I can’t hear all the time how I’m going to fail at something, because when you feel that all people think about you are negative things, you start to wonder if there isn’t something wrong with you. So while I can be supportive for others and I don’t think it’s an absolute requirement for everyone to always have the most positive attitude, I do believe it’s important to be honest with those around you and that they can do the same.

Off of this depressing topic is that I’m going to get to see my uncle and grandma at least, and hopefully some other people, to. Rebecca will be at convention with all of the BLIND Inc. people and I’ll probably have a couple drinks with her, which will be fun. I have written to Victoria but she hasn’t written back so who knows? I’m rooming with a bunch of girls, only one of which I actually know. Hannah and I attended BLIND Inc. around the same time and that’s really all I even know about her.

I’ve started to add a couple pages to my wordpress site about books and authors, but it is by no means actually finished. I’d love to be bored enough one day to put up all the books I’ve read and reviews of them and links to the author’s official websites. I’m sure I can just dream on.

This last Saturday, Kaitlyn Billy and I all went to the mall. I got my hair trimmed, nails done and eyebrows waxed. The very next day, a nail popped off. Tuesday, another one popped off. Yesterday at Walmart, I bought nail glue and we glued them back this morning. I’m hoping you can’t tell, though Alice says you can’t. Yesterday on the way to Walmart, the driver of the bus hit a curb hard and a little further down the road, we had a flat. They switched us to another van and on we went to Walmart with no problem.

At Walmart, I also bought a new pair of black heels because I ruined one of the first pair when the heel went into a crack and then came back up without a cap on the bottom. I also bought new make-up to take with me and am hoping I can get it right when wearing it.

Friday evening, we went to Skatium, which is a place with two rinks-one for rolerskates and one for iceskates. I skated on both rinks, but definitely have some brushing up to do if I ever plan to iceskate without holding onto the railing. Considering it was only $8 to get in for both rinks together, it wasn’t bad. After, we went to Cold Stone Creamery and had icecream.

7/8/2012 7:57 PM

So I have been writing about convention at convention…sort of…but I kind of lost track and so the last bit will be sort of sketched in in a vague sort of way. I will do my best, but there really was a lot going on. Here I will paste my notes, though you shouldn’t ask me what time each entry was written, because I can’t tell you. Some were written all at once, while others were written in bits and pieces throughout the day, while still others were inserted as I wrote this post.

On Friday I was running late because the cleaning lady found roaches in my room and had to ask me all these questions which were irrelevant because I’m not a messy person and then I also talked to poor Aleeha who was freaking as it was her first time flying without any people with her at all.
Anyway, we get to the airport and there’s this ginormous line which I’ll never get to the front of. Then they have this grand idea of putting me in a wheelchair so that I can actually get to the gate on time, but I don’t like this idea because I don’t feel that I should be in a wheelchair if it’s not something I need. But I can’t miss this flight and what the heck should I do? I end up taking the chair though it’s not what I want to do because I can’t imagine not getting there.

So I arrive in dallas and things are great, except I have no idea how to get to the hotel. So I just ask people and assume that if the directions are wrong that someone else will notice and send me the right way or I will just be able to go back and take the right choice.

So 3 buses later, I’m at the hotel and checking in and freaking out because I’m exhausted but somehow I’m supposed to be taking notes, so I think if I can just get to my room, things will be better. So I get there and Rebecca and I hang out a bit and Aleeha joins us and then Martha is calling and asking if I want to go to dinner somewhere and of course I do because I’m starving and haven’t had anything since breakfast, but I know that getting food is something that requires energy, of which, i am not sure I have. But I do and we go to jack in the box and then come back and eat and drink rum and now it’s almost midnight and I should sleep since my family’s coming but writing this is so nice, maybe I don’t know what I’m even talking about anymore, but I am here and safe and my phone died but whose counting these kinds of things?

Bigger update to do with past month or so coming soon. I’ve written about the goings-on, sort of, but haven’t had the time to share.

