Category Archives: Free writes

On Death and Aging

This post is a little depressing, so be forewarned.

I’m twenty-three, just under two months from turning twenty-four. (I haven’t even hit the quarter century mark.) So why am I writing a post on death and aging? I feel like this is usually the arena of someone older or at least, that’s what’s expected. But I’ve always been terrified of death. I know, for many people, its about how they’ll go. But for me, its about what happens after.

Death is universal; it doesn’t care if you’re rich, poor, black, white. It’s also, ironically, the only certainty in life. Nothing about what comes after is certain. Different religions offer different answers: reincarnation or heaven/hell/purgatory. Even the people who have had near-death experiences, or who come back from being clinically dead have differing stories. I wonder about how much of it is tainted by what we’ve been told and how much is the person taking in the world around them. For example, seeing a light. Was it just a paramedic peering into your eyes?

As a kid, I feared that I would not wake up once I went to sleep. And I realized that this is a fear that still lives with me (pun definitely intended). Since around high school, I’ve had trouble either falling or staying asleep. Part of it was my bed and part because I could never shut my brain off. And these troubles did not dissipate in college, it probably got even worse.

A few months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and began Googling, trying to determine why I couldn’t sleep. I had so many questions and theories and, even whhen I began to grow tired again, I didn’t want to put the iPad down. I wanted to answer each and every question. That’s when I realized: I hated leaving tasks unfinished. I worried that, I might never find those answers. Whether it was research or a good book, I realized that, depending on how late it got, my thoughts would turn to the morbid and it became deeper than, for a novel, reading through the next plot twist.

Periodically, my fears of mortality would enter my conscious mind and I would obsess over it. But eventually, I would have to let it go. Obsessing was doing no good. I didn’t have any answers. So I had to let it go. But the thoughts always return.

In the age of pandemics and natural disasters, I’m sure its no surprise to anyone that these thoughts would resurface. Interestingly though, that wasn’t the start of my fears but, I think, a series of unrelated events about a month or so ago.

I had been feeling down before I saw the news of Naya Rivera’s disappearance. When I saw the hashtag trending on Twitter, it was after midnight. And every subsequent time I checked on the search, it was somewhere between the hours of midnight and dawn (the time when my morbid thoughts are most active). It also didn’t help that people kept referencing her Glee cover of The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young”. During the day, random lyrics from the song would pop into my head, and then I would get chills, followed by the familiar ache of anxiety in my chest.During the day, random lyrics from the song would pop into my head, and then I would get chills, followed by the familiar ache of anxiety in my chest.

I then had a conversation with two friends, one was settled into the fact that she would be a lifelong student. But the other had finally settled into her path. Without getting into all of the details, I’ll just say that it requires her being in school for the next ten years (give or take a year).

That led me to thinking about the fact that I’m (finally) almost finished with Hunter. I should be graduating in December. I have tentative plans for graduate school—once I decide between my three potential degree options—but not before I took a nice, long break. After five and a half years of accessibility issues I’m ready bebe finished with Hunter… but not learning. Or rather, not the school setting.

Graduating in four months. It’s exciting. But also scary. Shifting from school, which I’ve been attending for as long as I can remember, to work while many of my friends continue on in education. And then as a sub-concern, many of the ones continuing on with school are all doing noble things: becoming doctors and lawyers and teachers… oh my. I’m graduating with a degree in English and a minor in religion—remember this, it’s relevant later—and while I think stories are important: to use as an escape, to inform, to offer comfort/relatability, it just doesn’t feel as… so many words are going through my head, but none are quite right. Important? Again, I think stories are important. Noble. Feels a little superficial like, do I just want to do the profession because its noble? Maybe its about the tangible knowledge that you’re helping people? You can watch your impact as a lawyer, teacher or doctor.

As an author, I don’t know how my books will sell, its also fantasy. (But then, see above: I think books as an escape are important.) As an editor, I’ll be helping people achieve their dreams but bringing out the best in their novel. So maybe what it comes down to is the hierarchy of helpfulness. (Quick note, if any of my friends told me they were comparing their career choices to another’s, I would tell them not to do that. But it’s a lot easier said than done)

Anyway, so we’ve got me overthinking my career, thinking about school being almost over, hearing about each new natural disaster as the Corona infections and deaths rise, so many celebrities passing in quick succession (even if it was from old age), a young mother drowning in an accident, not being happy with the weight I’ve gained, and an already-existing fear of death… and a recipe for a good state of mind did none of those thoughts make. Oh, I forgot to add my nervousness every time I headed outside, worrying about contracting covid (post on that coming later this week.)

