Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My Deepest Appreciation To The Idiots Who Made The "Homeless" Blind Possible.

If you haven't caught it, I'm raging angry. I have been angry for years over legislation that came about in the mid 90's. The Americans With Disabilities Act. In theory, we (now liberated) blind would "force" the able-bodied to "fairly accommodate" us. I still remember the yoga-like chant which rose from all quarters: "With the properer accommodations, we (blind) can do anything". Do you mean, you would be willing to have a totally blind neurosurgeon, auto, train, or plane jockey? Then I was mocked, as one who was just not "getting it".

Friends, I tried to live the lie of "everything is possible", my religious friends not withstanding. There is a rule in life:

Everyone Has Limits!

I hate to break this to some of you, but life involves circumstances and choices. No, we did not choose to be blind, but we have choices to make about dealing with being blind. From what I've seen of the post-ADA world, that little gem has and is causing a world of unanticipated and unintentional hurt, which could have been prevented, if people had really thought it through.

Take a look at this article. Note how this blind man is HOMELESS, and the reasons sited as to WHY. All the ADA has done is put more money into lawyers hands and stripped the blind, of what used to be "available" housing. This is one of those times I hate being correct. Read this and weep, NFB! (National Federation of the Blind)

You want to come after me with a law suit? I'm unemployed, live in a twelve foot by twelve foot room with a sink, no bathroom, heat, or closet. Don't qualify for subsidized housing because the "homeless" and the "aids" patients always bump me down the list. Oh, come on, you want to sue me? I'll put up the daily court transcripts on this blog to show the world, who, at least, some of you are, and what you are really about. By-the-way, that palatal estate mentioned above costs almost half of my total social security income. I CHOSE these circumstances, because I no longer have to sleep with a hammer under my pillow at night because of the crime INSIDE the building! Oh, thank-you all so much for the ADA!

He said, they said: Did trolley cops do a blind man wrong?
By Kelly Davis
San Diego CityBEAT, CA,August 23, 2006

Emmett Smith's not sure exactly where on the wall he was sitting when it
happened-could have been one section over, he says-but it was close to the
midway point along Imperial Avenue between 13th and 14th streets. He was
sitting on the 3-foot-high wall that surrounds Petco's "tailgate park"
parking lot, underneath the ivy-covered awning on the lot's perimeter. It
was July 18, around 7 p.m., and the Padres were about to take the field in a
game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

On his lap Smith had a Tupperware container with a mix of high-grade and
lower-grade marijuana; he was mixing it up, breaking up the larger pieces by
feel. He says he heard a man's voice say, "Whoa, look at that," and then,
Smith said, the container was jerked from his hands.

Smith has glaucoma, one of the ailments listed by name in the text of
Proposition 215, the 1996 voter-approved ballot initiative that allows
people to use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. Marijuana, Smith
says, cuts down on the painful inner-eye pressure glaucoma causes. Smith is
also legally blind-a detached retina, the result of a boxing injury, left
him with no sight in his right eye and his glaucoma is too far-gone to
correct. A doctor told him he'll likely be completely blind within six
months. He has no peripheral vision in his left eye, and when pressure
builds up, he sees only shapes and shadows.

The downside to using marijuana for glaucoma is that it requires a person to
smoke a lot to get relief-something Smith, who hadn't used marijuana until a
year or so ago, isn't happy about. But, he says, the marijuana helps him see
clearer, "like you're adjusting a camera." Smith, who bears a resemblance to
Jack Nicholson-but with longer hair-wears large, dark wraparound glasses and
carries a mobility cane. He's also homeless. He worked up until he lost his
sight three years ago, managing a club in Las Vegas. Now he gets by on
Social Security and lives at St. Vincent de Paul Village, just a block over
from the parking lot. He's been looking for a place to rent since
September-he can afford up to $600 a month-but no one will rent to him, he
said, because his impaired vision makes him a liability.

St. Vincent de Paul, an enclave for the homeless and working poor, doesn't
allow drug use, medicinal marijuana included, on its city-block-size East
Village property, so Smith found what he thought was a safe spot to smoke
marijuana, down the street from St. Vincent's-he's had joints ripped from
his mouth elsewhere downtown, he said-at a spot that doesn't get too much
foot traffic, especially not families and kids. Smith says the San Diego
police officers who patrol the area know who he is. He's been ticketed once
for possession, but the officer, Smith said, came back later and tore up the

"The [San Diego Police Department] has been nothing but nice," Smith said.
"I show them my [doctor's recommendation], and they walk away. They know I
don't sell, and they know I don't share."

When he felt someone grab the container from his hands, Smith's boxer's
instincts kicked in. He thought he'd just been robbed and he jumped up,
ready to fight, but one of the men-Smith says he could make out three guys
who he assumed where heading to the baseball game-pushed him back down. As
Smith remembers, one of the guys said, "We're undercover."

"Undercover who?" Smith asked. "They wouldn't tell me where they were from."

Smith says he followed the men across the street and into the transit
station at 12th and Imperial. There they told him they were undercover
trolley security and cited Smith for possessing marijuana on Metropolitan
Transit District property (the wall Smith was sitting on when the marijuana
was seized is not within MTS jurisdiction).

Smith says he showed the officers his doctor's recommendation, which, he
says, he carries with him at all times in his knapsack. The security
officers told him it wasn't valid and threatened to handcuff him, Smith
said, when he demanded they return his marijuana.

Dennis Jackson, a security captain with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit
System, confirmed that the incident occurred but said he couldn't comment on
Smith's version of events because it's a pending court case. "That's his
version; my officers have a different version," he said. As for MTS policy
on medical marijuana, "If you have a doctor's slip on you, then it's fine.
But you can't use [medical marijuana] on our property." Smith, Jackson said,
was arrested on MTS property.

