Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Time Flies... Away When You're Not Looking! No Fair!

Hello everyone. I guess I've left you all hanging for a while. Life has been pretty placid this past few weeks. I'm pretty much over whatever I caught at Lake Jo. However, it has unfortunately left a legacy of sleep irregularity. It'll likely take a while for that to sort itself back out. I have to try to keep more occupied during the days and stack things so that there's interesting stuff to listen to when I most need it to keep awake. Thankfully, the BBC and CBC plus TV has provided well in that area.

A number of interesting things have happened which I fully meant to blog about but never got around to. My father had an enjoyable sixty-second birthday. We went out to a Firkin pub along with some neighbours. I had an excellent chicken currie and enjoyed it thoroughly along with the easy friendly banter indicative of the long and healthy friendship my parents and I have had with them over the years. Earlier that day, they had an openning event for a bunch of exercise equipment which was installed around Lake Aquitaine over this past Summer. For the very first time, I was able to get to and from a community event completely on my own terms and time. Despite still being under the weather, it felt fantastic to finally have acomplished that cherrished milestone. Doug and his kids were there for a brief while as well. It's always good to see church friends outside of church like that. I spent a good three hours out there walking around. I met a nice Chinese man and his wonderfully curious six-year-old daughter who spent quite a bit of time walking and chatting with me. It made for a very pleasant experience. I'm not certain how motivated I'll be when it comes to actually using the equipment but I'll give it the old colledge try now that I'm finally on the mend. A day earlier, I also attended my friend Nan's 40th birthday gathering. It was a very full and happy house indeed. That family has obviously had a tremendously positive impact in the church community. It felt good to be a part of that celebration.

Earlier last week, I went to se Dan, Ava and Amia when they came over to my parents' house to be out of the way as potential buyers examined their house. We went out on a stroll to two different parks with play equipment. I got to push Amia on the swing and hear her laugh with utter joy. She kept wanting me to push her higher. I don't think I've ever heard her sound quite so happy before. I was also able to lift both of them up to bars they wanted to hang from but couldn't get up to on their own. It was quite enjoyable for me to be the helpul uncle I hope always to be for them. They seem to be enjoying school so far.

Last saturday was nice and busy. I had my groceries come in and everything's all stowed away where it ought to be. I also went out with Shane to Playdium. I've been curious about the place for years now and it was good to finally get to find out what it was like. It's not all that blind friendly. The noise level is tremendous and it's hard to pick out individual attractions or even hear who you're with in there. I got to try the hurricane simulator which was lesss spectacular than I expected but still a neat sensation. They also had a rollercoaster simulation. They did loops wonderfully but somewhat failed when it came to rendering the sensation for forward motion or vertical movement. We ended the evening with a nice dinner at Scores restaurant. It's good to have a friend who's willing to go to things like that with me so I can experience these places and not spend life wondering about them with no way to get there. Whether or not such trips are as fully successful as I might hope, it's just great to have someone around my age to try this stuff out with once in a while. Shane's much more a man of action than conversation and contemplation so I'm going to try and keep an ear out for events which would suit that disposition.

This certainly hasn't been how I hoped my first summer here would end. I've spent most of the past three weeks in here sleeping through large odd chunks of days. I thought I'd be walking around the lake, meeting people, and perhaps going down to Symposium Cafe now and then. Strangely though, I feel somewhat better able to cope with the countless solitary days I know are ahead. I foresee a long slow Winter in store for me this year. Perhaps, in time, I'll form the social framework or find something to volunteer at so that time doesn't drag as much. The past three weeks certainly didn't drag since I slept through an unusually large amount of them. Also, being as prone to nodding off as I found myself to be, I was glad not to have too many obligations. I had a bit of a break from that normal state of feeling like an engine with tremendous unused potential due to a lack of both fuels in the form of life experience and of there being any need for my optimum output. I can't count the number of days I've spent like that over the years wishing for *someone* my age to be with or *something* almost *anything* short of criminal activity, to be involved in. It was good to simply be able to enjoy the time in which I was conscious. I can't remember any of my dreams over the past while so I have no idea how much I enjoyed my time sleeping. Once my sleep pattern is back to something approaching normal, I expect some of that restlessness to return. However, I've learned a bit more how to better marshall the resources I have at hand. I let a lot of stuff slide while I was fighting off this illness. Normal things like, err, cleaning the apartment. That has been put to rights over the past few days. Feels damned good to have things shipshape again. Also, other less tangible things have been neglected. A prime example is the CBC Radio1 show called Tapestries. I've apparently missed three episodes since the new season started. Thank goodness for the podcasts. They're looking at some interesting stuff I've been thinking about lately. Little things like hope, loneliness, and death. There's also last week's DNTO episode to listen to. I've done a little better with Spark. That crew is certainly batting a thousand so far this season. As with DNTO, however, I have last week's episode waiting for my attentive ears. The BBC was commemorating the battle of Brittain over the past while. That has been utterly fascinating, heart-rending and awe-inspiring to listen to. I can't imagine trying to carry on with life while bombs were obliterating neighbourhoods. Mike Walker was up to his usual excellence producing a fabulously poignant audio drama about the conception and building of the Spitfire interwoven with the experiences of two trainees and all the surrounding men and women who took part in the effort. It really makes you think about how lucky we Canadians are never to have faced a modern attack on our country.