I also started noticing how many times people casually mentioned death in phrases like “I’m dead” (when something’s funny), or “I’m going to kill you” (in playful agitation). Add to that a series of creepy Youtube videos I managed click on, seeming one after the other one night. Are you overwhelmed yet? Because I was.

With so much confusion and uncertainty, I think I began thinking about death because its the only surety. (I didn’t come to that realization on my own, a friend pointed that out.) I also began thinking of how my death might affect the people around me, how my friends would find out. When someone made plans for the future, I couldn’t help thinking, morbidly, if we’re alive to see it. At night, my mom would say things like “see you tomorrow, if life lasts.” And, more recently, my aunt in responding to a message made note of the fact that life is uncertain, and, as it was midnight in the UK, she’d talk to me if God willed it.

In this time, I started thinking about my religious beliefs. Since junior high, I researched religion. I would “pick and choose” the things I liked, loving Wicca for its attention to nature and Christianity and Buddhism for its principles on how to live life. I liked dream catchers because, believing in the supernatural—from my own experiences and that of my friends and family, they brought me comfort while I slept. And all the while I wore my crucifix given to me by a family friend.

The only thing for which I felt certain was that there was a God or some kind of higher being. I agreed with my sister, who was the first person I heard theorize that the universe was too big for coincidence. But beyond that… I didn’t know. And that uncertainty wasn’t helping me right now.

The religion classes and personal research had not led me any closer to an answer. My current course on the Afro-Caribbean religions was actually contributing to my anxiety. That the height of my panic, I had to walk away from a discussion that we were having about sacrifice in Ifa and Santeria. And later, less panicked, but still poignant, the discussion of ancestor worship in Voodoo. Ensuring that you observed your ancestors, and that your children did the same so that they and later you, would continue to be alive through ritual.

I decided that I wanted to talk to the religious people around me. I think my hope was, and still is, that if I could understand where their depth of faith cames from, it could help me find my own. Except, my network consists mostly of Christians (of varying sects), one or two—not too devout—Jewish people and a counselor from my high school who converted to Islam. I also have an atheist or two and a Wiccan. I’ve spoken with the latter folks about their beliefs, and I’m hoping to find more people from more faiths. I reached out to my aunt first. Christianity” the most familiar.

I loved that she wasn’t like: obviously, Jesus is the answer. She actually listened, related. Agreed with my idea to read the Bible and offered to talk through verses with me. (I’m a little wary of Christians, which I was so pleasantly surprised by her response).

I have a tentative plan to read through the other holy books, starting with the Bible—I get to kill two birds with one stone with the Old Testament—and then moving on to the Koran. And hopefully, because of the interconnectedness of the books, it won’t be too daunting. I also think that I might not make it as far as each of the books are pretty freaking long. But this is the tentative plan.

As I began reading (starting with Luke rather than Genesis which is why I never made it through before), I found the stories of Jesus to be kind of interesting. Also, because of a discussion in class (apparently, in Matthew, he starts flipping tables because of the moneychangers), I discovered that he was actually quite radical and not so docile as a lamb comparison might have you believe.

I also found myself sleeping more soundly (if not more continuously, I usually still wake up half way through the night). I think resigning myself to the fact that there’s nothing I can do just before bed has helped. I also realized that, though I found the Bible interesting I’ve begun using it as a security blanket. I have to read a few chapters, even if its right before I go to sleep. I’ve also begun sleeping in my mom’s room. It’s kind of crazy that, even though she drives me bananas, she’s been comforting. Whenever I had sleeping problems as a kid, because of a strange feeling or sleep paralysis (which people sometimes attribute to supernatural causes) she wouldn’t judge me for either coming to sleep with her or swapping places (I used to sleep in the living room of our one bedroom while she and my sister slept in the room).

In the past week, I don’t feel as anxious, but I’m sure its never actually going to go away. People still use words about death too casually for my comfort. And the people in my life all seem to be doing well (for a while, I wondered if my intense feelings were foreshadowing something negative). I also slept in my room one night, and and was fine, but still prefer my mom’s for now.

Well, thanks for reading my thoughts.

Till next time with my post on venturing onto the MTA for the first time in almost five months. (Hint: it was nerve wracking.)

