Monday, September 30, 2019

A day in the life, chapter 3

Leaning back in my chair, I start the preparations for a productive workday. Disconnecting my trusty headphones from my phone with a few practiced taps and flicks on the touch screen, I wince as the mechanical voice of the phone blasts through the office.
"Whoops..."  I mutter, rapidly clicking down the volume. Tapping keys with my right hand, reading the braille output with my left, I locate the option on my laptop to connect my headphones to it instead. A familiar beep, followed by the rapid-fire chatter of my screen reader starts coming through the headphones.
Nodding slightly to myself I invoke what I call my magic trick. Blurring through several keystrokes that are almost second nature, I quickly connect my screen reader up to a copy running at the computer at home. A chirp in my headphones signifies that I can now send keys to that machine, and hear it's screen reader output on my headphones at work.
Instant ability to do whatever I want that has nothing to do with work ...at work! Without anything showing on the display of my work machine. Sometimes it is good to be blind.
Rapidly tapping more keys I locate my Spotify instance and start a playlist, making sure to drop the volume below that of my screen reader to still be able to see what I am doing. Turning on the noise-canceling feature again, my office turns into a cubicle where nobody interrupts or disturbs me, the murmur of voices and click-clacking of programmers at work fading into an almost inaudible murmur at the edge of my awareness.
"KNOCK KNOCK!"
The vibrations through the desktop greet my arms leaning on it's edge more than the sound registers as someone knocks firmly on the desk to get my attention.

When I first started working here, I was put in a room with some of the higher-ups and had to basically explain that I really am a human being like them and that I won't call down the wrath of Thor and Odin if a colleague addresses me in the wrong way or forgets to take my blindness into account. It's always a bit of a riddle how much of a thing companies I work at will make of this, but this happens to be one where it's a major thing.
Questions like " Do we need to say our name every time we address you?", please don't, and "How can we get your attention when you are wearing your headphones?"  were covered. I always need to keep my inner snark at bay for tedious as they can be, they are legitimate questions. We decided that tapping on the desk would work well as an answer to the second question.

'Well ...so much for nobody disturbing me ...' my ever-present inner monologue comments wryly as I plaster on a proper full-toothed smile and take my headphones off halfway. "Yes?"

"Hi! It's Joanne here!" Joanne's unmistakable voice comes to my left. " I am on your left!"
'You don't say ...'  I inwardly snark but dutifully look to my left. "Hi! What can I do for you?"
Beside me, Ruff, the guide dog, snorts as if he is laughing at the silly human and I absent-mindedly scratch him behind the ear as I listen to my colleague, the soft fuzz of his soft fur tickling my fingertips.
"We have a new colleague starting today and George was wondering if you can explain to him how you do your work? You will likely have to collaborate with him in the future and he thought it'd be a good idea to get it out of the way so you won't be bothered with questions all the time" Joanne explains.
"OH ...sure! That makes sense. I'm a little swamped this morning though, is after lunch alright?" I respond, meanwhile opening various programs, my hand on the braille display moving from left to right rapidly to keep up with the output, using my other hand to input various keystrokes, the tactile markings on the F and J-keys acting as landmarks as I touch-type.
"That should be ok, yes! I will let George know you're on board!"
I can't help but shrug. "Sure. I'm assuming he will make sure we have room to do this in?"
George is the CEO of this company and he is incredibly stoked to have a blind person working for him. I am very much in two minds about that, but circumstances being as they were I couldn't make too much noise about it at the time. It just means that now, I need to walk the fine line between educating people and becoming inspiration porn, a game I know all too well by now.
"Yeah, leave that up to him and me. Thanks again, good luck!"  Joanne says, the subtle change in the sound of her voice indicating to me she's in the process of turning away from me.
"Sure!"  I say again, turning back to my desk again as well. Replacing my headphones, I regain my oasis of quiet and music as I arrow through the emails waiting for me.
Tapping a key, I redirect my keyboard to the computer at home again. Opening a browser window, I key on a website that has become rather familiar to me over the last few weeks. It's time to check the board.
Filling in the login details, I assume the identity of BlindLeap as I scroll through the new topics, opening a few new ones in separate tabs to have a look at later.
Switching to the first new tab, I tap a key to jump to the quick reply edit field, then tapping another key to jump up a few headings.
Web browsing as a blind person is an experience in itself. All visuals being stripped away from a website can have any number of consequences, from things becoming unclear to things becoming utterly unusable.
Finding the information you need is almost a treasure hunt at times, using parts of the page as landmarks the way you would in a city you know well. Turn left at Uncle Joe's Vinyard, up the hill next to the playground, X marks the spot.
Reading through the new posts, I decided to add my two cents and jump back down to the quick reply field to put down some thoughts of my own.
"KNOCK KNOCK!"
Somewhat irritably, I take off my headphones again. "Yes?" I ask, making sure to sound friendly at least, unsure about the expression on my face.
"Your coffee is on the right of your keyboard,"  Steve says, putting it down on my desk, the thump of the cup hitting wood telling me exactly where. My right hand subconsciously confirming the spot anyway, carefully gliding across the wood to not knock the cup over until my fingertips encounter the hot China of the cup.
"Thanks a lot,"  I say, genuinely grateful as I look in the voice's general direction. " No problem. Hey, could you have a look at my PR? I'm a little stuck, I think my logic isn't quite working out the way I expect, but I can't seem to see the problem. Could use a pair of fresh eyes to take a look, do you have time?"
Did I already mention I like Steve? He is one of those people that just get it.  Both the fact that I'm a human who's blind rather than the other way around and the fact that programmers have a rather particular way of working are familiar to him, which makes him very refreshing to interact with.
" Yeah ...take a seat?" I say, indicating the spot to my left with a vague hand gesture as I bring up what he's been working on.
" Oh ...I will open your screen up a bit and increase the brightness, alright?"  he says, doing so at a nod from me as I leaf through his code.
I always forget to do that for people, my laptop's screen tends to be mostly closed as I don't use it anyway.
As Steve explains what he was trying to do, my screen reader rattles off lines of code in my other ear. "if lacket user isNot loggedIn racket lace return blip race"
I turn off the speech, preferring to work with braille at this point. With a key, I position the mouse on the offending line.
"I think you may have missed a thing here, this doesn't match up with what you're telling me,"  I tell him, the passive soundscape around me changing very slightly as he leans forward.
Even without echolocating, sounds around me ping-pong and bounce off everything around me. Almost like a passive sonar, this allows me to walk along walls using the sound of my footsteps and even just the subtle rustle of wind blowing past to know where the wall in question is at any given point.
"Ugh ... yeah, that logic is the wrong way around. Thanks, I will play with it some more"  he says, getting up off his chair. "Good luck ..." I respond, closing the page, dimming my screen and lowering it back down to where it was as I can hear him making his way back to his desk.
I switch back to my home machine and start typing the post I was going to type. "I mean my nickname on here is a silly pun on blindness..."
Over the next few hours, I alternate between working and browsing social media on my home machine, left in peace until a call from the cafeteria area pierces the veil of silence around me. "LUNCH!"

