Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2017 06 26 Journal Excerpt Page 40 June 26, 2017

 

Some days I don’t feel much like writing. Other days, it feels like I didn’t write enough, or I didn’t write about the right thing, or I strayed to the left when I should have veered to the right. Through all of my time spent writing, I have built up quite an assorted array of essays, stories, poems, and a ton of other things that I don’t really know what to call. Through my fingertips a new world has arrived, and as I have read back through this journal, I’m glad I was chosen to create the text.

 

In a word, thanks.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 40

Fall 2011

 

During the month of October, I had the chance to attend my first white cane and guide dog walk of independence in Augusta. My wife, son and grandson Jack also came along, and again I had the chance to meet some people in the blind community of Central Maine. The day was perfect, with warm temps and sunshine flooding the streets of the capitol, and as the canes and paws made our way around the downtown area, I realized that when it came to mobility with my white cane, I wasn’t alone.

 

My retired VRC Leona McKenna was also in attendance, but she wasn’t able to go on the walk with us. She had just been through a rather difficult surgery procedure on one of her feet, but she was there 100 percent in heart and spirit.

 

I did get the chance to talk with another woman, Marge Awalt, and her husband Hugh. They had brought a door prize with them, a voice activated dog that reacted to an accompanying book being read. Did I describe that good enough for you to follow along? Anyway, it was a pretty cool door prize that Jack ended up winning.

 

I just talked with my friend Lynn Merril on the phone, and she remembers being there. By the way, I should remind you again that this page post differs from others, in that I am writing it right now, the 25th of June, 2017. I am gap solving with additional journal info that I never wrote about, until now.

 

Well, the fall was full of differences, as you can imagine, and that I never would imagine. A funny thing happened on the way to writing a short story for my Saturday online writer’s group. We were directed to write a short story for Halloween, and so I set off on a quest to do just that.

 

I didn’t end up writing a short story though.

 

Usually short stories consist of roughly ten pages or so. As I started writing my story, something inside me kicked into gear. I knew after a couple pages that this story wasn’t going to be a short story. Just the way the events started happening, and the way that the movie inside my head was playing, I knew it was more than a short story.

 

Well, Saturday came, and during the group meeting everyone started discussing their stories. During the week leading up to the meeting, members usually submitted their writing piece to the groups list serve, an email list only accessible by group members. This way, the writers had a chance to read the other writer’s submissions in preparations for the next meeting.

 

Anyway, the online meeting started, and the critiques started flowing. When the critique moved to my submission, I told the members that I tried to write a short story, but couldn’t find an ending to it, so I submitted it anyway.

 

Everyone seemed to like the 8 or nine page submission, which I had entitled, Chapter One. There was another writer in the group who decided not to write a short story, but instead continued with chapters of a lengthy story he was writing. Even though I felt a little awkward not being able to end the short story, I shrugged it off as a stepping stone for things to come.

 

And come they did.

 

During this time, my sessions with Mike Adams also continued. I was becoming more comfortable with using my computer, as well as web stuff, in particular, my blog. I had started the blog off with posts declaring my hate for cancer. I had named the blog “Surviving”, as a reminder that I was a cancer survivor, or as I like to say, a cancer conquerer. I hadn’t really thought that the name could mean so many different things, such as surviving blindness, mobility lessons, lawn mower repairs, one sock coming out of the dryer, and probably the worst thing of all, running out of chocolate. The word had so many possibilities, and with each possibility came a world of issues, of chances, of opportunities that could either set you on your ass, or pick you up and take you to the other side where the roses were handed to you in the winner’s circle.

 

Yes, the lessons with Mike proved to be very beneficial, as I had become very dependant on my computer. I communicated with people with it. I felt so comfortable with writing, and while doing so, I didn’t have to worry about maneuvering around my day. I did my maneuvering with the keypad and my fingers. The text that JAWS read to me became a world that I could control, and without the vision there were so many things that I was constantly coming in contact with that kept reminding me how much of my day was completely out of my control. I mean, how could anyone control what they couldn’t see? How is that possible?

