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…

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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 11 21 No Matter Where You Go November 21, 2015

No matter where you go, there you are, so pay attention, ok?

I always have loved that saying. It’s true, you know? Wherever you go, there’s a pretty good chance that you just arrived there too. Grin

With all the things swirling around us, piling up at our feet or tugging on our shirt sleeve, chances are that they’re surrounded by life, in its simplest form, in all its amazing glory, in every obscure shape and size imaginable. There it is, in your face, and don’t look now, but it’s happening 24 / 7, without you ever having to ask for it, expect it or understand it.

It’s alright if you are one of those folks who don’t understand it, because I’m one of them too. I’m kind of used to it, which doesn’t mean I like not understanding, but more importantly it announces my ability to recognize my own areas of insufficient knowledge.

Boy, that takes up a lot of room. Area I mean.

I just read a couple chapters from one of my college text books, and within those sixty or so pages, I was amazed just how much I didn’t know about the subject, which was music. I was amazed that after living my whole life, listening to music throughout, so much information could just escape my wandering mind. I mean, its music for God’s sake! Music! One of my most cherished things on the planet!

Out of the classes I’m taking this semester, I’m having a harder time with this music class. I know, I know, right? You’d think that with all the music I’ve listened to over the course of my lifetime, I’d have a better understanding of it all. I suppose that even though those tingles I get up my spine when a song plays that I really like, I’d be able to remember and know more about it.

And, I don’t, so there.

No matter where I go, there I am, but that doesn’t mean I’m always paying attention. It doesn’t mean any of us are really paying attention. Not that we shouldn’t or anything, but with so much time and so much information about so many things to take in and retain, how on earth could we?

55 year old uninformed goat coming atcha, like it or not. That’s what I feel like sometimes. Uninformed. Not misinformed, although I can be easily persuaded some days.

What the hell am I writing about now? Do I even know? Did I veer away from some atmospheric script or something? Should I know what’s around the next corner? Am I supposed to try and teach someone something right about now? Did I just learn a lesson? Did you? Have you already stopped reading this post? Can you even read?

I didn’t know where this writing would take me when I started it, and I still don’t. Hopefully when I reach the end, I’ll be aware of it and stop writing.

I was talking to my college technology accessibility tutor at school a couple days ago, and when I told him that I had posted three hundred or so entries on my blog, he told me that I should have them grouped into a book and published. I thought about it for a few moments, but realized that it would be like Captain Kangaroo having a dump truck full of ping pong balls dumped onto his head. Little white balls of hither and thither, bouncing to and fro, with no direction in mind, just a reactionary moment among friends who don’t have a clue where they’re going either.

Hey, wait a minute.

So, it’s like, umm, no matter where they go, there they are, right?

 

2015 09 13 Accessibility, And Then Some September 13, 2015

Accessibility, and Then Some

I love digital technology. Always have, always will. Probably the first taste of it I can remember is sitting in the bowling alley with my little brother Scott, playing a duck shooting game that completely hypnotized me. You see, you could sit all the way across the bowling alley with a gun controller in your hand, point at a screen on the other side of the alley, and point and shoot the little plastic gun to nail those little duckies flying across the screen. Digital technology at its finest.

This was around 1972 or so, and from there, the innovations came charging at us with a fervor that has never looked back.

From television, to cruise control, cell phones, video games, refrigerators, washers, dryers, baby monitors, pool pumps, LED lighting, hospital monitoring equipment, wheelchairs, Bluetooth headphones, answering machines, and so on and on and on, the new gadgets just keep coming and coming, right? It seems as soon as you purchase that new computer, or smart television, then get it home and out of the box, there’s a newer version waiting to take its place. Cheaper, better, faster, stronger, smarter and so on it goes. Gotta have it, have always needed it, been waiting for it, just bought it, waiting for them to deliver it, wondering why I bought it. I’ve been there. Read the book, saw the movie and bought the t-shirt.

Did I say I love digital technology? Did I ever tell you that I couldn’t have picked a better time to lose my vision? Do you know that the advancements in assistive technology these past five years has totally amazed me? It’s true, you know?

I am blessed beyond belief at the incredible stuff that’s available to lend help to those who can’t see, and it’s only getting started. Now, don’t get me wrong. Assistive technology isn’t always a bowl full of chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cups and hot fudge. Oh no sir it surely isn’t. Assistive technology can give you a helping hand, but it can sometimes smack you upside the head, rending you completely flustered and totally annoyed. I’ve tasted both sides of the story, and I much prefer the tasty chocolate side myself, but there’s no avoiding the unpopular other side, as I have found out this past week.

