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Long and Strange #SoCS

I had to write today, to log this day on my blog, as the day my heavy heart was lightened for the first time in four years.

What a long strange four years it’s been too. I am exhausted and feel like I could sleep for a month straight for my body to be able to recover.

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What a
journey
this has been with how low pieces of the US would go for their power.

I don’t have much to say that I haven’t already said, but I feel lots of things from giddy to still afraid #45 or those he’s convinced to stand by him, I still fear what they are capable of. I don’t mean to dampen anyone’s celebratory revelling. I do plan to open something bubbly today, but I’m not sure what it will take for the knot in my stomach to fully unclench. I hope this is a pivoting point, but this man has spent his whole life blaming anyone else and taking people to court to try to achieve his aims. He’s not accepting this and I do hope that will be irrelevant, sooner if not later.

I don’t know how to get over a divide this wide frankly. I wish I did.

It’s like the Covid-19 issue for many, the economy most important to some, but there’s a bigger issue going on here, a public health issue. Doctors and nurses are saying they could easily enough become overcrowded or overrun and people at home think government around the world got together to control all citizens of the world. You can’t ignore a virus like this. It won’t stop for you or me or anyone.

We couldn’t ignore what was happening these four years, but now #45 can live in his own made-up reality for a while, but the rest of us are getting on with it.

I read a book about fairy tales and disability recently and in that the author revisits the tale of the emperor and a new pair of royal clothes he was presented with. The story feels fitting, but like some huckster who has a sort of hypnotic persuasion over people. What is it about some people that makes them so close to God for some?

I could tell some how #45 wasn’t wearing some fancy royal clothes, no clothes at all in fact, and they’d still swear by him and how Godly he is.

I don’t know what’s next, 2020 I can only guess, but I will celebrate with family in any ways possible during a pandemic because I’ve been so scared and I’ve been so heartsick.

Sometimes the silent #45 is even worse than the blustering one, as long as he has yes people all around him, he will go on living in a different world than the one we’re all now gladly living in.

I didn’t realize I’d been holding my breath since 2016 and now I let that breath out, take some deep ones, as I continue to be so super grateful for the deep breaths I still can take.

Minorities like bipoc can’t take the same kind of collective sigh as we all can. I was afraid for minorities. The problems, systemic, these aren’t gone like magic and never seen again. This is the end of something, possibly, with much certainty, but I will go on speaking my truth and other people will as well.

If I never have to hear that man’s voice again, it’ll be too soon, just fine by me.

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TToT: Protest Song Edition – Beetle juice or Beetlejuice? #DumpTrump #10Thankful

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it. The whole story doesn’t show.”

—Andrew Wyeth

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

I am thankful for friends and quotes and friends who send me quotes.

2016

I am thankful for protest music. Some of these songs, I can get my feelings out, like I’m saying it all to the one I’m directing it toward, not that such folk would listen to me anyway.

I like the first song I’ve included because it’s a soulful and funky bass of a song that feels like some sort of warning, from the past and the future, from the mind of Barack Obama. It’s lyrics are simply stunning. Check it out, from This American Life, if you haven’t heard it or also, if you have.

I am thankful for this time of year, even if it does include Daylight Savings, turning the clocks back. As my chosen quote says above, I don’t quite dread the coming season like many do. And I am also, along with all that, thankful for a full moon at this time of year, or any time really because I won’t get tired of looking up at it, when I can spot it that is. I stood out on Halloween, the air was frigid but calm, and I had to search to locate it. With my dwindling remaining sight, I sometimes take a while to see where I should be looking a certain direction. My left eye is a prosthesis and my right eye sees so little now. I have extreme tunnel vision and so where someone points a finger or turns my head isn’t where my eye sees. It’s kind of silly and I find the humour in that, but I am thankful again and every time I see the moon because I never know when the last time will be the last time I see that. It could be a streetlight for all I know sometimes, but it is a bright spot in a night sky, as black as my nephew’s Halloween beetle juice (Beetlejuice) concoction.