Ephemeral Thoughts

I’m sitting at work (well, my internship), listening to a drill outside. And I just started thinking about how ephemeral things in this city are.

Things are ever under construction, either being taken down or built up. Stores and restaurants are bought and sold because they cannot afford rent. People have to fight, sometimes, to keep historical landmarks in tact.

And it’s just normal for us. Avenue upon avenue of scaffolding, no one blinks an eye at. It’s always a surprise to find a sidewalk clear, after years of walking through constructed tunnels, or sections of street made into pedestrian walkways because the side walk is blocked off… only to find it there again in a few months.

Someone once said that in this modern age we built things so that they won’t last long. I can’t remember now if it was on TV or from a nostalgic old person. But, whenever I think about it, I think of this documentary I saw once on the history channel about the construction of the Brooklyn bridge.

It’s been a few years, so I don’t remember the information word for word but, basically, they said that the foundation of the bridge was built with faulty steel. Maybe the company was too cheap, or the supplier was untrustworthy, I don’t remember. But a second company was hired and reinforced the faulty foundation with a much sturdier one. They talked about 9/11 and how that could have been a double tragedy with the amount of traffic the bridge saw.

Maybe it was in that documentary that I saw the thing about newer buildings not being as sturdy because I’m now remembering someone talking about the newer bridges, and how often they need to be fixed.

Do they say that if you make it here, you can make it anywhere because of how jaded this city is? If you’re good enough to last in New York’s public eye for a good amount of time, then you’re golden. Unlike those other cities where they’re all appreciative of new talent because they don’t see as much constant change? (With that said, they say L.A.’s also a pretty tough celebrity nut to crack.)

Or do they mean anyone, ekeing out a living here? But San Francisco’s even more expensive.

I have no profound point to make. I think the gray day (storms are forecasted), plus the drill just put me into this mood. But, to be quite honest, it wasn’t hard to get into. I’ve been thinking more deeply into things than they probably warrant for a few days now.

Perhaps I’m just having a bout of artistic melancholy. (Maybe I’ll get some writing projects done)

Day 2, England: Observations from The House

I woke up yesterday, or today, since I think this will upload on the 9 (probably because of where my original WordPress location is), at about seven.  I didn’t actually get out of bed, for two hours but jet lag, coupled with sleep issues made for an interesting.

Breakfast was warm cereal (my friends tell me its an immigrant thing, but as the child of one, and with Zu being from Colombia, we definitely appreciated it), saltfish cakes, toast and tea.  I tell you about this to set the scene.  While we’re eating, we’re also listening to the Jeremy Kyle show.  For those of you who think of the Brits as genteel…  you’ve never watched this show he is the British Steve Wilcose.  Except, one difference I did note was the audience.  We Americans are as animated as the people on stage.  But the people here, though they reacted, didn’t do it with the same enthusiasm I’m accustomed too.  Regardless, it was still extremely entertaining.

It also rained all day, which is more in keeping with my English stereotypes (unlike sunfilled yesterday).  So Zu, my family and I hung around inside, watching TV, using our various devices, and debating.  And it was great.

The atmosphere: though its warm, there’ seems always to be a breeze or something to keep you from overheating.  As well as the programming, it was so weird seeing the US talked about from an outside perspective.

That comment leads me to something else I noticed: TV.  I don’t know if this is just this family, or an east vs.  west thing, but when we arrived, I noticed immediately that my aunt was watching TV.  And Zulay noted that in Colombia the TV is running 24/7.  Where in Montenegro, if we watched TV.  it was Netflix.  But, that’s also the case for many places in the US: TV’s becoming obsolete in the face of Netflix, Prime (and whatever other) subscriptions right from your device.

The home time also gave me a chance to notice, or really consider food differences.  Here, though the portions are not small, my aunt always ensures there’s some kind of fruit or vegetable with the meal.  I’m not sure if it’s just her being a former nurse and health-conscious, or specifically a non-American thing.  I think we almost always had fruit and/or veggies in Montenegro, and Zu said that that was normal practice in Colombia.

I also began considering moving here.  Wait, hold the judgment and hear me out:

No, I have not yet explored the city (which we should be doing later/tomorrow if the weather allows), but I was already drawn in.  The lack of AC’s (because of that coolness I mentioned, though even if its burning, I think your just SOL unless you can get a breeze), the food thing (which yes, I’m already working on at home with my own meals), and while the TV stuff wasn’t too big a deal, since I don’t really watch TV, I still enjoyed the “programs” and “adverts”.