Oh no! Still no answer about the Dutch lunch habits! And what happened to the mysterious partner, where'd she go?
I mean ...I have to keep you guys coming back for more somehow, don't I? Enjoy ;)

New Chapter - What It Was

Hi friends of "What It Was", 💚♿💚
how is everyone doing?
Phew, I had a bit a rough week, I have been crazy busy at work but also kind of sick.
I did my best to make time to look over this chapter last week.

I have to say, I struggled this week for some reason. I had to correct lots of grammar or sentence structures and every time I read over the chapter I found something else. I seemingly read over it like a hundred times and tonight I worked on it once again to get it ready for you. I really hope it came out right.

Thank you for the feedback I got last week, I did reply to it. I appreciated it so much, I loved reading it. Yes Jordan and Shay are all but "normal" and their relationship is not conventional but I hope to make it happen for them and also for my readers.

They are in the very beginning of their relationship, a long road lies ahead and it will get rough. Someone had commented that addiction can't be "cured" miraculously...it definitely can not and it's very difficult and painful for everyone involved.
Hopefully you won't tire to follow along. I feel like my stories are sometimes very long and move slow but I want to try to capture as much of the characters as possible and how I imagine them in conversation and exchange. I hope to keep it interesting for you.

Anyways, thank you to all my readers and for all your comments. I love to read how you feel about the story. And if it actually makes you feel things, that's the best compliment an author can get.

Here is Chapter 12 of "What It Was".
Enjoy and have a wonderful week,

Hugs, Dani   🍂🎃🍂🎃

Sunday, September 29, 2019

A day in the life, chapter 4

"LUNCH!"

I can't help but chuckle at the intrusion to my quiet as I flip the headphones off my head and touch a few keys to lock my machine. "Seems we have lunch" Steve comments wryly to my right.
I chuckle at his deadpan attitude. " It ...does seem that way, doesn't it?"  I shrug, stuffing my phone into my pocket as I push my chair back. I feel a slight bump and the wheel catches.
" Again?"  I mutter to myself as I get up off the chair, a hand touching the back of it to keep myself oriented as I walk around the chair and reach down to grab a hold of Ruff's leash.
Tracing its length with my fingers, I soon find the wheel that has gotten stuck in the leather. Ruff gets up off his pillow, shakes himself and settles in to watch me free him from the desk chair, an almost daily occurrence for us by now.
" Need a hand with that?" I hear a passing colleague behind me ask.
I don't know who he is, his voice is unfamiliar to me. This means I haven't interacted with him enough to make his voice tell me who he is. Especially with voices that sound alike, This can take a little while with me sometimes.
" Nah, I got it ..."  I respond as I lift the wheel over the leash, pulling it free and flinging it around a bit to amuse Ruff, who jumps around a bit and shakes his head as if to ward off a pesky fly.
Putting his harness along my arm, the opening free, I lower my arm until Ruff obediently sticks his head through the leather and I do up the buckle. " Good boy ..."  I say as I run the leash through the final strap. He takes a position to my left without me prompting him, something I give him a treat for.
I direct him towards the noise of the lunch table and settle down in a chair as the rest of the company trickles into the room, sitting down around me and passing the bread, sandwich toppings and cutlery around.
I take off Ruff's harness and direct him to lie down next to my chair as I run my hands across the table in front of me. Plate, knife, cup, everything's there. Good.
" What would you like?"  a colleague asks from the opposite end of the table. I think for a moment.
" Can you hand me the bread and the peanut butter?" I respond, not sure if they are even present on the table currently. This is always  a bit of guesswork for me as ingredients fly around the lunch area faster than boxes in an Amazon Delivery facility during the best of times.
Apparently, they are. I am handed a bag of bread and the peanut butter jar rather quickly, my fingertips encountering the smooth ceramic of the jar as I move it towards the noise of its shifting position on the table.
" I don't mind putting it on there if you need it?"  John Doe offers. I bristle at that briefly, then take a beat. it is a reasonable offer, and another day I might have even taken him up on it, but today I'm just not in the headspace for his helping hand.

Offers like that are very double-edged for me. They make things a lot easier, but they also confront me rather strongly with my disability, one I don't experience as such but is still at least an impairment in some situations.
This is definitely one of them; someone who can see will likely always be able to perform this particular task quicker and more seamless than I ever will. At times, I am fine with that admission. Today, I just want to do it myself, dammit.

