Monthly Archives: April 2014

Don’t all blind people live together?

I won’t use his name here, but at work today I got asked something that made me laugh. For the sake of having a name I will just call him Bill. I like to use a name even if it’s fake. Bill asked me if I lived in a housing complex for blind people. It made me laugh to think people actually think we all just get lumped together and live in one area. I’ve heard this sort of thing before, and I think it’s why I started this blog. So many people just have no idea how we can survive or live being blind. It’s crazy to me, because I just live life, but I think the single hardest thing is for me to get over those misconceptions. It’s hindered my dating life, family, and friends. I told Bill I lived in a normal apartment, and there were no other blind people in my complex that I know of.

I’m in no way picking on this guy and welcome any question, because I feel you never know unless you ask something. In school it’s not like they have blind history. You may hear about a blind person once during some disability awareness week, but often times it’s again a lot of the stereotypical responses you’ll hear from a sighted teacher. It’s not like they’re going out and trying to figure out how we live. It never stops amazing me hearing how sighted people think we live or do things. Maybe I won’t change any of your opinions about blind people as a whole, but at least it’s out there.

To be fair I will talk about something I do struggle with buffets. I think they are something sighted people created to keep us in our place. I feel so uncomfortable visiting a buffet. Some blind people tell me they will take their finger and try and see what food it is, and then fork it on their plate. That grosses me out. I will just ask someone for assistance. Granted if you’re eating at a buffet it’s probably not the cleanest, but still I don’t want anyone’s finger touching my food. I went over to Erica’s on Sunday for a family dinner, and she actually got my plate. I didn’t mind that, because she didn’t make me feel weird about it. I think a lot of what I see as a weakness is only brought out if presented to me in that tone. If someone’s honestly being helpful then it’s not really going to bother me a whole lot. Back to Bill I know him pretty well, so what he said didn’t bother me he just didn’t know.

Last night I also had a weird thing happen. To be honest my apartment complex did email me back in March saying they were going to be doing some work to the water lines. They emailed me saying it was going to be off on April 1, but they canceled that date and said they would notify us later. Well later apparently was last night, because when I tried to wash my hands after eating I got nothing. Thankfully I was able to spend the night at Erica’s house, and have water. I didn’t realize how much I use water on a whole until I couldn’t it’s for sure something I take for granted. The office anyway said they stuck the notice in my mailbox, and I stated to them I can’t read print. They email me about everything else how I can pick up a donut in the office, or events going on around the facility, but they didn’t happen to think I wouldn’t notice the water being off?

One other thing I thought I’d mention is I remember in 2008 talking to my friend Dina about voting. She was so happy, because 2008 marked the first time in her life she could vote independently. They finally had a talking machine in her city. I never really had to go without this, but I think it’s pretty crazy before 2008 in most places blind people would have to either have someone help them vote, or be assigned 2 people one republican and one Democrat to keep things honest. As I said in one of my first few posts of this blog if I were going to be blind I’m glad to be born in this generation where technology has made things come a long way for us.

a Kentucky Derby flashback

This weekend was full of events. We had a bachelor’s party for my friend Mat on Saturday. It was a great time. I really enjoy some of the guys I’ve met they’re all really nice. I spoke to one about a condo he has for sale, and I’m pretty interested. I’ll probably be visiting my bank soon for loan information. For me it’s in a good location for busses, and so that’s helpful. I’m sure I will be talking about this process more in-depth as I research it.

Sunday I was supposed to go fishing, but I went over to Erica’s and met her family. The only awkward moment was at dinner they were passing around food, and didn’t know how to ask me to grab it at first. The first dish went over my arm while I was drinking and I bumped it. I just spoke up and said if you let me know its coming I can pass it to whoever. The way people first act when they meet us is still so weird to me. They were all nice, and I was a bit worried when I first met her dad. I’m getting more used to it, and my confidence is growing. I know I have a lot to offer, but it’s trying to make a good first impression, I talked with her dad about a lot of things like music we like, and sports. Looking back on it I think I did well. I helped him change the oil in Erica’s car which gave us a bit of a bonding experience. I had never done it before, but he offered to teach me. I figured later on I’ll do it myself for her.

