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TToT: Man Who Ate The World and Other Losses – Dive In and Go Deep, #10Thankful

Well, that didn’t go well – not well at all. A big bust you could say.

Trade war looms as Trump and adviser lob insults and accusations at Trudeau – The Globe and Mail

Britain. France. Germany. Italy. Japan. All their support is welcome, but all good intentions aside, none of them must share a border with a foolish reality TV personality, one whose spokespeople said openly Canada and Justin Trudeau were mocked to look tough for the most serious meeting any president could ever be having.

If I ever wanted #45 to succeed in something, it was now, when the world could possibly end up exploding into nuclear war. The rest of it, if we in Canada had to swallow his insults for that purpose alone, I’d say we could gladly take that on. I fear we haven’t heard the last of it though.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for marking June 5th, transplant anniversary, with a dinner with my dad to celebrate 21 years.

I have my father and I have a working kidney. Makes me the luckiest woman around, I’d say.

All one needs – one of each. Top notch.

I’m thankful for an inspired writing prompt to make us all write better at my writing group.

“Love was a hallowing man with a home and only I knew that.”

And the stories just sort of spun loose from there, from all of us, getting us to write in styles we weren’t often known for amongst that room of our creative peers.

I’m thankful for a delicious vanilla latte and catch up with a friend.

I’m thankful for biscotti.

I’m thankful for the right and access to vote.

The accessibility issue is a different story, but not nearly so bad as it could be. These are the times I wonder if I have the right to complain, to think I should try for betterment.

It was a braille sleeve that the voting card slides into and braille and raised numbers for each party’s offering for my riding, not that I claim to understand all the lingo. So, I was with someone I trusted, to help make sure the card was lined up properly and to let me know the order the names were going with the numbers. I learned later alphabetical. Should have known.

So, I counted down, to the correct number, and made my X in the small cut-out circle provided.

Now, all the strong wording was that Ontario’s possible next provincial leader, if chosen PC/Conservative Party, would basically be giving Ontario its very own copy of the guy put into the Whitehouse. Enough to scare anyone.

Was that all they were trying to do? (Whom I’m not really sure.)

And thus I was lucky to live in Ontario, Canada, where I could vote, where my blindness didn’t prevent me from voting, my right in a democratic society. And some of you will not have known much about this, but the PC was voted in, and he is the brother of deceased Toronto mayer, known around the world a few years back, Rob Ford, who even made it onto the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

What have we gotten ourselves into, I wonder? Is he a #45 wannabe?

He sure feels like it, but as we don’t do anything really to anywhere near as dramatic of a degree as our neighbours to the south, I don’t know if he’s going to be as bad as all that. (See my opening for this week’s post.)

As switching from one party to another often goes, in politics, the Liberal Party had a lot of years to run Ontario and now it’s someone else’s turn. I just hope all the scare tactics were playing on mine and other people’s greatest fears, though sometimes my dramatic side feels totally justified.

I’m thankful for the ocean, on World Oceans Day and every day.

The morning after Thursday’s election, I was feeling low about everything, when it seemed the party to beat had started to seem like the NDP, but no big surprise, as my negative side kept whispering in my head. All I wished for was to be by the ocean.

I’m thankful for Dr. Sylvia A. Earle and her mission.

Mission Blue

I’m thankful for my sister helping me shop for what looks/feels good on me, even without being able to see any of it from my end.

It is the strangest thing, to go by fabric and texture and shape, rather than how a colour looks or how it looks on the body. Again, I’ve learned that yellow isn’t my colour. Shame really.

I’m thankful for documentaries about puffins, grey seals, and the coast of Ireland.

The Parts Unknown host visiting the closest thing to Ireland, this side of the Atlantic.

And travel storytellers like the one that was lost for good.

Anthony Bourdain and the Missing Piece – Longreads

RIP to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

Anthony Bourdain became one of #MeToo’s strongest allies – The Lily

Earle said to “dive in and go deep” and that’s the way Bourdain seemed to live his life, right up until the end.

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.”

