Friday, June 26, 2009

this week's happenings

Hello everyone. It's approaching nine o'clock in the morning as I start writing this entry. I've been awake since around five thirty. Thankfully, my new Steelseries headset designed for gamers arrived yesterday. It looks like I've made another excellent move on the technology front. The headset works brilliantly with my soundcard. I'm hearing details through it that I've never noticed before. It took a lot of tweaking with Winamp's equalizer presets to get music sounding good but I've figured that out now. Movies have yet to be experimented with but I predict damned good listening without too much tweaking required on that front. When it comes to accessible games, I've had a few rounds of GMA Tank Commander and Superdeakout. My ability to move and act with precision while playing sound-based accessible games is definitely improved by this headset. I don't put enough time into gaming anymore to have any chance of making those top scoreboards many of them feature these days. However, if I had discovered these headphones five or six years ago, they might very well have given me enough of a technical edge to have achieved that. I'm likely going to be grappling with insomnia and these needless damnably early morning rises for life. Now, I can face that prospect a little more cheerfully. I can listen to things at a reasonable volume without waking either the dead or my parents. Also, as this morning has shown, I won't end up with that headphone fatigue you get after an hour or so of using less costly headsets by the time it's reasonable to go downstairs and grab some breakfast. A very worth-while investment indeed.

The other investment I made this week is one in which I have a lot less faith. You've doubtless heard of the dating site called eHarmony. I don't watch a whole lot of TV as a general rule but have heard countless advertisements from them. Frankly, I've spent too damned many lonely days and nights feeling like my potential for contributing to and experiencing more of life has gone untapped. It's like I'm a car whose engine is going at full speed but whose wheels float mere centimetres above the road spinning uselessly. Church certainly helps as do friends when they aren't otherwise busy. However, when you get right down to brass tacks, I don't think anything else can ever fill that void in my life other than a loving woman. I've never felt more at my best than when I was in a relationship. Given this, I would be less than human if curiosity plus the prospect of more solitary time stretching endlessly ahead didn't finally get the better of me. As with Lavalife and telephone dating, I just had to find out what was behind the door. You can read about my oh so frustrating and fruitless experience with Lavalife if you delve far enough back in the blog. It'll be in that large first entry which contains what can still be found in my initial blog at
I signed up for a three-month subscription. Clearly, eHarmoney has some serious psychology behind it. The report it generated about me was pretty much spot on although the system may perceive me as a tad more athletic than I think I am. It certainly picked up on my creative nature. What it couldn't grasp was how much my disability has forced me to live a different life than I otherwise would. I don't think they expected unemployed blind folks to avail themselves of their services. Despite that, I've found the site pretty accessible overall with a few unfortunate exceptions. Uploading my pictures could certainly have been made easier. I had to use my jaws cursor to pull that off. There were also some parts of the initial questionnaire which I can't be completely certain were filled out correctly. They had to do with how important things like age, ethnicity, etc were to me when it comes to my ideal match. Beyond a certain point, none of these things are overly important. I wouldn't feel right hooking up with somebody my parents' age and would have reservations if she were much younger than twenty-five. Ethnicity doesn't factor into it at all as long as she can communicate reasonably well in English. Education-wise, I just need my partner to be able to appreciate and participate in deep conversation about things. I've met enough people to know that you don't need a degree to do that. Life has its own way of teaching us without classrooms. It's called the passage of time. As to income, what matters is how she approaches the fact that we would largely be living off of what she made. I'm used to living with very limited personal income available and certainly don't need her to be rolling in dough. As long as we have a roof over our heads, if she can face life cheerfully without a lot of spare cash, so can I. There are certainly things I'd love to experience with a loving woman at my side but they're secondary to actually sharing life with said woman. Given a small community of people who I could get to know, I could be quite happy. What's important is that there's respect, love and appreciation on both sides.

Another area which could definitely stand improvement there is their highly touted "guided communication". Basically, after going to all the trouble of finding likely matches for you, you're supposed to see if there are any sparks between you by exchanging short volleys of multiple choice questions at each other. I'm completely serious, folks. Had I sat down and actually tried to conjure an extravert's worst nightmare, I couldn't have beaten this in a million years. If anything screams: "You've reached the very bottom of the barrel in your quest for love on Earth!", this setup certainly lets you know how disconnected and desperate you truly are. Most of the people in the matches I've received so far seem to prefer this inhuman mechanistic method of introduction. For someone in my position who desperately wants to connect more with humanity in general and a loving woman in particular, it seems like a colossal step backwards to introduce yourself to prospective lovers in this way. The only place one can display any degree of his or her actual soul is in one's personal profile. Just like on Lavalife, I can see myself fiddling with mine until kingdom come given its sheer importance. If you flunk out there, you never even get the stimulation of multiple guess quizettes. Due to how the site is constructed, I can't even look at the possible answers to the questions I choose. I presume it's possible for sighted people to do this but my speech software doesn't read the information out other than the actual question. I presume I'll be able to actually read the answers to the questions I administer but won't even know that for certain until I'm found interesting enough by some woman out there to actually bother with answering them. One thing I'm a bit worried about is the potential for sending the same question more than once to a potential partner. Presumably, given the care they've taken to automate damned near everything, they've covered that possibility. I can't imagine a more thunderously insulting blunder to make than that. Nor, at the same time, do I think I should have to keep careful note on which questions I've sent to which matches. I'm searching for a shot at true love, not hoping to pass a bloody university exam. I've done a life's worth of those damned things already while getting my BA.