Most of Sunday Erica and I sat on a porch swing drinking tea and talking. We started watching the first season of Breaking Bad together. I’ve never seen it, and she feels that is absurd. We got through 3 episodes, and I have to admit I like it so far.

Robin stayed with Erica on Saturday while I was out at the party. We also took her to the vet again. They recommended me feeding her chicken and rice to settle her stomach. Oh my gosh she thinks she is in heaven. Usually Robin will kind of be hesitant and eat one piece of food at a time, but she inhales the chicken and rice. She’ll probably start faking sick just for chicken and rice. She feels a lot better today, but Friday and Saturday she scared me a bit. She wasn’t eating a whole lot, and was lethargic. Having Erica to talk to for support was a nice feeling. Yesterday I let her run in a fenced in yard, and she enjoyed that. She really doesn’t run, but she walks and sniffs everything.

This is a bit of a boring post, but for the first time honestly I can say I feel real comfortable where things are. Pilot Neil comes in tonight, so I can’t wait to see him. I’m also getting ready for the Kentucky Derby Saturday which brings me to a good story about last year’s Derby.

Last year Amanda, Mat, and I decided we wanted to do something for the Derby. We decided to do brunch at Makers Mark downtown. I think we got there around 1 pm. I had 2 drinks there, and they ended up kicking us out at 4 do to you had to have reservations. We then went to Friday’s, where I probably drank 6 Mint Juleps. They were pretty big glasses. I also ordered some pasta. Between the 3 of us we had over $100 in food. We went to pay and someone had already picked up are bill for us. I couldn’t believe it. The lady at the door helped us cross the street, because things were a bit spinney for me. We walked to where cabs would be, and they wanted to charge us a lot, so we decided to catch a bus. This is where things got a little crazy. Amanda and Mat walked down the actual street, since it was blocked off. I went on the sidewalk. When I was passing back by Fridays the lady ran out and said Mr. Joe where are you trying to go? There were so many people and I was using my cane since I was drinking. I left my Robin at home. Anyway I told her I was going to go to the bus stop, and she walked me to the end of the block. I found a cab at that point, and just wanted to get home, so I paid $20 for a mile cab ride. Mat and Amanda found a cab, and got there’s paid for. Apparently they did try searching for me, but it was way too crowded we would have never found each other. I remember getting home and ordering Jimmy Johns later that night. What a day it was! No one got hurt, we got are meal paid for, and it is a great memory. I don’t think we’re going to do Friday’s this year, because we all have moved out of downtown, so getting home could be troublesome. I look forward to the Derby every year. If you haven’t figured out by now, I love to have a good time. haha

Lyft

Tonight I had something happen that is been a long trend of annoyance to me. I went to a store to buy beer and when I went to pay the girl said I don’t know how we can do this? She was referring to me signing a receipt or in this case touchscreen. I’ve had several delivery people from Jimmy John’s and Papa John’s say the same thing recently. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if they phrased it as a question sort of like what I did. However instead it’s phrased as more of a thought and they’re not really directly talking to me.

I took this new service tonight called Lyft. I want to give them praise, because it was actually pretty useful. I used my iPhone and scheduled a ride my driver was named Vicky. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I figured she probably had never met a blind person, but I wanted to try the service and see if it would be better than yellow cab. When she got here I told her I was blind and had a Reds hat on, and she quickly told me she saw me and pulled up. When I got in it seemed like we were longtime friends. She told me she was 55 and was a retired firefighter I told her she did not look a day over 30. She said when I called you and you asked if I would wait for you why you picked up beer I thought why would somebody need to drive them to get beer? I told her I lost my license yesterday. I also thanked her for allowing me to continue my habit. Overall it was a really great experience, and I’ll probably try it again. I enjoy the companionship rather than getting very little talk and fears of the dog. She actually saw the exchange of me and the clerk at the store and on our way out I said that’s part of the fun of my life they’ll take my money and then freak out when it comes to something small like signing. It really is amazing to see how uncomfortable people get.