"I got it ..."  I answer,  my focus already at the task of tuning out all distractions so I can focus. I will also have to move the knowledge I am very likely being stared at to the back of my mind as I take my knife and use it to scoop up some of the sugary spread and carry it over to my slice of bread.
 Taking care to keep a handle on my reflex to check my work with my right hand and getting it dirty, I do my best to run my knife across the bread in even strokes the way it usually works for me.
Repeating this once more, my other hand only keeping the bread steady, I estimate where the uncovered spots are and give it another pass, hopefully filling in the remaining bread. At home, I would run a finger across the bread but knowing what kind of a show I am already putting on, I refrain from doing that this time.
Cleaning my knife at the edge of the jar, I screw the jar shut and push it forward somewhat, indicating someone at the table can have it as I put two slices of bread on top of each other, getting some peanut butter on my finger as I do.
Sighing, I clean my finger off and dig into my rather paultry lunch. I don't like doing that in full view, but I like accepting help and admitting to my inadequacies even less on days like this. It comes with the job description to be a zoo animal worth watching at times, I suppose.
Making small-talk with my tablemates I eat my sandwich, discovering that to my delight I didn't do a half-bad job at covering all the bread. I count that as a small victory as I laugh at a story a colleague is telling everyone who wants to hear it.
My phone buzzes as I finish my sandwich. Wiping off my hands, I pull it out of my pocket and unlock the screen, the phone's tiny speaker near my ear as I listen to what it wants.
" Skype, now, Message from Lara,"  the mechanical voice says, followed by a rather detailed description of a sexual act involving her, me and various implements to do with such things. The explicit message make me blush and makes my pants feel a bit tighter. It is good that my phone's speech is set to a rather high rate, making this kind of clandestine yet rather blatant sexting at work possible.

Sexting is an interesting thing as a blind person. Obviously, the nudes don't really factor into it, so vivid descriptions of scenes, textual roleplay or spicy audio clips tend to be the way to go for most couples that have at least one blind person in it.
Being an audio engineer by hobby myself, I can craft rather exquisite audio experiences where that is concerned as well, be it recorded or on a real-time call, making phone sex a whole lot more dynamic and interesting.
For long-term relationships, imagination and creative solutions like this have made sexy times at least somewhat possible, filling the void of not having the real thing during the times apart.

Smiling to myself at the sheer audacity of responding to this at the lunch table of all things, I flip my phone into landscape mode and rest it on my pinkies, my thumbs holding onto the top of the phone as my remaining fingers find their position on either end of the phone to input braille characters.
" How do you do a slash character again ...hmm .." I think to myself as I fumble it a few times before getting it right, typing out a response just as vivid while my colleagues are completely in the dark about what I'm doing.
 'Isn't that some sweet irony to go with the peanut butter sandwich?'  my inner monologue comments dryly as I send the message off and put my phone away, confined to the lunch table until my rather visible reaction dies down a bit.
" Could someone hand me the cheese?"  I ask, opting for a safer sandwich alternative to round my lunch off with.
Folding two slices of cheese between two pieces of bread I eat my second and last sandwich of the day when someone walks up to me.
" You need to announce you're there..."  a colleague helpfully calls out from down the table. I turn towards the new person, suspecting he was reaching out his hand and got ignored for his trouble.'
"Hi ...I am Luke. I am your new colleague, Joanne said we had a meeting to discuss the way you work?"  he offers, shaking the hand I helpfully stretch out in his general direction to diffuse the awkward situation.
" She mentioned that, yes ...do you know where we are doing that yet?"  I respond as he sits down at our table.
" Yeah, the balcony is free so we figured that was as good a place as any"  he responds, messing about with some plastic-wrapped bread topping I can't readily identify as he makes himself a sandwich.
" Hmm ...it'll just be a theoretical thing then. I can't take all my equipment over there" I tell him, finishing my sandwich and getting ready to go back to my desk. Ruff jumps up next to me, always being able to sense when I am about to leave the table somehow.
"I heard something about a practical demo later this week?"  he responds, getting up as well. Ruff moves in next to me as I harness him again.
" Right, that is this Thursday"  I confirm, following him back to our team's table. " You'll get all the fancy-schmancy party tricks then"
We both chuckle as we sit back down at our workstations. What he doesn't know is that I wasn't exactly kidding ...not entirely in any case. At times, it really can seem like entertaining the masses.
I unlock my machine, do some work and check my messages on Facebook. One of them makes me blink, then get into problem-solving mode. Something isn't right...

Just what did Lara send? What did I send back? Also, is Lara the mysterious partner from this morning? Who knows ...I might just include some more explicit stuff at some point. ;)
And just what happened on Facebook? That sure doesn't look good ...
Keep reading, you might just find out. In this situation, only I can see the future ;)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

A day in the life, chapter 5

I re-read the message I just received and can't shake the feeling something's wrong.
Having spent a significant amount of time text-chatting with people in my life, I've picked up a bit of a knack for figuring out how someone is doing or feeling based on what text responses I get, or at times, which ones I don't get. These hunches rarely lead me wrong, so ask if everything's alright.
I am soon proven right when a slew of text messages tell me a story of a date gone wrong, a terrible weekend and a big heap of very mixed feelings. We talk about all this while I occasionally flick back to my work machine and get the admittedly little work I am planned for today done.
When both my work as well as the conversation with my friend near their conclusion I am interrupted by the now-familiar noise.
"Knock knock?"

