Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Facebook Taught Me to Face Reality

I have limits and limitations.  Facebook taught me what these limits and limitations are as I attempted to communicate with family, friends, groups, colleagues, and potential business connections.  As I pointed out in earlier posts, it either cannot be done at all or efficiently by a person who is visually impaired and using screen-reading software.  I have been trying for 30 years to live up to the expectations of organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind, but I have failed.  I have exhausted my strength, my finances, and the drive to advocate for equality that such organizations continue to ignore.  My New Year’s Resolution is to bloom where I am planted.  Where at the end of other years, I would say, “Out with the old.  In with the new,” this time I said, “Out with the new.  In with the old.”

What are the “old” things that I will be embracing?  The Braille slate and stylus instead of large print and a CCTV or a laptop for essential items such as to-do-lists and emergency phone numbers.  Braille will also be used for labeling notebooks, file folders, and papers that go into them.  Business communications will be conducted in person or by phone.  Travel will include a human companion as needed rather than a GPS because people, I’ve learned make fewer mistakes than the GPS whether it is in a car or on a phone.  People are harder to lose and make interesting observations as you travel such as, “That dress would look just great on you.”  My obsession with “flying solo” ended yesterday when a neighborhood alert in my email said that a coyote was spotted in someone’s yard.  This is not the two-legged kind portrayed so well in the movie, The Secret of My Success, a favorite comedy.  The coyote in my neighborhood is one of the four-legged kind who is believed to have at least one companion.  A friend assures me that I am not at risk unless I walk outdoors at night or I am with a friend who has a service animal in the daytime.

 It looks like 2020 is going to be filled with more adventures and misadventures, but I will not be sharing them until I can afford to hire a social media manager, something a self-published and unemployed writer cannot do.  Embracing the old will require patience, especially when it comes to submitting manuscripts the old-fashioned way by querying literary agents and traditional publishers.  I am inspired and comforted by Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing.

 I appreciate the members of my 50th high school reunion group on Facebook who taught me that some of the functions that I could not perform on my computer could be done on my iPhone.  This is true some of the time.  It is still frustrating when, after I post a message, I am notified that someone responded and then cannot read the response.  Items disappear.  Facebook closes whenever IT wants to.  When I complain and a techie asks, “What version are you using?”, it is time to spend a few hours reading a talking book or going for a long walk.

 It looks like more copies of The Misadventures of Mistletoe Mouse sold this holiday season because I was able to do some social media marketing and had a lot of help from my friends on Facebook and at the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired Writers’ Circle.  I was not, however, as able to do as much marketing as I would have liked.  I also have not been able to embrace other forms of social media networking because the costs are much larger than the learning curves. 

 While I am writing about out with the new and in with the old, there is a need to reinvent hospitals as places where patients receive after-surgery care.  I have met two men in the past three months, both seniors and one who is employed part-time.  They both need cataract surgery but are postponing it, as I am, because they can afford the procedure but not the after-surgery care that could take from a few days to a few months if there are complications.  Large families, nuclear and extended families, and stay-at-home wives and mothers and daughters are a thing of the past.  With an economy that requires two working parents, this lack of unpaid caregivers is something that doctors within our borders must address.

 I threw out the 2019 wall calendar.  The 2020 calendar has 365 days that can become either more inclusive or exclusive for people who are living with vision losses.  "God grant me the serenity to adjust to those things I cannot change, the patience to change the things I can, and the wisdom to just shut up and take care of myself as I enjoy the talent You have given me and bloom where I am planted.  May I never again have a year as challenging as this one where I start to think about the word, 'retire'.” 
I am still living with what is left and loving it.  So can you.

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