—Anthony Bourdain

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TToT: Back Home In Ontario Edition, #CFB #Organize #Empowerment #10Thankful

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

—Jonathan Swift

I have been away for a few weeks, most recently in British Columbia and before that, I guess I couldn’t seem to organize my thankfuls, but a visit to the ocean is good for a little perspective.

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Caption: Sitting with my group, by the lighthouse, at the end of the breakwater in Victoria.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities

Speaking of, “Organize” was the theme of the 2018 convention for the Canadian Federation of the Blind, in Victoria, BC.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for capable airline pilots.

I’ve probably flown ten times or so in my life. Every one of those times, I hold my breath as the plane speeds down the runway, takes off, and lands again later on. I get nervous, clench my hands into fists, and then try to just go with it.

Through all that, through every bump and jostle of turbulence, I am grateful to feel that there must be a super capable person in charge of flying that aircraft.

This time, flying across Canada and back, was no different.

I’m thankful for a mostly accessible place to stay.

The hotel was a lovely one, with braille in the elevators, marking each floor as you stepped out, all except braille or other tactile numbers on the room doors.

The guy at the desk when we checked in even thought, without us having to suggest it, to stick a piece of tape on each ID key card.

By the end of five nights staying there, I started to feel at home. It was wonderful. I walked around the lobby and the floors with relative ease, even with the drunk group on my floor the one night.

“Blind woman coming,” one of them announced, the loudest of them all. “Stay to the right.” This I already knew.

I couldn’t resist turning back to him, as I walked right to my room door and went to pull my card out, to inform him that my name was Kerry and to: “have a good night.”

I’m thankful for a writer with a car.

A friend of some heard I wanted to visit a few specific places during my Victoria stay and generously offered to drive.

We took cabs otherwise. I did a lot of walking as it was. I appreciated the ride.

On the first leg of that driving, we got to know each other and I discovered she is a writer too. After that, we had plenty to talk about.

I’m thankful for the breakwater.

Up until recently, this long walkway sticking out into the sea, with the lighthouse at its end, had no railings. It wasn’t quite so safe when you couldn’t see.

Now it had railings and I could walk out into the water. I was in heaven out there, as windy as the day was. I never wanted to come back in.

I’m thankful for a welcoming tour of an historic bookstore.

MUNRO’S Books

My new writer friend knew the manager and we were greeted warmly and given some in depth backstory about the building and the owner, who once was married to Alice Munro and is famous for that union.

I’m thankful for a comfortable and also stimulating day of discussion, listening, and new friendship.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities/conventions

It was the largest group for its convention. We from Ontario were celebrated and welcomed guests in attendance for the first time.

There were talks and discussions throughout the day on Saturday, making it a long one, but oh so worth it.

Being in a room where almost everyone is without sight, there was help and understanding assistance from everyone, from where to find an available seat or to feeling free to speak one’s mind. We didn’t always agree on every issue (universal design, accessibility, guide dog issues, career search, disability awareness), but we all were there to listen to each other.

We even had a few special visiting guest speakers: one was an expert on advocacy from University of Victoria and the other on social media trends.

I’m thankful for compassionate and passionate sighted allies and their ideas.

As nice as it is to join together as those living as blind Canadians, as essential and important, it’s good to be able to share with understanding people with sight too.

The writer/driver and her partner were there, along with a university student film maker, to capture the day’s events and they decided to interview some of us, for development of a possible short documentary called Listening To Blind Canadians.

In her car, she told us how she knew one of the women from the CFB and their parents had found companionship with each other in their later years. She didn’t seem to be fascinated by blindness in any artificial kind of way, like we were some sideshow to her. Just that she wanted to be there, as a friend and ally, to bridge the gap and promote a wider understanding through shared humanity.

I’m thankful for helpful people during travel.

From the BC Ferry Service employees, who helped us on and off and to comfortable seats to many public transit (Sky Train) workers who helped us find the next train, the right one.

We decided to do a ferry ride to the mainland and back, in one day. We went to check out Vancouver and meet up with my brother’s friend for lunch.

We did mostly traveling though, met another blind person on the bus and traveled part of our way with him, and yet I even got to walk into the water of the Pacific.

