Is this my life? This cannot be my life.

Coffee’s brewing in the kitchen. Robins sing outside my window. I have two essays and an oral exam, then I’m done with finals and moving on with summer classes. Hippie Boy, Boy Romeo, Blackbird, or however you’d like to think of him– he’s here, happy, and content. Moving forward every day.

I have questions. I have comments. But overall, I have myself.

I’ve spent more than a month wondering who I am and where I’m headed. That’s kind of the point of the blog– but this time I was wondering it almost silently. I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t ask any friends, or tell my therapist, or even write it down. I’ve been so distracted that I haven’t done anything. I’ve barely been cleaning my house, I’ve not been going anywhere, and I haven’t done much of anything. I’ve been thoroughly unproductive. And I’m okay with that.

Sometimes we need a reboot. I’ve recognized the problems and now I’m fixing them. My house is disgusting? Time to clean. My homework is unfinished? Time to buckle down and do it.

I’ve spent months procrastinating. Shoving everything off until some imaginary time called later. I’ve had no motivation. I’ve had no inspiration. I’ve let my house become a pig-sty. I’ve gained a few pounds. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and to hell with the consequences. I haven’t gone to martial arts. I’ve hardly done homework. I haven’t been meditating daily.

But I’ve been happy. Indescribably happy. I haven’t applied myself to EVERYTHING because I’ve been applying myself to SOMETHING.

I’ve been learning how to be content.

I’ve spent six years with the romantic co-conspirator having to fight an uphill battle every step of the way. Now that he’s here, now that we’re together again, everything is… quiet. And it’s beautiful. It’s perfect! But it’s strange.

I’ve spent a month wondering on a daily basis what was going to happen. When was the shoe gonig to drop? When was a new variable going to be introduced? When was everything, after so long and such a hard fight, when was everything going to fall apart?

For the first time, I feel that totally exposing myself– making myself as human and as vaulnerable as I can– is a good thing. I feel strong in my weakness. I’m digging down to the core of my being and building myself back up. When he comes home, puts down his bag, kisses me, and says simply, “I love you. And it feels good to feel good.” — I FEEL GOOD!

Is it too good to be true, though?

That’s been the question nagging me. Is it too good to be true? Am I going to screw it all up? Is he going to suddenly realize he’s not attracted to me; not in love with me; not wanting to be with me? After all this, am I finally going to lose him?

No. No, I’m not. He won’t. We’re fine. For the first time ever: we’re fine.

Writing it out and posting it on my blog will be the last time you’ll hear of those concerns. I can’t keep putting energy into something so unnecessarily hurtful. I’ve asked the questions and I have my answers. He loves me. We really have a shot at this. We’re two people with the same interests, the same goals, and the same understandings. We’ve already been through hell and we came out victorious. Now it’s time to enjoy that victory. To enjoy each other.

Today’s pronouncements:

I’m done with insecurities
I’m done with pointless questions
I’m done with stagnation
I’m moving forward
I’m alive
I’m happy
I’m content
I’m back.

“I appreciate you. And I know we’ve gone through a quieter phase here for a couple months, but you’re still an amazing friend. Not because I idolize you beyond belief (though that does tend to happen a majority of the time,) but because you give me an opinion when I am in a mind to hear it. Not many people do that in the way you are able to. Maybe you’re concern is that you have too much influence, but for all the other people I go to with problems and only receive static, directionless responses, it’s encouraging to leave a conversations with at least a better idea about where I’m headed. Of course, sometimes your input creates further paths to investigate, but who could call that a bad thing?

Anyway, I have a paper to write tonight, but seeing as we only had a short conversation on Saturday, and I haven’t had a huge sense of connection with you because you’ve gone offline with your blog, I just wanted to inject some positivity into your life, by trying to explain one of the many ways that you inject positivity into mine.”

This is what I woke up to this morning. It reminded me of two crucial facts:

1. I need to begin blogging again. My dormancy was a little nap away from things and now I’m ready to begin again. I am renewed.