Love love love and lots of stars and moons…oh wait, there’s only one of those…sorry…but lots of stars, and lots of love and I’m signing off for tonight with my best wishes for you all.

Saturday has been nice, though I didn’t spend any of it in seminars or anything. I went with my family to IHOP and then to Walmart to get some groceries so that I didn’t have to spend so much money here. I got a throw-away cooler and have just been filling it with ice from the ice machine to keep it cold. While at Walmart, I also bought a new bathing suit since I neglected to pack mine. I’m really hoping to get to spend some time in the pool here.

I got to see my room mates shortly after I returned from Walmart. One of the girls I knew from when I went to BLIND Inc, but the other girl I don’t know at all. Her name is Diana. Hannah is the one I knew from school. We were supposed to have another room mate, but she will not arrive until tomorrow.

Aleeha and I ordered dinner from this Italian place, and our sandwiches came in two separate orders which was kind of annoying. I guess it could have been ok if it weren’t for the fact that her order was brought up to her, while I had to go get mine. This hotel is so so huge.

And did I happen to mention, that this hotel is really really big? Just in case I didn’t, I want to make it very clear: you need a map to get anywhere in here!

Anyway, in the end, all was well. The sandwiches are huge and I had some left, and so put it in the cooler. I went to Karaoke briefly, but left early as I felt really weird, as no one spoke to me, though I know I was noticed. I spoke to certain people and no one spoke back, so rather than feel so awkward, I just left. I think I disappointed Rebecca, but it didn’t have anything to do with her why I left, and I tried to explain that to her later in a phone conversation.

I called the front desk when I got back and asked if we could take everything out of the minibar and use it like a fridge. They said yes but when I tried to open it, it was locked. I called and asked about that and they said they would unlock it. I waited several minutes and tried again. Still locked. So I called the front desk again and explained, at which point, the operator said she would just have someone come up and unlock it for us. Great. Except when the guy came, he said he would send someone up to take away all the things from the minibar so we could use it, but that was about 45 minutes ago and still no one has come. I don’t wan to start trying to get a shower and have them show up, but I don’t want to go to bed dirty, either. I think I’ll call and see if anyone is coming, and then based on that, decide what to do.

I’ve tried to call Tim several times but he has not answered. Now Hannah is going to bed and I think Diana is already there, so I don’t want to try again and keep them awake. I miss him and just wish I could have talked to him before bed. Oh well.

The NCLB is tomorrow, and I’m kind of afraid that I’m overconfident in my abilities, and I’ll fail this test and I will have spent so much money to take it and just not get the certification. Maybe after the first two parts are behind me, I’ll feel a little better about it.

Tomorrow I will have lots to tell because I will have gone to the Independence market as well as the exhibit hall. For now I’m off to see the wizard. Or sandman. Or something to do with sleep after my shower.

Sunday felt pretty crazy, because it seemed like anything that could go wrong did. First, I still couldn’t get into the minibar, so called again and they were finally able to unlock it remotely. I took everything out and put all of the cold things that I had bought in. Rebecca, Aleeha, and her roommate Judith all came over, and we hung out a little longer than planned while waiting on someone to come fix the AC. Once they left, Aleeha, Judith and I went to register. Once done, Judith went off on her own and Aleeha and I went into the Independence Market. I didn’t buy anything, but Aleeha did. We saw normal things like talking scales and alarm clocks and watches and liquid level indicators and thermometers (though they do have a cooking thermometer that goes up to like 550 degrees, which I could use for candy if I got it.) Then we saw something I had never heard of: a talking tape measure. We saw a click rule and I got a little wistful. We saw a couple different combination locks which I thought were pretty cool. Then we saw some recorders and slates and I had to go after that because I had to get ready to take my test. My feet were killing me by that point but there was no rest for the wicked or something, because it was 12:30 and I had 30 minutes to get to my room and get my brailler and get to the testing room. While searching, I went up an escalator and got my heel almost ripped off. Well ok what really did happen, if you can believe it, is the same thing that happened to my black shoes a couple weeks ago: the cap on the bottom of the heel came off. So whenever I replace them, I’m not getting stilettos. I’ll wear a wedge or a platform heel, but stilettos are over. I mean I only paid $20 for them but who wants to replace shoes instead of buy more shoes every few weeks or so?

