Seeing Eye Sasquatch

bigfoot_concept_art_by_timwade94-d992xrh

Sometimes people ask me if I have a seeing eye dog; I don’t.  I’ve been holding out for a seeing eye Sasquatch.  I don’t have one yet, and it looks like it’s going to be a while.  The training period for a seeing eye Sasquatch is notoriously long, mostly due to their tendency to tear the arms off their trainers.  I think they’re worth the wait, though.  A seeing eye Sasquatch can do so much more than a guide dog can do.  For instance:

Navigation

When you’re visually impaired, guide dogs can make it easier for you to move around in unfamiliar places by directing you along the right path and making sure you don’t bump into things like flower pots and buildings.  A seeing eye Sasquatch makes it easier for you to move around in unfamiliar places by walking through things like flower pots and buildings.  It makes its own path, and all you have to do is follow along.  Just be forewarned:  the liability insurance can get a little steep.

Socialization

Guide dogs can make it more comfortable for others to interact with the visually impaired; nothing breaks the ice like an adorable, fuzzy service animal with its tongue hanging out.  The thing is, not all people with visual impairments actually want to socialize more.  Enter the seeing eye Sasquatch:  not only do people never try to pet it (and, by the way, don’t do that with guide dogs either, unless you have the owner’s permission), most try to get as far away as they can, quite often leaving valuables behind in their haste.

This indirectly solves another problem affecting little blind girls like me that guide dogs can only do so much about: the tendency of guys to cop a feel while pretending to guide you to your seat/the door/what you hope is the right subway train.  This still happens when you’ve got a guide dog, though not as often, but when you’ve got a seeing eye Sasquatch, all the pervy strangers melt  away.  Unfortunately, so do any potential meet-cutes with guys who are genuinely trying to help, but you can’t have everything in life.

Bonding

Guide dogs and their owners often form very strong bonds.  They depend on each other and spend lots of time together, and guide dogs accept payment for their services in the form of belly rubs (I suspect that pervy strangers do, as well, but guide dogs usually smell better).  The Sasquatch, on the other hand, has a reputation for being antisocial and— oh, what’s the word?— murderous.  It seems like guide dogs almost have to win this category, if only because it’s so much easier to clean up after their “accidents.”

When I get my seeing eye Sasquatch, though, we’ll prove that they can be as lovable as any dog.  We’ll find a field near the woods and I’ll toss a stick for him to fetch, and when he lopes back toward me proudly carrying a tree, I’ll laugh and give one of those sitcom shrugs like “What can you do?”  Then I’ll throw a frisbee really high so he can jump up and catch it in his mouth, but he’ll accidentally swallow it and burp and then give me a guilty look, and I’ll just smile and shake my head, and say, “That’s my Sasquatch!”

And when he’s asleep and dreaming about chasing leprechauns (because why chase squirrels when they don’t have any gold?), I’ll stand on my tiptoes and give him a good scratch behind his ears, because dogs aren’t the only ones who like that.  That’s how it’ll be when I get my seeing eye Sasquatch.

Guide dogs are great.  They make life easier and more rewarding for the visually impaired, and they’re also dogs, and dogs are awesome.  But this Little Blind Girl wants a seeing eye Sasquatch and will accept no substitutes.  When you’ve got your heart set on having a gigantic wild creature that may or may not exist as your therapy monster, nothing else will do.

 

[Image is BIGFOOT Concept Art by TimWade94 on deviantart.com, license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

Top 10 Things I Wish I Hadn’t Overheard

left-308715_640It’s not exactly true that having crappy vision means you have magic super-hearing to compensate.  It’s more that you learn to listen carefully because you have to make the most of the senses you’ve got.   At this point, my hearing is so sensitive that not only could I hear my cat peeing on the area rug one floor below my bedroom, it actually woke me up (true story).  I was only half-asleep, but still:  impressive, right?