Second family

In high school I had a friend named Brandon. We became really close, and at times I would spend more time at his place than mine. His family loved me, and they pretty much adopted me. When Robin got sick I contacted Dan to say hi. Dan is Brandon’s dad. I got a little home sick for the first time in a while. I haven’t seen Dan or Brandon since 2011 right before I moved here. With my career I’ve been flying and traveling everywhere but home. My grandpa’s sick as well, so I really hate the fact I can’t just get home that easily. Being blind I love the transportation I have here in Louisville, because I have an airport and bus station. When I lived at home I had to depend on my parents or brother and sister to take me anywhere. After I left high school I became much more independent. That’s probably why I struggle with it so much, is because I’ve not always had it. The country is a completely different experience. I love the country and would choose it over the city, but transportation is nonexistent, so I will never get that opportunity.

Back to my story though. I remember one comment Dan made to me about the fifth time I spent the night. He said when Brandon told me you were coming over I wasn’t Shure if the house had the right handicap accessibility. I asked him what he meant and he said we don’t have any ramps or anything. I found that odd, but at the same time they’ve never met anyone blind. He said you get around here better than me. As time grew we became closer and closer. Brandon and I would play videogames in the basement, and watch a lot of movies. I really felt part of their family, and even when I call now I just enjoy hearing how they’re doing. During my year without work I’d call Dan and he would tell me that someone will give me a chance just keep trying. It kind of lifted me up when I kept hearing no from employers.

Brandon and I would play videogames a lot as I mentioned earlier. I remember the first time I beat him in football he shut off the game before I got the official win. We were pretty even when it came to playing all though he probably won more. We would play baseball a lot as well. They had a basketball hoop in there drive way so on nice days we’d play basketball.

His sister Brittany was a little younger than us, but Dan always thought it would be great if we dated. One day we went to a play and we decided to play a joke on him. We came home and we told him we were dating. He was so happy. We let him believe that for about 2 weeks, and finally we told him the truth. He still kids me about it today. Brandon stayed pretty far away from that one.

I’m hoping to go home in June or July for a weekend and say hi. Unfortunately to see Brandon I would have to go to Wisconsin, so that is out of the picture. He has a child now, and I hope to meet him one day. We text, but we both stay way to busy. I know I’m a lot different of a person than I was back then, because I can get out and do things on my own. Having to depend on people for rides, or just not having the confidence to go somewhere alone has changed the most. Anyway I thought it was long overdue to write a peace about them. I love them all, and I’m glad they invited me in so easily to their family.

First date!!

Last night was our first date. From the start plans changed, but it worked out. Erica called and brought over Taco Bell, because she was tired. I had already had my plan for the first kiss set up, so it worked out we kissed before dinner. I had a friend write notes on the bottom of Hershey Kisses with things I value about her. Things such as her laugh, personality, kindness, and so forth. When she got to the end of the trail I had a note that said he kisses her. Thanks to Ming Lee my coworker for the suggestion. She loved it, and so did I. After dinner we went out on a blanket and we talked for a few hours. It got to a point where everything was just funny. She fell asleep so I carried her inside and put her on my couch. I didn’t want to wake her up, so I went to my chair. She woke up around 2 in the morning and she changed in to some sweatpants. We fell asleep on the couch.

Overall it was an amazing date. I love the fact I can be so open with her. When we were sitting outside time would pass with us saying nothing, and it felt so good just being around each other. I like where we are, and regarding my blindness I don’t think I’ve felt this comfortable around someone in a while. This weekend we both have plans so we won’t see too much of each other, but on Sunday I’m going fishing with her papaw. Robin will probably stay with Erica, because she is scared of water. She had an accident when she was a puppy where she fell through ice on a lake in Vermont. When I went to Gatlinburg recently she was scared to death of the water, but I couldn’t leave her on shore. I haven’t showed her the blog yet, but I decided that I will of course give you guy’s stories of what’s going on, but I’ll probably keep more of the romantic things between us. I hope she understands why I have written what I have so far. I’m pretty confident in that things will be okay.

Long day!