An attorney at St. Vincent de Paul referred Smith to Patrick Dudley, a San
Diego lawyer who's represented medical-marijuana users. Dudley says it's
likely the San Diego City Attorney won't prosecute Smith, who's been charged
with a misdemeanor and is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 29. But Dudley
will have to ask a judge to order MTS to return Smith's marijuana. Dudley
says he's talked to a witness who corroborates Smith's version of events.

"If my officers were wrong," Jackson said, "then his marijuana would be
returned it and that would be a training issue that we would discuss with
the officers in the future."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Playground: The New Blogger. Beta!

Some of you LOVE HTML. I'm getting used to the idea of actually having to cuddle up and get close to it and CSS, but give me drag and drop any day! I am amazed how I have resisted changing my blog template. I hate the color scheme that is in regular displays - various colors of orange - but it is BEAUTIFUL in reverse video! So, you're just gonna have to live with it for awhile, as to change it will blow away my "cool links" and other changes I've made. (A fate almost worse then death!)

This editor isn't much different from the old one, at least at the data entry stage. We'll continue to 'explore' as I cobble together this post.

Doesn't appear to be much new on the WYSIWYG entry side of things... Now for what I desperately need the most THE SPELLCHECKER!

All works well, but if the spellchecker thinks something is wrong, the only way to turn off the highlighting is to switch your editing mode. HTML to Compose, or vice versa.

Now, to publish. Which is now faster. I'll have more serious content shortly. But I just had to chime on on the blogger.beta debate. I say:

Good Job Blogger!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"...We Interrupt To Opine About Technical Difficulties."

(Actually written week of: 8/13 - 8/18, but didn't get it edited and up until today.)

I am dog sitting all this week and have permission to use Maria and John's eMac while I'm here. Their system is much more complex then mine and I am VERY careful not to install things that may tear it all up!. (I did that once, with some. Bible software. Poor John had a three-hour trial by fire, undoing whatever my program did to the system!)

So, I use what is here and don't modify things. Got latest updates for Tiger, but not for firefox... They have yahoo DSL and when I need firefox, I have to leave the other browser running, or the DSL connection gets confused (oh sigh!)

So, here I am, not really angry, but amused at what happens when my high magnification meets a friend's blog. I also have an amazing "startle" reflex. If I hear a sound I'm not expecting, or accustomed to, I basically try to leap into the air. One hand flies off keyboard and mouse-hand shoves the mouse, God-only-knows-where! I choose to laugh and smile at these things. This system is a bit slower for me, but I'm physically comfortable and in no pain.

CyberGal has a very active cyber social life. I have more cyber pals, then actual physical people I know in my neighborhood! I downloaded and installed both Skype and Adium on this machine to keep in contact with my Cyber Pals. On my machine at home I have customized both programs to where they only make sounds for in-coming messages. I'm used to these sounds and quickly switch between my current project and a instant message chat, or phone call.

On this machine I am stuck with default settings. And my nervous system has been getting a workout. I hope to meet the programmer who designed the alert sound for a buddy coming on or going off Adium. It sounds like a duck on LSD! The alert sounds for incoming and outgoing messages are really hysterical. A really bad attempt at "deflate" and "inflate". They both kind of sound like a moose in pain. So, here I am, creating a stupendous, outrageous email and this strange sound blasts through the speakers - "oh look ma- she's airborne."

As I'm getting used to this set up, I don't jump as much, but it still kills me, when I get that sound of well, passing gas, or an animal in pain. So, I'm exploring a new thing I found on google. Their google labs. A place where stuff they are still developing can be tried out and talked about. This is the technical side of me. I love playing with new software, or hardware, for that matter. So, I'm settling down and playing with some cool programs. Then: "Let the system conflicts begin!"

Their default browser is Safari, which is fine, but google labs won't function with safari. Fine, so I launch firefox. No dice, they don't have the newest Mac update! Oh, well. I'll save my google play for when I get home.

I'm working under high magnification, which means I'm only actually seeing a little part of the full screen at any one time. Depending on the font size, 4 to 6 words across and 3 to 4 lines down. So, I surf over to Phillip's blog - no new post, but he has google ads installed. They ads are content sensitive. In an earlier post he'd spoken of having a rash. So, I am hovering my mouse near his blog photo and just happen to see "cat rash". I talk to myself, computers, walls and anything else around. So I queried: "How in the world did he get THAT?" I then slid the mouse over to the beginning of the line and realized I was looking at an ad link!

Maria and John have never launched iTunes (!) So, I'm hesitant to set them up with all my beloved pod casts. (Oh, this is so wonderful). A friend informed me, that I should be able to listen to the pod casts via the browser on the internet. YES! Now I know I'm hopelessly addicted to Metro Moment, MacNation and Buzz Out Loud! Really scary. Its time to think about a laptop, or hopefully getting permission to remotely control my own Mac using their machine. I even miss my NetNewsWire news feeds. I can get news, but its not my pre-selected and time tested sources. Yeah, I'm a geek. "without my computer, who am I?"

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Plantronics: A Business That Does It Right... How Refreshing!

To protect the guilty, I will not name the $60 piece of junk, headset I purchased. In absolute frustration, I went to the Apple Store and begged their customer representative to sell me a headset which would last more then fifteen days. They introduced me to Plantronics. For $79 I got a beautiful computer headset with noise canceling stuff, in-line volume and mute control plus some other features I don't even pretend to understand.