Well, yes and no.  For one thing, I had to get out of bed before dawn to clean up cat urine I could have happily not known about for another couple of hours.  A bigger problem, though, is that modern social norms don’t really account for a sense of hearing that finely tuned.  You know those embarrassing conversations you have in restaurants that you think are private because you’re talking quietly?  I can hear them.  Every word.  If I could see, I wouldn’t know where to look.

It doesn’t end there, either.  I can also hear what’s going on in the restaurant’s kitchen, which has ruined more than one date for me, and I can hear both sides of the conversation when you talk on your cell phone in public (most common topic, if you’re curious:  how you really, really need to clean your apartment/house this weekend).  It’s been an educational, voyeuristic, traumatizing experience.  So, because I like you all just that much, I’m going to share with you the top ten things I wish I’d never overheard:

10. “I can’t file for divorce for another two months, so don’t tell anyone you’re pregnant yet.”

9.  “He took out 27 inches of the guy’s colon, and there was no sign of a tumor in any of it.”

8.  “Adult diapers are a lot more comfortable than they used to be.”

7.  “I wouldn’t say she’s my girlfriend, I mean, it’s just too soon for that.  She might be moving in, though.”

6.  “It’s on the shelf below your grandmother’s urn.”

5.  “The dry cleaner says she can’t do anything about the stain because it’s a biohazard.”

4.  “It had to be your hair; you were the only one handling the spaghetti.”

3.  “Yeah, I peed in his bed.  I don’t understand why he’s making such a big deal about it.”

2.  “Does the country of Europe have more states than we do?  I can never remember.”

1. “I’ve been uncomfortable all day because the hole in my underwear is in the wrong place.”

You’re welcome!  Feel free to share the things you wish you’d never overheard in the comments section.  Or you can just mutter them under your breath.  I’ll probably be able to hear you.

 

[image in public domain via pixabay.com]

All The Stars In The Sky

lights-951000_640

image in public domain via pixabay.com

One of the bad things about posting to a blog late on Friday, or at any point over the weekend, is that most people don’t read blogs on the weekend.  Blogs are for coffee breaks, or lunch breaks, or the-boss-isn’t-around breaks.  However, on the theory that when life hands you gators, you may as well make Gatorade, here’s the up side to that:  it’s Friday.  My blog post can be as bizarre and embarrassing as my little blind heart desires because no one’s paying attention.  As long as I publish another post early Monday morning, chances are my Friday post could be about how I think all the cutest kittens should have their fur shaved off and be shot into space (the kittens, not the fur) and it would pass without a single comment.

I don’t think cute kittens should be shaved and shot into space, by the way, just in case this no-one’s-looking thing ends up backfiring.  I think that’s what we should do with the CEOs of companies that use those full-screen pop-up ads that completely obscure whatever page you’re trying to see and have no apparent way to close them out. I’d shave those bastards myself.  It’s Friday, so I can say things like that.  Ironic side note:  while I was checking online to make sure I was using the right term for that ad, one of those ads popped up.  The real irony is that it popped up while I was viewing a site describing how to block pop-up ads.  Though you never know; maybe pop-ups have become sentient and that ad was just acting in self-defense.  The internet is a postmodern Neverland.

Meanwhile, back at my original point:  since it’s Friday and no one is paying attention, I’m going to tell you something about myself that I wish weren’t true.  Here’s where I usually chicken out and write something like “When I’m on a plane, I look at the other passengers and decide who I’d save in the event of a crash based on what book they’re reading and how annoying their kids are.”  This is true, but I wouldn’t waste a wish on changing it.  If I had a wish to spend, one I could only use for something selfish and fun (like with birthday money when you’re a kid), I would wish I could remember what the stars look like.

Let me explain that a little:  I’m surrounded by things I can’t see, but I know sort of generally what most things look like because I make sure to take a good squint at them when I get the chance.  In the event I don’t get the chance, there’s always Google Images.  It’s kind of nice, actually, because while it’s true that I can’t see any of the flowers in my neighbor’s garden, the garden I picture in my head has all of my favorite flowers in perfect bloom year round.  In the garden I see, there are no weeds, no bare patches where you can’t get anything to grow, no creepy garden gnomes, and (this is key) no chrysanthemums.  That’s the flower for the month of my birth, and I’ve always felt gypped in that regard because I think they look frumpy.  So when I walk by a garden, no, I can’t see it, but in my head it’s full of daffodils and roses and orchids and violets and tiger lilies and more daffodils, and no one gets pricked by thorns and all the bees are too happy to sting anyone and there are no chrysanthemums, ever.  It’s hard to call that a disability.