Even one of the fellow CFB members, also attending the convention, was a big help. He was around and free to go along with us, knew the city of Vancouver pretty well and had lots of practice riding those trains.

I’m thankful for delicious salads on my travels.

It was greens, seeds, cucumber, a sort of sweet vinaigrette, and the freshest little cherry tomatoes.

Mmm.

Last time I found a delicious salad like that, I was in Whitehorse, Yukon.

I’m thankful for those who came before.

We were able to travel on buses and trains independently, knowing our stop was coming up, all because of an automated announcement of streets. I take this sort of thing for granted, but it wasn’t always the case. There were people who demanded that service and had to fight for it.

I met the CFB treasurer, who was born in the UK, who wrote a book
The Politics of Blindness
and then I finally managed to read that book.

Here’s to the beauty of Canada’s west coast and to organization, to truly make a change.

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It’s All Around Me, #JusJoJan

It’s just past midnight as I write this and so obviously it’s dark out, right?

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I am headed to a routine eye appointment next week and nothing feels like it is routine. It feels much more like I am hurtling towards darkness.

There are all kinds of darkness.

People are scared of that, the dark, and “blindness” means darkness. Thus, most of the sighted world is more afraid of blindness and what that would mean, what that might look like, as the case may be, than being buried alive.

Okay, well I hear that was the case in one of those “what would you rather?” games. Since I am a definite clausterphobic, I thought that unbelievable. To be buried alive would be my worst fear.

I could never be a coal miner, for several reasons.

I am not afraid of the dark however. People are afraid of it because they are afraid of the unknown, all they cannot see, and afraid, in the practical sense, of falling down a flight of stairs or running into the wall.

There are ways we who are blind or mostly so learn to adapt to such practical concerns. I did run into the corner of a wall once, bleeding and leaving a scab in my eyebrow for weeks, but that doesn’t happen with any semblance of regularity because I try to take my time and move slowly. I don’t remember my hurry that day my eyebrow made such forceful contact with that wall.

I slide my feet, if a floor is messy. I know when there are stairs, in a familiar place, or I walk so slow because it isn’t familiar enough, unless I use my cane.

It isn’t always so easy to accept the need for a white cane or any kind of cane, for mobility or assistance because that cane is a visible symbol of perceived human weakness.

I need help and I keep learning to ask for it, to not be afraid of it, as some are afraid of the dark.

I am afraid too. I lived with some vision for my childhood, then lost a lot as I grew into an adult, and now here I am.

I don’t use my little remaining vision, as blurry as it is these days, but then it hits me how much I still do use it, as I contemplate the darkness that could be in my future.

The eye doctor might see something during his tests, but it’s more likely he will not. That is a good thing, but like with the invisible chronic pain I live with, sometimes there is nothing to see. This is both good and bad too. Nothing urgent showing up to attack with modern medicine.

I am drawn to the north, far up from the part of Canada I live in, where darkness means something different. I went to check out Yukon skies and June’s extended light. Strange to see vestiges of daylight at midnight.

I hope to return to Canada’s north in winter. I want to experience all that darkness, as a representation of that darkness that means blindness to so many.

I think it’s more like a fallen screen of dimness, fuzzy, foggy, twilight, which wouldn’t be all bad, but the fear still hovers there in my own head.

And so I count down the final days until my eye apt and, though I know it won’t probably be the giant thing I tend to build up in my own brain, I know these topics will continue to attract me, always giving me something more to say and to write about.

I didn’t even get into the symbolism of darkness and light in terms of contamination vs purity, good vs bad. It’s tied up in religion and in so many things, but so much negative is in the news every day and I think about all that far too much.

It’s this appointment that’s on my mind, front and centre.

I wish I could convince myself and other people that the darkness isn’t the worst thing in the world though, that we’ve made it that way in our own heads.

And so, the debate continues and the question goes on. I will continue to write about this. Stay tuned and look to the skies, but, if you can, watch where you’re going too.

I’m thrilled to be the provider of the Friday prompt word
for Linda’s #JusJoJan
to end off a long week, as January passes us by, on its own time.

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Time, Timing, Connections, and Space #Diabetes #AtoZChallenge

It’s a disease which can eventually lead to things like blindness and kidney failure, both of which I already have.