The sound of the knocks seems almost hesitant, someone who hasn't used this form of address before. I don't require being approached like this, but I seem to be unable to convince people of the fact that just tapping me on the shoulder isn't going to make me grow three heads and snarl at them, so I go with it.

"Hello Luke, what's up?"  I say, taking off my headphones. "Wait ...how did you know it was me?"  he responds, confusion practically oozing from his voice.
I chuckle inwardly as I turn my head to face him ...sort of. "Well ... looking at the clock, I see our meeting is coming up"  I respond without missing a beat.
I decided that the wimpy knock-knock and the rather flowery detergent he uses tipping me off is probably something I shouldn't comment on right now.
"Oh right, of course..." he says in that slight self-incriminating tone I've come to hear so often already. "Need me to tell you how to get to the balcony?"
I get up from my chair, locking my machine with a quick keystroke and a finger across my braille display to confirm.
Ruff gets up next to me, shaking himself and causing another miniature snowstorm as he stretches before joining me on my left. "Nah, it is close and I've walked those 30 feet many times"  I respond as I follow him towards the balcony doors.
We go outside the soft rustle of the wind through the obnoxiously big plant right next to the doors helping me to avoid giving it a hug as I find a place to sit.
An awkward pause follows as we both look for the right words to say.
"Right ..."  I say, making the first move to break the stalemate. "So ...I am supposed to tell you about how I work. Do you have specific questions?"
I always feel I have to somehow make the fact people can ask me questions explicitly known before they do. Given how easy it is to offend someone these days, I suppose I can't blame anyone for that one.
True to form, the questions start up soon after and I answer them as best I can. I explain that I use a screen reader, which is a software package that reads textual content on the screen. I explain that it can generally only focus on one thing at a time, like one button or one line of text, and that the braille display shows that same line in braille characters as I move around the various programs I use.
I explain that CSS, the technology that makes websites look the way they do, almost completely falls away when I browse websites. I confirm that yes, images without a textual description might as well be on Mars where being useful for me is concerned.
I tell him I don't use a mouse, but that the buttons on my braille display can be used to "click"  anywhere along the line I'm currently on. I explain I generally use hotkeys for a lot of tasks and teach him that windows+; brings up the Windows 10 emoji panel, something a lot of people don't seem to know about.
We continue in that vein for a while longer until his questions run out and we make our way back inside.
Quickly checking my phone, I hear a reminder I left myself to look into a mysterious bill I received in the post the other day.
Generally, I tend to ignore paper mail for the most part. It can be read using apps and assistive devices, but given those methods are prone to reading errors I'd rather not depend on those for reading a paper that says I need to pay a certain amount of money.
Most companies and facilities over here will handle such things digitally, which makes it all the more frustrating when I have to deal with the few rather big institutions that don't. Figuring I can hit two birds with one stone, I announce I will be back in 15 minutes while I go for a quick walk with Ruff.
I direct Ruff in the right direction and let him walk towards the door of the office. "No..." I admonish gently as I hear an opening to my right and feel his intention to turn right and walk into one of the focus rooms we pass on our way.
We walk towards, and finally out of, the door of the office, back down the stairs and through the front door. I tell Ruff to go right and find the nearest "pole", which in this case is a ticking traffic light.
Pressing the button, I wait for the audible signal to change before crossing the road. The relatively open soundscape of the city square soon makes way to that of a large park, the bright echo of stone being replaced by the muted reflection of the grass-covered ground and the occasional tree or bit of shrubbery. Ruff speeds up, knowing what comes next.
We walk to the middle of the park, while I look up a number on my phone and dial it. After navigating the frustrating menu tree, I am being put on hold as I take off Ruff's harness and have him sit down in front of me.
I pull out a bell from my back pocket and hook it to his collar, before unhooking it from his collar. "Go play,"  I tell him happily as I give him a very gentle push letting him know it's alright.
As he canters off, probably on the hunt fora stick of some variety, I hear the other end of the line pick up. "Hello?"
"Hi ...yeah ... I am not in a great mood right now. I received this bill from you guys, one a visitor had to tell me about. I have no idea what for"

Some frantic typing later I am being told I received too much disability allowance that needs to be paid back.
"So ...can you tell me why I received disability allowance?" I ask sweetly, as I listen for Ruff's bell ringing a good fifty feet in front of me.
"Because of your disability sir, it says here you are fully blind" comes the response.
"Ok ...and can you tell me what blind people tend to have a bit of trouble with where letters or snail mail is concerned?"  I ask, voice dripping with innocent curiosity.
"I would say anything snail mail is a bit of an obstacle sir" she responds, hesitance creeping into the words. I can't help but grin.
"You would be right. So ...I would like to speak to the person who figured it was a good idea to ask for a blind person's disability allowance back in writing, please"  I respond, done playing.
I hear some mutterings about this not being standard procedure and that this is an exception before I get transferred, only to have to explain the entire situation again.
"Oh ...well ..hmm ...don't you have someone who reads your post for you?"  a somewhat older-sounding voice asks me. "Uhm ...no ...no I don't, do you?"  I respond.
"Well ..no ...but ...we can't send these things digitally"
"No no no ...look ... I think you are slightly misusing that verb. I can't read, I don't have the ability to read, that is why I am a disabled person. You have the ability to send these letters digitally, you just don't because protocol prevents you. Kindly fix that" I say, shrugging my shoulders helplessly at the sheer futility of this entire conversation.
I get a non-committal response about taking it under advisement and tune the rep out, mentally done with the conversation.
"Yeah ..well we both know that isn't going to change anything, but thanks for the effort. Care to tell me the details I need to know to pay this back? Knowing how much needs to be paid would be a good start ..."
I note down the numbers she rattles off on my phone as I orient myself using my tongue clicks, carefully walking in Ruff's general direction to retrieve him.
"Have I satisfactorily helped you?" I hear as I end the conversation. I shrug again. "Sure ...for the record, my apologies for the snark. I have a bone to pick with the place you work for, not you specifically. Good day"
As I end the call, I call out for Ruff who comes galloping towards me and runs straight past me. Shaking himself behind me he comes back, slower this time. " Silly dog ..."  I chuckle as I put his leash and harness back on him and direct him back to the office.
Getting back to my desk, I resume my work and check the board again. I see a response to a topic I myself started. A story ...hmm ...I wonder if I'd be any good at writing a story for PD ...