I'm a member of an email list called ODSP Fireside. It's for people who, like me, are living on the Ontario Disability Support Program. Unfortunately, I can only stand that list in small amounts. It's just so negative most of the time. While I whole-heartedly agree that the ODSP needs some major changes, I don't believe in dismissing the good intentions of the people who created the system and those who work within it on our behalf. At least they don't presume, like most people seem to, that the CNIB does absolutely everything for us thereby excusing everyone else from having to make any effort in order to allow us to participate in life meaningfully. I certainly resent how you can keep up to $6000 extra per year if it's given to you as a gift but would lose half of thatif you got a job and earned it. I also think it's criminal how those kind souls who take a chance and marry one of us has to risk their disabled spouce having to sue them for income before being let back onto the system should things go bad. There's also no way of finding love within the community of those on ODSP. We all seem to be pretty isolated from each other. There's a lot of talk on the list about how you get less money as a couple on ODSP than if you remained two single people. However, what seems to be overlooked there is that you would be paying less rent if you shared a place. There was a big argument on the list about whether one's choices in life put us in the place where we find ourselves or whether there are other causes. In my view, life just isn't that simple. It's a combination of both. Sadly, due as much to peoples' attitudes as to our disabilities, our life choices don't always carry the same weight as do most people's. It can be all too easy for people who haven't faced life with a disability to dismiss us as lazy or worse. I suppose I shouldn't have been as shocked to find that tendency as prevalent within our community as it seems to be. Only days before this whole discussion came up, I was joking with a younger blind friend looking unssuccessfully for work that perhaps some criminal experience would look good on his resume. I had found my own attempt to find employment so utterly discouraging that I was honestly only half joking. The next thing I knew I was reading the distressed messages from people on ODSP who had actually been convicted for crimes and now found that they couldn't find honest work since nobody would trust them. Ten years ago, I believe I would have felt nothing but a mild exultation that crime indeed didn't ultimately pay off, that there was in fact a kind of universal justice. Of course, back then, my first marriage still had some fight left in it. I hadn't had a near second chance at marriage evaporate during less than an hour after a great two-year relationship. I also hadn't encountered Sandy. He certainly didn't choose to be where he is in life now. Despite having worked for a well respected company for something over twenty years, he finds himself in even worse circumstances than I'm in. They would have been more identical to mine but for a few well-intentionned choices made while he was working. Rather than exulted, I'm left more haunted than anything else by my words made in jest. What happense when loyalty, patience, honesty, and optimism count for nothing but shallow encounters and best wishes? I can't count the times that women I've spoken to have been surprised to learn that I was unattached. They, of course, were already spoken for. Similarly, I meet all kinds of people who are just floored that a positive smart young fellow like me can't find a job. None of them, however, have been in a position to actually hire me and do something about that situation. When it comes to the point of real life-changing commitment, the buck certainly seems to stop in a heeping hurry.

For all that though, my life does have its bright side. My choices have certainly made a positive difference even if they haven't lead to happy married life. They've earned me the respect of my family and made me some great friends. Earlier in September, I found myself wide awake at around quarter to four AM. I knew to the core of my bones that there was just no way I was getting back to sleep for a number of hours so I got up and dressed. Making myself some Chai tea, I went out with it onto my balcony and sat at the table. It was very peaceful at that hour. Due to the blockage of my ears, things were even more distant and muffled than they otherwise would have been. It was as if I were three or four times higher off the ground than I actually was. Along with a cup of splendid Chai made all the better by my recently unplugged nose, the effect was utterly sublime. Other times, it's a piece of music randomly picked by Winamp that'll sweep me up and away. Pieces like Kevin Kern's Touched By Love, Era's I Believe, Watchman's Ease from the score to the game Oblivion or James Newton Howard's The Healing, which can be found in the score to the film Lady In The Water. There are so many unappreciated things like that out there which I've thankfully had the time to find over the years. Had life taken a less slow and solitary turn, I may never have come across these things I try to include in my blog entries. Recently, I was able to enjoy Raymond Feist's Rift War Sauga for the second time and to complete my collection of all the books in that sauga. I'm also going through the Dream Park Trillogy by Lary Niven and Stephen Barnes. again. There's so much to be found in those books. Apparently, a new book whose story takes place in the Dream Park universe is going to come out soon called The Moon Maze Game. God knows how I'll get an accessible copy of that one but I'll absolutely try. While I greatly enjoy books, it's a more distant and thoughtful enjoyment. I may lose track of time but you never foreget that you're reading even if, as in my case, you're being read to. Music and audio are what can more utterly transport me. They're what often pass for the equivalent of colour in my life. Every now and again, they let me forget that I've spent days alone. Audio dramas and described movies are wonderful for that also especially the first time you hear them. You can get swept up in the ficticious lives coming from the speakers and be carried along by soundcraft for a few hours. I sometimes even revel in the fact that there's nobody around to be disturbed. Thankfully, that only goes so far. You can't help but realise that the conversations don't include you, your asss gets uncomfortable, you need a drink. Talking online to people is somewhat the same. It can definitely be meaningful and can take the sharp edge off the long hours. However, there's the realisation that you'll never go out for coffee with them, shake their hands, have them over for an afternoon. It just isn't the same. Not for me at any rate. Given a choice, you'd find me in a coffee house or some other place where people actually go to talk to each other rather than empty bottles of alcohol.

Eventually, the artifice hits home to the sound mind and you're brought back to more humble reality. You get on with the dishes that need washing, the food that needs cooking, the project you're working on, the sleep I really ought to be getting this damned far past midnight. Good lord! Thank god my mobility lesson isn't until this afternoon. I trust you've found this latest look at life on Blink Row to be illuminating. If I'm at all correct about a universal justice, given the twelve hours of sleep I got last night and the good sleep I hope to get now, I'm on the way to a more normal routine again. Have a good day, everyone. I'll try not to disturb you with my snores for the next part of it.

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