Anyway, I made it and took the test, which I don’t think was very hard. I just basically transcribed passages written in grade one into grade two. This is what I did for both sections. One section was transcribing using the brailler and one section was transcribing a passage using my slate and styless. Between sections, I came back to my room thinking I would eat the last of my sandwich from Sal’s, only to discover that it was soggy from being in the cooler. Instead, I made a ham and cheese sandwich, which was pretty good, actually.
Once done with the slating, I went to the mock trial. It was, as usual, very funny. I don’t know if I was supposed to or not, but I recorded it.

When that was over, I met up with Tyler and Rebecca, and we ordered pizza. I meant to go to a couple evening meetings, but the pizza took an hour to get here, so everything was either over or almost.

Instead, we all went to the pool, though Tyler didn’t swim.

When that was done, I came back and talked with tim on the phone a bit after having my shower.

The new girl came, though I did not get to talk much to her since I was just about to get my shower and she wasn’t actually staying with us last night, she was staying with someone else and coming to our room Monday.

Monday I took the last two sections of the test. I feel that these were actually harder, because I grew up knowing braille, not having to name parts of a word or what certain signs were called etc. So it would ask which single-sign contraction was not supposed to be used, and I would have 4 options, and the only way I knew what was right or wrong was because I just knew, because it looked wrong. But I had never thought of what was right or wrong about braille code. Anyway, I hope I pass, though I won’t know for 6-8 weeks.

Between sections, because I finished the first portion early, I went to the Session for LookTel. They have a new app coming out and I thought I would see about it. But of course, they didn’t get to that app before I had to go to back to take the last portion of the exam.

I heard later from Aleeha that it was a GPS app, but i didn’t get to see them demo it or hear the exact description. Nor do I know when it will be coming out.

That night I went to the Assistive Tech Trainer’s Division meeting, and I joined that division. I heard about bookshare, blio, Learning Ally, Oracle and their commitment to making their products accessible using screen reader or magnifier software, Serotek and their new package they are offering to people who sign up, Windows 8 with Window Eyes, and the NLS who are developing an iPhone app.

We had our business meeting and dismissed a little after 10. I went to have dinner with Aleeha, and in the end, we didn’t get our food until midnight. I crashed in her room because I had locked myself out of the room by leaving my key in there and I thought it would be rude to go banging asking people to let me in so late, plus I was exhausted. We discussed talking with her current room mate and asking if I could room with them.
Tuesday we did ask and she said it was ok. In general session, we took role call, which asked who was the delegate, who was the alternate, and who would serve on the nominating committee. That took a large portion of the morning, though we did have a speaker or two. I don’t really remember everyone that spoke in the afternoon session, but there was a nice demonstration in the evening of a product that I think is pretty cool. It is called Voiceye. I didn’t misspell it; it really is spelled that way. Anyway, the purpose of this app is to scan codes embedded in print documents which contain all of the data of the document, and can then be read using VoiceOver on an iDevice. So basically, you use your camera to capture the code, and then the text of the paper is contained on your phone and can be read, copied etc from there. It was originally designed in Korea, and apparently, Korea’s government even uses this software to print all legal documents. So to go along with the iPhone app, there is a software which one installs on the computer, and then uses when writing in Adobe or Microsoft Word, to generate the code that goes on the paper before printing. So then when the document is printed, the code (generated by the software) is placed in the top right-hand corner of the page to be scanned.

Going along with these things is a stand, which holds the phone at the perfect hight to capture the code once placed properly. I got a stand and have used it for practice. I also obtained a free trial of the software. I’m not sure how I’ll test it, but I’m reasoning that if I don’t install it, it can’t expire yet.