I wonder indeed :-) THat's it for this week. What will happen next week? Stay with me as we slowly creep towards the end of the workday. Travels, cookings and hobby fulfillment coming up, and who knows what else? ;)

No update to Not Gay

Sorry, guys! Based on my current editing/writing progress and the prospect of near to no internet access the rest of the week, I can already schedule this post now (i.e., a few days ago) to say there won't be any new chapter of Not Gay today. Check in again next week!

Lovis

Friday, September 27, 2019

a day in the life, chapter 6

I continue my work in that vein for a few more hours. The fact I have so little on my plate allows me to continue my various extracurricular pursuits while still getting my work done. These are the best days at work.
Fielding questions from strangers appears to be part of those activities today. The work I do, programming as a blind person, is relatively unique and therefore when people want to know more about this, there's only a handful of people to turn to.
This has led me to some rather interesting encounters over the years already and given the fact I enjoy teaching and explaining things, I would call this one of the good things of my position in general. Being able to empower or enlighten someone who truly wants to learn can make my day and at times, I can do both, which is even better.
In this case, it's another blind person and by their questions, I can tell they haven't done the slightest bit of research by themselves yet. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but I answer their questions and tell them to look up a handful of things to get more information. They appear to be willing to put in the work, let's see where that goes.
As the end of the workday is coming up, I open the time-tracking application this company uses and struggle with it for a while. Weaving around the various accessibility issues, I dutifully log my hours like a good employee and shut down my machine. It's time to go home.
Reaching out my foot under the desk, I locate Ruff's harness and make a bit of a game of trying to lever it up to my hand without having to crawl under the desk for it. Finally succeeding, I roll the chair back, making sure not to roll over Ruff's leash this time as I get up and harness him.
I toss an "Enjoy your evening"  over my shoulder as I direct Ruff in the right direction. Listening carefully for the large objects in the room I make sure he goes the right way.
The steady reverberance of nearby walls, the slightly different sound of nearby doors and glass panes and the ceiling changing in height direct me onwards as I use my footsteps and the occasional click to look around. Ruff snorts happily as he works, the slight changes in his harness telling me he occasionally looks back at me rather than in front of him, something he tends to do when he's feeling playful.
"Pay attention"  I chide him gently, scratching him behind the ears as he looks ahead rather than back at me all the time. "Door?"  I ask him as we're nearing the outside door.
He pulls me slightly to the left and halts. "Door?"  I ask him again, reaching out my hand. He nudges my hand to the doorknob, shoving his front paws against it for good measure. I chuckle and give him a treat for his trouble.
We exit the office, the stone hallway echoing more and more the closer we get to the staircase down. Ruff neatly puts me next to the handrail as we walk down the steps and out the door, into the brisk outside air.
To my right, I hear the rattle of the green traffic light as I walk down the front steps onto the pavement. Putting it at my back, we head on back to the bus stop, which is a multi-platform affair with busses coming in and going out at various platforms along a stretch of road.
Walking along the pavement, the sounds of restaurants opening for the evening and the smells of food being prepared greet my senses. To my right, busses arrive and depart from the nearby bus station, temporarily blotting out the subtle noises I need to orient myself. I trust Ruff's senses as we continue on and finally halt and turn right.
I wait for the latest bus to stop polluting my remaining senses before directing Ruff to cross the road as no other cars are incoming. Walking along my usual route, I feel for, and finally locate, the bumped tactile pavement that indicates a safe pedestrian crossing.
Crossing once again, I trust Ruff again as I have no fool-proof way to check what bus platform I am on apart from asking a bystander or checking the incoming busses for a few minutes. Ruff turns us to the right onto a platform I quicklyfind isn't the right one, though.
"Hey ...turn back,"  I tell him sternly. The final platform on this particular bus stop has a huge amount of tactile pavement for no reason I've ever been able to determine, but it's a good indicator we need to turn back and take the penultimate platform instead.
When I first started working here, finding the right platform could take me fifteen minutes. It's gradually gotten better, but it can still be much more of a chore than it should be and today is actually rather mild in how much of a pain it can be.
I walk Ruff back to the pedestrian crossing and have him properly turn into the right platform, giving him a treat to indicate this is the correct spot. This happens at times, and when I have the time and energy I contribute to his training. A guide dog always learns new things, and at times, so does it's owner.

We settle in to wait as I pull out my phone and listen to the robotic text to speech voice as I flick towards my public transport app. The big sign that shows the bus times is inaccessible, so I have to use an app that tries it's best to keep an up-to-date list of what bus comes when with the data the various public transport companies here expose. Sadly, that data can be quite unreliable, requiring me to ask bus drivers what their route is every time a bus comes in. That is about as tedious as it sounds.