I'm under headsets all day. I'm either doing computer telephony, listening to, or recording something. After three months my audio cut out. Ironically, I'd just been asked to record a small bit for a pod cast. To add to the above, I'm on the road at the moment and won't be returning home until sometime next week.

Like most customers, I have receipts saved on the computer, but don't remember product numbers, purchase dates, or especially serial numbers. Figuring I'd be in for another chat with someone from India, I braced myself to:

"be nice, no matter what happens."

Friends, Apple gave me a fourteen day warranty, but Plantronics warranty is good for a YEAR! I got a representative who was a NATIVE English reader and speaker. (Oh, be still my heart!) Laurel found my records, gave me clear and simple instructions AND presented the wonderful news that the replacement would be shipping as soon as she received my information, via email!

I'm so accustomed to being lied to, baited and switched or "legally claused" to death, I didn't trust Plantronics website. With a knowing smirk I skimmed their assertion about priding themselves on providing excellent quality customer service.

There are times, when being wrong is a blessing!

So, if you need accessories for your cell phone, computer, etc., check these folks out.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Excellent Feedback and Friends.

This comment is too good to languish in the comments section. This is in reaction to my less-then-mature-rant, Disability: "We Need Volunteers, But We Didn't Mean You"

Dear Cybergal,

I'm letting you know this is a really long reply that addresses several issues that you've mentioned. Sorry it's long, as soon as I can master using less words I'll make it shorter. :-P

So, what I'd like to address is this post here. I was going to try to cover two posts - but this is LONG. As I'm wont to do, I'm going to shoot straight with you and say something to you like I would to anyone else that is an adult. In order to do so properly I'm going to have to deconstruct a little of what you posted because you really were dealing with more than one issue at a time, and I believe that you're confusing the issues.

First issue: Disability. Not to be cold, heartless or to seem uncaring or concerned - but I think at this point (53 years young) you should have a firm grasp on the fact that you don't move as quickly or see as well as folks that are fully ambulatory and sighted do. This is a disability. This limits what you can and can't do, regardless of your great heart. Welcome to the rest of our worlds. I know that many of the rest of us are not physically disabled, but you know what - we ALL HAVE LIMITATIONS. That's why there are many parts of the body.
Dear friend - from your mouth to God's ear! What ever gave you the impression I have a "firm grasp" on my disabilities? Some like occasional dips into that river Denial. For myself, I bought a houseboat and occasionally, try to live there!

Let me share an example. I wonder if you know what it feels like - as a guy - to sit there and watch or hear guys talking about all kinds of plumbing or building stuff, talk about tools or even building stuff for the church - when the whole time you've got no clue! Surprise, I do! That's a limitation! Yes, part of it is that I've not had time or prioritized those skills - but it's STILL a limitation. So, you know what I do? I carry my PowerBook with me to church - just in case. Guess what I got to do? How about rescue a situation for a visiting minister who's PC wouldn't plug into our AV system, and whose file couldn't play with audio on our PC. I got to make a DVD! Viola! They get to play their video as part of what they're ministering. Let me see the plumber do that baby! HA. And that's the point.

I never considered "limitation" in this context before. For a man not to be familiar with all tools, all the time must have been painful, until God showed you a better way.

You see Cybergal, you may not be able to help around the church cleaning up, but you can contribute in a vital way to your church and to the body - just like you do with your computer. That's why the body is made up of many parts, because all of us have to contribute our own gifts and abilities. Just like you don't want a toe for an ear, you don't want a nose for a finger either. There are lots of people that can't carry a tune in a bucket that have the spirit of a worshiper - but they aren't going to be on the worship team anytime soon! They may have that as part of who they are, but God has given them other gifts to use for the edification of the body - not singing! So, if they're smart and mature Christians do you know what they do? They worship God in the song service, they sing in their shower and they use their - oh, how about TEACHING gift to minister to the body! Use the gifts that you have where you're supposed to and you won't have to worry about being disabled, OK?

This is a beautiful example of "telling the truth in love". Phip's goal is to bring me along to a more realistic outlook. He is gently alerting me to my very real "tunnel vision" and "wishing makes it so" mentality.

There is no put down, or shaming here. The difference between: (guilt) "I made a mistake" and (shame) "I AM a mistake" (From: Bradshaw on: The Family) Oh the joy of recognizing mental health, mine and others!

The SECOND issue that you really were talking about is SOCIALIZATION. You wanted to "serve" because that's when you perceive that people socialize. Well, I'd have to tell you that your perception is about 70-80% faulty! Most people that are staying to serve in that manner, to clean up, break down, set up - are not there to socialize. They are there to get what needs to be done, done. Period, paragraph. Oh sure, if some are single they may hang out a bit more, but if they're married or have children they're doing what God has called them to do and then they're going to fulfill other responsibilities of marriage and family - which I can tell you from experience are multitude! You know, there's a reason why they're moving that quickly and it's not just so they can sit down and shoot the breeze in the sanctuary afterwards. OK?

So, to socialization. We both know that I'm married, but I wasn't always. In fact, I was almost 32 when I got married. I dealt with being single and being a Christian. Let me share this with you in all honesty: the grass is still always greener on the other side of the fence! I'm not saying that marriage isn't great, it is. I am saying that it isn't REMOTELY what I was expecting. The biggest thing about being married and being a parent is that your time is no longer your own. Ever. Even being married it's a job to socialize. But, I can tell you the secret that I learned as a young single guy. Adopt a family :-). If you want to socialize with married people, then go where the married people go when they go. Do the same church social gatherings. Do prayer (like you do) and mid-week services (like you do). GO to the married people's homes (if you're not invited, ask if you can visit and volunteer to bring something - like BREAD or something! whatever!). Be prepared to do whatever the family is doing. That's how you socialize. If there are some older singles, then get together and do something that older singles might like to do - as opposed to what 20-something singles like to do (like play volleyball - and what is attractive about that anyway?)
When I'm not all tangled up in fear and "future tripping", I can hear what you are saying, and am open to learning something new. The relief of realizing that God will meet my needs takes all the pressure off of me to "force something to happen". For the first time I remember, it is getting easier to receive feedback. "God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind" I continue to see this verse work in and through my life.

