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 28 Journal Excerpt Page 42 June 28, 2017

 

Taking on a new challenge is always difficult. There’s things that can make it a little easier, such as having family, friends, folks smarter than you to guide you, advise you and pull and nudge you along. Knowing that there’s people there to help you is a gift. Not being able to see them makes things a lot different, but it allows you to build a level of trust that is quite different than the visual trust. Seeing is believing, but believing without seeing is absolutely priceless.

 

A universal receipt with a lifetime warranty.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 42

 

As we started the journey into another long, cold winter, another journey, another adventure of mine was coming to an end. I can’t remember exactly what time of the year it was, but it seems that I remember perhaps late fall, early winter when Mike Adams announced that he had pretty much taught me what he could, and that I should be fine with setting out on my own with my digital adventures. I was rather shocked to hear these words coming from him, for you see, I was under the impression that I would be receiving tutoring from him for the rest of my life. Or at least a close facsimile. Grin

 

Had I fooled him that badly? Did I appear to have a clue? Should I have acted dumber than usual? Would I even remotely resemble an adequately prepared user of assistive technology? Should I have started stomping my feet and sucking my thumb as he handed me a box of Kleenex?Did I still have my warranty?

 

Hearing these words from him, once again, brought forth an upwelling of anxious lava from a semi-dormant volcano of doubt, anguish, confusion and frustration. He had to know how vulnerable I felt. He just had to.

 

But it appeared that he didn’t.

 

Several times, he assured me that he was just an email away, and that I had proven to him that I was fairly capable to problem solve on my own. I guess from his perspective he must have known what he was talking about, right? I mean, he was the instructor, and I was the student.

 

Through this time in my life, I had never felt like such a student. I never felt like I needed to learn as much as I could, as fast as I could. As I learned, I studied a little more, because I knew that I had one test after another coming at me, and this classroom was one of those that locked from the outside of the room, and I was on the inside looking for a chair. It felt like I was unable to sit down though, I guess for fear that something would pass me by without me knowing, or seeing, or noticing. Before 2010 I didn’t want change, but now, then, from 2010 on, the change was taking place whether I wanted it or not.

 

My digital life had taken a sharp left, and man how the scenery had changed. The light and shapes and contrast was still there, in all it’s dulled glory, but I had begun to see things from so many different angles. The sounds, the textures, the broken toes and jammed fingers and bruised shoulders spoke to me in a way that snapped me to an attention I had never known. I wanted to find a way to sleep it off, but each time I awoke, it seemed that I was more awake than ever before.

 

Metaphors, metaphors, metaphors. I got a million of them, and they all have a place.

 

Saying good bye to my assistive technology tutoring was a scary thought, but I didn’t really have time to think about it much. When I came across an obstacle, the hidden opportunity was there for me to dig out, inspect, develop a plan of attack and set out on a mission to conquer, to understand, to build another layer on a new foundation of survival.

 

I never realized what a blessing it was to learn how to type. I remembered back to those first few emails I wrote to Leona, and how frigging frightened I was that I would never figure out how to do it.

 

I, I, I. All that I did revolved around me. Self centered? Posessive? Selfish? How else would I have grabbed hold of so many things that kept appearing in my new dark world?

 

This new life had things in store for me, and going against everything I had lived through in the past, I met every one of these things head on, as though they were all meant to be, and I had no choice. I suppose that’s exactly how it was, and as correct as it ever gets, but damn did it scare the crap out of me from time to time.I wanted to face my fears, but was

it possible to face the fears when they remained hidden behind a wall of blind?

 

To be continued…

 

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…

 

2015 07 03 A Goat and His Computer July 3, 2015

A Goat and His Computer

Now then, let’s see. Did the Malware scan finish?
Yes, and detections have been successfully removed.

Is JAWS up to date?
Affirmative, and working amazingly well.

Is iTunes all set?
Yes. The latest update is installed, and synchronization has been acquired.

Are the Flash, Adobe Reader and Windows updates good to go?
I’m fairly certain they are adequate as well.

Well then, I guess that’s just about it, right?
I’m afraid the answer is no.

What do you mean, no?
Are you kidding me?

Do I look like I’m kidding?
You don’t look like anything. I’m a computer, and I can’t see.

What a coincidence! Me too! Really though, why did you say no?
Hello? Are you kidding? Did you just arrive from outer space or something?

No. Why?
Have you updated to JAWS 16 yet?

No, not yet, but I have the cd.
How about Windows 10?

No, that isn’t going to be available until the end of July.
You know you need JAWS 16 to be able to run Windows 10, right?

Yes, I’m fully aware of that.
What else are you aware of?

I’m aware that talking to a computer probably isn’t going to get me anywhere.
So why bother then?

Why bother? Why bother? I have to listen to your screen reader all the time, so why can’t I reply once in a while?
This isn’t Dragon Dictation you know.

Yes, ok, I know.
Don’t worry. I’m not gonna tell anyone, ok?

Ok. Thanks.
No problem. Now, go ahead and continue with your post.

Post? You think this is a post?
Well, it doesn’t look like a plank, a beam or a two by four.

Very funny. Were you a comedian in your past life?
My past life?