2. My friends rock. Especially this one. He’s the kind of person who everyone would be honored to know.

Have a healthy day.

Draw a line on the floor of your mind. How do you shorten the line?

You don’t. You draw a second line. This one longer than the first.

I have a lot to learn from the concept of drawing another line. I’m a naturally aggressive, opinionated person. At least, that’s how aggressive and opinionated people say I am. Gentle, kind people say that I am gentle and kind. That gets me back to being hard with hard people and gentle with gentle people. Which gets me back to cutting lines. Putting the focus on everyone else rather than on myself.

I haven’t been focusing on me this week. I’ve lost myself in the commotion of everyday life. Being busy has my mind wandering. I’m excited for Hippie Boy to be here in a few weeks, I’m doing several projects for school and for work, and I’ve not been putting my energy into the things that make me who I want to be. I’ve been emphasizing what I don’t want rather than what I do. Let this be a reminder to me to curve that behavior now rather than later.

I don’t want to cut the line. I want to draw a second line. A longer line. I want to be better instead of making someone else worse.

Maybe a new tattoo is in order? Or a new necklace? Two parallel bars of different lengths. A symbol of my practice.

It’s currently 2:30 in the morning. I’m going to eat at 5, run at 6, eat again at 7, and meditate until noon. Then I’ll have Russian at 2, Writing at 3:30, Hippie Boy at 5:30, and martial arts from 7 – 9:30. Today will be a long day of longer lines.

Me

I had another epiphany this afternoon.

Years ago I was eyeball-deep in weapons, martial arts, and every other ego-driven practice a person could really be involved in. My friends and I would suit up with our best weapons and our nylon sheathes and holsters and we’d head into the biggest, baddest parts of town and go looking for trouble with the biggest, baddest thugs we could find. I was a 17 year old kid with a chip on my shoulder and excellent knife skills. I thought I was hot shit. I was also impressively unwell.

I’ll skip the heart-warming coming-to-my-senses bit and point out that I ended up putting down the weapons and putting my energy into self-betterment. I didn’t like who I was. I loved the power-rush, but I hated the egoism. I’ve barely touched a weapon in almost three years.

I’m on the verge of getting back into martial arts full-time and maybe picking up a few odds and ends. This time it isn’t for my ego. This time it’s because the complete self-control that it takes to really respect your weapon is something I’d like to give back to myself. Training in hand-to-hand and/or with a high-quality weapon takes time, devotion, and care. You have to treat it like a part of who you are. You have to know that weapon inside and out, and you have to connect with it as naturally as you’re connected to your own flesh.

Weapons ground me. It’s that simple. As do martial arts and my other less-friendly skills. They help me live up to my own expectations of discipline and honor. Two very buddhist beliefs.

So where does the potential for violence fit into Buddhism? Maybe it doesn’t. I’ve wrestled with that question for months. I’ve realistically wrestled with that question for years, although I didn’t have the word ‘Buddhism’ to use as my leverage. I only knew that violence and peace were two seemingly oppositional concepts.

I’m coming to terms with two things. 1) There are times when peace can only be upheld by unrest; and 2) if the potential for violence keeps me peaceful, then the good outweighs the bad.

Violence is a problem when it’s used for egoism and powerplays. But there’s a form of violence which is calm, controlled, and kind. When you’re stopping something horrible from happening by doing something unpleasant. In an extreme case, maybe you’re saving multiple lives by taking one.

I’m coming to terms with being a martial artist and wanting to reclaim my skills. Now that my intentions have changed, the acts themselves should change, too. It’ll no longer be something of anger and fear. Now it’ll be about peace and contentment. Training to give, not training to take.

That makes me feel whole. And I didn’t know how not-whole I’d been feeling until just now. There was that one tiny grain of sand not quite fitting into place.

Now it fits.

Thank you.