To whit, I've got a friend that I really like. He's single and makes as much as I do when I'm working full time. Obviously, he's got loads of money to burn - while I'm paying a mortgage and clothing and feeding 4 kids. He'll IM me or give me a yell and ask if I want to catch a movie in the middle of a Saturday. SURE! I'll blow off the family on about the only free day I have and go to a movie while I leave my poor wife home alone again with the 4 kids. NOT!!!!! So, what do I do? I say, hey! Come on down! We'll make dinner for you, we'll send the kids downstairs to watch a video, we'll have coffee and chat. That's what most couples with kids do. That's why we always have friends that have kids - we've learned to throw them in a room with some food and a movie, lock the door and enjoy an hour or so of conversation :-) Anyway, you got the gist?
The kind of other-centered behavior you describe is the second reason I decided to never have children. When it comes to selflessness, baby, I gotta a ways to go! The first and most important reason, was the terrible childhood I experienced. I know my mother never intended to hurt me the way she did. I will not take the chance of injuring another child, as I was injured.

I have periods like an absent-minded professor. I'll work for eleven hours straight, only coming up for air when hunger, or exhaustion set it! Not a great personality for a marriage!

THIRD issue. Lastly. The real issue that you're dealing with here is not disability or socialization, it's self image. This is not the same as the need to be liked, wanted and needed. We all need that, some more than others. With your temperament (you Sanguine I you!), you have a tendency to need a bit more confirmation than other temperaments do - but that isn't the issue. Frankly, I can pretty much go without anyone telling me I did a good job or I'm a nice guy or whatever these days. (outside my wife that is - but that's part of the relationship). Why is that? Because I'm really comfortable with who I am in God, and with what he's telling me to do. (emphasis added) I don't need your affirmation, I don't need my pastor's. If I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, I don't really even care if you like me. I'm not going to be crushed.

Was I always like this? OH LORD NO! I used to be a complete basket case if someone else got invited over to a common acquaintances home or out to dinner and I didn't! I'd be despondent, I'd scream at God, I'd cry, I'd get angry, I'd wail pitifully, I'd pout. You name it. I'd be devastated. But why was that? It was because I had a self-image problem. I didn't really understand how much God loved me. I didn't grasp just how wonderfully I was made. I couldn't (and still really can't) comprehend his wonderful can caring attention to me, the marvelous way he constructed me or the incredible things he has planned for me. (emphasis added) Thankfully, after almost 24 years walking the walk - I'm now getting a clue. :-) And I know that you are too. If you weren't you wouldn't have even begun to post these posts. You see my friend, the best way to get a good self-image is to get the real GOD-image of us. Once we're comfortable with that, it gets much easier. Oh yes, and people like hanging around us more too.

So, there ya have it. My two cents worth, which, with inflation and all that isn't even a penny's worth anymore. Sigh. So, would you like me to share with you my thoughts on loneliness now? :-D

Shalom my friend!
As I mull all this over I am filled with an unspeakable joy. My abuse was all about NEVER having REAL needs consistently met. I'm not sure I totally relate to all you have shared about who I am in God, but this I know. GOD ALWAYS MEETS MY NEEDS. It is far more then "never seeing the righteous forsaken". You rightly perceive I have a really high need for approval and affirmation. God meets those needs! I don't have to do HIS job and mine too! There is a new found sense of security I'm discovering. I can live my life without the mind-numbing "what-if" fears which have ruled my entire life. I can listen, learn and make mistakes in SAFETY!

Having a gentle conversation about an error is a far cry from my old fear: "When you blow it, they'll ask you to leave". I have a wonderful sense of relaxation and peace.

This is recovery, this is what facing your monsters will enable you to have FOR REAL: peace and a sense of safety.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The New manhood Test: To Be Without Carry-Ons!

Sadly, our world is not a safe place any more. A small minority of crazed Islamic fanatics wish all us "Infidels" dead. I had the sad task of notifying a friend of the new rules of the air as he prepared to leave on a business trip. Like all of us, when traveling, he has a routine and habit patterns. Now, it is all up for grabs. No liquids allowed. The reasoning for this rule is sound. Someone came very close to making ten bombs by mixing liquids in the bathrooms of ten planes. We were lucky, one of this group got cold feet and ratted out the others. Next time, we may not be so lucky.

I'm listening to a democratic gay guy I love to let irritate me, on the radio. He is a flaming gay and PROUD of it. He makes most PMS-ing women look serene. He is SCREAMING about having the RIGHT to take his cosmetics on a plane! I suspect he applies more substances to his body then my friend uses to paint his house! This talk show host is howling that the terrorists have WON because HE can't carry on his cosmetics! Now, mind you, this democratic radical feels that nothing the republicans have done is correct. So, he rants about how we have lost our way of life. I feel a CyberGal rant a'brewing!

If one plane had been blown out of the sky, this same person would be blaming the republicans for THAT. Oh, he has the amazing attitude that he'd rather get killed on a plane with his carry-ons, then to surrender "our way of life". Somehow, I suspect he'd soil his undies if ever actually THREATENED! Oh, these people! (Being so, oh, so GAY, He'd battle them with a big feather!)