 

So many times those slogans of AA came into play, Keep it simple stupid, Turn it Over, Let go, Let God, they all reminded me of the one true thing that I could always control, and that was me. Little old me.

 

Every once in a while I go back and read an old blog post. Often times I sit and laugh while reading, and I ask myself how I ever learned how to write the things I do, the way that I do. I’ve often said that my writing is sometimes like a ping pong ball bouncing all over the place. I just shrug it off, and consider that as long as all the words end up on the screen, then it’s all good. Most of the time, they do, but how the hell would I know? grin

 

And now, for those three little words,

 

To be continued…

 

2017 06 21 Journal Excerpt Page 35 June 21, 2017

Emotions come, and emotions go. The distance between coming and going can feel like a lifetime, but it consists of all the things that life is made of. A recipe of living, breathing, experiencing, discovering, welcoming, and yes, veering away from. Millions of steps towards a sunset, along a sunrise, away from the rain and towards a familiar face, it all brings us to that certain spot where, for some reason, we’re meant to be.

 

And here we go again.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 35

 

Through the rest of summer 2011 I did manage to stick with the two groups, and as the writing assignments piled up, so too did my confidence in writing overall. I had started writing short stories and poems about my experience of losing my sight, and as I almost forgot to tell you, late spring 2011 I started my blog. I can’t really remember how I got pointed in that direction, but as I write this entry now, late spring 2017, I am still writing and posting to my blog, which is entitled, Surviving.

 

I started the blog on Google’s Blogspot platform, and with the help of my then assistive tech tutor, Mike Adams, figured out how to do it. We spent a few sessions going over the ins and outs of blogging, but time and time again I was met head on with issues with the blog site’s accessibility features, or lack there of. Before I knew it, the moderator of the second writer’s group told me about WordPress, which was another blogging platform that, from what Jacki told me, was far more responsive to the needs of those like me who used screen readers.

 

I switched over to WordPress, and am still using their website today. I think I’m hovering around 400 or so posts to my blog, and am right now in the process of posting a series of entries containing this journal that I’m writing in right now. I posted page 25 today, that’s 25 posts, 25 days in a row, and I still have a few to go, especially seeing as how I am lengthening the size of the journal as I write. Grin

 

 

Turning back a couple months, Rosemary and I started back with O&M early spring 2011, and although I didn’t look forward to the mobility lessons, I knew that I needed them greatly.

 

Our favorite stomping grounds were in the city of Waterville, and away I went, following my white cane with a blonde haired woman ten steps behind me. She didn’t have me do any more lessons with blindfolds on, which was a reason for me to jump for joy. What little sight I had was lending me a hand, as it was giving me the opportunity to find and identify landmarks, as blurred and dull as they were. Contrasted items proved to be the most benefit for me, especially with snow on the ground. Bare pavement, parked cars, telephone poles, buildings against the sky, they all soon became my best friends. I learned very quickly though just how many tricks my poor, limited vision could play on me. I remember once sighting what I thought was a telephone pole between the road and I. I soon found out that the pole wasn’t next to me, but across the road on that sidewalk. Things like that really spun me around and smacked me upside the head. A reality check supreme.

 

Our excursions around downtown Waterville usually included a stop into a small Main Street sandwich shop, where we both usually ordered bagels and a coffee. I fell in love with their asiago cheese bagel. As we sat and consumed our drinks and foods, we usually discussed the lesson. I was able to go over issues that I was encountering, and how they were affecting my ability to maneuver behind the cane. Rosemary began asking me to write up overviews of the lessons, which turned into assignments that I emailed to her upon completion. At the end of our time together, I compiled the documents into one single manuscript, which I sent to her as well. I should turn that into a book some time in the future.