I’ve forgotten what the stars look like, though, and I can’t find a picture or video that does them justice–I may have forgotten what they look like, but I still remember how looking at them made me feel, and no image I’ve seen even comes close. Sometimes I almost remember them, or I remember being cold while I watched them, or I remember where I was one time when I saw them.  But the times when I saw the stars were too long ago and too many things have happened since then, and although I clutched those memories and hoarded them for years, one day they were just gone.  Dissolved or fell apart, or crowded out, I don’t know, but conspicuous to the point of indecency by their absence, and gone forever.

This is by way of an explanation to my friends (who will read this post despite its being published on a Friday), who have never understood how I can be afraid of heights but always want to live on the top floor.  It’s an explanation of why I kept climbing all those trees and convincing my aforementioned friends to help me sneak onto the roof of every building on my college campus, and by the way, I’m sorry about all the roof violations.  I just wanted to see if getting closer maybe jogged my memory or even helped me see, but I could never get close enough for more than a few faint gleams that in retrospect were probably airplanes and satellites.  What’s gone is gone.

Eventually I stopped climbing trees and sneaking onto roofs, and you can make whatever metaphor or broader theme you want to out of all this, but for me it’s simply the literal truth.  I wish I could remember what a starry sky looks like.  I’ve made my peace with my fuzzy worldview, and I made Gatorade out of all the gators I could get to sit still long enough, and I’m not asking for a miracle cure that lets me see again.  I just want to remember.  Sometimes I’ll wish so hard that I’ll dream about them, and I’ll think ‘It’s only a dream, you’ve had them before, this isn’t real.’  And then I’ll think, ‘No, this time it’s real, I can tell, I’m awake and I can see the stars.’  And then I wake up and I can’t even remember how they looked in my dream.  It’s cruel and it hurts, and I wouldn’t stop having the dreams if I could.

So if I had a wish that I couldn’t use for world peace or perfect vision or an honest politician or any other fairy tale, that’s how I’d use it.  Who knows?  The future is nothing but possibility, and I’ve learned to be careful about words like “never” and “always.”  I embrace the maybe and I keep hope alive.  I also still want to live on the top floor and I will always, yes always, keep looking into the sky at night, and I’ll never, yes never, stop trying.  For all I know, there will be a way in my lifetime for me to go and see the stars up close, and then I won’t have to remember.  And if that happens, let me just tell you how I’m filming the entire freaking thing in whatever they’re calling high-definition at that point, and I’m storing copies of the video in at least ten different locations, real and virtual, just in case I develop amnesia right at the same time that there’s a fire, a flood, and a tornado and also the entire internet gets erased.  I’m not taking any more chances.

van-gogh-698329_640

Van Gogh, The Starry Night [image in public domain]

Happy Friday.  I hope you enjoyed my confession.  Now, if it’s Friday night and you’re actually reading this blog post, do me a favor:  go outside, look at the stars, and leave me a comment telling me what they’re like.  Do it again tomorrow night, and the night after that, and just every single night for the rest of your life because watching a starry night sky is one thing you should never, never, never take for granted.  And after you’re done, put on something fabulous and go have some fun!  That’s what I’m doing.  It’s Friday night, after all.

And if you’re asking yourself how I’m going to make this wish when I can’t see a star to wish on: that’s what faith is for.  I can’t see the stars, but I know they’re there.  How’s that for a broader theme?

