#LDOC! and On the NPR Clock

Well ok, my LDOC as such was actually yesterday. If one can call it that. My “summer” is a week long. Well I’ll take the little break while it lasts.

First semester of Grad School 2 in the books, and unless my interpretation of the results are incorrect I’ve managed two A’s. In any event, it is indisputable that I’ve gotten off to a better start. Things tend to work out more favorably once one finds something about which one can be passionate.

Speaking of that, I have dove in and applied for Internship at NPR’s Morning Edition. Are you kidding me? Anything there or at a local station would be a much welcome opportunity, as I’ve wanted to do this sort of thing for ages. The deadline for application is May 22, so I guess I won’t hear from them before that. We shall see, though.

With no grad school work due today and a fairly gloomy, if not straight cold! one out, I was quite productive with regards to my application. I had to get three references, which I managed as I guess most folks are kind of just taking a day inside. I also pounded out what I hope was a decent enough cover letter to at least portray what I would bring to the table.

I certainly am feeling more confident about my writing, as even more things are falling into place. I am up for publicity by my university for a piece I wrote about starting their graduate program. It is exciting, because a major publishing company sponsors this and pays, both good things for my resume and pocket. I signed a contract, and so am officially a freelance writer.

So much to ponder these days, that it’s a wonder I manage to get any sleep. I did today though, crawling out of bed and schlepping to the Waffle House for a delicious breakfast amidst the crowds. I just… needed that.

This brief interlude between semesters has me contemplating previous LDOC’s, or as we called them back in my ancient school days, last day of class. I always felt a rush of excitement, with those beautiful days sprawling in front of me.

One of the most traumatic such days I experienced, and I use that term loosely as it wasn’t a serious incident but did rattle me a bit, occurred during my fourth grade year. I had been given a deflated balloon at our class party. As I walked along toward the bus that would ferry me home and to months of freedom, I puffed on, and soon forgot I was still puffing on, that balloon. Till, “POP!” right… in my face! I still can’t take popping of balloons till this day. Do you have any such silly memory of something that happened to you on the last day of school? More soon.

Informing The Next Generation

There is these days a lot of controversy surrounding whether and how persons with disabilities should be portrayed and how they might portray themselves. I understand the concept of “inspiration porn,” or the idea that stories about us can be seen as a sort of making one feel better who doesn’t have this challenge “Oh how inspiring!… amazing!… I couldn’t function if…” I of course agree that this is an issue, and don’t really know all of the answers as to how to deal with it.

That said, I do think we should be willing to at least educate people as to how we live, especially if they are willing to learn with an open mind. It probably shouldn’t still be necessary in 2016, but sheltered workshops full of folks who are capable of competitive employment attest to a lack of understanding and willingness that still exists in the general public to fully accept us.

If what I saw this past Thursday is indicative of anything though, I find myself full of hope for the future and our youth. I was given the honor of presenting to a class of high schoolers a couple hours away via Skype on issues surrounding my blindness: how I live and work independently, and thoughts about life as I live it. I have of course done such presentations before, though it had been many years since my last one. But this was the first time engaging with modern technology in such a way. I suppose in some respects I may have been more comfortable presenting from my living room.

The kids asked mostly standard questions, but showed empathy and understanding in their responses. My favorite questions were: has my imagination been influenced by my disability? Well that’s hard for me to answer definitively, but I suppose to some extent it has. I grew up in a family of five sisters and my cousin, being a year younger than I and always an actor in his own right, so had vivid game play from as early as I could speak. This has also contributed to my dreams, another question, in which I cannot see but experience in audio. I think I may have some of the strangest dreams on the planet, wherein I have written nonexistent songs and book chapters, flown through the air, and other such stuff that makes me question where my brain gets this stuff. Do I know what colors are? To the extent that people have explained them, but of course I will never fully understand that aspect without taking it in. Would I wanna be able to see? No, because of the vast challenges that would entail. The only reason I would think about it is to view the vastness of sky and sea.

The kids had been influenced to conduct such a project by reading of The Iliad, written by Homer who was also blind. I have vague memories of that and/or The Odysey, though I must confess I am not able to recall which I actually did read. And of course Homer grew up in a vastly different era than I, where so much of this stuff did not yet exist. I am curious to know more of his story, and will probably go and look it up on concluding this post. But the kids did seem to find some fascination regarding what I use, my ability to write, and the like. While the technical aspects of the demo via Skype was cool, I suppose there would have been some utility to doing such a thing in person as it would be easier to show myself “playing with” my equipment. But this idea gives me unprecedented flexibility, and I might well try it again with other groups. I just feel that if I have any purpose on this planet, it is to open people’s eyes (ha ha) to life beyond what they can understand or conceptualize. For we talk about this all the time in my grad school course on Communication Ethics: it is so important to embrace, accept, and learn from difference. It makes us all stronger, aware of our own selves, and where we fit in.

On Ten Years of Cellularity

Well approximately. I’ve actually had one of those beautiful devices a bit longer, but acquired my OWN cell phone for the first time on April 15, 2006. But, let’s take a quick jaunt into the history of its development, at least as it happened for me.