 

The lessons over those next few months were a constant reminder of my blindness, but they also helped to open my eyes to what might be in store for me. Rosemary kept telling me that besides feeling vulnerable, frightened, scared, angry, frustrated, inept, uncoordinated and mad as hell, I exuded a level of confidence with the way I carried myself as I maneuvered down the sidewalks of Waterville. She kept telling me that I stood tall as I walked behind my cane, and that people were always noticing me. I was fairly certain that the reason they were noticing me was because I was a very unusual sight. She continued to disagree, and kept telling me that whatever I was feeling inside, it didn’t show on the outside.

 

There were occasions where my mobility lessons ended up being a learning experience extraordinaire. I shrug these incidents off as extreme lessons, and believe me, the emotions that accompanied these instances were very, very extreme. ,

 

To be continued…

 

 

2017 06 17 Journal Excerpt Page 31 June 17, 2017

I’m not gonna lead into this next segment with much in the way of comments, except to say that the roller coaster of emotions kept on rising and falling through the days of 2011 with an endless surge of electricity. As time chugged along my entries into the journal grew wider apart, and I forgive the repetition of what was going on. I guess although it was the same old thing over and over, the days separated the events from each other, and through it all, the growth was evident.

I hope you’re all doing well, and here we go.

Deon

***

Spring, 2011.

Dana burke is here right now cleaning our furnace. I like him a lot. Always have. He is just so damn friendly, and always has made me feel like family around him. I have always considered him as one of the best people I have ever met, plus he’s funny as hell!

Well, Like always, the winter of 2011 slid on by, and spring came none too soon. I had survived my first winter as a blind man. Lynne had made it through probably one of the hardest stretches in her life. I realize that I must have been a trip to live with during those first few months. If I could manage to climb out of my head some days, it probably wasn’t that bad for her. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many days when this feat was accomplished. Most days, I was a blind guy with many needs and constant reassuring that I was ok. Some days I was totally convinced that I was not. I did seem to plow through that first winter with the love and support of all my family. I do not like to think where I would be without the help, love, and support of my wife. As much as she doesn’t think that she is my anchor, I will tell you that she is my anchor, and I would aimlessly drift out to sea without her.

Spring did come, and the snow left, and it was good to see it. There were a ton of things that were bothering me about the coming summer. There were so many things that I was no longer going to be able to do, and that bothered me to no end. I really had a hard time with all of it, and I can remember lying many mornings in bed, awake and contemplating the days ahead of me. Every time I would think of something different that I was no longer going to be able to do, I would get a rush down through my body, and then feel really really sick to my stomach. It would come in waves, and the tension and anxiety that these feelings and thoughts created was relentless, and continuously pounded me down, flattening me and snatching the breath out from my heart and soul. I really did not know what to do with these feelings, but I also knew that I had been feeling similar feelings throughout the months since the vision loss. I knew I would be ok, but some days I didn’t know just how I was going to be ok, with all of these fearful feelings resonating inside my troubled soul.

Prayer, and support, and internal determination got me through these months, these mornings, these days and afternoons, and if not for the tools that had been implanted in me over those few months, I probably would not have been able to keep my head above water. I owe so much to so many, and had so little to give back in return, or so I thought.

One day leading into another, and the troubled thoughts and worried paths that my mind took seemed to keep piling up. With each day of pain and anguish, there came with it a day of growth and accomplishment and determination and strong will.

Entry, April 22 2012,

It has been many moons since I have written anything in this journal. I am sorry.

In that spring of 2011, I was faced with so much adversity that I really felt like I was on auto-pilot or something. I was going through the motions, and gobbling up every last thing that I could get my hands on, but still I was left with an empty feeling, similar to the one I am feeling right now. It is a haunting, relentless feeling of doubt and worry and anguished anxiety that always tends to leave me in a state of constant worry about things I feel I can not control, but somehow should still be able to. Those days through the spring of 2011 flew by, as all the other days did. I couldn’t see the leaves on the trees budding. I couldn’t see the starlings flying north in a never ending line. I couldn’t see the grass on the lawn turning green. I couldn’t see the crocuses, or the daffodils, or the new growth on the spruce trees. I couldn’t see any of it, but I knew it was there, just out of reach. Everything felt just out of reach. Everything felt like it was behind a curtain, and the show just wouldn’t start. Everything seemed just out of reach.