Meet Super (Blind) Girl

I have a superpower.  Now, if I had a choice as to what superpower I would have, it wouldn’t be this one.  My first choice would be the ability to fly.  After that, I think maybe super-healing (because chopping vegetables while blind never ends well) or maybe immortality, because awesome.  It wasn’t up to me, though, so what I ended up with was this:  when I’m out running errands, I have the ability to go into a store and walk right up to the thing I’m looking for, even when I have no idea where it is and I can’t see it or anything around it.  Useful, but no one’s going to make a movie out of that anytime soon.  I don’t think.  Unless I can figure out how to sparkle while I do it.

edward cullen

Edward Cullen by Joel Kuiper, licensed by CC

My superpower became apparent a while ago when I was out with a friend shopping for a garlic press.  We were at Overpriced Behemoth Box Store (not the actual name, unless we’re being honest) in which literally thousands of items of varying degrees of usefulness were shelved, hung, and piled up farther than the eye, or my eye at least, could see.  We resigned ourselves to a minimum twenty-minute session of squinting and swearing, girded our loins, and went once more unto the breach.  I forded a nearby aisle, picked something up at random to see what it was, and yes:  it was indeed a garlic press.  Or should I say, it was the garlic press, because not only was it the thing I was looking for, it was the only one in the entire store.  All this while my Totally Sighted Friend was searching fruitlessly right beside me.  Hand to God, and I have a witness.

It’s gotten to the point that my Totally Sighted Friend will take me to the grocery store, tell me what she needs, and then follow me around until I find it.  One day she needed potatoes, so I wandered into the produce aisle, picked up a kumquat, put down the kumquat because I’ve never been sure what a kumquat is, thought I might like some cheese, and on the way to the cheese stand nearly ran into the potatoes.  Totally Sighted Friend seriously and with opportunism aforethought just leaned on the cart and watched me amble around until I stopped and went, “Hey! Potatoes!”  Which were right next to the onions I remembered I needed when two of them fell into my shopping cart.  They were specifically yellow onions, too, which was the kind I  wanted.  That’s really what makes it a super-power:  it’s so freaking specific.

i__m_a_goddamn_superhero_by_woodstock_chan-d397ahb

copyright 2011-2016 by woodstock-chan on deviantart.com http://fav.me/d397ahb

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility.  For instance, I have to be careful when I’m looking for something sharp or heavy that I don’t have anyone near me at the time lest they find themselves minus a finger or plus a concussion, because if I don’t immediately find whatever I’m looking for, it will launch itself at me, and not all coffee-makers have good aim.  I also have to watch out that the things I’m looking for don’t spill themselves all over the floor beside me and trip some innocent bystander who didn’t realize who they were standing next to.  As Super (Blind) Girl, it is my duty to minimize collateral damage in the fight of good against evil, and by good against evil I mean me against whatever idiot decided to reorganize the grocery store aisles I had so carefully memorized (side note to whoever did that:  I hope that when you go home, your mother runs out from under the porch and bites you).

Yea, verily, the life of a superhero is fraught with peril.  As I walk this lonely road, gentle readers, do not envy me, but follow at a safe distance, because there’s a decent chance I’ll accidentally find whatever it is you’re looking for.  By the way, I also have the power to draw smiley faces on the insides of basketballs, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to take that one on faith. ūüôā

Little Mean Girl

Welcome to Powerpoint on PowerPoint

Image via Wikipedia

This is one of the times when it’s really hard to be a Little Blind Girl. ¬†At the training conference I was at, the teachers kept using PowerPoint, and they would turn the lights off and on over and over throughout each day. ¬†It played merry hell with my eyes. ¬†And as if that weren’t enough, there was a photographer there memorializing the event with flash photography. ¬†Every picture was like a knife stabbing into my eyes. ¬†After nearly ten minutes of this, I was about ready to drop him, I swear I was. ¬†And the handouts had this miniscule font, which I couldn’t have seen anyway because the lights were off, and on and on and on…

At the end of every day, I had excruciating headaches. ¬†I hadn’t forgotten you guys, but it was more than I could do to stare at a backlit screen and focus my eyes enough to type out a blog entry. ¬†I stayed in my hotel room and didn’t go out playing with the other conferees and was generally irritable and antisocial the entire time, thus earning the new nickname of Little Mean Girl. ¬†It shouldn’t be so hard just to try to keep up with the developments in my profession, just to try to do my job and live my life. ¬†I shouldn’t have to lock myself in a dark room and avoid all company. ¬†It shouldn’t physically hurt just to get through the day.

