This is Republican Idol!

It was performance day here at Republican Idol, and all the contestants were nervous. Even Mitt Romney appeared to be sporting a light sheen of sweat, though his maintenance crew later claimed that it was condensation due to a malfunctioning cooling duct.  It’s been a long struggle for these hopefuls, with a grueling tour schedule that has had them onstage in cities from Florida to California.  Despite singing essentially the same songs in every performance, each contestant has had setbacks and each contestant has a story to tell, except for Rick Perry, who can’t remember his story.  But it all comes down to how they connect with the voting audience.

First up was Newt Gingrich.  Widely derided in the beginning as past his prime, Newt has modernized his repertoire and gone from Golden Oldie to Golden Child.  Now seen as a frontrunner, Newt belted out his popular hit, “Hey!  I’m Not Mitt!” to cheers and applause, many audience members joining in.  In a rare display of party unity, Rick Santorum and Gary Johnson were seen with their arms around each other, swaying to the beat and singing along.  Santorum later released a statement to the press clarifying that he was, in fact, extremely heterosexual and that he was merely caught up in the moment, a little curious, and that it meant nothing, nothing at all.  Gary Johnson posted a reply on YouTube indicating that his next-door neighbor’s dog was more heterosexual than Santorum.

Next up was Michele Bachmann.  She put a conservative twist on the Howard Dean classic, “I Swear I’m Not A Crazy Nutjob,” beginning with a quiet ramble and building to a final, climactic scream that brought the live audience to its feet but had the judges rolling their eyes, and left many viewers at home wondering if her handlers were hiding her medication.  She remains a strong contender and a media favorite, but will her followers find her entertaining enough to send her to the finals?

The night ended with embattled favorite Herman Cain, who turned in a raucous rendition of his popular “I Said 9! 9! 9!”  The audience joined in and, though many got the details of the words wrong when it came to the verses, they all came together to shout “9! 9! 9!” on the chorus.  Critics have speculated as to the ultimate meaning of the song, which remains unclear and has therefore generated a great deal of buzz.  Even buzzier are the allegations of improprieties with female fans after performances.  However, an investigator looking into the allegations was heard to comment that it was the only way the poor man was likely to see any action, and to have a heart.

Votes will be cast, dreams will be dashed, and one of the contestants will go on to the final show for a chance at a four-year contract and a whole new life.  Who will it be?  Only time will tell, but one thing is certain:  we’re in for many, many more performances before we finally choose a winner.

I like my posts like I like my men, short and funny

Because that last post was a bummer and I like to leave you guys with a laugh:

Little blind girl walks into a bar, goes up to place her drink order, has the following exchange:

Random guy:  Nice shoes.  Wanna f*ck?

Little blind girl:  Um, no thanks.

(turns around, walks to friends’ table)

Friend:  Man, that guy was really cute!

Little blind girl:  That explains a lot.

Some days are harder than others

Most days, I’m not afraid of going blind.  I’ve heard words of doom pronounced before, only to be rescinded, and I know when to panic and when not to.  I’m doing what I should be doing to preserve the vision I have, and there are new developments all the time that give me hope.

But some days are hard.  Some days I get so scared, thinking that the darkness is going to fall at some point and never lift again.  There will be a sunset that will be the last one I see, a ray of light that will falter and fade until the shadows swallow it completely, until they swallow me completely.  I’ll never see the sun again, never see another flower, never see the faces of the people I love.  I’ll walk in darkness for the rest of my life.  I know, I know that there’s so much that’s worse.  I could be dying.  This could be happening to someone I love, instead of to me.  But when I wake up in the middle of the night to pitch black and think, someday this is what the world will look like to me at noon, that doesn’t help much.

I love light.  I love the sun, the way it can be so far away, spinning and burning, and still light up entire worlds.  I love daffodils, which I’ve always thought look like sunlight made into a flower.  I love to see my niece’s face and how it changes as she grows, always more beautiful every time I see her, and it breaks my heart that I may not be able to see her as a woman.  I want to see her face.  I want to see the face of my sister when she looks at her daughter.  How often do you get to see happiness absolutely undiluted?  But I’ve seen it.  How can it be that I may someday never see it again?

But I can hear my niece laugh.  I can hear my sister joking with her and being stern with her and loving her; I can hear her father being so funny and patient and good-hearted, and I don’t need to see any of them to know what kind of a woman she’s going to be with parents like that.  I can recognize amazing in any language, with my eyes closed and both hands behind my back.  And I have time to memorize the faces of everyone I love.  I have time to sit by the daffodils and see the way they bloom as if they’re reaching for something, maybe reaching for the sun, like me.  I promise you, I will be watching the sun come up every day I can still see it and I’ll turn my face to the sky like those daffodils, and when my eyes fail me altogether I may walk in darkness, but I’ll dream of light.