I dove head first into my computer even more heavier through the spring. I was writing every day, and relied heavily on it. It was the one thing that I could control, and I thoroughly enjoyed the thought of it. It just felt so good to write my emotions and feelings and thoughts, and then go back and read it afterwards. It was like I was reading it for the first time. It was a good, new feeling that I quickly grew fond of. It was what I wanted to do more than anything else, and I quickly became addicted to the sound of the keys popping under my fingers.

I also started back in on my mobility lessons in March of 2011 with Rosemary. This is when I started writing lesson overviews after each lesson. I found that when I wrote about the lessons, I was able to go back and really take a long look at how I felt, what I learned, the emotions I experienced, and the growth that I was working on. I still didn’t like the lessons much, and with each time out, I found that my skills were getting better. The uneasy feelings were becoming bearable. The doubt was replaced with a feeling of humility that helped me through it all.

I still to this day, don’t like my cane too much. It is the one thing that totally reminds me of just how blind I am. I still feel embarrassed when I have to use it in public. I feel like the whole world is watching me. I feel like the center of attention, and that, to me, is the worst feeling in the world. I have never been one to crave attention. I have never dealt well with it, and don’t look for it. I can’t help it, but it is just the way I am wired.

through the spring, I tried to stay in touch with family as often as I could. the home finances were constantly tight, and thank God that Lynne was working. Her extra income really helped to make ends meet.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 16 Journal Excerpt: Page 30 June 16, 2017

This next excerpt was written November, 2011. A lot of time had passed since I had started the journal, and with large chunks of no activity, I often repeated myself with the entries. Many different things stuck out in my mind, and many things slipped to the side along with the rest of the blurred time.

That first year of vision loss was like the 100 meter dash. Ready? Set? Gunshot! Look at me go! It’s amazing that the world was able to keep up with me, because it sure as hell seemed like I was dashing around like a frantic man, late for work, late for the train, late for a very important date.

The important date was the rest of my life, and although I couldn’t see it, I could sense it standing there, checking the time on its wrist watch.

Time’s a wasting, so we better get going with this next post.

Take care.

Deon

***

Page 30

Nov. 12 2011

It has been, once again, several weeks since I have written in this ledger. I realize that when I have such large gaps in the entries, that the subject lines can tend to sway to and fro, as I lose focus of where I am, and the topics I have covered.

Winter 2010, 2011 was a long lonely winter for me, as well as for my wife. I know that it was probably the hardest winter she has ever had to endure. Not only was it a long and cold winter, but there was a lot of snow, and adding the extra work that she was forced to deal with, it must have been hell for her. I do admire her, and her perseverance through the long snowy days.

For the most part, I tried to do what I could, when I could. I managed to keep some paths cleared of snow out back, so that we could manage the dogs. I can only imagine how ratty the paths looked, after I got done shoveling and clearing them of snow. Most attempts at this was just that, attempts. I had no real idea what in hell I was doing. I tried to keep my visual land markers in order, but some days the blinding snow played tricks on me, and I would seriously lose my orientation. I can remember one day in particular, I thought I was shoveling out around the pool, so as to make a short run for the dogs, and a place to chuck the Doggy doo. I had no idea whether I was shoveling the existing path or not.

I was not. I had veered to the left, and was shoveling where no man had gone before. It was the final frontier, and I had no control of the bridge.

I had many times such as these, where I thought I was going in one direction, and to my shocking surprise, I was heading in the total opposite direction.

