Tags: writing

My Story

And as promised, here is a link to the personal story about me that was recently posted on the VisionAware website. I've already put it on my other social networking feeds, but I figure there may be some who only see the journal.

I enjoyed writing it, and the individual who posted it did a great job spiffing it up with edits and pictures. It seemed to be well received.

I got a lot of touching responses from people all over the world. This one, from someone in Italy, was the most profound to me. Obviously I will leave out the name, but the message lets me know that something I'm doing is actually having an effect on someone else. That is a very good feeling indeed.

HI JOHN, my son has Norries, I'vejust read your site. He has 3 years, he's totally blind and no other issue related to Norrie: he's an intellingent and always happy child, he can talk quite well for his age, and never stops it! (he talks even during sleep time sometimes!!) and he's starting to learn simple things to be more independent... we live in Italy, so we have many services that help him well, and good schools. I just want to thank you for all you're doing for many younger men affected by Norrie: the Association is very important for us! you're great in all the things you do! bye

In other news, I've been informed that my application for the DC internship has indeed been received. I'd asked both my advisor and mentor to write letters of recommendation, as I knew it was the last minute and someone might not be able to come through. Fortunately, my mentor managed to get it to me just in time and all was well.

Speaking of her, she had me talk to a bunch of elementary school children yesterday. They were from kindergarten through 3rd grade, and I guess they attended some sort of charter school that was a part of her church. Those were very smart, well-behaved children. I commented that my ghetto crew would've been bouncing off of the walls! I told them about blindness, demonstrated some things to them such as how I use my cane, and took questions. And that baby name thing was in full effect. Some of those I'm surprised they could pronounce. My generation is insane.

Speaking with them was rewarding but also exhausting. Well that on top of the fact that I'd done my first taping as a mock counselor for this lab class, which I'm not really sure how that went but will talk to the instructor about it on Monday. I think I didn't solicit enough information, as I got to see a little more of how it was done when I played client to someone else. It was definitely a learning process.

As I feared, the laptop has spoken its last words. I've therefore transitioned to full use of the netbook. Things are going well thus far, as I explore and learn more about Windows 7. I've not noticed a whole lot of difference actually, except that the start menu works a little differently with the search box that appears right after pressing the Windows key. I also like that I can reliably shut down the computer by pressing start, and Tabbing twice to get to the button. This helps when the machine stops responding. I guess there will be more for me to learn as time goes on.

And that's about all for this long, rambling edition. If you read the story and wish to ask me further questions, please feel free to do so. Thanks, and have a great weekend.

A Moment

And in honor of the Sully book I just finished, which was a superb read by the way, I'm going to make my moment aviation related.
In Charlotte, the Metrolina Association for the Blind (MAB) hosted an anual summer camp that was designed to get blind children thinking about where they would fit into the business and social world. To this end, they would often have themes that ran throughout the four weeks or so of day sessions on the bottom floor of their facility.

This particular year's theme was transportation. Examples of what we learned were: honing a restaurant to ask for directions from the nearest bus stop, actually locating and boarding a bus and getting off at a destination, boarding a commercial airliner and speaking with the pilots, and other things. Without a doubt, this was my favorite year at that summer camp, and it probably has much to do with my continued enjoyment of travel to this day.

The highlight of that period was to be a trip up in a small four-seat plane. I can't now recall which kind it was, but I guess some type of cesna. This took place at some sort of Christian organization that I think was called JARS. They flew supplies into small African countries that were donated here in the United States. We got to see some of these things, including a player that aided vilagers in learning their local language. This had a little crank that you turn in order to make it play. It was made out of clear plastic, so that the people could see what was going on inside of it and would thus resist the urge to smash it on the rocks to investigate how it worked. They also showed us a device that you use to, I think, administer electric shock after a snake bite. This supposedly helped you to gain enough time to get medical attention before the venom had fully taken effect.
They had quite an impressive fleet of aircraft, some of them having been put into service in 1954. This took place in 1994, four years after my first ever flight to Los Angeles California.

Both my cousin and I almost missed out on the short plane ride, because for some odd reason we hadn't gotten out folks to sign the permission slip. I can't remember if, and this was likely, we were just too shy to ask, or if we'd just lost the paperwork.