Next year, I plan on flying from California to Boston. I'm not looking forward to whatever I have to endure for pre-boarding. Since I have a walker, I assume we might be doing some disassembling. Terrorists are willing to booby-trap Red Cross ambulances, why not a walker? But, I will abide by the rules, whatever they are. I just can't see trying to explain to Jesus, why I insisted on dying on a flight because of my little jar of Tender Touch Tushie Wash.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Recovery: Facing The LONELINESS Monster.

I let myself post a blog of a battle I was just beginning to figure out. While I do want to participate in life as fully as possible as a disabled person, the reality is: it isn't always practical, or fair to do so. My hysterical quest to be included in everything, everywhere and all the time stems from a fear that has ruled my life.

I hate being lonely. I crave human contact, and for a number of reasons, have spent countless hours completely by myself. I did not realize what the root issue was, until I did the post on being excluded because of a disability. This is yet another example of how I have learned to rely on God and my faith, to solve problems that have dogged me for years.

First, I want to address the practical side of inclusion in activities for me with my low vision and dreadful balance issues. No one would willingly give me their car keys with my vision in its current state. To seriously make such a request puts people in a really unfair position. Luckily, I have no need to, or desire to drive a car, so the issue in such clear relief doesn't show itself.

My church believes that, whenever possible, willing workers should be put to work. They feel that to slow down for my safety isn't an unfair compromise. I am not sure if I totally agree, but I love them for "living" what they say they believe they should be doing because they follow Jesus Christ. I totally admire their attitude and execution of becoming more and more like Jesus and less and less like their former self-centered selves.

I have been on projects where to get it done fast was the only thing keeping me from much needed sleep, so I can see the drive for speed, as well as the desire for fairness. Personally, when I need sleep, I am driven to wrap things up as fast as possible.

But yesterday I cried at several points in the afternoon, before, during and after posting about inclusion and disability. I realized that my absolute over-the-top fear of being left alone, as in abandonment is an issue I need to lift up before God, so He can calm my fears and teach me to rely on Him to meet my needs. Forcing myself upon humanity is CyberGal trying to meet her needs in my own strength and wisdom. The Bible teaches that both of those sources of performance are sorely lacking. I know that I have some serious deficits when it comes to social situations. Yesterday I admitted that what I have been attempting to "do" about loneliness for myself is not working and I "came to the end of myself". This is a good thing.

It is only when you realize that:
  • I can't.
  • God can.
  • I decide to let Him.
I have already learned that God is very, very kind and gentle with me. When I have a problem, fear, concern or just feel bad. God literally lets me "sense" His presence. I have gotten so used to this gift, that at times, I forget that God has ALWAYS honored my very real need for a very radical kind of assurance and comfort. God is almost a physical thing for me. I can't touch Him, but I can truly say I can feel when He's listening to me, or responding to me.

I don't hear Him speak (as I'd be on the emergency psychiatric line in a heartbeat) if I started hearing voices! But I can hear, like a soft ringing in my ears. It isn't tinnitus. I do have that from time to time, and the sound quality is very different. So yesterday, I just found myself feeling very sad. I had work to do on the bulletin and I wanted to get my Hiroshima remembrance post done. At 12:30 I went to bed and just told God I felt really sad and needed help to regain a sense of faith in Him. I wasn't sure where the problem was, except it had to do with what I consider to be one of my major short comings, mainly my marginal social skills.

Then I remembered that whenever I have (finally) figured it out that I just don't have a clue as to how to do something, God always teaches me. I've had job situations, where He has literally given me new directions of thought, which were the missing pieces of information to complete a new task. Being almost clueless socially is just another skill GOD CAN TEACH ME.

I also remembered a key concept. If I trust God, then I have to believe that when I really NEED something, He will provide it! How many people have come to my door with a prepared meal in tow, sheepishly wondering why they just "had" to cook and bring me a meal? When I used to get hopelessly panicked, food was one of the few ways God could show me that He was with me. My friends were confused, but I heard the love message from my God loud and clear - and gained strength from it.

I then turned on my mp3 Bible and went to sleep until 6:30 this morning. I gulped down a bit of coffee and finished putting today's bulletin together. I prayed I wouldn't be crying at church, as I now understand the tears go way back to childhood and fear, not whether or not I could help the clean-up crew on this one particular day. I kept reminding myself of all the ways God has NEVER failed me, when I've gotten honest and really run to Him.

I have a Pastor who seems to understand the strange combination of shatteredness and strength which is my make-up. On the one hand, if God told me to chew Him out and I knew for sure it was a divinely ordered situation, I'd march in like a lion and deliver the message, no matter the cost. Yet at the same time, sharp, critical words can just crumple me into almost suicidal tears. I believe the severity of my reaction is partly the bi-polar thing, but it also stems from the brutality I've experienced most of my life.

I sent pastor an eCard, I thought was very humorous and at the same time, sweet and uplifting. Pastor understands that in some ways, I don't understand what is and is not proper behavior within our very conservative denomination. So, Saturday morning, before the Prayer Breakfast, he pulled me aside and very gently let me know that there was a problem with the eCard I'd sent.

I still feel this is such a miracle. I am not afraid of pastor. I don't feel like I have to walk on egg shells when I'm around him. He is always so GENTLE. I sense he really doesn't want to make me sad, or more sad, then is necessary. I would do almost anything for that dear man.
This is my first encounter with authority where I don't feel I have to be on "perfect" behavior.