I’m grateful for the time, and I’m grateful that it isn’t worse.  It’s just hard to be brave when you know what’s coming, and it comes little by little every day.

Communication breakdown


Image by mike r baker via Flickr

I have certain phone conversations, I’m not saying with whom, that will go on for an ungodly long time about something that really takes about five minutes to say.  I recognize that, sometimes, people just need to talk, but honestly, after about forty-five minutes, my ear goes numb.  I learned pretty early on that I’m not always needed for these conversations, either.  A few interjections of “I hear you” and “you’re kidding” and the occasional “Oh, how awful” and they’re good to keep talking for a while.  I listen for key phrases, but otherwise, it’s grocery list time.

I’ve taken this opportunity to improve myself in a number of ways.  For instance, I’ll pick a scandal and follow it obsessively on the internet while telephonically smiling and nodding. Britney Spears, Tiger Woods, Congressman Weiner; I’m an expert in all these topics.  I could give lectures, and man, could I make killer powerpoint presentations to go with them.  Or, I’ve learned how to make paper boats.  It isn’t origami, you can do it with regular paper, so I can just take my legal pad, start folding, and end up with a fleet by the end of the conversation.  I like to name the boats after people I don’t like and then shred them. There’s the crossword, of course, and sudoku, both of which will pass the time for a while, but it’s all so pedestrian, and at the end of it all you have is a piece of paper with some scribblings and no new information.

That’s why I’ve taken up Russian.  It’s perfect:  I can practice while on the phone by using flashcards to review vocabulary, by making flashcards to review during future phone calls, and by taking notes on my phone conversation in Russian (this has the side effect of teaching a lot of slang, swear words, and insults).  If you try this, it will give you the added benefit of letting you know who’s been reading your notes.  All you have to do is look for the person who keeps shooting covert looks your way like they think you’re a spy. Thinking in one language and listening in another is also a great brain exercise, even if it does make you go a little cross-eyed. Just make sure you remember to speak in English whenever you’re called upon to make a response.  You never know when Big Brother is listening in, da?  Unless you’re talking to a telemarketer, in which case, go for it.

If the men in black show up and this is my last post, someone look up the Russian for “It’s been real”, will you?

Oh, I’m gonna hurt some feelings, all right

Psychologically, I think I’m a guy.  I’ll pick a movie with things that blow up in every other scene over one with a cute kid in glasses every time.  I think I don’t need to go to the hospital if it stops bleeding in under twenty minutes.  Hugging makes me extremely uncomfortable and forces me to retreat into back-patting and well-I’ve-got-to-be-going comments.  The last time I made a dirty joke, my guy friends blushed.  And I think the “Hurt Feelings” report is hilarious.  You’ve all heard about the high school football coach who resigned after it came out that he made his players fill one out?  Yep, that’s what I’m talking about.

That’s right; if you come to me upset because someone hurt your delicate little feelings, I will make merciless fun of you until your mommy tries to call my mommy because her little precious came home in tears.  Actually, I’ll probably do that just if I catch you listening to top-twenties radio.  I don’t hold hands, I don’t sing kumbaya (or Miley Cyrus), and I don’t care if what I said brings up those abandonment issues you have from when Daddy left home. Suck it up.  Do you need a tampon?  I can give you a tampon if you need one, but that’s as much as you’re getting out of me.  Sorry, Gloria; it’s a cold, cruel world and I’ve got better things to do.

Am I a bad feminist for this?  I just don’t like criers.  I don’t like it when people use psychological or emotional issues as excuses not to do things they really can do if they would just…well, man up.  When I get my feelings hurt, I either a) bottle it up and numb it later with alcohol or b, which is much more fun) start yelling.  I favor the yelling approach. Feel free to yell at me if it means we don’t end up hugging it out.  Just be aware that I’m going to give as good as I get–yelling it out, if you will.

But if you use one of those Hurt Feelings forms that includes derogatory terms for homosexuals, you’d better not let me find it.  And, you know, I get the idea that the people who put together those versions of the report (and yes, I just checked, that football coach is one of them) are just the kind of people who are going to need to fill it out once I’m done with them.  I’m just not sure I have that many tampons.

Interestingly, that guy is still employed at the school as a guidance counselor.  Yeah, cause when my parents are getting divorced or my grandfather is molesting me, or I just don’t know what I want to do with my life, that’s totally the guy I’m gonna want to go to.

There’s no place like home

virtual closet upper right empty

Image via Wikipedia

I have no closets.

I took this apartment without looking at it first because there was someone living in it at the time I signed the lease.  I realized there would be quirks, and I’ve learned to live with the slanted floors, the recessed lighting in the cathedral ceiling (making my life hard, here), and the tiny oven that won’t fit a cookie tray.  I mean, what, do single people bake fewer cookies at a time or something?