As the engine fired up with the first round of kids and I sat there with a pack of oreo cookies in my lap and an ice-cold coke in my hand, I began to feel sad at the prospect that I would indeed be left out. And when the initial group stumbled back toward us, excitedly chattering away, I knew I had to go. The second group went up and came back down, and after that, the adults said "alright, it's your turn!" "But we didn't bring our slips," I replied sadly. "Ah, don't worry about that". I knew there'd be some kind of insurance issue if that bad boy went down, but well they didn't want us to miss that opportunity, and I suppose they deemed such a horrifying conclusion to be unlikely.
So we strapped in and buckled up. I was amazed at how different it felt. It was like being in a car. As the guy in front fired up the engine again he said "now this won't be like the flight you took on the big plane. Any blowing of the wind, and this thing's gonna buck like a bronco!" I tried to imagine what that would be like as we taxied onto the strip, roared up to full power, and rose off of the ground. For reasons unknown to me, I felt the need to shout "we in the air!", I guess just in case they hadn't noticed.

It was quite loud by this point, and I was enjoying every second of it. We seemed to be sliding in all directions, up, down, back, forward, and side to side. We reached a maximum altitude of 900 feet, did a few fly-arounds of the immediate area, and touched down. It was such a neat contrast to what I'd experienced previously, and I've not had the fortune of experiencing it again.

Call Me Your Friend

Well today's 30 Days of Posting topic was to be on best friends. I don't really have many of those these days, outside of perhaps my cousin. And I guess as we grow and enter this odd period of our lives, even that is starting to change. You can read this letter I wrote to him some time ago.

I thought that by coming up to this school and re-entering the college setting, I'd find and make many friends. What I've thus far discovered is that I don't fit in as easily in person as I'd like. Talking to some individuals has given me insight into what causes my attempts at friendship to fall flat. Painful though those conversations were, their blunt honesty has indeed helped me to begin to turn the tide. I'm hoping that once the school year starts in a little over a week, (goodness, that's too close!) I will be ready. It's all about confidence, being willing to take chances, and to function independently.

It's curious though. I do have a lot of friends online, some of whom's voices I've still not heard. Given that this phenomenon is still relatively new, I wonder how it'll look 20 years from now. I can already tell that many of my long-time LJ friends have kind of drifted away during the period I was mostly unable to keep up with them. I guess we'll just see how time continues to shape the rest of our relations.

And now I shall listen to NPR and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I had some delicious shrimp and noodles earlier, but because I was on the go for a large part of the day, I'd not eaten till nearly 5 PM. Not a very good idea, if I do say so. Hopefully something worth noting happens tomorrow.

30 Days of Posting: What Is Love

Day 05 – Your definition of love, in great detail
I'm drifting. Thoughts, worrying, deep, pervasive thoughts tumble one after another through my head. I wonder if the sadness and fear will ever discipate so that I might finally lapse into a comfortable sleep.
Then that song comes on. It doesn't particularly matter which, as there are so many. I sit up, heedless of the fact that it is now 2 AM and the people across the hall probably won't want to hear me bellowing like a sick cow. I let the song temporarily possess me, washing away, for at least a long enough period to calm my mind, all the craziness that surrounds me.
Yes that's right. To me, there is no greater love than that of what I feel when it comes to music. I love how a song from my childhood or other formative years can come on, and instantly the words pop into my head as if they were never forgotten. Well ok, so what that I hadn't even known half of them in the first place, meaning that my formulation of them tells an entirely different story that was intended. It's really the feeling that counts.
Of course, love has many faces. There is also the unconditional love that I feel for my family. This haphazard group of individuals with whom I've grown, learned, and changed during my almost 31 years of life on this planet. We haven't always agreed with or even liked each other, but our love is unshakable.

An example of this was clearly demonstrated by our reactions to one of my sisters, the second from the bottom and often the butt of our jokes. She'd been dating a boy, and we never ceased to give her heck about it. Picked on her all the time, and even told her that that would be the best she could do. However, when he cruely broke up with her, saying "you're dismissed," the rest of my sisters immediately took up arms and were all but ready to rip this guy to shreds.
For it is as I've heard many say lately: love is not a feeling, but rather it is a choice. It is saying to myself that this person, place, or thing is something into which I want to pour my passions and to give my support.