I’m not spontaneous enough to just pick up and move somewhere, especially to a new country (which I can’t do anyway without a visa), but I’d always been torn between Madrid and London for my study abroad, and after one day I’m already considering here.  If we get in a day trip to España, that should help me narrow things down some, as well as actually traveling into London today.  But for right now, I’m enamored with this place.  I’ve been doing Visa research, as well as double-checking my school’s study abroad requirements.  So don’t be surprised if (when) you hear I’m moving in two years.

Along with Zu’s standard, three or four mininaps (okay, I’m exaggerating…  two/three), she and I both slept for about two hours (an hour and a half longer than expected).  Now, its 1:30 (8:30 back home), and we’re both pretty wide awake.  (Well, I’m confident Zu can get back to sleep in a flash.) But I’m not so sure about myself.

I was so certain I’d circumvented the jet lag monster…  when I started nodding off.  But we have to be up in about 7 hours for my first foray into London proper (I’m beyond excited), so I’m about to attempt the shower again, and let you all go.

I just wanted to give a calmer update (since there were no English oddities to marvel over today).  But in the meantime, you should check out this video I made some years ago about blind people traveling (in case you were wondering about the process).


Addendum: Milica said that her family’s a bit of an oddity (she probably didn’t say oddity), but that in general, TV is pretty big in Montenegrin households).

My visual epiphany

As I lay here, contemplating life and things, I had a bit of an epiphany (about myself, not anything that would benefit the rest of the world, of course).

I have a few posts wherein I mention my dwindling vision, but, in the posts and real life, I’m always a little flippant about it.

“Yeah, my peripheral vision’s gotten really bad, and I can’t see the same distances anymore, but what do you think of the new Mayday Parade album?” (quick aside, it’s called Sunnyland, and I love it)

Yet, in contrast, when I talk about my eye doctor, I get frustrated because I don’t think he took my visual concerns seriously when I first brought them to him about two years ago. It felt as though he was saying that, because I didn’t read print, or actively rely on my vision for more obvious things, that it wasn’t as high a priority. But I use my vision for travel: Sometimes i’ll see the pole before my cane hits it, or if it misses it completely (though sometimes not), finding visual landmarks, seeing traffic lights at night, and differentiating between my darker, sad-looking 3 train and the well lit 2 at 14th street, when it’s too loud to hear announcements. To stare lovingly at all of the shades of blue I have in my wardrobe and, well, in my life in general. To admire the glow of brown of my hand in sunlight. To laugh at the person in the neon colored shirt (colors like that grab my eyeball and refuse to let go). To get angry when I can’t figure out if my pants are black or navy unless I have the two colors pressed side-by-side… Perhaps it seems insignificant, because I can’t, and never really could, examine all of the finer details of something. And if I am walking with other people, I rely on my cane and their vision. But all of that is still a part of my visual reality. Something that cannot necessarily be measured, or is not readily apparent to someone sighted. But is still quite real to me.

But anyway, it felt as though, because I don’t do more important sighted things, it was something we could hope was a side benefit of adjusting my medicine to help my eye pressure. Rather than actively working toward trying to preserve it. Vision lost from glaucoma can generally not be regained, and sometimes, no matter how many drops you use, you will lose it anyway. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

I already had losses in the past: I used to be able to read money with a bit o’ squinting, and I could consistently read the numbers on a cable box until about a year ago. But I adjusted. And I’m sure I will adjust again, but by being so flippant with the world, and even myself, I feel like I was disregarding the feelings of… frustration. And maybe not loss but… something like it (some English major I am, right?:)

What I came to realize today is that, I think that I think if I show how much the vision loss is bothering me, it feels like I’m contradicting everything I’ve said in my posts and videos over the years. Things like:

•Being blind (visually impaired, whatever) isn’t something that bothers me. Other than not being able to drive a car, I’m genuinely happy with things. I love reading braille. I love playing with all of this technology… so why is it a big deal that I’m losing vision? If I’m so happy with things, if I encourage my fully blind friends to do… whatever, then why does the thought of being fully blind make me panic?

I know it’s not from a fear of inability after blindness, but, I think, worry that I will eventually forget all of those things listed above. But knowing the reason behind my emotion, still seems like a… betrayal of everything I’ve put out there.

•I hate when people assume that I’ll jump on the first surgery that promises 20/20. I’ve only ever wished for the amount of vision I had as a kid. I still had to use a cane, but I never cared about that part. I just basked in what I could see.