Writing this, I think back to the Lion’s meeting that I spoke at, and the facing the flag dilemma. grin

From that shoveling round-about experience, forward, , I fully understood that there were going to be times and places where my limited vision would let me down, and that humility would play a major role in how I managed to handle different situations.

I continue to get twisted around from time to time, and there are very many situations where my vision is completely useless, such as in dark, and unfamiliar areas. I will always have to keep the mind set of a blind man, and learn from each experience. I have captured many skills this past year, and as long as I can keep a healthy frame of mind, I will continue to learn and grow, as a man who can’t see very well.

Through the winter months, as I have said, I completely dove head first into my writing. I continued to get pc tutoring from Mike Adams, and with his help and guidance, I continued to advance my knowledge, and learned the accessibility features of my pc, and am grateful for the opportunity in doing so.

In early march, I did get switched over from System Access, to Jaws. I had to wait a couple months for the full version software, and up to then, I had a demo version installed. I was able to dive into it, but the demo version had a time limit on it, and after the limit expired, you would have to reboot the pc to gain another full time interval again. I did not like to reboot my pc, as most of the time, it would take me around an hour to get it fully up and running again. I have been having a series of issues with this pc since back in early 2010, where it would do the dreaded blue screen of death, and crash with a system crash dump. On top of that, when you would start it from a cold state, it would run fine for a few minutes, then with a click of who knows what, the pc would just go black, like someone had unplugged it.

These problems have been plaguing me ever since, and at this time, I leave it on 24/7. I don’t dare to shut it down, for fear of having to go through this process every time.

There also started another issue where even with a quick reboot, the pc would start ok, it seemed, but none of the programs would load up, and the system was virtually unusable. This dilemma would last sometimes for an hour or so, until everything would start loading and working all at once. It really freaked me out when this happened. When this still happens.

Over the years, I had used a little program called C Cleaner. It was a utility tool that had a couple functions. I used it to clean the junk out of the pc, like temp files, caches, recycle bin, and the temp files of the web browsers. It also had a nice registry scan tool that picked up errors, and corrected them.

I had stopped using the program after learning that the company where my wife was working recommended that none of their employees use it. She convinced me to delete the program, and so I did.

It was a few months later that my pc developed the issue with the programs not responding upon a reboot. I was in peril, as my screen reader would not load upon reboots. I was left without the use of my pc, and it really sucked.

I then remembered about the registry scan utility of ccleaner, and figured out how to download, and reinstall the program. After a few frustrating hours, I did manage to get the program up and running, and I ran the registry scan a couple of times. Thank God the program was somewhat accessible, and I could maneuver through it.

After the registry scans, I reluctantly tried a reboot, and the program response was back to normal. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, as I had brought my pc back into a fact simile of normalcy.

Nothing had felt as good as that did in quite some time. I felt independently capable of handling a problem, and was very happy with myself. I will never use another registry scan utility again, and fully feel comfortable in recommending this program to anyone I know.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 15 Journal Excerpt Page 29 June 15, 2017

Filed under: Essay,Inspiration,Life,Perception,Personal Challenge,Writing — DP Lyons @ 6:48 pm

Without sight, the mind begins a slow, methodic process of taking over where the eyes used to rule. It’s funny how at times during my days now, it actually seems like I am seeing things, like the void, empty spaces are filled in with realistic shapes, colors and rolling scenery that moves and changes with this new approach to my own perception. . My mind fills in the slots of information that the eyes used to supply me with. As time progresses, I believe my mind is becoming more accustomed to the extra work load, and although it’s tiring at times, it sure is nice to believe that I have things to look at.

A life time of memories, a world of changing views, a mental journey towards tomorrow.

Take care, and thanks for stopping by again.

Deon

***

Page 29

Going back to the winter of 2011, it seemed to last forever. It was cold, and long, and snowy, and long, and frigid, and long and just so frigging long. I thought it would never end. I actually thought winter was going to last forever, and we would never see the light of spring again.