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There is a connection there, just one of multiple connections.

The A to Z Challenge – D is for Diabetes

My nephew has a father because of modern diabetes treatments. A magical pump, carried close to the body, able to deliver the life saving insulin a diabetic needs would have been unheard of fifty years ago.

Sometimes, at night when I can’t sleep, I think about other late nights when I would talk for hours with my grandmother. Sometimes she would talk to me about her little brother.

I think about that small boy and I wish I could have reached out to him, like I did to my own little brother when he was sick.

My mother never got to meet her uncle and I never had the chance to meet my great uncle. He was only four when he passed away from diabetes, back in a time when treatments were barely available or known.

It’s twenty years since I was a sick and scared young girl, but I was lucky to have been born after kidney dialysis and transplantation had been well developed. A matter of timing. I think about that little boy, so ill, and I feel a connection that stretches through time and space. I wish I could ease his suffering. All the bits of memory my grandma told me about that time and that boy.

I think of my four-year-old nephew and I watch him colour with his markers and jump on the bed when he’s supposed to be getting ready for bed. Then that other little boy pops back into my head.

I would like to write more about this, a piece about timing and connections of strange makings. I’m not sure this is entirely my story to tell…just one of many I can’t get out of my mind when I think about all that happened in my own young world, just exactly twenty years ago. It weighs heavily on me, somehow.

And so is writing about it not the answer?

***This was a result of insomnia, a late night Facebook post I wrote and thought it fit this challenge and the corresponding letter perfectly.

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What’s on Kenyavision?

This was a tad painful for me to read, hearing what blindness is for those living in a different country than my own, but what a thing she’s doing here. I was travelling in Mexico the same week she was in Africa. I know our stories are so much different, but travelling truly opens your eyes. It’s what you allow yourself to see next that is up to you.u

Considerings

I stepped off the plane into the Nairobi night, expecting to be hit by a wall of heat, like I’d read in books. I was waiting for something akin to opening the door of a blast furnace and stepping inside, the cool, air-conditioned plane switched for a boiling inferno in spite of the late hour.

It was warm. Pleasantly so, but only warm.

I confess, I was the tiniest smidgen disappointed, but thought to myself that I would nonetheless make the best of things. I snuggled my jacket closer around me and descended the stairs, lugging my bag at the end of my tired arm. Walking across the tarmac, I breathed deeply – great lungfuls of warm air that smelled of heat and dust and fuel and…something almost spicy; an underlying, faint but very distinct difference to the air in England.

I grinned widely in spite of my tiredness. I…

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Never Enough, #SongLyricSunday

I guess I don’t have a lot to say, on love, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching.

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I choose to remain silent this year, as far as my own love life is concerned, but I have enough past experience to draw upon. No problem.

Song Lyric Sunday, #SongLyricSunday

Well, I know about insecurities in love. I can’t believe there’s one single person who hasn’t felt it. I wonder about some more than others though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5_Hn_cLIvI

It’s a void a lot of us attempt to fill, but rarely ever is enough enough.

***

There will be no consolation prize
this time the bone is broken clean
no baptism, no reprise and no sweet taste of victory.
All the stars have fallen from the sky and everything else in between satelites have closed their eyes, the moon has gone to sleep
unloved….unloved….unloved….unloved
here I am inside a hotel choking on a million words I said cigarettes have burned a hole and dreams are drunk and penniless
here I am inside my father? arms all jagged-bone and whiskey-dry whisper to me sweetly now and tell me I will never die
unloved….unloved….unloved….unloved
here I am an empty hallway broken window, rainy night I am nineteen sixty-two and I am ready for a fight people crying hallelujah while the bullet leaves the gun
people falling, falling, falling and I don? know where they?e falling from
are they unloved….unloved….unloved….unloved
hoping that the kindness will lead us past the blindness and not another living soul will ever have to feel unloved….unloved….unloved….
unloved unloved….unloved

Unloved – Jann Arden/Jackson Brown, Lyrics

SONGWRITERS RICHARDS, JANN ARDEN
PUBLISHED BY LYRICS © UNIVERSAL MUSIC PUBLISHING GROUP

***

So, when I thought of those feelings of never being enough and those all-to-common fears of not being lovable, I went with this old Jann Arden duet I’ve loved for a long time, since I first discovered this songstress of Canada, back in the mid 90s.