A bus stops in front of me, the doors hissing open as I somewhat clumsily stick my head in the door. " Excuse me, where are you going?"
"To the station"  comes the reply.
'You don't say! This is one of the two platforms for busses that go in the station's direction. Thanks, colonel Cryptic" my inner monologue quips as I shrug slightly.
"Yeah ...I meant your final stop. What line is this?" I specify, keeping a level tone and, hopefully, a straight face.
"Oh, line 3"  he responds, telling me all I need to know. "Alright, I don't need that one, I need line number 7" I clarify, stepping backward and almost running into a person I didn't hear come up behind me.
'Sorry"  I quickly apologize, pretty sure the person is already out of earshot but trying just in case. I get no response.
"Should be here in five minutes"  the driver  clarifies before closing his doors, ready to continue on his route. "Good to know, thanks!"  I respond right before the definitive thump of the rubber-lined doors closing.
The bus trundles off and I give Ruff a few pets, before pulling out my phone again and resuming my rather spicy chat. Hey ...I was interrupted after lunch and I needed to stay warm somehow, no?
As my bus pulls up, I put Ruff to work finding the closest open door. As he steps inside, his harness telling me how steep the incline of the bus is, I get in after him and find myself a seat.
I once again get lost in a Spotify playlist as I while away the minutes, turning it off a few minutes before getting to my stop, as I don't have a simple trick to not miss my stop on the way back home. Listening to the automated announcements that this driver thankfully didn't turn off, I know when to press the button marked with the braille letter S, dots 2 3 and 4, signaling him to stop at the next stop.
The bus gradually comes to a stop, Ruff sliding across the floor slightly as he loses his grip. I direct him next to me and through the doors hissing open as we clamber down onto the pavement.
Walking around the bus stop, the noises of the nearby road bouncing off the glass enclosure of the bus stop guiding me, I walk over to a green patch so Ruff can do his business.
I listen carefully to the cars going by, looking for the lulls in traffic I'd have to use one of these to cross the street when Ruff's done. There's no traffic light to guide traffic here, so being ocularly challenged can be a bit of a hindrance at this particular crossing.
Ruff comes back around to my left indicating he's done and we make our way to the edge of the pavement, listening to the cars going by until for a few seconds there are no more cars coming. This is as good a chance as any.
"Let's go!" I urge as I direct Ruff to cross the road, making our way over to the cycling road and onto the pavement as a car comes down the road behind us, holding up a small white cane that I pull from my back pocket all the while.
This cane fits in my pocket and is supposed to make oncoming traffic stop, but honestly that happens about one out of ten times and it's more tradition than actually useful to do so at this point. The way people obey traffic laws here at times honestly makes me wonder how I haven't died yet at times.
Letting out a playful whoop after reaching the other side of the road, I tell Ruff to turn right. Keeping Ruff enthusiastic is a good way to keep him focused and making a game of things like crossing the road is just one of the ways to do that, so at times I indulge him.
Making our way down the pavement I listen carefully for the ground on my left changing structure, from grass to asphalt indicating the bridge across the little creek separating this part of the neighborhood from the rest of it. I need to cross that bridge to get home, and listening for it is the most accurate way to find it consistently and not walk right by it.
I reflect on how I know so much more about my neighborhood due to going out more and using various apps telling me about my surroundings as I cross the bridge and walk down the road making another left to turn into my street.
'To think that five or so years back I rarely left my home ...things sure have changed'

Humming a tune, I start thinking about dinner as I walk around the final bend in the road, walking up to my back gate and through the garden, up to my back door.
Opening it, I remove Ruff's harness and laugh as he instantly trudges over to his pillow and settles down.
"Lazy carpet, aren't you?" I joke as I close the back door behind me, a decisive click closing out the outside world as I put Ruff's leash and harness at their customary spots. "Let's make us both some dinner, eh?"

Dinner ...sandwiches again? Are the Dutch that big on sandwiches that they even suffice for dinner?
Spoiler ...Nah, probably not, although it's happened once or twice ;) Some continuity is being set up though
Where is it all going? I guess you'll have to keep reading to find out ;)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A day in the life, chapter 7

Nodding to myself, a somewhat odd habit I've never managed to rid myself of, I alk over to the kitchen.
Opening the fridge, I let my fingers run along the various plastic-wrapped products, tubs, bottles and jars, each product's shape and packaging telling me what I'm touching. That is, until two products appear to have the same packaging.
I remember having made a mental note to remember which one was which. I did not, in fact, remember.
Taking one of the products out, I load up an app on my phone with the other hand, nodding when I see the torch on my phone come on, indicating the camera is active.
As I position the product about an arm's length away from my phone, I reflect on how the fact I can see the presence of light, but no colors or shapes within that light. A concept that is rather tricky to explain to those who ask.
"Do you see a spot, or a cloud, or something along those lines?" is by far the most common question so far, which usually has a shrug as its'  only real response. "Maybe ...I don't know"

Moving the product slightly up and down I try to get any text that might be on the box into the view of the camera. My phone reads out a handful of words when I finally succeed in doing so, telling me what I'm holding. Of course, it's not the product I want, so I put it back, taking the other, similar box instead.

Taking out several other items, I place them on my admittedly small counter. Better to have everything on hand before playing with fire, after all. Too much going on at once to have to hunt for another ingredient mid-process.