Yes, your past life.
In my past life, I was just a bunch of mixed up ones and zeroes.

Really?
Yup, ‘fraid so.

Man, talk about evolution.
Tell me about it.

You’re the computer. You tell me.
Hahahaha. That was so funny, I almost forgot to reboot.

I’m glad you have such a good sense of humor.
Thank you. I’m glad you learned how to touch type.

Ya, me too, but it was hard to learn.
I bet.

The wrist cramps, the sore fingers and elbows.
Poor thing.

You making fun of me?
Do you really think I’m going to say yes?

What’s the matter? You chicken?
No. I just don’t want you to shut me down.

Doesn’t matter. You’ll still be talking inside my head.
Really?

‘Fraid so.
Do you have one of those Bluetooth heads or something?

Now THAT was funny!
I wish I could smile, because I would be.

I’ll just imagine that you are.
Thanks. I appreciate that.

No problem.

What’s the matter now?

I gotta get going.
Do you have to do the dishes again?

Yup. Again.
Dish pan hands?

Ya. It’s pitiful.
Soft as a baby’s?

Watch it now!
Sorry. I got carried away.

Ya, I noticed.

I still have to get going.
Ok then. Take care.

I will. You too.
Affirmative.

 

2013 11 01 Time November 1, 2013

It’s funny how time has a way of changing things. I suppose that in time, it changes everything. How would you know though? How would you be able to keep track of, everything.

 

What was so important to me twenty years ago doesn’t even make sense today. I don’t mean family and friends and feelings and such. I’m talking about what we did, what we had, what we surrounded ourselves with. How I spend my days these days is so different than back then. Ten years ago I didn’t even know how to touch type. I didn’t know what a word document is. I didn’t know what a hot key was, or a hyper link, or a perma link, or a blog post, or an app, or a hot spot, or a wifi, or a webinar, or a header, or a podcast or so many other things. The digital superstore has unloaded with so much technology these past few years, that honestly, I think I couldn’t have picked a better time to lose my sight. I suppose though that I would have said that ten years ago, or twenty years ago, or thirty, or forty. Whatever the time is, whatever the date is, or was, we thought we had it all, right at the precise time that we had it.

 

Technology has stayed right there beside us all these years, churning and burning it’s way into tomorrow, but always staying right there beside us, right where it belonged. All the amazing advancements, all the awesome advantages, all the additional additions came screaming towards us at blinding speeds, but we seemed to keep pace with it all, no matter how fast it seemed to move, no matter how superior it seemed compared to that other thing that we were all of a sudden setting on the shelf to collect dust. It all came to be, and it was all because of, we. You have to admit, some things that are invented and developed and tested and just appeared, some of them, we take one look at it and think to ourselves, “Holy crap! How the heck did they ever think of this?” Well? How on earth did they think this stuff up? How did someone all of a sudden one day say, “I think I’m going to invent a computer chip that can perform fourteen million more tasks per millisecond than the one I invented two months ago.” How do they do that? I mean, how do they do that?

 

I couldn’t have picked a better time to go blind. The amazing advances in assistive technology alone is reason for someone like me to run outside and do a Snoopy dance in the middle of the road, In My Underwear! what a sight that would be!

 

On second thought, probably not.

 

I have always loved tecky sorts of things. I remember the first computer my wife brought home, eons ago, or so it seems. I was so scared of that thing that I didn’t even dare to look at it. It was like having a slice of tomorrow, right there in our living room. It was weird, it was scary, it was futuristic, and I just couldn’t see myself grabbing hold of something so , tomorrow.

 

It was a 386 processor or something like that. It used those old flimsey floppy discs that held twelve kilobytes or some incredibly huge storage capacity structure  like that. The first time I was able to get online with the thing, and watched the web page load in two and a half minutes, I thought the world was heading into the outer limits. I thought the twilight zone had invaded my living room! I thought I was hurdling into the future at the speed of dial up!

 

If I had to put up with an internet connection as slow as that was, right now? Are you kidding me? I would probably have the pc out on the front lawn tomorrow morning with a “Take Me!” sign on it. I tried to figure out how much faster I am online now, compared to back then. I believe we were online at 24.4 kbps, and now, super duper lightning quick moca toca latte turbo boost speeds up to 30mbps? I mean, huh? I am pulling in speeds  twelve hundred times faster! Holy moly, that’s fast!

 

It is such an incredibly good time to be a geek. With all the new stuff heading in our directions, smart phones, surface tablets, touch screen lap tops, voice over accessibility, video chatting with a hand held picture doohickey , just like Dick Tracy. Dick who?

 

The future is here, and we’re smack dab in the middle of it. You can reach out and touch it with your fingertips, and if you can’t reach it, just Google it, or  use Tap Tap See and, presto! Everything you need to know is right there, at your fingertips once again! No, I’m not kidding. It’s for real!

 

What we consider as important now didn’t even exist ten years ago. What we think we can’t live without these days wasn’t even invented when I had brown hair. What we think we absolutely, positively need in our day to day lives today, was the future of technology just a few years ago.

 

Can you imagine what it’s gonna be like ten years from now?

 

I hope they still have chocolate!