If you grew up in a stable and loving family, like I was lucky to have had, it isn’t for lack of being told it. I always felt it.

It’s different with romantic love. It comes with a lot more baggage and demand and distraction and disillusionment. I felt unloved and unlovable by any man and I know part of that was feeling more like someone in need of supervision than as an equal. I have told myself that my blindness was a constant burden and a roadblock to ever being enough. This is where insecurity can haunt you and hold on tight.

I hope it loosens its grip a little.

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I Am Brave Enough, #Travel #Mexico #Disability #kindnessofstrangers

It’s the name of Lindsey Stirling’s most recent work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOmc9uG1Ndg

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, it has been my question/statement to myself about 2017 and my own determination to make my life what I’d like it to be.

Well, I’m back. I made it. First, to start with how mind blowing Mexico was, but more about that later. I have a lot to say on it, as a writer, still trying to process.

About the part that scared me silly though, traveling by myself:
It isn’t easy to have to wait to be taken from counter to counter, gate to gate, plane to plane. There are some advantages. It can be nice having someone push you around, along with your luggage, but I particularly liked the one transportation vehicle they used, specifically in the Detroit Airport. I liked that one. The two guys who took me, from the first to the last, they were friendly and pleasant.
You are first on the airplane (early boring) and last off. Different flight attendants and others likely know different things about how to help someone who is blind. Some are more hospitable than others. Sometimes I felt ignored and sometimes I felt well taken care of.

I honestly have to say I liked Dallas Airport the least. I didn’t realize how big it is there. The porters are different. Some easier to communicate with than others. It was a far distance to go, on my way there, and luckily I had a few hours because I was left at a gate, which changed. I sat there and suddenly heard them announcing a different flight than the one I knew I was there for. This was when I decided to speak up and get some help. Thankfully, another porter with a wheelchair was called and I was taken to the correct place. Unfortunately, then there was a problem with the plane and I sat there for more than an hour, nearly two. I was afraid I would miss the opening night festivities in Mexico, at my workshop. I didn’t.

I am writing about this, even with all the array of wonderful things I could be writing about my week in Mexico, because I feel there is a need to explain what it is like to travel when you have a disability. I doubt people realize.

The last time I flew anywhere I had a hand to hold tightly when my anxiety of lifting off the ground and into the air got too much. I felt kind of alone on my journey there this time, with no hand to hold, but I realized I needed to experience that. I needed to sit and be okay with being alone, right where I was, doing exactly what it was I was doing there.

I had all these images in my mind of all the strange and wonderful souls I would meet while traveling, in airports and such. I met hardly any on my trip to Mexico. That’s okay. I was on my own journey.

I met a lovely porter to start off my traveling, in Detroit. He told me his name and asked me about where I was going and what for. I told him of my fears of traveling by myself and he assured me it would all work out. He was right.
He got me a bottle of water and brought me safely to my gate. He made sure to park my luxury vehicle right next to the desk at the gate, so the people wouldn’t miss me there.
I tell you, you hear a lot of behind the scenes drama and things when you sit in that spot. Interesting.

So, I was the only one in my row on the first flight (Detroit to Dallas). It was an experience anyway. Behind my row there was a young woman, traveling from visiting her boyfriend, and the older woman beside her took an instant liking to her. The two of them then went on to talk the entire flight. The older asking the younger about her plans and her dreams. I secretly wanted that sort of experience from traveling. Would I make any connection like that? Did people resist approaching me? And did I shrink back from reaching out to anyone either?

It was still all so overwhelming, this traveling by myself. I was on constant alert, fearing I would end up lost or misplaced. I didn’t dare listen to my music or be distracted in any way. I was depending on other people for my very safe arrival, but how much of it all could I take on myself, to take my own power back?