Of course when most of us think of love, we think of that expressed between two individuals in an intimate, romantic relationship. This has a lot to do with what our cultures teach us. I'm not really sure how I feel about this kind of love, actually. It so often seems that one individual falls much harder than the other, creating an imbalance that gives the lesser lover power. I suppose those lucky folk who create marriages that last for 5 or more decades often have something closer to a balance in the amount of themselves they've invested in the other, though. This is why, as I begin to consider any potential partners, I am taking into account how they make me feel and the responses I seem to get from them. Also, obviously, we need to share at least somewhat similar passions. I would find it hard to continue loving someone who constantly puts me down for my desires, or one whose choices in life leave me constantly shaking my head. Getting all these things to match up reasonably well is surely a challenge though, so much so that I can't help but wonder if it will ever happen for me. Maybe? Who knows.

And those are some of my rambly thoughts on love. It is a word that encompasses so many things that difficulties arise when trying to adequately capture it. Is it, as some posit, a uniquely human experience? My interactions with some animals suggests not. But then we're often too high and mighty to admit that such things can exist beyond the advanced human mind. What it is though is something to be treasured, celebrated, and enjoyed in all of its forms.

30 Days of Posting: My Parents

It's day 3 of this meme, and I'm supposed to provide an introduction of my parents. So here it goes.

Well my mom is already known around these parts by my old-timers. But I've not told all of her story. She was born on March 16, 1959 somewhere in Charlotte, NC. She had two sisters, one of them sadly no longer alive.

The thing that makes their story a little unusual is that both my maternal grandfather and grandmother were blind: he due to the genetic disorder that I also have, and she for reasons about which I'd never been entirely clear. My granddad had to use his talents to ensure that they had money and food, while my grandma made sure that her daughters came up in the right way.
My mom ended up dropping out of high school right around the time she med my biological father. She said he was exciting because he was a good-looking bad boy who could sing. However once she entered that relationship, he immediately became oppressive. My grandma said she never really liked my dad, but she couldn't stop things from happening as they had.

My dad came from a family steeped in military tradition. I think there were at least 5 boys, although I'm not entirely sure just how many there were. Most of them spent at least a little time in, I think, the Navy. It's kind of sad how many holes I have in that part of my family history, actually. I do know my dad served in Vietnam, and was and still is quite traumatized by it.
He is clearly a well-educated man who loves reading, watching what are often called chick flicks, and the like. I get a lot of those quirky parts of my personality from him, in fact. If he hadn't allowed the bottle to take over his life, he could've no doubt made a great husband and father.
As it were, someone else came in and filled that role admirably. My stepfather, I should do him the honor of calling him dad but I have such a hard time allocating that term these days, taught me how to use those admirable personality traits in a way that would make me a good man. He comes from a country family which, I do believe, grew up in the area of Southern Pines, NC. His grandma is the most talkative person I know! My mom would have to almost run her over with the car in order to escape the driveway, and even then that little old lady would just about hobble down the street after us.

This man, if I were unclear about what had happened on a previous sports play, would get up and physically demonstrate it to me in the middle of the room. I think my mom found this both amusing and nerve-racking. We also used to take trips to the grocery and record stores together, during which he would give me some pointers about surviving as an adult. I can tell on those rare ocasions that I actually call home, that he deeply misses those conversations. That touches me everytime.
And so I don't know as much as I should about my folks. Perhaps I'll try and rectify that in the coming months.

30 Days of Posting: My First Love

Wow, I keep cuttin' it close with these entries! I mean really, where on earth does the time even go these days.

Day 02 – Your first love, in great detail
Well given that I've already written an extensive piece on those days, I thought I'd just kind of talk about many of the other firsts that I've experienced where women are concerned. I will say though that those days were some of the best in my life. Right before I completed undergraduate studies. Things have been a bit off-kilter ever since.

I also recall my first crush. Well it was more her liking me, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't rellish the attention. Especially as a child who spent most of my time in a corner trying to hide from the mean kids in class. Too bad she turned out to be a little bit crazy! I can only wonder how many children she has by now, as she certainly wanted them then. Even designed a plan that was to get me in on the action. While I was 10? Nah.

And speaking of too young, my first officially unofficial relationship occured via a chatline. I've not told many about this, for what I think are obvious reasons. I'd met a woman, if I can call her that, on one of those free telephone services that proliferated during the late 90's. We chatted for a day or two, and I thought "hmmm, she seems great". So, knowing very little about her, I asked her out. She was from Ohio and claimed to be attending the university of Cincinnati. This was odd though, because she didn't seem to know anything about college life or to really even care. I was in attendance at UNC-Charlotte by then, so I talked about it all the time.