One thing I have not complained about a whole lot that probably deserves complaining about it is transportation for us. We have a service that you have to call within 24 hours for a ride. I called last Saturday to book my rides for the week for work. For Thursday today this is what they gave me for a 930 work time they will be picking me up at 6:45 AM to 7:15 AM and return home when I get off at 6:00 PM to be there between 625 and 705. That is ridiculous for a week out. Now I could have called during the week and try to rebook it, but I already spent a half hour on the phone Saturday making my ride and I had things come up this week where I could not do that. You know I have a service animal and 2 15 minute breaks and a half hour lunch I don’t have time to sit on the phone all day. I find it highly inefficient in today’s world that with the computer technology we have I have to play phone tag with the transportation service when I made my ride a week out. Ultimately it’s my fault and I’m just complaining but I just find the whole scheduling thing crazy. By the way I live 1 mile from work it will take me about six minutes on the bus to get there.

I still have a lot to learn

Last night Erica and I had a conversation. Monday I had left robin by herself all day, because she wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t ask her to stop by, because it would have been out of her way to do so. Anyway Monday night was pretty rough, because she hung up on me and I wasn’t really sure where we were going to go from there. She called me back and said she would come over Tuesday night to talk.

We went out to the little pond at my apartment, and sat for a while talking about each other’s day. I find the water sound so peaceful. Finally we got down to the meat of the conversation. She said that she understood why I am protecting myself, but if I want us to grow I have to let things go. I agreed with her I basically started off the conversation with I’m sorry I was wrong. In my mind I felt I was doing the right thing, and maybe it’s not about what was wrong or right, but I didn’t call her or include her with what was going on. She told me she wants to be a part of my life I love robin, and so does she, and she wants to protect that. She used an example that I really understood. She said what if I was sick and didn’t want you paying for a cab to my place so I just didn’t tell you that would make you mad right? Of course I would be, because I would want to get her soup or do whatever she needed to help her feel better.

I’m not perfect, and I know people like Jared tried to show me flaws in my ways of thinking, but this is the first time I get it. For me I’m just trying to rationalize I’ve had a hand full of bad relationships, and why would someone want to be with me and my short comings? I watched my dad growing up and he did all the driving and handy work. I’m good at doing things around the house, and have a pretty good skill set but I just feel lacking somehow.

Mel told me that if I want someone caring and loving they’re going to want to be nurturing towards me. I may have butchered a bit what she told me, but it was helpful. I’ve never seen my thoughts on being independent as harmful, but now I see they need a little improving. I still want to take things slow, but Erica and I reached a level of understanding that felt really nice yesterday. She also said that I do more for her than I realize, and I don’t have to worry. She gave me some examples which were really nice and thoughtful. Things like I text her in the morning, or randomly just to say hi with a little positive note. She told me she’s never had that before. I also hooked up her surround sound recently which she was struggling with. She also mentioned how I was able to just fit right in with her grandpa, and she liked that. I just thought her examples were easy for me to understand, and I felt more wrong and awful for creating a situation.

This whole experience has me feeling like I will always learn. Maybe were never really done learning! I’m independent and I take care of everything for myself, but because I can’t drive or build something for Erica I felt inadequate which really is ridiculous. I’m sure it comes from rejection and just a lot of negative feelings that have built up, because it isn’t easy. When you find someone who wants to love you you have to hold on I would have eventually just killed it thinking like how I was. When I moved to Louisville I met a guy named Jerry. He owns about 18 rental properties and is totally blind. He does construction work on everyone. He is building a new house right now, and if it wasn’t so far from where I live I would have been interested. I’ve helped drive fence posts, but I never thought I could build a room on my own. That is me limiting myself, because Jerry can do it. I asked him how he designs something, and he just told me it comes natural he’s always been good at that kind of architecture. I think were molded by are environment and ultimately what we know. If it’s important to me to learn how to build a house I’ll probably figure it out if it’s not I’ll just pay someone.

Tonight is our first date, so I have the butterflies. We’ve gone out as friends a lot, but there is this spark now, so it’s a bit different. I have a nice romantic first kiss planned after dinner as well, so here is to hoping.