English: The rich red earth of Herefordshire T...

Image via Wikipedia

Is it this hard all the time for everyone? ¬†Am I being a whiny little babypants? ¬†I probably am. ¬†I’ll stop now and think about the starving children in China who would give anything to be able to attend a PowerPoint presentation. ¬†I’ll remember how lucky I am that I can see anything at all; I may not have been able to see the screen for the training presentations, but I could see the hillsides as we drove to the training facility a little after dawn, red earth gleaming wet and dark against the¬† slowly brightening sky. ¬†I could hear the presenters even when I’m pretty sure they didn’t want me to, and I could lean over and make snide comments to the person sitting next to me. ¬†Really, as long as I can snark, I can make it through the day.

But if that photographer comes back around at my next training conference, I’m putting my four-inch heel through his foot. ¬†Photographer, You Have Been Warned!

Don’t let the Little Blind Girl out at night!

English: Night Street Lights by Photos8.com

Image via Wikipedia

Why little blind girls shouldn’t be allowed out after dark:

I got home from work pretty late tonight, well after dark. ¬†Now, as I’m legally blind, I have a lot of trouble seeing much of anything after dark. ¬†It’s all blurry artificial lights and shifting shadows and I’m basically completely blind. ¬†Usually I don’t go out after dark, but I know my way to the corner store pretty well because of various after-hours emergencies over the years. ¬†Of course, not having a strawberry soda after a hard Tuesday counts as an emergency, and just such a crisis struck tonight, so I ventured out.

The way to the corner store includes a pass through the parking lot for another business, where they know me well and know of my condition, and generally try to look out for me. ¬†So I was not too surprised, if a little taken aback, when, as I walked through the parking lot, I heard a female voice say very loudly “Don’t go there!” ¬†It being pitch dark, I couldn’t see even an outline of who was talking to me, but I thought perhaps a car was coming and a staff member or patron of the business was warning me, so I backtracked to what I thought was safe ground.

I heard the same female voice say, “Get away from there!” in a very authoritative tone. ¬†Now thoroughly bewildered, I edged toward the door for the business. ¬†Again, the female voice shouted “I told you not to go there!”

Exasperated, I said, “What is going on? ¬†Why can’t I go there? ¬†Why are you shouting at me?”

Out of the dark, the female voice replied, “What are you talking about? ¬†I haven’t said anything to you!”

Seeing Eye Dog Original

Seeing Eye Dog Original (Photo credit: Mike "Dakinewavamon" Kline)

“You shouted at me not to go there!” I shot back, somewhat out of temper at this point.

“Are you blind or something?” the disembodied female voice asked. ¬†“I was talking to my dog!”

That’s right, gentle readers, the lady was out walking her dog and was telling her dog not to do its business by the store’s front door. ¬†I gave lady and dog what I hope was a wide berth, considering that I’m not sure where the dog ended up relieving itself, got my soda, and hustled home. ¬†Seriously, I shouldn’t be allowed out of the house!

Ask A Little Blind Girl

Old woman at desk, 1967

Image via Wikipedia

Every so often, I’ll get people who ask me questions about what they should do in certain situations. ¬†Why they think I’ll know is a question I’ve never gotten around to asking, because anyone who knows me knows that I’ll take any excuse to talk about anything at all, whether or not I know anything about it. ¬†To that end, I’m launching what I hope will become a regular feature, Ask A Little Blind Girl. ¬†Leave your question in the comments section of any post, and I’ll answer it in a future entry. ¬†I’m starting out with some of the most common:

Dear Little Blind Girl:  I have the worst memory for faces.  Do you have any tips on how to have a conversation with someone who obviously recognizes you when you have no idea who they are?