You know, the way you would act, say if the Pope, or the President, showed up for dinner. You would not be in a relaxed, casual frame of mind. With pastor I've learned that he is willing to actually answer my confused questions and its okay for me to make mistakes. I don't fear being thrown away because my judgment, at times, is a bit worldly. I have so much joy over this. I've done more actual changing in this church because I'm not afraid, then I've done anywhere. This process is so healing. I don't know any other way to express it.

For me, this all gets back to how I've learned to trust God and His control over my life. My first church in the Church of God in Christ denomination was run by a very different kind of Pastor. I still love Pastor Shields, but I must have needed a change, because I did permanently change churches and the change appears to be something I was SUPPOSED to do.

I assume I must have needed a different type of church and Pastor, as they are now both successfully in my life. I can rest in the knowledge that God is in charge of meeting my "needs". I can stop pushing so hard, using the advice of the world and let God teach me a new way. All I know, is this system of trusting The Bible over my own judgment has yielded untold moments of peace and true physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing.

I pray to God, just like I'd have a conversation with any person. I don't mean that as an insult to God. I say "Good Morning" and "Good Night" to Him, just as I would any other friend in my home. I can pray aloud, when alone, but I can "think" all the prayers I want on the street, without appearing like a religious fanatic. For those of you who are single and pining after not being single any more, try this.

I went to a nice restaurants and got stood up by my companion. I almost let myself dissolve into tears. I had that taste in my mouth. I was really close to ruining a chance to eat out. Instead I mentally thought of Jesus Christ sitting across from me, and proceeded to share with Him how cool I thought things were. The spot of sunlight that had flopped across part of the beautiful oriental rug. The live plants, trees and bushes within the restaurants, how intricate it all was. How kind the staff had always been and were being to me. Before I realized it, I was having a lovely time. Alone, but not lonely.

I taught myself to pray. I dare you to try it. You will feel really silly at first. Just do it anyway. So, maybe you think you are only talking to The Easter Bunny, or the ceiling. God isn't angry about your confusion. If you keep it up for at least two weeks, I'd be surprised if you don't have a change of mind about the possible existence of God.

Give Him a chance. What if He is real and you can have some of that "comfort" you long for. You have nothing to lose. While you're looking up at that ceiling,by-the-way, think about the beauty all around you. Good engineering that has provided you with a house that hasn't fallen down, plants, animals and the other amazing human beings populating your world.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

We Shall Not Forget: Hiroshima, August 6, 1945, 8:15 AM.

Mankind has introduced the Atomic Bomb. "My God, what have we done?" (From log book entry by co-pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 which dropped the first A-Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, August 6, 1945. 8:15 AM Japanese Standard Time.

Although only approximately 150,000 were killed within the first few days of this incident, the totality and swiftness of it, is arresting. Most of an entire city evaporated, burned, melted and or crystallized within seconds.

Ever since the start of the Iraq war I've heard the ridiculous idea of "small", "tactical" nuclear weapons. This is impossible. Can you only guarantee to vaporize a city block, one neighborhood or have you forgotten the on-going suffering of those who survived the blast? I am going to summarize some brief statistics and give a link to the book. I pray humanity isn't this stupid again.

No, not just "who started it?" (Japan) or "we ended it"(United States). All sides in a war are wrong when entire areas measured in square miles are destroyed with one weapon.

Chapter 2: Gathering Details. from: Hiroshima by John Hersey

Totals for Hiroshima:
150 Doctors before A-Bomb, 65 dead, 85 hurt
1080 nurses before A-Bomb, 1054 hurt after A-Bomb

Totals at The Red Cross Hospital:
6 out of 30 doctors survived
10 out of 200 nurses Survived
600 bed hospital invaded by 10,000 patients. There was just no way to save more people in the early days after the bombing.

Let's Personalize this, shall we?
These are rough figures, but, take a map out, or use google earth and put your home in the center of a circle with a radius of 2 miles. (Circle will be 4 miles across, with your house in the middle.) Within this area, everything was basically destroyed in varying degrees, from one bomb.

of our circle = pi(2 miles)(2 Miles) = (3.14)(4) = 12 .56 Square Miles of rubble!

Compared to what we have available today, this destruction is child's play!

Sadly, as a species, we have drenched the planet in our own blood. I respectfully remember the dead and pray for the living.

Disability: "we Need Volunteers, But We Didn't Mean You."

Hello impotency, despondency and tears which never seem to end. Here's the deal as I've lived it. The unsaid rule is something like this: "We know you can't really be useful, so, we'll give you money. Now, please, just go away." You show me a major disability and I will show you a person who has trouble believing they are really worth anything. Why? Because in big and small ways, they constantly, receive the above message. There is a chronic isolation that drives the disabled to befriend each other, as sometimes, trying to befriend the able bodied just gets too hard. Eventually we get smart and a) quit trying, b) quit hoping and c) accept the realities of a) and b).

This is one of the few times I long to get really drunk. A swamp of pain is floating around with no satisfactory solution. We had a church breakfast today. It was a major event. Big wigs from the district were there and I had stated my intention to stay behind and help clean up. The last time we had a meal I had to exit before clean-up due to other commitments. Up until today I was under the illusion that my participation in physical labor was useful and wanted. I made the mistake of trying once again and believing, that, "this time, this group of people, would be different". Since I haven't been able to ditch blindness or the newest addition to my gig, walking issues, how can things be different?

Everyone was rushing around while I cleared a few plastic dishes and threw them away. I stubbed my toe on a chair, but for me, that is no big deal. I was asked by person A, to bring her dishes from the kitchen area, to be washed. Upon arriving in the kitchen person B, was just a little too polite and solicitous when she brought me back to reality:

"We're moving pretty fast back here. I don't want you to get hurt." Translation. Please go away, we work faster and safer without you.