By the way next week Pilot Neil is coming in to town for the Derby, so I’m excited to have some live stories involving him. Friday I have off, so were going to the track for Oaks day. He is always challenging me to try something different like that football story I told you about a while ago, or tandem bike riding. He usually will let me drive as well, so were always up to something. I asked him recently if he had found a new blind friend to replace me In Philadelphia. He responded with he’s moved on to searching for someone in a wheelchair he’s met enough blind people. We are planning on going to some baseball games this summer, because he has a plane and has to fly to maintain a license. His wife Adrian goes along, so we have a good time. She keeps us in line a lot of the time.

Cleaning a hardwood floor has been a bit more challenging than I thought.

When I moved in October of last year I moved to a new apartment with wood flooring. I like it a lot, because acoustically things sound great. The thing I hate is cleaning it. I’ve never really been good with a mop, but I’ve been learning and getting better. I’ve been getting tips from other blind people actually. I now have a set schedule of cleaning my floors, as well as 3 options. I use a Swiffer for round 1, sweeper for round 2, and finally I wet a towl and go over it inch by inch on my hands and knees. It’s a bit of a pain, but I got tired of missing dirt and Robins hair. I’ve done this new schedule the last two weeks, and it’s been working. Overall I think the hardwood is easier to clean than carpet just a bit more time consuming.

Defining the relationship

Last night I recorded a show on my DVR that Erica wanted to watch so she came over with dinner. Robin still didn’t move a whole lot. We went out on my patio, and Robin followed us out, but just laid on the pavement. With Robin getting sick I didn’t really get to talk about us much. My mind was really elsewhere while writing about my weekend.

Last night Erica came in my house and I could tell she was upset. She asked me why I didn’t call her to take Robin to the emergency vet. I told her the truth she had already left, and I don’t want a situation where someone feels they have to drive me around I’m not MS. Daisy. Truthfully for me and I will explain more, but I have a lot of insecurities when it comes to my blindness in a relationship. I want to pull my weight, and contribute as much as I can. If I had called back Erica Saturday night to see if she could run me to the animal hospital I would have felt guilty in a weird way. I never want her to think I am taking advantage of her. I explained how I felt, but I think she just wanted to help. She didn’t really get where I was coming from.

After we ate we watched a news show on the Boston bombings she wanted to see. Before she got ready to leave she said she wanted to talk with me about something. She wanted some clarification on our relationship. After Saturday I felt really nice we had a great time spending most of the day together. I like being around her, because we have a lot we can talk about. From politics to radio she is really something else. The only downside to her is she likes the ST. Louis Cardinals. She said she would like clarification to where I thought we were. I basically said a longer version of what I put here. I do want a relationship, but I didn’t start hanging out with her for that reason. I really just wanted a friend to do things with, and I feel if we make that jump then I could lose my friend. I told her I didn’t want to rush anything, but she said she wanted a deeper answer than that, so I opened up a bit.

For me blind sighted relationships have been a bit awkward mainly for me. I know those are my insecurities, but they’re hard to ignore. I feel like to a degree why would she want to put herself through dating me? I don’t view myself as a burden by any means, but I know it’s going to be a different experience being with me. She said that I make her laugh, and she loves talking with me. The last week we’ve talked every night until around 12 or so just about life. I really want to know about her like what life was like for her growing up, going to school, because those are the things I didn’t get to see. She said she doesn’t normally come across guys she can talk to as openly as she can me. It made me feel good she has done that since I’ve known her.

Guys I’m telling you if you ever hear we need to talk about defining our relationship you better set aside a big chunk of time. We talked for about 3 hours in total it involved a bit of crying, but in the end I hope things are defined for her. I decided on Wednesday to take her out to her favorite restaurant. It’s been awhile since I’ve been romantic or went above and beyond for someone, but I’m ready to do so for her. Don’t fear I will post all the corny things I do. I’ve already got 2 or 3 ideas for our first kiss. I put way to much thought in to everything, but I guess it’s that little bit of youth holding on.