This was when I read both large print and braille. My sister tried to have me keep going with my handwriting, and print reading, but my teachers wanted to focus more on braille. I wish I had continued working with her. But it felt useless if I wasn’t going to be using it in school. But I still loved those days, when I forgot to braille my spelling words, and my teacher would write them out in large print for me to study and copy over at home. Getting back the vision I had when I was younger, it’s something I can wrap my head around, not this nebulous idea of “perfect vision”/20/20. This is my reality, and a change in my vision that drastic would probably cause a lot more trouble and adjustment than most people think it will. I would have to re-learn so many things (for example, print), But also how to see with both eyes (since I could never see from the right one).

•Why is it okay to grab my arm in the street? I don’t care if you’re offering to help me cross—which you usually don’t do, actually, you just let me know your helping and assume I’m okay with it. Would you grab the little old lady and just start dragging her across the street? Or hop into someone’s car and just start steering because you know the route better than them? No. So why is it okay because I have a mobility cane and not a walking stick? Or Because my vision is less than yours? Do either of those things somehow negate my humanness?

Being unhappy about potentially becoming fully blind feels like I’m saying something is wrong with blind people. Like it’s something we should hide. Like it’s now okay for you to tell me that I’m going the wrong way because I passed the exit. But you, the all-knowing sighted, didn’t notice the entrance to my school off to the side. And now it’s amazing that I’m going to school. My family must be proud. Not because they have a member in college, but because they have a blind person in college. Do you stand at the entrances to the campus telling each student you’re proud they made it? No? Just little old me? What if I’m rich and my parents money could buy me into college, and the girl behind me is someone from a society where women are not allowed to get an education, and it really is amazing that they made it?

This isn’t to negate the struggles of some blind people. But you shouldn’t assume that every blind’s life is like walking on a bed of nails. Whereas you, privileged Sighted—not in the racial sense, but in the having working eyeballs sense—had it easy comparatively (because of those eyeballs).

It feels as though I’m betraying the nature of that last rant by being distraught about my own vision problems. I know I’m not, but it doesn’t change that I feel that way.

So I shrug it off, and then have a completely unexpected cry on a bench in Madison Square Park. It was a few weeks ago, I had taken off my sunglasses, and I forgot how long it takes my eyes to adjust from them, and I freaked out a bit at how much dimmer everything was.

I forget how much writing it all down helps me sort through it all.

Of course I could have talked to any number of friends about this—and I sort of have, but there’s always a lightness I take to the conversation that I don’t really mean to but, see above, but there’s something about just writing—I love writing—that truly helps to give me some perspective.

I’m naturally a little flippant about things—I’m usually genuinely unbothered by a lot—but that then makes it easy to transfer over that glibness to things I do care about, that make me uncomfortable.

  Well, as it’s now 5:13, I should probably try to get back to bed (I woke up 3 hours ago and haven’t been able to fall asleep).

Hope you enjoyed my rambles.

And check out my last vlog, a room tour, until I come back. Which will be sooner than last time.

I Love English

I love English.

Like, I adore all things words, and language, and etymology.


I’ve made many videos on my math problems at Hunter, and the uselessness of my accessibility office.

But to summarize (as it’s relevant to this post), I’ve taken the same (basic math 101 course) THREE times. Each time, I’ve had a different issue.

The first, a professor who didn’t know how to handle his blind student, and an accessibility office who wouldn’t provide me with braille. The homework was online, so my professor assigned me work from the book and I worked with a notetaker. However, we never had enough time for me to work, then her to scribe. So, consequently, not much studying and failed exams. And I requested a credit/no credit (so the F wouldn’t show up on my transcript).

The second, was a summer course. Yes, it would be intensive, but I would also be giving it my undivided attention.

Here, I worked on the online homework with a classmate. This proved a much more efficient method. However, my proctor was unfamiliar with the math symbols. Like, he didn’t know less than or greater than. And eventually I had to ask my professor for a cheat sheet for him. However, it didn’t prove affective. He still messed things up, and struggled to understand what I told him as he scribed for me. So, even though I received 100% on each homework, I failed each test with flying colors. Which means that I also failed the class. I tried appealing, but didn’t win, as I was still failing even after the proctor was given the sheet.

And finally, last spring semester. I found a classmate to assist me with the homework, and a proctor who knew math. My professor was also wonderfully understanding. So what could possibly go wrong, right?