For the most part, I tried to keep the driveway shoveled, and a few paths out back cleared so that we could get the dogs in and out. The first couple of times I shoveled the driveway was quite a chore. I could see just enough to piss me off, and had quite a time trying to find my way back and forth with the snow scoop. I’m not really sure how I did it, I guess I had a lot of help from God, because there were times when I literally was screaming and crying inside, as I tried to make it back and forth to the end of the driveway.

I used the house, and the car, and the two large trees in the front yard as land marks to guide me through the task. I fell quite a few times, and swore a few more times. Rosemary did end up getting me some ice grippers for my shoes, but they kept falling off, and I would end up crawling around the driveway looking for them on the ground. It was humiliating to say the least, and after doing this a couple times, I retired the ice grippers, and relied on my unique balancing skills. Ya, right. It was a nightmare trying not to fall on my ass when the driveway turned into a sheet of ice, especially at the end of the driveway near the road. It was hellish, and reminded me of a very bad joke.

Another bad joke was my attempt at bowling a few times with the Lions Club. Nothing reminded me more that I was blind than this did. It was awful, and I wanted to throw the ball down the alley like a baseball. I couldn’t get out of the gutter most of the time, and although I did manage to have a little fun, it was nerve wracking and another humiliating display of pathetic ineptness. I felt so out of place, and nervous.

I used to bowl competitively as a youth, and into my early adulthood. I was good at it, and won quite a few trophies. Bowling with no vision was painful for me. As I said, nothing reminded me that I couldn’t see more than this did. I could see just enough of where the gutters began, and used this narrow window to set me in the right direction with my approach, but as soon as I started my approach, the gutters disappeared, and I was left with, what I considered, a pitiful attempt at finding the pins with the ball. I did manage to meet some wonderful people though, and hopefully this upcoming winter, I can resume the attempt to throw some more gutter balls.

The last few times I went, I could sense that I was able to keep my balance more, and was able to get some higher scores. I even threw a couple of spares, and actually threw a strike one time. It was a domino strike, but beggars can’t be choosers.

During that winter of 2011, I was able to acquire a copy of Office 2003 from somewhere along the line, and after I installed it, I began diving head first into my writing. I had a pretty good grasp of touch typing, and put it to good use. I started small with a few short stories about some accomplishments as a child, and it took off from there. I got into some poetry, and for the most part, it always seemed to concentrate around my becoming blind. I have been able to write a couple of poems that didn’t involve my blindness, but they have been few and far between. I am sure that in time, this will be a different story, as I evolve into my disability, and become more adapted to my new life. I know that I am still going through the grieving process, and there is no way of telling how long this will take for me to be able to move on and start down another road. Until then, I will roll with it, and take what it gives me.

I kept writing the long emails to my family and relatives through the winter. It was an escape for me, and seemed to bring joy to some of them. I hope it did, and that they weren’t just humoring me all along. I hope that none of this has been humoring. I don’t know what I would do if I found out that my writing is really a joke, and that people were just saying nice things to me to make me feel better. I don’t want to feel better. I want to feel what ever it is that I am supposed to be feeling at this time in my life. I can not afford to short change anything that is common place for someone in my shoes. I can not afford to skim around the edges. I need to face all this head on, and not take any easy access routes in the mean time.

I do like to write, and will continue to do so, as long as I am afforded the opportunity. I love it, and don’t like to think where I would be without it. It really has been a form of solace to me. I seem to escape out of my head and away from my blindness while I am writing. It really does seem like magic at times.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 14 Journal Excerpt: Page 28 June 14, 2017

The ability to use my computer is such a big part of my life. It has been since 1995 really, and although a lot has changed since then, it has continued to be something that I rely on to stay in touch with people, and also to continue to discover a world of writing that has opened my eyes to so many new things, both about me, and around me.