Anyway, we'd gone on that way for a month or so. Finally, we had what she tried to make feel like a playful discussion, during which she revealed she was only 14 years old. A part of her deception had been to put the number 21 in her e-mail address even, but even so I was unable to shake my suspicion after that. It took me only another week to end that relationship.

My cousin and I found out a few years later that she indeed had been really young at that time. I keep thanking whomever's listening to such things that I didn't have enough money to go and see her at the time. Can you imagine how ugly that would've been? I could've been arrested or something!

I now insist on meeting anyone I'm considering in person before proceeding to enter that kind of relationship with them, for obvious reasons. I did have a relatively successful connection with someone that I'd met online that lasted for a year and a half, so I know it can be done. I just think you need to hang out first, get to see enough sides of a person, and then more informed decisions can be made.

So, that's a little more of my crazy past. Right now, I'm stuck in the present worries and frustrations. Because they couldn't in fact guarantee me any rental assistance, I've gone ahead and signed the notice for terminating my lease on September 23rd. They said I can rescind it, and I really hope that opportunity presents itself. I'm going to talk to Financial Aid on Monday and see if I can just apply for a loan or something, but I'm not sure how that's gonna go. Even so, I'm also trying to bounce messages through my friends to see if someone might want a roommate. I'd had a friend who was offering a room in a condo, but sadly that opportunity has now been lost. I guess I can only hope I get this all worked out before I'm tossed out on my hiney!

Have a good weekend. Not sure if anything's on tap for me. I thought maybe my cousins were coming up, but they seem to have been held up for whatever reason. I guess it'll be reading time, if nothing else. But then what's new there?

Writer's Block: I'll meet you down at the big yellow joint

Why isn't marijuana legal when tobacco is?

That's simple: because the feds say so. Ha ha.

Actually I really don't know why this is. I recall a class I took in undergrad in Health Psychology. My professor spent an entire period extolling the relative benefits of smoking marijuana while noting how dangerous cigarettes could be, (she'd put those down only the year previously). I couldn't help but think she still had her hand in the weed, though.

I kinda like the way that stuff smells; have tried it one time in my life but probably didn't quite know what I was doing. I don't really believe that smoking anything is a good idea for me, as I'd very likely choke to death.

What's really funny though is that probably the most dangerous drug of all, alcohol, doesn't have the same kind of stigma attached as any of the others. Well I mean dangerous only insomuch as people have allowed it to be; with folk sliding behind the wheel when they know they've had too much, letting it destroy their family lives, etc. I know all too much about that, and thus even my drinking is limited to the ocasional beer. My dad is/was an alcoholic, and therefore I must be very careful with the stuff.

If you need a chuckle, check out this story of my crazy cousins and friends as we all got caught in a scene with the cops at our college dormitory. It of course, involved Marijuana, but maybe not in the way you'd think.

And now I'm gonna slide this one in just under the wire, so that I can continue my new streak! Off to sleep and worry about sorting out this leasing stuff once and for all tomorrow morning. Keep me in your thoughts, please.

Writer's Block: Don't fear the reaper

Have you ever had a near-death experience? How close have you come to dying?

Many that I try to tell simply refuse to believe this story. Trust me though, it did happen! I don't know how, but it happened.

The wind was gusting and the rain came down in slants as I made my way away from the university's main campus and toward my dormitory. This was at a point when hearing loss was just starting to have an effect on my travel. That combined with a desire to get to my room quickly so that I could relieve my bladder caused me to step into the crosswalk before I should have.

Somehow, perhaps through a combination of the wetness, the slow speed of the vehicle and my forward momentum, I was sucked onto the side of the car and dragged a few feet down the curb. As I wrenched myself free, the driver stopped the car to ask about my condition. I think she was quite a bit more shaken up than I was. I was just stunned by the whole thing. It probably explains why I'm still wary of street crossings.
I've had other such experiences. Like the time I got off of the bus at my high school in yet another pouring rain, and somehow inexplicably found myself all alone for ten minutes. Given that it was rather cold and no one seemed to notice my absence, I'd all but given myself over to impending doom. Someone finally said "Hi John!" and I immediately bolted toward her voice. She didn't even acknowledge that anything unusual had happened, I suppose in an attempt to minimize my already very high embarrassment. And the worst part of that? The woman in the Disabilities office said "Ah yeah I was watching you out of the window, wondering what you were doing out there". Ah come on! You think I'm meditating? In that? Goodness!
Quick hands have snatched me out of the paths of barreling buses, canes have been snapped in their efforts to save me as well. Still I continue to remain unscathed, and of course I will always remain as independent as possible. Now where's my orange vest?