I saw the writing on the wall and quickly informed person A, of my intension to leave. She then went back very angry at person B - until she got clued in to the situation. Then person A, didn't try to dissuade me from leaving. I'm sure everyone felt bad, but with me gone, they could get on with life without needless delay.

Friends, this stuff still really hurts. It hurts bad enough I feel like doing something stupid, childish and rebellious. As I said, right now, I wish I could get drunk out of my mind. The problem with this situation, is I do work slower, see less and basically would slow down the hysterical pace of a bunch of dedicated church people who saw a way to get gone as fast as possible. Unlike racism, where there is nothing physical hindering performance, I can hardly compete up against someone with 20/20 vision who is totally ambulatory.

I used to think it was my pride that is screaming. I just can't quite find peace over being so isolated. Oh, sure, I do things for the church. Real things, but they are done off site, at my computer, alone. It is the lack of company that is killing me. Now I see why I can't shake this one. I had the same problem on the job and in school. As long as we are at our work stations, pews, or desks I was welcome to be there. But, socially, where to you get to know people? Volunteering together, or going out to eat. Activities away from work, school, or church. I am having to grieve the loss of something I thought I had found. A way to make some social inroads. Yes, part of it is my fault. I don't know how to gracefully break into a conversation. I do tend to hang back in a crowd.

This does answer why some of us disabled chase after employment, as though we are searching for The Holy Grail. Work is another place, where you can (supposedly) be with and enjoy other people. I've seen several blind people have breakdowns over having absolutely no social life and no energy to change that reality Because the act of working sapped all their energy. Many totally blind people are tolerated on the job, but somehow never break into the social scene. After awhile, usually about 20 years, you just stop pushing so hard.

I realize I am grieving spending the remainder of my life, as I have spent it up until now. Unless specifically asked to help, I'll do what I've always done. I'll go home and play "nice" in my room. It is the loneliness that is killing me. The dread of more of the same, anyway.

1Th. 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Here is the Bible way, the right way. The way I pray I can quickly return to. I've never faced down the Loneliness Monster before. I know God will help me, now that I have some idea of where the real problem is.

No, I don't have this one resolved. How can a human being expect to really be at peace with the reality of being too screwed-up for an intimate relationship and finally realizing that I'm always going to be like a beloved pet, or football team mascot? I have trouble interacting with people. It is lots better at this church, then at any other, but people are too busy to do social activities.

I've tried the local senior center, where I meet people who are tragic (older) versions of myself. So lonely, they just are driven to talk. I only give of myself in that environment. I don't find many of my needs being met, although, since I am a good listener, I am liked. I come home from several hours there completely drained and sad.

I'm going to try volunteering at a pet shelter. They need someone to "pet and socialize" the stray kittens, puppies, dogs and cats, before they are "adopted". I am so beaten down by the constant hassle over my disabilities, I probably won't actually carry this out. I can't face more rejection, especially for a volunteer position. Eventually I will be ground down to a numb kind of acceptance. I pray a lot, because I can't face a life without company. Right now, in the midst of pain, it is hard to focus on God. I have to let my very real sadness hang around for awhile, and I'll once again become at peace with my life, as it is, and not as I foolishly believe it "should" be.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Recovery: The Mother I Never Had.

As I continue on this journey of discovery and adventure. (I've never been so healthy), I realize I can give myself a bit of what was missing from the chaotic childhood. A family experience.

No, I'll never be able to sit in dad's lap as a four-year-old, but at 53, I have realized that a friend and I have adopted one another. She is the mom I never had, and I am a second daughter for her. To think of her brings a joy to my heart. There is much history between us.

She has seen me at my worst and now, rejoices with me, as I truly latch on to mental health. She's in her 70's, British very polite and introspective. But of late, she has seen fit to share some of her wilder 'hippie' youth. She has done things worthy of and even surpassing CyberGal's exploits, my, my! I present our cherished institution: The Girlie Day.

Her husband John is a serious fly fisherman, and when he's off fishing, and Maria is alone, we schedule a Girlie Day. Before I refrained from drinking alcohol, that was also a part of our day together. But, as many of you can guess, CyberGal doesn't need booze to be amusing, or amused.

I used to give Maria a full body massage. We'd have dinner and wrap up the evening with a bit of television. She also likes scalp massages and has opted for more of those, instead of a full body massage. I suspect the relaxation is relief from her ever-present foot pain. I want more then anything for God to jolly well get off the stick and heal her, but that's for another post!

Maria is also my employer. I love our Girlie Days because I don't have the ethical battle over being in her home to clean it, while on one level she'd rather I give her "hair scritches". My sense of ethics drives me nuts. We even have a little game called: "Does that make you feel guilty?" One of the reasons we get along so well, is because Maria has learned she can really trust me. I'm not going to snoop through her home, or computer. I will really put in a full-days work, or I will not take my wages. But she is also like a little kid, when mean old CyberGal decides the house must be cleaned, meaning, I stop with the scalp massage.

She has a little whine which is plainly and simply designed to make me feel, well, guilty! It is a joke between us and has provided much mutual laughter. She acts pathetic and my role is to pretend to be heartless! What is great fun for me, is when I pull the guilt ploy. She mutters something like: "Oh, that was a good one." when I pretend to whine about needing a raise so I can take another vacation. (I always pick stuff that is obviously so outrageous, as to be laughable).