I can’t imagine where I’ll be 20 years from now, but I know for a fact that there’s only one way to find out.

What? You don’t know? You want to know?

You better get moving then. Grin

Deon

***

I was introduced to Mike Adams in mid December, 2011. He was to be my new assistive technology tutor. It seems that Steve Sawczyn had landed a huge opportunity with Target. He was hired to revamp their website structure, making it more accessible to the visually impaired community. Their headquarters is out in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and he was traveling back and forth throughout the winter months, and has since moved out to the area permanently. I did feel a little let down when I heard the news that he would no longer be my pc tutor, but Mike stepped in and restored my sense of direction as far as my computer skills was concerned.

I was still using System Access back in December, and Mike instantly told me that he thought I would be better off with Jaws, than System Access.

Back when I was at the Center, I had a meeting with the head of the Technology Department, when it was thought that I would be returning sometime in early 2011 for an extensive course on office skills. I was told back then that I would probably be the only one in the program that would be using the system access screen reader. It was just not common place like Jaws, and I would have to have a separate instructional program designed around my screen reader. I was not comfortable with this option back then, and I was very anxious when Mike Adams told me that I had the option of switching over to the Jaws Screen Reader program. I gladly said that I would really like to switch over, so the order was put in motion, and I started the waiting game.

I never did get to go to the office skills program at the center, as I was told that it would probably be just as good for me to receive home tutoring through the division, instead of through the Carroll Center.

I think back now, and wish I would have had the chance to go to the program in Newton. At the time, I really did not want to leave home again for a long period, as I did in the fall. It would have still been winter, and I could not consciously leave in a good frame of mind knowing that the snow and all that goes along with winter could pose all kinds of problems for Lynne while I was gone.

That bothered me to no end.

So it was decided that I would stick with the home tutoring in the meantime. I was told that I would be just as well off with the training at home, as I would be taught the same platforms, and it should be just as extensive a program as the Carroll Center’s would have been.

Looking back, I know for a fact that I didn’t receive anywhere near the same intense training that I would have gotten in Mass, and am reluctant to think that I am just as well off today without it, and with the training that I did receive here at home.

One thing is for sure, I didn’t receive any substantial pc skills training while enrolled in the center’s independent living program, and I was very disappointed with this. One of the things I figured was that at the least, I would come home with some acquired assistive technology skills that I could continue to build on. Fact is, other than practicing touch typing, there was no real pc teaching, which left me scratching my head. I know that the office skills program would have done great things with my pc skills, but my expetations going into the 8 week program were let down completely in this respect.

Through my time with him, Mike taught me Windows, JAWS, MS Office programs, Windows Explorer and the internet. One thing about assistive technology, it changes every day, as does the accessibility of everything it comes in contact with. What works today might not work tomorrow, and vice – versa. If you think you have it figured out, wait a minute and you’ll figure out that you were wrong, or they were wrong, or it was wrong, or everything is horribly wrong and they’re all out to get you.

Really though, it feels like that some days, as the learning never ends, even though you don’t feel like learning on that particular day.

Mike and I figured out a few things, worked through a few things, made notes on a few things, and through it all, a brand new world introduced itself to me. Was I ready for this new thing? This was, strangely so, the same thing that I had loved to do, back when my eyes worked. This was the same thing that I played with, figured with, fought with, had fun with and missed greatly. Having to learn it all over again from a new perspective sort of pissed me off. Matter of fact, it really pissed me off to no end! Still does some days, but it is what it is.

I just got one of my random, out of the blue, wildly illustrated mental images of a pair of white gloved cartoon hands reaching down and typing on the keypad. Strange? You betcha. These mental snapshots and quick vids have been happening a lot these past couple months. Looney Toons gone horribly astray.

Anyway, I’m back.

Where were we? Oh ya. Mike Adams.