Ah, don’t those ringtones bring back so many memories? The first time I heard that teny sound up close was in 2000, when my cousin got a phone from my Aunt for emergencies. But when you’re in college, “emergencies” often means talking to girls. I did just that, with a “woman” and I use that term loosely, that I met via a chat line. I wonder if they still have those silly old things. This “woman” had to use 21 in every user address she had online, and, well I just thank all that is good that I couldn’t afford to go and investigate more about who she was as I was a broke college student in Charlotte and she resided in Cincinnati.

Anyhow, the relevance to cell phones is that we talked for an hour on that thing. I was so happy, because it was the first time I didn’t have to use the expensive Personal Security Code (remember those?) or go and get calling cards from the “C-Store,” as we called it at UNC Charlotte. Those things kind of ripped you off on the minutes, too. That cell phone nearly melted my hand and face though, as it got so hot!

In November of 2003, I received a phone from my Aunt that she covered billwise for the first six months. Given that I was post-college and pre-job, my finances weren’t yet ready to handle such costs. But she knew having this device would actually aid in my job search, and again it aided in my talking on a chat line as well. It only had 200 anytime minutes though, with unlimited nights and weekends, so I usually started use at 9, unless it was a holiday. Yay free holidays!

Then the “revolution” really began with the introduction of the LG 4650. I couldn’t wait to get this, because it would mean that I could access my contacts easily and would have caller ID, cool! I purchased this through Verizon, and have had the same number ever since. I was bummed that I could see how to set the alarms and such in the expansive manual, but still couldn’t do so because those menus didn’t talk.

Then in 08, I got an upgrade to the LG 9900, also known I think as the EnV. This brought the joy of texting into my life, which I loved as one who was always a bit shy when actually speaking. This has had social consequences though, and not all of them good. The problem with that phone is that it wouldn’t read the names attached to incoming messages, so I as a blind person had to carefully monitor conversations. On my boldest days, I would hold three at once and usually send the wrong thing to somebody at some time. “I’m sorry, what are you talking about?” This created many amusements.

The next and final non SmartPhone upgrade was to the Samsung Haven. Finally I could tell whom was messaging me! But, the battery on that thing was terrible, as I would be lucky if I could hold a conversation for 30 unplugged minutes. And I could still barely access anything else therein, even though this “simple” device was marketed as friendly to people who are blind.

And now, of course, I have my iPhone which will likely have to be pulled from my cold, dead hands. As some have pointed out, I don’t think it’s even fair to call these things “cell phones” anymore, as they do at least all of the basic things my computer does. But that part of the story I have covered numerous times, and no doubt will again soon.

So here’s to ten more years of connectedness to people 2000 miles away while conveniently ignoring the person sitting right beside me! Share some of your history as it relates to cell phones. I’m sure you have some amusing stories.

A Quick Post on Grad School Fun

Just popping my head out for a minute to write in my regular blog, so y’all will keep reading! Assuming I have anymore words to write.

Yup, it seems that weeks 4-7 in this program will always be the toughest. And man alive am I tired! I have: whacked out 2 blog posts, four pieces on the discussion boards, (including replies) read a 12-hour audio book in three days, (something I’ve never even close to tried before and found exhausting!), and wrote a paper on said book for class. It will go through a number of drafts, thankfully, and the final is due at the end of week 7. I guess it’s not too bad overall, but I know it needs editing.

Despite all that, the vast difference between this experience and last with grad school could not be more pronounced. All of this work, while hard, is actually making me feel more infused with energy and open to writing, as I have to keep banging stuff out whether I feel I “have it” or not. The thought of possible vacations sustains me in the short-term, and my mission to gain more desirable employment powers me from underneath. So just keep wishing me well, and thanks.

Otherwise, not a whole lot. I’m glad to see the back of Winter, of course, though lately I’m not so sure the East coast has gotten the memo. Our low last night was 29, BRRR! I guess I’m just glad that didn’t happen on a worknight.

Also, I still stubbornly continue my pleasure reading, even if at a crawl by last year’s standards. No 50-book challenge. It took me a month to finish my most recent two reads, bringing me up to 8 for the year. But, that’s ok. Any reading will continue to enrich my vocabulary and my background of possibilities from which to write.

And, the fun with Amazon Video and their X-Ray continues. Actually, this proved to be beneficial, as I had to watch a film on which a “Vlog” is due tomorrow, associated with our upcoming chapter on health care communication ethics. I chose Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams. If you haven’t seen that, I recommend it! It’s about a doctor who adopted unusual strategies in treating patients, wanting to forge a greater sense of connection and believing in treating the person rather than the disease. In fact, here’s the YouTube scene I’m going to use in my PowerPoit, (sadly I’m inept in actually embedding it within that medium but want to see if I have more luck here).

I suppose in light of what actually happened to Williams in the end, it was a really sad story and foretelling of his own real difficulties. Still, one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, though the factid under X-Ray said that the real Patch Adams didn’t particularly enjoy it. I’d guess this is because of the over-the-top quality that Hollywood naturally brings to such things, as opposed to how his actual life may have played out.

Anyway, clearly I am still enjoying the work that this program is asking me to do, and that is what I think matters most. It has taken so long to find something that even remotely gets at my real passion, and so I don’t take this for granted.

Well we’ll see what I can bring next week. Till then, let’s have a good one.