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 ;)