Thankfully, there is a facility for exchanging standard but anonymous emails with each other if both parties agree to this. I just hope I manage to start up such a dialogue with one or more of these ladies before the three months I've paid for expires. Even if, by some act of God, it were made financially worth-while for me to keep at it for a longer time, I just don't think I'd have the sanity to spare. As always, I'll give this my best shot and represent myself as honestly as their pre-scripted "guided" communication lets me presuming that I actually get sent any questions to answer. As crazy as it seems, I'll also keep initiating this process with people who I find of interest. I did find one lady who preferred "fast-track" communication, otherwise known as saying what you actually want to say via anonymous email. Dare I hope that there are any more who will even come within my per view? I'd love to be dead wrong about eHarmony. Right now, that's pretty much all the hope I have of getting anything other than frustration and perhaps mild amusement for a little over a hundred bucks. Isn't that pathetic? My only sense of hope comes from my having been completely wrong about other things before and having lived to enjoy that. I had been saving up my money in hopes of starting a new life with Janene. Now, I've spent most of that saved money either on places which offer the only faint hope I have of finding someone new to love, or on things to make the single life I see stretching ahead of me more bare able. I still have a good safety margin as I utterly refuse to go into debt. While I certainly don't regret the decisions I made on items, my investments in escaping single life are somewhat more suspect. With nothing else happening over the Summer, there's no better time than now to explore these avenues. It just seems so unlikely to work though. If there were a place I could get to where people came with the expectation of meeting new friends, I would far more cheerfully put my money in getting there. However, there just isn't a place like that. You bring your own crew to bars and restaurants these days.

On that front, I had another mobility lesson earlier this week. I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that the grand idea of attempting to master even three routes was simply biting off more than I could chew. We're just shy of July and I'm still a long way from feeling very confident that I could make it all the way to Symposia's and back on my own. The route has yet to form a truly cohesive chain in my mind. I've already zoned out a couple of times today so don't feel at all safe heading out there now. I need a really good night's sleep. Presuming I achieve one of those, I feel quite confident in starting to practice roughly the first half of the route on my own. I'm going to try to do that at least four or five times between now and my next lesson the Wednesday after next. I ought to have enough source material to put some sort of audio documentary about this Summer's mobility experience by the time September rolls around. By that point, I should have getting to Symposia's and back mastered. The trouble with the bus routes is the sheer amount of time it would take to learn them. I'd go through all that trouble and then have it all blown out the window when I finally get a subsidized apartment in Hamilton or, dare I hope, find someone special to move in with.

As comfortable as living here is for me, I hate being in this Limbo in life. There's just no affordable alternative. When I ultimately get into a place I can afford, there's the question of whether it would then be considered at all responsible of me to leave it in order to be with someone I loved. Given that I've waited my entire adult life to have the opportunity to live in my own apartment, could I ever trust someone enough to let it go again? Especially after how much all of us, my friends, and my family, trusted her to actually marry me. That still hurts a lot. It's going to be a much slower process building that kind of trust presuming I'm ever given the chance to try with another woman. I can just hear a chorus of voices saying: "well then why not go for quantity and the short-term fling rather than this seemingly unattainable permanent marriage?" Because, readers, I just can't be at all comfortable with that. I'm not built that way. Just like I can't see my way to intentionally getting drunk, high on drugs, or wracking up a mountain of debt for instant gratification. That kind of human intimacy simply demands a deep love and level of commitment to be fully enjoyed. Shortcuts only diminish the experience.

Thank God for good friends. Mark and Wendy have rescued me from yet another empty Saturday. We're going to have dinner tomorrow evening. Thanks to my camping trip as well as the trip to Chicago, I'll have quite a lot to tell them about. Those two have really stuck by me over the years. It certainly takes the edge off the glumness of lethargy. It's just getting on five o'clock now. I zoned out at my desk for a chunk of afternoon but didn't type anything in my sleep. That phrase I entered among all the garbage I typed during one night's doze at my desk still sticks in my mind: "They're here because" I've never been able to pull the foggiest notion what I meant by that. Hundreds upon hundreds of random characters with that odd phrase stuck smack in the middle. I got a brief second wind and made another stab at the shorter article I'm writing for the church about my conference experience in Chicago. I'm inching closer to something good but it doesn't yet snap crackle pop like it deserves to. Damned earlier this morning, I did manage to help around ten people with their computer questions. Neither of my two short story ideas aren't going well at all. They seemed so promising when they first occurred to me and they're all I have at the moment. Guess I'll take this weekend off and try again on Monday. I'll feel a heaping bunch better once I've finished *something* and my money's on the church article. That conference was a terrific experience. If I can write something which conveys enough of that to motivate someone else to go on one of these things, I'll have done another bit of good and scored an important victory for my own peace of mind.

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