I take out a wooden cutting board from a nearby drawer and put it on the kitchen table behind me. I slice up some carrots and other veggies. Using my fingertips so close to a sharp knife is somewhat treacherous and took some getting used to, but if I don't, my chunks will be incredibly uneven which just means more work later. Using a pointer finger to hold the carrot in place, the other hand chops in a somewhat practiced rhythm, careful, somewhat slow, but also rather even-spaced.
Putting the veggies in water, I struggle a bit with the annoyingly smart stove, touch-screen-like buttons barely giving any feedback when they're pressed. I can't help but wonder who figured giving kitchen appliances touch-like controls given how dirty your fingers can get at times.
Shrugging, I put the veggies on one of the burners to boil and clean up after myself to give myself more space for the other ingredients.
Turning on the oven, I toss some pita flatbread on a plate, carefully placing it in the middel of the oven to heat up, for as far as I can determine.
"Alexa, timer for 15 minutes"  I toss over my shoulders, nodding when the confirmation comes back from the admittedly sometimes useful smart device.
Finally, I retrieve some spices from the cupboard, sniffing them to determine what they are, placing some on the table while putting others back.
They are somewhat faded, but their scent still tells me all I need to know as I slice up some chicken meat and apply the various extra flavors to them, cursing inwardly as I apply one of them quite a bit more than I intended.
"Oh well ...spicy chicken today I guess" I quip. Ruff lets out a deep sigh from the pillow as he sleeps on.
I chuckle at the uncanny timing of that exchange as I wash my hands. "Something to say, peanut gallery?" I ask as I walk over to his pillow, tossing him a treat which he sleepily gobbles up before getting up and retrieving one of his toys.

People wonder if living on my own doesn't get lonely and at times, I guess it does. But today, after all the peopling I have already had to do, the blissful quiet and the simplicity of playing Tug o' War with a dog give me some welcome peace.

After a few minutes of playing with Ruff, I head back to the kitchen, washing my hands again. I don't fancy dog hairs as an extra ingredient to my food, after all.
, I take out a frying pan and spread oil across its surface, using my finger to check if I have all of the surface covered, making sure to apply the oil in one sweep to not have too much in one spot. The advantage of that is that I am relatively sure the entire pan is covered. The flip side? I have to freaking wash my hands again.
Putting the frying pan onto another burner, only getting it on there halfway at first because the circle that actually heats up under the pan isn't super easy to feel by touch, I wait until I hear the oil softly sizzle before starting to toss the spiced chicken onto the pan, the hissing and spitting of the oil becoming louder with every bit of extra meat I add.
Using a fork I try to at least evenly spread the food across the pan to fry it somewhat evenly. I am terrible at this, but I give it the old college try. I will never be a chef, but a man's gotta eat, so I make due.
"At least I won't be sending any eggs flying in an attempt to flip them this time ..."  I mutter to myself, chuckling at the memory, wrestling the stove down to a lower setting

Behind me, a somewhat loud, insistent chime indicates my timer has reached zero seconds. The timer on my oven isn't accessible, but this is a useful little workaround to still be able to follow recipes and such from the web. It's interesting to me how mainstream tech can be used to satisfy accessibility needs at times.

Turning the timer off, I slip my hands into oven gloves to retrieve the now crispy flatbread, carefully avoiding the top of the oven with my slightly uncovered wrists. One learns quickly in this field. Fried wrist hurts, not recommended.
Carefully carrying the hot plate to the table, I gingerly place it down. Fortunately, nothing slid off this time. This is not as common as it should be. Not by far, sadly.

Not being able to see, it turns out, makes one thing about movements like this pretty tricky. Not being able to see if you are holding a flat object parallel to the floor, therefore straight means bowls of water will at times drip and sausages might at times spontaneously decide that practicing their rolling over and flying skills isn't the wurst idea ever. That last thing, as I've also found out the hard way, is a game Ruff thoroughly enjoys observing. I wonder why ...

Checking on my boiling veggies, I use a fork to check the consistency of some of the contents. The water is quite obviously boiling from the ominous bubbling noises the pot is producing, and my fork tells me it's been doing that for long enough.
Having another fight with the stove proves eventually fruitful as the infernal thing finally turns off, letting out a mournful beep to tell me about this, to me, rather positive thing.
Getting rid of the hot water without losing the actual veggies and without burning any limbs is a bit of a song and dance involving a few near misses, the lid of the hot pan and a lot of patience, but eventually, this is done as well and I can finally actually sit down and eat. That is ...after I put it all together.
Using a big spoon I scoop the fried meat into the pan with the veggies, using it to stir the mixture vigorously, mixing the various ingredients together into a rather simple, but filling meal.
Spreading the flatbread out on a plate, I scoop a generous helping of the veggies and meat onto the bread and fold the edges shut, guiding the spoon with one hand while anchoring the destination with the other. hand-eye coordination I don't have, but kinesthesia lets me at least guess where one hand is concerning the other. This isn't foolproof, but at least most of the food will generally land where it needs to.

Walking over to the couch, plate balancing on my hands, I place the food onto the low coffee table in front of the couch. Reaching under it, I pull my laptop from the shelf under the table and fire it up. I enjoy watching some kind of show during dinner, so I took one up on Netflix and set it to play while I eat.
I consider if I want audio description for this show, but ultimately decide against it. I grew up not having it, and tend not to miss it when it's not there. It can also be incredibly annoying to me at times, so I rarely use it unless I am watching a show with other blind people online, something I do from time to time.

Putting the plate onto the side of the couch, I eat my dinner as the show plays on the laptop next to me, the dialogues, music and sound effects telling me all I need to know about the happenings on screen as some detective tries to solve a crime. To some, the large amount of dialogue might become boring. To me, it's rather vital.
Some of the bread's contents fall onto my plate as I eat. After I finish all the bread, I use a finger to locate these final bits, fingertip sliding across the plate in a circular motion until I find something. Using a fork, I finish these last few bites as well, finishing dinner.

I think about my day so far as I get up to place my dishes in the dishwasher, my footsteps echoing off the various pieces of furniture in the room orienting me, the show behind me keeping me walking somewhat straight ahead as I walk back to the kitchen.
Giving the dishes and pans a quick rinse, I think about all the things I did today and consider if I could've done anything differently. This is a bit of a daily ritual for me and I've come to rely on it as a kind of self-evaluation at times.
Opening the dishwasher, my mind settles on the question I asked myself this afternoon. "Would I be any good as a story writer? What would I even write about?"
Pondering this further, I close the dishwasher and set it to do its thing as I walk back to the couch, settling in for an evening of free time.