I am finished with week one of my fall semester at community college. I am taking two online courses, which means that I am totally relying on digital technology to be able to get at and do my course work. I have been up against it from the get go, and have learned probably more in one week than any other week since I saw the color purple for the last time. I love the challenge, but this kind of challenge can quickly let the air out of your balloon. Good thing I have my handy dandy personal life support pump only a few feet away in the form of Mrs. Dunster’s chocolate sugared donuts in the fridge.

Thank you and may I have another please?

I came, I saw, figuratively speaking, I dove in, I jumped out, I ran to the help desk, I asked for help, I received an amazing array of assistance, I ran back to the pool, I jumped back in head first, I jumped back out and shook off, I stepped back and thought for a moment, I again asked for help, I figured and pondered and worried and growled and scratched my head and then I dove back in.

Week one is finished and as the dust settles down I can dig my heels in and ready myself for week 2.

Do goats really growl?

 

2015 07 20 One Down, Fifty Something To Go July 20, 2015

Well I did it. One down and fifty something to go.

A couple days ago I finished up with my first online class at KVCC, and I’m here to tell you that although Blackboard was a nightmare, I did it. Grin

Back last April and early May, I was having fits. I never thought I would be able to figure out the Blackboard program. It just seemed so cumbersome to learn, and as the weeks winded down towards the first day of class, things started falling into place. A lot of hard work and determination ended up making the difference. My wife giving me rides to campus for some pre course tutoring didn’t hurt either. She never gets enough credit for how she has helped me these past few years, and hopefully if I can pull my head out of my butt for a while, I can appropriately show her my appreciation.

Well, there I was this past May, heading into week one of the course which was Sociology 101. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I felt as prepared as I could. The work load wasn’t that bad, some reading, some writing, some more reading and writing, and voila! Course complete!

I only had a couple incidents of incorrect posts and disappearing assignments, but the work load wasn’t as overwhelming as I had first anticipated. There was a ton of writing, but me and writing seem to get along fairly well. I sit down, I start to type and before I know it, three or four pages are staring back at me. Piece of cake. Piece of crumb cake.

So here I am, taking a break for a week or two, and then it’s time to gear up and head towards two more online classes for this fall. I already have one of my text books ready to go on my Learning Ally ap, but I have to get some help for the second book, which is available on a different platform that I’ve never used before. One more thing to learn.

I’m going to be taking English 101 and, get this, The History of Rock and Roll. Yup. You heard it right. As much as I love music, this is one class that feels like it fell down from the musical part of the heavens. Makes me wonder if all of heaven is under the influence of music. I suppose it depends on the person, right?

I’d like to thank my tutor and mentor at the college. His name is Nick, and he really has made the difference with being able to learn and work through some difficult items, like the Blackboard.

Thanks Nick.

Oh ya, I’ve been asked to be part of a mentor program for first year students this fall. I was humbled beyond belief when I was asked, and with much honor, I accepted the position. I’m not sure how much mentoring I’ll be able to do, but if I can pass along a little piece of what has been given to me then I’ll be one extremely humbled and happy goat.

I hope your summers are going well. The muggy weather is here for a couple days, but overall it hasn’t been that bad.

Thanks for stopping by, and please take care, or else!

dp

 

2014 08 10 Two Weeks To Go August 10, 2014

Two weeks to go and here I am, typing away. I haven’t been posting much this past month and for those of you who take the time to come in and read what I have to say, I apologize. My mind has been a swirling torrent of distraction lately, and this time, I have an excuse.

I am supposed to get a new laptop tomorrow, along with a fresh copy of Office 2013 and some much needed tutoring with the accessibility of these new items. Like I said, I have two weeks to go before I embark on my new adventure on a college campus, and I can hardly believe what’s happening.

Am I ready for this new chapter in a billy goat’s life? I would like to think that I am, but the old me, the old ways of thinking pull me off to the side and whisper in my ear, “Dude. What are you, crazy?”. Fact is, I am crazy, and I am partially confused, but I am continuing to move my feet forward, one step at a time, one sweep of the cane at a time. It’s all I know and it’s becoming who I am, so here I go.

I have two weeks to learn the new laptop, which is Windows 8.1. I have two weeks to learn Office 2013, which is infested with those pesky ribbons. I have two weeks to figure out where all my clothes are. You see, my wife spent a whole day sorting and arranging and cleaning and hanging my clothes so that I can know where everything is and have no worries when it comes to, “How do I look?”. The worst thing I could do is to show up on the first day of classes wearing a plaid dress shirt over a striped t.

I have two weeks to try and figure out Blackboard, my new KVCC email account, Learning Ally digital book portal, Firefly, my new digital recorder, and the hits just keep coming.