I am thankful for new episodes of my favourite shows, This Is Us and Private Eyes. One is more of a distraction than the other, but both so good and satisfying. And I’m thankful for Jason Priestley’s teenage daughter in Private Eyes, one of the best portrayals of a character who is blind. And they don’t make a big flipping deal about it either. She’s one of the cast of characters, doing her thing and being a teenager, but she is one of the coolest in the cast with her white cane and her braille and her lovely personality. It can only help with blindness and disability representation.

I did another virtual yoga class. I haven’t done one of those in a while. As I did it, struggling once again with how to focus on my breathing, but as I did the stretches, I again thought about how thankful I am to be able to take deep, clean breaths of air. As I hear from those who’ve had Covid-19, I know many live with breathing problems, but that’s one thing I’ve managed to avoid and I’d rather not have to start now. I am thankful for every precious breath.

Speaking of sky…

I am thankful for a piano performance of You Don’t Know Me, a classic but I won’t include any link to a version of the song. I can’t find one I like more than I did the performance I was treated to. I listened to the tinkling of the keyboard’s notes, closed my eyes, and felt peace for a few minutes.

Thank you Sky.

I am thankful, to be heading to New Zealand this month. Okay, well not really, but virtually with a virtual travel class. Necessary in these times.

I am thankful to have a new violin teacher prospect. I’m meeting with her on Zoom this afternoon and I am full of anxious, nervous anticipation. It’s the day in general, of course, but I thought what better day than this to face my fear, having been out of violin lessons in the last year-and-a-half since my last teacher left. I’m going to be anxious today anyway.

I am thankful for Halloween because I could enjoy a simple holiday before the real nightmare becomes possible, again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMr2NXeRXsI

I am tired of feeling helpless, of being made to feel useless in wanting to help make the better world that I seek.

I am thankful for all those, all around the world, who don’t give up when they’d be completely understood if they did, like the ongoing protests in Belarus or the women standing up for their rights in Poland. Or for all going on in the US, even the protestations that have been or are or will be going on in times going forward. I’m thankful for the power I do have, to fix the feeling useless problem, and I’m super thankful for everyone else discovering empowerment, whatever that looks like where you are.

I am afraid, but I am thankful to be aware that fear is a common human state, but in my last protest song of this post, I go from feeling afraid, alone, to asking my neighbouring country: Seriously and I never know whether to put a question mark or an exclamation point.

In this final protest song, on this day that will live on in history because what happens in the US makes a difference in the rest of the world, like ripples in a pond – Demi Lovato sings: “How does it feel, to still, be able to breathe?”

2020

I’m thankful it is no longer 2016: “No man’s ignorance will ever be his virtue. Is this the best we can be? Seriously?”

Peace.

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Scary Scary Halloween #FightTheFear #HocusPocus #RIPSirBond #SoCS

I want to not be afraid. I want the knot in my stomach and the clenched fist in my heart and the nagging in my head to be held at bay. But how?

Thoughts. Fears. Prayers. It’s all a lot of no good.

I wonder, on this final weekend where October and November meet, what exactly is the
trick
to how I may accomplish that.

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Notice, I do not place a question mark at the end of it because I know I, as a Canadian, that I can’t do much to help relieve myself of all I’ve been feeling. I know that some questions aren’t meant to be questions because I’m not going to get answers that suffice.

Not this weekend at least.

I try to focus on the light hearted fun of Halloween today, but I want to scream from world and North American events specifically, not some silly haunted house.

I Am horrified and I wish it were only horrified that my darling nephew loves his awful Jason, zombies, and vampires

Instead of the real and lasting decisions from world leaders and politicians and so many that stay silent, even with mouth hanging open wide in horror.

What is the answer to my dread at this point?

Halloween will come and go, tomorrow we’ll wake up having lost an hour, and I will wait to see what November brings.

All I can do is be here and watch what happens, all while I’m left viewing things out of my own ability to influence. It feels like slowly sliding down into a dangerously bottomless casm and I’m powerless to hold on.

If November brings worse news than I’m daring to really believe such a thing could happen, I don’t know what I’ll feel or do.

I’m listening to protest songs this weekend because I know art has power for good and for change.

Who are the gatekeepers who let the dangerous humans through?

Honestly? Seriously?

Honestly. Seriously. I say to myself, and I sigh.

I hate to speak dramatically because I know it sounds alarmist and radical. Ooh, what a scary word is radical, but I feel fear pushing me into a future I don’t want to live to see and I can’t bare to keep it in.