Well, my classmate was failing math and I think something else, so we couldn’t work together anymore. Of course I’m not upset with her for having her issues, but it made things hard. I was having no additional practice on the work (so failed the next exam), and because we were half way through the semester, it was pretty much impossible to find another notetaker to work with. So I requested an incomplete. But was constantly locked out of the online course.

And both the math and accessibility offices kept sending me to the other and not addressing my issues. Which I’ve learned, from speaking to other visually impaired students is not unusual.


I wrote all of that to explain what’s happening with me in school. I took tons of psych credits that are now useless because I don’t have my core math credit, which would allow me to take the math pre-rec for the major. So I started working toward a major in English.

I’d never planned on focusing on English. It would either be a minor (along with religion) or a double major. But after taking my creative writing pre-rec and now currently in my History of English course, I realized that that was a mistake.

Psych is a big interest, one that I’ve been into since I was about eleven. But English is my passion. My love, if you will.

I realized that part of the reason I was so intent on having a career in psychology (with English on the side), was because of the general belief that majoring in English would not yield lucrative career prospects. And forget about music. But that’s what everyone told me. Yet, never the people who were closest to me (my godmother, sister, and friends). They were cool with whatever I pursued. But even in psychology, I heard about what I should do that would make me more money.

When the math trouble started, I began considering other majors and careers. Obviously, English was the runner up. I could become an editor. A knowledge of English would be important, as well as my bordering on unhealthy obsession with reading. And, as a vision teacher pointed out, creative writing is important. Most people think of people studying literature and only being able to become a teacher. But in just about any field, you need to know how to write.

Also, everyone has this image of the starving artist when they hear that’s someone’s a writer, artist or musician. But one can be a legal or magazine  writer, a book illustrator or web designer, and audio engineer or, well, I can’t think of something else. But you get the idea.

And though it’s going to suck graduating in five years instead of four (in addition to math, I’ve had problems with professors, and other accessibility issues), I’m really excited to be studying English.

It’s also disconcerting, I entered college with a plan, almost but not quite down to the classes I’d take. And now I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen after graduation. I don’t even know if I’m going to make it through math 101, and stats so that I can at least have a minor in psych. Will I pursue a masters next? And if so, in what? Clinical psychology? The hugely controversial MFA??

AAAAH! It’s hard. And now telling people that I’m majoring in English without launching into the whole sordid tale. But hey, I’ll definitely be able to study abroad with two years left to go. And I feel really good about this decision.

Now I should probably go back to my homework (ironically, for English). As I’ll be getting sleepy soon.

Stay tuned for another post later this week. I may be feeling good about my major, but my dating life is…😂 (here, just watch)

Kay, see you later👋🏾

A Seat At The Table: Together Yet Alone

There are four of us at this table, each eating lunch, all strangers to the other.  It started with one woman.  Who knows how many people sat down and coexisted with her until they were finished eating or had to get to class.  Then me:

“I found you a seat,” the cafeteria worker says.  “There’s another woman here, is that okay?”

I nod.  And, upon reaching the table, he asks the woman too if it’s alright that I sit.  She says nothing, so I assume she nods as the guy pulls out my seat.  He gets me a fork and napkin then asks my name, realizing that he’d assisted me on-and-off for over a year, but never knew how to address me.

“Lily,” I tell him.  “And yours?”

“Ernest.” Then we part.

As I sit there, eating and scrambling to finish a reading for class, another girl joins us, the only sound of entrance being the slight squeak of her chair.  Had she made some sign to the original table occupant?

As we each sit here, doing our own thing, and thinking our own thoughts, I am struck by how separate we all are though we’re mere feet a part.

The new girl speaks softly.  Oh, does she know the other one? But then I realize that she’s dictating, very likely to her phone.  Now she reads work aloud.  Perhaps an essay?

“Can I sit here,” a soft, slightly accented voice asks to my right.  I nod slightly.  But she doesn’t move.

“Oh yeah, sure.” I hear the shift in the second girl’s voice, from muffled to clear, as she lifts her head from her work.

I too look up and find the place before me empty.  Where had the first woman gone? How had I missed her departure?

That’s when it struck me.  It’s something I’ve always known, even discussed.  But as I sat there, it really sank in: we pass hundreds, even thousands of people each day; all of us in different stages of life, together but apart.  Coexisting.  So I start writing.  Continuing to live my separate life as I sit at a table with two strangers.  The three of us together, but mentally alone.