Twenty Years of The ADA

If you're reading this, I can probably assume that you know by now that today marks the 20-year Anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This document, while not perfect, has had a tremendous impact on persons from many disability backgrounds. There are the visible signs, such as those posted in Braille that allow me to make my way, somewhat clumsily but independently!, through a building to find a specific numbered classroom or office space. There are wheelchair ramps, which not only benefit their intended population, but also persons who may have more difficulty climbing stairs for other reasons. Closed captioning, described videos and the like have not only brought movies to life for folk who might not otherwise have been able to get into them, but they have also enhanced our educational opportunities: allowing us to take some of the focus off of trying to concentrate and actually bringing about greater comprehension of information.
Even though I'd probably already benefited from this document before, I hadn't become aware of its existence until 1998. I was taking a Small Group communications course at my undergraduate university, and the instructor divided us into segments to research different aspects of discrimination, particularly within small businesses. I was to gain an understanding of the types of discrimination encountered by persons with a disability, and to investigate the protections put in place for their recourse.

Interestingly enough, this project marked the first time I was able to largely conduct independent research. Before this, I would be assigned a research partner by the university's office of Disability Services at the beginning of each semester. This individual would read my articles on tape for me, so that I could more quickly access the information than the office could provide. At this point, though, they finally acquired a Kurzweil scanner, which was then hooked to a computer running Kurzweil 1000 software, an Object Character Recognition (OCR) package that allows the scanner to read typed text. I'd bet that with the proliferation of this technology, most of you have heard of it by now. And if you don't know who this Ray Kurzweil character is, well he's strange enough to warrant reading about, believe me.

So all I had to do was inform the reference librarian of my research topic, which of course any other student could do, and she would help me find relevant literature. Then I'd scan it all, load it onto a floppy diskette, (remember those?) pop it into a portable disk drive, and finally transfer it to my small Braille device called a Braille Lite.

By comparison to the way I now gather data, even that method seems quite cumbersome. Fortunately, most databases are now allowing for the downloading of electronic articles. This means I don't even have to use a librarian, although I do still sometimes because they can help me locate harder to find things. And, if it's an electronic article, it's available for viewing immediately either on my PC or via the Pac Mate.

While the role of the ADA in improving our educational opportunity cannot be overstated, it has also been important in enhancing transportation. I love that most of the buses in this system speak their destination and announce major stops. I certainly hope they are continuing to work to upgrade the entire system to this standard. We need the fixed-route bus system to be as usable by as large a portion of the population as possible. Because while paratransit systems, those designed specifically for use by persons with a disability, are good, they often lack real flexibility. Imagine having to plan any destinations up to two days in advance, and being penalized if you decide to late "well now I don't wanna go". That is generally how they work. Also if the regular buses are fully accessible, then it eases service for those who truly do require paratransit to get around.
Of course, a large responsibility for the improvements that we wish to see hangs on our shoulders. We must get out and advocate, learning to interact with those who plan services, and with the politicians who divvy up the funding that allows for their use. Recently, the North Carolina legislature was close to voting on whether to maintain certain healthcare services for persons with developmental disabilities. We were to send out what was mostly a form letter to representatives in the NC House, but there was also a section in which we could put personal experiences. I admitted that I don't know a whole lot about how these policies are decided and about where cuts could be made instead in order to preserve the same level of care for these people. However, I added, I know what it is like to lose needed services, and how much trouble that can create for those so effected. I am hoping to be a voice for those whose disabilities preclude their ability to self-advocate. Amazingly to me, one of the representatives actually responded, saying she intended to fight hard to ensure that services continued at the same level. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Currently, my greatest tool for advocacy is writing right here in this blog. And, as I've mentioned many times before, I serve on the board for the Norrie Disease Association, a burgeoning advocacy group for persons who have this condition as well as their families, friends, and those who can help us with our understanding through research of the components of this disorder. And if I can get this laptop up to speed, I will also volunteer for Bookshare as a proofer, reading through scanned volumes to correct any errors and bringing the book up to excellent quality.
So those are my many and varied thoughts on what this piece of history, the Americans with Disabilities Act, means. I think we should all pause and reflect on ways big and small that we can work together to make our schools, our neighborhoods, our world, a more inviting, accessible place for all. Thanks, and let's keep fighting!