Mike and I worked together through the fall of 2011, and into early winter. At the end of this learning stretch, Mike told me during one meeting that he figured he had taught me all that he could, and there was really no reason to continue the lessons. I felt a little confused with his comments, mainly because I felt in no way as if I was ready to go tackle the digital world on my own. Fact is, it really scared me to think that I wouldn’t have him coming every two weeks to iron out the problems I had come across with using digital access.

That was one of those moments where I wanted to change what was happening, but it was out of my control.

Learn and live, or was it live and learn? I wasn’t sure, but I moved on none the less.

To be continued…

 

2017 06 13: Journal Excerpt Page 27 June 13, 2017

When something is out of your control, it can be frustrating to no end, especially when it messes with your plans. I’ve had a plan or two impacted greatly with circumstances beyond my control, and as I would shake my head and curse under my breath, I began to understand and learn the significance of patience and understanding. I’ll tell you right now that I’m still learning, and still do get flustered from time to time, but like I said, none of it is in my control.

If my frustrations are caused by me, then that’s a completely different learning experience.
Grin

Go after it, grab it, live it and learn from it. This life of yours wouldn’t want it any other way.

Deon

***

Page 27

Winter continued to roll on through Christmas and the first of 2011. Early in February, I had the privilege of being invited to attend a jobs workshop put on by the Division of the blind in Augusta. Leona was very excited, and when she got excited, so did I.

The first two days of the workshop had me wondering what in hell was going on. The two facilitators seemed to hate the Governor, and made sure that everyone taking the workshop knew about it. They were very unprofessional, and I was left thinking that maybe this was not going to be such a good workshop. The second day of the event, we were supposed to get a storm that afternoon, lasting right through the next day, so they cancelled the classes for the next day, and let us out early that second afternoon. On that second day, Leona came in during a meal break, and sat to talk with me. Apparently she could sense the frustration in my voice as we talked, and later that night, called me to discuss it.

She asked me, and I let into her about how totally perplexed I was by the situation, and did not know how anyone would benefit from the workshop.

She pulled me out of the workshop, and I took it again the next month, which was in March. I am not sure if these two facilitators still do the workshops, but if they do, I pity the participants.

The major event cancelling storm came and went, and the sun was out by nine o’clock that next morning, which was said to be the morning of the biggest storm mankind had ever seen. It was a fairly harmless storm. These days were not going to be able to be made up, so we were going to have to try and squeeze in the work into two fewer days. The facilitators seemed that they wanted to call off that next day in some sort of rebellious tone against the Governor, who had came out and said that if you live in Maine, you should be able to drive in the snow, especially if you had lived here for very long. This particularly seemed to frustrate these state workers, as no Governor that they didn’t vote for was going to tell them when to not take a snow day. It was a pitiful display of spoiled childish behavior, and I was very glad that Leona pulled me out of the workshop. When I took the second workshop, there were people taking the second one who had also been pulled from the first one.

The next event in March was done with professionalism by two facilitators that showed passion and expertise in the materials, and in the way they facilitated the week’s events. I benefitted greatly from the lessons. I still keep in touch with one of the facilitators.

The helper that was assigned to me for the event was Sharon Pottle. She provided the transportation and helped me with reading the printed work in the workshop. We hit it off rather well, and had some wonderful discussions during the half hour trips there and home.

The winter seemed to fly by, although it also seemed longer than the other seasons I had just come through. I missed so many things about the winter. I missed watching the snow fall. I missed being able to drive in the snow. I missed being able to use my snow blower to create the dog paths out in the back yard. I used to love walking the dogs outside after I had finished clearing the paths. It was just so clean and neat looking, and I loved watching them run through the paths. I miss being able to see the turkeys out back by the corn field scratching at the dirt. I missed being able to see the trees after an ice storm. I miss the look of branches laden with ice. I missed so many things about the winter. It was still there, but it just seemed so far away. Sort of like looking at things through a display window at a department store, but not being able to touch the items. Winter seemed to be just out of my reach, along with so many other things.

To be continued…