But the closets?

There’s a wardrobe with a few drawers and some hanging space, but dude!  I’m a chick.  I’ve got clothes.  Like, serious clothes.  Not to mention shoes.  Did I mention the shoes?  I should mention the shoes.  There are a lot of them.  But that’s not even what gets me.  I arrived with a vacuum, a mop, two Swiffers, three boxes of electrical cables, two computers I no longer use, and a box of accumulated Christmas gifts that I don’t actually want but can’t get rid of because family members who presumably love me gave them to me.  I had a partridge in a pear tree, but I threw it out, because I had nowhere to put it.  That’s right, after lugging all this stuff up to the top floor, I discovered there was nowhere to store all those things that everyone puts in their closets because, yes, all together now:  I have no closets.

It gets better.

I have a really long hallway that has become a sort of de facto closet.  The ceilings are very high, and I have a hard time replacing the lights in the ceiling when they burn out.  So, the very last bulb blew just before I left on a weekend trip, and I was rushed for time, so I left it. I forgot about it until I came back from said trip, opened the door, and traversed the hallway-closet while carrying two duffel bags and a half-empty soda.  Well, attempted to traverse the hallway-closet.  This next part happened exactly as described, hand to God:

I bumped into the vacuum, cursed, fell backwards from the weight of the duffel bags, overbalanced, tripped over a box of Christmas decorations, stumbled forward while trying to keep my balance, stepped into the bucket with my cleaning supplies in it, jumped around on one leg for a while, and fell against the wall where I lean my–wait for it–mop and dusters, which smacked me in the face in the very best vaudevillian fashion.  At this point I gave up, dropped the duffels, groped around to make sure I wasn’t going to sit on an old set of steak knives or something, sat down, and finished my soda.

What else can you do at that point?  Welcome home, little blind girl.

In the eye of the beholder

Beauty Products

Image by OrangeCounty_Girl via Flickr

I’ve received some questions about how a legally blind girl manages with makeup, so I thought I’d post a typical day’s beauty routine.  Maybe it will answer a few questions; probably, it will raise a few more.

7:00 AM:  Alarm goes off.  Pretend I don’t really need to get up yet, hit snooze several times.

7:21 AM Look at alarm clock in panic, jump out of bed and into shower.

7:22 AM Debate whether to use volumizing or hydrating shampoo.  Think, do I want to go for a Kate Middleton look or an Angelina Jolie look with my hair today?  Realize likelihood of either look actually panning out, sigh, reach for whatever’s nearest.

7:25 AM Carefully massage conditioner only onto length of hair as have been told to do by trade journals, a.k.a. beauty magazines.  Let conditioner soak in while hesitating between exfoliating face wash and deep pore cleansing face wash.  End up using same orange goop have used since high school.

7:32 Take life in hands by attempting to shave while blind and with hot water streaming in eyes.  Cut self, curse, repeat.

7:41 Step out of shower, dry self, bandage wounds.  Look closely in mirror.

7:42 Sit sobbing on toilet, asking self why self looked in mirror just out of the shower.  Am hideous, am ravaged by age, am doomed to die alone.

7:46  Gather courage in hands, apply makeup with trowel, check in mirror again.  Am slightly less hideous, now willing to face public exposure.

7:54 Carefully avoid scale.

7: 55 Apply volumizer, shine enhancer, heat protector, styling spray, styling gel, blow dryer, curling iron, and product from Home Shopping Network am unwilling to name as is too embarrassing.  End up with hair resembling neither Kate Middleton nor Angelina Jolie, but closer to Olsen twins during their celebrated Bag Lady period.

8:12 Get dressed, eat breakfast, check news to make sure we aren’t at war with anyone new since yesterday.

8:15 Leave for work.

8:30 Arrive at office.  Boss arrives at same time, says to self “oh, you kids, you can just roll out of bed and look pretty.”  Feel all was worthwhile.  Proceed with rest of day.

I think the lesson of this post is, beauty is never in the eye of the beholder when the beholder is looking in the mirror, even when the beholder can’t actually see herself clearly.  Maybe especially then.  Anyway, there you go:  fairly typical for women, I think, regardless of visual acuity.  I think the part my colleagues will find funniest about this post is the part where I claim to arrive at work by 8:30…

A letter to Future Me

The Micro-USB interface is a new standard char...