Once Aleeha and I were done with this, we went to get my things from my room with Hannah and Diana and Lilly. Now, I want to say that this went well, but I can’t. Hannah apparently took issue with me wanting to share with my best friend-which I could have understood if me not being in the room had anything to do with the money or me trying to back out of the commitments there-but it didn’t. I tried to explain calmly that though I was appreciative of the fact that she had allowed me to share with her, I really missed spending time with Aleeha and as large as this hotel was and as busy as everyone was, it just seemed simpler for us to share a room, which we hadn’t been aware we would’ve been able to do beforehand, otherwise we would have just made those arrangements from the beginning.

Anyway, it was this big-to-do, but in the end, I did go to Aleeha’s room and we went to bed.

Wednesday in the morning we had the presidential report and then at lunch I bought some things from the Independence Market. I found a notebook and the exact right slate to fit it, so I bought them and a new cane that is light and designed like an NFB cane but folds. I had been trying to buy this since Monday, but we had had some issues with my card (namely me forgetting that I had changed my address.) Finally, though, on Wednesday, we got it sorted, and I took these things back to my room.

Wednesday evening, we went into the exhibit hall, and let me tell you now that I did not get to spend nearly as much time in there as I would have liked, but I did see a few things that interested me. First, there was this new Braille display that I thought was really cool called Active Braille, which refreshed independently. As you moved your fingers across the display, it refreshed whatever you’d already read to be the things that you would need to read next. So by the time you reached the end of the line, you could bring your finger back to the beginning without having to press any pan buttons. Second, I saw this electronic Braille machine, which wasn’t anything like an electric brailler used for those with motor skills issues, nor was it like the newer lighter generation Perkins, but rather, this truly was electronic. A teacher could connect to this thing using a computer, and view what the student was typing, emboss what the student had typed, or type something to be embossed for the student to read. So the brailler was not only a brailler for learning for the student, but it was an embosser for the student, to. This, I think, will be quite interesting to see. As I saw, it was relatively new, and possibly not even released yet, but it should be very interesting to see what happens here.

Finally, there was something discussed called a Braille to Go, which when released, is supposed to run on Android and is supposed to only be somewhere between 2000 and 2500 dollars, as opposed to the 5 or 6 thousand currently spent on note takers. I don’t like this thing for a couple of reasons, but mostly because most people do have iDevices, and if they want a Braille display, they can spend under 1000 dollars for a Braille pen and use Bluetooth to connect to their iDevice. If they don’t have iDevices, they will have issues with the fact that Android is open-sourse, and so could present a problem when upgrading. Who will know for sure what upgrades are supported on the note taker and which aren’t? Who will want to have to buy new note takers once the platform gets to be too far ahead of the hardware?

Anyway, the design is a little blocky, in my opinion, and looks like something you’d give a child to play with, not the sleek design that a lot of note takers have these days.

Thursday was the banquet, of course, and though we had session in the morning and in the afternoon, I think the highlight, at least on Thursdays, is the banquet. Dr. Maurer presented a very good address, and the presentation of the scholarships was very nice, as usual. Pam and Roland Alan got the Jacobus Tenbrook award, and they of course were very teary-eyed etc. Once the banquet was over, Aleeha and I went back to the room and ordered pizza, because we were still hungry lol. We did try to sleep, but by 2:30 I was awake again, so I could pack, and I still managed to leave stuff. First I left and had left my speakers we noticed. Then I got all the way to the shuttle and realized I didn’t even have my whole backpack, which of course, contained every bit of technology I’d brought with me, unless you counted a hair dryer, so I begged and pouted and promised the driver I would be back in five minutes, if he would just give me that…Five minutes, I promised. As I walked back into the hotel, I’m calling Aleeha, and I tell her I’ve left my backpack, and the whole time she’s looking around the room for it and getting decent clothes on because she thinks she’s going to bring it to me, I’m moving moving moving because I can’t wait, and by the time she’s dressed and got her key and cane, I’m standing right outside the room, and I take the backpack and rush back downstairs, positive they’ve left me and now I’ll have to pay for a cab I truly can’t afford to get back. But they haven’t and I sigh with relief, because who knows how expensive that would’ve been.