I scrape together the remaining scraps of my curry chicken and naan—there was Indian food in the cafeteria today—and eat while I begin to pack away my things.

“Excuse me, did you drop your phone? Something fell?” I turn back to the table.  It was the second girl.

“No, my phone’s in my pocket.” Then, after a pause.  “But do you know what fell?”

“Um, I think its a wallet.  I picked it up.”

I put my garbage down and hold out my hand.  She passes it to me.  It was the wallet part of my phone case.

“Thanks,” I breathe, the relief in my voice evident.  “That would not have been fun.”

“No it wouldn’t.” I think the words are sincere, but her tone feels dismissive.

“Thanks again.” If she responds I don’t hear, as I pick my garbage up and turn away.

At last, I’ve interacted, and while I appreciate still having my wallet, the exchange was so lackluster.  But I feel like that’s a common theme.  So many of us no longer care about the person before us, only the virtual one in our hands.  I’m no different, walking around constantly with an earpiece in my ear, making sure I catch every message as voiceover reads it to me.

I’ve lost some vision… but I’m still functioning

My vision has worsened.  I can no longer see the same distance, in front and it’s even worse peripherally.  I try not to dwell on it too much, but my interaction at the doctor’s today really brought it home.

“Okay,” my doctor says once he’s finished going through my information.  “Climb on up and we’ll take a look.”

I get up, but don’t see the bed.  Granted, almost everything in there was white, but I still, usually, have a better grasp of the room’s layout.

“Okay, where am I going?” I ask lightly.  Because I don’t want to walk into a cabinet or something.

He takes my arm (the opposite of the proper guiding technique, by the way) and shows me.  Then, as he probes my tummy he asks:

“Have you lost some vision?”

“Yeah.” My voice is more sullen than I intended.

“I can tell.  You were more functioning before.”

I was too busy lamenting the confirmation of vision loss to think about his phrasing.  But now that I am, I wonder.  I’m still functioning just the same.  My vision is worse, yes but not much about how I go about my daily life has changed.  In the past I would still sometimes double check that I was at the right end of the bed.  Or in a new hospital (or in any setting really) where I don’t know anything about the set-up, I would ask questions.Perhaps I’m just nitpicking but still…  I used to be more functioning? Just my eyes, doc.  Not me.

Being An Adult In The Pediatric Wing…

Attending the same hospital for your entire life can make visits as an adult—well, that’s what they tell me I am—awkward, to say the least.  Especially when it’s your final visit to your pediatrician.

“Look your girl,” my mom called loudly to someone standing outside.

“Oh my goodness,” the woman responded, halting her conversation mid-sentence.  “She’s gotten so big!”

As she touched my arm and asked about school, I mentally scrambled in search of a memory to fit the voice.  I found none.  According to my mom, she was one of the nurses who frequently tended to me as a child.

“What,” my mom’s voice was light as we entered the building a few moments later.  “They think you’ll stay small forever?”

I make a noncommittal sound of agreement, that I try to pass off as a laugh.  As per usual, her moods had been ping-ponging all morning.  But my emotions aren’t as mercurial, so while she was now feeling jovial, I was still suffering residual feelings of annoyance.  But she didn’t notice. She rarely does.

“Wow, look how big she’s gotten,” someone else exclaims once we reach our floor.  “And I see she has a stick now, does that mean she’s getting around by herself?”

I’ve always had a “stick” (it’s called a cane, actually) but when I go out with my mother, I’m told to keep it folded or not to take it at all.  Why do I need it if I’m walking with her? Now I carry it always (unless there’s an argument), but I didn’t before.  None of that I said aloud, however, as my mom was already answering.

“She lives on campus by herself.” I pulled out my phone as she says this, I knew where this conversation was going: praise at being able to live my life, compliments to my mother for letting me go, etc.  And they didn’t disappoint.

“This is her last appointment,” I hear.” Their voices still filter in despite my efforts.  “She’ll be twenty-one in a few weeks.”

“Twenty-one! Wow.  Well, you know, she can see a transition doctor and then they can help place her with an adult doctor.”

“I think she was planning to find a hospital close to campus. So it’s easier for her to manage.”

“Well some of our doctors work in pediatrics and adults, which might be better for her.  Sometimes the change can be traumatic to patients.”

“I think I’ll be fine.” I interjected.

“You can still bring her when she doesn’t have school.  Once a year.”

Yes, please continue to talk around me.  It’s not as though I’m the patient or anything.