So those who think I’m being dramatic, both those who know me and love me, along with anyone else who might come across these words, I throw my hands up and I sigh because I want to wake up and feel something else, anything else but what I’ve been feeling since #45 went from some ridiculous reality TV star to commander in chief.

I wrote about my fears last time, in those weeks before November the last time.

I wrote about the misogyny coming at #45’s running mate, last time.

I wrote about what giving him power, real power would say to him, would give him a green light for, last time.

I wrote about my, it turns out, justified fear, last time.

I wrote about all this, the last time, while Lenard Cohen passed away, while his words gave me comfort, even when I’d always felt unable to connect with his voice, no matter how iconic and how poetic.

I practiced my violin and went out to dinner, the night #45 was to be elected, still being free to openly eat dinner out. I saw the writing on the wall, last time.

I drank and I waited.

I had a successful time of it, these last four years, for me anyway and that all was a big deal to me. I did well and I am safe in Canada, but Canada is, four years later, far too close geographically for my liking.

I wish we could put a bit more distance between our two countries now, but our border is used by many, even still.

Any thoughts that a pandemic would show up, now, I did not think it would be now. I did think that, if given four years with such outrageous power, that would swell his head so intensely that we’d have to work even harder to dislodge him from a place he has no business (businessman though he is) in being.

I’ve never been a reality TV fan. In fact, I think the rise in reality TV culture got the worst person, unfit to be a president, where he is today. I could have gone on, rarely being made to think of him and I can’t tell you how disgusted I am at a country who would put him in such a position of power, and put me in this position of having him shoved in my face, in control of so much right across that border.

I have other things going on. In this country, I can go on and not let the elections of another country distract me all that much if I so choose.

But now you tell me how.

I want no trick-or-treat, but only to know the trick to not being afraid.

And now Sir Sean Connery, Bond, has died.

It’s odd to think of those who’ve recently died, RBG and now Bond for example. It’s strange to think of anyone who was here of late and now will not be here to see what’s to come, whatever it may be.

Today the organization I am a part of (the Canadian Federation of the Blind) is having an Eat The Fear Halloween event.

Of course it’s virtual, as covid is 2020, but it works because blindness and fear often go hand in hand.

This day is all about fear, fearing scary movies and gory costume choices.

This will go on until October ends, until those clocks jump back an hour, giving me one extra hour of fear while I wait everything out, but all the fears I have I would like not to have. I am not in a movie or in some dream.

I recently got into a travel writer by the name of Dervla Murphy, an Irish writer and chance taker and she and I are nothing alike.

She went places I won’t go. She did things I wouldn’t do. She biked from Ireland to India, took her young daughter overseas with her.

It’s fear that she speaks about that has had me reeling since I read her words. She does not fear any bridge until she comes to it. Oh, how to not fear the bridges I’ve not yet come to?

I have family members much better at this, better like Murphy, but not me.

Happy Halloween!

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TToT: Back After A Long While #OctoberSurprise #BlindnessAwarenessMonth #10Thankful

I could have posted my favourite quote about the month I most love, but that “October” quote from Lucy Maud Montgomery has been added here in previous years. I will stick to my own words today.

I’ve been out of this gratitude post activity for months now. I still practice gratitude in my head and in my heart, but I have my moments of self pity and fear also and so I wanted to break that block I had which kept getting in my way of sharing here.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

I am thankful for this, my favourite month. The air is fresher and crisper and cleaner than the earthiness of spring or the humid, heavy heated air of summer in southwestern Ontario. Winter is good also, with the smell of snow in the air all around, like a snow globe. I look forward to that, though I worry about people I love who find the long, dark months of winter a challenge to their mental health and energy levels.

I am thankful for my yearly seasonal fresh apples. They are giant, some I call pumpkin apples. They are special and tart/sweet and so crisp and sour at times. I am thankful for those who pick them from the apple trees this time of year.

I am thankful for how Canada is mostly pulling together and facing this pandemic with grace and a common goal of staying healthy, as many of us as possible. I lay low and protect myself, as I’m on my way to 25 years with my father’s kidney come 2022. Those I love are staying safe too.