I get to the airport and everyone is trying to be helpful and kind but it’s too damned early in the morning and I haven’t slept in any case, and I just want to get on the plane and leave. So I tell everyone no, no, no, please don’t, I can do it on my own, and yes I’m appreciative, but I really can take off my own shoes, thankyaverymuch! So I get to the gate with a little time to spare, and I’m wishing I had someone with me because I could leave them with the bags and go back a few spaces down the concourse and get us some breakfast, but of course, no such luck, so I tough it out.

This officially ends the notes for convention. Below is what I have written for the flight forwward.

The flight attendant was very nice; and I might have to commit to flying American, because they had (and offered without prompting) a Braille safety card. Which reminds me: Travelosity is going to be the very first ever travel booking website to make their entire site accessible. I’m excited to actually experience this, as I’ve been using cheaptickets instead.

Now to something I really did not like. Whenever deplaning, I went toward baggage claim to retrieve my luggage. There happened to be a lady who offered to allow me to walk with her. I accepted and we set off. Once there, someone who works at the center was there to meet me. He walked up and put his arm around my waist and hugged me kind of hard, kind of possessively. He said to the lady that he had it under control from here, and then said while still hugging me, “it’s good to see you back, punkin. How was your trip? We’ve missed you and I’m glad you’re back.” Now if this was a person at the center that I worked with regularly, this would not be strange. Also, if I had not already been hearing rumors about this guy it would not have been so strange, because Southerners are, after all, quite friendly. So I could have believed that it was nothing, except that I’ve heard rumors about him and because I haven’t really interacted with him much since coming.

It definitely felt sexual to me, though I couldn’t really pinpoint one particular thing that made it so. Now I’ve been on edge the whole weekend, because I don’t know what to do or how to handle this, and I’m afraid that my own past is interfering with my actual thought processes. Like maybe because I’ve been violated, I’m making something small into something bigger than it is. But regardless, that isn’t really a professional way to interact with a student, no matter how friendly you are, and especially from male to female or female to male. This, along with some other things, are leading me to speak with my counselor in the morning, at which point, I’m thinking some decisions will be made about my continuing this program.

I like the program and feel I will learn a lot, but there are a lot of issues that I feel are not issues that I can continue to handle. First and foremost is the issue with the staff member that occurred on Friday, because from what I understand from people who have been here much longer than I, he has been reported and nothing has been done for it so far. But beyond that, there is the fact that food is often either undercooked or overcooked; the lightbulbs in the bathroom actually are physically located in the shower (read as, splash too high and you might fry); there are bugs (as mentioned before my trip) that supposedly are treated but inevitably come back, and the list goes on. Something else that I feel is strange is that though I will leave with 4 Microsoft Office certifications, I am only going to be certified in JAWS (as far as assistive tech goes) and our exposure to other forms of technology is rather limited. From what I know (which could be wrong, but I doubt it) there is only the alva and maybe a focus 40 as far as displays go. Now I know that displays are expensive, but if you’re going to offer a program that trains people to teach technologies, shouldn’t you have a little more of it to teach them? Screen readers and book players are good, but they aren’t the only thing an assistive Tech Trainer is likely to have to teach.

All of that to say, that between all of these things, I’m just not sure I can stay here. First of all, the situation with the staff member and the bugs and the light bulb in the shower and the undercooked food (which frequently gives me upset stomach) all add up to make me feel slightly unsafe, and second of all, the program was portrayed differently than it seems to me now. Not that you know everything about a program when you get into it, but when I first applied to the program, it was represented to me that it was self-paced, but that apparently isn’t true anymore (this was never indicated to me, and I was never asked if I still wanted to go through the program if it had a fixed amount of time) and I was made to believe that it wasn’t really necessary to have a college education to be placed as an assistive tech trainer. Whenever I met with the Career Training Coordinator during my evaluation, she said that because I didn’t have a college degree, she thought it would be harder to place me. Now anyone can argue that I should have done the homework to find out what is usually required or what is expected, but there are a couple of problems with that.