I also have two weeks, followed by the rest of my life to try and thank all of you for your continued support, love and inspiration. I have been humbled by it all and would care not to think where I would be without it. This amazing bombardment of “Wow!” has come at me from all angles, most recently by the folks at the KVCC campus. Their infectious attitude and overall eagerness has helped me in so many different ways. I feel as though they have welcomed me to their family of learning in a most unique way, and with my efforts to show my appreciation, I truly feel as though I am heading into an amazing time in my life.

I used to drive around Central Maine in my work truck wondering how my life might have been if I had done things differently. I wondered what it would have been like if I had of applied myself accordingly. I wondered how things might have been different if I had gone on to college, or chosen a different profession, or taken a right on red, instead of just waiting for the light to turn green so I could drive straight ahead. I wondered, and I pondered, and I contemplated and scratched my head and tapped my feet and checked my rear view mirror, then I stepped on the gas and continued on with the way things were.

I have two weeks to go before I end up right where I’m supposed to be. This is sort of scary. This is kind of unbelievable. This is rather unexpected. This is the next step of this crazy, wild, amazing roller coaster ride. This is something I should have done about thirty years ago. This is something my wife told me I should do. This is something I never thought I’d do.

This sure is something.

 

2014 07 08 Pop Quiz July 8, 2014

So, like, now I’m all set, right? Everything’s in order, right? All my little quacky ducks are in a row, right? Have I thought of everything? Have I left anything out? Is there something that I’ll come across and then say, “I can’t believe I forgot that!”?

Some days, as I gather up my stuff to head into my day, I am met with a never ending barrage of feelings like I have left out something of major importance. You know that feeling, like perhaps you left the stove on, or left the front door open, or forgot to shut off a switch or maybe you didn’t change the dog’s water?

I used to get these doubtful thoughts quite often when I could see, and now that the old billy goat eyes ain’t working too well, well, well, well, let me tell you, it’s a never ending rummage sale through the old noggin, trying to find clues that lead me towards things that have been left undone. The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” really is true. It’s not just a saying. It’s pure, it’s true, and it holds more factual crap than you could ever imagine.

I’m getting better at it though. I’m learning to sort things a little better as time goes by. I’ve learned how to categorize and columnize and group together and list and shuffle things a little differently. Matter of fact, a lot differently. Back when this big, beautiful blue marble darkened on me, I had a hard time remembering a phone number for more than five seconds. Now, I’ve learned how to turn the number into a rhythmic melody that somehow makes sense and stays with me a little longer. As I move through my day, I picture things in my head and build a never ending and constantly changing map of my day. From the rug on the living room floor, to the rug on the floor at the bottom of the ramp in the garage, to where the recliner in the living room has been recently moved to, it’s a world of adaptation, and like I’ve said a few times before, you can’t advance until you absorb and adapt. Oh, it’s possible to trudge on ahead, but believe me, if you’re not prepared, you’ll eventually pay the piper, and these days, he’s a greedy son of a flute playing biscuit.

We all have to make adjustments. We all have to learn how to manipulate. We all have to learn how to study our surroundings and put it all in perspective. We’re all constantly changing, evolving, noticing, learning, anticipating, reacting, gaining knowledge and recognizing the better choice of the two.

I’ve always liked mind bending puzzles. I’ve enjoyed a mental challenge from time to time. Having limited vision is the mind bending, brain twisting puzzle of all puzzles. The challenge is there, some days more than others. The tests, the pop quizzes, the unannounced Friday exams are all lined up, ready to challenge you, challenge me, and it’s up to me, up to us, to make the most of them. I’ve learned how to make the best of mine. Some days I don’t do too well with what’s been put in front of me. I’ve got the broken toes, bruised shins, knees, hips, forearms, busted fingers, scraped wrists, bent nose and dents on the noggin to prove it. I guess you could call them the outcomes of the tests, the performance rankings, the grades handed down from the instructor on high. When you look at me, you’re getting a pretty good look at my report card.

Back in the day, when report card day was at hand, man oh man, was I ever filled with anxiety. Usually though, my grades reflected on how well I studied and how hard I worked.

With all the bumps and bruises these days, you’d think I’d be getting an A, or at least a B+.

Ya, ya, I know. Some of you out there are shouting, “The bumps and bruises are cuz you didn’t apply yourself enough!”

Here’s a little hint. The tutoring never stops.

No matter where you go, there you are, so, take advantage of it.

Thanks for stopping by, have a wicked good day, and please, don’t ever think you’ve studied enough.

Now then, let’s go see if we can find the corner of the couch, or the cupboard door that I left open, or the computer desk drawer that’s pulled out, or the corner of the freezer in the garage, or maybe, if I’m lucky, the back of the text book where all the answers are.

dp