I’m thankful for staying close to family during such strange times. I am lucky to have parents who taught their four children respect and love for the gift of a sibling, brother or sister, for the different things they bring to the table of sibling closeness. Our parents know they won’t always be here and how important it is to keep growing a bond with a sibling, no matter where life takes any one of us four. We’re here for each other and I don’t see that changing, but I hope I can do my part to keep the bonds strong.

I’m thankful each sibling and I have talks and they each keep me sane, in different ways, at different moments when I might be struggling to voice my concerns and fears over the state of things. I tend to let my imagination run wild with these things, am frightened for what’s to come in the US especially in the coming months. It’s hard here too, as helpless as I feel because I can’t contribute a vote against the man currently occupying the people’s house there in DC. I can only watch from up here, in horror and disgust and embarrassment for it all and the still real possibility that it could go worse still.

I am thankful for a more successful year for me, compared to 2019, dangerously contagious unknown virus that has come upon us in 2020 notwithstanding. I’ve started doing what’s called sensitivity reads for a children’s publisher in Toronto and now an accessibility review for a science journalist who was presenting at some sort of UK science journalism conference. She wanted to do all she could to make her slide presentation, with its images and alt text on those images accessible for everyone and needed someone with a screen reader to look everything over. I feel like I am doing my part in this world to improve accessibility for myself, others with the same needs as I have and that’s something at least..

I am thankful the show I do with my brother is
now available
in more places than one. We’ve had some incredible guests on the show in recent weeks and we’re not done yet.

I’m thankful for the nature documentaries on Netflix I’ve had to escape into for distractions lately.

Most of what’s available on Netflix now is audio described, allowing me to imagine the scenes of wildlife and the natural world in my mind as I’m listening.

Watching these, I felt peaceful for a brief but necessary break in my day, but also I’ve been reminded why I love nature (my religion) and the need for action to protect it.

I’m thankful I have an essay
about Braille
I wrote, published in my third print book, not counting the
magazine
I now have my name on as assistant-editor over the last year or so.

vcznKJ7.jpg

I probably should have confirmed, but I’m unfortunately unsure I can post the correct photo description, as I am unsure which one I went with here. I just chose one from my photos, one from that day, something with the print magazine my essay is in, me holding it or it being open and showing the page with my name or my story on it.

I’m thankful for the Women Who Travel online study course I’ve been taking, for the virtual walk around New Zealand next month, and the nature writing class I’m taking in January, 2021, all of which give me something meaningful to focus on, to work on, and to use as inspiration until I can travel again one day.

I’m thankful for the recent online fiction writing class I started, every Friday night until right before Christmas. It will keep me accountable..

Though we don’t know what will be by the time Christmas and the end of this wild year arrives, but until then I am doing my best to get by.

So, if you ask me that usual, general question from now until at least 2021 and the hope of a possible COVID-19 vaccine is perfected, even if I sigh, suck it up and answer “fine,” I won’t exactly be fine, but I’m doing what I can to stay hopeful and sometimes I fall back into that trap of answering in a way as to not make others feel uncomfortable to continue any further talk with me.

Thank you, Kristi and everyone, for still being here to show me the way on staying as accountable to being thankful as humanly possible and a recent Happy Birthday to our hostess here at the TToT.

And finally, this is a shot of my pal before I had to say goodbye and have him put down last month.

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RIP and I’m glad there’s no more suffering for you. Staying positive here, as best I can. There’s always something to be thankful for.

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The Names of Flame

Colour blindness indeed. I miss seeing colour, every…single…day. Writing my own essays about colour – what it meant to me and what it still means now, and always, whether I can see it or not. This post is beautiful and I had to share on this #FlashbackFriday about the colours I still love so much.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

by Jan Priddy

Five years ago, I created a folder on my computer titled COLORbook. My intention was to complete a series of essays about my personal and cultural understanding of color. The idea had been stirring in my head for a long time. I had written about orange ten years before. It is the color of a dying ancient cedar tree my friend Ann mourns. And old word tracing its lineage from fourteenth century English, back to Old French or perhaps Spanish through the Arabic naranj, the Persian narang, and eventually to the Sanskrit naranga, meaning orange tree, a word that might derive from an even earlier term meaning fragrant. Our word for the color orange and the fruit have an ancient co-existence, but the citrus fruit came first.