Let me educate all you younger guys who may read this on not what to do. At times in my life the earlier Joe would have acted to things like first kisses on impulse. This is the wrong thing to do. Girls like to feel secure they don’t want to kiss out in public. Never make that mistake. Also they also don’t like to be kissed in front of cab drivers again big mistake. I have done a few of them correctly, but it took a while to really understand the mind of a woman you women are so complex. I just try to make things memorable in some way. My favorite kiss was my first one. It was with my friend Sarah. I asked Sarah’s friend if the moon was out, because obviously I couldn’t see it. It ended up being a full moon that night, so I took Sarah outside and I told her how I felt about her. At the end of our little conversation I asked her what she thought of the light of the moon and I kissed her. I’ve also for someone’s birthday bought little cupcakes and lit the numbered candles on it. I told her to make a wish, and then I kissed her. Don’t worry she blew the candles out first. I’m running out of ideas though seriously.

Sir there will be no sleeping in the strip club!

I will step back in time to tell you a story, because it kind of goes along with what I’ve been talking about recently. I’ve been debating with this story about four days now whether or not to post it and I decided why not? It was my friends bachelor’s party I will leave him nameless. We started the evening at Buffalo wild wings where we ate dinner and had a few beers. We then went to a place downtown that is known for having several different beers. I was in college so not in Louisville. At the beer place we started talking and it was decided that we were to go to a strip club, but no one knew where it was. That is where I come in! You give me a few beers I just want the party to keep rolling. I mean if you can’t have fun what is the point of life? I walked up to a guy asked him where the strip club was he told me so I gave him like $15. I remember this part, because my friend eventually walked up to me and said stop paying him. I remember calling a cab and this weird 16-year-old kid being in there.

When we got to the strip club the kids said something like say hi to my mom which was a little awkward. I really don’t know why he was in the cab! Anyway we get out and get ready to go into the strip club. Now I want to stop for one second and explain to you that this was going to be a dream of mine come true. Being blind I didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to see a bunch of naked women or women in thongs. I can’t just Google. I was so pumped for this no matter what the women really looked like. The next hour and a half or two hours was probably the biggest letdown of my life. Alright maybe that’s an exaggeration but I went from being like a kid in a candy shop to feeling like I took a cold shower. Guys you know what I’m talking about. I did get a lap dance but all I got to see was pretty much Nubbie knees. During the lap dance she was probably like a foot away from my face. Yeah those string toys they have for cats when you dangle it above their head that’s what it was like for me. And life I’ve learned that it’s better for me to learn by actually doing something. Most things good come from a relationship. I remember telling the story to a girl I was dating so she actually gave me a real lap dance you know where I got to read her braille. I don’t know why I decided to tell you that story right then but anyway moving on with the night. I swear to you I get more play at Hooters. Do you know that little shoulder lean that the Hooters girls do when taking order that’s more excitement that I got to the strip club. Anyway so about 15 minutes in I’m pretty bored.

The music sucked, I couldn’t see any women, and it was trashy people from my city so I was ready to go home. However cited people were not. I drink some Bud Light and got tired so I decided to fall asleep. This apparently pissed off the bouncer, because one of the guys kept hitting me in the shoulder to wake me up. I would drink a little more Bud Light and fall asleep again. Then I get hit in the shoulder. The process repeated probably about 13 or 14 times. The way I viewed it I wasn’t being a pervert or loud or even annoying I was just bored and wanted to sleep. We finally left and I decided I was tired and wanted to go home I was dog sitting for another person so I needed to get the dogs outside as well. What happened next I really can’t explain except this kind of sums up most of my drunken adventures when I’ve had a lot to drink I just want to sleep. I remember taking out the dog I was dog sitting for and going back in for Robin. I remember her going to the bathroom, but then I must of gotten tired and I went backwards towards a tree and laid down. Robin laid in my arms. I remember a group of people gathered around me unsure of what to do I’m sure. My friend happen to get out of the cab because he forgot something and he saw me and got me inside.

I’ve never been to a strip club since then and have had no desire to go back to one. I don’t really know what I should of expected but I thought there might be a little more braille headed my way. Maybe a little braille bouncing on my face I don’t know. Haha it was just so far from my dream it was like a nightmare.