–Clear Vision But Hazy Memory

Dear CVBHM: ¬†I have this problem all the time, not because I can’t remember their faces, but because I can’t see them in the first place. ¬†Over time, I’ll learn to recognize voices and other indicators, but in the meantime I’ve learned a few tips for carrying on a conversation with an apparantly close friend you can’t remember at all.

First, remember that people love to talk about themselves. ¬†We so rarely get the chance to go on and on about ourselves that a simple “How are things going for you?” will get the person started on a long and hopefully rambling response that will give you more clues about who they are and, with luck, how they know you.

Lakhovsky: The Convesation; oil on panel (–Ď–Ķ—Ā–Ķ...

If you still haven’t placed the person by the time you’re called upon for a response, take the last thing the person said, reword it, and agree with it. ¬†“That’s so true, a warm spell does always follow a cold snap.” ¬†This will keep things going without actually requiring any substantive input from you. ¬†Phrases like, “Tell me more about that,” and “I never knew that–how interesting” can keep the conversation going for a long time.

If they ask you about yourself, try to pick up on the phrasing of the question for clues on the connection you supposedly have. ¬†“How is the meth lab disposal business going?” indicates that the person knows you through work. ¬†“Did your nephews survive the separation surgery?” shows that the person knows you through your family. ¬†If all else fails, just ask them what was going on the last time the two of you talked. ¬†“Gosh, I’m not sure, were you around for the quadruple bypass?” ¬†I’ve had successful lengthy conversations with people I still can’t place, and I’ve developed a reputation as a witty conversationalist to boot.

No matter what, if you say it with a smile, you’ll probably be fine.

Dear Little Blind Girl: ¬†I’m interested in asking a member of the sex to which I’m attracted on a date. ¬†Problem is, this person can’t see very well. ¬†What should I do to make him/her/them more comfortable? ¬†Does this mean they won’t notice if I don’t wear a tie/pantyhose/uncomfortable shoes?

–Short-Sighted Would-Be Suitor

Dear SSWBS: ¬†First of all, it’s always a positive step that you’ve asked. ¬†One of the best things you can do is simply be aware of the situation and pay attention. ¬†If your date has bad vision and is about to walk into a glass door, you’ll score major points by heading off a major injury. ¬†Don’t assume your blind date knows there are steps coming up if she’s actually blind. ¬†Among other things, doing so will put a quick end to the date, and to any chance of future dates, especially if it’s a lengthy set of stairs.

English: A bunch of flowers Français : Un bouq...

I recommend not taking a date with vision problems on the traditional dinner and a movie. ¬†That translates to dinner and a migraine, which means that you will forever be associated in your date’s mind with a headache–not something that’s going to play well for you later on down the line. ¬†Try an outdoor concert or a wine tasting. ¬†If you insist on a movie, art gallery, or other visually oriented date activity, be prepared to provide two to three hours of descriptive analysis mixed with insightful commentary and stand-up comedy. ¬†I recommend the outdoor concert; it’s much less work.

Also, your date will know if you don’t put effort into your appearance. ¬†That uncomfortable, stilted speech that you find in the beginning of a relationship comes from a tie you’re not used to wearing, heels that are a little higher than you’re used to, and so on. ¬†It’s not fun, but it shows you care, and if you’re wearing your pajamas to a dinner date, your date will be able to tell even if he or she can’t see it, I promise you.

Always remember, just because your date is blind doesn’t mean all his or her senses are on the fritz: ¬†flowers still smell pretty, chocolates still taste wonderful, wine still gets us drunk. ¬†Happy hunting! ¬†Er, dating.

Dear Little Blind Girl: ¬†If you can’t see, how come you think Johnny Depp is hot?

–Skeptical In Schenectady

Dear SIS:  There is a hotness that transcends the merely visual.  It emanates from his being.  It is the aura of an aura, the glow of greatness, the sense that this person has been kissed by the gods.  Also, when I was younger and I could see, I fell instantly in love and then was blinded by his glory so that no rival could ever take his place.  My love for Johnny Depp is true and eternal.  Mock it at your peril.

Français : Johnny Depp à l'avant-première de P...