My braille goal has been 10 pages a day. I’ve surrounded myself with it. Braille books, braille magazines, braille writing, braille assignments, and a braille computer. Hippie Boy even helped me out by spending three hours reading me a braille cookbook and comparing notes on braille form and reading techniques. My friends in the blindness world are sending me articles every day on reading, writing, specialty coins, novelty items, games for my students, and even braille politics (Braille has politics? Who knew?) And next week I’m investing in a braille watch.

I’m far surpassing my goal and reading a minimum of 25 pages a day rather than my anticipated 10– and I thought 10 was lofty. This takes me HOURS. I know the code, but my speed is low enough that reading 25 pages takes me around 4 hours. Maybe a little less. I will say this: The pros know what they’re talking about. Take it from experienced blind braille readers on how to enter into their ranks. In the words of every great braille reader out there, “Practice, practice, practice!”

Braille is fun. I never thought I’d say those words. I love it! I get so wrapped into what I’m reading that it’s like I can’t stress about anything. It’s a meditative and calming time for me. Every page turned is another feather in my cap for personal accomplishment. It makes me feel good. It makes my students feel good to have a blind teacher reading braille right alongside them. And it makes the world a better place to have more people learning more things that only help and never hurt.

My braille goal is to read 25 pages a day, which translates to about 2 volumes, or a 5th of a Harry Potter book every week. (Note: Braille comes in volumes of about 100 braille pages and there are several volumes to a book. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, for instance, is 10 volumes and about 1,000 braille pages.)

Teachers will often tell you that braille is too big, rare, and difficult to be worth teaching. Most of them simply won’t and don’t know how to teach it. Consequently, a maximum of 10% of blind people in America learn braille. Imagine if only 10% of sighted people learned print! How would you do ANYTHING???

Answer: You’d ask someone who could. You’d have things read to you. You’d always look for the easy way out rather than put the time, effort, and energy into learning to read. And learning to read is hard! That’s why we start with children and don’t wait until they’re adults.

But if you do find an adult who can’t read– and almost no blind adults can– then what should you do? You should teach them! You shouldn’t just tell them to sit there and be a passive participant in their own lives!

I’d never fully appreciated the braille crisis until now. I’ve always thought, “Oh, well. I don’t need braille. I can just have my computer read to me.” — And sure, it worked. Sometimes. But a sighted person still needed to scan my materials to get them onto my computer. And a sighted person still had to read anything my computer couldn’t. And if a teacher didn’t have an electronic copy of an assignment, I was stuck being read to by some slow-reading, typically uneducated stranger who was getting in their volunteer hours for a community service project. In short, I was screwed.

I’m learning to love braille. No matter what anyone else says, literacy is absolutely fundamental to a student’s success. If you have a blind relative or if you yourself are blind– LEARN BRAILLE!!! You might hate it now, but you’ll thank yourself later. Putting in the man-hours will actually save your academic and professional careers.

Note: I guarantee that you’ll start out by saying that you don’t have the tactile acuity to learn braille. You’re too old, or too numb, or too average to learn it. You’ll think it requires having some special talent or belonging to some certain demographic. You’ll basically give up before you even try. And to that I say, BULLSHIT!

Who the hell are you to stop before you even give yourself a chance? Quit quitting and give up on giving up. You’re too busy to be lazy.

I issue everyone reading this a personal challenge: If you think you can’t, do. If you think you can, try.

Braille? We got this.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but that’s because I’m busy making unprecedentedly AWESOME changes in my life. That’s right. I’m still on the changes kick. Get used to it.

I’ve found a form of running that I don’t hate. I just throw on some good music and do my thing. I’ve never gone running with music before. Since I always have a guide, I’m always in the middle of a conversation.

I haven’t only been running. I’ve also been working with the university rec center to make all of their machines accessible, give them insensitivity training, and change the layout a bit so that it’s more blind-friendly. Not too blind-friendly, but ADA Accessible blind-friendly.