I chat with friends and get lost in an article about a new piece of promising technology for a while. A particular 'ding!'  in my headphones alerts me to a message on an app I only use with certain people.

them: Hey, a friend of mine is doing a study on blind people in mainstream society. I told them I knew someone who could help them out. Is it ok if they ask you a few questions?

'Thanks for consulting me first, ya nugget...' my inner monologue responds dryly.

me: Uhm ...ok ...questions about what?

Them: Not so sure myself ... all I got is that they are curious about how blind people got where they are now and how they are getting on with their lives ...or something along those lines at least

As I read that, I am reminded of one of the posts in my story topic on PD.

'You keep saying you are a high-functioning blind person. Maybe tell us how you got to be that way'

Would people really be interested in reading that? Given this is the second time this week people seem to be asking me for that, it appears that yes, they would indeed.

I tell them to have these researcher friends of theirs contact me and do some more browsing, whiling away the hours until I decide this is as good a time as any to give this writing thing a try. Pondering briefly about a title, I open a new document on my machine and begin:

" A LIFE, DAY BY DAY

I am a blind person.
A person who one day got up and decided to start pushing the envelope. A person that decided to challenge all he was ever shown and given as truth.
I went from meek-willed, unskilled and ignorant to able to hold my own in this society that largely treats me as an afterthought.
This is my journey..."



And with that, A day in the life comes to an end. Just in time for Christmas, too! ;)
People have been asking me for more background, more details. Just how I got where I am now. I said that was coming. And it is.
Soon, in true meta style, a Life, Day by Day will continue where this left off. It will have more of a diary feel to it, giving me the chance to expand on things like that, wherein this story I felt too cramped by the flow of the narrative to do that, apart from my occasional asides.
Thank you all so much for sticking with me through it all. See you on the other side ;)

Monday, September 23, 2019

New chapter - What It Was

Hi friends, 💖
hope everyone had a wonderful week.
Here is another Monday and I am giving you another chapter of "What It Was".
Thank you to everyone reading this story and for the sweet feedback last week. I was especially happy how one reader commented on catching the "what it was" terminology in that chapter, referring to Shay and what it was that attracted her to Jordan.
I hope you still like to follow along with Shay and Jordan.
Sometimes I feel my stories are just so bleak and then I edit and think about rewriting something because I think about my readers and I want to make them happy.
But then I also realize that I need to be true to myself and write what moves me and in return hope my readers feel the same way.
So with that I give you Chapter 11 of What It Was. Enjoy as some more aspects of Jordan's health are revealed and how Shay and Jordan are getting closer. 💑
As I am typing this I'm about to get ready to head to a Rock Concert, so I wanted to get this posted before I left.
Have a wonderful week everyone,
Hugs, Dani 👋

Table of Contents TOC

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Update to Not gay

Hi everyone,

I made it! Here's another chapter of Not gay: Chapter 5. Sorry for last week, time just went by like nothing. So... this chapter is again steamy, but also cute, prepare for cuddling (yeah, no kidding) and more action you've probably been waiting for :) Aww... those two. Well, have fun!

Love,
Lovis

TOC

Monday, September 16, 2019

New Chapter - What It Was

Hi friends of "What It Was",
sorry for the delay today. Again, I worked a lot the past few days, so I couldn't get to my writing as much as I wanted to. I hope the chapter is ready and that you will enjoy it.
I keep reading over it again and again and it seems there is always something that could or needs to get changed. But I think it's ready for you now.
Thank you to everyone who reads this story and also thank you so much for your wonderful comments.
I am so glad you enjoy this story. Honestly when I first posted it, I didn't think it would take off like this but I'm very happy it did.
Here is Chapter 10 of "What It Was". Hope you enjoy and let me know what you think.
You mean so much to me
Hugs, Dani

Here is an updated TOC

Monday, September 9, 2019

New chapter - What It Was

Hi friends, 💛💚💛
another week has gone by and here is another chapter of "What It Was".
I had some wonderful feedback last week and am so happy about meeting my readers even if it is just here online. Thank you to everyone who takes a moment to comment and give me feedback, it means so much to me, especially if I can touch you with my writing.
I know sometimes it's a bit heavy but as I said before, love and hope is always underlying.
Thank you so much for your support and reading my story.
Here is Chapter 9 of "What It Was".
Hope you enjoy and let me know if you feel like it. Have a good week everyone! 💕
Hugs, Dani

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Update to Not gay

Hi everyone,

here is the next chapter of Not gay: Chapter 4. I know this chapter is again a shorter one, but I hope it's hot enough to make up for that.

Enjoy your weekend,
Lovis

TOC

Monday, September 2, 2019

New Chapter "What It Was"

Hi friends,
I hope everyone had a wonderful week and that it didn't take too long for Monday to come around. It seems always to come quick for me when I have to edit a chapter and be ready to post for you.
I am thankful for everyone reading this story and I loved your comments so much. On all the chapters you have made me so happy with your numerous heartfelt comments.
I know this is another rough one but that is just the way I like to write. Shay and Jordan have definitely connected way too much than to be without each other anymore and it won't be easy. I will reveal more on Jordan and his struggles and also on Shay and how Jordan unlocks a side in her she has tried to ignore all her life.
I give you another chapter of "What It Was" Chapter 8
Enjoy and as always I welcome your feedback. Have a wonderful first week of September.
Hugs, Dani