First, there is no national certification that says someone is a competent Assistive Tech Trainer. Second, if I was obtaining information from a website that claims to offer training and it says there are no requirements, I should be able to trust that website’s information, assuming that I am on the proper website that belongs to that organization offering training.

My staffing is supposed to be tomorrow after lunch, and I’m hoping to talk to Hope before then and explain my position here so that we can discuss what we want to say at the staffing, or if she really just wants me to deal with it and figure out a way to make it work. I think if she does do that, I will ask her if I can get an apartment off-campus, so that I can prepare my own food and I can feel confident that there are no bugs and no one going through my things etc.

Today I did laundry, and yesterday I went to Best Buy and bought a thumb drive that attaches to my keys. I really like it. It’s blue and has 16 gigs on it. I think that’s plenty of portable space.

Friday night (just before midnight, I think) the air conditioner went out. They tried to have someone come in the afternoon while we were gone to Best Buy but apparently there is a part or are parts that could not be obtained on a Saturday, so supposedly, they’re coming again tomorrow to finish fixing it. I definitely do hope so. I borrowed a tiny fan from D (one of the O and M interns) but all it’s really doing is circulating hot air, which really only gives the illusion of cooler air. Ugg. Things here are not so cool.

Now that I have written about a whole month in one long long post, I’ll try (yeah right!) to keep a little more up-to-date for you all.

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The Fourth Day

So I went from this class to two solid blocks of Travel, in which I learned the rout to UALR, which is affectionately (or maybe not so affectionately?) called “ular” even though the pronunciation makes it sound as though the letter configuration is incorrect.

Anyway, the rout I learned…It’s from our campus to their Fitness Center. WSB has an arrangement with them that allows us to get student ID cards and utilize their fitness center.

From there, I came back and we had a group thing where we talked about the changes that take place or the emotions or difficutlies faced whenever you lose your vision. I totally advocated for (even though I never had to go through this actual experience) Rehabilitation counselors pushing clients to learn the use of techniques without sight at all, so that if they are losing their vision progressively, then whenever they lose it completely, they aren’t faced with having to relearn things…again.

Lunch was ok; not really all that good but life goes on. Then I took a WRAT, which informed them that I am technically capable of taking any of the certifications here if I wanted to. Meaning that I wouldn’t have problems understanding any of the material for any of the classes. I still think I’ll stick with technology, thankyaverymuch!

In the afternoon, I finished the last Math test, so hopefully I will be scheduled out of there. Once classes were over, I hung out with people til we went to Walmart.

This Walmart has a Subway, so of course I ate there instead of eating here before leaving. One of the things I got was a huge huge huge tub of these Tide Perfect Pods, which is like detergent, stain remover and brightener, all inside this little gel packet, which one drops into the wash and it dissolves as the water runs and it washes. It’s not that I can’t actually pour the detergent or anything; it’s more that since I’m not washing in my room or right next door to my apartment, I feel it’s going to be easier to carry to the laundry room in our hall.

I worked with Georgi on my Focus last night a little, and then Tim called, so I went to my room and spent some time talking to him. I’m going to try to find out today if there’s any way I can leave for a little while, because he’d really like to go back to work but he can’t work Ben and in order for him to go home, he needs to get to and from work, but more than that, he really does need someone to take care of Ben, because Ben pulling even just a little can really hurt him. I’m not sure they will let me but if they do, I think we’re going to do it.

This morning in Personal Management, I sewed two different buttons onto two different things-one a suit jacket and one a blouse-and tomorrow in there, i think I’m going to iorn stuff. Fun!

Now I’m in Keyboarding writing this, which I will have to post soon as the bell will ring momentarily. I’m glad I’ve been able to catch you all up for the most part, but since they’ve probably scheduled me out of Keyboarding for next week, I’m not sure how I’m going to do it then.

Either way, I’m sure I’ll find a way.

Today’s verse comes from 1 Corinthians 1:

25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are,
29 so that no one may boast before him.
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Definitely deep stuff! Father bless and keep you until next time!

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