Image via Wikipedia

Dear Future Me,

Next time you go out of town for a few days, you really need to start packing more than half an hour before you leave.  Remember that time in November 2011 when you went out of town for your birthday, and you realized about a half an hour out that you forgot to pack your cell phone charger?  Yeah, you remembered long about the time your phone started beeping that it was low on battery.  Then you realized when you got to the hotel that you forgot to pack a USB outlet plug-in doodad so you could charge your ipad, and you had to go down to the front desk and borrow one from them?  Boy, it was fun explaining to the staff what it was you needed.  Oh, and then you realized you hadn’t packed any toothpaste when you got back to the room after dinner, and you realized you hadn’t packed your razor just after the hotel store closed for the night, and you realized you hadn’t packed the keyboard you use with your ipad when you decided you wanted to post to your blog?  Good times.  Yep, you sure had a good time posting from the hotel lobby right next to the cafe where that folk singer was covering songs from the sixties.  Man, those acoustics were good.  Just a note from your past self, because I’m looking out for you:  pack the night before.  Please.  There are only so many Carole King and James Taylor covers you’re going to be able to stand.  Oh, wait, he’s starting on Crosby, Stills, and Nash!  And the Eagles!  And who wrote “So Happy Together,” ’cause that’s what he’s singing now!  Oh, man, it’s a birthday hootenanny.  Please?  Oh, and next time, pack some ear plugs; they’re breaking out the banjos.


Past Little Blind Girl

Adventures in driving

custom car, shot at local car show/swap meet

Image via Wikipedia

Once upon a time, my friends and family thought it would be a good idea if I learned how to drive.  I’d managed to do so many other things that no one thought a legally blind girl could do, why not this?  I’m not sure what they had planned for the vision test, but it never got that far.  When I got to the actual driving portion of the program, it went a little something like this:

Little blind girl:  (gripping the steering wheel) How do I turn this thing on?

Little blind girl’s friend:  Put the key in the ignition and turn it.

LBG:  OK.  Where’s the ignition?

LBGF:  Right here.  You put the key in like… no, not that key…the really big one…you put it in the ignition here, and you turn it–no, that’s not far enough, a little more…

LBG:  I think it’s stuck.

LBGF:  Here, let’s switch places and I’ll get you set up.

(Shuffle around, Chinese fire drill style)

LBG:  OK, so the car’s on, what do I…oh, my God, we’re moving, I’m not pushing any of the pedals, why are we moving if I’m not pushing any of the pedals??

LBGF:  It’s OK, the car rolls a bit.  Just steer where you want to go, we’ll get you comfortable with the steering wheel first–no, you put your hands at 10 and 2, just slide them over–how did you get your elbow around your neck like that?

LBG:  Which one’s the brake?  I really want to push the brake.

LBGF:  The one on the left.  No, the left, the left!  Don’t think about insurance rates, don’t think about  insurance rates…you’re doing great.  Just ease up off the brake, now.

LBG:  No.

LBGF:  Chris, it’s fine, you’re not going to do any damage to anyone at this speed.

LBG:  No.  I like the brake.  I feel we’ve become very close.

LBGF:  Chris, you can’t date the brake.  Take your foot off the brake.  Come on, just a little…there you go.  Now, just tap the gas, just to get used to it.

LBG:  Are you sure?

LBGF:  Yes, you’ll be fine.  Just tap the gas–holy crap, what was that noise?  Hang on, let me just get out of the car for a minute…Chris, you’ve got to hit the brake–no, the brake!  The brake!

(Screech, crash, cut to State Trooper arriving at the scene)

State Trooper:  So, whose idea was it to let the blind girl drive?

And thus concluded my adventures in driving.  I may have exaggerated a little bit, but not actually that much.  Really, I just added the State Trooper.  Discrimination against the blind in driving laws is a fantastically good idea.  I’m all about the discrimination.  Bring it on.

When world leaders fall out

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?  As has been widely reported, President Obama and President Sarkozy of France had the following exchange regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu without realizing they were still audible to reporters:

President Sarkozy:  I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar

President Obama:  You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you!

I can just imagine the rest of the conversation, tactfully omitted by the french translators:

President Sarkozy:  Oh, I know!  You guys were, like, so tight, and then he totally went behind your back to UNESCO for Palestine.

President Obama:  Yeah, and I happen to know that Netanyahu had de-friended Palestine on Facebook and was all, no way, Obama, you and me are BFFs.  And now this?

President Sarkozy:  I know, right?  Cause he knows that you and me are full-on besties and always will be.  I bet he even texts Ahmadinejad and just doesn’t want you to know.

President Obama:  He’s all about being ‘the Peacemaker’, dude, he’s even posting status updates like “The Peacemaker does it again!” and “The Peacemaker at Euro-Disney.”  I mean, seriously?  Ain’t no peacemaker I know wears mouse ears.

President Sarkozy:  Whatever!  Everyone knows you’re the Peacemaker.  You can whip out the Nobel sh*t on his *ss.

President Obama:  You know, right?  I already got a peace prize, f*cker!  How do you like that, Benny?

I don’t know why they turned so foul at the end of it.  Maybe the teacher caught them passing notes.  I don’t know.  Am I the only one who thought they sounded like high school students?