Bucket List Beginning

I had a mild shock the other day. I realized that according to statistics, my life is half over.
I decided I better get to work, doing the things I’m “going to do someday.” So I started a bucket list.
First, just because I was curious, I made a list of unique things I have accomplished so far. It surprised me, because there was a lot more on there than I expected there would be.
But I have much left to do, and this is only the beginning of my list. So if you are wondering what a blind person’s bucket list looks like, read on. Continue reading “Bucket List Beginning”

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American Soulbook: Melinda Doolittle Concert 2016

Have you ever gotten choked on something, and you coughed . . and you coughed . . and you coughed until the only thing in the world was your blocked airway?
No sight, no sound, no texture, only the need to breathe.
Now think about the first lungful of fresh air, the way it felt when it went easily, all the way down to your lungs.
The relief, the restart, the renewal of life.
That is my experience with Melinda Doolittle’s “American Soulbook” concert from last night.
Continue reading “American Soulbook: Melinda Doolittle Concert 2016”

September 11th, 2001

Autumn in east Texas is a relief!
After a scorching summer, the wind blows cool, football season begins, and the leaves whisper promises of turning to a rainbow of color. The sun fades to a soft warm glow, no longer the enemy of anyone who wants to be outdoors. Nights are glorious for sitting on the porch and basking in the Northern air that has finally made its way to us. It’s time for chili, soup, pecans, and pumpkin . . . .
Days were beautiful, and nights were brisk. My sleep was messed up as usual, and I was writing ten hours a day. I was happy, bored because I couldn’t take myself anywhere. Happy and discontent in a way that only a 27-year-old can be.

I had just finished a long and productive night of writing, always with music as my soundtrack. Around 7:30 AM, I turned off the radio, for maybe once in my entire life. No reason, just bored with it as I mentally plotted my story. No internet at all, no IPhone, just me and a reliable old DOS computer.
My Mom was working at my cousin, Mike’s, flower shop, and she was getting ready to go to work. I walked into the living room, and asked her to microwave some bacon for me. (I LOATHE the texture of it when it’s not cooked, which is why I asked her to do it.) She was dozing, said sure, to wake her up in a few minutes and remind her.
I was getting ready for a “good night’s” sleep, since my days and nights were backwards, but I wanted to eat something before I went to bed. So about thirty minutes later, I went back to the living room to ask about the bacon.
Mom’s voice was soft and sleep-muffled, “Hang on, I’m watching this. A plane crashed into the tower in New York, and another one just hit it.”
I thought she was having a dream.
The TV was on low, so I couldn’t hear the news.
I asked her what she said, and she repeated it, so I knew she was awake. She turned up the TV, and I started listening to the news reporter talking about the plane crashes.
There are a few tipping points in life, most good, a few bad, when everything you knew and understood about the world changes. You say goodbye to the world you knew, and step into one you don’t know at all. You can go willingly, or be sucked up into a cyclone of chaos and deposited there. Sometimes you know as it’s happening, and sometimes it only becomes obvious after the fact. It happens when you start a book, fall in love, when you marry, when you have a baby.
And sometimes . . . it happens when your invincible fortress of a country comes under attack by invisible and unknowable enemies. Mom made the bacon for me, and left for work. We were in a suspended state of unsurety and shock. I was alone in my house, with a big-screen TV, a cat, and a world that would never be the same. I watched as a plane zoomed toward the Pentagon.
I watched the first tower fall.
I called my Grandma, and my sister-in-law, but nobody had anything to say. They were watching like I was.
I was so very glad to be blind, so I didn’t have to see. But also, feeling guilty that I didn’t see, feeling like all Americans should see this together if we had to see it at all.
The second tower fell, and a planeheaded for the White House. Hell had been unleashed.
It was my very first inkling of knowledge, that being an adult might not be as cool as I thought, that it might not be fun all the time, that maybe, just maybe, kids were the lucky ones. . . . Or were they? . . . The realization hit me about 10:30 AM, that while I had the chance to grow up in a world that was completely safe, my niece and nephew would have no such luxury.
Fear and dismayed innocence set in, a childlike feeling, like all the rules you had been taught were broken, and you had no idea how to proceed. Lost . . needing the monster to be unmasked, needing the villain to be defeated by the good guys . . . no Daddy, no friendly policeman, no hero. . . Lost . . where was John Wayne? Where was Ronald Reagan? Where were the older wiser people with their calm voices and assurances that everything would be all right? All you wanted to know is WHY?
I have always liked my solitude, but as the longest day in history dragged on, I had never hated so much to be alone! Tigger snoozed blissfully unaware on my bed. Dad was working, so was Mom. I had the radio for company, as first one person, then another, made the horrific decision between being burned alive or jumping from the twin towers.
The second tower fell.
The plane crashed in Pennsylvania.
I was living history.
The day took on a surreal quality, since I’d had no sleep in nearly 24 hours. The sunshine was still bright, weather still softly warm, but now autumn was different.
The autumn afternoon was completely silent, with no planes droning through the sky.
By the end of that hellish day, I saw things I never thought I would see, longtime news reporters crying, at a loss for words . . . . And I wanted.
I wanted Coke in glass bottles . . . laugh tracks on goofy 70s sitcoms . . . my grandma’s house smelling of frying burgers with the Carol Burnett show on TV and Grandpa laughing . . innocent obliviousness, . . .
I mourned a world that was gone forever.
Sepember 11th 2001 changed everything and everybody, and that is my experience of it.
God bless America.