I had completed several chapters—blue sky and hot pink, color blindness and little black dresses—and had…

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A Review of Nadina LaSpina’s Such a Pretty Girl

Congratulations on this special disability themed issue. Something positive for 2020.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

By Jessie Male

As I write this, we are living in a world dominated by a virus. Conversations are centered on who is most susceptible and what are the long-term effects. Media outlets tout commentary on the war we are fighting and who will come to the frontlines. We avoid close quarters and eye others with suspicion, wondering what is permeating inside. In the worst-case scenarios, the virus attacks a whole family. Grief can come in so many layers it is difficult to locate the core.

This is 2020. Yet it is also 1950. It is three years before my mother and aunt contract polio at the ages of five and eight. Throughout the United States, headlines inform families to be wary of swimming pools and to watch children closely. It is common to hear about isolation and quarantine. And in Sicily, Nadina LaSpina is only sixteen months old, a…

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A Review of Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma

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By M. Leona Godin

Haben Girma’s memoir, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law contains many gripping moments. For example, in the opening scene, her father is taken off the plane in Ethiopia, leaving seven-year-old Haben, with her limited vision and hearing, to puzzle out the mystery of his absence and how she will make it home to Oakland California by herself.

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law also contains many humorous nuggets about navigating our society’s rampant ableism that creeps even into the mind of her little cousin who demands Haben make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, while insisting that blind people cannot make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches: “You said a blind person can’t make a PB&J. So how can I make you a PB&J?” she asks him to which he responds: “But I saw you!”

“His personal observations contradict the ‘truth’ he…

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Disability as Nuance, Disability as Craft

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

In the introductory conversation around Brevity‘s special issue on the Experiences of Disability, Sonya Huber asks her fellow guest editors Keah Brown and Sarah Fawn Montgomery to discuss how disability shapes their writing process, including ways in which their disabilities can change and deepen what and how they write:

Sarah Fawn Montgomery: Of course disability impacts my writing by sometimes limiting when, if, or how much writing I can accomplish, but disability also deeply informs my craft. It is subject and structure, influencing everything from framing and pacing, to detail and syntax. Disability has also shifted my writing practice. I know that I might not always be well enough to write, so I take advantage of any opportunities and am grateful rather than critical of the work I produce during this time. I recognize that long stretches of writing time are not always possible and have learned to write…

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Outlook: Now On #iTunes and #Spotify

Recording Outlook: a show about accessibility, advocacy, and equality
during a pandemic has been a bit of a change.

We were so used to going into the radio station, every Monday, for eleven o’clock eastern each week.

94.9 CHRW Radio Western, radio station on the campus of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada

When corona hit, we had to rethink how we did the show if we wished to continue, as in studio was no longer an option.

“Go home and stay home,” were the words of Canada’s PM back in March and so we’ve been doing the show remotely ever since.

We’re coming up on our radio show’s two year anniversary next month, perfect time to announce that we’re finally available on
Spotify
and on
ApplePodcasts
in podcast format.

I guess COVID-19 has given us the time we needed to get on this finally, but we’ve had some really awesome interviews and show topics in these last six months. We’ve talked to allies and to writers, to historians and to educational assistants.

We’ve done documentary and book reviews and covered recently deceased US congressmen John Lewis and the 2020 National Federation of the Blind convention coverage, all virtual for the very first time.

Any listens, downloads, follows, or ratings would be most helpful in building a further audience.

We’re still always available on
SoundCloud
and on
Facebook
or, Twitter: @OutlookCFB

My brother and I, we thank you and we are always available for questions or ideas for show topics. You can email us at:

outlookonradiowestern@gmail.com

Be well everyone.

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Navigating My Blindness with a Guest Post #NavigatingBlindness

I think this blog is important for finding common ground and others who’ve been there. When the blog’s owner invited me to write a
guest post
about blindness in my own life and the lives of my family, I couldn’t pass it up.

Thanks, NB, for sharing your navigational space and making a place for other stories of the navigation life requires.

Be sure to check out this blog from a mighty mom who works diligently on advocacy for the benefit of her son and so many others.

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