Writer's Block: Facts of Life

What was your favorite childhood sit-com? Why do you think you loved it so dearly?

Ah. I have been listening to many of those sit-coms over the last few days through a site called MyTVLand.net, which provides audio feeds after one signs up. How they take me back.

As a child, I'd have to say that my favorites were Family Matters Full House, and Saved by the Bell. I had different, but legit, reasons for my enjoyment of each.

I liked Family Matters because it shone a spotlight on a little-discussed issue: what life was like as the strange kid. I'd cringe as poor Steve tried time and time again to attain affection from Laura, never quite knowing how to truly get it.

One of the most touching episodes they had about this was when Steve camped out on her roof for a couple days, to the point where he ended up getting so cold and sick that he needed to go to the hospital. She finally came and fed him little pieces of gell-o, expressing her amazement at how far he had gone to try and get her attention.

When it comes to women, I still feel that there is much that I don't understand. And while my antics aren't as nutty as Steve's were, the results are usually the same. I don't let it upset me anymore though, in fact I suppose I'll be just fine if I have to go this life without a romantic partner. Making sure that I cultivate my friendships and work on finding happiness within myself are more important.

Full House was actually a similar kind of show: there was a large, extended family who lived under one roof. However, whereas the folk on Family Matters lived in Chicago, Full House was based in San Francisco. It therefore focused on music, travel, and other popular Bay Area themes. On one show, for instance, Stephanie, the second youngest of three children, developed a significant amount of anxiety after an earthquake. This caused her to fear being out of her father's presence for long periods, resulting in school absences and a need for psychological intervention.

The episode that held the most meaning for me was, again, based on the strange kid phenomenon. DJ, the oldest child, was off to Jr. High. She'd come dressed the way her father wanted her to on that first day, and was thus ostracized from the rest of the "cool" crowd. She ate lunch enclosed in a phone booth with the talking clock as company. Even if I were fortunate enough to eat at a table with others, I would often still feel as if I were enclosed in a similarly isolated space.

Saved By The Bell was an altogether different show. Rather than focusing heavily on families, it looked at the kinds of friendships that can develop as adolescents head into the high school years. My favorite character on that show was Lisa, because hey she sounded attractive! I also liked Jessie, because she wasn't afraid to stand up for what she believed in, even if doing so made her very unpopular. Certainly more kids need to see a role model like that.

My favorite period of this show was when they spent a few weeks working in a beachside restaurant. I can't remember if they were still in Los Angeles or if they'd gone off to somewhere else, but there was also a woman named Stacy with them then. I liked that series of shows, because they showed how tight that bond could be and how difficult it might be to break when folk are forced to say good-bye.

These were of course only a small sampling of what I watched back in the good ol' days. Fresh Prince was my favorite series of all time, but I didn't really start watching that till I was 16 or so. I don't know why I was so late to that party.

And now I must re-enter my painful adult reality. I am finally investigating relocation to on-campus apartments, because I can no longer afford paying for this place. Well as is I've ever been able to afford it. Someone from housing got back to me, saying that all he needed was a go that I could stay and he could pretty much set up a place for me. So I'm trying, thus far without success, to get up with my counselor at Division of Services for the Blind. The housing person said I could move in before the Fall starts, but when I went to check on breaking my lease with the apartment manager, she said I'd have to pay two months regular rent, no more student fees as I get now, plus some other incidental charges in order to get out before it's up in September. If I choose to wait till the Fall, I'd only have to give a sixty day notice by the end of July, and then just pay normal rent for August and September. This may not be the last word though: I'm going to see what other things I can make happen. I'm getting a lot of help from the woman with whom I've been going to church: I have to say she's a very nice person, but I just wish I could hear her more easily. Please let these new aids help me. You see why I enjoyed reflecting on my favorite childhood TV shows?