Please Do Not Drink and Drive!

On the night I graduated from high school, I went to a party with my friends, then to eat supper with my family.
When I woke up the next morning, I started planning the rest of my life. Months later, I went to college, met some great friends, had a lot of fun, learned a lot.
Over the next twenty years:
I went to New York, Nashville, Las Vegas, and Mexico.
I watched my brother marry his high school sweetheart, and then become a father of four.
I met the best friends anyone could ask for in a lifetime.
I walked a half marathon, and wrote a book or ten.
The one thing I did not do . . is die on the night after my high school graduation.
Four girls were injured here in east Texas, and two of them have died, not because they did anything wrong, but because their car was hit by a drunk driver.
Two lives were lost, and two others altered forever, because somebody did not have enough sense to stay off the road!
We won’t know the things these ladies would have accomplished or experienced, or the changes they would have made in the world. Chance encounters with strangers that might have lifted up a person in need won’t happen.
Their future friends will have lesser lives for not meeting them, and they don’t even know it.
And I can think of nothing more heartbreaking than a love that should have been, but never existed.
And WHY?
All because a person these girls never even met got behind the wheel while intoxicated!
I don’t know these girls who have died.
I don’t know anyone involved in the incident.
But I am heartsick over this!
I am disgusted, and furious at a system that allows this crap to continue! These kids were just out riding around, like you do after you graduate high school, and gain your freedom, and have your whole life in front of you.
They DID NOT . DESERVE TO DIE!
If the driver in question just had malfunctioning brakes, we could call this an unavoidable tragedy.
But instead, after fifty or sixty years of drunk driver-related deaths, they got drunk, and drove a car!
This is senseless!
There is no reason for things like this to continue happening! I don’t understand why drunk drivers don’t immediately lose their licenses. To my mind, driving is a privilege, not a right.
People say, “Oh but that wouldn’t be fair, these people have to get to work.” Guess what.
I’m blind, and I can’t drive. So I rely on public transportation, paid drivers, or rides from family and friends.
If you can’t be responsible, then you should not be driving, endangering yourself and the lives of others.
My heart hurts for the families and friends of these two unique individuals that were lost to this world.
I could say I’m keeping them in prayer, so sorry, all the things you say when there really is nothing you can say.
But I am sad, I am mad, and I want this senseless stupid COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE killing to stop!
You can drink all you want, but stay somewhere while you do it, or set it up with a friend in advance so they can take you where you need to go, or call a damn cab!
Just stop thinking you are invincible and above natural laws! Stop believing it won’t happen to you . . . because it will. Please don’t drink and drive!

Adversity Is a Character Builder

It has been over a week since I have written anything here.
I am currently experiencing a state of zero energy, and brain fog. I think/hope it is a result of hypothyroidism, because if it is, and if I can get natural rather than synthetic thyroid medication, the problem will be solved, and boring health posts will be banished from the blog.
But since I started it, let’s just call this a biographical post, and I will briefly explain my challenges, because they are the foundation from which I have had to build my attitudes about adversity, and perseverance. This will not be my most interesting post, but I hope it gives you some insight to the way in which I have developed my philosophy for living.
When I was young, my Dad would always tell me that adversity is a character builder. I appreciate his words now more than ever, because I see these difficulties as strengthening agents, rather than impediments. So if you can slog through this post with me, I promise, there is a point I want to make by telling my story, and there will be something uplifting at the end.
Continue reading “Adversity Is a Character Builder”

Bug Vs. Blind Girl: A Battle Royale!

July 10, 1995
Midafternoon in the piney woods of Texas was a scorchfest, and the overcast skies did nothing to alleviate the discomfort of 95-degree temperatures with high humidity. However, I was serene. I had my own apartment in a college town, things were cool inside, life was cool outside. I had classic rock on the stereo, a Sonic Diet Coke on my desk, reading for class was done for the day,,, what more could a 21-year-old girl ask for?
Cloudy days force you to be creative, finding things to do indoors. I decided to sort through my cassette tape collection, keep what I wanted, throw out what I didn’t. Since I was back and forth between home and college, I carried ten years worth of the soundtrack to my life in a good-sized zippered bag. I began sorting tapes, enjoying the walk-shudder down memory lane.
Mili Vanili? What was I thinking?
Debbie Gibson? Tiffany? . . Yeah, not so much.
There are labels on cassettes, the adhesive kind that you can write on, then peel them off, and stick them on the tape of your choice. I had discovered that I could put the label in a Brailler, so my tapes were labeled that way, in Braille. I reached into the bag, into a corner, and took hold of a loose label, one that had obviously peeled off of a tape. I pulled the label out to see what it said, so I could find the matching tape and put it on. (I can identify cassettes by the feel of them, and/or the sound they make when you shake them, but Braille labels make it faster.)
As I held the label in my hands, a shadow fell over the summery college afternoon, a pall of slowly dawning horror, as I came to the conclusion that the “label” in my hand was a leg, a dry rubbery-textured crinkly-sounding leg that was attached to the body of my lifelong sworn enemy, the water bug. Continue reading “Bug Vs. Blind Girl: A Battle Royale!”