This is why I call it insensitivity training. My number one rule for blindness is to never treat someone like they’re blind. The moment you start seeing me as someone who can’t see you start making assumptions about what I can and can’t do. It might be well-intentioned, but it’s arrogant and wrong.

Plus I’ve been writing two books for school. One on myself and one on Hippie Boy. And no, I’m not giving out more information than that. All I’ll say is that he and I are closer than ever, ant I’m infinitely grateful to him for helping me with my homework.

We almost have an apartment picked out for the end of summer. We’re also working with the golden Retriever Club of America to find a local breeder and begin searching for our first dog. We’re leaning towards getting a puppy, but we’re not closed to the idea of adoption. I’ll be updating everyone as the saga unfolds.

The best news is that… drum roll please? … Hippie Boy will be here in just over a month! We’ve had our meetings with every form of legal council we could think of and everyone agrees– once he’s here, he’s here. Nobody can really do anything about it. We’ve jumped through the necessary hoops and we’ve talked to all the right people. In five weeks there’s a 95% safety rate, in 5 months there’s a 98% safety rate, and the end of summer will mark a 100%, out-of-the-woods, free-and-clear, OH-MY-GOD-WE-DID-IT!!!!!!!!!!!! safety rate.

Excited? You bet your ass we’re excited. this is five years of fighting tooth and nail to get what most people feel is theirs by nature. The right to be together. Nothing more or less than that. Just a quiet, simple togetherness.

Oh? And you know what makes it even better? Librarians. Librarians make everything better.

I talked with the Library of Congress and they’re going to start sending me braille books and magazines for free. You know why? Cause they’re good people, that’s why. The manufacturer of my braille note-taker (braille computer) is being sent in tomorrow, too, so then I’ll get it back all brand spanking new in March.

So. Much. Good. News.

Have a healthy day!

I have twelve pounds to go until I’m officially the thinnest I’ve been since elementary school. My previous lowest weight was 126lbs. Now I’m going to reach 125 in just 8 short weeks.

To celebrate, I made deliciously awful macaroni and cheese. It was whole-grain macaroni, but I’m sure the three types of cheese more than made up for it.

It was an excellent learning opportunity. I found out that if you turn my stove’s burners up all the way, the fire disengages while the gas pumps out at full force. Meaning that circling back around to reignite the flame also causes a small explosion. (Thank God I’m leaving this apartment in six months.)

The thought of Hippie Boy moving in with me has me exploring my skills. Being a vegetarian and mostly a raw vegan, I hardly ever use my stove. I might know how to cook ten things. (MIGHT.) Thus far I’ve been relying on raw fruits and vegetables, cereals, yogurt, and other cold foods. I don’t like cooking for only one person. In high school my friends and I would get together and have baked goods parties. One friend would make soup, another might make salad, and the rest of us would sit down with recipe books and a hundred dollars worth of baking supplies and make anything we felt like. We figured that if other kids were doing drugs, getting drunk, and sexting one another, we may as well be doing something productive on their behalf. The point is, I can bake. But I can’t cook.

Actually, I can. My familial genes have blessed me with a sixth sense about how much of what to intuitively throw into a dish to make it taste like magic. I can spend two hours making a pizza from scratch that only takes twenty minutes to bake. When I do cook, I pour myself into it and end up serving half a dozen people. But with only me around, I never do. There’s no point in learning how to do something and spending hours tweaking it just to sit down and eat it by myself.

Hippie Boy and I came up with a solution. Instead of going out to eat, let’s make the meals ourselves. Then we’ll have complete control of our food while also learning something new. Not to mention that it’s one heck of a way to spend time together.

His moving date was changed. Now he won’t be here for another 7 weeks. But I’m actually okay with that. It means that I get an additional two months to expand my skill set, and we can spend those two months relaxing together rather than being wrapped up in this rat race that it’s been for six months. the lawyers have spoken. the advocates are on our side. Now all we have to do is wait. And for once, waiting doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

So have fun, feed well, and learn something new.

And, as always, let’s do this.

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