We go back over twenty years. At that time, I was a completely messed-up adult recovering from being in a religious cult in San Francisco. I was also trying to deal with learning to do life blind. I'd had almost no training for a blind person. I was tired of "faking it". I was just plain tired. One of my many attempts to straighten out my chaotic life at thirty-something.

Maria was a dorm counselor. She helped me a lot trying to recover from being in a really messed-up Christian "home" for three months. They were brutal, to say the least. When you were "bad", they'd deprive you of toilet paper and soap! Yes, when you are seriously abused, things like that don't make you leave. You stay around and "take it". Just like in your childhood. If some organization tried that one on me now, I'd leave skid marks leading to the nearest law firm.

I eventually got a part-time job at the same blind center and Maria and I began a working relationship. When she and John went to the mountains on the weekends, they wanted someone they could trust to house and dog sit for them. I've continued to work for Maria and John in good times and bad. Thankfully, in the last seven years, things are much better in my life. This time, it appears I'm truly gaining mental health.

In the last few years Maria and I have grown close. She "feels" like a mom and I believe I'm like a second daughter for her. I will take feedback from her I won't even consider listening to from anyone else. I actually sat through a gentle lecture about my, ah hum, irresponsible bent with money. Now that I am saving for something that is worth the effort (a blow-out vacation week in Boston), I am letting her bank half my earnings, so when she uses her credit card to book my plane and hotel, the money is already there to cover the bill. But, basically, save money? Are you nuts? Okay, I'll admit it, not totally grown-up in that area. Haven't even arrived at the point of asking God to help me "want to" change. Yeah, save money? You are nuts!

Today was a lovely Girlie Day. We have taken to buying deli food for ourselves at an outrageously expensive health-oriented store in Berkeley called Andronicos. Lovely food, but lunch for two, brought home in containers can run $50! She isn't into chocolate and sweets like I am, but found these Godiva chocolate ice cream bars that are like frozen chocolate moose dipped into rich dark chocolate. Oh, my Gawd, are those things GOOD! Today, I had requested garlic bread and a salad. Not Maria's favorite, but she is flexible, we swap who selects lunch. She bought two loaves of this ready to heat, made up garlic bread that is to DIE for. I have wonderful memories of leaving AA meetings with about 12 others and heading over to a local Italian eatery. We'd order loaves of their home made garlic bread and troughs of salad. Man, that was some good eating!

Maria also prepares an entire pot of Pete's Coffee for the day. I don't know if Pete's in national, but it makes expresso look like weak decaf. I've joked with Maria, that she gives me that coffee, so when I work, I have the energy and desire to re-roof their house! (I think its nicknamed: "legal speed".) I LOVE Pete's coffee. It is very strong and wonderful with half 'n half and sugar.

After lunch I begin the "head scritches". Maria has told me that it makes her body tingle and seems to lesson her foot pain. I swear, if running through Berkeley naked, until arrested would heal her, I'd be calling her from jail! I HATE it when people I love are in pain. I can really understand how otherwise normal people can be driven to crime, or just bizarre behavior watching a loved one suffer.

As soon as lunch is over, Maria moves to her special "back" chair" and reclines it, so I can be comfortable, sitting behind her, doing scalp massage. I have taken to joking with her, as I see her whip that chair back: "Are you waiting for something?" I usually get a Maria giggle. Something I try to cause, as often as possible.

Maria is on a whole lot of very strong pain killing medication. Most of the time, she falls asleep for a bit while I work on her. I busy myself in prayer while her body relaxes. She is only lightly sleeping, so when Hanna, the Newfound Hound gets jealous of not getting petted, Maria wakes up, to the insistent nosing, her back begins to receive, as I try to pet the dog with one hand, and work on Maria with the other.

It is another sweet, silly little part of the Girlie Day. Hanna, when a puppy was obviously cuddled and permitted into someone's lap. This has produced a very confused 120 pound lap-dog-wanna-be. She is tall enough to straddle your lap, with her body snuggled over your legs. Then she does the "I love you" lean. I have only seen Border Collies engage is this. It is actually a herding technique. But Hanna, is just trying to return to the heavenly days gone by, when she was small enough to fit in a lap!

Maria and John have a beautiful 24 year marriage. When he is away, he always calls her and they exchange bits of news and chit chat. There is an amazing tenderness between them. It permeates their home. Maria has known a really hard life, dealing with the garbage of WW II an unfortunate first marriage disaster and a whole lot of other sad things. I am so very happy that she has found such a fine man. John is not only in love with his wife, but likes to brag on her to me.

Maria loves my "John" stories, because, he has trouble sharing some of his feelings directly with her. John was driving me to BART - our local transit system and I was waxing eloquent about some Eggs Benedict I'd had in San Francisco. With the delight of a small child, John boasted: "Oh Maria makes that!" I could almost hear the "na-na-na-na-NA-na" within this proclamation. I get the feeling that if I spoken about whipping up a batch of cement, I'd get the same reaction: "Oh, Maria does that!" She is a wonderful gourmet cook and I envy John's position of enjoying her creations. But Maria swears she's never made Eggs Benedict!

So, I massage a little, eat and drink a little and play with the dog. The afternoon turns to evening and Maria re-combs her hair for the fifth, or sixth time, preparing to drive me to BART.

I even got to take home what was left of the second loaf of garlic bread. Oh swoon! We have shared serious memories, humorous moments and that most healing of human institutions, love.
I love getting John to talk about his wife. He really, really loves her. I love her too. She shared that hearing that she is loved by both her husband and me, made her feel good physically and emotionally. Well, Maria, enjoy, 'cause 'tis true. Lots of folks really like you and a few of us have the joy of getting to really know you. I am blessed to have you and John in my life.