I had help to find the check in desk at the airport in Mexico for my trip home, from the shuttle driver. He took my hand and brought me to them. I was so flustered I forgot to tip him. I felt so bad when I realized. I didn’t want to be so wrapped up in myself and my own worries that I did that sort of thing. I wish I could repay him somehow.

The porter they called to take me spoke no English and she asked if I could speak Spanish. At least, that much I could understand she said. I told her no and that one of the only words in Spanish I know was the one for water. Thanks to my niece who learned it from her Spanish speaking babysitter.

She had to go help someone else and found a woman who spoke English to stay with me. The woman then proceeded to tell me all about her life until I heard a familiar voice.

It was one of the women from the workshop. I could tell it was her, first, by the clunking sound of her shoes. She could keep me company, but the English speaking lady had to go. Still, you meet some interesting people when traveling.

I felt, at times, like the girl from the workshop was having to help me with my stuff, not relax while waiting for her flight, but that is all on me to not look at things life like that so much.

The porter returned and we went to our gate. She took me to the chairs while the girl from the workshop went into a special lounge for those with special bonuses from the airline. The porter then left me in the wheelchair. It probably seemed easier for her, in her mind, but I didn’t want to have to sit in it while waiting an hour or so for the flight. When the girl from workshop came back she agreed and we found two seats. This still required dealing with the wheelchair and my luggage, along with her things. She brought me a yogurt drink from that special lounge. It tasted so good in that moment.

We spoke a little and she helped me to the bathroom. We had to manage our luggage because leaving it unattended would not be a good idea.

My biggest concern, other than being left somewhere, was the bathroom situation. Anyone can find a bathroom in an airport if they need it. For me, I would have to depend on whichever porter I happen to be with if I needed to go. Many of those were men who hardly spoke English themselves. Not the best of situations, but best there was. Otherwise, I would be on my own and would have to find someone, a stranger or airport employee walking by, to help and show me where a bathroom was. Not fun.

I sat in my row, on my way home, and looked at a Mexico I could not see, through my oval airplane window. Suddenly, amongst the dozing I did and the boredom of sitting there in a row with a guy and girl I didn’t speak to, the familiar voice suddenly said my name, handing me a bag of warm mixed nuts. More perks from first class. That was the last I saw of her. I was truly on my own again.

The airport in Dallas was chaos. They had only one porter when I got off the plane and there was also a man in a wheelchair who needed assistance. His wife ended up guiding me, helping me with my luggage, while we followed the one porter and the husband through the lines and crowds. She did not have to do that, but she did. They were both very kind.

I suddenly heard protesting to my left. I couldn’t make out all they said, something about the US, no Trump, and no KKK.

It was a bit nerve racking as I followed the woman and her husband through customs and I forgot about the bottle of water in my bag still, from the girl from the workshop. I wish they didn’t have to take it from me. Silly regulations. I even got patted down at the airport in Mexico, by a girl who had to try to ask if it was okay first, but did not speak any English. Now I was having my bag inspected. Oh the joys of airline travel.

Finally we found our correct gates and the porter left me at mine. I thanked the mysterious couple, the ones who asked me about my time in San Miguel and told me about the house they rent there, and I sat and hoped for the best.

The people at the desk did their job. A nice lady helped me to the plane. I found my seat and a friendly woman, traveling alone for the first time too, she was feeling anxious and asked me if my folded up white cane was drum sticks. I liked her at once.

The flight went by a lot faster, long long day, with someone to talk to. She asked me about my writing and my blindness and family. I asked her about her five children and the plans they had to move from Detroit to Dallas. Her and her husband had just put an offer on a new house there. I wondered at the differences, the separate lives of so many, including this stranger who took the time to speak to me and I spoke back.

I was afraid, the entire time. I was afraid and still I didn’t want to let that stop me anymore. I did it once and I know I can and will do it again, until I am no longer so afraid. I know even sighted people can be afraid of such things, when traveling alone, when being afraid to fly or confused by flight numbers and gate changes. I know. I know we are all the same somehow while oh so different.

I appreciate all the help I received and all the assistance and the company kept. To all the strangers I will never see again. To the amazing souls I met in Mexico. To my amazing mentor for all she did for me. To my family who supported me. I say thanks. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I am brave enough.

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