The next time I have a say in matters is in my doctor’s office.  And everything’s going great until he asks where to send my prescription.  I’m slowly working on having everything being sent to the CVS near my dorm, but my mom was not happy about it.  Even though it’s always a hassle when I need my eye drops or a new inhaler.  It’s always so taxing on her (generally empty) schedule, that I figured I should just get it on my own.  Luckily, my doctor listened to me and sent everything where I told him.

The next blessing came in the form of the nurse who, though she was sticking me with a needle (so I automatically disliked her), asked about my hair dye and actually spoke to me.  Even laughing and joking about how much she also disliked needles when I put aside all of my frustration to squeeze my mother’s hand.

So the moral of the story? There was none, really.  Just wanted to complain about being an adult in the pediatric wing.  And the needles.  I really don’t like needles.

If I can’t walk, does that mean I can’t talk?

As we—my mom and I—sat on a bus this morning, on the way to the hospital (just for a check-up, nothing serious), I couldn’t help but overhear her phone conversations (she’s really loud).  But it worked out since the conversation I overheard gave me the subject for this post.

As I texted, I listened while she called a friend to tell him that some guy they used to hang out with was now in a wheel chair.  She felt sorry for him, first his wife died which he didn’t handle very well, and now this.  The chair.

“Poor thing,” she said.  I didn’t catch what caused him to be wheelchairbound but if it was a bad accident, then her pity made sense.  But it was the words she said next that lit the spark for this piece.  “He used to give such good conversation.”

…  why wouldn’t he anymore? Because he’s in a chair? How/why does that change anything?

It reminded me of the change some people go through when they switch from talking to the person I’m with to me.  As the parent of a blind child, I feel my mom should know better.  But then, as the parent of a visually impaired child, she doesn’t act much better with me.  So perhaps not.

Why do so many people seem to believe this, that disability overpowers all other faculties? Because it doesn’t. Or you shouldn’t assume it does before you’ve even interacted with the person.

I’m Blind, Therefore I Can Neither Speak Nor Hear

As I walked to the corner, after getting off of the train, a woman, who had already been standing there asked if I was crossing. I said, yes; and she told me to wait. Which is already what I’d planned to do, as there were cars passing by, but I didn’t say that. I just waited.

“Okay, you can go now,” she said after a few moments. And we crossed.

“Wow, you look really nice in the black,” my mom says, approaching me from the opposite direction. “And your hair ‘(she meant the new color I’d died it)’ goes well with it too.” (

As I took my mom’s arm, the woman who’d crossed with me said something, or made some motion that I didn’t catch. But it prompted my mom to say that she was my mother.

“Oh wow,” the lady says in response. “Her hair is so nice. Is it her’s? Or extensions.”

“It’s my hair,” I said, more offended that she’d spoken as though I weren’t there than at the question. It wasn’t the first time someone had asked that.

“It’s really pretty.” She continues.

“Thank you.” My mom and I say in unison.

Um…. I’m confused as to why my mom also responded. She and I have gone through that many times, as both her friends and strangers have spoken about, instead of to me. But she’s one of the few, if not the only, person in my life who doesn’t seem to understand why it’s a problem.

Well, I’m a 20-year-old (whoa, am I a woman? It feels wrong to say girl) who can speak for herself. Many people don’t even do that to kids. They may use a patronizing tone, but they might still speak to the child. But even if they don’t more often than not children won’t care about something like that.

Imagine being in a situation like that, where your with a friend and someone comes up to you both, and compliments you to your friend.Wouldn’t you be annoyed, or frustrated?

I’ve also had people bless the people I’m with. Are they a saint for taking out the blind girl? Does it have to be an act of pity and not friendship?

A waitress once blessed my dad as he began to read me the menu. It was a little surprising as he’d just threatened to speak with management (it was a chain restaurant), for not having braille menus for me. But it was still an adorable sight watching a father read to his college-aged daughter. No amount of threats could ruin that.

Why does being blind, or having some sort of disability automatically change how we are perceived in some people’s minds? I realize that sometimes approaching a disabled person may be a little daunting, especially if you’ve not done it before, but why not, instead of speaking slowly, or pityingly, or talking not to us but about us, or whatever other annoying habits the able-bodied have when it comes to the disabled, you just approach us like “normal”, fellow human beings? And then adjust to match the person. I don’t think anyone’s gotten mad at someone who treated them with respect or the courtesy of assuming that, other than their impairment, they are capable members of society.